It isn’t like dragons aren’t common knowledge in Enjolras’s village. They’re the thing that parents use to scare small children, and that little boys use to brag to their friends and impress girls. They fly on the word of mouth with all the enthusiasm of anything out of the ordinary, but, unlike the particularly nasty unicorn rumor (and Enjolras is still not on speaking terms with Courfeyrac because of that one, and still shaking off suitors), there aren’t any real life dragons to come gallivanting through the streets to prove their theories wrong. Or rather, the only dragon close enough to do so much prefers making Enjolras scale mountains to meet him.
“Combeferre!” says Enjolras, sharply, when he reaches a rock ledge that is large enough for him to feel comfortable taking his hands off of the cliff face. He puts them on his hips. “I know you can hear me.”
“You should not do that,” says Combeferre, not coming out of the nearly invisible hole Enjolras can only see because he’s looking for it. “You could fall.”
“You would catch me,” says Enjolras, shrugging. He considers taking a demonstrative step backwards, but very quickly changes his mind. He’s relatively certain that Combeferre would be quick enough to catch him if the dragon was airborne, but going from sitting to flying is different.
“You sound very certain of this,” says Combeferre. A fume of smoke curls its way out of the cave, and Enjolras scowls at it instead of the dragon himself.
“You’re not denying it,” he says, crossly. He considers the rocks in front of him, and frowns. “Would you please come get me? I’d rather not rub my hands bloody.” He pauses. “Again.” He gives his satchel a quick check before making sure it’s both closed and tightly strapped across his chest. “Courfeyrac is starting to suspect things.”
A few rocks go skidding off the side of the mountain and Enjolras frowns, hard.
“And what, pray tell, is Courfeyrac starting to suspect?” Combeferre cranes his great head out of the side of the mountain to look at Enjolras curiously. He is still, Enjolras notes, wearing the spectacles that Enjolras had found with all the other assorted treasures in the cave. It’s almost amusing, the juxtaposition of the very human contraption and the raw power lurking behind his great, almost sky blue scales, but mostly it serves to make Enjolras’ lips twitch.
“You’re smiling,” Combeferre points out. His lips don’t move, as ever, but Enjolras still finds it jarring. “Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” says Enjolras. “But now that you’re here, come and get me.”
Combeferre sighs (as well as a dragon can sigh, really), but stretches the rest of himself out of the cave so that he can begin unfurling his wings. “This is the highest you’ve gotten,” he points out, giving his wings one long flap. “A little more and you’ll be able to reach the cave itself without ruining your hands. You humans are so very fragile.”
Enjolras presses himself to the mountain back first and blinks in the sudden gale of wind. “If you’re think you’re being comforting when you say that,” he says, loudly. “Then you’re wrong.”
“Why do you do that?” says Combeferre, dropping a few feet down so that he’s hanging just at Enjolras’ feet. “I can hear you perfectly. I’ve been able to hear you since you reached the edge of the forest.”
Enjolras stares down at his back. “What?” he says, blankly. “And you let me climb all the way up here?”
“Did you not know?” Combeferre sounds a bit chagrined, and his tail lashes a bit in the air to connect with the mountain, sending some of the rocks underneath Enjolras falling.
“Oi!” shouts Enjolras, scrambling a bit frantically forward so that he can settle between Combeferre’s wings and grip the spines at the base of his neck. He checks the bag at his side again, twice, to be safe. “Stop that.”
“I am sorry, Enjolras,” says Combeferre. He hums a little when he speaks, and Enjolras tightens his grip on his neck.
“It’s okay,” he says, because he’s found that a sulking dragon is by far worse than a teasing dragon. “I’m sure you’d be able to catch me if I f--”
He doesn’t get to finish his sentence, because at that moment Courfeyrac (of all people) flings himself from somewhere to their left to land somewhat awkwardly behind Enjolras. “I knew it!” he shrieks, grabbing hold of whatever part of Enjolras he can reach. “I knew it! You’re riding a dragon--I’m riding a dragon--This is a real life dragon--!”
“Courfeyrac?” Enjolras interrupts. His voice comes out sounding a lot more high pitched than he had intended, but he figures he is justified in this because his friend has just leapt off of a mountain and onto a dragon.
At least Combeferre doesn’t see all that bothered. “I did not know you were bringing friends, Enjolras,” he says, regaining his balance and flapping his wings. The leathery, almost see-through gossamer quality of the skin at the tips had fascinated Enjolras at the beginning, too, so he doesn’t have to think much to reach over and slap Coufeyrac’s hand to his side.
