The rehearsal for the wedding was, without a doubt, a complete disaster. Courfeyrac hoped—for Lisette’s sake—that this meant the actual wedding tomorrow would go much smoother. Although, at this point, he didn’t see how it could possibly be any worse than the rehearsal. It had started off bad with the air conditioning at the church busting. There were mechanics working on it now, but they’d been back in the boiler room for a while now and Courfeyrac didn’t have much hope that it’d get fixed tonight. The weather had been nice enough when they got here that they were able to throw open some windows, but a storm blew in and Gemma was worried about the wind destroying the decorations. With the windows closed, the chapel was rapidly becoming unbearably stifling.
A fact that was made worse because Courfeyrac, along with the groom and the rest of the groomsmen, were dressed in tuxes. This was a rehearsal and tuxes could be complicated, so Courfeyrac understood why they were viewed as necessary, but tuxes were also hot and suffocating. Enjolras had protested the donning of the tuxes (“Lisette’s not wearing her dress!” he had snapped. “I don’t see why I have to wear the tux!”) and Courfeyrac regretted not adding his own protests to Enjolras’s at the time.
Of course, the rehearsal was only supposed to be an hour, which was not an unbearable amount of time to wear a tux, but other complications had dragged this out. The two flower girls—young cousins of Enjolras—had gotten into a huge fight because one of the girls had more flowers in her basket than the other and it wasn’t fair. When one of the girls started crying, the ring bearer had joined in with taunts that the little girl was a baby for crying and the pint-sized fistfight that had followed had been amusing—even though one of the girls did knock out the ring bearer’s loose tooth.
Then there was the endless shuffling and reshuffling of the bridal party and the perpetual debate over whether it was better to line them up by height or personal relationships. Courfeyrac, at least, was good about going where he was told, but Enjolras, who didn’t want to be here in the first place and who was grumpy because he and his boyfriend were hardly talking to each other, kept grumbling—which inevitably had Lisette snapping at him. With as on edge as both of them were right now, Courfeyrac knew that having them snap at each other was asking for an explosive argument and luckily, Nathan realized that too. He was rather adept at distracting Lisette when Enjolras got particularly petulant and Courfeyrac was equally skilled at getting Enjolras’s attention when it looked like he was about to start ranting about the needless opulence and commercialism of weddings in general.
Really, Enjolras just needed to learn when to keep his mouth shut, but Courfeyrac knew that was a lesson Enjolras had been struggling to learn his whole life. He doubted it would suddenly click for him now.
They were about to enter their third hour of rehearsing and Courfeyrac was about to sweat right through his tux—he thanked his years of high school choir for teaching him not to lock his knees, because he probably would have passed out by this point if that were the case—and Lisette was walking down the aisle for possibly the fifth time when the heel of her shoe broke.
It appeared to be the last straw for her, and when it became obvious that she was about to cry, Nathan and her parents were at her side in an instant to run damage control.
Courfeyrac felt bad for her, he really did, but he also was ready to sell his liver to be anywhere but here.
Combeferre joined him at the front of the chapel and handed him a water bottle. “You look like you could use this,” he said.
“Sorry to make you wait through this whole mess,” he said, taking a swig from the water bottle. “We didn’t think it’d take this long.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’ve been catching up on some studying and Grantaire’s still working on some of those illustrations. We can take care of ourselves.” Combeferre reached over and smoothed the lapels of Courfeyrac’s tux and adjusted the collar. Courfeyrac’s heart pounded to have Combeferre touch him. He didn’t know if that it was a good pounding or not. He needed to get out before Combeferre noticed. “You were a little ruffled,” Combeferre said.
“Only ruffled?” he said, scanning the room for the nearest exit. “I feel like I’m melting up here.”
Combeferre glanced back at Nathan and Lisette, who were still talking. “It looks like they might be a while,” he said. Already the best man and the other groomsman had taken seats on the nearest pew, and Enjolras had somehow managed to disappear in this short amount of time with Grantaire. “Maybe we could talk? You’ve been avoiding me since yesterday afternoon.”
