Chapter 1: tuesday, 11th september
The end of Grantaire’s sanity began at exactly 11:47am on a Tuesday. He was sat on a paint-splattered desk, his feet propped up against a broken easel as his laughter rang out into the busy art room. Montparnasse was laid on the floor, hands propping him up as he looked toward his friend. Grantaire was holding a sketchbook in his lap, his pencil flitting across it almost effortlessly to shape the face of a girl he’d passed on his way to class. It was good practice, drawing from a fleeting memory.
“Holy shit” he announced suddenly, laughing at his own handiwork. He couldn’t stifle the amusement that came to him once he’d actually looked at what he’d drawn. The girl he’d seen in the hallway had been beautiful, all freckles and nice curves. The image he had scrawled was so completely different to the subject that he couldn’t quell his laughter. Instead of feminine beauty, the figure on the page was overly masculine, broad-shouldered with too many angles. It was almost a caricature instead of the honest portrayal of beauty he had intended it to be. Grantaire shoved the sketchbook towards Montparnasse, a wordless explanation as he heard the other descend into giggles to join him.
“Holy shit indeed” he struggled, gripping his stomach as he fell to the side. “R, who the fuck were you trying to draw?”
“That hot ginger girl- y’know the one who always wears a pink blazer? But it’s just become some- some fuckin chick with a dick type!”
Montparnasse laughed harder at that, his remaining hand failing him as he fell to the ground, rolling slightly in the drying paint there. “Or like- like, what if you’re actually mega gay” he gasped, “and it’s like some Freudian slip”
“You fucker!” Grantaire howled, throwing the sketchbook at him. He fell with a start, hitting his tailbone sharply on the ground as he landed. His hand gripped faux leather, and his laughter stopped suddenly as he saw Montparnasse’s eyes go wide.
“Well.” came an unimpressed voice from behind Grantaire. “That was definitely an interesting conversation to overhear.”
He turned his head slowly, and his mind was filled with dread as he saw his teacher before him. “Madame Langlois” he gulped, pulling himself to his feet. She looked him up and down, lips pursed in disapproval.
“I think you both could benefit from attending a Les Amis meeting. Maybe that will help you see things from other people’s perspectives.”
“What?” Montparnasse asked, getting up from the floor besides Grantaire, picking the sketchbook up as he rose. “You can’t make us go, all they do is sit around and bitch about their seven genders.” Grantaire hit him sharply in the abdomen at that, with a harsh whisper of “shut up”. He did.
“I think you’ll find, I can make you go.” Mme Langlois seethed. “Consider it a substitute for a week’s detention. And if I hear about either of you causing trouble at the meeting, it won’t just be a week’s worth of detention that you serve.” And with that, she walked away, sealing their fates of misery for an hour after school that day.
“It’s just a drawing…” Grantaire whispered, wondering how in the hell he’d managed to sentence himself to joining a dumb LGBT group because of a drawing and a dumb joke.
He wasn’t even LGBT. Sure, he found guys attractive- but didn’t everyone? He’d never had an actual crush on another guy, he’d never wanted to date anyone of the same gender. In Grantaire’s book, that made him straight. He was fairly sure that actually being LGBT would have been one of the main requirements to join the group- after all, what would a straight guy like him even do at those meetings?
If he was honest, he wasn’t even sure what any of the members did at the meetings. He’d only ever seen them filing into the art room on occasion, all loud whooping voices and long words than Grantaire couldn’t even begin to decipher. Apart from that, he’d had no contact with them. Nobody did really- the Amis kept themselves separate from the rest of the student body. They were incredibly internalised. He wasn’t even sure any of the members were friends with anybody who wasn’t. The only one of the Amis he’d ever spoken to was Marius Pontmercy- and that was only because of Éponine’s mild infatuation with the poor guy.
The buzzer signaling the end of class sounded throughout the room, and Grantaire hurriedly packed his sketchbook and pencils away, pushing through into the hallway with Montparnasse, who was still reeling off about how unjust it was that the two of them had to suffer through what would inevitably be an hour of torture that afternoon. He was in such a state about the mere idea of attending the group, and it was the one thing that brightened the situation for Grantaire. He could suffer through the hour, he thought, if he knew his friend was suffering worse than him. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“I mean- surely it’s against our human rights or something? Making us sit in a room with a load of queers while they whine about social justice or some shit-”
“I’m sure they do more than whine, Monty” Grantaire laughed, “maybe they even do whiskey.”
