There it Was
Jehan looked about his room, listlessly, and sank down dramatically on the bed. Then he got up again, and wandered about, touching the window, the desk, the walls. He trailed his fingers along his bedspread, and tangled them in the girl's scarf tied to a hook in the wall. He'd tied it there himself. He'd bought it to give to Stella - he never forgot the names of any of the girls and young men he'd fallen in love with - but she'd been married the week after he first saw her, and he'd kept it.
He couldn't write to-day. His Muse, he decided, was sleeping or away. Still, one couldn't expect the world of a Muse, or demand her to stay when she needed to be alone.
He sat on the bed again, and picked up a little square of mirror, edged with copper. He'd bought that for Paul, but hadn't dared give it to him because it wasn't safe. He fell in love with both women and men, but mostly, he understood, people didn't. Really, he'd bought a thousand or so trinkets for all the different people he'd loved, and he'd ended up having to keep more than half.
He didn't give his poetry to anyone, however. He was rather shy of that, since Bahorel had teased him in the cafe in front of all of Les Amis. Bahorel hadn't meant any harm, and in all likelihood, no one remembered the event, but in Jehan's memory it was quite vivid, and he kept his poetry to himself.
Right now he was in love with Combeferre. He'd bought for Combeferre a scarf, a beautiful soft scarf of blue and lavender, because it was early spring yet, and early spring was always cold. Of course, he couldn't give the scarf to Combeferre. Oh, he could say it was just a gift, a friendly gift, and that would be the end, but because in truth it was supposed to be a lover's gift, complete with a little pledge of love, and because Jehan could never lie about such a thing and pretend it was for friendship, he could never give Combeferre the scarf.
He put down the mirror and picked up the scarf, and hugged it close, stroking it and thinking how pretty it would look on Combeferre. Perhaps this was why he couldn't write. Being in love always made it much more difficult to put words together, because he was always thinking of the person he was in love with, and then his mind wouldn't properly think of rhymes.
He sighed and knelt, wrapping up the scarf and putting it back under the bed in the box with all the other things he'd bought. In doing so, he saw the comb he'd bought for Juliette, and took that out, distracted. He remembered Juliette, and her dark, curly hair, and her dark, sparkling eyes. He paused. Ah yes. Juliette had gone back to the country with her mother the day before he'd planned to give it to her.
He put away the comb, and wished he had his Muse. Perhaps he'd go to the café. He got up, rubbing his knees, and pulled on a coat. Yes, that was a good idea.
The walk to the café was a cold one, and he thought about Combeferre, and Combeferre being cold. Combeferre actually was likely quite warm, but Jehan still thought he'd be more pleasantly warm with that pretty scarf.
Combeferre was at the café having a tea, and speaking with Enjolras. Enjolras was one person, Jehan supposed, who he would never be able to be in love with. In fact, Enjolras was really rather frightening. Jehan meandered over towards Combeferre, and sat down shyly at the table, watching them both. Enjolras disregarded him, but Combeferre smiled over his spectacles.
"And that is why-- bonjour, Jehan."
"Bonjour," said Jehan, blushing.
"Bonjour, Prouvaire," Enjolras said. He didn't say it coldly or sternly, but Jehan felt admonished anyway, as though he shouldn't have come and interrupted their conversation.
"Would you like to join us, Jehan? We're discussing Robespierre."
Jehan blanched. "Er, no. I'm sorry. I'll go."
"Don't bother. I need to be getting home." Enjolras stood, and put his coat on. "I shall see you to-morrow, Combeferre."
Jehan breathed a little sigh of relief as Enjolras left. "I-- I'm sorry. I just wanted to speak to you." He stopped, and looked confused. "I mean-- may I--" he swallowed "--May I write a poem about you? May I give you a gift? May I take tea with you? Could you... not laugh at me?" He added the last with a twinge of fear, fear that Combeferre really would laugh; but Combeferre didn't. He simply reached across the table, took Jehan's hand, and squeezed it gently.
"Of course. I wish you would let me read your poetry."
Jehan blushed again. "Oh, don't. I'll just write it. I don't want to show anyone."
"That's certainly all right."
"Th-thank you." Jehan felt quite overwhelmed by his shyness. This was only the fourth time he'd ever admitted to someone he was in love with that person. Two of the times, the person had laughed. The third time had been René, but René had been engaged, and he gently told Jehan so. But this time... Jehan took a deep breath. "I love you," he told Combeferre. "You make me think of silver. Or of dove grey. You make me think of rain. Of beautiful silver rain."
Combeferre lifted his free hand and stroked Jehan's cheek with one finger. "I do?" he asked.
"Yes! And of the moon when it's full but a little covered by clouds, and of the noise snow makes when it falls down very thick, and of lakes," Jehan said quickly, earnestly, looking at Combeferre with adoration.
"You remind me of flowers," Combeferre said, sounding a bit surprised. "And of butterflies."
Jehan looked about quickly to see if anyone was watching them. No one was, so he leaned forward and kissed Combeferre's cheek, blushing more than ever. Combeferre looked around the cafe too, a little guiltily, then took Jehan's hand and kissed it. Breathlessly, Jehan stood, and Combeferre looked up at him.
"May I go fetch your gift?"
"Of course. But you needn't--"
But Jehan was already gone, running home, tripping and stumbling over his feet the way he did over his words, and beaming at the world in his bliss. He turned a corner, tumbled, and sprang right back up again, with the cold air rushing past him and blowing his hair tangled, never noticing.
He had never felt quite so happy.
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