Dins Ton Pais Tornaras

L'esperanšo es lou pan di miserable.
Hope is the bread of the miserable.
          --Provenšal proverb

In the alley behind the Corinthe, Grantaire embraced Enjolras with a whispered, drunken plea to walk him home. He lost his way immediately, his orbit curving in too tightly to the burning sun of his existence, who kissed him, innocent, fumbling, lost. Heat enveloped them both and drowned them like a cresting tide of wine, buffeting them this way and that until it drained away and left them stranded, leaning on each other and on the wall, hands sticky with each other's pleasure. They broke apart, the air between them cooling, and said nothing more.

It was a mistake, and it could never happen again.

Leaving from the Musain with dawn's light streaking the sky, Grantaire made his plea again. Enjolras might have laughed; how drunk must one be to lose his way in two streets? but he took Grantaire's arm and took him home. He was vaguely surprised at the fresh sheets -- not knowing the story of twice-weekly laundering since that first mistake -- and dazed by Grantaire's face. The cynicism lay crumpled on the floor among trousers, waistcoat, shirt, cravat, and while no one would ever call him handsome, he was human. Naked, he had no great demons to guard him from feeling, and every caress provoked earthquakes. Shaken to his fundament, Grantaire lost the weight of years; in the final tremors, he murmured, "T'aimi," and Enjolras caught his breath at the soft vowels and the sentiment behind them.

"T'aimi tanben," he said: a child's answer to endearments, an echo of the past, and another mistake. He was never certain afterward whether he had lied, though he had occasion to say it frequently thereafter.

They made a score of errors in Enjolras' flat, where Grantaire did not belong, with sunlight that did not become him and the thick sea scent of desire filling the room. Grantaire kept Enjolras wordless but for "Se te plais," driving away all his other words with kisses and caresses for fear that any other words would be a dismissal. He defended his tenuous position with careful nibbles and licks until his calculations gave way to a stream of "Ďc, se te plais, ˛c."

Some mistakes were small; the softening of Enjolras' affected Parisian only made his friends smile and won him greater trust from a Marseillaise client. Some missteps were obvious enough to avoid; many afternoons ended with a dispersing meeting, and they never walked together.

The subtleties were their downfall: the wrong quarrel at the wrong moment, the wrong drink after too many, the wrong place and the wrong time. Combeferre found Enjolras well after midnight, when everyone was meant to be resting, trying to wake the only somnolent man with quiet entreaties, pleas, and a final panicked shaking.

"Let him stay," Combeferre said, taking Enjolras' hands and leading him across the room. "He wouldn't make it home in that state, not tonight."

"I can't let him stay," Enjolras protested. "I can't."

"Do you despise him so much?" Combeferre asked gently, then shook his head, not hearing the beginning of an answer. "One more death, republican or skeptic, will make little difference."

"It will make all the difference." Enjolras glanced back at Grantaire, who had not stirred; his head was still pillowed on his arms. "He never thought this could achieve anything."

Combeferre patted his shoulder and took him downstairs. "Then we shall simply have to believe all the more strongly for his sake."

Enjolras nodded. "We will do our best for him."


Fangirl Occitan Lexicon:
T'aimi: I love you.
Tanben: too
Se te plais: Please (informal).
Òc: Yes

Resources:
French - Occitan Dictionary
Proverbs in Langue D'Oc and French
WordReference.com - French - English translation, among other languages (excellent, word by word)
Babelfish - French - English translation, among other languages (clunky, does phrases)

<< Back to Bookfic
<< Back to Main