“Once upon a time in a far off land, in a small village past the mountains, at the edges of the forests where magic and man mingled, there lived a great hero who accomplished the most harrowing quests and slew the greatest monsters. There lived a hero—”
Courfeyrac opens the window with a flourish, “—who was not a morning person!”
Sunlight did not stream in so much as invade the room, attacking Enjolras’ eyes in the process. Enjolras pulls the covers over his face, groaning. Courfeyrac ignores him as he continues to narrate the exciting adventures of Enjolras: The Hero Who Was Not a Morning Person, all the while opening all the other windows.
“—the great knight’s only weakness was waking up like a normal human being.”
“Courf, stop it.”
“He stirs at last.” Courfeyrac says, pulling the covers off of Enjolras without a drop of remorse. “Up you get.”
“Why?” Enjolras says, letting Courfeyrac pull him out of bed with only mild resistance. “Is there a new quest?”
“Nope,” Courfeyrac sat him down at the table. He hands him a mug of tea. "I just thought that you weren’t doing your reputation any favors by sleeping ‘til midday.”
“I don’t care about my reputation,” Enjolras grumbles into his tea. If he did care about his reputation, he’d be wasting a lot of energy. People from the capital think him some sort of rebel knight hellbent on destroying the crown, which does a lot for his ego, while people from the village just know him as a glorified exterminator on most days.
“You should,” Courfeyrac says as he grabs a pigeon on the windowsill without even looking, pulling the small scroll from its back. “What if the orcs think you’ve been slacking? They could attack the village.”
“They wouldn’t do that,” Enjolras sips at his tea, frowning since it’s gone tepid. His fault entirely, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still frown at it. “There’s a truce in place.”
“Oh my god, you’re such a lazy hero.” Courfeyrac chucks the pigeon out the window.
“I’m not lazy,” Enjolras says. If there was something to do, he’d do it in a heartbeat. That’s the problem, though. “I’m just—”
“No. There’s just nothing to do.” Enjolras slumps over the table. It’s been a slow month, as if every single being in the kingdom, supernatural or not, just decided to take a break.
“You could always take a crown quest,” Courfeyrac waves around the tiny scroll. “They’re paying a lot to whoever can catch this week’s most wanted.”
“Never,” He says. “Not until they institute some kind of democracy. Anyways, I’m not a mercenary. Bahorel might be interested.”
“I’ll let him know.”
“Any messages from Ferre?” Enjolras finishes his tea.
“No. He hasn’t sent Fucker back,” Courfeyrac says wistfully. If it was for Combeferre or Fucker, his beloved falcon who only sent messages to and from Combeferre, Enjolras couldn’t tell.
“Send a pigeon later. Tell him he should drop by sometime for a visit,” Enjolras told him. If Combeferre came back from the capital, it would at least give something for Enjolras to look forward to.
“Will do,” Courfeyrac says as Enjolras pulled a cloak on. “Hey, where are you going?”
“Out. There has to be something to do.”
“There’s always that dragon,” Courfeyrac says, gesturing with a pigeon in his hand. “You know. The one in the tower?”
“Dragons always have something to do with the crown,” Enjolras says, well aware of the stories where dragons hoard gold or kidnap royalty. If the dragon Courfeyrac was talking about was violent, he would’ve slain it the moment it set up shop in an abandoned tower not far from the village, but it never caused any trouble. A recluse, it seemed. Enjolras didn’t want to risk accidentally unearthing a trove of the King’s treasures, though. “I’d rather not get involved with any of that.”
“Picky, picky.” Courfeyrac laughs. “Whatever. Don’t stay out too late.”
“Yes, mother.” Enjolras rolled his eyes, smiling, as he left their cottage.
Enjolras loved the village. It was big enough to not be a single cottage in the woods, but small enough for everybody to know everybody else. Far enough from the capital to not be annoying, but close enough to the forests for magic to keep things interesting. He fell in love with the people, their lives simple and true even in the face of orc raids or faerie attacks, and fell in love with everything else along the way. From the quiet mornings to the bustling afternoons to the fact that there was always something to do. Be it a rare item to protect or a cursed bloodline or a neighbor who might be a witch. Villages like this always teemed with problems to be solved.
But then again, Enjolras had solved most of the problems already. The items have been locked away, the bloodline uncursed, and the witch confirmed and invited into the local coven. It occurs to him that, maybe, he’s done a bit too good of a job.
“I’m bored,” Enjolras says, stunned at the mere concept.
“My condolences,” Feuilly pats his back for a few seconds. “If it makes you feel any better, I really appreciate the help.”
Today, Enjolras had saved Madame Hucheloup’s cat from the top of a tree, shovelled some coal for a very flustered Marius, and sweeped the entirety of Feuilly’s bar. After it was all done, the village had nothing else for him to do other from watch paint dry. Literally. They were repainting the ‘No Crows Allowed’ sign they hung up by the crops, because people around here believed that crows would follow if they were reasoned with and not played by the trickery that comes along with a scarecrow.
“Feuilly, get this poor sap a drink. Put it on my tab,” Bahorel sat next to him at the counter.
“You don’t have a tab,” Feuilly rolls his eyes. “And Enjolras doesn’t drink.”
“Sucks. It’d probably make you feel better. You look like shit,” Bahorel says. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Enjolras assures him. “I just didn’t think there’d ever be a day where there wasn’t anything happening.”
“Calm before the storm. Never jinx it.” Bahorel knocks on the counter. It creaked ominously, and Feuilly swatted his hand away with a rag. “If you want, you could come with me on a job?”
“Thank you, but no thanks.” Enjolras says. Bahorel’s jobs were a tad bloody for Enjolras’ tastes. “No offense.”
“None taken, man.”
“Enjolras!” The door slammed open just then, hinges creaking. Marius stood there, panicked, scratches littering his arms. Enjolras will never admit that this was the happiest he’s ever felt to seeing Marius panicked and injured.
“Don’t slam the door,” Feuilly reprimanded lightly.
“Oh, sorry.” Marius closes the door gently.
“What is it?” Enjolras stands, hand going for the sword that has been uselessly sheathed at his side the entire day, readying himself for what it might be. Rogue troll. Bandits. A unicorn. He’s never seen a unicorn before but by this point, he’s open to the concept. “What’s going on?”
Marius took a deep breath.
“It’s the cat,” He says.
“The cat,” Enjolras says.
“Madame Hucheloup’s cat,” Marius nods, looking less panicked now and more sheepish. “She’s, ah. Well. Back in the tree.”
“Ah,” Enjolras says.
The dragon lived in a tower not even a quarter’s day of a ride from the village.
Enjolras woke up at an early hour, much to Courfeyrac’s endless delight, suited up, mounted his horse, and made off at a steady gallop.
The tower, Enjolras remembers, was nothing special. It was a long abandoned structure originally built for stargazing and astronomy, but it was too far away to be convenient for any scholar. Nobody was ever interested in living in it, and people weren’t bothered enough to demolish it. The tower was undeniably uninteresting. It stayed uninteresting right up until about a year ago, when villager going for hike had seen a dragon set up shop there.
There was a brief moment where the village had feared raids or attacks from the dragon. Pillaging, and whatnot. Fire and destruction. That was, after all, what dragons excelled in.
This dragon didn’t seem to get the memo, because it never left the tower. It never went near the village. It never stirred any trouble whatsoever.
For that, Enjolras left it alone. He’s gone on enough quests and missions to know that most problems would have never been problems in the first place if people just learned how to mind their own business. Don’t steal cabbages from other people’s gardens, and everybody’s happy. Don’t bother the dragon who never bothered anybody else, and everybody’s mortal injury free. That kind of thing.
But then again, dragons weren’t exactly common creatures. Much like unicorns, faeries, and griffons, their presence meant something. Surplus of virgins, magic, or eagle-lion things. They were nature’s way of telling humans that something was about to go wrong, right, or somewhere inbetween.
Dragons usually meant that the King had done something stupid, resulting in a kidnapped royal and hoarded castle of treasures. Enjolras assumes that he would have noticed if a nearby dragon kidnapped a princess. If he didn’t notice, Combeferre would have at least included it in his letters.
Studies are going well. My professor is as dull as Courfeyrac’s older pigeons. The princess was kidnapped by the dragon that lives in that tower. You know, the one near the village? Write back soon. -Combeferre
Enjolras is prepared for whatever the dragon may mean. He suited up in his strongest armor, the one with Joly’s protective runes carved on the inside. His sword is the one Marius forged for him with that magic ore a wizard gifted him with. He also had his bow and arrow, which was of the normal variety, just in case the dragon took to the air. If the dragon turned out to be peaceful and not at all an omen for the future, Enjolras would just go back home and call it a day. It’s a win-win situation.
He rides along the trail Courfeyrac’s map takes him, and sure enough, Enjolras sees the tower peek over the trees ahead. The trees slowly tinker off until it becomes a clearing, with the tower deadset in the middle. Enjolras dismounts, ties his horse off, and walks the rest of the way.
It’s a lovely clearing. Untrodden grass speckled with flowers here and there. The tower itself could look ugly, but instead looked charming in its abandonment. Cobblestone and stray vines adorned the walls. There’s a balcony at the top, presumably where the stargazing would happen had the tower fulfilled its true purpose.
Enjolras is looking up at it when he hears a rustle from the trees. The creaking of twigs.
He turns, quickly, to see the dragon emerge from the forest.
It’s large, but not as large as Enjolras had expected. Nothing like the monsters as huge as castles that terrorized the greedy kings and stomped civilizations down to the ground. No, this dragon was just over the size of a fully grown bear. Fearsome it still looked, with sharp claws that looked like it could pierce metal. Tough scales that could withstand a sword. Large, leathery wings and a tail that dragged behind it as it walked into the clearing.
Enjolras drew his sword.
The dragon turned its head to him. Its eyes focused.
Okay. Enjolras takes back what he said about not being large. This dragon was a big lumbering beast. Enjolras widened his stance and gripped his sword well.
He looked at the dragon and the dragon looked back.
The dragon took a deep breath, and all Enjolras could think of was that he was an idiot for not bringing a shield against what quite possibly is a fire breathing dragon when the dragon pointedly does not breathe fire.
Then it speaks.
“For fuck’s sake,” It says. Says. Because the dragon is speaking. “Okay, you know what? This was bound to happen but I’m just not in the mood for it. I’m not.”
Enjolras opens his mouth. Then he closes it. He does this a few more times for good measure because a dragon just spoke. Its—his (?) mouth opened and moved in the way that suggested speech. The sound was made. The dragon was most definitely speaking.
“I’m not having the best day right now,” the dragon says. Enjolras is coming to terms with it now “I have the worst goddamn headache, I couldn’t catch a single fish, and a scale fell off this morning. I don’t even know what that means. I could be dying” He (?) says, making an expression that looked like a wince, showing off his (?) rather sharp teeth in the process. “So, frankly, I don’t care what faraway village you come from or what bullshit prophecy you’re going to fulfill by slaying me. I’m not in the mood.”
“I’m,” Enjolras says. “I’m sorry?”
The dragon looks at him in disbelief. Enjolras can’t tell if it’s because of his abysmal conversational skills or if the dragon is just surprised Enjolras actually replied. He assumes most people aren’t too keen on having a conversation with a dragon.
“You’re sorry,” The dragon says slowly. “I have some trouble believing that.”
“I’m not here to slay you,” Enjolras says. He was only here to slay if the dragon was violent, which he doesn’t really seem to be. Right now, the dragon just seems disgruntled, which doesn’t merit death at all. “I’m just here to, uh. Investigate.”
“Oh right, okay.” The dragon rolls his eyes. It’s an odd action for a dragon to do, but he manages it pretty well. “So that’s not a sword in your hand right now. And let me guess, that isn’t a quiver either and you’re just happy to see me?”
“It was a precaution,” Enjolras sheathes his sword and keeps his head high. He won’t be embarrassed by a dragon.
“Right,” He drawls.
“Don’t sound so condescending,” Enjolras says defensively. This whole exchange is not going as how he expected it to. “Dragons are known to be fearsome creatures.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not your average dragon.” He says, walking towards Enjolras.
“Yes,” Enjolras holds his ground when the dragon gets close.“I didn’t know dragons these days could speak.”
“I didn’t know heroes these days had such crappy armor,” The dragon circles Enjolras. He pokes at Enjolras’ armor with his tail. “What is this? A hand-me-down?”
“It does the job,” Enjolras swats the dragon’s tail away.
“Touchy,” The dragon snickers, and steps back a bit before settling down in the grass. “We don’t have to test it out right now, because as I’ve said, I’m not in the mood. Come back tomorrow.” He shuts his eyes.
Enjolras doesn’t move an inch. When the dragon realizes this, he opens his eyes and glares at Enjolras.
“What the fuck are you still doing here? I don’t want to fight today.”
“I don’t want to fight at all,” Enjolras tells the dragon. “I just want to check around. Understand. Dragons aren’t common, talking ones no less. It usually means something.”
“I’ve been here for a year,” The dragon says, unimpressed. “If you were ’checking around’, you would have done it back then.”
“I was busy.”
“Sure you were. Listen, I don’t care what it is you want to do, it can wait ‘til tomorrow.” The dragon curls up into itself, laying his wings over his eyes. “I’m planning on sleeping the fuck out of today, so you can take yourself and your perfect hair back home, okay?”
“Oh,” Enjolras tucks his hair behind his ear. “Okay. Well. I guess I’ll just come back tomorrow.”
“Finally, he gets it.”
“I hope you feel better,” Enjolras says awkwardly. The dragon lifts his wing up just to give Enjolras a questioning look. “Your headache?”
“You’re a weird one, hero.”
“My name,” He says. The dragon’s eyes seem to pierce his armor. “What’s yours?”
The dragon pulls back into himself and is silent for a few seconds. Enjolras thinks he’s gone to sleep, but then he pulls his wing back enough to show his snout.
“Grantaire,” He says. “Now leave me the fuck alone.”
How are things at the capital? The village is well. Oddly so. Nothing ridiculously dangerous has happened for weeks and I have to admit, it’s a bit unsettling. Now would be a good time to cash in your collected leaves to come and visit, seeing as now, it’s less likely you’ll waste your visit fighting pixies. (They’ve all been exterminated. Thoroughly.)
On another note, do you have any books about dragons? Particularly speaking ones? If you do, I’d be eternally grateful if you could send some over.
Courfeyrac misses you dearly and spends a lot of time looking out the window wistfully. He’s eerily consistent. I fear he may have it scheduled. Do what you will with that information.
Hope you visit soon.
Enjolras doesn’t bother suiting up the next day. Partly because it doesn’t seem as if the dragon, Grantaire, would actually attack him, and partly because it would be rude. He leaves his sword and his bow at home, and rides out as if he were just visiting a normal human, and not a surprisingly verbose dragon.
He finds Grantaire in the clearing, lounging in the sun on a rock. He cracks an eye open when Enjolras makes his way closer.
“Ugh,” Grantaire says.
“Hi,” Enjolras says.
“I didn’t actually think you’d be back.”
“You told me to come back,”
“Well, yeah, but nobody ever listens to a talking dragon,” Grantaire huffs. “Give me a few minutes and I’ll give you your fight, as promised.”
“I’m not here to fight,” Enjolras gestures to himself, armor absent. “Obviously.”
“Hey, you could be some all powerful mage, or something. Don’t judge a book by how much armor it wears,” Grantaire stretches, his wings flapping out. Enjolras looks, vaguely fascinated.
“I’m not magic,” He assures Grantaire. “And I don’t want to fight.”
“You’re a human and I’m a dragon. Literally all your kind and mine do is fight. What’s your deal?”
“Is that your catchphrase? God, sit down. You’re giving me a neck cramp.”
“Dragons aren’t,” Enjolras takes a seat next to Grantaire, trying to find a way to order his words without being offensive. Interspecial relations was something Enjolras did for a living, but a talking dragon was a new one. “They, well. Gravitate towards certain things.”
“Like gold and princesses?” Grantaire squints at him.
“Please don’t think I’m stereotyping. That is the last thing I want to do.”
