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The Fog Rises

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March, 1833, London

 

It was a wet but pleasantly warm early March afternoon. The sprawling metropolis, the heart of the British Empire was calm. The rays of the setting sun were painting luminous streaks through the fine mist, humans, pigeons and other denizens of the city were going about their business, some looking to settle in for the night, others just getting started on their day.

None of this all-encompassing serenity affected Grantaire, who was racing down the Piccadilly, flailing at a parked coach. Having caught it he quickly rattled off the address, and settled in – that is he did his best to do so. He was practically bouncing in his seat, unable to contain his excitement.

He almost forgot to pay his trip he was so keen to get home. For once he was glad he didn’t have to bother with a key (as the main gate of the block of flats he lived in has been broken and unhinged way before he even moved in), he ran up a rickety flight of stairs and burst into his flat with the delicacy of a battling ram.

‘Good news, Enjolras!’ he cried.

The man in question jumped, startled by the sudden arrival of his flatmate, almost spilling a bottle of ink on the papers he was shifting through. He recovered quickly enough, straightened his papers and turned to face his companion.

‘Do speak, my friend! We could do with good news.’

Grantaire plopped down on his bed – or rather the box made of planks and filled with hay-sacks he called his bed – and rubbed his hands together, grinning.

‘So, I assume you recall my good friend Murray?’

‘I’m not sure I do. Is he one of your fellow assistants at the atelier? The one who got you the job?’

‘Yes on the first count, no on the second. That was Jamison. This Murray is the second cousin of that one. Any way. Just the other day I was out with my friend Murray, just hanging around, as you do – or, well, as I do, you never do – maybe I wanted to check out this new pub, or was that another day? Oh well, never mind. We were out and he mentioned he was getting married.’

Grantaire looked up. Enjolras was frowning down at an indistinct point on the floor, head cocked to the side. A mere year ago Grantaire would have lost heart at the sight, but now he was better at reading his friend – he knew this pose meant he was paying close attention.

‘So, he is getting married’ he went on ‘But that’s not all, he and his new wife are to move up North, to Newcastle – that is where the little missus is from, or so I gather. Anyway, they have family there. And how does this concern us? I can hear you think. Ah, here’s the thing. This fellow, Murray, has a very nice flat he now must leave behind. It has three rooms Enjolras! Two bedrooms, and a study! And he’s leaving some of the furniture behind, the two beds included!’

Enjolras looked up at him at that, cautiously hopeful.

‘That indeed sounds like great news. Are you sure we could afford it though? …Also, how come a painter’s assistant has a three room flat to his name?’

‘Fear not, I know better than to get your hopes up for nothing! We can afford it – if we are both willing to part with most of our savings and take on a bit of a loan. I had a banker calculate it for me, never fear, I wouldn’t expect you to rely on my mathematical prowess. As for where Murray himself got the flat… well, like I said, he’s the second cousin of Jamison.’

‘…And this Jamison is the kind of fellow whose affairs one shouldn’t examine too closely, I assume’ said Enjolras, nodding.

‘Indeed. But once the flat is signed over to us he’ll have no more say in its fate.’

Enjolras nodded again.

‘Splendid. When can we examine the flat?’

‘Tomorrow, if your schedule allows it.’

Enjolras thought for a moment.

‘Would the afternoon do for you? I have a new student and I’m supposed to meet him in the morning.’

‘Very well, mind your students, leave the business of the flat to me!’

Enjolras smiled and reached out to press his hand.

‘Thank you.’

***

The examination of the new flat went without any hiccups. It was sparely furnished but dry and much better insulated then the hole in the wall Grantaire and Enjolras spent the last winter in – a quality Grantaire couldn’t be more grateful for.

The flat he was so keen to leave behind was truly a disgrace – a single, wet, mouldy room with a tiny window, furnished only by a metal stove, a ‘desk’ made of a plank propped up by two barrels, two makeshift beds and two chests to keep their belongings in. Its only saving grace was that they had it all for themselves – in other parts of town a hole of similar size would have housed a whole (or maybe even two) family (or families) of six.

It was a drastic downgrade from the standards of living Grantaire was used to, but he had to make do. After the failure of the revolution Les Amis scattered – Grantaire still had no idea what happened to most of them. Enjolras, as the leader, had a price on his head and had to leave the country in a hurry. And though Enjolras’ father managed to let his son (and his tagalong companion) go with a handsome sum, he couldn’t work out a way to set up a steady allowance.