“Do not touch that,” he says.
Sorry, mouths Courfeyrac. He makes a show of putting his hands in his lap, and Enjolras, sighing, reaches around to grab them and drape them around his waist. Courfeyrac’s eyebrows raise, but Enjolras rolls his eyes.
You’ll thank me, he mouths back, at the same time Combeferre goes from hovering to rising quickly up the mountain.
“It is nice to meet you, Courfeyrac,” continues Combeferre, seemingly unconcerned with how he’s very quickly maneuvering them through the air. “Enjolras talks about you often.”
“Does--does he?” manages Courfeyrac, hoarsely, as Combeferre near flips them over so that he can reorient himself to face the mountain. “I’m--touched.”
“Don’t be,” says Enjolras, dry. He tightens his grip on Combeferre’s neck. “None of it was good.”
Combeferre lands inside the cave and gives his wings a great shake before folding them in a little. He curls his head around so that he can stare at Courfeyrac, who to his credit manages not to blink in return. “I don’t know,” says Combeferre. His great, golden eyes are very wide. “I found most of it to be entertaining.”
Enjolras rolls his own eyes and shrugs his way out of Courfeyrac’s grip to slide off of Combeferre and onto the cave floor. “You find everything about humans entertaining,” he says.
“True,” concedes Combeferre, without blinking.
“Enjolras?” hisses Courfeyrac, out of the corner of his mouth. He doesn’t look away from Combeferre, and the dragon regards him with thinly veiled amusement. (Unfortunately for Courfeyrac, Combeferre’s idea of thinly veiled amusement involves showing a flash of very sharp teeth.) “The dragon is wearing spectacles.”
Enjolras snorts. “Well-spotted,” he says, pulling the strap of his satchel over his head and setting the bag down on the cave floor.
Courfeyrac very shakily follows suit, still refusing to take his eyes off of Combeferre, and comes to stand next to Enjolras. “Why is the dragon wearing spectacles?”
“The dragon has a name,” says Combeferre, sounding a little bit put off.
“Right,” says Courfeyrac, with something of a smile. “Right, of course, my apologies. My name is Courfeyrac, which you already know, and you are?”
“Combeferre,” says Combeferre, and puffs out a curl of smoke in the shape of a giant ‘c.’
Enjolras continues to roll his eyes, but Courfeyrac looks mesmerized. “Can you breathe fire?” he asks, eagerly, fear forgotten as he walks into Combeferre’s personal space. “Because that is really cool--”
Enjolras tunes them out, smiling a little, and sets about organizing what he’s brought. The candlesticks look silver, but he’ll need Combeferre to evaluate them before he can properly sort them, and he’s still not completely sure if the rest of Combeferre’s treasure has any sort of order to it.
When he looks up, Courfeyrac is staring at him.
“Are those the candlesticks reported missing?” he says.
Enjolras shrugs. “Possibly.”
“Did you steal them?”
“Probably. Combeferre?” He holds them out for the dragon, who takes them in one claw to inspect.
“What?” says Courfeyrac, before Enjolras turns blazing blue eyes on him.
“Did you hear what Bamatabois did to that woman?’ he says, sharply. “He doesn’t deserve wealth.”
Combeferre makes an agreeable noise and sets the candlesticks down with the other silver things.
“Besides,” continues Enjolras. “It’s not like he would have noticed, if Marius hadn’t tripped.”
Courfeyrac chokes on a laugh. “True,” he manages. “That’s--true.”
“Marius?” says Combeferre. “Who is Marius? Can I meet him?”
Courfeyrac full out laughs this time. “Meet Marius?” he repeats. “He’d faint on the spot. And then go running back to tell Cosette.” He pauses to breathe. “Now Cosette,” he continues. “She’d like you.”
“Cosette?” says Combeferre, sounding hopeful. He curls himself around Courfeyrac so that most of him is obscured from Enjolras’ view. “Who is Cosette?”
“Well, see,” says Courfeyrac, grinning.
“Great,” interrupts Enjolras loudly, and Courfeyrac’s head peeks out from over the scales. “Now you’ve done it. He’ll never leave you alone, now.”
“Why?” calls back Courfeyrac. “Are you that horrible of a conversationalist?”
Enjolras frowns at him, closes the bag, and comes over to stand at Combeferre’s head. “Come on,” he says. “We need to go back before we’re missed.”
