A/N - sorry so choppy but it would be similar to the Grantaire-Courfeyrac case if I played it out.
The Norths arrived at the acreage shortly after breakfast. Nicolas made sure he ate well so that anything they offered him in the way of treats he could decline without being jealous of Minette eating them. He didn't know what they had planned for the day but there were about eight hours. Nico wasn't interested in Narnia, nor was he wanting to sit through the same movie that he had sat through yesterday.
"So...what did you do?" Enjolras asked them that evening.
"Just went to their hotel room and watched TV." Minette shrugged. "They said they'd take us to Disneyworld, they live close to there."
"Oooh..." Courfeyrac said to himself. "...they played the D-card." he remembered that was the promise made to Peep by the Superparents. "We can take you there, too." He said. "When we go, you can come with us." He wasn't trying to butter them up but he was always quick to let kids know that Disney was a blast but not exactly out of bounds to everyone who wasn't adopting kids.
"They showed us the boat, too." Nico said, his eyes shining brighter than they had in ages.
"Ahh...a cruise." Enjolras said. He wouldn't try to outbid anyway but he wouldn't be able to compete with a cruise though in his head - he knew his parents would. "You're going to have a blast." He said, keeping the bitterness out of the comment. "I think you get your own island and everything." He sweetened the deal. "Did you already eat something?"
"I want Ponine's spice cake." Nicolas said. He was starving. It was soon time for it. Even though she didn't live there anymore, she ran one over in the evenings for the four kids there. Sometimes Fleur joined but now that Bonnie was there, they tried to run it like a family household.
"Okay, get in your pajamas and wash up and I'll check on the progress." Enjolras said. "There may not be that tonight." He reminded them but as they were changing, Eponine walked in, tray in hand.
"How's it going?" She asked and Enjolras just rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Syl?" she asked, following him as he shook his head. She reached out and rubbed his shoulder, this was not a good time to share the news that she and Combferre were planning on adopting Fleur and Bonnie. "I wish I could promise things will work out but I'll be there when it goes to court. We all will. You helped Francis and George so much, we'd never abandon you."
Enjolras nodded. "It's not just me...you should have heard what they did all day with their grandparents...pretty much nothing. You know Nico is disappointing his grandfather and it's going to get worse." He worried so but "I don't want to say I'm the only one who can...' he took a deep breath.
"You are." Eponine said. "I mean, we all love him, Syl but he really landed with the right dad-figure."
"Nettie called me Dad yesterday." He said like he just remembered.
"Feels good, doesn't it?" she smiled.
"Shocked the shit out of me.' He chuckled.
"It will for awhile. Then it'll sound natural."
"It was just like...what did I do so right that she did that?"
"Oh come on." Eponine said. "You've done everything right. You just didn't expect this when you picked that envelope, did you?" She said, reading his thoughts. "You just thought of it as a duty." She said.
"You what?" Mrs North asked, shocked when the Enjolrases said that Sylvain wanted to adopt the kids. "But...we're family, it won't be right, plus you're...gay...aren't you?" Then they realised where they were and that the Courfeyrac-Grantaire family showed the sign of the times.
Enjolras junior grinned and shook his head, almost hearing the sound of his father's heart stopping for a second. "No, just single..." he shrugged.
"These children..." Lucien said to the judge a few days later "...have been through a lot." He said and ran down their history. For over a year they have lived the most stable life of their young years. My son has been their father, we have been their grandparents." he pointed to himself and his wife.
"How is you son going to raise a girl?" Mrs North asked.
"Single fathers raise their girls all the time." Lucien shrugged. "It's not like there won't be female influences in her life but right now, she doesn't care who is blood and who is not.."
"These people are a link to their family." Mr North's lawyer said. "How are you going to tell them about him?"
"What have you told them so far?" Lucien Enjolras asked the Norths. "You've been here for two weeks, you have told them nothing about their father, you despise their mother and it took you four years to bother to find them. Meanwhile they were living in appalling conditions and they still wonder what it is they did wrong to earn it."
"Nothing, that's why they're going to live with us." Mrs North said.
