"Well, I feel overdressed," Courfeyrac announces, barely pausing in the door with a tray of coffees in one hand. "If I'd known the dress code was no pants, I'd have come prepared." He shuts the door behind him with one foot (Enjolras's front door behaves perfectly for Courfeyrac).

Grantaire, stretched out in a pair of Enjolras's boxers with his head in Enjolras's lap, just lifts a hand to flip Courfeyrac off. It's too early to deal with Courfeyrac's shit. (It's too early to be this hot.)

Enjolras does an admirable impression of someone who isn't annoyed; from Grantaire's angle, he almost pulls it off, except for the momentary tensing of his jaw. "I didn't realize you required black tie for your unscheduled drop-ins," he says, not looking up from the book he's been halfheartedly jotting notes in with his left hand while his right strokes circles in Grantaire's hair. A trickle of sweat makes its way down the swath of skin bared by his open shirt. (If Grantaire weren't too hot and tired to move, he'd lick it off, is how unreal and delicious Enjolras looks even though his coloring suggests he should be wilting like a flower—something delicate and easily bruised, like a lily or an orchid. In this, as in all other things, Grantaire supposes he's proved himself the less hardy of them.)

"Don't you pay for air conditioning?" Courfeyrac asks, setting the coffees on the table and flopping himself down on top of Grantaire's feet.

Grantaire grunts and wriggles his feet out from under Courfeyrac. (He makes a point of jabbing Courfeyrac with his toes.) "It's out," he says, "and it's way too hot for you to be touching me. I only touch him because of that delightful thing he does with his fingers—don't stop," he glares. "I was almost back to sleep."

"It's just been off since yesterday," Enjolras says, resuming his comforting head stroke without comment. "The landlord says it'll be fixed this afternoon."

"I brought cold beverages," Courfeyrac says. "A triple espresso for you, and a honey frappuccino for your lapdog. I might have added a secret ingredient," he says with a wink.

"You're a god among men," Grantaire mumbles, eyes closed. "I'd kiss you in gratitude but I think I'll burst into flame if I move." He takes the cup Enjolras puts in his hand and presses its cool sweat against his cheek before lowering it for a careful sip through the straw.

"I'll pass. Why haven't you guys fled for more hospitable climes?" Courfeyrac sips his own iced caramel macchiato.

"My place is being fumigated and it isn't safe again until tomorrow," Grantaire sighs around his straw. "Understanding as Combeferre is, it seemed cruel to both turn up demanding refuge on his floor."

Enjolras pulls the lid off his drink and takes a long swallow. (Grantaire peeks from under his lashes to watch his Adam's apple bob until he overheats again and has to look away.) He fishes an ice cube from the liquid and licks the coffee from it before running it down Grantaire's neck.

Grantaire stiffens and mewls. "Not fair," he says. "I'm definitely not going back to sleep now." (When Enjolras tries to take the ice cube back, Grantaire makes him leave it against his skin.)

"Tired, are we?" Courfeyrac asks, face the very picture of suggestive.

"Didn't sleep well," Grantaire mutters. He pushes himself up to sit between them. His back, sticky with sweat from lying down, feels marginally cooler in the air. He takes a pull on his straw.

It's a touchy subject. He's been a semipermanent fixture at Enjolras's apartment for months, and they've been spending most nights together for weeks, but neither of them is quite used to sharing a bed with another person yet. Between their not-quite-compatible sleep schedules and Enjolras's tossing, Grantaire is exhausted. This week's heat wave has worsened things considerably; Grantaire is looking forward to winter, when Enjolras will make a good surface for warming frozen fingers on, but between sheets in hot July he's unbearable.

Enjolras, as a chronic insomniac, has handled this setback with dignity, but Grantaire usually only has trouble sleeping at night, and the extension of these problems into the morning hours has left him a shambling wreck. He naps, a bit, in the morning after Enjolras gets up, but every noise wakes him—it always has, unless he's had entirely too much to drink. (And somehow it feels just as wrong to be sleeping without Enjolras as it does to be sleeping alongside him.) Still, he refuses to admit defeat and retreat to a solo bed. This is an adjustment period. That's all.

"Are you excited about graduation?" Courfeyrac asks, nudging Grantaire's foot with his knee.

"I can barely contain myself," Grantaire deadpans. "The one thing that gets me excited in this life is a bloated and meaningless ritual which reduces its participants to a nameless collective while the bureaucracy gets drunk on its own self-importance."

"So why go?" Courfeyrac rolls his eyes. "They'll give you a diploma whether you turn up on Saturday or not. You know that, right?"

Enjolras's pen stills in his book. He, too, has wondered why this graduation business. Tradition and ceremony have never been Grantaire's style, and whenever it comes up he seems more embarrassed by the fuss than proud of the accomplishment.

"I didn't have a choice," Grantaire shrugs. "My sister would hire a hit man if I wasn't there."

Courfeyrac grins. "I don't think Eponine would need a hit man. She could probably manage well enough on her own."

Grantaire blinks. "No. My actual sister."

"I didn't know you had a sister!" Courfeyrac exclaims.

"You didn't ask."

Enjolras tilts his head to the left. "I didn't know your sister was coming."

"Sacha wouldn't miss an opportunity to take humiliating photographs of me in a stupid hat," Grantaire grouses.

"Sacha, huh? Is she hot?" Courfeyrac's eyes sparkle.

"That's my sister you're objectifying," Grantaire growls. "I'd threaten to wear your intestines as a belt, but my feelings are irrelevant because if you offend her, she'll end you herself without offering me the chance."

"Oh yeah," Courfeyrac sighs with a wicked smile. "She's hot."

Enjolras clears his throat. "When is she coming to town?"

"Thursday," Grantaire says, peeking at Enjolras under his sweat-soaked curls as he takes another drink of his rapidly-melting frappuccino.

"Well, I'm excited to meet her," Enjolras says finally.

Grantaire snorts. "Don't bother pretending that's true. I'm sure she already hates you."

Enjolras bites his lip. "That so?"

"She's a bit protective," Grantaire says, waving a hand dismissively. "Luckily I'm the only one whose approval you need to date me."

"And I've already got that."

Grantaire chuckles. "You're getting there."

Courfeyrac claps his hands with a loud thwack. "Break it up, love birds. You're not alone on this couch."

"We weren't doing anything," Grantaire mumbles.

"You were going to. I know pheromones when I smell them," Courfeyrac says.

Grantaire leans his head against the back of the couch and closes his eyes.

"You don't have to worry about it," Enjolras says, tossing back the last of his espresso and standing. "I've got to get a shower before the meeting."

