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Eyes to Serve, Hands to Learn

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Grantaire stared in disbelief at the screen of his laptop. Mask 21was closed for relocation, and wouldn’t reopen for another three months at least. He could barely appreciate their plans for expansion – all he could think of was the hassle of having to go somewhere else this weekend to find someone to beat him.

“R!” Marius rapped on the door and popped his head through. “Time to go, come on.”

“Right, yeah.” Grantaire put his laptop aside and got up, leaving it on his bed while he found his shoes and grabbed his jacket before following Marius out. Monday evenings were often the highlight of his week, and his heart lifted as he and Marius made their way to the Corinthe, to the backroom where their friends would be waiting.

Official ABC meetings were fortnightly, but informal gatherings congregated on the Mondays in between as well, with plenty of other meetups here and there springing up for some occasion or another. This Monday was a formal one, and Grantaire cheered up when he saw that Joly had saved him a seat near the front, against the wall.

While the others debated ideas to raise money for some cause or another – “I refuse to bag shopping again, I’m sorry, I won’t do it.” “Could we volunteer at an animal shelter again? That was great.” – Grantaire sank low in his chair and alternated between staring at his phone and glancing at Enjolras. The latter pastime was unremarkable, but the former was less common. None of the others bothered him, thankfully, so he was free to browse other club options for his weekend with increasing trepidation.

It had taken him long enough to pluck up the courage to go to Mask 21, and that had only been because they’d held a newbie night, specifically inviting clueless hopefuls in for a taste of the scene at a discounted price. There had been workshops, explanations, and a great party. All the newbies had worn blue wristbands, and the sight of so many others had bolstered Grantaire’s confidence enough that he’d signed up for a membership that very night.

He’d been to two other clubs, both with friends, but Mask 21 was his favourite, the place he knew best.

He couldn’t hold off for three months though. He needed to find somewhere else.

He texted a few of his closer friends from the scene, commiserating with them over the club’s sudden disappearance and asking where they’d be headed. None of them gave conclusive answers, so Grantaire kept scrolling through other club homepages in another tab.

All the time, he sneaked little looks at Enjolras, tasting just enough to quench his thirst.

Enjolras never looked anything less than composed, but he was on especially fine form tonight. He’d re-bleached his hair since the last time Grantaire had seen him, pale peroxide blonde to the roots now, a bright contrast against his dark skin. His usual maroon jacket was undone, his gaze focused on Courfeyrac and Feuilly as they argued playfully about something or other. He rarely smiled, but Grantaire knew from his posture that he was happy. A relaxed Enjolras leaned back in his chair the way he was doing now, one hand resting on his thigh, the other spread across the back of the chair next to his.

Grantaire looked up only occasionally, glancing around as he did to make it look as though he wasn’t searching out any face in particular.

Cosette was gossiping with Joly and Bossuet next to him, Musichetta was talking about something sciency with Bahorel and Celine, Combeferre and Louis were looking over Jehan’s shoulder at something on their phone, Lise, Marchelle, and Henri were trying to convince Courfeyrac of something. Those Grantaire was less familiar with were all in their little groups, all talking away (the backroom was hardly big enough to hold them now, and the question of moving to another, perhaps more permanent location was raised at least once a month). 

And Enjolras sat alone, watching with the barest hint of a smile on his beautiful lips. Grantaire let his gaze linger for just a moment before looking down again as if stung. He was careful not to be caught, ashamed of his obsession. For anyone else he might have risked rejection years ago, or at least tested the waters with some harmless flirting and a few inquiries to Enjolras’ closer friends. But something about Enjolras struck him dumb, made him too conscious of his own ridiculousness, his own failings.

Better to watch from afar. He was happy enough as he was, resigned to Enjolras’ occasional frown and lofty pity. It was better by far than rejection and exile, and he had a balance. He kept his fantasies in his head, didn’t do anything creepy, and made sure he had a life outside of the ABC’s sphere of influence. He never wanted for company closer to his own league.

Speaking of, he needed to make a decision on a club. It was either that or try the internet, and just the idea of that made him want to shudder. Never again. Even if he started feeling shitty enough to try beating himself (never a particularly successful venture), he wouldn’t resort to another online hookup.

He left the meeting with Marius, the two of them leaning into each other on the métro. Grantaire had a list of potential clubs now, but he knew which one he’d pick – Le Grande was the one that seemed to be the most like Mask 21, if bigger and maybe a bit swankier.

Come Saturday, Grantaire was standing in the line outside, feeling horribly exposed even though he was surrounded by people wearing much more extreme things than him. Le Grande had a stricter dress code than Mask 21, and he barely made it in even though he was wearing leather trousers, a studded harness, and a sailor cap. For next time he might have to dig out his old underbust, though he hadn’t worn it for years. It probably didn’t even fit anymore: he didn’t exactly have the physique of a twink.

Mask 21 had been scary at first as well, he reminded himself as he dumped his stuff at the cloak room. He was just jittery because this was an unfamiliar environment, and he wasn’t as keyed into the rules of the place yet. He’d been here a few times before, but not for at least a year.

Le Grande was definitely bigger than Mask 21, with more than one stage for displays. One had already begun, ticket-holders only, so Grantaire went down to the dancefloor and slipped through to the bar. He’d had a couple of drinks already, but he was feeling a serious need for something extra. He should have come with someone he knew. The dancefloor was thick with bodies, all done up in fetish gear much more elaborate than his own, every one of their expressions telling him how much more fun they were having.

There was sweat already prickling under the straps of his harness, a tingling sensation buzzing under his skin that had nothing to do with the alcohol. If no one approached him after ten minutes, he decided, he’d go and see one of the house doms, see if one of them would either take him or point him in the direction of someone who would.

The lights blazed blue and purple overhead, the bassline thudding through his bones and urging him to leave the bar, to get up and dance, to see if there was anyone he knew hidden out there in the dark. Opposite him, a woman was dancing with a man in a muzzle, the leash attached to his collar wrapped tight around her fist. She used it to direct his movements, yanking his neck back so she could run her tongue up the underside of his chin. Grantaire’s fingers twitched as the man’s hips did, and he saw the woman laugh and twist one of the man’s nipples as punishment.

Fuck waiting.

He knocked back the rest of his drink and left the glass on the bar, heading back upstairs to the balcony. He knew all the house doms and slaves back at Mask 21, but here the faces were all unfamiliar. Still, he only hesitated for a moment before going to a woman he recognised from her photograph on the website. He’d done his research for a reason, after all. Madame Phoenix was done up in purple latex from spiked shoulders to very, very pointy boots, glitter dusting her high cheekbones and neatly outlined eyes.

“Excuse me?” 

“Mmm? Hello.” She smiled, half-predatory, half friendly. Like a curious animal deciding whether or not to attack. “What can I do for you?”

Step on me, Grantaire very nearly blurted out. Those boots looked wickedly painful. “Point me in the right direction, I hope.” He pulled up what he hoped was a half-decent smile. “I haven’t been here for a while, and I was hoping to be taken down tonight. I just thought you might know any regulars who’d be interested?” Hopefully she couldn’t tell he’d rehearsed the lines on the way over.

“May I?” she asked, lifting her hand to his cheek. At his nod, she traced long fingernails down his jaw, thumbnail resting for a moment on his lower lip. “What are you interested in, darling?”

He had to swallow before his voice would work. “I…ah, you mean…in a scene, or in a dom?”

“Let’s start with a scene. That’ll narrow it down.” Her hand slid down, brushing tantalisingly over his neck – what he wouldn’t give to be choked by a woman like this – and came to rest on his shoulder, squeezing just a little.

He took a breath, coming back to himself. “Bondage, mostly. Rough play, pain’s good. I wouldn’t say no to a good beating. Worship, um…some humiliation, but that usually gets a bit tricky if I don’t know who I’m playing with.”

“Ooh, you’re quite the prize,” she purred. “What sort of dom then, sweetheart? Any gender preference?”

He shook his head. “I usually go for men though,” he had to add. “Someone experienced.”

“I’ve got just the one. I don’t think he’s picked anyone up tonight, if he’s looking. Come with me, pet.” She took his hand, and he let her lead him along the balcony, behind the tables by the railings. He usually went for men because he liked the feeling of being physically overpowered, but if Madame Phoenix had asked, he’d have bent over backwards to lick her boots. Some people just radiated dominance like that.

“Enjolras!” she called suddenly, and Grantaire’s heart jolted, mind whiting out. There was no way, no way, it couldn’t be… In the time it took his brain to catch up, Madame Phoenix had tugged him over to a small table at the back where three people were seated. “This boy’s looking for someone to take him down,” Madame Phoenix said. “Any thoughts, darling?”

Oh god. Grantaire stumbled as the people came into full view. A woman and two men, one of whom was unmistakably Enjolras. Enjolras in a red, ripped lace top with makeup around his eyes, several heavy-looking necklaces against his collarbone. Oh god. When he stood up, Grantaire realised distantly that he’d stopped breathing – Enjolras was wearing tight, black pvc trousers and boots with small heels. His bleached hair practically glowed under the lights, his expression tight as Grantaire stared, stared and stared as though not blinking would somehow make this make sense. 

Fuck. His heart was thudding in his ears louder than the music, and he was only partially aware of Madame Phoenix letting go of his hand. When Enjolras took his elbow it was like an electric shock pulsing through Grantaire’s whole body. He couldn’t do anything but follow as Enjolras led him to a niche by the top of the stairs where the thudding music from below was slightly blocked off, mind still white with shock. Enjolras was here, Enjolras was touching him, Enjolras was…was…fuck, he couldn’t even think it.

“What are you doing here?” Enjolras hissed, as soon as they came to a stop. He squeezed Grantaire’s elbow hard before releasing it, and scowled when all Grantaire did was gape. “Well? Grantaire, what are you doing here?”

“What does it look like?” Grantaire shook his head and took a deep breath, drawing on deeper reserves of strength than he’d known he possessed. Sweet Jesus, Enjolras was a regular at a fetish club. The Enjolras he stole looks at in tiny sidelong peeks was dressed in red lace and pvc, was wearing makeup, was staring back at Grantaire with the intense fury that Grantaire had always shied away from before. Did Combeferre and Courfeyrac know? Did anyone?

He couldn’t stop staring. It was like all the longing to drink in the sight of Enjolras had flooded out at once, and he couldn’t tear his eyes away.

Enjolras glared at him, eyes burning. “Did you know I would be here?”

“Do I look like I had any idea?” A hysterical giggle bubbled up behind his lips and Grantaire clapped his hand over his mouth to keep it there. It was like he’d stepped into an alternate reality – this couldn’t be Enjolras, chaste, upright Enjolras who hadn’t had a boyfriend since university. “I usually go to Mask 21,” he said, once he was sure he could speak without breaking down. “I swear, I had no idea you’d…I didn’t even know you…” He gestured at Enjolras, who was looking distinctly flustered now.

(Enjolras flustered. Grantaire had never seen him like this before.)

“What did you ask Madame Phoenix?” he snapped. “Why did she bring you to me?”

Because fate was infinitely cruel, apparently. Grantaire shrugged with his whole body, arms lifting into the air. He was cold despite the heat of the club, goosebumps on his arms. “I don’t know, she just said you might be interested.” Which was incredibly flattering, now he thought about it. Someone like Enjolras could have his pick of the club, especially looking the way he did tonight. Grantaire looked like a second-rate military wannabe who couldn’t afford a proper outfit and wouldn’t have looked good in one if he could.

He was horribly aware all of a sudden that he was standing in front of Enjolras wearing nothing on his upper half but a leather harness and body hair. Too late, he lifted his arms to cross his chest, trying in vain to cover himself.

“What did you come here for?” Enjolras asked, eyes narrow. Grantaire had seen him angrier than this before, but there was an edgy quality to his body language now he hadn’t seen before – his fists were clenched, his feet shifting on the ground, shoulders and arms tight with tension. Embarrassed, Grantaire realised. This was obviously a secret for both of them, and if it would set him at ease, Grantaire could give him honesty.

“I was looking for someone to grind my face into the dirt a bit,” he said, gripping his elbows a little tighter. “That’s all. I don’t know this place that well, so –”

“You asked a house dom,” Enjolras finished, nodding. For a long moment, they just looked at each other. In his heeled boots, Enjolras was even taller than usual, and this close Grantaire could see they were several inches apart in height.

God, Enjolras was a regular at a fetish club. Stone and steel, single the whole time Grantaire had known him, as remote as the deepest oceans, highest mountaintops. That Enjolras came here on club nights and…was apparently amenable to picking up subs for a night of fun. Christ, did he do it here or did he take them home? Did he fuck them? Did he take care of them afterwards?

It was that last thought that had him stepping back, self-preservation instincts finally kicking in. “I won’t tell anyone,” he said, words running into each other as he hurried to say them. “I swear, I’ll forget I ever saw you, you don’t have to worry about anything –”

“Wait.” Enjolras grabbed his arm as he went to leave, and Grantaire almost flinched. That was the problem, right there. That was why he didn’t play with people he hadn’t met through the scene, and why letting this go on would be a terrible idea, quite probably the worst idea of all time. But Enjolras’ grip was strong, and his gaze was clear when Grantaire met it. “You wanted to be taken down,” he said. “I could do that for you.”

Grantaire’s knees actually wobbled.

Surely this was some form of divine punishment? There was a name for choices like this, choices so impossibly difficult they should never actually come up, but he couldn’t remember what it was. His mind was static, despairing at the entire situation. On one hand, being dominated by Enjolras was quite literally a dream come true. On the other, being exposed like that in front of Enjolras was a nightmare made real. Hell, being exposed like he was right now was agonising enough.

“Madame Phoenix brought you to me for a reason.” Enjolras actually looked him up and down (Grantaire sucked in his belly). “Do you want it?”

Grantaire bit down on his tongue and pulled his arm out of Enjolras’ grip, terror gripping his heart when Enjolras’ eyes went flat and he made to move away. “Wait!” He did want it, so badly he ached, but when Enjolras met his eyes again his courage failed him. “I’m sorry, I’m not…I didn’t expect to see you here. Or anyone I knew.” It was almost like meeting a celebrity face-to-face. Enjolras didn’t look like he could possibly exist in a place like this – he came from the normal world the same way actors came from the screen. He appeared larger than life, startlingly vivid.

Enjolras’ expression was inscrutable; almost completely blank but for a tightness around his lips and eyes that Grantaire couldn’t read in his agitated state. It stayed for a long moment, and then Enjolras let out a breath. “Would you like a drink?” he asked, and Grantaire could have melted with relief. The terror rushed back less than a second afterwards, flooding him like an unstoppable tide.

“Downstairs?”

Enjolras shook his head and nodded along the balcony. “There’s a bar up here too.” Small, almost hidden from view, but it was there. Grantaire just hadn’t seen it on his way over to Enjolras’ table. Once there, Enjolras ordered a rum and coke, and Grantaire whiskey and lemonade. Two voices in his head bickered over the decision, one saying that if he’d ever needed liquid courage, it was now, and the other saying that he’d already had a few, and he didn’t want Enjolras to think he was drunk.

Enjolras checked his phone before leading Grantaire back to the table he’d been sitting at before, now vacant. “Where are your friends?” Grantaire asked. He could do normal. As long as he pretended neither of them were dressed the way they were dressed or that they were in a club surrounded by the people they were surrounded by.

“Dancing.” Enjolras sat, and watched as Grantaire followed suit. Had Enjolras ever watched him do anything before? Grantaire couldn’t remember. “How long have you been doing this?”

Grantaire took a sip of his drink before answering, trying to get his head around Enjolras sitting next to him, almost close enough to feel the heat of his body. He was sure they’d never been this close before. “You mean, in general, or in clubs?”

“Both.”

“What is this, an interview?” Oh thank god, he was still capable of sarcasm. Had he and Enjolras ever even spoken like this? Certainly not on their own.

“It’s a conversation. I wouldn’t have expected to see you at a place like this.”

“Why not?” Grantaire asked, trying to hide how rattled he felt. Amazingly, it seemed to make Enjolras think, looking down and taking a drink before replying.

“I suppose I never considered it.” Enjolras’ eyes flicked back to him. “Am I overstepping?” Grantaire shook his head, and Enjolras’ lips turned up just a fraction. Grantaire swallowed and took another sip of his drink, finally tearing his eyes away. “How long have you been doing this then?”

Grantaire bit his lip, considering. Opening up to Enjolras was never something he’d expected to do, or get the opportunity to do, but he was here now. Who knew if he’d ever get a chance like this again? He took another drink, emboldening himself. “In general, always. In clubs, since…I don’t know, since I came to Paris. So since I was about nineteen, maybe. What about you?”

“In general, since I was twenty. A year less for clubs. You’re a sub?”

“Switch. But I was…I was looking to sub tonight.” A trickle of sweat ran down his back. “You always dom?”

“Usually.” Enjolras didn’t look away, and Grantaire took shallow breaths, pinned in place by his gaze. He hardly dared move, not wanting to give anything away while Enjolras was observing him so closely. Was his desire visible? It certainly felt that way, like it was written on his skin for the world to see. But if his desire was obvious, his trepidation had to be as well.

The idea of the object of his reverence offering to play with him though…

Enjolras lifted his glass to his lips, and as Grantaire watched his adam’s apple bob, he allowed himself to imagine it, just for a second. What would it be like to give himself over to Enjolras? He had to be experienced to have the recommendation of someone like Madame Phoenix, so what would he do? Would he bind Grantaire with rope? With chains? Would he blindfold him? Beat him?

Grantaire shivered, just the idea of Enjolras focusing all his attention on him enough to overwhelm. It would be too much; it would either make him too jittery to let go, or he’d drop so deep into subspace he’d never properly come out again. But if Enjolras offered again, he didn’t know if he’d be able to say no. How many times did chances like this come round?

“What sort of stuff do you like?” Enjolras asked, and if this wasn’t negotiation, it was just a tiny step away from it.

Grantaire shrugged, trying to appear casual. “What sort of stuff do you like?”

“I asked first.”

“I asked second, what’s your point?”

Enjolras huffed, and worry jolted through Grantaire’s chest – had he pushed too much? “Beating,” he blurted. “That’s what I came here for tonight.”

“You like pain?”

“Usually. Not cold, but…it does the job.” He lifted his drink again, forcing himself to sip to make it last. “Other stuff too, obviously.”

“Like what?”

Fuck it. “Being shoved around, gagged, tied up. I’ve tried electricity a few times, but I’ve got to really be in the mood for that.”

“Verbal abuse?” Enjolras asked, as nonchalant as if he was asking Grantaire’s favourite colour. And fuck, that was actually pretty hot. Grantaire nodded. “Marks?”

“Nothing visible, but yes if they can be covered. No bloodplay.”

“Watersports?”

“Um. Again, really gotta be in the mood for it.” He was flushed now, face burning and clothes sticking to his skin with sweat. “It’s definitely your turn now, come on.”

“I like breathplay, whipping, caning, humiliation.” Enjolras tilted his head. “I like making people cry.”

Grantaire finished his drink in two gulps. His stomach was in knots, but his head was buzzing. He’d never cried during a scene before, and the idea of doing so in front of Enjolras was…interesting. He wasn’t sure whether it was hot or terrifying. Both, he decided as he set his glass down a little too hard.

“Too much?” The corner of Enjolras’ lips lifted, and Grantaire shook his head quickly.

“Madame Phoenix sure knows how to make a match.”

“If you think so, why not continue?” Enjolras shifted, his knee pressing against Grantaire’s. “Do you want me to take you down?”

So badly. Probably more than anything he’d ever wanted in his life. Grantaire looked down at their knees, at his hands on the table. “Not here,” he said, almost too quiet to be heard above the music from the dancefloor below. “Yours?”

Enjolras shook his head. “Combeferre’s in tonight. Yours?”

Grantaire hesitated, then worked his phone out of his pocket. “Let me check.” Marius’ schedule was impossible to remember, so he’d programmed it into Grantaire’s calendar. He knew tonight was date night though – he’d asked Marius to make it one, so the apartment would be empty as a back-up plan if he needed to bring someone home.

This was his last chance to back out. To take what was probably the sensible option and get out of this before everything was changed beyond what he could handle. Seeing and talking to Enjolras in a fetish club was one thing. Taking him home with the intention of submitting to him was something else completely.

“Why are you offering?” he asked, glancing up from his phone.

Enjolras held his gaze as he shrugged a shoulder. “I’m curious. And it matches up – you came here wanting to be a sub, I wanted someone to dom. Why not each other?”

“Because we know each other.” Didn’t Enjolras get that? “Or, y’know,” he amended quickly. “Close enough.”

“I’m not planning on telling anyone about this.” And wow, okay, this was obviously a secret, but that still stung a bit. Irrationally, because it wasn’t like Grantaire would be breathing a word either. “Are you?”

Grantaire shook his head, and Enjolras tilted his chin. “Well then. I’m willing. It’s up to you.”

His mind was static again, panic blurring his thoughts. “Wait.” He closed his eyes, opened them, shifted on his chair so they weren’t touching anymore, but he was facing Enjolras properly. He could do this, he could be professional at least. He’d done it with dozens of other doms, he just had to pretend that Enjolras was no different. “What would we be doing?”

“You wanted a beating. If you have supplies, I can use them on you.” God, he sounded so casual, his normal measured self.

Grantaire had a decent flogger, a crop, and a paddle waiting back at home, and he nodded before he could think it through any further. “Anything else? I mean, what were you looking for tonight?”

Enjolras picked up his drink and looked down into it before taking a sip. “Someone to hurt. Someone to fuck too, but we can take that off the table if you want. Sex doesn’t have to be part of this if that’s not what you were after.”

Oh god, oh god. He couldn’t take too long here, that would be taken as a no, and he didn’t want to say no, but he didn’t want to say yes either. Did he want to have sex with Enjolras? Of course – he’d been fantasising about it for literally years. But the reality of it would be so far removed, worlds apart from his dreams. This would be real. This would be something neither of them could take back or forget.

It was just another physical act, he rationalised frantically, trying to convince himself. He liked sex after a beating, it took the edge off the pain at the same time as driving his submission home, something he was always in favour of. If it was anyone else, he’d say yes in an instant.

Enjolras was just a man, really. Grantaire’s feelings for him didn’t change the facts. “That could work,” he said slowly. “As long as the beating happens first.” Enjolras nodded, and Grantaire added quickly, “I’m not a crier though, so don’t get your hopes up.” Enjolras snorted at that.

“I won’t, don’t worry. What’re your limits?”

“For tonight…” Fuck, this was difficult. It had never been so hard before, but then, he’d never done this with Enjolras, or with anyone he knew outside the scene. He swallowed. “Don’t go too heavy. If I ask for more while it’s happening, fine, but don’t lead with the big guns. You…you mentioned verbal abuse?”

“Not something you’re into?”