"Have you worked with them, talked to them about the foster home they came from?" Jehan asked.
"We're not going to talk about it." Mrs North said.
"Sometimes they want to." Jehan said. "Sometimes they need to...and they need to know that they're safe and loved...do you tell them that?" He asked.
"They know." Mrs North said but had to admit it's not something they talk discuss with the children..
"Do you even know what they went through?" Jehan asked.
"You have told me." She nodded
"I did - we did but only they can tell you how they felt. Do you know about their fears and what brings them comfort?" He asked. "What will you DO with them when you get them home?" He asked. "You've had visitation and overnights for a month now and they said you sit in the rental apartment and they watch movies while you guys read or sit on your laptops...and what is it you DO for a living, Mr North?" He asked.
The stammering Mr North did made it evident he didn't do much more than Dr Courfeyrac but at least the doctor was a distinguished and likeable person, proud of his grandkids, flaws and all. But they both just dabbled in investments and bullshitted their way around society, just different circles.
"We have a lot of things for them to do at the house, we're just staying in the rental while we're here, it's temporary."
"I ask again...what do you DO with them here?" Jehan repeated. "Do you play with them? Do you know the names of Minette's fairies? They all have names and personalities, you know. You've seen how busy they're kept at the acreage. Parents are interactive without giving them everything...do you have a psychologist set up there?"
All of the questions were relevant, sincere and making the Norths shift in their seats but they knew in the end it was difficult to be up against family. Grantaire and Courfeyrac were a bit different, they had been up against another set of adoptive parents.
"I did it!" Nicolas came running out to the kitchen, showing he had finally mastered the art of tying a tie.
"You did!" Enjolras smiled, straightening his collar but not daring to fix the sloppy knot. What got him smiling was how it would please Lucien and how Mr North would never understand the past 11 months or so he had been trying. "Come here you two." He said, taking them down to the sitting room downstairs.
"Today is the day..." Minette said. "How come they didn't let us talk?" She asked.
"Well, they figured you were living here so we could brainwash you but remember you met with Jehan's friend and talked to him? You told him a lot and he is what's called an independant witness.
"If they say we gotta' go, we gotta' go?" Nicolas asked.
"Yeah." Enjolras said, he could feel the water in his eyes. There was no use in being brave or convincing the children that it was a win-win situation. The Norths only wanted them out of duty. They weren't even willing to leave them at the acreage and just visit. The Norths were incredibly jealous of Lucien and Josette and, needless to say didn't think Courfeyrac and Grantaire offered a healthy environment. But they were family and Enjolras knew that family came first.
"Can we visit?" Minette asked.
"No." Enjolras said with a bit of a laugh. "We can't contact at all." He shook his head at phonecalls and email. "But I will always leave doors open. You know where my business is, it's only going to be eleven years and you can find me." He pointed out.
"But Nanna and Poppa will be dead." Nicolas said.
"They're not THAT old." Enjolras smiled. "I am going to miss you so much." He told them.
"Don't cry." Minette said and went over, sitting on his knee, stroking his hair.
"You guys take care of each other, okay?" He said, smoothing her hair back, grinning at Nico's tie. "You're going to be a concert pianist when I see you, right?" He said and Nico shook his head. "You can't quit that, Nico, you love it."
"It's nothing without Francis." He shook his head.
"I don't think Francis would like to know that. I would really like you both to keep up with your music." He said before they had a group hug.
"Let's go, Syl!" Courfeyrac hollered down the stairs. Enjolras was too nervous to drive to the city so Courfeyrac was driving his car with Combeferre following, as Enjolras said he would prefer to be alone after the case was closed. He helped both kids with their jackets and straightened Nicolas' tie "just a little" before walking out to the car with them. As they drove, he looked in the rear view mirror to see Minette staring at nothing out the window and he heard Nicolas' soft crying.
"Why didn't you tell me we won't see them again?" Gavroche flipped out on Grantaire back at the house. "I didn't get to say good-bye." He started crying.