“Ahaha. You’re so funny. Jokes don’t help us at all here, R- what are we gonna do?” Grantaire wasn’t really sure what the big issue was with having to sit in on one meeting. Sure, he was dreading it like fuck. There was no way he was excited about spending an hour being bored out of his skull by pseudo-activist types with more tumblr followers than actual friends. But at the same time, he didn’t really give that much of a shit. It was just an hour, nothing life changing. He’ll live.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go to the meeting.” was all he decided to leave Montparnasse with as he picked up his pace to catch up to Éponine, who had just come out of her music class a few feet ahead.
“And to what do I owe this pleasure?” she laughed, eyeing Montparnasse as he ran to catch up with the both of them, ducking to avoid running face-first into the bass case slung over her back.
“Well, I’m celebrating.” Grantaire decided, throwing a shiteating grin at Montparnasse. “Me and Monty managed to get ourselves condemned to Death By Les Amis, and at first I was pissed, but now I’m just really enjoying how distressed he is by the whole thing.”
“I just can’t go to that meeting- I think I’ll lose brain cells by the second.”
“Oh, come off it.” Éponine scolded, swatting at Montparnasse with her free hand. “The meetings aren’t awful. I’ve been to a couple. They can be fun. Plus, you didn't have many brain cells to begin with.”
Grantaire’s eyes widened at that- he couldn’t believe what his best friend had just admitted to.
“You’ve been to Amis meetings? Since when?”
“Marius.” was all she offered as explanation, and the two boys by her side just hummed in admission.
“There’s not gonna be any girls there, Ép, I’m gonna die.” Grantaire was starting to wonder just how long he was going to have to listen to Montparnasse complain about the Les Amis meeting. He was beginning to think that neither of them would make it this afternoon after all, because he might just slit Monty’s throat before either of them can step foot through the door.
“There’s Musichetta” Éponine suggested, and Grantaire watched her smirk as Montparnasse’s eyes lit up. “Except she has boyfriends. Plural.”
“Plural!?” Grantaire found himself covering his ears as Montparnasse screeched. It was amusing, his friend’s complete incapability to reign in even the smallest of emotions.
“Two, to be precise. Joly and Bossuet.”
“Hey Monty, maybe you can be number three.” Grantaire sniggered, which earned him a prompt whack to the back of the head from Montparnasse. “It was only a suggestion…”
“You know I never share my women.” he asserted, to which Éponine quickly swooped in,
“Yeah. Not even with yourself.”
“Yeesh” Grantaire hissed, mocking sympathy, “that was harsh, Ép.”
“Ah, he’s a big boy. He’ll get over it.” Montparnasse looked slightly offended that the two of them were talking about him as if he wasn’t there, but at the same time he was doing nothing to fight his own cause.
“Are you sure? I’m fairly certain he still thinks the Amis meeting will literally kill him.” and Grantaire was vindicated by the loud groan that emerged from Montparnasse at the mere mention of the group.
“Well, you never know.” Éponine laughed, “Feuilly could slit his throat with a paper fan. Or maybe Courfeyrac’ll come after him with alcohol poisoning.”
“That Courfeyrac sounds like my kind of guy.”Grantaire hummed, rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. Since getting a job, he hadn’t had much time for drinking. At least he could make a mean apple strudel now, he thought.
“Just wait till he’s flirting with you over a map of South Sudan.” Éponine teased, elbowing him in the side and pushing him into a display wall.
“South Sudan?” he asked, if only to quell the slight annoyance of having to pull crumbs of cork board from his jumper as they turned into the cafeteria.
“Yeah, they’ll kill you for being gay there.”
“Bit harsh. But why the map?” He tutted after his sentence, finding an entire pushpin tangled in the green fabric of his hoodie as they sat down. How does that even happen?
“Maybe they’re planning on overthrowing the South Sudanese government.” Montparnasse suggested, pulling a McDonalds bag from his backpack. Grantaire dreaded to think how long it had been in there.
