He hadn't meant it. Not that Enjolras would care about that. Not that Joly would care. He hadn't meant for it to go so far. But that was Grantaire, for you. That was Courfeyrac for you.
Homoeroticism was the name of the game as far as the main circle was concerned. It was almost fashionable, and it certainly got the girl's attention. Aside from Grantaire, Courfeyrac didn't think any of them were actually gay. But Enjolras was too damn serious, and Joly was too fucking touch-feely, and everyone except for Enjolras knew that Grantaire was in unrequited love with him and it had become something of a pastime to ruthlessly tease Grantaire about it, because he never seemed to mind too much, and Enjolras never seemed to get it.
So Courfeyrac had noticed that Joly had been sitting next to Enjolras the whole night, and they had been picking food off each other's plates at dinner. And they had all been drinking, because tonight may have been a meeting but everything that needed discussing had been discussed and most of them had come by taxi and if Enjolras didn't want them to drink he shouldn't have kept beer in his house. The radio was on, because the CD player was broken and none of them had an iPod dock, and a familiar country ditty had come on when they weren't really paying attention, until Courfeyrac grinned at Joly and Enjolras where they were facing each other and talking avidly in the corner across the room, and hollered,
'Joly, you shameless hussy. You've stolen Grantaire's paramour.'
Courfeyrac didn't take note of any reaction from Enjolras, which was probably his first mistake. Joly turned beet red, but the rest of the group was shouting and chuckling, and suddenly Grantaire leapt to his feet and turned up the radio, and began to sing along.
'I could easily understand, how you could easily take my man, but you don't know what he means to me, Joly,' he sang, and Courfeyrac's eyebrows rose all the way to his hairline because he didn't know Grantaire could sing. And Grantaire could really, really sing. Hoots and wolf-whistles chased Grantaire's sweet voice around the room.
'Joly, Joly, Joly Joooollyyyyyy, I'm beggin' of you, please don't take my man,' Grantaire sang, and Courfeyrac could practically see everyone's goosepimples, because Grantaire had crossed the room with unfairly attractive flair and flung himself to his knees before Joly, grabbing his hands and staring up in playful earnestness. 'Joly, Joly, Joly Jooolllyyyyyy, please don't take him just because you can.'
If there was a tiny note of sincerity in his voice, nobody in the room noticed it or spoke of it.
But it must have been a serious conversation they had been having, because suddenly Enjolras gave Grantaire a shove, and looked about the suddenly quieter room with a fiery glare.
Then he took Joly by the shoulders and kissed him on the mouth.
The crackle of the radio seemed louder than it had been. Grantaire, sitting where he'd landed on his bum on the wooden floorboards, stared up at Enjolras kissing Joly. The worst thing wasn't the curve of his shoulders as he seemed to sink in on himself – even those who couldn't see his face, which was most of them, could guess at his expression – but the way he stayed there. He didn't stand.
In the past, if Grantaire was knocked flat on his arse, he always stood up. He was lazy, and practically a squatter in his friend's houses, unashamed of his low social status as a drunk and a drop-out, but in the end, he always stood up. He stood, and he trotted along his aimless path, careless and unattached.
But here and now, feeling the shock settle in the room, he stayed on the ground, and slowly lowered his eyes.
Courfeyrac stalled, and then he stood and wordlessly approached. He gently encouraged Grantiare to his feet. Enjolras roughly released a flushed Joly, and looked defiantly at Grantaire who quickly turned his face away so he was facing Courfeyrac's feet. The defiance, the anger, drained away quickly, haltingly, hesitant, as if it was suddenly occurring to Enjolras that there was something he'd missed. An important moment he'd thought he'd been in control of, that hadn't really been about him at all.
Courfeyrac was embarrassed, and unnerved. Grantaire wasn't saying anything. It was always Grantaire's job to drain the heat out of a painful situation. If Grantaire didn't know what to say, what did that mean for the rest of them?
There was a variety of expressions in the room as Grantaire hastily went out to the balcony, closing the screen door behind him. The room was silent. Someone had switched off the radio. At least half the boys were looking at Joly, and not kindly. Later they'd say it wasn't his fault. Two or three were looking at Enjolras, as if to say "what the fuck were you thinking? You're supposed to be the composed one!" but the same ones would later say it wasn't his fault either, because he didn't know. One or two were looking at the screen door, willing Grantaire to come back, for him to diffuse the situation with a laugh, dismiss all the storm clouds and say it was alright, it was fine. He was okay.
But he wasn't. They all knew it. And it was slowly dawning, even on Enjolras. It wasn't fine. And he wasn't okay.
Courfeyrac, under the weight of Enjolras' increasingly awkward and uncomfortable stare, followed Grantaire, opening the screen door slowly and closing it carefully behind him. As an afterthought, he shut the sliding door too, so they had some privacy. Grantaire was leaning on the railing with his arms wrapped around himself.
Courfeyrac approached until he was directly behind Grantaire, so that his right foot was between Grantaire's feet, and all he had to do was lean forward to hug him. To hold onto him. To keep him from falling, or doing something else unexpected and heartbreaking.
'I'm really sorry,' he mumbled.
'S'not your fault,' Grantaire said thickly. Even though he said it quietly, Courfeyrac could hear the tears in his voice.
Courfeyrac wrapped his hands around Grantaire's waist, and Grantaire turned in his arms and it was horrible, feeling Grantaire fall apart like this. It was one of the most unimaginable things. He hugged Grantaire and shushed him like a child, and felt the wetness on his shoulder and the tremors as Grantaire tried not to sob.
'This is fucking sad,' Grantaire muttered. 'I can't believe you're letting me cry all over you like a little girl. You should be bloody ashamed.'
'You drank too much beer is all,' Courfeyrac said with a gentle shrug. 'It won't be so bad after the hangover.'
'Yes it will,' Grantaire said quietly. 'It will be worse. I should just keep drinking.'
Courfeyrac pinched Grantaire's waist until Grantaire punched him back. They stood facing each other apologetically.
'Don't you dare do that.'
'And why shouldn't I? Don't I deserve to, after everything?'
'Nope,' Courfeyrac said sternly. 'You can't let yourself turn into an alcoholic nobody. I won't allow it.'
'Why? Because the revolution needs me?' Grantaire spat over the balcony contemptuously. 'He doesn't fucking need me.'
There was a pregnant pause, and then Grantaire slumped against the railing so suddenly than Courfeyrac, in a panic, dashed forward and grabbed him. Fresh tears ran down Grantaire's face and Courfeyrac dragged him in for another hug, this one tighter, more resolute. He kept playing it over in his head, wishing he'd kept his mouth shut. Grantaire had never responded like this to teasing before. Because it had only been teasing. Enjolras had been single, unreachable but single, presumably straight, and it had been fine so long as that was all. But Courfeyrac had to open his big mouth, and accidentally be right. Joly had caught Enjolras' eye, instead of Grantaire. And in front of everyone, in front of Grantaire, Enjolras had declared it loud and clear. I pick this one. Not that one.
Although, he hadn't realized that that was exactly what he was saying, stupid fucking Enjolras, because he was too fucking dim to see that beautiful, senseless, silly Grantaire had fallen head over heels in love with him and silently stepped aside without even trying because hey, why would Enjolras ever want a guy like him.
Courfeyrac squeezed Grantaire, and he knew it was in part to console himself, but he did it anyway.