"Because you might." Grantaire said. "And they have to come back and get their stuff." He explained. "It's not all lost, Gavroche." He said, though he knew it was slim. He gathered him up in his arms and held him, kissing the side of his head. "We just need to hope..."
"I don't want hope." He said bitterly. "I want to know. I want it to be yes or no, I don't want maybe, I hate maybe." He cried into Grantaire's shoulder.
Grantiare resisted the urge to say he understood, but he did. He was Gavroche's age when he started to realise that 'hope' was for other people and he needn't bother. Hope didn't come for him for twenty more years. "Okay...then we'll just have to wait."
Enjolras didn't even go into the courtroom, he didn't want the children to see him fall apart, he didn't want his parents' patronising comfort - not in public, anyway. He tried to remember life before the children, it just didn't exist. He had given up on the hope of any praise or approval from his father at a young age. He fought against becoming a momma's boy but she was the only source of affection he got. His interest in sports was genuine but at least it kept him from being viewed as a pansy in amongst the other rich kids. He slogged his way through school and then university concentrating only on football and classes, foregoing partying and a lot of socialising as his friends all paired up. Unaware that he was the object of lust for Grantaire until someone outed him made it awkward for awhile. He was glad when Courfeyrac caught Grantaire's eye, it eased the whole situation up and while he knew Grantaire drank heavily, he saw that he treated Courfeyrac well. The fact that he quit drinking after the children came along made it even better. It was as though he couldn't remember graduation, going into business with his father, scared he'd screw up and then suddenly the children appeared! There was really a couple of years in between but he couldn't remember them. He closed his eyes and tried to think of only good things that were going on in there but it was hard.
His phone rang and he looked at his watch. He had fallen asleep. He blinked a few times then answered the phone.
"Syl?" Minette's voice came over, sounding very weak, her little nose stuffed up. "They want to talk to you." she cried. The fact that he hadn't been called in or the kids hadn't come running to the car said it all.
"Nettie - you can't phone me anymore.." he said. "I know you have my number but..." his voice broke.
"Sylvain Lucien Enjolras - get in here." Josette's voice intercepted.. It wasn't until that moment he looked at his phone and noticed Minette had called from his mother's phone.
"Mamman?" He asked, shaking as he reached for the door handle. "What happened?" He asked, getting out and sprinting across the parking lot, throwing the door to the courthouse open. The first thing he saw was his fairy girl running at him. He bent down and picked her up, hugging her. He hugged around his neck, kissing his cheek, tangling her fingers in his curly blonde hair.
"Nana adopted us!" Minette explained. "But I'm still your baby."
"Of course." Enjolras said, still a bit rattled and taken aback.
"We want to see them for Christmas." Mrs North said. She wasn't cold, more like in shock that they had lost this case.
"Mmm-mm." Enjolras shook his head as he kissed the side of Minette's head. "I mean...you can but not this year."
"How about you come up here again for Christmas?" Josette said. "Stay with us."
"We'll see." Mrs North said. The last thing she felt like at the moment was staying with this family - though if she didn't, she wouldn't get to see the kids.
"Where's Nico?" Enjolras looked around, putting Minette down.
"Sylvain, we need you here." the elder Enjolras waved him to the courtroom they had the case in.
"He knows doesn't he?" Enjolras asked and his dad nodded. Nico sat on one of the benches. He looked so small and so sweet in his shirt and tie but there was nothing left of him. The past few days had taken everything he had. "He knows everything?"
"I think so but he won't hear anyone." Lucien shook his head and waved as Courfeyrac came in.
"Hey." he said, giving Enjolras a hug, holding him a moment longer as he knew there were some tears to be shed.
"What are you doing here?" he asked his best friend.
"Witnessing." Courfeyrac said.
"I don't understand." Enjolras shook his head.
"Sylvain Lucien Enjolras..." the judge said.
"Your honor?" Enjolras asked what she wanted. He really wanted to go see Nicolas but it was a courtroom and there was a judge. He approached the table and saw some documents.
"Sign here, dear." Josette said and showed Enjolras the document. Enjolras held his breath as he read it. The 'old' document had been printed and signed when Josette and Lucien adopted the children. Now was a fresh document of them surrendering parental rights to their son.
