A groan escaped his lips as he attempted for the third time, in vane, to tame the untameable. To flatten the unflattenable. To uncurl the, well you get the idea. His mop of blond curls remained as wild as always. One day, Enjolras promised himself, he would figure out how to control the cascades of golden hair that everyone else seemed to love, but were to him simply an annoyance.
One person in particular had expressed his fondness for those curls.
Oh Apollo, why must you taunt me so with your golden halo of-
Other than the hair, he looked at himself in the mirror and decided that he looked acceptable enough for a first day of school. Despite the stress of being in the last year of secondary education, it did come with its perks, such as the freedom to wear whatever he wanted - within reason, of course. (Though his friend Courfeyrac took it upon himself to test this one day by wearing a unitard to school. It came as a surprise to absolutely no one that Javert was most displeased by this). The black jeans, the classic 'Enjolras' red shirt - as it had been coined by his friends - and sneakers. After nodding at himself, he grabbed his satchel, his notebook and began to head into the kitchen.
The window in the kitchen was open, the soft September breeze flowing into the room and washing over Enjolras refreshingly. He eyed the glowing digits of the clock in the corner of the room. 6.45am: his mother would still be asleep in the next room.
Enjolras and his mother lived in a flat in the city, around the corner from the Royal Courts of Justice. It had been the two of them for just over 10 years. But that was a story for another time.
Well living in the city came with its ups and downs, but having to get up at 6am every morning was definitely one of the latter. Enjolras went to school in South London – at least an hour away from where he lived, hence why he had to wake up so early. Enjolras had learned not to complain though; he knew that there were those far worse off than he was in his swanky London apartment. Swinging open the fridge, he grabbed the lunch he'd efficiently prepared the night before, shutting the door with his hip and shoving the lunch into his bag.
At 7.01, his phone pinged. A text from Courfeyrac.
I know this is your favourite time of the year and all, but how is it that time of the year already?
He grinned down at the screen and shot back his reply. You know me, I just can’t get enough of those early mornings.
Contrary to popular belief, Enjolras was not a morning person. A second later and the reply had shot in.
Bet it’s harder waking up without your summer lover ;)
Enjolras scowled. He knew, he knew that telling Courfeyrac and Combeferre that he had possibly met someone over the summer holidays was a terrible idea. He had never even confirmed it but his slight hesitation when he was asked led them to immediately jump to the worst conclusions.
Just don’t be late for once in your life Enjolras responded. He wished he could have come up with something a bit more stinging but alas, whenever he wasn’t talking about political injustices and the like he lost all forms of eloquence.
Once he was certain that he’d packed everything up for his first day back at school, he went into his mother’s room, kissed her forehead as was his usual routine, and headed out of the apartment. Setting off at a brisk pace, Enjolras looked at the city waking around him.
Though living in the city was stressful and meant he had to get up ridiculously early – as was previously mentioned, Enjolras was not a morning person – there was nothing Enjolras loved more than people, seeing people, hearing people, watching people. Not in a creepy way, but just looking around himself at the people that lived lives in exact details that Enjolras would never know. Even at just after 7am, the streets of Holborn were bustling with businessmen and businesswomen, with scowling faces and newspapers in hand. Descending into the tube station, Enjolras made his way onto the platform and waited the few short moments before the tube arrived.
During the journey, he allowed his thoughts to run away with him. After completing the same journey everyday for 7 (nearly) years, he had learned to put his body onto autopilot so he could think.
Enjolras loved to think, to dream.
As the train pulled into the final station, deep in the heart of SE London as Courfeyrac always said, Enjolras swung his backpack over his shoulder and headed out of the train. At 7.56, Enjolras was one of the only students jumping off the train – Enjolras always liked to be early and at this rate he was going to be getting into school at just after 8am. The only other person likely to be there already was Combeferre.