Which of course meant they had to save on every dime, and quickly look for jobs. Thankfully Fate saw it fit to compensate them for the terrible blow they suffered and, while it took a long while, they both found a source of steady income before their supplies ran out – Grantaire as an artist’s assistant, Enjolras by teaching French.

It was, in Grantaire’s humble opinion, a high time their life finally sorted itself out.

It was way after he and Enjolras left the flat and he headed out to get started on arranging the move and finalizing the deal when a thought hit him. Enjolras left this affaire almost entirely to him. Enjolras trusted him.

***

Moving in was a quick affair – all they had to do was to carry over the two travelling trunks and to buy some new linens, dishes and other small household items.

Even so they spent a whole day cleaning the flat – while neither of them were enthusiastic about household chores they agreed they should start with a literal clean slate this time. By nightfall, both of them were properly exhausted.

Grantaire, once he was finally done with his nightly routine, trudged into his bedchamber (his very own bedchamber!) and with a heavy sigh let himself drop on his new bed, expecting the soft embrace of the sheets…

…And instead found himself squished by the mattress as the bed broke with a loud crack under him. For a good moment he lay on his back, shocked, staring at the ceiling (or at least the part of it that wasn’t blocked out by the edges of the mattress) trying to assess his situation.

A rapid drumming of running feet and a bang from the direction of the door let him know that Enjolras must have heard the noise and hurried over. And indeed, a moment later the face of his flatmate sailed into his (currently rather narrow) line of vision.

‘Are you all right?’ he asked.

Grantaire blinked owlishly up at him. Nothing hurt, the mattress saved him from any serious injury, but it also trapped him as it folded in on itself. He was acutely aware of what a ridiculous sight he must have been, with his hairy, chubby legs and flailing arms sticking out over the bedframe.

‘Am I alright, he asks? Am I all right? Do tell me, oh fearless leader, do I look like a man who, as you put it, is all right?’

Enjolras ducked his head, sniggering.

‘Ah, splendid! Splendid I say! Why, go ahead, laugh at my misery! ‘Grantaire cried, with as much mock affront as he could muster up, unable to contain his own laughter ‘Gaze down upon your fallen disciple, felled by the dark machinations of woodworms!’

Enjolras was openly laughing now, wiping away his tears away with one hand, and reaching with the other to tug Grantaire out from the wreckage. It took a bit of an effort and he ended up having to use both hands, but finally Grantaire came tumbling out of the ruined bed, right into Enjolras’ arms, nearly toppling them both over.

They stood there for a moment, giggling. After they finally caught their breath Enjolras took Grantaire’s hand and led him into his own bedroom.

They settled (very carefully) into the bed, still sniggering. After a while, Enjolras turned to Grantaire.

‘Fair warning: I do tend to move about and to wrap my arms around anything I can reach, usually a pillow. I might bother you.’

Sleepiness and the residual shock of his earlier adventure made Grantaire bold.

‘Well, we could prevent any surprises if we started out cuddling. What do you say to that?’

Enjolras said nothing, but he did carefully scoot closer and put an arm around Grantaire, who in turn rolled around to face him and pulled him in. Enjolras folded up his body and scooted downwards a bit so he could tuck his head under his friend’s chin. Grantaire stroked his side once as they settled into their new position. He could feel Enjolras’ ribs under his nightshirt, which saddened him greatly. Enjolras, in his natural form, resembled the beautiful Antinous, Emperor Hadrian’s young lover who, according to the countless statues raised in his memory, had smooth, round cheeks and arms, and a soft layer of flesh covering up his muscles. Enjolras was of similar build, but over the past months he lost a lot of weight. Thankfully now he was starting to regain some of it.

Grantaire’s eyelids were growing heavy. He was vaguely aware of his friend’s breath against his collarbone (and a mixture of high-pitched screaming and ecstatic cheers coming from the back of his mind) but sleep claimed him before he could suitably savour or even assess the situation.

***

He woke up before sunrise – though the only way he could tell was the clock of a nearby church striking six o’clock, the lack of light coming through the window meant nothing at all. Not in England.

He sighed, tried to stretch – and was thwarted in the attempt by the tangle of limbs wrapped around his body. He fidgeted a bit and, peering down his nose, caught a sight of pale blond locks spread all over his chest. In fact, he even had some in his mouth. He gingerly reached up to brush them away, but the slight movement had disturbed Enjolras. He twitched, muttered something under his breath and settled back in a slightly less restricting and more comfortable position, resting his head on Grantaire’s shoulder.

