title: sturdy
attribution: idyllique.net
date: 2015-01-12
rating: General
word count: 722
setting: Paris, ~1829.
relationships & characters: Enjolras/Combeferre; Enjolras, Combeferre, Joly
keywords: No Warnings Apply; vignette, ice skating, wintertime
summary: While on a walk, Joly becomes nostalgic. Later, Combeferre follows suit, and Enjolras makes a memory.

"This may very well be the coldest winter Paris has seen in years," Joly declared, but the sound was muffled, as his gloved hand was near his mouth and his cane touching his nose.

It was true, Enjolras thought, as the three of them - he, and Combeferre, and Joly - walked through the frosted-over gardens. Of course, it was of no real consequence to him: Enjolras, having had his twenty-fifth birthday but a fortnight ago, had been born in wintertime and never really left it

He glanced at Combeferre, who held Enjolras's left arm in his own, only to note that Combeferre was glancing at him at the same time. They held eye contact but a moment before turning their gazes forward again.

"See there!" Joly continued, having since moved his cane from his mouth to its rightful place near his hip, "the children are skating on the pond. I have fond memories of ice skating; you see, as a boy, my brother would bring me to the park near our house..." And he continued in that vein for several minutes longer, Enjolras finding himself engaged in the story despite never having had experience with the subject.

"Have either of you?" Joly asked at the end of his tale, and Enjolras sensed Combeferre's nod before he heard his assent.

"Yes, most recently a year ago, when my eldest sister came to visit over last year's Christmastime," he said, his voice warm with the fondness Enjolras had come to expect when Combeferre spoke of his family.

"I've never," Enjolras pronounced. He did not say, 'and I've no plans to,' though it was true.

Their walk that morning had ended at Joly's flat, and Enjolras had been with Combeferre since. Sometime in the afternoon, Combeferre had inquired as to Enjolras's interest in skating. That question had ended in a suggestion, which was how Enjolras found himself the next day keeping an iron grip upon Combeferre's upper arm as he led them onto the very same iced-over pond Joly had begun his story near the day prior.

Combeferre's laugh was hearty, deep, even as his spectacles fogged from his breath and his cheeks flushed from the cold, and Enjolras felt warmth in his chest despite the brisk air and ice beneath his bladed boot.

"Enjolras, you are in the company of a surgeon, and I assure that were you to fall, he would most willingly put you back together again. You needn't squeeze so tightly."

Enjolras could not suppress his smile. "How lucky, then, that I do not expect to fall," he replied, but despite his words his hold on Combeferre's sleeve relaxed only slightly.

The sensation was new. Combeferre somehow was managing to move slowly and smoothly at the same time, and after Enjolras had relaxed enough to let go of his dear friend's arm, he moved his hand to the small of Enjolras's back, supporting. For once, Enjolras was ungraceful, taking steps as though he were walking (and failing at it rather miserably), but not once did Combeferre say anything pejorative, for which he was grateful.

He knew how it worked in theory - Combeferre had explained the process to him concisely as they paid for the rental of the skating shoes themselves from a street vendor - but in practice the act of moving across the ice in a non-lumbering fashion was proving to be difficult.

"You oughtn't lift your foot so high," Combeferre instructed, using, as Courfeyrac called it, his ‘doctor voice’. Enjolras, feeling like a pupil again, did as told to his friend's guidance as they moved slowly along the edge of the pond. "There - lower - ah. Good. Be easy with it, Enjolras, this is not a layer of paving stones." But Combeferre was smiling, grinning even, all the same, and Enjolras felt the hand at his back move to his hip.

It had taken a good three quarters of an hour after in order for Enjolras to feel competent with the practice, and by that time it had begun to snow. They had gone back to Enjolras's flat after returning their skates, and had stayed there with the fire burning for the night.

As he fell asleep, Enjolras recalled the day's memory of ice beneath his feet, a cold breeze at his face, and Combeferre's hand - gentle and sturdy - at his waist.