“Well you are.”
“Sorry,” He says. Grantaire huffs, blowing on a dandelion in the process. “I genuinely just want to know why you’re here. I’m from a village not too far from here and I’m their resident diplomat, I guess.”
“Diplomat. That’s a new one.” Grantaire makes a sound that sounds like a laugh, but it echoes more. “Since when did you guys bring weapons around?”
“That was just in case you were aggressive, which you aren’t. You’re passive aggressive. And sarcastic.” Enjolras tells him. Grantaire grumbles something too soft for him to hear. “Yes, I’m a diplomat. The village is far enough in the forest for magic and non-human beings to be a daily occurrence. I make sure the truces stay in place and the peace is kept. If somebody attacks for no reason, I fight.”
“That sounds noble,” Grantaire drawls in the way that makes Enjolras want to punch humans when they use that drawl. But then again. Grantaire is a dragon, and Enjolras would probably just end up hurting his fist. “I’ve lived here for the longest time, though. Why did you just check in now? Am I supposed to be paying rent?”
“Well, it’s no secret dragons are usually involved with the crown,” Enjolras pulls a blade of grass from the ground. “I don’t like getting involved with anything concerning royalty. You never posed a threat in the past, anyways, so it doesn’t matter.”
“You’re saying you avoided me,” Grantaire says slowly, lifting his head up to look at Enjolras. “Because of your political views?”
“Well,” He fiddled with the blade of grass. “Yes.”
“Wow,” Grantaire blinks. “Well, sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have anything that qualifies as royalty up in that tower. No gold either. I just came here because I was looking for somewhere to live. This place was perfect. It’s deserted. Has a nice view. It’s also a few miles from being in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t get pesky knights looking to slay me because of destiny or blah blah blah.” He actually mimes a mouth with his claws like one would do with hands. “Plus, there’s a stream nearby. Running water and food pretty much sealed the deal.”
“Alright,” Enjolras says, but there’s something at the niggling at the back of his head. “What was that about knights?”
“Pests.” Grantaire says, voice bordering on a growl. “Do I ever do anything wrong? No. Do they go over and try to stab me in my sleep anyways? Absolutely. Before I found this place I was always on the run since the self righteous little bastards wouldn’t leave me alone.”
The thought of anybody seeking out mindless violence makes Enjolras feel sick, right until he remembers that he had almost done the same thing. The feeling gets worse, after that.
“Just to get the record straight,” Grantaire says. “You’re not going to slay me, yes?”
“Of course not,” Enjolras tells him.
“And you won’t make kick me out of the tower?”
“No. Nobody owns that thing anyways, so it’s yours.”
“Good,” Grantaire lays his head down on the grass. “This place has grown on me. Would’ve been shitty if I had to leave.”
“You don’t.” Enjolras leans back and looks at the tower. There was something inexplicably lonely about the setup, holed away here. “So you live here all by yourself?”
“Mm, no. I actually live with my trusty nomadic harem.” Grantaire deadpans, then laughs when he sees Enjolras’ glare. “Yes, I’m here by myself. People don’t exactly stick around for conversation with a dragon. Well, except for you. Which brings me back to a question I’ve asked before. What’s your deal?”
“Can you fly?” Enjolras asks instead of answering. Grantaire’s wings are certainly large, but he also looked incongruously heavy.
The question seems so out of the left field, Grantaire doesn’t even answer with a sarcastic quip. “Yeah,” He says, puzzled. “Why? My headache still sucks right now, so you better not be expecting a demonstration.”
“If you can fly,” Enjolras turns to look at Grantaire. “You can come over to the village. It’s an hour on horseback but it’ll probably take you less if you fly.”
“Literally why the hell would I do that?”
Enjolras shrugs. “The people are nice.”
“The people are nice,” Grantaire repeats, staring at Enjolras as if he’s the one being silly right now.
“They are,” Enjolras assures him. “I’ll talk to them. Tell them you mean no harm, and nobody will mind. Truly. We have a local coven of witches.”
“Witches are human,” Grantaire says. His tail bristles behind him, scales standing on edge. “I’m not.”
“You seem friendly enough for that not to be a problem,” Enjolras says. For some reason, this agitates Grantaire further. “I promise, it’s fine. It’s—”
Grantaire is on Enjolras in a second, pinning him down, his claws missing his shoulders and instead piercing the ground beneath. He spreads his wings, casting a wide shadow above him, and Enjolras’ breath catches in his chest.
“You wanna know what happened the last time I got too close to a village? The last time i tried to reason with somebody?” He growls. There’s a long, ragged scar that cuts across Grantaire’s wing like a lightning bolt. Under his neck, his scales stop at a starburst scar, flesh messily healed back together. The more Enjolras looks, the more scars he seems to see. Wounds etched it in, left to dry. “So fuck you and fuck your village. Take your goodwill somewhere useful.”
With that, he pushes off and walks away. Enjolras, over the sound of his heartbeat in his ears, hears the door of the tower creak open and then slam closed.
“Hey,” Coufeyrac greets when Enjolras enters their cabin. “Combeferre sent Fucker back. His letter for you is by your bed. I also got a quest notice. It’s past the mountains, a ways away from here. Some folks have a nasty little gnome infestation.”
“Is it life or death?” Enjolras rummages over his things, unearthing his coin pouch. He’ll go over Combeferre’s letter when he gets back.
“Gnomes are never life or death,” Courfeyrac says from the table, scratching away at parchment with a quill. “Just annoying. Like rats with hats that can’t be killed by cats.” He grins at his own rhyme. “You taking it?”
“No. Tell them I’m busy.”
“With what?” Courfeyrac looks up from the parchment. “Where are you headed in such a hurry?”
“Eponine,” Enjolras says. “I need some medicine.”
“Are you sick?”
“No. It’s not for me,” Enjolras shoves a couple of coins down his pocket.
“I’m on the edge of my seat here, Enj.”
“It’s for Grantaire.” Enjolras says, making his way for the door before he gets delayed any more. “The dragon.”
“The dragon in the tower?” Courfeyrac tilts his head. “How on earth did you get the dragon’s name?”
“He told me,” He tells Courfeyrac, already halfway out the door. “He’s a talking dragon.”
“He’s a what?”
Enjolras doesn’t ride out to the tower immediately, the next day. Instead, he searches for the stream Grantaire had been talking about. He thought to tie his horse off there instead, so that she could drink and rest easier. Though when he finds it, just a few short minutes away from the clearing, it seems he’s not alone.
Grantaire is at the stream, muttering lowly at the water, clawing at the surface like a bear.
“Listen, you little fuckers,” Enjolras hears after he ties his horse off farther down the stream and walks back up. Grantaire tracks a fish in the stream. “It’s nothing personal. A guy’s gotta eat. It’s the circle of life.”
He strikes, and misses. Frustrated, Grantaire blows out a fireball at the water, which does nothing but create a cloud of smoke that has him coughing.
“Having trouble?” Enjolras says, amused.
With a flap of his wings, Grantaire clears the smoke. He looks around until he sees Enjolras, leaning against a tree, levelling a glare at him.
“Perfect. Just what I needed to make this day even shittier,” Grantaire pulls himself out of the stream. “I thought I made it pretty clear yesterday that I didn’t want to see you again.”
“No you didn’t. You just made it clear that you didn’t want to go to the village.”
“Smartass,” Grantaire says, shaking the water from his scales.
“Do you still have that headache?” Enjolras asks.
“None of your business,” Grantaire says in the way that means yes, he still does.
“I think I have something that can fix it,” Enjolras pulls a rather large vial from his satchel. Okay. It’s more of a bottle. Eponine didn’t know how portions would work for beings much larger than an average human.
“Holy shit, is that alcohol?” Grantaire looks at the bottle as if he’s ready to pounce.
“What? No. That would do the opposite of help a headache.” Grantaire droops slightly. “One of the witches in our coven specializes in potions and she assures me this should make you better.”
“You got me medicine,” Grantaire says, puzzled, like the concept is odder than a talking dragon. “You got me magic medicine.”
“You complained about your headache for the past two days, so it must be bad.” Enjolras pulls the cork off the bottle, extending it to Grantaire.
Grantaire looks at Enjolras for a few seconds, clearly still in disbelief, but he comes forward anyways. Gingerly, he takes the bottle’s neck between his sharp teeth, before knocking his head back, gulping all of its contents down.
“Huh,” Grantaire drops the bottle, sitting on his haunches. “Why did that taste like strawberries?”
“She’s a firm believer that potions don’t have to taste bad.” Enjolras takes a seat next to Grantaire, though a little farther than he sat yesterday. Grantaire’s eyes flick down, because of course he notices.
“Well, tell her I appreciate it. And that, wow, shit. Okay. It’s really working.” He shakes his head.
“Gone,” Grantaire says, blinking owlishly. “God, tell your witch I love her. Wait.” He turns to Enjolras, yellow, slitted eyes narrowing. “What do you want from me?”
“I don’t have any money. I told you before that I don’t have any gold stashed away in my tower. I probably have like, a chair or two. But I doubt you’d consider that as currency. Though you can consider it a trade?” Grantaire looks pensive. “I can give you one chair.”
“Fine. One and a half. Take it or leave it.”
“I don’t want a chair,” Enjolras says before he’s offered another fraction of a hypothetical chair. “Or money. I just wanted to get you a potion, that’s it. You can take it as an apology, if you want.”
“An apology?” Grantaire says. “For what?”
“Yesterday,” Enjolras looks out to the stream. There are a couple of fish swimming around happily. “I made you uncomfortable.”
“I tackled you.”
“It was barely a shove,” Enjolras waves a hand dismissively. “And also understandable. Am I forgiven?
“Yeah, sure. So forgiven,” Grantaire raises his wings like a shrug. “The only way you could get any more forgiven is if you caught me some lunch.”
“I can do that,” Enjolras reaches for the bow in his quiver.
“Wait, geez. I was joking.” Grantaire stands on his fours. “You don’t have to.”
“I don’t have anything else to do,” Enjolras says, and no. Gnome infestations don’t count.
“Don’t you have exciting adventures to get to?” Grantaire watches Enjolras set an arrow to his bow.
“The most exciting thing that’s happened this week has been meeting you,” Enjolras tracks a fish happily swimming around. It’s nothing personal, fish.
“The more I learn about you the more realize you’re pretty lame for a hero knight.” Grantaire says.
He pulls the string back then lets it go. The arrow shoots clean through the fish’s head, sticking out of the shallow water of the stream.
“Nevermind,” Grantaire says as Enjolras walks into the stream to fetch the fish. “I take it back. Totally not lame. Best hero knight I’ve ever met, cross my heart.”
“Here,” He pulls the arrow out of the fish, setting it down on the grass.
“Best hero knight,” Grantaire repeats before he chomps down into the fish. It’s gone in a few seconds, and Enjolras finds himself smiling. “What was your name again?”
“Enjolras,” He says.
“Well, Enjolras. Thanks.” Grantaire gets up. “For the potion and for the fish. If you’re taking requests, I haven’t had booze in ages.”
“It was nothing,” Enjolras tells him.
“No, it wasn’t.” Grantaire says. “It really wasn’t. Just say you’re welcome, idiot.”
“You’re welcome, Grantaire.” He says, more for Grantaire’s benefit than his.
“See? That wasn’t so hard.” Grantaire’s face pulls into a smile for a moment. “You should go home. There isn’t much to do around here.”
“Can I come back?” Enjolras asks as Grantaire makes for the treeline.
“Nothing seems to stop you,” Grantaire calls out, walking away.
The books Combeferre sends arrive a few days later than his letter. Unfortunately, he hasn’t heard of talking dragons before, but with something as unpredictable as magic, nothing is impossible. He stuffs as many books as he can into his satchel before going out the door.
“You know, Combeferre is really interested in your talking dragon friend.” Courfeyrac says, Combeferre’s letter in his hand, the other idly petting Enjolras’ horse on the muzzle. “Which is so funny, because I’m also interested in your talking dragon friend. Because he’s a dragon. Who talks. And is your friend.”
“Your point?” He mounts his horse.
“My point is you should introduce your best friend, me,” Courfeyrac points to himself, just in case Enjolras needs any help remembering. “To your dragon friend. Because I’m your best friend.”
“Grantaire doesn’t like people.”
“But you’re people too.”
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Enjolras takes the reins.
Courfeyrac pouts. “He’s not cooler than me is he?”
“He can’t do a backflip like you do,” He pats Courfeyrac on the head. “Any important messages?”
“We got a few complaints from the orcs,” Courfeyrac says. “Son of the tribe leader is not happy about how we stopped selling plums.”
“Do you think they’d break a two year truce over fruit?” Enjolras asks. It’s a legitimate question. A few months back, the faeries attacked the village because they really didn’t like Jehan’s outfit.
“You can never tell with the orcs,” He says. “But the village hasn’t been burned to the ground yet, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Go hang out with your dragon friend.”
Enjolras urges his horse into a gallop, and does just that.
It becomes a thing.
On days when the village has nothing for him to do, days when the sun inches by lazily, waiting for the day to end just as much as he does, he rides out to Grantaire’s tower. With the quiet that’s fallen over the village, this ends up being quite often. He rides over to the clearing or to the stream and spends afternoons with Grantaire until the sky turns orange, a warning that he should leave before Courfeyrac scolds him for riding at night. Grantaire was right about there not being much to do. Between sunbathing and fishing, the only other thing they do is talk.
Enjolras comes back day after day.
One would think that after a while, they’d run out of things to talk about, but that wasn’t the case. Grantaire was incredibly well read for a dragon, and in fact more well read than most humans. He has a brain full of topics like history and legends. A remarkable understanding of philosophy. He’s not a fan of mathematics or any of the hard sciences, but he does have an appreciation for the stars. The tower, it seems, managed to fulfill its purpose afterall. Where he learned it all, Enjolras doesn’t ask. When Grantaire talks about everything he knows, he does so with a dismissive tone that suggests he wouldn’t answer if Enjolras did ask him. It’s a casual, almost lazy sort of intelligence.
He brings over the books Combeferre sent from the capital. They read, splayed out on the grass, Enjolras turning the pages for Grantaire since he can’t do it without shredding the pages apart. When they finish that, they move onto others, and keep on going until something catches their eye. Until a topic catches and lights them up.
For Grantaire, it seems to be the arts. He once spent an entire afternoon talking about shades of colors and compositions. About things Enjolras had no idea about. He spoke of paint as if he was talking about an old friend he hadn’t seen in years. For Enjolras, it’s politics, of course. And that was when they learned that they disagreed on a great deal of things. After a few arguments, they come to a compromise and avoid the topics instead.
“What’s your favorite color?” Grantaire asks, hunched over one of Courfeyrac’s books.
“I don’t think I have one,” Enjolras says, blowing the shavings off of the piece of wood he’s carving. Musichetta says she needed a ‘squiggly piece of wood’ for a spell.
“How can you not have a favorite color?” Grantaire looks at him incredulously. It’s steadily getting easier to read Grantaire’s emotions and how they look like on a dragon.
“I never stopped to think about it.”
“I’m giving you a favorite color, then. And you better love this color with all your heart.” Grantaire says, looking over Enjolras. “You’d look good in red.”
“Red?” Enjolras didn’t own anything red. His own cloak was a dark brown that could get away with a lot of unnoticeable grime before he had to wash it.
“Yeah. Get to work on making that one your favorite. Next question,” Grantaire squints at the book. “Favorite season?”
“What on earth are you reading?”
“It’s a quiz that determines what bird you are via personality.” Of course Courfeyrac would own something like that. “I’m a blackbird.”
Enjolras got a woodpecker. Grantaire finds this hilarious for reasons Enjolras can’t really understand.
He still takes quests, but if he has a preference for the ones that won’t take him too far away, well, nobody brings it up. He kills a murderous siren in a lake, goes off to a cave to look for an enchanted stone Bossuet wants for Joly’s birthday, and has a very, very long talk with a troll who has been charging unreasonable tolls for his bridge. Whatever he does, he’s always back in a matter of days. He goes off and gets the job done, then he comes back. Then he goes to Grantaire, who always demands a story of his swashbuckling adventures, only to heckle every detail when Enjolras actually tells him.
