“Grantaire.” Enjolras put a hand lightly on Grantaire’s arm as their friends and comrades slowly filtered out of the room. He pitched his voice low so that only Grantaire could hear him under the din of parting conversations. “Would you stay for a moment? I’d like to speak with you.”
Grantaire was the only omega member of their group, and a male omega at that. Enjolras valued the perspective he brought to their discussions – when he could be bothered to offer it. Most days Grantaire swung from helpful and clever to disruptive and witty and back again, at turns melancholic or cheerful, hopeless or focused on answers. He was changeable and unpredictable, with moods that ebbed and flowed with the tide of their meetings. That was simply how he was, and though Enjolras might not understand it, he thought he knew by now how to take the measure of Grantaire’s moods and bring him into their conversations. Grantaire could be frustrating, but he was also an asset, and a good friend to them all. Enjolras did his best to remember that when Grantaire decided to be provoking.
Today, however, had been different. Grantaire had been acting oddly since he arrived at their usual meeting – not merely distracted and jocular, but nearly manic. He had talked incessantly, laughed at everything serious, sneered at anything merry. When he’d begun to sing a satirical song over Enjolras’ strategy discussion, Enjolras had lost his temper and snapped at him. If you cannot be useful, at least be silent while others are.
It was an unworthy thing to say to a friend, even if provoked, and all the worse coming from an alpha to an omega. Enjolras despised the sort of alpha who believed he – or she – was superior by birth and ordered betas and omegas around as though it was his right. His words had been designed to hurt, and he feared they had. Grantaire had fallen silent for the rest of their meeting, and that had felt far more wrong than the constant interruptions. Enjolras had wished he could take his words back the moment he spoke them, but he could only do the second best thing and apologize for them now. Enjolras hated to be in the wrong, but he hoped he was strong enough to admit it when he was.
Grantaire gave Enjolras a curt nod and sat down again at the table he’d occupied during the meeting. When the last of their friends was gone, he spoke before Enjolras could.
“Let me save you the trouble of your lecture. I am a nuisance, I disrupt your grand work, I must mend my ways or depart. You see, there is no need to waste your breath. I already know the content, and after today you’ll be rid of me.”
Something very much like panic washed over Enjolras. Rid of him? He fought the feeling down and found his voice. “Grantaire, I wanted to apologize. I was thoughtless and cruel, and that is my fault, not yours. Please, forgive me.”
“…ah.” Grantaire leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “That is – kind of you to say. But we both know it isn’t true.”
“Please,” Enjolras said again. “Tell me you accept my apology. And that you aren’t truly leaving.”
“I can do only one of those. I am leaving; today was my last day here at the Musain.”
“Why?” The question burst out of him with more force than he intended, but Grantaire didn’t seem to notice.
“Congratulate me,” he said, voice heavy with irony. “I am going to be bonded.” He raised a glass to Enjolras, then downed the contents in one swallow.
Enjolras stared at him. Of all the things that Grantaire could have said, that one had never crossed his mind. He had never expected- never thought- Grantaire was-
He forced out a single word: “Who?”
Grantaire shrugged. “I can’t rightly remember. I wasn’t paying attention. Something with a T.” He reached to pour more wine into his glass, but Enjolras put his hand on the bottle first and held it firm.
When he looked at Grantaire, Grantaire looked away first. “He’s in business with my father. I’m something by way of an investment in the family firm. My father is rid of a tiresome omega son, and paid well for the trouble. A business alliance is created. The Musain grows quieter; the ABC less abased. Everyone wins.”
“Everyone except you. You can’t mean to tell me you, you agreed to this.” Enjolras’ earlier panic was coming back, along with a cold, hard anger.
Grantaire gave him a sharp and humorless smile. “My dear Enjolras, no one asked me. You don’t make inquiries of property.” This time when he reached for the bottle Enjolras let him have it. “And I’m sure my darling future bondmate won’t ask me how I wish to spend my days or with whom. I’ve been told that you are not ‘proper company’ for the omega of an alpha of means.” Grantaire’s knuckles were white around the bottle and his hands were shaking.
