A/n: Thanks to all those who have kept reading thus far! Accept this chapter as an apology for the horrible things I have put these characters through up until this point :)
After that awful night, which Enjolras had mentally been calling The Incident since The Accident was already taken, some dynamic had changed. He could tell that, yet again, he had hit another before-and-after point. Cosette gently convinced him to go to the hospital after they recovered from the shock of everything that had happened that day.
Enjolras groaned as a nurse told him he would have to spend a few days in the hospital as the dangerous amount of drugs he had taken waned from his system, and his arm was monitored for infection. "You're going to need to leave unless you're family," she said kindly to Grantaire, who had volunteered to bring and stay with Enjolras.
The blonde's face paled, and everything in his expression gave away the fact that he didn't want to be alone. He hadn't told his parents, and he wasn't on their insurance, so they wouldn't be finding out until he told them. Grantaire, without missing a beat, replied to the nurse, "I'm his boyfriend, can that count?"
"Oh…yes," she said, a little surprised, before she left the room.
Grantaire could hardly keep it together, bursting into a fit of laughter as soon as he figured she was far enough away that she couldn't hear him.
Enjolras couldn't move from the bed, where an IV was connected to his good arm. "I can't believe you just did that," he laughed.
Grantaire pulled up a chair, smirking. "Don't ever say I never did anything for you."
The smile faded from Enjolras' handsome face. "Seriously, you've done everything for me. I'm always going to owe you."
"I was just trying to be a good friend," Grantaire said simply.
Enjolras bit his lip. Another before-and-after moment. "I have been living with near debilitating depression," he confessed. "I've never told anyone except when that doctor kicked you out of the room to question me earlier. And now you."
"Fuck," Grantaire exhaled. "I had no idea."
"What are you going to do?"
"I guess try to get better," Enjolras said. "I don't really know how it works but I have to try."
"I'll help you," Grantaire said. Enjolras could tell that every fiber of his being meant it. He smiled. He had dreaded telling Grantaire his secret that had embarrassed him and weakened him for as long as he could remember. But, for the first time, he didn't feel the anchor tugging at his ankle. It was there, of course, but he couldn't feel it. Like maybe Grantaire was supporting the chain a little bit.
A few weeks later, exams were behind them, and life was getting easier. The friends were in the process of moving from their old apartment building, which was full to bursting with memories that were still too painful, into a smaller house. The house was a modest but quaint split level within walking distance of campus that Cosette vowed she would make into a real home. Downstairs was one of the bathrooms and the basement Grantaire claimed for his bedroom, and upstairs were the three small bedrooms, living room, kitchen and another bathroom. Space was tight, but it was theirs.
Cosette, Marius, Grantaire, Enjolras and Eponine sat in folding lawn chairs on the back porch, plus Montparnasse. He had surprised them all by being awfully good for Eponine, stopping her from quitting her waitressing job and even buying her a little kitten. At the present moment, Montparnasse was sitting on a chair, smoking, and Eponine was leaning against his legs, her kitten sleeping on her lap.
"Blow your smoke over that way, I don't want you to make the kitten sick!" she said softly. It was twilight, and they were all exhausted from a long day of moving furniture and boxes. Everyone agreed to stay on for their last year of school, and promised to keep each other strong.
Enjolras felt a little proud as he looked around the porch. They were all broken, but they were healing. There was only one thing that his therapist asked him to do that he hadn't done yet.
"You know, my shrink wants me to go back to the park," Enjolras said, breaking a few moments of silence. Everyone turned to him warily.
"Did she say why?" Marius asked.
Enjolras shook his head. "I didn't ask." An uncomfortable feeling rippled through the group, as it did whenever The Accident or The Incident came up.
Grantaire tilted his head back and finished his beer. He tossed the can to the recycling bin that Enjolras insisted on and spoke. "Let's go right now."
Enjolras considered this proposition. Somehow, he felt braver than he ever had, even more than when he was leading a student walk-out or a rally outside some politician's office. "Okay," he agreed, to everyone's shock.
"I mean, we don't have to," Grantaire said quickly. "I was kidding a little."
"I'm not kidding. I'll go," Enjolras said, and stood to go. Grantaire followed him into the apartment before anyone could say anything.
Eponine stroked the little white kitten, who she named Marie. "I think I'm about to become the fifth wheel of this house," she mused. Montparnasse hugged her tight from behind.
Marius, definitely the most naïve of the group, looked shocked. "Why would you say that?" he questioned.
"Oh honey," Cosette sighed. "You know I love you, but sometimes you're really blind."
"Maybe I'm just too busy looking at you to notice anyone else," he grinned sheepishly.
"Nice save," Montparnasse laughed.