Grantaire groans. "There's a meeting today?"

"Emergency," Courfeyrac reminds him. "Because the city council is debating its redistricting decision this week. Remember?"

"No." He's never had a good memory for things like this, and sleep deprivation has only made him more absent-minded. "Can't you cancel on account of oppressive heat?" Enjolras in an ice water bath is about all he wants out of this day.

Enjolras shakes his head. "Injustice doesn't stop because the temperature shoots to ninety-nine."

"Hear, hear," Courfeyrac cheers. "Although possibly we'll need to relocate? I don't think even Combeferre could concentrate in an atmosphere this stifling, and you get snappy when you're uncomfortable, which isn't pleasant for anyone."

"I'll call Combeferre," Enjolras says. "Thanks for the coffee."

A somewhat harried Combeferre lets them into his studio apartment an hour later, just before the emergency meeting is supposed to start. Grantaire and Courfeyrac claim seats next to an air conditioning vent right away, and Enjolras follows Combeferre into the kitchen area to grab chairs to bring into the main space.

"Where were you last night?" he asks, taking one of the chairs. "I tried calling and you didn't answer." He doesn't say it was weird, doesn't say I was worried. He doesn't have to.

Combeferre wrinkles his nose. "Sorry, I had the pool party for the summer school kids yesterday, and then some of the tutors went out for dinner. By the time I saw I'd missed your call it was pretty late."

Enjolras frowns in the way he has when he's thinking hard. "Didn't we do that last week?"

"No," Combeferre laughs, "we did it last night. Was it important?"

"I could swear the pool party was last week." Enjolras shakes his head. "I know your schedule as well as I know mine, I wouldn't mess that up."

"Don't worry about it," Combeferre says, laying his hand on Enjolras's shoulder. "You've got a lot of information up there. Maybe you should look into actually using your google calendar, just to keep tabs on us all. I'm sure it's very taxing trying to keep three schedules straight in your head."

Enjolras tries to glare but he feels himself start to smile. "Don't be ridiculous. Grantaire doesn't have a schedule." Sometimes he has places he's supposed to be, but that's no guarantee he will be there, and it's a far cry from the varied but strictly-regimented plans that run Combeferre's life. Tracking Grantaire down is generally like a combination of Marco Polo and a scavenger hunt; the looseness of his set of commitments means that most of the time he could be anywhere. Combeferre, on the other hand, is always somewhere specific, and it's rare for Enjolras to reach for him and not know how to find him.

Combeferre just smiles at him and goes to answer the door.

Bossuet and Joly are laughing, too, as they enter, but presumably at a different joke.

"Who knew redistricting was so funny?" Enjolras says, carting the chairs in his arms.

Bahorel, loping in after them, exhales in a hnf of frustration. "You're annoyed with us already?"

"The proposed plan doesn't get less racist because your lunch appointment ran over."

"We're five minutes early!"

Enjolras checks his phone. Bahorel's correct; they are, in fact, not late. Although it doesn't look promising for starting on time. "Oh. Sorry. I just assumed, based on precedent."

"And you know what happens when you assume," Bossuet croons.

"All right, children," Feuilly sighs. "I've got to be at work in two hours and there are issues of education equality to discuss."

Joly carefully removes his shoes before curling up in a spot at the foot of Combeferre's bed. It's more sloppily-made than usual; either Combeferre was in a rush this morning or he's losing his touch. Combeferre's apartment is Joly's favorite of all their friends'—even, sometimes, over his own home, depending on what Bossuet's been up to. It's guaranteed to be clean even during exam week, it's usually quiet, and it's often well-stocked with both study materials and healthy snacks. It isn't like Combeferre to be this hasty with his tidying, Joly thinks, tucking the bedspread more tightly against the wall. Joly wonders whether Combeferre is getting sick. He's usually faultlessly precise, and—Joly sees what's in his hand and shrieks.

"Well, that answers the question of why you didn't stay here last night," Courfeyrac tells Grantaire, displaying the lacy black thong Joly has flung across the room in terror.

"Oh my god," Combeferre gasps, "please forgive me. I'm so embarrassed."

"Don't be embarrassed," Bahorel chortles. "You can wear whatever undergarments you like without shame. We're a progressive bunch."

"Those are clearly too small to be his," volunteers Grantaire as he holds the hand of a distinctly disgruntled-looking Enjolras.

Courfeyrac examines the thong in his hands. "Well, that's definitely no reason to be embarrassed!"

Combeferre gives their corner a strong look of You Are Not Helping as he takes the underwear from Courfeyrac and puts it in his laundry hamper.

"Can we talk about important things now?" Enjolras asks, sounding almost as exasperated as Combeferre looks.

"This is important," Courfeyrac insists. "Combeferre brought a girl home! That never happens. I feel like we should have a cake or something."

"Maybe a keg," Bahorel suggests, and they bump fists.

"I—have to—I'm going home," Joly chokes, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. "I can't—I'm sorry, I can't."

"I know," Combeferre says, looking stricken. "I'm so sorry."

"I should make sure he doesn't drown himself in a vat of hand sanitizer," Bossuet says, more cheerily than most might. "Last time he got it in his eyes and was sure he was going to go blind."

"I'm really, really sorry," Combeferre repeats. "I hate making him uncomfortable, and I want him to feel safe here, and—"

Bossuet offers Combeferre a small smile. "He'll get over it, don't worry. This happens all the time. He'll scrub a while and then he'll calm down. He knows you didn't do it on purpose. You're not Courfeyrac."

Courfeyrac chuckles at the dark look Bossuet casts in his direction. For about a year in undergrad, when he first met Joly, he'd left surprises around his apartment for Joly to find, with the result that he refused to come over anymore. Courfeyrac still claims it was exposure therapy, and he was trying to help, but he always betrays himself by laughing too hard.

"Meeting?" Combeferre begs, cheeks a vivid red under his glasses. "Please? Important stuff about children's access to quality education?"

Enjolras clears his throat. "All right, settle. I've got some ideas for how to circulate our petition to stop the redistricting plan from going through."

They only get about half an hour of work in before Combeferre gets distracted by text messages.