It becomes a thing.
Every once in awhile, Enjolras tries to get Grantaire to go to the village. Thankfully, he doesn’t react by tackling Enjolras to the ground. He just grumbles and rolls his eyes. Enjolras hopes that this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Grantaire could certainly do with a few more friends, but instead he was saddled with the bad luck of meeting humanity’s worst first.
“Yeah, yeah. I get it.” Grantaire pushes Enjolras lightly with his tail. “Your village is awesome and the people are even cooler. Still don’t want to go. Still not convinced any human could see me and not attack.”
“I didn’t,” Enjolras crosses his arms.
“You don’t count.“ He says. “You’re weird.”
“The rest of the village is too,” Enjolras says. Just this morning, Feuilly had chased Bahorel around the well with a frying pan while Bahorel looked fond, of all things. Gavroche cheered him on as he sat on a barrel a safe distance away. Enjolras didn’t stop to ask what everything was about, since Feuilly chasing Bahorel was something that happened regularly. “My friends want to meet you.”
“Courfeyrac? The one with the birds?”
“Yeah,” Enjolras tells him. “And the others.”
“Hey, don’t look so glum.” Grantaire says. “If you ask enough, I just might.”
“I don’t know, maybe,” He says. “Maybe.”
Again, thank you for the books you sent. While none of them had anything on speaking dragons, they were still an interesting read. Although, Grantaire said that many of them are inaccurate. He said, and I quote “Never in my fucking life have I tried to eat a human being whole.” Perhaps it’s a difference of genus.
As for the village, all is well. The crows have scratched out the ‘No’ in the No Crows Allowed sign. A few days ago, a knight came through. Cosette was very friendly. She’s one of those prophecy types. Marius was quite enamoured and made her a sword in record time. He’s been sighing a lot more ever since she left. Minor scuffle with the faeries when one of them took one of Courf’s pigeons hostage, but it was sorted out. Turns out they were angry the village stopped selling plums. The fruit seems to be integral in keeping the peace.
I’m sorry to hear that you’d like to bludgeon your professor with an encyclopedia. My advice is that you start small and toss a journal at his head first. Perhaps a visit is in order to relieve your stress. Courfeyrac just looked over my shoulder and told me I’m not good at subtlety. Grantaire tells me the same thing, sometimes. I’m sure you think so too.
It’s an unspoken rule that Grantaire’s tower was off limits. In all the days Enjolras has been with him, they always sat by the stream or in the clearing. The weather was always good, so it wasn’t a problem. Although today, it became one.
The clouds brewed above as Enjolras rode out to the tower, and he didn’t notice until it the rain was coming down in sheets.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Grantaire calls out in the rain as Enjolras dismounts. “It’s raining.”
“Oh, really?” Enjolras calls back. “I hadn’t noticed,”
Grantaire runs to him, splashing in puddles, and extends his wing over Enjolras’ head. He has to duck slightly for it to work, but it’s infinitely better than getting caught in the downpour.
“Come on,” Grantaire walks them to the door of the tower. “You can tie your dumb horse inside. Hurry up before you get a cold and before I die. You humans and your warm-blooded privilege, I swear.”
“Thank you,” Enjolras says as Grantaire shuts the door.
The inside of the tower is dark, only dimly lit by the windows that line the spiral staircase. The ground is covered in hay. Enjolras ties the reins of his horse on a hook in the wall, sheds his cloak, and hangs that there too.
“Well, you might as well come up, then.” Grantaire flaps the water off of his wings.
They climb up the stairs slowly, as not to slip from the water they’re tracking in. When they get to the top, Grantaire pushes the door open, and goes in.
Enjolras didn’t really know what he was expecting, but this catastrophic mess wasn’t it.
The room was a mess. There’s no other word for it. The balcony lets enough light to stream in to prove Enjolras’ point. There were piles upon piles of things.Tables, shelves, a guitar. A pile of crates. A pile of objects which Enjolras thinks used to be one large object. He thinks he sees something moving amongst the chaos, but then Grantaire speaks.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” Grantaire says. He uses his tail to sweep the floor of the things strewn around, but it actually just strews them around in a different direction.
“It’s,” Enjolras steps forward, nearly kicking over what looks like a tin of paint. “Cozy.”
“Is that really the first word that came into your head?” Grantaire sits in what looks like a nest of sheets.
“No. The first word was ‘mess’. I was trying to be polite.” Enjolras says. Grantaire snorts, then leans over to a fireplace at the side. He lights it with a fireball. “Is this your hoard?”
“Well, I, personally, just like to call it my pile of bad decisions. But if we’re being technical, yes, it’s my hoard.”
“What’s your overall theme here?” The light from the fire illuminates the room, and Enjolras’ eye catches on the smaller trinkets. A dreamcatcher. A wooden puzzle. A bottle. According to Combeferre’s books, dragons had a tendency to choose one thing and dedicate their entire lives to it. Grantaire’s hoard just looks like he took whatever caught his eye, got distracted, and took something else in its place.
“There isn’t one.”
“I can see that.” Enjolras’ boot meets something else on the ground, and he leans down to pick up what is certainly a tortoise.
“Hey, don’t judge.” Grantaire says. “And put Rocky down.”
“Yeah,” Enjolras sets Rocky back onto the floor, eyes scanning the piles for those any of those two chairs Grantaire once said he had. “I went through a phase where I hoarded living things. The rest of them left, except him. I’ve tried kicking him out. The next day he was trying to climb the stairs.”
“You have a pet,” Enjolras finds a chair wedged underneath a bunch of canvasses. With a few tugs, he manages to get it out.
“Roommate, more like it.” Rocky has crawled over to Grantaire’s sheet nest. He pets the top of Rocky’s head very gently with the tip of his tail. “Sit by the fire. If you get a cold, it’s not my fault.”
“I appreciate you letting me up,” Enjolras says. The warmth of the fire feels incredible, what with his clothes sodden and his hair wet. “I know that you didn’t want to.”
“It’s not that I didn’t want to. There’s just nothing to see here,” Grantaire says. He tosses Enjolras a sheet. “Like you said, it’s a mess.”
“It’s nice, in a way.” He says and means it. In all the poorly construed chaos, he can see bits and bobs of Grantaire. It suits him. “Where did you get it all?”
“Well, most of it I, uh, stole. But believe me when I say nobody wanted the stuff in the first place,” Grantaire tells him. Rocky retreats into his shell. “The rest of it is actually mine. The paint. The books too. God, I wouldn’t steal books. I’m not a monster.”
“Yours?” Is what Enjolras’ brain latches onto.
“Yeah. Mine,” Grantaire huddles deeper into his sheets. Almost insecure. “From when I was human.”
It’s quiet for the handful of seconds it takes for Enjolras’ brain to process that. Then:
“What do you mean ‘what’?” Grantaire asks. But Enjolras is certain he knows what he’s talking about.
“From when you were human,” Enjolras repeats. “You were human.”
“Yeah, that’s what I said.”
“Well, how on earth did you become a dragon? I doubt it’s hereditary!” Enjolras says. Grantaire’s existence continues to stump Enjolras. First he’s a dragon, then he’s a talking one, then he’s a talking one that used to be human.
“Curse,” Grantaire tries to say nonchalantly, looking away from Enjolras. He’s gotten better at reading him, though. His wing twitches whenever the topic hits too close to home.
“You were cursed.”
“Thank you, Enjolras. I totally needed somebody to parrot the words I just said right back at me.”
“To be a dragon.” Enjolras says. “When? How? By who?”
“None of your business.”
“No, Grantaire. I need to know these things. I want to help.” He tells him, abandoning the fire to to look at Grantaire. “This is what I do.”
“I’m not some fucking quest,” Grantaire says with a low growl. Rocky spooks and tries to crawl out of Grantaire’s sheets as fast as he physically can.
“I know that, but I want to help. I can help.” Enjolras circles the nest until he’s face to face with Grantaire yet again. “I’ve helped break curses before. My friends at the coven do this kind of thing. Combeferre is a scribe, he could help too.”
“I don’t like people,” Grantaire rehashes his usual excuse. “And they don’t like me.”
“I can talk to them,” Enjolras says, frustrated. “And frankly, so can you. You spoke to me.”
“You’re different!” Grantaire raises his voice. He shakes his head, takes a deep breath. “It’s not raining anymore.”
“Listen, I know I’m being shitty right now, okay? But I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. You might as well just go home.” Grantaire turns away from him.
“I don’t understand,” Enjolras says. Because he doesn’t. He doesn’t get it.
“Go home, Enjolras.”
“I’m coming back,” He says.
“I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing anymore,” Is the last thing Enjolras hears as he makes for the door.
The local coven lives in an inn on the outskirts of town. Well, it used to be an inn. Since their village was either monumentally boring or ravaged by magical attacks at a single given moment, they weren’t exactly popular with the tourists. The innkeeper gave the inn to her son, an aspiring mage in the making, and Joly’s owned it ever since. Over the course of a few years, more and more people just started living there. Most of them were magical, and the others who weren’t were called Gavroche and Bossuet.
Instead of magic, they dabbled in beekeeping.
“Good morning, Enjolras.” Bossuet greets from where he is outside by the beehives. “What brings you here?”
“Can’t I just say hello?” He asks. The bees buzzing around bump themselves against Enjolras until they realize he isn’t a flower. They then buzz off in another direction.
“Sure you can,” Gavroche says, scooping some honey into a jar. “But you’re usually with your secret dragon friend at this time.”
“Well, I’m not there today.”
Gavroche squints up at him. “Did you and your secret dragon friend fight, or something?”
Enjolras is almost sure Gavroche has some seer blood in him. “No.”
“Oh, you so did.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yeah, you did.” Gavroche grins.
“Children, calm down.” Bossuet interrupts before Enjolras can retaliate with a ‘nuh uh’. “Gav, can you handle bringing the jars out back?” Gavroche nods, gathering up the jars before scampering away “Come on in, Enj.”
When they get through the door, Musichetta is there holding two mugs.
“Oh, Enjolras.” She says, blinking as if something just made sense. “I think I was expecting you. I made an extra mug of tea for no reason. I think it’s for you.”
“Thank you,” She hands him the mug.
“So what’s up?” Bossuet asks while Musichetta kicks their snake from Enjolras’ leg. Bossuet was allergic, so they couldn’t get a cat. “You look like you’re here on a mission, man.”
“Sort of,” Enjolras sips at the tea. “I need some help.”
“Ooh, what kind of help,” Musichetta smiles. “It’s been awhile since you’ve had a job for us. Is this about the plums?”
“No. What’s wrong with the plums?” Enjolras asks.
“Aside from the fact that there aren’t any? Nothing. Well at least not yet.” She says. Enjolras can’t imagine being a seer. He can barely order his thoughts and he only has the present kind.
“There’s a curse that needs breaking,” He says. “Where is everybody?”
“Workshop,” Bossuet says. “Come on.”
The workshop was the largest room in the inn. It was probably meant to be a bar, but the coven had remodeled it into a place they could all get work done. By the fireplace was where Eponine was with a few cauldrons and vials. Joly was at a table, sticks of chalk scattered around as he carved a rune into a sickle. Behind the counter was Jehan. On the counter in front of them was something that looked a lot like a reanimated corpse.
“Enjolras!” Jehan says a tad bit too loud before covering the corpse quickly with a sheet. The corpse squawks. “It’s so lovely to see you.”
“Jehan,” Enjolras says slowly. He had nothing against necromancy, but the last thing Jehan had reanimated went on a less than friendly rampage. “That better not be a dead person.”
“Not dead anymore, obviously.” The sheet says.
“Shhh,” Jehan swats the corpse right around where his face would be. “You’re not doing yourself any favors.”
“Don’t look at me like that, this one’s different. I swear.” They say. Musichetta snorts from where she’s lounging on a settee with Bossuet. “His name’s Montparnasse and he’s very nice.”
“That’s what you said about the last one,” Enjolras tells them. “And he tried to eat Marius’ brains.”
“Montparnasse won’t eat anybody’s brains,” Jehan assures him. “Right?”
“That’s fucking disgusting,” The sheet says.
From the fireplace, a small explosion rattles out. Eponine fans away the smoke, coughing. “Well that didn’t work. Hello, Enjolras.” She waves. “More headache potion?”
“No. I actually need your help.” He says. “I need to break a curse.”
The word ‘curse’ brings Joly out of his focused carving. He puts down the knife. “A curse? What kind of curse? Oh gosh, it’s been so long since we had a good curse.”
“Try not to sound so happy about the misfortune of others, babe.” Bossuet says.
“Sorry,” Joly says. He levels a solemn gaze at Enjolras. “Condolences.”
“I’m not cursed,” He says. “It’s my friend. My dragon friend. Grantaire. He wasn’t originally a dragon. Somebody cursed him to be that way.”
“A transformative curse,” Joly claps his hands, smiling. Then he puts his hands down. “Ahem. Condolences.”
“That’s a bit of a new one,” Musichetta says. “People get cursed into swans and rats, yeah. But dragons aren’t as common.”
“He’ll have to come in for a checkup,” Joly tells him. “I won’t know what to do unless I’ve seen what kind of magic we’re working with.”
“Yeah, that might be a problem. He doesn’t want to see anybody,” Enjolras tells them all. “I was hoping to bring some cure-alls to him though? It might help.”
“I doubt it will, but I guess it can’t hurt.” Eponine says, looking over a few jars of oddly colored powders, handing them over to Enjolras. “Transformative curses are made by heavy magic. It’s not like warts or bad luck.”
“I suppose I can modify a protection rune,” Joly muses. “We’ll work it out from there.”
“This really means a lot,” Enjolras says earnestly. If Grantaire won’t help himself, Enjolras doesn’t mind doing it for him.
“I can never help with curse breaking,” Jehan sighs. “None of your cursed friends are ever dead.”
“You’re the only person I know who could ever be sad about people not being dead,” Montparnasse says. Jehan whacks him with a spoon.
Enjolras delays himself for a day. Just one day to let Grantaire cool off. It’s not all for him, though. The last thing he had said to Enjolras stuck in his head, and Enjolras figures he’s been a bit...clingy. After his visit to the coven, he busies himself with the small jobs around the village. He helps Courfeyrac clean the pigeon coops. Repaints the ‘No’ on the No Crows Allowed sign. Gets the damn cat out of the damn tree.
In that day of doing mundane chores, Enjolras comes to the conclusion that, perhaps, he was being a bit shitty too. The curse was a curse, yes. But first and foremost, it was Grantaire’s. It was his curse to have and his to deal with how he sees fit. Enjolras sometimes gets caught up in all the saving and questing, he forgets that not everything is there for him specifically to fix.
When he comes back, as promised, it’s to Grantaire pacing back and forth in the clearing, scales up, wings stiff. His head whips up to Enjolras the second he’s close enough.
“I’m sorry,” They both say at the same.
They stop, at a standstill. A robin chirps from nearby.
“Uh, you can go first, I guess.” Enjolras scratches his head awkwardly.
“Okay. Well. I’m sorry,” Grantaire tells him sincerely, the scales ridged along his back fluttering down. “I was being a dick and you didn’t deserve that for wanting to help.”
“I’m sorry too,” Enjolras says. “As much as I want to help, it should be on your terms. Not mine. I’m sorry for pushing you.”
“God,” Grantaire sighs, but he’s smiling. It’s crooked and punctuated by sharp teeth, but Enjolras has missed it all the same. “What a pair we make.”
“Ridiculous, the both of us.” Enjolras nods. The tension he’s apparently had in his bones for the past few days is gone. It’s windy out, and he feels like the slightest breeze could knock him over. “Could I hug you?”
“What?” Grantaire tilts his head.
“You can say no. It’s just.” Whenever he’d get in a particularly nasty argument with Courfeyrac or Combeferre, they would always settle everything with a hug. It simply seems logical for this situation. That’s it. “Because we’re not fighting.”
