“You’ve been quiet today. Is anything wrong?”
Marius didn’t even look up from his desk. “I’m always quiet.” It was sharp, acerbic. Something had clearly provoked such a reaction, and Courfeyrac was going to figure out what.
When he questioned Marius again, the concern was still there in his voice, but his tone was more serious. “Something’s the matter. What happened today?”
“Nothing happened.” The response was too terse for Marius not to be holding something back.
Courfeyrac persisted. “Someone said something to you. Tell me, Marius.”
Marius sighed, finally turning around to look at Courfeyrac. There was no reason to keep hiding it; his best friend could read him like a book. “At the meeting. When Combeferre asked me, ‘Do you have anything to contribute?’ The way he looked at me, Courfeyrac. No, the whole room was looking at me. I know Combeferre doesn’t like me, but does he have to say things in front of everyone like that? And Enjolras obviously thinks I have nothing of value to say…”
Courfeyrac gave Marius a puzzled look. “Combeferre does like you. He asked for your input because he knows you have a unique perspective to offer, and he values that perspective; he wants to hear more of it. Enjolras, too—he asks where you are when you don’t show up at meetings! You must believe me when I tell you this; I wouldn’t lie to you, and I know them well. They both want to hear more from you—.”
“I’m sorry I can’t talk for hours like Grantaire! I’m sorry I have nothing helpful to say.” Marius never raised his voice like that unless he was extremely agitated or defensive; Courfeyrac recognized this and attempted to lighten the mood.
“You think that Grantaire talking for hours necessarily means he’s saying anything helpful?” He forced a laugh. “You can’t be serious.”
But Marius was undeterred. “Look, I… I know I never contribute anything, and that your friends are generous to put up with me. And when I do say something, it comes out wrong and I only look stupid.” He was finally talking at greater length, his sentences coming together with more conviction, but the things he was saying were troubling. “I know I’m useless, all right? My grandfather has reminded me often enough. I just wish that life wouldn’t rub it in my face so often.”
Courfeyrac frowned. “Do you really feel that way?” The look on his face seemed so saddened and disappointed, Marius could only lower his eyes and nod.
Courfeyrac stepped over and placed a hand under Marius’s chin, lifting the younger man’s head to look up at him, though Marius stubbornly persisted in fixing his gaze on the floor. “Marius,” he spoke gently. When Marius still didn’t raise his eyes, Courfeyrac steeled himself. He needed Marius to listen to him, couldn’t continue to hear him talk that way about himself, so when he spoke next, it was with the voice that Marius could never help but obey. It was a command. “Marius,” he repeated firmly. This time, Marius did look up, but with the look on his face, he may as well have been cringing. “Marius, don’t look at me like that. And don’t look away again.” Marius’s features softened, though his body was still tense and he still seemed anxious. He continued to look Courfeyrac in the eye, and the expression on his face was needy. Courfeyrac stroked his cheek gently with his thumb. “Marius, do you need me to take care of you?”
Marius’s eyes widened briefly, but then his face only relaxed further, and he gave a small, slow nod. Courfeyrac was satisfied with that, until… “I can’t very well take care of myself, can I?” he muttered, his expression souring again and his gaze drifting away.
Courfeyrac tightened his grip on Marius’s chin. “I said to look at me.” Marius’s eyes returned to Courfeyrac’s face, and some of the tension in his shoulders melted away. “That’s it. Very good,” Courfeyrac soothed, releasing him. “Now, tell me. Marius, do you want this?” Marius nodded again, more quickly this time. “All right. Then put your pen down and follow me.” Marius hadn’t even realized how tightly he’d been gripping his pen until he let it drop down onto the desk. Slowly, he raised himself from his chair and followed behind Courfeyrac, who had already started moving in the direction of the bedroom.
They did this, sometimes, when Marius’s anxieties got the better of him and he needed a space to calm down, to stop thinking, if only for a while. When Marius felt overwhelmed, it helped to center him; when he felt insecure, it helped to remind him that he was valued. Courfeyrac was pleased to be able to assist in whatever way he could, as well as finding their arrangement enjoyable for his own reasons.
