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Someday at Christmas

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SEPTEMBER 28TH, FRIDAY

Enjolras gave himself a shake and stiffened his resolve. This would make Grantaire happy. It wasn’t like he had to actually do anything brave like confess at the end of it all, just this would be enough to make Grantaire happy for the time being. And that was important. Grantaire being happy was something Enjolras was invested in, something Enjolras wanted.

So Enjolras nodded tightly to himself, and marched into the study room where he knew Joly would be.

Joly, unaware that their friend was even in the room, continued to work silently, head down, intense frown on their face. Enjolras almost talked himself out of it, not wanting to disturb Joly. Except at that very moment, Joly let out a loud groan and shoved their textbook off the table and onto the floor with a loud crash.

It was jarring, seeing Joly so down. Enjolras picked up his pace and hurriedly collected the book from the floor.

“Are you ok?” he asked, worriedly, holding the book against his chest.

Joly’s face attempted to light up. “Enjolras!” they said, lacking half of their usual cheer. “I’m wonderful. What are you doing here?”

Tentatively, Enjolras slid the book onto the table, just out of Joly’s reach, and sat down in the empty chair opposite his friend.

“I have a favour to ask,” Enjolras admitted, “and it has to stay between us.”

Joly immediately put their hands up, palms facing Enjolras, looking frazzled. “Oh, please, don’t tell me. I’m useless with secrets – worse than useless, you know that. I’ll accidentally tell Bossuet, and then he’ll tell Grantaire, and Grantaire will tell Courfeyrac ,who’ll tell Marius, who’ll tell Cosette, who’ll tell Bahorel, who’ll tell Musichetta, and then I’ll be in trouble for not telling her when I told Bossuet, and then I’ll complain about this to Combeferre, and then-”

“Joly,” Enjolras interrupted, calmly. “Please. It’s for a friend.”

Joly’s face was tight with worry. “Can’t you ask someone else?”

“I have absolute faith in you that you’ll want to help me with this,” Enjolras said. He reached into his bag and pulled out the wrapped present he’d been carrying around all morning.

It was neatly wrapped, he’d put so much time and effort into making it look perfect – Grantaire knew how terrible he was at wrapping presents; they’d worked together last Christmas at the charity gift-wrapping event in the shopping centre.

Joly still looked nervous, but curiosity was winning out.

Enjolras took a deep breath and pushed the present towards Joly. He catalogued the exact moment that Joly saw Grantaire’s name written in block letters across the paper.

Joly’s eyes jumped up to meet Enjolras’.

“I need you to give this to him, and not tell him it’s from me,” Enjolras said.

Joly laughed in shock. “What?” they asked.

“I wanted… I want to do something for him. Something to make him happy. This will make him happy, right?” Enjolras asked, knowing Joly knew Grantaire best of all of them.

“Well, I- I wager it would make him happier to know the gift came from you,” Joly said, somewhat weakly.

Enjolras shook his head. “No, you can’t tell him,” Enjolras insisted. “Please, just give him the gift, and-”

“And what?” Joly asked, with interest, when Enjolras didn’t continue.

Enjolras face was hot with embarrassment, but he maintained a steady appearance. “And the rest of the gifts, too.”

Joly closed their eyes for a second, clearly to gather themself. They removed their glasses, pinched the bridge of their nose as they took a deep breath in, and finally clasped their hands together on the table. They peered at Enjolras and asked, too calmly to be real, “What do you mean, ‘the rest of the gifts, too’?”

“Well, starting next week, there’s two a week between now and Christmas,” Enjolras admits.

“What- Enjolras it’s- It’s September!” Joly exclaimed. “How many presents even is that? And why?”

“The end of September,” Enjolras defended himself. Then, “There are twenty five presents,” he admitted.

What?” Joly yelled.

A student nearby shot them a glare and shushed them, angrily.

“Sorry,” Joly whispered back, and then started packing up their things, jerkily. Enjolras watched them for a moment until Joly was stood up, rucksack yanked onto their back, waiting impatiently for Enjolras to follow them.

“Oh,” Enjolras said, and quickly grabbed his bag and the present, carefully putting the present back inside as he hurriedly followed Joly outside.

Outside in the fresh air, Enjolras started to wonder if he was being a bit silly. He waited patiently for his friend to gather their thoughts, taking a seat on a bench outside the building while Joly paced back and forth.

“Let me understand,” Joly said, at last, coming to a stand-still in front of Enjolras. “You are going to buy and wrap twenty-five presents for Grantaire with the intention of secretly giving them to him, two a week, culminating with the final one on Christmas day, I presume, and you don’t think this is weird.”

“It’s… It’s supposed to make him happy,” Enjolras defended himself. “You know? Regular gifts of things that he wants or likes, and if you’re the one physically handing them over he knows they’re coming from someone you like so it’s not weird like if I just snuck around leaving them places for him to find. I don’t want him to think I’m a stalker, you know? But I also don’t want him to know they’re from me. It- He wouldn’t want them from me. It’s too much. I know it’s too much.”

“Can you hear yourself?” Joly asked.

“That’s not what I mean! It’s not too much when he doesn’t know who they’re coming from,” Enjolras said, quickly. “If he can imagine who he wants them to be from it’ll make him happy, if he knows they’re coming from me, then… Then the way I feel about him is too obvious and he’ll feel pressured to say something and potentially get rid of the gifts and I just want him to be happy, Joly. That’s all I want.”

Joly sat down beside him and took his hand in their own. “Enjolras, if you want to give Grantaire presents, just give Grantaire presents,” they said, seriously.

“I’m not going to give Grantaire twenty-five presents to his face! I might as well cut out my goddamn heart and hand that right over,” Enjolras protested.

Joly was looking at him fondly. “You love him, huh?”

The words hit Enjolras like ice. He pulled his hand out of Joly’s grip and stood up, pulling his bag, containing the present, onto his shoulder. “I’ll find someone else to help,” he said. “Please, don’t tell him.”

“Oh, fuck,” he heard Joly say quietly as he started to walk away. Then, Joly called after him, “Alright, I’ll do it!”

Enjolras whirled round, thrilled. “You will?” he asked. “And you won’t tell anyone?”

Joly looked like they were already regretting their decision, but no way was Enjolras letting them back out now. Joly was his best option for this mission, and they both knew it. “Yeah, alright,” Joly said. “Give me the damn gift.”

“I love you,” Enjolras said, pulling it out of his bag and handing it over.

“Anything for Grantaire’s happiness, I guess,” Joly said.

“Knew you’d see it my way,” Enjolras beamed. “Give him this one on Monday. And remember, you know nothing about who it’s from.”

“Wha- What? I don’t know where it came from?” Joly asked, bewildered. “Enj, he’s gonna have questions!”

“Yes! And you have to lie!” Enjolras cried, sitting back down beside them, dropping his bag back onto the floor with an air of exasperation. “Joly, my friend, my family, you have to lie.”

Joly flailed a little, looking like they were really regretting all of this.

Enjolras sighed. “Look, just tell him you can’t say anything. Tell him it’s for Christmas.”

“And can I tell him he’ll find out on Christmas?” Joly asked.

“No!” Enjolras exclaimed. “Oh my god, no.”

“You’re not going to tell him? Enjolras…” Joly whined.

“I might tell him. Look,” Enjolras said, seriously, “the important part is the now. Give him the gifts, make him happy, we’ll see what comes after that. He might guess it’s me before Christmas rolls around,” and Enjolras’ stomach tightened with fear at the thought, “but for now – secrecy. No thinking about what comes next.”

Joly looked down at the present in their hands. “This is insane. Twenty-five presents. How could you even think of twenty-five things Grantaire would want?”

Enjolras smiled. “I follow him on pinterest, letterboxd, goodreads, instagram, and twitter, and I’ve been doing a little research. Also he has an amazon wishlist,” Enjolras said. “Also we talk. Sometimes. I know the kind of things he likes! And a few might be… suggestions. A little.”

“Please tell me you didn’t get him anything that will give away who you are,” Joly said, seriously. “If you give him something that he knows you’re passionate about, he’ll know it’s you, Enj.”

“Don’t you worry, I’m being sly,” Enjolras said, confidently.

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Joly said, amused.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 1ST, MONDAY

Enjolras spent the whole morning trying to distract himself, waiting for Joly to text, call, drop by, anything to let him know how Grantaire reacted. Eventually, when it officially became the afternoon and he was unable to take it anymore, Enjolras put on his shoes and coat, and set off for Joly’s place.

The last thing he expected when the door to Joly’s flat swung open was for Grantaire to greet him.

“Enjolras! Perfect timing, dude. You’re good at puzzles, right? You won last murder mystery, didn’t you?” Grantaire was saying, as Enjolras tried to recover from the shock and panic.

“Uh, yes, I did,” he said, following Grantaire into the flat, horrified to see the present, now unopened, sitting on the living room floor.

“Enjolras!” Joly exclaimed, sounding beyond surprised. “What are you doing here?” Their eyes were giving too much away, and Enjolras glared at them as discreetly and quickly as they could.

“I… I came by to talk to you and Musichetta about the fundraiser! But I’ll come back. You’re busy,” Enjolras tried to excuse himself, not wanting any part in this conversation.

At that moment, Bossuet, sitting on the carpet next to the present, interrupted to yell, “There’s a note! There’s a note!”

“Is there?” Joly asked, incredulously.

“Gimme!” Grantaire shouted, and launched himself over the back of the sofa to land next to Bossuet, snatching the piece of paper out of his friend’s hands. “Enj, get over here.”

Awkwardly, Enjolras moved round the sofa to sit down on the floor with the other three. “Where’s Chetta?” he asked Joly, to avoid looking at Grantaire as he scanned the note that Enjolras had typed up and printed off just a few days ago.

“Gone for lunch with Feuilly and Marius. We think Marius might be proposing to Cosette and wanted tips from the only two people he knows who have done it,” Joly explained. “At least… that’s the only reason we can think of for those specific friends to have lunch together.”

Enjolras managed to laugh. “Maybe they’re forming a union,” he joked.

“Listen to this!” Bossuet said, grabbing the note off Grantaire.

Enjolras took the chance to sneak a glance at Grantaire, who was now looking somewhat shell-shocked.

“R’s got himself a secret admirer!” Bossuet said, grinning wildly. “‘I ask that you don’t try to discover who I am, simply know that all I want is to bring you some happiness over the next few months.’ Damn, R.”

“And there’s no name?” Enjolras asked, trying his hand at a little acting. “No clue at all?”

“Nothing,” Grantaire said. “Wow. It’s gotta be a joke, right? No way is someone gonna send me multiple presents in the lead up to Christmas, that would be mental.”

He looked genuinely alarmed at the thought, and a hand lightly reached out to touch his first gift. Enjolras looked down at the book.

“God, even this first gift alone is too much. Do you know how much this book costs?” Grantaire asked. “Like, thirty quid. I’ve had it in my amazon wishlist for over a year.” He pulled his hand back, as though worried he wasn’t allowed to touch it.

“I’m sure it’s not a joke,” Enjolras said, slowly.

Grantaire breathed out heavily. “Well,” he said. “I guess we’ll see?” Finally he picked up the book properly. “Wow,” he said, quietly. He glanced at Enjolras, visibly embarrassed, and then turned to Bossuet. “Wow,” he said, again.

Bossuet grinned at him and slapped him on the back. “Dude! Someone’s got a crush on you!”

Enjolras thanked God that he couldn’t turn bright red like Grantaire was in that moment.

“Nah,” Grantaire said, bashfully. “I mean-”

“No, they clearly do,” Enjolras said. “If this book costs as much as you say it does… That’s…”

“The rest are probably cheaper presents,” Grantaire pointed out. “I wouldn’t- No one would spend thirty pounds on more than one thing for me.”

“I wonder who it is,” Bossuet said, full of awe. “Jol, why haven’t you ever done something like this for me?”

“Oh, because you do things like this for me and Chetta all the time,” Joly said, rolling their eyes, but not unkindly.

Bossuet ducked in to kiss them on the cheek, grinning.

“One hell of a wooing though, R,” Joly said.

“I’m just…” Grantaire started, and he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off the book. He said with a laugh, “Do I really talk about Guillermo del Toro that much? How did they know I wanted this book?”

He looked awestruck and secretly thrilled, if still a bit embarrassed by the whole thing, and Enjolras never wanted to look away.

“Well,” Enjolras said, “you did go to see all three 10th anniversary screenings of El Laberinto Del Fauno. On the same day.”

Grantaire looked up at him with a sheepish grin. “I can’t believe you remember that,” he said. “And I guess I have three signed del Toro posters in my room, but then whoever sent this has to have been in my room to know about those.”

Enjolras did know about those posters, despite never once having set foot in Grantaire’s room. He knew because they day Grantaire bought them, he couldn’t stop talking about them. It was endearing, though Enjolras would never admit that in front of anyone.

“He is your favourite director,” Joly said. “I think most of our friends know you like him.”

Grantaire ran his fingers over the cover, and then flipped it open to a page in the centre, reverently touching the pages.

“Jol, did you see how the note was signed?” Bossuet asked, handing it over to Joly.

Joly met Enjolras’ eyes for half a second before looking down at the page. Enjolras knew what it said but looked anyway. His eyes went straight to the last two words on the page, typed in simple Calibri (Body).

With love.

Enjolras wanted the ground to swallow him whole. Joly looked at Grantaire and said, “Wow.”

Grantaire was blushing again.

Enjolras lightly touched Joly’s knee and asked, “Joly, you don’t have any ibuprofen lying around do you? I’ve got a killer headache.”

“Oh, of course,” Joly said, handing back the note, looking worried as they got to their feet.

Enjolras smiled politely at Grantaire and followed Joly to the bathroom, where he found Joly rummaging through a box.

“Here they are,” Joly said, turning to face Enjolras, as Enjolras closed the bathroom door behind them.

“Joly, I don’t really have a headache,” Enjolras said. “Why doesn’t Grantaire know that you know who it is?”

Joly’s face dropped. “I told him I found it on my doorstep because I’m a terrible liar!” they whined. “And you! Why are you here, you dumbass! Neither of us are good enough actors for this!”

“I disagree, I’m doing amazingly,” Enjolras said, snootily.

“Oh, of course. ‘And there’s no clue? blah, blah, I love you, Grantaaaire, kiss me! Kiss me!’” Joly mimicked.

Enjolras shoved them. “Shut up! He’ll hear you!” he hissed at Joly.

