A/N. How frustrating! I wrote part of this only to lose it, and it's never the same, never as good, the second time around. Oh well.

Chapter 4: A Marius Visitation

When Joly awakes it is late in the morning, weak, wintery sunlight falls across his bed offering little light and even less heat. He stretches out an arm, seeking out Bossuet who he has taken to sharing a bed with since one of theirs is usually occupied by Combeferre or Courfeyrac. When he finds nothing but cold empty sheets he remembers leaving Bossuet to watch over Enjolras, and an exhausted Courfeyrac, for the night. Without bothering with clothes, just his nightshirt, he tiptoes across the apartment to Enjolras' room.

He finds Enjolras still sleeping, remarkably peacefully, with one hand resting on Combeferre's head, pillowed on his thigh and the other tangled in Courferyac's curls. All three of them are fast asleep, faces, for the first time Joly can remember in the past three days, at peace. Bossuet is still in his chair, quietly watching them too, smiling softly.

Joly takes his hands and tugs him up. "Come. Come sleep in the bed for a short while, keep me warm. They have each other. They'll be fine."

Bossuet purrs as he crawls into his own bed, and hums as he curls into the warm patch Joly has left and Joly himself curls around him.

Joly wakes again what must be hours later; he is ravenous and the faint patch of sunlight on the bed has moved to the doorway. Bossuet sleeps soundly next to him, arm slung around Joly's waist; they have switched positions during sleep, but doesn't wake and Joly once again slips from the bed.

He dresses now, hunger gnawing at his belly and thirst parching his throat. He takes a little of the water and bread from the kitchen, checks on Enjolras, who is, as ever, fast asleep, pressed against the tangle of limbs that is Combeferre and Courfeyrac wrapped around each other. Joly suspect this is a close together they can manage to get without hurting Enjolras. Reassured, he slips from his rooms and heads to a nearby cafe to procure food.

He returns with much more food than he needed, such is the risk of grocery shopping when hungry, but is unconcerned; young men are rarely truly satiated when it comes to food, and if there is leftovers it will not be long before the other amis descend on his rooms and happily demolish the remainder.

Bossuet surfaces briefly and breakfasts, or lunches as it is well into the afternoon, with Joly before returning to bed to catch on sleep missed during his night in a chair by Enjolras' bed.

He wonders whether it is possible to wake Enjolras without waking the other two, as this is longest single stretch of sleep he's seen either of them take in several days. Setting the tray of food on the night stand he pulls a chair close to Enjolras' side of the bed.

His forehead is still warm, but the fever not so ferocious as it has been. It is a good sign that Enjolras blinks awake at his touch, the first time he has awoken to anything less than pain or coughing. Joly holds a finger to his lips, despite the fact Enjolras barely has a voice and indicates the sleeping pile of Courfeyrac and Combeferre. "This is the longest they have slept in several days." He whispers.

"I didn't want to wake you either, but I want to get some more food into you. Broth again, I'm afraid, if you feel up to it?"

Enjolras nods and disentangles his hand from Courfeyrac's hair to take the spoon Joly offers him and tries to take a mouthful of soup, but quickly relents and hands it back to Joly with a resigned and displeased sigh. "I'm sorry." He whispers.

"Don't be." Joly rests a hand on his knee and meets his eyes. "Enjolras, don't push yourself. It'll come. Until then, we'll do whatever you need of us."

Joly feeds him most of a small bowl of soup and a little milk before he feels full to bursting again.

"Joly, what day is it?" Enjolras asks as he leans back into the pillows.

"Thursday."

"What day was I...ah..."

"How long has it been since you were released?"

Enjolras nods.

"3 days. You've slept for the majority, so I'm not surprised you're a little disorientated."

"3 days," Enjolras repeats, taken aback. "I walked here under my own power just 3 days ago, and now...I can barely keep my eyes open..."

"Don't worry, it's to be expected. Your body is exhausted, malnourished and trying to fight one hell of an infection; as soon as you were able to stop fighting, and felt safe, here, with us, all of your energy is going into healing, and the best way to heal is to sleep."

"How long can I expect to be ...incapacitated?"

"Honestly? It's hard to say. Your body's been pushed to its limits, it's going to take a while for it to recover. It could be a few weeks before you're back on your feet, or a few months, certainly, until you're back to your usual self." Joly worries his lower lip. "There are a number of...complications which could arise...no, Enjolras I'm not fretting without cause," Joly adds as Enjolras opens his mouth to interject. "There is a real possibility that you..." he trails off, lost for words, dropping his chin to his chest.

"Might not recover." Enjolras finishes softly for him. Joly feels a hand caress the back of his head gently and looks up to meet Enjolras' eyes, understanding and gravity clear in their blue depths. "I understand."

"You will. You have to, and that's simply the end of it." Joly says firmly, refusing to allow the quiver in his throat to sound in his voice. "You will recover. Due to the severity and length of infection in both your lungs, there is a chance you will be left with weak lungs – prone to colds and the like, for some time, if not for the rest of your life. I'm sorry...I..."

