Actions

Work Header

Someday at Christmas

Chapter Text

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, Bahorel 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 them to worry about me,” Grantaire said.  

“This sounds like something they 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.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER 13TH, SATURDAY

Grantaire was pestering Enjolras relentlessly, and Enjolras couldn’t even find it in himself to be irritated with Grantaire – he was adorable when he was needling Enjolras like that, so utterly convinced that Enjolras knew who was giving him the gifts, and Enjolras was unable to lie and tell him otherwise.

Warm hands slipped around Enjolras’ shoulders from behind, making Enjolras jump. He let out a small, surprised cry and leapt away from the touch.

“Oh, sorry, sorry!” Courfeyrac cried, looking at him apologetically.

Enjolras laughed, clutching at his chest, and throwing an amused look at Grantaire, before looking back at Courfeyrac. “It’s ok, just didn’t hear you coming,” he told him.

“Guess you were just too caught up in your conversation, huh?” Courfeyrac said, coyly, slipping his arm around Enjolras’ waist, bumping their hips together lightly.

“Well, I’m a very interesting guy,” Grantaire chimed in, smiling happily at Enjolras, barely sparing a glance for Courfeyrac. “Enjolras, I should go. It seems I have an appointment to keep to,” he added, grinning.

Enjolras felt Courfeyrac look at him quizzically, but he ignored that and stepped forward to hug Grantaire goodbye, trying not to thrill when Grantaire lightly kissed his cheek. “Enjoy,” Enjolras said.

“Oh, I will. And don’t forget to tell whoever it is that it’s a good gift,” Grantaire said to him.

“I would if I could,” Enjolras replied.

Grantaire laughed and rolled his eyes. “Keep playing, boy,” he said, turning to leave. “Oh, and thank them for the other gift, too,” Grantaire called over, looking back.

Not missing a trick, Enjolras asked, “What even was the other gift?”

“Lotion,” Grantaire said, with a laugh. “I guess they want me to have soft skin for when we hold hands.”

As Enjolras watched Grantaire walk away, Courfeyrac stepped up alongside him and tucked himself into Enjolras’ side again. “You guys are close,” Courfeyrac observed.

Enjolras’ stomach tightened, and he shook his head. “Courf, I like him so much,” he said, softly laughing at himself.

There was a pause before Courfeyrac spoke again, and Enjolras turned to look at him, sensing a serious conversation coming. Courfeyrac drew a breath, and then exhaled, worriedly. “Let’s sit,” he said, leading Enjolras over to a table. He placed his hands on the table in front of him, and then reached to take Enjolras’ hand, decidedly. “Enjolras, do you really know who’s giving him the gifts?” Courfeyrac asked.

After quickly deciding what to do, Enjolras nodded. “I do,” he said, and squeezed Courfeyrac’s hand.

“And isn’t it going to break your heart when whoever it is tells Grantaire?” Courfeyrac asked. “Who is it? Do I know them?”

Enjolras laughed, softly. “Yeah, you know them.”

Courfeyrac’s eyes bored into his face, waiting for him to say more, but Enjolras was staying closed mouth. Instead of demanding an answer to the unspoken question, Courfeyrac asked, “What was today’s gift?”

“Tickets to an art museum,” Enjolras said.

“Aren’t, like, most museums here free? I swear he goes to a different museum every week,” Courfeyrac said, tilting his head on its side.

“They’re special entry tickets. After the museum’s closed. With a guide,” Enjolras explained.

“Wow,” Courfeyrac said. “That must have been expensive.”

Enjolras shrugged. “I guess.”

Courfeyrac squinted at him. “Enjolras, you’re my brother and I love you, so I’m going to be frank. The person buying Grantaire all of these things clearly loves him. A lot. Because a lot of money is being spent here, and all on things that prove just how well this person knows Grantaire. If they tell him who they are, he’s going to date them. That’s just a fact.”

Enjolras shrugged. “Not necessarily.”  

Courfeyrac pulled an awkward face. “I can’t imagine turning down someone who spent hundreds on me, even if I wasn’t into them.”

Enjolras didn’t know what to say. He searched his mind for something that wasn’t incriminating, but that still sounded like he cared about the fact that Grantaire might date some fictional other person.

“But this is why you’ve got to tell him!” Courfeyrac was saying.

Enjolras would never tell him.

“If you confess that you love him before this mystery gifter does, he’ll date you, I know he will,” Courfeyrac said.

Enjolras smiled at his friend tightly. “I’ll pass on that one, but thanks for the advice.”

Courfeyrac didn’t let Enjolras shove him away. “Enjolras, I’m serious. I don’t want to see you get your heart broken.”

“I won’t,” Enjolras promised him. “Well, I might. But it’s okay.”

Courfeyrac’s hand gripped Enjolras’ tightly. “How is that okay?”

“Because I’ve accepted that it’s okay,” Enjolras said. “Whatever happens, whatever he does, it’s his choice, and it might hurt me, but as long as he’s happy…” He looked at his best friend and had a complete change of heart. “Fuck it,” he said. “It’s me. I’m sending the presents. I talked to Joly back in September and they’ve been helping me out since them.”

Courfeyrac’s jaw dropped. “Holy shit. Say more, right now. Wait- Don’t! Call Combeferre. I need Combeferre right now.”

Enjolras pulled a face at him. “Do you think I’m ridiculous?”

“No! Well, maybe a little. I’m calling Combeferre,” he said, looking wild and pulling out his phone.

When Combeferre arrived looking orderly and ready for command, barely any time had passed with Enjolras and Courfeyrac almost done with their coffees, and Enjolras felt the last visages of a relaxed day slip away from him. Even as he thought that, Combeferre sat down at the table and said, “Talk,” and a smile slipped onto Enjolras’ face against his will.

“I’ve been sending Grantaire the presents,” Enjolras confessed, and felt his shoulders settle for the first time in a while. He laughed. “That felt good.”

Courfeyrac was already smiling, an infectious, building grin, and it only took a moment longer of looking intently at Enjolras’ face for Combeferre to shake his head, look down at his hands, and then finally started to laugh.

“Of fucking course, you are,” he said. “And how’s that going for you?”

“Well!” Enjolras said, and then laughed again. “Except for the fact that I’m going to have to tell him at some point.”

“Woah, hold up, this is new,” Courfeyrac said, leaning in sharply. “You’re thinking about telling him, now?”

Enjolras shrugged, while letting out a complaining groan. “Yes, no, maybe,” he said, and shrugged again. “I should, is the conclusion I’ve come to. Because it’s unfair on Grantaire for me to not.”

“But is it also unfair to tell him, therefore forcing his hand?” Combeferre asked.

A scandalised sound burst out of Courfeyrac and he hit Combeferre. “You know that’s a bullshit-”

“Is it?” Combeferre asked, quickly, leaving Enjolras behind completely.

“Of course, it is. You know where Grantaire’s at. You know it’s bullshit,” Courfeyrac said passionately.

“What are you talking about?” Enjolras asked, knowing full well they wouldn’t answer. In fact, his two friends barely spared him a glance.

Engaged in a silent conversation, Courfeyrac squinted at Combeferre, and Combeferre scrunched his nose up back at him.

“Are you guys talking or pulling faces?” Enjolras asked, tilting his head a little.

Courfeyrac puffed his cheeks out and in response, Combeferre widened his eyes and sucked his upper lip into his mouth.

“Now you’re being silly,” Enjolras said, with a fake pout.

Combeferre started wiggling his eyebrows at Courfeyrac, and Courfeyrac sucked in his cheeks as far as they would go.

“Guys,” Enjolras said, exasperated, and they both turned their ridiculous expressions on him. Enjolras held himself together long enough to pull a kissing-face while crossing his eyes, and he cracked up when Combeferre and Courfeyrac broke.

“What do I do?” he asked, when their laughter had settled into smiles.

“Tell him at Christmas,” Courfeyrac said, kindly. “When you’re done giving presents, and you’ve had another month to get even closer to Grantaire than you clearly have already become.”

“Shouldn’t he tell him he loves him first? And then say he’s the one sending the presents?” Combeferre asked. “That way Grantaire won’t feel pressured by the gifts, and he can respond just to the confession of love.”  

“This is all too far ahead,” Enjolras said, quickly, putting his hands up in surrender. “I don’t even… I’ve never told anyone I loved them before.”

“Well, you’ve never given someone a million anonymous gifts before. First time for everything!” Courfeyrac said, happily.

“Good point, thank you, Courfeyrac,” Enjolras said, dryly, but flashed him a smile to show he’d taken the joke. He stretched out his legs under the table and slouched in his chair. He met Combeferre’s eyes and shared a small smile.

“I’m proud of you,” Combeferre said.

Early winter sunlight shone through the café window onto Enjolras’ face, the light on his eyelashes giving his two friends an angelic framing, and he reached out to take both their hands. “No matter what happens at Christmas, you guys have my back,” Enjolras said, and it wasn’t a question at all. “That’s all I need.”

“Of course we’ve got your back,” Courfeyrac said, “and if you want to talk it through before you say anything to him, I’m always down to listen.”

Combeferre squeezed Enjolras’ hand. “The same goes for me, as you know.” He pulled his hand away, clearing his throat and adjusting his glasses. “I need a coffee, and I’m sure you need another tea,” he said to Enjolras.

“I need a deep breath and-”

“A glass of wine and our favourite films?” Courfeyrac interrupted hopefully.

“It’s the middle of the day,” Enjolras pointed out, “but yes, that does sound good, later.”

“I’m in,” Combeferre said, and got to his feet, stretching. “But first: coffee.”

Enjolras laughed and shuffled his chair over closer to Courfeyrac, leaning his head on his shoulder. “Glad I told you,” he said, as Combeferre walked over to the counter.

Courfeyrac kissed him on the top of the head. “Glad you told us, too.”

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER 24TH, SATURDAY

Enjolras woke up with his head in Combeferre’s lap and groaned in pain, one hand coming up to rub at his eyes, tiredly. Combeferre’s hand stilled in his hair, and then started up stroking smoothly again.

Enjolras cracked an eye open and saw that Combeferre was now watching something different to when he had fallen asleep. “Sorry,” he mumbled, and pulled his body into an upright position. “How long was I out?”

“About an hour,” Combeferre said, softly. “You were tired.”

“Exhausted,” Enjolras corrected. He stretched his arms out overhead, but lacked the energy to do it properly. “I really need to sort out an appointment with Bahorel.”

