The next day in the afternoon Etienne was lying on his bed, reading a book. It was a very interesting one, about the animals of the world. He got it from his father. Especially fascinating was a description of a chameleon. It had to be so cool to be able to change colours! And it had big, bulging eyes, which made him look very funny. He should show the picture to Julien. He would love it! Surely he would.
"Etienne? Etienne!" a voice called from outside the window. The bespectacled boy practically jumped off the bed and was next to the window in less than ten seconds. Enjolras stood in the garden and looked at him with wide blue eyes. He wasn't very similar to a chameleon, but his eyes were equally big in comparison to the rest of the body and Combeferre couldn't hold back his laughter. The tiny boy smiled diffidently. Etienne smiled at him too and shook his head.
"Julien," he said warmly. "Why don't you just knock at the door?"
The child's smile became only more tentative.
The older boy quickly went downstairs to see his friend. He knew that Julien was too shy around his parents to simply knock at the door. He was afraid that it wouldn't be Etienne who would open it. And Combeferre understood it, he definitely didn't want Enjolras' father to greet him when he visited the boy. His own parents were much different than Monsieur Enjolras, yet Julien was a bit wary when they were nearby.
Three minutes later both of them were sitting comfortably on Etienne's bed. The older boy watched his guest calmly, waiting for him to speak first. He could tell something was wrong again, Enjolras was all nervous and shy as never. Combeferre inspected Julien's curls, but didn't see any knot. He was worried that something had happened again, but hoped that Julien would tell him of his own accord. And that he, Etienne, would be able to help him.
At least his younger friend spoke, hesitantly.
"Ferre, I... My father... Today during dinner my father said my hair was a total mess and I don't take care of it properly and..." the boy stopped, still not looking at Etienne, but swallowed and finished quickly: "And I would have to have my hair cut. I try to brush them right, Ferre, but they are very tangled..." never once Julien's eyes met Combeferre's. The bespectacled boy smiled comfortingly and moved closer to the child, wrapping his arms around him.
"It's okay, don't worry," he said softly.
"But it isn't," Julien interrupted. "I like my hair."
Combeferre laughed fondly, tightening his grip on his friend.
"I like it too, a lot," he assured him. "That's why I have an idea."
Enjolras moved away from him to look at his face with hope.
"You do?" he whispered, not sure if he meant the fact that Etienne liked his hair or that he had an idea. Probably both. The older boy stood up and walked towards the desk to pick up a brush which he had laid there the previous day.
"How about coming here everyday before dinner and I would brush it?" he offered, still smiling, evidently liking the idea.
The blonde slipped off the bed and ran to embrace his savior in the waist. Etienne laughed and knelt down, hugging the boy back.
"Yes, I would like it very much, thank you," he heard Julien's voice, a bit muffled by the material of his shirt in which Enjolras' face was burrowed.
Combeferre patted his head lovingly and led him to the bed, where he began to brush the golden curls very carefully. He was glad he was able to help his dear friend again. He dreaded the day when Enjolras' problems wouldn't be so easy to solve, simply with a hair brush. He didn't want to fail this boy. He had promised to himself long ago to always be there for him. He leaned forward and kissed the blonde head, at which Julien cringed. Etienne furrowed his eyebrows, sensing that something was haunting the boy again. The poor thing was upset way too often, Combeferre reflected. His heart broke partially every time he saw him sad. He began to hum a soft melody, hoping to calm his friend.
But the quiet humming didn't calm Julien. In fact, the older boy's gentleness only made him feel worse. He was sitting bolt, not daring to move a muscle. His stomach began to wrench as he felt the pang of guilt. Etienne trusted him and he, Julien, had betrayed his trust. How could he have been such a traitor? Ferre didn't deserve to be treated that way. How could he have failed his friend so badly? Disgusted with himself, he was sitting still, because... how could he tell anything? The older boy would tell him to leave and never come back. He would never see him again. Never, although Ferre had promised him to always be there. Never, because Julien's flagitious misdeed excused Etienne from keeping his word. So if he told him, Ferre would grow mad at him and would be completely right to do so. So Julien sat quietly, unable to confess to his sin.
But compunctions didn't let him stay quiet for long.
Etienne moved the brush through golden curls once again, but suddenly Julien turned around and looked at him with eyes so full of guilt, sorrow and despair that this time the older boy's heart didn't break partially. It shattered into million of pieces and Combeferre was close to embrace his little friend and never let go, but something else in Enjolras' eyes stopped him. He knew the boy wanted to tell him something important and he had to listen now. And when Julien spoke, each of the pieces of Etienne's heart broke into several more pieces.
"Ferre," the little voice was full of fear and it was really hard for the bespectacled boy not to hug him tightly in that moment.
"Ferre, I... I am a terrible person. My father is right," Julien continued.
"No, mon ami, what are you talking about?" Etienne reached to take the little hand into his, but the child moved away. The bespectacled boy's felt pain in his chest as if someone stabbed him with a knife.
"I lied to you," Enjolras confessed weakly. Etienne blinked. "My father never said I would have to have my hair cut," The blue eyes didn't look at the wide, brown ones. "I... I just wanted you to brush my hair again," the boy finished inaudibly with a voice full of regret and pain.
He stood, still not looking at his friend. No, not his friend. He didn't deserve to be Etienne's friend. The older boy surely despised him now.
"I will go now... I am very sorry for everything," he had to pause, for his lip began to tremble dangerously. He bit it.
He stood up and headed to the door, but all of a sudden he was wrapped in Combeferre's strong arms and hugged so tightly he couldn't move. He couldn't understand what exactly was happening. Etienne took Enjolras' face in his hands and looked at him with so much love that the child didn't move away, fascinated. And Etienne spoke, very slowly, accenting each syllable.
"Julien Enjolras, nothing terrible had happened. You told me the truth. I am not angry at all. Do you understand? I am not angry. You can stay. We are friends, remember? No matter what you do, it will never change. Never. Don't be afraid,"
Julien couldn't believe his ears. So wasn't Ferre mad? Didn't he hate him? No, he must have misunderstood. He lied to him.
"You forgive me?" he stuttered out in a quiet voice, tears starting to spring into his eyes, although he tried really hard to stop them. Crying was for small children. He was five.
Etienne hugged him again and whispered right into his ear.
"I love you, silly! I love you. So of course I forgive you."
The relief stroke Julien so powerfully that it almost made him collapse. Fortunately, Combeferre held him firmly.
"And you can still come here everyday and I would brush your hair for you," the older boy added. After a brief moment Julien hugged the other boy back as tightly as he was able to, pressing his face against Etienne's shoulder to hide the tears he wasn't able to force back any longer.
"I love you too, Ferre," he said. Then he moved back in Combeferre's arms and looked at him seriously. "I really love you," he said in that specific solemn tone of his. Then he paused and added emphatically: "And I mean it."
"I know," Etienne said simply, smiling with teary eyes. "And I hope you know I love you too. I love you so, so much and I will always be there for you. Always."
He kissed the small forehead. "And I mean it."
A/N: And that's it! Review please? :)