After the fifth morning in which we did not get out of bed until well past noon, I began to notice that I felt rather more strongly about Grantaire than I had previously suspected. I caught myself saying, "Je t'aime," as we were dozing off for the second time. He did not seem to hear me, but I heard it, and it made me worry. I did not think that that was the sort of thing I could say without thinking about it.
We have been spending a great deal of time together recently, unbeknownst to our mutual friends. At least three evenings a week for the last few months, I have knocked on his door or he knocked on mine. We have spoken of a great many things, more intimately than anyone could in a café, and at great length. I am coming to know him better, and to care about him.
He does not care about himself, which worries me. He has said that he does not deserve me -- deserve what? Corruption and madness, lust and perhaps friendship, perhaps affection? I always tell him that he does, thinking of the affection I would like to give him rather than the depravities I ask of him. If I thought he would accept any overt courtship, I would indeed court him as sweetly as I know how. If I could show him how I feel for him without seducing him or making him laugh and brush me off, I would do that, but those seem to be the only avenues. He would deny any sweet words or any romantic overtures.
I do not know if he feels any particular emotion from anything that we do. It affects me more than physically, but I do not think he is similarly sensitive. He may very well be able to kiss me in his inimitable way, itself a microcosm of the act of love, without caring about me. If so, he is missing a great deal of what pleases me in his kisses. It is more than the anticipation of the next caress, more than the small sounds he makes or the way he holds me. It pleases me to know that he enjoys kissing me, in a way that may or may not have a great deal to do with conceit.
In a peculiar way, I like being vulnerable in his presence. I know it pleases him that I seek his company, in friendship or in desire. It must also please him that I am willing to be naked with him, and that I enjoy it. He often seems surprised, even now, that I will share any such thing with him. I suppose that this means that I have not yet convinced him that he deserves every moment. It is not entirely nor primarily for his benefit -- but he would not allow me any liberties with his person if it did not please him to do so.
I am learning how to share pleasure with him, rather than asking him for a moment's madness and then fumbling to return the favor. I struggled, in the beginning, with the difficulty of becoming accustomed to what he likes, and what is too much or not enough for him. I have had vague daydreams of intimacy with friends and nameless, fictional men for years, but they pale beside the reality. He is not a perfect lover, but that in itself is reassuring. I have not asked him what his previous experience in this kind of a relationship is, and I do not truly want to know. He knows a great deal more than I do, and that is all I care to understand about his romantic past.
He has been patient with me while I have been learning. I am better now than I was at the beginning, perforce, though I lose track of what I am doing when he asks more than one thing. It must be vexing indeed that I cannot kiss him without forgetting that I am holding his erection in my hand, and that perhaps it was more important than a kiss. He laughs at me, when it is over and he is not straining toward orgasm anymore, and he chides me, "Denis, can't you concentrate on two things at once?" The truth is that when the two things are both him, I can concentrate on nothing at all, and he is lucky that I can do well enough when he does not distract me.
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