“Back’s hurting again?” Combeferre asked.

“Do we say again when it never actually stopped?” Enjolras asked and dropped his face into his hands to rub at his eyes. He stripped off his shirt where he sat and pulled his binder off afterwards. Pulling his shirt back on, his hands came up to his back to try and massage it a little, and one of Combeferre’s hands drifted up to press against the sore spots, too. They shared a look, and Enjolras tried to convey how tired and achy he was.

“Call her, I’m sure she’ll sort something out,” Combeferre said, reaching for Enjolras’ phone on the coffee table, and pausing the TV while he passed it to Enjolras.

Enjolras flopped back down onto Combeferre’s lap while he waited for Bahorel to pick up, and Combeferre simply smiled at him and resumed stroking his hair.

“Hey, Bahorel,” Enjolras said, when she picked up. “I was wondering if you can fit me in for a massage sometime this week?”

“Sure, dude. I can do you today, if you want?” Bahorel said instantly, and Enjolras wanted to cry out of love for her.

“That would be amazing,” he said.

“Your back’s really doing you in, huh?” Bahorel asked, sounding sympathetic.

Enjolras laughed, somewhat pathetically. “You could say that.”

“Come over now, I’ve got all my stuff. I’ll sort you out,” Bahorel promised.

“You’re the love of my life,” Enjolras told Bahorel.

“So propose, then,” Bahorel replied, and hung up.

Laughing, Enjolras dropped his phone onto his stomach and curled into Combeferre’s hand. “I’m gonna go over to Bahorel’s,” Enjolras said.

Combeferre hummed. “You should probably stand up then,” he said, but the way his fingers grazed across Enjolras’ scalp were the opposite of encouraging.

“Or…” Enjolras said, lengthily, “you could keep playing with my hair and I could become so relaxed that I don’t even have bones or muscles anymore.”

Combeferre chuckled. “On y va,” he said to Enjolras, patting him on the top of his head, attempting to motivate him into making a move.

Enjolras smiled up at him, and once more heaved himself upright. “Ow, ow, ow,” he complained as he went, but kept going. He ignored Combeferre’s amused grin and went to find some shoes and three layers to put on before going out into the cold.

 

He all but fell into Bahorel’s arms when he reached her flat. “Get your hands on me, right now,” Enjolras demanded.

“Wow, I never thought I’d hear you say those words outside of my dreams,” a slow voice said from somewhere behind Bahorel, and Enjolras’ eyes snapped open to spot Éponine lounging on the sofa, raising an eyebrow at him.

Enjolras lifted his middle finger at her.

Someone threw a coat at Éponine’s head, and said, “It was quite something to hear, Enjolras.”

Enjolras winced and looked over at Grantaire. “Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” Grantaire replied, smirking at him. “Come on, Ép, Bahorel has an appointment with Enjolras’ body.”

Enjolras couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up inside him. “Oh, yes, she does,” he said, taking hold of one of Bahorel’s hands and leading her further into the apartment. He started to take off his jacket and jumper and shoes while Éponine and Grantaire gathered their things and Bahorel started to organise her oils and moisturisers.

“What are you two gonna do with the rest of your days?” Bahorel asked, stretching her hands and arms out.

I am going to go home and listen to ‘Nina Cried Power’ on vinyl for the rest of my life,” Grantaire said.

“And I am going to go take a nap before I have to pick up Gav from school,” Éponine said. “Though I still love your Secret Santa. That wine they got me, after Halloween? Heaven-sent.”

Grantaire grinned at her. “Yeah, I’m pretty fond of them.” His eyes slid over to Enjolras, who had paused in untying his shoelaces when Grantaire had mentioned the gift. “Enj, you gotta pass my thanks along on this one. The thing only came out yesterday and I now own it.”

Enjolras raised an eyebrow, and went back to taking off his shoes, secretly pleased. He glanced back up when Grantaire didn’t say anything, and just caught Grantaire looking at him with a thoughtful expression before he schooled it into something neutral.

“You like Hozier, don’t you, Enj?” Grantaire asked.

“Oh, um, yes, I do,” Enjolras said.

One of Grantaire’s eyebrows lifted a fraction of a centimetre. “Cool. Maybe you could come round some time and listen to it with me,” Grantaire offered.

“Yeah- Yeah! That sounds- Um, good. Yes, I would like that,” Enjolras said, surprised and caught off guard.

The answering smile that Grantaire gave him was soft, and all too knowing in Enjolras’ opinion – but then he thought maybe he was just seeing what he thought he should be seeing. What maybe he wanted to see. A part of Enjolras craved Grantaire to make the first move, to take it out of Enjolras’ hands for just a moment, to have a bit of confirmation that Grantaire loved him too.

“I’ll let you get to your massage,” Grantaire said. “Jealous as I am.”

“Yeah, Bahorel’s massages are a gift from God,” Enjolras agreed with a smile.

Grantaire paused and then smirked. “Right. I’m jealous of the massage, too.”

Enjolras rolled his eyes, knowing Grantaire had meant the massage all along. Still, the meaning of the joke made Enjolras flush a little.

Éponine and Grantaire left, making jokes with Bahorel all the way to the door, while Enjolras stretched a little, trying to get his back to stop aching. He caught Grantaire’s eye and they shared a last smile as he left.

Bahorel slapped Enjolras lightly on the shoulder. “Let’s get you on my table.”

Enjolras’ frame relaxed in relief, and he followed Bahorel through to her massage room. “You’re saving my life,” he told her.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m an angel, I know,” she said, cracking her knuckles. “Now, get your top off and lie down.”

 

“I saw Grantaire today,” was the first thing Enjolras said when he got home.

Looking up from the book he was reading, Combeferre’s face lit up. “Did he like the gifts?”

Enjolras rolled his eyes. “He only mentioned the vinyl because that came today, but yes, he loved it. He invited me over to listen to it with him some time.”

Combeferre grinned. “Sounds like a date.”

“Or just two friends listening to some good music,” Enjolras countered, re-joining Combeferre on the sofa. “I could sleep right here,” he said. “Man, Bahorel is magic.”

“Feeling better?” Combeferre asked.

“Mmm, much,” Enjolras replied, letting his eyes fall closed. “Tell me it’s almost bed time.”

Combeferre chuckled. “Not really, but you can go to sleep if you want. Time is a social construct.”

Enjolras simply curled in on himself on the sofa. “Okay,” he mumbled, eyes slipping closed.

Laughing, Combeferre rubbed Enjolras’ leg soothingly. “I meant go to your bed and get a comfortable night’s sleep.”

“Overrated,” Enjolras said, almost inaudibly.

“Fine,” Combeferre said. “I’ll wake you up later for some dinner, ok? And after that you have to go to your actual bed. You’re exhausted.”

“Working too hard, Courf says,” Enjolras said.

“You’re always working hard,” Combeferre answered.

“It’s important,” Enjolras said, around a yawn.

“Believe me, I know,” Combeferre said. “Get some sleep.”

Enjolras yawned again, and tucked his arms underneath his head, feet stretching out a little to rest in Combeferre’s lap, warm, comfortable, and without any aches in his back for the first time in months.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 1ST, SATURDAY

The wine was poured easily and quickly, and Grantaire pressed the glass into Enjolras’ hand. “Thanks for bringing a bottle,” Grantaire said. “I hope everyone’s ok with pasta for dinner. I didn’t really have the energy to cook properly.”

Enjolras smiled. “Pasta is great. But you could have texted, we didn’t need to come round if you’re tired.”

“No, I’m glad you’re here,” Grantaire said.

In the living room, they could hear Bahorel and Marie laughing loudly, and over the top of them, the sound of Courfeyrac yelling, sounding defensive, but somewhat amused.

“I… I had fun on Tuesday,” Grantaire said, after a second.

Enjolras’ heart seemed to skip a beat, and he tightened his grip on his glass of wine, the memory of the afternoon spent together, sitting on the floor in Grantaire’s room, drinking tea and listening to Grantaire’s records, flooding through him. “Me too. I was glad we did that.” He’d come so close to kissing Grantaire that day. The ghost of it hung over his lips, even though it never existed.

Grantaire glanced down at his own glass, and quickly took a sip, unable to hide his blush from Enjolras. Soft music from Grantaire’s phone filled the silence, a gentle evening playlist, and even the rowdy conversation from their friends in the other room couldn’t disturb the warm, easy tension in the kitchen.

Clearing his throat softly, Grantaire said, “It’s December.”

Enjolras nodded. “Nervous?” he asked, not bothering to pretend he didn’t know why Grantaire had brought it up.

Grantaire chuckled. “Yes,” he admitted. “And excited. And worried it’ll… How can I be equally scared that I’ll find out and that I’ll never find out?”

Enjolras felt goosebumps light up over his skin, and he took a sip of wine to give himself time. He was leant up against the kitchen counter, and he watched as Grantaire sighed and echoed his position.

“Someone loves you, Grantaire,” Enjolras said. “And they don’t know how to tell you.”

Grantaire’s whole body seemed tense, and he pushed away from the counter, turning to Enjolras and starting, “But what if I lo-”

The door to the kitchen flew open, and Bahorel, Marie, Joly, and Cosette all stumbled through, shouting incoherently.

Enjolras put his wine down quickly and stood up straight, trying to work out what was going on, his mind reeling with the start of Grantaire’s exclamation.

“Grantaire, first aid kit, stat!” Joly shouted over the chaos of their entrance.

Grantaire jolted, and spilt some of his wine in the process, and Enjolras quickly stepped in, taking the glass off him so he could find his first aid kit. “What’s happening?” he asked, sharply, looking at the four of them, trying to find something wrong with any of them.

“I need to prove I can wrap a bandage faster than Joly,” Marie said, angrily, putting her middle finger up at Joly as she spoke.

Enjolras froze, and saw Grantaire do the same where he had been pulling things out of a kitchen cupboard.

What,” Grantaire asked, turning to face them, “did you just say to me?”

Sheepish smiles started to spread across all four faces, but before any one of them could repeat themselves, Courfeyrac crashed through the door behind them. “Do we have the bandages, people?” he yelled, skidding to a stop and almost falling over.

Joly burst into giggles, and Cosette covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing.

“Currently no,” Bahorel told Courfeyrac. “But that’s only because Grantaire’s considering murdering us.”

Courfeyrac turned on Grantaire. “Listen, I can understand. They’re very murderable people, Grantaire, but right now we need you to focus. I simply can’t go on without knowing who can wrap a wrist the fastest. Is it the boxer, is it the med student, we just don’t know.”

