Valentine’s Day, 2008
The first time they meet, it’s at a Valentine’s Day house party hosted by some person Enjolras doesn’t even know.
Enjolras is dragged there unwillingly by Courfeyrac, who is on a one-man mission to make sure that Enjolras has as much fun as possible, now they’re at University. Unfortunately, this plan backfires somewhat when Courfeyrac is distracted by a guy called Mario or Marcus or something, and abandons Enjolras entirely, five minutes after walking through the door.
Enjolras is in the kitchen texting Combeferre in an attempt to not look like he just got ditched by his best friend on Valentine’s Day, when he meets Grantaire for the first time.
Grantaire stumbles into the kitchen unceremoniously, bangs his elbow off the fridge, swears, and then looks utterly stunned to find that he is not alone in the room.
Enjolras lowers his phone. “Hello?”
Grantaire blinks and then replies, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Enjolras panics, and then his time spent growing up with Combeferre and his nurturing instincts sends him into doctor mode. He puts his phone into his pocket, grabs the front of the guy’s shirt, and hauls him out through the door which leads into the back garden.
Grantaire stumbles out after him, down the concrete step, and disappears off into the darkness at the end of the garden when Enjolras shoves him in that direction.
Enjolras gets a glass of water from the sink in the kitchen and politely waits on the concrete step at the backdoor until he's finished.
When Grantaire returns from throwing up, he looks a lot less confused. He takes the glass of water and downs it all in one go.
“Better?” asks Enjolras.
“Yeah,” Grantaire replies, putting the glass down on the floor, and shoves his hands into the pockets of his jeans. His eyes are, Enjolras realises, very blue, even in the darkness. There is a shadow of stubble on the edge of his jaw, and his lips curve self-deprecatingly into what is almost a smile.
Enjolras feels his own mouth start to curve in response, he fights the impulse back as he crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the door. “Hello.”
“Hi,” Grantaire returns the greeting this time, then introduces himself: “Grantaire.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Enjolras arches an eyebrow. “Is it?”
In his pocket, his phone buzzes with a reply to his text from Combeferre. He thinks about reaching for it, and keeps his arms crossed.
Grantaire looks faintly surprised at his pointed reply, and then his smile turns into a real grin as he says, “Well, it’s certainly better than watching a bunch of couples making out all over the place. I hate Valentine’s.”
Enjolras has to agree. “Completely commercialised and pointless.”
“Total money-making scheme.”
“Nothing but an excuse for people to buy cheap plastic pink glittery things.”
“No real emotion behind it at all. You think any of those people are going to remember each other come tomorrow?”
“Definitely not,” replies Enjolras.
He has no intention of going back inside to join the party and, it seems, neither does Grantaire, so Enjolras moves to sit down on the edge of the concrete step. A beat later Grantaire joins him, careful to sit slightly apart so they’re not touching. His cologne smells like whiskey and woodsmoke and burnt sugar.
Enjolras places his hands back on the cold step so he can lean back on his arms, looking up at the night sky. It’s a cloudy night, but there’s the faint glimmer of stars. He wishes he still had his jacket.
“So who are you here with?” asks Grantaire.
Enjolras glances sideways at him, but Grantaire’s slightly hunched over, leaning forwards as he fiddles with something in his hands. A second later he lifts them to his mouth, his tongue darting out to lick the edge of some rolling paper so he can seal the tobacco inside his cigarette.
Enjolras looks away again as he says, “A friend.” He doesn’t quite know why he adds, “He got distracted by another guy.”
“Tough deal,” replies Grantaire. “Same for me. Only it was a girl, and she left me for this absolute git. One of those economy students, you know? Privately educated, rich parents, going to go be a banker when he grows up—”
“I went to private school.”
Grantaire pauses with a lighter held to the end of his cigarette, balanced now between his lips. Enjolras finds his gaze drawn to them, then up, to see Grantaire looking at him anew.
“Is that a problem?” he finds himself asking.
The lighter flickers to life as Grantaire’s thumb catches the wheel, sparking a flame. Grantaire takes a drag before replying, “You studying economics?”
“Politics and law.”
Grantaire huffs out a laugh and smoke goes with it, twisting into the night sky above them. “Of course.”
Offence makes Enjolras more pointed as he challenges, “What about you?”
He can’t help it, he scrunches up his nose. Seeing it, Grantaire laughs, and leans into him with his shoulder. “And you thought I was prejudiced?”
“I’m not—” he’s interrupted when the back door is thrown open dramatically and someone stumbles out between them, yelling something into a phone pressed to their ear.
The stream of vulgarities that fills the night air is impressive, especially as the person shouting them is about five foot tall and has one of those delicate, harmonious voices. The yelling continues as the girl disappears through the gate at the side of the garden, not once letting up in its intensity.
“Charming,” Enjolras says, when she’s disappeared down the lane.
Grantaire chokes on his next inhale of smoke. “Hey now,” he says, when he’s able to breathe again, and knocks ash into the empty glass next to the step where they’re sitting, “Fighting with significant others is the second-most-popular thing to do on Valentine’s Day, didn’t you know? So romantic.”
On impulse, Enjolras reaches out to take the cigarette from him, their fingers brushing. He’s not really a big smoker but occasionally, in the right context, he becomes a social one, and they seem to be doing a lot of talking. Grantaire’s eyes watch the cigarette as he lifts it to his lips.
“So you’re not into romance, then?” Enjolras asks.
“What?” Grantaire asks, “No, of course I am. The biggest romantic of them all. I’m just also a realist. And you?”
Enjolras hasn’t ever really thought about it before. He’s kissed a few people, enough that he’s aware that he prefers guys, but he’s never fell head-over-heels for someone, not the way Courfeyrac seems to do all the time. But then, Courfeyrac’s free with his affections, and Enjolras has always been that little bit more guarded, not sure how you can give that much to so many people, and have anything left for yourself.
“Still waiting to see,” he replies, and hands the cigarette back.
Grantaire looks surprised, but then he glances away, running a hand through his hair. They spend the rest of the night like that, sat together on the step just talking.
In the years to come, Enjolras can’t quite remember everything they talked about, how many hours they were there for or what was said, but he remembers the feel of the cold air, the sound of the party going on in the house behind them, the way Grantaire’s lips curved when he smiled.
They’re interrupted eventually by Courfeyrac, who throws the door open and declares, “There you are!”
He drops down to sit in between them without asking, throws an arm around both Enjolras and Grantaire, despite never having met the latter - or at least, Enjolras doesn’t think he has.
“I have been thwarted,” he says on a sigh to Enjolras, looking sad. “Marius was otherwise distracted.”
Ah, Marius. That’s the name of the guy. Enjolras hums in response, knowing that words aren’t always necessary, when it comes to Courfeyrac. On his other side, Grantaire looks faintly amused, an expression almost like wonder when he listens to Courfeyrac.
“It seems there is a lady,” Courfeyrac continues, on a sigh.
“Oh, no?” Enjolras tries for sympathetic, and hears Grantaire muffle a snort. “Are you okay?”
“Oh it’s not a bad thing,” Courfeyrac replies, “It just means there’s more to love. She’s rather pretty too. Do you think I could propose a threesome?”
“A guy like you?” asks Grantaire, the first thing he’s said since Courfeyrac appeared. Courfeyrac turns to look at him as if surprised to find that he’s there, despite having an arm curled around his shoulders. Grantaire looks Courfeyrac over, taking in the stylish clothes and the well-cut hair and says, “I wouldn’t say no.”
His blue eyes, for the briefest of seconds, flicker to Enjolras.
“I like you,” Courfeyrac announces, “What is your name?”
“Oh! There was a girl inside looking for you. Floréal? She seemed pretty mad.”
“Ah, shit,” swears Grantaire, and gets to his feet, shrugging Courfeyrac’s arm off. He stubs his most recent cigarette out on the wall and then says, “I believe that is my cue to leave.” He’s halfway through the door into the kitchen when he pauses, glancing back over his shoulder to look at Enjolras. He opens his mouth to say something else, but it’s lost in a sudden burst of sound as a group of people stumble into the kitchen, laughing.
When the back door slams shut behind Grantaire, Enjolras turns to find Courfeyrac staring at him.
“Did you – Enjolras did you pull?”
“What?” demands Enjolras, feeling his cheeks warm, “No! We just talked.”
Courfeyrac’s eyes light up. “You made a friend! I’m so proud of you! I knew this party would be a good idea.”