Grantaire carefully laid his head back down and willed himself to relax. This was real. This was happening. His marble angel, his Enjolras was laying in his arms, warm and trusting and alive. He could feel his heartbeat against his own ribs, feel his soft puffs of breath against his neck. He slowly raised his hand and gently caressed the other man’s hair. Enjolras let out a contented little noise and nuzzled against his neck. Emboldened, Grantaire took to stroking his hair, smoothing it back, out of his face, savouring the feeling of silky locks under his fingers.

If at this point he still wasn’t sure whether his friend was awake or not, the matter was settled when Enjolras wound his arm fully around his torso and began to stroke his side with his thumb.

Grantaire pulled him even closer, his vision suddenly blurring.

He was in heaven. The rain was tapping on the window and, judged by what little light managed to find its way through the window a thick fog must have been rolling outside. None of that mattered because their room was cosy, the bed was warm, and he was cradling the love of his life in his arms. Grantaire could have stayed in this bubble of happiness forever.

But alas, the clock, the accursed clock struck seven. Enjolras picked up his head, staring out the window with a fuzzy scowl. Suddenly his eyes grew comically wide as he must have recalled some engagement or an other.  Without further ado he shot out of bed, scrambling to put on his clothes as quickly as he could and somehow trying to comb his hair at the same time.

Halfway through he remembered that maybe he should wash up a bit and ran out to get a basin and a pitcher of water – with the comb stuck in his hair. He only realised it was still there when he bent down over the basin to wash his face and torso and it flung forward in front of his eyes.

Grantaire, on his part, watched the show in amusement, but at his friend’s failed attempts to get the comb out of his face he took pity on him. He got up, took Enjolras by the arm and gently but firmly pushed him down onto the edge of the bed. He carefully extracted the comb and brushed the long, golden mane with the veneration it deserved. Enjolras relaxed slightly, but it was obvious he was late from somewhere, so Grantaire made a quick job of it. He finished his job by tying the hair back into a ponytail with a ribbon he found on the nightstand.

‘Thank you’ said Enjolras, springing to his feet. He quickly finished dressing and was about to shoot out the door when he suddenly stopped. He turned around, bent down and pressed a small peck at Grantaire’s cheek.

And then he was gone.

Grantaire remained frozen on the bed for a long while.

***

That day Grantaire’s nerves were all over the place. Certainly, since they fled to England, having no one else to lean on, he and Enjolras have been steadily growing closer but the events of the morning were entirely unprecedented. Not that he hadn’t been dreaming about such a scenario for years, but he never expected Enjolras to be amenable.

By the afternoon he managed to convince himself that the problem was of no consequence – or at least there was nothing he could do to further advance his case. The ball was in Enjolras’ court now, all Grantaire could do was to wait for him to bring the matter up.

For the better part of the evening it looked like he will not. After a short but amicable exchange about their respective days Enjolras got lost in a newspaper. Grantaire tried to do the same but it just wouldn’t hold his attention. Every now and then he would sneak a glance at his friend. For hours on end he was greeted by the same sight: Enjolras reading peacefully.

Finally, around eight o’clock Enjolras put aside his papers. He was staring off into space with odd, soft, faraway look on his face.

Grantaire leant forward.

‘Is anything the matter?’

Enjolras’ head jerked as if he was going to shake his head but thought better of it. At last he began to talk, uncertain, halting:

‘Today when… this morning I was… ‘he shook his head’ It’s hard to describe. There was… Nothing.’

Grantaire frowned.

‘You felt empty?’

‘Yes but… no. More like, my head was empty, if that makes any sense.’

‘Mine always is’ said Grantaire with a snort. It was a mistake – Enjolras’ expression closed off immediately.

‘I’m sorry, please go on! It’s myself I cannot take seriously, not you! So this empty feeling – was it good or bad?’

Enjolras regarded him solemnly for a good moment, then cautiously went on.

‘Calling it ‘emptiness’ probably wasn’t the best choice of word. It’s just strange for me not to be thinking of anything. To just… be’ he finished with an awkward shrug.

‘Do you mean like being at peace?’

Enjolras looked up, surprised, as if the though only just now occurred to him. He nodded slowly.

‘Peace, yes. But it was also as if the world stopped existing. There was nothing but… but you.’