Grantaire threw the first aid kit at Courfeyrac’s head. He only just ducked in time, throwing himself to the floor and letting the bag sail through the open door behind him. “Rude!” Courfeyrac yelled from the floor, as the other four went tearing after the first aid kit.

“Get out my kitchen,” Grantaire said, flatly, looking down at Courfeyrac. “I have chef work to do.”

Courfeyrac stuck his middle finger up at Grantaire

Enjolras tried not to laugh, and picked up his glass of wine again. “Is pasta ‘chef work’?”

“When it’s going to taste as good as mine will, yes,” Grantaire defended himself.

Enjolras rolled his eyes and passed him his glass of wine back. “If I hadn’t eaten your cooking before, I’d say you were being overconfident.”

“As it is, you know I’ve earned this confidence,” Grantaire replied, smiling smugly. “I’m amazing, I know.”

In the silence that followed, Enjolras wanted to press Grantaire, to ask what he almost said before the others disturbed them, but the start, the but what if I lo-, weighed heavily on him, and there was an uncomfortable feeling in his chest that insisted Grantaire loved someone else. As Grantaire pulled pans and ingredients out of the cupboard and the fridge, Enjolras nervously held his wine glass, watching the man he loved with a gaze that bordered on afraid.

They’d gotten so close over the past few months, and the thought of telling Grantaire at the end of the month, the thought of putting himself out there and being destroyed emotionally when Grantaire awkwardly turned him down, almost ruined him.

“Want to help?” Grantaire asked, turning to him, and Enjolras blinked away the look on his face to smile in response.

“I’d love to. What can I do?” he asked.

“Here,” Grantaire said, delicately holding out a knife in Enjolras’ direction, handle towards Enjolras.

Enjolras put down his glass and came across to take it, their hands brushing together as he did so. Grantaire put his hand over Enjolras’ showing him how to prepare the mushrooms, and they both knew that Enjolras could manage it, but neither one moved away, nor made any comment towards the simplicity of the task, until Grantaire had sufficiently shown him what to do.

Enjolras’ heart was in his throat, thudding so loud he felt Grantaire had to be able to hear it.

Grantaire stepped away quietly, starting to boil and salt the water.

“It’s funny,” Grantaire said, as he turned to start preparing the sauce, “on Wednesday I got gift cards for new cooking equipment. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to be here tonight.”

Enjolras didn’t know what to say, and kept his eyes fixed on the mushrooms, slicing in smooth, uniform cuts.

“And even by asking that I’m pushing it,” Grantaire said, mixing honey and soy sauce and tsuyu oil together in the bowl before looking through his cupboard for a different oil. He didn’t look at Enjolras while he worked. “I know you know who it is, and I can’t help but think- hell, hope, that-” He looked over at Enjolras, and Enjolras quickly dropped his gaze again.

“You know I can’t say anything,” Enjolras said.

“That’s not- We’ve been spending a lot of time together, haven’t we?” Grantaire asked. “I just… I’ve been thinking and-” He broke off and put down the spoon he’d been using to mix the sauce. “No. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything. It’s not fair on you.”

Enjolras’ heart thundered, and it was almost hard to breathe. He felt like he had to look a mess, but Grantaire wasn’t looking at him so it didn’t matter.

But then Grantaire’s eyes flickered up to meet Enjolras, and time stood still between them. Nothing moved.

“Enjolras, do you think I’ll be happy when I find out?” Grantaire asked.

Enjolras’ hand tightened on the knife. “I hope so,” he said.

“You think I’ll reciprocate? You think I should… date this person?” Grantaire asked.

Enjolras hesitated. “I think you should if you’re happy with what you find out, but you shouldn’t if you aren’t, because I know they wouldn’t want you to do it just for them, out of obligation.”

Grantaire nodded. “I’m sorry. I know we’ve had this conversation before, but it’s December now, and I can’t stop thinking about how much I don’t-” he swallowed tightly, “-how much I don’t deserve all this money being spent on me, all this attention. It’s so much, Enjolras. And I feel like you’re the only person I can talk to about this right now.” He smiled at Enjolras, tension sinking out of his shoulders. “I’m so glad we’re friends, Enjolras. And I’m glad I can cook pasta with you, and talk to you about what’s worrying me, and I know you’re not going to judge, and just… I really appreciate you.”

Enjolras put down his knife and crossed the small distance between them, pulling Grantaire into his arms without a second’s hesitation. “I care about you so much, R,” he said, voice coming out a little thick. “And I hope nothing changes when you find out. You can always come to me, and there will never be any pressure to put on a front, or be anything other than what you’re feeling.”

Grantaire sank into the hug. “We should finish cooking before someone comes looking for us and finds us embracing in the kitchen,” he said, instead of really replying to Enjolras.

Enjolras pulled back and smiled at him.

Grantaire looked back, and the corner of his mouth tugged upwards into a half-smile, too. “Thank you,” he said. “And I trust you and Joly when you say there won’t be any pressure from my Secret Santa. I do. It’s just my mind playing tricks on me.”

Enjolras nodded. “It’s ok to want some reassurance,” he said.

Grantaire ducked his head and laughed softly. “Come on, let’s make pasta.”

Enjolras went back to cutting the mushrooms, trying not to think about how he only had twenty-five days left to decide what to do, knowing nothing other than the fact that Grantaire deserved to be loved freely and fiercely every day for the rest of his life, and that he wanted this, openness and domesticity, forever.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 9TH, SUNDAY

Enjolras was sitting in his favourite café, staring out the window. For all intents and purposes, he looked like he was peacefully watching the world go by, but in reality, nothing in his line of sight was registering at all.

He was deep in thought, only drinking his tea because it was in his hands when he fell into this state, and it was happening mechanically.

“Enjolras? Enjolras?” Feuilly called, sharply.

Enjolras blinked and looked at his friend. “Sorry. Lost in thought,” he said.

“I could tell,” Feuilly replied. “Here, look at this,” he then said, tilting his laptop screen in Enjolras’ direction.

With Enjolras refocused, they continued to work quietly together, focused and intent, Enjolras’ pen darting over the page of his notebook as he jotted down notes. It felt good to be so productive together, sharing thoughts, ideas, and experiences. There was a connection between the two of them that Enjolras only ever felt when with his closest friends: an innate drive to discover, to learn, to educate themselves and those around them.

The ambience of the café was perfect, and Enjolras never felt more in touch with humanity than when he could hear them talk and laugh, watch them sit and enjoy themselves together or alone, reading, working, listening to music, watching others like he did… It was wonderful to him.

He hadn’t noticed he’d drifted back into a reverie when Feuilly’s phone vibrated loudly against the wooden table jolted him out of it.

“Gotta take this; it’s R,” Feuilly said with a smile in Enjolras’ direction, and instantly, Enjolras’ heart started working overtime.

“No worries,” Enjolras said, smiling back and trying not to give away any signs that Grantaire’s name being said had affected him at all. He picked up his mug for something to do with his hands even though it took less than one more mouthful to drain it. “Gonna get more tea,” he whispered at Feuilly as Feuilly answered the phone.

“Hey, dude. What? Mate, are you serious? Oh, my god. R. No way,” Enjolras heard Feuilly say as he pushed his chair back and headed for the counter.

“Hi, can I get another oolong tea?” he asked the lady behind the counter with a smile, trying to ignore Feuilly’s conversation. He paid and waited at the counter to collect his drink, gently tapping his fingers on the counter in time to the quiet background music of the shop.

He knew why Grantaire had called, of course. That day’s present had been a surprise to Enjolras, really, with how well it had come together.

A guest in his house – a rich guest in his house – had taken a liking to the painting on his wall and asked to buy it from him. Enjolras couldn’t say yes, it had been a gift – the only time Grantaire had ever giving Enjolras some of his work – and Enjolras treasured it immensely. But there was another option. “I know the artist well,” Enjolras had told his guest. “If you send me the money I’ll get in touch with him and commission something similar for you.”

And now Grantaire had more money than he’d likely had in a long time – Enjolras’ guest could more than afford a steeper price than Grantaire would ever have charged for a commission.

“Enjolras!” Feuilly yelled over. “We’ve gotta go. R has some amazing news!”

Springing into action, Enjolras collected his bag and books, pulled out his portable flask and poured his tea into it, and then followed Feuilly out into the street. “What’s happening?” he asked.

“Grantaire’s rich!” Feuilly cried. “He’s buying us all a drink and telling us about it.”

Enjolras grinned and picked up the pace to get to the underground.

 

They found Grantaire holding court at the café, looking happy and a little overwhelmed. Marius was on one side of him, and Grantaire had his arm around him, looking at him like he was wonderful, and then Jehan kissed Grantaire’s cheek and Grantaire’s attention swapped to Jehan for a moment.

All Enjolras’ friends were talking away, everyone looking excitable and uncontained. Enjolras and Feuilly exchanged a look, and then joined the group seamlessly. Grantaire didn’t even notice they’d arrived for a minute or two, but when he did, he shouted happily.

“Okay! Okay! I can tell you now! We’re all here!” he yelled. “Someone commissioned me for a huge piece and they’re paying me a fortune! I’m rich!”

The group cheered and Enjolras leant into Courfeyrac’s side, smiling quietly. Courfeyrac planted a kiss in his hair.

“But that’s not really why I’ve gathered you all here today,” Grantaire confessed. “Since the order came in all I’ve been doing is planning my money – well, I also planned the piece, but that will take more time. I figured out how much I’ll need for the work, how much I need for living costs, and since I’ve been doing pretty all right it’s not much of the cheque, then a little of the money to treat myself, how much for buying you all a drink, and then I called Marius and made him triple-check my maths, and then… God, I still have a ton left over. I can’t believe someone would pay this much for my art. But that’s not the point! I want you all to decide what we should do with the money. You’re all better at this stuff than me,” Grantaire said, grinning sheepishly round at them all.

“You’re giving the money to Les Amis?” Combeferre asked in the silence that followed.

“Yeah,” Grantaire said. “I… Is that okay?”

“R, that’s amazing,” Bossuet said. “You don’t have to do that, you know? You-”

“But I want to,” Grantaire interrupted. “Marius has the numbers, why don’t you all talk it over? Enjolras, Feuilly, I owe you a drink, what can I get you?”

Feuilly put in his usual order of a black coffee with caramel syrup, but Enjolras stood up instead. “I’ll come with you,” he said.