“Not tonight.” He knew himself well enough not to dance on that particular sore spot. “No gags, no blindfolds, if you tickle me, I will kick like a fucking mule.”

Incredibly, that got a laugh. “Nice and simple then,” Enjolras said. “What about aftercare?”

Oh Christ, he did do aftercare. Why was he surprised? Of course a conscientious idealist like Enjolras did aftercare. “I don’t need much, if anything,” Grantaire said anyway. Like hell was he going to cuddle Enjolras. Human beings didn’t cuddle the sun and come away unscathed. “Get me to drink something, maybe eat something if I’m wobbly. Remind me to brush my teeth and lock the door on your way out.” He could do this.

Enjolras raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. “Okay. Does this mean your place is free?”

The point of no return. Grantaire’s thumb hesitated over the surface of his phone, then he nodded and slipped it back into his pocket. “Yeah. Marius won’t be back till tomorrow.”

Enjolras nodded and finished his drink, putting the glass down with a click. “Shall we, then? Unless you want to dance?”

Grantaire shook his head and got up. “I’m good.”

They didn’t touch as they left the club, and Grantaire called a taxi. While they waited, and during the ride (speaking quietly so they wouldn’t be overheard by the driver), they hashed out the outline of what they would do. Once inside, with the doors locked and the supplies ready, they would begin. Standard traffic-light safewords for both of them. Enjolras would handcuff him and bend him over the bed to beat him, but wouldn’t strip him. That would come only if Grantaire decided he wanted to be fucked. Enjolras didn’t like leaving a key point up to negotiation when Grantaire wouldn’t be fully in control, but Grantaire argued him down.

Beating would be done with the crop and flogger, on back, ass, and thighs. The whole time they were talking, Grantaire kept one of his hands out of sight and flexed his fingers, digging his nails into his palms, pressing his wrist into the edge of the seat and the hardness of the car door. It was the only way he could work his tension out while pretending all of this was totally okay.

He still wanted to be beaten; the itch was even worse now than it had been before he got into the club, but he couldn’t imagine Enjolras doing it.

Except, of course he could. Of course Enjolras was a dom. He inspired devotion in all aspects of life, bedroom and dungeon not excluded. Grantaire had imagined it plenty of times, imagining Enjolras beating him down, either calm or furious, caring or cruel. Both of those and everything between were more than enough to get Grantaire to the edge, and he’d long since stopped feeling guilty about it. What was he supposed to do, stop masturbating?

But this was real. Would he really be able to do this? Bend over and let Enjolras thrash him? Would he ever be able to look Enjolras in the eye again? Would this change everything forever?

Things had already changed, he told himself. They’d come this far, too far to back out now. Grantaire paid for the taxi, arguing that Enjolras had paid for their drinks, and he led the way inside his building, up to the third floor where he and Marius had an apartment overlooking the street below. Startling, that after only half an hour of talking he felt confident enough to argue about money. Perhaps he was more adaptable than he gave himself credit for. He could only hope, at this point.

His and Marius’ apartment was small and untidy, but Enjolras didn’t seem to notice, waiting for Grantaire to show him the bedroom. Grantaire made sure to lock the door and put the chain on first, dumping his coat on the sofa. It would feel like unnecessary delaying to offer Enjolras a drink, so he just went straight into his room, flicking on the light. He tried not to think about the fact that Enjolras was in his bedroom, his private space.

It wasn’t huge, but there was a decent amount of space anyway because there was a dip in the wall where the dresser sat, above which was a railing where Grantaire hung his clothes. He needed a footstall to reach high enough, but it was worth it for the floor space it saved. The only other furniture was a double bed with storage drawers underneath.

Enjolras closed the door behind them. “Supplies?”

Grantaire nodded and went to the lowest drawer in the dresser, bringing out the crop and flogger. Enjolras held out his hands, so Grantaire passed them over and started unbuckling his harness. The alcohol he’d drunk was numbing the edges of his panic – if he’d been sober, he would never have said yes, he was sure of it. But here they were, in his bedroom, Enjolras in lace and pvc giving the flogger a couple of experimental swings. His makeup was more visible under decent lighting, heavy eyeshadow glittering and making his eyes seem even darker than they were.

Grantaire swallowed and turned away, bending down to get the handcuffs out as well. They clinked in his hands and Enjolras looked up, drawn by the sound. He held out a hand for those too, and Grantaire only hesitated for a moment before giving them to him. Enjolras was in charge now. All Grantaire had to do was obey.

“Safewords?” Enjolras prompted.

“Red for stop, yellow for pause, green for go,” Grantaire recited.

“Non-verbal?”

“Um. I’ll flap my hands about, that’ll probably get your attention.”

“It will now I’ll be checking for it.” Enjolras put the flogger at the end of the bed and tapped the crop against his own calf. “On the bed, now.”

The feeling shivering under Grantaire’s skin as he knelt at the edge of the bed wasn’t foreign – he usually felt a little fear at the beginning of a scene – but it had never been so strong before. He wasn’t scared that Enjolras would overstep his limits or ignore him if he called it to a halt, but all of this was just so unexpected. His brain was still playing catch-up to reality. The rumpled duvet stretched out before him, dark blue and comfortable, familiar as his own face. Enjolras shifted behind him, and Grantaire sucked in a deep breath before bending down and pressing his chest and face to the duvet, grateful that he could hide his expression as he put his hands above his head. The bedframe was against the tops of his thighs, but the mattress was just below the level of his hips. Relaxing left him feeling too open, so he kept his muscles tight, holding his form.

“Good.” The bed dipped next to him, and Grantaire arched his neck and looked sideways under his arm, Enjolras’ leg close enough to touch with his elbow. Before he could shift further away to avoid that, Enjolras took one of his wrists in his hands and snapped a handcuff around it, the click-click-click slow as he tightened it, testing the gap between skin and metal with a fingertip.

Grantaire closed his eyes as his other wrist was enclosed as well, trying to focus on his position, the vulnerability of it. That usually helped, but tonight it left him cold. His handcuffs were cheap – Enjolras surely disapproved. But decent padded cuffs were expensive, and Grantaire was accustomed now to the bite of the metal and the bruises they sometimes left.

Would he be bruised tonight? The next meeting was only…two, three days away, he couldn’t quite remember. Close enough that any bruises from tonight would still be there by then. Would he be able to sit at the back of the Corinthe and press his wrists as Enjolras sat up at the front and ignored him? What did Enjolras look like now? What did they look like, Grantaire kneeling and cuffed like this, asking for Enjolras to beat him?

How would he live now, after this humiliation? As if he wasn’t low enough already in Enjolras’ eyes.

“Colour,” Enjolras said sharply, bringing him back to the present, and Grantaire licked his lips, tensed to prevent himself shaking.

“Green.”

“Good.” The crop’s leather tip touched his shoulder blade, stroking a line down to the base of his spine that made him shiver. “You have marks from your harness,” Enjolras said softly. Unsure whether or not to reply, Grantaire said nothing. Enjolras hummed and touched the crop to his other shoulder, tracing another line down his back. “How much of a warmup do you usually need?”

Ah, practicalities. He could do practicalities – he could be professional. He could do this, though his heart was in his throat and the sound of his unsteady breathing was magnified by the proximity of the duvet. Grantaire cleared his throat. “Not…not much, for the crop. As long as it’s on my back, not my sides.”

“Would you call this hard?” The crop thwacked down across his back, a horizontal line that made Grantaire pull in a sharp breath. This was happening, this was really happening, Enjolras was actually going to do this. It barely stung though, and he shook his head, a jerky movement.

“Hard-harder.”

It came down again in the same place, twice as hard. The sting lingered a little this time, and Grantaire nodded, angling his face away from Enjolras so his expression would be completely hidden. “That’s good.” He squeezed his eyes shut, twisting his fingers together so he wouldn’t clench his fists. “Build up from that?”

The crop came down again, again, again, three neat lines striped across his back, but the angle was wrong and the blows were missing the dip of his spine, the sting not symmetrical across his skin. Still, Grantaire screwed up his face and opened his mouth against the duvet, choking back a gasp as the crop smacked down across his shoulder blades once, twice, three times in the same place before Enjolras paused and tapped it firmly against the backs of his thighs.

“You need to relax. Breathe properly.”

He thought Grantaire was an amateur. Grantaire took several quick breaths and pressed himself into the mattress, letting the muscles in his legs slacken a little. He could do this, even if it left him feeling exposed in the worst way. Enjolras hmph’ed in grudging approval and the crop fell on his back once more, a stripe across the middle that made Grantaire tense up again immediately. “Relax,” Enjolras snapped, and god did Grantaire try.

The crop came down again and he trembled, pressing his forehead to the bed and squeezing his fingers so tightly one of his knuckles cracked. On a particularly hard smack he jerked, knees skidding on the carpet. “Wait,” he breathed – too quiet, and he hurried to follow it up. “Yellow, wait, I just need…fuck, fuck.” He laced his fingers together and pressed them to the top of his head. “Fuck.”

Enjolras was silent, his presence heavy just to Grantaire’s left. “I can’t do this,” he muttered, pushing himself to his feet, hands still cuffed in front of him. “Sorry, I can’t, I can’t.”

“What’s the problem?” Enjolras asked, the sharp tone from before gone. He sounded so serious, but Grantaire couldn’t bring himself to check his expression, the humiliation of failure heavy in his stomach, shame twisting in his chest.

“It’s you.” Fuck, that was wrong. “Sorry, not like, you specifically, I just mean, I…” Deep breaths. He slipped a thumb under the cuff on the opposite wrist and looked down at the floor. “I can’t stop thinking,” he managed to get out. “I can’t get out of my head. There’s a reason I don’t do this with anyone I know in real life.” Subbing for anyone could be difficult, but going down for Enjolras? Debasing himself and exposing himself, opening himself up to degradation and embarrassment…he wanted to hide, he wanted to pretend none of this had happened, he’d already disgraced himself enough.

“This is real life.” Enjolras stepped in front of him, just a foot away. Grantaire didn’t look up, fixing his eyes instead on Enjolras’ left hand, which was still holding the crop. “What do you want? Shall we continue, or do you want me to leave?”

He had to choke back an instinctive cry of denial, and he lifted his cuffed hands to his face, digging his knuckles into his eyes. “I don’t know,” he burst out, furious at himself for making such a mess of this. “I’m sorry, I don’t know, I want…I don’t know, I just need…Christ. Fuck, I’m sorry.” He shook his head, dropping his hands with a disgusted sound. What he needed, now more than ever, was to be thrashed out of his fucking mind, but he couldn’t imagine asking such a thing of Enjolras. Even an Enjolras in makeup and red lace was too holy for such a debauched, embarrassing request. “I’m sorry.” His knees wobbled, the desire to fall to the ground at Enjolras’ and beg for forgiveness so strong that Grantaire almost followed it through.

“Grantaire.” Enjolras’ hand, the empty right one, skidded fingers up his arm before grasping his shoulder. The shock of it stilled Grantaire completely, his eyes fixed on Enjolras’ boots. “Grantaire,” he said again, quietly. “Do you trust me?”

Grantaire had to bite his lip, a yes already in his throat. Of course he trusted Enjolras. He’d always trusted him, even before he knew anything about him. It was one of the many things Enjolras inspired in him – he had only to ask, and Grantaire would obey. He’d just never asked before.

He was asking now.

Grantaire blinked rapidly, then nodded. “Yes,” he whispered.

Enjolras’ hand was warm and dry on his bare skin, and after a moment it slid sideways, slow and certain, and something hot flared in the pit of Grantaire’s stomach when Enjolras spread his hand across his neck and pressed firmly against his throat. His thumb and index finger fit perfectly under the bones of Grantaire’s jaw, tilting it upwards even as his palm pressed forward against Grantaire’s windpipe.

It was uncomfortable, the pressure insistent and harsh, and Grantaire sucked in a shaking breath as Enjolras pushed his head back with just his thumb and forefinger against the hinges of his jaw. His eyes jumped up to the ceiling and skittered around, searching for anything to fix on, anything but Enjolras in front of him, taking up so much of the view.

“Colour.” Enjolras’ voice was deep, and Grantaire swallowed, the motion so much harder than usual with Enjolras’ hand against his throat.

“Green,” he whispered.

“You will either look at me or close your eyes,” Enjolras told him, no room for disobedience. Grantaire’s fell closed immediately, the darkness a relief even as the uncertainty made goosebumps break out over his arms and back. He wanted to please, wanted Enjolras to approve. “Good.”

When was the last time he’d been choked? A long time – he vetoed it usually, because bruises on his neck were too difficult to hide, but Enjolras’ grip was just right. Hard enough that he could feel the restriction of blood flow in his face, under his eyes, but loose enough not to make even the faintest bruise. The pressure was too spread out for that, Enjolras’ fingers tightest against the side of his neck. He swallowed again to feel the discomfort in his windpipe, eyelids fluttering as Enjolras adjusted his grip afterwards, every part of his hand touching Grantaire’s skin.

Enjolras moved, and Grantaire felt his right shoulder brush, then press against what had to be Enjolras’ chest, the lace soft and warm. Enjolras’ other hand pressed his tailbone, something bumping against the back of his thigh – the crop, Enjolras must have looped it round his wrist – and Grantaire straightened at Enjolras’ push. His breathing quickened as Enjolras dragged his knuckles up his spine to his shoulder and pressed down. Grantaire hadn’t even realised they’d been hunched.

“Relax,” Enjolras told him. “Just focus on the sensations, not who’s giving them to you. Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire breathed, eyes tight shut, fingers twitching at the way Enjolras had phrased the order. He was being given these feelings. They were freely offered, Enjolras wanting nothing but his natural reactions to them. The crop bumped his back as Enjolras moved his hand to the back of Grantaire’s neck and pushed at the base of his skull, forcing his head down. The movement pushed him forward onto Enjolras’ other hand, cutting into his air supply. He had to open his mouth and gasp to breathe, unable to budge an inch with Enjolras holding his head so firmly.

“Colour?” Fuck, he sounded so close, his mouth couldn’t be more than a few inches from Grantaire’s ear.

“Green,” he gasped, barely audible.

“Good.” Enjolras held him there for a while longer, adjusting his grip and the amount of pressure he was exerting in subtle, brilliant increments. Grantaire could feel every shift of his fingers, the heat of his chest against the back of his own shoulder, the crop a cool, thin line against Grantaire’s naked back. Then, Enjolras moved and let go of the back of his head, gripping his neck harder to make sure he didn’t pull away. “Colour?”

Grantaire swallowed a couple of times before answering. “Green.”

“Good. I’m going to use the crop on your thighs. Still green?”

“Yeah, yes.” Grantaire couldn’t let his head loll without cutting off his air supply, but it felt like Enjolras’ was holding him up with the hand on his throat, like he was floating half a foot off the ground and Enjolras was keeping him in place.

The crop smacked into the back of his thighs hard enough to bring him back to earth with a gasp, his chin jerking up and eyes flying open. Enjolras twisted his hand immediately, digging his fingers in and pressing with the ball of his thumb to keep the pressure against Grantaire’s throat as he hit him again. Even through the trousers, it stung. Enjolras let him breathe for two seconds before squeezing his neck to get his attention.

“I’m going to give you eighteen more. I want you to count them for me – can you do that?”

He could do fucking anything. Grantaire nodded as best he could and croaked, “Yes.”

“Good. From three.” The crop whistled through the air and slammed into his thighs, so hard he jerked forward.

“Three,” he whispered, closing his eyes again to concentrate on the pain. Thwack. “Four.” Fuck, this was good, if Enjolras could hit this hard with a crop, Grantaire could only imagine him with a cane. Thwack. “Five.” Enjolras’ hand was squeezing his neck tightly, stopping him from going anywhere. Thwack. “Si-ix.”

“Breathe,” Enjolras reminded him, stern, and twisted further to Grantaire’s side, pressing his arm against Grantaire’s chest, pulling him against his body as he brought the crop down again. Thwack.

“Seven,” Grantaire rasped. Enjolras adjusted the angle again and struck – thwack – and Grantaire had to take a breath before gasping, “Eight.”

On fifteen, his voice broke, but his breathing was steady and his posture was more relaxed than it had been all night, the pain radiating from his thighs and throat. Enjolras didn’t let up for a second. Thwack. Grantaire let out a soft grunt. “Sixteen.” Thwack. “Ah…seventeen.” Thwack. “Fuck – eighteen.”

“Another for swearing,” Enjolras said, voice close enough to make a sound of surprise slip from Grantaire’s abused throat. Thwack.

“Nineteen,” he managed. Thwack. “Ah…ah…” He had to breathe, just for a second.

“Grantaire?”

“Twenty,” he whispered. He felt Enjolras’ huff of approval against the side of his face and gasped at the strength of the final thwack. “Twenty-one,” he croaked. Through his leather trousers, the blows had been muffled, but after twenty-one hard hits, the backs of his thighs were hot and sore, chafing against the material when he shifted. 

“Colour?” Enjolras checked, loosening his grip on Grantaire’s throat at last and pushing his face up to look at him. Grantaire kept his eyes closed. Looking at Enjolras now might ruin what good work he’d managed to achieve with the crop. With his eyes closed, he could half-pretend Enjolras was just another dom. 

“Green.”

“I’m going to put you back on the bed.” Enjolras put an arm around him, turning him around. Grantaire opened his eyes a crack, just enough to watch where he was going. “This time I’ll hit your back. Still green?”

“Very green.” Grantaire knelt without prompting, baring himself with far more ease than he had before. His thighs burned, and he couldn’t wait for his back to be warmed up as well. Enjolras stood behind him and nudged his legs.

“Feet together, knees apart. Hips on the mattress – better. Hold one wrist with your opposite hand.”

“Why?” Grantaire mumbled as he obeyed. His new position forced him to relax and put all his weight on his chest, and he made himself take steady, if shallow breaths. Standing had been so much easier.

“It makes a better picture, and gives you something to hold. Are you ready?”

“Mmhm. Hit me.”

Enjolras snorted, and a tiny smile flickered across Grantaire’s face, hidden against the duvet as he hugged the knowledge tightly to himself. Enjolras was pleased with him. It lasted only a second – Enjolras brought the crop down just to the right of his spine, vertically this time. He must have been standing either side of Grantaire’s legs. “Count out nineteen more,” he ordered, and let Grantaire take a deep breath before lifting the crop again.

Thwack. The point of impact was much smaller than it had been across his thighs, and Grantaire squeezed his wrist. “Two,” he breathed, and so it continued. Eighteen more strikes, with Enjolras getting the hang of angling them to leave longer marks, crossing them either side of Grantaire’s spine to make what he imagined must be V shapes. The pain was stinging and glorious, hot enough to make Grantaire moan on the last few hits, unable to stop them slipping out. His self-control was sliding further and further out of reach with every whack of the crop against his skin.

“Twenty,” he sighed at last, eyes closed and body completely slack.

“Colour?” Enjolras asked, voice low and distant.

“Green.” Grantaire pressed his face against the duvet and let out a long, satisfied sigh. “Will you use the flogger?” he asked quietly, turning his head so Enjolras would hear him properly.

“Do you want me to?” Enjolras moved, stepping to the side so Grantaire could see his legs as he leaned forward, his fingertips pressing into Grantaire’s back a moment later. His nails followed, digging into the flesh, and when Grantaire sighed again, he dragged four stinging lines right down to Grantaire’s belt, making him arch his back and hiss.

“Please,” he gasped, all sense of propriety gone, leaving only desperate greed for more behind.

“Alright.” Enjolras scratched him again, four matching lines down the other side of his back before he stood up again. “I’m going to give you twenty, but I’ll count this time. Colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire’s back glowed, ready for more. His flogger was the only kinky thing he’d splashed out on, one of his few good investments. It was a black, braided cat o’ nine tails that never failed to break him down when he was ready for it. And fuck, had Enjolras prepared him for this moment, this indrawn breath and tingle of anticipation, the instinctive tense as Enjolras stepped back into position and dangled it over his back. The tips danced against his overheated skin, almost tickling, and he pressed his forehead to the duvet and concentrated on breathing.

“How hard do you want it?” Enjolras asked, casual, swishing the flogger in a lazy rhythm back and forth. Grantaire squirmed, digging his fingernails into his wrist.

“Hard, while I’m warm. Please…” He hid his face again, not wanting to beg.

“Colour.”

“Green.” Muffled, but clearly audible. Enjolras lifted the flogger away and swung it. Grantaire couldn’t stop the gasp that slipped out at the impact, the weight and spread so different from the crop. It hadn’t been particularly hard, but before he could complain, Enjolras was swinging again. This hit was harder, and Grantaire let out a shaky breath, arching against the bed. This was what he needed, the bite of the flogger, wielded by someone who wouldn’t hesitate to hurt him.

Thank fuck Enjolras hadn’t asked him to count. Grantaire lost himself in the sensation of it, the steady rhythm of whack, hiss, swish, as the flogger slammed into his back, the braids ghosting over the mark as Enjolras lifted it away, and the barely-there swish as he swung it down again. Somewhere in there he started to moan again, gasping after every strike, loosening his grip on his wrist and spreading his arms to feel the cuffs dig into him, anchoring him. His knees slid slowly outwards but met with resistance before he could go too far – Enjolras’ feet against his shins, keeping him in place.

“Fuck,” he groaned, shuddering as the flogger’s tips bit his side. “Fuck, yes, ahhhhh…” Swish, whack. “Ahhhhh! Oww, fuck, ow…”

He was sweating and panting when the rhythm finally ended, and he heard the flogger fall to the bed a moment before Enjolras pressed both his palms against his shoulders, pushing him down. Grantaire went limp, head turned to the side so he could breathe. “Colour?” Enjolras asked, sounding a little breathless but still very much in control.

“Green,” Grantaire whispered. Enjolras slid his palms down, the friction dragging out a groan Grantaire was way too far gone to care about. “Fuuuuck.”

“You took that very well.”

And shit, Grantaire had to hide his face again, praying that Enjolras wouldn’t be able to tell what those artificial words of praise were doing to him. He swallowed, pushing down the odd sensation in his chest. “You can fuck me if you want,” he mumbled, not quite able to thank Enjolras properly.

Enjolras ran his hands down Grantaire’s back again, gentler this time. “Not tonight. We’re done, okay? Can you sit up for me?”

“Mmhmm.” Grantaire took a deep breath and pushed his arms against the bed, shoving his torso up. His back was on fire.

“Do you have anything for this?” Enjolras ran a hand across his shoulders, and Grantaire’s head dropped forward, an instinctive gesture of subservience. “Grantaire.” His fingers pressed the back of Grantaire’s neck. “Do you have any lotion or something?”

“No.” Grantaire closed his eyes, resting his hands on his knees. Fuck, he was light-headed. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Enjolras knelt behind him, hands steady on his shoulders, and Grantaire sighed, slumping under the unspoken permission to relax. It was okay now. The jittery, tense feeling that had been bugging him all day was gone, beaten out of him. All he wanted to do was sleep.

