Bloopers of my singing:
They’ve settled in, bunked down for the night with a group of the Seine’s merfolk, when Enjolras first hears of it.
“Oh no,” Courfeyrac says in tones of deepest regret and agony, which could mean anything from him missing his favorite crepe stand to him having forgotten to reset the Bubblehead Charm for the now-sleeping Combeferre, who is taking last watch.
Though hopefully not that.
“I forgot, Grantaire’s first show is tonight!”
Enjolras is exhausted, having spent the day talking himself hoarse, run raw and ragged by Combeferre’s translation spell, trying to convince the Seine folk that their best bet for reducing pollution is not to drown Muggles, but instead to enlist their help. And next he’ll have to convince the few Muggles he knows not to be afraid of fins and teeth, but instead to celebrate them, to trust them, when he’s not entirely certain they even can yet.
It feels like he’s been treading water for days, getting nowhere, even though they’ve in fact won a temporary victory, a small alliance. He wants so much more. If they’re to triumph against the whole of the wizarding world, they’re going to need numbers, and allies, far more than what they have now.
It takes a while for Courfeyrac’s words to register through the swirl of his thoughts.
“Grantaire’s first what?” Enjolras asks, the sound of his voice strange and shivery in the cave around them. He’s not cold, exactly, so much as cool through to the bone. Like a fish or a snake must feel. It’s strange and wonderful and above all, safe and hidden, underwater with Y’llyeh and his people. But it’s not very comfortable. Though the cool is preferable to the summer heat.
“His show,” Courfeyrac says. “Come on, Enjolras, pay attention. I meant to bring down a wireless, but I don’t suppose it’d broadcast through the rock. Or survive the water, right? Damn, ‘Ferre would know.”
“I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” Enjolras says, and wishes he could pinch the ridge of his nose through the bubble. He feels a headache coming on. “What show?”
“Hmm? Oh, hell, I was supposed to tell you, now that I think of it. You need to Owl R with updates on our plans and message and such. I’d do it, but he wants to hear it from you.”
Courfeyrac can, on occasion, look very devilish, and does so now, smirking at Enjolras in the underwater light, as though he’s said something significant and not completely mystifying. Grantaire never wants to hear from Enjolras.
His urge to put his face in his hands intensifies. He settles for shredding a murky band of seaweed and glaring.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, and despite himself huffs out a laugh when Courfeyrac just scrunches his face up impishly, shrugging and wriggling around like a sea serpent.
“Wellllll, I got a bit distracted with the whole unicorn debacle, didn’t I?” Courfeyrac says, and Enjolras nods wearily, conceding the fairness of that point. Not one of their better plans. “Sorry! But Grantaire thought up this whole thing, and Feuilly’s managing the tech side, it’s taken him ages to work around and make a radio that’s feasible both magically and Muggle-ly. Something about an inter nets. Muggles have radio too, did you know?”
“I did take Muggle Studies, you know,” Enjolras reminds him, but he’s already relaxed, knowing Feuilly’s involved. Feuilly is a Muggle himself, and had independently discovered the magical world on his own before ever meeting the Amis. Enjolras implicitly trusts Feuilly’s judgment, and his skills, and his ability to at least somewhat handle Grantaire.
“They’re making a Muggle and Wizarding station? Combined? Why didn’t I know about this?”
“Mmmmmm,” Courfeyrac says, and swims a little, swooshing in a circle that makes his trousers blouse out around his feet. It looks very mermaid-like, which was probably his intent, Enjolras thinks fondly. “Well, it was Grantaire’s idea, and he didn’t want to tell you until he was sure it would work out. After the whole… well, you know.”
“Ah. The time he left off meeting our contact and securing a safehouse in favor of getting drunk,” Enjolras fills in wearily. He’s let it go—he had known the risk of giving Grantaire a task of such magnitude, but he’d hoped… Grantaire had looked so sincere for once, so earnestly interested, and it’d been what Enjolras had wanted all along, had secretly hoped for, their cynic for once taking up their cause, fighting at their side instead of arguing against it. “It’s fine. I told him that was forgotten.”
“Not by Grantaire,” Courfeyrac says, with an unreadable note in his voice that could be just the strangeness of the cave’s echoes. “Anyway, it’s really quite exciting! Pirate radio, the muggles call it! He’s going to broadcast messages about our cause, tips on how to avoid Obliviates, information about Muggles for wizards, and wizards for Muggles. And music, of course. He and Bossuet have a whole program worked out, it sounds hilarious, I thought I’d split something laughing while they read the script for me, but of course it’s going to be mostly improv. You know R. Never follows a script.”
“No,” Enjolras agrees, intrigued despite himself. “Where was I when this was planned?” Then, before Courfeyrac can answer, he shakes his head, feeling his hair fly weightless around the bubble. He wishes he’d thought to braid it before casting the charm. Hindsight. Of course Grantaire hadn’t told him. Why would he? “Nevermind. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a bad idea, as long as Grantaire doesn’t—”
Voice the things he had during their meetings, their own personal Augurey. Discuss how the attempt to do away with Statute of Secrecy is doomed, how they’re all doomed, how they’ll die trying to unite a people who hate anything that’s strange or different on both sides. We’re all human, you’re right, he loves to tell Enjolras, raising a glass sardonically and smirking. And that means we’re all terrible.
But Enjolras has heard him talk to their friends, animated and laughing, and despite the thread of pessimism and darkness in his arguments, he’s dynamic, and engaging, and clever and quick with his tongue. Funny, charming. People like to listen to him, laugh with him. Whereas everyone tells Enjolras he’s too stern, too frightening. Grantaire isn’t that, he’s… more human. Accessible. Not a statue, as he so often calls Enjolras, who sometimes wishes he were the marble Grantaire claimed. On days like today especially, when he’s tired and worried and sore with their work.
And with Feuilly’s input, and help from Bossuet… Bossuet is a Halfblood with a Muggle mother, an excellent voice for their message. A program for both Muggles and Wizards, united together. It’s a good idea, and Enjolras isn’t bothered that no one has discussed this with him. He’s told them often enough that he’s not a leader, that he’s just the same as any one of them. He’s not upset. It’s fine. Everyone has their own ideas, their own roles to play, especially with them fragmented they way they are at the moment.
And this project will keep Grantaire off the front lines, too, so long as they’ve got proper security precautions in place. It’s too dangerous for him to be in the field, if he’s not going to take it seriously.
“Well,” Courfeyrac is saying, swimming over and fitting himself in the curve of Enjolras’s side, warm and comforting. Enjolras sighs and makes space for him, tucking him beneath his arm. “He did say he’d leave the commentary on the issues to you. Which is why you need to write him with messages for the masses. He promised not to editorialize!”
“He did,” Enjolras says flatly, letting his face communicate his opinion on the likelihood of that, and gets an elbow to the side for his troubles. “Well, I can’t exactly write him here. Quill and ink don’t mix with water.”
“Oh, but Muggles have pens that write underwater! We should definitely get some,” Courfeyrac says gleefully, and there it is, that feeling like an ember in Enjolras’s mouth, his chest, burning: the knowledge that despite all the setbacks, what they’re doing is important. Their two worlds have so much to teach one another.
“Anyway, I think Jehan’s planning to stop by and do a special on Magical Sentient Beings tonight, discuss his family, you know? Being half-dryad, what it’s like growing up being called a creature, instead of a person. And of course Feuilly will discuss Muggle news. Different people will stop by and get interviewed on-air whenever they get the chance, it’s going to be really something.”
And Grantaire had come up with it? Was willing to commit to it?
“It does sound good,” Enjolras says cautiously, trying to manage the flare of hope. He’s hoped before. “Having some regular contact with the outside world will be nice, too.”
They’ve had to split up so much, keeping moving constantly now that the International Aurors have gotten involved, as well as the Muggle police. The Amis are all in tenuous contact, of course, but this sounds more reassuring. Voices, actual voices instead of scrawled scraps on coded parchment.
“Yes,” Courfeyrac says, tangling their feet and yawning. He should be sleeping—Enjolras has first watch, not him, and sleep is hard to come by for them. “Having regular updates from agents in the field is going to be a focus, R says. Make the revolution real. The revolution will be televised! Or something. I don’t know. But you’ve got to write him straight away, tomorrow.”
“Well, if R says, I suppose I must,” Enjolras says as dryly as he can manage, but his fingers are already itching to write, his mind is racing, and he’s trapped until morning unable to do anything about it.
It’s mildly torturous, trying to imagine what Grantaire has planned, but at least he has it to worry over, to keep him warm and awake as he keeps watch in the gentle waves.
He’ll write Feuilly tomorrow, he decides. Make sure it’s not going to damage the cause too much.
Naturally, the next day Enjolras is thoroughly engaged with other business, and forgets the radio and Grantaire entirely.
There’s the fine detail work involved in the relocation of a selkie and her Muggle wife, putting the finishing touches on their forged papers. Then there’s a near disaster with their Fontaines de la Concorde project. Combeferre was spelling the statues and the waters, an intricate bit of spellwork that needed at least an hour in full sunlight to complete. The magnitude of the spell had attracted Auror attention, just as they’d feared, and Courfeyrac and Enjolras had improvised a distraction, a high-speed broom-chase through the streets, and they only managed to shake Javert off their trail via retreating to the sewers, Courfeyrac complaining quietly of the smell all the while.
Javert. The Head Auror was relentless, and viciously dedicated to upholding the Statute of Secrecy, and Enjolras, even though they’d escaped by the skin of their teeth, still feels hunted. His broom had caught fire during the chase, and his heels are singed, and he’s just so tired, he feels raw with it.
There’s no time to pen his thoughts to paper, or even, it feels like, to breathe. There’s not even time to find a safehouse and shower, just to cast countless Scourgifys upon each other while winding their way back to Combeferre.
But that evening, camped in with a group of Jehan’s family in one of the Parisian parks, hidden in leaves and flowers, Combeferre produces a small radio with quiet triumph, and Enjolras remembers Grantaire’s program.
They all curl up in the bough of a tree, leaning in around the small box, and Grantaire’s voice wafts out like a summer breeze, intimate as a mouth against an ear.
It’s been a long time since Enjolras has heard any familiar voice that didn’t belong to Courfeyrac or Combeferre.
“Today, we’re re-enacting a discovery we made in our youth about a marvelous Muggle device—the microwave,” Grantaire is saying, and Enjolras can see his face startlingly clear in his mind’s eye, thick eyebrows dancing and broad mouth quirked with delight. “Now, I know this sounds strange, but a microwave is neither small nor composed of waves, or at least not liquid ones. It’s more of a box, with blinky buttons. And something about radiation? Maybe our guest, Eagle Egg, can make more sense of it. Eggy, your thoughts?”
“I’m not even getting into the technology, ask Feu—I mean, our Engineer—how it works,” Bossuet laughs back. “It’s used to cook things, though. And, if you’re in a pinch, you can make it explode things as well. Turns out electrical fires can disrupt spells! Who knew, right? Well, that’s what sharing a flat with a Muggle and a wizard can teach you, however inadvertently. We’ve been experimenting with the effects! Don’t try this at home, kids, leave the magical science to us experts.”
“Oh saints,” Combeferre says, but he’s smiling, and so is Courfeyrac, and what in the name of fuck, are neither of them worried?
“What are they doing? Are they deliberately exploding something for no reason?” Enjolras hisses in disbelief, and is shushed soundly.
“It’ll be fine, R’s a damn good wizard, you know,” Courfeyrac says airily, and Enjolras scowls, because of course he is, Enjolras knows that. He’s seen the tattoos and drawings Grantaire can spell to life effortlessly, heard him absentmindedly crooning spells that animate bottles and tabletops with an ease that leaves Enjolras grinding his teeth. Enjolras is a fine wizard himself, of course, but he studies hard and practices for it.
Grantaire has natural talents, but he’s always squandered them. Used them for games. He never thinks, and Bossuet means well, but he’s so clumsy, sometimes, and…
“They’ll be fine,” Combeferre assures him, patting Enjolras’s tense shoulder.
Then there is in fact the sound of a small explosion, and then hoarse laughs as Bossuet says, “Whoops. Ah, well, I wasn’t using that eyebrow anyway.”
“So, now we have a lovely electrical fire!” Grantaire says cheerfully. “Next: Obliviate, a Memory-erasing charm, commonly used by wizarding governments to keep knowledge of the magical world from the Muggle public. Bullshit, eh? You might’ve been Obliviated and never know it, just felt a bit hungover one day, bit fuzzy about what you’re doing standing in the middle of the street, that sort of thing.”
The air is fizzing and crackling now with the sound of fire. Courf and Combeferre are exchanging looks as though maybe they’re starting to share Enjolras’s very valid concerns.
Then Bossuet calls out, in a startlingly booming voice, the curse. Obliviate. Enjolras clenches his fists and feels his eye twitch. Grantaire gasps and asks dramatically who he is, what he’s doing there, before laughing.
“See, everything’s fine,” Courfeyrac says weakly, and pats Enjolras’s shoulder.
“Oh—I see. I see, that’s brilliant,” Combeferre says, eyes gleaming, leaning in as though he can ask the radio more.
Enjolras says nothing.
“See? Electricity trumps wand! All verbal spells rendered null and void for a few minutes more, so long as you’ve got that lovely static charge in the air. And that,” Grantaire concludes, “Is why you should never microwave metal unless you’re attempting to make a magic nullification bomb of fiery doom that no spells can put out! And also why all you Muggles should carry a taser. Possibly you wizards as well, why not. It’s good for dissuading villains in a pinch, if you’ve dropped your wand or can’t remember a jinx, and there’s nothing so good at blocking memory modification, it turns out.
Plus, tasers are much more handy in terms of portability than a microwave; toting that about town and searching for an outlet will gets you some looks, as we have discovered to our regret and woe. Although, alas, the taser is not nearly so handy for cooking. Win some, lose some, right?
Anyway, on to my next important Muggle tool: the fire extinguisher.”
The program continues on, explaining what tasers are and where a wizard might obtain one, meandering into fashion tips and going into something about Muggle cosmetics, and it’s just—it’s really good.
The trees themselves are chuckling around them, soft rustles, and Courfeyrac is giggling helplessly, and Combeferre is shaking his head and smiling. Enjolras just sits, and wraps his arms around his knees, and tries not to fall out of the tree.
Enjolras, when he’d explained Obliviate to a Muggle mother, had frightened her. She had cried, and fled, and been afraid of him. He’d just wanted to let her know, this random passerby on the street whose son had sighed out a wish to see a real dragon one day, that one day maybe they could, that the world was greater than she knew.
And he’d only scared her.
Grantaire… Enjolras itches to take notes on diction and cadence. To somehow figure out what makes Grantaire’s voice so reassuring, so comfortingly matter-of-fact. But Jehan’s family strongly dislike paper, understandably, as they are themselves part tree. And Enjolras doesn’t have anything else to hand to write on—an issue he should think more about later, when he’s not exhausted and reeling and confused.
“And so we close for the night, assuming, hoping, we have listeners. Hopefully we’re not all kidding ourselves, eh? So I want to dedicate this song to our knights in the field, our shining protectors, the ones doing all the actual work while we witter on. This goes out to you, Apollo, for reminding us all to keep believing. And hey, drop us a line when you can, will you? Let us know you haven’t been Obliviated into oblivion yourself. I mean, I know you’re fine, obviously you’re fine, but a note would be nice. To pep up the masses. I’m just not sure I can… do this, alone.”
You’re not alone, Enjolras thinks, gripping his knees while flowers tickle his cheek.
“You need to write him tomorrow,” Combeferre says, as the music begins, unfamiliar and strange and buoyant.
“I will,” Enjolras says, and tries to ignore the music and sleep.
Listeners, at last, you are not beset my poor words alone! A missive from the fields! Hark, a paean penned by our glorious leader, he who embodies our mission in every way, the platonic ideal of a beacon in the dark night. He who lights our path out of ignorance and into bliss. He who, of course, has failed to provide me with a code name, because he hates fun. How could you not give me a code name, leader mine? I told Bubbles it was of vital importance! Well, I’ll give you one myself, I was going to anyway, hah. I’ll call you Torch, for now. There’s nothing so beautiful and destructive as fire, or as illuminating. And you do burn so brightly, after all.