Joly giggled, and put their hand over their mouth to stifle the sound. “Sorry,” they mumbled through their palm.

“You should be,” Enjolras said, even as a smile fought its way onto his face. “I should probably leave before he asks any more questions, though.”

The two made their way back out of the bathroom, and Enjolras sighed as quietly as he could at the sight of Grantaire hunched over the book, eyes scanning the page intently.

“I’m off,” he announced. “Um, good luck with… that,” he added, gesturing at the book when Grantaire looked up.

“Thanks,” Grantaire said. “I’m… I’m sure it’s nothing, really.”

Enjolras smiled and felt his face get hot as Grantaire grinned back, somewhat self-consciously. “See you around, R. Joly, Bossuet,” he then added, with a wave, “I’ll let myself out.”

“Feel better soon!” Bossuet called after him.

“What? Oh. Yeah, thanks,” Enjolras said, distractedly. He looked at Grantaire again, who was blushing again with his eyes fixed on the note. He stopped himself from saying goodbye again, just so Grantaire would look up at him another time. Instead, he smiled at Joly and slipped out the door.

Once outside, his heart rate sped up as it all started to sink in what had just happened. Oh, God, did he give anything away? Was it obvious to Bossuet? Joly wasn’t very subtle.

On his way back to his flat, he focused on breathing and not texting Grantaire. He thought of Grantaire’s pleased, embarrassed smile instead.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 5TH, FRIDAY

“Enjolras, will you sit still,” Combeferre said at last, and honestly, Enjolras was surprised he’d lasted that long. “What’s going on with you?”

Enjolras pouted and changed tabs on his laptop, trying to force himself to not change positions again. He didn’t answer Combeferre’s question, but instead muttered a quiet, “Sorry,” hoping Combeferre would drop it.

He felt Combeferre’s suspicious gaze on him, and out of the corner of his eye saw Combeferre put his pen down and close his notebook. Enjolras kept his eyes on the screen.

“Enjolras,” Combeferre said lightly. “Are you keeping a secret from me?”

“No,” Enjolras said quickly, still not looking up. He pulled some of his hair forwards, letting the curls hide his face as much as possible.

Courfeyrac flopped back into his seat, dumping a pile of magazines onto their table heavily. “Right, these are all the magazines they have that mention- What’s happening?” Courfeyrac interrupted himself. “Why are you,” he said with emphasis, “looking at him,” Enjolras just knew that Courfeyrac was pointing at the pair of them, “like that?”

“Enjolras is keeping a secret,” Combeferre said, matter-of-factly.

Courfeyrac clicked in front of Enjolras’ face. “Oi, look at us,” he said.

Reluctantly Enjolras lifted his head to awkwardly look at his friends’ faces. “Yes?” he asked.

“What’s going on?” Courfeyrac asked.

“Nothing,” Enjolras said. “I’m just restless.”

His phone buzzed twice on the table, loud vibrations rattling through the quiet room. Trying to act casual, Enjolras picked it up with ease and looked at the message.

Joly Hi darling, I’ve been with him all day. They got delivered about half an hour ago and he loves them. He’s painting them right now. He wouldn’t share the note with us, though. What did you say? He almost cried. x

Pleased, Enjolras put his phone back down, planning on replying later. He smiled at Courfeyrac and Combeferre. “Shall we get on?” he asked and tried to ignore the looks they both gave him.

“Right,” Combeferre said, and reopened his notebook.

Courfeyrac gave Combeferre a betrayed look, likely for giving up on prying the truth out of Enjolras so quickly. Enjolras, on the other hand, threw Combeferre a grateful look.

 

He called Joly later that night, when he was sat on the sofa, knees pulled up with his chin resting on them, and his favourite blanket pulled completely around himself.

“Hi, thanks for texting,” he said, when Joly picked up.

“No problem,” Joly said. “He was thrilled, Enj. He loves them.”

“I’m glad,” Enjolras said. “I sort of wish I could have been there.”

“He might catch on a little quicker if you’re there for every gift,” Joly quipped. “What did you say in that note, by the way? I’ve never seen him react like that before.”

Enjolras’ stomach flipped a little. “I said… It’s embarrassing. I said I’ve watched him buy flowers for everyone he’s ever dated and never get any in return and I thought… I thought everyone deserves to have flowers bought for them at least once in their life,” Enjolras said, flushing hot.

“Oh Enjolras…”

“I know,” Enjolras said.

“How are you going to… You’re already… Enjolras,” Joly ended up, meaninglessly, helplessly, saying.

“I know. Don’t worry about me. Is he happy?” Enjolras asked. “Like, are the presents making him happy.”

“Of course they are,” Joly said, laughing. “He’s gotten a book he’s wanted for ages and flowers with a romantic note attached. He’s over the moon, Enjolras. Still doesn’t quite believe it’s happening to him, or even that there’s real romantic intentions behind it, but he’s overjoyed by the presents.”

“And he doesn’t know it’s me?” Enjolras checked.

“Not at all,” Joly said, with certainty. “I doubt he’ll ever guess it’s you.”

“Oh? Right,” Enjolras said, heart sinking. He tried to at least be grateful that Grantaire wouldn’t corner him about his crush. “Has he got any guesses at all?” Enjolras asked, nervously.

“Well, to be honest, I’m not sure he’s thinking much about trying to figure it out, he’s still a little shocked that it’s happening at all,” Joly confessed with a light laugh. “You know how he is.”

“Yeah,” Enjolras said. “Joly, I’ve got to go. Got to get up early tomorrow, I’ll… see you before Monday, yeah? I’ll get you his next gift.”

“Are we having a meeting tomorrow?” Joly asked.

“No, not tomorrow. Like, five people are out of town. We’re going to meet up on Tuesday at eight, instead. Does that work for you, Bossuet, and Musichetta?” Enjolras checked.

“Uh, yeah I think so? Can you put it in the group chat?” Joly asked.

“Course,” Enjolras said. “Can I come round on Sunday to give you the next gift?”

“Sure,” Joly said.

Enjolras nibbled on the edge of his thumbnail, a heavy pause between them. “Well,” he said, after a moment.

“I’ll see you Sunday, Enjolras,” Joly said, to help Enjolras out.

“Right, see you Sunday,” Enjolras echoed. “Thanks again. I really appreciate this.”

“Don’t mention it,” Joly said.

Enjolras hung up a moment later, after they’d shared a quiet goodbye.

He sat for a while in peace on the sofa, looking at his phone and wanting to text Grantaire. Except they weren’t the sort to text each other without reason, so instead he turned on the television to watch the news for half an hour before deciding enough was enough and heading to bed.

It was a quiet, lonely night, and Enjolras felt – as he always did when darkness fell and there was no one else in the flat – that he wished he could tell Grantaire. Wished that Grantaire was there.

The thought of Grantaire lying beside him, perhaps holding him, was a dream – an unobtainable one, but a lovely one nonetheless.

Enjolras fell asleep alone but smiling, thinking of what Joly had told him, picturing Grantaire smiling at the flowers and immortalising them on canvas.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 9TH, TUESDAY

Grantaire was unusually quiet at the meeting and clutched between his hands was the newest present. There was a pensive look on Grantaire’s face, and he was visibly unaware of the discussion going on around him.

Enjolras tried his best to carry on as normal, but kept sneaking glances at Grantaire. The meeting kept going on and on; almost the whole group was animated and determined, full of passion and too excited to let the conversation peter out.

Eventually, Feuilly was the one to bring it to a close, attempting to quietly excuse himself from the group to go home and get some sleep before his early shift. With this attempt, the others all suddenly took notice of the time and their own respective jobs or obligations come morning.

An air of disappointment hung in the air, a frustration that they had to put important things on hold in order to make enough money to get by, or to study to get to where they could help more than they could where they were now. Enjolras touched Courfeyrac, who looked particularly down, gently on the back and said quietly, “Don’t worry. You and I can meet tomorrow after your classes, if you want.”

Courfeyrac managed to smile at him, and started picking up his belongings, pausing to stretch out his back and rub at his left shoulder, grimacing.

Enjolras’ attention was called away from his tired, weighed down friend, by Grantaire moving towards them.

“Courf, can I have a word?” Grantaire asked when he was near enough, eyes lingering on Courfeyrac’s face.

Enjolras’ gaze jumped to Courfeyrac, surprised, as Courfeyrac looked up too.

“Sure,” Courfeyrac said, giving up on trying to fit his laptop and notebooks into his bag. “What can I do for you?”

Grantaire’s eyes shot to Enjolras, and Enjolras took that as his cue to give them some privacy. “Right,” he said, quickly, moving away to go stand with Combeferre and Marius, and, trying to act like he wasn’t watching everything that was happening between Grantaire and Courfeyrac, started up a conversation about Marius’ classes.

“Oh, my God!” Courfeyrac yelled, and Enjolras’ head automatically turned in the direction of his friend’s voice in time to see Courfeyrac throw his arms around Grantaire in a violent, ecstatic hug.

“What’s that about?” Combeferre asked, lightly interested and amused by Courfeyrac’s antics.

“No idea,” Enjolras said, and turned back to the conversation with Marius.

“Hey, R!” Éponine yelled, bouncing over to Grantaire and Courfeyrac with Cosette happily trailing behind her. “What you got there?”

Enjolras took in a deep breath of frustration as Marius’ attention was utterly stolen away from the conversation as his three best friends were all a part of a different one. Combeferre grinned at Enjolras’ frustrated expression and followed Marius over to the group that was forming around Grantaire.

Enjolras decided to just give in, and he met up with Joly on their way over too.

They arrived in time for Marius to ask, loudly, “You have a secret admirer?”

Grantaire was blushing like mad, bright red and bashful, blotchy and terrible, but his pleased smile made him beautiful. “Uh, kinda? I guess?” Grantaire said, and his quiet embarrassed smile broke into a grin when all his friends started yelling happily and excitedly.

Combeferre slipped his hand into Enjolras’ and squeezed it. Enjolras looked at Combeferre, confused, and Combeferre gave him a smile in return but didn’t say anything.

Grantaire ducked out of Bahorel’s overly excited hug, ruffling a hand over his hair to try and settle it back down. His grin was a little crooked and he was still holding the book of poetry in his hand. Grantaire rolled his eyes at the excited faces of his friends.

“This is the third gift I’ve gotten, and supposedly it’s going to continue until Christmas,” Grantaire told them all. “I have no idea who it is, apparently it’s… a romantic thing, but… I don’t know.”

“The notes that come with them are all signed ‘With love’,” Joly saw fit to intercede, and Grantaire looked at them, betrayed.

“Love can be platonic!” Grantaire protested.

“They bought you an expensive book about your favourite director! And now a book of poems by Richard Siken! They said that they gave you flowers because you always give flowers to your partners and never get them back!” Joly cried.

Courfeyrac and a few others cooed loudly, while Grantaire burst into sounds of protest before abruptly coming to a stop. Grantaire squinted at Joly for a long minute while Enjolras’ heart thudded in his chest violently.

“I didn’t let you read that note,” Grantaire said, accusingly.

Joly’s jaw dropped open and they said, far too loudly, “Oh, shit.”

“How did you know that? Have you been going through my things?” Grantaire asked, looking hurt, pulling the poems to his stomach.

Combeferre squeezed Enjolras’ hand again. “We should go,” he murmured.

Enjolras pulled his hand away from Combeferre’s, wanting to say something to spare Joly, to make Grantaire feel better, but not knowing how to without giving himself away.

“Come on,” Combeferre said lowly, reaching out to touch Courfeyrac’s shoulder. “Does anyone need a lift home?” he asked, louder, startling a few people, but with his words, the others all started to gather themselves.

Over the sound of all of his friends awkwardly splitting off, Enjolras heard Grantaire say, “I can’t believe you read it. I didn’t want to share that,” and Joly reply, “R, I’m so sorry. I didn’t-”

“Enjolras, come on,” Combeferre repeated, gently touching his lower back and guiding him away from the group.

Cosette met Enjolras’ eyes and she gave him a worried look, but passed by him to whisper, “They’ll be fine.”

Enjolras managed a smile in response as he went to stop Courfeyrac from trying to force another notebook inside the already stuffed rucksack. “Let me take that,” he said, at last, taking the notebook off his friend. He felt dazed and worried but somehow managed to get out the door with Combeferre and Courfeyrac either side of him.

The three of them piled into Combeferre’s car in total silence, Enjolras in the passenger seat, though none of them moved to fasten their seatbelts.

“So, someone’s in love with Grantaire,” Courfeyrac said, after a while.

“Someone not Enjolras,” Combeferre commented.

“What?” Courfeyrac asked.

“I’m in love with Grantaire,” Enjolras said.

What?” Courfeyrac repeated.

“I’ve…” Enjolras said. “I’ve just got to make a call,” he decided on, and then handed Courfeyrac his notebook and got out the car.

He walked as far away from the car as he honestly thought he could, and then stopped. It took another two seconds to call Joly’s number and he thanked God that Joly picked up, within four rings.

“Tell him you know who it is,” Enjolras said immediately.

“Okay,” Joly replied, and hung up.

Enjolras stood there in the dark for a moment, phone still pressed to his ear, and then he went back to the car.

Inside, his best friends were patiently waiting for him, and he took Combeferre’s hand the second he was back in his seat.

“Sorry about that,” he said. “Just had to... I just needed a moment.”

“What are you going to do?” Courfeyrac asked, leaning forwards between the two seats to rest his chin on Enjolras’ shoulder.

Enjolras huffed a laugh. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Someone’s making moves on your man!” Courfeyrac said, pulling back a little to look at Enjolras properly. “Big moves.”

“He’s not my man,” Enjolras said, turning to look Courfeyrac in the face.

“He could be,” Courfeyrac pointed out.

“It’s not you, is it?” Combeferre asked, abruptly. He was examining Enjolras’ face intently.

“No,” Enjolras said, and dropped his head back against the headrest. “It’s not me.” He surprised himself with how true it sounded.

“No,” Combeferre said. “I didn’t think so. Not really your style, is it?”

Enjolras actually laughed that time. “Do I have a style when it comes to being in love with someone?”

Combeferre squeezed his hand, and Courfeyrac kissed his cheek.

“It’s going to be okay,” Courfeyrac says. “You’ll get your man. Screw whoever this other person is with their grand secret gestures. What a dumb idea that is. We’ll get you a new suit and a beautiful bouquet and you can take Grantaire to the botanical gardens and win his heart,” Courfeyrac decides.

