A/N: I realize that this is angstier than my usual carefully control zaniness, but I noticed that a lot of 'Les Mis' adaptations feature grim grim grimness and completely ignore Hugo's overarching theme of hope. Tch, someone failed to correctly interpret the repeating light imagery, said I, and thus, we have Enjolras's light combined with Courfeyrac's warmth to give us the light of the dawn, and the hope of the sunrise of ideals. Or you know, random slash because I got intrigued by the pairing. Possibly both. Anyhoo, this is a. not supposed to be linked to the events in any of my other fics and b. for Mme Bahorel, as she is having Bossuet's luck right about now, and ought to have some pretty... even if the pretty is coming a few chapters later.

Also, complicated joke with La Force: if you thumbed your nose at Charles X's ordinances, you got sent to La Force. You also got sent there if you were an illegal prostitute.


In retrospect, thought Courfeyrac, leaping through the window of a second floor apartment off of the Rue de les Clefs and into the street behind the building, Combeferre had been right.

Combeferre was usually right, which made him so damn insufferable sometimes, because he didn't even bother to deconstruct one's arguments, he merely tossed off an aggravatingly apt one-liner and completely derailed the arguer without any real effort. But still, Combeferre had pointed out that after that duel with the ultraroyalist last Tuesday, Bahorel ought to lay low for a week instead of going to a sympathetic Polytechnicien who knew how to make gunpowder. Furthermore, it really wasn't necessary for the rest of them to make cartridges as soon as they had the powder and nothing Courfeyrac had to say about the new restrictions on the liberty of the press and the turning tide of political opinion had convinced him otherwise. Unfortunately, nothing Combeferre had had to say about police crack-downs or discretion being the better part of valor had convinced Courfeyrac, Jehan, Bahorel, Bossuet or Joly to find something else to do that evening, either, which had led to Courfeyrac's voluntary defenestration.

While Joly was off debriefing Enjolras on their progress, and to find out which worker's group had asked Enjolras for help attaining said cartridges, Courfeyrac, Jehan, Bahorel and Bossuet had discovered that their Polytechnicien had made two very large mistakes: one, he had bought saltpeter instead of sneaking it from the student laboratories (as he had with the sulfur), and two, he had mentioned in a café that he didn't see why wealthy landowners got two votes and your average worker got none. They did not seem like mistakes on the surface, and all of them, save Bahorel, had been extremely surprised to discover that the police had shoved those two pieces of evidence together to correctly conclude that the Polytechnicien was keen on armed revolt. The landlady's daughter, who had an embarrassingly obvious tendre for the Polytechnicien, had run up to inform them that her mother had let the police into the foyer. The landlady had been bewildered by the police questioning and had only said that the Polytechnicien who so interested the Sûreté had a couple of friends over, and Jehan interrupted to inform them all that he heard footsteps on the stairs.

Courfeyrac had then jumped out of the window with their unused flasks of gunpowder.

It was an extremely stupid thing to do in retrospect, but then again, the entire evening was stupid in retrospect. Hell, most of the things Courfeyrac did were stupid in retrospect. Retrospect was a lot like having a miniature Combeferre living inside his head to succinctly point out just where he had displayed the mental agility of a paraplegic walrus.

"Jehan, the cartridges!" hissed Courfeyrac, once he had scrambled to his feet.

Jehan appeared at the window, wide-eyed and slightly panicked. Behind him, the Polytechnicien shouted, "Knew I should have just decomposed urine, I knew it!"

"R-right," said Jehan. "Bossuet and Bahorel and are burning the pamphlets and pretending to make toast. Shall I come with you? The landlady said only a couple, so only two of us need to stay."

Courfeyrac began stuffing the flasks into the hidden, inside pockets of his coat. "Yes—stick the cartridges—"

Bahorel pulled Jehan aside and dropped a pillowcase full of cartridges down to Courfeyrac. "Got them? Here's your overcoat and hat—"

Courfeyrac lunged to grab them all, and then scurried out of the way as Jehan dropped gracelessly to the ground.