Speaking of, before we get to the meat of it, I just want to address your opening salvo, Torch. And sorry, listeners, this is not entirely pertinent to our program, but I’ve got no other way to respond at the moment, and respond I must. Torch. Light of my life. Fire of the microwave inside my soul. I absolutely and categorically refuse to accept admonishments of caution from a man who, sources tell me, yesterday jumped out of a five-story window without his broom and only a damned Wingardium to slow his fall. Speculative Non-fiction is supposed to be keeping you from that sort of idiocy, I trusted him! What is Specs even doing out there, if not adding a dash of sanity to your mad endeavors? Besides mending your broken bones, apparently. Fine, carry on with that.
Just, there’s a whole foot of hypocrisy, listeners, on and on… Look, no one caught fire besides Eagle, a little, and frankly he catches fire about once a week anyway, he was due. No memories were modified in experimentation that weren’t carefully selected beforehand and saved in a portable Pensieve. I know you think I’m an idiot, but I’m not the one jumping out of fucking—anyway. I solemnly swear I will check the studio’s locks and spells after the program, too. Happy? I doubt it you’re even listening, but I’ll warm myself with the mental image of your scowl.
Okay, onwards! After lengthily insulting my common sense and begrudgingly complimenting my brilliance—yes, I did notice you liked the concept of electrical disruption if not the experimental execution of our ideas, and. Well, good.
Thank you. I’m glad.
Where was I? Right, a message to the people. Right.
…Merlin, even dry ink can’t help but convey his passion, it’s practically dripping off the page all over me. I can only hope my reading of his words to you listeners does not drain them fully of their flavor, suck the juice all out of the marrow of his faith. You know, I can almost see him now, it’s like he’s here in the studio with me, glaring. Get on with it, R, eyes burning, teeth gritted, marble jawline jutting. Peace, oh Virtuous Veela, I must first wet my throat before attempting your magnum opus.
You really didn’t spare the parchment, did you? Oh, Muggle listeners, by the way, we wizards tend to write on parchment with quills—yes, I’m told this is hilariously archaic by your standards, and I have to admit printer paper is far easier to write on, though, honestly? I rather enjoy the flaws of parchment. The inconsistency speaks to me, the running of the ink down the fragments and crinkles, the blotting and splotch… But I digress. To each their own writing utensils and writing places.
Anyway, our intrepid glowing Torch has certainly worn out his quill—not to imply anything untoward about his instrument, I wouldn’t dare.
Ahh, fuck, I just—I can’t, I’m sorry, Torch, but I can’t do your words justice, they’d… curdle in my mouth, probably, like everything else. I can’t bear that, so you’re going to just have to settle for a paraphrase.
But, listen, all of you lonely ears out in the dark: while you are curled up in bed, or out on the metro, while you watch the skies for planes and brooms and satellites and stars, there’s someone out there who believes in you, who believes not only that you can have more, but that you’re worthy of it. Each and every one of you, magical or not. We’re all French, he says. We’re all citizens of the same country, the same world. We’re as capable of great good as we are great evil, and we all deserve the chance to make an informed choice on which path to take.
Today, if you’re sick, visit the Place de la Concorde and drink from the fountains. We can heal you of some things Muggle medicines cannot. Today, a family of selkies and their mother have a safe home to live, despite those who would tear them apart. In the Seine live a folk that are hoping for your help, to drink water without gasoline or pesticides again. In case you missed our Flower Blossom’s show last night, yes, my Muggle friends, dryads are real, selkies are real, and one loves a Muggle woman, has a human family. Merfolk are real. We’re all real.
Apollo, bright flame, is out there and he and so many others believe we all deserve to know about the electric wonders Muggle minds can make, to share what magic there is in spaces unseen. It’s dangerous, oh, undoubtedly. But worth it? You’ll have to decide that, if you want to take up the cause with us. We’ll maybe die in doing this, but even I can’t help but believe in him, believe in his belief for our chance to be one people, better together than we are apart. Be aware of the dangers, but don’t close your eyes just yet. Keep your ears and minds open. We’re out there, and we care.
Thank you for writing, Fire bright, Torch of ours. I’m glad you’re alive, despite all the odds. This song's for you.
Enjolras can’t speak for a moment. The song eventually changes, from something sweet and aching to something livelier, and still he stares at the tiny radio, protected in its bubble in the underground cave. They’d—well, Enjolras—had wanted to be sure to listen tonight, after sending Grantaire that Owl.
Now the radio’s lights glow something like magic, a soft red in the gloom. Enjolras feels like the light should be shuddering, blinking with the thud of his own heartbeat, suddenly loud against the soft skirl of drums.
“Almost sounds like he cares, doesn’t it?” Courfeyrac says lightly into the watery silence. “Damn, but he does have a way with words when he wants to, our Grantaire.”
“I never said he didn’t care,” Enjolras snaps. But—“He never said any of this before at our meetings,” he says, annoyed at the plaintive note he can hear in his own voice. “He’s never been serious. About this. I know he cares about our friends, but. He’s never—”
Listened. I didn’t think he’d been listening, Enjolras doesn’t say, the words trapped behind his teeth, hot in his mouth and throat and lungs.
“You are intimidating. Maybe he didn’t feel comfortable being serious, with you,” Combeferre says, pressing his metaphorical finger to the ache exactly, precisely, as he always has, whether the wound be physical or something less corporeal. Then his voice gentles, warm with humor. “Or maybe he was distracted by baiting you. You were always certainly distracted by him.”
“I’ve always advocated for everyone in our group to have their voice heard, Grantaire included, and he only used it to mock me,” Enjolras protests, and ignores the latter comment entirely. He shakes his head, then uses his wand to lower the volume on the music, despite Courfeyrac’s pout. “We have work to do. Do you think we should meet up with the University students? Or is it a trap?”
A group of politically-minded students had been demonstrating for LGBT rights at the same time Enjolras had chosen one of his own demonstrations—standing in the middle of the Rue de Jean, with all eyes upon him, wand to the sky as he coaxed from the cloudless July blue a swirl of cold flakes, soothing snow that eddied and swirled, unmistakably magic.
One student had been a Squib who’d nearly tackled him to the street, squeaking in delight and alarm, and another had been a relative of a Beaubaxtons Halfblood who’d wanted to shake his hand and ask to hold his wand. Both had wanted to know more about Enjolras and their cause. All of them had.
Enjolras had, obviously, given them information about Grantaire’s station, and promised to be in further contact.
“I don’t think it’s a trap, and if it is, it’s worth the risk. Besides, based on what you said of their demonstration, I think our goals overlap rather well,” Combeferre says, and Courfeyrac chimes in excitedly.
Later that night, though, with only the light of a distant moon shining through a cave opening to see by, Enjolras can’t stop thinking about it. He thinks, in his last Owl, maybe he’d done Grantaire a disservice, hadn’t said enough, and during his watch he lays awake a long time, trying to draft a new one.
Words don’t normally come slowly to him, but this time everything is a jumble, confused and raw. But... not everything he does involves jumping out windows and broken bones, being hunted down by police or Aurors.
After hearing Grantaire’s first show, Enjolras had showed a girl in an alley a Lumos; she showed him her cellphone, eerie blue glow and a whole world at her fingertips, and it felt a poor trade. He’d introduced a marine biologist, a professor measuring water chemicals, to a baby grindylow—look closer, he said, as the Muggle’s eyes kept sliding off it, until the man caught the trick of it and caught his breath.
“I understand now,” he’d said, and rambled something about pH and ecosystems, and his smile had been like a sunrise. “I can help,” he’d said enthusiastically. “Now that I know what they need. My god, it’s like learning bacteria exist all over again!”
Enjolras wants Grantaire to know about that, about them, for some reason. That Enjolras isn’t all fiery words and ill-advised escapes. That it’s the little moments like those he loves, more than breaking into Parliament to expose the Magical world to a group of angry, disbelieving rich Muggle men, who don’t want to hear it or see it.
Not being chased out a window at gunpoint is also a plus, he supposes. Gunshot wounds are just as unpleasant as any curse, it turns out, though thus far he’s been lucky enough to only be grazed by both.
The French Aurors are just as unhappy as the Muggle police—pressure from the International Confederation of Wizards is heating up, Enjolras thinks proudly. They’re doing some real good, here, despite the danger. And it’s worth it: if they manage to make a big enough stir, there will be no covering it up.
He knows where he’s needed, and it’s putting himself in front of people in power, in organizing grand gestures. It’s in being public, visible, dangerous—every eye he can find upon him and his wand, so that try as they might, it’ll be impossible to blind every witness.
But the little things matter, too, he knows that. Grantaire has helped him realize that.
Thank you, he writes the next day, after managing to scribble out some approximation of his feelings onto paper. When Grantaire eagerly opens the Owl on-air, Enjolras doesn’t know what to make of the resounding silence that ensues.
“Torch, I—you’re welcome,” Grantaire says finally, sounding a little hoarser than usual. “Anyway, onto our Muggle news… our Engineer is here, and he wants to tell you a little something about how to bust out of zip-ties.”
Over the next few days, Enjolras begins telling people about the program, Grantaire’s program, in earnest.
Combeferre and Feuilly, geniuses that they are, have been experimenting with an ink that should only appear to eyes friendly to them, a broad but ancient spell that hopefully lessens the risk of discovery. And Grantaire had been in agreement with Enjolras, for once, that they’d rather not have a password to the program unless absolutely necessary, in order to maximize the number of possible listeners.
“Despite the danger to me,” Grantaire had laughed, voice staticky. “Well, I always knew you’d be the death of me, Torch. I appreciate your attempts to soften the blow.”
The ache in Enjolras’s chest when he’d heard that last night lingers on into the morning, far worse than the healing wound in his arm, souvenir from a wand-happy Auror. He hadn’t known what to say. He still doesn’t.
“There’s a website,” he tells passing Muggles in the Jardin du Luxembourg, still not entirely sure what that means himself but vaguely assured it has nothing to do with spiders. He hands out the handwritten flyer they’ve designed, with the unintelligible web address twinkling upon it, and tries not to snarl when some only glance before crumpling and dropping it on the street. They could at least recycle, or not take it at all, he thinks darkly, and fetches the abandoned papers from walkways with a sigh.
He’s smoothing one out on his knee when Jehan finishes his business with the garden’s flowers. He’s been wandering the shaded paths, occasionally dipping back to take Enjolras’s hand, for no reason that he can tell. It’s nice, though he feels a bit useless. Enjolras is here mostly for protection and the back-up of his wand, should Jehan need assistance. He’s not truly here for passing out flyers, but he’d wanted to be useful while he was here—spread their message, and instead he’s mostly been contributing to litter in their city.
At least the paper’s recycled, he thinks resignedly, and tucks it back into his messenger bag. And some people had seemed to listen. And maybe tonight, they’ll listen more, listen to Grantaire.
“All done?” he asks Jehan, attempting lightness, and Jehan hums at him, then kisses his cheek with a sigh.
“The flowers wanted to start right away,” he says. “But I’ve convinced them to wait until next morning, just before the sun comes up. They’ll look lovely, running riot over the grounds. I’ve given them enough energy that it should be Eden again. The fall of man, and the Garden takes over.” He looks very pleased, if tired. “Oh, or Sleeping Beauty. Humans have been sleeping, and now the garden awakes them.”
“And they’ll grow over the Senate?” Enjolras asks, because sometimes you have to press Jehan for specifics beyond the poetic. It’ll be hard to ignore, when your own garden crawls over your front gate, that something’s in the air. Something technology can’t provide, something beyond science. Something straight out of a fairy tale.
“Probably, yes, but they’ll grow wherever they want,” Jehan says, only the faintest hint of reproach in his voice. Then he tucks a rose in Enjolras’s hair, just behind his ear. The perfume of it smells heady, almost sultry in the heat of the late afternoon. “Thank you for your help. Grantaire was right, you are very like the sun.”
“I, I’m what?” Enjolras says, and nearly trips into one of the fountains. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Yes, well, you don’t always pay the best attention,” Jehan hums. He’s one of Grantaire’s best friends, Enjolras knows, and suddenly the question bubbles up before he can stop it.
“Does… Grantaire ever talk, ah. About me?”
Then, thankfully, there’s a group of Aurors poorly disguised as Muggle tourists, all decked out in raincoats and goggles, that have to be avoided, and so the question and the topic is abandoned.
Still, Enjolras thinks proudly, between his own contacts with the Muggle world and Grantaire’s show, he’s getting a much better understanding of Muggle culture than he’d ever had before. Less academic, more visceral, more real.
And he does so pay attention.
The summer burns on, and their work continues apace. It’s so close, and yet so different, somehow, from what Enjolras had envisioned, from what they’d planned.
Enjolras and his two lieutenants continue their attempts to become Animagi, because what could be a better demonstration than a human becoming an animal, in public, what could be more undeniable and more difficult for the French Wizengamot to explain away? It’s something they’d discussed for years, when their group was just starting, just the three of them, out on a boat on the lake at Beaubaxtons, talking revolution beneath the stars late into the night.
It’s turned out to be harder to put into practice than expected, but most things are, and he’s not giving up yet.
There’s also the negotiations with Y’llyeh—who has offered them another of his names, one more pronounceable by human-shaped tongues— “Humans have nicknames, yes? he’d said gruffly. “Then call me Bob, for fuck’s sake.”
So Enjolras is now working with Bob, and with their new marine biologist ally, as well as the Muggle university group. They all have so much to say and to offer, on biology and mythology, gender and terms of respect, technology and culture… It’s wonderful, and Enjolras is humbled by it, by them, but it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed in just those meetings alone.
Enjolras keeps hassling the Muggle politicians, whenever he’s able. One of the them will eventually listen to him, he’s sure of it. He carries on practicing his shields and jinxes with all the wizards he meets; he tests them out on tasers with the Muggles he knows. He had already been organizing and collecting protective charms to be given to their Muggle comrades; he merely steps up the pace now that their numbers are growing.
That’s the biggest difference between expectation and reality, so far—they’re reaching more people than they’d ever expected to, so quickly. And now Enjolras keeps a radio on him, wherever he goes. Listens, whenever he can.
It’s not all tips on evading spells or arrests on Grantaire’s show—there are long interludes of music, of something Grantaire calls Disney, one entire day full of it, which is deeply confusing, but the songs still stick in Enjolras’s head the whole week after. Another evening is devoted to musical theater, then rock opera, and even a few wizarding bands. There are also songs that Enjolras is sure are meant to be mocking him in particular, especially the one about a Flash Gordon, and the one about Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, but he can’t prove it.
Worse is that Grantaire, after the first few nights of fumbling, seems to have grown more comfortable reading Enjolras’s words aloud in the most infuriating way possible.
“I don’t sound like that,” Enjolras hisses at Courfeyrac, who just bites his lip and makes insultingly wide eyes back at him.
“You do, a little,” Combeferre says. “Not quite so, erm. Enthusiastic, regarding the rights of man. I’ve never heard you actually moan before. But really, he’s a good mimic. Very talented.”
Enjolras glares at the room at large, while Combeferre looks serene and innocent and Courfeyrac laughs and laughs until he’s fallen off his stool and is laughing on the floor, because they’re both traitors.
“And to close,” Grantaire says, switching back to his own rumbly voice, warm with laughter. “Torch says they’ve organized a swap for tasers and charmed amulets, if anyone’s interested and doesn’t think this program’s being monitored by the Man. The Man in this case mostly being any members of the International Confederation of Wizards who are more interested in preserving the status quo by force, and less in our whole happy theoretical world of peace, love, and magic, in case that wasn’t clear. Which, hey, is possible—we know that agents on both sides of the Muggle/wizard divide are out there, and aren’t too happy with us. Stay safe, folks, there’s more than enough danger out there for our intrepid Torch and friends, without everyone else seeking it out.
But for you thrill-seekers whose blood stirs at the possibility of an Obliviate or Stupefy or handcuffs, why not? There’s a swap arranged at the next farmer’s market, near the Musain, if you know it. If you don’t, look it up, I’m not a map and I’m told my directions are slightly worse than dismal. We can’t guarantee your safety, but that’s not what revolutions are about, right?”
“We’ve taken measures to make it as safe as possible!” Enjolras says indignantly, already groping for a spare scrap of paper. His Owl, Patria, is already looking resigned to another disguise spell, holding out her talon with a distinctly sulky air. “There’s already a diversion in place in case anyone shows up, and—”
“We know,” Courfeyrac laughs, and looks up from his scribbles on transubstantiation of the soul—which will hopefully help Enjolras get a metaphorical hold on his soul’s corporeal form. Blast this animagus spell, anyway. Transfiguration is normally so easy for him—you simply need a firm grasp of what is, and what will be, and the strength of willpower to make it so. But this… Enjolras has no idea what sort of animal he’s going to become, and it’s maddening. It seems impossible. Why is the damn spell so vague?
