It was after eleven when Enjolras left the Café Musain, bidding goodnight to his friends. A breeze ruffled his golden hair as he descended to the street. At the foot of the stairs, he hesitated only a moment before setting off purposefully across the Place St. Michel.
He arrived very soon at his destination, a nondescript boarding house tucked away on a side street. Glancing briefly over his shoulder, he went in. A nondescript staircase led upward two floors to a nondescript landing, and a nondescript door. Here Enjolras knocked, and was admitted at once.
"Evening, Julien," Grantaire said softly.
"Good evening," Enjolras returned, and kissed him without further preamble.
There was a breathless interval. Presently Grantaire inquired, "Are you all right?" They were sitting on the edge of the bed in their shirtsleeves, Enjolras' coat having been mysteriously mislaid. "You look tired."
"I am, a little." Enjolras freed one hand to rub his eyes.
"Hard work, politics."
Enjolras frowned. "No. It's nothing."
"All right. I'm sorry." Grantaire hesitated, then leaned over to kiss his cheek. "Come to bed."
With a sigh, Enjolras yielded. His better judgment protested that he should not be here at all, should never have come in the first place. The drunkard's thoughtless mockery got on his nerves, and he wished he had the strength to stay away; but with every passing night it grew more difficult to resist the touch of his hands, the scent of his skin, the--
"What's the matter?" Grantaire sat up swiftly. "Have I hurt you?"
"No, no. No, I just--"
Enjolras took a deep breath, scowling at the ceiling. "I think I need to sleep."
"But I don't think I can." He glanced over, and saw a look of such anxiety cross Grantaire's homely face that he added, half apologetically, "I'm just-- nervous. It's all right."
Grantaire studied him a moment, then suggested quietly, "Turn over." And as Enjolras blinked at him: "It's all right, I'm not going to hurt you."
Warily, Enjolras complied. The bed creaked faintly as Grantaire shifted position, leaning over him.
Then he gasped as a rush of sensation assaulted his nerves. For a moment he could not sort out pain from pleasure; but then pain faded into mild discomfort, and discomfort into a dim, intoxicating warmth. "Relax," came Grantaire's voice, softly.
He buried his face in his folded arms. "I am." And he was.
It went on and on. Consciousness dissolved, leaving him adrift in a pleasurable haze. He scarcely noticed when Grantaire at last ceased his ministrations, and stretched out beside him.
"Mmm." It took Enjolras a moment to find words again. The backrub had left him relaxed and contented as a dozen sweaty and illicit nights had not. Was this, he wondered drowsily, the reason people made such a fuss over love affairs? "Thank you."
"Not at all."
He felt Grantaire's fingers tousling his hair lightly, but before he could protest, he was asleep.