“What are you talking about?” Courfeyrac asked, even though he knew exactly what Combeferre was talking about. “We spent the morning together at the EMP Museum.”
And he had spent the morning distracting Combeferre with various movie props and costumes from the current Icons of Science Fiction and Fantasy Worlds of Myths and Magic exhibits because he knew if he could get Combeferre to nerd out about something, then he could avoid this precise conversation.
“Yes, and every time I tried to talk to you about anything other than the exhibits, you were quick to divert my attention to something else,” Combeferre said. “Look, I’m just worried about you. I need to know that you’re okay.”
“Of course I’m okay,” he said. Lisette and Nathan were blocking the main exit out of the chapel, but there was a smaller exit off to the side which he knew led out to a back hallway. Now he just needed a reason to use it.
He made the mistake of looking at Combeferre. The concern on his face was undeniable and Courfeyrac felt guilty for lying to him.
“Fey,” he said. “I think I need to be honest with you, and I think you should know—”
No. Nothing good could come from that sentence. “I know you’re worried,” he said. “And I know I’m not as okay as I keep telling you I am, but I’ve got this under control, okay?”
“You don’t have to do this alone,” he said. “You know that, right? I want to help.”
He reached for Courfeyrac’s hand and Courfeyrac quickly shoved his hands in his pockets. He didn’t want to be having this conversation. He didn’t want Combeferre to be so nice. It was an unfair reminder of what he’d never have.
“I know you want to help,” he said. He took a step backwards, toward the exit. “But this is sort of something I have to handle on my own, you know?”
“No,” Combeferre said. “I don’t know. Courfeyrac, I’d do anything for you—anything at all, without hesitation—but how can I help if you won’t tell me what’s wrong?”
What’s wrong is that I’m in love with you. What’s wrong is that I never want you to stop touching me and I never want you to let go of me but if I let myself feel that way, I’m only going to get hurt. And I’ll hurt you too and I can’t do that to either of us.
But those were words he couldn’t say. He couldn’t give Combeferre what he wanted and he tried to push back all the other memories that had been dogging him for days of other partners in other relationships and how he couldn’t give them what they wanted and needed either, but he couldn’t. “I need to get out of this suit,” he said, backing away from Combeferre. He forced himself to ignore the pained look on Combeferre’s face as he pulled away. “I just—I need to go.”
Once out of the chapel, he ran to the Sunday School classroom that had been designated as a changing room and he stripped out of the tux, feeling only momentarily guilty that he didn’t take the time to hang it up properly before pulling on his jeans and his t-shirt. His chest felt tight and he could hardly breathe and it wasn’t fucking fair! It wasn’t fair to be in love with Combeferre like this! He had sworn all of this off. He knew it wouldn’t work out—couldn’t work out. He refused to put himself in the position where his only options would be to hurt Combeferre or be hurt by him. He blinked the tears back from his eyes.
He couldn’t do this anymore.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket, found Jehan in his contact list, and went in search of somewhere he could talk in private.
“Courfeyrac?” Jehan said as he answered the phone. “What’s wrong?”
“How did you know something’s wrong?”
“I didn’t,” he said. “I just figured you probably wouldn’t call me unless something was.”
“Shit, fuck,” Courfeyrac said, stepping outside the church. The storm was picking up force. It didn’t often storm like this in the early months of summer, but right now he needed it. He needed the wind and the dark clouds. “I can’t do this. It isn’t fair! Why did I have to fall in love with him?”
“Oh, Courfeyrac,” Jehan said.
“And you know what the worst fucking part about this is? He’s too fucking perfect! He keeps being nice and wonderful and I—I can’t, Jehan.” He was crying now, but he made no effort to reign in his emotions. He needed to get this out and Jehan wouldn’t judge him for it. “I know it wouldn’t work between us—I know that. I know I don’t get to have these kinds of relationships anymore, but I—”
“What do you mean?” Jehan said. “You don’t get to have these relationships anymore?”