"Alright there?" asked Courfeyrac, pulling Jehan up by the elbow.

Jehan winced. "How did Satan manage it? Falls are quite painful."

"Though an application of blank verse," replied Courfeyrac, draping his overcoat around the pillowcase to hide it. "If we do not hurry, however, there shall be an application of vers, worms, very soon after our next fall."

"There is nothing terrifying in the grave," Jehan chided him, making his way down the street to the Rue Gracieuse. "It is a sublime sleep, a dreamy drop into the abyss, where the production of vers—" Courfeyrac was not sure if Prouvaire meant worms, verses or both "—is more natural than it ever was in life… ah ha, the street's clear."

The two of them made their way out onto the Rue Gracieuse and tried to look as casual as they could while Jehan was dressed like a Cossack and, despite the encroaching coolness of the fall weather, Courfeyrac was wearing his overcoat draped over his arm, as opposed to over his shoulders. Courfeyrac had to fight not to shiver.

There were not very many people out to notice them; it was a Friday evening, it was cold, and the cafés and bars in the nearby Rue Mouffetard were open. The bourgeois in the first floor apartments were lingering over desert before the ladies got up and left the gentlemen to their port and any footmen smoking by the servant's entrances had therefore disappeared inside to tidy themselves up to serve port and clear away the dishes.

"Rue Mouffetard," said Courfeyrac, immediately afterwards having to clench his teeth to keep them from chattering. "You know, this is colder than one of my aunt Mathilde's glares. If only this street were shorter! I feel the desperate need for a vin chaud."

"Are we being followed?" Jehan asked, glancing behind them.

Courfeyrac very casually slowed down, pretended to be lost, and made a careful survey of the street. There was a coachman, several doors down, chatting with some footmen, a bored stable boy keeping the carriage horses snorting and stamping in place, and… aw hell, a gendarme walking towards them. "As fast as we can off the street," muttered Courfeyrac.

"I wish Bahorel were here," said Jehan. "He hates to miss out on a scuffle."

Courfeyrac made a face. "I wish I shared his opinion. I promised myself so faithfully that I would not lose another hat this month, and I can never find mine once I've tipped it to a gendarme."

Jehan tugged Courfeyrac down the road. "Mouffetard is this way—as much as I hate to do it, we must lose ourselves in a sea of conformity and drunken law students."

"Oh, hell, and there's Joly and Enjolras… and Combeferre." Courfeyrac winced; they were at the tail end of the Rue Mouffetard, too, and there weren't any crowds in which one might lose oneself. "And he was right. Will he rub it in, or content himself with a pithy and enigmatic one-liner?"

"I do believe the gendarme is getting closer," said Jehan, intently studying the arching shadows he, Courfeyrac and the gendarme cast against the walls and cobblestones. "The shadow of death crosses our own. Courfeyrac, one of the masters in my lodge told me that Enjolras was already on some sort of list—"

"Saint-Michel, old fellow!" Courfeyrac exclaimed, looking pointedly at Enjolras, who had spotted them and begun moving forward from where he, Combeferre and Joly had clustered under the light of a hanging lamp. "You will never guess what followed me home—an old basset hound I have yet to shake off."

Enjolras, Combeferre and Joly caught on at once and checked their steps forward.

"Who are you again?" asked Joly.

"The rake that always drips ink all over my notes in Blondeau's lecture," replied Enjolras, feigning a disdainful look. "Ignore him, gentlemen."

"With pleasure," said Combeferre, pretending to stretch his arms above his head to point at the nearest alley. "I think we ought to call it a night after a final cigar."

"I think I have some," said Joly, making a huge production of searching his pockets as Courfeyrac tried to drag Jehan into a more populated part of the street and instead felt a hand on his shoulder.

Courfeyrac nearly dropped the cartridges. "Jesus!"

"Not quite," said the gendarme, examining Courfeyrac quite narrowly. "I thank you for the compliment, however."

"You are quite welcome," said Courfeyrac, trying out one of his more dazzling grins. "You scared the hell out of me—my mistress caught me in bed with her best friend and has been out for my blood for days. I jumped out of the window of my apartment earlier to try and avoid the lecture. I thought she had found me."