And Enjolras would leave.

Enjolras had dominated him. Grantaire swayed, breath hitching. One of the hands on his shoulders squeezed, both of them letting go as Enjolras got to his feet. “I’m getting you a drink, okay? Do you want something to eat?”

“Water,” Grantaire murmured, letting his elbows fall apart, the cuffs pulling him back to himself a little. “Please.”

“I’ll be right back.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” Grantaire opened his eyes and blinked slowly, head swimming. Everything was so hard and tight, his trousers sticking, his thighs aching, his back throbbing. He just wanted to skip ahead to pyjamas and bed, and not think about why Enjolras didn’t want to fuck him.

Enjolras returned with a glass of water, and he uncuffed Grantaire before handing it to him. Grantaire couldn’t look at him. He was a hair’s breadth from subdrop as it was. The last thing he needed was to focus on the fact that Enjolras had just flogged him hard enough to make him moan and swear, hard enough to make him writhe in desperation.

He’d never even suspected this. Enjolras was always so disapproving of the time-wasting aspects of sex and dating, so upright and chaste. And here he was, on the floor next to Grantaire, making sure he finished his water before helping him to his feet and undoing his belt for him. Grantaire’s fingers were too weak, his strength completely drained, and he closed his eyes again as Enjolras unbuttoned his trousers and unzipped his fly.

This was unreal.

“I’ve got it,” he managed to whisper before Enjolras could go further. He’d invited the guy to fuck him not ten minutes earlier, but suddenly the idea of Enjolras seeing him any more naked than he was already was unbearable.

“I’ll be outside.” Enjolras squeezed his wrist and left. It took a full minute for Grantaire to struggle out of his trousers and into his pyjama bottoms, and he had to sit down afterwards, too drifty to stand.

“Enjolras?” he called, distantly aware that he couldn’t fall asleep yet.

Enjolras came back in – he really had been waiting just around the corner. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Grantaire tipped his head back and finally opened his eyes to look at Enjolras properly. His makeup was smudged, but he didn’t look any less beautiful. Tall and stern and patient, waiting for Grantaire to speak again. “I’m good,” he muttered. “Thank you.”

Enjolras nodded. “Do you need anything else?”

Grantaire shook his head. “Tired,” he breathed, no energy to even talk properly. “Just tired. I’m good.”

“I’ll lock the door on the way out. Is Marius back tonight?”

“Morning. Not an amateur,” he reminded Enjolras, eyelids drooping. “I’m fine, I promise.”

“Okay.” Enjolras waited a beat, then dipped his head. “See you later then.” He turned, and Grantaire watched him leave. The living room light went out, and the front door opened, then closed. Grantaire took a fortifying breath, then forced himself to get up and close his bedroom door, hitting the light switch with his forehead and plunging the room into darkness.

Falling into bed hurt until he shifted to lie on his front, bare back uncovered by the duvet. It was so sore, hot to the touch, and he wished distantly that he’d thought to set up a camera. Usually he asked whoever had dealt the marks to take photos, but the idea of asking Enjolras that was enough to make him press his face into his pillow and groan. 

He was too tired to think anymore, which was exactly what he’d wanted. His brain was too busy focusing on the ever-present pain of his back to do much else, and Grantaire drifted off to sleep not long after.

In the morning, he was woken up by Marius knocking on his door, then opening it and looking in. He knew Grantaire rarely let anyone stay the night. “Hey, I just got back. You okay?”

“Mmmm.” He’d rolled onto his back during the night, and it chafed against the sheet as he sat up, wincing as his thighs also made their bruises known. “Owww, fuck. Yeah, I’m good. How was date night?”

Marius broke into a huge smile – his Cosette smile, as Grantaire had taken to calling it. “Wonderful. That Italian place you told us about was perfect, by the way. The pizza was incredible.”

“Right?” Grantaire grinned, waking up a little. “What else did you have?”

“Cosette had some sort of seafood spectacular.” He pulled a face, and Grantaire laughed.

“Feeling sorry for the shrimps again?”

“They look so alive,” Marius sighed. “Anyway, I’m making coffee – do you want any?”

“Yeah, please.” What would he do without Marius? He’d been worried when they first moved in together, sneaking around in the hope that Marius wouldn’t notice what he wore sometimes when he went out, hiding his gear away so that Marius wouldn’t ever see it and ask awkward questions. All wasted effort made obvious when Marius had expressed his confusion over Grantaire’s lack of reaction to the record-breaking sales numbers of the French translation of Fifty Shades of Grey.

“Shouldn’t you be more upset?” he’d asked, frowning. “I mean, I thought people who actually did this stuff hated the way the book portrayed it.”

Grantaire had almost died choking on his coffee. Apparently he was not as subtle as he thought.

It was better that Marius knew though. Whether it was through instinct or because he’d researched it, he was always more present in the days after Grantaire had been subbing. He tended to work from home a lot anyway, but it was always in the living room if he thought Grantaire might need him close by.

Usually it was unnecessary, but it never failed to make Grantaire smile. He dreaded the day when Marius inevitably moved in with Cosette and left him to find another flatmate even half as decent.

Today, however, he was feeling a little shaky. After he’d showered, he changed into his softest t-shirt and curled up on the sofa with a book. He always read the most on days like this, his brain able to actually focus for once on something for longer than an hour. Marius sat in his usual place at the kitchen table, tapping away on his laptop with his dictionaries a fort around him. Weak sunlight pooled in narrow rectangles on the floor as the sun rose up, and Grantaire dozed off again before it was gone.

The drop finally came that night in the bathroom as he examined his back in the mirror. He hadn’t bruised at all on his thighs, having been beaten through his trousers, but there were good marks on his back. Enjolras had obviously figured out that he liked the force concentrated on his shoulders, and the bruises there were turning dark blue, spots of it blooming amidst the paler yellow and greens barely visible through Grantaire’s tan.

He stared and stared, drinking the sight in, remembering the way he’d shuddered under every blow and moaned for more.

Enjolras had done this to him.

He shivered, suddenly cold, and his chin trembled as he thought of Enjolras – the normal Enjolras, not the strange, new version he’d met at the club. Enjolras in his usual jeans or dark trousers, t-shirt and maroon jacket. Enjolras wrapping his long fingers around the ceramic travel cup he always arrived at meetings with. Enjolras’ small smile as he listened to his friends talk, voice steady and unwavering when he joined in.

That Enjolras had come to Grantaire’s bedroom and wrapped a warm hand around his throat. Enjolras had watched Grantaire come undone, made him breathless, made him desperate.

Grantaire’s chin trembled, and he sank to the floor, suddenly unable to bear the sight of his own body in the mirror. What would Enjolras do, the next time they saw each other? Would he say anything? Would he smirk, raise a knowing eyebrow, rake his eyes over Grantaire’s body and ask a pointed question about sitting down?

He wouldn’t, not Enjolras, but he would still know. He would still know what Grantaire looked like when he was at his most pathetic and disgusting. He knew, and there was no taking it back.

Grantaire covered his face with his hands and stifled a sob, chest shaking. What had he done?

It didn’t last long, maybe ten minutes at most, but he went to bed cold and miserable, shame crawling under his skin. The meeting was tomorrow evening, and he had no illusions about his attendance. Even if he could conjure up an excuse at such short notice, he had no real desire to. He was too much an addict, craving an evening of companionship and friendly chatter. And he always looked forward to basking in Enjolras’ warming company, however distant it was.

His last thought before he drifted off was of desperation. If what he and Enjolras had done had ended the way Enjolras’ mere presence lifted him up, he was ruined. He would have traded what tragically amounted to the highlight of his week for a night of indulgence. He would have disgraced and humiliated himself for nothing.

Chapter Text

Enjolras did little more than glance his way when Grantaire arrived at the meeting, and as the night wore on, Grantaire finally accepted that Enjolras was behaving no differently towards him than usual. His attention didn’t come to rest on Grantaire once, and Grantaire left after midnight more than a little drunk, not sure if he was sad or pleased.

When they’d been students, they’d often gone out after these meetings, but everyone had jobs now, and early starts on Tuesday mornings. Grantaire included, really, but he still wouldn’t have said no to a night out. His morning shifts at the curiosity shop where he worked didn’t start till ten anyway.

But alas, with no one to keep him company, what was the point? So he went home with Marius and stayed up late on his own, flicking between tabs on his laptop. Tumblr, an article from the ABC Facebook, a video about arctic wildlife, and a photograph of a woman strung as a harp. He couldn’t stop coming back to it, staring and staring.

She was kneeling astride and below a wooden frame, from the top of which many strings were attached to her body in two long lines from mid-thigh to chest with hypodermic needles. Her skin was pulled tight at every point, and her arms were stretched over her head, tied to the wooden frame. But though her face was mostly concealed, he could tell she was smiling – smiling up at the man playing the harp. His face was hidden behind as well, and his pose was relaxed. The shadows on his body were stunning, and Grantaire couldn’t close the tab no matter how often he told himself that he’d saved it and bookmarked it and could come back to it any time he liked.

It wasn’t that he wanted to be either of the models in that situation – he didn’t even like needles, and the position the woman was kneeling in looked very uncomfortable to maintain for any length of time – but there was something about it that just got to him. Perhaps the idea of a body being an instrument for someone to play. A true object, only existing for a single purpose and unable to do anything but fulfil it.

Enjolras stayed on his mind. He’d never exactly been far from Grantaire’s thoughts before, but now he had the fuel of their night together, every time his mind drifted it seemed to come back to Enjolras and the way he’d looked in the club. And the way he’d looked in the taxi, closer than he’d ever been before. And the way he’d looked in Grantaire’s bedroom, before and after, voice low and commanding.

The next time Le Grande opened its doors, Grantaire went. He wasn’t looking for Enjolras (he told himself as he got ready) – any dom would do. He might meet some of his other acquaintances there this time, and if all else failed he could see if anyone was up for some public play. Mask 21 had wristbands available to signal whether you were open to that or not, but Le Grande unfortunately lacked that particular perk.

This time he put in a bit more effort. He tried on his underbust, but the bulging material just depressed him and he shoved it away again. So the harness was back, but he wore a choke chain with it this time (available for anyone to clip a leash onto), and actually bothered with the extra half an hour it took to inexpertly apply eyeliner and eyeshadow. He hated doing it – going out in public with makeup on made him uneasy like nothing else, and it was a pain to get off – but it served its purpose. He had no problems getting into the club this time.

This time he actually found a couple of people he knew – Rosa was recognisable by her habitual beehive wig, and Isaak was with his sub, Stephanie. He joined them to watch a scene, then relocated to the dance floor, not feeling up to conversation. It was easy to lose himself in dancing, or what counted for dancing in a club. Anyone with a sense of rhythm could bounce in time, gyrate their hips and loosen up their limbs.

He almost didn’t notice when someone touched his shoulder – the crowd was pressed close and he was sweating from the heat – but he felt it when they squeezed, and he turned to see who it was. His mind ground to a halt when faced with Enjolras, in even darker makeup than last time. It would have been impossible to hear each other speak over the music, but Grantaire nodded when Enjolras mimed drinking.

He’d totally come out tonight for this. There was no point denying it now, not when his heart was beating this fast and his skin was already tight with anticipation. He’d hoped to find Enjolras again, but now that he had, he had no idea what to say.

“Same as last time?” Enjolras asked as they got in the queue for the bar. He had to yell to be heard over the music. Grantaire nodded.

“Yeah, please.” He had to fight down the urge to fidget, and hooked his thumbs in the pockets of his trousers to stop himself, looking down. Enjolras, he saw, was tapping his foot to the beat. When they got to the front, Enjolras paid for both their drinks and took one in each hand, nodding to the stairs with a questioning look. When Grantaire nodded, he led the way upstairs and found them a small table, much like before.

“To what do I owe the honour?” Grantaire asked as they sat down, Enjolras sliding his drink to him along the table top.

“I hoped you’d be here tonight.” Enjolras cradled his own glass in both hands for a moment before taking a sip.

Grantaire’s heart leapt. “Oh? Why’s that?”

“I wanted to apologise.”

Oh. Grantaire’s entire body flooded with anxiety – he’d known it would be a terrible idea but he’d said yes anyway, it was all his fault, he was selfish, greedy, obsessed, sick, the most hopeless of fools, how could he have been such an idiot – “What for?” It was a good thing he’d had plenty of practice at sounding unaffected.

“The way we ended things the other night.” Enjolras dragged his eyes up from his drink to meet Grantaire’s. “I shouldn’t have left like that.”

Grantaire blinked, mind tripping in its rush of self-criticism. “What?”

“I shouldn’t have left the way I did.” Enjolras frowned down at the table again. “It’s been bothering me since it happened. I regretted it the moment I closed the door, but by then it was locked, and I…that’s not usually the way I do things, and I knew even as I did it that it was wrong, and I was only doing it because I know you outside of the scene.”

“I asked you to leave,” Grantaire said, baffled. “Didn’t I? I told you it was fine. You made sure I got into bed – that’s all I needed.”

“Maybe so. But I wish I’d done it differently all the same. I just needed to tell you that, and say sorry.”

“It wasn’t a problem.” Grantaire stared at him. This wasn’t going the way he’d expected at all. “Seriously, I’m very low maintenance –” A bare-faced lie if ever there was one. “– you don’t need to beat yourself up over me.”

“I take it that means you didn’t drop then?” Enjolras asked, raising an eyebrow. Grantaire scowled.

“I was fine. Honestly, I thought you were planning to ask for a repeat performance, not a session of self-flagellation. Not that I’d object if you were to do that in a more literal sense,” he added, lewd grin in place even as his mind shrieked at him to shut up. When Enjolras only raised his other eyebrow, Grantaire’s front crumbled and he shook his head, reaching at last for his drink. “God, don’t listen to me, if anyone should be taking a whip to themselves right now, it’s me.”

“Have you done that before?” Enjolras was all bland curiosity, and Grantaire barely managed to avoid choking on his mouthful of whiskey and lemonade.

“I, uh…well, I don’t have a whip, as I think you know.”

Enjolras nodded slowly, and Grantaire lowered his eyes as he took another gulp. Enjolras was sizing him up; he could feel eyes on his body, looking him up and down. The implied judgement in Enjolras’ gaze was enough to make Grantaire shift, restless. Under the table, Enjolras’ foot bumped against his calf, making him jump and look up again. “Would you like a repeat performance?” Enjolras asked. All his uncertainty had gone, replaced by a seriously loaded look and a small, barely-noticeable lift at the corner of his lips.

Jesus fucking Christ, was this Enjolras flirting with him? Grantaire had to put his drink down on the table to stop himself knocking it back like a shot. He managed to hold Enjolras’ gaze for maybe two seconds before he nodded. “If you’re offering.”

Enjolras smirked and leaned back in his chair, lifting his drink to take a lazy sip. “Combeferre’s out tonight. How do you feel about canes?”

“Positively.” His answer made Enjolras smile, and Grantaire didn’t bother pushing down the little bubble of excitement that expanded in his chest at the sight. Instead, he finished his drink and grinned back, practically giddy. “You going to give me a thrashing I’ll never forget?”

“I do like high goals.” Enjolras’ smile was small, but wicked. “Shall we go now?”

“I’d hate to keep you waiting.”

Enjolras snorted. “I’m sure.” He got up and finished his drink in two swift gulps as Grantaire got to his feet as well. “You liked your back and thighs being beaten – would you like your ass added to that?”

“Well it’s not like my job involves much sitting down.” Grantaire couldn’t stop grinning, anticipation crackling under his skin with far less terror than last time. Everything was always hardest on the first go, after all. “Might as well take advantage of that, I figure.”

“Well said.” Enjolras led the way out again, and this time they got the métro instead of calling a taxi. Enjolras and Combeferre’s apartment wasn’t far away, and like last time he and Grantaire outlined the scene on the way. It would be simple, as before – Grantaire would be cuffed face-down on Enjolras’ bed (a not-so-small part of his brain expired on the spot), with his shirt off and his trousers on. Enjolras would pull them down to start caning him, but if Grantaire played it right Enjolras wouldn’t see more than that. He wasn’t sure why he was being so shy all of a sudden – usually he couldn’t care less who saw his dick when he was playing. 

But then of course, that was a lie – he knew exactly why he was trying to keep that illusion of distance between them.

He’d never been to Enjolras and Combeferre’s apartment before, and it was much smaller than he’d expected. The door opened onto a living room with windows in the wall opposite, and a kitchenette tucked to the right. An open door to the left showed a decent-sized bathroom, and the door next to it was presumably a bedroom. Every foot of available wall space was taken up with bookshelves, the books on them stacked horizontally to take advantage of every gap. As he stepped further in, Grantaire spotted another door on the other side of the television. “Which is yours?” he asked.

“Here.” Enjolras closed the front door and walked past him to open the one next to the bathroom. Grantaire followed him in, taking a deep breath at the sight of the large bed, unmade and comfortable-looking. Enjolras pulled the duvet off and dumped it carelessly in a corner. With it gone, Grantaire could see the cuffs dangling on black straps from under the corners of the mattress.

“Handy,” he remarked, nodding at them when Enjolras looked up. “Are they always there?”

Enjolras shrugged. “I don’t see the point in removing them, unless it’s for cleaning. Do you want something to drink before we start?”

Grantaire shook his head. “I think you mentioned something about me choosing the implement?”

“Yes.” Enjolras smiled slightly, and knelt down on the other side of the bed. It had drawers underneath it, like Grantaire’s, and from one of those he pulled out a cane and lay it on the bed. Then he pulled out another. And another. And another.

“Ho-o-o-ly shit.” Grantaire’s mouth was open in shock by the time Enjolras had finished, lining them up neatly in size order. “Fuck, you have eight canes. Eight. Why?

Enjolras stood up and closed the drawer with his foot, his smile slightly crooked. “Well…I like options.”

He was self-conscious about it, Grantaire realised distantly. “Fucking hell. And I get to pick?”

“Aren’t you lucky?” Enjolras smirked, and Grantaire had to take a deep breath.

“That I am. Very lucky. God, do you spend all your money on this stuff?” That would explain why he and Combeferre had such a surprisingly small apartment – between books and bondage, it was probably a wonder that they managed to pay the rent.

“Not all.” Enjolras looked down at the line of canes. “But I pay for quality.”

“Lucky, lucky me.” Grantaire wasn’t even being sarcastic. He sat down on the edge of the bed and touched the tip of the one nearest to him, the smallest. The length roughly corresponded to the width; the smaller, the thinner. The one at the end was as thick as a tree branch. Grantaire hesitated, then reached for it and picked it up. “Christ, it’s practically a baton.”

“But far more beautiful,” Enjolras said, almost stern, and Grantaire grinned, running his palm over its length.

“Very true.” It was varnished and smooth, a deep, reddish-brown in colour. He put it back carefully, not sure how he felt about the prospect of being beaten with something as unyielding as that. “Are you sure it’s a cane? They usually have a little more spring to them.”

“I count it as a cane.”

“I won’t be sitting down for a long time if you count something like that as a cane,” Grantaire snorted. He brushed his fingertips over a couple of the others. There were a few that were bent, clearly well-used, and he picked one up and swung it to hear how it moved through the air.

“Good choice.”

Grantaire nodded and set it aside, then frowned up at Enjolras. “Do you want me to pick more than one?”

“At least three.” Enjolras’ smile grew at Grantaire’s wide-eyed stare, and Grantaire laughed a moment later.

“Well I did ask for a thrashing.” God, was he really doing this? He raked his eyes over the remaining seven options and touched a few more before deciding on a thinner, whippy one, and a thicker, pale rattan one that thudded when he tested it on the edge of the mattress. “These,” he said, and Enjolras knelt down to put the others away, sighing in mock-regret when he finally slid the almost-baton into the drawer. “It’s been a while since I was caned,” Grantaire told him dryly. “I still want to be able to walk tomorrow.” 

“I’ll try to bear that in mind.” Enjolras smirked as he stood, and Grantaire’s smile faded into something more breathless and tense, suddenly very aware of the height difference between them when he was sitting and Enjolras was looming over him, close enough to touch but somehow still an immeasurable distance away. “Shall we begin then?”

Grantaire nodded and stood up, flexing his fingers before he set them to the buckles of his harness.

“Safewords,” Enjolras prompted.

“Red for stop, yellow for pause, green for go,” Grantaire recited, wriggling out of the leather and letting it fall to the floor.

“And non-verbal?”

“Are you planning on gagging me?”

“Non-verbal?” Enjolras repeated, catching Grantaire’s eyes and giving him a dangerous look.

“I’ll wave my hands or snap my fingers,” Grantaire said, quieter.

“Better. Knocking the headboard will also work if you can reach it when you’re tied up.” Enjolras leaned past him to pick up the canes and nodded at the bed. “Lie down.”

Gone was the almost-flirting of a minute earlier. Goosebumps broke out over Grantaire’s bare arms as he toed off his shoes and socks and sat down again, undoing his fly before pushing himself into the centre to lie on his stomach, propped up on his elbows so he could still see Enjolras. This close to the mattress, he could smell Enjolras on the sheets.

“I’m going to cuff your ankles first,” Enjolras told him, putting the canes on his dresser and moving to the foot of the bed. “Colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire twisted to look over his shoulder, moving his legs so that Enjolras could wrap the cuffs around his ankles. He had to look away as Enjolras lifted his foot, hand warm and firm against Grantaire’s skin. Strange, that he could hardly bear the intimacy of such a simple act after all they’d done already.

“Still green?” Enjolras checked as he cuffed Grantaire’s other foot.

“As grass.”

“Good.” Enjolras moved Grantaire’s feet into new positions, spreading his legs, and Grantaire couldn’t help looking back over his shoulder.

“Shit.”

Enjolras paused immediately. “Are you okay?” Grantaire had apparently only seen the surface of the restraint system – he’d thought it was the standard cuffs-connected-by-cord-under-mattress deal, but Enjolras’ cuffs were connected by a strap on top of the mattress as well, with an adjustable bit in the middle so he could strap Grantaire’s feet down tight. There wouldn’t be much in the way of wiggle room, as Grantaire had thought there would be.

“Um.” Fuck, he could do this, he could be professional about this; he wasn’t going to make himself uncomfortable just because of Enjolras’ expectations, he was…well. Not better than that, maybe, but he knew better, at least. “Maybe leave off the top strap for my feet?” he said awkwardly. “Sorry.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry.” Enjolras squeezed his ankle and pulled the top strap away, sliding it out of sight under the bed. “What about your wrists?”

“I…maybe? Try it, I don’t know. You’ve got a weird restraint system,” he added, trying to regain that touch of humour they’d had before.