He doesn’t realize he’s still muttering to himself until Courfeyrac finally says, “Look, just tell Grantaire, if you’re going to get fussed about it.”
“Well, he should have known already,” Enjolras grumbles, pressing the pen down too hard and tearing the paper again, then finishes off his Owl with an angry flourish, stalking over to the unimpressed Patria. “I’m not doing this spur of the moment—I don’t want anyone to be hurt, helping us. We don’t, I mean. None of us do. Obviously. How could he imply otherwise?”
“Obviously,” Combeferre says dryly, not even looking up from his own notes, on a Muggle device that Feuilly has spelled—or not spelled, done something to—to prevent it reacting poorly to magic. Something about Faradays. “He’s not entirely wrong; there’s always going to be risks, as you well know. But we do have work to do, as amusing as this back and forth pigtail-pulling is.”
“As what is? Nevermind. It’s fine. I’m fine. Let’s try again.” He grimly attempts the proper meditative state, clearing his mind of everything but the spell.
He’s not listening for Grantaire’s response, later—he’s busy still trying to keep his temper when the others transform and he remains stubbornly human. But he notices when Courfeyrac the otter begins chittering in amused agitation, while Combeferre’s hulking form huffs back. Animagi can talk amongst themselves, but not to anyone in human form, and it’s absolutely beyond infuriating to hear Courfeyrac and Combeferre talking when he can’t join in. When he can’t understand them, as easily as breathing. It’s wrong.
It’s not fair, Enjolras thinks, and hates himself a little for it. When has anything ever been fair without someone having to fight for it? He just has to try harder.
“Torch has apparently taken offense to my tone in our previous message,” Grantaire is saying dryly. “Mea culpa, darling, I’m so very, very, sorry I failed to adequately convey all of the depth and breadth of meaning in the scrawled sentence ‘Swap 4—’ That’s the number four, by the way, wouldn’t want to miss any important symbolism there. Sorry, here, the maligned sentence in its entirety:
‘Swap 4 tasers and protec. charms next farmer’s mark.’
I’m thoroughly remorseful that I did not convey that message with the appropriate gravity. But hark! Apparently, according to this latest missive from our indignant Flame, there are precautions in place to protect everyone in the event of a raid by the authorities. Except, I’m sure, his own burning persona, because personal safety is for other people.” Grantaire’s voice, confusingly, softens. “Sounds like him, doesn’t it? He’s right, I should have known he’d never sacrifice anyone else’s safety if he could help it. I should have known. Sorry, Torch. Fucked up, there. But…do stay safe, will you?”
Enjolras is abruptly aware how alarming it is to be stared at accusingly by two animals with large teeth, though he hasn’t the foggiest what Courfeyrac and Combeferre are upset with him for. Possibly it’s over the prioritizations of personal safety issue, which they have maybe discussed once or twice before.
But he’s more unsure as to why his heart is racing, now. It’s thudding like thunder, something electric and uncontrollable in his veins.
“Anyway. All that said, Torch’s intimations about the inaccuracy of my imitations of his dulcet voice are hurtful and wrong. I assure you, I’ve nailed the Torch in mid-rant perfectly. I’ve listened to enough of them, after all. I can hit his cadence with only scribbles to go on, because I’m a fucking master. Ask anyone who knows him, which hopefully most of you do not. Secret agent that he is and all. Anyway, provided he survives, I’m sure we’ll all be regaled with further words of wisdom masquerading as hissy fits, and stories of his ill-advised and hypocritical heroics later. But for now,” Grantaire concludes, with a worrisomely bright air. “You’re stuck with mad ol’ me. And here, have a song which I think you’ll all agree is apropos.”
Enjolras listens to the lyrics with dawning indignation.
“Is that—he means me. Do you think he means me?” he hisses. “I am not trying to drive him crazy. I’m trying to run a revolution and rewrite the rules of society!” He snatches the proffered quill from Combeferre’s already offered palm, and part of him knows he’s overtired and he needs to take this less personally, but the larger part of him knows that Grantaire needs to know that he’s wrong.
But… he is listening for Grantaire’s response this time, he can admit, even as he chugs expensive potion they can’t afford, meant to prime the body for the spell to take hold, and strains his mind to no purpose.
“Stop thinking so hard about what you are,” Courfeyrac had suggested, because that was Enjolras’s normal approach—know the weight and the dimension and the composition of what you transform, every inch and organ. “Think about who you are.”
He’s trying, but he’s fairly sure who he is and what he is are the same damn thing. Calm, calm, he thinks viciously, trying to empty his mind. Just let it go.
And then that fucking song is in his head again, the one Grantaire sang for an entire week straight, it felt like. Here I stand, in the light of day… something about fractals, souls spiraling. Snow. Let it go, like snowflakes falling, blue on white on blue.
“An Animagus transformation is beyond many wizards, Enjolras” Combeferre is saying sympathetically, interrupting his thoughts. He pats Enjolras’s shoulder, all black gentleness despite his obvious strength, huge in the small room, and carefully adjusts his tiny glasses on his massive face. He looks a bit like a Demiguise, Enjolras thinks, but magical creatures are rare forms for Animagi to take. A gorilla, Combeferre had determined himself to be, after some intense research in a Muggle library.
“But look, you’ve a few feathers this time,” Courfeyrac says in delight, nuzzling at him with a velvet muzzle, and then winces when Enjolras knocks all the books off the desk in front of them, frustrated.
“Enjolras,” Combeferre chides reproachfully, picking up otter Courfeyrac, who is furiously and worriedly grooming his whiskers. “You’ll get it, eventually. And now we know you’ll fly one day.”
“Not with only a few feathers to support me, I won’t,” Enjolras snarls, and then sighs, rubbing at his forehead. “Sorry, I’m—wait.” It finally dawns on him. “Wait, I can I hear you. Can you hear me?”
And now that he’s listening, Courfeyrac laughing and Combeferre congratulating him, he hears something else, too.
And he surprises himself by bursting into laughter.
“It was about me, though, wasn’t it? That song, before,” he says later, amidst a heap of scrap paper and coffee cups, and huffs out a sigh when Combeferre just rolls his eyes while a new song plays on. He toys with one of his own feathers, the same golden color as his hair. “You know, I don’t mean to drive him crazy.”
He’d just been frustrated. But he’ll get this eventually.
“We have a broadcast, it’s all real, it’s not a joke or a trick. Listen tonight,” he tells a group of Muggles in a train car the next week. Some nod, some back away, eyeing him suspiciously, but he hopes none of them will forget it as they ease out the automatic doors, away from the crazy man on the tube. Next to him Marius fidgets worriedly, the flyers in his hands crumpled and torn with his fretting.
Marius is a recent recruit, a Muggle who’s friends with a Squib named Eponine, who’s been providing the Amis with some of their dodgier black market magic supplies—spare wands, potion ingredients, and the like.
Even if Marius is a bit jumpy still about magic, Enjolras has to admit he’s enthusiastic, and brave, and trying hard. They’d just spent the afternoon in Polyjuiced disguise in the Wizarding shopping district, gathering supplies and intel on the general attitude of the wizarding populace there. Enjolras has to admit the way Marius had looked around, wide-eyed and wondering, had been wonderful. Had put him in a fabulous mood, more light-hearted than normal.
Until he’d gotten the chance to read the wizarding paper he’d snagged from the trash, that was.
Renegade Radio Puts Our World in Danger: How Dare This Group Of Terrorists Risk Unwilling Wizards to Exposure? What a fucking headline. They call this journalism? The free press? Were there no opposing viewpoints being published?
And anyway, Enjolras can’t be afraid of that kind of thing, not anymore, not now. He’s made his choice, and he believes with everything in him that it’s the right one. That doesn’t mean that the consequences aren’t frightening, or that he doesn’t worry.
He makes a mental note to Owl Grantaire about upping the station’s security. It’s Unplottable, at least, and seems like it probably moves from place to place—Enjolras knows that much, though he’s careful not to learn more. He’s worked with Combeferre on how to best evade questions while on Veritaserum, should the eventuality ever occur, but still. He’s often a target, and being careful is important.
Grantaire’s show is important.
“Um,” Marius says in alarm, and then tentatively beats at Enjolras with his mangled flyers. “You’re a bit on fire? Is that normal?”
“No,” Enjolras growls, embarrassed at his accidental flare of magic, and drops the paper, stomping out the incriminating flames. “Come on, we’re late.”
“That’s not a door—oh, okay, um, that was a window, the doors open over here on the, er. Non-magical trains. Sorry, I should have warned you!”
“Thanks,” Enjolras says gruffly, rubbing at his head, and vows to get his mind back on important things, and stop worrying about—whatever.
Of course, that doesn’t last long.
“’Renegade Radio Puts Our World in Danger: How Dare This Group Of Terrorists Risk Unwilling Wizards to Exposure?’ Wow, and I thought I was dramatic. Still, hidden in the dramatics, they have a point, don’t they?” Grantaire says that night, and Enjolras can hear that damned newspaper rustling in his hands, and feels his own clench. “Is there really any such thing as a bloodless revolution? It wasn’t so long ago Muggles were burning witches, and Death Eaters Kedavra’ing Muggles. Though hey, that’s bloodless enough, right?”
“The evil of a few individuals shouldn’t keep us all apart,” Enjolras hisses, indignant despite himself, looking up from the printing press the student group is lending them. The radio winks at him insouciantly, red light infuriating in the shadowed room. Grantaire is cynical, acidic—he knows that voice so well.
The students are looking around nervously. Courfeyrac and Combeferre aren’t here tonight—their agreement with Bob included a cleansing of one of the river’s banks, and both of them have a defter touch with that kind of subtle magic than Enjolras.
Marius is no help, looking just as nervous as the students, and now Enjolras doesn’t know how to reassure everyone that it will be alright.
Or even if he should.
“But,” Grantaire continues into the silence of the room, a crackle of static. “I… hell, I don’t know. Who are we few poor mortals to decide the fate of the many? But, as Torch often says, with fiery indignation, men in power have decided our fates for so long. Maybe it’s time for the chaos of choice. Today,” he says, and Enjolras wishes he could put an image to the thumping sound that happens. Is Grantaire pounding the table, or simply taking his feet off it back to the ground?
“Today my Halfblood mate, Eagle Egg, my Eggy, who grew up set apart from his family and friends, took me and his girlfriend and boyfriend to a Muggle theater show, all the way over in London. It was sensational. Merlin, do we wizards have anything to match West End? The Wizarding world is so small, and things change so damned slowly for us. It’s been since 1692 that the fucking Statute of Secrecy was put in place, and sometimes it feels like we’re still stuck back there in the past. We don’t have half the music or art or literature that the Muggle world produces. We’re a tiny group, we wizards—statistically, Muggles have more geniuses of every water than we will, it’s just numbers. It’s fact. Why should we not share in the richness the mass of humanity can create? The diversity, the scope. What makes it worth having, not having? How can any of us alone decide?”
Enjolras breathes out.
“We can’t, can we? God, don’t tell Torch, but he’s right. We have to decide together. Tiny and Bells, the romantic partners of my dear Egg, who have graciously agreed to be further being tormented by my company even after a long day exposed to it, aren’t they brave? They’re here with us tonight. Say hi, intrepid Muggles!” A duet of greetings sings out. “It’s really something, isn’t it, to learn that magic exists? That your dreams are real? Dragons and pixies and mermaids, oh my!”
There is a laugh that does, indeed, sound bell-like. “Those pixies you showed me didn’t look half what I expected.”
“Nasty buggers, eh,” Grantaire agrees cheerfully, despite everything. It’s impossible not to picture his eyes crinkling, the way he tosses back his head to laugh. Enjolras knows that without knowing he’d known it, can see it the way he sees the walls before him, the ink on his fingers.
“They were wonderful,” Bells, Musichetta, sighs. “I’d rather see something real than a pretty children’s book any day.”
“Well, not everyone feels that way. I don’t feel that way myself, the vast majority of days, not when pretty lies are so much sweeter to swallow than harsh truths. But the look on your face was worth it this time. Maybe any time. Is there anything so beautiful as true wonder on an even more beautiful face?”
If Enjolras had been there in the studio tonight, if he’d snarled out defiance and defense of his beliefs, would Grantaire have continued on with that wondering, awed tone in his voice? Enjolras has never even thought about the existence of Muggle theater. He’d never thought...
“Stop seducing our girlfriend,” another voice laughs. It takes a moment to place, but then Enjolras remembers. Joly, right. Joly and Musichetta, Bossuet’s Muggle lovers, beloved since childhood, long before Beauxbatons and the Statute of Secrecy separated them.
“Never fear, my beloved dove, our Radio’s heart lies elsewhere,” Bossuet chuckles, and Enjolras can’t help but be annoyed that this is all getting so personal. How in Hades is this getting their message across? Gossip won’t appeal to random strangers.
“Ooh, his heart lies elsewhere,” a student gushes, Auguste. The cousin of a Halfblood, the one who had tackled Enjolras in the street before. He elbows a pink-haired young woman beside him, slopping the magical ink everywhere. “Who’s this, then? He’s never mentioned a girlfriend or boyfriend before, has he? He’s got a lovely voice, that Radio wizard. I bet he’d sound divine in bed.”
“I don’t know!” Marius says, suddenly less shy at the worst possible moment. “Torch, do you think? He’s always talking about him, Eponine says. She’s interning with the station, you know.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Enjolras snaps automatically, and shakes off an ember from his hands, scowling. He’s got to get this under control. Combeferre says that maybe lack of sleep is playing havoc with his wandless magic, but he’s never had any problems before.
“Torch, oh my gosh, you’re probably right,” Auguste gushes, leaning in towards Marius. “I wonder who he is—he’s like the leader, right? Do you think you know them? Do you have a code name, too? Who—”
“Shh, I’m trying to actually listen,” the girl says crossly, and, Enjolras thinks, entirely rightly. He can’t quite remember her name, but he remembers her speaking passionately at the last meeting he attended, about trans rights and the possibilities of merging Muggle medicine and wizarding magic, how much it could do for people. Now, out of the heat of the moment, she looks almost shy, wondering. Her cheeks are flushed the same color as her hair. “Are pixies really real? Truly?”
“Yes,” Enjolras says shortly. “And merfolk, who you’ll meet soon, I hope. Are you done with those flyers?”
“I, um, I saw a pixie today, actually, in a shop. They were selling them for ingredients,” he hears Marius say, and the girl say something back, lilting and surprised.
Enjolras isn’t paying attention, though normally he’d be interested in the discussion on potion ingredients and animal cruelty. But now Grantaire is singing, something rich and strong and lively, with two voices harmonizing and the thud of someone keeping accompanying beat on a table or chair.
Music has never much interested him, but this is—interesting. And Grantaire is singing. He's always loved Grantaire's singing, even when they were in school, even before they ever really spoke.
“Wow, I love this number!” Auguste says excitedly. “From Kinky Boots, remember, Cosette? Jean-Claude was in it last semester. And R only heard the song once and already knows it by heart? Wow.” He clutches the papers to his chest and smears shimmering ink everywhere, sighing. “Is that magic?”
“No,” Enjolras knows enough to say with authority. “That’s just R. He has a good memory—not everyone does. Just like you, some Muggles naturally have a better memory than others, don’t they?”
“Of course,” Auguste says, in a sheepish tone. And then the students are off, discussing exams and something about flashcards that makes Enjolras simultaneously a little wistful for school and fervently glad to be well-shot of it
“Do you like it, too? Muggle music, I mean,” the pink-haired girl from before asks hesitantly. Enjolras realizes 1) that they’ve finished for the evening, without him even noticing it, and 2) that she’s talking to him. “Only, we’ve a show tonight, if you want to come. Not anything so fancy as West End,” she assures him, looking nervous. “It’s just a cabaret. But—“
“Thank you,” Enjolras says, sincerely touched, but checks his watch. “I really can’t, though, I’ve got to get these out before midnight if the spell’s to work.”
“Of course, right, yes,” the young woman says.
“I’ll go,” Marius says nervously, shyly, and when she smiles at him he brightens, straightening up for the first time that Enjolras has seen.
He leaves them with a curt bow and a promise to let them know of the next demonstration.
But he does.
Enjolras does like it, the music Grantaire plays. The sound of Grantaire’s singing, a rich tenor, lingers in Enjolras’s ears, long after the red radio light has dimmed and he’s flying out on Combferre’s broom. He’s engulfed in the silent hum of the stars, dropping papers behind him to wind their way into gutters and windows and doorways, tree branches and park benches, all flickering with the address that will lead more people into hearing Grantaire’s voice.