“Thanks, Courf,” Enjolras said, quietly.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 12TH, FRIDAY

Grantaire texted Enjolras at 3:00 PM, and Enjolras stared at the text for five minutes before doing anything about it. Cautiously, he texted back, agreeing to meet for coffee.

When he showed up at the café, Grantaire was already there waiting for him, and Enjolras had a moment before Grantaire spotted him in which he could admire the way late afternoon sunlight through the window played off Grantaire’s skin, making him look warm and soft.

Then Grantaire noticed him, smile lighting up, the natural light turning Grantaire’s dark brown eyes golden. Enjolras blinked, and then smiled back, making his body move towards Grantaire’s table with confident strides.

Enjolras flopped down into the chair beside Grantaire’s, and dumped his bag on the floor. “Hi,” he said. “How are you?”

“Good, thanks!” Grantaire said. “You? How was your morning?”

“Uneventful,” Enjolras admitted. “Got trapped watching Planet Earth again.”

“As long as you’re taking time for yourself,” Grantaire said, with a knowing smile.

“Oh, I was working at the same time,” Enjolras said, a little shocked that Grantaire would think he’d put Planet Earth before, well, the real planet Earth.

“Of course you were,” Grantaire replied, and he sounded amused, but in a fond way. Enjolras discreetly looked Grantaire up and down, feeling a surge of affection for the man, and then quickly looked away. “Can I buy you a drink?” Grantaire asked. “Coffee? Tea? Spoil yourself and get hot chocolate?”

Enjolras laughed. “Tea sounds lovely. Oolong, if they have it and you really don’t mind buying.”

“No problem at all. Be right back,” Grantaire said.

As he passed Enjolras, his hand lightly touched Enjolras’ shoulder in a parting gesture, and as soon as it vanished, Enjolras’ own hand flew up, quite involuntarily, to touch the place it had been. He had to get a grip.

When Grantaire returned, before Enjolras could even blow on his tea to cool it down, Grantaire said, “So I have a favour to ask.”

Enjolras blinked, surprised. “Shoot,” he said, expectantly, wondering if maybe Grantaire was about to ask him to help discover who’s sending the presents.

“Heads up, it’s gonna sound… objectifying and weird,” Grantaire warned.

Enjolras narrowed his eyes. “Okay…” he said, slowly.

“I need someone hot to pretend to be my boyfriend,” Grantaire said, pulling an awkward face.

Enjolras’ face flooded with heat. “You want… me?”

Grantaire’s face went bright red. “You can say no! Obviously.” Grantaire leant forward in his seat, imploringly. “It’s just for the one night, and it’s so cliché, I know, but it’s for my high school reunion. I’ve got to go, I promised Bahorel I would, but I said I wouldn’t go if I couldn’t take a hot boyfriend, only… It’s tomorrow night and I’ve completely failed at attracting a hot boyfriend, quelle surprise.” Grantaire rolled his eyes at himself.

Enjolras felt his expression soften. He took a quick sip of his tea to hide his smile. “I can do it,” he said, when he’d controlled his face.

“Are you sure? I know it’s both weird and very late notice,” Grantaire said.

“No, really, I can do it,” Enjolras promised. “Do you want to pick me up, or…?”

“Well, Bahorel and her girl are giving me a lift, so why don’t you come to mine and we can all go in B’s car?” Grantaire suggested.

“Are we telling Bahorel it’s fake?” Enjolras asked, biting back a laugh.

Grantaire chuckled. “Well, since I’m sure Bahorel knows we’re not actually dating, we’ll have to. She’s a reasonably good actor, she’ll manage.”

Enjolras laughed out of surprise. “Is she?”

Grantaire grinned. “No idea,” he admitted.

God, Grantaire’s smile was wonderful. Enjolras took another sip of tea. “Is there a dress code?” he asked when he put his mug back down on the table. “Should I dress up?”

“Oh, please,” Grantaire said, eagerly, and then flushed bright red again. “I- I mean- A suit is good. Great, even.”

Enjolras smiled, flattered. “A suit it is,” he agreed. “Is that what you’re wearing?”

“Yeah, probably,” Grantaire said.

That was going to be… distracting, Enjolras acknowledged, but if his mission was to make Grantaire happy in the lead-up to Christmas, then here was a perfect chance. “Well, that’s sorted.” He shifted closer to Grantaire, attempting a coquettish smile. “Does this mean I get to hang off your arm all evening?”

Grantaire’s cheeks were just fading to their usual blotchy red all over again, but flared back up again as Enjolras got closer. “Uh, I- Yes? If you don’t mind? I guess that would be kind of the point?”

“Well, you can’t get all embarrassed if I lay on the charm,” Enjolras told him. “If you’re my boyfriend you’ve got to be ready for my best flirting.”

Grantaire cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. “I- I don’t believe I’ve seen you flirt before, Enj.”

“No, I don’t imagine you have,” Enjolras said, and his eyes flickered down to glance at Grantaire’s lips for a fraction of a heartbeat, before lifting to reinforce their eye contact.

Grantaire laughed softly and leaned back in his chair. “Careful,” he said. “You’ll get a boy’s hopes up.”

Enjolras laughed quietly too, while inside he was screaming ‘if only’.

“You can’t go falling in love with me, either,” Grantaire warns, teasingly.

Enjolras’ heart stuttered, and he replied, because it was the thing to say, “Won’t be a problem.” He supposed there wouldn’t be – no chance of falling if he was already in the middle of it.

Enjolras cleared his throat gently. “So, uh, have you had another present this week?” he asked.

Grantaire lit up before his eyes, and contentment settled throughout Enjolras that he was succeeding at making Grantaire happy. “Yes!” Grantaire said. “Joly brought it round yesterday. It’s actually so perfect – it’s a formal tie! I’ve been needing to smarten up for some clients, and this is so perfect. It goes with my suit so well and-” he broke off, and looked down at his drink, smiling. “And apparently the colour looks good on me,” he said, sheepishly.

“Yeah?” Enjolras asked, smiling to show Grantaire he didn’t need to be embarrassed.

“Well, my gift-giver thought it would bring out my eyes,” Grantaire said, rolling his eyes and trying to look like he wasn’t glowing at the compliment, “and Bahorel and Musichetta says they were right.”

“That’s excellent. Are you going to wear it tomorrow?” Enjolras asked, eager to see it.

“Oh! That’s a good idea, actually!” Grantaire said, and Enjolras wanted to laugh at the fact it hadn’t occurred to Grantaire.

“Sometimes I have those,” Enjolras said, fondness seeping into his tone.

Grantaire snorted. “Sometimes is a bit generous, isn’t it?” he asked, teasingly.

“Hey!” Enjolras said, indignant, causing Grantaire to snigger to himself. It would help if Enjolras wasn’t utterly enamoured with the man; as it was, he couldn’t stay mad at all. Enjolras just rolled his eyes at him and took a larger sip of his tea.

“You drink a lot of tea, don’t you?” Grantaire asked, curiously, fingers trailing around the rim of his own mug which contained coffee.

“I used to drink a lot of coffee,” Enjolras admitted, “and then I got very ill and had to stop.”

Grantaire’s eyebrows furrow. “I didn’t know you were ill,” he said.

“I’m okay now,” Enjolras promised, “but it wasn’t good. I had to stop. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, honestly. I had terrible migraines for weeks, constant cravings. I’d been drinking four to six cups of caffeinated coffee a day for years; I was so dependent on the stuff. I barely got any serious work done for about two months after I quit.”

“That sounds fucking awful,” Grantaire said, and Enjolras was a little relieved that Grantaire wasn’t making fun of him for making such a big deal out of stopping drinking coffee.

“Yeah,” Enjolras agreed. “I’ll have a cup every now and then, but I mostly stick to teas now. Less temptation to start up again.”

Grantaire nodded. “I’m the same way with alcohol,” he said, maintaining eye contact, and Enjolras was so proud of the way Grantaire spoke about his addiction those days. “I’ll have a beer with friends sometimes, but never more than one, and it’s better if I don’t, really.”

“I wouldn’t want to compare-” Enjolras started, embarrassed, but Grantaire cut him off.

“No, it’s okay,” he said. “It’s different, obviously, but it’s still addiction, it’s still something you did more than you should because you couldn’t help it, and then had to stop for health reasons. It’s not that different, really.”

Enjolras smiled at him, sadly. “Thanks,” he said.

“Not a problem,” Grantaire said. “I’ve actually got to get going,” he then added.

“Oh,” Enjolras said, and glanced down at his still half-full mug of tea. “Um-”

“No, it’s okay. Stay and finish your tea. I’ll see you tomorrow? At my place?” Grantaire checked.

“Yes! Yes, I’ll be there,” Enjolras confirmed, feeling a little flustered at how abruptly Grantaire was leaving. He’d been enjoying sitting there alone with him.

“Perfect,” Grantaire said, and swooped in to plant a kiss on Enjolras’ cheek. “À tout à l'heure!” he threw in, clearly for Enjolras’ benefit, since Grantaire didn’t speak French and his accent was atrocious, and Enjolras felt his heart set on fire with love for the man.

“À bientôt,” Enjolras replied, and laughed when Grantaire clearly didn’t know what he’d said. “See you soon,” he translated.

“Oh,” Grantaire said, and laughed. “Yes. À bien-thingy,” he said, and gave a little wave before quickly heading out of the café, leaving Enjolras chuckling behind.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 13TH, SATURDAY

Bahorel had been laughing for almost two minutes and was showing no signs of stopping. Her girlfriend stood beside her, and she wasn’t laughing at the situation, but she kept looking at Bahorel laughing and breaking into laughter too.

Enjolras stood beside Grantaire, both wearing matching unimpressed looks directed at their friend.

Bahorel pulled herself together for a moment, and then broke again. “This is amazing,” she told them. “I’m truly amazed by this plan you’ve come up with. How did this happen? Did R ask, or was R complaining and you offered, Enj?”

Enjolras raised an eyebrow. “Grantaire asked me, and I said yes.”

“Defending the decision to go to a reunion with him, or accepting his marriage proposal?” Bahorel’s girlfriend, Marie, asked.  

“Ha! Nice one,” Bahorel crowed, and high-fived her.

Enjolras flushed hot at the joke, keeping his back straight and his eyes fixed on Bahorel, doing his best to keep looking unimpressed.

“We’re going to be late,” Grantaire said, sharply turning away.

“I’m sure,” Bahorel said, loudly.

As they left the flat, Enjolras pulled his confidence together and slipped his hand into Grantaire’s, flashing him a smile when Grantaire looked at him, surprised. Enjolras bumped his side up against Grantaire, happening to allow their faces to come intimately close. “We got this,” he promised.  

 

They arrived a little early for the reunion party and decided to go to check in on the pizza place Bahorel and Grantaire used to sneak off to during lunch period. Sitting around the disturbingly sticky table in all their finery, sharing a 14” vegetable pizza, Enjolras felt a closeness to Grantaire’s youth.

“I know nothing about your childhood,” Enjolras said aloud, abruptly.

“You don’t?” Grantaire asked, looking up from where he’d been picking the olives off Bahorel’s slice and arranging them on his own slice of pizza.

“No,” Enjolras said. “I… What did you do for A Levels?”

Grantaire took a bite of pizza and slowly chewed, eyeing Enjolras up. After he’d swallowed, he said, “No one’s going to ask you that, you know?”

“No… I know. I’m just interested,” Enjolras said.

“More likely to ask how you two got together,” Bahorel inputted with a sly grin. “What is the going story, by the way?” she asked as she quickly stole the slice her girlfriend was reaching for, earning a slap on the arm.

“Disgusting,” Grantaire told the pair of them, watching Bahorel respond by feeding Marie the slice.

Bahorel winked at him.

“No story in particular,” Enjolras informed Bahorel. “Just… Grantaire and I work together in Les Amis de l’ABC, and after ending up spending more and more time together just… fell into it.”

“Romantic,” Bahorel commented, “and, some might say, almost a bit… true to life?”

How?” Grantaire asked, incredulously. “Sorry, I seem to have missed the part where Enjolras and I are engaged in an on-going romance.”

“Have you?” Marie asked, picking up her glass of coke and taking a leisurely sip. “Shocking.”

Grantaire rolled his eyes at her and turned back to Enjolras. “Art, English literature, and Spanish,” he told Enjolras. “And I got a C and two Ds.”

Enjolras opened his mouth to say something encouraging, but quickly stopped himself. “Well,” he settled on. “It’s over now.”

Grantaire grinned at him. “Thank God,” he said.

“What do you want me to be telling people tonight, by the way?” Enjolras asked, as it occurred to him. “Do you want me to say I’m a model, or something?”

Grantaire looked surprised. “What? No, oh, my God, talk away about your social justice all you want, darling,” he insisted.

Enjolras’ heart skipped, and he smiled widely. “Are you sure?”

“Enjolras, I have literally asked you here to be a beautiful man on my arm, I’m not gonna stop you spreading the good word, and all that,” Grantaire said, laughing and leaning in to gently touch his arm.

Where Grantaire’s hand landed, Enjolras felt warmth spread upwards through his skin. He leant into the touch. “Are you going to fight me on everything I say, though?” he asked, smiling to show he was only teasing.

“Depends,” Grantaire replied.  

Enjolras barked a laugh. “Ha! On what?” he asked.

“On the overall level of utter naivety to what you say,” Grantaire informed him, which was so like him, and Enjolras was utterly in love with him.

Enjolras chuckled. “I know you don’t really think I’m naïve.”

“Do you?” Grantaire asked, looking surprised. “That’s quite incredible considering I do think you’re naïve. No, I know you are,” he told Enjolras, grinning slyly.

Enjolras rolled his eyes at him. “So you’re not going to be nice to the man you adore in front of your old school friends?”

“I’m not nice to you in front of our current friends,” Grantaire quipped, and then tilted his head on its side, eyeing Enjolras intently.

His words hung heavily between them, and Enjolras looked straight back, unflinching, trying to decide whether to call Grantaire on it or not.

“Sweet,” Enjolras said, eventually. “You’ve got that smooth-talking down.”

Grantaire smiled and then winked at him. “Can’t have people thinking I don’t treat you right,” he said.

“They might try to steal me away,” Enjolras replied.

They both jumped sharply as Bahorel punched Grantaire on the arm. “Oi, we gotta get moving,” she barked at them. “Quit flirting, you can do that all night.”

