“You do not have a hangover,” Grantaire tells his reflection, but the magic never works like that: doesn't work on him, doesn't work in mirrors. He tries sometimes anyway, like this morning, when the faint sunlight seems too bright and the dog on the street below might as well be right next to his ears. “You have plenty of energy, and you … ugh.” He gives up, runs his fingers through his hair, wincing at the tangles.
“Stop talking to yourself, come make the pancakes behave,” says Bahorel, tapping on the door. It may as well be pounding.
Grantaire opens the door, because Bahorel doesn't care if he's wearing a shirt or his rattiest pair of pajama pants. “You can make pancakes like a goddamn adult, you know,” he says, mostly for form's sake, and gets a snort in response, because they both know that's not true. Bahorel trails behind him to the kitchen, where the pan is sizzling with batter already heading towards burnt on the underside. “Don't you dare,” he tells it, and the smell changes a moment later. “Was last night regrettable?”
“No night is regrettable with you, R,” says Bahorel. It's only a pity that Bahorel can't talk things into working like Grantaire can. It would be nice if that were the truth. “Éponine says call her.”
There are about three things Éponine can want to talk about, and none of them are things Grantaire wants to discuss. “For fuck's sake, you are going to be golden and perfect and delicious,” he snaps, flipping the pancake over, and then winces. He's going to have to be gentler with the others. A forced pancake never tastes quite as good, even when “delicious” is a stipulation.
“So, Enjolras,” says Bahorel in the tones of one who is going to have a conversation whether the other person wants to or not.
“Rings a bell. He's the tall one with the shitty taste in music, right? I seem to remember he's political.”
“You're the very best pancake, you have that capacity. I expect you to rise to the occasion. Be worthy of the syrup we bought you, I'm pretty sure it cost more by the ounce than blood.”
“I don't even remember what I did last night that makes you so insistent on this conversation, Bahorel, you're going to have to let me in on the secret. Damn it.” He puts the first pancake on a plate. It's a little burned on one side. Bahorel can have that one. He pours more batter into the pan.
“That's the thing. You didn't actually do anything.”
Grantaire keeps his eye on the pan, wonders if he has the coordination to flip the pancake in the air this morning. Despite his show of great unconcern, he can feel the odd ripple of a tattoo climbing across his skin, probably the tiger Jehan put on his shoulder a few months ago (which has been roaming every since). Jehan is getting too good at animated tattoos, and this one is especially responsive. There's a reason he always covers his skin around Enjolras. “That's new and different for me. I must be growing as a person.”
“Except there was a staring match.”
“I'm great at those. I win against the side of Enjolras's head about five times out of seven.”
“This was less winning and more Joly doing the limbo because he was sort of afraid he would get set on fire if he broke your eye contact.”
“Bossuet took video. Not to put on Facebook, he just wanted it to be kept for posterity.”
Grantaire flips a pancake. “So, what? I pissed him off and he caught me staring and then we kept at it?”
“Fucked if I know. I just figured you should know the facts before anyone starts teasing you about them.”
“Great.” Grantaire sighs and keeps looking at the pan. “You're the perfect shape, that was a great flip, you're going to be delicious, aren't you?”
“You should start a restaurant, talk the food into being perfect. I think it would be a great business plan.”
“I'll keep the option in mind.” He slides that one on the plate as well and starts the next. “Is there a meeting tonight?”
“Sunday, there always is. You going?”
“Don't I always?”
Bahorel slings an arm around his shoulder, tracing over one of Jehan's more abstract designs, the lines trailing his fingers. “Make the next one fluffy,” he says, and lets Grantaire finish talking them into a delicious breakfast.
“He's looking at you,” Éponine says that night, handing Grantaire a glass of something he doesn't care to identify and sitting down in a chair just far enough away that he has to lean in to keep from having to talk loud enough to interrupt Enjolras's speech on discrimination in the Wizards' Guild.
“Courfeyrac?” Grantaire says, at his most guileless. He's been stretching the limits of the first rule tonight, whispering the cartoons he's doodling on his napkins into moving around, seeing if he can use his talents to mimic Jehan's.
“He was looking at you last night too.”
“So Bahorel told me.” Grantaire draws a little wall and feels bad when the jerkily-moving little creature on the napkin runs right into it, mutters at it until it stays still and then gives it little wings that will help it avoid obstacles. “So I'm annoying him more than usual. Occam's Razor.” Before she can say anything, he sighs and looks up at her. “You can understand why I don't want to have hope, right?”
