Since Grantaire had fully understood the concept of soulmates he felt sorry for the person who was supposed to be tied to him for the rest of his life. He didn’t want anyone to have to bear with him, to feel obligated to try because in the end whoever it was going to be would figure out that it was hopeless. They would give up sooner or later because he was insufferable.
A lost cause.
The world was more appropriate in grey.
Grey fit misery better.
Joly and Bossuet used to say that no one was perfect and Grantaire could hardly disagree. But when they told him that maybe no one was perfect but there were people who were perfect for each other he just rolled his eyes or shrugged or ignored it because when his roomates saw eye to eye it was pointless to argue with them.
Grantaire had known Bossuet since they were kids because they had lived in the same neighbour hood. When they had moved to Paris after graduation to study and get to know the life in the big city the clumsy eighteen-year old Bossuet had rugby-tackled his soulmate on his first day at university.
Joly was warm-hearted and overcautious and always wanted to be a doctor and it didn’t take long for Grantaire to become friends with him as well because he was just a likable yet a little bit weird person and he made Bossuet happy. But they soon had realized that both of them still couldn’t see every colour. Another soulmate couple that lived in the room next door in the dormitory had helped them figure out that the shades of yellow and purple were still grey and now there were constantly looking for the third piece of their puzzle.
Jehan who had supported them gladly was an adorable literature student with flowers in his long red hair and always wearing pastel clothes. His soulmate Bahorel was at least two heads taller, had the most infectious laugh Grantaire had ever heard and could drink like a fish. But when they’d gone out one night and he had started a fight with anobnoxious asshole whose face just pissed me off like he would later say it has been Jehan who had kicked said guy’s ass out of the bar and Grantaire had sworn to never underestimate someone in mint green jeans ever again.
Along with them he had met a rough girl who he had grown fond of very quickly. Maybe it was because Éponine’s childhood had probably been even worse than his own. She was more straightforward and outright than Grantaire and didn’t care about what people thought about her and he liked her even more for that. And she always had alcohol somewhere what was pretty great as well. She had fallen in love with a boy from Bossuet’s law course with freckles and dimples even though she knew that he wasn’t her soulmate because her world was still grey. As it was expected he had broken her heart as he met his soulmate and Grantaire really wanted to hate Marius for that but he was just such a nice guy, he was smart and in no way crucial and he gave everyone the feeling that they had to take care of him, so he just couldn’t. As well he couldn’t hate his soulmate Cosette because she was the most likeable sweet girl he had ever met and he felt sorry for Éponine who had a pretty heard time getting over it. It didn’t got better as the couple decided to get married only three month after they’d met.
So that was the family Grantaire had chosen in the last four years he had been in the city and they had chosen him for what reasons soever.
For about half a year there seemed to be some more additions to their group. Joly had met another med student at the hospital he was working. Combeferre was calm but not reserved and Grantaire could talk with him about history, philosophy and politics for hours without getting bored because the man was a genius an extremely well-read. His soulmate Courfeyrac whom he had met when they were only four years old was a cheerful boy who seemed much younger than his twenty-three years with green eyes and black hair sticking into every direction who happened to be Marius roommate and couldn’t stop giggling when he was drunk and loved to talk about the timeless beauty of bowties.
They were part of some sort of social justice group that held meetings in a café called Musain, organized protests and donation campaigns and generally wanted to change the world.
Joly and Bossuet had been enthusiastic after they had accompanied Combeferre for the first time and had been able to drag along Jehan and Bahorel who were equally thrilled. Éponine and Grantaire were the only ones who weren’t lulled by dreams of a better future; Éponine because she didn’t really wanted to spend more time with Marius than necessary and Grantaire because he just didn’t believe in liberté, egalité and fraternité for reasons he didn’t had to tell anyone.
That was why he just rolled his eyes as Joly asked him again one night if he wanted to come with them but this time something was different.
“I think I’ll tag along,” Éponine said. She was sitting on their couch, legs entwined with Grantaires’ who was sketching her with ruffled dark hair and a bottle of beer in her hand.