Enjolras closed his eyes for a moment to center his thoughts. There was no time for rashness or rage, as much as he wanted to indulge in those feelings. Grantaire needed him to be calm. He could be furious at Grantaire’s father, his partner, the whole broken order of society later. Deep breaths. Focus. “What can we do?”
“What?” Grantaire looked at him as though he hadn’t understood the question. “There’s nothing to do, not for you. Me, I’ll do as I’m told, like the good little omega I am. That’s the only option there is.”
“This is the injustice we are fighting against. There must be something. What good is all our talking if we can’t even protect one of our own?” So much for calm. Enjolras’ voice had snapped with anger at the end. He forced it back down and tried to regain his composure.
Grantaire was nodding. “I see, of course. Ever faithful to your work. I am sorry to let you down, oh leader of men, but this cause is a lost one.”
The despair in his voice was intolerable. Grantaire had said such things before, but this was the first time Enjolras had believed he meant them.
“No.” Enjolras began to walk back and forth across the room. He did his best thinking while walking. “I cannot believe that. We could help you leave town, erase your trail.”
“And go where? To some place where an omega can leave in peace without an alpha holding his leash? If you’ve found such a paradise you should have mentioned it sooner.”
Enjolras gritted his teeth and held back a retort. Grantaire was right. He was approaching this as an alpha and wondering what he himself would do. The system was broken, but Grantaire couldn’t wait for the laws to change. He needed help now. What would get Grantaire out without compromising his safety or making him an outlaw for life?
“Your father has legal control because he is your alpha and guardian under law until you bond.” When he put it that way, there was on obvious solution. “If you bond with someone else first, his legal right will be void. And even if the contract stands, he can’t make you bond twice.”
“Yes,” said Granatire. The fight was gone from his voice; now he just sounded tired. “Of course I thought of that. So did my father. He has given me no time – it’s to be tomorrow. Maybe I could find someone to fuck me tonight, but I’d only be handing my freedom to one stranger rather than another.”
The profanity was a deliberate provocation, but Enjolras supposed Grantaire had every right to use it. What was happening to him didn’t deserve to be dressed up in polite language. He ignored it and continued.
“Then – not a stranger. A friend. Someone you can trust not to abuse the bond.”
Grantaire snorted. It was good to see some fight left in him, even if it was against Enjolras himself. “Yes, an alpha friend, I have so many of those. Let me catalogue them: Bahorel is bonded, Bossuet will be soon, and Feuilly is married. Should I ask one of them to put aside their own lives and loves for me? I have no alpha friends who are not spoken for.”
Grantaire’s words felt like a blow, and Enjolras recoiled as though they had been.
“I see.” He tried to swallow his hurt and keep his voice level. “Those are the only alphas you would call friend.”
He could see Grantaire’s confusion. Clearly it hadn’t even occurred to him to think of Enjolras as his friend. “Of course I didn’t mean – you’re my – ah, damn.” He put a hand up to his face and rubbed his forehead. “You are unavailable because you would never bond with me. Now my list is complete.”
“It contains a falsehood.” Enjolras felt as though his breath had deserted him all at once. The world had narrowed down to one possibility. It was – logical. That was all it could be. “I would. If you asked me.”
Grantaire stared at him. For once he seemed at a loss for words. “You can’t be serious.”
“I am always serious. But the choice is yours.” I can’t be worse than the man you’ve been sold to. You can’t despise me that much. He dug his fingernails into his palms to focus on keeping those words private. “I would not abuse the role. I swear it.”
Intense emotion flashed across Grantaire’s face before he twisted his mouth into a mocking sneer. “Of course you wouldn’t. Why would you? There’s nothing you want from me.”
“I want your happiness. Your freedom.” Your friendship. Your- Enjolras crushed the thoughts that followed. Grantaire had enough to worry about without Enjolras adding to his burden. “Isn’t that enough?”