Enjolras, always one to caution people about signing anything without reading it thoroughly, scratched his signature. "What if something happens to me?" He asked with barely a voice.
"Then they'll go to their Godparents." Courfeyrac pointed to himself as he signed the papers and smiled. "It's all covered...trust us.'
"Oh my God..." Enjolras said and hugged Courfeyrac, then his father...the man he had pleaded as a child for a puppy (to no avail) now awarded him the ultimate prize. He wanted to get something special for the kids but he would give himself a couple of days to decide what that would be. They would grow out of any rings he bought right now, pendants and lockets got lost...he would think for awhile.
"Did we get married?" Minette asked.
"No." Enjolras giggled. "But your name IS going to be changed, is that okay?"
"I want my first name changed." she said. She never liked Helen, it was like it wasn't even her name, nobody but her grandmother used it.
"Awww, really?" Enjolras asked, seeing that she could very well grow into the name in a few years and someone must have cared enough to give her the name at some point. This was the moment she could, though and she would always just be Minette to them anyway. "What do you want to choose?" he asked and rolled his eyes when she stood and thought. "You don't even have anything in mind?" he asked. "Can we just add an 'a' to the end?" he wrote Helena out for her. It flowed a bit smoother though ending with an 'a' and her new last name with pretty much the same sound. "Or, take the 'h' off..."
"Elena Minette Enjolras." she whispered.
"That's a lot of syllables." Enjolras said "and Minette is just a nickname - it would be like putting Peep or Fleur into their names." he explained. "And you'll always be Minette anyway." But it was full of soft letters and it sounded like a butterfly...or fairy flitting around. He could almost follow the path it took in the air.
Courfeyrac grinned as though he was right in Enjolras' head. "I can't believe it - I think you're having some sort of artistic thought." he said. He had never seen his friend anything but serious in work or bearing down when it came to sports. As Minette went to the arms of her Godfather for a hug, Enjolras' attention turned to the exhausted whimpers from a bench.
The little boy could barely push any sound out - what was coming out was more like the coo of a dove. Enjolras walked over there and knelt down beside the bench, reaching out and stroking Nicolas' golden curls. "Nico." he said softly. "Did you hear the good news?" he asked and held his face close to hear if Nicolas was even answering. "Pretty cool, huh?" he asked. The little boy's blue eyes looked nowhere but he gave a slow nod. "You tired?" he smiled, as if there was any question but there were only soft noises in response, no words. "Francis and George are going to be your Godparents so it's even better, huh?" He stood up and grabbed Nico's jacket, sitting him up and sliding his little arms through his sleeves. Nicolas was limp, almost like he was in shock and Enjolras texted Jehan who told him to just take him home, keep him out of school and he'd drop in tomorrow. "Let's go." he said and picked him up. "You gotta' hold one some, too." he said when Nico was just like a sack of potatoes with his head on Enjolras' shoulder and is arms dangling behind him. The most life Nicolas showed was wrapping his legs around Enjolras' waist.
"I don't want Godparents, I just want you." Nicolas finally rasped out.
"Don't say that." Enjolras smiled but he felt as weak as Nico did. "There are tons of back up plans." he told them but the two people Nicolas didn't want to see were the Norths. "Nico, they'll still be in our lives, they just can't take you anywhere without us...or rather without ME saying so."
"Are you going to say so?" Nico asked.
"No way." Enjolras said and sat him at a table in the rotunda. Nicolas leaned forward and put his head in his arms on the table. "Just sit there, you want something to drink?" he asked and Nicolas shook his head. "Nettie's over with Francis having something to eat, you go over there if you want something."
"Where are you going?" Nicolas asked.
"Just have to finalise a few things. Do you want a middle name?" he asked and Nico shook his head. Nicolas Enjolras wasn't really the nicest flow, kind of bad-poetry but Nico would forever love the sound of it. Enjolras took a few steps away then turned to look at Nicolas, not moving off of the table. He slipped his jacket off and spread it over the little boy, who grabbed it and tucked as much of it under his head for a pillow that he could.