“With what? Rainbow flags and pronoun pins?” he laughed, taking his own lunchbox from his bag. He couldn’t help but notice that Éponine didn’t take anything at all from her bag. This wasn’t unusual for her- Grantaire couldn’t count the times he’d given her and her brother free food from the patisserie. He slid her his sandwich, the most substantial thing he had on hand at the moment. She took it without acknowledgement, merely continuing as before.
“Hey, those pins are damn sharp. I stabbed myself on xe/xem once.” Éponine supplied, to the amusement of Montparnasse. Whether it was the idea of Éponine in pain or the existence of xe/xem pronouns that made him laugh, Grantaire couldn’t be sure.
Chapter 2: tuesday, 11th september pt 2
Hey hi hello i apologise that it's been a while but some ~stuff~ has happened in my life not limited to but including my friend dying and being accepted to my dream university so as u can imagine ive been a m e s s and not in a great frame of mind for writing. I'm feeling pretty good right now and I'm super happy i could get this out for you (even tho its like,,, a month after i published the first chapter yikes i am sorry)
anyway i hope you like this chapter!! it's 3,005 words long which is probably the longest chapter I've ever written for anything and i'm proud of it so enjoy
warnings: Grantaire misgendering Enjolras (not intentionally, and he does apologise), Grantaire calling Enjolras by a female name (not Enj's deadname, but still a female name that R thinks is E's name), some most likely horribly butchered French, Grantaire being dumb, referring to trans people as "transgenders" (Grantaire is uneducated and doesn't realise it's gross), Grantaire being bi as fuck without realising it, and Joly using his other thirds as a sofa.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The buzzer had rung out throughout the school at least twenty minutes ago, Grantaire knew with certainty. But he just couldn’t pull himself away from the cushions of the bright red library sofa. He’d taken to napping there during his free periods, too exhausted to do any sort of work. This had started in his first year at the lycée, and at first the librarian had tried to get rid of him any way she could- at one point, she stole all of the cushions from the couch and was renting them out for fifty centimes each. When Grantaire tried to buy one however, fifty centimes quickly became fifty euros. She blamed inflation. He blamed discrimination.
Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Grantaire to win her over. The day following the inflation debacle, he brought her a basket full of pastries- baklava, bossche bol, kroštule and mille-feuille piled up in a cheap wicker basket he’d found in his mother’s leftover Easter stash. He’d brought it in when he should have been in his first period class, but she didn’t have to know that.
“Truce?” he’d grinned, placing the baked goods on the library counter as she turned around.
“Where did you steal these from?” She had asked, peering down at him over her glasses. She was incredibly tall, almost intimidatingly so. Grantaire had always regarded himself as tall before he’d met her.
“I didn’t!” he gasped, layering on mock offense and hurt. “I toiled over them with my own two hands!” she laughed at him, and dismissed him with a wave of her hand. He resigned himself to the red sofa. He was already twenty minutes late for class- there was no point in going now.
Speaking of being late, Grantaire realized, he was supposed to have been in that dumb meeting five minutes ago. He wasn’t too keen on having detention for the rest of his life, and so finally dragged himself away from the sofa he’d been reminiscing on for too long.
“See you later Hélène, I’m off to gay club!” he cheered, waving to the librarian as he exited the library. He was sure she regretted accepting that pastry basket, but that didn’t mean he was going to give up the best napping spot he’d ever found.
The walk from the library to the art room was irritatingly short. Grantaire would have done anything to delay the meeting he knew he would have to sit through. He wasn’t sure he was wholly prepared to sit and listen to gay kids complain about their problems for an hour. Shit- what if they wanted him to speak? He had no idea what he’d even say.
“Stop being an idiot.” he told himself as he pushed through the door and walked into the art room.
It was loud. That was his first impression- the moment he opened the whitewashed door a cacophony of noise spilled out from behind it. Several people were shouting over each other, and Grantaire winced as he tried to make out what was going on.
“Uhm, excuse me?” he yelled over them, hoping they’d notice him and tell him what he was supposed to be doing. He succeeded in catching their attention, however this did mean that they all fell silent and stared at him in turn.