Grantaire flushed red, and Enjolras’ own face felt hot, but it was hard to tell her off when that was exactly what they had been doing. Which was crazy to think. Fully aware Grantaire had been joking, Enjolras tried to put it out of his mind, but to have Grantaire flirt at him directly, to be faced with those eyes turned dark and teasing with intent… it was a heady thing.

As they walked to the school, Grantaire slipped his hand into Enjolras’, and they made the picture of a comfortable couple.

From there, it became it became a mad rush of Grantaire meeting people, introducing Enjolras as his boyfriend, and Enjolras fielding questions, but throughout the whole night, Enjolras had Grantaire to hold onto, revelling in the warmth of Grantaire’s company, almost glowing the rare few times Grantaire kissed his cheek.

For a while, Grantaire kept his hand pressed lightly to Enjolras’ lower back, occasionally drifting across to carefully cup his waist, pulling Enjolras a little closer every time. Enjolras thought he might die from how much he loved having Grantaire’s hands on him. He knew already he’d be thinking about the way it felt when he lay in bed later that night.

By the time the night came to a close, Enjolras had spoken so much about Les Amis that he was considering crashing all of his friends’ reunions from that moment onwards. His feet ached from standing most of the evening, but he’d gotten used to holding onto Grantaire’s arm and was trying to only be a little sad that he wouldn’t have an excuse for much longer.

As they left the building, Grantaire’s arm slipped around Enjolras’ waist, all the way, and he leant in to quietly say, “Thank you.”

Enjolras contented himself with smiling at Grantaire, though their faces were close enough to kiss. “My pleasure,” he said.

They sat in the back of the car together, Bahorel driving, and Marie drunkenly giggling and chattering away in the passenger seat, having taken full advantage of the open bar.

Enjolras spent most of the journey looking out the window, watching the street lights pass by in the night, as the car got steadily quieter. It was peaceful, the radio quietly playing late-night music, and Marie drifting off into a post-drinking sleep.

From the front, Bahorel quietly said, “Just going to pull into this ASDA.”

Enjolras looked up, and then round at Grantaire surprised to find him asleep, too. “Should I wake Grantaire?” Enjolras asked.

Bahorel looked up at Enjolras in the rear-view mirror. “Nah, let him sleep. I’ll buy him a sandwich in case he wakes up later.”

Enjolras leant his head back against the headrest, and found himself looking at Grantaire again. He looked peaceful, soft in the dim orange light of the streetlamps they passed, and as Bahorel pulled into the car park, Enjolras found himself fighting the urge to reach out and brush Grantaire’s hair back off his face.

He got out the car with Bahorel and casually put an arm around her shoulders as they walked towards the supermarket together.

Inside, with the electric light and the cold regulated air, they moved quickly to the bathrooms and then on to the meal deals, arguing amiably over what the best options were. Bahorel sang along quietly to the song playing over the sound system as they made their way to the self-checkout, and Enjolras insisted on paying since Bahorel was driving.

Finally, as they were heading back out the doors, Bahorel spoke up. “So, you like Grantaire, huh?” she asked.

Enjolras groaned.

“So that’s a yes,” Bahorel commented, smirking at him. “For what it’s worth, I think you’d be good for him.”

Despite what Enjolras’ would have liked, he felt a pleased flush run through his body. He resisted the temptation to ask, “Really?” in a stupidly hopeful tone. Instead, he shoved Bahorel lightly and said, “Shut up.”

“Hey, man,” Bahorel said.

“What?” Enjolras asked, expecting more teasing.

Instead, Bahorel said, “I love you.”

Enjolras stopped in his tracks and looked at his friend. “I love you, too,” he said, touched, and then quickly stepped in to hug her tightly.

“Come on, let’s get going,” Bahorel said, after pressing a kiss to Enjolras’ temple.

Back in the car, Grantaire had woken up, and was stretching sleepily. “What you get me?” he asked as Enjolras put his seatbelt back on.

Enjolras smiled to himself at Grantaire’s sleep-rough voice, and handed over a packaged sandwich. “Enjoy,” he said.

“Legend,” Grantaire replied, sleepily rubbing his eyes.

Something in Enjolras’ chest tugged downwards as he fondly watched Grantaire rip into the box with tired, dropping eyelids.

Grantaire’s eyes flicked his way. He paused midway taking the sandwich out the box. “What?” he asked.

Enjolras blinked. “What?” he replied, startled.

“You want some?” Grantaire asked, half-offering him the sandwich. “You’re looking at me like- Well. Somewhat intently.”

“Sorry,” Enjolras said. His skin felt hot and itchy, and he quickly looked away from Grantaire, accidentally catching the eyes of Bahorel, glancing at him in the rear-view mirror, eyebrows raised.

“It’s ok,” Grantaire said, and then bit into his sandwich.

Enjolras stared forwards determinedly for a long moment, and then, even though the car was in motion, unbuckled his seatbelt, slid into the middle seat, and fasted himself in there, resting his head on Grantaire’s shoulder. He could feel Grantaire’s momentary complete and utter stillness, and then Grantaire resumed his eating and the tension faded.

By the time Grantaire had finished eating, they were well on their way again, and Enjolras’ eyes were blinking slowly, his body sleepy and warm. Grantaire’s right hand came to rest on the inside of Enjolras’ left knee, thumb rubbing back and forth gently a couple of times before stilling, and Enjolras’ whole body wanted nothing more than to curl all the way up into Grantaire’s side, to throw his legs over Grantaire’s and get as close as he could.

He satisfied himself with closing his eyes and rocking his head inwards so the side of his face rested on Grantaire’s shoulder fully, breathing in deeply as he settled. Grantaire’s head came to rest gently against his own, and as Enjolras drifted off, it felt like Grantaire lightly kissed his hair.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 16TH, TUESDAY

Enjolras hadn’t seen Grantaire since the reunion.  

When the car had pulled up at Enjolras’ place, Grantaire had shaken him awake carefully, and Enjolras had stumbled out the car, muttering a thanks to Bahorel for the lift, but not thinking about much else but his bed waiting for him.

He’d slept most of Sunday morning, too, and spent Sunday afternoon and the following Monday catching up on work he didn’t do on Saturday. As such, Tuesday rocked around, and Enjolras had a present to deliver without having seen Grantaire since he fell asleep cuddled against his side.

“So, what do you have for me today?” Joly asked, expectantly, when the two of them met in the park.

“Cheese,” Enjolras said, awkwardly, and handed over the ridiculous basket he’d been carrying all the way from his flat.

“Dear God, is this a cheese selection?” Joly asked, taking the gift.

“Grantaire likes cheese,” Enjolras said.

“Well, you’re not wrong,” Joly replied.

A busy day ahead of him, Enjolras quickly said goodbye to Joly not long later, and went onwards. He threw himself into work, engaging himself in a convoluted series of communications with various members of activist groups they were aligned with, attempting to organise and grow. It was difficult work, because though everyone wanted to connect and expand and increase their reach, every group had their own agenda and timetable – his included – and it wasn’t always possible to work as one.

When he finally took a break, going in search of coffee, just this once, or painkillers or both, he found a text from Grantaire in the group chat on his personal phone as he collapsed onto the sofa, stretching out his limbs one-by-one.

Grantaire cheese and wine tasting at mine tonight for everyone who’s free

Enjolras laughed – it was so like Grantaire, and Enjolras loved Grantaire’s sharing nature more than anything in the world. Any excuse to get the group together and Grantaire would find it. Below Grantaire’s text were responses from some of the group, most notably the ones from Joly and Feuilly saying they couldn’t make it. Grantaire had replied with a heart-break emoji, and then asked if they wanted to do it tomorrow night instead. The idea had been cut down kindly, and the chat had gone silent.

Quickly typing out a message, Enjolras happily accepted the invitation, and then looked at the time that the previous messages were sent versus the time then, and startled. There was a five hour time gap. He sent another message.

Enjolras Sorry for replying so late! Lost track of time!

Pulling himself up off the sofa, groaning and arching his back backwards to crack it and relieve some discomfort. He’d kill for a massage. Or simply pay Bahorel for one.

While it was on his mind, he sent a private text to Bahorel, asking when she was free for an appointment, and as he did, Grantaire replied to his group text.

Grantaire were you working all that time? dude you better not do anything more today.

Enjolras smiled, but thought ruefully of all the things he could still get done today if he put his mind to it. A private text came through then, and Enjolras’ heart leapt pathetically at the message.

Grantaire want to come round and help me set up for the tasting?

Embarrassingly fast, Enjolras replied.

Enjolras I’d love to! I’ll pick up some food on the way too because I haven’t eaten yet. Do you want anything?

Grantaire whatever youre having works for me cheers x

Enjolras sent the ‘ok’ emoji in response and put his phone away to freak out over the kiss. It was probably nothing – definitely nothing. Grantaire threw out heart emojis all the time. A kiss was nothing. Regularly Grantaire told members of the group that he loved them, adored them, would die for them. A kiss on the end of a friendly text was nothing.

But then, as far as Enjolras knew Grantaire hadn’t invited anyone else round hours before the get-together. The blood in his veins felt hotter than it should be, and he pressed a hand to his chest and breathed deeply.

Then he leapt into action and headed for the shower.

 

Less than an hour later, Enjolras walked up the steps into Grantaire’s apartment building, carrying a cardboard box with Tupperwares of take-away salad and a small box of vegan carrot-cake muffins from Grantaire’s favourite vegetarian/vegan café.

Grantaire let him into the flat looking happy and excited. “Wait til you see the cheese I got today,” he said immediately. “Look, look, look!”

He grabbed Enjolras by the shoulders and steered him into the living room from behind. On the coffee table were the five cheeses Enjolras had bought for Grantaire – he’d had a good time shopping for them, visiting a few farmer’s markets and small boutiques looking for interesting flavours and locally sourced cheeses. He’d met multiple interesting people, and tasted a hectic amount of cheese throughout the day.

“Wow,” Enjolras said. “And how much wine have you bought to go with these?”

“Five different wines, one to go with each cheese,” Grantaire replied. “And I decided to splash out and get two bottles of each wine so everyone definitely gets to try the wine.”

“Can I give you some money for the wine?” Enjolras asked, putting the salad down on the floor by the coffee table and going for his wallet.

“No! No, absolutely not. This is my treat,” Grantaire insisted. “Well, it’s my secret admirer’s treat really. Oh. Is it one of the group, do you think?” Grantaire said suddenly, as if it really hadn’t occurred to him before them that it could be.

“Could be, I guess,” Enjolras said, and started pulling off his jacket.

“Shall I put the kettle on?” Grantaire asked.

“Oh, I’d love a tea, thanks,” Enjolras said, gratefully.

Grantaire started making drinks for the both of them while Enjolras found plates and knives and forks in the cupboard and set the table.

Before long, they were sat at Grantaire’s aged dining table. A stretch of wood that had hosted dinner parties, board game nights, Les Amis meetings, and more, it was a table with history displayed in mug rings, wine stains, and scratches – even a burn from the time Combeferre knocked over a candle.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time together recently,” Grantaire observed, before shovelling a forkful of salad into his mouth.

Enjolras acted like he hadn’t noticed, and said, “I guess we have.” He toyed with some lettuce in his box and said, “I like it.”

Grantaire smiled at him across the table, and Enjolras grinned back, sheepishly.

“Me too,” Grantaire said, seriously. “I’m… I’m glad we’re friends, Enjolras.”

Enjolras felt his smile falter for a second before he caught it and beamed back at Grantaire. “I’m glad we’re friends, too, Grantaire,” Enjolras replied. “We’ve got a fantastic group, haven’t we?”

“We do,” Grantaire said. “We’re very lucky people.”

Enjolras felt that luck in that moment.

“I never thought I’d have such a strong group of friends,” Grantaire said, a little too quickly. It was an uncomfortable confession, and Grantaire looked visibly embarrassed by what he’d said. His gaze was fixed on his salad, and Enjolras considered standing up and walking around to him and holding him.

Instead, Enjolras said, “Why not?”

“I grew up speaking Turkish and Arabic, and when I got here I barely spoke English. I was a weird, quiet, brown kid that never knew what was going on. I couldn’t understand English classes and I was utterly useless in maths and science, all I could do was draw silently in the corner,” Grantaire said. “I didn’t have friends as a kid.”

Enjolras watched Grantaire avoid eye-contact, and finally gave into the urge. He pushed his chair back so abruptly that Grantaire jumped, and before Grantaire had realised what was happening, Enjolras had rounded the table and thrown his arms around Grantaire in the tightest hug he could muster.

“I didn’t know that,” Enjolras muttered into Grantaire’s shoulder.

“Not like it’s an uncommon story,” Grantaire replied, in a self-deprecating tone. “Plenty of other immigrant kids get along fine.”

Enjolras pulled back to look at Grantaire. “And a lot don’t. It’s not easy. I’m glad you have us now.”

Grantaire laughed softly. “Come on, I’m almost thirty. I’ve had a lot more years of friendship than I had without.”

Enjolras hugged him again. “You can still be sad about those lost years.”

Grantaire gently pushed him a little, laughing softly so Enjolras knew he wasn’t upset, but with just enough force that Enjolras knew to let go. Enjolras patted Grantaire’s knee lightly, comfortingly, and then went back to his chair.

They shared a look and Enjolras felt that familiar surge of hope rise through him.

The late afternoon passed with conversation that came easily to the both of them, the pair loosing track of time and feeling pulled ever closer to each other when they moved to the sofa, a longing for this domesticity settling deep in Enjolras’ stomach, his love for Grantaire threatening to spill over at any moment. A sense of timelessness settled over the flat as early evening sunlight started to filter in through the window, such that before they knew it, the buzzer for the apartment rang.

Enjolras jolted to reality, grabbing his phone to check the time, and the pair of them looked around at the room, realising they hadn’t set up at all for the tasting – their plates from their late lunch still sat on the table unwashed.

“Oops,” Grantaire said, lazily stretching and grinning at Enjolras with little shame.

“I’ll clear the table, you go let whoever that is in,” Enjolras said, laughing, and dragged himself up from the table, mourning the loss of heat where their legs had been touching for at least the past two hours.

For a moment, Enjolras keenly felt the ache of their shared space being intruded on as he carried the plates to the sink, but as soon as he heard Jehan’s voice greeting Grantaire at the door, excitement at seeing his friends took over again. He returned to collect the mugs from the table too, and found Jehan, Courfeyrac, and Cosette gathered in the living room, all three pairs of eyes surreptitiously watching him while they chatted to Grantaire.