“I think I mentioned at some point that I liked immobilisation.” Enjolras moved to the head of the bed. Grantaire had to lie down properly to let Enjolras cuff his left wrist, and he fought the urge to hide his face. He was sure once they started properly, he would be fine, but this part was…difficult. Enjolras was so gentle, so severe in his caution and attention to detail. It felt like he cared a great deal, and Grantaire focused on keeping his breathing steady as Enjolras walked round to the other side of the bed to cuff his other wrist. “How’s that so far?”

Grantaire nodded. “No top strap for these either, if that’s okay,” he added, not meeting Enjolras’ eyes.

“Of course it’s okay.” Enjolras slid a hand into Grantaire’s hair, and Grantaire stopped breathing. “Colour?”

Grantaire’s lips parted, but for an embarrassing couple of seconds he couldn’t quite speak. “Green,” he managed to whisper at last, a shiver running down his back as Enjolras’ hand in his hair shifted, then slid away. Grantaire did hide his face now, very aware of how hot it was and how utterly ridiculous he was being. All Enjolras had done was touch his hair, for fuck’s sake. It wasn’t as if he’d kissed him or anything.

“Are you still okay with me pulling your pants down?” Enjolras asked from somewhere behind and to the side of him. “It’s fine if you’re not.”

“It’s green, I’m okay.” He was nervous, sure, but he didn’t want the pain of the caning he was about to get to be muffled in any way.

“Alright then.” Enjolras touched his back first, giving him plenty of time to back out, and when Grantaire didn’t object, he hooked his fingers around Grantaire’s waistband and tugged it down. Grantaire lifted his hips to help, face burning, and took slow breaths as Enjolras pulled his trousers down to his thighs, just below the swell of his ass.

He mouthed a curse against the sheet as Enjolras squeezed one cheek, praying that he wouldn’t get hard from this, or at least not hard enough to get pre-come on Enjolras’ sheets. “Colour?” Enjolras asked.

“Green. I think you promised me a thrashing?” Anything to get Enjolras’ perfect, warm hand off his ass. And anything to stop him wondering if Enjolras was repulsed by the hair down there. He couldn’t believe he’d forgotten that, and he bit his lip as Enjolras snorted and stepped away, presumably to get a cane.

“I might have said something along those lines.” Something cool and thin pressed lightly into his ass. “I think you should ask for it.”

“You place a lot of stock in manners?” Grantaire twisted around to look. Enjolras was holding the medium-width cane of the three he’d selected, and he smirked when he met Grantaire’s eyes. The first smack was only enough to sting, but Grantaire’s teeth sank into his lower lip all the same.

“Being polite goes a long way.”

The cane pressed down harder, and Grantaire ducked his head, a little thrill running through him. Now things would get good. “Please,” he said, “beat me.”

“Hmm.” Enjolras brought the cane down again, not much harder than the first time. “Not very impressive. You’ll have to do better than that.”

Something in that touched a nerve – Enjolras telling him he wasn’t good enough, but encouraging him to try again, showing him how to be better, how to improve and please him – and Grantaire dropped his head onto the mattress, the embarrassment of his situation making him flush. “Please,” he said again, and had to close his eyes to continue. “Please, I need it, I want you to beat me.”

“How much?” Enjolras prompted, and whacked the cane down hard enough to make Grantaire jerk and groan. “How hard?”

“Fuck, so hard I can’t think of anything else,” Grantaire blurted, already embarrassingly strung out and aching for more. “Please, till I can’t even talk.”

“There are better things you could do with that pretty mouth,” Enjolras agreed, and Grantaire barely had time to process the incredible fact that Enjolras had called his mouth pretty before the cane whistled down again, this time with purpose. It couldn’t have been harder than when he’d beat Grantaire’s thighs last time, but a cane had a lot more strength in it than a crop.

Grantaire yelped, and groaned when Enjolras asked, “Colour?”

“Green! Please, come on, I’m – ahhhhh!” The cane struck again, and Grantaire curled his hands into fists and pushed his ass up, wordlessly asking for more.

“So wriggly,” Enjolras scolded, free hand pressing down against the small of Grantaire’s back. “Hold still.” Whack.

Ahhhh, fuck shit Christ…”

“Every time you swear –” Whack.

(“Motherfucking –”)

“I’m going to give you one more,” Enjolras said cheerfully. “Manners includes keeping a civil tongue in your mouth, you know.”

“My pretty mouth?” Grantaire gasped, ass already feeling warm.

Enjolras laughed and hit him again, making Grantaire muffle another string of curses in the mattress. “Your pretty mouth. And don’t think I didn’t hear that – that’s four extra now.”

“Do blasphemies –” Whack. “Fuck, oh…ah do blasphemies count?” He was already feeling fuzzy, grinning like a fool at how good it felt.

“That’s a good question.” Enjolras hummed, and caned Grantaire twice more while he thought. “I’m going to say no for your sake – we’ll be here all night otherwise, I think, and you really won’t walk tomorrow.”

“Walking’s so overrated,” Grantaire groaned, jerking when the cane smacked into him again. “Ohhhh, God.”

“Much better.” Grantaire might have made a happy noise at the praise, but was thankfully spared when another strike made him curse breathlessly instead. Enjolras didn’t hold back, but didn’t go overboard either. By the time he paused, perhaps two minutes later, Grantaire’s ass was on fire and he was aching for more. “Fuck, Enjolras –” Whack. “Ahhhhh…”

“Time to switch,” Enjolras purred, stroking his back with enough firmness to make Grantaire feel as though Enjolras was the one pressing him into the bed and keeping him there, rather than the cuffs around his wrists and ankles.

“To a different cane?” Grantaire turned his head, blinking Enjolras into focus. He was radiant, glowing above Grantaire like a vengeful god.

“Yes. I made you pick three for a reason.” He lifted the one he’d just been using for inspection, then turned away to get another to replace it. “Which should I use now?”

“The thin one,” Grantaire said immediately, slurring a little. “The whippy one.” The sting of it would be incredible, it would drive him wild.

“Needy,” Enjolras taunted. “Face down, I don’t want you to see it coming.”

Grantaire hid his face gladly, feeling hot all over. He heard Enjolras step round to his other side, and let out a breath when Enjolras’ hand smoothed down his back again, ready to hold him still. “Colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire held his breath, waiting for the sting. He felt the shift in Enjolras’ weight through his hand, and braced himself. Thud. “Ahhhh!” That was not a sting. Grantaire’s whole body was rigid, and Enjolras pushed down hard to keep him still as he brought the cane down again – he’d picked up the thicker one, that much was obvious. Thud. “Shit fuck buggering hell what the –”

“I chose the one I wanted,” Enjolras said, hitting him again. “Because I think you needed a little reminder that you’re not the one in charge right now – I am.” Thud. Grantaire muffled a groan into the mattress, definite pressure growing between his legs with every word out of Enjolras’ mouth. “You don’t get to demand so rudely for what you think you want. You’ll take what I give you, and you’ll thank me for it.” Thud.

Grantaire writhed, tugging at the restraints to feel them hold him back, thrusting slightly against the bed and hoping Enjolras’ wouldn’t notice. Thud. “What do you say?” Enjolras prompted, and the smug, expectant tone of his voice made Grantaire shiver.

“Thank you,” he gasped. Thud. “Ahhhhhh, fuck, thank you.” Thud. “Thank you!” Thud. Grantaire moaned, high and desperate, and the hand on his back was suddenly in his hair, yanking his head around to face Enjolras. It was like looking at the sun, and Grantaire struggled to find the words he needed. “Thank…”

“Very good.” Enjolras rubbed a thumb over his cheekbone, cupping his jaw, and Grantaire’s mouth lolled open without his conscious permission, stretching to push into Enjolras’ hand as much as he could. Thud. He squeezed his eyes shut and shuddered, gasping.

“Thank you.”

“See how much better that is?” Enjolras murmured, and fuck, fuck, Grantaire whined as Enjolras’ hand slid across his mouth, one finger pressing at his lower lip. “Colour, Grantaire?”

“Green,” Grantaire breathed, and Enjolras pushed two fingers into his mouth at the same time as he brought the cane down once more. “’Ank ‘oo,” Grantaire slurred, barely-open eyes catching a glimpse of Enjolras’ pleased smile.

“Very good. You don’t have to say anything now, Grantaire. Just breathe for me.”

Grantaire would have done anything for him at that point. Everything was spinning in a perfect blur of hot, sharp pain and warm, soft pleasure. His cock was hard against the mattress, shoved into it with every blow of the cane, and Enjolras’ fingers were wet and insistent on his tongue, his thumb and other fingers on Grantaire’s cheeks, holding him exactly where Enjolras wanted him. There was a pause some indistinct amount of time later, and the leg-shaking thuds of the thick cane came to an end.

One coherent thought Grantaire managed to cling onto was that he could not come. He’d never been one for orgasm delay or denial, but on this occasion he just about stuck to his guns and held himself as still as possible, losing himself in Enjolras’ hand on his face rather than the persistent ache between his legs. With a distraction like Enjolras’ fingers, it wasn’t so hard.

Enjolras’ fingers were long and slender, pale brown with short nails. Grantaire applied himself to fellating them with more enthusiasm than the last cock he’d sucked, sucking and licking and pulling them as far into his mouth as he could, curling his tongue around and between them. When Enjolras hummed and gave him a third finger Grantaire moaned his thanks, hoping desperately that Enjolras was pleased, that this felt good to him, that he was enjoying it as much as Grantaire was.

Enjolras knelt on the bed, his weight shifting, and a moment later he pulled his fingers free and rested something cool against the hot, sore skin of Grantaire’s ass. “This is the last cane,” he said softly. “Colour, Grantaire?”

Grantaire worked his mouth for a moment before coherency made its return. “Green,” he muttered, eyes closed. “Please, please –” Smack. “Ahh!”

“You’re doing so well,” Enjolras told him, fingers once more brushing Grantaire’s lips. He stretched his neck to suck the tips into his mouth, and Enjolras laughed and let him have them. “You’re so good at this, you’ve come so far, look at you.” Smack.

Grantaire let the praise sink into him, smiling around Enjolras’ fingers even as his body jolted with the first few strikes of the thin cane. Once he got used to it, relaxing properly, Enjolras sped up, a steady rhythm of smack-smack-smack that made Grantaire want to cry at how good it felt. He had come far, he agreed mentally. He’d been demanding and impolite, and Enjolras had made him better, and taken him to this state as both a result and a reward. He’d done well – Enjolras said so, which made it true.

He lost the ability to suck and lap at Enjolras’ fingers, unable to do anything but gasp with every strike of the cane. Enjolras kept cupping his face though, holding him steady as he slowed down and finally stopped, the silence spreading out from them like ripples in a pond.

“Colour, Grantaire?”

“Mmmmm.” Grantaire tugged at the cuffs on his wrists, feeling like he was moving through syrup. Enjolras undid them quickly, and Grantaire curled onto his side, ignoring the painful rasp of the sheet against the side of his ass as he relaxed. Enjolras stroked his hair, tender enough to make Grantaire shiver. 

“Colour?” he prompted again, softly.

“Green,” Grantaire breathed, trying to pull his legs up closer to his chest and making a discontented sound when his legs wouldn’t move. Enjolras huffed a laugh and bent over, his stomach brushing against Grantaire’s knees.

“Hold on.” After a moment’s struggle, the cuffs on Grantaire’s ankles were removed as well, and Enjolras scooted further onto the bed so that Grantaire could curl up properly. Enjolras’ hand returned to his hair, slow and careful not to snag his fingers in any tangles, and Grantaire sighed happily, so warm. He’d be totally comfortable if not for his burning ass, and that was distant and almost pleasant if he didn’t move. “How’re you doing?” Enjolras murmured.

“So good.” Grantaire spoke slowly, dredging the words up with effort. “So fucking good. That was great.”

Enjolras hummed, a questioning edge to it that caught Grantaire's attention. “Were you okay with the non-negotiated parts? The second cane was a surprise for you...”

"Good surprise," Grantaire assured him, dopey from the endorphins. "Really good."

"I'm glad to hear it. You took it beautifully."

Half a dozen flowery compliments swam to the front of Grantaire’s mind in reply, tangling together and making him smile. He was too blissed out for such long sentences in any case, and before he could figure out what to say, Enjolras tugged gently at a strand of his hair. “What do you say when someone says something nice to you?”

“Thank you,” Grantaire mumbled, smiling when Enjolras smoothed his hair down again.

“Very good.”

In the silence that followed, Grantaire had to concentrate on coming back to reality when all he wanted to do was soak up Enjolras’ affection for as long as he could, revelling in the novelty of it, trying to memorise every sensation while simultaneously pretending he couldn’t care less. A little embarrassment prickled at the edges of his mind, the conscious part of his brain reminding him that he’d just begged Enjolras to beat him – what on earth did Enjolras think of him? What would the others think if they knew? If they could see him like this, basking in Enjolras’ temporary kindness?

It was part of the package, he rationalised. Enjolras certainly wasn’t begrudging it of him. Grantaire had the feeling that if he asked to stay the night, Enjolras would be more than accommodating. Which meant of course that he had to go. It was bad enough that he was doing this (and maybe fantasising just a little bit about being in a relationship with Enjolras, a far further step than he’d ever allowed himself to take before). He couldn’t allow himself to start taking liberties, especially when Enjolras would feel obliged to indulge him.

They weren’t together. There was nothing between them.

Grantaire took a deep breath and pulled away, pushing himself up onto his knees, one hand braced against the bed so that he wouldn’t have to rest his ass on his heels, the other draped across his lap to hide his now flaccid cock. “Thanks,” he said quietly, addressing Enjolras’ legs.

“Thank you.” Enjolras got up and turned away, ostensibly to put the canes away, but Grantaire could tell he was giving him the opportunity to cover up unobserved. He winced as he unfolded his legs and stood up, pulling his trousers over what had to be bruises by now. He’d take photos when he got home – hopefully the marks wouldn’t have faded too much by then.

Enjolras turned back, probably alerted by the sound of Grantaire’s zipper that all was safe. “How are you feeling?”

“Good.” Grantaire blinked, surprised to find that it was true, for the most part. “You?” he asked, lifting his head at last to meet Enjolras’ eyes.

Enjolras smiled, a crooked, pleased expression that Grantaire couldn’t remember having seen before – certainly not directed at him, that was for sure. “I’m excellent. Do you need anything?”

“Um. Water? I should get going though.”

“You can stay if you like,” Enjolras offered, opening the door and waiting for Grantaire to take a step before leading him out to the kitchenette. “Combeferre won’t be back till tomorrow.”

“No.” He had to be firm about this, he couldn’t take liberties. He followed Enjolras carefully, small steps calculated not to pull too much material over his sore skin. “Thanks, but…I’m kind of attached to my own bed. And Marius will worry if I’m not back tonight.” A lie – he would worry if Grantaire didn’t contact him at all, true, but a text had always served the purpose before.

If Enjolras suspected his dishonesty, he didn’t let on. Only shrugged and filled two glasses with water, handing one to Grantaire and taking one for himself. “I’ll take you home then.”

“What?” Grantaire snorted and sipped the water before shaking his head. “I’m fine. Clear-headed and sober.”

Enjolras frowned at his glass, and licked his lips before speaking. “You remember earlier, when I apologised for leaving so abruptly last time?”

“Yes…”

Enjolras’ mouth twisted, like he was biting the inside of his cheek, and he glanced away instead of looking at Grantaire. “I want to make sure you get home alright, that’s all.”

Grantaire stared at him. He was hardly an expert on Enjolras’ body language outside the setting of ABC meetings, but it almost looked as though he was embarrassed, or at least self-conscious about such an admission. “Is this like…sort of aftercare for you?”

“I,” Enjolras hesitated. “Yes. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient,” he added, finally looking at Grantaire with hard eyes as though daring him to mock. “But I won’t be able to settle properly unless I do this.”

Oh God. Grantaire’s grip on his glass tightened, trying to process what was undeniably Enjolras being sweet without making any embarrassing noises. “Um.” Fuck, he needed to say something, say anything, anything to fill this horrible silence. “Okay then. You can make sure I don’t fall asleep and miss my stop.”

“A taxi would be faster?” Enjolras suggested, but Grantaire shook his head. Enjolras had already paid for too many taxis, by his reckoning.

“I prefer the métro.”

“Okay.” Enjolras tipped his head back, draining his glass and putting it on the side. “I’m going to change quickly before we go, if that’s alright.”

“Sure.” Grantaire stepped aside to let him go back into the bedroom, and let out a long, quiet breath once he was out of sight. Apparently he could still be assertive, even with Enjolras, after Enjolras had given him a fantastic caning.

Jesus fuck, and after Grantaire had sucked his fingers.

He had to steady himself against the counter, knees wobbling for a moment at the memory. He’d sucked Enjolras’ fingers. That was a big step further than he’d intended to go, but Enjolras had checked, and holy fuck had Grantaire been willing. More than willing – he would have begged for it. Would still beg for it, in all honesty, because who would turn down the opportunity to suck Enjolras’ fingers? The man had gorgeous hands.

And Grantaire had had those fingers in his mouth. He stifled a whimper and gulped at his water, trying not to freak out. Every time he looked at Enjolras’ hands from now on, he would remember this. His head was still too muddled on the issue to figure out whether or not this was a bad thing.

They were quiet as they left the little apartment, not exchanging more than a couple of murmurs on the métro, and as they left it. Grantaire had worried that Enjolras would want to debrief properly, pick apart the scene and analyse it, but if that was what he wanted, he didn’t let it show. They sat next to each other on each train and on the benches at the stops Grantaire had to change at, and it was good. It was surprisingly relaxing, Enjolras just being there, not asking anything of him, not demanding a conversation or engagement Grantaire was too tired to give. He just stayed close, solid and safe, making sure that Grantaire got home alright. And as well as providing physical security, something about his presence acted as a cancelling device for Grantaire’s mind. Had he been travelling alone, he had no doubts that he would have been dropping by now, but he just had to look sideways at Enjolras to feel himself relax. Enjolras was with him. Enjolras would keep him safe, and everything would be alright.

Still. “You don’t have to walk me all the way to my door.”

“I want to.”

“Okay.”

At Grantaire’s building’s door, Enjolras paused. Sure he was about to say goodbye, Grantaire turned, and sucked in a quick breath when Enjolras hugged him.

His arms were strong, he’d already known that, but it was different feeling their strength under a cane or a crop and knowing how they felt wrapped around his body, the small height difference suddenly glaring as Grantaire’s jaw was pulled against Enjolras’ shoulder, his face against Enjolras’ neck. He breathed in and inhaled heat and the same pleasant smell that had been on Enjolras’ bed, nothing like deodorant or laundry detergent or soap. For a moment he allowed himself to hug back, his arms around Enjolras’ lower back like they could actually fit together.

Anyone could fit together if they hugged. It was a universal law. Hugging just did that; made human bodies into puzzle pieces that always matched when reaching out for each other willingly. Grantaire closed his eyes and pressed the moment into his memory, trying to fix in his mind forever how it felt to have Enjolras in his arms, to be held like this with their bodies against each other from head to knee.

It lasted perhaps two seconds, and Grantaire let go the instant he felt Enjolras loosen his grip. He hoped he wasn’t blushing, or that it was too dark to see if he was. “Thanks,” he muttered.

“Thank you.” Enjolras waited for their eyes to meet before he smiled and inclined his head, already stepping away, already headed back home. Grantaire’s fingers trembled as he keyed in the code for the building’s front door, the quiet a roar in his ears as he climbed the stairs to his and Marius’ apartment.

Three Enjolrases. Three versions of the man he was half in love with he’d seen now, and this last, kind version was the strangest of them all. He could admire the one he’d known already and had known for years, and crave the force of the version that held him down and beat him, but this gentle, sweet side was the one that threatened to overwhelm him.

It was like Enjolras had walked over out of nowhere and spun the little surface of life Grantaire stood on, sending it spinning wildly beneath his feet. Everything was a blur beyond the tiny space his body inhabited, Enjolras splitting from one unattainable god into a real person, real people, no longer removed and distant, but close enough to touch, breathe with, really love. Someone to hold onto, a solid possibility in this new, careening world.

Grantaire let himself in and got another glass of water before heading for bed, exhaustion catching up with him. He would take photos tomorrow – all he wanted to do now was collapse and sleep. His dreams would probably make more sense than this weird new life anyway.

Chapter Text

Seeing Enjolras at meetings didn’t clear up Grantaire’s confusion at all. If anything, it exacerbated the issue, which wasn’t exactly unexpected. He’d always watched Enjolras out of the corner of his eye, and when he drank it became what he thought was embarrassingly obvious mooning which everyone else was kind enough not to mention. Now that he and Enjolras had…been intimate…it was becoming a serious problem.

He knew for a fact that he wasn’t the only person to let their mind drift during a meeting, but while previously his thoughts and daydreams had been varied, now they all featured similar activities to the ones he and Enjolras had recently been engaging in. With Enjolras as the star player in every fantasy, of course. So his attention wandered, and fixed on ideas of Enjolras tying his wrists and securing the rope to a ceiling, tying his ankles down as well so Grantaire was completely at his mercy. Enjolras teasing him with a whip, flicking it here, there, here again, and suddenly snapping it to make Grantaire cry out.

Enjolras pinning him down and pinching his skin, twisting it to make bruises, biting down Grantaire’s bare chest and just laughing when Grantaire begged to be kissed. Enjolras kissing him…Enjolras dragging his nails down Grantaire’s back, letting Grantaire grind against his leg, giving him just enough to make him beg but not enough to get him off properly. His mouth a breath away from Grantaire’s own, laughing at Grantaire’s pleas, letting their lips brush, just brush, just enough to make Grantaire ache with wanting –

“Grantaire? Grantaire?”

“Mmuh? What?”

“Daydreamer,” Courfeyrac snorted. “Come on, we’re finishing up.”

Grantaire could only pray Enjolras hadn’t noticed the increasing frequency of his mental wanderings. Even worse, it was happening outside of meetings as well now. Whenever his mind had a chance to drift, he ended up fantasising. On the métro, at work, before he fell asleep…it was relentless, and it was putting him seriously on edge. He had no idea what he and Enjolras were doing, and it was spinning his head in circles. But asking for clarification was out of the question. That would involve actually talking to Enjolras about this, which wasn’t even an option.

It was unfortunate, really, that his first port of call for stress relief was getting beaten down, and the only person he wanted to do that to him right now was Enjolras. Not even because of his horrible crush – Enjolras was also just a really great dom, and Grantaire hadn’t had a regular partner for this stuff for ages.

Winding himself up about the Enjolras situation and then going to Enjolras to help settle himself was the worst fucking idea of all time. And yet here he was, a new email open on his laptop, Enjolras’ email address in the To bar.

He kept it short, didn’t bother with greetings, and signed off only with R in case Enjolras didn’t recognise his email. Just a casual message asking whether Enjolras would be interested in another repeat performance.