By the time Marius reached the bedroom, Courfeyrac had seated himself on the bed, his legs hanging off the side of it as he faced the doorway. He smiled as Marius entered, beckoning him forward, and Marius stepped toward him until he was standing before Courfeyrac, who nodded his approval. Marius’s skin was already flushed with anticipation, and when his eyes met Courfeyrac’s, they held both hesitance and desperation, though these were allayed somewhat by no small amount of trust. Marius needed to be made to banish his troubled thoughts, to get out of his own head, and if there were anyone who could help him to do so, he knew it was Courfeyrac. That knowledge alone already had a steadying influence on his nerves.
Courfeyrac reached out to grasp Marius’s hands, holding them securely as he drew them toward himself. “I’m here, Marius. I’m going to take care of you.” He guided Marius’s right hand to his wrist. “Squeeze.” Marius wrapped his hand around Courfeyrac’s wrist and tightened his grip, then relaxed it. He repeated this three times in succession, as they always did. “If you need me to stop, or if I ask you to do something you don’t want to do, or don’t feel you can do right now, I want you to put your hand on my arm or leg and squeeze three times like that, all right?” Marius nodded.
Having discovered early on that Marius had a tendency to get nonverbal when they did this, the two of them had established a language of touch. Courfeyrac understood why it was needed, he supposed; one of the things that often made Marius upset was the thought that he’d said something he considered wrong or stupid. With this in mind, Courfeyrac made an effort never to pressure Marius to talk in the context of their time together like this. Such times were about Marius’s needs, after all, and it seemed that perhaps he needed relief from the social demands of speech in order to fully let go.
“All right, Marius.” Courfeyrac’s voice was still tender, but now he spoke more firmly. He let go of Marius’s hands and straightened his own posture, though he remained seated where he was. “Take off your clothes. Fold them, and put them on top of my trunk.” He gestured to the foot of the bed, where there was a large wooden chest. “Then come back here and stand in front of me again.” Marius needed to be told what was expected of him in terms as clear as possible right now, Courfeyrac knew, so that there could be no worries about failure or inadequacy.
Blushing in a way that was nothing if not unwittingly charming, Marius took a step back and began to disrobe. His waistcoat went first, followed by his shirt being pulled off over his head and ruffling his dark hair, though he didn’t seem to concern himself with that. Marius folded them neatly and placed them, for the moment, on the floor beside him, before moving to unfasten his trousers. His fingers fumbled nervously at the buttons, keenly aware of Courfeyrac’s eyes on him as he exposed himself before his friend. It wasn’t a bad sort of self-consciousness, though, and certainly nothing like the anxiety Marius often experienced in public; he felt exposed, yes, but he didn’t feel scrutinized. He felt safe. Once he’d finally removed the last of his clothing, Marius folded it and added it to the pile on the floor, which he gathered together and placed on top of the trunk, as he had been told. Having finished the task he’d been assigned, he returned to stand in front of Courfeyrac, now fully nude.
Courfeyrac took care to make his appraising glance over Marius’s body not too long, but not too brief; just enough to cause the blush in his friend’s cheeks to spread to his ears and down his pale chest. “You’re absolutely lovely,” he smiled, apparently satisfied. “Now, kneel.”
Marius was slow to respond, shy, as he often was at first. There was a few seconds’ pause before he lowered himself to his knees, resting his weight back on his heels and looking up at Courfeyrac.
“Very good,” Courfeyrac commented with an approving nod. “Now, I want you to remove my boots and stockings.” He held out his right leg meaningfully.
Marius knelt up and shuffled forward, taking the offered boot in both hands. One hand gripped the heel while the other was braced against the sole, and he gave the boot a firm but careful tug and slipped it off, setting it beside himself on the floor. Marius now took Courfeyrac’s stocking-clad foot and rested it upon his lap, his hands moving up Courfeyrac’s trouser leg to release the stocking from the garter which rested just below the knee and served to keep it from falling down. Having done so, he unfastened the garter and removed it, setting it aside next to the boot before returning to the stocking. Marius grasped the edge of the smooth, white fabric and slid it delicately down Courfeyrac’s calf and off his foot. Already he seemed calm, more focused than before. With the right foot now unshod, Marius released it and turned his attentions to the left, removing boot and stocking in the same fashion.