Eponine smiled too, and thought to herself how nice this was. It was amazing, really, considering what they had been through together. Nobody blamed her boyfriend for what happened to Enjolras. None of them blamed each other for anything. Eponine started talking without realizing she was doing so, which she was prone to doing when her mind wandered and she was a little tipsy. Her favorite thing to quote was little snippets of poems and quotes and songs that she loved. "If nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life."
"I can't believe we're doing this," Enjolras said as he settled into the passenger seat of Grantaire's car. They were both a little buzzed, and he smiled at the thought of going to an amusement park in any state other than sober. Yes, Grantaire definitely liked this free-spirited Enjolras (when he wasn't being a shithead, which he still was sometimes).
"Buckle up," Grantaire reminded as he pulled out of the driveway. The drive didn't take very long, and they got into the park quickly since it was only an hour from closing. They ran through the tunnel that led to the park, and Grantaire followed Enjolras' path, as was his custom. Panting, Enjolras came to a stop in front of the photo booth. The ride was still closed, maybe for good, but it was the photo booth that captivated him.
"This is where we were," he said softly. Grantaire closed his eyes and nodded. The pair stood in silence for a few minutes.
"You all right?" Grantaire asked.
"Yeah, actually," Enjolras said. He had been scared that the depression would smother him again as it had the night of The Accident. "Take me through Noah's Ark." He gestured in the direction of the funhouse.
Grantaire tensed. "I thought you hated it."
"My cousin scared me so bad in there once when I was little that I actually pissed my pants," he confessed. "And somehow that's still not the worst thing I've shared with you."
Grantaire laughed, "That's why you wouldn't go before?"
"Yeah, yeah, get your jokes out now."
"It's sort of...endearing," Grantaire decided.
"Whatever," Enjolras shrugged. "Let's go before I change my mind."
The usual long line was nonexistent when they arrived at the base of the funhouse. It was a huge building, shaped to look like an actual wooden boat. "Guess it's our lucky day," Grantaire remarked. Enjolras paused, looking just a little nervous. "Come on," Grantaire urged, grabbing the other man's hand and pulling him through the door into the elevator shaft.
"This might be even worse alone," Enjolras gulped as the doors of the elevator shut and they "crashed" in a frenzy of lights and bad special effects. He still clutched Grantaire's hand as the doors opened and they walked through a dark, dimly lit, and definitely dirty hallway. Animal noises played over hidden speakers, and Enjolras jumped as the floor beneath them appeared to give way.
"It's called plexiglass," Grantaire snorted. The clear floor gave them a view of skeletons, coffins, and other equally gross old props underneath. He guided Enjolras through the room, which opened up into a pathway that snaked back outside the Ark.
The next passageway was too narrow for them to fit side by side, and he reluctantly dropped Grantaire's hand. They crept through a hallway with mesh nets for walls, and up an even narrower set of stairs. Enjolras jumped as a fake cobra sprayed some water in his direction, and Grantaire laughed again. "I'm glad you're at least enjoying this," Enjolras snarled.
"So where exactly did you piss yourself?" Grantaire quipped.
"You'll never know," Enjolras responded. "Hurry up." He put his hands on Grantaire's shoulders, urging him to continue past a rather intimidating monkey display and down some stairs lit with strobe lights.
They entered a room that looked like the inside of a barrel, with the walls spinning around a walkway through the middle. It was rather disorienting, and Grantaire laughed as Enjolras stumbled into his back. He tried to walk ahead, which was hard with Enjolras gripping onto his back for dear life. He tried to turn around to calm him down, or maybe tease him (he hadn't decided which yet) and as soon as he was facing Enjolras, the blonde stumbled forward, knocking their foreheads together.
"Smooth," Grantaire said, gripping onto the railing.
"Sorry," Enjolras said quietly. Their faces were still inches apart. He could smell the faint scent of Grantaire's cigarettes on his breath, and he noted that he didn't like the smell of the Rolling Rock pale ale that his breath probably smelled like too.
Enjolras pressed his lips to Grantaire's. Stunned, the brunette kissed him back. It had been a long time since either of them had been in a relationship at all, and Grantaire realized he'd never kissed a guy before. He didn't care though, and obviously neither did Enjolras. It just felt…right.
Grantaire pulled away first, breathless. Without speaking, Enjolras took the lead for the first time since they entered the funhouse. He dragged Grantaire to the nearest emergency exit and the whole way back to Grantaire's car.
It didn't take very long for the windows to steam up.
A/n: I'm not sure if I want this to be the end or not. This was the ending I wanted and I'm happy with how it wrapped up, but I can't figure out where I want to take the story next. Thanks for all the support!