Enjolras replied in under five minutes, a yes with a list underneath of the times and dates he was free.

Grantaire groaned and pulled his door open, leaning around to call to Marius, “Are you going over to Cosette’s this week at any point? And staying the night?”

“I can do that any night except tonight, Friday, and Saturday,” Marius replied absently, fingers still tapping away on his laptop. “You inviting someone over to do unspeakable things?”

“Hopefully.”

“Good luck.” Marius shot him a quick smile, and Grantaire returned it weakly before leaning back in bed and chewing his lip for a moment, considering his reply.

They arranged for Enjolras to come over on Thursday evening at nine, specifics to be worked out in person as before. It was two days away, and Grantaire could barely keep still for a second, the anticipation working him up into an even worse state.

Marius left at eight on Thursday, and Grantaire tidied the flat as best he could in the hour he had until Enjolras’ arrival. That just led to him trying to remember how thick the layer of dust was under other people’s bathroom sinks and toilets, and whether or not he knew any other people who made towers out of used-up toilet rolls instead of throwing them away or recycling them. More stress, in other words, so by the time the buzzer went and Enjolras asked to be let in – Grantaire made a mental note to give him the code at some point – he was jittering out of his skin.

“Are you alright?” Enjolras asked almost as soon as he was inside, eyebrows raised. “You look kind of…” His hand hovered in the air, and Grantaire pulled a face.

“Just wound up, that’s all. Fancy helping me out with that?” he added, trying his best to sound smooth. It must have worked a little, because Enjolras smirked and looked him up and down. If he ever looked at Grantaire like that in front of other people, Grantaire would expire on the spot.

“What did you have in mind?”

He’d had nothing else on his mind for what felt like weeks. Grantaire took a breath before asking, as casually as he dared, “How do you feel about rough play?”

“Depends on how far it goes.” Enjolras put his bag down and leaned against the wall, looking as comfortable in Grantaire’s apartment as he did in the Corinthe or the Musain. “Far for me would be hitting you,” he went on, unprompted. “Slaps are…okay, if pre-negotiated, but nothing more physical than that.”

“What about…you like breathplay.” Grantaire hesitated, and lost some tension he hadn’t realised he’d been holding when Enjolras nodded. “What about manhandling? Like, physically overpowering someone?”

“Overpowering you.” Enjolras narrowed his eyes, considering it, and the corner of his lips twitched. “I think you’d have to hold back a bit. You look like you could probably beat me in a wrestling match or something.”

Grantaire broke into a grin. “Well this is a game. If we were fighting for real, I think you’d win with sheer ferocity on your side. But with this, you’d win without having to go that far, obviously.”

“Obviously.”

“So…overpowering me is okay?”

“Sure. To what end?”

Grantaire gave him a slightly embarrassed smile. “I bet you can guess.”

“I happen to enjoy tying you up and beating you, so if that’s what you meant –”

“It is.” And holy shit, Enjolras enjoyed it? Wasn’t just okay with it, but actively enjoyed it? It was possible that Grantaire had never been so flattered.

“– then I don’t see a problem. Do you?”

Grantaire shook his head. “Is that okay with you then?”

Enjolras smiled, predatory. “Very. Anything you want before we start? Have you eaten? We’re still using traffic light safewords?”

“No, yes, and yes. Not an amateur,” Grantaire reminded him. Enjolras just shrugged.

“Doesn’t hurt to check.”

“Have you eaten?”

“Yes, thank you for asking.” Enjolras’ smile had just an edge of satisfaction that had Grantaire settling already. God, he was so easy. “We’re using your flogger tonight?” Grantaire nodded and went to get it quickly from his bedroom, dropping it on the sofa. “Would you like to change?”

Grantaire shook his head. “I don’t really bother with the gear outside clubs.” He was wearing a t-shirt and jogging bottoms, loose and soft against his skin. “How much fighting back do you want?”

“Don’t just give it to me.” Enjolras’ eyes gleamed. “I don’t care how long it lasts. I’ll try not to break anything here, obviously, but make me work for it.”

Grantaire let out a slow breath, hoping he didn’t look quite as eager as he felt. His tidying had been good for one thing at least – all they had to do to get the room ready was scoop up the piles of clutter he’d already collected and put them on the kitchen counter, where they (hopefully) wouldn’t get knocked over. And then they were stood either side of the wonky coffee table, eyes fixed on each other’s.

“You run, I’ll chase?” Enjolras said, a wicked look in his eyes. Grantaire grinned and lurched right. Enjolras grabbed for him, but Grantaire leapt out of reach and jumped over the sofa. Enjolras didn’t want him to make it easy, so he wouldn’t.

The apartment was so small that it was easy for Enjolras to catch him. The difficulty was in subduing him once he was caught. Grantaire wriggled and pushed and shoved, breathing coming quicker as Enjolras lost any worries he might have had about hurting him and started really exerting his strength. It wasn’t like anything they’d done before – Grantaire had been compliant and meek in their two previous scenes, but now he struggled to wrench himself free of Enjolras’ grip, every escape making Enjolras rougher next time. The physical contact was glorious, especially once he was over the initial shock of it and started letting himself enjoy it without restraint or overthinking.

Grantaire found himself tripped to the floor, sat on, yanked around, thrown into the walls and pinned, Enjolras growling with frustration the longer it went on. “Stay still,” he hissed, trying to get both of Grantaire’s arms behind his back without tripping on Grantaire’s kicking legs.

“Make me,” Grantaire grinned, and Enjolras used the weight of his whole body to shove Grantaire into the wall, his shoulder hard as a rock, his body an unyielding line that forced Grantaire to his knees, his arms twisting up behind his back and making him gasp, heat twisting through his stomach.

“Stay still,” Enjolras muttered, holding Grantaire’s arms and standing on one of his calves with his foot.

He wanted to, but there was just one small problem – there was no rope to hold him there now that Enjolras had caught him. Enjolras stayed still for a moment, and Grantaire imagined that he was looking back and forth between him and the bag he’d brought. Then he let Grantaire go with a furious noise, and Grantaire rolled away, laughing. “I wondered when you’d figure that out.”

“Treasure these last moments of so-called freedom,” Enjolras huffed, going to his bag and unzipping it, bringing out a bundle of soft-looking red rope. “They’re coming to a swift end.”

“Big words.” Grantaire was flushed and breathless. “I hope you can back them up.”

Enjolras moved so quickly that Grantaire didn’t get more than a step away before a hand was latched around his wrist. Enjolras yanked him forward, all of his previous care gone. He kicked Grantaire’s leg and shoved him away, twisting him and throwing him to the ground. Grantaire almost got away then, but Enjolras sat on top of him and dragged his head up, arm around his shoulders (the threat of it sliding up to his neck to choke him just a whisper away), and bit his neck.

The air rushed out of Grantaire in a shaky gasp, sucked back in immediately afterwards as Enjolras yanked his arms behind him and looped some rope around his wrists, rough and angry, exactly what Grantaire needed. It was easy to close his eyes and let himself be captured now, to imagine himself caught and about to be reprimanded for something he deserved.

“Clothes on or off?” Enjolras murmured against his ear, and Grantaire shuddered.

“Off…off, but not…”

A finger slid below the waistband of his jogging bottoms, and Enjolras found the waistband of his boxers below them. “Boxers on, everything else off?” he guessed, and huffed in what might have been amusement when Grantaire nodded. “Are you going to stay still for me?”

“Try and see,” Grantaire managed to say, and grinned when Enjolras’ grip tightened.

“Fine.”

It hurt, Enjolras’ gentleness far away as he wrapped rope around Grantaire’s arms and torso and shoved him face-down onto the floor. Grantaire’s eyelids fluttered, fantasy taking over as Enjolras dragged his jogging bottoms off, jabbing Grantaire’s sides every time he tried to kick. His struggles were fading, however. He wanted to please now, wanted Enjolras’ true punishment to commence.

He’d done something wrong, and Enjolras was punishing him. It was the premise of several of his favourite fantasies, and it was everything, everything he wanted right now. Perhaps he’d spoken out in a meeting, or failed to complete a task, or…or something. His mind was fuzzy on the details right now.

Enjolras sat on his legs and started unwrapping his torso. “Try and get away and I will hurt you,” he threatened, so of course Grantaire made a token effort just to see what would happen. The result was a hand wound beautifully tight in his hair, his face shoved against the carpet and ground into it. Grantaire couldn’t help the little groan that slipped out at that, and Enjolras laughed, shifting his weight and letting go after a moment. “Not even a very good effort,” he taunted, turning around and sitting on Grantaire’s back to keep him in place while he hurriedly wrapped the rope around Grantaire’s now-bare legs. “I think you want to be caught now.”

“Maybe a little,” Grantaire admitted, trying to catch his breath. Enjolras snorted and got up, kicking Grantaire onto his back and pulling him up by his hair.

“Maybe a little,” he smirked, crouching down so their heads were level. For a second, Grantaire thought Enjolras was about to kiss him. The moment passed, and Grantaire made one last pitiful attempt to wriggle away. Enjolras gripped his throat and tutted when Grantaire rasped, going still. “So ill-mannered. You should be thanking me on bended knee for all the work I’ve put in to catch you.”

Grantaire struggled to find a good response with Enjolras so close. “Make me,” he breathed at last, and thrilled when Enjolras grinned, actually grinned, something Grantaire had never seen him do for anyone but his closest friends. He was released for just long enough for Enjolras to drag his shirt off him, and then he was shoved down onto his back again.

“You need that cheek beaten out of you first.” Enjolras stood up and put one foot on Grantaire’s wrist to stop him fighting back. “I think you need to be kept still somehow.” His eyes fell on the coffee table, and he kicked Grantaire lightly in the side. “Ready to co-operate?”

Grantaire nodded slowly. Enjolras tutted again and shook his head. “Not co-operative enough. Up, you.” He bent down and pulled Grantaire up by his hair again. “I’m going to tie you over the coffee table, knees and wrists to the legs if you can stretch that far. Colour?”

He would never be able to look at that table the same way again. “Green,” Grantaire blurted, fast enough to make Enjolras grin again. God, he really was enjoying himself, which had to mean that Grantaire was doing well for him.

“Very good. Up and over it then – you’ll have to crawl there. You even think of taking a diversion, I’ll start adding to your punishment.”

Grantaire’s mouth fell open for a moment, speechless with want. He could only nod and twist to fall forward onto his hands and knees. The rope was wound around his legs from thigh to mid-calf, so he had to sort of drag and shuffle along the carpet towards the table, and Enjolras didn’t move to help him or shorten the distance at all. Grantaire’s cheeks flushed, and he hoped to hell that his erection would remain hidden for the whole scene. He was half-hard already, and the risk of getting harder was definitely going to increase if Enjolras kept talking like that.

He stretched his torso over the surface of the coffee table. His arms fell either side of it, hands gripping the legs, and when he was untied he would be able to press his thighs to the legs at the other end. It was almost the perfect height, and Enjolras tapped his shoulder once he’d gotten into position. “Up. You need…stay there.” He stretched down and came back a second later with Grantaire’s discarded jogging bottoms. He folded them up and lay them at the edge of the table, then got Grantaire’s t-shirt and spread it over them, covering the edges and corners. “Okay, now lie down.”

Grantaire closed his eyes as he did, a small smile flickering on his lips as he settled into the position. “Colour?” Enjolras asked from above and behind him.

“Green,” Grantaire answered, opening his eyes and twisting to try and see him.

“Good. Stay still, or so help me.” Enjolras didn’t sound at all like he was joking, and Grantaire hummed and turned his head away again to get as comfortable as he could. Enjolras was quick and practiced, untying and retying Grantaire in just a few minutes, asking for a colour as each limb was secured. Grantaire could barely move, and he didn’t realise he was straining against the ropes until Enjolras smacked his shoulder and told him not to.

“Sorry,” Grantaire muttered, not thinking. “I just want…”

“You want your beating,” Enjolras smirked and tugged a strand of Grantaire’s hair. “I know. And you’re going to ask me for it politely, Grantaire, or you’ll get nothing at all. Manners maketh the man.”

Grantaire swallowed, letting the fantasy settle around him – he’d fucked up, and they both knew he deserved punishment, and Enjolras was going to give it to him. He was going to take the time out of his busy day to personally see to Grantaire’s correction and betterment, and Grantaire was going to be the politest fucking sub he’d ever had.

“Please.” He took a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut. “Please, I –” Fuck, should he ask to be punished? Say he wanted it, though that sounded a little too demanding? What should he say? “Enjolras,” he managed. “Please.”

“Please what?”

Heat and humiliation washed over Grantaire like a tide, and he braced his body against it, tensing against the ropes. “I need, I mean, will you, please, would you…”

“Would I what?” He moved, and then something tickled Grantaire’s back, a familiar sensation of several knotted strings dangling against his skin. “You’re getting better, but you’re not quite there yet.”

Grantaire swallowed, arching his back to try and feel more of the flogger’s light touch. “I need correction,” he whispered, trying to keep his breathing even, driven wild by anticipation and want. To beg and know he would be heard, to ask favours from Enjolras, it was everything, it was the whole world. “Please, Enjolras –”

“Well put.” Enjolras gave him a light strike as a reward, and Grantaire sucked in a breath, breaking out in goosebumps. “You need correction, very true. You’re rude and outspoken, and you behaved appallingly earlier, trying to get away from what you know you deserve.” Another, slightly harder strike.

“Yes,” Grantaire breathed. “I’m sorry, I was…I wasn’t good, I’m sorry.” He’d never apologised to Enjolras for his behaviour before, for distracting people and getting in the way, for being a pain and fucking up anything he was asked to do. But fuck, he’d wanted to. Not in the way that would have been unbearable; standing in front of Enjolras with bowed head and stammering awkward excuses. He’d wanted to redeem himself like this, on his knees, head bent for a completely different reason.

This was hitting a ridiculous number of buttons he’d barely realised he had.

“Very good.” Enjolras brought the flogger down again, and again, a light sting that brought the blood to the surface of Grantaire’s back, warming him up for greater pains. “As punishment for your behaviour, I’m going to give you forty strikes. They’ll get harder as they go, and you’re allowed to call for a break at any point. But we will get through all forty. Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire gasped immediately. “Please –”

“Quiet.” Enjolras kept up the steady stream of gentle strikes. “I’m going to count them out, and after every five, you’re going to thank me, and ask for more. Colour?”

“Green! Do these count?” Grantaire added quickly, wriggling his shoulders and hoping they didn’t.

Enjolras snorted. “They don’t. I’m going to keep going till your back’s nice and red, and then we’ll begin. Feel free to keep asking for it till I start though. You beg very nicely.”

“I never know what to say,” Grantaire admitted, eyelids fluttering. “After I get through a few please more’s, my imagination kind of runs out.”

“Well it depends what you like, I suppose.” Enjolras stepped to the side so that he and Grantaire could look at each other as he kept hitting him lightly with the flogger. “If you like humiliation, you could talk about how much you deserve it, how grateful you are for the opportunity to learn, how good you feel, how much more you want. You could get demanding, though I wouldn’t recommend it, considering your current lesson is about manners.” He grinned and gave Grantaire a harder whack, going back to light swings afterwards. “If it’s really a problem, you could ask for a gag and beg without words. Some people prefer that.”

Grantaire moaned and closed his eyes, back definitely warming up now. “I like…speaking more.” And being able to safeword quickly, if he needed to.

“We’re nearly there anyway, I think.” Enjolras hit him harder three times in a row and made a pleased sound when Grantaire groaned. “Since they’re right there…give me a colour for beating your thighs?”

“Green, definitely green. Fuck, make it fifty and hit me all over.” He shivered at the hard, reprimanding strike he got for that.

“Forty,” Enjolras snapped. “Fifty only if you behave. Maybe sixty if you’re very good. How do you feel about your feet being beaten?”

“Um.” Grantaire blinked. “I don’t know. I’ve never done it.”

“Could I try?”

“Sure, go for it. I’ll try anything once.”

Enjolras knelt down. “Are you ticklish?”

“Not very? I guess we’ll find out.” He squirmed as the flogger brushed over the exposed soles of his feet, and jumped when the knotted cords came down hard. “Fuck.”

“Too much?”

“No, keep…try again?”

It made his toes curl, but it was good, and he pressed his forehead into the table and breathed out. “Colour?” Enjolras asked.

“Green. Weird, but definitely green.”

“I’ll incorporate your feet as well then?”

“Please.”

“Very good.” Enjolras stroked the flogger’s cords from Grantaire’s heels right up to his shoulders. “We’re going to begin now. You remember what you have to do?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” Enjolras began immediately, the hard strikes of the flogger on Grantaire’s back showing how much he’d been holding back before. “One, two, three,” he counted with each hit, ignoring Grantaire’s gasps. “Four, five.”

“Fuck, oh…” It took Grantaire a moment to recall his instructions. “Mmm. Ah…thank you.”

“And?” Enjolras ghosted the flogger down Grantaire’s back.

“I don’t know how you want me to phrase it,” Grantaire mumbled, cheeks scorching.

“May you please have more will suffice, I think.”

Embarrassingly grateful for the guidance, Grantaire nodded. “May I please have more?”

“Very good.” The flogger cracked down, and Grantaire remembered hazily that Enjolras was supposed to be building up in intensity. If this was low, he would be a whining mess by forty. After another five, his voice shook.

“Thank you. May I…please have more?”

Enjolras began again without a word, and Grantaire closed his eyes and groaned, slipping back into his fantasy. Enjolras was punishing him, regal and proud over Grantaire’s prostrate form. The last two strikes from that next group of five landed on his ass, and Grantaire twitched helplessly against the table, tightening his grip on the legs. “Please,” he gasped, getting muddled. “I mean, thank you, please can I, may I have more?”

The next five came down on his thighs, and Grantaire pressed his forehead to the table and tried to breathe through it. With every time he had to do it, thanking Enjolras and asking for more became easier. Enjolras moved down from his thighs to his calves and feet, then moved back up again and finished the forty back on his shoulders.

“I’m going to give you twenty more,” he purred. “Since you’ve taken this so well. Colour?”

“Green, please can I have more, please Enjolras, please –”

“Shhhh.” A hand tangled gently in his hair. “They’re going to be hard and fast. I’m going to count so you know where I am, but you don’t have to say anything, alright?”

“Thank you,” Grantaire gasped, and moaned when Enjolras started to flog him in earnest, every blow agony, setting his back, ass, and thighs aflame. His feet curled from the pain, his whole body quivering, and when it came to an end he could hear Enjolras panting and his own tremulous breathing, almost whimpering on each exhale.

“God, you’re stunning,” Enjolras said after a moment, still out of breath. “You look fucking incredible.”

“My camera.” Grantaire cleared his throat, or tried to – it was very dry, and his voice had come out a little slurred. “In my room.”

“You want me to take photos?” Enjolras asked, shocked. Grantaire was too far gone to feel embarrassed, high on endorphins and smiling lazily.

“Please. I usually…sometimes…I’ll explain after?”

“Okay. Where in your bedroom?”

“Drawers,” Grantaire guessed. “On top.”

Enjolras left and returned a second later. “Just…photos of what I can see?” he asked hesitantly.

“Mmhm. None with my face,” he added, blinking, and Enjolras touched his side in reassurance.

“Of course not. Um. Okay, here I go.” The camera clicked a few times, then there was a pause and Enjolras started moving around, getting other angles. He took photos for almost a minute, then knelt next to Grantaire and ran a hand through his hair. “Hey. You with me?”

“Mmhm.” Grantaire had to make himself open his eyes, but smiled when he saw Enjolras’ face so close. “Hi. Untying me now?”

“Yep. Stay still for me, okay? Good.”

Grantaire just remained boneless on top of the table as Enjolras moved around and untied each limb in turn. When Grantaire stood, wobbly, he hissed at the feeling of the carpet rasping on his bare feet. “You should probably lie on your front for a while,” Enjolras said apologetically. Grantaire nodded and looked around for the camera – there, Enjolras had left it on the sofa, next to the flogger.

He leaned into Enjolras as he flicked through, too out of it to feel embarrassed. They were decent – personally, he would have gone for different angles, and definitely gotten a few close-ups of the worst bruising, but he was glad to have a record of what they’d done at all. “Thank you,” he murmured, very aware of how close Enjolras was holding him. His thumb rubbed gently into the skin of Grantaire’s hip, just above the elastic of his boxers, his other arm looped beneath Grantaire’s, his hand curled over Grantaire’s shoulder. His radiated warmth through the soft fabric of his t-shirt, the smell of him filling Grantaire up and making him even dizzier than he already felt.

“Do you post them somewhere?” Enjolras asked, sounding both curious and wary. Grantaire laughed and shook his head, careful not to let their faces brush.

“They’re just for me. Sorry, I usually wait till after. I’m still a bit…” He waved his hand aimlessly, and Enjolras nodded as though he’d made perfect sense and slid away from him, keeping his movements slow in case Grantaire stumbled without the support.

“Come and have something to drink. You sound thirsty.”

“Thanks.” He drifted to the kitchen and leaned against the counter as Enjolras got them each a glass of water. “There’s some cake somewhere, I think.”

“Shall I search the cupboards?” Enjolras asked, an eyebrow raised, lips tilted to soften the expression.

“Try that one.” Grantaire pointed, and grinned when Enjolras opened it and pulled down a cheap cake, still in its box despite being half-eaten. Enjolras cut them each a slice, and Grantaire pulled himself up to sit on the counter before taking his, taking the discomfort of sitting over the strain of continuing to stand. It tasted amazing, the sweetness an explosion on his tongue, and his stomach suddenly felt very empty and in need of filling. “Thanks,” he remembered to say after he’d swallowed. Enjolras smiled and sat on the counter opposite. The kitchen was so narrow that their knees could have touched across the space.

“How’re you feeling?” Enjolras asked after a while, halfway through his cake while Grantaire was on his second slice.

“Great.” It didn’t even occur to him to hide his satisfaction. He felt as though he could crawl into bed and sleep for a day, relaxed down to his bones and still feeling the giddy effect of having gone down so well. “Was it…did you…?”

“You were perfect.” Enjolras smiled at him, and something in Grantaire’s chest caught, his own smile faltering for a fraction of a second. He ducked his head to cover it and smiled at his knees instead.

“Thanks. You too.”

“Too rough or not enough?” Enjolras asked, sounding curious. Grantaire didn’t look up to check, and shook his head.

“You could’ve gone further, probably, but I only would’ve said that once you started. I wasn’t sure what to expect before that. You definitely could’ve slapped me.”

“I’ll bear that in mind.” Enjolras nudged Grantaire’s foot with his own. “What about the stuff I said? About deserving it, that sort of thing, was that okay?”

“Probably could’ve gone further there too,” Grantaire admitted, sneaking a glance up at him. “But again, I didn’t know that before we started, so it’s not a big deal.”