Enjolras went to where everything was being wrapped up, a few leftover tears at the corner of his eyes. "He's going to need a lot of therapy." he said to the Norths and pointed to the table where Nicolas rested. "He is totally empty right now." He scrawled the middle name James on Nicolas' new name. The little boy couldn't think right at the moment, but Nicolas James sounded nice and parents always picked kids' names, right? After a bit more paperwork and chatter, he went back to the table and lifted Nicolas back up, waving to the others that everything was done.
Minette jumped down off of her chair. She seemed to know that her brother needed to be held more than her. She was glad to be with Courfeyrac for the time being and took his hand as they went out to the cars.
Enjolras gave Nico a quick bath and wrapped him in a towel as he shivered himself warm again. He had spoken very few words and was still lethargic. "You can spend all the time in there you want." he tapped his forehead, "...but I hope you'll come back tomorrow." he said and held him in the towel until he stopped shivering.
"Are we moving away?" Nicolas almost whispered.
"No plan of it." Enjolras said, putting him on his feet and guiding him towards his bedroom. It wasn't late but Nico needed sleep. "Why?" He asked, helping him with his pyjamas.
"This is a forever house?" He asked.
"Maybe, maybe not but we're a forever family, the three of us." He promised. The "project" was finished and they may want the house to do this again, but it would be with new people, new children. The bunch selected for the pilot project were not parting with the children they were given.
"I hope it's forever." Nico looked around at the walls of his room. "What if you get married?" He asked, touching Enjolras' cheek. It wasn't like it was an impossibility but highly unlikely, Nico just wouldn't know that.
"Then it'll be the four of us." Enjolras shrugged.
"What of she has kids too?"
"Then it will be the six or eight or twelve..." he mused. "This is forever."
"What do I call you?" he asked. Minette was already calling him 'dad' but Nico didn't want to get his hopes up until it was real.
"Anything you want." Enjolras smiled.
"Just don't call you late to dinner?" Nico smiled back.
"That's about it." he chuckled.
"People will wonder why I'm calling my dad Syl..." he pointed out. "But I hear you calling Poppa Lucien."
"Only at work." Enjolras pointed out. "It's look kind of silly calling him Papa at work." He pointed out. "You have all the time in the world to decide and any time in the world to change it. I want you to sleep for awhile." He smoothed his curly hair back and held the covers for him to lie back. His voice was still weak with exhaustion and trauma and Enjolras would have loved for the Norths to witness this. "Remember I taught you to tell time?" He asked and pointed to the alarm clock. "Maybe try to sleep for at least an hour." He drew the curtains and let him close his eyes.
"Dad?" A little voice said as Enjolras was leaving. ""I hope it is always just the three of us."
"I could live with that.' Enjolras nodded.
"I want to see him." Gavroche said.
"Later, Gav, let him sleep." Enjolras said. He was glad to see Gavroche's cheer. The boys didn't have much to do with each other but it was more because they didn't have a lot in common than not liking each other. "Where's Minette?" He looked around.
"Went for a walk." Courfeyrac said, pointing to where she and Grantaire were exploring the forest, maybe looking for lost fairies. He wanted to bundle her up and kiss her but there would be years ahead for that, let her have this time with her Godfather.
"Did I lie?" Eponine came up behind him, rubbing his shoulder.
"Nope." Enjolras smiled and turned to her, giving her a hug. "They...didn't even know the names of the fairies." he said as he watched Minette in the forest. "How can you know her and not know the names of her fairies?"
"They probably didn't even allow the fairies in." Eponine said. "Except Mustache" she said and Enjolras agreed. Mustache was a mean fairy. He wasn't the scapegoat for Minette's naughtiness, he more or less tormented her and he was the bane of existence of the whole household. Jehan was handling the manifestation of the horrible time she had spent in foster care. Evergreen and Bunty were welcome but nobody wanted to see Mustache.
Nicolas woke up and pulled his curtain aside. It was dark outside and he didn't look at the clock. He was hungry and when someone missed supper, it was usually on a plate in the fridge so he padded out of his bedroom, surprised to see people still awake.