“Oh,” says Combeferre. “I thought you might stay for dinner.” He gives Enjolras a somewhat beseeching look, but Enjolras remembers what dinner with a dragon is like. He hadn’t been able to eat meat for a few days.
“I’m sorry,” he tells Combeferre, reaching out to pat him on the nose. “Tell you what, tomorrow we can go swimming, you liked that last time.”
Combeferre narrows both golden eyes at him.
“I’ll see if I can steal you some meat,” Enjolras adds. “I know you like it when it’s salted.”
Combeferre starts to hum a little, before he realizes what he’s doing and shifts in the cave so that Enjolras and Courfeyrac can climb back up onto his back.
“Enjolras,” says Courfeyrac, softly, when they’re settled and Combeferre has yet to fling himself off the side of the mountain. “You have a pet dragon.”
“I assure you I am no pet,” says Combeferre, but he sounds like he’s doing the dragon equivalent of laughing. “But to answer your earlier question, I can indeed breathe fire.”
“Oh, now you’ve done it,” says Enjolras, dryly, under his breath, and very subtly shifts so that he has a better grip on the scales of Combeferre’s neck.
“What?” shouts Courfeyrac over the sudden rush of air as Combeferre goes swooping off of the rocks.
“Nothing!” Enjolras shouts back, and then lets out a gleeful cry when Combeferre drops very suddenly out of the sky to let out of a stream of fire.
“Probably the rest of the village noticed that,” says Enjolras. “Fire is anything but subtle, and I think he was showing off.” He rolls his eyes; if anyone could get a dragon to show off, it would be Courfeyrac. “So if anyone asks you, we don’t know what it was, okay?”
“I don’t think I can walk,” says Courfeyrac.
“Promise me,” says Enjolras, turning back to look at his friend.
Courfeyrac looks back at him for a long moment, before nodding and waving a hand carelessly. “Yeah, yeah,” he says. “It’s not like anyone would believe us anyway--there’d have to be a real life dragon ravaging the countryside for anyone to even begin to think we’re not crazy.”
Enjolras smiles a little. “You’re probably right,” he agrees. “They already get so many things wrong.”
“I know!” says Courfeyrac, swinging an arm around Enjolras’ shoulders. “For starters the eyes!”
Enjolras risks a small smile up at him when Courfeyrac is busy talking about all the ways in which the stories are wrong about what dragons look like, and thinks to himself that it might be nice to have a friend who knows his secret.
He regrets ever thinking this the next morning when Courfeyrac wakes him by frantically dragging him out of his house while talking loudly about how, “I think I might be psychic--Enjolras, are you even listening to me?”
“No,” says Enjolras, sourly, lamenting the end of his days spent in solitude. “I’m sleeping.”
“No you’re not,” says Courfeyrac.
“No,” agrees Enjolras. “That’s the problem.”
“That’s not important,” says Courfeyrac. “What’s important is that that thing I said to you yesterday came true.”
“I’m sorry?” says Enjolras. “What thing?”
It is about this time that he notices that nearly everyone in the village is running about somewhat frantically, and that most of the adults are gathered at the center square arguing amongst themselves. He blinks. It appears that a small portion of the fields surrounding the village are on fire.
“That thing I said to you!” repeats Courfeyrac. “About a dragon having to lay waste to the village before anyone would believe us!” He says the last bit in a rushed undertone somewhere near Enjolras’ ear.
Enjolras jerks his head back and glares at him. “What?” he snaps, shortly.
“There’s a dragon eating Papa’s sheep,” says Cosette, from behind them, and when Enjolras and Courfeyrac turn around she’s standing with Marius. He looks incredibly concerned; she looks entirely too amused.
Courfeyrac takes in their expressions and turns to Enjolras with even more panic. “See!” he says. “Psychic!”
Enjolras sighs. “That was an educated guess,” he says. “What exactly is the dragon doing?”
“Eating sheep?” says Courfeyrac.
“Maybe you should go talk to it?”
“Him, I think,” puts in Eponine, hurrying her way over from where the adults are gathered. “From what I can gather from that lot.” She points with her thumb. “He announced his presence quite dramatically and had a civil discussion with your father before eating the sheep.”
“Oh yes,” says Cosette. “He sounded charming, actually, only Montparnasse said something distasteful about the color of his scales.” She doesn’t seem all that bothered.
“And?” says Courfeyrac, a bit frantically.