“You said the first time that verbal abuse wasn’t your thing, so I wasn’t sure about it.”

“Abuse is different from humiliation,” Grantaire said slowly, turning his last bit of cake over in his fingers. “For me, anyway. Abuse is like…name-calling. They can include each other, but they can be done separately too. And I can take it sometimes, but not always. And if I okay it, people usually jump right in with the names, and it throws me off.”

Enjolras nodded. “I can get that.”

“Would you have done that?”

“No. I don’t think so, anyway. It’s always difficult, at first. Getting to know what someone likes and doesn’t like.”

“Most awkward experience?” Grantaire asked, grinning.

Enjolras bit his lip, smiling slightly as he thought. “Sudden daddy kink,” he decided at last. “Having that sprung on me mid-scene very much killed the mood.”

“You don’t like being a daddy?” Grantaire had to push down his laughter. Enjolras nudged his foot again, almost playful.

“I don’t mind it if it’s pre-negotiated – it’s not my thing, but it doesn’t freak me out or anything. But it meant the direction changed quickly, and I struggled to catch up.”

“I can’t imagine you struggling with anything.”

“I’m flattered.” Enjolras held his gaze when Grantaire glanced at him, and gave him a small smile. “What’s your most awkward experience been, then?”

“Besides this?” Grantaire dropped his eyes and laughed it off immediately. “I’m kidding. No, I don’t know. Um…fuck, my brain is total mush right now, sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Enjolras’ foot bumped his again, and at the sight and sensation of soft black and green striped socks against his bare toes, Grantaire was suddenly reminded of how unclothed he was. And how much it hurt to sit on the counter like this when his ass was still sore and (hopefully) bruising.

“Tell me something else while I think,” he said, sliding to the ground as gently as he could, still wincing at the stretch of his skin. “When did you first realise you were into this?”

“Bondage, you mean?”

“Yeah. Kinky shit.”

Enjolras snorted, then looked down at his knees. As Grantaire moved out of the way, he kicked his legs out and rested his feet against the cupboard opposite. “When watching porn as a teenager, I suppose. I found what I liked by accident, then on purpose, and then…wanted to do it myself. I didn’t do anything about it till I moved here, of course.”

“And then immediately went out and bought yourself a bunch of canes?” Grantaire refilled his water and hobbled awkwardly to the sofa. He heard Enjolras slide down and follow him (and wasn’t that new – Enjolras following him rather than the other way around).

“I did a lot of research, bought some stuff, and went to a few newbie-friendly theme nights. You know, you really should lie on your front,” he added as Grantaire sat down gingerly.

“I will, don’t worry.”  Grantaire waved off his concerns and sipped his water. “No crises for you then? No freaking out over being a freak?”

Enjolras gave a short laugh and sat on the arm of Marius’ squashy armchair, pulling a cushion onto his lap. “Not really. It was always pretty clear to me that as long as everyone was on the same level, all we’re doing is scratching each other’s itches. There’s nothing wrong about that.” He tilted his head. “Did you freak out?”

“A bit. I was tying myself up before I even really understood what I was doing.” Grantaire shrugged. “Before it was sexual, back when I was still a kid.” He shook his head, derailing that train of thought before it went further – while he was sure Enjolras would listen with saint-like patience and sympathy to any sob-story he poured out, he didn’t want to inflict it on him unasked. “No big deal now, of course.”

“Clearly.” Enjolras smiled at him, almost smirking, and Grantaire looked down at his water and hoped he wouldn’t blush.

“As you’ve seen, yeah.” A not-quite-comfortable silence fell, and Grantaire found himself staring at the cushion in Enjolras’ lap, watching the way Enjolras was almost cradling it, his long fingers pressing into the stuffing. He probably felt awkward, Grantaire guessed, and sneaked a look at Enjolras’ face. Enjolras was looking down at his lap as well with an odd expression that Grantaire couldn’t decipher, and he cleared his throat. “You don’t have to stay, you know. I’m okay.”

“You’re still feeling alright?” Enjolras checked.

“I can get myself to bed unaided,” Grantaire assured him. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure.” Enjolras hesitated, then nodded somewhat stiffly and got his bag and jacket, slipping his shoes on at the door. “I’ll see you around.” He looked back, as if waiting for Grantaire to stop him going.

“See you,” Grantaire said instead, and watched in silence as Enjolras left and closed the door behind him. It wasn’t real, he reminded himself. What they were doing wasn’t born out of attraction, but convenience. He was convenient for Enjolras, that was all, and Enjolras likely thought he was convenient for Grantaire as well. Enjolras felt nothing for him. Grantaire was nobody in his eyes. Just someone he vaguely knew who he could now beat on, because they both enjoyed it.

And neither of them would breathe a word. Grantaire would have toppled sideways and maybe fallen asleep on the sofa, but he didn’t want Marius to find him like that and start worrying. So he hauled himself to his feet and trudged to his bedroom, flicking the lights out as he went. It was better this way. It would be embarrassing for both of them if the others knew what they were doing. There would be awkward questions and assumptions made, and Grantaire had worked so hard to keep his feelings secret that someone finding out now would be awful. If Enjolras found out, he might have to leave the country. At least leave Paris.

Idiot. He was such an idiot for getting into this situation. It had been so much easier when Enjolras was at a distance, something untouchable to gaze at and maybe aspire to, on some level. Grantaire marvelled at his energy and zeal, at the depth of his compassion and the strength of his convictions. He admired Enjolras’ approach to the world’s problems, craved the attention he gave to his friends, and now he had something else to love on top of all of that – Enjolras’ smirks and grins and beautiful hands as he took control and broke Grantaire down.

Being tied to the table at Enjolras’ feet while Enjolras flogged him and made him ask for more was a fantasy made real, and Grantaire could handle it fine (or just about) while it was actually happening, but here he was again, alone after the fact and tearing his previously elated state of mind into tiny shreds because he was a fucking idiot.

He should have turned and run the first time he saw Enjolras in Le Grande. They could have shared one awkward look the next time they met in public and silently agreed not to say anything, and that would have been that. But no, he’d been stupid, and now he was paying the price in emotional anguish. Well done him.

A distant part of him suggested that maybe thinking about this wasn’t such a great idea, because he was definitely dropping, but the majority of his head was too busy working the self-loathing angle to take any notice. Lying alone in the dark with his back, ass, thighs, and feet sore and aching, Grantaire couldn’t remember an occasion when he’d ever felt so soul-crushingly lonely.

Chapter Text

Grantaire decided the next morning, still miserable as all hell but trying to put on a happy face for Marius, that if they did this again, he wasn’t going to be the one to make the first move. He would go to Le Grande on the nights it opened, but he wasn’t going to contact Enjolras and ask. He meant not to look at the photos Enjolras had taken, but the temptation proved too much, and he poured over them helplessly.

It was always strange to see photos of himself that he’d gotten other people to take, the angles unfamiliar and jarring at first. He’d started taking them himself for reference pictures for when he was domming, and out of curiosity – he’d wanted to see what he looked like while he was subbing, in that strange in-between where he felt both vulnerable and strong. Keeping his face out of the pictures was an aesthetic choice; his face never seemed to have the right expression, always too awkward or too blank. He liked to look back at them and remember how he’d felt, and he couldn’t do that with his face in the way, distracting from the injuries.

Looking back at the photos Enjolras had taken and remembering how it had felt, and imagining himself as an invisible observer of what they’d done was addictive in a way that none of his previous shoots had been. So much so that he found himself putting them on his phone (something he’d never risked before) and looking at them during the day.

His back in the photos was livid red, his thighs and feet only slightly paler. He could see the places where he’d later bruised and imagined watching Enjolras bringing the flogger down hard, really putting his whole body into the strike and making the Grantaire below him cry out in pain and ecstasy. Beautiful, strong Enjolras with his gorgeous, elegant hands was absent from the photographs, but not from Grantaire’s mix of memory and imagination.

He got off to the photos and the memories they evoked more times than he was comfortable counting over the next couple of weeks, and found that he could barely look at Enjolras in the meetings he went to. Three weekends later, Grantaire went to Le Grande full of nervous anticipation and left an hour before it closed, having stalked around it looking for Enjolras’ distinctive bleached hair all night. He only hoped that none of Enjolras’ acquaintances would tell him that Grantaire had been looking. He was already humiliated enough.

Another week, the days dragging, and he checked his email at every available opportunity to no avail. Enjolras was either busy or uninterested, and Grantaire was betting gloomily on the latter. He shouldn’t have been so critical after their last scene. He should have offered Enjolras more food, or use of the shower or something. He should have been a better host, a better sub, a better version of himself.

On Monday evening he allowed himself to watch Enjolras a little more, careful not to be obvious, and caved that night at home. The photos were open on his laptop, his email open on his phone. He’d almost certainly left it too long and taken a stupid gamble on Enjolras’ desire for more, but he was burning up with desperation of his own, badly enough that he bit down the shame and sent the email he’d spent all evening composing in his head.

Hi, I know you’re probably busy, just wondered if you were up for another night of debauchery? – R

He hadn’t wanted to sound too serious or needy, so light and joking it was. Hopefully Enjolras wouldn’t be disgusted or irritated or…anything negative, really.

Enjolras replied quickly, as he had last time, and Grantaire’s heart lifted at the first word – sure. He broke into a relieved grin as he read the rest, Enjolras saying that he didn’t have any evenings or nights free, but Grantaire could come over during the day while Combeferre was out, if that worked for him.

It definitely worked for him, and Grantaire told Enjolras so. They fixed a date for Thursday at one, after they’d both eaten. Standard caning and flogging, just something to take the edge off Grantaire’s…internal mess. Not that Enjolras was aware of that awkward part of it all.

The guilt set in as they settled the times and agreed on limits. Enjolras hadn’t contacted him – he had to be doing this out of a sense of duty or obligation or something. He probably thought it would be awkward to refuse Grantaire because they knew each other. Grantaire was being utterly pathetic, not even looking for someone else to play with because he was addicted to things that were bad for him.

You don’t have to do this if you’re busy, he wrote before he could overthink it too much. It’s not a big deal.

Enjolras replied immediately: No, I’m looking forward to it. I could use the break, and I’m guessing you could too. I get too caught up in work sometimes, so I’m glad you’re pulling me out of it for a while. It’ll clear my head.

Grantaire swallowed, reading it several times before sending back a quick okay and putting his phone down. Yes, Enjolras was probably just being kind and indulgent, but…fuck, he’d take what he could get. He had no illusions about his resistance to Enjolras’ magnetism. He was weak and greedy and pathetic, and he should be counting his blessings that he’d been allowed to get so close.

On Thursday, after wrangling an afternoon off from the curiosity shop on the pretext of a dentist’s appointment, Grantaire headed to Enjolras’ apartment with his heart in his throat. It was just a simple scene, his flogger was in his bag (strap clutched in both hands), he was already wearing soft clothes because fuck dressing up just for a morning…everything would be fine. He would be fine.

This time, he would hold onto the giddy, happy feelings afterwards, and not let himself spiral down. He could manage that at least, if nothing else.

Enjolras was wearing faded jeans when he let Grantaire in, and a t-shirt far larger than the ones he usually wore. Grantaire wondered if he slept in it (it looked soft and worn, a faded logo he didn’t recognise on the pale green fabric). Enjolras smiled to see him, and Grantaire’s insides twisted pleasantly. “Hi, come in. Do you want something to drink?”

“Nah, I’m good.” Jittery as fuck and tangled up with nerves, but sure, he was peachy. “You want to jump right in? You’re still pretty busy, right?”

“I’ve cleared the afternoon.” Enjolras shrugged, smile fading back into his usual calm expression, always a hair away from fierceness. “I did want to ask you something though, and it’s absolutely fine if you say no.” He paused, then went on, glancing sideways at Grantaire as they stepped into the living room area. “How do you feel about shibari?”

Grantaire blinked, then nodded. “Sure, I don’t mind it. Takes a while to set up sometimes, is all. And I’ve never been able to get the hang of all those knots.” He lifted his hands and smiled crookedly. “Fumbly fingers.” Of course Enjolras would have the patience and skill required. It made sense.

“But you wouldn’t mind if the way I tied you was a little more…”

“Artistic?” Grantaire couldn’t help grinning. The sick, churning feeling he’d had on the way here was distant now. Enjolras’ mere presence could lift him up to greater heights and better humour.

Enjolras smiled back, that half-shy thing Grantaire had only seen when they were alone like this. “That’s okay then?”

“It’s green, Enjolras, don’t worry about it.”

“I was also wondering about using a belt, maybe?”

“Definitely okay with me.” Grantaire bounced on his toes, practically buoyant. Enjolras had obviously been thinking about this, and hell if that didn’t do things to Grantaire’s self-esteem. “Are we doing this here or in your bedroom?”

“Here. There’s more room.” Enjolras shoved the table out of the way, so there was a sizeable gap between the bookshelf and the sofa, and at his gesture Grantaire came to stand in the centre of the space. “Okay, I’ll just be a second,” Enjolras said, slipping into his bedroom to presumably get his rope. Grantaire dropped his bag on the sofa and pulled his shirt off, trying to keep a grin off his face. They were both eager to start, eager to do this with each other, and yes, of course it wasn’t a real relationship, but it was still something. It was still a form of contact.

Enjolras smiled when he came out and saw that Grantaire had stripped down to his boxers. “I’ll start right away then?”

“Yes please.” Grantaire grinned back.

“Kneel down then, hands behind your back. Safewords?”

“Red for stop,” Grantaire recited, kneeling down. “Yellow for pause, green for go.”

“Okay.” Enjolras’ hand brushed his hair as he walked round to stand behind him, and Grantaire let his eyes fall shut, crossing his wrists at the small of his back. He’d never found it so easy with anyone else to just kneel down and let his control slip away. Enjolras made it so effortless. So straightforward.

Enjolras knelt behind him and rearranged Grantaire’s wrists so they were side by side, his fingers soft and sure on the delicate skin there. Grantaire bowed his head and took deep, steady breaths as Enjolras wrapped rope around his wrists and hands, bringing his thumbs into the binding and then moving up, tying Grantaire’s forearms together up to the elbows. The last person he’d tried complicated rope bindings with had been so much slower, and Grantaire silently thanked the heavens that Enjolras was the sort of person to practice something like this diligently to get it up to a reasonable speed. “I’m going to tie your hands to your feet,” Enjolras murmured. “Colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire shifted forward a bit to expose more of his feet, and smiled at Enjolras’ approving noise. This rope was thinner than the one he’d used on his arms, and Grantaire had to hold his breath and supress the urge to squirm as Enjolras worked it between his toes, urging Grantaire up onto his knees so his thighs and ass weren’t in the way as he passed rope under his ankles and around his heels.

“Good,” Enjolras said quietly, a hand on Grantaire’s shoulder bringing him down to rest on his heels again. “Almost done.” The last tie pulled Grantaire’s shoulders tight, and Enjolras touched his thigh. “Back straight, head up.”

Grantaire nodded and straightened his spine, trying to obey. He could do this. He was already on the edge, just the lingering trace of this is a bad decision repeating itself in his head preventing him from slipping under properly. This time he’d do it right. This time he wouldn’t drop afterwards. This time he’d be better. He’d do well, for Enjolras. Enjolras deserved the best, and even if Grantaire wasn’t up to scratch, he could at least do his best and give his all. He could do this. He could.

“Hold that position,” Enjolras told him, standing up and reaching for something – a cane, he must have gotten it at the same time as the rope. “I’m going to cane your thighs,” he told Grantaire. “You have to keep your back straight and head up, do you understand?”

Grantaire nodded, swallowing before answering, “Yes.” The urge to add sir threw him off a little – it had been a while since he’d been told to use titles, and longer since he’d done it willingly. It rattled him enough that the first strike of the cane made him jerk, dragging in a sharp gasp at the sudden pain of it. Enjolras clearly wasn’t easing him into it this time.

Which was fine. He was capable of taking far harder beatings than this. He pushed his back straight again, hands clenching into tight fists around the ties holding them to his feet as the second and third strokes came down, not quite as hard as the first. He couldn’t stop twitching at the impact, even when he closed his eyes to try and fall into the rhythm better.

“Back straight,” Enjolras said sternly, and Grantaire lifted himself up again, hissing at the impact of another hit. The fronts of his thighs stung horribly, not yet the good kind of pain, but he could do this. He needed this, he needed to let go. Just a little more – he just had to trust Enjolras and follow his lead and Enjolras would take care of him, everything would be okay. Another smack of the cane and Grantaire let out a small, pained sound, arching his back again at the reprimanding touch of the cane on his shoulder.

Smack. Grantaire’s toes curled, head dropping down before he could catch himself. Enjolras wound a hand into his hair and dragged it back again, and that was the good kind of pain. Grantaire forced his eyes open and let out a small breath at Enjolras’ frown. “Colour?”

“Green,” he whispered. He could do this. “Please –”

“No need to beg.” Enjolras pulled his head up and back straight with the hand in his hair and smacked his thighs again, bending down to get the stroke even. Grantaire jumped again, but this was better, this was easier, being held up and controlled more directly, Enjolras’ hands suspending him and moulding him.

The next strike was better still, and Grantaire closed his eyes again, desperate to push himself down, to be good for Enjolras, but the strike after that was hard, and Grantaire jolted. His weight tipped from his centre to one leg, and when he tried to put a hand out to steady himself it wouldn’t move, it was stuck, he was stuck, he was stuck and blind and gagged – “Red!” he choked as he toppled, gravity pulling his hair from Enjolras’ grip, limbs jerking against the restraint of the ropes, wrenching and tugging as he tried fruitlessly to get free, shoulder hitting the carpet and making his panic leap up another few notches. “Red, red, fuck, red!” He was on his side, he couldn’t move, chest lurching and breathing uneven, but Enjolras was there.

One hand on the arm that wasn’t on the ground, the other on the ropes behind him. There was a soft sound and suddenly the tie between his feet and hands was gone. “Stay still for me.” Enjolras squeezed his arm. “Just for a second, I’ve got you, it’s okay.” More sounds – snipping, Grantaire realised – and the web between his forearms fell away, unravelling in seconds. Enjolras moved onto his feet next, and Grantaire kicked his limbs out and sat up, shivering.

Humiliation sank into his stomach like freezing water, his skin crawling. He pulled his knees up to his chest, too ashamed to even look at Enjolras. “I’m so sorry,” he bit out after what felt like a very long time. “I didn’t mean to, I’m –”

Enjolras put his hand on the carpet next to Grantaire’s foot, shifting closer. “You’re fine,” he said firmly, sounding concerned. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Grantaire.”

Hearing Enjolras say his name somehow made it that much worse, and Grantaire squeezed his eyes shut. “I completely fucked this up,” he said. “I was so fucking close, Christ, I’m such a –”

“Don’t finish that,” Enjolras snapped, and rapped his hand against the ground. “Can I touch you?”

“Yes?” Grantaire opened his eyes, confused, and started when Enjolras wrapped a hand around his ankle and squeezed.

“You’re okay,” he said. “You did everything right, you don’t need to punish yourself for safewording.”

“But I didn’t need to safeword!” Grantaire cried. “I was fine! All I had to do was trust you, and I fucked up like a fucking amateur.”

Enjolras sighed and got up, offering Grantaire a hand. “Come on, let’s sit down properly.” Grantaire let himself be pulled up and led to sit on the sofa. He rested his feet on the frame below the cushions and kept his knees up against his chest, arms wrapped around them. He probably looked like a child, but he couldn’t help it.

“I’m so sorry,” he muttered again, furious at himself. “I’m not usually like this, I swear, I mean – you know I’m not, you’ve seen. I’m sorry.” He lowered his forehead to his arms, a dangerous lump rising in his throat. “It’s all my fault, I shouldn’t’ve…I should’ve been better, I was just being an idiot, I’m sorry –”

“Grantaire, stop.” Enjolras touched his shoulder, half turned towards him. “It’s fine. I’m not annoyed or anything like that. You overbalanced and panicked, it’s okay.”

“It’s not.” Grantaire took a breath, swallowing so his voice wouldn’t crack. “I’m wasting your time; you’re busy and I just come over and fuck this up like it was something difficult, and it’s all my fault.”

“Nothing is your fault.” Enjolras squeezed his upper arm gently. “Can you tell me why you panicked?”

“I don’t know.” That wasn’t entirely true, but his limits were a long way from the little binding Enjolras had put him in, so it wasn’t really like he was lying. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I just freaked out and lost it. You shouldn’t’ve cut the ropes.”

“You could have hurt yourself.” Enjolras sounded almost comically scandalised. “Of course I cut the ropes. They would’ve taken minutes to undo.”

“That rope must’ve been expensive though,” Grantaire muttered. “I shouldn’t’ve freaked out.”

Enjolras sighed and moved to mirror Grantaire’s position, knees up against his chest. “It’s okay to freak out, even if it’s because of something you can’t explain or didn’t anticipate.” Grantaire said nothing, and Enjolras glanced at him. “You were wound up before you came here. I probably pushed a little too hard, and you were a little too tense. It’s no one’s fault.”

“I should’ve held it together,” Grantaire said bitterly. “It’s not like it’s fucking hard. All I did was lose my balance for a second.”

“You said you were close to going down.” Enjolras touched him again, knuckles against the side of Grantaire’s leg. “I know as well as you that it’s not easy to let go sometimes, especially when you’re trying to.” Another uncomfortable pause, while Grantaire bit back more useless apologies and self-hating tirades. “What do you feel like, when you’re wound up? Like right now?” Enjolras asked quietly.

Grantaire lifted his head and studied the backs of his arms. There were still a couple of faint indents where the ropes had bitten in, and a flash of remorse went through him – if he wasn’t such an abysmal failure, he could have been being beaten right now.

Enjolras had never asked him anything like this before. Grantaire rubbed his fingers against his elbows and frowned. Openness now was just an extension of what they were already doing, just another level of familiarity. Just like the rest, it couldn’t be taken back once done.

“Like I’m on a hill,” he said eventually, defeat making him quiet. “A really steep hill. Have you ever tried running down a hill like that?”

“I try to avoid them, but yes.”

“It’s like that. Like I’m running, and when you’ve started you can’t…if you try to slow down or stop, you’ll fall, and if you speed up to get it over faster, you’ll fall even harder. There’s nothing you can do except keep going and getting more and more freaked out because any second you could put your foot down a rabbit hole and break your ankle or fall down and crack your head on a rock. So you’re panicking and trying to stay upright.” He took a breath and loosened his grip on his knees a bit. “And when you let…when I let someone break me down, it’s like they’re picking me up off the hill. Or tilting it under me so it’s straight, not a slope, and I can stop without killing myself. And I can breathe again.”