Message from: Musichetta
is there a reason jolys been washing his hands since he got home or ?
Received 1:52 PM

Message to: Musichetta
He touched something unsavory in my apartment. I'm so sorry. Apologize again for me.
Sent 1:52 PM

Message from: Musichetta
panties huh? boss told me. im not mad. kinda impressed.
Received 1:53 PM

Message to: Musichetta
Not you too.
Sent 1:53 PM

Message from: Musichetta
youre paying our water bill this month
Received 1:53 PM

Message from: Musichetta
hes already used all the hot water and a whole bottle of soap. still saying 'unclean' to himself
Received 1:54 PM

Message to: Musichetta
Apologies. Again. Still. So sorry.
Sent 1:54 PM

Message from: Musichetta
sympathies to your girl if youre anything like this in bed
Received 1:55 PM

Message from: Musichetta
love u don't worry xp 3
Received 1:55 PM

Combeferre thinks he might be getting a headache.

Feuilly has to leave not long after that, and Enjolras calculates that without him, there's no shot of maintaining order; Combeferre's concentration is blown, and Grantaire, Bahorel, and Courfeyrac are still—still!—tittering behind their hands like gossipy preteens. It seems best to call time of death on the meeting and try again later.

"Who is she?" Courfeyrac asks as he backs out the door.

"No one," Combeferre says.

"No one has sexy underwear," Courfeyrac whines. "Who is she? Do I know her? Is she hot? Inquiring minds want to knooooooow."

"A lady," Combeferre says, lips twitching, "doesn't kiss and tell."

Courfeyrac groans. "I do!"

"Which is why no one agrees to see you for more than a month at a time," Enjolras supplies.

"Just whisper in my ear," Courfeyrac pleads. "I won't tell a soul, I swear!"

"Goodbye, Courfeyrac," Combeferre sighs, rubbing his forehead.

Enjolras lingers. "I'll send you a copy of the petition to look over," he says. "Get some rest. You look wrecked."

"Like you wouldn't, after that ordeal," Combeferre mutters. "Not as wrecked as your boyfriend. Let him sleep once in a while. We aren't all energized with boundless fervor like you."

"I'll take it under advisement."

"We haven't said it again," Grantaire says, picking up his drink.

"I don't think that's how that's supposed to go," Cosette says, squinting at him.

"I don't think it's supposed to be an accident, either," he points out. "We aren't very good at doing this like we're supposed to so far. We barely said it in the first place."

Cosette laughs. "No, I guess you haven't done this normally at all."

"And I suppose you got it right on the first try?" He bumps her shoulder. "How did Pontmercy say it to you?"

"He didn't," Cosette says. "I did. We were watching Pride and Prejudice in his room, and we'd gotten to the part where Elizabeth rejects Darcy. I looked over at him and he was crying, and I just—it was right." Two spots of pink bloom over her cheek bones, but her eyes glitter with as much strength as ever. "He kind of stared at me for a second, and then he said it back six times in a row."

Grantaire huffs. "Figures. Your boyfriend is the most in touch with his feelings, and mine is-"

"—an excellent candidate for psychological testing?" she asks innocently.

"Maybe you should have psychological testing." After all, she did pick Pontmercy.

"Who says I haven't?" She grins. "But. Seriously. You love him?"


Cosette rolls her eyes. "Really? You're going to do me like that?"

"Okay, okay." He holds his hands up in surrender.

"Look, if you want to say it again, say it again." Cosette says. "I know it's a big thing, but it's not that hard. Just grow up."

Grantaire laughs.


"You're just—you're really going to like my sister, that's all," he says, shaking his head.

Cosette checks her phone. "Oh, shit, we're late to Enjolras's thing."


Enjolras lets them enter without even glowering at them, but afterward he grabs Cosette by her elbow. "Hey, can I talk to you a minute?"

Her eyes widen, startled, but she nods. "I've got to refresh my lipstick anyway," she says, grabbing her purse from under a chair. "Step out the back?"

He follows her out the back door of the Musain, where she whips out her mirror under a street lamp.

"The light's better here than in the restroom," she explains, twisting the tube in her hands to expose crimson lipstick. "What's up? If this is about me being short twenty signatures on my copy of the petition, I will scream until someone comes to rescue me by punching you in the face."

Enjolras blinks. "Duly noted," he says. "Actually, I was just wondering if you knew Grantaire had a sister?"

Cosette lifts one pretty shoulder in the most infuriatingly casual way. "He's mentioned her. I don't know anything about her except I think she used to bully him when they were kids. Eponine might know more; she's known him longer." She blots her lips on a napkin and turns to face him. "Why, didn't you?"

"I didn't know he was in contact with his family at all."

"He does kind of give that impression," Cosette nods. "But I think he and Sacha are kind of close."

"Even though he never sees or talks about her."

"Exactly." She caps her tube of lipstick. "Hey, I was wondering—is Combeferre seeing anyone?"

He shrugs. "No one of note. He dates, but he hasn't mentioned anyone in particular in a while. Why?"

"No reason," she says with studied nonchalance. "Ready to go back in?"

At four PM on Thursday, they all get a text from R: Come to the Musain to meet my sister and start the grad weekend celebrations!

It's a weird message, given how cagey he's been about Sacha's arrival, but Enjolras's curiosity is too stirring to be restrained by any such logical thoughts. He waits for the announcement that this is all a joke he doesn't get, but it never comes, so he heads to the Musain around six. A sizeable accumulation of their group has already claimed a table in the corner, and an atmosphere of nervous anticipation has built.

"What do you think she's like?" Bossuet asks. "Like, I bet she's tall and imposing and she calls him a dumb nickname no one else gets to use."

"What do you think she does?" Marius asks.

"Something scary," Bahorel snorts. "She's probably a lawyer. Or a wrestler."

Courfeyrac shakes his head. "Nah, she's got to be sleek and tailored, like a… like a sexy businesswoman."

Cosette wrinkles her nose. "All your predictions come down to sexy."

"I can't help it," Courfeyrac says. "I have a briefcase fantasy."

Grantaire and Sacha don't arrive until after seven. Eponine tugs Enjolras's arm and jerks her head toward the door. Enjolras follows her gaze and almost laughs.

Sacha isn't at all like they've been hypothesizing.

Grantaire is huddled in classic defensive position, shoulders hunched and eyebrows crinkled. His glower is visible over the shoulder of a tiny teenage girl—old enough to have a driver's license but not, Enjolras judges, old enough to vote. There is a family resemblance—same strong jaw, same coloring, same murky eyes that defy classification—but she is, at most, five foot nothing, and her whole body is narrow, pointed where her brother's rounds into muscles.

"Sorry about the delay," she says, breezing across the room to their table without direction from Grantaire. "My brother couldn't get his shit together." She rolls her eyes. "But you know how he is." She turns around and makes a face at him.

He holds his hands out and shakes his head—what did I do?

She waits.

Grantaire shifts.