Only Courfeyrac can call it a successful party, when Enjolras has spent all night outside avoiding talking to most people, and Courfeyrac’s object of affections has been chasing after someone else. Enjolras thinks about pointing this out, but Courfeyrac looks too happy, as he drags Enjolras up to his feet and starts walking them in the direction of their flat.
Valentine’s Day, 2009
Enjolras doesn’t see Grantaire again until his second year of University, when he, Combeferre and Courfeyrac are all sharing a house.
The problem with house-sharing with a second-year med student, however, is that they’re expected to spend part of their time in the hospital shadowing actual doctors, which means Enjolras gets to see Combeferre a whole lot less than he would like.
(But it does mean that Combeferre gets to be a lot more excited about his degree.)
The side-effect of an excitable Combeferre, however, is that he sometimes forgets to do simple things like sleep and eat. Courfeyrac and Enjolras take it upon themselves to remind him to do these things, which include making food for him, when he inevitably rushes off for an overnight shift and forgets to take any substance with him.
When Combeferre takes a 12-hour shift on Valentine’s Day and neglects to bring anything to eat (a fact Courfeyrac and Enjolras are only made aware of because another med student, Joly, calls them on a break, at first to tell them all the ways scurvy is still something people can get, before taking a detour through the tale of how pirates still exist, on to the lyrics of I’m on a Boat, then back around to how he has decided Combeferre’s dislike of oranges is unhealthy) it’s down to Enjolras to take his food to him.
Courfeyrac already has plans with Marius, who is still not yet quite his boyfriend, and Marius’s girlfriend Cosette, who is quite interested in Courfeyrac being her boyfriend too.
Combeferre looks rather surprised to see Enjolras, when he turns up at the hospital at 8pm at night, though his surprise quickly turns to suspicion when he turns to look at Joly, hovering nearby and leaning on his cane.
“Oranges, Combeferre,” Joly says gravely. “Oranges.”
Combeferre gives Joly his patented sceptical look, but takes the bag of food from Enjolras. He glances inside to see that Enjolras has, dutifully, put an orange in, and mutters, “Sell out.”
Enjolras is just about to turn and leave when a familiar voice says, “Enjolras?”
He blinks and turns to see – “Grantaire.”
An unidentifiable feeling rushes through his body upon seeing him, and Enjolras finds himself almost smiling without even intending to. He’s seen Grantaire only once since the house party a year ago, and that was across campus as their paths crossed in different directions.
“Huh,” says Grantaire, “Fancy seeing you here.”
“Visiting friends,” Enjolras explains, with a shrug. “Med students.” Combeferre and Joly give dutiful waves, before Combeferre heads off to put his food away in the staff room.
“You sure do know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Grantaire replies, amused.
At Grantaire’s side is another student, tall and dark-skinned. His close-cut hair is already showing signs of receding and he is wearing what is, quite possibly, the most hideous hand-knitted jumper Enjolras has ever seen. He leans heavily on Grantaire, with one foot propped up on what appears to be a small children’s toy truck. An ice pack balances precariously on top of his swollen ankle, dripping water.
“Enjolras, meet Bossuet. Bossuet, meet Enjolras,” says Grantaire. “Enjolras is the guy who hates Valentine’s, the one I told you about? He was at Montparnasse’s party last year.” To Enjolras, he says, “Bossuet is my oldest and dearest friend. He is absolutely hopeless at everything, including walking without falling.”
“Hello,” says Enjolras.
Bossuet shifts his weight slightly, still using Grantaire to balance, and squints at Enjolras, “Cheekbones and good hair, I am affronted.”
Enjolras blinks and says, “I can’t dance?”
Bossuet considers this. “Can anyone though, really?”
“Shakira,” replies Grantaire.
Bossuet practically beams. “Her hips don’t lie?”
“I’m sorry,” says Joly, looking like he’s practically bursting at the seams, “Did I hear someone say they had a case of untruthful hips?”
The expression on Bossuet’s face is a thing of beauty. It is almost as if he forgets Grantaire and Enjolras are there entirely as he says, “Truthfully, I think my ankle is broken.”
“Alas,” Joly replies, “Did it hurt?”
Rather than stare at Joly, which is what Enjolras is currently doing, Bossuet does that whole beaming thing again and replies, “When I fell from heaven?”
“I see you appreciate the gravity of the situation.”
“Yes, it’s really bringing me down.”
Joly is beaming right back. “Luckily, I’m Joly.”
One of the real doctors appears then, the one Joly is supposed to be shadowing, and takes Bossuet off to go and get an X-Ray. The awful puns continue all the way down the hall, until Enjolras and Grantaire are left together, in a silence that feels strangely absent.
“Well,” says Enjolras.
“Who was it who said love is dead?” Grantaire asks, “I feel like we just witnessed something beautiful.”
Enjolras nods, not really sure he has words. When Combeferre first introduced them to Joly this past September, Enjolras hadn’t quite known how to take him; perpetually sunny, forever telling awful jokes, and always, always concerned about others and their health – usually above his own.
Then somehow Joly had just slotted right in, a bright addition who makes them all smile.
But Enjolras has never seen him smile the way he smiled just then at Bossuet.
“So,” says Grantaire, filling the silence, “Come here often?”
Enjolras gives that question the flat stare it deserves, and Grantaire grins that little half-smile he remembers from the party.
“So no big plans for tonight then?” Grantaire asks, hands in his jeans pocket, gaze staring off down the hall rather than at Enjolras, the epitome of casual.
“No,” Enjolras replies, “I just came to bring food.”
He is suddenly aware that this sounds very sad, and not at all like an interesting way to spend Valentine’s Day.
“Bossuet and I were out,” Grantaire says, “Seeing as Floréal ditched me for her asshole boyfriend again. But Bossuet’s just about as unlucky in love as he is at walking without falling and so, here we are.”
“Here we are,” Enjolras echoes.
Grantaire looks at him like he’s about to say something, like there’s a question he’s not quite sure he wants to ask. He seems to steel himself, takes a breath.
“I broke it in three places!” Bossuet announces, wheeling back down the hallway in a wheelchair, pushed by Joly. The child’s toy truck sits on his lap like a cat. “It looks awesome. Joly reckons he can get me the X-Ray, isn’t that amazing?”
Grantaire’s smile is genuine as he replies, “Yes, yes it is.”
“I’m going to put it up on my wall,” Bossuet continues, “Maybe get it framed.”
“If you think that’s cool,” says Joly, “Wait until I show you what else med students have access too.”
If it was actually possible to look at someone with hearts in your eyes, Enjolras just knows Bossuet would be doing it to Joly right now.
Enjolras has already seen everything med students have to offer, having lived with one for the past two years. But when Grantaire turns to him with a questioning look, wanting to know if he’ll spend Valentine’s Day with them in the hospital, Enjolras finds himself saying, “Sure. I’ll come too.”
Which is how he spends his second Valentine’s Day in a row with Grantaire.
Valentine’s Day, 2010
“This is becoming a bit of a recurring theme,” Grantaire observes, when they run into each other at the confectionary stand in the local cinema, in Enjolras’s third year at University.
Grantaire is currently holding a large carton of popcorn and there is a disconcertingly unimpressed-looking girl standing a foot away from him, who alternates between glaring down at her phone, and glaring at a pre-teen boy as he gleefully fills up a paper bag with a variety of different fizzy sweets nearby.
Grantaire looks a little different from when Enjolras last saw him, in the library two months ago when deadlines were rushing towards them. He looks more awake now than he did then, clean-shaven but still with his wild black curls. He’s grown an inch or two taller, but still doesn’t quite match Enjolras’s height.
“Indeed,” he replies, and then winces, because no one actually says that.
He shifts awkwardly from one foot to another, unable to keep himself still when there’s a girl stood right there. He feels like intruding. “Sorry,” Enjolras says, “Are you on a date?”
Grantaire blinks and then laughs. “No.” Then, his smile dimming slightly, “Are you?”
The girl finally stops glaring at her phone then, puts it into her bag and looks Enjolras over once, from head to toe. He feels like he’s been stripped bare. When she meets his eyes finally, she looks bored.
“Floréal?” Enjolras attempts, and offers his hand to shake.
Grantaire winces. The girl-who-is-apparently-not-Floréal glares at him.
“Éponine,” she corrects shortly, and doesn’t shake his hand.
Enjolras clears his throat and lowers his hand slowly.
Grantaire does not even try to hide his grin, at Éponine’s side.
Éponine doesn’t look interested in saying anything more, but she also doesn’t walk away. Desperately, Enjolras searches for something to say, anything, and draws nothing but a blank. He’s saved by Combeferre, returning with two drinks. He gives one to Enjolras and then says, “Hello, Grantaire, Éponine.”