Enjolras is so tired, and Grantaire has been going to the theater, and has someone he’s wooing, a Muggle, maybe, someone who has his heart. Not Torch, obviously, anyone who knows them would know that.
But Enjolras can’t help but think that, with his papers flickering in the starlight, instructions to hear Grantaire’s voice upon them… what if Enjolras is making things worse, by doing this?
Will Grantaire’s … Grantaire’s whomever, Grantaire’s person, be caught up in the revolution? Are they in danger too? How much is Enjolras asking of him, of all of them?
He manages not to set the rest of the flyers on fire, and aims his broom for the river, feeling like now, more than ever, he’s losing control.
Sorry. It’s that time of night again. I don’t know if anyone’s even listening—I hope you’re not, actually, what a waste of a dead of the night that would be. The night is made for drinking and dancing and dreaming. I, of course, am not doing any of the above. I would sleep, if I could sleep, which I can’t, in case you were wondering. If anyone’s awake to wonder, let alone care.
Why am I even talking? I should be playing you more music, my imaginary audience, my dreaming muse, but I can’t—I’m too tired. There’s so many songs, what to pick? How? I know, I pick songs all the fucking time, I just. Can’t, right now. How the fuck is this so fucking—this, I should be able to do. This one stupid thing, even I can’t fuck up.
Who the fuck was I fooling? Not you.
Dead air’d be better. I could just… let this die, go out for a night. But what if I couldn’t revive it, in the morning? Would anyone care? I don’t have anywhere else to go. I’m tired. Just flinging my words out, into the dark. For what? God, what a question. The question, in fact. What’s the point? Where is it? I feel like I’m going to trip on it and choke, splinter into pieces. Or break it, break it into pieces of incoherence. Fuck, I’m going in circles, tonight. I’m always—
Do I ever have a point? He asked himself, melodramatically, while tipping out of his chair reaching for the next bottle.
Anyway, I think I can fake it most days, but we all know, really. I know. Pointless. A blunted tip. A broken wand, an inkless quill. And other penis metaphors as well. Though, you know, the Internet helps. I’ve lost days on Wikipedia—you Muggles, you know how to entrance and ensnare as well as any Devil’s Trap, I love it. Magnificent. Web’s a good word for it, but then, whence the spider? Will it just leave me hanging, here to rot and ferment? What a vintage. Washed up wannabe radio operator, fails to create playlist, starts electrical fire, tastes of ash and regret. 0/10, would not recommend for revolution.
Merlin. I listen to fucking music, that’s all I do, I feel like I’m all lyrics these days, no words of my own. I inadequately read the words people give me. I don’t do anything, I’m here in my radio tower while people get hurt, and could die, and what’s the point? Like a song matters. I don’t have to find the perfect song, none of this fucking matters.
Back to that pointless point. I’ll let you down, even in this. This is all I’m doing, all I’ve been doing, this whole time. Just waiting to fuck up.
Oh. Well, fuck. Hi, Torch, thanks for the Owl. What are you even doing awake at this hour? I really… should have turned off the fucking— fuck. Sorry. Hi, Pallas—I refuse to call you by that ridiculous name, yes I do, don’t I? She’s back for treats, pretty thing, here to give me some blistering text, but that’s not her fault, is it? Poor bird, I—
...You know, I always expect your handwriting to be perfect, but it’s… it’s appalling, Apollo. I can barely read this, but I. Look, whatever you’re working on, you’re not like me. I appreciate the sympathy, but I—I don’t know what you’re even thinking, trying to compare us. My being unable to pick a fucking song isn't worth your worrying about.
Look, whatever spell’s beyond your grasp at the moment, you’ll get it. It’s hard, this time of night, when you’re alone, to remember anything but failing. But I know you’ll get it. I’ll believe for you, if you can’t. You don’t give up. You won’t, and you’ll get this right, and I wish I could be there to see it, whatever it is.
And if you can do that, I guess I’ll… keep doing this. I mean, not that I'm taking your words to heart, don't worry, I'm not that far gone. Just... so you have something to listen to when you can’t sleep, even if it's garbage. Even though you really deserve something better.
Right. Gods. Okay, to be less maudlin, I just want to let everyone know that Torch has actually signed this letter, which is, to be frank, quite the no-no amongst us spies and secret agents. But never fear, Torch can do a lot and I have no doubt that if anyone can lead a successful revolution of the magical and mundane, it’s him. But he don’t have an artistic bone in his beautiful body. So our secret’s safe, because Torch has signed this Owled letter with what I can only assume is probably not the frankly alarming ejaculation of a penis, but a doodle of an actual torch. And—I think—hah, oh, oh lord, is this meant to be a radio? Is it a torch and a radio?
You—you’ll kill me, Flame, you really will be the death of me.
Well, only one thing to do—I’m going to make this into a shirt and wear it every day. If there are any sleep-deprived Muggles out there, Transfiguration is a thing, by the by, one thing that becomes another, in fact. The nature of reality is warped by a flick of the wrist and the shape of a spell, and I’m going to give it a go. Though I got all Dreadful and Troll marks in Transfig in school, so it’ll probably mostly feel like wearing crumpled paper. Torch could do it better; I seem to recall he got all Excellents in school during final exams. Turned a wine bottle into a butterfly, real enough to drink nectar from a flower, soft enough to touch without glassy wings shattering. Alive.
Anyway, I used the bottle for other more interesting purposes, Vinomenti being a favorite and particular specialty of mine, but apparently I should have saved that for the Charms exam.
The point is, I’m going to muck this shirt up. It’ll look vaguely like a shirt and feel like wearing a crumpled book. And I’ll wear it every day.
It's interesting, though, isn’t it? We’re not that different, Muggles and wizards, not really. It’s not as though every Muggle has what it takes to make it to the moon—which is fucking mental, by the way, what the actual fuck—memo to you wizards not yet in the know: humans have WALKED ON THE MOON. I should bring that up tomorrow, our Flower Child will love that.
But you have to be sensationally good at maths, and technology, lucky enough to be healthy and have the money for the education, just generally the top of the top to be an astro-whatsit, a star sailor, a moonwalker, right? Magic’s not so different. We can’t just summon gold out of thin air, we can’t just turn a chunk of dirt into chocolate. Gamp’s Second Law of Elemental Transfiguration, I think it is. Or third, whatever, the point is: for all but the cream of the crop, the top of the top of the top of the class, that gold would crumble away into nothing in hours. That chocolate would taste like mud. For most people, a glass butterfly just shatters, like dreams. Hah, sorry, I know, what a metaphor.
The point is, anyone can use a charmed object, any wizard can learn the basic spells to get by, just like Muggles use telephones and computers without, as far as I can tell, most of you having the blitheringest idea how they actually work. Which, no judgment here, I’ve only got the slightest wisp of a clue how moving staircases work, or Portkeys, or even this lovely radio to which you are tuned.
But to do more, you need to know more. And that’s more than I’ve got in me to unpack for tonight, come back for more metaphysical musings on human short and longcomings tomorrow.
For now? I’m going to turn this parchment into a garment, and I’m going to leave you with a song. I’ve listened to a lot of music while doing this radio thing, and you’re right, Torch, music is important. It’s communication without words, it’s… Music makes us people. All people, every single group on this planet, has music. Some wretched music, I’ve discovered in my wanderings of the world wide web, but I love that. I’m glad you…
Right. Some of us have work to do. And some of us also don’t want to spend all of our work worrying whether you’re working on a sleep deficit like I am. Fuck, I’ve lost track of what I’m talking about, again. Nothing new there, but you said you liked it, so it, like so many things, is your fault.
Sleep, Torch. Apollo. All you insomniacs who need an ear, a voice, a melody. I’ll set you up a playlist. Sleep.
I hate to lie, but who knows? Maybe things really will feel brighter in the morning.
It’s a lot to process, and Enjolras has carefully set aside some time between meetings and planning sessions and mandatory food breaks to sit alone for a while and think it over. To lay out what he knows, to organize the sequence of events in his head and try to understand them better.
Right now, though, he just knows… he knows that he wishes Grantaire had sent an Owl back, so that Enjolras could have something tangible to hold onto. Even though he wouldn’t give up having heard Grantaire’s response last night for the world.
He knows that he wants to listen to Grantaire in person, face to face, to see the curve of his mouth as he talks, see the shifting color of his eyes as he tilts his head. He wants to know what Grantaire thinks about Transfiguration, about magical limitations, human limitations—about everything, this time without Enjolras automatically preparing a defense, assuming he needs to counterattack.
Not that he doesn’t want to argue with Grantaire at all, but he—he wants it to be different, than before. He wants—
But Enjolras can’t think about any of that right now, not when he’s got so much left to do. Then, quite suddenly and dramatically, all of his plans go straight to hell, and it’s hard to think at all.
So many meetings without incident—the farmers markets, the bar rooms. It had started to feel safe. Even though Enjolras had known better. He’d known better, but then Senator Lamarque had proposed a rally, to be broadcast online for all to see. Enjolras had wanted to see her speak—he’d wanted everyone to see, their first political Muggle ally—he’d been so excited. It felt like they were getting somewhere.
Then he’d heard it: someone’s voice rising in a vicious rant, shrieking about the devil’s work. He’d seen them, just a few men, spread out, and a gun rising, a man’s open mouth snarling, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to—”
Enjolras had stepped in front of Lamarque, automatic and instinctive. It had only felt like a punch at first, a hard shove out of nowhere through his shields. Then Enjolras had put a hand to his shoulder and he’d realized. He’d known, intellectually, that blood was hot, but it was still a shock—the burning gush of it against his hand, through his fingers. She’s not even a witch, he remembers thinking, distantly annoyed.
But it hadn’t hurt, not at first, so he’d disarmed the man with an Expelliarmus, even as his vision sparkled and his fingers started losing feeling.
He’d stayed on the stage as Lamarque was escorted away by her security, and cast Protego over the crowd, kept his head up, stayed visible—on me, focus on me, look at me—until the Amis had taken down the remaining three men, left them bound for the arriving police.
He remembers seeing the red sparks that meant safety, that meant the students and civilians had been marked and moved, that everyone was safe. He doesn’t remember falling, but he must have, because he’s not standing any longer, he’s being held.
The trees had helped, he thinks, though that seems like a dream now—the flurry of leaves, the outstretched branches. Jehan’s furious face, flowers in his hair, pulling down thorns and strangling vines, delaying the policemen and hurrying the students along, hiding them. The ghosts, Paris’s ghosts, a cold swirl of them in the summer afternoon, blocking the paths of their pursuers. Maybe he dreamed that, the clothes of ancient revolutionaries, their fierce faces glinting in a grin at taking up the fight once more.
There’s a giant, too—he must be part-giant, a father of one of the university students. Monsieur LeBlanc, Marius called him, sounding nervous. But he’s not a Muggle after all—he had a wand, hidden in his cane. Why hadn’t he said?
“Is everyone okay?” Enjolras gasps out, shocked at the tears that blur his vision when LeBlanc lowers him to a table. All he can see is a rough-hewn ceiling for a moment, then Marius’s ash-streaked face, and Bahorel behind his shoulder, worried and bloody. He wants his friends, he wants—it’s too quiet. Someone should turn on the radio.
No, it is on. He can hear it dimly, against a rushing in his ears and the bustle around him, the jostling voices. Someone is yelling about Cosette, again. Marius. LeBlanc, giant, with strong arms and fierce face, everyone’s upset. But Grantaire is talking—he sounds annoyed. He’s talking about—moving pictures, frozen. Something about a tube. But Enjolras can’t hear him, can’t hear Grantaire well enough to make it all out.
“Can you turn that up?” he asks vaguely, and is patted on his other shoulder, which is distantly infuriating, and he’d get up and fix the volume himself, if it weren’t for how cold it was, suddenly, how hard his teeth are chattering. Courfeyrac would understand, where is— “Is Combeferre, is Courf—is everyone okay, did the senator— Bahorel, did you get the students out?” The senator. He tries to get up, and is effortlessly held down by a huge hand. “Is Lamarque safe?”
“Bossuet has a broken ankle, Musichetta texted before we got here and the phones went dead,” Joly says, in an uncharacteristically stern voice. On the radio, Enjolras remembers, he’d sounded soft and gentle. Now he’s inspecting Enjolras’s shoulder with clinical eyes, firm probing hands encased in strange, brightly colored gloves. It hurts. “And Lamarque’s security got her out. Because of you, you absolute idiot. Do you realize—Bahorel, hand me that syringe. No, that one. This should help. You’ve lost a lot of blood, Enjolras, and with the pain—you’re going into shock.”
“’m not an idiot, and I’m fine,” Enjolras protests, and think blinks slowly as the pain and cold abruptly recede, replaced with a bubbling warmth that feels a lot like a Pepper-Up Potion. Spiked with Dragon’s Blood, and maybe Firewhiskey. “Are you sure you’re not magic?” he asks seriously, and is shushed again. “Hey,” he protests, and tries to sit up.
“Hold him down, Bahorel,” Joly instructs, and Enjolras is indignant until Bahorel shakes his head.
“Spell’d be better, then I’ve two hands to help you,” Bahorel says, and Enjolras is vaguely, distantly furious that he finds himself tied to the table. Undignified. There’s too much to do. He can’t just lie here.
“Eponine sent one of her rats, I just got the message,” Marius is saying calmly to Joly, and Enjolras wonders if this is Muggle magic, too, that all the strength has gone out of his own voice while their meekest two members suddenly sound so staunch and firm. “Cosette and Gavroche are with her, all the students are. We’re going to meet up and see about getting the plan with Y’llyeh underway.”
“Y’l—? Oh, you mean Bob.” Enjolras is torn between pride and sulking, for a moment, that Marius is able to actually properly pronounce Bob’s name. Then he realizes what it means, what Marius is actually saying. “No, I should be there, I need to…” They’d wanted to have a—a ‘study abroad, with merfolk,’ one of the students, the pink-haired girl, Marius’s Cosette, had laughed. But it wasn’t ready, they hadn’t—hadn’t made all the arrangements, yet.
But Marius only smiles at him.
“We’ve got it,” Marius says. “Mermish really isn’t so bad, after Mandarin. You just rest a while, okay?”
“When you get back into cell service, tell ‘Ferre there’s no exit wound,” Joly says grimly, and Enjolras wonders what it means. “The bullet’s shattered against his scapula. There’s a lot of shrapnel, and I don’t have the supplies for this. I hope he…”
“Oh, hell, R’s seen,” Bahorel interrupts. “It’s trending on twitter—” And Enjolras knows that’s good, that’s what he’d hoped for, social media spreading the word amongst the Muggles in a way the government can’t control, but everyone sounds so upset. “Turn the radio up, will you, Marius?”
But… “Merlin, oh Merlin,” Grantaire is whispering. “I’m not there. I should—fuck, he’s just standing there. Gods, I could kill him. If he’s not— Fuck, no one’s answering their phones, but—shit. Sorry. I’m trying, but—okay. Okay, Eponine’s creepy trained rats have found me again, despite all our Engineer’s security updates, and word is in: the Mugglemis students are meeting up in the usual place. Don’t forget the password and be there as quick as you can. Study abroad’s in session, apparently. So far no reports of anyone seriously injured, at least, thanks to…
Torch, you fucking idiot, get down. Gods, he’s just standing there bleeding, he’s just—all of you can see his face, now. It’s trending, you can see the video, look at him. He’s not marble, he’s not stone, he’s hurt and he knows it, and he needs to get down and he won’t. I can’t—please, someone answer my texts. Please.”
“We have to Owl him,” Enjolras says at once, and hears someone swear about dislocating and shoulders and fragments shifting, internal bleeding. “He’s worried, he’s—where’s Patria? I have to Owl Grantaire.”
Jehan’s voice is on the radio now, gentle and firm, telling Grantaire to stop watching the video, just turn it off now, shush, darling. He even sounds like a flower, but Enjolras remembers his thorns, the strength of him. He’s glad Jehan is there, but he wishes—Enjolras wishes it was him there, instead.
“Tell him we’re all okay,” Enjolras is instructing the radio worriedly, and Jehan does, but Grantaire’s still making terrible ragged breathing noises, like maybe—he’s crying? He should get up, Enjolras should get up and find him, but he’s so dizzy, and it hurts, it really—fucking hurts. Maybe it’s him crying.
“Oh gods, Enjolras,” Courfeyrac says, and that’s probably the only thing that could have stopped Enjolras from struggling loose again.
