Bahorel stormed into the back room of the Musain one spring afternoon, expression thunderous and clothes in uncharacteristic disarray. He all but threw himself onto a chair and drained the nearest glass of wine in a single swallow. That the glass had formerly belonged to Bossuet did not seem to trouble either of them, Bahorel being too distraught and Bossuet too concerned.
"What on earth has happened?" Bossuet asked.
"I am finished!" Bahorel declared, grabbing the bottle of wine on the table and taking a generous swig. "Disgraced! I can never show my face in public again! I shall have to change my name and grow a beard and move to the country to escape the horrible fate that has befallen me." He shuddered, pulling his coat more tightly around his frame and drinking deeply from the bottle of wine.
"Yes, but what happened?” Joly asked, frowning. “Did you kill someone?”
"Did someone catch you walking about with a mismatched coat and cravat?" Bossuet wanted to know.
"Have you caught a disfiguring disease?"
"Did you receive a compliment from Blondeau?"
At this last question Bahorel shuddered again. “Do not speak that name,” he said passionately. “Do not invoke the demon around me!”
Joly and Bossuet exchanged looks. Clearly the matter was of utmost severity. Bahorel seemed truly distressed, not merely engaging in his usual dramatics. Carefully, Bossuet put a hand on Bahorel’s shoulder while Joly ducked out to get more wine.
"Will you tell me what the trouble is?" Bossuet asked. "I will invoke no demons in your presence, you have my word."
Bahorel took a calming breath, testament to the depth of his distress. Ordinarily Bahorel disdained few things as much as calming breaths, something he had made quite clear the first time Combeferre had brought them up when a disagreement between Bahorel and Grantaire threatened to turn into a proper brawl. But this was a veritable calming breath, deep and long. Bossuet could feel Bahorel’s shoulder rise and fall and found himself wondering if maybe Bahorel had killed someone.
"I have…" Bahorel began, but could not finish. His hand shook a little as he gripped the wine bottle, which by this point was nearly empty. "I have…"
"He has passed his bar."
The voice was Jean Prouvaire’s, and it contained nothing but the utmost sympathy. It was testament to how well everyone in the room knew Bahorel that not a single person laughed. Bahorel let out a wail and buried his face in Bossuet’s coat.
"I am ruined!" he wailed, voice muffled by the fabric. "I will never be redeemed, never. This is a stain on my entire existence, no, a disgrace.”
"It will be all right," Bossuet said, squeezing Bahorel’s shoulder. "You needn’t tell anyone, you know."
"But I will know!” Bahorel insisted. “I am a lawyer now. A lawyer. Me! Do you not understand the indignity, the revulsion I feel upon uttering those words? Do you not feel how it makes my skin crawl to even consider the possibility? How can I go on, now that I have been so thoroughly betrayed?”
"Who betrayed you?" Joly asked, returning with not one but three bottles. He handed one of them to Bahorel, who took it like a man drowning, drinking eagerly as though he could reach a state of intoxication so acute that he could forget the awful events of the day.
"Everyone!" he declared. "I have been tricked most wickedly!"
Bossuet looked at Jean Prouvaire for clarification, as this last seemed in possession of at least a few more facts than Bossuet.
"A plot most foul," Jean Prouvaire said, nodding gravely. "Something straight out of the worst plays, a deed so twisted that it can only have been thought up by a servant of Satan."
"Yes, but what happened?” Joly asked again, perching on the table and frowning at first Bahorel then Jean Prouvaire.
Bahorel let out another wail as Jean Prouvaire said, “A conspiracy among the faculty. They drew him in with honey-coated words and proceeded to sting him most viciously in an act of petty revenge.”
"I’m sorry," Feuilly said, from his seat a little ways away. "I am not doubting the wickedness of the faculty, but how exactly were you tricked into passing the bar?"
"I got everything wrong!" Bahorel exclaimed, raising his head again and glowering at Feuilly. The latter, who had been glared at by various people for his entire life, was unaffected by the venom and took a small sip of his own wine. "I scored a perfect zero and the fiends passed me anyway!"
"Clearly you didn’t," he said.
"Of course I did!" Bahorel snapped. "I know the material well enough to get it wrong!"
"Ah, therein lies your mistake," Bossuet said, nodding in understanding. "To so thoroughly fail at something, one must either know nothing or know everything. You clearly do not know nothing, despite your very admirable efforts in that direction, and so clearly you know everything. A masterful stroke on their part, though a very dirty trick indeed."
"But what will I do?” Bahorel demanded. “I cannot tell them to strike this indignity from the record. I tried, and they quite rudely refused and threatened to send a letter to my parents telling them of my accomplishment.” He shuddered again. “I respect my parents far too much to subject them to such awful news.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone contemplated the next step to take. Bossuet had to admit that it did seem rather hopeless. At last, with the tone of one suggesting something to have for dinner, Jean Prouvaire offered, “You could always burn the place down.”
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