Enjolras was quiet, and Grantaire took a deep breath and let it out again slowly. His cheeks were burning from the embarrassment of his awkward metaphoric ramble. He started when Enjolras pressed his knuckles against his leg, then took them away and slid his hand into his hair instead, getting a handful of curls and squeezing to pull them tight. Grantaire tipped his head back into it instinctively, breath catching.

“Would you like to try again?” Enjolras asked softly.

Grantaire sucked in a shaky breath and nodded as best he could. “Yes.”

“Do you want me to push you?”

“Yes.” Now more than ever, he needed to be forced down. Enjolras smiled, then pulled Grantaire’s head backwards, yanking his whole torso back with it. He had to kick his legs out to keep his balance, and the freedom of being able to do that made it easy to relax into it, letting Enjolras hold him down against the sofa cushions. He rested his feet on the ground and looked up, managing a weak smile.

“I didn’t think you meant literally push me.”

“Just keeping you on your toes.” Enjolras smirked. Grantaire’s heart jumped at the sight, and that was all the warning he had before Enjolras was dragging him upright, twisting his arms behind his back and spinning him around to shove against the wall.

His chest hit it hard, and he had to turn his face quickly to avoid smashing his nose, but fuck it was good. “Colour?” Enjolras checked.

“Green.”

Enjolras twisted both his wrists as a reward, and held onto them with one hand as he stretched away. Out of the corner of his eye, Grantaire saw him snag one of the bits of rope with his toes and bring it  over, picking it up with his spare hand. “I’m going to tie your wrists together. Just your wrists. Colour?”

“Green.” He could do this. He could trust Enjolras to do this. Trusting himself to let go was trickier.

Enjolras leaned away and started to wrap rope around his wrists, firm but not biting. They were crossed parallel, making his elbows stick out at his sides, and Enjolras pulled him away from the wall with a rough tug. Grantaire stumbled as he was marched back to the middle of the room and forced to his knees. That alone sent his head spinning in a gloriously familiar way, and he bit his lip to hold back a needy sound.

“I want you to fall backwards,” Enjolras told him calmly. “Stay on your knees. It’ll strain your thighs.”

Grantaire looked up at him. Enjolras met his gaze without blinking, not staring him down, just waiting. He fully expected Grantaire to follow the order – he trusted him to follow the order.

Grantaire took a breath and let his weight fall backwards, slow and controlled. It did strain his thighs – he had to arch his back like a bow and rest his weight on his shoulders and head, but there was so much tension coiled in his body that he would easily be able to pull himself upright in a moment if he needed to, or topple sideways to release the pressure on his legs.

“Very good,” Enjolras smiled, and turned away for a moment to get his cane, then reconsidered and undid his belt (anticipation made Grantaire’s breath catch) and pulled it out of his trousers, doubling it over to make a strap. “Colour?” he checked, going down on one knee next to Grantaire.

“Very green.” Grantaire couldn’t take his eyes off the belt, and Enjolras’ hand around the leather. He held his breath as Enjolras whacked it against his own thigh to test it before raising it to start beating Grantaire.

It was much better than the cane. Grantaire’s eyelids fluttered and his body arched into it senselessly, little breathy noises slipping out on every smack of the leather on his skin. Doubled up as it was, Enjolras could only do one thigh at a time, but he went so fast it didn’t seem to matter. Grantaire tossed his head and spread his legs, trying to feel it on the insides of his thighs as well.

Moving like that shifted his centre of gravity though, and for the second time that afternoon he fell sideways, unable to stop himself. But this time he could kick his legs out and feel the ease of movement, and Enjolras rose to his feet in one fluid movement and –

Grantaire’s whole body jumped like a live wire as Enjolras put his bare foot on the side of Grantaire’s head and pushed, holding him down and grinding the side of his face into the carpet. His arms twitched against the rope, and his mouth fell open, an obscene sound halfway between a gasp and a moan not quite stifled in time.

With anyone else it wouldn’t have been half as hot, but this was Enjolras, and Grantaire was literally below his foot, under his heel.

He was also well on his way to being fully hard, but from the sideways angle that was thankfully invisible to Enjolras.

But fuck.

“Good,” Enjolras said softly, and Grantaire sank his teeth savagely into his lower lip, trembling with the effort of not whining in desperation. This was quite literally a dream of his. And he’d woken up from said dream extremely turned on, as he recalled. The reality was even better – Enjolras’ foot was cool and clean and firm, not giving a single inch when Grantaire tried to wriggle underneath him.

“Very good.” Enjolras pushed down harder, and Grantaire whimpered, way too far gone to hold it back. “You see? You’re so much better at this than you think.”

Grantaire’s head spun – was he supposed to say thank you, or plead for more, or would Enjolras prefer it if he started to really moan? – but before he could pick a single option, Enjolras had stepped off his head and was nudging him over onto his knees again. “Kneel – good. Now.” He knelt down beside Grantaire, who had his forehead pressed to the ground and his eyes closed, and grabbed a fistful of his hair again. “Since you seemed to like the belt so much, I’m willing to give you more of it on your shoulders and back. Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire rasped.

“You’ll only get more, however, if you ask nicely for it.” Enjolras’ hand in his hair turned gentle suddenly, stroking rather than tugging, and Grantaire tucked his chin against his chest to hide his expression from Enjolras’ eyes, sure it would be too obviously yearning. “Do you understand, Grantaire?”

“Yes,” Grantaire whispered, then swallowed and nodded. “Yes.”

“Good.” Enjolras knelt up, and nudged Grantaire’s side with his knuckles. “Get to it then. Ask for what you want.”

Grantaire took a couple of breaths to steady himself. “Please…” He could do this, it wasn’t so difficult. “Please, I want you to beat me.”

“What with? How hard? I want specifics, Grantaire. I know you can do it.”

That made one of them. Grantaire swallowed and tried again. “Please, the belt, I want…please use the belt on me.” He almost added Enjolras’ name, but couldn’t quite make himself shape the word, for reasons he couldn’t quite understand. “Hard,” he added instead. “Please, really hard.”

Enjolras tsked. “You can do better,” he said, utterly certain. “I’ve heard your eloquence before, Grantaire. I know you can do better than that.”

Grantaire almost sobbed. “Please,” he begged. “Thrash me, fuck me up, please, I’ll do anything.” A shaky breath. “Please, with the belt, use the belt on me so hard I can’t fucking think.” Without warning, the strap cracked down below his shoulders, and he yelled from the suddenness as much from the pain. Enjolras didn’t give him time to absorb it or recover. The second crack came down immediately below the first, the third just below that, and Grantaire pushed his forehead into the carpet and moaned through it, breathy, “Ahhh-ahhh-ahhh!”’s getting louder and wilder the longer Enjolras continued.

From his shoulders to halfway down his back, the strap lashed into him relentlessly, burning up his whole body. He could feel each strike throb in his thighs as well, the proximity to his groin really not helping his arousal problem, but greatly aiding his state of mind, which was floating untethered, blissful in pain.

This was what he’d needed, he knew distantly, face screwed up in an expression caught between pain and pleasure. This was worth every obstacle he’d had to go through. Enjolras’ hand caught in his hair again and pushed his head down, crushing his forehead and nose into the carpet. Mine, Grantaire imagined him saying, growling, and he groaned helplessly, heart thumping like a drum in his chest. He felt owned, body and soul – every inch of him belonged to Enjolras, freely given and willingly accepted. Everything was perfect – he was perfect, in this moment, unable to do anything but react to Enjolras’ actions.

His groans turned to breathless gasps as he finally slipped over the last edge, letting go of all his control and what remained of his self-consciousness. Embarrassment ceased to exist for him past this point, and he trembled as Enjolras kept beating him, kept that beautiful hand tight in his hair, pushing him down. Holding him still, holding him in place so Grantaire couldn’t think at all, could only absorb and accept.

He was a vessel, an instrument, a body without a mind. He was totally free.

The blows from the belt slowed to a stop, and were replaced by Enjolras’ hand. He stroked up and down Grantaire’s spine from the base of his neck to the point where his arms crossed over his back, hanging limp in their bonds. Grantaire sighed, smiling when the hand Enjolras still had in his hair loosened its grip and began to rube gentle circles into his scalp.

“Hey.” Enjolras’ voice sounded deeper than usual, and certainly softer. “Are you with me?”

Grantaire managed to produce a quiet, affirmative noise and turned his head, opening one eye a crack to look up. Enjolras was kneeling next to him, gaze so focused that Grantaire had to close his eye for a moment before risking another peek. It was quite possible that he’d never felt so relaxed in Enjolras’ company before.

“Stay still, alright? I’m going to untie your wrists now.” Enjolras stroked his hand once more through Grantaire’s hair, and Grantaire closed his eye again as his wrists were released, elbows falling to the floor either side of him uncomfortably. All good things had to pass, he supposed. Sad though it was.

Enjolras helped him up onto his knees, and Grantaire was so wobbly, still drifting so far out of reach of his normal inhibitions that he leaned into Enjolras’ side and tucked his head against Enjolras’ neck, breathing a relieved sigh when Enjolras put an arm around him to hold him there, the weight on his shoulders comforting despite the soreness from the belt’s marks.

“Don’t go,” he murmured.

Enjolras squeezed him. “I won’t. I’ve got you, everything’s good. Everything’s fine.”

Grantaire wasn’t sure how many minutes they stayed like that, Enjolras holding him carefully, letting him relax almost to the point of sleep, but when he finally lifted his head, Enjolras smiled at him. The smallest smile, just one corner of his lip lifting, but his eyes were so kind that Grantaire had to look away after only a second, his senses returning to him. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to, like –”

“Don’t worry about it,” Enjolras told him, keeping his voice low. “How’re you feeling?”

“Really good. Apart from the whole…” Grantaire managed an awkward smile and waved his hand at Enjolras, shuffling away a few inches. “Falling asleep on you thing. Sorry.”

“It’s fine, Grantaire, really. Better than fine.” He pushed himself to his feet and offered Grantaire a hand up, which he took. Enjolras’ hands were narrower than his own, but his strength was unwavering. “If anything,” Enjolras continued, bending to pick up the bits of rope from earlier off the floor, “I’m glad we’re getting to know each other better. Even if it is in a slightly unconventional way.”

“Slightly?” Grantaire smiled, and laughed when Enjolras shot him an amused look as he straightened. “I guess it’s one way to make friends. Thank you,” he added quietly. “I really…I feel much better now. I know you’re not meant to be like, stress relief or anything, I just meant…”

“It’s fine, Grantaire.” That small smile was back. “I enjoy it too, you know.”

“Yeah?” God, he sounded pathetically hopeful. He turned to grab his clothes, not daring to check Enjolras’ expression.

“Of course I do. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

It sounded so simple when he said it like that. Grantaire pulled on his jogging bottoms, hope bubbling in his chest. “Why Enjolras, I had no idea you were so hedonistic.”

When he chanced a look at Enjolras, it looked like he was holding back a grin. “Everyone has their vices,” he shrugged. “I won’t apologise for mine.” 

“You don’t apologise for anything.” It was out before he could stop it, and Grantaire laughed to cover his embarrassment. His brain-to-mouth filter was always completely shot after a scene. “I’ll be on my way. I know you’re busy.”

“You don’t have to go,” Enjolras told him, surprised. “I told you, I don’t have anything to do for the afternoon.”

“No, I should get going.” Grantaire grabbed his unused flogger from the sofa and dropped it into his bag. “But thanks.”

“Do you have my number?” Enjolras asked before he could make his escape, and Grantaire was shocked into stillness. “I don’t have yours,” Enjolras went on, putting the bits of rope down on top of the TV and getting his phone from the kitchen counter. “Could I?”

“I, uh, sure, yeah. Um, hang on.” Grantaire fumbled the strap of his bag off his shoulder and onto the floor, squatting down to find his phone. Enjolras made no comment about his apparent inability to remember his own number, which Grantaire was very grateful for. He read it out, and stared at the screen as Enjolras texted him to confirm it, just a simple Hi.

“Thank you. Are you sure you don’t want to stay? You wouldn’t be interrupting anything, you don’t need to worry about that.”

Grantaire shook his head, busying himself with shouldering his bag again and adjusting its weight. “No, no, it’s fine, I’m good, I don’t want to…it’s fine.”

“If you’re sure.” Enjolras waited, but when Grantaire just kept looking down at his hands on the strap of his bag, he sighed. “I’ll see you next Monday then?”

“Yeah, of course. Couldn’t keep me away.” Grantaire gave him an awkward wave and slipped out as fast as he could, eager not to embarrass himself any further.

Once outside, the chill of the breeze blew his hair back from his face, tears stinging his eyes before he blinked them away. His blood fizzed at the same time as his head spun, and he made sure to keep his walk slow and careful as he left Enjolras’ apartment block behind. He couldn’t bear to descend into the noise and cramped spaces of the métro, so walked past the station and kept going, no destination in mind.

Parc de Belleville was close, he was fairly sure, and he turned to head north-east. He let his mind drift as he walked, taking in everything around him without noticing a single detail. It took longer than he expected to reach the park, and he was out of breath when he finally came to collapse on one of the stone benches inside.

He generally preferred his parks less sculpted than Belleville, but if he closed his eyes and tipped his face up to the sun, he could almost pretend he was somewhere further away. The sounds of the city were still too close, and even on a weekday afternoon there were still lots of people strolling up and down the wide paths and chattering with their friends by the fountains, but it was good enough. It was calm enough to ground him, to pull him gently back to earth.

He so often did this sort of thing at night that half of him was sure that he was supposed to be asleep right now. Grantaire smiled and stretched his arms out, the fabric of his shirt and the weight of his jacket chafing the sore skin of his back. Deep breaths chilled the inside of his nostrils and made his blood buzz even more, a pleasant lightheadedness making him feel as though he was floating, his head the only fixed point in the universe.

Chapter Text

Grantaire’s hands were sweating in his pockets despite the chill in the air as he walked to the café Enjolras had suggested. It was the first time Enjolras had made contact first, texting rather than emailing this time, and Grantaire really didn’t want to fuck it up. Especially since Enjolras hadn’t immediately tried to negotiate the terms of another scene, but had instead asked if Grantaire could meet him in person, for a change.

It was not a date.

The café was small and blissfully warm, and as soon as he was in, Grantaire could see familiar bleached hair near the back wall. He waved when Enjolras smiled, tried a poor smile back, and headed towards him, fumbling his scarf off over his head. “Hi.”

“Hey. Yours.” Enjolras pushed the second cup on the table towards him and Grantaire curled his hands around it, pulling it close. Enjolras had asked for his order when he’d arrived first, and Grantaire hadn’t yet figured out how he would pay him back. Try to plant the money in his pocket, perhaps, if Enjolras was ever suitably distracted.

“Thanks. You, er. Wanted to talk?”

“I wanted to try negotiating in person,” Enjolras shrugged, brown eyes crinkling just slightly at the edges. “You said you didn’t mind.”

“I didn’t – I don’t.” It was a little too public for comfort, but Grantaire wasn’t going to voice that complaint any time soon. Not when Enjolras had been the one to ask for a scene this time.

Enjolras sipped his own coffee, looking over the rim at him. Grantaire lowered his gaze, hoping any flush in his cheeks could be attributed to the cold. Any optimism he’d had that playing with Enjolras would somehow reduce his self-consciousness around him had long been dashed. “How are you?” Enjolras asked, and Grantaire stared at him.

“Um, I…fine, I guess? Why?”

Enjolras’ mouth twisted, like he was holding back a smile. “Just asking. You work at the shop Jehan used to, don’t you? He always had plenty of things to say about it.”

“Good things, I hope.”

“Sometimes.”

Grantaire snorted. “Jehan doesn’t know how lucky he was, working there.”

“He prefers his job now, doesn’t he?” Enjolras frowned slightly. “He’s always said being a librarian was his dream job, especially for children.”

“No, I know, I just meant…” Grantaire pulled a face and gestured awkwardly. “I don’t know, have you ever…you probably haven’t needed to, I don’t know –”

“Worked in a shop?” Enjolras guessed, and Grantaire nodded, waving a hand at him as though catching the words, a lifeline.

“Yeah, exactly. Have you?”

“I’ve never had the pleasure.”

Grantaire couldn’t help smiling at the knowing tone of his voice – he might never have worked in retail himself, but Enjolras had clearly heard the numerous, lengthy complaints of those who had. “Lucky you. I just meant, Jehan never – his job before that was writing essays for money, so –”

“Tutoring,” Enjolras corrected, but the corner of his lips twitched at Grantaire’s involuntary snort.

“Sure, ‘tutoring’.” He gave that the air-quotations it deserved. “So yeah, he complained a lot, but he has no idea what working really shitty retail jobs can be like.”

“You do?”

“Sure.”

“Worst you’ve had?” Enjolras asked, not quite a challenge, but close enough that Grantaire smiled.

“Either night shift delivery boy, or department store at Christmas. And if we’re not counting retail, definitely working for my town’s council, before I came to Paris.”

“What was so bad about that?”

“It’s boring as all hell, and no one ever calls their council to commend anyone on their good work – all you get are complaints, all day, every day. My bins were knocked over, my neighbour’s kids are too loud, the pavements are cracked…” Grantaire rolled his eyes. “Really thrilling stuff.”

“But you like the curiosity shop.” Enjolras sipped his coffee, eyes creasing at the corners when Grantaire nodded.

“Of all the retail jobs I’ve ever worked, this one’s by far the nicest. Far fewer belligerent customers, and they’re not as likely to be bastards when they do come in. As long as I don’t bother them, more often than not they browse and walk out again, which is the way I like it.”

Enjolras tilted his head, eyes narrowing a fraction in confusion. “I thought the whole point was that you want them to buy things?”

“Who on earth told you that?” Grantaire shook his head and gave a dramatic huff, clutching his cup tightly in case his fingers started to shake. “Customers are the worst. Always buying things and messing the place up, making the shelves and windows look untidy, and then who do you think has to go around fixing things up again? Capital R Revolting here, that’s who.”

Enjolras snorted, and Grantaire tried not to let his nerves get out of control. He called himself stupid names like that all the time in front of the others, but Enjolras didn’t usually stand for self-deprecation. And right on cue – “Revolting in the sense of revolution, I hope,” Enjolras said, giving him an all-too-knowing look that he really had no business using because what did Enjolras know about him, really?

Grantaire shrugged, looking down. “It means whatever you want it to. I like ambiguity.”

“I’ve noticed.” Enjolras’ mouth twisted, not in a smiling way this time, and after a moment his eyebrows turned down to match it. “I hope you don’t mean it, when you call yourself things like that. I hope you know no one else thinks it of you.”

Grantaire opened his mouth, then closed it and lifted his cup, feeling the flush in his face all the way down to his neck. Enjolras came out with stuff like that all the time; there was no need to get all flustered. But then, Enjolras had never directed any of it at him before. Grantaire had always been able to evade his attention before; an impossible feat when it was just the two of them sat at this little table on their own.

The pause could have stretched on awkwardly, but Enjolras saved him from that as well. “I don’t understand you sometimes,” he said. Not quite curious – more inquisitive. “In meetings, I mean. You’ve always been something of a mystery.”

“I’m an open book,” Grantaire lied, clearing his throat as he set his cup down, hands still curled tightly around it.

Enjolras huffed, amused. “Well that’s obviously not true.”

“It is!” Grantaire protested. “I’m not –”

“If you were really an open book, I wouldn’t have been so shocked to see you in Le Grande,” Enjolras countered smoothly. Grantaire floundered, caught out, but at Enjolras’ small smile he relaxed and allowed himself a guilty grin as well.

“Mostly open then.”

“Mystery is hardly a bad thing.”

“It is if it’s making you think I have hidden depths.” Grantaire bit his lip, wary. “I don’t, you know. I wasn’t joking – I am an open book. What you see is what you get, warts and all.”

“Warts?”

“Come on, you know how annoying I am.” Grantaire shook his head at Enjolras’ frown. “Hey, it’s okay – I know too, it’s not like it’s a secret, especially at the ABC. I kind of stick out, compared to everyone else.”

“Because of your apathy.” Only Enjolras could have made it sound so non-judgemental, but Grantaire still winced.

“It’s not…well, it’s…” Difficult to explain, so he just shook his head again and moved on. “I try not to be such a dick about it these days, but y’know. I don’t have the best brain-to-mouth filter, even when I’m sober.”

“You’re better than you used to be.”

Generous of him to say so. Grantaire gave an odd, awkward laugh and cleared his throat again. “Thanks. Um. You wanted –”

“Why do you think you – I’m sorry, you were…” Enjolras gestured to him, but Grantaire shook his head quickly. He wasn’t going to turn the subject back to kink until either the conversation died, or he suddenly became less uncomfortable about talking about it in public.

“No, you go.”

“Okay. Why do you think you find it so difficult?”

Grantaire blinked. “You mean, not being an apathetic dick?”

“I wouldn’t have put it like that.” Enjolras frowned, but Grantaire waved it away, his other hand gripping his cup even tighter.

“No, it’s fine, I get it. Um, I don’t know, really. I’m too easily convinced of everything, but not fully convinced of anything. The rest of you all seem to have such solid convictions – I’ve never really been able to do that.”

“I’ve noticed,” Enjolras said again, relaxing a fraction. Because Grantaire wasn’t taking it hard? Impossible to tell. He was sweating under his shirt, armpits and back getting clammy under Enjolras’ unwavering attention, the unstoppable compulsion to babble rising in his throat. “I still don’t understand why.”

“You think I do? I can only disappoint on that front, I’m afraid – I understand myself even less than some of the others seem to. Like, like –” Oh god, here it was, here was the word vomit. “Like the way Bossuet always knows what will make me laugh, and Jehan sometimes seems to know what I’m thinking if I’m in a certain mood.” If he was depressed as fuck, but Enjolras didn’t need to know that. “And Combeferre – does he do that to you too? If you ever, but you probably haven’t, not the way I do, the way some of the others have…” He swallowed, but Enjolras didn’t interrupt, so he stumbled on in his attempted explanation. “You know, when he listens much more carefully than you think he is, and he lets you finish and then pauses for about a second, except in retrospect it feels like it goes in slow-motion and fills everyone listening with tension, and then he just…cuts through everything you’ve said in a single sentence.”

Enjolras was smiling, he saw when he looked, and relief loosened Grantaire’s tongue further. “You know what I mean, I can tell by your expression. For you he probably just sums up everything you wanted to say like a great philosopher in disguise as a lowly medical student, but for me, or when – you remember when Marius got drunk and wailed about how unpatriotic and confusing we all were and Combeferre just…”

“What could be better than to belong to a country of great tradition and reputation and to be proud of it?” Enjolras said, quoting in a wry tone.

“To be free,” Grantaire grinned. At the time, the calm statement had been met with Marius’ open-mouthed stare and a cacophony of admiring hoots and shouts from everyone else. Since then, it had become something of an inside joke, the perfect response to anyone asking why they were doing whatever they were doing at the time.