Once both of his feet were bare, Courfeyrac pulled them away and moved further up onto the bed, propping himself up against the pillows and stretching his legs out along the length of the mattress. When he had situated himself comfortably, he looked down at Marius, whose open hands were resting palms-up in his lap as if unsure what to do with themselves and whose expression looked slightly bereft. “Marius,” he called gently, and his friend only whined, looking up at him with need. Courfeyrac patted the sheets. “Marius, come up here.”
Marius rose to his feet, his face lighting up at the invitation to join Courfeyrac on the bed. He climbed up onto the mattress, stationing himself at Courfeyrac’s feet and looking at the man expectantly.
“Good, that’s just where I want you.” Courfeyrac’s voice sounded pleased, and something in Marius recognized and responded to that, a warm feeling rising in his chest. Everything around him was starting to feel fuzzy, distant, even as he himself felt very present. Marius’s senses honed in on the sound of Courfeyrac’s speech, the pleasant, encouraging cadence of his words as he instructed, “Rub my feet. Start at the heel and work your way out to the toes, and use your whole hand. Yes, that’s it. Ah, you know just what to do…”
Even before Courfeyrac had finished speaking, Marius was reaching for his foot, his face an expression of docility. Courfeyrac was right; this was something he knew how to do, a way he knew how to please, and it was a relief for Marius to be asked to do something he felt confident about. Cupping Courfeyrac’s heel in his hand, he carefully rotated his ankle several times, then massaged on either side of it with the pads of his thumbs. Marius then shifted his grip to rub at the heel with the backs of his thumbs, kneading firmly. Gradually his hands moved upwards, squeezing at the arch before pressing into it with the heel of his hand, massaging the ball of the foot with his knuckles, gently rubbing each toe between his fingers.
“Mm, you’re doing a very good job, Marius.” Marius looked up to see Courfeyrac beaming at him. “I had no doubt that you would. You see? You’re a perfectly capable person.”
The warmth in Marius’s chest intensified, and he smiled shyly back at Courfeyrac, his cheeks a bit pinker from his friend’s appreciative words. The way those words fell from Courfeyrac’s lips and through the haze that had settled over his mind, sweetly coaxing him, Marius was content to believe them. As he focused on pleasing Courfeyrac, Marius was pleasantly distracted from all that had happened that day, and his earlier concerns seemed to be from a much more distant past, far less bothersome than they had seemed even an hour ago. An inimitable kind of serenity washed over him in moments like these, and nothing could please him more than the fact that such times were shared with none other than Courfeyrac. Dear Courfeyrac, whom Marius could trust to take care of him when he was vulnerable like this.
After Marius had tended to both feet in an equally attentive manner, Courfeyrac caught his attention yet again. “Ah, thank you, Marius, that was lovely,” he said as he lifted himself from the pillows, sitting up fully and patting the mattress beside him. “Move up here and sit next to me. That’s it.” Marius crawled up the bed and seated himself next to Courfeyrac, looking at him expectantly. Courfeyrac leaned in to kiss his forehead. “I’ve got more plans for you,” he murmured affectionately, before he pulled away and began to untie his cravat.
Once he had removed it, Courfeyrac took the cravat and folded it lengthwise until he’d achieved a narrow strip of cloth, which he held up to Marius’s face. He paused for several seconds, leaving the cloth just in front of Marius’s eyes and giving him time to react in case it was something he didn’t want. A soft whine rose from the back of Marius’s throat, and he closed his eyes in acquiescence.
That was all the convincing Courfeyrac needed before bringing the cravat up to cover Marius’s eyes and knotting it behind his head. His makeshift blindfold now secure, Courfeyrac moved to press an affectionate kiss to Marius’s ear. “Can you see at all?”
Marius shook his head, and he received another kiss in response.