Enjolras shakes his head. "I appreciate your honesty, Joly. You know that I do."

Joly nods. "You are young and strong. It is better to dwell on the best possible outcome."

"I will."

They are silent for a moment, peaceful and content in each other's company, each processing the realities of what has been said, before Enjolras speaks again.

"Joly, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid Combeferre and Courfeyrac are going to be woken shortly, I can't keep from coughing much longer."

Joly nods and stands to move around the bed to wake the two sleeping men just as Enjolras begins coughing. It is an awful sound, wet and deep but Enjolras simply doesn't have the strength to actually expel anything from his lungs so each drag of breath in rattles sickly in his chest. Combeferre jerks awake at the first cough, hand immediately finding the one Enjolras isn't holding to his mouth. Courfeyrac wakes a moment later. As the coughing fit passes Enjolras smiles weakly at them and breathes "Sorry to wake you."

Combeferre bats him lightly on the leg and stretches, passing a hand over his face as Courfeyrac sits up and shifts himself to sit next to him against the headboard. A strange look passes over Combeferre's face as if he has remembered in a moment the events of the previous night.

"How long did we sleep for?" he says looking at Courfeyrac.

"About 12 hours, I think." Joly offers.

Courfeyrac lets out a surprised sort of noise, "No wonder I feel so good. And no wonder I'm so hungry." On cue, there is a loud grumble from Courfeyrac's stomach.

"Luckily for you, I have been and procured enough food to feed a small army...it's in the cupboard." He waves a hand in the direction of said kitchen.

Courfeyrac is gone before Joly has time to retract his hand, pausing only long enough to give Enjolras a kiss on the temple and Joly one to the top of his head, presumably to thank them for not expiring in the night and providing food, respectively. Courfeyrac, nothing if not thorough in his affection, bobs back into the room after a second to also kiss Combeferre.

Combeferre, still a little muddled from sleep, chuckles at his friend's antics. "Are you hungry?" he says to Enjolras.

"No, Joly's already seen to that." He pats his belly to illustrate his point, illiciting another smile from Combeferre.

"Go on. Go eat. I'll check Enjolras over and fill you in later." Joly says, prodding Combeferre in the direction of the door. Combeferre goes at a nod from Enjolras, hands lingering together before their fingers part and Enjolras' drops back to the bed.

Joly watches Combeferre leave before his eyes flick back to Enjolras, regarding him over his steepled fingers. "I'm not sure what exactly happened last night. But I am glad they have slept, and if means the three of you must sleep in one bed every night so be it..."

"I have missed them more than I can express." Enjolras says quietly, eyes lingering on the door before looking down at his thin fingers. "I have missed all of you more than there are words to say." He looks up when Joly's hand covers his own, and sees the sentiment he feels so very deeply reflected in Joly's hazel eyes, shining green today with unshed tears and acute emotion.

"And we you."

Enjolras lets out something which is half a laugh and half a sob because he is unsure what to do with so much emotion constantly bubbling and threatening to brim over and it is unfamiliar to him.

Joly echoes him, tears running over his cheeks, but they are happy tears; Joly is a cheerful fellow, much more at home with expressing his feelings whether it be joy or worry than Enjolras is.

"We're all a bit emotionally fraught, at the moment." He says, uncannily sensing Enjolras' train of thought, with a soft, but happy laugh. "I don't want to overwhelm you with them all at once, but our friends are eager to see you awake. I have asked Jehan and Marius to visit this afternoon, if you are up to it?"

Enjolras nods, although he is exhausted and can feel sleep gradually ascertain its claim over him again. He is immensely grateful for Joly's wonderful sensitivity on such matters in asking Marius and Jehan first; the youngest of their clan, and both injured on the barricade have caused Enjolras particular worry.

"I'll let you go back to sleep in just a minute." Joly says, already checking over Enjolras various injuries and listening to his chest. He lingers over his back for a long moment, but Enjolras' thoughts have drifted and he's asleep before Joly has even finished.

When he wakes Combeferre is reading by candlelight beside him, the light catching his glasses and throwing patches of light across the blankets.

"'Ferre."

"Hello." Combeferre closes his book, smiling as he shifts closer to Enjolras. "Good timing. I would have woken you shortly to eat."

"All I seem to do is eat and sleep." Enjolras says, pressing the back of his wrist to his mouth as he coughs. "And cough."

"It will seem like that for a while, I'm afraid. But, there is someone here to see you if you'd like."

Enjolras nods and tries to push himself up, something he has yet been unable to do without aid. "Ah...'Ferre...can you..."

Combeferre helps him, arranging pillows behind him so it doesn't look as though the bed is all that is holding Enjolras together, and straightens the blankets over his legs. "Are you warm enough?" He asks, helping Enjolras take a drink of water.

"Mmm, yes. I'm fine. Thank you."

Combeferre turns and leans out of the door, "Marius? He's awake."