Grantaire jolted upright. Now he was paying attention in earnest – even if he couldn’t yet decide whether to feel hopeful or concerned. Enjolras went on – thankfully unaware of his reaction.

‘You felt safe, somehow. Warm. Solid but. But soft.’ the last few words were barely a whisper, nothing but a rustling of pages of the most private of diaries.

Grantaire stared – he could feel a blush creeping up his face. He tried to say something, anything, but the better part of his mind was already out the door, screaming, and the rest just wasn’t up to the task of forming coherent sentences.

Enjolras drew a shuddering breath and went on.

‘It’s selfish, shutting out the world like this. I shouldn’t…’

‘But you really should!’ Said Grantaire, suddenly finding his voice, leaning forward, desperately trying to ignore how he must have looked like an overcooked lobster ‘No human soul can sustain itself on revolution alone, Enjolras, not even you, and believe me, you are as close to the Spirit of the Revolution personified as it gets. But even you need rest, even you need these moments of peace and happiness. Listen, being selfish is my trade, my special talent, and from the craftsman’s point of view, let me tell you this: not wanting to burden yourself with all the troubles of the world for five minutes on a quiet Saturday morning does not count as selfishness.’

Enjolras frowned.

‘Why are you doing this? You either brag about qualities you don’t have or drag yourself through the mud, no in-between. Why? You are not selfish. Not as broad and all-loving as Feuilly, maybe, but not selfish.’

Grantaire wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to drop his face in his hands and sigh until eternity. He opted for merely rolling his eyes.

‘I see you will do anything to miss my point.’

Now it was Enjolras’ turn to shake his head.

‘I see your point, I do, but why must you present it in such a way?’ he paused, dropping his eyes ‘I’m sorry. I don’t want to fight. If I promise to try and not be ashamed of these Moments, will you in turn stop putting yourself down? I know I haven’t been kind to you in the past, but then, all you ever did was to antagonise me.’

He paused, frowning.

‘Which, by the way, I do not understand. I know now that you like me well enough, so why would you do that?’

 Grantaire blinked. He didn’t expect this change of topic.

‘I didn’t… I never meant to. I mean, sure, you know how I feel about your chosen methods and the probability of achieving your goals like that, and all right, I might have spoken uncharitably of these goals themselves. I can’t believe in them the way you do, whether I want to or not, I’m just not built to be the visionary you or the rest of our friends are.’

He pulled his hand through his hair and went on, talking as quickly as he could, intent on getting it all out before he lost his nerve completely.

‘But you, I always believed in you. If there is a man who can bring about the future you dream of it is you. Or even if you can’t, because after all you are but a man, I would know you gave your all to your vision. I may never understand how a man can do it, I could never do it, but I can admire it in others. …I can, can’t I?’ he laughed a little ‘Would you know, I never really had my feelings sorted out like this. If you asked me two months ago why I was so drawn to you, or the rest of our friends, really, I couldn’t have answered…’

He trailed off, unsure of how to proceed. He didn’t dare to look up at Enjolras. He was quite certain he must have crossed some line in his babbling speech, or simply reminded Enjolras why he used to keep his distance… From the corner of his eyes he could see him getting up. This is where he leaves, isn’t it?

But Enjolras simply walked over and sat down beside him.

‘In this case I must apologise’ he said ‘I ah. I have a hard time detecting sarcasm. I learned to spot it when it’s used, as you must when you are friends with Bossuet and Combeferre, and usually I can manage fine, but there’s something about your speech patterns and voice that makes you nigh impossible to read. So I took everything you said as sarcasm or mockery.’

‘…Even when I was, for once, sincere. To be fair I didn’t make your job any easier.’

‘And that is what I can’t understand. Why use the same voice when you mean to convey completely different things?’

Grantaire risked a sideways glance. Enjolras wasn’t looking at him, but then, it was his habit not to directly look at whoever he was addressing. Also, he was leaning close to Grantaire and his voice was soft and calm. This was definitely still a conversation, not a fight. Grantaire relaxed.

‘Thing is…’ he said, rubbing the back of his neck ‘It’s easier to backtrack if you can pass your words off as a joke.’

‘But why would you?’

‘…Because I am a bloody coward?’

‘You are doing it again!’

‘Doesn’t count if it’s true’ said Grantaire, shrugging ‘Not everyone can live like you, all honest and straightforward, and unafraid of what people will think of you.’

‘When you have been called inhuman, a statue or an automaton one too many times you stop caring about such things’ Enjolras murmured, though the bitter tone of his voice indicated the contrary.