"You flatter me unduly," said the gendarme. "To avoid your mistress, you jumped out of a building on the Rue des Clefs?"

"Yes."

The gendarme had not removed his hand from Courfeyrac's shoulder, which made Courfeyrac extremely uncomfortable, and now looked at Jehan. "And just brought a friend along with you?"

"Or rather, the best friend," said Courfeyrac, much to Jehan's surprise. Courfeyrac winked at the gendarme and lowered his voice conspiratorially. "Charming girl, lets me dress her up how I want, no matter what odd fancy takes me—"

"Your mistress is rather mannish."

"Ouch. That is a fair point, but in the dark it doesn't matter that her face is a little… eh."

"Oh, you cad!" Jehan squeaked, burying his face in his hands. "You were the one who wanted me to cross-dress! I told you it wasn't becoming; I told you everyone would think I was a boy, but nooooo, if it was good enough for Shakespeare's heroines…!"

The gendarme remained skeptical. "So you have no saltpeter on your person?"

"With all the romantic drama," replied Courfeyrac, "I am likely to end up in the Saltpeterie."

"Or perhaps, with your history, simply La Force," replied the gendarme, pulling Courfeyrac into an alley. "That was an entertaining drama, Monsieur Talma, but I advise you to study Coleridge's essay on willing suspension of belief."

Courfeyrac's felt his smile become somewhat forced. "It is, I admit, a little difficult to believe, but—"

"But I believe the officer on duty will find it even more difficult to believe," replied the gendarme. "Come with me."

"I would rather not," said Courfeyrac, as Jehan exchanged very panicked looks with Joly down the street. Combeferre gestured wildly to the right. Courfeyrac took a moment to break eye contact with the far-too-clever gendarme; there was an alley on his right, badly lit and currently occupied by a drunken student who had been groping his way along the wall to find a way home and was currently baffled by the sudden lack of brick.

"Your preferences," said the gendarme, with a pointed look at Jehan, "have no relevance in this particular decision. I know you have something under your overcoat there. Either hand it over now, or submit to a search that will result in me taking your teeth as well your illegal pamphlets."

Courfeyrac very much did not want to go to prison, and had some difficulty explaining this to the gendarme who, with the vice-like grip featured in the trashy gothic novels that made up the bulk of Courfeyrac's library, began trying to drag Courfeyrac down the street.

"—really have the wrong idea about me; libertinism and liberalism are not interchangeable—"

"Oh, definitely La Force," said the gendarme, shoving the drunken student out of the way and causing said student to drop his bottle of wine on the ground, where it shattered. The student cursed, but stumbled off, and the gendarme, instead of taking the opportunity of shoving Courfeyrac against the wall, cursed and leapt back from the breakage, lest the wine splatter over his uniform. Courfeyrac took the opportunity to tug the gendarme sharply to the right. The gendarme stumbled, releasing Jehan in an attempt to keep his balance. Jehan whirled to the side and reached quickly under Courfeyrac's overcoat.

"Run," hissed Courfeyrac, jamming the cartridges into Jehan's hands. In a fit of fortuitous sartorial non-conformity, Jehan had worn a Cossack overcoat, capable of hiding any number of pillowcases stuffed with cartridges, and stuffed their pillowcase down the front of it. He dashed off, arms clutched around himself. It was an odd, amusing image, and Courfeyrac found himself smiling when he ought to have been watching for angry policemen.

"Move!" Enjolras quite suddenly grabbed him by the arm and pulled Courfeyrac to the side.

Combeferre had later explained, in the calm, dispassionate doctoral tones he used when he was having particular difficulty controlling his emotions, that the gendarme had stood up, releasing Courfeyrac, and pulled out a gun, which he had then aimed at Jehan. Courfeyrac vaguely remembered that, or rather, had the sudden flash of odd knowing that, as he was stumbling, the gendarme was doing something and Jehan was in trouble so he, Courfeyrac, had to do something. This ended up being a really idiotic lunge forward just as the gendarme pulled the trigger.