Marius looks the same as he ever does when he appears in the doorway, a little more world weary perhaps, but young, whole and happy, if a little apprehensive. Enjolras realises Marius hasn't seen him since he collapsed after his release from prison, and, although now clean, he must still look a fright.

"Hello Marius." He says, smiling. His voice, what little has returned of it, still surprises even himself and doesn't do much to convince Marius he's not about to die.

Combeferre gives Marius a little shove so he steps slowly, almost shyly, into the room and takes the chair Combeferre vacated moments ago.

"It's alright." He holds out his hand to Marius, who takes it hesitantly. He seems to relax when he realises it is warm and squeezing his reassuringly. "So Joly tells me you are getting married?"

Marius opens his mouth, but pauses as if that wasn't what he was expecting Enjolras to say. "Ah...yes. Yes. Cosette..." It's as if he can't help it, his face transforms the moment he says her name and he grins, "Cosette is wonderful. She and her father...I can't even..." he ducks his head blushing.

Enjolras laughs softly. "I am happy for you, my friend. I'm sorry I was so harsh with you all those months ago."

Marius looks up sharply, almost angry. "Don't...no. You..." He pushes air from his nose and visibly gathers his thoughts. "Please don't apologise to me, Enjolras. Please never think you need to."

Enjolras doesn't know how to reply, and doesn't trust his precarious emotions and says nothing, struck by the love in Marius' voice, love for him. He wishes he could hug Marius, things are often easier to say, to express, without words but he has to settle for squeezing his fingers again. Marius seems to understand, and squeezes back.

"Cosette is desperate to meet you." Marius continues after the moment has passed. "We shan't marry until you can be there. You will come won't you?"

Enjolras gives him a tired smile. "I would love to. But my recovery may take some time; I would not have you wait to marry your beloved."

"We are...Cosette is adamant we wait. And I'll hear no more argument."

Enjolras blinks, cursing the fever and exhaustion for the tenuous hold he has over his emotions. Ironically, it is a coughing fit which intercedes and gives him a chance to gather himself. "Then...then, I should like to meet her too. It must be... quite a lady to have... captured our Marius' heart so... completely." He says finally, rueing the awkwardness of his breathing.

"Steady." Combeferre's voice comes from the other side of the room. Enjolras nods, acknowledging him, breathing as slowly and deeply as he can for several minutes.

When he feels a little more balanced he continues with a wry smile, "It might have to wait until I can...actually hold a conversation."

Marius chuckles. "I should let you rest." He moves as if to stand but Enjolras hand, surprisingly fast, closes around his wrist.

"Don't go yet. I'm alright. I hear you have quite the escape story?"

"Well, I'm not sure about that; I was unconscious for most of it. It might be better for another day." Marius says, catching Combeferre's nod of agreement from the corner of his eye.

Enjolras sighs, as they're right, he's fighting sleep but determined to talk a while longer.

"Alright. Well, at least reassure me you are quite recovered? You were shot..."

Marius nods, his hand hovering unconsciously over his abdomen where the bullet pierced skin and muscle but, thankfully, no organs.

"Yes. I'm quite well now, however. I had a fever for what seemed like a very long time, but the wound has healed and barely pains me at all now. Between Les Amis, my grandfather and Cosette I was most well cared for."

Enjolras nods, eyes still trained on where Marius' hand rests on his waistcoat.

"Would..." Marius begins hesitantly, "...would you like to see the scar?"

He unbuttons his waistcoat and untucks his shirt so he can lift it over his abdomen to show Enjolras a puckered, pink scar indented into the smooth skin of his belly. He twists in his seat to show a similar mark on his back. "The bullet passed right through, and miraculously hit no organs. Here..." Bolder now, he reaches out and takes Enjolras' hand and presses his fingers to the wound. "See, it's fine. Completely healed."

Enjolras nods, lower lip caught between his teeth and a weight, a tension inside him relaxes. "Good." He breathes.

Marius lifts his fingers to his mouth and presses his lips to them. "Now I think you really ought to sleep."

Enjolras nods sleepily, rapidly losing the fight with sleep, eyes already closed. Marius returns the hand he still holds, laying it across Enjolras belly and whispers, "I'll see you soon."

"Sleep takes him so quickly." Marius says in a hushed voice as Combeferre comes to stand beside him, both of them looking down at Enjolras' sleeping form.

"He's very weak, and the fever doesn't help."

"I wish there was something more I could do."

"So do I, Marius. So do I. But it's a waiting game, waiting for his body to heal, to fight off the pneumonia."

"He will...he is going to get better? Isn't he?"

"I hope so."

Between them, Combeferre feels Marius' fingers close around his.

"He will. It's Enjolras. He has to."

To Be Continued...

A/N. Begs shamelessly for feedback. It really does help to know what you enjoy reading and what works/doesn't for you. In accordance with this shameless need, I have decided to reward and bribe good reviewers (if I can) with snippets of ami sickfic and fluff.