“Perfect, I wanted to ask you about something, anyway,” Grantaire said with a smile. He held out a hand to steady Enjolras as Enjolras clambered over his chair to escape the tightly-packed group, and Enjolras gratefully took Grantaire’s hand for a brief moment of pure ecstasy.

As they started to make their way to the counter, Grantaire looked him up and down, took a deep breath, and then said, “It’s you, isn’t it?”

“Sorry?” Enjolras asked, taken aback.

Grantaire stopped and reached out a hand to lightly touch Enjolras’ arm, stopping him short as well. “You’re the one who’s been sending these gifts,” Grantaire said, not looking even the slightest bit nervous.

“Why would you say that?” Enjolras asked, still reeling but trying not to show it. He was sure it was written all over his face.

“I’ve put a lot of thought into it,” Grantaire said. “Mind if we sit over here for a moment, to talk?” he asked, gesturing at a free table for two on the other side of the room to all their friends.

Embarrassment and anxiety was starting to burn in Enjolras’ heart, but he nodded and followed Grantaire to the table, sitting down opposite him.

Grantaire looked at him intently. “It always had to be someone I knew. Either a friend or… Well, it had to be a friend really. If it wasn’t a friend, it was a stalker. They knew too much about me to be anything other than those two options. And then I learnt Joly knew who it was, so it had to be someone Joly liked, because Joly hates keeping secrets and wouldn’t do it for an acquaintance. So a close friend. A member of Les Amis, most likely?”

With every word, Enjolras’ heart sank lower in his chest. It was suffocating, sitting and listening to Grantaire explain exactly how he knew it was Enjolras.

“I considered that maybe it was everyone? Trying to do something nice for me? But it was too long-haul and way too much money, and not everyone is as good an actor as you apparently are…”

“But why do you think it’s me?” Enjolras asked, feeling dizzy but his voice stayed strong.

“Well, for one, you’ve yet to say it’s not you, which seems weird,” Grantaire pointed out, with a shy grin, “but also… some of the presents were super expensive, so I could easily rule out some of the group, plus a lot of our friends are already in long-term committed relationships, and while I don’t even want to think about the romantic element of those notes right in this second, I know they’d never write those things even just as a ploy to cheer me up-”

“I’ve got to go,” Enjolras interrupted, head spinning, standing up sharply, feeling mortification to his very core. “I’m really sorry if you felt at all uncomfortable about the gifts, all I wanted was…” He sucked in a breath. “All I wanted was to make you happy.”

“Enjolras,” Grantaire said, copying him and rising to his feet, reaching out to Enjolras in the same moment, “wait.”

“Oh, oh, wait,” Enjolras said, dizziness over-coming him. “I’m sitting back down. Sitting back-” He collapsed back into his chair and dropped his head into his hands, trying to regain some feeling of stability. He breathed out heavily. “If you could just give me a moment,” he said, weakly.

“Hey, hey, Enjolras, breathe,” Grantaire was saying, suddenly a lot nearer. “Can I touch you? Here? Is it okay if I put my hand on your knee?”

Enjolras nodded pathetically and opened his eyes to look at Grantaire crouching in front of him as Grantaire gently, oh, so gently, placed his hand on Enjolras’ knee, comforting.

Oh, you weren’t supposed to find out yet. I was supposed to tell you. I was supposed to have longer to figure out how to tell you.” He took a gasping breath. “I’m sorry,” Enjolras said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Well, you seem to be panicking a little,” Grantaire said, warmly. “What’s that about? There’s no reason to panic, you didn’t even let me finish talking, and we all know how much I like talking.”

Enjolras laughed softly. “That’s true,” he said.

“Did you really send me all those presents, Enjolras?” Grantaire asked.

Weakly, Enjolras nodded.

“That’s… Wow, Enjolras. How can I ever repay you?” Grantaire asked wondrously.

Enjolras saw his chance instantly. “Go on a date with me,” he said. “But only if you want to! Don’t feel you have to because I gave you all those things, that was just… I wanted to give you those. Free of charge. But if you… if you’d consider going on a date with me? Please, do,” Enjolras finished.

“Enjolras,” Grantaire said, softly. “Of course I’ll go on a date with you.”

“Don’t just go out with me as a thank you,” Enjolras said. “I… I swear there’s no expectation- I don’t want to pressure you, that was never my intention-”

“Enjolras,” Grantaire interrupted, laughing gently, “Enjolras, shush.”

“I get that it’s a lot of money that I’ve thrown at you but it’s not-”

“Enjolras,” Grantaire cut in, trying to stop grinning. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

“But you said you felt pressured, and I didn’t know how to tell you-”

“Enjolras, I’ve been in love with you for years. Centuries. Millennia,” Grantaire interrupted.

Enjolras all but swooned, and he leant in towards Grantaire. “I love you, too,” he said. “Tuesday, what are you doing?”

“Nothing,” Grantaire said. “Working on my commission, I guess.”

Enjolras smiled. “Think you could take a few hours off in the evening to get dinner with me?”

Grantaire flushed, beaming almost uncontrollably. “I think I could swing that.”

“Excellent,” Enjolras said. “Can I… Can I hug you?” he asked.

Grantaire laughed, joyously. “Any time you want,” and he wrapped his arms tightly around Enjolras’ body. As they hugged, Grantaire moved up onto his knees, face buried in Enjolras’ neck, holding on tight. Enjolras responded in kind, irrationally praying that they’d never have to let go.  

“I didn’t expect you to find out,” Enjolras said, lightheaded and swirling.

“Well, with this gift… I’ve wondered for a while, but I had to ask you. This is-” he pulled back to look at Enjolras with soft eyes, and Enjolras pressed their foreheads together, “-I had to know if it was you. I had to ask. I had to thank you, in person, a million times over. Enjolras, you’ve- You’ve made me so happy, and I know you don’t want anything out of it except to give me these things and that’s crazy, you’re crazy, but I love you, I love you, I-” he broke off with a small huff of air that could have been a laugh or the start of a sob. His eyes were shining, and Enjolras was helpless.

“R,” he said, and had no other words. He knew. It had happened. And Tuesday… Tuesday was going to be wonderful.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 11TH, TUESDAY

Enjolras knocked on Grantaire’s door at 7:30, to take him to dinner. He was wearing one of his more relaxed button-up shirts, and he’d brought a cactus. When Grantaire opened the door, Grantaire’s eyes went straight to the cactus, while Enjolras’ eyes went straight to the bouquet Grantaire was holding.

“Are those for me?” Enjolras blurted out.

At the same time, Grantaire asked, “Is that for me?”

Enjolras and Grantaire’s eyes met, and they laughed, awkwardly. “Hi,” Grantaire said.

“Hi,” Enjolras said, smiling softly. “Yes, this is for you,” he said, and held it out.

“And these are for you,” Grantaire said, and they swapped them over. “I’ll… go put this over here. Thank you.” He turned to put the cactus down in his living room, and then turned back. “Should I… keep those flowers here for now?”

Enjolras burst out laughing. “Yes, that sounds like a good idea.”

He followed Grantaire into the flat, taking off his coat as he went. As he looked around, even though he’d been in Grantaire’s flat a thousand times, being here now, before their first date, he felt nervous. It meant more to him. For the first time, he could look at Grantaire’s sofa and imagine watching films together, imagine playing with Grantaire’s hair, imagine having Grantaire cook for him and it mean something more, and it wasn’t all utterly impossible. He even glanced in the direction of Grantaire’s bedroom, and felt his stomach tighten, his palms growing a little too warm thinking about Grantaire’s bed.

Grantaire smiled at him as Enjolras looked away from the door leading to the hallway, and said, “I just need a minute and then I’m ready.”

Enjolras nodded eagerly. “No problem.”

Grantaire bit his lip, stifling a laugh. “Are you as nervous as I am?” he asked.

Enjolras let out a relieved laugh. “Yes, oh, my God, yes.” His shoulders dropped a little. “I’ve been scared all day.”

Grantaire shook his head, somewhat wonderingly. He took a deep breath. “There’s no pressure on tonight going well, Enjolras. You already know I’m in love with you. The worst date on Earth couldn’t shake me off you.”

Everything in Enjolras wanted to cross the room, give up on dinner and wine and conversation, and finally kiss him. He smiled at Grantaire and couldn’t believe he was there. “That makes me… so happy, R,” he said, and laughed, embarrassed. “You know how I feel. I… I think I said to Joly that doing this was practically taking my heart and wrapping that up for you.”

“It’s okay,” Grantaire said. “I’ve been doing that every day since I met you.”

 

The restaurant was quiet, calm. Low-lighting and gentle music filled the air, and it was both lovely and casual. The food was good, the company was better, the conversation was wonderful. Every second that Grantaire’s eyes were on Enjolras, Enjolras felt like the luckiest man in the world, and Grantaire was looking at him a lot.

They didn’t talk about the presents, they didn’t talk about Christmas, they didn’t talk about how they got together or how long they’ve felt this way. Instead… they talked about everything else. Their friends, their jobs, their family. They talked about the books they were reading and the films they’d seen, they talked about religion and aliens, capitalism and dancing, sports they loved and artists they hated.

Hours passed.

“Enjolras, it’s- Please,” Grantaire said, reaching for the bill, when the restaurant was almost empty except for themselves, and the waiters were starting to glance their way. “Let me buy dinner. You’ve spent so much money on me that could be going to our causes. Let me cover this one,” Grantaire said.

Enjolras shook his head firmly. “After Christmas, take me for dinner. We’re still on my time.” His hand pressed over the top of Grantaire’s, which rested on top of the bill. “I insist. I asked to take you to dinner, and I want to pay for it.”

Grantaire was blushing, and he let go of the bill, but flipped his hand round to catch hold of Enjolras’ fingers for a moment. “Thank you,” he said, before pulling his hand back.

Enjolras smiled and he couldn’t wait to have Grantaire’s hands in his own again.

 

The street was dark and cold, but it had been that way since four in the afternoon, so it didn’t mean anything. Grantaire, wrapped in his woollen scarf and large coat, the tip of his nose red and his cheeks flushed, was the most wonderful thing Enjolras had ever seen.

“Come back to mine,” Enjolras said. “I’m not ready for this night to end yet.”

Grantaire tilted his head a little, smiling at him gently. “Who knew you were such a romantic?” he said with a teasing air about his words, but still he slipped his hand into Enjolras’ and stepped closer to him. “Are you inviting me back for coffee?” he asked.