"Well?" Sacha demands.

"What?" Grantaire spits.

She socks him in the shoulder. "Introduce me!" She turns back to the table with a devilish smile. She has dimples like his.

"Everyone," he says, sounding pained, "this is my sister Sacha. Sacha, this is—"

"Do it properly, or I'll put bleach in your shampoo again," she warns.

He grimaces. "Okay. This will take a while."

"Luckily, I'm here until Sunday." Sacha smiles up at him. "It was so nice of you to get all your friends together to meet me."

Grantaire reddens. "You stole my phone while I was putting your bags in the car!"

"I did," she sighs happily, "but I was going to let you pretend."

"This is Cosette," Grantaire begins. "She's—"

"You're the nurse!" Sacha beams. "My brother talks about you all the time."

"He… does?" Cosette agrees, smiling. "It's so great to meet you," she corrects quickly.

Sacha flips her straight dark hair over her shoulder. "Thank you so much for everything you've done for him. Since he's met you, he's—"

"Shut up," Grantaire hisses. "I'm not her puppy."

Sacha smirks. "No, we all know whose pup—"

"OKAY. Uh, the pale lad next to Cosette is Marius, and I think he's having a personal crisis right now, so he's not at his tip-top most charming, but he's Marius so it'll be fine."

"Hello," Marius offers as cheerfully as he can.

"And on his other side is his roommate Courfeyrac."

"Charmed, mademoiselle," Courfeyrac says, taking her hand with a flourish and bringing it to his lips for a kiss. "You're even lovelier than I was told."

Sacha raises her left eyebrow like cynicism is a family trait. "Meaning I actually exist, I assume. Does this whole Prince Charming Green Eyes thing usually work for you?"

"Ninety-nine times out of a hundred," Courfeyrac nods. "And that last one left the club with another woman, so I'm not sure there's anything I could have done."

"It's not going to work on me." She crosses her arms over her chest.

His mouth quirks into a half-smile. "Are you sure? Because I haven't shown you the full smolder yet, and I'm told—"

"She's sixteen," Grantaire growls.

"I'm seventeen," she corrects.

"Then happy birthday!" He says with a terrifying fake smile.

Sacha rolls her eyes. "Stop pretending you don't know when my birthday is. You text every April 1st to wish me happy birthday."

"That's my April Fool's joke," Grantaire says. "Do you mean it wasn't funny?"

She jabs him with her elbow. "Please. I know you have a present in the top of your closet. It's probably been there for months."

He scoffs. "Whatever." It's as close as he gets to conceding defeat. "This is Eponine."

"It's nice to finally meet you," Eponine says. "I get to put a face to your voice."

"You thought I'd be taller," Sacha supplies. "I thought you would be, too."

Eponine laughs.

"That's Musichetta," Grantaire says, "and those are her boyfriends, Bossuet and Joly."

Sacha raises her eyebrows. "Impressive," she says.

Musichetta smiles mysteriously.

"The one in the corner is Combeferre."

Combeferre waves at her. "I'm glad to meet you," he says with a smile. "I've heard so much about you."

"No, you haven't," Sacha says. "Who brings a book to a bar?"

Combeferre flushes, flinching slightly around the book under his arm.

"He does," Enjolras volunteers, ignoring the small frowns directed at him from both Combeferre and Grantaire. No one gets away with insulting Combeferre in Enjolras's presence. Grantaire's sister or otherwise.

"I don't blame him for the book," Sacha says coolly, turning her sharp hazel eyes to Enjolras. "I blame you for letting him."

Grantaire's fingers have tangled into a knot. "Sacha, we talked about this."

She turns to face him. "What? I don't have to be nice to him just because you are."

"I don't think we've been properly introduced," Enjolras forces his hands to come out of fists and extends one in what he hopes is a reasonable facsimile of friendliness. "I'm Enjolras."

Sacha bares her teeth. It looks nothing like a smile. "I know who you are," she says, making no effort to take his hand.

He pretends not to notice the snub. "We're all very proud of your brother," he says lamely. He wants to flinch away from his own patronizing tone, but she does him the favor of moving on to the next person.

"And who's this?"

Grantaire looks relieved. "That's Bahorel," he says. "He's basically a psychopath, so steer clear of his fists. I don't really know why we hang with him, except sometimes bars are so happy to see him leave they comp the whole table."

Sacha's eyes sparkle. "Are you really a psychopath?"

Bahorel shrugs. "Never had a professional diagnosis," he says, "but the guy whose nose I broke last month seemed pretty adamant."


Grantaire winces. "Sacha, I will buy you a pony if you stop having this conversation."

"You can't afford a pony," she says. "Next time you get in a fight, can I watch?"

Bahorel eyes her. "If you don't mind the possibility of blood getting on your shirt," he says. "Fights can be messy."

"I've got no problem with a little mess."

"You're a piece of work, aren't you?" Bahorel grins. His gold canine glints at her.

Sacha shrugs. "Some people just want to watch the world burn," she says. "I've always been one."

Bahorel claps a giant hand onto Grantaire's shoulder. "I like her," he says. "Want a beer?"

Grantaire has never needed a beer worse.

"So, like, how did that come up?" Sacha leans over the table. "I mean, it's your business and the personal isn't public, blah blah blah, but I don't really assume most people I meet are going to be open to polyamory."

Bossuet's face splits into a wide grin. "Funny you should mention it," he says. "It's kind of a fun story."

"Not really." Joly's eyes dart to Grantaire, but Grantaire is occupied getting drinks and can't hear them corrupting his sister. "Maybe we shouldn't," he begins, but he stops himself from finishing the sentence.

"Joly and I've known each other a long time," Bossuet says. "Like, since he was this skinny high school kid on a campus tour and, uh, that's a different story, but it's a great one and remind me to tell you sometime." He winks. "A couple of years ago he started dating Chetta, and who wouldn't fall head over heels for that girl?" The look he gives Musichetta borders on PG-13 territory; she's too absorbed in her conversation with Cosette and Marius to notice.

"Agreed," Sacha says, sipping her Coke. "Continue."

"This one time she was really mad at him," he says, oblivious to Joly's reddening discomfort at his side. "He'd stood her up on a date—"

"I had MRSA," Joly snaps.

Bossuet pats his leg. "No, baby, you had a paper cut. And she didn't love him yet, so she was upset he cancelled on her. He was beside himself trying to think how to make it up to her, it was adorable—"

"No, it wasn't," Joly insists.

"Yes, you were precious, you were practically crying," Bossuet continues. "And I gave some very good advice." His eyes twinkle.