“What?” he asked incredulously, “What about…”
“Marius?” she interrupted him, “Well I can’t hide and drown my self-pity in alcohol for the rest of my life. I’m going out!” she said and pushed her legs of the sofa.
“And the best idea is to go exactly where you’ll meet him?”
“Well, if you do it you can at least do it right.” She stood up and drowned the rest of her beer.
“So,” Bossuet stretched the word expectantly.
Grantaire sighed. ”I’m going to get my shoes.”
The café was small and old-fashioned and actually very welcoming with light shining inside and a painted wooden door with a brass handle. It was also very likable that Joly had told him that in the evening it was turning more into a mixture of a bar and a pub with enough alcohol at disposal and that was all Grantaire needed to know.
So the first thing he did was heading to the counter where Combeferre stood and ordered something. He smiled as they walked in and it lightened up his warm eyes. Another man stood next to him and Grantaire actually smiled as he saw the familiar face.
“Feuilly, I didn’t know you’re part of the social justice movement as well.”
The ginger art-student grinned back, “Well, I didn’t take you for someone being into it either but here you are.”
“Nah, I’m just tagging along,” he said with a smirk to Éponine.
“It’s good to see you here at least,” Combeferre greeted both of them, “We’re always glad to have new visitors even though Enjolras isn’t really good at showing it.” He pointed at someone and Grantaire followed his gaze.
He looked up to the man in the corner of the room and blinked for just a millisecond but when he opened his eyes again the whole world had busted into colours, vibrant and warm colours, there was no grey, there was no white or black, just thousands of shades and nuances of colours and the middle there was a man, his hair bright like light, his lips almost the same beautiful colour as his shirt and his eyes shining like the stars had to shine.
He remembered the name because Bossuet had told him once. He had told him of a man who had the linguistic sophistication of the great orators of history, like Socrates or Cicero or anyone else you could imagine.
And then his words reached his ears and his voice sounded like the music of angels. He hadn’t heard what the question had been but it didn’t mattered anyway.
“Perfection? Of course there is perfection,” he said firmly, “But we mustn’t linger or god forbids give up when we’re trying to achieve it because then we will not accomplish anything. We mustn’t be stopped by failures and problems or it will forever stay nothing but an ideal in our hearts.”
He was perfect.
This man had so much passion in his eyes, in his words, in his whole appearance that he couldn’t be of this earth.
He was an angel fallen from the sky to lighten up the world around him with hope and beauty.
The moment he realized that he had found his soulmate Grantaire knew exactly what he had to.
He abruptly turned around and left.
Two weeks later
Grantaire took another pull of his cigarette. He was standing on the balcony of their flat staring down on the busy street and watching all those people walking around hand in hand, arms around waists or shoulders or the single ones who looked into the eyes of every person that passed by. He hated himself for envying them but he couldn’t help it. He envied the young woman with the dark brown hair in the blue coat because she could still dream of meeting her soulmate on a crowded street, in the metro or wherever. He envied the man walking out the front door of the opposite building, a green scarf wrapped around his neck, because he could still dream of spending his life together with his second half.
Grantaire had never told anyone that he was able to see colours.
He had googled their names and felt absolutely pathetic.
And he had never gone back to the Musain.
That night Éponine had followed him out after he had stormed off looking concerned but he had made up a story about something wrong he had eaten in this weird Asia restaurant and beer and she had walked a few steps with him before letting him go home. There he had falling into his bed to cry the whole night because he just couldn’t stop it. Joly had been so shocked to see him in the morning thinking he would be seriously ill but after he had let him eat a broth and wrapped him up in blankets the incident was quickly forgotten.
He was able to see a world full of colours now but Grantaire had never felt emptier.
But he knew that he would do everything within his power to keep Enjolras from seeing him, to make him throw anything away for him because he would never be able to deserve just the smallest part of it. And yet he had given everything up, his chance of a life in which he could have been happy at least for a short time, he felt selfish because Enjolras would never get the chance to see the colours of the world.
