March, Third Year
“Feuilly’s disappeared again,” Enjolras sighed, dropping his bag on the carpeted floor of the Hufflepuff common room and drawing his gathered friends’ attention. The entire room was empty and silent except for the eight of them, with most of the other students still in the Great Hall or studying in the library. “I saw him talking to Ms. Simplice again at around six, near the infirmary, but he wasn’t at dinner.”
“He wasn’t in the Ravenclaw Tower either,” Joly piped up from where he was sitting on the floor. Bossuet twisted a little on his seat to make room for him, which Joly gratefully accepted, snuggling up against his best friend’s side.
“Nor in the library,” Prouvaire shook his head, his soft voice more hesitant than usual. He worried at the cuff of his sleeves. “We checked both.”
“Of course, this time matches with the moon cycle. Again,” Combeferre rubbed his chin as he checked the little notebook in which he had compiled all of their friend’s absences since the beginning of the year, all the mornings he had arrived to class looking unnaturally tired, his skin pale and bruised. Courfeyrac made a sad sort of choked noise and slumped on the couch next to him, his hair and skin both turning an ashen shade of grey - as they often did when he was upset.
“But it doesn’t mean he’s...” he trailed off, unable - or unwilling - to say the word.
“Sure sounds like it, though,” Grantaire grumped. Enjolras glared at him.
“He would have said something, I’m sure of this,” he said, sounding like he was trying to convince himself. “We’re his friends, he knows that, doesn’t he?”
There was so answer to this, and an uncomfortable silence filled the room until Bahorel, previously uncharacteristically quiet, finally spoke, his booming voice dangerously low.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?” He rose from a plush armchair near the fireplace and turned towards Prouvaire, his jaw set and his gaze serious.
“What?” Prouvaire blurted out, his face colouring violently. “Bahorel, what-”
“You’re the tallest and strongest of us, ‘cept me. So punch me! Break my nose, chip a tooth or something. I’ll go to the infirmary and check if he’s there, so we know for sure Feuilly’s not a goddamn werewolf.”
He was up in Prouvaire’s face now, his eyes fierce and bright under his thick eyebrows, and Prouvaire took a step back.
“I can’t -”
“Oh, come on!” Rolling his eyes, Grantaire stood up and walked over to them. He put a hand on Bahorel’s shoulder, and when the Gryffindor boy turned towards him, Grantaire pulled back his fist and swung, smashing it in the taller student’s face with a dull thud. A sickening cracking noise resonated through the room.
“Grantaire!” Prouvaire shrieked, horrified.
Another crack. Someone - Joly, probably - gasped audibly, and Courfeyrac’s hair and eyes flashed a flaming red as he jumped to his feet.
“Bloody hell, Jehan!” Grantaire’s hands flew to his own now-bleeding nose.
Prouvaire staggered backwards, fist still raised, before collapsing into the couch. Combeferre immediately scooted towards him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. The younger boy seemed to melt into the embrace, his lanky frame shrinking on itself.
“Sorry,” he murmured shakily, running a hand through his curly hair. “I just-”
“’s alright,” Grantaire shrugged. Bossuet dug in his pockets and offered him a handkerchief, which the other accepted with a grunt. “God, that hu-”
“Al-right,” Bahorel interrupted, grinning darkly through the blood from his broken nose and split lip. The skin around eyes were already starting to turn a sick shade of purpleish blue, but he didn’t seem to mind. “Now we have double the excuse to go to the infirmary. Who’s coming with?”
Both Enjolras and Prouvaire insisted on walking with Bahorel and Grantaire to the infirmary; Enjolras and Bahorel pratically raced up to the hospital wing as the other two trailed behind them, Prouvaire with an arm around Grantaire’s waist, refusing to detach himself from his friend’s side.
They reached the infirmary in less than five minutes; still, it was enough for Bahorel to bleed all over the front of his shirt, making his injury look worse than it probably was.
“What in Merlin’ name happened to you?” Sister Simplce’s eyes grew wide behind her wire-frame glasses as soon as she caught a glimpse of the four boys. Before any of them had time to explain, she ushered them inside the infirmary, shutting the large doors behind them. The snapping of her heels on the tiled floor felt louder - and more intimidating - than the banging of the doors. Once they reached a free bed, a bit away from two sleeping Hufflepuff girls, she turned back to them.
“So, boys?” she asked, raising a severe eyebrow. “Explanation?”
Prouvaire opened his mouth to explain, but Grantaire cut him off.
“Y’know, just messin’ ‘round,” he slurred, giving the nurse his best innocent smile - and showing off a chipped front tooth. “Went a bit too ‘ard, I guess. Objects 'n forces ‘n all that. ‘s not a big deal.”
“Well, it is for your face, young man,” Simplice said, sitting him on a bed and handing him a clean handkerchief for his lip. “Messing around or not,” and her tone implied that she rather believed it was not, “you’ll feel it when it heals. And I’ll have to tell your House Heads, of course– “
“Sister Simplice,” Enjolras called. He was looking around the infirmary, a frown on his graceful features as he took in the empty beds surrouding them. “Do you know if Feuilly – Antoine Feuilly, from Ravenclaw – was here earlier?”
Simplice did not answer for a few seconds as she murmured a spell to stop the bleeding of Bahorel’s nose.
“He came to see me earlier, but he should be back in his room now,” she said curtly when she was done, not looking up from her work.
“But he isn’t,” Prouvaire started, surprisingly fierce. “We can’t find him–”
Simplice hushed him.