“Who are you?” asked a defensive voice from across the room. Looking towards the owner, Grantaire saw a brown-haired boy leaning against one wall, his foot propped up above the radiator. He was tall, possibly even taller than Grantaire, and wearing a black blazer over a t-shirt and jeans. A combination Grantaire had always thought screamed pretentious asshole.
“I’m Grantaire and trust me, I want me to be here even less than you do.”
“We want you to be here…” came a timid voice from the corner. He looked over to see a scrawny figure rushing over to him, extending a hand for him to shake. Grantaire took it politely, but still eyed the owner of the hand with suspicion. “We’re happy whenever anyone comes to join us…”
“You’re not annoyed about a straight asshole infiltrating your group?” he asked, one eyebrow raised. He was expecting a much colder welcome than this. Grantaire thinks he might have even preferred it when Blazer-Guy was eyeing him up.
“Well, we don’t care that you’re straight… Marius is straight…” the boy sat in the chair closest to him turned around swiftly, shooting Grantaire possibly the most sickly-sweet grin he’d ever seen. Grantaire quickly realized that this Marius was the same Marius Éponine had introduced him to. “But if you would refrain from being an asshole that would be, uhm… that would be nice.”
“What Joly means,” interrupted Blazer-Guy again, “is that you either be nice or you get the fuck out. Capisce?”
“Capisce, I guess.” Grantaire agreed, mostly stunned at the fact that despite the fact that it was no longer 1980 and they weren’t in America, he’d actually just heard a real human being say capisce.
As he agreed, the one he assumed was named Joly dragged him by the arm over to a table at the back of the art room, and began whispering names to him. He learned that Blazer-Guy’s name was Combeferre, and the smiley heap of black curls sat to his left was the infamous Map-of-South-Sudan Courfeyrac. On the table opposite was the previously-identified Marius, the only Amis he’d ever met before. Beside Marius, he was told, was Feuilly, and the ginger boy in the purple sequin jacket was Jehan. Grantaire heard a grunt from under one of the tables at the mention of the name Bahorel, and found the owner of such name to be lying on the floor beside Jehan, under three different coats. Finally, Joly gestured to the two other occupants of the table Grantaire had been coerced into joining. Joly laid across the two elegantly as he introduced them, identifying them as “the loves of my life, the other deux of mon ménage a trois, Bossuet and Musichetta”. Grantaire suddenly remembered Montparnasse’s shock when Éponine informed him of the throuple earlier that morning and chuckled. His laughter stopped abruptly when he realised that his friend wasn’t actually here, which meant he’d found some way around the lifetime of detention they’d been promised. Lucky bastard, he thought. While Grantaire didn’t exactly hate being at this meeting, he’d also much rather be anywhere else.
When Joly had finished introducing him to everyone, he stuck his neck out in an odd manner and shouted over to Combeferre. “Ferre, do you know where Angel is?” Grantaire wondered who Angel would be. Éponine had only informed him of one girl in the group, and that was Musichetta. Then again, he wasn’t wholly sure if Jehan was a boy. His ginger hair was braided messy and long down one shoulder, something Grantaire had only seen worn by girls. Maybe Éponine wasn’t as knowledgeable about Les Amis De L’GBT as she thought.
“Took that jerk from earlier to Principal Lamarque, I think.” Combeferre replied, scratching the back of his neck lightly. Grantaire had an awful feeling he was talking about Montparnasse.
As if on cue, the door Grantaire was sure he hadn’t even shut in the first place swung open, hitting the wall with an almighty bang. Marius, the closest to the commotion, jumped so hard he fell out of his seat and on to the floor. Feuilly laughed instead of helping him back up, which Grantaire found highly appropriate. He didn’t watch them for long, however, because his attention was quickly drawn to the two figures entering the room.
The taller of the two was both the first and last person Grantaire wanted to see at that present moment. Montparnasse stood awkward in front of his new-found audience, and Grantaire could feel Combeferre’s eyes burning holes through Monty’s skull. He wondered what on earth had happened while he was napping in the library. He gestured for Montparnasse to come and sit beside him and Joly, if only to save him from being killed by Combeferre.