Enjolras turns sharply to look at him. Combeferre’s expression is perfectly polite as he looks at Éponine, who looks surprised that he knows her name. She hides the expression quickly and turns to snap, “Gavroche.”
The pre-teen boy waves a hand in her direction and doesn’t look up from where he is putting only the blue smarties from the tub into his bag.
“You three know each other?” Enjolras attempts.
“Grantaire spends a lot of time at the hospital with Bossuet,” Combeferre explains, “And Joly spends a lot of time with Bossuet.” Oh, right. Joly and Bossuet are dating now, after their meeting at the hospital a year ago today. “Éponine came in once with her brother. Hello, Gavroche.”
The pre-teen boy joins their group with half of a long jelly snake hanging out of the side of his mouth. He chews thoughtfully on the head as he looks up at Combeferre. “Got any more of those lollipops?”
Éponine sighs, but Combeferre only smiles. “No,” he replies, “They’re kept at the hospital.”
“You’re not five, Gav,” Éponine says, in a voice that implies he’s embarrassing her. Which is a little strange, as Enjolras doesn’t think she seems to be the type to be embarrassed by anything.
“You’re never too old for free lollipops,” Gavroche admonishes. “Is it time for the film yet?”
Enjolras has no idea how it happens, but somehow they all end up sat on the same row. Grantaire sits at one end next to Gavroche, with Éponine on Gavroche’s other side. Combeferre sits next to her, and then Enjolras at the opposite end of the row to Grantaire. Gavroche sits with his feet curled up underneath him, constantly moving and shifting to try and get a better view.
Combeferre is curiously quiet, speaking only to offer Éponine some of Enjolras’s popcorn. Which Enjolras would be annoyed by, if not for Éponine’s grudging ‘thanks’ as she took a small handful.
When the film starts, it’s clear within minutes that it’s awful, some sort of retelling of Romeo and Juliet in space. With dance numbers. And a male lead who looks perpetually surprised to be there. Or maybe that’s just his electric blue eyebrows.
Enjolras ducks out around the halfway point on the excuse of needing the toilet. He takes his time walking back through the foyer, stopping to look at every single film poster and then browse through the stand of leaflets. He’s just picked up one on film times when a voice behind him says, “So, worst film you’ve ever seen or what?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Enjolras replies, turning, “I rather liked the jazz number on the ice skating rink, with the spaceship from Mars?”
“Definite Oscar bait,” Grantaire agrees.
He’s stood with his hands pushed into his jeans pockets, casual. It occurs to Enjolras that really, he should be back in the room watching the film, but instead he’s out here. In the foyer. With Enjolras.
“Do you want a coffee?” Enjolras asks.
“Éponine’s just been dumped,” Grantaire explains, when they’re both sat at one of the tacky plastic waiting tables, their hands curled around matching paper cups of coffee. “She’s been on-again off-again with Montparnasse since first year and I think this is actually it? But hey, who knows. I’m sure he’ll climb dashingly in through her window again in about a week smelling of smoke and broken promises and she’ll give in.”
“Oh?” says Enjolras.
The only other people in this part of the cinema are a couple who turned up an hour early for the screening of their film, and are apparently attempting to kill time by making out as much as is humanly possible. Enjolras tries to block them from his view.
“He does have a rather dashing leather jacket,” Grantaire muses.
Enjolras would look awful in a leather jacket.
“Courfeyrac’s finally managed his threesome,” Enjolras says, figuring he might as well share why he’s here too. “He’s dating Marius and Cosette now. So I guess he’s out with both his girlfriend and boyfriend tonight?”
“Living the dream,” Grantaire replies. “Tell him I said congratulations.”
Enjolras half-smiles, thinking back to that first Valentine’s Day, two years ago. He takes a drink and then says, “So, what are you doing after you graduate?”
“Why? Are you worried you won’t have anyone left to spend Valentine’s with?” asks Grantaire, and then, when Enjolras’s mouth has actually dropped open in surprise, “Kidding. I’m dragging it out and refusing to graduate. Or well, I am, but then I’m doing another course. The real world doesn’t appeal to me right now. I’m planning to put off entering it for as long as possible and so, Fine Art. What about you?”
“BPTC,” Enjolras replies, “Another year, yet.”
He can’t help but be surprised when Grantaire says, “A barrister, hm?” and leans back in his chair, kicking his legs out under the table. One of his feet brushes against Enjolras’s.
Enjolras doesn’t move his foot. “I like to be right in the middle of things, arguing where it really matters.”
“I can see that,” Grantaire says, and takes a drink of his coffee. “Or well, I can imagine it,” he corrects himself. “So, convince me.”
Enjolras blinks. “What?”
“I don’t know, anything. Convince me of something. Show me your silver tongue.”
Enjolras tries not to read into that, and takes another drink of his coffee to stall. A variety of different topics jump to the forefront of his mind, none of which he thinks will really interest Grantaire. But then, it’s not like he really has to convince him of anything, and so he just starts talking.
It takes him a while to warm up, but Grantaire’s a good audience, he has an expressive face, raising an eyebrow when he’s sceptical, curving his lips when he’s amused. At one point he frowns, but Enjolras is quick to change his line of argument.
Time slips by quickly, until their space Romeo and Juliet film is finished, and the people inside are all traipsing out. Gavroche bolts past their table for the toilet, and when Enjolras looks up it’s to find Combeferre and Éponine stood together, a polite distance apart. Éponine’s looking off to the side, away from Combeferre, biting her lip and looking thoughtful.
“Having fun?” Combeferre asks, disingenuous.
Enjolras hates him sometimes, he really does. “Didn’t realise what time it was,” he replies, hastily getting to his feet, “Is the film over?”
“What tipped you off?” drawls Grantaire, rising at a much more sedate pace. He crushes his paper cup and throws it into a nearby bin. To Éponine, he says, “Good film?”
Éponine frowns as she looks at him and replies, “It was alright.”
Grantaire’s eyebrows rise a fraction, and Gavroche comes running back over to them. “Time for food?” he asks, “You promised pizza.”
“Yeah, sure,” Grantaire replies, and reaches out to ruffle his hair. Gavroche scowls and bats at his hand, stepping out of reach. Grantaire drops his hand and turns to Enjolras as he says, “Guess that’s our cue to leave.”
Enjolras feels oddly disappointed, but can’t think of something to say to make him stay. He and Combeferre already have reservations at an Italian restaurant a few streets away.
“I had a good time,” Combeferre says, glancing across at Éponine.
Éponine looks wary as she replies, “I suppose.” At her side she curls one hand in the back of Gavroche’s shirt to stop him bolting when he sees something shiny on the other side of the room.
“See you around,” Combeferre says.
Éponine turns to go, not releasing Gavroche even as he tries to run off through the door. Grantaire falls into step with her, but turns when he’s almost out of earshot to grin at Enjolras and say, “Same time next year?”
Valentine’s Day, 2011
“You know,” says Grantaire, “When I said ‘same time next year’, I didn’t actually mean it.”
Enjolras hums in the back of his throat, and leans back against the bars of the police holding cell. One of his hands is throbbing, the fingers slightly swollen, and the damp tea towel he’s been given to wrap around it isn’t really helping.
Grantaire doesn’t seem to be in that much better a shape, slumped on the wooden bench with his balled-up hoodie held against a cut against his cheek.
“Come on,” says Grantaire, “You can’t avoid talking to me forever.”
Enjolras can and has been making a valiant attempt at it ever since just before Christmas, when he had realised the depth to which Enjolras was mad at him.
Enjolras wishes he still has his phone, and that it hadn’t been confiscated when he was brought in. He wants to check up on Cosette, to make sure that she got back to Marius’s safely. He was a little bit too busy being arrested by the police to take her there himself, as had been the original plan.
He can just imagine Courfeyrac’s expression now.
No doubt his phone is filled with text messages about how Cosette could have totally handled the whole situation herself, was Enjolras aware that her dad was an ex-con??
Still, he doesn’t regret getting involved, not when it was to yell at some gits for harassing Cosette on the street. He’d done nothing wrong. Taking it further, though, by then yelling at some nearby police for not intervening themselves, had probably not been his best idea.
He opens his mouth to ask how Grantaire ended up here, and then remembers he’s not talking to him. He presses his lips together and frowns across to where Grantaire sits on the wooden bench, head tilted back against the wall as he stares at the ceiling. Part of Enjolras wants to ask if he’s okay, but the other, more stubborn part of him, refuses to be the one to give in.
Things were a whole lot easier when he didn’t actually know Grantaire, and the only time they crossed paths was on Valentine’s Day, before their respective friendship groups started to intertwine.