"Regarding?" Sacha raises one imperious eyebrow.

"Leather pants," Bossuet supplies, "and what to do with his mouth once he had her attention."

Joly may or may not metamorphose into a tomato.

"It's solid advice," Bossuet says airily. "It'd probably work for you, too, somewhere down the line. Anyway, Musichetta was enchanted with his apology but she knew he wouldn't have come up with it himself. And it turned out it had always been a fantasy of hers, so we gave it a go. And it worked out, happily ever after."

"That's great," Sacha says. "But maybe you shouldn't tell that story to people if he isn't comfortable with it."

Bossuet ruffles Joly's hair. "He isn't comfortable with a lot of things," he confides. "If I mention I might get a snack, you'll get to watch him- yes, this exactly."

Sacha watches Joly with her lower lip between her teeth. "How have you made it to adulthood like this?"

Joly's face, when he looks up, still holds two spots of color. "Constant vigilance," he says testily, wiping down the salt shaker. "You know you can't trust people."

"Please tell me you've blocked WebMD on his computer," Sacha says. "This is kind of sad."

"Not much point. He's still got all his textbooks to remind him what dread diseases he could have," Bossuet says, shaking his head.

"Med school?" she asks. "Is that really the best place for someone with your suite of neuroses?"

"I'm learning how to prevent and cure illness," he says, brow creasing. "It's a good thing." He starts laying napkins out along the length of the table to form an impromptu tablecloth.

Musichetta, roused by the nervous pitch of Joly's voice, turns and wraps an arm around his shoulders. "Would you mind giving it a rest?" she asks, calm brown eyes meeting Sacha's hazel. "You're upsetting him."

"I know you've got your shit together," Sacha says. "I mean, you're dating a doctor and a lawyer. Your parents must be thrilled. But trust me. I know what I'm talking about. I practically raised my brother."

"Be that as it may," Musichetta replies, mouth pursing up. "I'd appreciate if you'd leave my boyfriend alone."

"Which one? They're both disasters."

"I'm not— oh, shit." Bossuet's interjection is interrupted by him knocking his own full beer into his lap. It isn't as bad as it could be; the Musain's bartenders know better than to give him glass, and Joly's already emptied the napkin dispensers.

Joly busies himself mopping up Bossuet's pants with the napkins.

"Point taken," Musichetta says, pressing a kiss to Joly's temple.

"And if he offers you a drink, you can take it," Cosette is saying. "It isn't a trick. But you might rather stick to water just in case."

"I know what to do if he gives me a beer," Marius sighs. "I'm not actually a newborn zebra. I'm just worried about what to do if he says I'm not good enough for you."

"He won't," Cosette says, but she doesn't seem convinced.

"Why are you coaching him?" Sacha asks.

Cosette jumps a little. "Sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you," she says. "Marius is having dinner with my dad next week."

Sacha frowns. "Isn't he, like, a grown man? Does he really need to be walked through it?"

"I'm perfectly capable," Marius assures her. "I just have to avoid mentioning all the times you lied about where you were in order to drink underage with my friends and then sleep over at my apartment without him knowing, we should be fine, right?"

"Never mind," Sacha says. "Objection recalled. Carry on."

"Sacha," Grantaire calls, "come here!"

He stands in front of two skinny guys, an Asian with a thick dark braid over one shoulder and a ginger with bare arms. "You never got to meet Feuilly," Grantaire says, indicating the redhead. "He's the one I live with."

"Your apartment is a disgrace," Sacha says, shaking his hand.

"Your damn brother never picks up his shit," Feuilly replies amiably. "What am I supposed to do?"

Sacha shrugs. "Dad just threw it away."

"And this is my friend Jehan," Grantaire says.

"What on earth are you wearing?" Sacha laughs.

Jehan's outfit might have once been women's shorts, pale blue with orange cabbage roses printed on, but now it's a onesie that stops just short of his knees. "I got it at Goodwill," he says. "Do you like it?"

"I love it," Sacha pronounces. "It's suitably horrible."

It isn't clear whether this is a compliment or an insult, but Jehan has always been skilled at interpreting ambiguous statements in his favor. "Let's set this town on fire," he laughs, linking his elbow through Sacha's.

She winks at her brother as Jehan leads her away.

"She reminds me of my sisters," Courfeyrac shouts into Grantaire's ear. "They should be friends. Well, they're like fifteen years older than she is and they'd probably hate her, but they hate each other, so."

"How many've you got?" Feuilly asks. Families are interesting to Feuilly; he saves them up the way some people stockpile canned goods in case of atomic war.

"Four," Courfeyrac sighs. "All older, all exactly alike. They used to dress me up in their dolls' clothes. Just be glad she's younger than you," he says, "Sacha seems the type."

"Sacha never liked dolls," Grantaire replies. "I have hers in a box under my bed because I couldn't bear to see her decapitate any more of them."

"What do you think Enjolras's family is like?" Feuilly asks. "I mean, can you picture it?"

"He hasn't got siblings," Bossuet volunteers. "But the parents. What do you think? The sort of people who'd make an Enjolras from scratch?"

Courfeyrac frowns. "His dad's kind of like what you'd expect. Serious, remote. I can't speak for his mom. I never met her."

"Not even at high school graduation?" Grantaire asks. "I thought parent attendance was practically mandatory at those places that have their own ties." (He likes the tie, which he found in Enjolras's closet one extremely fun afternoon. It has red and navy stripes and looks like it fell out of someone's prep school fantasy movie.)

"Well, it'd have been hard for her to come," Courfeyrac says. "She'd been dead five years by then."

Enjolras, sandwiched between Bahorel and Combeferre, laughs. He has no idea he's being discussed, which just makes Grantaire's impulse to hug him more fierce.

He drinks instead.

"You didn't know?" Courfeyrac bites his lip. "Shit, I… forget I said anything. It's not my story to tell. I just thought… it isn't like it's a secret. Not like your deep dark history of being perfectly normal."

Grantaire rolls his eyes. "Nothing normal about me," he says. "Don't let Sacha's existence fool you."

"Changing the subject," Courfeyrac shouts. "Are we allowed to bring dates to graduation?"

Grantaire is on the verge of saying sure, bring who you want, see if I care, but Eponine cuts him off.

"You aren't."

"Why not?" He crosses his arms and glares at her.

"We took a vote after Justina. She was so awful we decided you aren't allowed to bring anyone to our stuff anymore." Eponine smirks.

"She wasn't that bad."

"She called you Courfey." Eponine wrinkles her nose. "And you let her. Your judgment cannot be trusted."