“Is it?” asked Grantaire. “Can you really do it? Think this through, Enjolras. Your willing sacrifice is noted – but can you,” Grantaire grimaced and swallowed hard before continuing, “can you go to bed with me, fuck me? Not just once, but as many times as it takes? Are you capable of that?”
“I am capable.” At least, there was no reason why he shouldn’t be. He was a virgin, true, but he’d taken himself in hand without problems. And if his mind often strayed to Grantaire at those times without his meaning to – well, that was a fact Enjolras tried to ignore. Grantaire deserved better than to be the unwilling subject of Enjolras’ fantasies. And that brought him right back to the real problem. “Are you?”
Grantaire began to laugh, harsh and rough. It took several seconds for him to gain enough control to speak. “Oh, yes. I can endure it.” He stood up, unsteady for a moment as he gained his footing.
“Are you drunk?” asked Enjolras, suddenly concerned.
“Why? If I said yes, would you change your mind and leave me to be bargained off?” Enjolras winced, and Grantaire’s expression softened, just a little. “I’m not drunk, though we both might wish I were by the end. God. You truly mean to do this?”
“If you are willing,” said Enjolras.
“Fine.” Grantaire crossed his arms and looked at Enjolras. “Let’s get this farce over with. My apartments are closer – do you object to going there?”
“Lead on; I’ll follow,” said Enjolras.
Grantaire snorted loudly at that, but he went.
Grantaire had spoken truly; it was only a few minutes’ walk before they arrived at his rooms. A part of Enjolras wished they had been farther away; his mind was still unsettled and his feelings in chaos. He tried to order his thoughts as Grantaire fumbled for his keys and unlatched the door, cursing under his breath.
The act of entering Grantaire’s apartment scattered any last coherent thoughts Enjolras had retained. What they were about to do was suddenly, pressingly real, and Enjolras had no idea where to begin. There was no room for romantic gestures, even if Enjolras had known how to make them. What should he say? I’m the lesser of two evils, now take off your clothes?
Grantaire stood there, silently watching him. Enjolras would have given a great deal to know what he was thinking.
“Do you want a drink?”
Enjolras almost jumped at the sound of Grantaire’s voice breaking the awkward silence. “No. Thank you. It seems – unwise.”
Grantaire snorted. “That’s questionable. But I suppose you would know.”
They lapsed back into silence again while Enjolras struggled to come up with a reply. Grantaire saved him the trouble once more.
“Christ. You’re really willing to do this?”
There was a question Enjolras could answer. He made himself look Grantaire square in the eye and put all the strength of his convictions into his voice. “Yes.”
Grantaire sucked in his breath and closed his eyes. “Right.” He stood up a little straighter, then stepped forward, closing the gap between them.
Enjolras’ breath hitched; with Grantaire so close it was impossible focus on anything but his physical presence. Grantaire smelled liked expensive snuff and cheap wine, and there was something else under it, something Enjolras couldn’t quite put a name to – sweet and sharp like citrus and spice. Enjolras had heard plenty of bawdy jokes from alphas about scenting omegas, but it wasn’t the faint scent of omega pheromones that threatened to overwhelm him. Whatever it was, it was pure Grantaire.
Enjolras’ eyes trailed over the traces of stubble across Grantaire’s jaw before fixing, inexorably, on Grantaire’s mouth. Enjolras loved to watch Grantaire’s mouth, as much as he tried to stop himself from doing it – loved to watch him talk and grin and laugh and joke, never still and always changing. Was Grantaire going to kiss him? Should he kiss Grantaire? This whole situation was strange and awkward enough without adding Enjolras’ complete inexperience on top of it. What would he do if they were two lovers coming together out of desire and not necessity? If Grantaire had his choice, would he want an alpha who would take charge in bed? An equal he could spar and play with? Where would he rank a fumbling virgin who was his last choice when all other options were gone?