Grantaire shifted uncomfortably, recalling all the times he called his friend a ‘fine piece of marble’ or something similar. He wanted to argue that he merely meant to compliment his beauty, but on one hand, in his heart of hearts, he realised it wasn’t true, and on the other hand now really didn’t look like the proper time to do it.

Enjolras sighed, twisting his hands.

‘I beg of you, R, not to do this to me. Please, please be clear with your meaning because I genuinely can’t tell if you are being serious or not. We’d only end up where we started out – you hurt and me frustrated.’

Grantaire gulped. He was quite certain his blush must have turned into an interesting shade of grey. His palms were sweaty – he was quickly reaching his limit of serious emotions for the night.

‘I’ll try my best’ he said ‘That much I can promise.’

He stood and, wishing Enjolras a good night and squeezing his shoulder once, and beat a hasty retreat into the bedroom. By the time Enjolras joined him he had his head tucked under the pillow, pretending to be asleep.

***

The next couple of weeks were… surprisingly normal. Grantaire was, actually, quite amazed at himself how much he enjoyed and welcomed it. He may have been continuously whining about his job and how much he hated getting up in the mornings, but now that he’d more or less gotten used to it, it wasn’t all that bad. The atelier didn’t keep pre-set hours, they worked when commissioned, so Grantaire either worked long hours or had all of the day for himself. By now he had all the best pubs and theatres and ballrooms mapped, and even had a little money to spend on entertainment if he so pleased.

Enjolras’ schedule was also irregular, and he also spent a lot of his free time away from home – Grantaire was certain he was feeling around for local republican societies. But the evenings, and the nights, they had them all for themselves. They didn’t discuss further the tentative new thing between them, but each night they returned to the same bed, into each other’s arms – even if they had the broken bed repaired, just in case.

This one was just another of those quiet evenings. Enjolras was checking an essay written by one of his students while Grantaire was staring morosely out of the window, leaning against the wall, gazing balefully at the heavy curtain of rain beyond it.

‘Would you believe it, Enjolras, it will be this bebuggered weather that finally makes an upstanding citizen out of me.’

Enjolras looked up.

‘Oh?’

‘Indeed. It’s hard to muster up the will to go out if you can expect an entire ocean to be dumped on you every five minutes.’

Enjolras hummed a little, but continued to fix Grantaire with a strange stare.

‘The weather may have a hand in it, but you also changed a lot on your own.’

Grantaire laughed a little, although he wasn’t sure he liked where this conversation was headed. He didn’t feel like discussing profound feelings tonight.

But Enjolras apparently did. He tried to return to his essay, but kept looking over at Grantaire or zoning out and staring off into space.

’Just spit it out, will you?’ Grantaire said at last.

Enjolras jumped a bit, broken out of his reverie.

‘You’re making that face again. The one you pull when you’re trying to say something personal and it just won’t come out.’

Enjolras just looked at him – and then dropped his eyes. It seemed like he wasn’t going to talk after all.

But after a long moment he got up and walked up to Grantaire.

’It’s just. I owe you an apology.’

’Whatever for?’

’I wasn’t… there. For you. When we first got here. You were mourning. Crying and I. I didn’t do anything about it. And you were wonderful. You looked out for the both of us, had our lives sorted out… I honesty wouldn’t have believed the Grantaire I thought I knew to be capable of it all.’

Grantaire ducked his head, stepping closer. He reached out and gently wound his hands around Enjolras’ forearms.

‘Would it surprise you if I said that I also thought the Grantaire I knew incapable of stepping up like that? Also saying ‘you weren’t there’ is actually quite fitting, although not in the way you mean it. Indeed you were not there – all there was, was a human-shaped shell, wearing your face. Your body was present, going through the motions of life, maybe even talking now and then, but no Enjolras was to be found in it, no soul to light it up from inside.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t be’ said Grantaire, pulling Enjolras close, close enough for him to rest his chin on Grantaire’s shoulder ‘What I’m trying to say is, nobody could have expected you to look out for me when you were so obviously lost yourself.’

Enjolras had no reply for that other than snaking his arms around Grantaire’s waist and hiding his face in his neck.

‘I was so grateful to finally have you back, that you found your way back ‘Grantaire went on ‘I have no idea how I could have coped if you didn’t.’

‘I am here now. You’ve got me now.’

***

‘Would you like to take a walk with me?’