Éponine looks at him for a long, long moment, and then she gets out of her chair and sits on the floor in front of him, smiling over her shoulder. “Do my hair. We'll get a great one for Instagram.”
Grantaire sighs and glances up at the front of the room, to Enjolras winding up to a near-shout about arcane vs. mundane magic, and the privilege of the first as opposed to the use of the latter. Enjolras is looking, and Grantaire is sober to see it this time, and he has a second of curiosity and sudden anxiety before Enjolras looks away. “You aren't going to get tangled or pull,” he tells Éponine's hair quietly, and lifts a section to start braiding.
Enjolras is coming up behind him, and he's smiling. Both of those things are wrong, wrong, wrong. When Grantaire sees Enjolras outside of meetings, they exchange an awkward nod that acknowledges that they should be past a nodding acquaintance at this point but apparently aren't when their friends aren't around. “Can I help you?”
Enjolras is the one to draw up short, just a few feet from him, like he's only now realizing that this is something they don't do. “Where are you walking?” he asks, after half a missed beat, right back to his determined and ever-sure self.
“The library. I do have to do actual studying once in a while, loath as I am to admit it.”
That makes Enjolras smile. Grantaire is fairly sure he's never made Enjolras smile before. “I'm on my way there as well, actually. If you don't mind, we could walk together, at least on the way there?”
“So we'll get there and dramatically part ways? Oh, like spies or something, cover all the ground we can.” Here's where Joly or Bossuet would chip in, go off on an elaborate scenario or six about all the reasons they could split up in a library.
All Enjolras does is frown thoughtfully. “I just assumed we would need different sections. It might not be efficient.”
Grantaire snorts, because “efficient” is a Combeferre word if he's ever heard one. “That's what you and Combeferre do, isn't it? You don't pass notes in the library when you go together like normal people, you go sit in logical places in proximity to whatever you're researching and text, or something.”
Enjolras smiles again. Two hundred percent more smiles than Grantaire has managed to elicit from him before. “I'm doing some research on arcane magic, to see if I can self-teach.”
“The thought of you being able to start lightning storms is deeply frightening.”
Enjolras shrugs, pushing he straps of his backpack further up his shoulders. “I don't have a natural talent, like you or Jehan or Courfeyrac, and I never picked up the knack for anything like Combeferre or Musichetta. I just want to see if I can learn.”
“And thumb the noses of all the academic wizards who try to keep arcane magic as an exclusive little club,” Grantaire says, because Enjolras is obvious.
This time, Enjolras laughs. Something about the day must have him in a good mood, but Grantaire doesn't have a clue what it is. It's chilly and windy and gray, and they're a few weeks away from finals, so by all rights he should be writing papers, like Grantaire is intending to, not taking up a new field of study. “Fine, that as well. I want to get a head start, I want to work on it over the summer so we can come back to it in the fall. It seems like somewhere we've been heading for a while, the arcane and academic magic-workers have far too much power, especially given they decide what the worthy facets of magic are. Yours is more useful than eighty percent of what they do, anyway.”
Everyone knows what Grantaire can do, but for some reason it's a little surprising that Enjolras does, enough to mention it so casually. But then again, if Grantaire is of use to his cause even as a case study to be mentioned, it makes sense. “Well, I wish you luck with it. I've got an assignment for my Modern Philosophy class that requires some research, so I won't be too far away, anyway.”
Enjolras isn't looking at him, but Grantaire is pretty sure he's still smiling. “Well, then. Maybe we can sit together after all.”
Grantaire is struck by a sudden memory of the other night, when they were all drinking and laughing and Grantaire had even more than he usually did, slipped into staring at Enjolras with undisguised longing instead of a sham of mocking interest, and thought Notice me, notice me, someday you're going to, someday you may even smile at me, and how Enjolras had turned only a few minutes later and looked. Oh, no. “Oh, no,” he says out loud, without meaning to, and stops walking.
Enjolras stops too, turning to face him completely and frowning. “What's the matter?”
“I forgot something at home that I need, shit, sorry. You go on to the library yourself, I'll catch you some other time,” says Grantaire, and only doesn't start running because he knows Enjolras would think it was suspicious, and he wants to be around Enjolras as little as possible until he figures out what he did to him.
She grins, because she's used to stories that start “when we were drinking” being funny, or at least too appalling to do anything but laugh at. “Why, do you remember doing anything embarrassing that would make him stare?”
“Éponine, I think I made him.” He shakes his head when she opens her mouth, still smiling and obviously not getting it. “No, I made him. I was thinking at him so hard, I wanted him to notice me, and he did.”