Grantaire shifted, and Enjolras unconsciously titled his head in expectation of a kiss. Instead, Grantaire dropped to his knees in front of him.
“Well then.” Grantaire put one hand on Enjolras’ hip and rubbed his thumb lightly against the fabric of his trousers. “Let’s see if you can get it up for me. That is” – Grantaire’s tone became less caustic and almost shy as he glanced up towards Enjolras – “if you’ll permit it.”
Enjolras gave a curt nod, not trusting himself to speak. He closed his eyes as Grantaire worked open the fastening of his trousers. Grantaire’s sarcasms had been misplaced; his clever hands had Enjolras at full arousal quickly. He gave a quiet gasp of surprise as Grantaire brushed his lips against the tip of his prick. He opened his eyes and looked down to see Grantaire flash a cocky grin at him before leaning back over and taking Enjolras into his mouth.
Enjolras bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out as Grantaire sucked and licked and stroked. Grantaire was clearly skilled, but Enjolras doubted it would have made much difference if he had been as green as Enjolras himself. The wet heat of his mouth and the sight of those captivating lips wrapped around him, slick and red with Grantaire’s spit – Enjolras tipped his head back to stare at the ceiling before that image moved him to forget himself. He couldn’t block out the sounds Grantaire was making though, obscene and needy and utterly debauched.
His muscles began to ache from the strain of holding himself back from thrusting into Grantaire’s mouth. He trusted his self-control – had to trust his self-control, because he would allow no less for Grantaire’s sake – but it was harder than he would have imagined. He’d always been slow to spend on his own, and never felt the urgent need for release other alphas spoke of. He had assumed that if he ever went to bed with a lover it would be much the same, but that had been before he knew what it felt like to have Grantaire’s mouth on him. It would be wise to stop this now, before he forgot why he was here and lost himself in his own pleasure. Spending like this would do little to help the bonding; he would need to- to-
He couldn’t make himself finish that thought, even in his own head, but his treacherous mind was quick to supply images. Grantaire on his back, spreading his legs to make room for Enjolras between them, or Grantaire face down moaning into his pillow as Enjolras thrust into him over and over, or-
“Stop.” It came out sharper than he intended, addressed as much to his own imagination as to Grantaire.
The effect was immediate; Grantaire backed away from Enjolras so fast he lost his balance and had to catch himself before he collapsed on the floor. He looked up at Enjolras, wide-eyed and breathing hard.
“Did I displease you? Tell me what you like and let me try again, I can do it better, anything you want, I –“
Enjolras cut him off. “It was fine.” He couldn’t make himself meet Grantaire’s gaze and he felt a coward as he added, “But inefficient. Time is short.”
Without thinking, he stretched out his hand to help Grantaire up. He felt like a fool as Grantaire stared at it for a moment, and wondered whether he’d make things worse now by retracting it. At last Grantaire took hold of his hand, cautiously, and came up to his feet.
There was another awkward moment as neither of them let go, their hands clasped between them. Perhaps, Enjolras thought, it was appropriate for the two of them to be holding hands. Didn’t that usually come before bonding proposals and fellatio? He was doing everything wrong, even something as simple as holding his soon-to-be-bond-mate’s hand.
Reluctantly, Enjolras pulled his hand back, and Grantaire’s dropped a moment later. He almost looked disappointed.
“Fine,” said Grantaire, mimicking Enjolras’ clipped tone. “We can go to my bedroom. See how ‘efficient’ we can be.”
Grantaire led the way with a jerk of his head. Enjolras curled his hand into a fist to keep from stretching it out to seek Grantaire’ again.
Grantaire’s bedroom was as messy as Grantaire himself. There were stray objects scattered around the shelves and stray pieces of clothing scattered about the floor. Enjolras’ eyes caught on a fan that looked like Feuilly’s work, an old coat he thought might have been Bossuet’s, and – “Is that from last July?”
