Courfeyrac lay on his back in the grass, his arms flung out wide, smiling up at the clouds. Combeferre sat nearby, reading, with his spectacles down on the bridge on his nose. A few leaves were caught in his reddish-gold hair, and a butterfly perched on the toe of Courfeyrac's right shoe.
"It's a glorious day. Now, aren't you grateful to me for getting you out of that silly house and taking you here? You're much happier, aren't you?" He wiggled his toe, and the butterfly indignantly arose.
Combeferre held out his hand hopefully, but the painted wings disappeared into a clump of grass. "Happier now, yes. I shall be in dreadful trouble when I get home."
"Don't go home." Courfeyrac grinned. "I don't mind if you stay with me. Mother and Father both approve of you."
"Yes, but, Martin, I'll be in even worse trouble when I do go home if I stay out with you."
"You're so damned practical. Look, you were meant to enjoy this. I don't care if you read through it all, but for God's sake stop worrying about the sort of trouble you'll get into. It's worth it, all right? You can see it's worth it." He sat up, and crawled on his hands and grass-stained knees to Combeferre's side. "Even if you were to be hanged afterwards, it wouldn't spoil it; can't you see?" He paused. "Well, if you were to be hanged, it might make it a little hard to enjoy it. But you know what I mean."
"I know what you mean, and I see what you're saying. That doesn't mean I agree."
"All right, that's really enough." Courfeyrac snatched Combeferre's book, and tossed it lightly to the side. "You're old, and it's not time yet. I must get you an elixir."
"Phillipe," Courfeyrac mimicked, and happily pushed Combeferre over on his side. "Isn't it nice this is a hill? Have you ever rolled down a hill, Phillipe?"
Combeferre widened blue eyes at him. "Not in ages..."
"But you have! Lord love me, I thought it impossible, I really did. Here; take my hands." He caught both of Combeferre's hands in his, crossing his arms first so that they made an hourglass between them. "Are you ready?"
"Pity." Courfeyrac flopped down on his stomach, grinned hugely, and pushed off from the hillside. The two of them spun down through the grass, over and over, Courfeyrac giggling the entire time. The grey ribbon came out of Combeferre's hair, and it tumbled down about his face, tangling in with stray wildflowers and grass, and the occasional puff of dandelion seeds. Courfeyrac's white waistcoat picked up mud stains as well as grass-stains, and he lost a shoe when they came too near a bush.
At last they reached the bottom of the hill, and rolled to a stop, lying next to each other with their hands still clasped. Courfeyrac would have lain there forever, but that he suddenly heard a soft cry of horror from Combeferre.
"My glasses." Combeferre looked in dismay at the bent frames and smashed lens.
"Damn," said Courfeyrac helpfully, brushing at the stains on his clothes. "Well, keep the pieces, even if they can't be mended. As a memoir."
"Martin! I can't see a thing.."
"Really? Is that so? Can you see me?"
"I can see a white and green and brown blur. If that's you, and your clothes, I don't want to know what will happen to us."
"Please, we're not going to die over a set of ruined clothes." Courfeyrac smiled. "I'll just get a lecture of how at seventeen I should know enough to take care of myself and so on, and I shall smile and nod and say yes Madame, and the whole matter will be forgotten. My family's like that."
"Mine isn't." Combeferre hugged his knees distressedly.
"Come now. Your mother will be entirely charmed to see you with your hair down. It looks very nice that way; she won't be able to help but let you off scot-free, and buy you gold-rimmed spectacles in the bargain, I daresay. Gracious, man, you're a fine specimen now."
"And I wasn't before, then?"
"Oh, before you were more like a... hmm, more like a puppy."
Courfeyrac giggled, and pulled Combeferre close, petting his hair. "Indeed. An oversized, studious puppy. With glasses."
"A puppy. Here I thought I was better than that."
"Now, you mustn't react so badly. It was a compliment. Dogs are supposed to be terribly faithful and obedient and all sorts of rot. And I like dogs, provided they're at least twelve metres away."
"Ought I go the proper distance away, then?" Combeferre looked at the grass with the faintest hint of a smile.
"No, for you're better than a dog." Courfeyrac tilted up his face, and kissed him playfully. "Far better. Not for anything in the world would I kiss a dog."
"I wouldn't, either. But I don't mind you," he added regally.
"Splendid. Then let's wait a while to come up with excuses and stories for your family."
"That's a terribly nice idea," Combeferre amended.
"We'll tell them we were chased by a boar." Courfeyrac kissed him again.
"Or a bull."
"Or an indignant housewife, by God. With a pan..."
"And you like it."
"Then everything's fine."
"Quite." And Combeferre kissed him, twining his fingers in Courfeyrac's pale brown hair.
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