Be careful what you wish for

This was not what I expected at all.

No, I've never seen him depressed, not to the point of trying to escape from his thoughts; he generally stands up and gives a speech about them so that we are inspired instead of dragged down. But tonight, when he learned that his mother died, he couldn't think of the appropriate rebuttal, the right spin to put on the phrases to make a filial lament into praise for liberty and the Republic. He collapsed at a table where he never sits, glanced up at its occupant, and, half-laughing, half-crying, ordered another bottle of wine for Grantaire and one for himself.

I'm still not sure how he ended up in my arms, except that he wanted me to tell him what had been wrong with his mother. He called me over and started describing her symptoms in inarticulate, slurring adjectives. They dissolved in the wine that he insisted on drinking by the cup, he who never drinks, and he was left stammering, shaking, sobbing. I didn't know how to comfort him. I only meant to offer him a handkerchief, not an embrace.

Not this.

He rested his head on my shoulder and clung to me, then, God alone knows why, turned his face to mine and kissed me with his tear-salted lips. "Am I dead yet?" he asked me, ingenuously, smiling a broad, silly grin that didn't look like his smile. He never smiles at human things, never at me, never at jokes. Enjolras smiles and weeps only over matters of great importance to the country and to his ideals of democracy. And yet there he was, grinning fatuously at me. Not like a child -- not with the light in his eyes, not with his lips pressed to mine -- but not like himself. And he asked me if he was alive.

I couldn't find the words to answer him. They had been driven from my mind by the weight of him in my arms, the reality of what he'd done. He surprised me beyond speech. Before offering a diagnosis, I kissed him, as he had kissed me, and he responded. Grantaire was staring at us, stricken, more shocked than I, more heartbroken. "No. You're not dead."

"Is that your professional opinion?" His eyes narrowed, he drew away from me slightly. He looked like himself again for an instant, proud, detached Apollo who would have nothing to do with such mundane matters as a dead mother or a kiss.

"Yes, I suppose it is."

Loud, challenging, consummately Enjolras, self-assured and self-confident despite his wine, "Prove it to me, Joly." Did he know what that demand did to me? Could he know? My knees shook, but so did his. The unaccustomed wine had undone him. He clung to me all the way home.

And now I wonder who walked home with me. His face was familiar. Beyond familiar: archetypal, finely sculpted, a Grecian statue of a beautiful boy awake under my hands, under my body, pleading with me. His face was that of our proud, strong leader, but his eyes were not. They were full of tears, tears in the eyes of the perfectly beautiful man who had never cried before this. His eyes were clouded with wine and tears.

I thought he would be frightened of me, though he was drowning in wine. I thought he would protest the touch of my hands, but he accepted them, accepted me. He was not himself. He was more than merely drunk, more than grieving. He was not Enjolras. I knew it from the moment he fell into my arms until he escaped his grief in mindlessness and ceased crying in favor of other, better sounds. Then, I cannot truly say I cared.

But when he returns to himself and discovers that he is soiled with more than tears, I will tell him that didn't want this, and it will not be a lie. I might have looked at him before and thought -- but only in passing. Only because he was beautiful and gallant and charming. I didn't want that fantasy to be real if he was not himself, not the man I knew.

The Enjolras I knew would never have done this. This is not the Enjolras I knew.

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