Courfeyrac followed Enjolras through to the kitchen, and Enjolras said, “Hey,” and then chose to wait to see what Courfeyrac had to say, starting washing the plates under a stream of hot water.

“What plates are you washing?” Courfeyrac asked. “Early dinner?”

“Uh, no. These are from lunch,” Enjolras said, putting the first plate on the rack to dry.

Courfeyrac picked up the towel from the side and moved to Enjolras’ left, picking up the plate and starting to dry it. “You’ve been here a while,” he observed, clearly hoping Enjolras would provide some information, only lightly prying.

Enjolras wanted to roll his eyes. “Yes,” he said.

“Dear God, this is like drawing blood from a stone,” Courfeyrac laughed. “Why are you so tight-lipped?”

“Nothing happened,” Enjolras said, lowering his voice and glancing at the kitchen doorway, which stood open. “We just talked.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt that,” Courfeyrac said. “But that’s a lot of talking. You’ve been spending a lot of time together, haven’t you?”

Enjolras wiped at the plate a little more forcefully. “Sure have,” he agreed. He sighed. “Can you just leave it? I know I’m an idiot.”

“Hey,” Courfeyrac said gently, putting down his towel. “We don’t talk like that. You’re wonderful. You’re just… in love.”

“Wish I wasn’t,” Enjolras said, and handed Courfeyrac the plate.

“All cleared up?” Grantaire’s loud voice interrupted the moment, making Courfeyrac jump and almost drop the plate. “Oops, sorry.”

Courfeyrac laughed. “No worries.” He looked at Enjolras slyly. “We’ve just been talking about Enjolras.”

“Is that so?” Grantaire asked, smiling. “Enj, will you help me grab wine glasses from that cupboard there?” he asked, pointed at a cupboard to Enjolras’ left.

“Sure,” Enjolras said, stealing the towel off Courfeyrac to dry his hands and help out. “Do we know how many are coming?” he asked, pulling down two wine glasses and handing them off to Grantaire.

“No,” Grantaire said with a laugh. “Since when do our lot check in? Get all the glasses down, we’ll see what we use.”

Enjolras shot him an amused look and reached up for two more glasses.

“Besides,” Grantaire said, taking them off him, balancing the four glasses in his hands and carrying them through to the dining room, raising his voice, “what’s the point in my having a million wine glasses if I don’t use them all at once?”

“Why do you have so many?” Cosette asked, curiously, taking the next pair of glasses off Enjolras. She didn’t wait for more, deciding to only attempt two at a time.

“Gifts, buying them on a whim, inheritance off my– my büyükanne – my Grandma,” he added at the inquisitive look Cosette threw him. “I guess I just collected them over time, like Joly and their mugs.”

“Can this be my glass?” Cosette asked, holding up the stained glass one.

Grantaire shrugged. “Go for it,” he said, amused.

The loud sounds of Jehan letting in more of their friends distracted Grantaire, and Enjolras watched him disappear through to the other room, to which Courfeyrac said, “Well. If you ever need to talk-”

“I know,” Enjolras interrupted.

The two of them got down more wine glasses and joined the others, and Enjolras let Bahorel enthusiastically kiss him on either cheek in greeting before he put down the glasses he was holding. Combeferre appeared at his side as Enjolras set them out, and quietly murmured a hello.

Enjolras turned and hugged Combeferre warmly and said, “Don’t listen to anything Courfeyrac tells you.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” his friend replied, bemused.

“I’m sure,” Enjolras answered, rolling his eyes in amusement.

The group of friends were loud and enthusiastic about the wine and cheese and evening of socialising that awaited them, and Enjolras adored them.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 18TH, THURSDAY

Enjolras was surprised to see him when Grantaire showed up in the square. He was wrapped up in a thick woollen jumper, a scarf, and a woollen hat with a bobble on the top. Slung over his shoulder, he carried his rucksack, which he dumped onto their table in order to hug Feuilly hello.

Enjolras smiled at him, and gave him a small wave when Grantaire turned to say hello to him.

“You’re all going to love me,” Grantaire said, grabbing his back and zipping it open. Things inside the bag clanked together as he rooted through it, pulling out everything he had in there. After piling up a ton of scarves and hats, he pointed at them and told them all to help themselves if they’re cold, and then he went back to his bag and pulled out two giant flasks. “I’ve brought coffee,” he said, grinning.

Bossuet cheered loudly, and threw an arm around Grantaire’s neck, kissing him enthusiastically on the cheek.

“And cups!” Grantaire added, setting the flasks down and reaching into his bag, pulling out seven metal mugs with what looked like hand-knitted sleeves on them. “Who wants?”

Me,” Courfeyrac said emphatically, throwing down his leaflets on the table and holding out his hands for a mug.

Enjolras smiled and turned away from the group to cover leafletting while they all crowded around Grantaire for coffee. He stepped towards two men walking together and tried to give them a leaflet, which they sidestepped neatly without looking at him. Enjolras rolled his eyes at their backs and turned back to the table.

Quietly, he helped himself to one of the scarves Grantaire had brought, a soft blue one he was sure he’d seen Grantaire wear before. He watched Jehan talking to a group of older teenagers a little way away, and smiled as they all enthusiastically signed Jehan’s sheet and started rooting through their bags for some money, all taking leaflets too.

“Tea?” Grantaire said from beside Enjolras, making him jump.

He laughed, softly. “Made me jump,” he said, and Grantaire laughed, too.

Grantaire held up the mug he was holding, raising his eyebrows over the question Enjolras missed.

“Oh! I don’t drink coffee, really,” Enjolras said.

Grantaire smiled and held up the flask he was holding in his other hand, which was much smaller than the other two from a minute ago. “I brought you oolong tea,” he said.

“You did? Oh, thank you! Yes, please!” Enjolras said, accepting the mug and holding it out for Grantaire to pour the tea into. As soon as Grantaire finished pouring, Enjolras lifted it to his lips and blew on it before taking a cautious sip. He hummed his approval of the taste. “Wow, thank you.”

“It’s pretty cold out today,” Grantaire said, “I thought you could use a hot drink.” He tugged lightly at the end of Enjolras’ scarf. “And a fluffy scarf,” he added, smiling down at Enjolras.

“Well, you were right,” Enjolras said. He shifted his weight and glanced at the leaflets he was holding in his free hand. “Are you sticking around to help?”

“I can’t,” Grantaire said, looking a little embarrassed. “I’ve got to be at Éponine’s in half an hour. She’s got a job interview and I need to look after the boys for her.”

“Oh,” Enjolras said. “Well, that’s good of you. Tell her good luck from me.”

“Course,” Grantaire said. He lightly touched Enjolras’ arm, and said, “Tell you what, I’ll help out the whole day next time you do this.”

Enjolras grinned. “You know I’m going to hold you to that, right?”

“You can try,” Grantaire replied. “I gotta get going. Good luck with all this.”

Enjolras rocked forwards almost unconsciously, almost leaning in to kiss Grantaire on the cheek before he left. “Thanks,” he said, sharply, trying to recover from the way he’d leant in a little. “Good luck with the kids.”

Grinning, Grantaire said, “Oh, I’ll be fine. They love me.” He waved at Jehan across the way, and then smiled at Enjolras. “See you.”

Enjolras watched him go over to Joly and Bossuet to say goodbye, and saw Joly pull the present that Enjolras had wrapped the other day out of his bag. Enjolras looked away sharply, and stepped towards Combeferre and Courfeyrac, hoping they would start up a conversation in order to distract him.

As Grantaire left the group, leaving his bag and flasks and scarves and other items behind for them all, Enjolras looked after him and saw him holding the new present in his hand. Grantaire glanced back in his direction, and lifted a hand in a goodbye wave when he realised Enjolras was watching him.

Enjolras managed a smile and held up a hand, echoing Grantaire’s movement. When Grantaire turned away again, Enjolras went back to drinking his tea and watching his friends do what they were good at – connecting with strangers, sharing information, getting people to listen and act.

Joly’s arm slipped around Enjolras back for a second, to let him know they were there. “Portable phone charger,” they said, conversationally.

Enjolras turned and raised his eyebrows at Joly.

Joly’s eyes slid to Combeferre at Enjolras’ side, and then back to Enjolras. “That’s what Grantaire’s gift was today,” they said with a smile. “Useful. Thoughtful. His phone’s always dying.”

“I need someone to start buying me stuff,” Courfeyrac said, coming up behind Joly and draping himself all over them. “My phone dies too, you know.”

“Get someone to fall in love with you, then,” Joly said, turning their head to try and see Courfeyrac.

Courfeyrac bopped Joly on the nose in response and said, “Everyone’s in love with me.”

“And yet here you are… Present-less,” Joly said, acting heartbroken.

Courfeyrac hit them over the back of the head and went to go join Bahorel.

Joly looked back at Enjolras and smiled. “I’m glad I’m friends with someone like you, Enjolras.”

Enjolras smiled back at them. “Me too, Joly. Is everything okay with you and Grantaire, though? Has he said anything about you knowing who’s giving him the gifts?”

Joly looked surprised. “No, has he said something to you?” they asked.

Enjolras didn’t hesitate before saying, “Nothing. I just… I wouldn’t want to come between the two of you. You’re his best friend.”

“You couldn’t come between us if you tried,” Joly informed him.

“Good,” Enjolras said. “I was just thinking about that night where you told him you know who it is. He was upset, and I was worried he might be upset with you for being a part of this.”

“We’re good,” Joly promised. “He’s not even trying to guess who you are. You’re safe.”

Enjolras smiled. “If I haven’t said it enough already, thank you for agreeing to this. You don’t know what it means to me, seeing him happy over these things.”

“I have some idea,” Joly said, and they directed a fond smile down at the ground for a second. They looked back at Enjolras. “I hope it shows him how loved he is.”

“Me too,” Enjolras replied, and drank some more of his tea.

“I’m going to go help Bossuet,” Joly said, looking over at their partner.

“Alright,” Enjolras said, thinking that he himself should get back to work, really. Instead, after Joly had walked away, he took another minute or two to just watch his friends work, and to enjoy the drink that Grantaire had brought him especially, warmed by love and oolong tea.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 26TH, FRIDAY

Grantaire was the first thing Enjolras saw when he walked into the Musain, head thrown back in laughter, glitter all over his face. All along his bicep were stick-on tattoos and Enjolras walked over to the group, eyes following the line of Grantaire’s muscle, pleased to see the delight on Grantaire’s face in response to that day’s gift.

“Enjolras!” Joly cried, and Enjolras looked over at them to see them waving a paintbrush around. “Come here and let me paint the Senegalese flag on your forehead.”

Enjolras laughed and looked around the group, taking in Marius with the French flag on both his cheeks, Éponine with the lesbian flag on one cheek, Bossuet with a four-leaf clover across his bald head, Cosette with…

“Cosette, what’s that on your face?” Enjolras asked, frowning, going over and taking off his jacket as he went.

Cosette burst into peals of laughter. “It’s supposed to be a bluebird,” she explained, “but Joly lacks artistic ability.”

Enjolras laughed too, and Joly didn’t look the slightest bit abashed. “Alright,” Enjolras said, and went to sit beside Joly. “Do the flag of Senegal, but do something else as well. Like, I don’t know…”

“Love hearts,” Combeferre said.

“Flowers!” Cosette cried.

“Recreate Monet,” Bossuet said, seriously.

Joly pondered Enjolras’ face, seriously. “Can I redo your freckles with different colours?”

Enjolras shrugged. “If you want,” he said, and his eyes flickered over to Grantaire, and he found himself making direct eye-contact with the other man. The glitter dusting on Grantaire’s skin was captivating, and Enjolras couldn’t help but flash Grantaire a smile.

Grantaire flushed and smiled back, and turned back to Bahorel, laughing slightly. Bahorel had a stick-on tattoo of a rainbow across her forehead and her girlfriend, Marie, sitting in her lap, tipsy and giggling. Her hands were wrapped around a mostly-empty pint of beer, and as Enjolras watched, Grantaire snatched it off her and swigged it down while Marie yelled in light-hearted protest.

Enjolras turned back to Joly as Joly advanced towards him with green paint on a brush. “Oh!” he said, surprised, and then held as still as he could to let Joly have their way. He exchanged a fond amused look with Musichetta as Joly inched even closer to paint, tongue poking out in concentration.

“Wait, I’ve forgotten what colour’s next to the green,” Joly said.

“Yellow,” Enjolras said, rolling his eyes.

“Right, and then the red,” Joly said, grinning and dropping the paintbrush into the glass of water.

“Jol, pass us that spare brush,” Grantaire said suddenly from directly behind Enjolras, making him jump.

Bossuet reached around Joly, who was distracted painting Enjolras’ cheek, and grabbed the other brush for Grantaire.

“Shift over,” Grantaire muttered to Musichetta, and Enjolras watched as the two made intense eye-contact before she gave up her seat for Grantaire. “Give us your arm,” he said to Enjolras, and Enjolras obediently put his arm out on the table in front of Grantaire.

Grantaire’s hand hesitated for a second, and then he carefully settled his right hand on Enjolras’ skin, dipping the brush into the white paint and starting to paint a thin line up from Enjolras’ wrist along his inner forearm.

Grantaire was leaning over Enjolras’ arm, so Enjolras could only see the top of his head. He stared at Grantaire’s hair, trying not to think about the feeling of Grantaire’s fingers holding his arm still and the cold tickling of the brush against his skin.

Enjolras shivered and met Joly’s eyes, who gave him a knowing look as they washed the yellow off the paintbrush.

Enjolras swallowed and asked Grantaire, “What are you painting?” relieved when his voice came out clear and strong.

“Vines,” Grantaire replied, without looking up.

“Oh,” Enjolras said, without really meaning to. “Why?”

“No reason,” Grantaire answered, shrugging a little. “They’re pretty. And they’re sacred to my man, Bacchus,” he added, grinning to himself.

“That’s the Roman God of wine, right?” Enjolras asked, which he knew, he just wanted to keep Grantaire talking.

Joly shushed him and held Enjolras’ chin lightly in order to paint on the red portion of the flag.

Grantaire smirked in amusement at Joly, and then said, “Yes. And of fertility,” Grantaire added, with a wink at Enjolras.

