Grantaire looked up from the dominoes games and froze. Enjolras stood in the doorway, his arms crossed and his face expressionless. Why he had come to the Barriere du Maine flooded back to him like a crashing wave during a storm, and he knew that, once again, he failed the only light he had left in his life.
With Grantaire's attention captured, Enjolras banged a heavy, empty mug against the bar top. The men stopped their game and stared.
"Citizens, the time has come…"
Grantaire sank into his chair, unable to enjoy the passion and the way that Enjolras soared whenever he spoke about the Republic be it to the rest of Les Amis or to strangers on the street. This was supposed to be his duty, his job, an important task that Enjolras had entrusted him to. Grantaire had vehemently boasted to Enjolras and the others. He had strutted to the Barriere du Maine with a haughty grin at the gendarme. But the welcome cries and laughter of acquaintances, drink, and a game or two distracted him into a failure he feared he could never bounce back from.
As Enjolras' rhetoric came to a close and finished with hearty yells and applause, he gave one last piercing gaze at Grantaire and left.
Grantaire drank until the world became dark, and he awoke the next morning in Courfeyrac's apartment with a grueling headache and a heavy heart. Courfeyrac offered him an herbal drink and an easy smile, but Grantaire could not return the joviality. He left Courfeyrac's, expressing his thanks that the man had found him and made sure that he did not sleep in the gutters, and debated between returning to the Cafe Musain or his own home.
He knew it to be cowardice, but home was a barely more welcome thought than the Musain. Grantaire curled up in his bed and slept the rest of the day, missing Enjolras gently knocking at his door.
It took a week, emptying his stash of wine and absinthe, and visits from Joly and Bossuet, Jehan, Bahorel, and Courfeyrac before Grantaire found himself in the Musain again. He stuck to the corner with a half-empty bottle and a full glass of wine and kept his eyes glued to the wood grains of the table. The meeting carried on as though nothing unusual had transpired and yet as though Grantaire was not even there, and Grantaire wondered why anybody ever bothered with him. He even wondered why he bothered with himself, asking Enjolras for a chance like that.
Grantaire did not realize that everyone had left until an imposing figure hovered over him. Enjolras. Grantaire forced himself to look up, and he was surprised to see not anger or disappointment in Enjolras' eyes, but something kinder that Grantaire struggled to put his finger on.
His heart beat rapidly. "Enjolras, I'm sorry."
"There is nothing to apologize for, Grantaire."
"There is everything to apologize for! You had entrusted me with something dear to your heart, and I failed. I could not do what I said that I would do. I did not even try. You should have me thrown out of here; or better yet, you should have your meetings elsewhere where I can never find you again. I do not deserve you, any of you, and that was all that was proven last week."
"We have them on our side. No harm was done. As for you, Grantaire, we will not abandon you. I will not abandon you. There is a spark within you waiting to be ignited. We will find a way to get it going. You deserve it. France deserves it."
"There is no spark within me." But even as Grantaire spoke the words, he knew them to be false. He knew, but he dared not admit it to the man who was responsible for it. "And even if there was, it could not ignite."
"There is, and it will be. Because," and Enjolras firmly squeezed Grantaire's shoulder, "I believe in you, too."
And then Enjolras was gone. Grantaire downed the rest of his drink and stumbled back to his apartment, unsure if the conversation with Enjolras had actually happened or if he should have Joly check his rapidly beating heart in the morning.