“Come on,” Grantaire tries again, when he realises Enjolras is looking at him, “I’m sorry, alright? I’ve said it enough times. What else do you want from me?”
Enjolras presses his lips together, and refuses to say anything.
Grantaire sighs, and pushes up from the wooden bench, walking over to where Enjolras sits on the floor of the cell. He sits down next to him and reaches out for Enjolras’s hand, wrapped in the damp tea towel. Enjolras lets him, watching as Grantaire carefully unwraps the damp towel and forces himself not to wince.
The hand underneath looks sore, but the fingers aren’t broken, just starting to purple slightly. Grantaire takes Enjolras’s hand in his carefully.
“How are you going to type your essay with this?” Grantaire asks, on a sigh.
Enjolras makes a surprised sound in the back of his throat, unused to Grantaire taking his studies seriously. Despite their conversation this time last year, Grantaire has proved nothing if not derisive of career-driven people. (“I live my life on the winds of fate,” he had proclaimed to Enjolras, drunk, last September, leaning heavily against him as they walked home from Joly’s birthday party.)
Grantaire is clearly not going to fix Enjolras’s hand by holding it, but he seems to be making a valiant attempt at it anyway. For now, Enjolras lets him.
“You know Jehan, right?” Grantaire asks, “He was at Joly’s birthday bash. The one with the dreadlocks. He’s a dancer.”
Enjolras tries to remember, can’t come up with much beyond the two hours he’d spent outside on the porch with Grantaire, smoking, apparently a tradition for them when it comes to house parties. He nods anyway.
“Well, people seem to think that, like, dancing’s not a sport, right?” says Grantaire, “Like people aren’t physically fit if they do it, as if they’ll just fall over. So I’m in this bar with Montparnasse, ‘cause Éponine’s kicked him to the curb for not turning up on date night, again, and he’s got this weed from Jehan—”
Grantaire, Enjolras has come to learn over the past year, tends to ramble when he’s telling a story. He goes off at tangents and very rarely cuts straight to the point. Enjolras lets Grantaire’s words wash over him, just listening to the sound of his voice more than anything, a distraction from the pain in his hand.
“—so because Jehan wasn’t there, I punched him, because I had to defend his honour, right?” Grantaire is saying.
And before Enjolras can stop himself, he says, “Yeah.”
Grantaire’s hand pauses, where he has been absently running his thumb over Enjolras’s bruised knuckles.
Enjolras clears his throat, and says, “I am really mad at you.”
“I know,” replies Grantaire, careful, quiet. “And I am sorry.”
“It’s just — I know it’s all a joke to you, but it all means something, to me,” Enjolras says, giving in and letting the anger out. It’s more muted than he imagined, but no less fierce. “I actually mean it, when I say I want to make a difference, that I want to do something. And I know, I know we’re just a student group on campus, but we’re making a difference to someone.”
He’s expecting mockery, an argument that has been building between the two of them since their friends started to merge, since Joly and Bossuet first showed an interest in the fledgling group Enjolras, Courfeyrac and Combeferre had started. Since the first meeting when Grantaire had sat there with a sceptical look on his face.
“And you,” Enjolras says, fighting against the anger which is trying desperately to build in his chest, “You filled the Students’ Union with plastic balls, Grantaire.”
“We got rid of them eventually.”
“You made a mockery of what we were trying to do.”
“You wanted people to know the name of your group. Now they do.”
“For all the wrong reasons,” Enjolras snaps, and pulls his hand away from Grantaire’s. It makes him wince, but he grits his teeth and picks up the tea towel again, wrapping it around stubbornly to ease the throbbing as he says, “I get that you don’t take anything seriously, I do, that’s your thing, but whilst you’re content to just waste your life doing nothing of note, some of us are actually trying to be serious. Some of us want to make a difference and actually do something with our lives other than drinking it all away!”
He ends up practically shouting the last words, on his feet now, anger making his whole body tense.
Grantaire remains on the floor, looking up at him. The cut across his cheek makes him look strangely young. His face, usually so full of expression, is carefully blank.
“Feel better?” he asks, after a small pause.
“No,” Enjolras admits. “That was unkind of me.”
“But also true.”
“I just - I don’t get it,” Enjolras says, exhausted. “Why don’t you take anything seriously? Why is it such a joke to you?”
“Has it ever occurred to you, that not everyone has a grand plan for their life from the moment they’re born?” Grantaire asks, “That we don’t all know exactly what we need to do to get where we want to be? Some of us just stumble our way through, hoping that it will all start to make sense, one day.”
Enjolras frowns, it takes him a moment to realise that Grantaire is being serious, that underneath all the joking and the insincerity he’s become used to, Grantaire is actually completely unsure of what he wants to do in life.
“Have you been to a—”
“Please don’t say the words ‘Career Advisor’,” Grantaire interrupts. “People who become Career Advisors are exactly the kind of people you don’t want to take career advice from, seeing as they couldn’t manage to find one of their own.”
Enjolras almost smiles. “You don’t have any ideas?”
“I thought about being an astronaut once,” replies Grantaire. “And when I was a kid I really wanted to be a professional chocolate taster.”
Enjolras huffs out a laugh, and sits down on the wooden bench. A few seconds later Grantaire rouses himself to come and join him, sitting down carefully so they’re not touching.
“Sorry for ruining your super serious thing,” Grantaire says.
After a pause, Enjolras replies, “Sorry for implying you’re wasting your life.”
“Pfft,” replies Grantaire, “I’m here on Valentine’s Day with you, aren’t I? How could this be classed as wasting my life? Hundreds of girls - and guys - would kill to be in this position, I’ve seen how they look at you when you strut your way around campus. There are people right now all alone on Valentine’s, surely that’s worse.”
“Worse than being locked in a police cell?” counters Enjolras, with an arched eyebrow, and tries to ignore the little part of him that feels warm at the first part of Grantaire’s reply.
“I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t care about being anywhere, as long as you’re there,” Grantaire replies, which is just.
Enjolras promptly forgets anything he was about to say in reply.
Grantaire smiles, and nudges his shoulder against him. Enjolras doesn’t pull away.
They remain sitting like that, leaning together, when an hour laterthere’s the rattle of keys, and the door is unlocked by a police woman. “Seems you both got bail,” she says, “Turns out there are people who love you, despite getting arrested, on Valentine’s Day.”
Enjolras gets to his feet quickly, not checking to see if Grantaire’s following as he steps out of the cell and follows the woman down the hall to the main desk. Waiting there for them are Combeferre and Éponine, both slightly pink in the cheeks and determinedly not looking at each other.
Enjolras’s footsteps slow as he sees them, feeling like he’s interrupting something, and Grantaire says from behind him, “Well, now,” quiet enough for only Enjolras to hear.
Combeferre smiles upon seeing them, Éponine glowers. “This is not how I intended to spend my Valentine’s Day, Grantaire,” she snaps.
“Are you sure?” Grantaire asks impertinently, with a look which Enjolras can’t read, but makes Éponine flush even pinker and hit him on the arm, hard. “Hey! Uncalled for.”
“Courfeyrac sent me a message,” Combeferre explains to Enjolras, “Cosette got back to Marius’s safely. I said I’d come and get you at the end of my shift.”
“Are you always working on Valentine’s?” Grantaire asks.
“The life of a med student,” Combeferre replies, and shrugs. “Everyone else is in couples – or triples, I figure I might as well cover for them, so they can go out. It’s not like I have other plans.”
Enjolras glances from Combeferre across to Éponine, who is studiously not looking at him as she shoves her hands into her coat pockets and says, “Yeah, well, we might as well make the most of the two hours you’ve got left then, right? You know. For the sake of it.”
“Right,” says Grantaire, grinning.
Combeferre smiles at Éponine. “Sounds good to me.”
The four of them make it to a bar just down the road from the police station, one that isn’t completely covered in pink plastic hearts and glitter. Combeferre gallantly buys Éponine a drink or three, and Enjolras spends his night with his leg pressed against Grantaire’s under the table.
“So you two made up, then?” Combeferre asks, as they watch Grantaire twirl Éponine around on the dance floor. Grantaire laughs like no one’s watching, Éponine smiles like someone is.
Enjolras looks down at his bruised hand, thinks of Grantaire trying to look after him, even when Enjolras was refusing to talk, and replies, “Something like that.”
Valentine’s Day, 2012
Enjolras doesn’t notice Grantaire, at first.
He’s too wrapped up in Feuilly, in the conversation they’ve been having on the walk over, on the way Feuilly gestures when he talks and gets so passionate he forgets to look where he’s walking. Enjolras has to hold the door to the bar open for him with one hand, and gesture him inside with the other.