“Courfeyrac,” he sighs, and Combeferre has somehow Apparated to his shoulder, a cool hand on the burning of his skin, brushing the hair off his sweaty forehead. “And ‘Ferre, you’re okay, you’re both okay. Hi. Hi, guys.”
“Hi? Hi, he says,” Courfeyrac repeats wetly, and squeezes his numb fingers. “You dope. You terror. How could we be okay when you’re not? Merlin, you’re so cold. What have you done to yourself? I’m never leaving you without a keeper ever again. Oh, Enj.”
“He’s lost a lot of blood,” Joly says in a low voice. “I’ve got him on a saline drip, but if any of you are the same blood type—I wasn’t sure how a transfusion from a Muggle would work, on a wizard. Didn’t want to chance it, but…”
“I’m fine,” Enjolras dismisses, and smiles when he hears Combeferre make an extremely unimpressed noise. Everything’s fine, if Combeferre is making his disgusted sound, Enjolras doesn’t care about hurting, about being cold or dizzy. He fights to get a good lungful of air, but talking’s getting harder, for some reason. “You’re here, I’m fine. But Courfeyrac, I need—Grantaire. Listen. He’s upset. Grantaire’s upset.”
“I don’t believe a wizard-Muggle transfusion has ever been attempted. I’ve read about blood types, though, from that textbook you leant me, and I did the experiment suggested. I’m B positive, Courfeyrac is AB positive, and Enjolras is A negative,” Combeferre says.
“Is that that creepy blood magic muggle spell you poked us for? Is that safe?” Courfeyrac wants to know, and everyone is ignoring Enjolras’s very valid concerns about Grantaire yet again. Grantaire, whose voice is wobbly on the radio, and no one’s looking at the radio, they’re all looking at Enjolras still.
“Well, I’m O neg,” Joly says grimly. “I guess we’re going to find out if a true universal donor actually exists. Can’t wait to co-author the paper on this with you, ‘Ferre. Can you do a magnification spell? We can mix some samples, at least, to make sure it probably won’t kill him.”
“Did you say probably?” Courfeyrac asks, voice, shrill, and Enjolras summons the strength to squeeze his hand, pleased when Courfeyrac smooths his face into something strained but familiar, smiling and exasperated and fond.
Is Jehan squeezing Grantaire’s hand? Is Jehan Grantaire’s… person, his person that he likes, that he’s given his heart to? But if he is, then why does Grantaire still sound so sad, and scared?
“Oh thank god, thank Christ, the samples are clear. No negative interactions. Quick, get that sterilized, let’s get started, ‘Ferre. Easy, now.”
“Someone needs to go hug Grantaire,” Enjolras decides. His shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore, so he doesn’t understand why everyone’s so fussed about it. Grantaire’s hurt, he’s upset, he thinks he doesn’t matter and he does. “Hug him properly, he’s sad, someone—”
“Hold still, you lunatic. Merlin, how much rope will it take?”
“You know he’s not going to stop, right?” Courfeyrac says, resigned but amused, and kisses Enjolras’s knuckles. “Maybe with a Petrificus totalus.”
“Don’t want to chance more stress on his heart right now,” Combeferre says, sounding distracted. “E, dammit, this is hard enough without you twitching. Ah, there’s another piece.” A plinking sound, metallic and strange.
On the radio, Grantaire is doing something—counting out breaths. Deep ragged breaths, like he’s drowning.
“For fuck’s actual sake,” Bahorel says for some reason, and then drag up a chair to Enjolras’s feet and plucks a quill somewhere from out of his dreadlocks. “Here, if you stay still, I’ll let you dictate to me while the Healers work. He likes your letters, right? I’ll make sure Grantaire gets it right away. Just stay still.”
Enjolras settles reluctantly. “Right away? Because he’s sad. Why is he so sad?” he suddenly wonders, and then glares when the people around him exchange glances but refuse to explain.
“You know, I’d actually thought he might have been leading R on,” Joly says mystifyingly from the head of the table, where Enjolras can’t see him any longer. “I was going to be angry with him when I saw him next, but, well, he’s cleverly horribly injured himself and besides, I see I was mistaken.”
Courfeyrac starts to laugh, and that, more than anything, unwinds the nervous tension from Enjolras’s bones. Courfeyrac wouldn’t laugh unless everything was okay, and everything here’s okay, so now they need to make everything over there okay.
“What did you think I was leading him onto? I wouldn’t lead him anywhere bad, and he wouldn’t—he doesn’t follow, he’s not a follower, he does what he wants,” Enjolras refutes, absently cross, then remembers he has to focus on the task at hand. “Bahorel, write… write that I’m not on fire and everything’s fine, they’re just transfiguring blood. Trans—substantiating. It’s fine, and R doesn’t have to be crazy, I’m not trying to drive him crazy. Or make him sad, why is he so sad? It’s better when he’s not, he has the best laugh, the best—Bahorel, are you writing it? Show me.”
Bahorel dutifully holds up the paper where Enjolras can see it, and he squints and decides that Bahorel is very trustworthy and probably those black squiggles are words.
“Thank you,” he says gravely, and lets the room bustle around him while he fights to get his tongue to work, so that he can tell Grantaire that he matters, and that he wishes the radio came with smiles that he could see and not just sounds, but that Grantaire’s sounds are so nice, so good, and that Enjolras is sorry he scared him, and that he wants more music, can Grantaire play that beetle music he says is good for weeds? It was nice.
He’s not sure what all he says, in the end, but Bahorel looks approving, and his friends are making pleased sounds, so it’s probably okay. When he’s finally too tired to talk any longer, Bahorel draws a torch and a radio that is on fire, but friendly fire, as Enjolras insisted, for his signature. Then Bahorel salutes them all cheerfully and leaves to deliver the missive.
“Keep the radio on, you’ll probably want to hear this,” he says over his shoulder, before cloaking himself and disappearing into the night. And at some point a limping Bossuet and a scowling Musichetta arrive, and bee-line to Joly, fussing and clucking at him, because apparently somehow he’s lost blood now, too.
“Are you okay?” Enjolras asks worriedly, and tries to sit up again. He’s gently nudged on his right shoulder with Joly’s cane.
“I’m fantastic,” Joly says, looking pale but brilliant, beaming, and Enjolras smiles helplessly back. “Your blood pressure’s doing good, your wound has been cleaned without any ensuing muscle damage, because magic is magical, and my darlings have come to make us soup. I’m radiant.”
Well, that sounds nice. That is nice, Enjolras likes Bossuet and Bells. And Combeferre and Courfeyrac are here, with him, and now Joly is giving him more of a shot, saying, something about poppies, and that’s nice too.
But the radio’s just a loop of songs right now, songs Jehan has chosen, they’re not Grantaire songs, not beetle songs, which is decidedly less nice.
“Where’s Grantaire?” Enjolras wants to know. He’s so tired, but he can’t sleep yet, he has to know if Grantaire got his letter. “He’s suppose—supposed to be the radio. Jehan’s not a radio, he’s—flowers.”
“Merlin’s tits, that morphine sounds like it’s a good time,” Courfeyrac laughs, and kisses his cheek. “You’re an adorable drunk, kitten. This almost makes up for all the rest of it. You scared us nearly to death, you know that?”
“You look alive,” Enjolras says muzzily, and tries to reach out for him, to feel him warm and smiling and alive. “Do you feel better? You look better, than before.”
“That dose of Joly did you very well indeed,” Combeferre says, looking better too, smiling even though he’s got red all over his hands and sleeves, even though he hates being dirty. Enjolras smiles back. “We’re all feeling better, now that you’re out of the woods. How do you feel? Any pain?”
“Nooo, but…” Enjolras says, feeling uncertain and still cold, and strangely—hollow, like something’s been scooped out, and it’s weird, not being able to feel his arm, his left side. His heart must be beating, but he can’t feel it. “Could you come up?” he asks tentatively. “I want—”
“Cuddles?” Courfeyrac asks solemnly, and Enjolras nods. “Oh, Enj. Alright, petal, let’s get you cleaned up and to a bed and then you may have all of the cuddles. Cuddles are required. Mandatory, even. Doctor’s order, right, Jolly Doctor?”
“Apply snuggles, stat,” Joly says seriously, and since his boyfriend and girlfriend are draped over him, it must be true. “And a bath definitely wouldn’t hurt, you’re all over blood.”
“Okay, but we’ll listen to the radio? Can we turn it up?”
Honestly, what is everyone always laughing for? Enjolras just got shot, he doesn’t see what’s so very funny about all this.
He’s sitting up and struggling with Courfeyrac to get off the tattered remains of his shirt and his jacket, which he is sure can be repaired no you cannot just cut it off, when Grantaire returns to the radio.
“He’s alive,” he says simply, and suddenly despite all of the sounds, the roomful of people and the old house settling around them and the noise of the city beyond that, it’s all completely silent. It’s just Grantaire, breathing. “He’s alive.”
Enjolras still can’t hear his own heartbeat, but he can feel it pounding in his throat, in his fingertips.
There are a few more of those ragged breaths before Grantaire laughs hoarsely, and Enjolras can stop clutching Courfeyrac quite so tightly.
“Fuck—he’s okay. He’s drunk as a satyr on pain meds, apparently, god, this letter—Scrappy Doo, you swear you didn’t editorialize any of this?”
“Verbatim, every word straight from the lips of the boss, and I know you like those,” Bahorel laughs. “Seriously, R, he’s gonna be just fine. Specs and Tiny are mad geniuses.”
“Thank fuck. Thank fuck, Christ, my heart’s still going like… Okay, I should be working. I need to… talk about Lamarque, there’s been a great response online, the word’s really getting out, and Torch—he saved her, he— He… shit. Merlin, the letter, Scraps, he really said all this? I—don’t know if he’d want me to have this. He’s not in his right mind. It’s not fair.”
“He really, really wanted you to have that. Trust me. I’ve never seen someone so good at eeling out of my ropes before. No idea what he was planning to do. Possibly stagger to you across Paris?”
“Why?” Grantaire asks, like he has no idea, like he doesn’t know how awful it was, hearing him break down and not be able to do anything about it.
“Pretty sure he was clear about that in the letter, babe.”
“What exactly did I say? In the letter?” Enjolras suddenly asks, feeling weirdly nervous, and Courfeyrac laughs into his neck.
“So, so much,” he says gleefully, petting him. “Oh, Enjolras, trust you to need a bullet and enough drugs to fell a dragon to figure out your feelings.”
“My feelings?” Enjolras manages to get out, and now everyone’s being rude and giggling. No respect, he thinks crossly. “I don’t have feelings, I was just. I was just worried, we were all worried, weren’t we all worried?”
“We all knew he’d be fine once he found out you were okay,” Bossuet says from across the room. His leg is propped up and apparently he’s gotten some of the poppy, too, because he looks about as loopy as Enjolras feels, if decidedly more cheerful about it.
“Once he found out we were all okay,” Enjolras says, wobbling, leaning hard against Courfeyrac.
“Enjolras,” Combeferre says seriously, putting down one of the wet rags he’d been wiping down Enjolras’s face with, and takes his chin in his hand. “You both have a lot of feelings, about each other. I think it’s time to accept that the Kneazle is out of the bag. You told him you missed his smile.”
“I do,” Enjolras says, still bewildered. “I haven’t seen him in months. What does that have to do with anything?”
“He likes my smile?” Grantaire is saying, soft and wondering. “He—no, he’s just drunk. In shock. He just got hit by a fucking bullet from a fucking gun, he doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
“You’re both oblivious as hell. Pretty sure he doesn’t know you like him,” Bahorel drawls.
“Ix-nay on the—fucking hell, Scraps, he’s probably listening!”
“Oh, he’s definitely listening. Unless his two lieutenants have gotten tired of him waxing poetic about you and conked him on the head with something heavy, I think it’s safe to say that he’s glued to the radio.”
I have feelings, Enjolras thinks, and puts a hand to his heart. He still can’t actually feel anything on that side of his body, from his shoulder to his ribs to his fingertips, but beneath his right hand his heart is pounding.
“Oh,” Enjolras says, and it feels like getting shot again. The shock of it, the sudden push. It doesn’t hurt, yet. It’s just… “But he… likes someone else, you said,” he turns to Bossuet accusingly, breath coming hard. “You said someone else had his heart, you did. After the Boots show, at the theater thing. The, the kinky one. I remember.”
“Is he serious right now?” Muschietta asks, and Joly nods solemnly. She puts a hand to her mouth and her shoulders shake.
“I know,” Courfeyrac tells them sadly. “I promise, he’s great with anything that doesn’t involve feelings. Don’t judge the whole revolution by his emotional idiocy.”
“I make his heart hurt?” Grantaire whispers, and yes, he does, when his voice rasps like it has tears in it, when he sounds lost and in pain, Enjolras can feel it in his chest, jagged and aching. “Me? Did he—but he hasn’t even seen me in months. He—he’s not thinking of me, he’s just. I have a nice voice, plenty of people have said. It’s just my voice. He doesn’t, he’s not thinking of me.”
“Okay,” Bahorel says patiently. “Please revisit paragraph 12, sentence 3, in which he explores the topic of your eyes, also known as ‘bright shining oh like a lake in summer.’ And later on, the bit about your hands, which honestly, made me a little uncomfortable, but what can I say, my honor as a stenographer was on the line.”
“He’s high on painkillers,” Grantaire says uncertainly, but his voice sounds better. Warmer, if still a little wobbly.
“He’s listening right now,” Jehan says, his voice soft and amused. “Why don’t you ask him?”
“What, to send back a box checked do you like me, yes or no?”
“I need some paper,” Enjolras says, terrified.
Okay, based on the barrage of tweets—and seriously. Calm down, you guys, Torch is going to be so fucking annoyed this shit has garnered way more attention than the actual rally or Lamarque’s statement, but. I guess… I need to address this, this thing, before we can get back to actual business.
Yes. Yes, Torch did write back. And because he is ridiculously literal, and why is that so endearing? What is wrong with me, how is this suicidal moron the person upon which I have laid my affections? Well, I do have a self-destructive streak, but—ow, Rat Queen, I’m getting to it, stop hitting me! The violence needs to stop. Ow, okay, okay, fine!
So. Torch wrote back, and it was in fact just two boxes, one labeled yes, and one labeled no. Not in his handwriting, so apparently one of his lieutenants lent a hand since he’s horribly injured himself, and, as has been previously discussed, is high on painkillers. But. One box had a little doodle of a flame in it, god, he’s ridiculous. He’s just—
“You should see R’s face right now, everyone. It’s really, really red, and basically just one gigantic smile, in case that was unclear.”
Quiet, peanut gallery. Anyway. Uh. Torch marked the box with a yes, in case that wasn’t clear. And I’m… not entirely sure I’m… not dreaming? Not high on something myself? I… don’t know what to do with this. I was already petrified to fuck this up, but. He knows that, he knows I fuck up, but he still… well, he is out of his head on morphine.
“So he’s more likely to be honest.”
Or confused! But. Um, anyway. I. My box is also firmly and emphatically checked yes, in case you’re listening and not sleeping, which, you should be sleeping, you lunatic.
Alright. Now that we’ve gotten that extremely terrifying confession out of the way—
“R, literally the only one who wasn’t aware of your affections was the object thereof.”
Are you incapable of compassion, Queenie? Have a heart. But not mine. Because, um. Anyway, back to the actual goddamn news. Our Mugglemis from the university are now engaged in a study abroad with a magical community! The first in history, which is really, damn. Fucking something, especially considering the community in question is incredibly insular and doesn’t even generally trust wizards. All of our thanks, and appreciation, and admiration, to them, even if they can’t currently be named.
Also, Lamarque has issued a statement on her motherfucking website denouncing the terrorist actions of the gunmen at her rally and pledging her support to, wow. To us. ‘This is no conspiracy, this is reality; there is magic in our midst and we can’t simply ignore that any longer.’
Which, wow again. Congratulations, Torch, Specs, Bubbles, Scraps, everyone. Not sure where it’ll go from here, or what the response from the International Confederation of Wizards will entail. The internet is written in ink, I’m told, so this won’t be covered up so easily as a hoax or a gas leak. Or—well, ah, for once, let me put the lid on the pessimism, save it for a rainy day. That sure is something, isn’t it?
Well, that’s us for tonight, folks. Tune back in tomorrow, when we’ll have both our Jolly doctor and our Speccy healer on to discuss the advantages of Muggles and wizards working together. But for now, I leave you with this. Hah.