“Good. You’re doing so well.” Courfeyrac’s breath was hot against his sensitive ear, his voice low and pleased, and Marius could hear the smile in it even if he could not see it. He heard himself make a quiet noise; it seemed as if his body, being denied sight, was honing in on sound. Courfeyrac’s voice came again. “How would you like it if I spanked you?” The answer took the form of a much louder whine as a thrill shot down Marius’s spine at the words, and an eager nod. “All right, just one more thing.” Warm lips quickly brushed Marius’s ear once more, before he felt Courfeyrac’s weight shift on the mattress and heard the sheets rustling with his movement. Marius hardly realized what was happening until he felt a silky fabric loop around his wrists, encircling them both and drawing them together.
Courfeyrac, once he felt reasonably certain that Marius’s bonds were as snug and secure as he wanted them, skillfully tied the previously-discarded stocking around his friend’s wrists, grinning in satisfaction.
Marius’s body seemed to visibly relax as his wrists were secured, as though he were letting himself go in a way he hadn’t been able to before. His lips went lax, and his breathing slowed and deepened. He felt the warmth of Courfeyrac’s fingers stroking down his bare arm, until finally a hand took him by the wrists. Courfeyrac’s other hand moved to Marius’s hip, and he assured, “Come, Marius, I’m going to help you lie across my lap. Lean forward, there you go, slowly… It’s all right, I’ve got you.” Marius allowed himself to be guided by Courfeyrac’s voice as well as his hands, and soon he found himself positioned across Courfeyrac’s thighs. Even through his clothes, Marius could feel the heat of Courfeyrac’s body against his own naked one, and there was something very comforting about it.
Courfeyrac ran a soothing hand down Marius’s back, over his backside, and down his thigh, then back up to cup his buttocks in his own broad palm, caressing them affectionately. He leaned down and spoke into Marius’s ear, “Can you reach my leg if you need to signal me to stop?”
Marius shifted in Courfeyrac’s lap, maneuvering his bound hands until he had successfully reached Courfeyrac’s thigh and squeezing it once to demonstrate that he could. The position was somewhat uncomfortable in the shoulders and forced Marius’s cheek into the sheets, but it could be achieved easily enough if need be. Courfeyrac was satisfied with this.
“Thank you, Marius. All right, hands back in front of you.” He gave Marius’s bottom a smart tap with his fingers, smiling at the eagerness with which his friend complied.
Marius’s breathing had already begun to quicken again as he felt the anticipation build from his mere positioning across Courfeyrac’s lap. He drew in a breath when Courfeyrac’s hand was drawn away from his bottom, then exhaled harshly when it came back down with a loud slap. The next several smacks were milder, but still firm enough to leave a light sting and a heat where they landed.
The swats kept coming until Marius was squirming in Courfeyrac’s lap. They were coming down harder now, and possibly faster. Marius couldn’t be sure; he had lost count, lost track of time, lost his inhibitions and lost himself in the feeling of Courfeyrac’s hand striking his heated skin. The slaps seemed to echo in the small room, the sounds only amplified further by the fact that his sight was obscured, but Marius was long past being concerned with the noise the spanking was making. Nor did he seem to concern himself with his own noises; by now he was letting out intermittent whines, his ever-more-obvious erection pressing into Courfeyrac’s leg.
Courfeyrac himself was quite pleased with this turn of events, appreciating the deepening pink of those pale cheeks, the noises of candid appreciation which Marius was often too reticent to show in everyday life, even the tingling of his hand as he continued to spank. It was for these and many other reasons that he found their arrangement deeply satisfying.
Marius writhed and panted. His head dropped down and he rested his forehead against his bound wrists, breathing heavily. He couldn’t restrain the movement of his hips, a subtle rocking against his friend’s thigh as he attempted to assuage his arousal. Ever attentive, Courfeyrac could hardly fail to notice, and he ceased his stinging blows in favor of caresses, carefully rubbing away the ache. “Ah, you enjoyed that, didn’t you?” He smoothed a hand over Marius’s warm ass, letting his fingers dip ever-so-slightly between the reddened cheeks. Marius gasped, and his hips shifted back into the touch. He let out a soft whine, which only grew louder as Courfeyrac traced his fingers up and down the cleft of his ass, pressing deeper and deeper, eventually brushing teasingly against his hole as they moved. Marius’s head came back up and he made a choked noise.
