Faux Pas de Deux

Author:   Pairing: Enjolras/Bossuet  Rating: PG

Bossuet would never have told Enjolras that he had a crush on him if he had had his wits about him and full control of his own destiny. He would never have written one of the letters he meant to send, never left it in a borrowed book in the spring of 1832, and never returned the book without looking through it to be certain that he hadn't done something foolish. That way, Enjolras would never ever have confronted him with a letter of his done up in purple ink with hearts in the margins, and he would never have been as hideously embarrassed as he was that day.

On the other hand, it opened up new avenues of possibilities when Enjolras smiled shyly and said, "It's rather sweet, really."

Bossuet feared that he had caught one of the diseases that caused deafness or possibly hallucinations. However, he was also relieved, because he had been catching himself standing still whenever he spotted Enjolras of late, if only to focus on him better as he walked by. With a rush of hope, Bossuet asked, "It's what?"

"Sweet." Enjolras cleared his throat. "At least, I think so."

"Oh." Bossuet stared at him. "Oh. Um. Really?"

Enjolras frowned. "Yes, or I wouldn't have said that."

"Ah." Bossuet grinned. "So that means you --"

"No!" Enjolras threw the letter at him. "I'm not interested in -- in anyone!"

"But --"

"It's a nice letter." Enjolras shrugged. "That's all."

Bossuet considered this. "I could write you another."

"I suppose that might be pleasant."

"All right." He could feel his fingers itching with all the things he wanted to say about the acrophilic, beatific, callipygian, delectable, eleemonsynary, featous, grandiloquent, hymniferous, illuminating, jocund, keatsian, loquacious, meritorious, numinous, ostentatious, perspicacious, quixotic, refulgent, salubrious, tantalizing, undauntable, vivacious, wondersome, xanthochroic, yearnful, zetetic boy.* He went home and wrote a sheaf of letters, which he hid from Joly.

Several days later, he gave the letters to Enjolras, who looked very impressed. "You've been busy."

Bossuet shrugged. "I think of you rather often."

"Ah." Enjolras put the letters in his bag. "I'll read them later, thank you."

"You're welcome."

The next afternoon, Enjolras knocked on the door of the apartment Bossuet was sharing with Joly for want of independent funds. Bossuet let him in and found Enjolras immediately in his arms, kissing him feverishly and tugging at his cravat, his waistcoat, and his belt. "Oh, Bossuet, my dear friend --"

Bossuet pulled away. "You can't, you mustn't. Joly will be home in a moment."

Enjolras' pale cheeks were flushed with passion. "You wouldn't tell him."


He ran a hand through his sun-kissed hair. "It would hardly matter, now, would it? He would never believe you."

Bossuet sighed. "I suppose not."

Enjolras smiled. "I'm sure no one would believe a word of it."

"Of course not. Perhaps tomorrow? Perhaps -- in your lodgings, as I have none of my own?"

Enjolras grimaced. "My aunt is the concierge. She would tell my parents in a moment if I did anything the slightest bit out of line. Why do you think I don't drink, don't bring anyone home? It's cheap, but it's inconvenient. If we meet, it must be somewhere else."

"I don't have anywhere else."

"Well." Enjolras straightened his cravat. "Perhaps it will have to wait."

"After that?" Bossuet shuddered. "Must we?"

"Find a place of your own."

"Soon. Soon."

Within three weeks, he had found enough money to find a room. On the first evening when neither of them was busy, he invited Enjolras to visit him. Bossuet was so impatient that he was sitting outside on the steps playing with his kitten, Chrysothemis. He had only had her for a few days, but Jean Prouvaire had named her, and she was a dear little thing, all inquisitive whiskers and twitching tail.

It was a real pity that Chrysothemis wanted to cross the road, and that the fiacre driver was in such a hurry. Bossuet covered his eyes, overcome by a wave of grief and nausea. He only looked up when Enjolras swung down out of the fiacre and laid a hand on his shoulder. "It's good to see you, alone," Enjolras said, smiling.

Bossuet turned faintly green, thinking of poor, late Chrysothemis. "I can't. Not tonight."

"Whyever not?"

He waved a hand. "My kitten -- my little pet." He wiped a tear away from his eye, in keeping with the Romantic dictum that emotion was one of the most important things in life.

Enjolras turned to look and grimaced. "That's disgusting."

"She --" Bossuet choked back a sob.

Enjolras patted him on the shoulder. "Go ahead, mon ami. You've the right to grieve. I'm going to -- to visit a political compatriot." He went down the street, pursuing another fiacre, while Bossuet went inside, torn between sadness and the desire to vomit. He slept like a log that night.

