A/N: Please forgive my irregular updating from here on out. I write as inspiration strikes and when I have time, so updates will be scarce. I do have a good portion of Chapter 3 written, but it still has to go through a heavy editing process before it will be ready for viewing. Same feedback policy applies here!
"A man may acquire a taste for wine or brandy, and so lose his love for water, but should we not pity him." ~Henry David Thoreau
He was in a sort of delirium for nearly two days. When he woke, it was only for a few minutes of semi-lucidity, enough to recognize the face of the portress or the presence of the doctor, before sinking once more. Once he cried out so loudly that the portress had gone into hysterics. Other times he was so quiet that they almost feared him to be dying. He could see them talking, but could not catch anything they said.
When he came to it was like breaking the surface of the lake he used to swim in as a child, cold, wet, and disorienting. He began trying to prop himself up in order to gain better perspective of his surroundings when the portress came running, having heard from the other room his grunts and groans of exertion
"At last you've wakened!" She cried, throwing up her hands in relief. She rested her hand on his clammy skin for several moments before reaching a conclusion. "Doctor, his fever has broken!" She ran from the room.
Grantaire could hear several hurried steps outside his flat and the doctor entered. His face broke into a smile when he found his patient awake if a little dazed. He was older with a visage that some might find very attractive. It seemed the portress did, for she was batting her eyelashes in a way that made her look more like a bug a flown in her eye and less like a flirt.
Grantaire saw the whole thing through a sleepy sort of haze. Everything was a little unclear, the voices were still a distant. He propped himself up on his elbows, rubbing his eyes to clear them. "How many days have I been out?" He asked before anyone else could speak. His head still felt thick from the fever, and his voice reflected that.
The doctor seemed a bit taken aback by Grantaire's abruptness, but answered calmly. "Nearly two days young man." Four days then, Grantaire realized. A depression settled upon him, unnoticed by the others. The doctor began to survey Grantaire. He laid a hand on the young man's forehead as the portress had done. "She is right. Your fever has broken, although where you could have gone to contract such an illness is beyond me. A nervous ailment perhaps." The last bit was said to himself.
"I need a drink." Grantaire said gruffly and abruptly.
"Or perhaps a simple cold gone awry. Either way, it has been coming on for some time for the attack to be so severe-"
"I need a drink." Grantaire repeated, louder, this time attempting to get up from the bed. If no one else would get one for him, he would get it himself. There was a small bottle of absinthe which he kept under the stockings in his bureau. If he could find it then perhaps he could think clearer and his hands would stop trembling so.
Before he could do so though, the doctor hurriedly pushed him into a horizontal position again. "Don't agitate yourself."
"I need a drink." He said, more desperate this time. His hands shook harder. He felt anxious and restless like a trapped animal, irritated that they could not perform this one task for him although it would make him feel so much better, and then suddenly tired again all at once it seemed.
"Water would perhaps be best-"
"-in order to stay-"
"-rehydrated, if you are so thirsty."
Grantaire swore violently.
The portress gave an exclamation of offense, and doctor appeared frustrated. "Such language!" She cried, the very picture of outrage, although Grantaire knew she had heard much worse before, and used it too. She merely wanted to impress the doctor.
The doctor didn't seem to notice. "Do not stress yourself, boy, unless you wish to fall ill once more. You are better, but you are far from completely recovered." The doctor waiting a moment to see for certain that his admonition had sunk in completely before continuing, this time directing his words at the portress who had recovered some face and was once again making hideously annoying eyes at the doctor. "Now that is settled, I would prescribe at least three more days of bed rest before he is allowed up, and that a few powders be administered daily-"
Grantaire swore again, interrupting the doctor once more. He could care less about powders and doctors if it meant he could have a drink. Just one. Something strong, like absinthe or brandy. His hand twitched more violently at the thought.
The doctor glared daggers at his paitient, not caring two whits that Grantaire had just recovered from a serious delirium and was currently trying to burn a hole in his blanket with his own glare. "Young man. If you wish to be up and about anytime soon, then you would do well to listen to me. You may not have a drink, nor will you be getting up from this bed if I have anything to say about it. You have just recovered from a grave delirium of which we do not know the cause. If you agitate yourself any more I shall be forced to give you a sedative of some sort, and having heard all your insane ranting, I can't imagine you want to go under again anytime soon." It was highly unprofessional to snap at a patient-even worse to personally attack one-especially when they appeared to have been greatly distressed, however, the young man had been dancing on his last nerve. A cultivated doctoral indifference could only last so long. On top of the stress of the last two days he was nearly quivering with irritation.
Grantaire stayed silent. The doctor was right; he did not wish to go under again. "What was it that I said?" His tone was entirely different this time, soft and strained. He was filled with a morbid curiosity towards what verbal manifestation his delirium had chosen to take, though he was certain he would be better off not knowing.
The portress jumped in with no hesitation. "Just a bunch of names. Most often Joly, Bossuet, and Enjolras. Although how you could possibly know an Enjolras is beyond me, being relations of the monarch, however distant." She chuckled a little as if she had actually said something witty. When no one else laughed, she coughed lightly and awkwardly into her sleeve and continued, a slight blush lacing her cheekbones. "You screamed once, something about gunshot, wine, and an old man. You also kept apologizing for a hole and stain on someone's waistcoat. Utterly beside yourself about it you were." She couldn't refrain from a little smirk there, even if no one else returned it.
"Shut up." Grantaire growled furiously, angered by her flippant use of his friend's names. "Don't speak the names of the dead so lightly."
The room went silent. The portress at least had the decency to be embarrassed. The doctor shuffled his feet awkwardly, burying his face in his bag when he could no longer stand the intensity of Grantaire's angry stare.
Several moments passed before Grantaire spoke again. "You don't know me. Don't attempt to speak as though you do." He rolled over to face the wall, effectively ending the conversation with both other occupants of the room.
They stood there for a few moments longer, waiting for Grantaire to speak again. But he didn't and soon they left him be. Once he was sure of their departure, he shifted onto his back once more to stare at the ceiling. There was crack right above him, so small that it wasn't worrying, but large enough that it was noticeable. Now he wished that it was bigger, more troublesome. He wished that it would begin to crumble and fall and cover him right there, or break open to swallow him whole. His hands were still shaking, and his head had begun to ache in the time since he had emerged-a dull, throbbing pain. Nothing seemed more desirable than a drink. That would make the whole world just a little bit better he reasoned. A small glass of absinthe and world would begin to disappear a bit, always a change for the better.
A small beam of light broke through one of the tatters of cloth (jokingly referred to as curtains), shining directly in his face, annoying him incessantly. It felt wrong, somehow at odds with his current emotions. The light hurt him in a way, hitting his skin, but doing little to penetrate to the deepest recesses of his mind and soul. Darkness had encroached upon his heart, squeezing his chest like a vice, for Grantaire was truly alone as he had never really been before.