“Is this what you want, Marius?” Courfeyrac encouraged, his fingers pausing their movements at his hole and beginning to rub more intently just there, and Marius nodded rapidly. He rocked back into Courfeyrac’s fingers with need, but Courfeyrac withdrew them. Marius whimpered, and Courfeyrac stroked a hand through his hair. “Shh, shh, I’m not stopping. I just want you to turn over onto your back. I’ll help you. All right?”
Marius gave a soft whine and a single nod, his head turning back toward Courfeyrac as if to look over his shoulder, in spite of the cravat still covering his eyes. Courfeyrac’s hands cupped his shoulders with care, offering support as he helped Marius into an upright position. He gently guided Marius to turn his body and lie back so that he was resting with his head on a pillow and his legs outstretched. Courfeyrac moved up beside him, and Marius let out a pleasant hum as he felt a comforting hand stroking his hair, fingers straying through the dark locks as Courfeyrac tenderly petted his head. Marius felt the hair being brushed away from his forehead, then warm lips as a light kiss was placed just above the blindfold.
“Now, Marius,” and Courfeyrac’s voice sounded very close indeed, though Marius couldn’t pinpoint exactly where it was coming from, “hands above your head.”
Marius nodded his head, not turning his face in any direction in particular, before raising his arms from where they had been resting on his chest and moving them so that his bound wrists were above his head on the pillow. He heard Courfeyrac’s deep hum of approval, then felt the mattress shift as his friend moved to settle between Marius’s legs, which parted to make room for him seemingly without a thought. Marius felt warm hands brush up along the outside of his thighs, his hips, his torso, then up across his chest until clever fingers found his nipples. A harsh exhale escaped his lips, and he arched his back into the touch, seeking more.
Courfeyrac gladly gave it to him; his fingers pinched lightly, twisted, tugged at the hardening flesh, causing Marius to whine and squirm beneath him, still managing to keep his hands above his head. “Good, Marius, very good,” he murmured warmly, raising one hand to stroke a lightly flushed cheek and trail his fingers down that strong, yet soft jawline, while the other hand continued to play with his nipples. Marius was exquisite, especially like this. Courfeyrac was content simply to watch Marius’s face for awhile as he teased at his chest, and he found himself becoming aroused from the pleasure that played so clearly across Marius’s often fretful countenance. Finally, Courfeyrac drew back, though one hand remained in contact with Marius’s skin even as he did so, sliding down his chest and stomach to the protrusion of his hip bone. Courfeyrac’s hands then came to rest on the insides of Marius’s thighs, and he gently coaxed them further apart as he lowered his head.
Marius could feel Courfeyrac’s hot breath against his cock, teasing him mercilessly. Had the other man’s hands not been holding his legs open and effectively keeping his hips in place, Marius might have tried to thrust up into his mouth; as it was, he simply writhed at the sensation.
But his cock was not Courfeyrac’s ultimate goal; when the mattress shifted again, instead of wrapping around him as he’d expected, Marius suddenly felt a hot, wet pressure against his hole. The noise Marius made then was a mix between a breathy exhale and a whimper, and Courfeyrac seemed to take this as a good sign because he continued to lap at him. His tongue knew as many sinful tricks here as it did when Courfeyrac was giving head, and Marius moaned and rocked beneath his mouth, his fingers clenching and unclenching with the urge to grasp at something but his hands never moving from above his head. So in Courfeyrac’s thrall was Marius that he almost felt as if he couldn’t have moved them if he wanted to. The tip of Courfeyrac’s tongue pressed inside him, and Marius was lost.
Soon Marius was loose and wet enough from saliva that Courfeyrac felt him prepared enough to add a finger. Marius felt one of Courfeyrac’s hands release his thigh, and then a finger teasing at him where the other man’s tongue had been. Slowly, carefully, Courfeyrac slid his finger into the tight ring of muscle, sucking in a breath at the feeling of that heat surrounding him. God, what it would feel like for his cock to be sliding in and out of Marius… Courfeyrac released his friend’s other leg and moved his free hand to his own member, stroking slow and teasing even as his other hand began to move with more speed and surety inside Marius.