Enjolras laughed and felt a little embarrassed. “I’m inviting you back because I’m nowhere done spending time with you, and maybe because I might want to kiss you when we’re somewhere more private,” he said, forcing himself to be as bold in this as he was in every other part of his life. “If that’s something you want.”

Grantaire pressed even closer, head tilted towards Enjolras’, and he said, “If kissing you was all I got to do for the rest of my life, I would die happy.”

It was such a line that Enjolras couldn’t help but laugh, and Grantaire laughed with him, their faces close together, their hands intertwined. “Can I kiss you here?” Enjolras asked.

Grantaire nodded. “Yes,” he said, and then his lips were on Enjolras’, a soft, wonderful pressure that made Enjolras’ eyes slip closed and his body press in closer to Grantaire’s.

“Is that a yes to coming back to mine?” Enjolras asked, when they parted a moment later.

Grantaire bit his lip, trying to keep his smile from becoming ridiculously wide and failing spectacularly – though Enjolras knew his smile must be equally absurd – and nodded. “That’s a yes.”

 

Nervous excitement started to grow in Enjolras’ stomach as he let them into his flat. As Grantaire took off his coat and scarf, Enjolras did the same, quickly kicking off his shoes, but the moment after Grantaire had the chance to bend down and take off his own shoes, Enjolras crossed the space between them and lightly touched Grantaire’s chin, lifting his gaze up to Enjolras’ face. “May I?” he asked.

Grantaire kissed him in the space of an answer, and Enjolras’ cupped Grantaire’s jaw to kiss him back while Grantaire’s arms slid around Enjolras’ waist. Everything in Enjolras sang with joy at having Grantaire wrapped around him, at the feeling of Grantaire’s mouth moving against his own, at the way Grantaire surged towards him to deepen the kiss as Enjolras encouraged him with his fingers against his skin.

When Grantaire drew back, Enjolras swayed forwards, trying to follow his mouth, and then they both laughed breathlessly.

“I can’t believe we’re here, I can’t believe I’m kissing you,” Enjolras said, amazed and delighted.

Grantaire was beaming too, and he pressed their foreheads together. “I never want to stop,” he said, and pressed a short, closed-mouth kiss to Enjolras’ lips.

Enjolras was trying to stop grinning so he could kiss back, but it was impossible. He was simply too happy. “Come to my bed?” he asked.

Grantaire kissed him again. “Lead the way,” he said.

There, Enjolras turned on the lamp by his bed, closed his curtains, and then, moving to sit on the edge of his mattress, fixed his eyes on Grantaire, and slowly began unbuttoning his shirt. Grantaire didn’t need any suggestions; he crowded into Enjolras’ space, kissing him deeply, his own capable fingers joining Enjolras’ on the fabric and helping him remove his shirt, only pausing for a second at Enjolras’ binder before Enjolras helped him remove it. Grantaire’s shirt followed, and then their jeans were removed, and Grantaire coaxed Enjolras further onto the bed, helping them both under the covers to escape the cold winter night.

“I love you,” Enjolras whispered to Grantaire, in between soft kisses and softer touches. Grantaire’s body was all that existed, Grantaire’s presence all that mattered. “I love you.”

Grantaire’s strong hands ran over Enjolras’ skin, down his side and further, and Grantaire kissed him over and over and over while Enjolras gasped his name and declarations of love.

“I love you too,” Grantaire said, when they were drowsy and warm and surrounded by one another completely. “I love you, I love you.”

Enjolras buried his face in Grantaire’s chest, pulling the duvet closer around them, feeling happier than he’d ever felt as Grantaire held him close and comfortable. He couldn’t stop smiling, but his eyes were growing steadily heavier, and he blinked slowly as his body relaxed into Grantaire’s warm embrace. “I love you,” he murmured again, but fell asleep before he heard if Grantaire replied or not.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 12TH, WEDNESDAY

“Good morning,” Enjolras said softly, breaking the stillness of his bedroom, knowing that Grantaire was awake already.

It was still reasonably dark outside, very little light coming in around the edges of the curtains, and Enjolras rolled into Grantaire’s side, stretching his arm across Grantaire’s torso.

Grantaire wrapped an arm around Enjolras’ shoulders and pulled him close, kissing the top of his head gently. “Good morning,” he replied, and Enjolras couldn’t not smile at the sound of Grantaire’s quietly pleased voice. He stifled a laugh, pressing his face into Grantaire’s bare, hairy chest, and Grantaire squeezed him, pulling him ever closer in.

“Let’s stay here forever,” Enjolras said, without really meaning it, but also knowing that he didn’t want to leave Grantaire’s arms for a long time.

“Okay,” Grantaire said easily, kissing his hair again. He started to chuckle, and Enjolras twisted to look up at him questioningly. “Do you have any idea how many people we’ve made happy by getting together?”

Enjolras grinned. “Combeferre actually said to me ‘does that mean you’re going to stop talking about him every three seconds?’” he said with a laugh.

“Bossuet, Joly, and Musichetta threw me a mini-party Sunday night,” Grantaire said, laughing.

Enjolras stretched himself up to kiss Grantaire’s jaw. “You’re in my bed,” he said, breathing in the smell of Grantaire’s skin.

“I’m in your bed,” Grantaire confirmed, looking very pleased with himself. “Hopefully not for the last time.”

Enjolras laughed and kissed his jaw again, and this time Grantaire turned to look down at him, smiling fondly. “Definitely not for the last time,” Enjolras said. He tucked his face into Grantaire’s neck, wrapping himself even closer around Grantaire.

Grantaire’s fingers ran up and down his back, skin on skin everywhere they were touching. Enjolras had never been warmer, nor felt more comfortable, nor felt more loved. Adored. Cherished. Grantaire kissed Enjolras’ hair three times, fingers trailing aimlessly over his skin, and Enjolras responded by kissing Grantaire’s neck and running his fingers across Grantaire’s broad chest and wide stomach. It felt incredible to touch the parts of Grantaire he’d always admired.

“You like my chest?” Grantaire asked.

Enjolras hummed an affirmative, nodding slightly against Grantaire’s neck.

Grantaire pressed another kiss to him. “I like this part of you,” he said, and ran his fingers down the length of Enjolras’ spine, making Enjolras shiver with unexpected pleasure.

“I like your thighs,” Enjolras mumbled, eyes still closed and body still relaxed with sleep.

“I like your hair,” Grantaire replied. “I could play with it forever.”

Enjolras kissed his skin. “I like all of you.”

Grantaire’s arms tightened around him. “What a funny coincidence,” he said, and quickly rolled them over so Enjolras found himself suddenly laid on his back, looking up at Grantaire in surprise, “because I like all of you, too.”

A smile bloomed across Enjolras’ face, and Grantaire pressed down to kiss him soundly.

 

When they finally got up, finding their clothes and some blankets to wrap themselves in, they trailed to the kitchen, hardly ever letting go of one another. Grantaire, ever a miracle worker, found ingredients for pancakes hidden in Enjolras’ kitchen and proceeded to amaze Enjolras even more than he had been by the night spent together (and Enjolras had been pretty blown away by him then).

They kissed and ate and sent each other quiet, happy smiles, and they brushed their teeth and kissed some more and fell onto the sofa, hands linked together, mouths pressing together joyfully.

After lunch, Grantaire regretfully said he had to leave, and Enjolras kissed him over and over again while he was still there, not intentionally trying to prevent him from leaving, but it did delay the parting.

“I’ll see you again so soon,” Grantaire said, leaning back his head and laughing as Enjolras kissed his cheeks and jaw, soft, little pecks. “I bet our group won’t even make it through the week without us seeing each other again.”

“How,” Enjolras asked, brushing their noses together, “do you expect me to sleep in my bed alone when I’ve had you sleep there?”

“You’re a grown man, Enjolras,” Grantaire said, amused, and Enjolras wanted him to sound this happy always. “Call me if you get too lonely.”

“I’ll call you the second you walk out of my door,” Enjolras promised.

“You’re ridiculous,” Grantaire said, and kissed him again. “I have to go.”

“I know,” Enjolras said.

“Then you have to let go of me,” Grantaire pointed out.

Enjolras kissed him. “I know,” he repeated.

Grantaire raised an eyebrow and, groaning, Enjolras pulled back, getting to his feet and pulling Grantaire up with him.

He watched as Grantaire pulled on his jeans and coat and shoes, and he helped Grantaire wrap his scarf around his neck. Grantaire looked at him fondly. “Thank you,” he said. “Last night was wonderful.”

“Today was wonderful, too,” Enjolras said, and let himself be tugged forwards into a hug.

“Call Combeferre and Courfeyrac,” Grantaire said. “I’m sure they’re dying to know how last night went.”

Enjolras grinned and pulled back from the hug. “Can I tell them that we had sex?” he asked.

Grantaire laughed and rolled his eyes. “Sure, why not?” he said, grinning. “I know I’m going to tell Joly, Bossuet, and Chetta. Tell them whatever you want. I don’t care what people know about us.”

Enjolras wanted him to stay so desperately. He settled for a last kiss. “I love you,” he said.

Grantaire gently touched the ends of Enjolras’ hair. “I love you, too. I’ll call you later.”

“Good,” Enjolras said, looking forward to it already. “I’ll be waiting.”

“No, you won’t. You’ll be doing work within the hour and lose track of time,” Grantaire predicted.

Enjolras didn’t even deny it. He just laughed and straightened Grantaire’s scarf around his neck. “I’ll still be waiting.”

Grantaire kissed his cheek, and then disappeared out the door, leaving Enjolras standing there, filled with love and happiness and a sense of wholeness. He was at peace.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 19TH, WEDNESDAY

The rain had been pouring relentlessly all weekend, and for most of the first half of the week too, and it was starting to look like it would be a Christmas without snow. Enjolras thought back fondly to February, when they’d all rented a home in the Lake District and spent their days walking through the unexpected snowfall and drinking hot chocolates around the fire.

Back then he learnt for the first time that Grantaire found snow unbearably cold, more so than most people did, it seemed. He couldn’t stand being out in it for long, and had spent a lot of time keeping the house warm and comfortable and well-fed.

Enjolras hoped they could do a similar trip again soon, so the next time he could greet and thank Grantaire for his kindness with kisses, so they could share a chair and blanket in the dark evenings with everyone sitting around drinking red wine and laughing.

Enjolras pulled his hood closer around his face, desperately trying to protect his natural hair from the rain. It was getting ridiculously windy, and he couldn’t wait to get to Combeferre’s apartment to shelter from the weather for the next 24 hours at least.