“So... Monsieur LeBlanc is in fact part-giant, and in truth named Jean Valjean, and his adopted daughter, Cosette, was sold to him by Eponine’s parents, who had been blackmailing her mother, who was a werewolf—making her a secret wizard who is now dating a Muggle, both of whom are part of a revolution to break the Statute of Secrecy? Honestly, Marius, are you aware how very improbable this all sounds?”
It might just be the pain medications, but Enjolras feels that even without, it’d be sort of ridiculous.
“Isn’t it tragic,” Marius sighs. “Oh, my poor Cosette—but anyway, you’re one to talk about improbable romances, after yesterday.”
Enjolras hastens to change the subject. He’s not ready to talk about yesterday to anyone else, yet. “Tell me more about Valjean.”
Apparently the head of the French Aurors has something of a personal feud with the man, and has been thoroughly distracted by Valjean’s reappearance. Which is to their benefit. While Javert chases Valjean’s shadow through the city, the Amis have been at work. The increased attention to the radio program, in just a few days, has been astronomical. Feuilly had to install more servers, whatever those are, and it’s made moving the station every day unfeasibly unwieldy.
“Combeferre and Courfeyrac are there now,” Marius says. “Working on the wards, but I guess the station will be doing weekly moves, from safehouse to safehouse, until we work out a more permanent solution,” Marius said, standing. “I should get back to Cosette and the students, and send everyone an Enjolras update. Have you taken your medicine? Eaten lunch? Do you need more tea? Will you be okay on your own for a while? I’ve instructions to tie you to the bed if you look like you might be in the mood for derring-do. Courfeyrac’s words, not mine.”
“I can and will turn you into a frog,” Enjolras threatens, having been informed by Grantaire a few weeks back that this was, for some reason, a common Muggle fear.
Marius just laughs at him, rudely, then refills his tea and goes off whistling to see his girlfriend.
Now, for the first time in days, Enjolras is alone with his thoughts, not that he has any idea what to do with them. This isn’t like organizing a revolution at all. His arm is beginning to hurt, but he doesn’t want to take any more medication just yet.
He takes a break from introspection to force himself to the lavatory, and splashes water one-handed on his face in the mirror. What would Grantaire think, if he could see his marble statue now? Lank-haired and hollow-cheeked, with circles beneath his eyes that could hide a cave troll.
When he gets back to the little room, shuffling and furious at how tired the simple, short trip had made him, Grantaire’s voice is on the radio.
Mine, he thinks, and flushes, stumbling to the bed and sitting down hard. But it’s true, isn’t it? They’d both checked the boxes. Yes. Emphatic yes. He’s not sure exactly what it means, yet, but he hopes…
“Torch is on the mend!” Grantaire says happily, and goes on to report on the status of the rest of their agents: all positive, all well and healthy and hale. And something fundamental in Enjolras’s chest warms and settles.
He’d never really thought he’d have something like—like whatever this is, but now he can’t stop thinking about it, about the couples he’d seen at school, that he’s seen in Paris. Walking hand in hand, stopping beneath an arch to kiss. He wants that, suddenly, viscerally. Grantaire’s hand in his.
And just, Grantaire’s voice. He’s laughing now, throaty and deep, reading off the text from a conspiracy website, and Enjolras just… he just wants.
Grantaire is eviscerating someone else’s words, for once, intelligent and wicked with it, easy and confident, and Enjolras hasn’t… he’s never given much attention to his libido, to his sexuality. He’s had other things to worry about, and his body’s needs are annoying, but manageable. Usually. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps, when he must. He gets off in the shower, if there is one. In a toilet stall, if that’s what’s available. Quick and perfunctory. He has it down to an art—fast, hard, over quickly.
He’s not sure why this feels so different. Wanting someone, in particular. Thinking about Grantaire’s mouth, his hands. He realizes with a dim surprise that he’s hard. That he wants to touch himself, and he’s alone, and has time, and he can. He tentatively presses his hand to the bulge in his pants, and thinks—what if it was Grantaire’s hand?
“Ah,” he says, and is shocked at how loud it is in the empty room. “Ah, fuck.”
“What would our Torch say right now?” Grantaire muses, and Enjolras shudders all over, and opens his trousers. This is so inappropriate. Enjolras knows that, he knows it, but he’s an invalid stuck in this stupid room, unable to do anything but listen for an entire day now. And… he thinks about all the things Grantaire has said, mocking, about Enjolras’s mouth, his perfect limbs. Wonders if Grantaire would want to see him now, to touch him.
“Let’s see if I can conjure up our leader fine, give word to his outrage, his disdain.”
“Merlin, Grantaire,” Enjolras whispers, and he doesn’t—he usually gets this done with so quickly, but something about this makes him want to take his time, to be loud, as though somehow Grantaire could hear him. He teases the head of his cock with his hand, and whimpers, eyes falling shut. It’s not his usual hand, and that makes it worse, makes it better, all at once.
He wonders if this is something he’s always wanted, always ignored before when Grantaire’s voice came over the airwaves, wafted to him on the breeze and said a version of his name. He thinks maybe, yes. Yes. Gods, yes.
“It is the privilege of those in power to ignore the voices of the common man,” Grantaire drawls, and Enjolras swallows. “To ignore what doesn’t suit their version of reality. You’d rather this be virtual, be a fraud, because it means the world is as you see it. You’d rather see the film of your delusion than the world as it actually is, scraped clean and raw. Bare.”
“Please,” Enjolras whispers, and closes his eyes. It’s easy, then, in the warm dark of the room, to imagine Grantaire is at his shoulder, teasing him with not touching. Only giving Enjolras his voice. “Oh, oh—”
“Hah, sorry, I can’t do him justice, I know. He’s got so much more passion than that, and yes, for you commenters, I do wonder. But not on air, I’m a professional.”
Wonder? Wonders what? Gods, and now Enjolras is wondering. Wonders what would he do, if Grantaire were here, beside him, on top of him, if he had two good hands, if—but Grantaire is so much more experienced, would want so much more than Enjolras has to offer.
All he knows is that he wants to touch, badly. To touch and be touched. Grantaire is a duelist, for all he’d joked around in school, for how lazily he’d held his wand. He’d faced Grantaire once, in their club at Beauxbatons, and had almost lost, but for Grantaire stumbling at the end. He wonders, now, if it had been intentional, or… or if Grantaire had been distracted by Enjolras’s fingers on his wand. Because suddenly that’s all Enjolras can think of now. Grantaire’s fingers, thick, calloused, competent. Surprisingly deft.
So much wasted time, Merlin, Enjolras could have spent so much time with those fingers, if he’d ever known, if he’d thought.
“Grantaire,” he groans, and like magic, Grantaire speaks.
“Torch,” he says, and fuck, but Enjolras wants to hear him say his name. Enjolras, on his lips. His lips, his mouth. Fuck, oh fuck, he thinks, dizzy with it, feeling more drugged than any poppy could provide, he thinks about Grantaire’s mouth, his smile, and drags his hand off his cock and up to his lips, damp and salty. He moans, and is glad for the first time in hours, in days, to be convalescing alone here in this room.
“Grantaire, R, please,” he begs, and the muffled sound of his own voice around his own fingers makes his cock jerk in a way it’s never done before, wet and wanting. He wants, he wants…
“Torch, are you listening?” Grantaire says, and his voice is low and so much, so perfect, it’s too much. Enjolras is torn between taking his fingers from his mouth and keeping them there. His left arm is secure in his sling, he can’t—he wants to touch his cock, but he wants to keep something heavy on his tongue at the same time, wet, and wanting. Would—would Grantaire want this? His mouth, his lips?
“I hope you are. I want you to know, I won’t let you down. I know I have, before. But I’m… our friends are helping, because I can’t hold myself up, alone. But I couldn’t let them help me, before. I wouldn’t even want to now, if it wasn’t for you. You made me realize what I could do.”
Enjolras is so wet, he can feel it dripping down his untouched cock. Has he ever been this wet? He’s heard people talk about it before, his friends, passers by, students in corridors. Fucking, and being fucked. He wants suddenly, he’s never wanted it before but he wants now, he wants everything Grantaire is, he wants it so badly it feels like he’s choking on it. He has to, has to take his fingers out of his mouth and is shocked at how loud it is, how loud he is, when he does, when he gets his wet fingers between his legs.
“You shouldn’t believe in me,” Grantaire whispers. “It’s getting to be so much—there are so many people listening to me, now. And it terrifies me, but… I feel so much more alive than I ever have before. I did this. I did something for you that you couldn’t have done alone. You said that, and I—I didn’t believe it, but it’s everywhere, in the papers, on the internet, forever. It’s out there. They’re calling me your voice. The voice of a revolution. I want to be that. Does it matter, if I fuck up? Everyone does, sometimes. I just have to keep going, like you. You stood there, even as you hurt and bled. You believed. I believe.”
“R, R,” Enjolras pants, and thinks, fuck me. Thinks, I could—with my fingers, I could—
“And you know what gets me the most?” Grantaire says, low, and Enjolras can’t open his eyes, can’t remember that it’s just a red light blinking on a plastic radio. “That you said I didn’t have to. You said I could quit, that I could just… be, just me, and that’s all you need. You said that, to me. Your handwriting, your hand.”
I love your hands, your voice, your everything, Enjolras thinks in a daze, and lets himself press inside. Lets himself be loud with it. “Please,” he gasps, and doesn’t recognize his own voice. “Please, don’t stop.”
“I could stop, but I don’t want to. I feel… better, now, than I ever have. I feel like I have a voice. I matter. I didn’t think I could. And it’s me doing it, you helped me, but it’s me. And I’ll still get drunk, and I’ll still think we’re all fucking doomed, I still do think that, most days. I think the world is so much darker than you see it, blinded by your own light. But I can put words out there for people who didn’t hear them before, and I can make something real, for people who didn’t know it before. Enj—ahh. Torch. You’ve saved a lot of people, but thank you. For me.”
I do love him, Enjolras is realizing. That is the right word, the only word strong enough for it. Love must be what it is, to be aggravated and delighted by someone, to want every inch of them, scars and hair and muscle and ink, even as they drive you crazy. To constantly have them in your thoughts, the back of your mind, to see a random object, a frog, a pen, and think of them. Love.
He’s agonized with it, shuddering. His wrist hurts from the angle, and he’s clumsy with his wrong hand, but he can’t stop. He wants so much, he wants it to be Grantaire touching him. He wants Grantaire to know how much he matters, how much Enjolras wants, how much he feels.
“Stay bright, Torch of ours, of mine. I found a song, in my wanders, and it made me think of you. And I know it’s a bit soon, given that we’ve only just checked each other’s boxes, but the way things are, I’m just going to say it. I have to say it. Whatever happens, I do. I do love you.”
“Grantaire,” Enjolras says, and comes, and for a long, long time, can’t remember how to breathe.
“My legs work perfectly well,” Enjolras says tersely the next day, and he understands he’d frightened everyone, he truly does, but if he’s trapped in this room another hour he’s going to burn the walls down around him. “Lamarque has been asking to meet with me, and—”
“Fabulous,” Courfeyrac says with alarming cheer, and pats his foot. “She can visit you here. More tea?”
Enjolras slumps back in temporary defeat onto his pillow prison, rubbing at his brow with his good hand. The bedside table beside him is littered with tea cups, he is drowning in tea, he does not want more tea, but he knows better by now than to say that. He shifts the bed, ignoring the warning snarl from Combeferre at his other side. He’s not meant for this, this invalid state. He’s too fuzzy to start work on new translation spells—the station has started getting visitors from all parts of the globe, and Enjolras wants to make sure anyone who wants to hear them, can.
But his focus is shot, and he can’t move, he can’t do anything useful, and it’s driving him mad.
In the corner, the radio is still silent. Last night it’d gone out with a fizzling shocky sound, causing an immense amount of panic and, also, as a result of said panic, the wound in his shoulder reopening as he’d staggered his way down the stairs towards the door.
But it was thankfully a short-lived flurry of rage and terror, because Feuilly almost immediately sent Patria back with message that everyone was fine, no one was under attack from anything but Grantaire’s clumsiness, and that repairs were underway.
Enjolras has to admit that the timing of the outage, given the Owl he’d sent moments before it happened, is possibly making him somewhat overly irritable. He wishes Courfeyrac would let him pace.
The radio’s silence is setting him on edge, too, on top of everything else. It’s so quiet now, apart from Courfeyrac’s bustling and Combeferre’s hemming and hawing over Enjolras’s bandages. And Bahorel hammering away at something in the corner, whistling tonelessly, and Musichetta downstairs cooking something with Joly, pots and pans clattering. But all the spaces between those sounds are empty. The air is missing something, and it makes Enjolras itch.
He’s staring at the little red light on the radio, willing the speakers to hiss to life and Grantaire’s voice to return, and it’s a little startling when, suddenly, it actually does. The tea cup tower Enjolras made topples with an almighty crash as he flails, suddenly trapped in sheets, and both Combeferre and Courfeyrac swear before he shushes them frantically.
Grantaire’s voice crackles through the room. “Testing, one, two, testing. I do believe we’re back in business. Sorry for the interruption in our regularly scheduled programming, everyone. All’s well, here! As I said on twitter, honestly, please pay attention to our many mediums of communication, there was no need to panic. All that happened was our dear Torch attempting to murder me with his Owl, resulting in, ah. Well. Apparently our servers are not as much a fan of pots of coffee as I am, and then there was another electrical fire, which, as we know, not good for the spells! But everything’s fine, now, our Engineer is a metaphorical wizard.
Torch, you fucking menace. Hope you’re enjoying the dulcet tones of my voice, darling. I’d reply in kind to your Owl now, but, well, I don’t think this is quite the medium for it. But believe me I’ve got plenty to say on the subject. I’ve been writing you while waiting for our repairs to finish—I’d rather respond verbally, for obvious reasons and because it’s just a better medium for me in general, I think, keeps me from overthinking too much.”
Enjolras, as he presses himself back against the wall, suddenly wishes the bed had more pillows to hide in. Courfeyrac’s face is a terrible thing to behold, all dawning evil delight.
“Though obviously it’s a better medium for you, too, Torch. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I heard your voice, for one thing, and for another, you absolute ass, two sentences? Those two sentences? That’s all you’ll give me? I have to make up the rest? Believe me, I’ve a fantastic imagination, but I could use a bit more to go on, and also more warning before my brain leaks out my ears. Send your bird back, would you? I’ve got you some bedside reading material for later. But for now, have a song. Darling. Petal. Dove. And by the way, I love you, too. It bears saying again.”
“Oh, Circe,” Combeferre says, covering his face with his hand, shoulders shaking.
“Enjolraaaas,” Courfeyrac croons, and takes away the pillow Enjolras is attempting to smother himself with. “You’ve been keeping secrets.”
“Is it healthy to be that color red?” Bahorel wants to know. “Maybe we should get Joly in here, for a professional opinion.”
“I would like a second opinion. I’m concerned the embarrassment may be fatal,” Combeferre agrees.
Enjolras hates the lot of them with a deep and burning passion, and Grantaire the most of all.
“Does he have to have a song for everything,” he mutters, and then shakes himself gingerly, setting his shoulders and tipping up his chin. His sexuality and personal affairs are no one’s business, even if everyone does now know about them. He wills his cheeks to cool, and then fixes the room with his best glare.
“If you’re quite done, I’d like to talk about the study abroad program. When is Marius due for a check-in? I’m concerned that the students might need to arrange protection or communication with their friends and family—we hadn’t gotten that in place before events necessitated the acceleration of our plans.”
“Oh, precious,” Courfeyrac coos. “Fine, we’ll play, but only because we love you. Yes, Gavroche sent one of the rats along with word. Marius should be here this evening. I think you’re right, despite your desperate subject change—I’ve been worried about the students’ families, too.”
Everyone graciously ignores it when Enjolras subtly summons a pen, and his Owl, and starts scrawling a reply. He has an idea, one he can’t probably enact until later, when he’s alone, but for now he just wants Grantaire to be able to send him his letter.
“I’m so happy for you,” Courfeyrac whispers, when the meeting’s done and the broken cups and spilled tea are tidied, and Combeferre and Joly have inspected and prodded Enjolras’s arm to their heart’s content.
“For both of you,” Combeferre adds, and kisses the top of his head.
Fine. Probably he doesn’t hate all of them, too much. Or even at all.
“Try not to be too loud this time, alright?” Courfeyrac adds over his shoulder, with a wicked, sparkling grin and a wink.
Well, maybe a little hate.
I hope that you heeded the warning on the Owl, R, and didn’t open this until you had a moment of privacy. If you’re on air right now, get off. Hopefully literally, soon, but for now,
I don’t want the world to hear this. Just you.