Courfeyrac pouts, but the rest of them laugh.

Sacha wraps her arms around Grantaire's neck from behind. "That's your last drink, right?"

"Why? Do you want to go home?"

She shakes her head. "I'm fine. I just think that's enough, don't you?"

"Unlike you, I weigh more than eighty-five pounds," Grantaire says. "I can handle more than you think."

"Still," she says, smiling. "None of you buy him any more, okay? I'm closing the tab. Kisses!"

In his annoyance, Grantaire almost forgets about Enjolras and his missing mother.

Friday morning, Enjolras keeps his promise to swing by for brunch with Grantaire and Sacha, even though he'd rather let them have sibling bonding time without him. He has to knock four times, which is the first sign things may not be going according to plan.

"I'm so glad you're here," Grantaire pants. It comes out less I'm glad to see you than please someone save me.

"I'm glad I'm here too?" Enjolras offers, feeling anything but. He lets himself be pulled into the apartment.

Grantaire makes a sound. It might be a laugh. It might be choking. At this stage, it's very difficult to say. He looks like he might be hysterical, wild-eyed and panicky with his hair sticking up at odd angles.

Enjolras takes a breath to ask if he's okay, but Grantaire cuts him off.

"I need you to do me a favor."

"Okay," he says cautiously. He isn't in the habit of agreeing to things without first finding out what they are, but this is Grantaire. The rules do not apply. A little trust is called for.

"I just checked my email for the first time this week—don't yell at me, I know—and I'm supposed to be at graduation rehearsal, like, right now, and if I don't go they won't let me walk, so can you please take Sacha to brunch solo? Two, three hours tops?"

Enjolras stares.

"One. One hour. It's not that bad. She isn't actually a murderer. Just feed her something and be as charming as you can, and I'll join you as soon as I get out." Grantaire pleads, running his hand through his hair for what Enjolras suspects is not the first time. "I wouldn't go if I didn't have to, but the email was—there was caps lock and strategic bolding, it was pretty serious."

"You're late," Enjolras's mouth says without his permission. "Go."

"Shit. Okay, going. You're a lifesaver. Thank you thank you thank you."

As soon as the door is shut behind him, Enjolras does what he always does when he doesn't know what to do.

"Enjolras?" Combeferre provides immediate comfort, even half-asleep.

"I need your help." He's said this hundreds of times before. "I'm—"

"Enjolras." Combeferre's voice is firmer now. "I'm kind of in the middle of something here. So I'm going to ask you—and I want you to think very carefully before you answer—is this an emergency?"

"No," he says, "but—"

"Okay. We'll talk about it later, okay? Bye."

"No, wait, yes it's an emergency—" but Combeferre is already gone.

"What's an emergency?"

He turns. "Nothing," he says, smiling brightly. "I believe you were promised brunch?"

Sacha puts her hands on her hips. "Is that the emergency? That my brother stuck you with me?"

"Not at all. I know a great place."

It soon becomes apparent that their definitions of "great" may differ somewhat.

"Is this place even for real?" She asks, unfolding her napkin. "Rooster salt shakers? So cutesy. It's like something out of a movie."

Cosette says that sometimes—it's like a movie—but her tone is different, and Enjolras suspects Sacha and Cosette like different types of movies.

"It is a little cutesy," Enjolras allows. "The food is good, though." He unfolds his menu and pretends to study it; he has the whole thing memorized, but it gives him something to do.

"Local and ethically-farmed," Sacha reads from the menu. "I bet you're into that, aren't you?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

She sets her menu down. "What are you doing with my brother?"

"Excuse me?"

"Well," Sacha puts her sunglasses on the table. "It doesn't seem like an obvious choice. And he's really into you. I can tell. So if you're just messing around, I'd politely ask you not to."

Enjolras licks his lips. "I like Grantaire," he says.

She raises one eyebrow. "You like him? That's so wrong. How can you not love him as much as I do?"

"I'm not saying anything else to you," he says. "I haven't said anything else to him, and it isn't any of your business."

She laughs. "That… kind of answers my question, actually. Okay, what's good here?"

Her French toast and his cheese grits are barely on the table when his phone goes off.

R: Okay it's been one hour like I promised. I'm done. They're not but I snuck out. Please don't tell Sacha. Where are you? I'm starved and dying for a mimosa.

Enjolras lets Grantaire kiss him on the cheek but stops him short of anything more conspicuous.

"Hello," Grantaire says. "How's brunch? Do I have time to join?"

"Always," Sacha grins.

Enjolras jumps up. "I actually have to go," he says. "There's been a problem with the newsletter, and I have to fix it. This is for the meal," he says, setting a stack of folded bills on the table. "I'm really sorry. I'll see you tomorrow." And he flees, heart pounding in his ears.

Don't tell anyone. Well, that's fine for her to say. He's the one with all these feelings and nowhere to put them.

Combeferre doesn't blame her. Not really. He understands why she'd want to avoid having that conversation with everyone. It changes everything for friends to couple up; just look at Enjolras and Grantaire. And they aren't even dating. It was a one-time thing. Which for some reason keeps happening. He hopes it keeps happening. He likes her.

That's why he's moping at this bar. If he isn't allowed to tell any of his friends why he's upset, he needs to be somewhere they won't think to look at him. A biker bar definitely fits the bill.

A girl shrieking draws his attention away from his beer. She's standing by the pool tables, while a tall dark man in tight jeans grabs her around the waist.

"Stop!" she calls. "Put me down!"

"Come on, baby," Montparnasse says. "You look like you're missing something. Me inside you."

His buddies laugh, and Combeferre feels anger spike through him.

Is this how he attracts women? It's insulting and degrading. Eponine deserves better, and so does this girl. If she's legal to be in this bar, Combeferre is a judge for the next season of American Idol.

"She said no," Combeferre says, standing up. He's been told his full height is intimidating, and just because he doesn't use it often doesn't mean he doesn't know how.

Montparnasse looks up at him. "And I care because?"

The girl regains her footing and slips away.

This is when things get very, very bad.

"I can't believe Dad never taught you this," Sacha says, fingers deft at his throat.

"He obviously taught you, so why bother?" Grantaire asks. "Where do I go where I need a tie, anyway?"

She makes a disgusted sound in the back of her throat. "You're hopeless. Enjolras is going to have his hands full with you." She steps back and surveys her work. "Okay. Done."

"You're ready to go? Just like that? You don't have to do the thing Mom does where you spend three hours in the bathroom arranging your hair?" He cuffs her on the shoulder. "Maybe you aren't grown up after all."

