"Ah, well, monsieur," Combeferre said with an airy sigh, "you have been mistaken. There is no such man. We are all idiots here. You will fit in well."
He allowed his smile to grow into a laugh as he pulled Grantaire into a hug, taking the liberty of planting a kiss on his cheek as he did so. “This will be your very last meeting if you call me Combleferret again,” he said quietly in his ear and patted him on the shoulder.
Grantaire grinned up at him, feeling significantly warmer than he had a moment before.
"Go use some of that charm to make Enjolras get on with the meeting, ah?" he said. "I have had enough of socialising with you lot already." He winked at him, turning to scan the room for Enjolras himself. He wanted to get the news out of the way with so he could stop feeling like he was about to be sick from nerves.
Combeferre wondered how many times he could shuffle through the same papers before Enjolras and Grantaire arrived to break the suffocating air of expectancy that had pulled the room as taught as tightrope. He glanced over his shoulder. “Jehan, you’re cowering,” he mumbled discreetly. He’d forgotten just how long it had been since Grantaire had last been at a meeting; it was longer since they’d seen him for the others than for him, a fact he was going to have to be careful of in conversation. But, the rumble of Bahorel’s eager steps towards the door caught his attention soon after, signalling Grantaire would have a rib or two lovingly broken in the next few minutes.
Keeping the quirk of a grin to himself, Combeferre approached Grantaire by the stairs when the amis had all been enveloped in conversation.
"Ah, bonsoir," he said amicably, "Who are you then, ah? Une nouvelle recrue?"
"Ah, oui," Grantaire said solemnly, playing along. "I have heard many tales about the great beauty, intellect, wit of a key player here… I think his name was… ah, what was it…" He pretended to frown. "Ah, oui! Now I remember. Combleferret. And, well, I just had to see this specimen for myself."
Enjolras smiled, glancing over Grantaire’s shoulder to see Bahorel appraoching before looking directly at him.
"Be easy," he said quietly. "This is hardly anything to be afraid of, but I’m going to have to let go of your hand now or Bahorel might rip you away and leave me with only your arm."
Grantaire reluctantly let go, turning to Bahorel with what he hoped was a genuine smile. Joly and Bossuet joined him a moment later. He grinned at them over Bahorel’s shoulder, trying to breathe in the huge embrace he’d gathered him into.
"Hey," he said, slightly weakly.
Within minutes, he was engrossed in conversation with them. Bossuet nodded his head towards Enjolras with a questioning look but Grantaire pretended he hadn’t seen it, laughing at a quip Joly had made about his jeans.
Enjolras smiled warmly and kissed his knuckles. “Not at all,” he said softly. tugging on his hand to keep walking.
"I’m going to need you take a deep breath," he said as they approached the cafe. "Relax, they’re your friends, you’ve nothing to worry about. Now go."
Before Grantaire could hesitate, Enjolras opened the door and quickly ushered him inside.
While no one was actually waiting right at the doorway for Grantaire to arrive (not for lack of Courfeyrac trying), Jehan had still been left to field several sideways looks and curious glances in the time before the meeting was set to begin. If he’d taken to ducking his head behind Combeferre’s shoulder to stay out of people’s lines of sight, that was his own business. It was too much of a mixture of being judged and questioned, and it made Jehan’s skin itch uncomfortably despite any good intentions their friends might have had. It wasn’t their fault that they didn’t know anything really of what had happened, but that still didn’t make things better.
The sensation didn’t exactly improve when Enjolras and Grantaire came in, but the sight of them was familiar, and that was distracting enough in itself. Jehan lifted his head at the sight of them, and the corner of his lips twitched upwards at the sight of their linked hands.
Catching Grantaire’s eye, Jehan shot him a quick wink. “Hey there, stranger. Brace yourself, Bahorel won’t shut up about how tight he’s going to hug you.”
Grantaire held Enjolras’ hand a little tighter, although he knew Jehan’s words were meant to reassure him. He felt significantly like a deer caught in headlights, all attention on him and Enjolras.
"I guess there are a lot of missed hugs to make up for," he said awkwardly, trying not to catch anyone’s eye in particular. He turned to Enjolras automatically for guidance.
"Hey, wait," Enjolras said, stopping in his tracks and bringing their hands to eye level. "Are we walking in like this?"
Grantaire looked at their hands, his eyebrows knitting together.
"Do you mind if we do after all?" he asked hesitantly.
"Hey, come here," Enjolras said, stopping and pulling Grantaire to him. He held his face in his hands to make direct eye contact. "As tempting as the offer is, we’ve got to go in there. Your friends miss you and I know you miss them, and this is another step to finding familiarity, ca va?"
He hesitated. “Now if you’re not ready to tell them about us, that’s okay. We can wait until you are.”
Grantaire took a deep breath, then shook his head.
"Non, I’m ready," he said. "I’m just nervous. I’m being stupid about it. Just don’t let me near the bar," he added, slipping his hand back into Enjolras’ and starting to head towards the Musain.
"Non," Enjolras said simply, grinning over at him.
Grantaire was still laughing as they turned the corner onto the Musain’s street. His stomach lurched.
"Merde," he said under his breath, automatically reaching for Enjolras’ hand again. "I’ve changed my mind. Let’s go home. I’ll suck you off, you’ll forget about the meeting completely."
Enjolras laughed. He couldn’t resist leaning over and pressing a kiss to his cheek.
"According to Jehan, you’ve been pining for ages," he teased.
Grantaire laughed again, scrunching his nose up and turning a deep shade of red.
"Oui, well," he said, aiming for nonchalance. "Can you blame me?"
Enjolras turned a deep shade of crimson.
"They know that already, don’t they? Apparently I’m the only one who didn’t," he said, nudging him gently with his elbow. "I’m the one who’s going to walk in there and tell them something new.”
Grantaire grinned at the floor, his cheeks flushed.
"You think I knew?” he asked, laughing slightly. “It only hit me a little while before I kissed you.”
Jehan caught it with a small smile. “We’ll make it work. If nothing else you’re going to be able to use your furniture as mirrors when we’re done with it.” He ripped a paper towel out of the roll, and considered the room thoughtfully.
"This is the part where I admit that I do bare minimum of cleaning at mine and I really have no idea where to start, mon ami."
"I’d noticed," Grantaire teased, shooting him a wink. "I think the aim is just to get as much of the dust off as possible. Then we can vacuum. If I can find the vacuum."