Grantaire looked over at the lopsided badly-stitched cockade sitting on his bedside table. “Ah, yes. I’m surprised you remember. The ribbon, not the riot.”
“Riot” wasn’t the word Enjolras would have used – rebellion, uprising, protest – but he let it go. “Of course I remember. I made it – and very badly. I’ve no talent with my hands.”
“Did you? I’d forgotten.” Grantaire kicked off his boots, hard enough to send them flying against the wall.
It was awkward again, as awkward as it had been in the living room. Enjolras had no idea what to say or what to do. He was the alpha; perhaps Grantaire thought that meant he should take the lead now – even if he had not before.
What did he even want, besides the obvious? He thought back to the moment he had stood facing Grantaire, close enough to kiss…
“May I kiss you?” He hadn’t known he intended to say it until the words were out of his mouth. Grantaire looked at least as surprised.
“I – yes. Of course.”
Now he merely had to figure out how to do it. He approached Grantaire, trying to recreate the moment from before when he’d thought Grantaire might kiss him. Grantaire’s scent was even stronger now – something to do with omega pheromones, perhaps, or maybe it was just the smell of Grantaire all over the room confusing his senses. He leaned forward and slowly, gently, placed his lips on Grantaire’s.
It was strange and awkward at first, but then Grantaire began to kiss back and suddenly it wasn’t awkward at all. It was as easy as breathing, and felt as vital. Enjolras grabbed Grantaire to pull him closer and deepen the kiss, and Grantaire moaned into his mouth. Grantaire moved them backward until he fell onto the bed with Enjolras on top of him, still kissing him as though his life depended on it.
Grantaire broke the kiss and began to turn over.
“Wait!” Enjolras called out. Grantaire stopped. “I don’t – you must tell me what to do.”
“Oh.” Grantare’s expression softened. “Never been with a man before?”
Enjolras nodded curtly, not trusting himself to speak.
“Never fear, it’s easy with an omega. Not so different from bedding a girl, except for where you stick it.”Grantaire smirked a little at Enjolras’ automatic frown. “Don’t turn prudish on me now, captain mine. This was your idea.”
“Tell me what to do,” Enjolras repeated.
Grantaire move up towards the head of the bed and kicked off his trousers, throwing them over to the wall with his boots. “Now if you’re with a beta or an alpha fellow,” he told Enjolras, “You’ll need to be prepared. I wouldn’t want my bondmate reflecting badly on me in bed.” He took Enjolras’ hand and guided it between his legs. “This all right?”
“Yes,” said Enjolras. He wanted to object to the idea that he would take other lovers once he was bonded, but of course their bond would only be for show. Doubtless Grantaire would continue on as he had before, with lovers of every sort and gender. That thought made Enjolras feel hollow inside.
“Right then,” said Grantaire. “With a beta or alpha you’d need oil. Put some on your fingers and work him open like so.” He brought one of Enjolras’ fingers right outside his hole and then pressed his own inside. “Make sure he’s slick and his muscles are ready before you fuck him. But as you can see, an omega makes his own preparations.”
Enjolras frowned. “I can see that you’re, ah, slick,” – and damn, but he was, hard and wet from kissing Enjolras and sucking him off, and that realization was enough to make Enjolras’ prick twitch in his trousers – “but doesn’t the other apply?”
Grantaire shrugged. “I’ll be fine. Doesn’t take much, and I can do it myself.”
“May I?” asked Enjolras, though he couldn’t have said why.
Grantaire nodded and looked to the side. He gasped as Enjolras pressed his own finger in where Grantaire’s had been moments before. That was promising; Enjolras tried again, and got more sounds from Grantaire. He tried a few different motions until he found that one that made Grantaire gasp and moan the loudest.
“Now what?” he asked. Grantaire had to take a few panting breaths before responding.
“Put in another finger. Your cock is going be a lot bigger than just one. Ah!”
Enjolras did as Grantaire had told him, finding more resistance. He worked Grantaire open slowly and methodically, as though he were one of Enjolras’ strategems. At Grantaire’s further instruction he added another finger.