Because Enjolras had pulled Courfeyrac to the side, the bullet embedded itself in Courfeyrac's thigh as opposed to his stomach, but Courfeyrac, his leg giving way underneath him, toppled forward and landed on the bottle shards.

At the time, however, Courfeyrac had not been aware of any of this. The gendarme had moved, Courfeyrac had been under the sudden, immediate impression that Jehan was in trouble, and, there was a sudden, searing pain and oh God what pain and his thigh was on fire and Jesus Christ, what the hell was that, and… oh, that was glass and that was that blood, God damn it, it really was blood, it was blood and he couldn't stand up and God his leg hurt and oh God it hurt and even though he was on the ground with his hat off again (God damn it, couldn't he keep a hat for more than a day?) and he was clutching at his leg but the blood was pouring out and God it hurt and it shouldn't be bleeding like this and he had to clench his teeth to keep from crying out—

"Drop your weapon," said Enjolras and Courfeyrac belatedly realized that there had been some sort of scuffle. Enjolras was breathing heavily, which almost never happened. "Firing on an unarmed civilian—you have five seconds to drop your weapon."

"Who are you to—"

"Three."

The gendarme cursed, but he had fired already and it was too dark to reload his gun.

"One."

"Are you—"

"Your time is up," said Enjolras, and, by the sounds of it, provided some very convincing nonverbal arguments as to why the gendarme should drop his weapon. Courfeyrac was not entirely sure what happened after that, as someone turned him over, and he caught a whiff of carbolic soap.

Ah, Joly and Combeferre, medical students to the rescue, Courfeyrac thought, grasping desperately at any sort of wit he could.

Joly chattered away nervously. "The shops are all closed at this time of night and we were the only ones on the street. No one saw except the drunk, and even then I doubt he really believed anything he saw—"

"Where does it hurt?" asked Combeferre, putting a hand on Courfeyrac's forehead, to feel for contusions or concussions.

"Oh, deep down in my soul," said Courfeyrac. "I have lost another hat and I promised myself so faithfully that I would keep this one."

"Stable, conscious, bullet wound to the right thigh," muttered Joly, gently lifting away Courfeyrac's hands. "And… good God, Courfeyrac, what did you manage to do here? There are glass shards in your leg."

"Do not probe blindly," said Combeferre. "You might dislodge the blot-clot slowing the flow—there's more light closer to the wall. No, do not try to stand Courfeyrac—Joly help me drag him."

Joly and Combeferre set to work at once, Combeferre with a sort of snap into seriousness that would have been amusing if Courfeyrac's leg had not hurt like hell, and Joly with a sort of chattering, twittering anxiety that was fortunately manifesting itself as rapid-fire action. Joly pushed Courfeyrac against the wall, wading up his overcoat behind Courfeyrac's head for comfort, and began patting his waistcoat pockets.

"Light, light, where are my lucifers—"

Courfeyrac coughed slightly at the smell and shielded his eyes from the sudden flare of light. The light from the streetlamp was dim; Joly and Combeferre had not wanted to risk anyone passing by to see Courfeyrac. The little flame from the lucifer flickered madly, sending odd shadows across Joly's worried face and Combeferre's calm one.

"Where exactly were you hit?" asked Combeferre, peering closely at Courfeyrac's leg. "Tourniquet—"

Enjolras appeared, tore off his cravat and thrust it into Combeferre's hand. Combeferre managed to slide the cravat around Courfeyrac's thigh as Joly wiped aside the blood from the wound with his handkerchief.

"Awful lot of blood, but no gushing, so the bullet and the glass shards missed the artery," Joly said, with a glance at Combeferre to make sure he hadn't misdiagnosed. Combeferre nodded, pulling the cravat tight around Courfeyrac's thigh. Courfeyrac let out a hiss of pain.

"It will slow the bleeding," explained Combeferre. "Enjolras, I trust that the gendarme did not prove so hard-headed that you actually had to beat some sense into him?" Enjolras didn't say anything, but Combeferre sighed and said, "A head injury, I suppose?"