“I’d just fuck it up,” he said. “I’d just hurt Combeferre—or he’d hurt me—and then we’d hate each other. I’m not meant for romance, Jehan, no matter how much I might want it. It’s not—I can’t—love isn’t for me.”
“Courfeyrac,” Jehan said slowly. “Just because you’re asexual doesn’t mean that you can’t have loving, fulfilling relationships. You understand that, right?”
“Every relationship I have ever been in says differently.”
“To be honest,” Jehan said, “I think every relationship you’ve been in has been flawed from the start. Those people never really understood you. They never really loved you.”
“Christopher raped you, Courfeyrac.”
“It was just a mistake,” he said. “It wasn’t—he didn’t rape me. We’ve been over this.”
“You don’t treat people you love like that,” Jehan said. “What he did to you—Courfeyrac, you can’t let that dictate your life now. You need to talk to Combeferre.”
“No,” he said, brushing aside a fresh wave of tears. “I can’t.”
“Yes,” Jehan said. “You can. This is Combeferre we’re talking about. He would never hurt you—and it would kill him to know that he’s unwittingly hurting you now.”
“Courfeyrac, what Christopher did you, that wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t something you deserved because you didn’t love him the ‘right way,’ and loneliness is not some penance you have to pay! I really think this thing with you and Combeferre has potential, but sweetie, you have to be honest with him. It’s okay that you’ve got scars from Christopher and it’s okay that you’re not over the way he hurt you, but you’re only going to hurt worse in the long run if you don’t talk about this. If you love Combeferre, he deserves honesty.”
That was too much. He couldn’t let himself believe that things were as simple as Jehan made them out to be. He couldn’t talk to Combeferre. He couldn’t give Combeferre those tools to wound him with. He’d cry this out, and then he’d lock it away. He didn’t need Jehan telling him that he just needed to be brave right now.
“I shouldn’t have called,” Courfeyrac said. His voice sounded empty even to his own ears.
“Sorry for bothering you.”
He hung up the phone before Jehan could finish talking and he turned the phone off before he could call back.
Enjolras knew as soon as Lisette’s heel broke that this would be a matter that took a fair amount of time to deal with. Not because his sister was vain or shallow, but because he knew his sister well and he knew the signs of stress building up in her and he knew that something as innocuous as a shoe breaking would tip her over the edge.
So he used that to his advantage, and as soon as his sister was sequestered by their parents and her fiancé, Enjolras swooped in on Grantaire, who was sitting off to the side, sulkily working on his tablet. Enjolras had been staring at him all night, thinking over and over again all the things he wanted to say and all the things he wanted to hear and he wasn’t going to let Grantaire drag this out anymore. Yes, he’d said some awful things and he regretted them and he’d apologize for them, but so far, Grantaire hadn’t given him the chance to do that.
That was going to change.
He took Grantaire by the hand and pulled him to his feet. “We’re going to talk.”
“Enjolras, I don’t—”
“We need to talk,” he said, tightening his grip on Grantaire’s hand and pulling him out of the chapel. Grantaire was silent as Enjolras led him down the hall to an empty Sunday School room. Enjolras flipped on the light and closed the door behind them.
“Okay, Taire,” he said. He tried to keep his voice even, knew that snapping at Grantaire would just make things worse at this point, but he also knew that he wasn’t alone in screwing up their relationship. “Do you want to tell me what’s going on?”
“Oh, you suddenly care now?”
“I’ve always cared!”
“Well, you have a funny way of showing it!”
“That’s because I have no fucking clue what’s going on with us anymore, Taire! You won’t talk to me.”
“There’s nothing to say,” Grantaire said. He moved to the door, but Enjolras stood in front of it, cutting off his retreat.
“You’re not leaving until we’ve talked this out,” he said. Grantaire’s reluctance to stand and fight over this worried him. Enjolras could handle fights and shouting and generally screwing up, but he couldn’t handle Grantaire giving up on him. He couldn’t handle Grantaire giving up on their relationship.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Grantaire said. “I thought everything was fairly obvious.”