“Oh, he’s fine,” says Cosette. “He’s why the field is on fire.”
They all turn to look at the tiny chunk of flaming grass, and Enjolras can just make out the shape of the dragon. He looks bigger than Combeferre, and green.
“I’m going to go talk to him,” he says suddenly.
“What?” says Marius. “Enjolras, no!”
Enjolras ignores him, and goes striding up to the still arguing group. Marius doesn’t follow him, so Enjolras assumes that Courfeyrac is holding him back.
“If you don’t come back in one piece I’m calling in reinforcements!” calls Courfeyrac. “Of the roaring kind!”
Enjolras winces, because he doesn’t want to involve Combeferre, but he nods over his shoulder at Courfeyrac anyway. Then he turns to the crowd.
“If you’re all quite finished,” he says, loudly, and they all stop bickering to look at him. “I’m going to try to go reason with the dragon.”
“You cannot reason with a dragon,” says Javert. “They are beyond reason.” He pauses, annoyed. “And human law.”
“That might be so,” says Cosette’s father, Valjean, not meeting the other man’s eyes. “But I’m telling you all I had a perfectly nice conversation with Grantaire--”
“Grantaire?” says Enjolras, quickly. “Is that his name?”
Valjean smiles at him. “Yes,” he says.
“That thing does not have a name,” interjects Bamatabois. “Not when it is currently devouring our livestock.”
Enjolras scowls at the man (who falls silent in response), and turns back to Valjean. “Which way did he go?”
Cosette’s father points, and Enjolras nods at him. “Thank you,” he says, before striding off across the field.
“Good luck, Enjolras!” shouts Cosette. She, Marius, and Courfeyrac have come to stand next to the adults.
“Don’t die!”adds Marius.
“Reinforcements!” cries Courfeyrac. “Also, maybe clothes?”
Enjolras stops to look down at his sleep clothes, and sighs. What does it matter to a dragon what he wears, anyway? He keeps walking.
He can hear the dragon before he sees him. From the few times he’s watched Combeferre eat, he vaguely knows what to expect, but it’s nothing quite like the actual experience. Grantaire is a bit larger than Combeferre, with a dark almost sea-green scales. He has an elaborate set of spikes near the back of his head that look like ears, and he is honest to god humming as he devours the sheep. He has another one pinned beneath his great, black claws, and its bleating is horrible to hear.
Enjolras frowns. “What are you doing?” he says, loudly, and the dragon blinks open one large orange eye to stare at him.
“Hello,” he says. Grantaire’s voice is higher than Combeferre’s and it makes Enjolras’ head hurt a bit. He winces, and the dragon blinks, but doesn’t lower the volume. “Are you a sacrifice?”
“Am I a what?” says Enjolras. He isn’t sure what to do with his hands, and it’s very hard to concentrate with the sheep’s wailing. “Can you--can you do something to make it stop--”
“I suppose I could squash it,” says Grantaire, slowly. His voice still booms in Enjolras’ head, but it doesn’t hurt quite as much. Enjolras knows that this is an exposure thing, and that if he hadn’t been talking with Combeferre for months now he’d probably be on the ground. “But that seems rather wasteful...No matter, if you insist--”
“No!” says Enjolras, quickly. He finds himself half darting forward, and stops, repeating, “No, please, um. Don’t kill it.” He considers patting Grantaire on the foreleg, but doesn’t
The dragon looks at him with an air of amusement. “What would you have me do?”
“Could you let it go?”
Grantaire finally lets go of the sheep in his mouth, which drops to the ground with a sickening thud. His entire face is bloodied, but he still manages to be smiling when he says, “I suppose.” He lifts his foot and the sheep is off, still bleating, towards the village.
“Thank you,” says Enjolras.
“Whatever for?” says Grantaire. He tilts his great head and flutters his wings a little. “It seemed only fair that I give you something in return for your sacrifice.”
“I’m sorry my what?” says Enjolras, again. “What do you think this is?”
“I believe I was quite clear when I spoke to the gentleman earlier,” says Grantaire. “And you are a virgin.”
Enjolras’ jaw snaps open. “What?” he repeats. “I mean, no who told you that?”
“No one,” says Grantaire. He shakes a bit and comes forward a bit so that he can further investigate Enjolras, who holds his ground. “I can smell it on you.”
“You can smell it on me,” repeats Enjolras, dubiously.