"Not a major one," replied Enjolras, taking the lucifers Joly poured into his open hands and lighting one. Combeferre did some godawfully painful thing to Courfeyrac's thigh and Courfeyrac could not keep himself from letting out a yelp only slightly manlier than the sounds his seven-year-old nieces made when they saw spiders.

"Entry wound to inner aspect, medial side, thigh swollen, bleeding slowing and mostly from superficial wounds from glass, aside from…." Combeferre glanced at the largest shard, embedded in the top of Courfeyrac's thigh. Courfeyrac looked too and began feeling nauseous. The glass shard wasn't particularly large but gleamed wetly, and rather darkly, with blood and just rose out of his leg where it had no right do so.

"I do not want to remove it here, but it… missed the artery at least. Ah, the artery. The femoral pulse—Courfeyrac, with your permission?"

Courfeyrac nodded and, though he had to bite his lip to keep from making any noise, sat stoically as Combeferre laid his head on Courfeyrac's thigh.

Joly tapped Courfeyrac's ankle. "Did you feel that?"

"… yes?"

"No nerve damage then, just soft tissue, I hope." Joly rubbed his nose. "Percussion of the leg, Combeferre? I thought that only worked with the chest."

"There is an artery in the leg," replied Combeferre. He had taken out his watch and Enjolras, without being asked, very calmly held a lucifer closer to Combeferre's watch. "The same principles apply. If you will allow it, Courfeyrac, I need to check your other leg to make sure the pulse is the same."

"By all means," said Courfeyrac.

"Joly, go find the gun and then see if you can hail a hackney. Give me your flask first—what do you have in it?"

"Brandy," replied Joly, fumbling in his pockets again. He unearthed his flask, spilling some of its contents in his haste to open it and said, "It's a good year—make sure you savor it."

Joly took off, leaving Courfeyrac to try and drain the flask in one go, and Combeferre to sigh disapprovingly.

Courfeyrac leaned his head against the wall, grateful for Joly's coat, and made himself breathe as evenly as he could. God damn, his leg hurt though. It was hard to think at all, let alone think of something clever to say. He tried to tell himself the plot of the lurid Gothic novel he had read the previous evening, and ended up at the point where the dashing hero (who looked rather like Courfeyrac, in Courfeyrac's mental retelling) rescued the virtuous but otherwise characterless heroine for the third time when he realized that Enjolras and Combeferre had been talking about him.

"—too much of a risk."

"Combeferre, you yourself said that this would require surgery. I trust you and Joly, but do you have the instruments necessary for something of this delicacy?"

"We could try to sneak him into my rooms at Necker," Combeferre said dubiously, "but what would we say, that Courfeyrac had… gotten into a bar brawl? He's on the watch list, there are bound to be police around soon, looking for a potential rebel on the Rue Mouffetard, which rules out Saint-Genevieve down the street—and even if we do get him away before the police notice, if I bring in someone treated for a gunshot wound—"

"There are gendarmes at the end of the street," said Joly, panting, his voice nearly overpowered by the rattle of a fiacre. "They heard the gunshot I suppose, as did some of the residents. There are open windows, but no one's come out and I doubt anyone knows where the gunshot came from. I think Jehan's safe, or at least, hiding somewhere. The fiacre's here."

Enjolras said, "Combeferre, get in the fiacre and go to Necker. Get your supplies, but wait a few minutes and exit the hospital as unobtrusively as you can. Meet us…."

"At my apartment?" offered Joly.

"Ah, a decoy as well as a doctor?" murmured Courfeyrac, because God his leg hurt and he was desperate to stop thinking about it. "Combeferre, old friend, you are too kind."

Combeferre squeezed Courfeyrac's hand. "I will be back as soon as I can."

Courfeyrac opened his eyes to watch Combeferre stand and head towards the fiacre, pausing just long enough for Joly to say, "Go, go, I know the Rue Mouffetard. I mean, not as well as Grantaire, but I know it. If we go down this way we will reach the rue Nouveau de Saint Genevieve and catch a fiacre there or by the hospital, or even on the Rue d'Ulm if Courfeyrac can stand the walk."