I’ve experimented with Howler charms, so far my attempts have held well, and aren’t nearly so loud. I hope. This should be recording.
Thank you for the letter. Merlin, I don’t even know what you’re doing to me. Do you? I read your words, and they’re beautiful, you shouldn’t put yourself down, you’re—gods, a fantastic writer, I could almost hear you as I read. And I didn’t touch myself the whole while, even though it was extremely difficult. Hard, you’d probably say. I am so—fuck, it’s strange narrating this. How do you do this all the time? Well, I suppose it’s not always exactly like this, but... Fuck. I don’t have long, but I shouldn’t last long. I want, so badly. I want you so badly. Please—it’s been driving me mad, I want to hear you say my name.
Not Torch, not Apollo, not Flame. I know I shouldn’t say yours, either, though I’m not sure how much longer our codes will last anyway, not with all the attention we’ve been getting. Lamarque says—but that’s, I’ll, oh. I’ll talk about that later.
I want you to know I—I find you very attractive. Very. You wrote that I’ve forgotten you have a face made for radio, and it—took me a long time to puzzle out what that even meant, but I think you’re worried I only like your voice. Which is preposterous. I remember your face, god, I remember your shoulders, and your arms, and your hands, I want to kiss you—Jesus, R, how can you not know how much I want? I’ve never kissed anyone before, I probably won’t—
I’ve never—done any of this before, I’ve… I don’t know what you’d like. What I’d like. I’d like a lot of the things you wrote about, I think. I’d like for you to try to make me scream. What would that be like? I can’t imagine being that outside, fuck—myself. R, please. I’ve… I’ve got a timer spell going, there’s only a, a little over two minutes left.
I hope you’re touching yourself now, I can imagine it, I want to see it. I want to be good for you, to you. How do you like it? Hard, like this? I think—I think, ah, can you hear me? I wish it was your hand, I wish—I want you in my mouth, my other hand can’t… I want to say your name. I said it before. I didn’t mention that in my last Owl, but I did. I want to hear you say mine so badly, I’m—I can’t, fuck, R, R, I—[muffled sound of Grantaire’s name]
[out of breath] Merlin, I can’t… stop shaking, I’m. That was better than last time, how—last time was the best orgasm I’d ever had. How much better would it be with you? I never… cared much before, about getting off, and now it’s almost all I can think about, you’ve ruined me.
I want to see you soon. If that’s alright. I’m back on active duty, tomorrow, and I’ve so much to fucking do, I’ve finally set another meeting with Lamarque, to discuss our plans going forward, but.
I want to see you.
I love you. Stay safe.
It’s insane how busy things have become, suddenly. Due mostly to Grantaire’s radio station, the whole world can hear them. The whole world is listening. It’s the worst possible time for Enjolras to not be at the top of his game, though thanks to the combination of Joly and Combeferre’s efforts and Courfeyrac's teas, he’s almost entirely back up to fighting fit, if a bit prone to tiring easily.
He’s gotten in a lot of Animagus practice while convalescing, at least—it’s wandless magic, so Combeferre hadn’t even been able stop him by confiscating his wand. Enjolras can see feathers all along his arms when he tries it, now, a rich red and gold—some warm species, he thinks. Something tropical.
It’s easier to imagine flying with Grantaire’s voice in his mind, and he wonders if it’s too romantic and soppy to think that’s what’s letting him do it. He really thinks he’s close to a full transformation, but there’s no rush. Ironically, after all their plans at school, their grand idea of a transfiguration on the steps of Parliament… It doesn’t seem necessary, now. Not with the radio, not when there’s so much else to worry about.
The university students have been branded terrorists by the Muggle government, which is infuriating, of course. But they’re safe, bunked in semi-permanently with Bob’s merfolk colony. Who are, for the first time in known history providing not just Gillyweed, but their own specially bred crops, which are apparently far more effective. Enjolras is a little hurt that it wasn’t offered to him and Courfeyrac and Combeferre, but somehow one of the professors has wound up accidentally married to one of the merfolk, and apparently romance opens all sorts of doors.
Still, even though they’re managing themselves quite capably, Enjolras feels responsible for them, for their safety. He’s helped vet all of the new members who join, organizing background checks and interviews with Veritaserum. He hates that they have to do it, but those who refuse the Veritaserum are Obliviated.
He does it himself—he won’t ask anyone else to.
He’s tired, but it's not the same as before. He's actually more physically exhausted than he's ever been, worn down by healing and pain and long hours of work and worry. But he's also excited. They have Lamarque on their side. Their cause is going global, growing by the hour. It's like hope is growing and glowing inside him, too, dimming any physical concerns he could possibly have. His one complaint is that he hasn’t had time yet to visit Grantaire, though he listens to the show each night, whenever he can.
“The best sound in any language is the word ‘fuck’ said by someone you love, in just the right way,” Grantaire had said last night, deliciously low, and Enjolras has to agree.
But they’re in Lamarque’s office now, and he can’t think about that.
Feuilly and Courfeyrac are installing security charms and idly discussing the possibility of portraits as messengers—who would be the best to paint? Enjolras has firmly vetoed his own—the idea of a painted persona, speaking with his mouth and his voice, is viscerally alarming—as well as Napoleon’s.
The radio is playing on Lamarque’s computer, the show a background noise. Cosette’s on air now, discussing the Seine’s new Muggle-Merfolk colony. Enjolras does his best to not lose track completely of the conversation with Lamarque on intersectionality whenever Grantaire’s voice pops up. Rights for wizarding and Muggle minorities have been ignored too long by both groups, and if they mean to create a better world, they have to address those issues, too.
“Don’t you think it might be better to focus on a single issue for the moment—” Lamarque is arguing, again, but Enjolras stops listening, abandons the rejoinder on his tongue. She frowns, and he viciously slices at the air with his hand to silence her. He’ll apologize later. Something’s wrong. Something’s—
“Fuck,” Grantaire says, and Enjolras knows, in that moment he knows, even before the sounds start. It’s not the normal sounds of the studio, Bossuet fumbling or Grantaire fidgeting, it’s—he knows that sound, now. Gunfire, and spells, both. Eponine, inexplicably, calling out for her parents.
“Turn it up,” Enjolras says, on his feet, and feels like his skin is crackling. He doesn’t dare touch the computer—he feels like he might set it on fire, just being near it. “Turn it up!”
“I thought the station was protected,” Lamarque is saying, standing next to him. “What can we do?”
“It is protected!” Courfeyrac says. “It was, oh gods. I don’t know. Enjolras, what do we do?”
“The window,” Eponine is snarling now. “Magenta, go, get help, we’ll cover you. Go!” Glass shatters and Enjolras can’t think, he can’t—
“My daughter wasn’t part of the agreement,” an unfamiliar voice says uncomfortably, and someone else snaps, “You’ve been paid, that was the agreement. On your knees, wizards. You’re not just monsters, you’re traitors to the state.”
“With all due respect, monsieur, fuck your state,” Grantaire says, spits out, and Enjolras remembers his wand in his hand, the stance he took in the dueling club, deceptively lazy. “For France!”
Gunshots. There’s gunshots, and the sound of curses, the sound of screams, and Enjolras suddenly is burning.
“Where’s the station today?” he asks Feuilly, their Engineer, who’d set up the servers this morning. He feels strangely calm, even as his arms start melting to wings. Feuilly looks at him, wordless and pale, and he looks—frightened? Of Enjolras. “It’s not your fault,” Enjolras manages to say, and wonders what he looks like. Something monstrous, inhuman. “They must have used a blood spell, the Thenardiers. To find them.”
Eponine’s parents, he thinks. The ones who had sold Cosette, the black market dealers. He’d never asked her about them. This is his fault, he should have checked. He should have realized. He should have—
“Enjolras, no, you can’t go alone,” Courfeyrac protests, and tries to touch him. He flinches away, hands red.
“Where is it, Feuilly?” Enjolras can barely talk, now, but he gets it out. On the radio, there’s still screaming.
“The Corinthe, by the Seine. The 19th arrondissement,” Feuilly says, staring at him, frightened. Courfeyrac is frightened too, but still reaching out with his burned hands, and Enjolras hears Lamarque talking fiercely into her phone, sees her sweeping out of the room, but he can’t think about it. He can’t think about anything.
He should have known this would happen.
He beats his wings, and the windows blow out. The sky is a bruised purple, too clouded for stars, and his arm doesn’t hurt anymore, or if it does, he can’t feel it. He finds the window ledge, broken glass beneath his talons, and doesn’t care. He thinks he might be singing—there’s something burning in his throat. He knows he’s crying, molten and hot, tears dripping down his cheeks, his beak.
I’m coming, he thinks, and flings himself out into the night, and flying is hard. It’s not—there’s no instinct, he doesn’t know how to do it, but he beats at the sky and screams out his worry, and his rage, and his hope, his hope, because this isn’t how it ends. It won’t be. He won’t let it.
Beneath him on the streets, people are staring up, mouths open, shading their faces with their hands. He can hear some of them singing, too, with him. Singing along and raising their fists, and it makes him beat harder, more furiously.
The majority of the battle is in the streets when he gets there, almost over, stuttering out on the cobblestones, in smoke and blood and bodies. Valjean is there, with Cosette at his side, her pink hair flaring up bright beneath Enjolras’s wings. The students and the merfolk have come, too, all shrouded in water and holding spears. Police are cowering at their feet, awe in their eyes. Bob looks terrifying, with Professor Toro at his side, filming it all. There’s Aurors, too—Javert with a wretched look on his face, at Valjean’s feet, head bowed.
They all look up when Enjolras circles overhead. He can’t see Grantaire, and he screams, and sees everyone flinch, and doesn’t care. There’s the sound of something else huge beating at the sky behind him, Muggle flying contraptions, helicopters, coming their way, and he doesn’t care.
The window upstairs in the building is broken, and dark, and he aims for it like an arrow. The room blazes up like day, and he falls to his knees, suddenly has knees. Eponine is cradling Grantaire with one arm, and when she looks up at Enjolras, her face is streaked with tears.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras chokes out, and staggers across the room, across the broken wards, the toppled microphone. The radio light is still on, red and constant, but without voice, without sound. All he can hear is Grantaire’s ragged breaths. “Grantaire, please.”
“Hi, sunshine. You came,” Grantaire whispers, and then coughs wetly. “Sorry. Enjolras. I’ll say it now. Enjolras. Enjolras.”
“You’re okay, you’re fine, it’s going to be fine,” Enjolras says, and finds fingers at the end of his wings, feathers shedding like golden leaves, like an aspen shaken loose in a storm. He takes Grantaire up and drags him in, holds him to his heart. Enjolras is soaked, immediately, in blood, so much of it, how can a person hold so much? They need Joly, they need Combeferre, they need… “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here.”
“You did it, huh?” Grantaire whispers. “I should have known. Animagus spell. You were always talking about it, at school. Should have known.” He coughs again, and Enjolras can’t bear to shush him, doesn’t ever want him to stop speaking. He’s dimly aware of sounds from the stairs, of other people who aren’t Grantaire bursting in, talking loudly.
There are lights outside now, and voices shouting, megaphones, but he can’t see anything, can’t hear anything but Grantaire, in his arms.
“You’re so beautiful,” Grantaire says, smiling up at him, and he’s more radiant than anything, than the sun, or the stars, than any spell or any technology. “I’m glad I got to see it, your spell. I told you, didn’t I?”
“Told me what?” Enjolras asks, and his voice is thick and ugly with tears, he can barely see through them, now. “You’ve told me a lot of things.”
“You can do anything,” Grantaire says, and touches his cheek. He’s still smiling, that’s the shock, it must be. Grantaire can’t feel his wounds yet, please, that’s something. Don’t let him be in pain, please. “I believe in you. You never give up. Don’t give up, now.”
“Grantaire, don’t,” Enjolras begs, and kisses him. Kisses his cold lips, clumsy and sobbing with it, wet, disgusting, nothing like he’d wanted, like he’d imagined. He doesn’t stop, keeps trying, nudging at Grantaire with his nose, his mouth, dragging in gulps of air and pressing back in, until Grantaire’s mouth feels warm, and then—
And then he’s kissing back. A hand on Enjolras’s cheek, feathering through his hair, and oh, his tongue is just as sweet and wicked as Enjolras had dreamed, but at the same time nothing like he dreamed, precious and messy and wet. It’s like eating after all, like devouring each other, just like he’d worried a lifetime ago that kissing would be like, but he hadn’t realized then that he’d love it, that he’d want it, that he wants it forever. He can’t have just this, this can’t be it.
“Do you know,” Grantaire says faintly, pulling back, and Enjolras lets out a broken sound, and drags him back. “I—I don’t. Enjolras, wait. I’m not… I don’t think I’m dying?”
“You’re not,” Enjolras says fiercely, and pulls him back, because as long as Grantaire’s living he’ll be kissing him, and his heart does something terrible and wonderful when Grantaire laughs into his mouth.
“Silly bird,” Grantaire says wonderingly, and kisses him again, lightly, this time, and there’s so many ways to kiss and Enjolras wants to know them all, but he can’t, he— “Phoenix tears.”
“I, what?” Enjolras mumbles, and then realizes with a shock that nearly knocks him out, so strong he nearly faints. His hands scrabble at Grantaire’s bloody shirt, the holes in it and finds smooth skin beneath. Grantaire’s skin, whole, is the best thing he’s ever touched.
“Phoenix tears!” Grantaire laughs hysterically, and Enjolras holds him automatically, steadies him.
“Oh,” Enjolras says, and sucks in another breath, and then another. “Oh.”
He tears his eyes from Grantaire, just for a moment, then rubs a hand over the mess of his face, probably slick with more than just tears, now, but needs must, and Eponine is bleeding sluggishly from a dark patch on her side.
“Trust you not to be just a lovesick metaphor,” she says softly afterwards, prodding the smooth skin beneath her shirt. “I guess R was right about you. But that was still disgusting. Never smear your bodily fluids on me again, I don’t care how hurt I am.”
Marius is watching with an open mouth, holding Eponine’s hand, and Enjolras registers at last that Lamarque is there too, standing near the doorway with her guards and looking impatient.
“Joly’s going to be horrified,” Grantaire agrees, and Enjolras turns back towards him drinking in the movement of his chest, the smile, slightly silly and infinitely precious, on his face. He pulls Grantaire towards him, can’t do anything else, can’t help but nuzzle closer, press his mouth to the thud of pulse in Grantaire’s throat. Alive, alive, alive, he thinks. And mine.
At the touch of Enjolras’s teeth, Grantaire lets out a squeak, hands clenching on Enjolras’s bare shoulders, and then a strangled moan.
“We’ll just go, then, before any other bodily fluids emerge,” Eponine sighs. Enjolras flips her the middle finger without looking up. “Ha!” she says. “We’ll be back if anyone else needs Goldilocks to go birdy and weep over the state of the world on top of them.”
“Actually. I hate to interrupt, but I do think the both of us should probably give a statement to the media, before this gets too out of hand. Our opponents are scrambling after a failed blow; now’s the time to strike,” Lamarque says, and Enjolras has no idea when she got there, how she made it to them so fast—the helicopters, maybe? They must have been hers, she must have been planning to come all along, with reinforcements, but he doesn’t especially care at the moment.
He distantly hears Marius tell her he’s happy to speak, if she needs. Which is good, because unless someone is dying, Enjolras is busy.
“Enj, ahh—darling, you’ll be upset with yourself later if you don’t take advantage of this moment,” Grantaire says into his skin, into his mouth, and it’s wonderful, it’s everything he dreamed, apart from Grantaire pushing gently at his chest, trying to separate them. “Enjolras, I’m fine now. Go. You should go. I’ll find you later. Go talk to your people.”
It’s impossible to imagine going anywhere. Enjolras wants, needs to reassure himself of Grantaire’s continuing pulse, of his smile, of the breath in his lungs. He wants to fuck him and be fucked and feel him in every way possible, to never let go, but. This is important; Grantaire is right.
Enjolras only he realizes he’s nude when he stands, streaked in ash and stray lingering bits of feathers, without a scrap of clothing to be found. Wonderful. This never happened to Combeferre and Courfeyrac, dammit—but it’s not as though there’s anything shameful about the human body. If anyone’s upset about Enjolras’s bare ass, they can take it up with cultural conditioning.
But, he admits, he really would have preferred that the first time he was naked next to Grantaire, Grantaire be also naked, and also for less people to be involved. For them to have some privacy, for once. Worse, Grantaire seems to have abruptly realized Enjolras’s state of deshabille and the look on his face makes Enjolras want to ignore the revolution, the republic, his responsibilities, everything, if only for a moment.