Montparnasse moving away from the door gave Grantaire a perfect view of who had entered the room behind him, and holy fuck, Grantaire didn’t think he’d ever be able to breathe again. She was short, almost impossibly so, and her hair was a cascading mess of blonde curls around ocean blue eyes. Her features were sharp and pointed, yet the cold and cruel look she could so easily fall into was nowhere to be seen. Her clothes seemed almost effortless, yet it complimented her completely. She tilted her head to the side, and Grantaire could see the undercut on both sides of her head, and merde he’d just fallen in love with this girl. She wasn’t pretty. She was so many levels beyond that. Grantaire could find a thousand pretty girls and they still would not compare. He’d never seen someone so beautiful in his entire goddamn life. If this was the aforementioned Angel, he’d never heard of a more accurate name.
She walked over to Combeferre and Courfeyrac, getting a beaming smile from the former and an overenthusiastic hug from the latter. Grantaire tried to quell the jealousy that twisted in the pit of his stomach. When they’d finished their greeting, she turned to the room, and it fell silent under her gaze. Joly straightened in his seat, and Montparnasse shrunk in his. She began to speak, but Grantaire heard nothing but the beating of his heart in his chest.
He watched her talk, not wholly understanding what it was she was speaking of so passionately, for around fifteen minutes. He didn’t care for her words, but the way they were spoken made his lungs stop working. Her voice was like honey, sweet and thick but prominent. She exuded passion in every syllable, and Grantaire would have listened to her recite a pizza menu if only to hear her speak. Montparnasse had taken to picking at his fingernails and laughing under his breath, but every other person in the room was hooked. They all looked at her with the same adoration Grantaire felt, if only accentuated with a deep respect.
Grantaire’s silence was only broken when he leaned over to Montparnasse to whisper “she’s so hot”, receiving a hum and a nod in agreement. He rested back in his own chair, but found Joly, Bossuet, and Musichetta staring at him as if they were ready to slit his throat at any second.
“What?” Grantaire asked, catching Montparnasse’s attention too.
“You’re not about to tell him it’s sexist to call her hot or something are you?” he laughed, his amusement dying quickly when he realised that nobody else found him funny.
“Enjolras isn’t a girl.” Musichetta spat, possibly louder than she’d intended. The colour drained from Grantaire’s face as the Angel at the head of the room stopped talking and began to listen in, drawing everyone else in the room’s attention to the table at the back.
“Wait, who’s Enjolras? I was talking about-”
“I’m Enjolras.” It was that sweet and prominent voice of honey that answered his question. He looked over to the Angel self-identifying as Enjolras and looked their figure up and down. It was clear to him now the mistakes he had made. The clothing he’d previously regarded as effortless was so clearly orchestrated- skinny jeans just loose enough to hide the shape of the legs beneath them, and a red hoodie to do the same on the upper body. The sharp features were masculine. The word wasn’t pretty, no, it was handsome.
Grantaire felt like an idiot.
Worse, he felt like an absolute jerk. Joly hadn’t said Angel. It was Enj. It was short for Enjolras. The Angel was a boy, and what made it worse was considering the context of the group, they were probably a transgender boy. Grantaire didn’t know much about the LGBT community, but he did know that transgenders got incredibly pissed off when you get that shit wrong.
“I’m sorry.” he rushed out, clambering up out of his seat and running from the room as quickly as he could, throwing another “I’m so fucking sorry” behind him as he went.
He couldn’t run far. His lungs were already screaming for oxygen the moment he made his way out of the art room door, and his legs refused to carry him further than a few steps down the corridor. Relenting to defeat, he sank down against the wall and rested his head in his hands. If God was willing to just strike him down now, Grantaire would have been incredibly thankful.
“Don’t worry.” came a voice from beside him, and Grantaire jumped. He had thought he was the only one in the corridor. Looking up, he found that it was Combeferre who was standing beside him. “He’s not upset.”
“What?” Grantaire asked, confused.
“Enjolras. He isn’t upset that you misgendered him.” Misgendered wasn’t even a word Grantaire had known about before this very moment, and it made him hate himself a little more to know that not only had he fucked up, but he’d fucked up in a way that was so shitty they’d given it a title.
“I feel like a major asshole.” he admitted, his arms falling to the floor beside him. This isn’t how he’d wanted this to go. He’d wanted to sit at the back and leave after an hour, and never have to think about this group again.