"In the fridge, Nico." Enjolras hollered over his shoulder as he sat in the hot tub with Courfeyrac and Gavroche. Nicolas got his plate out and warmed up his chicken and potatoes, bringing it out to the deck, sitting at the umbrella table to eat it.
"Can I come in after?" He asked, his voice still sounding hoarse and weak. He sounded like he had been shouting and screaming but he hadn't. "Where's Minette?" he shivered after he took his pyjamas off and climbed into the hot tub in his underwear, settling in the seat next to Enjolras.
"With Fleur and Bonnie next door. She'll be home soon." Enjolras said and played with a few of his curls.
"I'm glad you're staying, Nicolas." Gavroche said. Having almost lost him, he got to thinking that maybe he should spend a bit more time with his brother. They did have video games and Wii in common and it may not hurt Gavroche to sit and read a book or two. "Do you want to go see a movie this weekend?" he asked
"That's a great idea." Courfeyrac said as he cleared the dishes away.
"Can we see Nanna and Poppa tomorrow?" Nico asked.
"You bored with me so soon?" Enjolras asked.
"No." Nico said. "I just want to see them and have a party with all of us."
"I think that's a great idea!" Enjolras said. "How about we have a party for everyone out here this weekend?" he asked and Nicolas nodded. "I gave you the middle name James, is that okay?" he asked.'
"Nicolas James Enjolras?" Nico said out loud. "Yeah, that's good. Lots of letter 's' but okay" he nodded. Enjolras was a bit worried that he had overslept and wouldn't go back to bed when it was time but he caught a few more yawns from the little boy.
"You want to go back to bed?" he asked as he saw Minette being led across the dark yard by Combeferre.
"What are you doing?" Enjolras asked when he went on there to find Nicolas flat on his stomach, arms stretched out across the mattress. He usually slept up in a little ball in his sleeping bag.
"Hugging my forever bed." He said.
"Hug your forever dad." Enjolras said when he tucked him in.
He tucked Minette in after reading her a story and talking about her day. "I want to buy you a present." She said.
"I don't need a present, Minette." He said. "Nothing can make me happier than right now."
"I'll get Nana to help." She decided and he rolled his eyes. "Good night!" He hugged her.
He sat on his bed reading for awhile. It was weird to not have one of them lying next to him, watching movies, chattering and moving the bed around. Suddenly, from the bedroom downstairs, he heard shouting. It was Courfeyrac's voice and Minette's crying, very odd. He flew down the secret staircase to see Courfeyrac standing by the open bedroom window. "Mustache, it's time for you to go!" He shouted and pointed towards the open window as if evicting someone. "Minette has a dad now and he's going to keep her safe. You can't get to her anymore anyway, go." He said. Enjolras grinned to watch the charade Courfeyrac was into. "Tell him, Minette, tell him to go away."
"Get the hell out of here." Minette cried.
"You wanna shut the window?" Courfeyrac asked and pulled the princess chair over there. She climbed up there. "Don't slam it, it's made to break in case you need to get out." He said. "You chased him out, you did, now. Close the window." He said and she did.
From her position at the window, she could see Enjolras sitting on the stairway as he watched. "I did it, daddy. He can't come in." She jumped off the chair.
"Thanks, Courf." He said as he hugged Minette.
"Why do you call him that?" She asked.
"Just something from school - he calls me Enj..."
"And you call George 'Taire..." she pointed out.
"Yes and now Corf and 'Taire and Enj want you to go to sleep."
The next morning, Enjolras woke early to a strange sensation...he was alone in bed. Neither were in there with him. His arms weren't cramped from being around them, there were no little blond heads on his shoulders.
He crept into Nicolas' room, who was fast asleep, still clutching his arms as best they could fit across the mattress of his forever bed. Downstairs in Minette's room, she slept, un-fairylike on her bed drooling with her face smushed into the pillow. Evergreen and Bunty would be there somewhere but Mustache had been kicked out.
And he never came back.
A/N Who is up for a cruise?