They find a table not too far in the bar, with a good view of the floor-to-ceiling windows which take up all of one wall. Feuilly is nervous, Enjolras can tell by the way he fiddles with the drinks menu but doesn’t actually read it. On impulse, Enjolras reaches out to place a hand over his to calm him.
“Hello, happy Valentine’s Day, may I take your... drinks.”
Enjolras turns sharper than he intended, his head whipping around to stare.
Stood next to their table is Grantaire, leaner now, and more tanned, his hair longer, pulled back lazily into a small ponytail at the nape of his neck. He’s wearing a plain white shirt like the rest of the serving staff, with form-fitting black trousers and that same-old self-deprecating smile as always, and Enjolras’s mind just blanks out anything sensible to say.
Grantaire’s smile goes hesitant, he glances past Enjolras at where Feuilly is sat, his hand resting underneath Enjolras’s. His blue eyes don’t quite meet Enjolras’s again when he says, “So—”
“You’re back,” Enjolras cuts across him, somehow managing to find his voice, “I didn’t know that. Why didn’t I know that?”
Grantaire has been gone for over half a year, travelling around the world and ‘finding himself’ — and others, too, if his facebook photos are anything to go by. Good-looking guys and beautiful girls, with wide smiles and easy touches and butterscotch tans. Not that Enjolras has been stalking Grantaire’s photos, he’s just happened to peruse them a few times.
Purely to see how Grantaire has been getting on.
“Not been back long,” Grantaire replies, shrugging one shoulder. His voice is flat. “Wasn’t quite sure where everyone was at. Are you going to order?”
Feuilly orders drinks for the both of them, able to tell that Enjolras isn’t in the right frame of mind.
He and Grantaire had kept in touch over the last few months, but only vaguely. A have a good time message, a postcard from a city or two. Seeing Grantaire now knocks him off-balance, leaves him on the wrong foot.
Grantaire takes the orders and snaps his notebook closed, saying, “I’ll get them for you now. Have a good Valentine’s.”
He turns without another word, walking over to the bar where the drinks are made. When Enjolras tears his eyes away it’s to find Feuilly looking at him, coolly amused, and Enjolras finally remembers to pull his hand away.
“Sorry,” he apologises.
“No problem,” Feuilly replies, because he’s a saint. “So who’s that?”
“Um,” says Enjolras, and frowns. How could he even begin to describe Grantaire? He didn’t even know, himself. They’d met at a party five years ago today – and then continued to run into each other, until their friendship groups were mixed and all their friends had begun to date.
“A friend,” he settles on, though it feels woefully inadequate.
Grantaire returns with their drinks a few moments later, doesn’t look at Enjolras at all as he places them down. “Grantaire…” Enjolras tries, not sure what he’s done to provoke this reaction.
“I’ve got other tables,” Grantaire replies, and walks away.
“Are you sure Éponine set up this blind date for me?” Feuilly asks, in the awkward pause afterwards, and Enjolras glares at him.
“I certainly hope so,” says another voice, and they both look up in surprise to see what might just be the most tattooed man in existence. He is the complete opposite of Feuilly, muscled and strong with gruff beard, and yet Enjolras suddenly feels like an outsider.
“I’m going to… go,” he says needlessly, and gets to his feet.
The other guy – Bahorel, a friend of Éponine’s – sits down in his vacated seat, already talking to Feuilly. Enjolras smiles and leaves them both to it, taking his drink and relocating to the bar. It wasn’t quite how he’d expected the evening to go, the whole plan had been to get Feuilly settled before going to sit somewhere to see if he’d be needed to bail him out, but it seems to have worked out anyway.
Except for Grantaire.
At the bar, he texts Combeferre: do you know Grantaire is back?
He gets a reply quickly, despite Combeferre being out on a date tonight with Éponine: Yeah, of course. We saw him at Floréal’s engagement party. Why?
Enjolras looks down the bar, to where Grantaire is working and studiously ignoring him, for some slight he has no idea how he’s caused, and replies: Just seen him. Doesn’t matter. Have a good night.
He turns the screen on his phone off and sits on one of the bar stools, angled so he’s not directly staring at Feuilly and his blind date, but is able to intervene if Feuilly looks like it’s turning out to be a disaster.
It’s almost two hours later when someone puts a tumbler of whiskey down in front of him and says abruptly, “You look like you need this.”
He looks up to see Grantaire, who still won’t quite look him in the eye. His mood seems to be all over the place. Warily, Enjolras picks up the whiskey, curls his fingers around the glass and knocks it all back. Grantaire watches him with an unreadable look then fills the tumbler back up as says, “Sorry you got ditched on Valentine’s.” The words sound forced.
“...What?” asks Enjolras.
“Your guy,” Grantaire says, and glances over his shoulder again at Feuilly, “With the other… Unless you’ve not been ditched? You… know them both?”
“What?” That makes even less sense.
“I don’t get what’s confusing you?”
Enjolras clears his throat and tries, “Feuilly’s not my boyfriend?”
“Then what the hell are you doing on a date with him on Valentine’s Day?” Grantaire demands, sounding a little strained. “And don’t try and say you didn’t realise it was Valentine’s Day, honestly, Enjolras—”
“I’m here to bail him out?” Enjolras asks. “Éponine set him up on a blind date with this guy, Bahorel. I’m guessing that’s him, now,” he says, and gestures in the direction of the man Feuilly is talking to at their table. “Or at least, I hope it is? Well, unless he’s getting on with this guy regardless, in which case, good on him.”
“You’re his emergency,” Grantaire says, like this is a revelation. “If his blind date turns out to be a serial killer, you’re conveniently here to bail him out, because of course you’re not doing anything on Valentine’s.”
“Hey,” says Enjolras, mildly affronted. “It’s not my fault all my friends are in serious, committed relationships with each other.”
Grantaire’s mouth lifts into the hint of a smile at one corner. “Well,” he says, casual-as-you-like, “Most of them.”
Enjolras’s heart clenches.
“Looked like you met plenty of guys and girls on your travels,” he replies, aiming for casual and missing by about a mile.
Grantaire arches an eyebrow at him and says, “Some.” There’s a small smile to his lips.
Something has shifted in the way he holds himself, different to this time last year. He seems more sure of himself, more aware. Like he actually knows what he wants to do now, and isn’t just fumbling his way through life. The confidence is attractive – and Enjolras can tell he’s not the only one who’s noticed it, either. Plenty of people at the bar have been flirting with him all night.
Enjolras watches his hands as he talks, dextrous as always. They pause when Grantaire says, “So,” and nothing more, and Enjolras looks up to see Grantaire looking over his shoulder at Feuilly.
“Oh,” says Enjolras, brightening, “You should meet Feuilly. I think you’d like him. He’s from work, we met about three months ago and hit it off. He’s great, a real hard-worker, you know?”
“Mm,” Grantaire replies.
Enjolras frowns. “Right, well, I’d introduce you but—”
“It’s fine,” Grantaire cuts across him. “I have to work.” He takes a step back and then pauses and says, “I get off in about an hour. You know, if you’re still around.”
Enjolras smiles and says, “I’ll wait.”
Surprise flickers to life in Grantaire’s eyes for a second, hastily suppressed. He doesn’t reply, just heads back down the bar to take some more orders.
He smiles and flirts and laughs as he works, clearly at home around other people. He falters only once, when he catches Enjolras looking, then he smiles, slowly, a more natural smile than the dazzling ones he’s been showing the customers all night.
An hour later his phone buzzes with a text from Feuilly: all good. doesn’t seem like a serial killer. we just left. sorry i didn’t say anything. you looked pretty into the bar guy.
Enjolras frowns down at the last sentence, looking up only when Grantaire’s voice says, “My shift is up. Are you ready? Or have you got some more friends to bail out?”
Grantaire has already gotten his stuff from the back, leans against the bar wearing a parka and a hand-knitted scarf. He’s already pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, along with a lighter.
On impulse, Enjolras reaches out to take a cigarette from him, their fingers brushing as he says, “Just the one.” Grantaire’s eyes widen as he catches on to his meeting, his lips curve into a smile.
Outside, he lights Enjolras’s cigarette for him.
“I suppose it is tradition.”
Borrowing something from a neighbour
Valentine’s Day, 2013
“I’m going to be fine, Enjolras, seriously.”
Enjolras isn’t too sure, he was there to see Courfeyrac’s expression when he found out about Marius and Cosette’s engagement. He knows that it hurts him more than he lets on to people, that even though the three of them parted ways amicably, it still hurts Courfeyrac to see Marius and Cosette together.
