catherine's corner


The boy is waiting for him when he gets home, sitting on the edge of the bed, luminous and lovely in the oblique moonlight. Grantaire shuts the door with a shaking hand, and sinks down beside him. Every nerve in him aches with desire, for the feel of this slim body against his, for the kisses he has been so long denied. But the boy turns his face away.

"You've been drinking."

"I--" He can feel his cheeks burning. "What if I have?"

"Don't kiss me."


But the boy's hands are busy at his clothes, untying knots, unfastening buttons. God knows how he's grown so deft in the scant weeks of their intimacy. Grantaire loses his voice in a sigh, twines a hand in Julien's flaxen hair, and gives himself up to sensation.

"You were a long time coming," reproachfully in his ear.

"I'm here now." He tries for another kiss, but the boy's slim strong hands fend him off again. "And now you won't kiss me. Oh, don't be so fastidious -- Julien -- beautiful Julien --"

"Hush." His shirt falls to the floor. "Hush and let me--" and, helplessly, he does. It's always like this. The boy's rejections are so artless, so completely devoid of rancor, that Grantaire cannot resent them; his seductions are irresistible, in spite or because of his perfect composure. Even when he will consent to Grantaire's caresses, he remains a little detached, pleasure playing across his delicate features like light over marble, leaving no imprint.

But tonight, in the dreamy quiet after their strength is spent, there is a new note of urgency in his voice. "You were so late," he says again, and Grantaire blinks at him.

"Was I?"

Julien runs a slender hand down his chest. "I don't want to waste any of these nights."

"My pretty one." Grantaire catches his hand and kisses it, and this time is allowed. "There are always other nights."

"Not for us."


"Three or four, I should say." Julien's face in the half-light is as calm as if he's discussing the number of clean shirts in the drawer. "Then we have to stop."

Grantaire sits up a little. "Why on earth..."

"Hush, lie down. Because there are other things I need to do, to think of. I never meant this to go on for very long."

Grantaire stares up at him, chilled by the calculation in his words. "You might have told me that before."

Julien gives him that clear, guileless look: the face of an angel or a pagan god, to whom mortal anguish is not only inconsequential but incomprehensible. "You didn't, either. Did you?"

No, he didn't, damn the boy's cleverness. He never intended more than dalliance, until this moment. Now he finds his heart pounding with apprehension. "Julien-- mon cher--"

The boy shakes his head, smiling very slightly.

"You're not just going to leave," Grantaire protests, through the dryness in his throat. "You're not telling me you'll walk out one morning and I'll never see you again."

A shrug. "I shan't be hiding. You can find me if you need to."

"How?" His voice has turned traitor. Even to his own ears he sounds anxious, desperate. Like a lover spurned. "How d'you mean?"

The boy regards him thoughtfully for a moment, head tilted to one side. "In the Place St. Michel. Ask for Enjolras. --No, don't kiss me," pushing him away, running a hand through his hair, gentle and inexorable. "Go to sleep."

Something has gone wrong, Grantaire thinks, drowsy in spite of himself. Somehow he has fallen into a trap. If only he could understand what it was.