But you don’t miss what you’ve never know so it was the best for him.
At least that was what Grantaire told himself over and over again.
He took another pull of his cigarette.
Joly was leaning in the doorframe, “Do you want to come in? Marius and Cosette came over, she brought cookies.”
“Of course she did,” he said and laughed but he could tell Joly knew it wasn’t a real laugh. He didn’t even remember how to laugh properly.
“You’re smoking a lot lately,” the other man said concerned, “You know that your lungs…”
“It’s alright Joly. It will get less when I’m not that stressed out anymore, okay?”
He looked at him firmly then nodded. “Okay. Now come in or you’re getting a cold out here.”
“It’s June Joly.”
“You can never know.”
“It tried out a new cream filling,” Cosette said smiling brightly as everyone praised her for the cookies.
“I think I’m in love with these cookies,” Bossuet declared dreamily, “I think I’m going to marry these cookies and then we’ll move in together in a big house full of cookie kids and we’ll life happily ever after.”
“Not if I do that first,” Joly grinned and snatched the cookie from his hand. Then he looked at Marius and Cosette who were sitting next to each other on the couch holding hands and smiling like they’d just fallen in love.
They were sickening cute and Grantaire couldn’t even get himself to be mad about it.
“Man, I can’t believe you’re growing up Pontmercy,” Bahorel grinned as he came from the kitchen with a cup of coffee, “But hell, you’re getting married in 3 days!”
Marius blushed like a tomato and Grantaire almost chocked on his cookie.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He had forgotten the wedding. He had forgotten the goddamn wedding, the wedding he was invited to because Marius and Cosette had invited all of them because it was going to be one of these absolutely perfect fairytale weddings and that meant, that absolutely meant that a certain golden haired god – because he had figured out that this hair wasn’t just blonde – was definitely invited too because he was like on of Cosette’s best friends and damn hell he couldn’t go there. He couldn’t go there because Enjolras was going to see him and that mustn’t happen under any circumstances.
“R, are you alright?” Jehan asked because he was still coughing. Joly had jerked up as well on higher alert.
“Yeah, sure, sure,” he managed to get out, “I’m just going to drink something, it’s alright Joly.” He stood up and stormed to the kitchen and no, he wasn’t panicking, he was definitely not panicking, he just needed to get out of here for a minute to get his head back in the game. goddamnit.
He went back to the living room and said to everybody round, “Sorry, I ehm have to head out, they need me… around, sorry. Eat some more cookies for me.”
He knew it wasn’t probably one of his best excuses but he was able to run out of the door before anyone could stop him.
“What the fuck is wrong with him?” Bahorel asked after a few moments of silence but no one had an answer.
Every time he needed to get his head clear or just some distraction Grantaire went to the studio at university that his art teacher had arranged for the students of his course.
It was opened to everyone and everyone could go there whenever they wanted. It was a big room with beautiful illumination and everything an artist could wish for. The students of the course had keys for the supply closet and access to anything the needed.
Grantaire had spend more hours then he could count in this room sometimes alone, sometimes with a few other students, working in comfortable silence or small talking about all and sundry.
This day there were only two other persons in the studio. It was a warm and sunny day so most of the people were probably outside in the parks or wherever but it was kind of a blessing. He didn’t like it when everything was crowded and messy.
A man dressed entirely in black – even his hair was black - was sitting in one corner sketching an incredibly realistic scene of an overgrown wall in a small alley on a huge canvas.
Not far away stood a young woman with dark brown hair tied up into a big bun in a big paint stained yellow shirt on a stool and smacked different colours on an even huger canvas where they mixed up and became a radiant and vibrant pattern.
It looked breathtaking.
Grantaire normally wasn’t the one being caught up by modern art but this was different. He didn’t knew the girl, maybe he had seen her a few times in lectures but the way she seemed to control and at the same time freed the colours was awesome.