“Obvious?” Enjolras repeated. “Grantaire, I have no idea what’s going on! I’ve tried asking you about it and you shoot me down every time, but if you think that anything is obvious about this, then surprise! It’s not! Now tell me what’s going on.”
Grantaire dragged his hand through his hair, rough enough that Enjolras was sure that it hurt, which made him want to gather Grantaire into his arms and just forget any of this had happened—but that wouldn’t fix the problem. Enjolras wasn’t going to run from it anymore.
So he waited.
Finally the silence became too much for Grantaire. “Why did you never tell them about me?” he demanded. His voice was raw.
“Who are you talking about?”
“Your fucking family, Enjolras. They didn’t know I existed until two weeks ago. Do I mean that little to you?”
“That’s what this is about?” he asked, honestly feeling surprised. He knew Grantaire had been bothered by it in the beginning, but he thought they’d sorted it out…
Apparently he was wrong.
“Do you have any idea what’s been going through my head this whole week?”
Enjolras shook his head.
“You’re ashamed of me,” he said. “That’s why you never told them. You don’t think I’m good enough for you. You don’t think I’m good enough for your family. You don’t think they’d approve—that’s why you hid me from them! I’m your fucking guilty pleasure and nothing more—and you know what, Enjolras, there was a day when I would have given anything to just be your guilty pleasure, your shameful secret, but not anymore! Not when I thought you loved me!”
“Of course I love you!” Enjolras said. “I love everything about you. I can’t sleep without you. I can’t think without you. I can barely function without you at this point!”
“Then why didn’t they know about me?”
Enjolras sighed. He had his reasons for keeping his relationship a secret and he knew that none of them were logical. “You’re not going to like the answer,” he said.
“How much do you remember from when we first started dating?” he asked.
“I was drinking too much to remember much,” he said quietly. “You deserved better than that, I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I disappointed you. Is that why you didn’t tell them?”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” Enjolras said. “But let me tell you what I remember from those first few months. You were drinking all the time. Your grandmother was sick and you thought she was going to die. You were flunking out of school. Your depression was the worst it had ever been and your life was crumbling down around you—and you acted like I was the only thing keeping you afloat some days, Taire, and that terrified me.”
“Sorry, I’m sorr—”
“No,” Enjolras said. “You don’t have to apologize for that. You were sick. It wasn’t your fault. But the way you talked back then—every time we argued, I thought you were going to break up with me. You would go on and on about how I deserved so much more than you because you couldn’t see what I saw in you. And every time you went quiet—Taire, I thought you were going to kill yourself! I thought I was going to wake up one morning and find your suicide note taped to my door. As far as I was concerned, I was at risk of losing you every day.
“And how was I supposed to explain that to my mom? How was I supposed to tell her that I was so in love with someone who I didn’t think loved me enough to keep me around? You clung to my love like it was a life raft, but your own self-hatred was pulling you down farther every day and I could barely hold on for the both of us. I was scared, okay? I was scared and I didn’t know how to tell my parents that. I was scared they wouldn’t see all the wonderful, beautiful parts of your soul. I didn’t know what to do. What if I told my parents about my beautiful boyfriend only to have him break up with me two days later? What if I told them how happy you made me only to have to invite them to your funeral a week later? I didn’t know how to do any of that and there was no one I could talk to about this—so I didn’t. I didn’t say a word.
“And the longer I didn’t talk about it, the better you seemed to get. The better we worked together, the stronger you were—the happier you were! And every time I thought I could tell them—something went wrong. You’d have a bad day or we’d fight and I’d say something cruel and you’d go quiet, and I’d get scared all over again. I know it’s all coincidence, Grantaire, I know it, but in my head…” He shrugged. He knew how foolish he sounded. “I was a little superstitious, okay? I thought I would jinx us by telling my parents. I know you all think I don’t have an illogical bone in my body, but I do when it comes to you, okay? When it comes to you, I can’t think straight and if keeping you a secret would save your life, then like hell was I going to tell anyone!”
“I know it’s ridiculous, okay? And I know that it wasn’t fair to you, but I—”
Grantaire cut him off with a kiss. A proper kiss. One with lips and tongues and hands and heart. So much heart. Grantaire pulled their bodies close and Enjolras moaned against him because he missed this. He missed this so much.
