Authoress' Note: This story was written in response to my own Halloween/Slash challenge. It's a prequel of sorts to my other story, "The Talk." There's a part where Marius mentions an incident involving Courfeyrac in a dress. Well, here it is...


Courfeyrac looked at the wineglass in his hand for only a moment before downing its contents in one swift gulp. "Barkeep!" he roared. "Let's have another, shall we?" A large, brawny fellow standing at the other end of the bar looked up at Courfeyrac briefly, then gruffly answered, "Wait one minute, will you?"

Beside Courfeyrac sat Marius, red-cheeked, with his face buried completely in his hand. "Dear Lord, Courfeyrac," came his voice, greatly muffled. "It's only eleven in the morning. Have some decorum."

"Decorum!" Courfeyrac exclaimed, swinging around on his barstool, early falling off. "You're telling me to have some decorum? Why don't you tell that to Marie!"

"She's not here."

"Oh dear God, Marius! Don't remind me!" Courfeyrac let out a choked sob. "Barkeep! Please! Send over another glass of wine right away! Or better yet, just send over the bottle!"

Growling, the barkeep stomped over and slammed a bottle of cheap wine down in front of Courfeyrac. "Here!" he snapped. "Now don't bother me again!"

But the inebriated Courfeyrac was much too distraught to acknowledge the barkeep's last request. He pulled the cork from the wine bottle with his teeth and spit it out unto the floor.

"Courfeyrac?" Marius ventured timidly.

No response. Courfeyrac filled his wineglass to the brim.

"Courfeyrac?" Marius repeated.

Still no response. Courfeyrac sighed a great sigh, and swirled the wine around the glass.

"Courfeyrac!"

Still ignoring his friend, Courfeyrac instead cried, "Oh, my dear, sweet Marie! Why ever did you leave me!" He gulped down the wine. "Oh, Marius!" he cried, lunging at the poor boy and grasping him about the shoulders. "Marius, my dear boy! If only you'd ever been in love. Then you would understand! You would understand my pain! My suffering! Oh, Marie! My darling! Come back to me!" Grasping the wine bottle with both hands, Courfeyrac raised it to his lips and drank directly from it. Rivulets of red liquid ran down his chin and unto his shoulder.

"Courfeyrac!" Marius exclaimed, grabbing the wine bottle away from his friend. "Stop that! You'll make yourself sick!"

"You don't understand-" Courfeyrac began, reaching for the bottle.

"Of course I don't understand," Marius replied. Keeping the bottle firmly out of Courfeyrac's reach, he got down from the barstool and retrieved the cork from the floor. Jamming it back into the bottle, he continued, "Courfeyrac, you've known this woman for scarcely a week, yet you say that you love her. How can you love her? You hardly know her! Tell me truly, what could you possibly love about her?"

Courfeyrac thought a moment, then answered definitively, "Most definitely her bosom. Or her legs. Or, come to think of it, the place between her bosom and her legs was also rather niceā€¦"

Marius looked confused, and said, "I hardly think that's grounds for falling in love with her, Courfeyrac."

"Oh, but Marius-"

"Stop."

Courfeyrac scowled. He sullenly turned back to the bar, and rested his chin in his hand.

"That's better," Marius said.

"No, it's not," Courfeyrac muttered. "It's not better at all! What am I to do about tomorrow night!"

"What's tomorrow night?"

"The masquerade ball that Prouvaire invited us to!"

Marius groaned. "Courfeyrac, you weren't seriously considering going to that, were you?"

"Of course I was! Just think of how many women will be there!"

Marius considered asking Courfeyrac why he was so upset to lose a date to an event during which he would only abandon her and flirt with other ladies anyhow, but decided against it. Instead, he said, "The only people there are going to be rich friends of the Prouvaire family. And those women wouldn't take a second look at you. All they're interested in is each other and what they're wearing. You don't stand a chance against the latest fashions. Besides, you don't have a date."

Courfeyrac pondered this a moment. Then he answered, "You're right."

"But, Courfey-oh, you've agreed with me for once. Thank-"

"I need a date," Coureyrac cut him off again. "But who?"

Marius watched him warily.

"Who can I take to this ball? I can't think of one woman who would want to go with me on such short notice! Unless-" Courfeyrac broke off. He furrowed his eyebrows and tapped his chin anxiously. "Damn," he muttered.

After a few moments, Marius said, "Courfeyrac?"

"Of course!" Courfeyrac shouted, jumping up from his stool and slamming a fist onto the bar. "I've had the perfect date all along! How could I have missed it? I'm so stupid to not think of this before!"

"Who is the lucky girl?" Marius asked tentatively.

Courfeyrac smiled his roguish smile and replied decisively, "Why, I am!"