Enjolras rolled his eyes at Grantaire. “Well, thank you for the ode to a virile drunk God on my arm,” Enjolras said, and then flashed Grantaire a smile so he’d know he was only joking.  

“Done!” Joly exclaimed, pulling back again, smiling at Enjolras cheek.

“Thank you, Joly,” Enjolras said.

“Now for the freckles,” Joly said, and went back to the paints to choose their colours.

Enjolras shared an amused smile with Musichetta. Deciding he’d spent enough time looking at other things, Enjolras looked back down at Grantaire’s hands on his arm. He loved Grantaire’s hands: the thick but dextrous fingers, the soft skin marred by pale scars from years of working with his hands, fingernails painted with week-old chipped nail varnish.  

Enjolras laughed as Joly started to pepper his face with little dots of paint, and Grantaire glanced up from his intricate work to see Joly’s attack. A grin spread over Grantaire’s face, happiness blooming like the most beautiful flower, and Enjolras grinned back at him, helpless and utterly, utterly in love.

When Grantaire ducked his head again, and Enjolras was faced with all those curls, it took all his self-restraint to not reach out and bury his fingers in them.

“R, I love your Secret Santa,” Feuilly declared, as he peeled the back of a stick-on tattoo off, leaving the word ‘RAD’ imprinted on his bicep.

Grantaire laughed at him and said, “Can you really call it a Secret Santa when it’s still October?”

“Sure!” Musichetta said. “It’s all heading for Christmas, isn’t it?”

Grantaire shrugged, offhandedly. “That’s what I hear.”

“And you don’t know who it is,” Musichetta said, obviously, “ergo: Secret Santa.”

Grantaire huffed a laugh in her direction.

“Are Secret Santa’s usually romantic, though?” Bossuet asked, wiggling his eyebrows at Grantaire.

Grantaire stuck his tongue out at him.

“What?” Bossuet asked, laughing. “You can’t still think someone’s just fucking with you.”

Grantaire looked back down at Enjolras’ arm, where one of his hands was still resting lightly. “Never underestimate my ability to assume someone’s fucking with me,” he said, and went back to painting gentle strokes along Enjolras’ arm.

Enjolras wanted to spend the rest of his life convincing Grantaire that he was loved, and he was willing to do that as a friend or a partner. “It’s too extravagant to be a joke,” Enjolras said. “It has to be real.”

Grantaire flushed first, and then looked up at him. “You think?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be real?” Enjolras asked, sincerely.

Grantaire shrugged. “Let’s just paint,” he muttered, and re-dedicated himself to the task.

Enjolras was about to press on, but Bossuet soundlessly put a hand on his knee and squeezed, telling him to stop. So, Enjolras let Grantaire paint on his arm, and he let Joly paint on his freckles, and he watched Musichetta paint a fancy French moustache on Éponine’s upper lip, saw the way Éponine, despite holding still for Musichetta to paint, tried to pretend she was unamused by the addition to her face.

“All done,” Grantaire said, sounding quietly pleased.

Enjolras waited for Joly to move away to find a different colour before looking down at his arm, and when he did, he startled a little. “Grantaire, that’s- Wow. I almost don’t want it to come off.”

Grantaire threw him a smile. “Well, it’s gonna, I’m afraid. Unless you tattoo it on.”

“Tempting,” Enjolras said.

Grantaire flashed a grin and then touched the tattoo on his own arm. “I can hook you up, if you ever do want to.”

“Would you come with me?” Enjolras asked, pressing in with just a little more force, trying to stop his eyes from lingering on Grantaire’s mouth.

Grantaire didn’t look up, but he became still, for a second long enough that Enjolras noticed it. “Of course I would. And You couldn’t keep Courf and Ferre away, if you wanted to finally get ink.”

Enjolras laughed. “I might hold you to coming.”

Grantaire looked up and met Enjolras’ gaze head on. “Do it, then,” he said, a challenge.

Caught off-guard, Enjolras suddenly realised Joly was hovering nearby, holding the small brush they’d been using to paint Enjolras’ cheeks with both their hands. Enjolras looked from them, to Bossuet, and then back to Grantaire, and he cleared his throat. “I will,” he said to Grantaire. “If I get a tattoo, I’ll bring you with me.”

Then he looked back at Joly, who took that as their cue to come closer and continue painting over Enjolras’ freckles. It was almost a relief to break the tension, and Bossuet, the wonder that he was, chose that moment to say, “R, tell Enjolras about the other gift you got this week.”

Joly caught Enjolras’ eye and grinned, just before Enjolras looked over at Grantaire with faux-curious raised eyebrows.

Grantaire blew out his cheeks and shook his head. “It’s… I- Art stuff, Enjolras. Good art stuff. I can’t even- I’ve not looked up how much it’s all worth exactly, even though I can make pretty good guesses. It’s ridiculous. I’m not-” He cut himself off and shook his head again, a little wide-eyed and distant. “It’s amazing. And stupid. Because shit like this-” he said, looking around at the stick-on tattoos and face paints, “-makes me happy beyond belief anyway, so why someone would- Not that I’m not grateful, it’s amazing, it’s stuff that I’ve wanted but couldn’t have and I just-” he stopped and laughed, “I’m talking in circles. I can’t get over it, really,” he said, and looked at Joly. “I know I’ve said but you’ve got to- you’ve got to say thank you to- to whoever it is for me. Tell them I accept their hand in marriage. Tell them they can have my firstborn and any children that follow that. Tell them- I’ll fetch them a fallen star, a- a- a golden fleece, the holy grail, anything they want.”

Joly laughed. “I’ll make sure they get the message,” they assured Grantaire.

Grantaire leant back in his chair, and Enjolras watched him avidly, up until the second Grantaire looked back at him.

Enjolras said, “That sounds great.” He looked up at Grantaire, and truly didn’t know what to say to him. “I’m glad it’s making you happy,” he settled on, and received a smiled for it.

“Enjolras, you look incredible,” Jehan announced, pulling up a chair by their small group. She was surprisingly face-paint free and her long, braided hair was loose and tossed over one shoulder, casual elegance.

Enjolras rolled his eyes. “I have no clue what Joly has done to me,” he said to her.

“Enhanced your natural beauty,” she answered, smirking. “I’m here to tell you all that I’m hosting Halloween night.”

“Oh, fuck yeah,” Grantaire said.

“You’re coming, right?” Jehan asked, looking around at them all.

“Of course,” Bossuet said. “Watching horror films with you guys one night a year is all that keeps me going.”

“Yeah, we should do it more often,” Enjolras said, amused.

Grantaire gasped, feigning upset. “But then it wouldn’t be special.”

Jehan raised an eyebrow at Grantaire, drolly unimpressed. “I have to go,” she said. “I’ve got crimes to commit and girls to seduce. I’ll see you at mine on Wednesday.” She pressed a kiss to Grantaire’s cheek, then pointed at Enjolras. “You: call me, I have a friend who wants to talk to you about being black and trans if you’re up for it.”

Enjolras nodded, taking the non-sequitur in his stride. “I’ll call you to get more info.”

Jehan beamed. “Au revoir,” she said and blew them a kiss with a graceful manicured hand as she rose to her feet.

Watching her walk away, Bossuet said, “I want to be her when I grow up,” without a trace of sarcasm.

Chapter Text

OCTOBER 31ST, WEDNESDAY

“Trick or treat, bitches!” Grantaire yelled, crashing into Jehan’s flat, wielding a box of chocolate. “I’ve got chocolate pumpkins, and eyeballs, and some witch-themed stuff. I think there’s some cats in there, too!”

“Why do you have so much chocolate?” Éponine asked, looking very bewildered, and Enjolras tried to remember how he’d been sitting before Grantaire arrived. He’d been comfortable a second ago, but once Grantaire showed up, he forgot how to sit.

“My secret gift-giver has decided that for Halloween, they’re going to give me diabetes,” Grantaire said, grinning.

“Diabetes is not a joke, R,” Joly said, seriously. “You should be careful.”

Grantaire grinned and flopped down onto the sofa beside him. “You know I’m healthy, dude,” he said, and offered the box of chocolate to Joly. “Please everyone pick treat, I don’t have any tricks prepared.”

Enjolras laughed, causing Grantaire to look his way for the first time since he arrived.

“I want a secret gift-giver,” Éponine said, looking around at the group. “If one of you is giving R this stuff, I demand to be included in the next present. Give me stuff. It’s what I deserve.”

Enjolras decided he could definitely get her something for Friday, and he caught Joly’s eye, who grinned back.

“What are we watching?” Bahorel asked as she took the box of chocolates from Bossuet.

Scream,” Grantaire said, instantly, despite having just arrived and definitely no say in the film choice.

“What? No, I want to watch something supernatural,” Combeferre argued, frowning. “Didn’t we watch Scream last year?”

“Yes, because it’s the best film ever made,” Grantaire answered.

Enjolras laughed as he took his turn at the chocolates.

“I think that’s an exaggeration, R,” Bahorel said, reaching over Enjolras’ shoulder to grab her own handful.

“Nope,” Grantaire said, primly. “It’s the best.”

“We can watch Scream later,” Enjolras resolved. “After we watch something we didn’t watch last year, okay?”

Grantaire threw him a hurt look, and Enjolras stuck his tongue out at Grantaire before throwing him a chocolate.

“Oh, how generous!” Grantaire said, catching the chocolate. “You know those are mine, right?”

Enjolras grinned back at him and said, “Not anymore.”

The Exorcist or The Conjuring?” Feuilly asked loudly.

The Conjuring 2,” Combeferre said.

Scream,” Grantaire countered.

“Later, Grantaire,” Enjolras repeated.

The Babadook,” Jehan suggested.

The Shining,” Éponine said.

“Oh, I like The Shining,” Bahorel said.

“I’ll accept The Shining,” Combeferre said. “A supernatural classic.”

“Any objections? Not you, Grantaire,” Enjolras said, pointing a warning finger in Grantaire’s direction as the man in question opened his mouth to suggest Scream again. “Okay, good. Let’s watch that.”

“And then-”

Yes, Grantaire,” three of the friends said at the same time, in matching exasperated tones.

“And then we can watch Scream,” Combeferre promised, and Grantaire settled back into his seat on the sofa with a pleased smile.

“Annoyed into submission,” he said, smugly, and Enjolras threw a handful of chocolates at him.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER 2ND, FRIDAY

Enjolras pulled his coat tighter around himself, his scarf pulled up over his mouth to keep out the cold as he made his way down the high-street. It was one of the simpler gifts that he had tucked inside his bag as he headed to the café he was meeting Joly at. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t been starting to fantasise about being able to hand over the gifts himself, and when he sat down with Joly at the café, he hesitated in handing it over.

Joly’s eyes narrowed at him. “What’s up?” they asked, putting down his mug of tea.

“Nothing,” Enjolras said, and pushed the small wrapped gift across the table towards Joly.

Joly didn’t take it, they pushed it back and said, “Talk.”

“I just wish I could give him this one myself,” he said.

“You do?” Joly asked, looking at him softly. Something in Joly’s eyes was slightly sad. “Well, why don’t you?”

“How can I? I don’t want him to know it’s me, Jol,” Enjolras said.

“He doesn’t have to,” Joly insisted. “Listen, if I… Bossuet and Musichetta can whisk me away on a date, and you can drop by Grantaire’s with the present and say I asked you to pass it on since I’m busy.”

Enjolras looked down at the gift on the table between them. “It’s only something small,” he said, a little embarrassed.

“But you want to give it to him,” Joly said. “Enjolras,” Joly started, getting up and coming around the table to sit beside him instead, “give it to him yourself, okay? I’ll text him now to tell him what’s happening, and then you’re going to go over there and make sure you don’t leave too quickly. Spend the afternoon with him.”

The words set a hopeful fire in Enjolras’ chest. It was a wonderful thought. “I shouldn’t,” Enjolras said. “I’ve got work to do.”

Joly sighed, and rested their forehead on Enjolras’ shoulder for a second. “You are infuriating,” they told him. “Just go round, give it to him, and then do your best to convince yourself you’re allowed nice things – like being around Grantaire – and if you can’t, make your excuses.”

Enjolras nodded slowly. “And you don’t think it will be really obvious?” he asked.

“Grantaire’s not the suspicious type,” Joly said, smiling. “Go on. Do it.”

Enjolras started to smile. “Okay,” he agreed.

Joly cheered, and then ducked their head and bit their lip when he received a few glares in the quiet café. They whipped out their phone and set to work texted Bossuet and Musichetta first, to arrange an alibi, and then moving onto Grantaire.

Once all the confirmation texts had come in, Enjolras’ heart-rate started to pick up, even though all he was doing, really, was dropping in on a friend and handing over a small gift.

“He’s expecting you,” Joly said, cheerfully, “and now I must disappear off the map for the day.”

Enjolras held the gift to his stomach. “How daft is it that I’m anxious?”

“Anxiety is never daft,” Joly told him seriously, and then added, “But also yes, it’s pretty daft. He’ll be delighted to see you, Enjolras.”

 

It took two minutes of standing outside Grantaire’s door before Enjolras knocked – two minutes of flipping his hair this way and that, smoothing down his shirt, and taking deep breaths – but eventually he did knock.

“Hey,” Grantaire said, opening the door and smiling. “This is a pleasant surprise.”

Enjolras somehow managed to smile. “I come bearing gifts,” he said.

“So I hear,” Grantaire replied, stepping back to let Enjolras past. “How exactly have you got yourself roped up into this madness?”

“Due to my terrible luck, I happened to be the closest person when Joly found themself… indisposed,” Enjolras explained, and reached into his bag to find the present. He held it out to Grantaire somewhat nervously.

“What do you think it is?” Grantaire asked, taking it off him, and going over to the sofa to open it. He looked up at Enjolras, who hadn’t followed, and smiled, patting the seat beside him.

“I shouldn’t stay,” Enjolras said. “There’s work I should be doing.”

“No way, Joly said you’d try and pull this. You’ve gotta take a break, come sit down with me. If you’re lucky, it’ll be edible and I’ll share,” Grantaire said, and elegantly slid his thumb-nail under the tape to open it up.

Enjolras slowly came and sat beside him, eyes fixed on Grantaire’s eager expression.

“Tea!” Grantaire yelled, excitedly. “Turkish tea!” Grantaire then yelled, getting a proper look at it, and as Enjolras looked at Grantaire to see his reaction, Grantaire started to look a little overwhelmed. “I haven’t had this in so long, you have to stay to have some.” Grantaire leapt to his feet and headed towards the kitchen. “Come on, come on, I know I’ve got a çaydanlık around here somewhere.”