All the laughter goes out of her at once, because Éponine knows that Grantaire is powerful,when he wants something enough. That he can control people. That he has, by accident, that he can change people when he encourages them or discourages them too much, until he trained himself to be indifferent to most people. “Any chance of it being coincidence?”
“I don't know, Ép. I never caught him looking at me before, and now I'm remembering him looking at me a few seconds after I wanted him to notice me. And he flagged me down just now and we were walking to the library and he laughed and things don't change that fast.”
Éponine doesn't try to reassure him or give him hope. She just frowns and puts a bookmark in her book and puts it down on the table, all with great care, before she says anything again. “So what did you order him into doing, and what is he doing? Talking to you when he normally wouldn't, laughing when he normally wouldn't, going to the library with you.”
“I just wanted him to notice me. And smile. And I don't know if that's all, because I was concentrating pretty hard on not remembering that night in the morning.”
“And how do you undo all of it?”
Grantaire grimaces. “Delicately.”
“Not good enough, R. You don't want Enjolras to change, even if it means he wants you. How do you fix it?”
He has fixed it before, even if he's never sure again if the person he's talking to is really the same person they were before he did something to them. “Research,” he says, because it's probably the right answer. “Check and double check, make sure it was only the noticing and the smiling thing. Telling someone to generally go back to normal probably won't work.”
“You ask him,” she says, and it's the answer he doesn't want. “See if he feels anything different. It's Enjolras. He's more self-aware than we give him credit for.”
“He's not going to forgive me for it, if I did anything.”
“You asked him to notice you and to smile, R. It's not great, but you could have done a lot worse, given how you feel about him.” Éponine frowns and beckons him over. “Now come on, I broke my computer earlier and I was going to call you to fix it for me, so you can do that and think about how to tell Enjolras you might have accidentally used your magic on him.”
It isn't the first time Grantaire has disappeared into his dorm room and his art studio without telling anyone in advance, and nobody says much about it but Éponine. Joly stops by once a day with food, Bahorel stops by once a day with a drink, Bossuet texts him funny things he overhears in the union, and everyone else checks in once in a while, but not very often. Éponine stops by frequently and threatens what she'll never do, which is to tell Enjolras herself, but Grantaire buries his head in his textbooks and shocks all his professors by speaking up in class.
On the Enjolras front, it's almost reassuring, because Enjolras has never been in touch when he's disappeared before, and he isn't in touch now. Grantaire can almost believe that Enjolras was just in a good mood when he invited himself along to the library, and that when he goes back to their friends everything will be normal.
He can believe it right up until the moment he's walking through the union and finds himself waved down by Enjolras, who doesn't quite look like he's staking out the place where everyone on campus walks by once a day and doesn't quite look like he isn't staking it out either. “To what do I owe the honor?” says Grantaire, because he can't pretend he doesn't see Enjolras. He's fairly noticeable.
“I saw you walking by, and I thought I would ask how you were,” Enjolras says, and he's lying. Grantaire doesn't think he's ever heard him lie before.
“I'm fine. Sorry about missing meetings, got busy fast, is all.”
“I wondered.” Enjolras clears his throat and looks down at his coffee, which has a film on top that says it probably is cold, which is weird since it's still three-quarters full and Enjolras drinks coffee like most people breathe air. “I wondered if something I said the last time we spoke upset you.”
Grantaire blinks at him and sits down across the table from him, because there's something very off about standing over him while they have about this conversation. “What on earth would have upset me?”
“I'm not sure. I thought it might have to do with magic, since all I said was that I'm planning on learning. Do you not like to talk about yours? I've realized since that you never brought it up with me, I thought it was just a fact about you, but if you'd prefer I don't mention it, please let me know.” Enjolras takes a faux-casual sip of his coffee and can't quite hide a grimace.
Grantaire takes the cup and sighs down at it. “That won't do,” he tells it. “You remember how to be nice and warm, you can do that. If you want to be consumed, that is.” The cup starts warming between his hands. “There, you're excellent coffee, I'll bet the barista had magic, you remember how to do this just fine.”
When he looks up and passes the cup over, Enjolras is watching him with a look Grantaire can't begin to recognize on his face. “Thank you. Is it hard, doing that?”
“Depends on what I'm doing. Things, objects, they sort of want to do what they were made for. They like to be given a use, I guess. Can be harder or easier if they were enchanted before. People … people are hard. They're complicated.”