Upon getting to the flat, he rushed past his friends to the bathroom to look into the mirror as he let down his hood, assessing the damage it had done and grimacing at the state of his hair. Combeferre appeared in the doorway. “It’s not that bad,” Combeferre said, holding back an amused smile.

Enjolras rolled his eyes, busy trying to fix his hair. “I hate this weather.”

“Well, the good news is you don’t have to go back out in it today at least,” Combeferre said.

“Thank fuck,” Enjolras said, with deep-felt sincerity.

Combeferre left him to it, and Enjolras heard him call to their friends, “It’s ok guys, the hair will live.”

Enjolras pictured smacking him around the back of the head and smiled to himself.

When he felt comfortable, he made his way through to the living room. Grantaire smiled over at him from by the window where he was smoking with Feuilly, and Enjolras went across for a kiss hello and a drag.

Grantaire grinned lazily at him. “How was the walk?” he asked.

“I’m never leaving this building again,” Enjolras answered.

“Sounds like a plan,” Grantaire said. “But I think Combeferre might not be too pleased.”

“Hey, Feuilly,” Enjolras said, nodding at him and passing the joint over. “How are you?”

“Good,” Feuilly said. “Fucking thrilled to have the next couple of days off.”

“Really?” Enjolras asked, smiling widely. “Finally.”

Feuilly laughed. “I know, it’s been a while.”

Grantaire’s arm slipped around Enjolras’ waist, but not in a distracting way. Enjolras leant into the touch and accepted the joint back off Feuilly. Putting it to his lips, he took a deep drag and held it for a while, letting it fill his lungs, hot and familiar, before releasing the smoke slowly.

“I heard you’re working all through Christmas,” Enjolras said. “Any chance you can make it to the food collection on Christmas Eve?”

“Sorry,” Feuilly said, with a grimace. “I forgot about the collection when I was putting my name down for hours. Don’t give a shit about Christmas and it’s extra pay, so I went for it.”

“It’s cool,” Grantaire said. “Éponine’s working, and I think Bahorel said she and Marie might not be able to make it either.”

Enjolras looked at Grantaire. “What’s Ép doing with the kids now she’s got a job? – thank God for that, by the way.”

“I know, right?” Grantaire said. “I think she’s just letting Azelma be in charge and telling her to call one of us if they need anything.”

Enjolras hummed and started chewing on the inside of his lip.

“It’s not fair,” Feuilly said, sharply, and Enjolras started. He looked up at the angry expression on his friend’s face. “It’s not fair we have to work so fucking much just to survive, and it’s not fair on those kids that they have to grow up fending for themselves because the only adult in their whole fucking family who will stand up and take care of them is their sister.”

Enjolras nodded and swallowed down the surge of sadness that rose in him at Feuilly’s words.

“Marius and Cosette help,” Grantaire said, softly. Enjolras turned to look at him. “And Valjean has been helping look after Gavroche and the twins after school when he can.” Grantaire clenched his jaw for a second and then stole the joint from between Enjolras’ fingers. “They’re getting by. It’s not all bad.”

“We shouldn’t have to settle for ‘getting by’, R,” Feuilly said.

“I know,” Grantaire replied, considering the joint and then flicking the build-up of ash out the window, off-handedly, “but it’s what we’ve got right now.”

Outside the rain beat on against the streets, the sound of heavy droplets falling fast against the windows and the tarmac and the paving slabs of the pavement.

“We can do so much better,” Enjolras said, fiercely, and was cut off as a cheer went up on the other side of the room.

He turned to look at the group gathered around the coffee table, and saw that Combeferre had emerged from the kitchen with two plates of pizza. “More to come, I promise,” he was calling, even as Marius left the kitchen with two more plates.

“I love Combeferre’s giant oven,” Grantaire said, and let go of Enjolras, heading for the pizza.

Enjolras met Feuilly’s eyes.

“I know,” Feuilly said, and Enjolras knew that he did. “We’re never going to stop working until we reach that better world, you know that.”

“I do,” Enjolras said.

Feuilly smiled sadly and said, “But also it’s my first night off in weeks, and I want to eat pizza with my friends.”

“Yeah,” Enjolras said, and pushed himself forwards to crash into Feuilly as a hug. “I love you.”

Feuilly hugged back tightly. “I know, dude. I love you, too. Now get off me so I can go eat pizza.”

Enjolras laughed and let go, staying back for just a second to watch the group settle, elbowing each other for more room and jostling to get comfortable like a bunch of schoolchildren instead of the grown, independent adults they all were.

He took his seat in between Joly and Cosette, and Joly beamed at him. They hadn’t talked yet about the gifts, about Grantaire, about all of it, but they would soon, Enjolras knew. All Joly had settled for, when they’d had a spare moment together at the end of last week, was a quick, “You’ve made him so happy, Enjolras. He’s so happy.”

Teasing jokes about when the wedding was going to be had already been made, wolf-whistles when they greeted each other with a chaste kiss the other day had already happened, winks and small smiles and quiet confessions of, “I’m happy for you both,” had been passed along to Enjolras. He was so content. His friends had been delighted from the very start, and they showed no signs of displeasure at the new relationship in their group. Maybe they’d seen it coming, and simply weren’t saying anything, but at the very least no one had seemed overtly surprised when it happened. It didn’t matter. Enjolras was thrilled it was happening, and even more thrilled that his friends were pleased about it.

When the group settled back, much later, a few of them a little wine drunk, the rest simply having eaten far too much pizza and assorted sides, Enjolras found his way to Grantaire’s side.

“I have something for you,” he murmured.

Grantaire looked at him, smiling happily. “Is that so?”

“Mmhhm,” Enjolras said, nodding and holding out his hand for Grantaire to take.

He led Grantaire out into Combeferre’s spare room, stopping only to pick up his bag on the way.

Once there, he sat down on the bed, patting it so Grantaire would join him, and he pulled the cardboard tube out of the bag.

Grantaire twisted the end off the tube, glancing up at Enjolras with a bemused smile as he did so. “You’re liking getting to give me this in person, aren’t you?”

Enjolras grinned and nodded. “Like the tea,” he said.

Grantaire stopped what he was doing to catch Enjolras’ mouth in a kiss. “That day was wonderful. I fell head-over-heels for you that day,” he confessed.

Enjolras touched Grantaire’s cheek. “I felt the same.” He looked down at the present. “Go on, open it.”

Grantaire smiled and looked down at the cardboard tube, now open at one end, and reached in to delicately take hold of the paper inside, tugging lightly and sliding it out. Unrolling it, he sucked in a deep breath.

Nerves caught Enjolras, and he started to babble, “I know you’re an artist, obviously, so you have a lot of art already, but I know that you like Emily Carroll a lot and that you take inspiration from her and well, I just thought-”

Grantaire kissed him.

Enjolras let out a little muffled sound, but let his eyes slide closed and let himself soften into the kiss. Grantaire pulled back after a second, pressing their foreheads together.

“So you like it?” Enjolras asked, starting to grin.

“I’ve loved everything you’ve gotten me,” Grantaire said, seriously. “Yes, I like it.”

“Good,” Enjolras said, and let himself be kissed again, happily. He pulled back after a moment, and said, “Less than a week til Christmas.”

Grantaire nodded, and then started to smirk. “Gosh,” he said, as though he was worried about something, “I sure do hope I find out who’s sending me all these presents.”

Enjolras shoved him gently, laughing, and kissed him again to shut him up.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 23RD, SUNDAY

The market stretched on for streets and streets, filling the space cordoned off for it with bustling activity and brightly-lit stalls. Some of the group were there somewhere, those who weren’t held back by classes or work or adult responsibilities, but Enjolras and Grantaire were alone for a moment.

Enjolras held up two free tasters from a tea stall, differing in colour, offering them both to Grantaire. Grantaire plumped for the bright pink one, leaving Enjolras the natural earthy red one. They cheersed the plastic glasses before drinking, like they were 19 again, in a club, drinking an ungodly mix of Red Bull and Jägermeister with all their friends. Enjolras couldn’t stop a small smile at the memories – they’d been so young and stupid sometimes.

At the next stall, Grantaire grabbed a cheese taster each, and at the third, Enjolras made them stop and smell the scented candles for almost fifteen minutes. Grantaire kept on holding Enjolras’ hand, happily smelling and commenting on every candle Enjolras shoved in front of his face.

Grantaire bought a mulled wine for Enjolras and a hot chocolate for himself at a stall a bit further down the road, and kissed Enjolras under mistletoe at another. It was perfect.

“Hey, Enjolras! Grantaire!” Musichetta called, and Enjolras turned around three times trying to find her before Grantaire pointed her out at the stall opposite theirs, trying on five hand-knitted scarves at once. “Come help me pick a scarf for Joly.”

Grantaire squeezed Enjolras’ hand and pulled him across the flow of people to Musichetta and Jehan, who was leaning up against the stall, watching Musichetta with pursed lips, in heels far too tall for the day’s event.

“I like the purple patchwork one,” Musichetta said, “but I keep coming back to the dark blue with silver stars.”

Enjolras tilted his head, surveying the scarves, while Grantaire said, “I think the stars is more Joly. If you like the purple one, I’ll get it you for Christmas.”

Musichetta laughed lightly. “Angel,” she said, and wrapped a light pink and grey checked scarf around Grantaire’s neck.

Enjolras smiled at the interaction and said, “I like the stars for Joly, too.”

Grantaire took off the scarf and hung it back on the display rack. “What have you got, Jehan?” he asked, nodding at the bags Jehan was clutching.

Jehan stood up straight and came closer to the little group, towering beside Enjolras in her heels, resting an elbow on his shoulder. He grinned up at her, so enamoured with his friend.

“Gin, for me. Chocolates, for Bahorel and Marie. Bath soaps and moisturisers, for Cosette and Marius and Éponine and Courfeyrac – joint gift! Tea leaves, for – oh shit. Well, tea for you,” she said, pulling out the box and handing it over to Enjolras, while Grantaire and Musichetta cracked up laughing. Jehan grinned and shrugged. “Oops.”

Enjolras laughed and put the box in the bag along with the candle he’d bought. “It’s alright. Happy holidays, Jehan. Thank you for the tea.” She leant down a little, and he kissed her cheek happily. She winked at him.

“What else?” she asked herself. “Poster for Feuilly, mug for Combeferre, candlesticks for Valjean, a set of tarot cards for Montparnasse, a date for myself-” She stopped and looked at them, raising her eyebrows for dramatic effect.

