Valentine’s Day was tomorrow. No, make that today, since it was past midnight. Grantaire had been preparing all year, devising and then discarding plans. And he was still no closer to his goal. He’d tried feigning interest in the Republic, and failed miserably. The others had been curious at first, but then had sought to pull him deeper into their plans and debates, and Grantaire couldn’t sustain his act. He found that he just couldn’t lie to Enjolras like that, not even to win his approval. Combeferre had ordered him to cease making a mockery of their endeavor. And Grantaire’s heart broke when Enjolras’ expression closed over and the golden youth turned away from him. He stayed away from the Musain for an entire fortnight after that, until the need to be near his idol grew stronger than his shame.
He tried song. Sweet music that conveyed his adoration. Unfortunately, the drink made his song lewd and nearly unintelligible. Joly and Lesgles joined in with their own verses, a furious Jehan cried that they were all destroying the greatest gift on earth, and Enjolras never once looked over. He thought of gifts and poetry, but put those ideas aside without even testing them. Enjolras ignored poetry, politely declined the trinkets offered to him by the bolder grisettes, and would look on any gift of Grantaire’s with confused suspicion.
He even made discreet inquiries to some of his friends. They gave sympathetic sighs and pats on the back, and more often than not, another round of drinks. Their advice was less useful. Bossuet suggested, half-jokingly, that he get Enjolras tipsy and then see what happened. Bahorel told him to take Enjolras for a round of singlesticks, to show him that Grantaire did possess some talent and interest beyond the green fairy. But Grantaire knew that his days of singlesticks were long behind him, swallowed by his new passion. And Enjolras would finally disdain him, which would be more than Grantaire could bear. Jehan offered to pen a love letter for him, but by this point, Grantaire was so depressed and hopeless, and more than a little drunk, that he could not see the use.
Slumping over his table, Grantaire officially gave up. There was always next year.
The next day was miserable. Courfeyrac “complained” of all the mistresses he was juggling on this day, laughing all the while. Lucky bugger. Jehan and Bahorel argued over who had the better mistress, getting quite heated until Joly shut them both up by waxing poetic over his Muse. Behind him, Bossuet nodded vigorously in agreement. Feuilly tried to remind everyone that the world did not stop just because the day was dedicated to Love, but it was a lost cause. Finally, he waved the white flag and joined Enjolras and Combeferre in their corner.
Grantaire kept to himself, drinking steadily amidst the noise and laughter. He had failed. He had no heart to join in the others’ revelry, and no will to simply get up and leave. So he drank and stared at the object of his adoration. Enjolras also kept away from the crowd, preferring to talk with Combeferre and then Feuilly. That small similarity comforted Grantaire. Grantaire didn’t notice the day slipping away. One by one the others left, eager for a night of unabashed romance. The noise died down, and Grantaire put aside his drink and buried his head in his folded arms. He was not crying. But a little self-pity never killed anyone.
A light touch on his shoulder startled him out of his depression. His head lifted and he blinked in fogged surprise. There was his idol, his love. Staring down at him with an expression of deepening concern. For him? He couldn’t speak as Enjolras pulled up a chair next to him.
“Are you well? I noticed that you’ve been unusually quiet all day. I thought you’d be rejoicing over romance with Bossuet and Bahorel.”
Enjolras noticed him? Grantaire’s heart leapt in happy surprise, before quickly crashing back to earth. What did Enjolras notice? Was he finally disgusted?
“Grantaire? Can you hear me? I can run and grab Joly, if you need.”
Need? ”Need you.”
A pause. Grantaire shook himself, trying to throw off the cloak of depression and wine. “Nothing, nothing. Didn’t mean to distract you. ’M fine.”
Another pause, and Grantaire wanted to weep. He’d just blown any chance he might have. Him and his stupid, traitorous mouth.
Fingers entwined with his own. Grantaire looked up, disbelieving. Enjolras was still there, sitting beside him and now holding his hand. Before he could lose his nerve, he brought the joined hands up to his lips, gently kissed the adored knuckles.
Shocked at his own drunken daring, Grantaire pulled back, but Enjolras’ grip on his hand tightened.
The blond leaned forward, soft lips brushed his forehead.
“Happy Valentine’s Day.”