“That’s…,” he started and trailed off because he didn’t find the right words, “How long can you see?”
She turned around and grinned at him, “Colours you mean?”
She shrugged and climbed off her stool, “I can’t.”
“What do mean you can’t?”
“I can’t see colours. Everything’s grey around here.”
“That’s impossible,” he said incredulously because it was impossible.
“It is possible.” The man interrupted them not looking up from his work, “It’s witless to think that there is only one the way of awareness of colours by just seeing them.” He rubbed out a stroke.
The girl roller her eyes and grinned, “I’m Musichetta, but it’s Chetta. Grumpy guy over there is Montparnasse but better call him just Parnasse and don’t even ask why.”
“Grantaire,” he introduced himself and shook her hand. Parnasse gave him a nod then he turned his attention back to the canvas.
“So Grantaire, what are you running from?”
“Everyone who comes here on such a wonderful day is running from something.”
He sat down on a chair taken by surprise because a stranger was asking him what’s wrong and actually seemed as if they wanted to know about it. He could have found some cop-out but somehow he felt the urge to tell her. He hadn’t told anyone about the whole Enjolras-is-his-soulmate-he-can-see-colours-dilemma and it was eating him up from the inside.
“I...,” he started and Musichetta looked at him expectantly, “I can see colours,” he said and it was such a relief to finally say it.
She frowned, “Then why are you not with your soulmate?”
Grantaire looked at her, still surprised, he didn’t know her but suddenly he forgot everything and just started talking because he really, really wanted to.
“I can’t be. I can’t let him see me. He’s everything. He’s passionate and beautiful and so full of hopes and ideals and I would be good for nothing then bringing him down, then stopping him from doing what he needs to do, what he wants to do: I would be nothing but a drag because I don’t believe in any of this. Freedom? What freedom? Where is freedom in a world of prejudices and standards? Where is equality when you can have everything you want with just the right amount of money? Where is brotherhood in this world where old ladies are robbed and killed the street for the money in their purse? How could I be anything else than a burden? I would be the shadow drowning his light even though he’s the light that makes my life shine, that makes me be and feel like someone again. I can’t be that burden.”
He hadn’t realized that he was trembling, he hadn’t planned on telling some strangers everything that was buried inside him, he hadn’t expected said stranger to sit down next to him and take him in his arms and patting his hair and holding him while he was shaking.
“Don’t be sorry,” Musichetta said softly.
They sat there in silence and Grantaire till didn’t understand how he could have said all these things to someone he knew for two minutes and not to his best friends until the man, Parnasse, was breaking the silence.
“No, you should be sorry.”
He could feel Musichetta tense and somehow his brain wasn’t able to cope with the calm and somehow bored tone in the man’s voice.
“Your sacrifice is honourable,” he said sarcastically, “but did it ever occurred to you that you’re making a decision for someone who should have a say too because this is concerning their life as well? You refuse the person who matters most to you the person that would make their life complete, so yes, you should be sorry because this is not your decision to make.”
Grantaire gaped at him as he turned around again to as if he had just gave a contribution to a small talk about the weather.
He looked at the man in the dark clothes, with black hair and pale skin and stared at the back of his head because had continued sketching again. The casually spoken words of the bad-tempered stranger were echoing in his mind.
“How do you know?”
Parnasse paused in his movement for a second before he answered bitterly, “I know. But you don’t want to know how.”
Musichetta cut in before he could ask another question, “I have to admit even though Parnasse is not actually my favourite” –“Thanks Chetta,” he mumbled but it didn’t sound hurt, it sounded just as everything else he said – “Anyway, but he’s right.”
Why had he thought this had been a good idea again?
“There isn’t anyone in this world who is perfect, not even your soulmate,” Musichetta started even though he tried to protest, “Don’t try to argue, it’s true. No one is perfect but there are people who are perfect for each other.”
He smiled weakly, “You sound like my roommates.”
“Well, then your roommates know what they’re talking about.”