Enjolras's hands flex on the cup. “You can control people?”
“Not like they're puppets, not even close. I can nudge them, I guess.” The union is busy, everyone concentrating on their own conversations. If Enjolras storms out and never forgives him, it will be humiliating, but Grantaire has been humiliated before. “I was avoiding you, kind of. Not because of you wanting to learn magic, do whatever you want with that.”
“Then why were you? If I made you uncomfortable, I want to make it better.”
“You didn't. But you started paying attention to me all of a sudden, after never talking to me when we were on our own before, and you're doing it again, and I think I … I think I nudged you.”
Enjolras freezes, and Grantaire wishes he'd never thought anything about Enjolras at all, because he never wants to see him look like that again, betrayed and a little ill. It was better not to be noticed. “Nudged me how?”
“I wanted you to notice me, and now you are. And fuck, Enjolras, I'm sorry, I really promise I didn't mean to, but sometimes the problem with not doing arcane magic is that you can do it by accident. And I'm figuring out how to undo it, I swear, I don't want anything from you that you don't want to give me, but that's why I'm avoiding you.” Grantaire finds he doesn't want to sit and watch Enjolras walk away, so he stands up. Enjolras, whose gaze had drifted down to his warm cup of coffee, looks sharply up at him. “I'm going to fix it,” he says, because he'll do anything to keep Enjolras from looking that way. And then, because he can't say it enough, “I'm sorry.”
Enjolras doesn't answer, or not fast enough for Grantaire to feel reassured, so Grantaire does what he does best and retreats.
It's probably the right thing to do, since Enjolras doesn't follow him.
“No, but I'm giving serious thought to moving to Siberia. I hear it's nice this time of year.”
“Right,” says Bahorel, pops a beer open for him, and leaves him alone.
Grantaire isn't really surprised when someone starts pounding on their apartment door that evening, but he's a little surprised it took that long, and that Enjolras didn't send him any angry messages in the meantime. “Now's a good time to move to a safe blast radius,” he tells Bahorel on his way to the door, and loves Bahorel for saluting and scrambling to pick up his laptop (where he was definitely looking at pictures of kittens in clothing and not doing the work for his classes, which isn't shocking at all. Grantaire is a better student than Bahorel, and that's saying something).
“When did you do it?” Enjolras asks the second the door opens, arms crossed in front of his chest, ever-present backpack full of books that have nothing to do with his classes on his back.
“Come in, I don't really want to have this talk in the hall.” Enjolras does, which might be a good sign. He doesn't go farther than he has to in order to let Grantaire close the door, though, which is probably a bad one. “When did I nudge you? A little over a week ago. That night when we were all drinking? Éponine and Bahorel both said afterward that you were watching me that night—the thing where Joly did the limbo, there's video of that. That night.”
Enjolras breathes out, like he wasn't expecting the answer but like he's relieved anyway. That's unexpected. “Never before that?”
“Never. I would have noticed a difference, even if I did it by accident. Like I said, people are complicated. A change in behavior is kind of like being hit with a sledgehammer. I'm sorry.”
“You said you wanted me to notice you. Is that all you wanted?”
“I can't remember everything from that night, but I wanted you to notice me, and I wanted you to smile.”
“Because I have shitty self-control when I'm drunk and where you're concerned and the combination made for a mess, apparently.”
“No, R, why did you want me to notice you?” Enjolras is clutching the straps of his backpack now, looking at Grantaire like whatever he says next is important.
Grantaire wants to ask if the why really matters, but he knows Enjolras. It does. It won't make what he did any less horrible, but Enjolras will still want to know. “Because I always want you to notice me. I just usually remember to do it by making you mad rather than making you pay attention to me with magic. I'm sorry, I will say that as many times as you need, I know it doesn't fix anything.”
“Why do you want me to pay attention to you?”
Enjolras deserves full honesty. Grantaire can admit that much. “Because I'm in love with you, or something close enough to it.”
“Okay.” Enjolras breathes in, out. “You didn't put a spell on me.”
“Well, it's not technically spellwork, what I do. Probably closer to an enchantment.”
“Grantaire. You didn't control me.”
Grantaire shakes his head. “You can't know that. It might feel just the same to you.”
Enjolras turns away for a second, like this is a meeting and he's mustering his arguments, and then he drops his backpack on the floor. “You wanted me to notice you, didn't you? R, I do. I have. And it didn't, I promise it didn't start that night. I've been noticing you for weeks—months. I've always noticed you, but I know the kind of noticing you mean, and I did. Before you wanted me to, or before you thought it hard enough that you think you're making me.”