"Please. You got the crazy hair, not me." Sacha runs a hand over her shining shoulder-length hair, black like his but as straight as the sexual orientation of a Pontmercy. "My hair is camera-ready at all times."

"Oh, god," Grantaire sighs. "Are there going to be cameras?"

"It's graduation day. I think it's a felony not to replace your profile picture on Facebook," she informs him. "If you smile and pose, I promise to limit the unflattering candids I put in my online album."

"I told Mom we should never have adopted you," he grouses.

She rolls her eyes. "That stopped freaking me out when I was six."

"It's still funny."

"Adopted children are wanted," Sacha points out. "So if I were adopted, which I'm not, my natural defense would be to remind you that you were an accident."

Grantaire laughs. "A happy accident, you little bitch."

She studies him. "You do seem happy," she allows. "Tired, but happy. I guess I have a certain luminous blond to thank for both of these things?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," he says airily.

"You sleep like shit," she says, "I know that. Does he?"

"Butt out."

"I like him," Sacha says. "You look like a zombie, and he isn't the sort of person I expected you to be with, and he spent years making you feel like shit on purpose, so I thought I'd hate him, but—I like him. He obviously likes you."

Grantaire startles. "I would hope so."

"Can you be serious?"

"Not at all," he says. "It's in my nature to be wild."

She smiles. "He could be good for you."

"Wow, what is this sentimental crap? Did Feuilly poison your cereal?" But he undermines his own words by wrapping his arms around her shoulders and tugging her to him. "Come on. I really shouldn't be late to this thing."

Eponine kicks her feet under the chair in front of her. Her shoes have sparkly cream flowers on the toes, and watching the reflections they make in the sun keeps her mind off the anxious boredom of saving seats.

"Can you stop?" Gavroche says. "You're embarrassing me."

And isn't that a sign of how desperate the situation has become?

She sighs. "Will you watch the seats for a few? I think I need a drink of water." She waves to Sacha (holding down the other end of the row in a dark blue dress, camera already poised) and leaves the rest of the empty seats in Gavroche's capable hands. Cosette and Marius have already claimed theirs, and Jehan and Feuilly are discussing the differing merits of the remaining seats. Enjolras has been loitering at the edges of the crowd for ages—waiting, no doubt, for the seat next to Sacha to get claimed so he has an excuse not to take it. Musichetta is helping Joly wipe down their seats while Bossuet looks on with laughter in his eyes. Bahorel and Courfeyrac never arrive before the last possible minute, so really there's only one person she's worried about.

One person who said he'd meet her here and hasn't, even though he's always where he's supposed to be.

"Have you seen Combeferre?" she asks Enjolras. The sweat from her water cup is already dripping patterns onto her black and cream dress, which would be annoying if it weren't helping cool her down.

Enjolras blinks. "Not yet. He said he'd be here, though."

He doesn't seem to think there's anything weird about her asking. It's natural to him. The only thing that would be less weird is if she'd asked Combeferre where Enjolras is.

"You should come sit down," Eponine says. "Sacha doesn't bite."

"I'm not avoiding her."

She laughs. "It looks like it, a bit." The music starts. "It's a little cooler by the seats," she says. "There's shade from the trees. And I think they're getting ready to start."

Sure enough, Bahorel and Courfeyrac have joined their row and are showing Gavroche how to fold the programs into paper airplanes. Enjolras reluctantly slides into the seat next to Sacha when she waves him over.

The chair on his other side remains empty for the entire ceremony.

"Stand closer together." Sacha motions with her hands. "I can't get you all in the frame."

"Bahorel takes up a whole frame by himself," Grantaire mutters, but he nudges himself closer to Eponine and tucks Gavroche under his arm. He gives off the air that he feels ridiculous in the robe, but Sacha won't let him take it off.

"I can get one of you two, if you want," Enjolras says at her shoulder.

She beams up at him. "Would you?" She forces the camera into his hands and barrels her way over to Grantaire's side.

"Smile, doofus," she says, pinching his arm.

Enjolras takes a few extras; he isn't always good at telling when photographs will meet with subject approval. He likes them—Sacha and Grantaire look good together, matching smiles on their pink faces.

"Have you heard from Combeferre?" Eponine asks. "He never showed."

Enjolras pulls his phone from his pocket. "I've been turned off," he says, holding the power button.

"What? Who actually does that?" Eponine shakes her head. "Doesn't matter. Do you have a message? What does it say?"

He holds up a hand to shush her while he plays his voicemail.

"Hey, don't freak out, okay?" Combeferre's voice begins. "It's not a big deal but I need you to come get me at the hospital. I'm totally fine but they won't let me leave unless I have supervision, or something. So, um, please come by."

"What is it?" Grantaire asks, taking the camera from his hand. "You look like you did when Hungary's democracy fell."

"Combeferre is in the hospital," Enjolras says.

"Do we need to go?" Grantaire's eyes are dark and serious, and Enjolras loves him for that.

"No," he says. "No, you should keep the reservation. Sacha and Cosette will have me drawn and quartered if you miss your graduation lunch."

"I'll drive you," Eponine offers, wrapping her arm around Enjolras's waist.

"Thanks," he says. "I'll meet you at the car? I need a drink of water first."

She hesitates before she nods and darts off, Courfeyrac at her heels. "I'll pull around for you."

"I'm taking shotgun," Courfeyrac calls, trotting off to the parking lot.

"Not if I get there first, pretty boy," Bahorel shouts.

Grantaire follows Enjolras to the water cooler. "Is he okay?"

"He says he's fine, but I'll let you know," Enjolras says. "I'm sorry."

"It isn't your fault," Grantaire says, squeezing his hand.

Enjolras sighs. "Thank you."

Grantaire laughs and leans forward to kiss him. It's been a long time. If it weren't so hot they might catch fire at any minute, the kiss would be rather nice. "Thank you," he says. "This is going to make a great photograph."

Sacha doesn't even pretend not to be taking their picture when they look over.

"She likes you," Grantaire says.

"That isn't the impression I got from her."

"She told me."

"I love you." Enjolras says. "This isn't a really good time because I do have to go get Combeferre, but I wanted to tell you."

Grantaire smooths a hand over Enjolras's hair. "You are incredible, did you know?"

Eponine honks the horn.

"Shit. Combeferre. I just—congratulations, again," he says, pressing one last kiss to Grantaire's mouth and running off.

It might be heat exhaustion, but Grantaire feels distinctly dizzy.

Combeferre looks like hell. It isn't just the bruises—his whole body language broadcasts the pain both physical and mental that he is in while everyone bustles around.