Grantaire started contemplating.
Parnasses’ harsh words and Musichetta’s encouragement had turned everything upside down, he had wanted some silence and peace in the studio, maybe some inspiration but he had not expected to bear his heart to two students he didn’t know and that they had listened to him and talked to him and made him reconsider everything he had thought out about a thousand times with just a few words.
They were actually nice – well Musichetta was nice, Parnasse was … special – and when he repeated their words to himself he slowly realized that both of them were right.
He had chosen the pain of not being with Enjolras over the pain of being left by him without even considering that he had a say as well. He at least had to give him the chance to look him in the eyes and tell him that he was a failure, that he didn’t wanted to have anything to do with him but it was his decision not Grantaire’s. And maybe, maybe there was hope even though the thought of it was a heart-warming and painful at the same time.
He sighed and looked up to Musichetta who still had an arm around his shoulder.
“Whoever’s your soulmate, he or she is one hell of lucky person.”
She grinned, “Well he or she has to be hell of a person or they wouldn’t be able to keep up with me.”
“One person would probably not even be enough,” Parnasse teased and Chetta hit him on the shoulder.
“Why can I totally believe that?” Grantaire asked and her grin grew wider as suddenly the door opened and he was surprised to see Joly entering with Bossuet in tow who had a blindfold (what?) around his eyes.
“R, thank god,” Joly exclaimed, “we were wondering where you are, you rushed off so quickly. We would have been here early but Bossuet ran over someone in the metro and got coffee all over his face but I just couldn’t stop him from staying at home because we were worried and...,” halfway through the room he stopped death and Bossuet almost ran into him.
“What?” he asked confused and feeling for Joly’s arm, “What happened, is he alright?”
Joly clutched at his arm and didn’t answer, he just stared.
Grantaire followed his gaze and oh.
He laughed. He had to laugh. Parnasse turned around, summed up the situation, huffed and turned back again.
“Of course,” Grantaire grinned because this was just so fucking logical. He stood up and tagged along Musichetta to his two best friends who hadn’t moved.
“What? What’s going on, can anyone tell me what’s going on?” Bossuet asked into the silence and eventually Joly’s expression turned into a blissful smile. He took the other man’s hand and closed the distance. “Love,” he whispered softly and there was only one time Grantaire remembered seeing such a sparkle in his friends’ eyes, “She’s here.”
“Oh man, of course,” Bossuet called out and tugged on the blindfold, “I guess I’m the luckiest person in this world,” he added with the brightest smile and eventually Musichetta moved to sling her arms around both men with tears of joy in her eyes.
“Joly, Bossuet. That’s Musichetta. Chetta, Joly and Bossuet,” Grantaire introduced them but they didn’t seem to care.
“There you are,” Parnasse muttered looking over his shoulder with half of a smile.
A few hours later they were still sitting in the studio even though it was already getting dark outside.
Suddenly Joly asked, “Wait. What is actually yellow and what’s purple now?” and Grantaire pointed at Muichetta’s shirt and said, “That’s yellow.”
3 days later
“I love weddings!” Courfeyrac announced cheerfully one arm around Combeferre’s waist, in the other hand an empty wineglass.
Sure, everything was lovely, the ceremony in the overcrowded church had been touching, he had spotted Bahorel sobbing into one of Jehan’s flowered tissues and the celebration took place in the small park behind the house of Cosette’s father. She looked stunning in her straps less wedding dress and Marius smiled like the happiest person in the world and the sun was shining and there were ribbons and flowers everywhere and he felt like someone had thrown him into a Disney movie.
“I need a drink,” he mumbled deep in thoughts.
Combeferre arched an eyebrow and Courfeyrac looked puzzled for a second before he shrugged. “As you wish,” he grinned and called for the closest waiter who was walking a round with an almost empty tray and grabbed the last two full glasses with different wine. He handed Enjolras one but he pointed without much enthusiasm at the other one.
“May I have the red one, please?”
He wasn’t very fond of any alcohol but he hated white wine.