“Oh no, you are.” Combeferre agreed, which made Grantaire feel absolutely amazing. “But he forgives you. It was a mistake. Just maybe be a little more cautious of people’s gender before you call them hot.
“Oh god…” he groaned, not having realised that the threesome he’d attempted to turn into one-use friends had probably told the whole room what he’d said. “But… so it’s okay?”
“No.” Combeferre said flatly. “You still fucked up, and you need to apologise. And then you need to leave.”
Of course Grantaire would be dumb enough to get himself kicked out of the club whose whole foundation was built upon equality and acceptance. He pulled himself up off of the floor, and gave a weak smile to Combeferre, hoping to salvage some form of feeling that wasn’t utter hate. Opening the door to the art room, he could feel ten pairs of eyes watching him as he made his way towards the back table. He grabbed his bag from the floor, and whispered a sharp “we have to go” at Montparnasse before moving to the head of the room, where Enjolras still stood. Grantaire wasn’t sure anyone had moved since he’d left the room.
“I’m really sorry…” Grantaire rushed, not sure how exactly he was supposed to apologise for something like this. “I didn’t mean to, I just… I didn’t know. I wasn’t being an asshole- well, I mean, I was, but… I didn’t do it on purpose, okay?”
“You’re forgiven.” he said, his voice now monotonous and irritated. All sweetness and passion had been lost- Grantaire wasn’t welcome. He was an outsider, and he’d tracked a fuckton of dirt on his way inside.
He left swiftly. He didn’t want to stay any longer and make more of a mess. They didn’t want him there any more, and so he had to leave. He was fairly sure that Mme Langlois would still make him serve a week’s detention after this- or maybe even more, considering he was fairly sure that what he’d done constituted as “causing trouble at the meeting”. He couldn’t believe all of this had started because he’d made a dumb joke, and then was made worse by him not being able to keep his thoughts to himself. His entire life was likely going to be ruined by the fact that he had no idea how to keep his mouth shut.
He made a mental note to ask Éponine to sew his mouth shut like Deadpool in X-Men. And another to remind himself to yell at her for not warning him that the ludicrously attractive leader of Les Amis is actually male, and that he probably shouldn’t refer to him as anything but.
He came to the conclusion that this was all Éponine’s fault. Obviously.
P.S if you didn't understand the "Angel" thing-
'ange' is French for angel and sounds a lot like how you'd pronounce Enj. Obviously as it's set in France all the characters are actually speaking French, and Joly said Enj and Grantaire misheard and got confused, leading to the Angel debacle
(if you're French and this is a load of bullshit feel free to call me out on it. also i apologise if i used any French wrong in this chapter)
Chapter 3: wednesday, 12th september
Hey guys, happy Barricade Day! Sorry I've been so absent but I'm in my last year of college and my life is super busy right now :(
Updates will be a lot more frequent starting the end of June, as I'll be home every day after finishing college!
I really wanted to take a break from revision to get this out for Barricade Day, so enjoy awkward baker 'Taire just trying to do his job.
Her shoes were green. They hadn’t always been green, and you could still see some remnants of the white underneath the stains. Years of chlorophyll clung to Éponine’s trainers- which were now sat firmly on the countertop beside him, directly next to where he was supposed to be making pains au chocolat.
“You need vinegar.” he told her firmly, eyeing the shoes with disgust. He’d have to remember to disinfect the counter again now.
“I think I’m bitter enough, thanks?”
“Not for you. For the shoes. You’re contaminating my workspace, and it’s incredibly rude.” He accentuated each few words with the sound of his knife hitting the countertop as he sliced plain chocolate into even-ish lines for the filling.
“Like Montparnasse hasn’t done worse in here.” she retorted, and Grantaire dreaded to think what that was supposed to mean. He’d left Monty alone in the patisserie more times than he’d have liked.
Grantaire was usually left to care for the shop alone on Wednesdays- the owners were an elderly couple who only worked on weekends, and the shop was small enough that there was never any real need for more than one employee to work at a time. Being alone in the patisserie, however, was incredibly boring. Grantaire could think of nothing more akin to torture than having to stand the silence of his own company for an entire day, and so he often invited Montparnasse or Éponine to sit and bother him for hours at a time. Occasionally he had to run to buy more flour or eggs, and those were the moments he entrusted the shop to his less-than-reliable best friends.