“Yeah, okay. Sure.” Grantaire shrugs. So Enjolras goes for it, crouching down and latching his arms around Grantaire’s neck.
Having never actually touched Grantaire, the first thing that gets to him is the lack of warmth that usually comes with a hug. But then again, Grantaire is a giant lizard. Grantaire relaxes into after a moment. He lays his wings around Enjolras, shielding him from the wind. It’s not warm but it comes pretty damn close.
“I still want to help you,” He tells Grantaire, fingers running over a few scales.
“We’re having a moment, Enjolras. Don’t ruin it.” Grantaire says, shifting his head. “Give it like, five minutes. Then we can talk about that.”
“Fair enough,” Enjolras says, and he holds on.
The past few days have been productive, to say the least. Grantaire, as it happens, was not born a dragon, and was instead cursed to be that way. This may explain all of the inconsistencies between him and your books.
On that note, any materials concerning transformative curses and magic would be a huge help. Right now, we’re going through trial and error here. It’s frustrating. While he agrees to take whatever potion Eponine thinks will help, he won’t go out of his way to suggest any information that would make it easier to find a cure. He wears the charms Joly creates, but refuses to actually go to the coven for a checkup. He won’t even tell us how he got cursed, which just makes everything worse. I don’t push, but it’s almost as if he doesn’t want to be human again.
Since you told me that yes, subtlety was not my strong suit, I’ve decided to throw it away completely. Please visit. If anything, the shenanigans of the village would keep you more entertained than the lessons you’re taking, and maybe your mind could do a better job at cracking this curse than mine.
“‘Most curses are conditional,’” Enjolras reads from the book. “‘Due to the long term nature of curses, many casters are sure to build a condition wherein all the effects of the curse are relieved if met. The condition is useful for failsafes, in case the curse goes wrong, or for lessons that must be learnt via the curse’s consequences.’”
“Who writes these things?” Grantaire says. Enjolras is leaning against him. His voice rumbles at his back. “Hundred year old wizards?”
“Probably,” Enjolras says, he skims the page for where he left off. “‘Breaking a curse using any other means than the inbuilt condition is possible, but not advisable, for many side effects may occur.’”
“I’m already a dragon, I don’t think any side effect would bother me.”
Enjolras closes the book with a sigh. He lets his head thunk against Grantaire. “Be honest with me here. Do you want to be cured?”
“I guess.” Grantaire shrugs, jostling Enjolras’ head. “Conceptually, it’d be pretty cool.”
“Cool,” Enjolras echoes with a tone of disbelief. To have one’s agency back in the form they were meant to be in. Cool.
“Oh, shut up.” Grantaire says. “You didn’t know me when I was human. It wasn’t really grand.”
“So you like being a dragon better?”
“No, being a dragon is awful too.” He says. Enjolras mind jumps to the scars that mar Grantaire, how they look as if he never fights back. “Choosing between one or the other is just like choosing between two different, but still shitty things. I’m just going where the inevitable flow takes me.”
“That’s,” Enjolras looks for a word. “Depressing.”
“It’s called resignation. It isn’t all that bad,” Grantaire says, tail waving around idly. “I mean. I’m better at being a dragon. Better than I was at being human. I was pretty shit at being human.”
“But,” Enjolras thinks about Grantaire’s mismatched hoard and his gruff but overall friendly demeanor. “You’re awful at being a dragon.”
Grantaire responds to that by slamming his tail right into Enjolras’ gut.
“Dick,” Enjolras grits out, punching Grantaire’s tail.
“Hey, you started it.” Grantaire slithers his tail away from Enjolras before he can punch it again.
“You can’t have been that bad of a person.”
“Okay, I wasn’t a murderer.” He says. “But I wasn’t. I wasn’t, like. Someone like you.”
“Like me?” Enjolras moves to look at Grantaire. His eyes are at the sun.
“Yeah. Heroic, noble, do-gooder type.” Grantaire tells him. “Wasn’t bad. Wasn’t good. Half the time, I considered feeling like a person a win already. I wasn’t much. Dragon, human, whatever the fuck else, nothing really changes that. Can’t really be bothered to care anymore.”
“You’re wrong,” Enjolras says. Grantaire own words seem to scratch at his chest. How could he think that? How could he possibly think that? “Really, really wrong.”
“Enjolras,” Grantaire rolls his eyes since he seems acutely allergic to sincerity.
“No, listen to me.” Enjolras looks him in the eye. “You’re worth a lot more than you think.”
“That would warm my heart if I was physically capable of it,” He shuffles his head away. Enjolras can only hope his words had at least planted themselves somewhere in Grantaire’s brain.
Enjolras falls to the grass with another sigh, looking up like Grantaire had done.
In the distance, something began to form.
“Hey, look.” Grantaire says, his eyesight sharper than Enjolras’. “A falcon. Haven’t seen those around.”
“A falcon?” Enjolras sits up. “Does it have a yellow tie on its leg?”
“Yeah. Why? Somebody you know?”
Enjolras stands, the form coming closer and closer. It’s not just any falcon. “It’s Fucker.”
“You named your falcon Fucker?”
“He’s Courfeyrac’s and it’s a long story.” Enjolras extends his arm and Fucker lands gracefully, talons digging into his gloves. “He was a hard bird to rear.”
Discomfort bubbled in Enjolras, because Fucker only ever sent messages for Combeferre in the capital. Fucker being sent anywhere else usually meant it was an emergency. Especially since this was the first time Courfeyrac had ever sent him a message while he was at Grantaire’s.
Carefully, he pulls the rolled message from the pack Fucker wore between his wings. Fucker flies off to a tree, leaving Enjolras’ hands free to open the message and read.
ORC LEADER DIED. SON ANGRY AND REJECTS TRUCE. VILLAGE. ATTACK. HELP. NOW.
The last word was underlined thrice.
“Oh shit,” Grantaire says, balancing on his hind legs to read Courfeyrac’s messy scrawl over his shoulder.
Enjolras doesn’t quite hear him. The only thing he can hear is the blood beginning to pump its way faster through his body. The village is an hour’s ride away. Fucker probably got here in less time, but even if he left now, weaponless, with no armor whatsoever, he’d still get there too late.
“I need to go,” He says. It will take too long but he can’t make it longer. Dazed, he starts in the direction for where is horse is tied, but Grantaire steps in front of him. “Grantaire, I need to go.”
“I know, but it’ll take too long if you ride—”
“I’m not abandoning them.”
“That isn’t what I’m saying!” Grantaire raises his voice. “I can fly, Enjolras. I’ll give you a ride.”
“You. What.” Enjolras blinks. “You can fly?”
“Yes, I can. I’ve told you this. What do you think these things are for?” Grantaire spreads his wings. “Decoration? Come on up. I think I stole a sword before.”
“I’ve never seen you fly,” Enjolras says as they go up the stairs two at a time. Grantaire once crushed Enjolras underneath him to get him to stop arguing against nihilism, and Grantaire is heavy. Flight didn't seem plausible.
“I don’t ever need to go places that aren’t a walking distance away,” Grantaire tells him. When they get to his room, he digs his claws into the pile of crates, ripping wood, splintering it apart. “Yeah, there’s definitely a sword in there.”
Grantaire steps back enough for Enjolras to grasp the sword by its hilt. He pulls it out, still in its scabbard, from the wreckage.
He fastens the scabbard to his belt. Grantaire is staring at him.
“You’re just such a stereotypical hero,” Grantaire laughs. He cocks his head over to the balcony. “Let’s go.”
“Uh,” His eyes dart to the balcony, the high drop, and Grantaire. “How do I do this?”
“Fuck if I know. I’ve never tried flying with a passenger before,” He says. “Just climb on my back, I guess. Mind the wings.”
Enjolras does just that in stilted movements, worried he might be too heavy for Grantaire. But he doesn’t seem to mind. He settles on Grantaire’s back when he walks to the edge of the balcony.
“Alright, you should probably hold on,” Grantaire places his front legs on the barrier while Enjolras grabs a hold of his neck. Has this tower really been this tall? “And don’t let go.”
“Like a hug?” Enjolras does not look down. He instead tries to focus on his game plan for when they get to the village. Because they’re going to get there. Enjolras is not going to fall to his doom.
“Probably a little different from a hug, since you die if you let go, but sure. Whatever makes you feel better. A hug.” Grantaire spreads his wings. “On the count of three?”
“One,” Grantaire says.
Then he jumps.
They plunge straight down and Enjolras is sure he’s about to meet the rest of his friends in wherever people tend to go to when they die—probably Jehan’s counter—but then the air catches in Grantaire’s wings. Instead of falling, they’re flying. Enjolras doesn’t really know how it happens since his eyes were closed. Still are, actually.
“Are you afraid of heights or something?” Grantaire says over the wind buffeting them.
“No,” Enjolras tells him. He opens his eyes, just to prove how unafraid he is, only to get lightheaded at the sight of the forest below them. Far below them. “Oh god.”
“If you get sick on me I’m dropping you.”
“Please, please do not even joke about that,” He says over Grantaire’s laughter. Enjolras does manage to keep his eyes open. Up ahead, he sees smoke wafting up from where the village is. “There. That’s village.”
“Got it,” He flaps his wings, changing their direction. “I’ll tell you now that I’m not that great at landing.”
“Oh, joy,” Enjolras says through gritted teeth.
The village enters Enjolras’ line of vision, closer and closer, until they’re hurtling towards the roof of Feuilly’s bar.
“Grantaire that’s a roof.”
“Well it looks like we’re landing on it,” He says. To say they landed on the roof would be generous and wholly inaccurate. They crash into it, Grantaire’s wing’s coming up to shield Enjolras, before they roll off the roof into the ground. God, Enjolras loves the ground.
Their less than conspicuous arrival seems to stop the fighting that was going on around them. They’re in the main square of the village, and there are several orcs in various states of injury, armed to the teeth with weapons, staring at Enjolras and Grantaire. Bahorel has his axe up in the air, caught mid-attack, at his back is Feuilly with a frying pan. Marius, for all that he is a blacksmith, has a shovel in his hand instead of a sword. The whole coven seems to be here too, Joly casting offensive runes with his cane, Musichetta doing the same with her wand. Eponine looks like she’s been throwing vials of potions at orcs. Jehan has a shiv.
“Ha!” Courfeyrac says from where he’s dangling, upside down, The late orc tribe leader’s son holds him by the leg. “I told you he’d come.”
“Enjolras,” Orcson says. Enjolras never bothered to get his name before. “The great hero.”
Enjolras grits his teeth, and pulls the sword from its sheath. It catches a bit since it’s rusty. Shit. “Let my friend go.”
“I demand a duel.” Orcson drops Courfeyrac gracelessly. He holds a club in his hand that’s larger than Enjolras’ head, which makes sense since orcs are a whole lot larger than humans.
“Why?” At Enjolras’ side, Grantaire bristles as Orcson walks up to them. “There is a truce in place. There are territory lines.”
“The truce means nothing to me now for my father is dead.”
“It’s not like anybody here killed him,” Joly had often warned the orc leader that his cholesterol levels were unhealthy.
Orcson frowns. “This village also stopped selling plums. I consider that grounds for the truce to end”
“Whaaaat the fuck?” Grantaire asks quietly.
“Silence, beast.” Orcson slams his club against the ground. Enjolras grips his sword tight. “Accept the duel, hero, and I won’t destroy the village.”
“I accept,” Is the last thing Enjolras manages to say before he has to dodge Orcson lifting his club and slamming it into where Enjolras was standing.
The fighting all around them resumes as this one begins.
The thing about orcs is that they’re large. Cumbersomely so. And their fighting style tends to stick to the unimaginative ‘hit and hit again’ kind. So it’s easy enough to predict and dodge Orcson’s blows, but Enjolras can’t get close enough to land any of his own. Everytime he does, the club gets too close and Enjolras uses his sword, his very useless, very rusted sword, to deflect the hit away.
It’s not a surprise when his shitty, awful, brittle sword, snaps in half after a heavy swing.
Orcson grins, swings his club, and sends Enjolras painfully into the dirt. The sword is knocked out of his grip, so Enjolras doesn’t even have the option of stabbing it into Orcson’s knees so he can get tetanus. Enjolras is looking for a way out, lying prone on the ground, while Orcson advances, when Orcson cries out in pain, turning around.
Grantaire is there, smoke spilling from his teeth. He opens his mouth and sends another fireball at Orcson, enough to blow him away from Enjolras.
“Your sword sucks,” Enjolras says breathlessly, getting back on his feet and picking up the sword in question anyways.
“Really? That’s what you’re going to say?” Grantaire says. They don’t have time to continue because Orcson is at them again.
Grantaire tackles Orcson, his claws scratching him bad, and in Orcson’s distraction, Enjolras manages to slice at his arm too. With a whip of his tail, Grantaire gets the club out of Orcson’s injured arm. It crashes into a barrel of oil.
In a burst of what Grantaire probably thought was creativity, he blows a fireball at the club, sending it into flames.
All Orcson does is pick up the now flaming club without a care in the world.
“What part of that seemed like a good idea!?” Enjolras yells, dodging a deadly hit from the flaming club.
“God, I don’t fucking know. I wasn’t thinking,” Grantaire shields him from a few stray flames.
Orcson swings his club close enough, and it causes Enjolras to drop his sad, sad excuse of sword. Instead of kicking it away, Orcson smashes his club against it, crushing it into smithereens.
“Enjolras!” Somebody calls. Enjolras looks around and sees Feuilly looking ready to fling his frying pan. “Catch!”
He has to jump a bit, but he catches it. Now armed with a frying pan, Enjolras is hit by the memory of Feuilly using it to knock somebody out when they got too rowdy at the bar.
“Grantaire, I need a lift.” Enjolras says, climbing onto Grantaire.
“Sure thing,” He flaps his wings, sending them into the air. Up and up. “Plan?”
“Momentum,” Enjolras says. “Enough to take him out. Remember that drop from your tower? And our landing? I think we need a bad landing right now.”
“You’re a smart cookie,” Grantaire says, catching on. “Hold on.” He brings his wings close, sending them into a dive.
Orcs are large, and Orcson is too. His head is a clear target in the village square. He and Grantaire are going to crash right into him, but before that happens, Enjolras raises the frying pan over his head, and rams it straight into Orcson’s head with all the force of a human riding a dragon crashing from the sky.
Then they hit the ground.
When the dust clears, when Enjolras groans, his ribs aching, his muscles hurting. His eyes open, first to the sky.
And second to Orcson’s motionless body a few feet from him.
“Hey,” Grantaire trudges to him, looking worse for wear. He helps Enjolras up with a push from his tail. “You alright?”
“Yeah. I think I just have some bruises, from the, uh, ground.”
“Same,” Grantaire huffs. “I don’t even know if dragons can get bruises.”
Enjolras leans against Grantaire, unable to stand without him. The village square has once again halted their fighting. The orcs look to the son of their late leader, and Enjolras speaks.
“You violated the truce,” Enjolras says, channelling all his remaining energy into his words.. “Attacked the village. Attacked my friends. You are not welcome here and never will be. If you leave now and never return, we spare your lives.”
“Damn,” One orc says. “Yeah, man. Sorry. We really didn’t mean it.”
“Oscar,” Another orc points at Orcson. Orcson who is named Oscar. Huh. He wasn’t that far off. “Just peer pressured us into it. His dad just died, so we figured, okay. Whatever. We really didn’t mean to stir up too much trouble.”
“I tried fighting my at absolute worst,” says the orc who is in Bahorel’s chokehold.
Bahorel releases him with a shove. “I knew you were pulling your punches.”
“How can we be sure you’ll keep your word? Now that he’s your leader,” Eponine points to Orcson/Oscar.
“He’s not our leader. It doesn’t work like that.” An orc says, confused. “We elect our tribe leader via a month long process of screening and voting.”
“You do?” Enjolras says, a little awed.
Grantaire whacks him gently with his wing. “Not the time.”
“Yeah. I meant. Out. Begone from the village.”
The orcs apologize and clean up. A few of them take Orcson/Oscar, who is apparently still alive since orcs have, literally, the thickest skulls. Enjolras watches, concentrating mostly on staying upright, his arm slung over Grantaire’s neck. His leg, injured, against Grantaire’s tail.