"What a terrible pun," said Courfeyrac, pulling Joly's overcoat out from behind his head and handing it over. "Go, Combeferre. The police have not entirely cut my feet out from under me."

"Keep the fiacre there until we have made some progress," Enjolras added in an undertone, briefly clasping Combeferre's forearm.

Combeferre nodded and exited the alley. Courfeyrac began trying to lever himself into a standing position without putting any weight on his leg. "Where is your apartment again, Jolllly?"

"The Hotel Saint-Jacques—promise not to seduce Musichetta away, Courfeyrac?"

"Your mistress lives with you, Jolllly? How shameless."

"Yes, she does. We spend every night together anyways, and, as she pointed out, I shall have you know, it's far cheaper to pay for one apartment than two. I know you never mean to do it, Courfeyrac, but do promise you won't steal her away? You just have that effect on women and I'm positively mad for the girl still."

"I object, Jolllly. Warning me off, when Bossuet flirts with her dreadfully?"

Joly turned a little pink. "Bossuet's different."

"Ah, how diplomatically you say that I am better looking than he is."

"No that's—Courfeyrac?"

Courfeyrac had stood well enough, but stumbled as soon as he tried to take a step away from the wall. He could not put any weight on his leg at all, and his head was swimming as if he had gotten into a drinking contest with Grantaire. Courfeyrac felt Joly's hand on his shoulder, keeping him up, and then an arm around his waist that Courfeyrac rather dazedly assumed was Bossuet, because wherever there was Joly, there was Bossuet and because when Courfeyrac massively overindulged, he always had Joly and Bossuet flanking him, stumbling a little, but swapping witticisms with great spirit.

"Fine," Courfeyrac tried to say. "A little… ha, lend me your ls—" or 'ailes', 'wings' "—Jolllly, my dear fellow. After our little spat with the government, I find I have but one leg to stand on."

He felt Joly slide neatly under one arm. Joly was a head shorter than Courfeyrac and always fit so precisely under his arm; Courfeyrac could lean his cheek against the top of Joly's head when he was feeling affectionate from inebriation. The height difference was less noticeable with Bossuet, but Courfeyrac lost track of the comparison he had wanted to make because he had tried to put some weight on his right leg and dear God was that a bad idea. There was Joly, under his left arm, as it should be, smelling of carbolic soap and brandy, and there was… there was not a Bossuet under his right, in a threadbare old coat. There was hair. That meant it was not Bossuet and dear God, his leg hurt.

"I am not drunk enough to handle all of this," said Courfeyrac, "and my flasks are full of gunpowder."

"Future generations shall praise your sacrifice," said Enjolras. Courfeyrac could not quite tell if Enjolras was amused or not and realized, somewhat stupidly, that Enjolras had very calmly draped Courfeyrac's right arm around his shoulders and put his arm around Courfeyrac's waist. Courfeyrac began feeling very stupid, which was never a pleasant emotion, and which, furthermore, was even less pleasant when mixed with the god awful pain in his leg.

Courfeyrac did not know why he hadn't thought Enjolras would be supporting him and blamed it on the fact that it was getting incredibly hard to think of anything but the sheer amount of pain he was in. It was making him think of really stupid things, like how, when they had first met, Courfeyrac had mistaken Enjolras's usual, half-dreamy abstraction as total reserve and assumed that Enjolras did not liked to be touched or to touch other people, and therefore would not have his arm around Courfeyrac's waist.

However, Enjolras's arm was there and Courfeyrac was starting to feel vaguely delirious because oh God did it hurt to move. He clenched his teeth and tried to force himself to think of something else. Enjolras's hair—in need of a trim again, Enjolras always forgot to go and get it cut—brushed Courfeyrac's cheek. Ah, there was something. Enjolras.