Enjolras followed, obediently, without a single clue what Grantaire was talking about. “What’s a… chaidanluk?”

Grantaire looked back at him and laughed. “Cute,” he said, and then resumed his search through the cupboards in the kitchen. “It’s a kettle, essentially, well, more like two kettles stacked on top of each other. It’s what we use to make tea in Turkey. Ah-hah!” he then crowed, victoriously pulling an aluminium contraption out of the cupboard in the corner of the room.

Enjolras watched, entertained and adoring, as Grantaire merrily set about preparing the tea for them both on the stove. After a moment of work, Grantaire turned back to Enjolras and leant up against the counter. He looked at Enjolras, almost pleadingly. “I’ve got to find out who it is,” he said. “I know you; you’ve got to have ideas.”

Enjolras laughed. “I don’t, actually.”

Grantaire squinted at him in mock-suspicion before his gaze became softer, amused, and Enjolras had thought that he’d get used to it when Grantaire looked at him, but being there, in his apartment, alone with Grantaire…

Grantaire turned around to check on the water, while Enjolras took the opportunity to check Grantaire out a little. Looking at Grantaire’s back as Grantaire poured some of the boiling water into the top part of the çaydanlık, worn t-shirt stretched a little tight by his wide shoulders and waist, Enjolras smiled slightly. His eyes quickly jumped back up when Grantaire turned around, and there was a moment where their eyes met in which Enjolras wasn’t at all sure if he’d been caught. But Grantaire said nothing about it. Instead, he said, “Ever had Turkish tea before?”

“No,” Enjolras said.

“Okay, cool, it’ll be a while before it’s ready. I’ll give it to you how I like to drink it, like, a medium strength, and we can water it down if you don’t like it. In best circumstances, we’d have some beet sugar to put in it, but you don’t take sugar, usually, do you?” Grantaire asked.

“No,” Enjolras said, smiling.

“Oh, and if we had some kurabiye, too…” Grantaire said, almost mournfully in his dramatic way. “That’s a type of biscuit by the way. My mum always has some ready to go with tea for when guests come round.”

“She sounds lovely,” Enjolras said, realising he’d only heard Grantaire talk about his parents a few times in all the years they’d known each other.

“She is,” Grantaire said, wistfully, and then turned to check the tea again. It clearly wasn’t ready, but Grantaire walked back to the cupboard where he’d found the çaydanlık and pulled out two oddly-shaped glasses and put them on the side.

“Do you miss Turkey?” Enjolras asked, after a moment.

“Sure, sometimes. I miss the people, and the good weather, and the food,” Grantaire listed. “I don’t miss my dad much, but my mum’s a good person, and my brothers and sisters are too.”

“When did you last see them?” Enjolras asked, frowning. He’d never been close to his parents, but he considered Combeferre and Courfeyrac his family, and if he was parted from them, he knew he’d go out of his mind missing them.

“Uh… I saw my parents and my brothers… almost two years ago. Both my sisters, it’s been… God, three years, I think?” Grantaire said, and, deep in thought for a second, he looked down at the floor.

Enjolras took a step towards him lifting his hand to off a comforting touch. Grantaire didn’t notice and Enjolras quickly lowered his hand. “Any chance you could visit them soon?”

“Maybe,” Grantaire said. “Plane tickets aren’t cheap, and with the time I’d have to take off work…”

“I understand,” Enjolras said. “I haven’t been back to Senegal in just over three years.”

Grantaire looked up at him and as their eyes met, an understanding passed between them.

“I’d love you to meet my mother,” Enjolras said suddenly. “She’d really like you.”

“Yeah?” Grantaire asked. “My mother would think you’re a trouble-maker.”

Enjolras laughed loudly, ignoring what his heart was telling him this conversation sounded like. “She wouldn’t exactly be wrong,” he replied, and Grantaire beamed at him.

“True,” Grantaire said. “But I’d like to think there’s more to you than trouble-maker. Maybe rabble-rouser, mischief-maker, ringleader, riot-instigator-”

“Okay, that’s enough, thank you,” Enjolras said with a laugh.

“But I hadn’t even gotten to revolution-inciter,” Grantaire complained.

“Haven’t quite managed that one yet,” Enjolras said, dryly.

“Yeah, go scratch that off your CV til you follow through,” Grantaire joked back.

“Ever considered the fact most of those titles could be applied to you, too?” Enjolras asked, tilting his head and raising his eyebrows meaningfully.

“Me? A ringleader? I don’t think so,” Grantaire said, self-deprecatingly.

“Maybe not a ringleader, but you’ve certainly roused some rabble and made some mischief along with the best of us,” Enjolras pointed out. “One day you’ll stop pretending you’re not one of us.”

“Oh, will I?” Grantaire asked, and something in his voice had changed.

Enjolras knew he was walking a fine line, knew Grantaire didn’t like to be pushed to be something more than what his act portrayed him as, but Enjolras couldn’t help it. “Yes, you will,” he insisted. “Because one day I’ll get through to you.”

Grantaire looked back down at the floor. “One day,” he agreed.

Enjolras raised his eyebrows. “That a promise?” he asked.

Grantaire’s face darkened. He turned back around to the tea, clearly to avoid looking at Enjolras. “Maybe,” he said. “For you.”

Enjolras’ heart thudded in his chest. “Tea ready?” he asked.

Grantaire shook his head. “It takes a while,” he said. “We have to wait for the leaves to settle.”

Enjolras nodded. In the momentary silence that followed, Enjolras, feeling flustered, floundered for something worthy of saying. “Thank you for… asking me to stay for tea,” he said, and then felt embarrassed at the formality of it.

Grantaire chuckled, not unkindly, and said, “You’re very welcome, Enjolras. You can come for tea any time you desire.”

“I drink tea constantly, Grantaire, I think you might come to regret that invitation,” Enjolras teased.

“You can call me R, you know,” Grantaire said, abruptly, once again checking the tea, the line of his shoulder’s tense. He lifted the top half of the çaydanlık and half-filled the two glasses set out on the side, before filling the glasses with the water from the bottom half, the liquid turning a gorgeous red.

Enjolras watched him do it, mouth dry with unnecessary anxiety that filled the air between the two of them. “I know,” he said at last, when Grantaire put the çaydanlık back on the stove, turning it off. “I don’t know why I don’t. I suppose it felt too familiar when we weren’t close, and then… I overthought it.”

Grantaire flashed him a smile. “I don’t know why you thought that; I’ve never once called you by your proper name.”

“Well, that’s not true, to start, and also your nicknames for me are… were mocking, rather than friendly,” Enjolras said, awkwardly. “Ange, Apollo, Great Leader…”

Grantaire laughed. “I guess you’re right. You know I don’t mean them in a bad way, right?”

“I do now,” Enjolras replied.

Grantaire crossed the room with the glass of tea held delicately between his fingers, gently gripping the very rim of the glass. He placed it on the side beside Enjolras, and, far closer than Enjolras expected him to come, said, “Careful. It’s hot.”

Enjolras met his eyes. “Thank you,” he said, and he turned his head away to look down at the glass of tea before he could let himself sway forwards and try to kiss Grantaire. “This looks wonderful.”

“I hope you like it,” Grantaire said, returning to his own glass.

“I’m sure I will,” Enjolras said. Carefully, he picked up the glass by the rim and blew on the hot tea inside, cooling it before taking a hesitant sip. “Nope, too hot, didn’t taste anything,” he told Grantaire, who was watching him expectantly.

Grantaire laughed. “Give it a minute.”

Enjolras nodded, and shifted his weight. “So, uh… Been on any dates, recently?” he asked, and cursed himself to high heaven immediately afterwards.

Grantaire froze, and then looked at him very oddly. “Uh, no. No dates recently,” he said. “You?” he asked.

“No! Uh, no. None here, either,” Enjolras said, and laughed awkwardly.

“Oh, I thought maybe you asked because you wanted to talk about a date you’d been on,” Grantaire said.

Enjolras laughed and rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck. “No, I just… had a moment. I was talking to Courfeyrac about dating last night; I guess it’s on my mind.”

Grantaire chuckled too. He shook his head and said, “Did you miss the part where someone I know is giving me an exorbitant amount of presents?” When Enjolras only gave him a quizzical look, Grantaire continued, “Well, I’m not going to keep on dating left-right-and-centre while someone’s… doing all this for me. If what their notes are saying is true, someone’s, God, in love with me, and I don’t know what to do with that, or who they are, but I’m definitely not going be dating for a while.”

“Oh,” Enjolras said. “But what if you don’t like the person who’s buying you these gifts?”

“Well, why wouldn’t I? You’ve seen the things they’re getting me, right? Books of my favourite poetry, tickets to art museums, tea from my home country…” He gestured helplessly at the box of tea leaves on the counter. “How can I keep dating other people?”

Enjolras picked up the tea and blew on it for a second so he didn’t have to reply right away. Slowly and thoughtfully, he said, “I doubt this mystery person would want you to keep yourself from happiness just for their sake.”

Grantaire shrugged. “I don’t know. I find it hard to believe this person would give me so much and expect nothing, you know?” He shifted his weight awkwardly and picked up his own tea delicately. “Can I admit something to you? You can’t tell Joly.”

Worry coursed through Enjolras’ body. “Are you ill?” he asked, putting his tea down and straightening up.

“No! No,” Grantaire laughed. “No, I’m not ill. I’m… a little worried. About this present thing. And the expectations of whoever is giving me this stuff.”

“You are?” Enjolras asked. “Wait, why can’t I tell Joly?”

“Because they're facilitating this. They know who it is. They'll feel so guilty if they know I’m… I mean, I’m probably overthinking it, right?” Grantaire asked, and as Enjolras looked at him, he could see that this had been really bothering Grantaire. “Joly wouldn’t set me up for… something bad, right?”

Enjolras shook his head, instantly. “Of course they wouldn’t. Joly loves you, they'd never put you in the way of someone who wanted anything you didn’t want to give, Grantaire.” Enjolras looked at him intently. “But didn’t you say that you’re sure you will like whoever it is? And that’s assuming they reveal themselves anyway.”

“You don’t think they’ll tell me eventually?” Grantaire asked, and he actually looked a little hurt. “It’s just… The presents. They’re fantastic – beyond fantastic. I could never afford all these things, and I love everything I’ve been given, but I can’t imagine someone being so, so selfless and generous and not wanting anything in return.”

“Wanting and expecting aren’t the same thing, though,” Enjolras said, quickly. “They could want something from you, time spent together, a date, a… a relationship, maybe, but they could want without expecting you to give them that.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Grantaire said. “But if they… ask for anything, I’m not sure how I can say no.” Grantaire then looked embarrassed and laughed awkwardly. “Just ignore me; I’m being stupid, they probably don’t want… Let’s go sit down in the living room. Change the topic.”

Enjolras followed after Grantaire, who was leaving the room faster than he would were it on fire. Enjolras, holding his glass of cooling tea delicately, slowly sat beside Grantaire on the sofa. He took a long sip of the tea, amazed at how delicious it was.

“This is good,” he told Grantaire. “Thank you for sharing it with me.”

“You’re welcome,” Grantaire said, and flashed Enjolras a self-conscious smile. “I’m sorry for just now.”

“No, it’s okay. You can talk to me, if you need to,” Enjolras said, aiming for reassuring, “but I don’t think you need to worry. I can… I can talk to Joly about it, if you want.”

“No, please don’t. I don’t want him to worry about me,” Grantaire said.  

“This sounds like something he should maybe be worried about,” Enjolras said, shuffling slightly closer to Grantaire. “Grantaire, you should never let yourself feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. I-You have to understand that you don’t owe th- this person anything.”

“I know that logically,” Grantaire said, and he looked beyond embarrassed at the conversation. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”

“Of course you should have,” Enjolras said, firmly. “Grantaire, if you’re worried about something-”

“You always start saying people’s names when you get serious,” Grantaire interrupted, and the corner of his mouth was twitching upwards slightly.

“I am serious,” Enjolras said.

“You’re always serious,” Grantaire said.

He clearly wanted the conversation to end, and Enjolras almost let him. “Grantaire, when – well, I suppose if the time comes and you find out who it is, and you’re worried they want something from you that you don’t want to give, tell me.”

“Tell you?” Grantaire asked, actually smiling.

Enjolras hadn’t realised he’d said ‘me’, but quickly recovered. “Yes,” he said. “Tell me,” he repeated, knowing that if he ever did tell Grantaire, Grantaire would remember this conversation, “and if they expect more from you and don’t respect your decision, I’ll kick their ass.”

Grantaire smiled down at his tea. “Thanks, Enjolras.”

“You’re welcome… R,” Enjolras replied.

“I feel I should-” Grantaire started, and cut himself off, abruptly.

“What?” Enjolras asked, feeling suddenly deathly afraid of the tension in the room.

“Nothing,” Grantaire said. “I feel like I’m being ungrateful saying this stuff,” he settled on, even though Enjolras didn’t fully believe that was what he’d started to say. “I love the gifts,” Grantaire said firmly, “and that’s the fucking truth of it. I love the gifts, and even though my mind is telling me to be wary of anyone who might try and use this to pressure me, or my stupid brain telling me I’m not worth all this money… that doesn’t change the fact that every time I open one of these gifts, every time I read the notes… It makes me so happy, you know?”

Enjolras looked at him softly. “Yeah?” he asked.

“Fucking yeah. Like,” he broke off to laugh, disbelievingly, “I’m amazed, and beyond delighted that someone is thinking about me this much. I can’t believe it at all, but it’s the stuff of dreams, right? Fucking fantasies!”

Enjolras laughed. “I suppose it is,” he said. “I’m glad you’re happy, R.”

“More than happy,” Grantaire said, and he looked down at his tea for a long moment of internal joy, and then downed the tea in one.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER 10TH, SATURDAY

Combeferre attempted to discretely show Courfeyrac his phone screen, and Enjolras paused in his mini-tirade. He almost laughed. “I know I tend to merge into lectures, but we’re not actually in a class, you don’t have to pass notes,” he told them.

Courfeyrac snorted and looked properly at Combeferre’s phone screen. Enjolras waited to see if they wanted to show him what they were looking at, while Courfeyrac started laughing at whatever it was.

Courfeyrac pushed the phone towards Enjolras across the table where they were working in Combeferre’s flat.