“So,” Courfeyrac says. Everybody else is dusting themselves off, but the sound of his voice has all eyes on him. “This must be Grantaire.”
Now all the eyes are on him and Grantaire.
“Uh,” Grantaire says, master of eloquence. His wings huddle closer, trying to hide himself, covering Enjolras too. “No?”
“You’re actually a talking a dragon,” Gavroche says in awe, popping out from the barrel he’d been hiding in. “That is so cool.”
“I’ve never heard anything about talking dragons,” Grantaire says nervously. ”Have you?”
Enjolras can feel how his wing is twitching. “Nope. Not a goddamn thing. Do you want to leave? Let’s leave.”
“Oh no you aren’t,” Joly says. “Look at the both of you. You’re injured. You crashed from the sky twice.”
“Sorry,” Grantaire says. Enjolras is always climbing onto his back as Grantaire uses his tail to help him up like a handy, moving stirrup. “Enjolras left his dumb horse back at my place.”
Grantaire flaps his wings with difficulty. Joly is still speaking. “It’s dangerous to fly injured!”
“Flying?” Enjolras yells. He’s smiling and he’s pretty sure Grantaire is too. “Who’s flying? Certainly not us.”
“Nope. Definitely not.” Grantaire laughs, before he sends them up higher, farther away, into the sky.
Enjolras’ grip on Grantaire’s neck isn’t as severe as it was before. He’s too tired to be scared of falling. If he does, he has no doubt Grantaire would catch him. He’d most probably catch him clumsily, but that would be alright.
“Thanks,” Grantaire says. The tower is nothing but a speck from here. The trees are small. “For getting me out of there. Brain sort of. Stopped. That was the most people I’ve ever been around in a long time. And I wasn’t being stabbed.”
“Thank you. For flying me to the village. For fighting with me.” Enjolras fingers catch on the starburst scar at Grantaire’s neck. “For everything.”
“It was nothing.”
Enjolras laughs. It hurts to do so, it pulls his chest in ways that make him remember his bruises, but he does it anyway. “Just say you’re welcome, idiot.”
“Hey, you stole my line,” Grantaire says, grin evident in his voice. “You’re welcome.” He’s silent for a beat until, “Your friends seem weird.”
“I’ve told you that before.”
“Yeah, but now I’ve seen them. And,” He says. “Is it too late?”
“Too late for what?”
“It’s never too late,” Enjolras says, hope blooming in his chest, somewhere behind the bruises. “Are you going to?”
“Yeah,” Grantaire tells him. There’s something else he isn’t saying, hidden beneath a shroud, but Enjolras won’t push. They have time. It’s not too late. “Yeah, I think I will.”
“That’s good,” Enjolras says. Up high in the air and battered to hell, nothing’s felt quite as good. “They’re going to love you.”
They do love him.
Since Joly has banned Enjolras from riding until he’s healed from all his injuries, Grantaire flies over to the village himself. Courfeyrac answers the door when he knocks with his tail, ushers him in, and aggressively makes small talk with him. Upon hearing that Grantaire had been subsisting on fish and water for the past year, Courfeyrac aggressively offers him food and tea. Enjolras watches from the side, amused, as Grantaire just takes in Courfeyrac and his Courfness. Grantaire seems to like him well enough, talking with him stiltedly, at first, but slowly relaxing, even laughing, as Courfeyrac manages to coax him out of his shell.
One of Courfeyrac’s pigeons perches on his head. Courfeyrac believes his pigeons are good judges of character, and nods, impressed, when it happens.
Enjolras accompanies Grantaire to the inn when he says he wants to visit the coven next, saying something about feeling more comfortable not being the only odd thing in the room. The coven was apparently stewing in low key excitement ever since Musichetta had said she felt Grantaire’s visit in the near future, and so Grantaire gets tackled by an overexcited Gavroche the moment he’s through the door.
After Joly had fussed over him, checking for injuries, it’s quickly apparent that Grantaire shares his surreal sense of humor with half the coven. They get along like a rebellious crow and the No Crows Allowed sign. He and Jehan trade quotes of obscure poetry. He snarks his way into the hearts of Musichetta and Montparnasse. Bossuet shows him a coin trick that has no magic whatsoever, but still stumps him and Enjolras both. By the end of the day, they’re all enraptured by a story Eponine tells of a harpy she met on her travels. Gavroche falls asleep on Grantaire’s tail.
It takes time, but Grantaire opens up. When he’s comfortable talking with the coven, he tries walking around the village. When he’s comfortable with that, he starts talking to everybody else around. Sure, he might’ve turned a few heads, but the village has seen weirder, and so they get over the whole dragon thing pretty quickly. Especially since everybody, and Enjolras means everybody, loves Grantaire.
Grantaire stays one day, instead of flying back when the sun meets the horizon. They’re at Feuilly’s bar, drinking, because Grantaire allegedly hasn’t had alcohol in ages. Enjolras sits at the counter, idly chatting with Feuilly, occasionally casting a glance at Grantaire. Bahorel and Grantaire share hearty laughs as Grantaire teases a shy, but smiling Marius.
“I swear,” Marius says, halfway to shitfaced already. “She was. She!”
“Deep breaths,” Bahorel tells him. “Paint Grantaire the best picture of your lady love so he can understand your suffering.
Marius breaths in. “She was incredible. As if the world had created an angel humans could see with their own eyes. A—a glimpse of heaven.”
“We should’ve brought Jehan,” Grantaire smiles, his head propped up on the table. “They’d love this shit. Don’t stop, man. Keep going.”
“She was,” Marius says. “Gorgeous. Sunlight haired. She said she was fulfilling a prophecy, but she was destiny herself. As if morning light was made woman, she was. Was—”
“—Delicate,” Grantaire says quietly. “But powerful at the same time. A force of nature. Sometimes you can’t believe your eyes.”
“Yes!” Marius leans over the table to take Grantaire’s head into his hands. “You get it.”
“Buddy, you’ve got no fucking idea.”
Later, when Grantaire goes past moderately drunk careening straight into morning regrets drunk, he calls it a night and stumbles out of the bar with Enjolras, swaying with each step.
“Enjolras. Enjolras, I think the world is spinning,” Grantaire says, tripping over his own tail.
“It is spinning,” Enjolras steadies him. “But not fast enough for you to be tripping this much. That’s just because you’re drunk.”
“That’s fucked up.”
“Which part? The world spinning or you being drunk?”
“Yeah,” Grantaire says, because that’s certainly a sensible reply. He spreads his wings out, frowning. “I think I’m too flunk to dry.”
“Oh my god,” Enjolras laughs and laughs. Grantaire tries to trip him with his tail, but it doesn’t work out.
“Shut up! I haven’t gotten drunk in ages,” He says indignantly.
“You can stay with Courf and I,” Enjolras offers after he catches his breath. “We have an extra room for when Combeferre visits. There’s a bed.”
“I might break it.”
“He won’t mind.”
“I like your friends,” Grantaire says, toddling next Enjolras. “They’re all really nice. Bahorel’s awesome. Marius is adorable.”
“You are too.”
“Nice,” Enjolras clarifies.
“Right back at you,” Grantaire says. He steps in front of Enjolras. “Really.”
“You. You’re nice. You’re so nice,” Grantaire says. Laughing, Enjolras tries to pull him back into walking home. “You’re the nicest person I’ve ever met, which says something now that I know other nice people. Like don’t get me wrong. You’re a sanctimonious dickbag sometimes—”
“You manage the word ‘sanctimonious’ when just minutes ago you couldn’t say the word ‘drunk’ and ‘fly’?”
“—but you’re a nice dickbag.” Grantaire trucks on. “You come to my tower with weapons and shit but then you end up talking to me. And you kept coming back. Kept on talking to me. You know, back when I was human people didn’t like talking to me because a lot of the time I was a cock—
“That you are.”
“But you. You just. Kept coming back. You kept talking to me and you hang out with me and you introduced your friends to me. Who does that? Who does that?”
“Decent people,” Enjolras says fondly.
“That’s,” Grantaire says. “Some fucked up shit right there.”
On the curse front, they manage to achieve some minimal progress. Joly spends a whole day painting runes on Grantaire, but nothing happens. Eponine brews up various berry flavored potions, but apart from being delicious, don’t turn Grantaire human. Musichetta tries to use her seer powers to figure out the condition, but she ends up falling asleep instead.
“You know,” Jehan says, lifting Rocky into the light. Grantaire agreed to show them his tower so Jehan could ‘feel’ around for excess magic from the curse. “I don’t really see your overall theme here.”
“The theme is regret,” Grantaire deadpans. “Just kidding. There is no theme.”
“But surely you’ve been attracted by certain objects, yes?” Jehan asks. They look up at the dreamcatcher hanging from a beam above. “Dragons have that instinct. Like magpies. Do you?”
“Sort of?” Grantaire says. “I don’t know. I’ve read the books. I know dragons like, find something they love forever and just get that. But I—” He glances over to where Enjolras stood at the balcony. “Nothing clicked. If it did, it wasn’t actually something I could hoard.”
“Well, you should probably work on finding it. The Thing. Capital T.” Jehan says. They raise a hand up in the air, fingers moving as if they were feeling a soft silk that neither Grantaire nor Enjolras could see. “I noticed when I first met you, that the magic keeping you like this is waiting for a key of sorts. That’s not really surprising or helpful since all curses are sort of waiting for a ‘key’. But here, the magic has accumulated over time. It’s stronger here and it feels.” They pause. “Unfulfilled.”
“What does that mean?” Enjolras asks.
“I’m just making guesses here and there since somebody doesn’t want to tell us how he got cursed,” Jehan sticks their tongue out at Grantaire. “But dragons are creatures of, some would say obsession. Hoarding gold and kidnapping princesses and whatnot. In reality, dragons are creatures of purpose, much like unicorns are creatures of purity. They find something and dedicate everything to it, the Thing. It becomes a dragon’s whole life.”
“I’ve been told by a reliable source that I’m awful at being a dragon,” Grantaire says. Enjolras snorts at the memory.
“Exactly!” Jehan says.
“And we’ve got another one,” Grantaire sighs.
“No, no. Don’t take it as insult. Take it as homework. I think we’re on to something here,” Jehan smiles. “See, when people are cursed into animals, it’s usually because the animal in question has some pretentious lesson the person has to learn and can only learn when in that vessel. People get turned into dogs to learn loyalty. Mice because they’re, I don’t know, assholes. Tortoises,” They raise Rocky up. “To learn patience.”
They all slowly look at Rocky. Rocky looks back. Jehan puts Rocky down.
“Anyways, that’s my verdict. I think you’re supposed to learn something from all this. But then again, living things aren’t my forte.”
“If I was cursed to be a dead dragon, would things be easier?”
“For me, yeah.” Jehan nods, something in a pile catching their eye. “But not for everybody else. Being cursed to die is called murder. Generally not all that great. Ooh.” They pull it from the pile. “A chess set! Anyone want to play?”
Sorry I wasn’t able to send a letter last time. I’ve been a bit busy. Courfeyrac seems to have filled you in, though, judging by all your questions. Yes, the orcs attacked us. No, they will not do it again. Yes, they seem to have a democracy in place. No, I am no longer injured, so you needn’t worry. Joly cleared me for riding a week ago and my muscles no longer pull. I’m fine.
Courfeyrac has also told you about the village’s new friend. Grantaire, after his heroism with the orcs, has settled quite comfortable among us. He still lives in his tower, and I still ride there when he doesn’t fly to the village, but he’s here. He’s here and he’s happy.
It’s not all perfect, though. Grantaire seems to be an endless repository of insecurities, behind all the scales and sarcasm. I can see he feels out of place, being a dragon. He told me it wasn’t as noticeable, when he was alone at the tower. But now that he’s surrounded by people, he is made more aware of the fact he’s a dragon. Despite this, the curse is going nowhere. After many consultations, the only thing we managed to conclude is that, maybe, Grantaire needs to be a dragon better. I don’t understand it much myself, and I can only hope Grantaire can figure it out.
Your last letter had suggestions on the matter that were interesting and worth trying. Though I think it would be better if you were here to oversee it yourself. That was me trying to be subtle again. It’s awful, isn’t it? Well since you aren’t here, you have no way to stop me.
For God’s sake, Combeferre. Come home for a bit.
It’s a nice day out. They’re by the coven, enjoying the sun. Joly is practicing defensive runes while Jehan goes around bringing some withered bushes back to life. Montparnasse follows them, holding an umbrella over them, concentrating on looking glum when he’s actually smiling when Jehan isn’t looking.
Enjolras is lying on the grass, Bossuet speaking calmly about bees, Grantaire jumping around with Gavroche on his back, when they hear the scream.
He sits up, because he knows that scream. In the sky, a bunch of pigeons have just taken to the air. Chest tight, Enjolras says, “Courfeyrac.”
Grantaire meets his eyes, and he gives Enjolras a slight nod. The inn was by no means far from Enjolras’ cottage, but it’s Courfeyrac on the line. In a second, he’s climbed onto Grantaire’s back along with Gavroche.
“Gav, you better hold on,” Grantaire says.
“Awesome,” He says giddily.
Grantaire sends them into the air with a flap of his wing, headed for the cottage. Thankfully, they don’t crash into the roof. Since Grantaire’s been flying on a regular basis, he lands on his feet, just outside the cottage.
Enjolras climbs off, carries Gavroche down, and pulls his sword from his scabbard. Ever since the incident with the orcs and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sword, he’s always armed. He motions for Grantaire and Gavroche to stay back.
The door to their cottage was open.
Slowly, quietly, he makes his way to the door, nudging it open with his foot, and looking inside.
Enjolras drops his sword.
“Combeferre,” Enjolras says.
“Enjolras,” Combeferre says, smiling crookedly. Courfeyrac was hugging him, his arms tight around Combeferre’s waist, muttering obscenities.
“Combeferre,” Enjolras says. He thinks he’s smiling, but he doesn’t notice.
Enjolras drops to his knees, wrapping his arms around Combeferre and Courfeyrac. Courfeyrac is still muttering. He catches words like ‘asshole’, ‘scared eight years off my life’, and ‘I fucking missed you’. Enjolras can’t even string together words. He just laughs, buries his head into Combeferre’s neck, and doesn’t let go.
“Why didn’t you fucking tell us you goddamn jerk,” Courfeyrac’s muffled voice says.
“I wanted it to be a surprise,” Combeferre tells him, bringing his hand up to Courfeyrac’s head, his other one slinging around Enjolras’ shoulders. “Were you guys surprised?”
“I,” Enjolras tries to speak. “I thought Courfeyrac was being attacked.”
“Funny. I thought I was being attacked when I saw him,” Combeferre says. Courfeyrac tries to punch Combeferre’s arm, but ends up hitting Enjolras instead.
“Is anybody dying?” Bossuet’s ragged voice calls from the door. Enjolras looks up to see him, looking as if he ran here, along with Grantaire and Gavroche, staring from the outside.
Courfeyrac takes that as his cue to unlatch himself from Combeferre, staying close. There they all were, in a little heap on the floor. Combeferre takes a few breaths, looks at the both of them properly, the first time in more than a year.
“I missed you guys,” He says.
Enjolras, filled with the kind of happiness that prickless at his skin, that pulls his smile wider, says, “Welcome home, Ferre.”
It takes a while for them to actually move from the floor, deciding instead to talk there, occasionally lapsing into a group hug every now and then. When they finally do get up, it’s to realize that the beings that were hovering by their door had left, probably having caught on that this was going to take a long time. Enjolras couldn’t even find himself to be sorry. He’s too focused on Combeferre. Here. Here.
Combeferre accepts the near frantic hospitality Courfeyrac and Enjolras shower him with, an amused smile on his face the entire time. He obediently greets all the pigeons, by name, while Enjolras got his stuff and Courfeyrac did what he always did when people were over; aggressively making tea.