When Grantaire pulled back, he framed Enjolras’s face with his hands. “I am so sorry,” he said.
“You don’t have to apologize. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I know that,” he said. “We paid that therapist a lot of money so I’d know that, but I had no idea how much I hurt you back then and I am so sorry that you ever had to worry about me like that.”
“You’re worth it,” Enjolras said.
Grantaire snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“No, Taire,” he said. “You are worth it. You are worth every sleepless night I have spent worrying over you, and I’m sorry that you still don’t see that. And I’m sorry that I make it worse—shit, the things I’ve said to you this week, the way I’ve acted—”
“We’ve both done stupid things,” Grantaire said.
“You were hurting,” Enjolras said. “I should have been more aware, more sensitive.”
“I was hurting,” Grantaire admitted, “but I was also acting like an immature little shit half the time. We’ve both screwed this up, Enjolras. Stop being so selfish. There’s plenty of blame to share.”
Enjolras chuckled. “Look at the pair of us. We’re a mess.”
“A hot mess,” Grantaire said.
“I can think of a way to make it hotter,” Enjolras said. He wanted the sort of affection and intimacy they hadn’t dared share since they got here. He wanted Grantaire.
And clearly, Grantaire wanted him.
That was exactly how Enjolras liked it.
Fifteen minutes later, Enjolras was half out of his tux—he wanted it off completely but Grantaire said he looked too hot—and he was on his knees between Grantaire’s legs (with Grantaire properly undressed) and he was trying to keep his moans quiet and at one point he had to pull away and threaten to gag Grantaire because he was nearly shouting Enjolras’s name and they were in a church and his parents were somewhere in the building, but mostly Enjolras didn’t care. Mostly all he could think about how much he loved the taste of his boyfriend in his mouth and how much he loved hearing his name on his boyfriend’s lips and how he never knew that he could love someone as much as he loved Grantaire right now.
He swallowed when Grantaire climaxed, relishing in the way Grantaire kept whispering his name over and over again.
And that’s when Combeferre walked in.
“Seriously, you guys?” Combeferre said. He had his back to Grantaire and Enjolras as they cleaned up a little and Grantaire put on some clothes. “This is a church. I’m not even religious and that just seems wrong to me!”
He was a little surprised that this was the first—and hopefully the only—time he walked in on the two of them carrying on considering he and Enjolras were living together when Enjolras and Grantaire started dating and all of their friends knew of the two of them went at it like rabbits. But he’d been wandering the building looking for Courfeyrac, who never returned to the chapel after taking off his tux, and when he saw the light on in this classroom, he figured maybe Courfeyrac had ducked inside here to be alone for a bit.
Instead, he got treated to the Enjolras and Grantaire sex show.
“You can turn around,” Enjolras said. “We’re decent.”
Enjolras was blushing, but Grantaire just looked a little smug as he pulled on his t-shirt. “Sorry about that,” he said, not really sounding sorry at all. “Were you looking for us?”
“I was looking for Courfeyrac, actually,” he said. “But I suppose you two were a bit busy to have seen him.”
Enjolras and Grantaire traded a concerned look. “Is he missing?” Enjolras asked.
“He said he wanted to change,” he said. “And I checked the room you guys were using as a dressing room, and his tux was there, but he wasn’t. I have no idea where he is and his phone is going straight to voicemail.”
“This is a church,” Grantaire pointed out. “I doubt he could get into much trouble here.”
“We should still look for him,” Enjolras said. “You know he’s been having a hard time of it.”
“I think I made things worse,” Combeferre said, leaning back against the door. He’d just been trying to talk to Courfeyrac. He wanted to be honest with him because he’d always been honest with Courfeyrac. Not to pressure him into a relationship he might not want—although part of him felt that this might actually be what Courfeyrac wanted—but because Courfeyrac deserved to make an informed decision about this. But mostly he wanted to help and he worried that his feelings clouded his judgment.