Enjolras was surprisingly tactile. He could convey so much with a touch on the shoulder, a quick tug on the arm, a handclasp. It had surprised Courfeyrac at first, because Enjolras was, to Courfeyrac's mind, very reserved. He did not move unless necessary, he did not speak unless he had something to say. There was always a wall between Enjolras and the rest of the world that one could only scale by mentioning the Republic. The Republic grounded Enjolras in reality; it gave him a context for the ideals that he so powerfully embodied. One talked with such a man, one admired such a man, one argued and teased and faithfully followed such a man, but one did not touch him. Courfeyrac, though unthinkingly affectionate and far too willing to drape himself over people or fling his arms around their necks, tried to hold himself back around Enjolras. It was fine to ruffle Prouvaire's hair, or lean his head against Bossuet's shoulder, or to drape himself over Combeferre's shoulders like some sort of extraordinarily fashionable cape, but one did not do the same things with Enjolras. It would not only be a faux pas of the most unforgivable sort, it would be almost a violation of his trust.

Courfeyrac had thus been unspeakably pleased when Enjolras of his own volition, had, a few weeks into their friendship, touched Courfeyrac on the inside of his wrist as an unspoken invitation to speak privately. Courfeyrac often communicated by gesture, but had never before realized that Enjolras did too, albeit in gestures springing from the soul as opposed to gestures springing from the heart, and began responding in kind. It was a careful business—a bisous instead of a nod and a smile in greeting, a quick re-parting of Enjolras's hair when the wind blew it out of order, a press of the hand to show his earnestness, a tap on the shoulder instead of an, 'Enjolras!' to gain his attention—but a successful one.

Enjolras now smiled when Courfeyrac linked arms with him and dragged him on a stroll around the Luxemburg, and he had, to Courfeyrac's intense delight, begun to automatically offer his cheek to be kissed whenever he saw Courfeyrac coming.

It was odd, Courfeyrac thought, how all those little gestures from an Enjolras, high and lofty, cloaking himself with the shining purity of his ideals, could make a Courfeyrac, so unrepentantly earthy, so happy. It was more than acknowledgment on Enjolras's part of Courfeyrac's way of interacted with the world. It was an acceptance and an adaptation of it and it heartened Courfeyrac more than he could say that Enjolras, of all people, understood him.

"We ought to risk the fiacre here," said Enjolras, as they paused at the end of the alley. Courfeyrac slumped gratefully against Enjolras, in a vague approximation of an embrace.

Joly very carefully slid out from underneath Courfeyrac's left arm, making sure that Enjolras could bear Courfeyrac's weight before running off for a fiacre. Courfeyrac, his arms around Enjolras's shoulders, buried his face into the collar of Enjolras's overcoat.

Enjolras had his arms around Courfeyrac's waist and tightened his hold. After a moment, he pressed his cheek to the top of Courfeyrac's head.

He said nothing, but it was, perhaps, better that way. Courfeyrac was too tired to talk which, in and of itself, was a serious sign that something was wrong, and was pathetically grateful for the bit of human contact. Whenever he was depressed or unhappy or sick Courfeyrac became almost desperately tactile. He had to touch, to embrace, and to curl up with someone in his arms to remind him it was alright, he wasn't alone and he was loved.

Courfeyrac wanted to thank Enjolras but he couldn't find the words. He briefly squeezed Enjolras around the shoulders instead, which Enjolras seemed to understand, as he held Courfeyrac more tightly in acknowledgement.

Courfeyrac heard Joly's footsteps, light, quick and a little erratic, and then the steadier clop of horse hooves. "Have one, come on," said Joly. "Thank you Enjolras—here, Courfeyrac, put an arm around my shoulders again—there we are and… damn, the steps. I'll climb up first and help pull you in, I suppose."

They did as Joly suggested, which worked, but caused Courfeyrac to slump down against the cracked leather of the carriage seat and long, Jehan-like, for the chill embrace of death. The fiacre jolted unevenly over the cobblestones. Courfeyrac kept his eyes closed and began to feel his grasp on consciousness slipping away.

"I thank you most sincerely for your solicitude, gentlemen," said Courfeyrac, in the most aristocratically gracious tones he could manage, "but I fear I must repay your kind company with remarkable rudeness and pass out."

Courfeyrac promptly did so.