A Question of Attraction
Summary: Fill for the Les Miserables Kink Meme. "I don't want pity." "I know." Why Combeferre wanted him was a mystery.
Author's Note: I. Have wanted. To write. This pairing. Forever. NEXT, THERE SHALL BE OT3 WITH ENJOLRAS!
Disclaimer: I don't own Les Miserables. It belongs to Victor Hugo.
"I don't want pity." Grantaire muttered, half-drunk, as Combeferre's lips ghosted along his temple. "I don't want to be pitied."
"I know." Combeferre murmured, and the grip he maintained on the dark-haired man's waist was firm and warm, comforting.
"Revolution is pointless."
"It could very well end up being. I daresay that not every well-intentioned insurrection has proven to be successful."
"Mankind will continue to do terrible, awful things whether we change society or not. We are a selfish and ugly creature by nature."
"Being selfish is not unnatural to us, but being intelligent beings allows us to override our more immediate wants and desires for the better of others. Could a mother throw herself between an attacker and her child if she was more afraid for her own safety?"
"Mothers are no shining example of what's good with humanity. Many are content to abandon their children to the streets to survive on their own- or haven't you met young Gavroche?"
"You are deflecting. The point is that there is an inherent goodness in humanity that allows us to override our most basic desires when necessary, and an example of it is a mother's love."
"And I'm telling you that it is no definitive example, because there are plenty of people who lack that goodness."
"But there are also plenty that do have it. You can't discount them- a few rotten apples don't negate the fact that plenty are untouched."
It's a conversation Grantaire could never dream of having with Enjolras, because Enjolras would rip him in half. Combeferre countered him with a simplicity and mildness that made him both an utterly infuriating opponent as well as a strangely endearing one.
"I may be a disgusting example of overindulgence-" Combeferre heard the bottle still loosely gripped in Grantaire's hand clink against the wall. "-but I don't want pity. Hate me, kick at me if you must, but never pity me."
"I would never kick you, or pity you, or hate you."
Grantaire was rather drunk, slumped onto his usual table in the Corinth and twisting the bottle in front of him back and forth so that the glass warped the flames from the candles. Combeferre was beside him, close enough to be sure that they had come together, but not close enough for any other certain conclusions to be drawn. As usual he was reading, glasses having slid down the bridge of his nose a bit so that he could read over the tops of them.
"I like you."
It was a reasonable question. There were very few questions regarded as unreasonable by Combeferre, and they both knew it. Everything was worthy of thought, and everything was worthy of thought. "You make it sound as though it's truly a perplexing concept that someone would choose you."
"I am a drunkard."
"You've gotten better." He had- Since their… Whatever had started, Grantaire had gradually begun to drink less.
"I am ugly."
"Everyone has different standards of attractiveness. You fit mine."
"Your taste is poor."
"Taste is not inherently bad or good."
Grantaire switched tracks. "I am a fool."
"By the consensus of many, you are a fine friend with good humor. You are intelligent, and you are kind- both of which being traits that shine much brighter with sobriety. That's why it's you." Combeferre turned back to his book.
The hand that soon after discreetly placed itself on Grantaire's knee ended the matter.
Grantaire's voice wavered on the edge of laughter and tears.
The drinking slowed, but did not stop.
There was a good reason for that.
When Grantaire went for too long without drinking, his body underwent terrible convulsions, episodes where he shook and sweat and dry-heaved and, by his own account, craved alcohol even more strongly than usual.
Combeferre was not unfamiliar with such things, given his intended profession. Shifts at the hospital had shown him the effects on the body of a man who had come to indulge in too much alcohol, to the point where one might question if there was alcohol in his blood or blood in his alcohol.
"You should stop entirely, eventually." Combeferre murmured, arms wrapped around Grantaire as he shivered, lying across the other man's lap. "Keep slowing on your drinking as you have, and perhaps the symptoms will be less severe. But you must get to a point where your body is pure again before you think of adding even a little corruption to it."
Grantaire couldn't speak, nausea so severe he feared he would vomit (again). But he gripped Combeferre's hand and clung to the other man, and Combeferre was content to hold him through the night.
Grantaire's voice wavered on the edge of laughter and tears.
Though he had never viewed Combeferre as perfect, per se (at least not in the same way as he viewed Enjolras), it was still surprising to Grantaire whenever Combeferre did something… Well, less than perfectly.
He watched the bespectacled man for about ten minutes, frown deepening more and more until he snapped. "No. No- No. Here." Grantaire got off the bed, walked over to the desk, gripped Combeferre's hand and repositioned it so that the tip of the pencil was at an angle. "Accuracy does not equal life. Your drawings are a perfect replication of a moth's appearance, but I've never seen anything so flat and lifeless."
Grantaire guided the guide's hand and helped him draw the moth at an angle, wings mid-flap, light glinting off of its beady eyes and shadows in the right places to make it almost three-dimensional. All of the necessary details were appropriately displayed, but the moth looked as though it could rise off of the page at any moment and take flight.
Combeferre's smile had grown progressively as Grantaire added those details, and when he was finished the young medical student was positively radiant. "That's amazing, Grantaire."
Grantaire shrugged. "Well, I suppose it's good to know that I didn't waste that money that went into my art classes, even if-"
Combeferre silenced him with a kiss.
They pulled apart and went back into the Musain, and kept their distance from one another so as not to arouse suspicion. As far as anyone inside was concerned, Combeferre was talking Grantaire into something resembling calmness so that he wouldn't disrupt the meeting again.
Distance didn't matter.
It was surprisingly easy to keep enough distance between the two of them when in public, the kind needed to avoid questions and people drawing conclusions about the two of them. Grantaire lacked the agitation he thought he might have had in being forced to keep their relationship quiet and unacknowledged, not being able to be as tactile as he would like.
For those moments when they were surrounded by friends, Grantaire did not need a hand on his own or a body pressed against his.
Combeferre's smile from his place next to Enjolras was enough.