Enjolras leaned forward to kiss Grantaire once, then again and again, until Grantaire pulled Enjolras down on top of him. Grantaire’s hips rocked back and forth between Enjolras’ fingers and Enjolras' body on top of him, rubbing his prick against the fabric of Enjolras’ trousers and his own hardness underneath it.
“Enough,” Grantaire growled, “I’m ready, do it, come on, I need you, need you now, Enjolras, Enjolras!”
“What now?” asked Enjolras.
Grantaire groped towards the fastening of Enjolras’ trousers and deftly managed to unfasten them with one hand. “Brace your arms against my legs, then lean forward and put your cock in me, I’m ready, I’m so ready, AH!” Grantaire dropped his head back against the pillow and cried out as Enjolras followed his instructions.
“Is it all right?” asked Enjolras, struggling to find enough breath to speak. “Did I hurt you? I can stop –”
“No,” said Grantaire, half speaking, half moaning, “no, the opposite of that, if you stop I will have to, to, say some cutting things about representative governments, please Enjolras.”
Enjolras moved forward slowly, not wanting to hurt Grantaire, whatever he said, until Grantaire gave a grunt of frustration and shoved himself to rest of the way onto Enjolras.
What little breath Enjolras had left caught in his throat. This was real, this was happening, he was inside Grantaire and was better than any of his fantasies had ever envisioned. Grantaire was hot and wet and tight around him, and it was all too much for him to take in. “Grantaire…” he panted, helpless.
Grantaire answered back, as he always did when Enjolras called, his words somehow mirroring Enjolras’ unspoken thoughts. “I can’t believe this is real, I can’t believe you’re actually doing this, Enjolras, please, fuck me, before I wake up and find out this has all been a dream. How are you so damned calm?” Grantaire thrust his hips towards Enjolras again, as though trying to bring him in even deeper.
Enjolras tried to pull himself back together – how could Grantaire think he was calm? – to give Grantaire what he needed. He pulled out slowly, carefully, almost all the way, and then thrust back in, biting back a cry of pleasure.
Grantaire showed no such restraint. He moaned, loudly, “Yes, just like that, harder, faster, more.”
“That, that doesn’t even make sense,” Enjolras complained, even as he tried to give Grantaire what he wanted. Grantaire felt so good he couldn’t even think straight, much less find coherent arguments. But it was too easy to fall back into old habits of arguing against him, pushing against Grantaire and feeling Grantaire push back. No, that was surely the wrong imagery to have in mind now –
“It doesn’t have to make sense,” said Grantaire, interrupting his frenzied thoughts. “Stop thinking so much.”
“Fine,” said Enjolras, as coolly as he could manage, before pulling out again and thrusting into Grantaire, fast and hard. “How was that?”
“Oh god,” said Grantaire, “divinity, perfection; do it again,”
Enjolras did. He tried to find a steady rhythm that would satisfy Grantaire, Grantaire writhed and moaned under him, working his prick with one hand while the other grabbed the bedsheets under him. He kept up a steady stream of talk the whole time, “Yes, yes like that, feels so good, you’re so good, an angel walking among mortal men, AH, yes, harder, need you –”
Enjolras took it as a point of personal pride when he managed to drive Grantaire beyond speech for a few moments, shifting slightly until he found a position that turned Grantaire’s stream of words into incoherent cries of pleasure.
When Grantaire recovered his words came even faster and more desperate, “Enjolras, Enjolras, Enjolras, Enjolras, I’m going to, can’t hold back, don’t want it to be over but I have to, Enjolras, please, tell me I can come.”
Enjolras felt dizzy, like he almost couldn’t understand what Grantaire was saying, but he managed to force out the words, “Come for me, Grantaire.”
Granatire cried out one last time, and Enjolras felt Grantaire tighten around him. He thrust a few more times, working Grantaire through his release, before he helplessly gave in to his own.