Combeferre’s professor had apparently become very ill, what a shame, (Enjolras snorts. Courfeyrac has to be reassured that no, Combeferre did not poison his professor, though thank you for the idea.) which resulted in his impromptu visit. When the tea is finished and all the pigeons have been sufficiently petted, they go out.
The village welcomes Combeferre with open arms and chiding remarks to visit more often. Having grown up here, he was the village’s token sweetheart. He’d been saving Madam Hucheloup’s cat from that infernal tree before Enjolras even knew the village existed. An offhand comment from Courfeyrac brings them to the bar when it gets dark, inviting everybody who could come along. That essentially meant the whole village.
Everybody was there, laughing, chattering. Combeferre knew everybody save for Jehan, having only joined the coven recently, Montparnasse, having been dead the last time Combeferre visited, and of course, Grantaire.
Combeferre is very polite with all of them, shaking hands, or in Grantaire’s case, shaking the tip of Grantaire’s proffered tail. For a moment, Enjolras thinks Grantaire’s voice seems a bit stiff in greeting Combeferre. A little like how it sounded when Enjolras had first met him. A little sharp. He can’t focus on it too much because the night goes on. Grantaire takes a seat by Eponine and Montparnasse, and Enjolras figures he can talk to him about it later.
The night goes on in a haze of old stories and drinking, because of course there’s drinking. Even Enjolras indulges a bit, not actually drinking enough to get drunk. Just enough to blur the edges. While Combeferre spoke to a great deal of people , he sat with Courfeyrac and Enjolras at his side. It was no secret the three of them were awfully co-dependent and touchy. Courfeyrac’s arm never left its perch on Combeferre’s shoulders, while Enjolras’ arm stayed linked with Combeferre’s.
In this haze of warmth and contentedness, it takes him a while to realize that a voice was suddenly missing in the bar. He blinks, scanning the bar, over Marius waxing poetic over his knight, over Jehan watching, enraptured, scribbling notes on a piece of paper, over Gavroche trying to sneak sips of ale when Eponine wasn’t watching, only to realize that Grantaire was gone.
“Where’d Grantaire go?” Enjolras asks, in no specific direction.
“Huh,” Courfeyrac says, snuggling into Combeferre. “I don’t know.”
“I think he went out for some air,” Combeferre suggests. Enjolras stands.
“Okay. I’ll just check if he’s alright,” Enjolras says.
“More Ferre for me.” Courfeyrac climbs onto Combeferre’s lap, latching onto him like a squid. Combeferre sighs, trying his hardest to pretend he’s irritated, and mostly failing, judging by the smile on his face.
With a laugh, he makes his way out of the bar.
It’s a bit frigid out, Enjolras having left his cloak inside. The moon hangs heavy in the sky, casting enough light for Enjolras to see Grantaire, sitting by the well, looking up, wings twitching. Instantly, concern clears Enjolras’ head.
“Grantaire,” He calls, and Grantaire startles.
“Enjolras,” Grantaire says. He sets his head down, but doesn’t turn. Enjolras walks up to him. “What are you doing out here?”
“Checking on you. It’s not like you to suddenly leave in the middle of a story,” Enjolras tells him. Now that he’s closer, he can see the slight hunch to Grantaire’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Grantaire says. “I just might go ahead.”
"Why? What’s wrong?” He tries to lay a hand on Grantaire’s back, but he moves out of his reach.
“Nothing. Nothing is wrong,” And there it was again. A sharp edge to his voice. “It’s just—If I stay longer I’ll get too shitfaced to fly. I can’t exactly stay over with you since Combeferre will probably need his bed back. I think I’ve also got a—a headache or something.”
“Oh,” Enjolras says. The made enough sense, but there’s something else. “If you’re too ill to fly, I’m sure the coven has an extra room.”
“No, no. I’m good. I swear.”
“Alright,” He concedes. “Be safe.”
That seems to get a soft laugh out of Grantaire. Enjolras manages a soft sigh of relief. “When am I ever not?”
“Often,” Enjolras smiles.
They’re silent for a beat. Enjolras looks at Grantaire, and he can’t read the look on his face. There is something undeniably wrong hanging heavy in the air, right above their heads, too far for Enjolras to grasp.
“Listen,” Grantaire says. “I won’t come over tomorrow. And you shouldn’t either. For a few days.”
“What?” Enjolras’ stomach drops. “What’s going on?”
“Geez, it’s nothing. I’m just feeling a bit shit,” He says, scales bristling. He’s lying. “Wouldn’t want you guys to catch anything from me.”
“I don’t think that’s physically possible,” Enjolras tells him. No laugh this time, and now Grantaire is avoiding eye contact. “Have I—”
Grantaire glances at him.
“Have I done something wrong?” Enjolras asks.
“For fuck’s sake, no. You haven’t done anything wrong—”
“Then why’re you acting so weird?” Enjolras asks, worry bubbling up. “And don’t just say you’re feeling sick because we both know there’s something more. There’s something you aren’t telling me.”
Instead of getting in Enjolras’ face and yelling, something Enjolras was expecting, maybe even hoping for, his wings droop.
Quietly, Grantaire says, “There are a lot of things I don’t tell you,”
Grantaire spreads his wings open, and in a thunderous flap, sends himself into the air. Enjolras is left there, standing out in the cold, looking at the night sky.
Time tends to fly by when Combeferre visited. The few precious weeks they had usually flew by without any of them noticing. Enjolras always hated it, but now, he missed that quality of time the slightest bit. Today, the seconds seem to inch past excruciatingly.
“Okay,” Combeferre says, snapping Enjolras out of his stupor. Last night played itself over and over again. “You’ve officially been staring off into the distance for a whole five minutes. I was tempted to stay quiet to see how long you could go if uninterrupted, but you seem troubled.”
“I’m not troubled,” Enjolras muttered. He drives the wooden stake into the ground, like he was supposed to do five minutes ago. They were setting up a new sign for the crows. One that said Okay Crows Allowed But Do Not Touch The Crops Please Thank You. Combeferre had a theory that the crows would respond to this, as it was more polite. Courfeyrac was running around, looking for nails. “I’m just...out of it. Confused. Unsettled.”
“Troubled,” Combeferre says. It was futile. Hiding things from Ferre was nigh impossible. There was a reason him and Courfeyrac got together so easily. He takes a seat on the ground. “What’s up?”
“Nothing to worry about,” Enjolras says, tugging on the stake, checking if it’s secure. “Grantaire was just a bit off yesterday. I think I did something that bothered him, but I don’t know what.”
Combeferre nods, giving off the slight impression that he knew everything already. “Maybe he felt a bit out of place.”
“But why? It’s not like there wasn’t anybody around for him to hang out with.”
“Well, you were pretty occupied.” Combeferre says, looking at him meaningfully. Enjolras frowns.
“Okay? I don’t see how that affects anything.” He says slowly.
“Of course you don’t. Is that all that’s bothering you?”
“Well, last night,” Enjolras sat on the ground. “He also told me he wasn’t coming over for a while and that I shouldn’t too. He said he was sick but there’s something else. He left before giving me any real answers.” He scuffs his boot into the dirt. “I don’t know if something is actually wrong or if I’m just making it up.”
“Usually, your gut instinct gets it right.” Combeferre pats him on the back. “You do know that there’s an easy solution to the problem, right?”
“No,” He answers honestly. “What is it? I mean, I’ve thought about sending a pigeon, but that’d be useless. Grantaire can’t write back—”
“Not a pigeon,” Combeferre says. “You can just go see him.”
“But,” He says. “He told me not to.”
“Checking in can’t hurt,” Combeferre tells him. “If he’s sick, you can bring him some things. And if he wants you to leave, that’s also pretty simple.”
On one hand, the idea of leaving the village, even for just an afternoon, while Combeferre was here was something so foreign to Enjolras it took him a moment to process the concept. On the other hand, going off to see Grantaire, somebody who has been filling his brain with worry all morning, was a variable his brain had not considered before. The mental strife was indescribable.
“I’m not going anywhere, Enjolras.” Combeferre says, having read his mind. “At least not for a few weeks.”
“I know that—”
“It would also be nice to have the cottage with Courfeyrac for a while. Alone.”
Enjolras tilts his head.
“Because I want to have sex with Courfeyrac. Preferably without you present.”
“Oh, okay.” He says. “ Why didn’t you just say so?”
“Because people in the capital actually know how to read between the lines,” Combeferre laughs. “But really. Go check on Grantaire. It will at least put your mind at ease. You’re no fun when you’re worried.”
“Alright,” Courfeyrac calls from a few feet away. “This village only seems to have a total of four nails. We’ll have to make do!”
“I’m sure Combeferre will have a lot of do to make with you,” Enjolras calls back.
Combeferre pushes him into the dirt.
The sign ends up taking the whole day, what with Courfeyrac and Enjolras arguing over whose handwriting was better. The crows, spectacularly, hang around the finished sign, keeping their grubby talons away from the crops. The village breathes an inaudible sigh of relief.
The next day, he readies his horse and rides off. He had made a visit to coven earlier, hoping for any remedies for whatever illness Grantaire might have, but the only thing Eponine had brewing in her cauldron was tomato soup. He’s got a bottle of it in his satchel. Enjolras is pretty sure he’s seen a bowl or two in Grantaire’s pile.
He ties his horse off by the stream, Grantaire nowhere to be seen. When he walks to the clearing, it’s empty as well. He swings the door of the tower open. Looking up the stairs, he yells. “Grantaire? You there?”
A soft, muffled reply rings out. “No!”
Enjolras climbs up the stairs, sighing to himself. He remembers how grumpy Grantaire was the last time he was sick. “I brought you some soup.” Enjolras says.
“I don’t want to see you,” His voice says louder, right behind the door at the top of the tower. Enjolras pushes it open. “Go away.”
“I know you told me not to come,” Enjolras says. The room is a mess, as always. At Grantaire’s nest of sheets, there was a small mound. Too small. “But you said you were sick and I was worried. I just wanted to check up on you.”
“Please, please go away.” Grantaire says. Something about his voice was different. It echoed less. The clues were starting the connect into something Enjolras couldn’t quite believe.
“At least take the soup,” Enjolras says, couching in front of the nest. He couldn’t make out the arch of Grantaire’s wings under the sheet, nor the familiar shape of his tail. Grantaire shifts under the seat, and it’s unmistakeable. His hand hovers, unsure. “Grantaire.”
“But you’re human,” Enjolras says. There’s no other explanation. “The curse is—”
“No. It’s not. It’s not broken,” Grantaire says. His voice is a bit raspy, as if he hasn’t used it in ages. “And I’m not human. Not completely.”
“I don’t understand,” Grantaire sighs and sits up. Enjolras can see the silhouette of a messy haired head under the sheet.
“It’s part of curse,” He says. “I get this feeling sometimes, like I’m sick. Then I turn sort-of human for a few days. I figure it’s so that the curse can remind me what I’m missing,” Grantaire barks out a cruel sounding laugh. “It sucks and I don’t want you to, well. See me.”
“Why? I don’t care, you know.” Enjolras tells him. “Human, dragon, something in between. You must know me well enough to know that I wouldn’t care about how you look.”
“I know, it’s just. Weird.”
“Weirder than a talking dragon?” Enjolras asks.
“Touche,” Grantaire laughs. “Okay, fine. Just don’t like, run away screaming or whatever. I’d be fine with some gasps. Some chest clutching.”
Grantaire pulls the sheet off slowly, and Enjolras’ breath catches, not for whatever reasons Grantaire may be thinking. He never stopped to think about how Grantaire looked like when he was human, but the man sitting in front of him fits Grantaire so well. He has a head of messy black curls, a wonky nose that seems to have seen a few bar brawls, stubble on his chin. Enjolras sees what Grantaire meant, though. Bits and pieces of the curse here and there. His eyes were still the yellow, slitted eyes he had as a dragon. His hands which lay on his lap, fingers clenched in the sheets, were still scaly. Still clawed at the end. Despite that, nothing about Grantaire seems inhuman. Just two sides that Enjolras both see as him
For reasons Enjolras can’t explain, he leans over and takes Grantaire’s face. Grantaire startles, and Enjolras freezes.
“Sorry,” He says, hands pulling back an inch. “I didn’t mean to grab you I just—”
“No, no, it’s alright. You can. Do whatever it is you were doing,” Grantaire says, an amused smile on his face. It’s different, seeing his smile like this.
Now that he has permission, Enjolras takes Grantaire’s face in his hands again. His face is soft save for the stubble, scratching lightly against his palms. When his fingers brush against his neck, against his surprisingly soft hair when he tries brush some of it away, Grantaire’s face flushes. Warm. That’s new.
“I like your face,” Enjolras tells him. “It’s very nice.”
“Thanks,” Grantaire says. “I like yours too.”
“It suits you.” Enjolras nods, lifting a hand to pat at Grantaire’s curls. Grantaire laughs, ducking his head. Enjolras pulls his hands back. “Do you still have a tail?”
“Nope. Just these,” Grantaire splays his scaled hands in front of his face. “A tail would’ve been pretty cool. Though the eyes are pretty useful. You said something about soup earlier?”
“Oh, yeah.” He pulls the bottle of his satchel. “I checked if Eponine had any potions but all she had was soup.”
“I like soup. And I can actually eat like a normal person now that I have thumbs,” Grantaire says, standing to rummage around for a bowl and some spoons probably. “God, I love thumbs.”
“How long does this last?” Enjolras asks him when he comes back with a bowl.
“A few days. Longest was three,” Grantaire pours some soup into the bowl, looking immensely pleased that he can. “No idea how it works. I change in my sleep. I’ve tried staying up, but it never worked.”
“So what do you do,” He says. “When you’re like this?”
“There isn’t much to do,” Grantaire shrugs, with his shoulders this time instead of his wings. “The whole monstrous eyes and hands thing stopped me from going to villages, lest I get burned at the stake. Last time, I did a few cartwheels, just to see if I still could, and then I slept it off.”
“The village wouldn’t bat a single eye, Grantaire.” Enjolras says, and it occurs to him that Grantaire can’t exactly fly there at the moment. “If you want, I could give you a ride.”
“I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” Grantaire says, sipping his soup. “I’m good here.”
He can’t bear the thought of Grantaire spending today, mostly human, alone “Can I stay, then?”
“You don’t even have to ask.” He smiles. Enjolras doesn’t want the smile to ever go away. “It’ll be like old times, back when you were the only human I knew and we did lame shit like read.”
“Surely there are things you missed doing as a human,” Enjolras says. “We could do that. You could show me how to do a cartwheel.”
“You know,” Grantaire says, looking at his hands. He flexes them open and closed, almost as if that was the first time he’s done so, or the first time he’s really seen it. “Before this all happened, I never went places. Stayed at the village. If I needed to go somewhere, I’d walk. Then when the dragon thing happened, I’d fly. Do you know what that means?”
“Not particularly, no.” Enjolras says, an amused smile settling on his face already for whatever it is Grantaire has in store.
“It means,” Grantaire lifts his head and faces Enjolras head on. “I’ve never ridden a horse before.”
Enjolras’ horse does not like Grantaire.
She’s fussy, bucks him off almost constantly, and refuses to ride easy. Despite this, Grantaire still looks like he’s having the time of his life, even after he falls for the fourth time.
“Are you okay?” Enjolras helps him up. Grantaire dusts of his trousers, smiling giddily.
“I just realized I might fucking hate horses,” Grantaire says. “Fifth time’s the charm?”
When the fifth time proves not to be the charm, Grantaire announces that he most definitely fucking hates horses, He tries to teach Enjolras how to cartwheel, but it mostly ends with Enjolras lying on the ground while Grantaire continues being a show off. In return, Enjolras offers to teach Grantaire how to swordfight with a few sticks he found lying around, only to get knocked back on the ground, a familiar place.
“You know how to swordfight,” Enjolras says from the ground, stunned.
“I did tell you to not go easy on me,” Grantaire grins, twirling his stick with ease. “Knights in battered armor aren’t the only ones who know how to use a sword. Or a stick, in this case. Don’t tell me it’s this easy to defeat you?”
“Like hell it is,” Enjolras gets up, picking up his stick. “Best of three?”