“Yes,” agrees Grantaire. He rests his head on top of his front legs and puffs out a curl of smoke. It goes floating around Enjolras’ head, before setting into the shape of a heart.
Enjolras is very seriously turning around and just leaving, but he doesn’t. “What does my virginity have anything to do with this?” he says.
“Nothing, really,” says Grantaire. “But people always assume.” His shrugs, somehow, and his wings send a great gust of wind around them. Enjolras’ night clothes go fluttering up around his legs and he glares at the dragon.
“Stop that,” he says.
“Sorry,” says Grantaire. He does not sound sorry. “I’m Grantaire.”
“Enjolras,” says Enjolras. “Now if you don’t mind, could you please stop eating Valjean’s sheep?”
“That depends,” says Grantaire. “Do you have something better for me to eat?”
He--Enjolras would say that he raises his eyebrows, but dragons do not have eyebrows, so that is not possible. Either way, he bristles at the implication of the gesture.
“What would you like?” he says, however, because he is nothing if not diplomatic and he came out here to do a job.
“You,” says Grantaire, simply. “You look simply delicious.”
Enjolras blinks. “I thought dragons didn’t eat humans,” he says, slowly.
Grantaire blinks right back at him, entirely too human and too purposeful for comfort. “Who told you that?” he says.
“No one,” says Enjolras, shaking. “I mean, I don’t see why you’d even want to eat me--”
“You smell good,” says Grantaire. He leans forward so that one of his great eyes is regarding Enjolras’ face. “And I like you.”
Enjolras sighs. “You cannot eat me,” he says, sighing. “My friend would not be happy if you did that.”
“Hmm,” says Grantaire. He doesn’t move when Enjolras does, but he somehow manages to keep an eye on him. “Does this friend have a name?”
Enjolras isn’t sure how dragon societies work, but he’s not taking any chances. “A friend,” he repeats. “But you don’t want to mess with him.”
“Oh?” says Grantaire. He straightens to his full height--definitely larger than Combeferre--and ruffles up the spines at the back of his head. They still look something like ears, but also like they could take an eye out. “Are you sure?” Grantaire says, loudly, and Enjolras’ head throbs.
“Erm,” he says. “You’re very, um, impressive?”
Grantaire seems to visibly deflate. “You’re not frightened,” he says, sighing. He looks like he’s seriously considering going back to eating the sheep and Enjolras is very quick to interject.
“No, but, uh,” he says. “I’ve seen dragons before?”
Grantaire pauses. “Have you?” he says, voice suddenly entirely too innocent. “I have to say that I’m finding you more and more interesting by the minute.”
“Great,” says Enjolras.
Grantaire settles back onto his haunches and looks him over again. “Would you like to go for a ride?” he says, finally.
Enjolras sighs. “Will you bring me back?” he says.
Grantaire is quiet. “Yes,” he concedes. “And I will not eat your village’s livestock.”
“Okay,” says Enjolras. “I will need pants, however.” He casts a wary eye back towards the village. “If you’ll just let me--”
“That’s fine,” says Grantaire. He shifts, sinuously, and starts to curl in on himself. “I shall come with you.”
“No, I don’t think you’ll fit,” says Enjolras, slowly.
“No problem,” says Grantaire. Actually says Grantaire--Grantaire who is now, somehow, a brown-haired, naked, bloody man. Enjolras blinks.
“I need to sit down,” he says.
“Oh, right, clothes,” says the man that is apparently Grantaire. He licks his lips and, with an absolutely terrible wink, blows out a slow lick of flame. It curls down around his body, at which Enjolras is not looking, thank you, and when it clears away he’s dressed. “Shall we?”
Enjolras stops thinking about sitting down and actually does so. He puts his head in his hands. “This day could not get any worse,” he says, miserably. Grantaire reaches out to pat him awkwardly on the head, which is sort of nice.
This is, of course, when Combeferre lands in the field next to them with a cry of Enjolras’ name.
“Oh, hello!” says Grantaire. “Would you like a sheep?”
“Do not harm Enjolras!” shouts Combeferre, angrily, in probably all of the villagers’ heads.
“Wait, Combeferre!” Courfeyrac’s voice filters in and Enjolras looks up to see him, Cosette, Marius, and Eponine stumbling their way across the field.
He very slowly lowers his head to look down at his lap. “I take it back,” he says, quietly. “I take it back.”
“Aw,” says Grantaire, patting him on the head again. “You’ll be okay.”
Enjolras just drops his head into his hands, and sighs.
End Part 1.