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the fruit of my labour

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The problem with free will was that it was a wishy-washy sort of concept.

Or maybe Grantaire was just a broken angel. Angels only had one purpose, and that was to glorify God. True, they all had their different ways of going about it, but the entire point of angels were to demonstrate the power and might and love of God. Grantaire was fairly sure he wasn't living up to his purpose, which was curious in itself because since angels had no free will, he shouldn't have been able to do that.

And so, Grantaire was probably a broken angel.

"It's me," said Grantaire, the fire from Marius's sword blinding in its brightness. "Let me pass?"

"I'm supposed to be guarding the gate," said Marius.

"From humans," said Grantaire, and it was technically true. The fire dimmed, and extinguished, and suddenly Grantaire could see Marius's confused face. But they were friends, of a fashion, and so Marius pulled his sword from the ground and let Grantaire pass before taking up his vigil again.

The Garden of Eden hadn't changed much in a few millennia. Outside, the humans had thrived and flourished, gouging out the earth and reshaping the world to their image. But here, the trees and bushes and flowers remained, each perfectly in their own place where they had been placed, fruit ripe but frozen in time.

Grantaire strolled barefoot amongst the trees. He had not been here in a long time. It felt... nostalgic. That was a human word. Angels, with their unwavering memory of the years, had little use for nostalgia. Grantaire had wondered if he was becoming more human. He spent so much of his time amongst them, walking in their shadows and watching as they slept. He eavesdropped on their prayers to his Father and watched in fascination as they built relationships and tore them to the ground and built new ones.

But Grantaire would never really understand what it was like to be human. There were things that humans were built with, like free will, that did not come to angels. And so angels, with their infinite capacity for mercy and love and wrath, would never truly understand humans as much as they could sympathise with them and weep for them.

But oh, was Grantaire curious.

Grantaire picked up the only fruit that had ever fallen in the Garden, two distinct bites taken out of it, and swiped a finger along the edge, the juices staining his finger. The humans all remembered the story of Adam and Eve, but they were quick to blame, pointing the finger at Eve when she was but a manifestation of Grantaire's curiosity. A curiosity that still hadn't been quenched.

Because when Eve and then Adam had partaken of the fruit, they had found a knowledge that was beyond Grantaire. Just one more way to separate humans from angels.

Grantaire looked at the red on his finger, pressed it to his lips. Angels had no need for food; their mouths were made for praising God. The juice of the fruit dissolved on his tongue and Grantaire gasped, sensations sweeping through him that he had simply been incapable of processing before. He bit into the fruit, its sweetness bursting in his mouth and he chewed, a strange circular motion of his jaw that gave him new feelings with each chew. He knew what nostalgia felt like now. He knew, too, what sadness felt like and what envy felt like and what fear and hate and arousal felt like.

Grantaire dropped the fruit. He looked into the sky.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned." He laughed in sudden delight. Sarcasm, that was a new feeling too.

Something swelled inside him, the feeling of his Grace beating in time with all his brothers', and soon enough he could hear the swish of wings as Enjolras descended. Marius must have called for him, unsure how to deal with Grantaire's request.

Enjolras remained hovering in the air so as to keep his height advantage on Grantaire. In their full angel forms, Enjolras was the smaller angel with the wider wing span, built for speed and endurance, whilst Grantaire was bigger, stockier, more imposing. "What are you doing here, Grantaire," asked Enjolras. But Enjolras was not God, only his First Lieutenant, and therefore Enjolras could not see all. He could not know what Grantaire had just done.

"Just taking a stroll in the park," said Grantaire, and it wasn't a lie but he was capable of lying now.

"You know we're not meant to be here. No one is."

"Really? Father only banned the humans," said Grantaire.

Enjolras frowned at Grantaire, and it was a frown that had crumbled cities, terrorised armies, sent cruel men insane and begging for mercy. "It was pretty heavily implied."

Grantaire smiled. "The law is hard, but it is the law. And I follow it to the letter." Enjolras didn't understand, of course; he was incapable of doing so. "Are you angry at me?"

"No," said Enjolras. He didn't waste his anger on those undeserving. "Marius was... unsure. No one has disturbed the peace in here for milennia."

"Kiss me," said Grantaire. "It has been so long since you kissed me. Since before the humans."