“Combeferre,” Enjolras said. “I don’t think you’re actually capable of making this worse.”
“I’m not so sure,” he said. “I kind of might have fallen in love with him.”
There was a beat of silence before Grantaire said, “Well, that was unexpected.”
“Tell me about it,” he said. “But I think I’m in love with him and I just wanted to talk to him because I know something’s wrong and I just wanted to help, but I probably came on too strong and now he probably wants nothing to do with me. He’s been avoiding me all day.”
“He’s been avoiding all of us since that bachelor party,” Grantaire said. “It’s not just you.”
“I just don’t want to see him hurting like this anymore,” Combeferre said. “He deserves someone who loves him for who he is, not in spite of it—and I know I can be that for him, but only if he wants that too. I just…I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do at this point.”
“Well,” Enjolras said, “we should try finding him first. And once we know that he’s okay, you two can talk. I’ll make sure my parents and Diane give you guys some space for a bit.” Enjolras smiled at Combeferre. “It’s going to be okay.”
Combeferre nodded, hoping that Enjolras was right. Enjolras made up a list of places they could try looking for Courfeyrac and they split up. Enjolras and Grantaire both promised to text him if they found Courfeyrac before he did.
He glanced out a glass exit door as he passed, not expecting to see anything more than the deluge of rain. He doubled back when his brain processed the large lump he’d seen sitting under the streetlamp near the parking lot. He didn’t care that it was pouring rain outside and that the wind was strong enough to rip leaves off trees. He hurried outside, only just managing not to slip on the wet grass and fall, and he sat down next to Courfeyrac.
Courfeyrac was already soaked to the bone and his hair was matted flat against his head. He looked at Combeferre when he sat down, and his eyes were red. Because of the rain, it was impossible to tell if Courfeyrac was still crying or not. He wanted to gather Courfeyrac into his arms, wanted to hold him until this pain went away, but he knew instinctively that he needed to give Courfeyrac space right now. He couldn’t pressure him to accept comfort or even to talk about this.
So instead he offered up a sad, sympathetic smile—a humble but heartfelt offering on the altar of his love—before looking straight ahead.
Maybe Courfeyrac wasn’t ready to talk about whatever was plaguing him. Maybe he’d never be ready.
But Combeferre would sit with him all the same.
Interlude—March, Two Years Ago
Grantaire was doing better. It was the first time in a long time that he could make that claim. Two months of weekly therapy appointments and six weeks on anti-depressants and he was feeling okay. He was feeling stable. And that stability balanced him out well enough that he could untangled the self-destructive thoughts in his head and see the things that were going right. He and Enjolras had been together for four months now, and Enjolras had yet to get sick of him or give up on him. It was thanks to Enjolras that he sought out therapy at all.
But he was also at a place in his life where he could see that while he was finally piecing himself together, Courfeyrac was falling apart. He’d broken up with his boyfriend months ago, and while Grantaire understood that a mourning period was normal and even expected, what Courfeyrac was doing was more. Grantaire was practically an expert in depression and self-destruction at this point. He could easily recognize it in Courfeyrac. He’d been brushed off the few times he’d brought it up with Courfeyrac—Courfeyrac had been so supportive of him for so long that he couldn’t stand the thought of not offering help in return—and the last time he’d broached the subject, Courfeyrac had just snapped at him and Jehan told him in a low voice afterwards to give Courfeyrac some space.
Grantaire didn’t take orders very well, and it wasn’t a week later that he and Courfeyrac bumped into each other on campus one night. Grantaire, having officially dropped out at the beginning of the semester, had only come to bring Enjolras some dinner, and Courfeyrac had just finished taking a midterm.
“Mind if I walk you home?” Grantaire asked, hurrying to catch up with Courfeyrac when he spotted him on campus.
Courfeyrac just shrugged.
“How’d your test go?”
“Probably terribly,” Courfeyrac said. “Couldn’t concentrate.”
Grantaire knew how that went. There was a reason he’d dropped out of school. “Ah, well, it’s your last semester of your undergrad and you’ve already been accepted into law school. I can’t imagine that they’ll give you the boot just because you did bad on a single midterm.”