The glass dropped on the ground.
Courfeyrac and Combeferre stared at him in disbelief. Even Combeferre seemed surprise. Courfeyracs' eyes nearly popped out of his head
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
He pointed on the floor where red wine ran into green grass. “The red one?”
“I can explain that.”
“Since when?” Combeferre asked simply while Courfeyrac still starred daggers at him.
Enjolras sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose because this was not what should have happened. But well, he had a damn god reason to be that distracted and now it was out anyway. “Ferre, do you remember that evening when we ran into each other in the university library at 1 am?”
“Enjolras, this was half a year ago.”
“Half a year ago?” Courfeyrac echoed and Enjolras sighed again but nodded, “Half a year ago?” he repeated and some people turned around.
“Courfeyrac, could you please…”
“No, just no, Enjolras,” his voice had jumped an octave up, “You can’t blurt out that you can see colours and than casually mention that you’ve met your soulmate half a year ago!”
Now everybody was staring at the trio.
A single, shocked “What?” broke the silence and Enjolras turned around.
Grantaire felt like he was going to faint. Either that or he was so drunk that he had imagined Courfeyrac that Enjolras had met his soulmate half a year ago. But he only remembered one glass of wine so he couldn’t be that drunk so he had actually said so and he hadn’t imagined and he felt his knees getting weak.
Half a year ago.
Half. A. year. Ago.
Enjolras turned around abruptly and for the first time they were looking at each other, for the first time these eyes – they were light blue like the sky he had figured out – were looking directly at him and then he closed the distance between them and stood in front of him never looking away.
He licked his lips and god, he was nervous. “I don’t know what to say. I always know what to say but right know I have literally no idea what to say.”
Courfeyrac squeaked “Oh my god” somewhere in the background but Grantaire didn’t really noticed it.
“When...where?” he managed to choke out because these eyes where doing things to his brain and made it hard to form coherent thoughts.
“I was in the library, it was late and I was just about to leave when I heard someone talking about soulmates and he said that the concept was crucial,” he emphasized the word, “because people were forced to spend their lives with persons who could be nothing but a drag, a mess or a hopeless cause and still they would feel obligated to bear with the person that should be perfect for them. And then I was surprised to hear Ferre say something in response and I walked around the corner because I always argued against the concept of soulmates as well but not for these reasons and … well.”
Grantaire stared at him. He remembered the words, they were his words, he remembered the evening he had spent with Combeferre in the library discussing for hours but they had been so deep in conversation that he couldn’t remember anyone else being in that library.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“I heard you talking,” Enjolras said blankly, “I heard you saying that soulmates are nothing but burdens and when you came to the Musain weeks ago and stormed off I knew you had seen me. I didn’t know you were coming, Ferre always told me you weren’t coming and then you left and I figured you wouldn’t want me.” At the last words his voice god a little bit thinner and this was just too unreal.
“You thought I wouldn’t want you?”
Enjolras bit his lip.
He reached forward and pulled the blonde man into a passionate kiss and Enjolras let out a surprised noise that – and Enjolras was totally going to deny it later – sounded more like a whimper before he returned the kiss. They broke apart because both of them couldn’t stop grinning and as there foreheads rested together and Enjolras was so close that he could have counted the small freckles on his nose Grantaire knew that he was never going to be able to be without him again and the light blue eyes looking at him seemed to say exactly the same thing and he leaned in to kiss him again.
The people around the couple smiled genuinely and turned back to their conversations not wanting to disturb them.
“I am so freaking done,” Courfeyrac whispered and Combeferre patted his back reassuringly, “These two have the worst communication issue I have ever seen in my entire life.”
Combeferre chuckled glancing back at the two who seemed to be too occupied with themselves for noticing the people around the, “They don’t seem to need that many words.”
Courfeyrac followed his gaze and laughed out loud even though it sounded a little bit hysterically. Then he beckoned a waiter who offered him a glass of wine.
He took the entire tray.