Enjolras smiled as Musain High School came into view. He didn’t care if it seemed slightly lame – or really really lame – but he loved his school. He was Head Boy, a straight A student with 100% attendance and excellent relations with all of the staff and student body. His subjects – French, History and Government and Politics – were all his passions and his friends, whom he loved dearly, were just the cherry on the top of the cake. So what was not to like about school?
At just after 8.03, Enjolras was, as he expected, one of the first to arrive in his Sixth Form common room and, as expected, Combeferre was there fiddling with a Rubik’s Cube, sitting in the sofa in the corner where their group had resided for the entirety of Year 12. Perhaps more unexpectedly, Courfeyrac was sitting across from him, smiling. Upon seeing Enjolras arrive, Combeferre grinned and placed the cube on the table, making his way over.
Combeferre was Enjolras’s best friend. Enjolras could still remember the day that they had met on the first day of Year 7 around 6 years ago. Combeferre had sat in the corner of the room, his nose tucked into a history textbook. The crowds of people in the room were loud and obnoxious, and Enjolras had immediately sat beside the small boy with ashy blond hair, asking him what he was reading. The rest was history – quite literally.
No less dorky, equally as shy and with the same ashy blond hair, Combeferre swung his arms around Enjolras and squeezed him tightly. The two were not known to hug, but after not seeing each other for over 3 weeks, it seemed to be necessary.
“Have a good summer?” Combeferre asked as he drew back from the hug.
“The best,” Enjolras replied with a grin.
“Oh yes, I can imagine,” Courfeyrac responded, running over to the two and throwing himself at Enjolras. “Your exchange to Paris must’ve been…insightful.”
Enjolras pushed Courfeyrac away, who then ruffled his hair in revenge – the hair that Enjolras had spent at least 3 and a half minutes trying to tame that morning.
Where Combeferre lacked confidence, Courfeyrac made up for it in spades. The boy with brunette curls and bright golden eyes was, in the nicest way, an annoying and boisterous toddler in the body of, well, an annoying and boisterous toddler; Courfeyrac was similar in build to an elf, though a very loud elf. A drama student through and through, Courfeyrac completed the trio of mismatched protestors – as their teachers often called them.
“I don’t know what that comment was in reference to,” Enjolras started, and before Courfeyrac could open his mouth to speak he continued, “and I do not wish to know!”
Courfeyrac made an incredulous noise but relented, though Enjolras suspected this was simply so that he could bring the topic back up once he had an audience.
“How were your holidays?” Enjolras asked, realising that he actually hadn’t talked to his friends since before he left for Paris – almost a month ago.
Courfeyrac smiled fondly as he remembered his six weeks of freedom from school. “Amazing, ‘Ferre and I went to this awesome bar last week. It had fairy lights and lanterns and there was this awesome live band…”
As Courfeyrac spoke, Combeferre’s face turned more and more into something that resembled an apple, the tips of his ears turning to the colour of grapes. Enjolras was tempted to say it sounded like a date, but didn’t want to embarrass his friend any further – his friend that he knew had had a crush on Courf for as long as he’d known the boy.
Over the course of their conversation, more and more people filed into the common room, smiling and waving at Enjolras and the others as they took their usual seats. At 8.15 on the dot, Jehan walked in, followed by Cosette and Marius and Enjorlas grinned.
Jehan, in pink pastel dungarees and flower espadrilles, was the light of Enjorlas’s life, and he believed that anyone else who had had the joy of meeting Jehan would say the same thing. In their arms – which were somehow already covered in paint – Jehan carried a sketchbook and they grinned back at Enjorlas when they saw him.
Cosette, with Marius drifting along lovingly behind her, was a petite girl with long flowing brunette hair. Always smiling and friend to the world, Cosette too carried a sketchbook and was in fierce conversation with Jehan about something, probably to do with art. Marius behind her seemed dazed and confused, as he always did when he was around the girl.
“What are you two gossiping about?” Courfeyrac asked as the three of them arrived at their usual spot in the corner of the common room.
“Only the new gorgeous art teacher,” Jehan responded, their eyes gleaming. “He’s young, in his early 20s, with this gorgeous curly hair and bright blue eyes.”
