Characters: Enjolras, Grantaire
Word count: c.1700
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine.
A/N: Written for a prompt on the kinkmeme asking for Enjolras and Grantaire as reincarnations of Achilles and Patroclus, which you can also read there or on AO3. Also for the trope bingo amnesty square 'immortality/reincarnation'.
These incarnations of Achilles and Patroclus are very heavily based on those in Madeline Miller's book The Song of Achilles. The title of this fic is also from a line from that book. After Achilles has been killed, Patroclus is a spirit who is talking to his mother, the goddess Thetis, who says to him, "Have you no more memories?" and Patroclus replies, "I am made of memories."
He is torn between Enjolras and Achilles, memories of a life when he was careless and selfish slipping through the cracks in Enjolras’ ideals. They are not one and the same; Enjolras can suppress Achilles’ cruelty and arrogance, keep it tempered, but there is one thing that Enjolras cannot restrain. The purest thing about Achilles will never change.
Each time Enjolras stands with his head high and his eyes open, shouting of freedom and liberty and what is right, he feels that they are only half his own words, and half those of Patroclus. Whenever he is planning protests and rebellions and revolution, Enjolras cannot help but hope that despite his failings in another life, Patroclus would be proud of him now, that he would be forgiving. And every time he sees Grantaire, he remembers that for all he wants to spurn Achilles and his faults, Patroclus is the one thing he cannot give up.
There is always wine on Grantaire’s breath when they kiss, clumsy and hurried in the dark, and his hands feel different when they brush along Enjolras’ jaw, when his fingers curl around his hips, his cock; it is distinctly Grantaire. But there is a warmth within him when he lies with Grantaire, a kind of comfort that neither Enjolras nor Achilles ever felt with anyone else. It is Patroclus as Achilles remembers, even if Grantaire himself does not know it, and this is perhaps the most difficult part. They are silent afterwards, when Grantaire pulls on his clothes and Enjolras watches him leave, and Enjolras wonders whether it would be better or worse if Grantaire shared these memories.
He remembers too well when Courfeyrac had introduced him to Grantaire, and it had been so difficult for Enjolras to maintain his composure when he was suddenly overwhelmed with a flood of memories that were not his, yet are an inextricable part of him. Enjolras had perhaps been a little too brusque with Grantaire, who kept his distance after the incident, but gave no indication of sharing the experience with Enjolras. It is Grantaire’s manner, his lack of belief and derision for what Enjolras fights for that convinces him that he is alone of his knowledge of a life when gods were crueller than men, and they were all that really mattered to each other.
But while Enjolras' eyes are all too open to the injustices of corrupt power, they are half shut to other matters. He does not feel the reverence in Grantaire’s touch, or how he looks at Enjolras like he is the sun and cares not if he is blinded. Their friends recognize Grantaire’s cynicism as the shield it is, though they have no idea of its full extent, nor entirely why Enjolras is the exception, breaking every barrier that Grantaire builds.
He has told no one of what he knows -- there is no way to explain it, to say that he holds another person inside him he cannot escape, and that person brings with him a love that transcends everything else. It is too intimate to share with anyone but Enjolras, and even that is impossible. Rushed couplings in the dark and watching Enjolras from afar are all that Grantaire has, but it can never be enough. Patroclus never had all of him; he couldn’t, not with so many expectations and demands made of Achilles, but he always had what mattered the most to him. Grantaire is the only one that Enjolras lies with, but still, he has been robbed of a love that meant more than any war, any revolution.
This is perhaps how it might have been the first time. Patroclus had wondered more than once where he would be if Achilles had not returned his love, who he would be – and now, Grantaire thinks he knows.
The drink softens the blows, dulling the pain to an ache every time Enjolras’ eyes skim past him but don’t linger, every time they touch then part without words. He loves Enjolras all the more for his passion and his faith, but at the same time, he loathes it, knowing that in this life it will rip him away from the world, just as his indifference in their last parted them the same. He sits in the Musain and watches everyone he cares about plan their revolution, speaking of things that will not be no matter how much they believe, while he knows that they are only going to their deaths.
When most of the group has filtered out at the late hour and only Enjolras and a few others remain bent over their plans and deep in discussion, Grantaire cannot help but speak up, to make some attempt and dissuading them from their course. Though he knows it is useless and he is helpless as ever, he has to try. “You talk like it is the beginning and not the end.”