Grantaire looked up, unsure if he truly heard what he thought he did. Enjolras was standing above him, looking expectant, so he concluded that he indeed must have.

‘A walk you say? Well, lead the way, citizen!’

Enjolras nodded with a satisfied little smile.

Grantaire had no illusions about this outing being a simple aimless, pleasant stroll, that just wasn’t something Enjolras would do. And indeed, as they made their way through the bustling maze that was London city, Enjolras walked just a bit too fast, taking every turn without hesitation – clearly he had a destination in mind. Grantaire let him lead the way. This was surely part of one of his friend’s revolutionary schemes, but for now they were together, the weather was surprisingly pleasant, so why not?

Enjolras suddenly turned off of the relatively wider street they were following, right into a narrow, shady close.

Well, so much for a pleasant stroll. For a moment Grantaire idly wondered what new contact they were meant to meet, and why exactly, but quickly dropped the thought. Let Enjolras bother with such details.

Meanwhile, after taking a couple of turns in the narrow allies, they reached a small, wrought-iron gate, wedged between two houses. Enjolras pushed it open, ushered Grantaire in and closed it behind them. The ‘tunnel’ formed by the walls of the houses was barely enough for one person, and lead up a flight of crumbling stairs. Grantaire followed it. The uneven layout of the houses meant that the path was winding a bit, so it was impossible to see where it was leading. Grantaire took another turn…

…And stepped out into a garden. A small garden hidden between the tall blocks of flats around it. It was lined by a thick, wide bower of clematis, which made the tiny space look like a cloister. The bower enclosed a couple of nicely kept flowerbeds.

Enjolras took his arm and lead him inside. Grantaire noticed how his friend was careful not to step out from under the bower, thus staying hidden from the view of the tenants of the houses. On the far end of the garden, there was a finely carved wooden bench. Enjolras sat down and patted the place beside him.

Grantaire plopped down and leant back in his seat. They sat in silence for a while, giving him enough time to take in his surroundings.

It was a beautiful, but somehow surreal place. The surrounding buildings blocked out most of the rattling of carriages and other noises of the city, making the garden eerily quiet. The clematis wasn’t blooming yet, but some of the flowers in the beds were, attracting some early butterflies. They were fluttering around lazily in the sleepy silence, small specks of colour in the sun.

A strangely peaceful place for clandestine republican rendezvous.

‘Say, Enjolras, why exactly are we here? Are we waiting for someone?’

‘Not at all. Why would you think that?’

‘We are in a secluded hideaway, well away from the public eye. Not something you just stumble across, so I assume you must have had a specific goal in mind when seeking it out.’

‘That is true’ said Enjolras, dropping his gaze ‘But those goals do not require the presence of a third party. Certainly not my long term plans. As for now, I merely wanted to give you one of those Moments.’

For the second time in the span of mere days Grantaire could feel his eyes welling up. He was speechless.

‘I… shouldn’t have?’ Enjolras asked, visibly losing confidence ‘Listen, if you are uncomfortable we can just go home and never mention…’

Grantaire drew him into a hug before he could finish his sentence. Enjolras relaxed at once, returning the embrace. They sat like that for a while, leaning into each other in silence.

‘How did you even find this place?’ Grantaire asked after a while.

‘Oh I. I ah, made some enquiries. We aren’t in France anymore and so we must be careful about any shows of ah. Intimacy.’

Grantaire’s eyebrows crept into his hairline.

‘This garden is private property’ Enjolras went on ‘The fellow who owns it is of… similar inclinations. He keeps it open for couples who wish to avoid arrest but aren’t content to completely confine themselves between the walls of their own home. I also found a handful of clubs.’

Grantaire was speechless.

Enjolras ducked his head, flushed.

‘I misread it. Oh God, I misread the whole situation, I’m sorry…’

‘No, no no no, hold up! You ask me to be clear with you – so please be completely clear with me now. Are you trying to court me?’

‘…Yes? I thought that was what you were doing, I only tried to reciprocate…’

Grantaire grinned, bright and wide and happy.

‘I was, in a way, I just never dreamed you would be interested. And you are? And you went all this way to be able to court me safely?’

‘It wouldn’t do to risk your life.’

Grantaire rubbed at his eyes.

‘I warn you though’ said Enjolras ‘You will have to take the lead from now on. I have no idea how I should proceed.’

Grantaire smiled softly and pressed a small kiss at his friend’s – his lover’s – cheek.

‘We will find a way. Look how far we’ve come already. We will figure it out.’