“Jehan’s looking after me,” Courfeyrac continues, “And Bahorel and Feuilly will be there too.”
Bahorel and Feuilly had parted ways after a grand total of 6 weeks, realising that they were better off as friends.
“I wouldn’t really call them trustworthy.”
A faint laugh, crackly over bad reception. “It’ll be fun. Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
“You know I don’t do Valentine’s.”
“Right. Even though you — shit, the train’s here, I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.”
He puts the phone down before Enjolras really has time to say goodbye, leaving him alone in their shared flat on what is supposed to be the most romantic night of the year. Shrugging, he puts his phone in his pocket, and gets started on his plans for the evening: a home-cooked meal and a whole lot of paperwork.
A plan that goes very well, until he realises they don’t actually have any pasta in.
This is probably, he muses, why they shouldn’t be allowed to live without Combeferre. But then Combeferre has finally moved in with Éponine and Gavroche, and Enjolras isn’t going to deny them that little piece of happiness, as chaotic and stressful as it seems.
He scrolls through his contact list on his phone to find the name of someone who might possibly have some he can borrow. Just about everyone is out tonight, which leaves only one option.
Grantaire answers the door in an apron which proclaims ‘HOT STUFF’ in big letters, with a pepper underneath. Enjolras glances down to read and then up, arching an eyebrow, and Grantaire’s stunned expression turns suspicious.
“What do you want?” he asks.
“Do you have any pasta?”
“You don’t have any pasta?”
“I live with Courf.”
“Ah,” Grantaire replies gravely, and takes a step back into his apartment. “We’ve got some spare. Joly is an extreme couponer; if there’s an apocalypse any time soon, we are stocked up for life. What kind do you want?”
Enjolras follows him through into the apartment he shares with Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta - an arrangement he doesn’t quite get, what with Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta dating - but has never really questioned. Musichetta was already in the apartment when they let it, advertising for some new room mates.
Enjolras never did find out what she had done to scare off the last three.
The coffee table in the living room is stacked high with different pieces of art of varying quality, Grantaire’s students from the school down the road. The sight of them - and the idea of Grantaire passionately trying to teach a group of disaffected teenagers how to finger paint - makes Enjolras smile.
In the kitchen, he discovers what Grantaire was already cooking, and has to stop with only one foot inside the room.
There are, like, six pans of varying size on the go. On the counter there’s a selection of different vegetables, finely chopped, and two bottles of wine already cracked open. It looks like something out of Master Chef.
Grantaire absently checks up on some of the pans, scrapes some of the veg into one with a drizzle of oil, then begins checking the cupboards as he says, “So we’ve got bows, twirls, the multi-coloured ones, tubes, spaghetti… I’m pretty sure there’s some novelty dicks in here somewhere from Bossuet’s trip to Rome.”
Enjolras blinks, and stares.
The whole kitchen smells amazing.
When he doesn’t reply, Grantaire drops back onto his heels, glancing back over his shoulder to look at him, frowning. “Is the… choice of pasta too much for you?”
It takes Enjolras a moment to find his voice, to be able to reply, “You can cook.”
It’s less a question and more a statement, lost and a little bit frantic. Grantaire’s eyebrows draw even closer together, he turns his body to look at him fully as he replies, “Yes?”
Enjolras can’t cook; Enjolras is awful at cooking. Enjolras spent most of his time at University living on microwave meals or take out, and after he left and moved in with Combeferre, spent most of his time eating whatever Combeferre cooked, then cleaning up the pots and pans after. He’s great at cleaning up after cooking. Not so much the actual cooking.
His plan for tonight had been a pan of pasta with a pot of ready-made sauce. When he says this to Grantaire, he looks horrified.
“You don’t make your own sauces?”
“Do you get everything out of a packet or tin?”
Grantaire closes his eyes and presses a hand to his forehead, muttering something which sounds a whole lot like, bloody hell. When he opens his eyes again he looks determined, never a good look, and says, “Well, not any more.”
Which is how Enjolras ends up in a baby pink Domestic Goddess apron (“It’s Bossuet’s,” Grantaire had explained) trying to cut up some peppers.
“I can’t believe you don’t know how to make fajitas,” says Grantaire, doing about four things at once whilst Enjolras struggles with his one job.
“I can’t believe you do,” Enjolras returns, which is a bit sharper than he intended, and so he adds, “I mean, I just, never took you for a cooking person.”
“I used to make a mean hash brownie in University with Jehan,” Grantaire replies, grinning. “Nah, I learned on my travels. There was this one guy,” he pauses slightly, “He taught me a lot.”
“Oh,” says Enjolras. He knows the unpleasant feeling in his chest is jealousy, he just doesn’t see any reason for it. He and Grantaire have been friends for a long time, now, long enough that Enjolras knows most of his stories from when he went travelling and his life before he came to University. He’s even privy to stories about the kids at school.
There’s one hand-made card on the windowsill next to three that are clearly from Joly, Bossuet and Musichetta which read: Olive you, You got a pizza my heart and You’re my butter half, with ‘half’ crossed out and ‘thirds’ written above. When Grantaire sees him looking at the hand-made card, he says, “One of the kids from school. I’m in high demand, clearly.”
Enjolras raises an eyebrow at him and picks up the card, with elegantly looping script inside. It’s sweet, and clearly from a teenager with a crush. She’s drawn a little picture of Grantaire underneath his name.
“I can see why,” replies Enjolras, as he puts the card down.
The words are out before he can think twice, and then he blinks at himself. Grantaire looks just as surprised as he is.
“Well, I mean,” Enjolras continues, returning to his pepper, “You can cook?”
He feels like he’s blushing, and hopes that Grantaire puts it down to the heat of the kitchen.
They eat the slightly-burnt, mildly-charred Fajitas with the badly-chopped peppers at the little wooden table in the kitchen, and despite Enjolras’s attempts at cooking, they actually turn out to be pretty nice. Enjolras offers to clean up afterwards, seeing as he made most of the mess, and Grantaire helps him by putting things away after.
Afterwards, they end up watching tv on the lumpy and well-loved sofa in the living room, before giving up and putting on a DVD. Grantaire lets Enjolras pick, saying that he’s seen everything they own anyway.
When Joly, Musichetta and Bossuet return from their date, Enjolras sits at one end of the sofa and Grantaire at the other. Some time during the night Grantaire twisted his body so his legs are slung over Enjolras’s. Which is, of course, the first thing Bossuet sees when he walks into the living room and declares, “I have just had the best meal ev-ahh—”
Grantaire waves a hand at him half-heartedly. “Enjolras came to borrow some pasta.”
“Is this code?” asks Joly eagerly, as he helps Musichetta take off her jacket.
Grantaire, without missing a beat, replies, “No, we just pasta time away cooking and watching films.”
Bossuet beams and unwinds his scarf from his neck. Before he can open his mouth to reply, Musichetta puts her hand across it and says, “No more puns. We’ve had a lovely meal, and now it is time for desserts. Nice to see you both.”
She doesn’t give Joly and Bossuet time to say anything more, just curls her hands in the front of their shirts and drags them off to her bedroom.
“I think that’s my cue to leave,” says Enjolras, pushing Grantaire’s legs off so he can get to his feet. “Thanks for the food.”
“No problem,” replies Grantaire, standing up with him.
At the door, Enjolras pulls on his red leather jacket and pauses just outside in the hallway. Grantaire leans against the door frame, arms crossed as he watches him. Enjolras is struck with the feeling that he should say something more, but he’s already thanked Grantaire several times for the food.
In the end, he settles for pushing his hands into the pockets of his jacket and says, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Grantaire.”
“Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Enjolras walks away down the hall, and when he looks over his shoulder, Grantaire is still in the doorway, watching him.
Best friend’s wedding
Valentine’s Day, 2014
Floréal’s wedding is an elaborate affair, fully explaining both the long wait between her engagement and the big day, and just how rich her husband really is.
Even Enjolras and Courfeyrac, who grew up in quite privileged households, are impressed.
“This is, well, wow,” says Courfeyrac.
“Does this class as compensating for something?” Jehan asks, inspecting one of the elaborate table decorations. He’s wearing skinny black jeans, a white dress shirt and a pink dinner jacket, with his dreadlocks pulled back and tied by a glittery purple band. Somehow, he has pulled off being the most stylish person here.
Courfeyrac had actually gone silent with surprise, upon seeing him.
“It’s a lot to compensate for,” he replies, “If so.”
Jehan leans an arm on Courfeyrac’s shoulder and says, “You know what they say about small men.”