To Grantaire’s relief, Éponine jumped down from the counter and grabbed the spray bottle of Sanytol, cleaning away the bacteria herself so that he could continue his baking.
“Thanks” he said, placing the chocolate strips onto each square of dough, rolling them up as he went.
“No problem.” she replied, choosing to sit on the stool behind the till as the bell rang and a large woman wandered into the patisserie, trailing a fairly stout child behind her.
She was loud, and brash, and from what Grantaire could tell- American. The area Grantaire lived in didn’t often get American tourists, but when it did he always hoped they would never step foot in his place of work. He held no grudge against Americans- but they had a nasty habit of being terrible customers.
“Excuse-ay mwah?” she said, without any hint of attempting an accent. Éponine perked up, sensing that Grantaire was too busy with the pains au chocolat to help. It was at this point that the woman seemed to abandon the French language altogether, switching back to English with a Southern drawl of “do you have any pecan pie?”
Éponine replied in what Grantaire could only assume was intentionally fumbled English, “Sorree we ‘ave none of zat ‘ere.” Grantaire had to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing at the exaggerated accent she was putting on. He was glad he was facing the opposite direction. The woman didn’t seem to notice Éponine’s subtle mocking, but huffed at the lack of pecan pie. She complained about how they should stock pecan pie because it’s American, and therefore important, before finally succeeding and purchasing some croissants. She paid quickly before leaving, her child throwing an unsurprisingly American “mercy!” behind him as they left.
“What was that!?” Grantaire asked the moment they were out of earshot, checking the temperature of the oven before sliding the tray of dough and chocolate inside.
“I’m sorry, but can’t be nice to someone who asks for American pastries in France! And she didn’t even try to speak-”
“Éponine.” he stopped her in her tracks before she could lose herself in ranting about Americans. Éponine had always had disdain for that specific country, and its people- it wasn’t something Grantaire had ever asked about, but he assumed it had to be something to do with her parents. Most of her oddities were.
With the pains au chocolat in the oven, he moved over to begin making more croissants- the American woman had bought four, meaning they only had two left. He collected all the ingredients he’d need. He’d always found it easier to get out everything before starting. Grabbing the eggs, however, he realised the carton was much lighter than it should have been. Looking inside, he saw that there were no eggs left. Whoever had worked Tuesday had used them all and not restocked or bothered to inform anyone. Grantaire would bet his apron it was Floréal.
“We’re out of eggs.” he said aloud, pulling the aforementioned apron over his head in preparation to go outside.
“You stay and start baking. I’ll go.” Éponine offered, taking change from the till. “I need to blow off some steam.”
Grantaire heard the bell ring as she left, and he began to lay out the pastry that whoever worked yesterday had put in to chill overnight. He hummed along to the radio as he worked, some English song he didn’t fully understand but liked anyway. Being able to have someone to run errands for him was a benefit of bringing Éponine to the patisserie instead of Montparnasse. Monty usually sat in the corner of the room on his phone all day, occasionally showing Grantaire memes as he attempted to both sell and bake pastries. Éponine actually helped, and Grantaire always baked her a few extra things for her troubles.
Éponine had been gone at least fifteen minutes when the bell rang. The timer for the pains au chocolat had just gone off, and Grantaire was halfway through taking the trays from the oven when he heard the door open and the metal chime.
“Stick them on the counter will you, Ép?” he asked, not looking up from the tray as he placed it on the stove top.
Grantaire froze. That voice did not belong to Éponine, no matter how many cigarettes she smoked. He turned around slowly, and cursed the fact that she still wasn’t back when he saw exactly who had entered the patisserie.
Combeferre looked much more casual than he had the day before. Instead of a blazer, he was wearing a simple white t-shirt. It made him look less pretentious, Grantaire thought, but no less intimidating.
“Sorry, I thought you were my friend…” he trailed off, trying to maintain composure and act as if yesterday’s events hadn’t bothered him much. “How can I help you?”
It was at that point that the bell rung a second time, and Grantaire’s breath hitched as he caught sight of the long blonde curls he’d admired with so much enthusiasm not even twenty-four hours ago.