As Courfeyrac continued, Marius’s responses only grew more intense. He breaths were heavy and fast, his legs shook, his hands clenched more tightly above his head in pleasure. These reactions did not escape Courfeyrac’s notice; on the contrary, they only encouraged him to stroke himself with greater urgency. The noises issuing from Marius’s sweet lips, combined with the feeling of Marius wrapped around his finger, soon combined to cause Courfeyrac to spend with a groan of Marius’s name.
Still catching his breath, Courfeyrac chanced a glance up at Marius’s face and saw that it had flushed an even deeper shade of red at the sounds of Courfeyrac’s orgasm.
Marius, even as pleasantly hazy as his mind seemed to him, felt an undercurrent of surprise, if not disbelief, that Courfeyrac had been so turned on by Marius alone that he’d come. The intensity of this realization hit him so hard that he gasped aloud. The gasp trailed off into a loud moan as he felt Courfeyrac wrap a warm, slick hand around his cock, even as he continued to thrust his finger in and out of Marius. His hips bucked up into Courfeyrac’s fist with abandon, not caring at all what he must look like to anyone observing him. Intense emotion surged in his chest, partly from the amount of trust he felt for Courfeyrac to allow his friend to do this to him, to see him like this; partly from the rush of relief that came with being so far from himself—and yet, so close to himself—that he was freed from cares of what others might think. So relieved was he that, as soon as he came, he let out a sob and felt a wetness staining the cravat covering his eyes before he even realized he was crying.
“Marius,” a steadying voice came from what seemed to be far away, then closer. “Marius. Hey.” Warm fingers touched Marius’s cheek, and he felt a hand reach behind his head to untie the cravat and remove it. His blindfold gone, Marius blinked, getting used to having his sense of sight again. That the first thing he saw upon opening his eyes was the sight of Courfeyrac’s gently smiling face made his heart ache with happiness, and as soon as Courfeyrac had untied his wrists he flung his arms around his friend’s neck and clung to him tightly, burying his face in Courfeyrac’s shoulder. Courfeyrac lowered himself down to lie next to Marius, wrapping an arm around him tightly and pressing tender kisses to his hair and cheek, stroking Marius’s hair, his arm, his chest with his free hand. They lay there on the bed in silence, pressed together tightly, until Marius’s breaths had evened out and he seemed more lucid. Courfeyrac took up the discarded cravat again, and wiped the remains of the tears from Marius’s still-pink face. Finally, he broke the silence.
“Marius, dearest. Do you feel able to speak now?”
Marius nodded, then, realizing that Courfeyrac was seeking a verbal response in that case, said softly, “Yes.”
Courfeyrac gave an inquisitive hum. “May I ask you a question, then?”
Another nod. “Of course. Anything.”
Courfeyrac stroked Marius’s jawline, looking him directly in the eyes. “Would you give me a gift that you think is useless and stupid?” Marius’s eyebrows rose, and he whimpered. “Marius. I asked you a question. Would you?” Courfeyrac’s voice was gentle but insistent.
“No! No, I wouldn’t, never.” Marius seemed mildly affronted at the suggestion.
Courfeyrac cupped Marius’s face, his thumb brushing tenderly across his cheekbone. “And yet you just gave yourself to me.”
Marius’s cheeks flushed lightly, startled by the statement, and he lowered his eyes as he tried to compose himself. Finally, he looked up again and responded, “I know I’m not really… useless or stupid.” He sighed. “It just feels that way sometimes. Like I don’t contribute anything, like I don’t get anything right.”
Courfeyrac shook his head. “I think you’re a very valuable friend. And so do Enjolras and Combeferre. And everyone else. I assure you.”
“I know, I just—sometimes, it’s hard.” Courfeyrac leaned in to kiss his forehead reassuringly, and Marius couldn’t help but smile. “I do feel better now, though.”
Courfeyrac pressed a kiss to his ear with a smile. “I’m glad.” And he truly was.