“Mostly, I’m just interested in the free bar,” Grantaire says in an aside to Enjolras. Enjolras rolls his eyes in response, but it’s fond.
He and Grantaire are at the wedding together less as dates and more so that Grantaire can protect his reputation (“I can’t go to Floréal’s wedding alone, Enjolras,” Grantaire had said, his big blue eyes imploring, “I’m her best man!”). Grantaire’s usual go-toes for social events, Bossuet, Joly and Musichetta, had invites of their own, and Éponine had used her own plus one to bring Combeferre.
Looking across at Grantaire now, Enjolras wonders when he became his next choice.
It’s probably got something to do with what Enjolras has been helping him with over the past few weeks.
“Just your speech to go first,” he reminds Grantaire, and watches his smile falter.
Jehan lets out a low whistle and says, “Wow, couldn’t even let him have a minute of happiness there, could you? Harsh, man.” He tugs on Courfeyrac’s elbow, pulling him away, “Come on, let’s go investigate what other over-priced crap they’ve got around here.”
“Sorry,” Enjolras says to Grantaire, when they’re gone. “Do you want to practice again?”
“You’re not sick of hearing it?”
“Grantaire, I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t mind. Getting this right means a lot to you.”
“I suppose you did help me write it,” Grantaire replies, “Wouldn’t want me to go and ruin your handiwork now, would you?”
Enjolras laughs, and nudges into him with his shoulder. “Come on, let’s find somewhere quiet.”
When it’s finally time for the speeches, Grantaire’s hands are shaking. He sits next to Enjolras at one of the bigger tables with the rest of their friends, having declined to sit on the top table if it meant he couldn’t be near them.
When Grantaire puts his hands down in his lap to try and hide them, Enjolras reaches over, slides his hand over the top of Grantaire’s and squeezes tight.
Grantaire looks across at him sharply, surprised, and for a second his shaking stops. Then he lets out a breath, slow and shaky, and turns his hand around so that their fingers are entwined, squeezing back.
Courfeyrac, sitting next to Enjolras, notices and arches an eyebrow at him. Enjolras completely ignores it and continues doing everything one-handed.
When Grantaire stands to give his best man speech he doesn’t let go, keeps one hand linked with Enjolras, on the table where everyone can see. He leaves his other hand free for his cue cards but doesn’t use them, gives a speech that is truthful and to the heart. He deviates from what they planned but it doesn’t matter - it’s better - and when he finishes, he gets a round of applause.
Bahorel leans over as soon as he’s sat down, hands him a whole bottle of wine with no glass. “Well, considering how that went, I think you might as well drink to forget and embarrass yourself complete—” cut off when his date hits him on the arm.
Grantaire drinks straight from the bottle anyway, even when Enjolras glares at him and pointedly finds him a glass.
The rest of the reception passes in a blur of good times and laughter. Jehan gives in to Courfeyrac’s requests, despite swearing he wouldn’t, and treats everyone to one of his most famous dances. Bahorel and his laughing girlfriend disappear early on in the night, with excuses that no one believes. Éponine gives up on her heels and spends the entire night barefoot, barely coming up to her boyfriend’s shoulder.
Enjolras gets mistaken for Grantaire’s boyfriend more than once, spends most of the evening fending off questions about what their own plans are, will they be getting married soon?
It’s late when he finds his way out onto the balcony at the back of the mansion, the music and revelry following him out into the night air, until he turns to pull the sliding glass door shut again. The sound of the party inside becomes muffled, and Enjolras takes a moment to breathe.
It’s only then that he notices he’s not alone.
Grantaire leans against the railing surrounding the balcony, smoking. At some point during the night, he lost his suit jacket, along with his tie. His shirt sleeves are rolled up to the elbow.
When Enjolras moves to stand next to him, Grantaire hands the cigarette over, without saying anything. For a while they just smoke in silence, passing the cigarette back and forth.
It’s Enjolras, who breaks the silence to say, “So, everyone thinks we’re dating.”
Grantaire glances sideways at him and then says, “Yeah.” He pauses to finish off the last of the cigarette, then stubs it out on the railing and flicks it over the edge into the darkness.
He turns to look at Enjolras expectantly.
Enjolras frowns, feeling a step behind. “What?”
Grantaire seems to come to some decision, between the silence and Enjolras’s question. He doesn’t reply to it, just takes a breath, and leans forwards to kiss him.
Enjolras steps back instinctively, surprised — and then immediately regrets it, when Grantaire’s expression drops.
Desperate to fix the situation, he says, “Grantaire—”
“You know,” Grantaire cuts across him abruptly, “I had a date for this.”
The bottom falls out of Enjolras’s chest, he struggles to find words. “Oh?”
“I’d asked them and everything, and they’d said yes. I was all set to go with them and then you offered to help me with the speech, and I thought to myself, maybe you should come instead. I had even convinced myself of that, you know? That I only invited you because it was the right thing.” He laughs. “What a joke.”
Alcohol seems to have loosened his tongue. For years now, both of them have avoided this - whatever it is - between them. Talking about it means acknowledging it, and Enjolras, at least, isn’t sure he wants to do that - isn’t sure what will happen if he does.
But Grantaire had taken that choice away from him, when he’d stepped forwards and tried to kiss him.
“I asked you because I wanted you to come,” Grantaire continues. He can’t quite meet Enjolras’s eye. “I asked you because I wanted it - wanted you.”
Enjolras is speechless.
Grantaire shakes his head, continues, “I thought maybe, when you said yes, that you did too. But then all night you’ve been telling people that we aren’t dating, that we’re not a thing, that despite all this,” he waves his hand in the air, encompassing what - the wedding, the night, their friendship - Enjolras doesn’t know, “We’re just friends, and I realised that it isn’t anything.”
He must have been holding this in for a long time, the words have an air of finality to them, as if he’s been going over and rehearsing them for weeks - months.
Enjolras can’t figure out what he thinks, what he feels.
Grantaire seems to see this, and he sounds sad when he says, “I just - I can’t do it anymore, Enjolras. In all these years, you’ve never once — we spend Valentine’s Day together every year and you tell people we’re not dating, and—” He cuts himself off. “I can’t just wait around forever for you, Enjolras.”
The words hang between them, waiting for a reply, and Enjolras doesn’t know what to say, he can’t think, his mind has gone completely and utterly blank.
Grantaire waits out a pause, a breath, two — gives him time to formulate some sort of reply. Enjolras sees the moment he gives up, the way his smile pulls tight at the corners and doesn’t quite meet his eyes. He turns his head and Enjolras reaches out, desperate to stop him from leaving.
His hand lands on Grantaire’s elbow, halting him. His words come out without a filter, honest, “It’s not nothing.”
Grantaire looks down at his hand and then up, and carefully pulls his arm away. “Then what is it?”
Enjolras doesn’t reply; he doesn’t know.
Grantaire gives him one last chance to say something, stepping away and shoving his hands into his trouser pockets. Backlit by the party going on inside, he’s all shadows and warm edges. Enjolras doesn’t want him to leave, but also doesn’t know how to make him stay.
Finally, Grantaire shakes his head, curls a hand around the glass door to slide it open. Sound rushes out, laughter and music. He pauses there for a second, and his next words are almost lost to the noise. “Well, let me know when you’ve figured out whatever the hell this is. I won’t wait forever, Enjolras.”
He disappears inside, and Enjolras doesn’t follow.
And one time they didn’t
Valentine’s Day, 2015
Enjolras stands in his kitchen at 11pm on Valentine’s Day and quite suddenly gets it.
He drops the mug he’s holding in his hands - thankfully empty - and it shatters across the kitchen floor, shards scattering in all directions.
“Oh,” he says.
It is the first Valentine’s Day in eight years he has not spent with Grantaire. In fact, it is the first Valentine’s Day he can remember where they haven’t even run into each other, or spoke.
And it feels wrong.
The feeling has been building ever since Floréal’s wedding, when Grantaire had tried to kiss him and Enjolras had stepped away. They’ve not tried to talk about it since, have avoided the topic of conversation at all costs, though occasionally there have been moments. Times when Enjolras has looked across a room and found Grantaire looking back and heard a voice in his mind go what if.
Then Grantaire had started dating. Nice guys and nice girls, always dark-haired, never blonde. Dancers and artists and musicians alike. Always lovely people, who got on with their friends and had no obvious faults.
Enjolras had hated them all.
And now he stands in the middle of his kitchen, completely alone for the first time on Valentine’s Day in eight years, and realises he’s fucked up.