“I’m telling you, we just need to steal his toupee and their whole system will fall-” Enjolras stopped speaking abruptly when he saw Grantaire, stood behind the counter with bright pink oven gloves covering his hands.
“Hi…” he breathed, visibly nervous. Grantaire tried not to freak out, and to remain firmly within his customer-service persona. This didn’t have to be awful.
“How can I help?” he greeted, forcing a wide smile onto his face and hoping it seemed genuine.
“What do you have?” Combeferre asked, looking over the various pre-made pastries in the glass display case.
“Are those pains au chocolat?”Enjolras asked, gesturing towards the tray still resting on the stove top.
“Uh- yeah, yeah” Grantaire confirmed, picking up the tray. “They’ve only just come out of the oven though, so they’re a quite hot.
“I’ll have two of those, please.” Grantaire put them in a paper bag, while Combeferre still looked at the other pastries. Grantaire handed the bag over immediately, smiling at Enjolras.
“They’re on me.” he said, nodding for emphasis.
“I have to pay.” Enjolras replied, clearly confused. “I feel bad not paying. I have money-”
“It’s the least I can do.” Grantaire affirmed. “I upset you yesterday, and I want to make it up.”
“So it’s pity pastry-”
“Not pity. An apology.” Enjolras finally accepted the paper bag, albeit begrudgingly, and Combeferre looked as if he had come to a decision.
“I’ll take one slice of baklava for Jehan, two bags of chouquette for Joly and Bossuet, three cinnamon rolls for Bahorel, Feuilly and me, and two croissants for Courfeyrac and Musichetta.” he ordered, looking through his wallet for money. Grantaire didn’t question why he had decided to list off each name as he went, and instead attempted polite conversation as he bagged up the pastries.
“So, do you guys hang out a lot outside of school?”
“Yes. We are friends.” Combeferre replied bluntly, placing €15 on the counter and waiting.
“Of course. Tell Courfeyrac and Musichetta that they’re lucky, these are my last two croissants.”
“Courfeyrac doesn’t really care about the pastry, really. He’ll cover it in so much Nutella it could be anything.” Enjolras joked, holding his bag of pains au chocolat in a way that made Grantaire feel like they had been just the right way to apologise. He seemed happy, excited even.
Grantaire put the bags of pastries Combeferre had ordered on the counter, taking the money and counting out the change. He made sure not to include Enjolras’s food in the total. The two left after receiving their change, and Grantaire was left alone again to work on a new batch of croissants. Éponine must have gone all the way to Lyon for the damn eggs, he thought.
It was another ten or so minutes before she returned, hair a mess holding three boxes of eggs.
“What happened to you?” he asked, scanning her dishevelled appearance as he took the eggs from her.
“Um, I got caught up on the way back…” she said, being purposefully vague.
“Don’t tell me you had sex near these eggs, Ép. I don’t want sex eggs.”
“No! No, it’s nothing like that.” she rushed, before adding a joking “Pervert.” on the end.
“Well you could have been back quicker, instead of leaving me to the most awkward experience of my life.”
“What happened?” she asked, pulling up a chair at the till once more.
Grantaire began to explain how Enjolras and Combeferre had come in to buy pastries, and how he’d given Enjolras pains au chocolat for free. He prepared the egg wash as he did so, a physical way to let out the tension he felt from such an uncomfortable encounter.
“What did you even do that was so bad? Your texts yesterday made no sense.”
Grantaire had texted Éponine several threats and messages of annoyance after being ejected from the meeting yesterday. Other than that, he hadn’t outlined specifically what had gone so wrong.
“I fucked up big time without even realising it.” He revealed, using a pastry brush to cover the uncooked croissants with egg wash. “I thought Enjolras was a girl, and I called him one. Loudly. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about it.”
“Oh Christ, R.” she sighed, rubbing her forehead in exasperation. “Did it not cross your mind at all that there might be trans people in an LGBT group?”
“I was… preoccupied.” he replied, not willing to elaborate.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” she asked teasingly, smirking as Grantaire just raised his eyebrows and shrugged in fake ignorance. He wasn’t willing to tell Éponine how attractive he’d found Enjolras before finding out he was a guy.