It was a week before Enjolras would consent to visit him again. As Enjolras lit a candle in Bossuet's apartment, murmuring something about the power of light to dispel fear, a spark flew onto Bossuet's cravat and lit the thin fabric into an instant, if small, inferno, badly singeing his beard before Enjolras threw a blanket over his head to smother the flames. The scent of burning hair hung heavy in the air afterward, although they opened the windows, and neither could think of lustful exertions for long in such an environment. "Well," Bossuet said, shrugging, "so much for that."

"With the number of accidents you get into, perhaps you ought to take up medicine," Enjolras said mildly.

"No. I don't think so." Bossuet sighed. "I need friends and relatives who've studied it, that's all."

"You've your dear friend Joly."

Bossuet blinked at Enjolras' tone. In anyone else, he would have taken it for jealousy. "True. But he's busy with his Musichetta, and I've been spending more time with you than him, of late."

Enjolras smiled faintly, then coughed. "I should go, I think."

Bossuet frowned. "If you must."

"I can hardly breathe in here."

"All right. Have a good night."

"And you."

The next day, near lunch time, Bossuet and Enjolras were walking in the Jardin du Luxembourg, talking quietly together, when a gamin let fly a rock, expecting to skip it off across a pond. Instead, it skipped right off of Bossuet's temple, and he fell down unconscious in a bed of hyacinths. He woke, woozy from the pain and the overwhelming scent. Enjolras was bending over him, his beautiful face creased in worry. "Alas," he said softly, "I didn't manage to catch the one who did it. I'm sorry, Bossuet."

Bossuet squeezed his eyes shut. "It's all right."

"I was going to visit you tonight, but --"

"I should stay with Joly, I think." Bossuet sat up slowly. "Ouch."

"Probably." Enjolras helped him up and walked him to Joly's home.

They were both very busy with politics, and everything was bustle and squeak for days on end. Bossuet pined after Enjolras; Enjolras seemed not to notice anything. On the night of Lamarque's funeral, they stayed at Le Café Musain until a terribly late hour. Bossuet stubbornly refused to leave until Enjolras did, and Enjolras spoke to perhaps twenty different men that night. Bossuet trailed after him when he finally left, rubbing his eyes. "Let me spend the night with you?"

Enjolras turned around, noticing him for the first time in hours. "My aunt --"

"It's three in the morning. She won't notice."

Enjolras frowned. "Oh, all right."

They were both far too exhausted to do more than fall asleep in each other's arms. Bossuet woke shortly before dawn and remembered Enjolras' tattletale aunt. He dressed in the dark without waking his friend, snuck out without alerting the concierge, and went to Joly's.

When Joly spotted him, he began to laugh. "Why did you steal Enjolras' waistcoat?"

Bossuet looked down at himself, understood his mistake in a moment, and blushed. "Oh. I -- er -- I spilled wine on my last clean one, and he lent his to me."

"Very kind, I'm sure," Joly said, "if only it fit you."

Bossuet smoothed the gapping buttons. "It's better than nothing."

"I suppose." Joly shook his head. "Let's go to breakfast."

"All right."

No one else mentioned the waistcoat until the next day, when the National Guards' liaisons to the police force started to gossip. Just before the last charge, one said to the other, "Do you see that fellow in the rash waistcoat?"

"It's familiar, but I can't think why."

"I think it was in one of the dossiers we read the other day."

"Ah, that's it."

"We'll have to be doubly sure we get him, then, won't we?"

The man's companion nodded. "Absolutely. We can't have the ringleader surviving, now, can we?"

"Not at all."

[Author's note: I wouldn't include such a hideous list of epithets without defining them. acrophilic: likes heights; beatific: imparting supreme happiness; callipygian: possessing well-formed buttocks; delectable: yummy; eleemonsynary: giving alms; featous: possessing well-formed limbs; grandiloquent: characterized by swelling expression; hymniferous: his voice had the tremor of a hymn; illuminative: giving off light or enlightenment; jocund: cheerful; keatsian: like Byronic only not; loquacious: talkative; meritorious: of merit; numinous: touched by a greater force; ostentatious: flamboyant; perspicacious: perceptive; quixotic: striving with lofty enthusiasm for visionary ideals; refulgent: brightly shining; salubrious: healthy; tantalizing: out of reach enough to put someone through hell; undauntable: unstoppable; vivacious: full of life; wondersome: wonderful; xanthochroic: blond and fair-skinned; yearnful: desirous of something absent; zetetic: inquisitive.]

Story Index