“Why am I not surprised you got a date at a Christmas market?” Musichetta asked rhetorically, unwinding a scarf from around her neck.

“Because I’m brilliant and so, so sexy,” Jehan said, laughing at herself right after.

“You guys are right,” Musichetta said, decisively. “Stars for Joly.” She tossed the purple one to Grantaire, who caught it one-handed. “If you’re sure,” she said.

“Of course,” Grantaire said. He laughed. “Saves me having to think up something for you this close to Christmas anyway.”

She rolled her eyes at him.

Enjolras looked around at the other stalls nearby, watching the people shopping and browsing, while Grantaire paid. He waved at someone he couldn’t remember the name of, but whose face he knew. He pulled the tea Jehan had given him back out of his bag to inspect it, since Grantaire had started a conversation with the stall owner, something about knitting that was outside of Enjolras’ basic capabilities. He couldn’t wait to try the tea later that night – hopefully Grantaire was coming home with him again and they could have a quiet night in together.

They started to move down through the stalls again, as a group, Jehan and Grantaire linking arms and gossiping quietly to each other. Musichetta had her new scarf wrapped around her neck, and she’d left her hair tucked in under it.

Enjolras spotted a stall that he thought might have what he was looking for and, checking that Jehan and Grantaire had kept walking, distracted by their own conversation, slipped away from the group, ducking into the stall of towering stacks, used books piled upon used books.

The small rainbow flag he’d spotted out front set him at ease, and the elderly black man sitting with the till made him smile, feeling at home. He held up a hand and smiled in greeting at the man, and started to quickly scour the shelves, not wanting to take too long, not wanting Grantaire to notice he’d gone.

“What are you looking for?” the stalls owner asked.

Enjolras started, and then laughed at himself. “I’m looking for something romantic. It’s for my boyfriend, I had this idea planned, but then I couldn’t find something good enough for him. Nothing summed up how I felt about him in the way I wanted it to, so I didn’t buy anything, and now Christmas Eve is tomorrow,” he said.

“Romantic letters? Poetry? A romance novel? Something Romantic with a capital R?” the stall owner asked. “We only sell second-hand books here, I might not have what you’re looking for.”

“Letters or poetry,” Enjolras said. “And that’s okay. It’s worth a try.”

The old man got up from his chair and came over to help look, his fingers trailing across the spines of books as he tried to locate something that could be suitable.

“I wrote him a letter,” Enjolras said. “That’s the final present, but I want this too. He knows I’m a romantic, but he loves this kind of thing and I want to give him something that’s all about love.”

The old man hummed in thought. “I think we have some poetry over here,” he said, moving away to look at a different stack.

Time felt at a stand still inside the stall, the pressure of finding and buying something before Grantaire came looking for him faded away. Enjolras followed the man over to the tower of books, just as the man froze. “Oh,” he said softly. “I have just the thing.”

The man hesitated before moving, and when he did, it was to go over to his bag, resting by the till.

“I got this for my love,” he said, slowly and carefully pulling a well-loved book out. “He read it every month at least.”

Enjolras went over to him, fingers trailing across a table of books. They caught on something, and he looked down. The name RENOIR stared up at him, THE DIAMONDS OF ART. He let go and looked back at the man, who was holding the book out for him to take.

Accepting it, Enjolras carefully leafed through the pages, heart thudding at the small handwriting that peppered the poems, underlining and circling and small exclamation marks next to stanzas, along with commentary and lines written in, repeated, echoed.

“I can’t take this,” Enjolras said.

“Of course, you can,” the man said. “My love doesn’t need it anymore, and I never had the eye for poetry he did.”

“I can’t. Wouldn’t he want you to keep this?” Enjolras asked.

“Listen, boy. I was you, a long time ago. Young, black, gay, very much in love…” The man smiled wistfully, and then he chuckled. “I’m still most of those things.” He reached out and touched Enjolras’ hand where he held the book. “I want you to give this to your love, if you’re sure about him. And when you are both old, and if this book is still holding itself together, pass it on. That’s what my love would want.”

Enjolras felt deep, desperate emotion surge through him. “Okay,” he said. “Yes, okay. I’ll… I’ll do my best.”

“And don’t be afraid to write in it. Both of you. Write in it, draw in it, staple other things into it, this book is your love to each other. Don’t be afraid to use it,” the man said gravely.

Enjolras nodded, drinking in the man’s words. “Of course.” He clutched the book tightly. “How much do you want for it? What can I give you?”

The man laughed. “You know I don’t want anything for it.”

“I know,” Enjolras said, and found he was smiling too. “But I have to give you something.” He looked down at himself. “Do you like scented candles?” he asked.

The old man’s face lit up with humour. “I do, but I won’t take yours.”

Enjolras knew the debate was hopeless, and he hugged the book against his chest. “Thank you,” he said, sincerely.

“It is my absolute pleasure.” The man looked around his haphazard stall. “See anything else you like?”

Enjolras fingers found again the battered book of Renoir paintings, the tiny, smaller than A5 even, damaged book. He knew Grantaire would love it. “This,” he said, and lifted it. It was so light. “He’d love this, too.”

“Ah,” the man said, smiling. “Now, that I will let you pay for.”

 

Enjolras found Grantaire again, as Grantaire was almost back at the book stall, scanning the crowds with a worried look on his face. “R,” Enjolras called, holding his back with the knowledge that there was something infinitely precious inside. “Grantaire, I’m here,” he said, as they reached each other. “I’m sorry, I spotted a stall I had to go into and I lost track of time.”

Grantaire shook his head fondly, the last traces of anxiety slipping away. “You had me worried,” he said. “I thought I might never see you again amongst all these people.”

“Grantaire, I met the most amazing man,” Enjolras said.

Grantaire raised his eyebrow, amusement lining his face. “There’s a sentence every man wants to hear their boyfriend say.”

Laughing, Enjolras ducked in and kissed Grantaire soundly.

Chapter Text

DECEMBER 25TH, TUESDAY

Grantaire was pressing kisses against his face, and Enjolras blinked awake, confused, heavy eyelids battling to stay open. His mouth found Grantaire’s and they kissed for a long moment, Grantaire pushing Enjolras’ hair back from his face.

Enjolras’ hand gripped Grantaire’s arm, finding something to hold onto as he slowly woke up. He sighed and groaned softly, stretching a little as Grantaire smiled into his face.

“Merry Christmas, gorgeous,” Grantaire said, gently.

Enjolras tilted his face up for another kiss, one that grew deeper and better with every second. Grantaire’s hand was on Enjolras’ waist, curving down underneath Enjolras’ body and pulling Enjolras up and against Grantaire.

Smiling, Enjolras let himself be pulled.

 

“Merry Christmas, indeed,” Enjolras said contentedly. “What a gift.”

Grantaire was laughing, loose-limbed and happy, and Enjolras felt exactly the same. “I love you,” Grantaire said, still laughing. “I love waking up with you, I love being with you, I love sex with you, I’m so fucking happy I’m almost delirious, Enj.”

Enjolras kissed Grantaire’s broad chest, kissed it over and over again, fingers splayed across Grantaire’s warm, soft stomach. He adored Grantaire’s body, adored how big and warm and wonderful it was to be surrounded by it. He kissed his way up, kissed his shoulder, his collar bone, his neck, his jaw, his cheek, and Grantaire’s hands were back in Enjolras’ hair directing Enjolras’ kisses towards his mouth.

“Breakfast?” Grantaire asked, quietly.

Enjolras shook his head and curled up closer to Grantaire.

“Come on. Breakfast,” Grantaire said, decisively, brushing his thumb across Enjolras’ cheek. He pulled away from Enjolras, and Enjolras pouted as Grantaire leant down to pick up his shirt off the floor, tugging it on over his head.

Enjolras stretched out in bed, letting the sheets ride low on his hips and his chest push out as he arched his back, moaning a soft sigh.

He peeked up at Grantaire, who arched his eyebrow. “You’re breaking my heart,” Grantaire said, flatly, but he did sit back down on the edge of the bed. He kissed Enjolras on the forehead. “How about you stay here, and I go make us a cuppa and something to eat, and then I’ll come right back?”

Enjolras hummed. “That sounds nice,” he admitted.

Grantaire’s large hand rested low on Enjolras’ bare abdomen, and Enjolras thought about keeping Grantaire here for another half an hour at least, thought about talking him into having sex again, but instead Grantaire pulled his hand away and left to go make breakfast.

For the first few minutes that Grantaire was gone, Enjolras lay in Grantaire’s bed, looking up at the ceiling, and thought about how nice it was to have Grantaire around almost all the time. He tugged the duvet up to his neck, huddling into it, and found himself thinking about Grantaire’s hands – his big, strong hands. He smiled and pulled the duvet closer around himself as the dwelled on the thought. He let himself have the fantasy for a moment, and then sat up, looking around for his shorts and sleep-shirt.

By the time Grantaire returned, carrying two plates in one hand, one balanced on his wrist, waiter-style, and holding two mugs by the handles in the other hand, Enjolras was dressed in his pyjamas and sitting up against the headboard, on his phone. He had texted a Happy Christmas to half of his contact list, and was checking BBC news.

Grantaire carefully put the mugs down before re-picking up Enjolras’ mug of tea and passing it across to him, who in turn put it on the bedside table to cool a little, and then he handed over the hot croissants filled with jam.

Enjolras set his phone aside, face down so he wouldn’t see any messages or alerts light up his screen, and he kissed Grantaire’s cheek in thanks for the lovely breakfast. He put the plate on his bedside table and scooped up Grantaire’s free hand, pressing it to his lips and kissing it repeatedly. “Was thinking about these while you were gone,” he said.

Grantaire grinned and watched Enjolras continue. “What is with you this morning?” he asked, amused.

Enjolras took Grantaire’s plate off him, putting it on Grantaire’s side table as he swung his leg over Grantaire’s legs, planting himself in Grantaire’s lap. “I’m in a good mood,” he said, cupping Grantaire’s face and kissing him again.

“I can tell,” Grantaire said, when Enjolras pulled back. He wrapped his arms around Enjolras’ lower back, helping Enjolras’ to shuffle closer in his lap. “Our breakfast will go cold,” Grantaire warned.

“You’re the best thing in my life,” Enjolras replied, “and we can heat it up again.”

Grantaire laughed and kissed Enjolras’ neck.