"Look at you," Courfeyrac says. "You're a rainbow."

Combeferre winces. "Yeah, I'm sure."

"Are you going to tell us what happened," Enjolras asks, "or should we start guessing?"

"You wouldn't guess," Combeferre mutters.

"So?" Bahorel prompts. "What happened?"

Combeferre's eyes—well, the one they can see under the swelling—flick to Eponine and then back at the splint on his right hand. "Montparnasse."

"He beat you up?" Courfeyrac asks. "That's—wow."

"I think I started it," Combeferre says. "I'm not very clear—I hit my head and I lost a little time—it's fine."

"It's like watching a baby take its first steps and then face plant on the sidewalk." Bahorel shakes his head. "Did you break your thumb? Hasn't anyone taught you how to throw a punch?"

"Dislocated," Combeferre says, looking embarrassed. "I've never hit anyone before."

"Like that's an excuse," Bahorel snorts. "You've read everything, surely something prepared you for—you know what? Never mind. Poor little pacifist. I'll take care of it." And he walks out the door.

(When they see him again, he has a bruised jaw and a huge grin, and when Jehan asks what happened, he answers only "friendship.")

Enjolras sits on the edge of the bed. "They're letting you go?"

"As long as I promise not to wrap my broken ribs," Combeferre rasps. "And I'm not supposed to be alone for twenty-four hours."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Combeferre frowns. "Not particularly. I don't even—head wound, it's a little fuzzy."

Enjolras nods. "Okay," he says. "What if I get some ice, for the road?"

"So," Courfeyrac says, once he's gone. "You two."

"I don't know what you mean," Combeferre sighs.

"Yes, you do." Courfeyrac smirks. "I'll admit you had me stumped with the underwear. But this. Good job," he says to Eponine, holding up his fist for a bump she chooses not to return. "He's a catch. And she is way hot."

"Courfeyrac." Combeferre groans, leaning his head back. At this angle, they can see his glasses are bent.

"Don't worry, no one else knows. You aren't Enjolras." Courfeyrac pats his uninjured hand. "I'll let you guys have a moment, yeah? Get dressed and ready to go? Have a little…" he makes kissy faces as he backs out the door.

"I am never going to hear the end of that," Combeferre says, pushing himself upright with a grimace.

Eponine sits next to him on the bed. "This was uncharacteristically stupid of you."

"I know."

"Like, really stupid."

"I know."

"You're lucky Montparnasse hates the police, or you could be in pretty serious trouble."

He looks at her with one very tired eye. "I know."

"I expect this shit from the rest of these hooligans, but you're better than this," she says. "I'm kind of rethinking this whole thing. You're obviously deficient." She reaches one hand to stroke his hair.

"Cafuné," he sighs.

Eponine squints. "Should I call a nurse?"

"Cafuné. It's the Brazilian word for… what you're doing, right now." He nuzzles against her hand.

She smiles. "Be more sensible next time, all right?"

He exhales in a short and bitter laugh. "I think I've learned my lesson about violence. Montparnasse is… ah… an excellent teacher," he moans, shifting painfully.

"You ready to journey to the car?" Enjolras asks from the doorway.

Eponine jumps up. "I've got the keys."

Enjolras sniffles against the back of his wrist.

"Why do you come over here if it makes you miserable?" Feuilly asks, throwing a box of tissues at his head.

"Not miserable," Enjolras says, looking at Grantaire out of the corner of his eye. There hasn't been a cat in the apartment for months; they've cleaned everything, and Enjolras still has to resort to Benadryl if he wants to stay the night.

Grantaire likes Enjolras on Benadryl. It makes him sleepy and pliant. Benadryl nights are the only nights he's guaranteed eight uninterrupted hours of rest. If that's something Enjolras needs, it's something Grantaire needs too. Grantaire sleeps better when Enjolras is on Benadryl.

Plus, it's a nice role reversal for Enjolras to be yawning in his lap instead of the other way around.

"Bed?" he asks, tracing the question mark on Enjolras's neck with the tip of his finger.

With Combeferre recuperating and Sacha on her way home, this is the first night they've spent together in what has begun to feel like eons. Enjolras stretched out against his mattress looks like a promise kept.

"Why didn't you tell me about Sacha?" Enjolras asks.

He could have a million responses to that, but the one that coms out of his mouth is close to the bottom of the list. "Why didn't you tell me about your mom?"

"It didn't come up," Enjolras says.

"Well, neither did my sister."

"I didn't think you were in contact with your family at all," Enjolras whispers. "That's kind of weird, isn't it?"

"Everyone assumes they kicked me out," Grantaire says. "I'm not blaming you—it makes sense. The alcohol, the art, the gay thing. I don't fit into a Norman Rockwell painting." He laughs. "But the thing is, they don't really care. They'd take me back tomorrow, if I wanted. They send me a check every month."

Enjolras stiffens. "They do?"

"How do you think I pay rent?"

"You work at the library," Enjolras says.

Grantaire kisses the top of his head. "You vastly overestimate what the college pays its student employees." He sighs. "I never belonged with them, you know? It doesn't hurt to be apart. Not the way it would if I left here."

Enjolras closes his eyes and hums his assent. "My mom used to play with my hair like that," he says. "I lived with her before she got sick. When I was nine, she couldn't take care of me anymore and I went to my father. He's not a bad person, but it wasn't ever home." He shrugs. "What I'm trying to say is, I get what you mean."

"How old were you?" Grantaire's voice is a whisper; he can't will it any stronger.

"Twelve." Enjolras stretches, already mostly asleep.

The saddest thing about it is how sad he doesn't seem. Grantaire kisses his ear. "I love you, too," he whispers.

Notes: Whoosh, so many things to say! In brief:

1)I am really, really sorry about how long this ended up being. I kept telling it to stop, but there was so much happening. I hope you brought snacks.

2) This series is being translated into Russian! I don't read Russian, and most of you probably don't either, but I am linking to it because it's still pretty damn cool just to look at: ficbook dot net slash readfic slash 833592

3) There is fanfiction of this fanfiction! The darling Re_repeat has written a series of Combeferre/Eponine pieces, the first of which is posted here: archiveofourown dot org slash works slash 818313

4) If you are on tumblr and would like to talk to me over there, I am notanearlyadopter. My tumblr will probably disappoint you, as it is mostly pictures of fuzzy animals and offbeat jokes, but I am friendly!

5) As always, thank you so much for joining me in this playground of an AU and please feel free to drop me a line about whatever, because I am glad of the conversation about this thing that I love doing.