"You are in disfavour."

"And I will be forever more," said Grantaire, spreading his hands. "But I was only doing what was willed of me."

"I know," said Enjolras automatically. It was a discussion they have had many times before. Without free will, Grantaire could not have betrayed their Father and so it was an unspoken acknowledgement amongst their brothers that Grantaire was acting under God's intent. The only other possibility was that Grantaire was a broken angel, and that was a paradox in itself. There was no such thing. The Almighty Creator did not make mistakes.

Grantaire had never told them otherwise, and it was not lying if he simply failed to contradict them. And thus – the problem with free will. Grantaire didn't have any before the fruit, and therefore it must have been their Father's plan.

"Do you love me still?" asked Grantaire. It was an unfair question.

"Of course," said Enjolras, who had no choice but to answer that way. That was what infinite ability to love afforded them. But the fruit had freed the shackles on Grantaire. He was capable of manipulation now, and the humans had taught him long ago how to do it.

"Then will you not kiss me?"

"Is this what you came to the Garden for?" Enjolras was learning, quickly, he always had, how to evade the truths he does not care for.

Grantaire shrugged, and an orchard fluttered in the wind his wings created. "You never come down to earth these days. And I cannot meet you in Heaven."

"And so this is a perfect middle ground," admitted Enjolras, leaning forward despite his reservations. There must be something – an invisible host, a whisper from their Creator, an instinct unnamed – that was warning him of what Grantaire's intentions were but Grantaire did not give them a chance to play out.

"Kiss me," said Grantaire.

"You are a temptation," said Enjolras and it was said with such fondness that Grantaire could almost overlook the terrible truth of it. Enjolras leaned forwards to press their lips together.

Grantaire slid his arms around Enjolras's waist and leaned up on his toes to meet Enjolras halfway. It has been far, far too long since he felt the lean press of Enjolras's slim body against his, the hard, fierce grasp of Enjolras's fingers around his shoulders, the gentle whisper of long hair across his cheek.

The fruit lay in his mouth, unswallowed and undigested, for what need of a digestive system had beings that did not eat? Enjolras tasted the fruit on his lips, from his tongue, and gasped, trying to pull back and Grantaire held on all the tighter, all the more desperate until Enjolras whimpered and stopped pulling, instead pressing into him, licking the taste from his mouth.

Grantaire felt him withdraw, not physically but become both more and less; more enlightened with the wisdom of the fruit, less detached from his angelic body. He wilted and his wings fluttered to a halt as his mind struggled to process all the new things it could now understand and Grantaire caught him as he dropped to the grass.

Enjolras pulled away eventually, wide-eyed and panting, hair dishevelled in a way it never could be before. His lips were stained with the red of the fruit and he trembled as Grantaire clutched him close. "You tricked me," said Enjolras. He pressed a hand to his lips, smearing away the last of the juice. Somehow, he didn't look too upset.

"Yes," said Grantaire and he was the worst, he must have been, because he didn't feel an ounce of regret. But then, he was the devil. "Kiss me again."

Enjolras did. He tucked his wings in close to his body, letting Grantaire run his fingers through the long feathers with one hand as they sank to the ground in a pile of limbs and sin. Grantaire ran a finger over Enjolras's parted lips, across his cheekbone, through his feathers. He ran light knuckles across Enjolras's waist and hip and lower and watched Enjolras gasp with his first experience of arousal.

Grantaire did away with his robes of heavenly light, leaving him bare and exposed and Enjolras did the same, sliding into his arms until Grantaire cradled him, pressing searing kisses over his pure skin.

"I have always loved you thus," said Grantaire, "And you never did understand."

"How?" asked Enjolras, confused, lost, losing himself and not entirely caring. "We are angels, we cannot love as humans do."

Grantaire curled a hand under Enjolras's thigh, parting them and sliding himself between. He leaned down and kissed Enjolras again, tasting heavenly nectar and forbidden fruit in the same lick, hearing Enjolras groan beneath him. "Don't you know? I'm a broken angel."

"No," said Enjolras, using his arms from around Grantaire's neck to pull him in close. "I know now. You are not broken. This – this is not what broken feels like. Love me, Grantaire."

Grantaire brushed a soft lock of hair from Enjolras's face. He grinned. "For ever and ever. Amen."