It ends in a tie.
Grantaire at least can’t beat him at archery, since he doesn’t know how to use a bow. They spend an hour by the stream, Enjolras demonstrating how to stand, how to pull the string back, and how to let it go. Many of Grantaire’s own arrows shoot themselves far off into the trees, spooking a few woodland animals along the way. He relinquishes the job of catching a fish to Enjolras.
They end up back in the tower, the fire roaring, the fish cooking, while Enjolras helps Grantaire rummage around for paper. Rocky watches them from the side, dozing off occasionally. When they find a stack of paper, Grantaire shows Enjolras how to fold paper flowers and birds. Grantaire’s look gorgeous, of course, save for a few scratches here and there from his claws. Enjolras’ just look like shit. Grantaire places his wonky little flower on Rocky’s shell anyways. After the fish had been eaten, Enjolras found himself in a chess match with Grantaire. Several matches.
“You’re awful at this,” Grantaire says, moving his knight across the board. “Checkmate. I didn’t know it was possible for somebody to be this bad at chess. You aren’t even trying to protect your king.”
“If the masses want to apprehend the king for his crimes, who am I to stop them?” Enjolras tips his king over easily. He was usually more competitive than this, but chess was not his game. That, and seeing Grantaire win was something of a reward in itself..
“Just when I forget you’re a nerd, you never fail to pull something like this to remind me,” Grantaire laughs. Slowly, sunlight streamed through the balcony and into the room.
The sun was setting.
“Oh, shit. I didn’t realise it was getting late,” Grantaire startles, looking out the balcony. He whips his head to Enjolras. “You should probably get going before it gets dark.”
Enjolras waves his hand dismissively, leaning back against the pile behind him. “Even if I go now, I’ll still get caught by the night.”
“I’d give you a ride back but I don’t exactly have the anatomy for it right now.” Grantaire scratches his head.
“Is it alright if I just stay?” Enjolras asks. He’s sure to get reprimanded for riding in the woods during the night, doubly so since Combeferre was also home, and he didn’t particularly want to leave. The day was wonderful. The night still has more to offer. “I don’t mean to impose, of course. If you want me to leave I can go—”
“No, no. Staying is good. Staying is fine. I just thought, you know.” Grantaire makes some sort of gesture with his hands. He talks with his hands a lot, gesticulating half of what he has to say, but it doesn’t actually help Enjolras understand anything. Thankfully, he notices Enjolras’ confusion. “I thought you’d want to get back to Combeferre.”
“I can go back tomorrow. He isn’t leaving for a few weeks anyways,” He echoes Combeferre’s words. “Anyways, it’s been awhile since his last visit. I’m sure Combeferre and Courfeyrac wouldn’t mind having the cottage to themselves...to catch up.”
“Are you trying to make an innuendo?”
“Is it working?”
“Not really, but I caught it anyways.” Grantaire smiles, amused, and also a bit relieved. “They’re a thing? Combeferre and Courfeyrac?”
“Yeah,” Enjolras says. Had he never mentioned that? “They’ve been together even before Combeferre left to study. They make the long distance thing work.”
“That’s sweet. Would’ve never thought.”
“How could you not notice? They were all over each other a few nights ago.”
“Uh, excuse me, all three of you were all over each other,” Grantaire tells him. “I was half convinced you were all dating each other.”
“We’re all a bit clingy with each other,” Enjolras admits. “They’re my best friends.”
“I guess I’ll have to settle for third place on your friend list, huh?”
“Maybe fourth,” He says, just to see Grantaire pout indignantly.
“No fair. Who the hell is in third?” Grantaire rolls up his sleeves. “Who do I have to fight?”
“Rocky,” Enjolras grabs the tortoise in question, petting his head. “You can’t fight Rocky.”
“You fucking traitor,” Grantaire tells Rocky lowly. Enjolras laughs.
The sound makes Grantaire look at him, a little bit more intently than a moment ago. His eyes widen, then he stands, looking through a pile for something.
“What are you looking for?” Enjolras cranes his neck to catch a glimpse of Grantaire digging through what looks like a tin of rocks.
“Aha!” Grantaire holds up a stick of charcoal. He turns to Enjolras. “Don’t move.”
Enjolras freezes. He’s tilting a bit, neck at an odd angle. Rocky in in his hands.
“Okay, I didn’t mean it like that. You can move,” Grantaire sits in front of him. He unceremoniously sweeps the pieces off of the chess set. Somewhere in the village, Enjolras is sure Jehan just felt like clutching their chest for no apparent reason. He sets the board on his lap, and sets a sheet of paper over it. “The light from the fire just looks really cool on you right now, so, uh. Could you put Rocky down?”
Enjolras puts Rocky down. He scampers away slowly. “What are you going to do?”
“Well, I was hoping to draw you, if that’s alright.” Grantaire says sheepishly. “You don’t have to say yes. I just got excited since, fingers. I’m really rusty since I haven’t drawn in ages so—”
“Of course,” Enjolras nods, remembering Grantaire’s passion for the arts. But with Grantaire looking at him like this, it’s hard not to sit so stiff. “Do I have to do anything?”
“Just keep on sitting pretty,” He grins, dragging the charcoal against the paper. “You can move. Breathe. I’m trying to draw a person, not a statue. Just act natural and don’t get up.”
“Alright,” Enjolras tries to sit easier and not as if Grantaire is glancing at him critically every few seconds. Maybe talking would make it easier. “You were an artist before, right?”
“No. Not really,” Grantaire looks up from the paper. “I mean, it was a hobby, drawing and painting. But I didn’t get paid for it. I was a blacksmith, like your Marius friend. It’s why I can kick your ass at sword fighting.” He smirks. “Though I’m sure a lot of people from my old village were convinced I was a professional drunkard.”
“I think we’ve established that your old village was populated by awful people,” Enjolras frowns. “Save for you. You’re just marginally insufferable.”
“Be still my heart,” Grantaire says, moving his hand across the paper. Enjolras doesn’t know how he looks like, but seeing Grantaire like this, relaxed, doing something he loves, feels like something more worthy of being captured.
Grantaire notices him staring, and looks up, flushing. “Have I got charcoal on my face?”
“No. You just look,” Enjolras says. “Happy.”
“It’s because I am. It’s pretty weird, actually.” Grantaire says, scratching his chin. Now he has charcoal on his face. “Before, I didn’t actually miss this this much.”
“Being human,” Grantaire says, charcoal paused on the paper. “Drawing and cartwheels and sword fighting and shit. I didn’t see the point.”
“Do you see it now?” Enjolras asks. Maybe, if Grantaire wanted to be human, wanted to be cured, it might just happen. Maybe some curses worked like that.
Grantaire lifts his head, looking at Enjolras. He isn’t looking at how the light hits his face or whatever it is artists look for when they draw people. Grantaire just looks. It fills Enjolras with an unexplainable kind of warmth, the kind that feels like it’s eating him from inside out.
“I’m starting to,” Grantaire says.
With a clatter, the chessboard falls from his lap, breaking them out of their rather intense staring match. Grantaire sets the charcoal down.
“Can I see?” Enjolras kneels forward.
“Sure,” Grantaire hands him the paper.
Enjolras knows nothing about art, but the drawing is stunning. The lines seem to have started out shaky, but bolder ones stroked over them. Grantaire had drawn him just as he was, sitting by the fire, leaning against a pile. He could see where the light hit. Where the shadows started. He wondered if this was how Grantaire saw him all the time; this illuminated man.
“This is incredible,” Enjolras tells him.
“Can I keep it?”
“What?” Grantaire blinks at him. “I mean, sure. Yeah. I guess.”
“Thank you,” He folds it, carefully so it doesn’t smudge, and slips it into his pocket.
The night goes on, slowly, as nights do. They arrange Grantaire’s sheet nest into something that can hold the both of them, hopefully large enough so that Enjolras doesn’t kick Grantaire in his sleep. They lie on the sheets, next to each other. Grantaire shows him how to make shadows with his hands, the fire casting dogs and doves on the walls of the tower. It ends up becoming a harrowing story, thanks to Grantaire’s narration, of a warrior dove off to save the damsel dog in distress.
“This better not be what you think I do for a living,” Enjolras laughs, but keeps his hand up, playing the dog.
“Is it not? I never got much news about heroes from my village but I’m pretty sure saving random ladies was part of the job description.” Grantaire says.
“Most of the ladies I know can definitely take care of themselves,” Enjolras says.
“Okay. Arm is tired,” Grantaire puts his arms down, flopping onto the sheets. He turns to face Enjolras. “Tell me a story.”
Enjolras smiles at the ceiling. “What kind?”
“I’ve already told you all of those.”
“Courf tells me you don’t talk about the embarrassing ones,” Grantaire pokes him in the stomach.
”Because they aren’t as exciting,” He swats Grantaire’s hand away.
“Actually, now that I think about it, tell me a bunch from before you were a hero.” Grantaire pushes himself up.
“I’m always the one telling stories,” Enjolras tells him. “Why don’t you tell one for a change?”
“The warrior dove wasn’t enough?” Grantaire asks, but he continues. “It’s because my life wasn’t much, before the dragon thing. The most interesting story I have that didn’t happen with you was when I got cursed.”
“Oh,” He says. Grantaire never told that story. “That’s—”
"No," Grantaire says. "I think you deserve one story, by this point."
"Only if you want to tell it," Enjolras tells him, and he nods.
“I was in a bar,” Grantaire says. Enjolras sits up, to look at him. Grantaire looked ahead, out through the balcony, to the night sky. “Kind of like Feuilly’s but a lot less friendly. I was in a bar, in my village, drunk off my ass, which wasn’t unusual. That’s like a typical night for me. And I get real mouthy when I’m drunk. You know this. I just can’t stop talking.”
“At least now, I can accept I’m less of a dick. But back then I was awful. I’d never shut up. When people got too annoyed, they’d just throw me out and I’d continue rambling to the sky.” He says. “So one night, I’m doing my routine, and this guy comes in. Totally screams powerful wizard in every direction, but I was too busy hollering about how life was meaningless to notice. Anyways, I think I pissed him off. I can’t actually remember how I did it, but it can’t have been that hard. So maybe, at some point in the night, he said the words and cursed me, but I don’t remember. I just wake up the next day a dragon and the rest is history.”
“It’s a shitty story, I know.” Grantaire hugs his knees. “I don’t even know half of it. I didn’t tell you guys because it doesn’t help and just makes me sound pathetic. I don’t know how the curse happened so I don’t know the condition and basically I’m going to be like this forever.”
“You won’t,” Enjolras says with all the determination he can, not for himself, but for Grantaire. “We’re going to break the curse. We will.”
“When you say it like that,” Grantaire looks up, the ghost of a smile trying to find itself on him. “I believe you. And I’m in the practice of not believing in anything.”
“If there’s one thing you should believe in, it’s this.”
“Whatever you say,” Grantaire rolls his eyes. There he is. “I believe I’m owed a story now?”
“Alright,” Enjolras says. “My parents disowned me.”
“No way.” Grantaire says. "You?"
They settle back into the sheets as Enjolras tells Grantaire of how he was trained as a young child. How he was kicked out for refusing to join the king’s guard. He talks about being left a horse, enough money to last a month, and a dagger. He’s telling Grantaire about how he found the village, when he notices him clasping his hands together.
“That was when Courfeyrac tripped over my almost dead body—Are you okay?” Enjolras asks. Grantaire rubs his palms together.
“Yeah. Hands are just cold,” He shoves his hands under his arms for a few seconds. “When I’m like this, I’m warm blooded. Which I love. I love temperature regulation. But my hands aren’t getting the memo.” Grantaire spreads his fingers out, looking at his scaled hands.
“May I?” Enjolras asks.
“Sure, what’re you go—Oh.” Enjolras takes Grantaire’s hands in his.
“Better?” Enjolras asks. For some reason, he feels warmer. He just hopes it helps Grantaire. He brushes his thumb over Grantaire’s knuckles, and feels overwhelmed. Enjolras doesn’t understand why.
“Yeah,” Grantaire says. “So, uh. The story? We last left off when you were starving in the woods and Courfeyrac tripped over you.”
“Oh, yeah.” Enjolras says. He launches back into the story instead of trying to figure out what the tight feeling in his stomach meant.
Grantaire falls asleep somewhere in Enjolras’ story of the incident with the faeries and Jehan’s outfit. He knows because Grantaire’s breathing evens out and his grip on Enjolras’ hand loosens. He could let go. He should. But halfway through thinking about why this was such a big deal for him, he falls asleep, his hands still holding Grantaire’s.
Com Okay. It can’t be Combeferre anymore. That wouldn’t make any sense because he’s here. Whatever.
This is not a letter. This is just ordering out my thoughts onto paper so that I may better comprehend them. Like a journal. Or a diary. Shit.
Have I been sending diary entries to Ferre
Grantaire turned human last night. At least mostly so. Seeing him like that was different, while at the same time not. He was always so passive about breaking the curse, but last night I think he realized that was no longer the case. I want to help him, but even with the knowledge of the curse’s casting, no new information has come to light. It’s awful. I care for him dearly.
More than anythi Not exactly more so than any of my friends, but in another way I can’t seem to gras
Enjolras sets the quill down with a sigh. After a few more seconds, he sets his head down on the table as well, just for good measure.
When they woke the next morning, or when Enjolras kicked Grantaire awake and Grantaire woke him up the next morning, to be more accurate, Grantaire was back to his dragon form. Enjolras had apparently pulled Grantaire’s wing over his eyes, to shield him from the sunlight, and Grantaire had laughed about how Enjolras wasn’t a morning person.
He rode back, as promised. After Courfeyrac went on about how Enjolras had worried him sick, with Combeferre providing backup remarks, they left to buy some things for brunch. The only reason Enjolras hadn’t gone with them was because they said he’d be cooking as punishment and was also under an hour long house arrest. Which brought him here, head against the table, after scratching uselessly against a piece of paper with a quill in some misguided attempt to figure out the turmoil his brain was going through.
There was a feeling deep in his gut that alternated between feeling like talons scratching against his lungs and something akin to how moonlight looked like. Was it possible to feel like how the moon looked like? Jehan would probably say yes, but only for literary purposes. It was confusing, to say the least. He supposes he could ask Combeferre if he was showing symptoms of some sort of illness. He has to be on his best form if he was to break Grantaire’s curse.
Grantaire promised to come over later, now that he was feeling better and had wings. He said he’d go to the coven. See what other cures they had to offer. The pessimistic part of Enjolras’ brain, which sounds suspiciously like Grantaire, told him that the coven had done all they could. If a cure exists, it won’t be coming from there.
A pigeon flies into the cottage and perches atop of Enjolras’ head. He sighs, swatting if off.
Enjolras sits up as the pigeon flaps its way onto the table. With nothing else to do, he takes the scroll from the pigeon’s pack, and it flies away. He opens it, a quest from far away, really far. Kingdoms away. He stands to add it to Courfeyrac’s junk mail pile, but then his eye catches on a few words.
ERRAND KNIGHT NEEDED TO FIND ENCHANTED MIRROR. MIRROR GRANTS THREE WISHES. IF FOUND, EMPLOYER IS WILLING TO GIVE ONE WISH AS PAYMENT
Enjolras stares at the the words. One wish.
He tells Combeferre and Courfeyrac about his plan over brunch. While they both voice out that the quest is too far, farther than Enjolras has ever gone before, they also understand the stakes. One wish is enough. He decides he’ll leave with Combeferre when he goes back to the capital, and he’ll just keep riding until he reaches the harbor.
“We’re going to need to throw the biggest going away party ever,” Courfeyrac says, hands spread out on the table. All three of them are in Feuilly’s bar, waiting to meet Bahorel to go hunting.
“I don’t think parties can get that big around here,” Combeferre says, slinging an arm around Courfeyrac.
“We can have a bonfire,” Courfeyrac says, smile slipping into a pout. “Nothing says ‘Oh God My Two Best Friends Are Leaving Me’ like a good ol’ heap of burning shit.”
“I promise I won’t take too long,” Enjolras tells him. “No detours. I’ll find the thing, make the wish, and go straight back.”