Instead, with enormous reluctance, he accepts the red blanket an equally red-faced Marius hands him from the back of an overturned couch, and knots it around his waist.
“I’m only going anywhere if you come with me, you understand,” Enjolras says and kneels back at Grantaire’s feet. One of Grantaire’s hands twitch, as though he wants to touch but can’t let himself, and Enjolras catches it in his own and holds it to his chest. “I’m not letting you out of my sight. Besides, you’re the voice of the revolution, aren’t you? They’ll want to hear you, as much as me.”
Grantaire makes an automatic protesting sound, shaking his head, and Enjolras tightens his hand. There’s a moment where everything seems still, just the two of them in the midst of the ash and smoke, staring into each other’s eyes, then Grantaire breaks their gaze, looking down at their entwined hands.
“You don’t have to talk to the press if you don’t want to, of course you don’t. But,” Enjolras says, and lifts their hands to his mouth, kisses Grantaire’s bruised knuckles. “Please. Don’t make me leave you.”
“You cheat,” Grantaire breathes out, eyes locked on Enjolras’s. “Don’t you know, I’d already go anywhere you asked?” Which is almost more than Enjolras can bear; it takes everything in him not to tackle Grantaire to the bloody, dirty floor, and instead pull him to his feet, so that they can stand together.
“Well, at least with you dressed in a blanket, no one will be paying any attention to me,” Grantaire notes, clutching at Enjolras’s hand like a lifeline. Enjolras beams up at him helplessly, and Grantaire seems struck dumb for a moment, then coughs, and there it is—there it is, that smirk Enjolras has pictured so often over the last months. Wicked and fond, in the flesh at last.
“Besides,” Grantaire says, one thick eyebrow up, gesturing at that damned red light on the radio next to them. The smirk widens. “I suppose we can always have life-affirming sex later, when we’re not still on air.”
He’s still laughing at Enjolras’s face when the cameras find them.
After the interviews are over, after the wounded are taken care of and those in danger of being incarcerated have been spirited away to safe places—after Enjolras learns, to his chagrin, that he still lacks any measurable control over his Animagus form—after all of that. There’s a lot happening, that he should care about—the Aurors standing down, the Muggle news and wizarding media, what will happen next.
But he’s letting himself be selfish now, just for the night. For Grantaire.
They’re left in the back room of the Musain, the one he’d convalesced in. Their friends melt away to discuss logistics, to make plans, to stand guard. Grantaire has been shaking, fine tremors all night, and now that they’re alone he’s started shaking harder, and that’s all Enjolras can currently care about. He can’t stop touching him. His hair, his arms, the bloody rents in his shirt. His mouth. He wants to wrap himself around Grantaire, engulf him and keep him warm and safe forever.
“Sorry, I really want to have the life-affirming sex now. It’s just, I really thought, I really thought I was dying,” Grantaire says, scrubbing a hand over his face, and looks at Enjolras with watery, swollen eyes, and then smiles suddenly. “Fuck, you’re beautiful. Are we sure this isn’t heaven? It’s definitely not hell.”
“You’re alive,” Enjolras insists fiercely, and kisses his mouth, thrilling at the way Grantaire melts into it. “You’re alive, and I’m here. We’re here.”
“That’s not exactly helping me believe in reality,” Grantaire says, but he’s mostly stopped shaking, cupping one hand on Enjolras’s face. “You, wanting me. Sounds like a dying dream. I mean. Me? It’s the heroics, isn’t it, you’re turned on by martyrdom. I should have known.”
“I’m turned on by you,” Enjolras growls, exasperated, and tumbles them to the bed and finally lets himself indulge in the urge to blanket Grantaire like a human quilt. He can’t, truly, believe it himself. That he’s here, that they’re here, at last. But that much, that he wants Grantaire to know and believe, for it to sink into his bones. Shouldn’t it be obvious by now? “I love you, and I want you. You don’t believe me?”
“It might take a while,” Grantaire says, staring up at him. Enjolras’s unbound hair falls down around them like a curtain, and he’s still wearing only that damned red blanket. It’s ridiculous, and he doesn’t care. “And more Owls, like the one you sent before. Merlin, and I thought bullets were bad. I thought I’d die listening to you, like that.”
“...oh, you didn’t like it?” Enjolras asks hesitantly, unsure, and suddenly feels, for the first time all evening, naked.
“Wait, what?” Grantaire says, puzzled, a frown on his face, and then laughs. And before Enjolras can worry, he’s being rolled, Grantaire falling on top of him and kissing him so deeply it feels like he might drown in it. This is a way he could die happy, with Grantaire, in the flesh, smiling and holding him down on the bed, pressing words into Enjolras’s skin between kisses.
“Didn’t like it, he says. Gods, I’ve never come so hard, I’d missed your voice so much, and to hear it sound like that, for me. For me? Fuck, what do you want, Enjolras, let me give it to you, I’ll give you anything.”
Enjolras wants so much but what comes out is just… “Say my name again,” Enjolras begs, and feels everything inside him go hot and tight when Grantaire looks at him, and does. Low and dark and hot, in a voice he’d never used on the radio. A voice just for him.
“I love listening to you,” Enjolras says helplessly, and gets his arms around Grantaire’s back, his shoulders, and his around Grantaire’s waist, and oh fuck, that’s—that’s actually... He’d just wanted to be closer, but now he can feel just how hard his cock is against the rough slide of the blanket, and he can feel, Grantaire, too.
“You never did before,” Grantaire notes in a rasp, nuzzling at his throat. His hands are like brands on Enjolras’s side, sliding up his thighs. Strong, and calloused, and rough, and oh, oh—Enjolras won’t last, he can’t. He’s never tried to before, and he regrets it, now that he’d never tried for stamina, for lasting, because he doesn’t want this to end.
“I wasn’t listening before,” Enjolras gasps, and tries to think, because this is important, he wants Grantaire to know it, to hear it. “I didn’t, I didn’t hear you, before, I’m sorry, I—Grantaire, fuck, oh.”
“I… didn’t really want you to,” Grantaire admits, and then does something with his tongue, sucking and hot right at the base of his throat. Enjolras arches his back, and Grantaire is hard too, hard against him, pushing back, and Enjolras can’t do anything but moan and clutch at his back. Clothes, Grantaire’s fucking clothes, he wants skin, but he also doesn’t want to move, ever, from this perfect place. “I thought—you wouldn’t like what you heard. I’d only let you down, if—”
“You’re ridiculous, how could you possibly—oh, please, oh, should I—” Enjolras is frantic with his own body, his limbs out of his control, his heart a wild thing. He has so much he wants to say, but he can’t stop himself rocking up against Grantaire, shuddering at how impossibly good it feels. It’s even worse when Grantaire props himself up on one arm to look at Enjolras’s face with an awed, shocked look on his own. Naked, this is what being naked is like, this is what being real and raw and seen feels like.
“I’d thought, I thought, about a lot.” Enjolras shudders, and arches up desperately for a kiss. He’s given one, tongue and teeth and hot mingled breath. “I wanted a lot, I want so much, but I can’t, oh Merlin, R. Oh, fuck, I’m—I don’t know what I’m, doing, fuck. Please, I want to be good, for you.”
“You are,” Grantaire swears, and puts his sweaty forehead against Enjolras’s, their noses tangling. “Ahh, fuck, oh, look at you, beautiful. We’ve got time, you can come right now, like this, can’t you? You’re going to, for me. Just from this?”
“No, yes, but I want to be, be perfect. I wanted to be, for you,” Enjolras protests, panting, but he can’t help it, can’t help the wet heat, the coil of it in his belly. Enjolras can’t do anything but take each thrust Grantaire gives him and writhe beneath it, until he comes with a shock and a sound he thinks might be a wail. Something catches fire, and Grantaire laughs. Enjolras’s dick twitches wetly in response, and he pants at the ceiling while Grantaire, wandlessly, puts out the fire in the sheets .
“You are perfect,” Grantaire says tenderly, shaking, and kisses him lightly. “Oh, oh, you are.”
“I just came in a blanket,” Enjolras says, distantly shocked. “I set it on fire. That’s not—”
“You as you, that’s perfect for me,” Grantaire tells him, and kisses the next words out of his mouth.
“You, you too,” Enjolras manages, and then finally remembers some of his plans, the pieced together logistics, all that he wants, has wanted to do. “You’re perfect, just you. Please, can I taste you? I want you in my mouth, I want it, but only if you—”
“Jesus,” Grantaire says faintly, and Enjolras has no idea—is that a Muggle thing? Something from a play? He thinks it is. He manages to find his limbs again, and rearranges himself to kiss Grantaire’s chest, pulling away the ragged shirt to finally, finally find skin.
“Is that a yes? I want a yes,” he hums, and bites down on a brown nipple. He’s never felt as powerful and alive as he does right now, with Grantaire’s chest heaving beneath him, heart thudding against his tongue. “Oh, mine, oh. Please be—”
“Always. Always yes, always yours,” Grantaire chokes out in answer, and Enjolras smiles into his skin, and can’t ever remember being so happy.
“This is my first time,” Enjolras warns, and makes his way further down, mouthing at the tattoos that shift beneath his tongue, reminding himself to memorize them all later. The shift of muscle beneath Grantaire’s skin is intoxicating, amazing. Enjolras thinks, pleased, he’s getting hard again already, just from doing this. There’s so much he didn’t know his body could do. So much he didn’t know. “You’ll have to tell me what you like, or don’t.”
“Thought I’d been pretty clear,” Grantaire chokes out. “Just don’t bite and you’re gold—ah, I should have, oh, known better, oh. Merlin, yes, mark me up, do it, oh fuck.”
“I won’t bite your cock. I know that much,” Enjolras assures him, humming, and worries the skin above Grantaire’s hip with his teeth, then kisses the inked French griffin there. To his delight, it purrs, stretches beneath his touch.
Sex isn’t as hard as he’d thought it’d be—though it is hard, of course. Silken, and thick, and hot, and so hard, so responsive under his tongue, wet and somehow getting impossibly harder. It’s nothing, it’s as easy as anything to see what Grantaire likes, to hear his responses groaned out. He likes Enjolras’s eyes on his as he tongues the shaft, likes his tongue sloppy and wet as he licks at the head, tasting it without delicacy or restraint. And why should Enjolras hold back? He knows what he wants, now, and it’s this. Them. Together, working together towards a goal.
It’s so much better than his own fingers in his mouth, the hot weight of Grantaire’s length inside him, alive and throbbing. He moans, and Grantaire moans back, a delicious feedback loop that makes him dizzy.
“Enjolras, Enjolras,” Grantaire says, and then swears when Enjolras pulls off, kisses his thigh.
“Talk for me,” he suggests, and then on instinct bites down again.
“Menace,” Grantaire hisses. “Oh, suck me, gorgeous, just like that. You’re impossible, look at you, I can’t—I can’t. I didn’t let myself, I didn’t, I promise, before, I didn’t think about it, I didn’t want to disrespect—you’re so… I thought you’d be untouchable, but you’re not, are you? You want to be touched.” His hand in Enjolras’s hair, tugging at the tangled curls, unleashing a new level of sensation that makes Enjolras moan. And Grantaire’s fingers tighten, then, and it’s wonderful.
“Touched by you,” Enjolras specifies, pulling off to use his hands, slick and easy with the saliva he’d left behind. “I love you.”
“Oh, fuck,” Grantaire chokes out, and Enjolras is a little annoyed not to have him come in his mouth, but he can’t be anything close to unhappy, not truly, not when he can see Grantaire’s face so perfectly like this. His open mouth and arched neck, the darkness of his wide eyes.
“I’m hard again,” he informs Grantaire, and licks at the sticky wetness on his fingers, and smirks to himself when Grantaire whimpers, faintly.
“You’ll be the death of me,” he says, and then Enjolras has to close his eyes a moment and lay his head on Grantaire’s thigh. It’s hard to breathe.
“Hey,” Grantaire says softly. “Hey, come here, I want a kiss.” And Enjolras can’t deny Grantaire anything, so he manages it, drags himself up and presses his wet lips to Grantaire’s mouth.
“It wasn’t for you,” Grantaire tells him softly, and holds him. “Or not just for you. I knew what I was doing. Enjolras. I don’t want you to think—it wasn’t your fault. It was the right thing to do. You showed me that, but that’s… it’s not a bad thing. To hope. You showed me it was worth it, to hope. I never let myself, before.”
“Grantaire,” Enjolras says, and only realizes he’d been crying when Grantaire thumbs across his cheek, smiling crookedly.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Grantaire says. “Hoping. And you’ve been doing it all along.”
“But you make it real,” Enjolras says, meaning it, and then adjusts their faces for another kiss. His lips are wet and bruised, swollen soft. It feels imperfect, and aching, and so very real.
Hey, guys. I just wanted to say, before we go on. I had no idea any of this was going to happen when I started this program. I was mostly joking when I suggested it—a radio show, for all of us, the washed up wizards and frustrated Muggles, the mixed-up kids and angry nymphs and. Well, that’d be a laugh, right? The rest was just… a whim. I wanted to do something, and I thought, well, what am I good for but rambling? My gods, a cause I can champion at last. Give the man a microphone. The logistics were all Feuilly—he made it happen. I just talked, and my friends came and talked too, and there it was—like one of our meetings, just put onto air. For everyone to hear.
It snowballed together, this avalanche of a thing that turned out to be… good, for something. No one is more surprised than I am, I assure you. The agony of it was, I’d never expected it to go so well. Never really wanted all that attention on me. I’d just wanted to do something. But I knew, I knew I’d fuck up, and now everyone would know, could hear. The longer the show went on, the worse it got.
And I finally did, you know? I fucked up.
It was my fault, the attack on the station. It was me. Oh, plenty of people are blaming themselves, but it was me who said Eponine’s name on air. I bet most of you didn’t even notice at the time—I certainly didn’t, I was busy watching Enjolras bleed out. Having experienced this now from both sides, I can tell you it’s far worse to be the one watching.
Anyway. I outed Eponine, and word trickled back to her parents, eventually. It was under emotional duress, I grant you, but what a fuck up! I’d been waiting to fuck up every moment, to do something just like that. The cause of the cause crashing down, the revolution failing because of me, someone dying, etcetera etcetera, ad infinitum…
And then when it happened, I didn’t even notice.
But you know what? If we’re really casting blame, assigning fault—I made a mistake. But I didn’t sell out my own daughter, and I didn’t attack innocent people. I made a mistake. My greatest nightmare, and—well. I think it turned out that it was all still worth it. This program, this show, making the attempt. Not just because apparently distance really does make the heart grow fonder, or at least gives it a chance to stop attacking other hearts in preemptive self-defense.
Though that was an unanticipated bonus.
But it was worth it. I was thinking that, as I died. Enjolras was even there, holding my hand, kissing my heroic face—it was the death scene of my wildest dreams, let’s be honest. If I had to go I was truly going happy. Though I am much happier to still be here. So happy, Merlin, you have no idea—but anyway, let me, for once, be serious.
There are awful people out there, both Wizard and Muggle, werewolf and giant, even nymph and satyr. There’s even the occasional asshole unicorn that goes on the rampage, come on. And there will always be awful people, selfish greedy terrible people, for as long as we’re here on this planet, or even if we leave it one day for the stars beyond, if Muggle science fiction has the right of it.
But there are always good people, too, and as long as they’re listening, as long as they care, it’s worth trying. For us, for them.
So, I guess what I’m saying is… and it’s taken a lifetime to actually learn and internalize this, and I’m sure I’ll still have bad days where I forget it, but…
Listen. Don’t let fear of fucking up stop you on from doing something, gentlefolk, be you magical or Muggle, woman or man or nonbinary or tree, adult or teenager or child. You’re gonna fuck up. To err is human, and none of us, even Enjolras, are divine. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Don’t aim for perfect, because that’s impossible. That’s a myth. Aim for something, and hey.
Sometimes, you just as you turns out to be exactly enough.
So! Next show we’ll talk about moving forward, going global, translation spells and legislation nightmares and treaties and more. I know, what logistical delights this side of the revolution brings. I’ll try to keep from falling asleep even as I speak of it. But for now, I’ll leave you with this last thought, and then I swear to be less earnest on the subject forevermore. Unless I get drunk late at night, in which case all bets are off. But.
We made a difference. You, listeners, you made a difference. None of this would matter if there wasn’t someone out there on the other end of the airwaves, caring. You made a difference, and you can make a difference. So, this one?