Enjolras smiled to himself, a memory stirring of another 20 something art student with gorgeous curly hair and bright blue eyes. The conversation continued around him as he allowed himself to get pulled back into memories of the summer and the last few weeks in Paris.
When Enolras had snapped back into the conversation, he saw that three more of his friends, Joly, Bossuet and Eponine had arrived. The discussion had progressed now, and Courfeyrac was passionately re-enacting something that he found particularly funny. That was until Joly turned to Enjolras with a grin on his face.
“So, Enjolras, how was Paris?” he asked before blinking at him sweetly. Enjolras turned to look at Combeferre, who had become a shade of light pink, and Courf who was grinning at him malevolently.
He sighed before responding. “It was lovely thanks.”
“See any of the sights? La Tour Eiffel, Notre Dame-“
“The naked body of an attractive French man?” Courfeyrac interrupted Cosette in a singsong voice whilst batting his eyelashes at Enjolras, who joined Combeferre in the flushed-slightly-pink club. Everyone else in the group turned to look at each other incredulously before gazing back at Enjolras, who had one-upped Combeferre and had now turned a shade of light beetroot.
“Pray tell, Enj,” Bossuet piped up. “Tell us about this naked French man.”
“He wasn’t French,” Enjolras retorted.
“Oh but he was naked?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“But you’re not denying it.”
“Courf I swear to God,” Courfeyrac dodged the scrunched up piece of paper that Enjolras had chucked his way.
“Still don’t know any details about the naked French man,” Eponine shouted. “Sorry, not French.”
Enjolras gazed at the wall and prayed, prayed that someone would come and save him, welding his eyes and ears shut and hoping that his friends would just move on and start talking about something else.
He didn’t know who he was kidding though, this was the hottest news the group had ever had to stew over – Enjolras was not exactly the “relationship” type.
“Enjolras, I’m talking to you,” a voice called, and Enjolras noticed that the entire group had gone silent. He turned to see the commander of the voice, and saw the familiar face of M. Valjean.
Valjean with kind eyes and slightly greying hair was the Deputy Head at Musain High School. As Head Boy, Enjolras had to work with Valjean often, and thankfully he was a pretty cool guy.
“Sorry sir, I was just in my own head,” Enjolras replied sheepishly, hoping that Valjean hadn’t been in the room long enough to hear his friends taunting him. “What can I do for you?”
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten your duties already, Enjolras,” Valjean said, not unkindly. “It’s assembly this morning.”
“Oh, yes of course, sorry sir.”
“Don’t blame Enjolras sir, he had a very busy summer in Paris, you see,” Courfeyrac started, though as Enjolras got up to leave he may have accidentally kicked Courfeyrac’s shin as he left, causing a shout to burst from the boy’s lips.
Enjolras followed Valjean back out of the common room, turning and glaring at his friends as he left who all smiled at him, waving.
“How were your holidays, my boy?” Valjean asked as they headed through the school towards the Assembly hall. Enjolras had always liked Valjean – conversational but not to the point of being annoying.
“Not bad, sir, thank you.”
“And your exchange to Paris was eventful, I gather?”
Enjolras blushed again. How had he blushed so many times within being in school for less than half an hour. “Yes, sir. I learnt a lot about French history. It was very insightful.”
Valjean hummed, a smile tugging at his lips. Enjolras was unsure as to whether the smile was just to be nice or because Valjean had overheard something from before, but decided that he was already too stressed to find the answer to that question.
They continued to chat as the time ticked back and eventually the first couple of classes began to arrive for assembly. Enjolras took his place by the door at the back of the hall and welcomed people inside.
As the hall had begun to fill, Enjolras scanned the crowd from his spot at the back of the hall, taking it all in. It had only just hit him that this was his last ever first day back at school. He was never that sentimental, but looking at the young 12 year olds looking terrified at the front of the hall and knowing that he was in their position 6 years ago made him feel oddly emotional.
He didn’t like it.