“Misters Bahorel and Grantaire will have to stay here tonight,” she announced, effectively changing the subject away from Feuilly’s unexplained absence. ”I’ll give you a potion to fix the break in your nose, and your tooth – if you’re lucky your faces will look straight again in the morning. You’ll be out for a few hours, though.”
She turned to Enjolras and Prouvaire, who was also frowning now as he noticed the neatly pressed beds. A few candles were lit around them, but save from the two Hufflepuff girls, most of the infirmary was empty, illuminated solely by the bright rays of the full moon coming through the tall windows lining the room.
“And you should go back to your dormitories. You don’t need to be in more trouble than you already are.”
Enjolras’ expression was dark and suspicious, but he nodded tightly. Prouvaire seemed unsure, still unwilling to let Grantaire out of his reach, but rose when Enjolras tugged at his arm. He gently kissed the top of Grantaire’s head before letting himself be lead towards the exit.
The sound of the heavy doors closing shut behind them echoed in the room.
Bahorel lay back on the bed and sighed. So Feuilly wasn’t in the infirmary - wasn’t anywhere in the Castle, it seemed. Damn it.
Bahorel was going to kill him when he came back. Who did Feuilly think he was, making him spend the night here for nothing? Making them go through all that trouble for him, worry for him, all because he didn’t trust them to know what was wrong with him –
A dark, dreamless sleep swallowed that thought before Bahorel could finish it.
Simplice’s potion knocked Bahorel out for a good six hours, at the very least. Or so Bahorel figured. By the time he was able to slowly peel his eyes open, the sun was rising and a pale, weak light had replaced the brightness of the moon. The sleeping Hufflepuff girls where gone, probably back in this own dormitory. Grantaire was still snoring from the bed to Bahorel’s left-hand side, and Simplice and another nurse were talking in hushed voices, bent over a newly-occupied bed on the far right of the infirmary – judging from the distressed tone in the normally calm nurse’s voice, whatever was happening was obviously urgent. Bahorel turned his head to get a better look.
Simplice’s wide robe hid most of the bed from his sight, but he could still see the outline of a small body, wrapped in a blood-strained wool blanket. The figure’s reddish brown hair was splayed over the white pillow, also mattered with dried blood and dirt.
And it looked a lot like Feuilly.
Bahorel’s heart pounded in his chest as he fought every one of his instincts, forcing himself to stay immobile. The figure – Feuilly, Bahorel was sure now, it was Feuilly – let out a low groan, almost a growl, and Bahorel felt a wave of nausea wash over him, but he kept his eyes open, staring at his friend. You’re not dreaming, he told himself over and over again, forcing the painful image to imprint itself on his mind. This isn’t a dream. You’re awake, you’ve gotta remember this -
The nurse working beside Simplice raised her head to push a strand of hair behind her ear. Even in the pale morning light, Bahorel noticed a streak of blood on her face. The nurse must have noticed him, too, because she leaned over to whisper something in Simplice ear before pulling the curtains around Feuilly’s bed, effectively blocking Bahorel’s view of the scene.
A moment later, Simplice was back over Bahorel’s bed. With her standing against the light, Bahorel couldn’t see her expression, but she murmured something about his nose still being blue, and he lost consciousness again.
When Bahorel woke up for the second time a couple of hours later, it was daylight. Grantaire was awake as well, his face fully healed, eating toast on the bed next to him.
“Hey, if it isn’t Sleeping Beauty,” Grantaire teased, his voice light but quiet. “Slept well?”
“Not really,” Bahorel’s brain was still groggy with magically-induced sleep. “You snore, you jerk. What’s with the whispering? It’s morning, so–”
With a small shake of his head, Grantaire indicated the only other bed to Bahorel’s other side. The curtains were still drawn over it.
All at once, everything Bahorel had seen the night before came back to him. He paled, suddenly feeling more awake than ever.
“Whoever’s in there arrived in the middle of the night, I’d guess, and hasn’t made a noise since I woke up,” Grantaire took another bite of his toast, seemingly oblivious to Bahorel’s distress. “So I figure, better let them sleep.”
“No,” Bahorel growled, glaring at the covered bed. “It’s Feuilly in there.”
“What?” The smile froze on Grantaire’s face.
“It’s Feuilly in there,” Bahorel repeated. He threw back the covers and jumped out of bed. “I saw him this morning. He was hurt, fuck!”
“Bahorel - wait, no–”
Before Grantaire could run after him and stop him, Bahorel grabbed the curtains, hesitating for a second before pushing them open.
The boy on the bed was definitely Feuilly. Paler than usual, with dark bruised circles under his eyes and chapped lips, his hair messily thrown over the pillow.
Bahorel felt his stomach drop as he looked his friend over for any sign of the injuries. There was a bandage around his neck, and a claw mark -
Fuck fuck fuck -
A surprisingly strong hand pushed him to the side; Bahorel, still too shocked to react, stumbled and fell, failing to catch himself on the bed,
“Out!” Simplice’s eyes were blazing furiously behind her glasses. “You two idiots - get out of my infirmary!”
Bahorel jumped back to his feet and opened his mouth to argue, but Grantaire grabbed his sleeve from behind him.
“Come on, man,” he urged, and against all of his principles Bahorel followed, throwing one last look at the bed - at Feuilly -
- and realising with horror that his friend’s eyes were wide open, and that he was staring at him, horror-stuck and betrayed, looking as if his world had just shattered at his feet.
Bahorel suspected he himself must have looked the same, because at this exact moment, it did feel like the world was broken, irreparably so.