A picture of Marius, Cosette, Bahorel, and Bossuet filled the screen, the four friends all somehow involved in hanging up one string of fairy lights.

“It’s November,” Enjolras said, flatly.

“Apparently Christmas has begun,” Combeferre answered, smiling happily at the thought of their friend’s excitement.

“Oh, we should go help them,” Courfeyrac said, longingly, casting a look at the phone screen again.

Combeferre looked between the picture and their work. “I… I suppose we could. We can continue this tomorrow.” He looked at Enjolras and Courfeyrac. “The world won’t die if we have one evening off.”

Still, Enjolras hesitated, and he could see that neither Combeferre nor Courfeyrac were actually all that convinced either. “We’ve had a lot of down-time recently,” Enjolras said, awkwardly.

“And I’ve got work til seven tomorrow, so I can’t do this tomorrow,” Courfeyrac added, dejectedly.

Enjolras and Combeferre exchanged a look. “Go join them, Courf,” Enjolras said. “You too, Ferre. I’ll stay and get some more done, and then tomorrow Combeferre can help me again. Don’t worry about it. I know you’re dedicated, but you deserve to go decorate Cosette’s place for Christmas.”

“If it wasn’t Cosette and Marius…” Courfeyrac started to apologise.

“You’d still want to go,” Combeferre filled in, good-humouredly. “Make sure you give Éponine a call on your way.”

It pleased Enjolras to see Courfeyrac so happy at the thought of seeing his partners. As Courfeyrac gathered up his laptop and notebooks and pens to go, Enjolras thought fondly of being able to rush off to somewhere just because Grantaire was there, thought of what it would be like to have his friends understand why he wanted to be there so desperately, and to know that Grantaire would want him to show up for no other reason than that they could be together.

He looked back down at his work and reread the last sentence he wrote, reading over it again. He pressed the end of the pen to his lips, thinking, and then quickly wrote another sentence. “I want to circulate this amongst the groups,” he said to Combeferre. “Do you mind checking my theory?”

Combeferre looked interested and held out a hand for the papers.

“What are you working on?” Enjolras asked.

“We’ve got another session at the prison coming up,” he said, and sighed. He put down Enjolras’ essay and closed his laptop. “It’s just not enough, Enjolras. We’re only able to go once a month at most, and it’s impossible to maintain connection when we’re changing staff and seeing different inmates and only a handful come every time. And this stuff takes dedication and time, and some of these people are years and years away from release, while others are going to be out in a few months and they don’t have any skills or experience, and I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Enjolras nodded. “I know,” he said. “But if once a month is all you can get, then make the most of it, and if only a few are coming back to you every time, then dedicate yourself to them. Build those relationships, help them develop their resumes, or applications, or study for their GCSEs, whatever it is they need.”

Combeferre nodded, looking drained. “Cosette and Valjean are wonderful. They’re there every time with me. And there are 80,000 people in prison around the country and we’re only at one prison once a month, and there’s only three of us and some other volunteers who are amazing people but it’s not enough. And Javert, the governor, is starting to become incredibly involved and useful. He’s giving us so much support-”

“That’s amazing, Ferre. Remember at the start? If he’s getting involved that’s an incredible transformation in him and he can affect real change in his prison,” Enjolras reasoned.

Combeferre nodded, and then leaned back in his chair, taking off his glasses. “I just don’t know how to transfer a passion for learning to some of these people,” he said.

Enjolras observed his friend for a moment. “Maybe that has to come later, naturally, on its own. Maybe the best thing you can do for them is to get them their maths GSCE, or get them on a course to learn to become an electrician, or figure out what jobs they’ve had and what skills they’ve got to piece together a good resume. Maybe that’s what you need to do right now, and then later we can work on art courses, and literature classes, and a better stocked library, or law courses, science classes, foreign language education… Or, maybe you need to focus on the now and pass the future on to the rest of Les Amis.”

Combeferre closed his eyes and a tear slipped down his cheek. “They deserve so much fucking better.”

“I know,” Enjolras said, feeling hardened against their country’s prison system. “But you are helping, Combeferre. You are making a difference. You’re actually doing something.”

“I want more for them. I feel this so deeply inside me, every time I think about all the people in prison it weighs so heavily on my heart that I can’t not do something,” he said.

“I know,” Enjolras repeated, because he has seen Combeferre work tirelessly for this, has seen Combeferre dedicate days, weeks, months, to fighting this battle. “What is something you can do right now to help? Right this second?”

“Right this second? Nothing. I need Valjean and Cosette,” Combeferre said heavily. “Well, not nothing. I have an inventory of the library and I’ve been going through it, trying to find the areas that are severely lacking, and Feuilly has been helping me work out how I could maybe get some book collections going to donate, because there’s no money for state-funded development of the library. And then there’s the matter of little-to-no internet access, and what exists is so closely monitored that inmates often feel they can’t delve into their interests, and-”

“Okay,” Enjolras interrupted. “Okay. One thing at a time.”

Combeferre dropped his face into his hands and groaned.

“Finish the inventory,” Enjolras said. “Get your head around where you stand right now. Clear your thoughts a little, this doesn’t have to be that complicated right now.”

Combeferre took a deep breath, his shoulders lifting and falling, and then looked up at Enjolras. “Okay. I can do that.”

“Of course you can,” Enjolras encouraged with a smile. “Get some more sorted out now, and then we’ll take a break and go see the others.”

 

An hour later, Enjolras and Combeferre were walking down the street towards Marius and Cosette’s flat, breathing in the cold winter air and relishing the feeling of stretching their legs after sitting at a table for most of the day.

“Hey! Enjolras, Ferre!” someone yelled after them, and Enjolras looked round, only for his brain to melt completely.

Grantaire jogged down the street towards them, grinning and pulling one headphone out his ear with his free hand as he ran. “Didn’t expect to run into you guys here. You going to visit Marius and Cosette?” he asked, face a little flushed and sweaty from his run. He passed his water-bottle to Combeferre and started to stretch out his right leg.

“Yeah, everyone’s over there helping them decorate for Christmas,” Enjolras said, trying not to black out completely over the sight of Grantaire in exercise gear.

“Hey, check it out,” Grantaire said, turning to the right slightly and displaying his left arm. “New Secret Santa gift! Thought I’d make good use of it straight away.”

Enjolras had already seen the armband phone holder when he’d bought it and wrapped it up, obviously, but he was glad to see that it was useful to him. He knew Grantaire worked out a lot, and was all but addicted to listening to music, so he’d thought it was a good idea, but he hadn’t been fully sure for once.

“That’s great!” Enjolras said, smiling. “Are you going to join us at Marius and Cosette’s?”

“Nah, I’m gonna finish my run and take a shower and get something to eat,” Grantaire said, “but you guys are coming round tomorrow for lunch, yeah? I’m cooking,” he added, incentivisingly.

“Of course!” Enjolras said.

“We’ll be there,” Combeferre said smiling. “Don’t let us keep you from your run,” he added. “It’s too cold to be standing around.”

“I’ll see you guys tomorrow,” Grantaire said, and took his drink back off Combeferre. “Thanks,” he added, and gave the pair of them an awkward salute before taking off jogging down the street again.

Enjolras waited until Grantaire was halfway down the street before turning to Combeferre and saying, “He’s so hot, I want him to deck me.”

Combeferre just rolled his eyes at him.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER 11TH, SUNDAY

The print was the first thing Enjolras saw when he walked into Grantaire’s living room, displayed in pride of place on the wall. It looked good, and Enjolras smiled to himself, and then turned to greet Marius and Feuilly, joining them on their way to get a drink from the kitchen.

In the kitchen, Grantaire was chopping up some peppers while a blender loudly whirred on the counter, hummus in the making. “Marius, get the pita out the oven, would you?” Grantaire asked over his shoulder. “Enjolras! Hi, when did you get here?”

“Just now,” Enjolras said smiling. “Can I help with anything?”

“Sure! Wash your hands, grab a knife, and come cut cucumber,” Grantaire said, nodding towards the vegetable on the side, as he turned to scrape the cut-up red peppers onto a plate.  

Enjolras smiled and did as he was bid, quickly rushing to help Grantaire out. Grantaire passed behind him as he washed his hands and gently touched his hip in warm greeting. Enjolras flashed him a smile and focused on the job at hand to avoid embarrassment.

He soaked in the sounds of his friends puttering around the kitchen, and beyond that, his friends chattering away in the living room. Tension eased out of his shoulders and the days worries dropped away as he began to chop the cucumber into even sticks.

Around the fridge, Feuilly was taking drink requests and passing them to Marius who took them back through to their friends. At Enjolras’ side, Grantaire was removing the hummus from the blender, humming quietly along to the radio.

“New gift arrived yesterday,” Grantaire told him, unexpectedly.

“Oh?” Enjolras asked, simply.

“Yeah, take a look when you go back out. It’s hanging on the wall,” Grantaire said. “Keith Haring. God, I love him.”

“Oh, I saw it when I came in,” Enjolras said. “The heart?”

“With the two people, yeah,” Grantaire said. “What do you think?” he asked, moving on to cut the pita bread into strips.

Enjolras paused to tidy up his chopping board a little. Lightly, he said, “Well, I think it’s more important what you think, isn’t it?”

Grantaire shrugged. “I like it. But then whoever gave it me knew I would. That seems to be the point,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re… trying to prove something, or…”

“I think it’s pretty easy to say your gifter wants you to know how much you mean to hi- them,” Enjolras quickly corrected himself.

Grantaire turned on him, fast as light. “You know who it is,” he said.

Enjolras raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t, I’m sorry,” he said. “Where do you want this?” he asked, gesturing with his knife at the cucumber.

“Here,” Grantaire said, nudging the plate of peppers towards him, eyeing him suspiciously. “It’s a guy, then?” he asked.

“R, I swear to God,” Enjolras started.

Grantaire lifted his hands in surrender. “All right, all right, I’m sorry,” he said. “But I still think you know who it is.”

“Grantaire, you bastard, where’s the food?” Bahorel yelled from the other room. “We’re going to start ordering Chinese if you don’t start providing some snacks.”

Grantaire rolled his eyes and shared an amused look with Enjolras that set his heart racing. “Come on,” Grantaire said. “Let’s go feed the masses.”

Enjolras picked up the vegetables in one hand and the pita in the other while Grantaire quickly added olive oil and some spice to the top of the large bowl of hummus before using both his hands to pick it up.

A rowdy cheer went up when the two of them entered the living room carrying the food.

The twelve of them gathered on the floor around Grantaire’s coffee table, jostling for position and cushions, Enjolras ending up squeezed in between Combeferre and Courfeyrac, sharing a quick grin with them both before reaching for pita to dip in the hummus.

“Nice chat with Grantaire?” Courfeyrac asked, bumping shoulders with him.

Combeferre chuckles on Enjolras’ other side, cluing Enjolras into the fact that Courfeyrac didn’t ask as quietly as he should with them all sat so close together.

“Yes, thank you,” Enjolras said, rolling his eyes at Courfeyrac, and then shoving a dry strip of pita into Courfeyrac’s mouth to prevent him from saying more.

Enjolras tuned into Joly’s conversation with Grantaire about the positives and negatives of sharing food, and unsurprisingly, Grantaire was arguing in for the social aspects of it, and Joly was arguing for the sanitary issues. They all knew Joly didn’t mind sharing food with them on their good days, so their arguments weren’t offending anyone – as they stated that germs could more easily be spread through sharing a dish, they submerged their pita in the hummus dish in the centre.

“Enjolras, pass me some pepper,” Courfeyrac said, pointing past him, and distracting Enjolras from the lovely point Grantaire was making.

Enjolras did as he was asked and then said, “And R, as the person who prepared the dish, do you feel that brings you closer to the people who share it too? As opposed to just being one of the consumers?”

“Absolutely!” Grantaire said, happily beaming at Enjolras. “I mean, cooking for friends is always one of my favourite things to do, I love seeing you all enjoy the product of my time, but when we all get to gather around like this, sharing the food amongst us, all making sure that everyone gets their fair share-”

“Commie,” Éponine interjected.

“-I always feel it really brings us together as a group. Don’t you agree?” Grantaire finished, ignoring Éponine, eyes fixed on Enjolras, waiting for a response.

“I definitely agree as someone who gets to eat the food,” Enjolras replied, leaning in, captivated by this side of Grantaire. “Maybe I should really help prepare the food next time with you, see it more from your perspective.”

“Maybe we should all do some cooking for the group, R’s always the one making food,” Musichetta said.

“That’s because some of us can’t cook,” Jehan said, lightly, “and R is so wonderful at it.”

Grantaire flushed. “It’s only hummus. Any idiot can make hummus.”

“And you’ve made falafel mixture to fry after we’ve eaten this,” Jehan pointed out.

“Still. As meals go…” Grantaire said, self-conscious.

“Well, last month you made us a full curry with, like, a million spices and it was wonderful, R,” Courfeyrac joined in. “Guarantee you none of us round this table could have made that curry like you did.”

Grantaire grinned. “Thanks,” he said. “It was quite good, wasn’t it?” he added, laughing bashfully.

“Hooray for R’s cooking!” Bossuet cried, and the group cheered.

Grantaire’s eyes met Enjolras’, caught in pleased embarrassment, and Enjolras smiled at him as wide as he could. “It really is delicious, Grantaire,” Enjolras told him, and reached for more. “I can’t wait for the falafel.”

“You guys,” Grantaire said. “Where would I be without you?”

The group laughed, and Cosette kissed Grantaire on the cheek.

 

At the end of the night, Enjolras was one of the last to go, sitting curled up on Grantaire’s sofa with Combeferre’s arm around him, listening to the remaining friends talk about work, feeling relaxed and warm, but eventually he had to pull himself to his feet and make the decision to make a move.

Grantaire jumped to his feet, too, when he saw Enjolras was heading off, and walked with him over to the door.

“Thanks for coming,” Grantaire said.

“Thanks for having us,” Enjolras replied.

“I’m going to find out who’s sending me these gifts, you know,” Grantaire warned him. “I know you know who it is.”

Enjolras laughed softly. “Good luck with that,” he said, and then, in a moment of weakness, ducked in and kissed Grantaire on the cheek. “See you around.”

“Yeah… See you,” Grantaire said.

Enjolras flashed him a smile, which was returned, and then he slipped out the door and began the walk home, fingers coming up to brush his lower lip, smiling in the dark.