Then his eyes caught onto a figure sitting with the teachers. He could only see the back of his head, but the brown curls caught his attention. The brown curls that looked so like the curls he had so often run his hands through over the summer.
He immediately found himself slipping back into his memories, and before he could stop himself he was falling…
Paris, Aug 12th
“Is anyone sitting here?”
Enjolras felt odd, out of place. He didn’t usually come to bars, but one of the boys on his French exchange had suggested the spot. Enjolras had resisted the urge to leave his hotel room, but after four days he found himself going slightly stir crazy. So here he was, in a bar. Full of people. None of which he knew and all of which were conversing in French.
French, shit. Enjolras hadn’t even thought to ask the question in anything other than English.
“Pardonnez-moi, est-ce que je peux-“
“Hey man, don’t sweat it, you can sit there,” the man responded. He swivelled around to smile at Enjolras and whoa.
Enjolras caught himself grinning giddily at the man and immediately told himself to calm down. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” the guy responded. He looked young, only a couple of years older than Enjolras probably, with brown curly hair and bright blue eyes that shone even in the dim light of the bar. “Actually quite nice to have someone here that isn’t speaking at 60mph in an language that I can understand.”
Enjorlas smiled widely again. “That I can understand.”
“I’m Grantaire,” the man said, reaching over and extending a paint-stained hand to Enjorlas for him to take. “Don’t worry, the paint’s dry.”
“Enjolras,” he responded. For some reason, he couldn’t wipe that stupid grin off of his face. “What brings you to Paris, Grantaire?”
“I’m on a politics trip for my degree,” Grantaire pulled his glass to his lips and sipped it. Enjorlas had to drag his eyes away from the other mans mouth. “Going into my final year at Edinburgh, though to be honest with you I don’t really want to go back. Art is my real passion.”
Enjolras listened thoughtfully to what Grantaire was saying, not even realising he was staring before Grantaire laughed. “Can I get you a drink?”
Enjolras blushed and nodded, before Grantaire ordered in perfect French. “What about you, what brings you to l’Hexagone?”
“I’m-“ Enjolras started, then stopped. “I’m visiting family.” He felt a twinge of guilt for lying to Grantaire, but he wasn’t about to tell the guy that he was a 17 year old on a French exchange. “My grandparents live in Paris.” This was also true. So technically he wasn’t lying.
The bartender handed Enjolras his drink, which he immediately drank to calm his nerves. He spluttered a little when he got to the bottom and Grantaire laughed, though not unkindly. “Easy tiger.”
Enjolras rolled his eyes and nudged Grantaire’s shoulder with his own. The two looked at each other, locking eyes and –
He shook his head and gazed around, still in a slight daze. The entire hall was silent, blank faces staring over at him.
In his daydream, Enjolras had not only missed the entire assembly, but also the dismissal of the staff, upper students and all except for the Year 7s. Valjean stood at the other end of the hall, beckoning him over with a questioning look on his face. Enjolras hurried over, mouthing sorry to Valjean as he approached.
“As I was saying, this is our Head Boy, Enjolras, who will be happy to help you with any questions you should have, though I assure you he will not be as hard to get ahold of next time,” Valjean explained, earning a snigger from the younger students.
Enjolras nodded at the students, then at Valjean before running hurriedly out of the hall, embarrassed, with his head in his hands. Why couldn’t he get Grantaire out of his mind? He would kill Courf for telling everyone about this. Not like it was any of his business anyway. Typical behaviour from him.
In his anger, Enjolras forgot to look where he was going, and turning the corner he crashed into someone at full speed, knocking whatever was in their hands flying everywhere through the thankfully empty corridor.
“Crap, sorry,” Enjolras said, immediately kneeling and picking up what he now realised were paintbrushes.
“No, it’s my fault,” the other person said, also clearly in a hurry. “I was rushing.”
“Me too,” Enjolras continued. Grabbing the final paintbrush, he got up from the floor and sighed, turning to look at who he’d just flung himself on to.