“But it’ll still take forever,” Courfeyrac drapes himself face first over the table. “I mean,” He says into the table. “I’ve had a long time to come to terms with Combeferre being gone for months. But you? That’s!” He makes a noise.
Enjolras and Combeferre exchange a worried glance over him.
“I’ll be all alone at home,” Courfeyrac lifts his head, flashing his most pleading eyes to Enjolras. “All alone with my thirty one birds. I’ll keep making two mugs of tea, Enjolras. And I can’t drink two mugs of tea. The tea will go cold.”
Combeferre pats him on the head.
“You could ask Grantaire to stay over,” Enjolras suggests.
“And another thing! What would Grantaire think if you were to leave for months?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t told him yet,” Enjolras shrugs. “But if it’s to break the curse, I don’t think he’ll mind too much.”
“Somehow, I doubt that.” Combeferre says.
“Enjolras!” The door swings open, banging against the wall. Grantaire walks into the bar in all his cursed dragon glory, head whipping around, until he meets Enjolras’ eyes. For some reason, he looks upset.
“Grantaire?” Enjolras says.
“Don’t slam the door,” Feuilly reprimands, solely out of habit. He seems resigned to the fact that doors to bars will always just be slammed open for one reason or another.
“Oh, shit. Sorry man.”
“It’s okay. Just close it. Gently.”
Grantaire turns around to close the door gently with his tail. When that’s done, he walks over to Enjolras, eyes filled with the kind of fire he knows Grantaire is capable of making.
“Are you a fucking idiot?” Grantaire asks.
“What?” Enjolras says.
“He is, occasionally.” Courfeyrac answers.
“Only every other day,” Combeferre adds.
“I’m ignoring you two,” He turns to face Grantaire. “What’s going on?”
“‘What’s going on?’ You’re leaving is what’s going on,” Grantaire says, worried, of all things.
Enjolras’ eyebrows knit. “Who told you?”
Grantaire spreads his wings to reveal a small pigeon perched on his back. Courfeyrac begins to whistle an innocent tune.
Enjolras rolls his eyes. “Okay, I’m leaving. But I’m not leaving today, so don’t get too upset—”
“You’re sailing across the ocean,” Grantaire raises his voice. “And all for what? Some shit magic—”
“For a wish. One wish to break your curse,” Enjolras says, hoping that Grantaire will see it’s worth it. But instead, it seems to aggravate him even further. “It’s far but it’s worth it.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Feuilly says quietly into the mug he was polishing.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras says. “I’ll be back.”
“But you’ll still be gone. For months.”
“For you,” Enjolras says. The talons are back, scratching at him. Anything for you.
“I don’t want you to be gone,”
“You have friends here it’s—”
“Okay, fuck you. Fuck you so much,” Grantaire takes a step forward. “I didn’t have any friends until you came along. And then you went and gave me more. Fuck you because I want to come but I don’t want to leave this place and my friends and my goddamn home. But I don’t want to lose you.”
“It’s,” Enjolras is at a loss. Grantaire looks at him, scales all bristled. Enjolras doesn’t want to leave him too. He doesn’t want to leave the village and all the people for a place so far it aches to think about it. But he’d do it. Of course he would. “It’s for you to be human."
“Fuck being human, Enjolras.” Grantaire says. “It isn’t worth shit without you.”
Whenever Enjolras witnesses Musichetta cast a spell or Joly activate a rune, there’s always some added theatricality. Some glowing over here. Some wind over there. He figured all magic was like that, but maybe it’s just that their coven has a flair for the dramatic.
Because when the last word slips out of Grantaire’s mouth, the world reorders itself in such a way that Grantaire is no longer a dragon, but a human. The force of whatever happens has Grantaire stumbling, falling to the floor, and Enjolras is on his knees immediately to catch him.
“Shit,” Grantaire says. Or maybe Enjolras says. Maybe they say it together.
Courfeyrac leans over the table, giving Grantaire an appraising look. “Nice.”
Enjolras hears Combeferre smack him upside the head while Enjolras removes his cloak, wrapping it around Grantaire. Grantaire who is human. His hands brush against Enjolras’, and instead of scales, there is skin, rough and calloused.
Grantaire looks at Enjolras.
“Have,” Grantaire says tentatively, as if he speaks too loud, he’ll turn back. But nothing happens. “Have I got charcoal on my face, or something?”
“No,” Enjolras tells him. “Your eyes are just a whole bunch of different colors.”
“Oh,” Grantaire blinks. “Not yellow?”
Grey, he assumes one could mistake them for if they were standing further away. But here, with Enjolras’ inches away, he can see the speckles of everything else. “Not yellow.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m pretty sure I know what the color yellow looks like, yeah.”
“Holy shit,” Grantaire breaks into a smile. “Holy shit.”
He dives into Enjolras, arms wrapping around his neck, but then Grantaire freezes for a bit, pulling back. “Wait, sorry. I didn’t ask. Just sort of hug assaulted you—”
“Oh my god, you dumbass, shut up.” Enjolras laughs, hugging Grantaire until he wheezes, until he’s laughing too. Until he surges forward, tipping Enjolras over to the floor, happy, like a bunch of idiots.
Enjolras feels something hit his leg. He grumbles, turning in his bed.
“Enjolras.” another thing hits him. He’s pretty sure it’s a pebble. He would have never thought Coufeyrac would resort to throwing pebbles at him to wake up.
“Courf, it’s too early,” Enjolras says, blindly reaching an arm out to swat the air.
“God, you really aren’t a morning person.” Somebody who is decidedly not Courfeyrac says. They throw another pebble. “Enjolraaaaaas.”
Enjolras musters all the strength he has in his body to sit up. Scratching the sleep from his eyes, he casts a glance around his empty room. There, with his head through the window, was Grantaire, grinning, a bunch of pebbles in his hand.
“Good morning, sunshine.” He tosses another one and it hits Enjolras square on the head.
“How in the world are you awake right now?” Enjolras blinks. “And smiling?”
Last night, everybody had celebrated Grantaire’s newfound human status. The village, not one to pass down another celebration, quite literally the second one they’ve had this week, decided to drink and be merry until standing and saying coherent sentences was a difficulty. Grantaire had gone home with the coven, stumbling on his feet, and Enjolras tried to get back to the cottage, he and Combeferre practically dragging Courfeyrac to bed.
“I didn’t actually sleep much,” Grantaire rests his head on the ledge of the window. “My brain keeps telling me if I sleep, I’ll turn back.”
“You won’t. Musichetta told you that she didn’t feel any magic around you anymore.”
“I know. It’ll just take a while to get used to,” He says. “Anyways, I need a favor.”
Enjolras stands, looking through the window to the dawn sky. “It couldn’t have waited until later?”
“Nope. I promised to teach Gav how to cartwheel later,” Grantaire tells him. “I just need a ride back to the tower since I can’t fly there anymore. I need to get some stuff. Clothes mostly. Everybody at the coven is either taller than me or tiny children.” He raises his hands, sleeves long enough to cover his palms. “I’m not just talking about Gavroche. Joly and Eponine are also tiny children. You’re the only one here with a horse I trust.”
“Bahorel has a horse,” Enjolras says, but he’s getting up anyways, lacing his boots.
“I don’t trust his horse. His horse looks like it’s been to hell and came trotting out because the demons got scared.”
“My horse bucked you off five times,”
“Now we have a special bond.”
“Why didn’t you just knock on the front door?” Enjolras searches his room for his cloak, only to remember he gave it to Grantaire yesterday. He’s still wearing it now.
“Because Courfeyrac would wake up and force feed me breakfast,” Grantaire snickers. “Just hop out the window.”
“Yeah, just give me a second.” Enjolras finds some paper and hastily scrawls out a message for Combeferre and Courfeyrac when they wake up, assuring them that he’s alive, hasn’t been kidnapped by monsters, and is just with Grantaire.
Enjolras goes out the window and over to where his horse is tied. Grantaire trails after him, still too energetic for somebody who hasn’t slept.
“Where do you want to ride?” Enjolras pets his horse gently. “Front or back?”
“Where am I less likely to fall off?”
“Neither. But if you fall off while at the back, you can at least take me down with you.”
“Back it is,” He grins.
The ride to the tower is quiet but not unpleasant. Enjolras supposes it should be, what with neither of them saying a word, Grantaire’s arms tight around Enjolras’ waist as they gallop through the woods. But it isn’t. The morning air is cool around them. The sun is only beginning to peek over the horizon.
When they get to the tower, it doesn’t look like it’s changed, but Grantaire looks up at it as if he’s seen it for the first time anyways.
“It’s going to be really inconvenient living here now that I can’t fly,” He says, dismounting.
“You could live at the village,” Enjolras ties his horse to a tree. “Everybody would help with the move.”
“Most of my stuff will probably just stay here,” He tells him. “A lot of it is just junk.” They start making their way up the stairs. Grantaire’s hand never leaves the wall. “Oh, god I’ll have to start paying rent. I haven’t thought about the concept of money in ages.”
“You can get a job,” Enjolras says, amused, as Grantaire opens the door. “Marius could use some help with smithing.”
“That sounds nice,” Grantaire walks around, grabbing a bunch of his clothes from a pile and stuffing them into a satchel. “Hey, don’t just stand there. Help me find Rocky. He’s totally coming with us.”
Enjolras ducks behind a pile, looking around. “Rocky?” He calls out.
“Oh yeah, he’ll totally respond to that.”
“Shut up,” Enjolras checks the sheet nest, but he isn’t there either. Grantaire checks under a dismantled cupboard when Enjolras steps into ray of light coming into the room. His eyes move to the balcony. “Grantaire, I found him.”
“Where?” He pops his head up.
“Over here,” On the balcony, Rocky was settled in his shell, head looking out. Grantaire walks over to where Enjolras stood.
“He’s got the right idea,” Grantaire leans against the wall. “I’m gonna miss the view.”
“You can always come back, you know. This place is great for sleepovers,” He says. Neither of them make a move to pick up Rocky. “You aren’t like, trapped at the village.”
“I know,” Grantaire says. Then he laughs, quietly, like he’s remembering a joke. “Maybe I could even go with you on your little quests.”
“Yeah,” Enjolras says. He’s never thought about it before, but it would actually be wonderful. “You could.”
“I was joking,” Grantaire looks at him, smile faltering. “And you aren’t, are you?”
“There’s nothing stopping you. I wouldn’t mind, since you can fight.” Enjolras shrugs, going for casual. Deep down, the thought of Grantaire with him, seeing places and solving problems, was something that sounds perfect. “Only if you want to, though.”
“Of course, I’d want to. All my life I’ve been stuck some place, one way or another.” Grantaire tells him. “You’re telling me I can go with you and actually do shit and come back to the village when it’s over.”
“You said you were joking.”
“Well, yeah. I didn’t think you’d actually say yes. I’d be an idiot to not want to hang out with you.”
A sinking sensation starts in Enjolras’ gut. “You shouldn’t want to go just because of me, though.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. It’s just,” Grantaire’s look urges him on. “When the curse was broken, it was after you said something, well. Bordering on unhealthy.”
Grantaire snorts. “Unhealthy got me uncursed.”
“Curses aren’t the best judges of character,” Enjolras says. “I’m serious, though. You shouldn’t fixate on me.”
“Fixate?” Grantaire raises his eyebrows, smiling ruefully. “And here I thought you finally caught on.”
“Caught on to what?”
“Enjolras. While I agree fixation isn’t all that great, that’s not what I’m doing. I just.” Grantaire says, voice soft. “I found my Thing. Capital T.”
“I—” Enjolras says, brain slotting things into place. “I can’t be your Thing!”
Grantaire laughs, crossing his arms. “And why not?”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Enjolras says. He ignores the fluttering feeling in his chest. The one that makes him want to grab Grantaire and shake him ‘til everything does make sense. “There’s only one of me, so you can’t hoard any more unless Musichetta figures out how to magically clone people—”
“You’re taking this way too literally,” Grantaire interrupts him. “The Thing just has to be something I’m devoted to. A purpose. I never had any of those before. Something I wanted so bad it hurt.” Grantaire has his arms around himself, pulling together, like how he used to cover himself with his wings, curling into something small. “What does that sound like to you?”
“I haven’t the faintest idea,” Enjolras says, but what he knows is this; every word Grantaire just said feels like the whatever has been grabbing at Enjolras’ chest lately. “But I think. I think I get it.”
“You do?” Grantaire looks up, his eyes a little sad. That’s not right. That isn’t how they should look like.
“Yeah,” He says. “I think I feel the same way. But for you.”
“Maybe you don’t get it, then.” Grantaire turns away, looking out the balcony. “Because it means I’m in love with you, dumbass.”
Outside, the sun has risen.
“I think,” Enjolras says slowly. “You should kiss me.”
“What?” Grantaire whips his head to Enjolras, frowning.
“Kiss me,” Enjolras repeats simply.
“Don’t be like that. That’s a low blow. Don’t just do it out—out of pity. It isn’t cool or funny or—”
“Grantaire,” Enjolras reaches out to touch him, but decides against it. Not until Grantaire understands. Not until they’re on the same page. “I think I love you too.”
“You think?” Grantaire says, unsure.
“I know,” He amends. “I didn’t know what it was before. Honestly, I thought I was sick. But it makes sense.”
“You being in love with me doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense,” Grantaire tells him, but he doesn’t look sad anymore. He looks hopeful. “You’re a brave, orc fighting, quest completing hero. I’m just a dude who hasn’t even been human in a long time. I’m the last person you should be falling in love with.”
Enjolras sighs. “Can you put your self-esteem issues aside for maybe five minutes and believe me?”
“If there’s one thing I can do,” Grantaire says. “It’s believe you.”
“Kiss me,” He says, and Grantaire steps forward, taking Enjolras’ face into his hands.
“When you stayed the night, I wanted to touch your face so bad. I couldn’t though, because of the claws.” Grantaire tells him, thumb stroking over his cheek. Enjolras feels himself flush. “I don’t know why I wanted to. You just seemed to have a lot of fun with my face, so I figured yours would be an experience. It sort of is—”
“You’re rambling,” Enjolras smiles, his face against Grantaire’s calloused palms. He’s so close Enjolras can feel the warmth of his body.
“And you’re beautiful,” Grantaire says.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras tells him, taking a hold of Grantaire’s wrists. “Please kiss me.”
Grantaire stares at him for one more second before fluttering his eyes shut, leaning in, and pressing his lips against Enjolras’. It’s that, just that, yet overwhelming all the same. Lips warm against the morning air, Enjolras moves his hand into Grantaire’s hair, and Grantaire pulls back. Enjolras tries to follow him, tries to lean for another kiss, but then Grantaire opens his eyes and looks at him like he isn’t sure this is real.
“Huh,” Grantaire says, breaking into a grin. “That happened.”
“It did,” Enjolras laughs. “Was it good?”
“You tell me. Surely, you’ve kissed people on your adventures.”
“No, this was the first one.” Enjolras says. Grantaire’s eyes widen slightly, and Enjolras leans in to kiss him again, briefly. “And that was the second.”
“You’re such a nerd,” Grantaire says, leaping up to hug him, but sending them crashing to the floor instead. “I guess I’ll just have to kiss you more . You know, for training. Heroes need to know how to kiss.”
“We keep on ending up on the floor,” Enjolras says, dizzy from happiness and from falling to the floor. “Are you getting off of me anytime soon?”
“Maybe. Who knows,” Grantaire says, head against Enjolras’ chest. “Just give me a few minutes to come to terms with all this. Feels a bit like a dream.”
“I don’t think it is.” Enjolras says, and he feels Grantaire hum. He gets it though. The whole too good to be true thing. But sunlight is streaming into the room through the balcony and Grantaire is sort of crushing him. Rocky walks into his leg. “This feels pretty real to me.”
Grantaire sits up to look at him. “I believe you,” He says. The feeling in Enjolras’ chest settles at that. Enjolras closes his eyes and breathes easy. Finally peaceful. No talons or moonlight. Just this. Grantaire, human, real, and right here.