Everyone stops talking and gazes flicker between him and their leader, as Enjolras slowly turns to look at Grantaire. His expression is hard, determined. This is not the first time that Grantaire has been unafraid to express his doubt, but it ruffles Enjolras every time. “Others have done this before us – it is the beginning of another chapter, one that others will continue.”
Combeferre nudges Courfeyrac and they go without a word, and when the two of them are alone, Grantaire speaks again.
"You think it is better to die for a cause that is certain to fail?" In the end, whether it is Achilles’ blind rage born of grief or Enjolras dying for a lost cause, driven by passion or crushed by the loss of that very thing, it is the same, and Grantaire cannot bear for it to happen again.
"Instead of dying for no reason at all? Yes!" That fire has always been something that both Grantaire and Patroclus adore and admire, but has struck fear into them at times all the same.
"You are wrong."
"And you would not know!" Enjolras’ exasperation is driven by fear, but Grantaire cannot see it.
"After all this time, your naivety still persists!” Granatire keeps talking, but Enjolras stops short at his words, all too familiar – Patroclus always did say that for all his strengths, he trusted too easily, in both men and ideals. “You foolishly believe that if you die for your cause that others will take your place and succeed if you do not.”
But Enjolras does not hear Grantaire’s words anymore. He hears only the desperation in his voice that he somehow never recognized in there before, and the look on his face that he has seen so many times, but not through his own eyes before this moment.
“Patroclus,” Enjolras breathes, and Grantaire can only stare at him for a moment. Then they’re stepping towards each other, closing the few paces between them and embracing like they have not before, holding nothing back, letting their relief and joy and fervour flood their touch. Enjolras gasps into Grantaire’s shoulder, verging on a sob. “Grantaire.”
“I am here,” Grantaire murmurs, as they cling to each other. “I knew from the moment I saw you. But I thought that you did not.”
“The same for me.” Grantaire laughs a little at that, half in disbelief and half in bitterness, for the time that they have wasted both apart and with each other; never truly together until this moment. When they go to bed together tonight, it is something else entirely – no longing or frustration or thinking that they’ll only ever have a shadow of what Achilles and Patroclus had. Now, there are no walls, no holding back, and it is everything that they have yearned for.
This time, Grantaire stays, and they just lie together and hold each other for a long time, talking in between. They speak of Achilles and Patroclus, of what they remember of that life. Memories are what they have in lieu of time they did not spend with each other, time they can never recover. Battles and war, the days that forced harshness upon them both – when Enjolras is angry, it Achilles’ rage that is released, a fury that Patroclus remembers well, though it was never once directed at him. And the quieter times, studying with Chiron in the peace of the mountain, playing the harp, sleeping beside each other every night. Achilles’ strength and solidness when Patroclus was anxious, and Patroclus’ comfort and calm when Achilles was close to breaking under pressure.
Enjolras grows quiet, thinking of Achilles’ actions, the way that his pride and stubbornness led to death and despair for others. “Do you forgive me?”
“There is no need. It is the past.”
“This is not the past,” Enjolras says, and kisses him. “This is now, and the future.”
Grantaire cannot stop the brief thought that crosses his mind, that whispers to him that soon, they may not have a future.
When they meet with their friends together next, they are subject to any number of knowing looks, and Enjolras flushes when he realizes how obvious they were to everyone but each other. Courfeyrac is about to remark, smiling at them slyly when he sees marks on Enjolras’ neck, but Gavroche runs up the stairs, and what he shouts makes everyone freeze. Grantaire feels a chill wash over him as Enjolras turns to everybody, and he knows what is coming. He doesn’t comment during or after Enjolras’ impassioned speech, but he wishes that he could. Still, Grantaire knows that just as before, he will follow Enjolras everywhere, even to the barricades.
The night before Lamarque’s funeral, when Grantaire finally manages to drag Enjolras away from his planning and to bed, he holds him in his arms, knowing that soon they will be nothing more than memory again.
“If we are to die, this time I would be by your side,” Grantaire says. At least this time, they will not have to suffer through their separation. “If you would permit it.”
“We will not die,” Enjolras says, but he grips Grantaire’s hand tight in his own anyway.