“They will give me the boot if I can’t keep my grades up,” he said. “Or if I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong before law school starts in the fall.”
“You’ve hit a rough patch,” Grantaire said. “That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Just…I don’t know. Cut yourself some slack or something. You used to be pretty good at knowing when you needed to take a break.”
“Yeah, well, things change and my classes aren’t as easy as they once were. I can’t just coast.”
“You never coasted. You’ve always worked hard, but you used to balance it with partying hard. You need a break, so let’s do something tonight. We can go get dinner or dessert or something.” He threw an arm around Courfeyrac’s shoulders. “My treat.”
Courfeyrac shrugged away from Grantaire. “Not interested,” he said tersely.
Grantaire let out a deep sigh, wondering whether or not it was worth pushing the subject. He decided that his former roommate resembled a kicked puppy too much not to push the subject.
“Courfeyrac,” he said. “I think we should talk about this.”
“Talk about what?”
“I’m not blind,” he said. “None of our friends are, either. We can see that there’s something wrong and we’re worried about you!”
“Yeah, and I’ve told Jehan to tell the rest of you to piss off. I’m…dealing with this.”
“No, you’re really not,” Grantaire said.
“I know what it looks like to not deal with your shit, and that’s exactly what you’re doing!”
“I’m doing the best I can, okay? I don’t need you and everyone else nosing around.”
Grantaire sighed. “Have you…have you at least considered talking to a therapist about what’s going on? If you’re not going to talk to your friends, you should be talking to someone.”
“Your boyfriend gave me the same advice,” Courfeyrac said. “And what makes you think that I haven’t been to see a therapist about this?”
“Several of them,” Courfeyrac said bitterly. “And every last one of them seems to think that I’m not interested in having sex because I’ve endured some kind of trauma and not that I’ve endured trauma because I’m not interested in having sex! My sexuality is not a dysfunction—but good luck convincing anyone else of that!”
“I don’t think you’re dysfunctional,” Grantaire said.
“Yeah, well, you’re just about the only one.”
“Forget what those stupid therapists said,” Grantaire said. “They’re full of shit. But I’m still worried about you, Fey. You’ve changed.”
“You have too.”
“That’s because I’m finally getting my shit together. You seem to be having the opposite problem.”
“Well what else do you expect me to do, Taire? Something had to change, and it obviously wasn’t going to be everyone else!”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t keep falling for people and expecting them to be okay with who I am,” Courfeyrac said. He sounded exhausted, defeated. “It’s just not going to happen.”
“So you’re giving up.”
“I’m moving on,” Courfeyrac said. “I would love to fall in love and spend the rest of my life with someone, but every time I try, I just get hurt—and it’s not worth that any more. I’m sick of being labeled a tease or a prude or being called frigid. I’m sick of people not being able to untie sex from love, and I’m sick of being made to feel bad about myself for something that I can’t change.”
“But you know what I can change? I can change my behavior. I can stop flirting and draping myself all over everyone. I can stop doing things that give people the wrong idea. I can stop opening my heart up to this kind of trauma over and over again. I can’t do this anymore, Grantaire, and I’d really appreciate it if instead of nagging me about how different I’m acting, you and the rest of our friends would just try to support my decision!”
Grantaire hesitated for second before pulling Courfeyrac into a hug. Courfeyrac was stiff, but he soon relaxed into the hold.
“I’m just so tired,” Courfeyrac said, burying his face against Grantaire’s shoulder. “And I don’t think I’ll ever not feel lonely.”
“I am so sorry,” Grantaire said. “And you’re not alone—you’ve always got us.”
“It’s not the same.”
“I know,” Grantaire said. “But we’ll be here for you all the same—no matter how you change or don’t change. I’ll make sure the others give you some space, okay? None of us meant to make this harder for you. We’ve just been worried.”
“How about we go back to my place? I’ll keep you company until Enjolras gets home, and then we’ll drive you back to your place.”
“That sounds nice,” Courfeyrac said.