 

Enjolras put the croissants onto one plate and put them and the two mugs into the microwave, holding his head high and refusing to look abashed at how much time he’d talked Grantaire into spending wrapped up in each other.

Grantaire was smirking at him, amused and openly in love, and Enjolras had never trusted anything like he trusted the love Grantaire had for him. He couldn’t quite believe they’d gotten here, truly, couldn’t understand that all this time Grantaire had loved him back, just as quietly, just as solitarily, but he had. He did.

Enjolras took the food and drink out of the microwave, wincing at how hot the pottery was, and they ripped apart the croissants with their fingers, eating standing at the counter, trying not to burn their mouths on the molten jam, before retreating to the sofa with their hot drinks to finally, finally have the first brew of the day.

They drank quietly, always touching, just letting their quiet happiness and the peacefulness of the day settle over them.

Enjolras asked, softly, “Want the final presents?”

Grantaire looked at him and nodded. “Okay,” he said.

Enjolras got off the sofa and padded across to the small artificial Christmas tree in the corner of the room. Underneath it was a small box, and he carried it back to Grantaire.

With a deep breath that showed the finality of this meant as much to Grantaire as it did to Enjolras, Grantaire accepted the box. He opened it slowly and carefully, keeping his eyes on Enjolras for a moment too long, before looking down.

He smiled, small and quiet, and he picked the book inside out. “Wow,” he said. “Where did you get this, how old is it?” he asked, leafing through, stopping at a poem to read the handwritten annotations.

“The Christmas market. I met that old man at the book stall,” Enjolras said, and cleared his throat. “I didn’t ask his name. I didn’t think to ask his name… but he gave this to the love of his life when they were young men. Those annotations are his love’s annotations. He wanted me to… He told me to give this to you if I was sure about you, and said that when we grow old, we should find someone young to pass it onto – if the book’s still holding together,” he added with a slight laugh.

Grantaire was watching him recount the story intently. “Wow,” he said, again.

“Write in it, draw in it, highlight, annotate, anything you want,” Enjolras said. “It’s what he said you should do.”

Grantaire nodded and looked down at the book again. Enjolras watched a tear form in Grantaire’s eye and slowly fall, dropping down onto the open pages of the book. Enjolras took Grantaire’s hand, moving closer on the sofa. “What?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

Grantaire looked up at him, red-rimmed eyes and wavering bottom lip. “I’m the love of your life?” he asked, a whisper.

Enjolras’ heart almost stopped beating, and he cupped Grantaire’s face with his free hand, making sure their eyes never broke contact. “You’re the love of my life,” he said, fiercely. He almost laughed, amazed. “I mean it, Grantaire. The love of my life.”

Grantaire sobbed. “Well, you’re mine,” he said. “Of fucking course, you’re mine. I love you.”

“I know,” Enjolras said. “You love me. So much you can’t keep it to yourself any longer. So much you don’t always know what to do with it. It’s exactly how I feel and now you’ve told me I can read it on your face every minute of every day – because it’s exactly how I feel, and exactly how I feel I must look constantly, every time I look at you, every time I think of you.” He shook his head, and Grantaire kissed him quick and fast and hard. He touched Grantaire’s bottom lip with his fingertips. “And why should I be coy? Why should I dance around any of it a moment longer? Why should I be embarrassed? I love you. I love you.”

“I got that,” Grantaire said, voice shaking a little. “Figured it out somewhere on page two of your essay,” he joked.

Enjolras kissed him. “I love the way you make me laugh.” He kissed him again. “I love the way you understand my tea habit.” Another kiss. “I love the way you fuck me and the way you make love to me, I love the way I can look at you across a room and we can share a moment without being next to each other, I love the way I can hold your hand no matter where we are, I love that we can go see our friends and be separate and talk to other people and know that at the end of the night we can go home together and be this.” Grantaire kissed him. “I love that you told me about your past, and that we can talk about our parents, and I can share my dreams and goals with you, and I love that there’s a million more things we have to tell each other, and I can’t wait to hear it all.” They kissed again, and it took longer to break apart.

“Me too,” Grantaire gasped, pulling Enjolras into his lap so Enjolras was straddling him, hands tight and grasping on Enjolras’ waist. He kissed him deeply and passionately, and Enjolras adored him.

“I love that I can call you one of my best friends,” Enjolras said, when they parted, resting their foreheads together. “Because you are. You’re one of my best friends. And the love of my fucking life.” He shook his head. “And I’ve completely stolen the thunder from the second part of the gift. But open the envelope anyway.”

Eagerly, Grantaire opened up the envelope and pulled out the sheets of folded paper.

He laughed at the heading Enjolras had scrawled across the top of the paper, an addition at the very end: On Love, a Letter that Became an Essay.

“It’s just everything I’ve said,” Enjolras confessed, feeling amusingly ridiculous for having said it all when Grantaire was about to read it – but he wouldn’t take a word back. “And maybe a bit more.”

Enjolras lowered himself down and rested his head on Grantaire’s lap, and watched his face from below as Grantaire read what Enjolras had written. It took a little while – Enjolras was the first to admit he had gotten a little carried away – and Grantaire’s face ranged through a series of emotions. Enjolras spotted amusement, love, shock, fondness, and a touch of exasperation. When Grantaire reached the end, he closed his eyes and swallowed, taking a deep breath before looking down at Enjolras.

Enjolras bit his lower lip, looking up at Grantaire, waiting for him to say something.

Grantaire said, “I can’t believe you didn’t reference and source. Where’s the bibliography?”

Enjolras choked in shock, and then mock-glared up at a Grantaire who was too pleased with himself. Then Enjolras grinned, sharply. “We’re the sources, Grantaire,” Enjolras answered, batting his eyelids innocently.

“Get that cheesy shit out of here,” Grantaire said, shoving him lightly and laughing, but he put the letter that became an essay to the side and pulled Enjolras upright. He held Enjolras tightly, and Enjolras just let himself be hugged so close for a long moment, before he wrapped his arms around Grantaire in return. “It’s my turn to give you something,” Grantaire said. “Finally.”

He got up, untangling himself from Enjolras, and disappeared from the room. He called through from the hallway where Enjolras’ couldn’t see him, “Okay, so when I walk in it’s going to be pretty obvious what it is, so I figure I’ll walk in with it facing you and you can immediately react.”

Enjolras laughed and changed position on the sofa so he could see the entrance to the hallway properly. “Go on.”

Grantaire stepped into the living room.

“Wow,” Enjolras said, instantly, and got to his feet, unable to take his eyes off the stunning painting he was looking at. “It’s us.”

“It’s us,” Grantaire agreed.

“It’s us listening to your records,” Enjolras added. “We’re… We’re drenched in sunlight… I love you.”

“Do you like it?” Grantaire asked, even as Enjolras reached out to skim his fingertips over the painted Grantaire, who was laid on his back, looking at a sunlit painted Enjolras like he was an angel.

“I love it, I… Wow, Grantaire,” Enjolras had been rendered speechless by Grantaire before, but this was a new level. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the painting. “That day, R… I loved that day so much. So much. Thank you for this, I can’t believe you did this for me.”

“Well,” Grantaire said, and Enjolras looked up to see him blushing softly, “you bought the paints, it was the least I could do.”

Grantaire,” Enjolras said, still unable to find the words to truly tell him how much he loved it. Actions would have to do – he kissed him for the hundredth time.

 

The day continued with Christmas traditions, interspersed with kisses every time they remembered the gifts they’d given each other.

Their friends were coming round for drinks and celebration in the evening, so they pulled crackers from the box between them and each wore two Christmas party hats while they read each other the absurdly bad jokes (“Who says ‘Oh, oh, oh’?” “Santa walking backwards.”; “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?” “A stick.”), and they ate the Christmas dinner Grantaire cooked, and they talked and laughed and listened to terrible Christmas songs on the radio, and Grantaire danced Enjolras around the living room when Walking in a Winter Wonderland came on.

When Combeferre and Courfeyrac arrived, brandishing a bottle of wine and presents for them both, Enjolras felt on top of the world, and it only got better as each friend arrived, bringing holiday cheer and love.

It was wonderful. Everyone loved Grantaire’s painting, and Enjolras beamed with pride as Grantaire grew progressively more bashful over it.

Someone pulled out mistletoe, and Bahorel starting running around, holding it over couples and friends alike.

Enjolras didn’t need the excuse of mistletoe to kiss Grantaire. He was in love.

Late in the evening, almost Boxing Day, Enjolras caught Grantaire’s eye, and the took Joly aside from the rest of the group. Joly followed them to the bedroom, Christmas themed walking stick lit up, and a tipsy glow in their cheeks.

“Thank you,” Enjolras said to them, before anything else. “Thank you so much for helping me do this for Grantaire.”

Grantaire nodded fiercely. “I’ve said it already: a thousand times thank you. I’m so glad you’re my friend, Joly. What you did for us this Christmas is so wonderful.”

Joly was flushed and happy and very embarrassed, but they hugged Enjolras and Grantaire tightly and said, “I just wanted Grantaire to be happy. That’s… That’s the whole reason I did this. I’m so glad you have each other out of this.”

“We got you something. To say thank you,” Enjolras said, and Joly’s face lit up in a grin.

They said, “You didn’t have to!”

“Of course, we did,” Enjolras said, rolling his eyes. “You took so much time out of your days over the past few months to help me do this for Grantaire. We got you something.”

Enjolras went and picked up the large box, and they set it on the bed, sitting around it on the mattress while Joly unwrapped it. Luxury bath soaps, and candles, a bottle of Malbec, chocolates, and a sketch of Joly wrapped in Bossuet’s and Musichetta’s embrace.

Tears formed in Joly’s eyes, and they reached out for their two friends again. “Thank you,” they whispered. “I’m so happy you guys are together.”

“We are, too,” Enjolras said, feeling warm and content and a little bit wine drunk. “Merry Christmas.”

“You too,” Joly said, laughing through their tears. “It’s been a good one.”

Grantaire kissed Joly on the cheek. “Come on, softie. Let’s party.”

Joly pulled themself up, balancing on their walking stick. “I need another drink,” they said. “All these sappy emotions.”

Enjolras threw his head back, grinning. “Merry fucking Christmas,” he said to the world and to himself.

Grantaire kissed his cheek. “Merry Christmas,” Grantaire murmured. “You’re the best gift of them all.”

Enjolras shook his head, smiling helplessly. “You’re ridiculous.”

Grantaire hummed his agreement, smiling and unashamed, and Enjolras couldn’t help but kiss him.