“You never talked to me before that day where we almost went to the library, unless we were arguing, so maybe you think you do, I don't know, maybe I'm that good.”
“Do you want me to call Courfeyrac and ask him to tell you how long I've been trying to muster my courage to spend more time with you? I will, and he'll be glad to tell you. It's been more than a few weeks.”
Grantaire wants to believe it, more than anything, but he shakes his head anyway. “You don't—”
Enjolras's hand is over his mouth in a flash. “You can have your say in a moment,” Enjolras says, and Grantaire doesn't think he's ever heard his voice shake before. “As long as the words 'you don't care about me' or whatever it was you were going to say don't come out of your mouth. I don't want to risk you making it true.”
Grantaire steps back, because that's the only way he's going to be able to talk. Enjolras lets his hand fall. “I don't know if I can believe that.”
“You only wanted me to notice you. I could have given you negative attention, that would have been fulfilling it.”
“And the smile? Enjolras, I'm not sure, even if you are.”
“Would you have made me kiss you?”
“Never, God, even when I was drunk I never would—”
Enjolras kisses him, cutting his words off, and all of this is moving too fast for Grantaire to keep up, because this can't possibly actually be happening. Not with Enjolras, not after all of this. He backs up again, and Enjolras stops immediately, looking stricken. “What? I'm sorry, I was hoping that would prove to you that you aren't controlling me, but I still should have asked.”
“No, fuck, just … I'm not asking for a love confession or romance or ego-stroking when I say this, but I need to know. Can you come up with examples? When you noticed me before, not just to be annoyed at me? Because you can say it's been a long time, but I don't know. I could have made you think that. I don't want to have made you think that.”
Enjolras is still standing close, and Grantaire puts his hands in his pockets, because he doesn't want to touch him until he's sure. “I don't think your magic works retroactively, but I do understand why you're nervous, R. And I don't know, because I can't tell you anything romantic. I could ask Combeferre to tell you that last month when you spilled hot coffee on your shirt and took it off I forgot what I was in the middle of saying to him. Would that help?”
Grantaire can't nod, because this can't be happening. “I don't know.”
“Grantaire. Can we sit down?” Enjolras finally puts down his backpack, and Grantaire leads him over to the couch. Bahorel knows when to give him privacy, he isn't too worried that they'll be interrupted. “I've always noticed you. You know that. It hasn't always been positive attention, but I have noticed you. And I'm fairly sure I've smiled, as well, even if you don't think I have. I wish I could reassure you that I don't feel like anything's changed since you think you nudged me, but you don't seem to believe me.”
“The person before, they noticed the difference, shouted me down about it too. I'm not used to things being too good to be true.”
Enjolras sighs. “Then can't you trust that I would notice? If you don't want to do this, if it's easier to be infatuated with me and not be with me, that's your choice. But if it's just because you can't believe it, I'm going to keep trying to convince you.”
“Christ, don't, I don't think my sanity can take it,” says Grantaire, and because he's got to trust Enjolras, if only because Enjolras never gives up, he kisses him.
“There,” Enjolras says when he pulls away, sounding far too smug and coherent. “Was that so hard?” Before Grantaire can tell him not to be a dick, he's being kissed again, because Enjolras knows how to press an advantage, and Grantaire decides they can have a discussion about everything later, because for right now, he never wants to stop.
“You're not going to get dry,” he tells the chicken breast he's trying to cook, poking it with a fork. “You're great quality, and you're going to taste delicious, and you are going to be worthy of all the spices I put on you. Understood?” The quality of the sizzling changes just a little bit. “That's it. Chicken is not meant to get dry, so you are not going to.”
“I'm a little offended you thought that would be able to change my mind,” says Enjolras from where he's leaning against the wall next to the refrigerator. “One would think you'd have to work a little harder.”
“You can't blame me for worrying.”
“You could trust the strength of my mind, anyway. I'm never going to let you do something like that to me, no matter what.”
Enjolras sounds stubborn and sure, and Grantaire goes over to him and kisses him because he can't do anything else. He's getting used to it, though the second Enjolras leaves his sight for longer than five minutes it's going to take a lot of convincing himself it was all real, and he lets himself deepen the kiss, slip his tongue past Enjolras's lips until Enjolras pulls away, shaking his head at Grantaire. “What?”
“Dinner is going to burn if you keep kissing me.”
“No, it's really not,” Grantaire says firmly, and watches Enjolras smile.