He leaves the shattered mug where it is, just grabs his jacket from the back of one of the chairs at the table, and tugs it on as he walks out of the front door. He just barely remembers to grab his keys on the way out, and forgets an umbrella completely. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if the heavens didn’t decide to open when he’s halfway down the street, the first splashes of rain chilling him to the bone.
He speeds up, bowing his head down into the collar of his coat, but it doesn’t really help. By the time he’s rounding the corner onto the street where Grantaire lives it’s become a steady downpour, and by the time he reaches the apartment block he feels like a drowned rat.
He punches in the code to the apartment block quickly, thanking Joly mentally for giving it to him the last time Enjolras had been tasked with bringing Grantaire back when he was too drunk to do it himself. Just inside the building he pauses, wondering if maybe Grantaire has a date, then forces himself to keep going anyway.
He takes the steps up to Grantaire’s floor two at a time, not giving himself time to stop and think. If he stops to think about it he’ll lose his nerve, and start to think of all the reasons why this isn’t a good idea, especially after what happened last year. His brain just seems to go over and over again: too late too late too late.
At the door to Grantaire’s apartment, his confidence briefly runs away from him, and then he’s knocking on the door and can’t seem to stop.
It takes a few minutes and then there’s sound on the other side, footsteps and then the lock is being twisted. The door opens and Grantaire’s there, wearing soft jogging bottoms and an old band t-shirt, looking like he wasn’t expecting to see anyone at all today and also like he just rolled out of bed and Enjolras’s heart does this absolutely awful twisting thing.
“No.” He doesn’t even let Enjolras reach the second syllable of his name, just cuts across him and holds out a hand to stop him speaking. “No, Enjolras. You missed it.”
Then, whilst Enjolras is still staring at him, shuts the door in his face.
Enjolras blinks for a few seconds, and then hits on the door again harder. “Grantaire, come on, please.”
“No.” Grantaire’s reply is muffled, but it’s not hard to tell that he’s pissed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise until now, I swear,” Enjolras says, “And I just walked across town in the rain because when I did I just had to come and tell you, and I couldn’t think about anything else, and I’m freezing and wet and—”
The door opens again abruptly, and a towel is thrown at Enjolras’s face.
Enjolras drags it away to see Grantaire glaring at him, unimpressed. “Get inside,” he says shortly, “Before you catch a cold.”
Enjolras doesn’t give him chance to take back the offer, just steps into the apartment quickly, towelling his hair dry with one hand. It puffs up around his head annoyingly, soft and curling, and he thinks he almost sees Grantaire smile at it, before he’s back to frowning again as he walks into the kitchen.
Enjolras follows after him, shrugging out of his sodden coat and putting it on the door handle to dry out.
In the kitchen Grantaire hits the switch on the coffee machine to warm it up, and fills the glass pot up with water from the tap. He doesn’t ask Enjolras what he wants, just gets two mugs down from the cabinets, his own preferred one reading ‘Not Paint Water’ and the bright red, well-worn one he always gives Enjolras when he’s over, with the slight chip in the handle.
Now he’s here, in a room with Grantaire and it’s Valentine’s, Enjolras realises he doesn’t know what to say. He hadn’t exactly planned this far ahead.
“I hate you,” Grantaire announces, breaking the silence for him. “I really, really hate you.”
Enjolras blinks and frowns, and stops towelling his hair dry to say, “Why?”
“Why?” Grantaire echoes, “Why? How about you tell me why you’re even here on Valentine’s Day - and don’t you dare try and tell me that this is a coincidence and that you didn’t intend to come running across town in the rain to see me after an entire year.”
As he speaks, he passive-aggressively pours coffee into the two mugs and shoves one into Enjolras’s hand with no milk or sugar, before pouring liberal amounts of both into his own. Satisfied with weakening and sweetening it beyond redemption, he turns and leans back against the counter, glaring at Enjolras over the rim of his mug.
Enjolras tries really, really hard not to smile. He’s aware that smiling is probably not what Grantaire wants from him, right now, even if Enjolras’s realisation has made him want to smile at Grantaire all the time.
“Would you believe me if I said I don’t know?” Enjolras asks, “That I was just stood in my kitchen, looking at the clock, and realised that for the first time in the last eight years I wasn’t going to spend Valentine’s Day with you?”
“And, what?” asks Grantaire, “You think that’s enough?”
Enjolras tightens his grip on his mug, his knuckles are white. “No, it’s not, I know it’s not, but I couldn’t just stand there and waste even more time. You caught me out at Floréal’s wedding and I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t ready. And then you started dating and, God, I hated them all. All of them.”
The last thing he expects is for Grantaire to smile, but that’s what he does. “I kind of noticed.”
“You can be really unsubtle when you’re not aware of your feelings. It annoyed the hell out of me at first, like, you didn’t want me, but you also didn’t want me to be happy with someone else, and then I had a chat with Combeferre about it.”
“You did what?”
“Courfeyrac, too. Like, seriously, Enjolras, everyone can see this - whatever it is.” He gestures with his coffee mug at the space between them. “People we had never met before at Floréal’s wedding could see it.”
“Oh,” says Enjolras, feeling like an idiot. “Then—”
“I told you I wouldn’t wait forever, Enjolras,” Grantaire says, still hard, still unyielding, “And it’s been an entire year.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t realise, and that sounds like the worst excuse ever, but it’s the truth. I’m sorry for making you wait, I’m sorry for not realising earlier, I’m even sorry for glaring at all your dates.” He takes a breath. “But I’m not sorry for running across town to see you, even if it meant getting completely soaked, and I’m not sorry for knocking on your door at eleven o’clock at night to tell you.”
Grantaire crosses his arms, not looking won over or all that convinced.
Enjolras takes a breath to calm his racing nerves and just goes for it, “I like you, Grantaire, I have done for years, and I’m sorry I never did anything about it, and I know I have the worst timing ever and I’ve kept you waiting for so long but I really do like you. And I’d like to date you, officially, this time, and not just because of a set of coincidences on just one day of the year and—”
Grantaire cuts him off, with an exasperated noise, just leans across the distance between them to kiss him. Like it’s just as easy as that — and maybe it is, because this time Enjolras doesn’t step away. This time he takes in a sharp breath, surprised, and feels Grantaire’s lips half-smile into the kiss.
There’s a soft clink as Grantaire puts his mug down on the side, then takes Enjolras’s from his hands and puts it down on the counter too. It’s almost resigned, the way he curls his fingers in Enjolras’s beltloops to tug him closer and kiss him again, like he knew all along he was going to give in - he was just waiting for Enjolras to get on the same page.
“You are the worst,” he says, when Enjolras finally feels bold enough to curve hands around his sides and push him back against the counter. Their lips brush as he says, “I’m still mad at you, for the record.”
“I’ll make it up to you,” Enjolras promises, knowing that Grantaire’s going to hold this against him for a very long time.
He has no idea how long they kiss for, isn’t aware of much beyond the hard press of Grantaire’s body against his. Behind them, the clock on the wall ticks over to midnight.
Eventually, Grantaire breaks the kiss, leans back against the kitchen counter with a self-satisfied smile and mussed hair, from where Enjolras’s tangled his fingers in the strands. One of Grantaire’s hands has moved to his hip, curved just so, his thumb brushing maddening circles just under the hem of Enjolras’s shirt, against his skin.
“You’d think we would have run out of meet-cutes, by now,” Grantaire says, “Running across town through the rain, Enjolras, seriously?”
“I can’t believe I didn’t even realise that’s what they were,” Enjolras replies, and wishes he could turn back the clock to that first night, eight years ago, sitting on the back step of someone’s house at University and watching the stars.
But then, turning it back means losing all the other things they’ve done over the past few years, finding their professions and making friends and growing up.
“Yeah, well, I think we’ve established that you’re pretty oblivious,” Grantaire replies, and laughs, low, when Enjolras glares at him in reply, catching his wrist when Enjolras makes a move to hit him in the arm.
“Come on,” Grantaire says, taking his hand and slotting their fingers together, “As romantic as this is, I don’t want to stand in the kitchen for the rest of the night.”
Later, Grantaire climbs out of bed wearing nothing, walks to stand at the window and push it open. Enjolras rolls over in bed to watch him, content, and when Grantaire pulls out a packet of cigarettes, he climbs out of bed to join him.
He steps up behind Grantaire and rests his chin on his shoulder, smiles as Grantaire leans back against him, steals his cigarette as soon as it’s lit.
“Hey,” says Grantaire, “You do realise it’s no longer Valentine’s Day, right?”
Enjolras smiles, and leans over to kiss him. “Valentine’s Day is overrated.”