“You still haven’t explained why you find throwing yourself into our enterprises wholeheartedly so difficult,” Enjolras prompted him after a second’s silence.

Grantaire hesitated, but Enjolras hadn’t disdained or scorned anything he’d said so far. “It’s complicated.” Enjolras just waited expectantly, and Grantaire sighed, screwing his face up and ducking his head, pushing a hand through his hair. “It’s like…if I try and think too much about something I just run myself in circles poking holes until the whole concept leaks out all its good parts and I’m left with a sad, deflated shell that’s no good to anyone, least of all me or any of you.” Another hopeful pause, but Enjolras just waited for more and Grantaire couldn’t help but oblige him.

“It’s not fun, I don’t do it just to annoy you all, I’d rather I could just go with it – that sounds pretentious, I know, like I’m somehow better than you, or see clearer, which is completely ridiculous because we all know I’m the worst one at your meetings at any given time. Don’t deny it,” he added when Enjolras frowned and opened his mouth as if to protest. “It’s the truth, everyone knows it, no one more than me. It’s exhausting and pointless, especially when I think out loud in front of someone like Courfeyrac or Bahorel, who take it so seriously and can’t understand why I seem to look for the flaws in their ideas on purpose. I don’t mean to. But there are so many people who won’t even consider them, who’ll never be convinced and who don’t want to be convinced, who take too much satisfaction in hating people like you.

“I believe in…in the core values, sure, I’m all for love and freedom as much as the next person, I’m as bohemian as Jehan, but holes can even be picked in that as well.” He took a breath and flushed, looking down at his cooling coffee. Enjolras said nothing, so Grantaire’s treacherous mouth opened once more, bearing him forward on a horrible tide of honesty. “I hate myself for it sometimes, the way I can’t just step out of my stupid head and get into it with the rest of you. Drinking helps ease the way sometimes, but it never lasts. My brain just runs overtime and I can’t stop it.” Much like his mouth at present, in fact.

The silence dragged out, Grantaire’s insides twisting (he should’ve had a drink or two to settle his nerves and settle his overeager tongue before he’d come out, he’d probably gone too far and weirded Enjolras out – he’d never been the direct recipient of any of Grantaire’s word-vomit speeches before). Finally, Enjolras spoke. “I sort of assumed you came more for the people than for the cause.”

“Oh, I do,” Grantaire took the lifeline with relief. “I mean, not that I don’t think you’re all…I mean, I come for that as well, it’s good to be around people who give a shit sometimes, you know? But yeah, the others, I…no one else has ever put up with me the way they do.” He laughed, risking a quick glance at Enjolras. He didn’t look stern, so Grantaire shrugged and continued with a smile. “No one else tolerates my rambles the way they do. The way you just did, actually. Not many people let me talk myself out, which is probably self-preservation on their part, but I mean even you let me get to the end before telling me to shut up, which is more than enough for me. It’s no mean feat to have the ear of a god, after all.”

He snapped his mouth shut and fixed his eyes on his coffee again, ears burning under the cover of his hair. A foot nudged his suddenly, under the table, and he looked up in surprise. Enjolras was giving him a tiny smile. “Relax,” he said. “I’m not about to tell you to shut up.”

Grantaire’s breath left him in a quiet rush, something flipping over in his belly. It could be his imagination was more fevered than he’d realised, but he could swear that Enjolras looked almost charmed. “Thanks,” he managed to say.

Enjolras sipped some of his coffee and leaned closer. “For our next scene –” Oh thank god. “– would you consent to sex being involved?”

“Oh.” Grantaire blinked and sat back. “Uh –”

“You don’t have to, obviously,” Enjolras told him, holding his gaze. “I just wanted to bring it up, there’s no pressure at all.”

“Relax, man.” Grantaire swallowed and actually managed a small, embarrassed smile. “It’s fine, seriously. I’m, um. It’s fine, I’ve just – I offered that first time, remember? And usually that’s not something I would’ve done for a first with someone, I’m more of a second or third scene kinda guy, but since I knew you it wasn’t.” He swallowed again and waved a hand. “You know, not such an issue, since I already know a bit about what sort of person you are. It’s fine. We should.”

It wasn’t Enjolras’ fault he’d accidentally wound himself up over it to the point of wanting to hyperventilate. Which was ridiculous – sex was just another physical act, and what was sex after he’d literally whimpered under Enjolras’ foot?

“It’s another level of intimacy,” Enjolras said, as if he’d just heard Grantaire’s thoughts. “I’d understand if it was something you weren’t interested in – particularly with someone you already know.”

“I think I’m over that part now.” A blatant lie, but whatever. “It’s good, Enjolras. I’d like to.” What was one more lie on top now he’d started? And it wasn’t exactly a lie. True, the idea of sex with Enjolras filled him with dread to the point of almost physical nausea, but it was also something he’d dreamed about for an embarrassingly long time. Like so much of what they were doing, it was an easy decision to make. If he let this opportunity go, he’d never forgive himself. “You can do whatever you want.”

“Dangerous words,” Enjolras said, dryness calculated to make Grantaire smile.

“You’re a dangerous man. I trust you.” That made Enjolras smile, and he nodded.

“Yours or mine then?”

“Marius is going to be away on Friday night, if that’s good for you?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Grantaire squeezed his coffee cup, pressing his tension into the ceramic as anticipation rose in his throat. “I’m guessing you have ideas?”

“Absolutely.” The grin Enjolras gave him was positively wicked.

 

Marius was gone, the apartment was clean, Grantaire had showered and agonised over shaving before deciding that the scruff hid his unfortunately weak chin, and he wanted to look…well, if not his best, then at least not repulsive. “Lofty goals,” he muttered, bare feet cold on the floor as he paced. Enjolras would be here any second now, and this time Grantaire wouldn’t be trying to hide his inevitable boner when it popped up.

He’d been thinking about it practically non-stop since they’d met in the café, and he still couldn’t figure out whether he was terrified out of his mind, or if it was bothering him a lot less than he’d expected. He was hardly inexperienced, and he’d had sex while he was subbing plenty of times. He was insecure about a lot of things, but sex wasn’t usually one of them. But of course, this would be sex with Enjolras.

And there he was, swinging heavily to the ‘terrified’ side of the scale, the fear so paralysing that he wanted to curl up on the ground and muffle high-pitched noises into a cushion. He had no idea which side he’d settle on when Enjolras actually arrived.

They had a scene roughly sketched out, the beginning more solid than the end – for once, Enjolras had given in without protest to Grantaire’s looser approach. When questioned, he’d said that it was because Grantaire had already proved he was willing to safeword if he needed to. Apparently that was a thing he worried over a lot, which was very sweet and so Enjolras.

The knock at the door made Grantaire jump – he’d been listening for the buzzer, but of course he’d given Enjolras the code for the building, how could he have forgotten? When he opened the door, Enjolras was there, backpack slung over one shoulder in a way that made him look like he’d just walked off the catwalk. It was unfair, really.

In just a few minutes Enjolras would be seeing him naked. The thought wasn't as scary with Enjolras actually in front of him, and Grantaire breathed out - if anything was a sign of how far he'd come since first seeing Enjolras in Le Grande, that was surely it.

“Hi.” Grantaire stood back to let him in and put the chain on the door when he closed it. “You as ready as I am?”

Enjolras slid the backpack off his shoulder and lifted it with a small, crooked smile. “I’d say so.”

“That looks heavy.”

“Would you like to see the contents?”

His tone was almost playful, and Grantaire smiled. “Sure.”

Enjolras set the bag down on the arm of the sofa and unzipped it. Grantaire came closer to watch, and his eyebrows began to rise as Enjolras took out two canes, a wooden ruler, a generous length of rope, nipple clamps, and a black arm binder.

“Holy shit.” Grantaire bit back a grin and looked up at Enjolras, who was looking down at everything with an embarrassed tilt to his mouth. “You went all-out. Does that double as a leg binder?”

“It does.” Enjolras looked at him. “We can take it off the table if you want, and just use rope, but I thought just in case…”

“I’m all up for it, don’t worry,” Grantaire reassured him. It looked like it would fit from a couple of inches above his elbows to most of the way down his forearms, leaving his hands and wrists free. “It looks good.” He’d only ever worn a binder like that once, and it had been very enjoyable indeed.

“In that case, shall we begin?” Enjolras’ confidence was back, and Grantaire stepped back as he stepped forward, moving into the centre of the room. At Grantaire’s nod, Enjolras raked his eyes up his body from toes to head. “Safewords?”

Grantaire licked his lips. “Red for stop, yellow for pause, green for go.”

“Good. Clothes off. All of them.”

He could do this. Enjolras turned away to unwind the rope and Grantaire pulled his shirt off, dumping it on the back of the nearest chair. His breathing stuttered for just a moment, a last hesitation before he pushed his tracksuit bottoms and boxers down past his hips, stepping out of them quickly and throwing them aside as well. He couldn’t drag his eyes off Enjolras’ feet, and he hoped fervently that Enjolras wouldn’t ask him to meet his gaze. He was already freaking out enough. Enjolras had surely had more attractive people to play with in the past, and Grantaire couldn’t possibly measure up. In any sense.

But Enjolras made no comment as he came over and touched Grantaire’s shoulder with gentle fingertips. “Kneel.”

It was easier with Enjolras right next to him, slightly behind and out of sight. Grantaire sank to the floor and clasped his wrists behind his back, letting Enjolras’, “Good,” settle into his bones, anchoring him. He was doing okay. He just had to take it one step at a time – all he had to do was follow Enjolras’ instructions, it was easy. Enjolras would take care of him.

“I’m going to put your arms in the binder,” Enjolras said, kneeling behind him and tugging his hands apart gently. “Colour?”

“Green.”

“You’ll tell me if it’s uncomfortable.” The iron in Enjolras’ voice was a relief, and Grantaire relaxed a fraction in response. “Got it?”

“Got it.” The leather (fake leather? Grantaire couldn’t tell) brushed against one of his hands, then Enjolras was sliding it up his arms, past his elbows and higher till it was pulling Grantaire’s arms inwards. Grantaire closed his eyes, the better to focus on the sounds of the laces being pulled through the holes and the straps buckled into place. When Enjolras drew back, Grantaire laced his fingers together and rolled his shoulders, testing it. 

“Colour?” Enjolras checked.

“Green. It’s comfier than I expected,” Grantaire smiled at his knees. “Better than a full binder.”

“I had one of those,” Enjolras told him, getting to his feet and walking over to the sofa again. “But like you said – it was difficult to wear for very long. Prettier, but I’d rather have duration over looks.”

“How practical of you.”

“I’m nothing if not practical.” Enjolras gave him a smug smile as he lifted the nipple clamps by the chain connecting them, and that captured Grantaire’s attention better than a slap would have done. “Colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire couldn’t take his eyes off them as Enjolras knelt next to him again. His breathing was already embarrassingly shallow, though not out of trepidation for the pain. He was quite a fan of nipple clamps, but this would be the first time Enjolras touched him in a way he associated with sex, not just with bondage. He couldn’t help being nervous.

Enjolras brushed a finger over Grantaire’s left nipple, then pinched it, both of them watching as it stiffened under the stimulation. Grantaire squeezed his hands together as Enjolras kept touching, rubbing the pads of his index and middle fingers over his nipple and squeezing it between them until the thudding of his heart was actually visible under the skin of his chest. Only then did Enjolras move onto the other side, taking his sweet time there as well. Grantaire wanted to tip his head back and hide his face, but watching Enjolras’ fingers move against his skin was intoxicating. He had the perfect view, and his body was already betraying how much he liked it, his stomach quivering on every other breath and his cock stirring below that.

“Still green?” Enjolras murmured, thankfully not looking up at him – he seemed to enjoy watching Grantaire’s body as much as Grantaire enjoyed watching his hands.

“Mmhm.” Grantaire swallowed, and sucked in a quick breath as Enjolras lifted the first clamp – simple clothespin clamps with screws to adjust the pressure – and closed it over Grantaire’s nipple. It was a lot tighter than any of Enjolras’ pinches had been, but it was good. Grantaire’s lips parted as Enjolras reached over and clamped the other, wasting no time, and gave the chain a gentle tug that had Grantaire’s chest jumping.

“Green?” Enjolras asked casually, sitting back to look at his face. Grantaire couldn’t look away from the clamps, and swallowed before he nodded.

“Green. You could…probably do them tighter if you wanted?”

“No.” Enjolras got up, sounding amused. “I don’t think so. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten what I’m going to do to them, after all?”

Oh shit. “It slipped my mind,” Grantaire admitted, tense with excitement. He finally looked up, just in time to see Enjolras pick up both canes and consider them, then put one down and pick up the wooden ruler instead.

“I’ll have to remind you.” Enjolras was practically purring, predatory and glorious. “Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire rushed to say, and let himself smile giddily when Enjolras came to kneel next to him again, putting the ruler on the floor before winding his now free hand in Grantaire’s hair and pulling viciously, tipping his head back and out of the way of the cane. They’d brushed over their last scene in the café, and Grantaire had mentioned the way he liked Enjolras pulling his hair to hold him in place – Enjolras had clearly taken note.

“Ten,” Enjolras breathed in his ear (heat flared in the pit of Grantaire’s stomach at the feeling). “Let’s see how well you take it. No need to count.”

“Thank you,” Grantaire managed to get out before Enjolras was bringing the cane down, hitting both nipple clamps with a clatter of wood against metal. Grantaire’s body arched as though he’d been electrocuted, a choked sound bursting from his throat. Enjolras let him get two breaths before he struck again, and the pain was even worse the second time round. The clamps were already sore enough, but being hit like that made the pain spread right up to his throat and down to his belly. He’d never had particularly sensitive nipples, but they were on fire now, the white-hot burn of it bursting anew on every clatter of Enjolras’ cane against them. He didn’t even have to hit that hard for it to have the desired effect.

On the fourth, a very undignified moan cracked from Grantaire’s throat, high-pitched enough to let anyone listening know how much it hurt. On the seventh, Grantaire tried to toss his head, gasping helplessly when Enjolras tightened his grip and wrenched his head back so far he could hardly breathe. It was so good, so good, and when it ended and Enjolras loosened his grip enough for Grantaire to suck in deep, shaky breaths, the first thing he wanted to do was beg for more.

But Enjolras had other ideas, of course. The cane slipped under the chain and pulled, and Grantaire pushed his chest forward as much as he could to lessen the tension, a pained whine slipping out despite his clenched jaw and bitten lips. “Colour?” Enjolras asked, voice like honey, and Grantaire’s mouth fell open, unable to reply for a good couple of seconds before he found his tongue.

“Green…green, please…”

Enjolras released him, and Grantaire slumped in relief. His nipples and the area around them was radiating with pain, and his cock was almost completely hard. “I’m going to move onto your thighs as well now,” Enjolras told him softly. “Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire whispered, and sighed when the hand in his hair tightened again, pulling his head back once more before letting go. It was a loss, but Enjolras was moving to kneel in front of him now, eyes dark and hand shifting on the cane. Grantaire breathed through his mouth as Enjolras put it aside for a moment and put his hands on Grantaire’s knees. They looked large, smooth and brown against the pale skin and dark hair of Grantaire’s thighs, stretch marks making odd bobbly lines further up towards his groin. Enjolras didn’t give him time for self-consciousness. He pushed his palms up, fingertips brushing Grantaire’s hips before they dug in and dragged back down, five red lines rising on either side a second later.

Grantaire shivered, and tried to close his eyes when Enjolras pushed his legs apart, exposing him. He couldn’t keep it up – he wanted to see too badly – so he drank in the sight of Enjolras sliding his hands between his thighs and scratching him there as well, his cock twitching slightly at the sensation. Was this really happening? The pain and the glitter of satisfaction in Enjolras’ eyes said yes.

Enjolras scratched and scratched until the skin of Grantaire’s thighs was raw and red, hot and angry, and only then did he pick up the cane again. But instead of going for the thighs, he lifted it sideways and lashed it unexpectedly against Grantaire’s nipples again. The pain flared, and he jerked, not quite biting back a yelp. Enjolras grinned – actually grinned – and did it again. Without a hand in his hair to keep him still, Grantaire squirmed and panted, groaning by the time Enjolras was done. Without a pause, he shoved Grantaire’s thighs together and brought the cane down on them. 

It was brutal, rough and fast and already enough to make Grantaire grunt and whimper, but Enjolras was apparently done with giving him time to breathe or collect himself. He was pushing hard now, and Grantaire could only kneel and take it. Enjolras caned a neat row of lines from Grantaire’s knees up to the top of his thighs, and Grantaire squeaked when Enjolras reached out to lift Grantaire’s cock against his stomach, cupping a protective hand in front of it while the cane came closer and closer, perilously close to Grantaire’s balls. The fear made him still, sweat starting to prickle under his arms and on his back. Enjolras didn’t look at him to check for a reaction, which made it all the better, all the hotter, and Grantaire’s chest hitched when he started to move back down and let go of Grantaire’s cock carelessly, letting it bob between his thighs ignored.

He picked up the ruler once he’d finished, and Grantaire barely had time to notice before the cane had cracked back down on his thighs at the same time as the ruler smacked across the nipple clamps. “Fuck!” his voice broke, and he caught a glimpse of Enjolras’ smirk before he threw his head back, startled by another double hit. His brain didn’t know which area to focus on more, which one hurt most, which one was urgent and which was secondary. It just hurt, harsh and unending, and he almost lost his balance a couple of times as his body instinctively tried to twist away.

All of a sudden, it stopped. Grantaire had maybe half a breath’s respite before wet heat enveloped his cock and he yelled, high and shocked. His head snapped forward again, eyes wide and fixed on the hand Enjolras had wrapped around his cock, wet with what had to be spit. He stared and tried not to make any more embarrassing noises, but it was so hard when he was finally getting pleasure after so much pain. The sensation was amplified, tremors shivering out from his thighs and stomach, his head spinning from how good it felt. From nowhere (or more likely, from his pocket), Enjolras pulled out a condom, and finally lifted his head to meet Grantaire’s glazed eyes.

“Colour?”

Grantaire nodded, his brain taking a second to catch up. “Green, green.” He bit his lip to stop himself going further, and Enjolras’ lips quirked. He let go of Grantaire’s cock to tear the wrapper open, and rolled the condom on smoothly. Grantaire didn’t have time to adjust at all before Enjolras was leaning down and taking Grantaire into his mouth.

“Ahhhh!” It burst out before Grantaire could stop it, too overwhelmed by how hot Enjolras’ mouth was. “Ahhhh, ahhhhhh, fuck…”

Enjolras hummed, tongue flat against the underside of Grantaire’s cock, and Grantaire gasped, trying not to completely lose his head. They’d negotiated this, they’d negotiated all of this, but his mind was hazy from the pain and everything was a blur and it felt so good, too good to take in, certainly too good for him to be able to think clearly. As if to help him slip further under, one of Enjolras’ hands snaked up and snagged the chain of the nipple clamps. He sucked at the same time as he pulled, and Grantaire practically wailed, curving forward to follow the tug, shaking all over.

Enjolras slid his mouth further down, letting go with his hand and sliding down, down, and finally swallowing around Grantaire once his cock had completely vanished from sight. Grantaire whimpered, eyelids fluttering, and they stayed there like that for a few long seconds, Enjolras’ throat tight and hot around Grantaire’s cock, Grantaire curved forward over him and trying not to move.

The hand on the chain pushed his chest back up, and Enjolras lifted himself off with a satisfied sound, leaning back and stretching his neck. Like that, Grantaire could see the bulge in his trousers, and his tongue was suddenly looser than it had been all night. “Please, let me, can I blow you? Please, let me, I’ll be good, I’ll, please, please –”

“Shhh, shhhh.” Enjolras reached out and brushed his fingers against Grantaire’s jaw, silencing him immediately. “Are you sure? You said earlier you weren’t that into giving oral.”

“I was an idiot,” Grantaire babbled. His face burned, but he wanted this so badly, he didn’t even care. “I want to, please…I can’t…you’ve got fucking ridiculous deepthroating skills, I can’t do that, but I can still blow you. Please, let me?”

Enjolras’ cheeks were perhaps a shade darker when he smiled. “Alright. Do you want to make me come?”

“God, yes.” Grantaire was going to die happy. “Thank you, Enjolras, thank you…”

“Shhh.” Enjolras got up and nudged Grantaire’s thighs apart again, putting one of his feet between them as he pulled another condom from his pocket and undid the button of his fly. Grantaire watched with his mouth slightly open, totally enraptured as Enjolras pushed the zip down and slid his trousers and briefs down. His erection sprung free, gratifyingly hard despite how composed Enjolras appeared.

Grantaire could hardly breathe. It was true that giving head wasn’t his favourite activity most of the time, but right now he would have sold his right arm to suck Enjolras off. It was such a visceral form of submission, to kneel before another and let them take their pleasure like that, and from Enjolras…

It was something he’d thought about too often, often enough that he really should have seen this coming. The idea of ingratiating himself like this, or better, apologising like this, had been a fantasy for a very long time indeed.

He watched as Enjolras spat into his hand and slicked himself up before rolling on the condom, the same way he’d prepared Grantaire. His cock was as beautiful as the rest of him, unsurprisingly. It was odd to see black pubic hair though – some part of him had obviously been expecting the same white-blonde shade as on Enjolras’ head. “Ready?” Enjolras murmured, and Grantaire nodded, swaying forward. “I’m not going to move much,” Enjolras told him. “You set the pace.”

He could work with that. It would mean working harder, but Grantaire liked that. Enjolras’ fingers skimmed the side of his face and slid into his hair, and Grantaire leaned forward until the tip of Enjolras’ cock bumped against the corner of his mouth. He turned his head quickly and pushed himself up, going as deep as he could as fast as he could. He was rewarded by Enjolras giving a small gasp, just a little, “Ahh…” but it made desire ignite in Grantaire’s stomach, his own cock throbbing between his abused thighs, not quite close enough to Enjolras’ ankle to touch it.

There was no pain to focus him here. It was just Enjolras’ gentle hand in his hair and Enjolras’ cock in his mouth, and Grantaire’s fevered need to make him come. To apologise for being so loud, so unruly, so distracting. To prove that he would take instruction, that he could be good, given the opportunity to correct.

Grantaire had imagined this happening in the Corinthe so many times, the impossibility of it far from a deterrent. He rubbed his tongue over the slit of Enjolras’ cock and moaned when Enjolras breathed, “Yes, fuck, Grantaire –” He could please like this, on his knees, he could show his devotion and be accepted, even encouraged. In a meeting, in a meeting with their friends all present and Grantaire making a nuisance of himself, Enjolras would shout and call him over, voice like a whip, a reprimand. And everyone would just shrug and ignore them as Enjolras shoved Grantaire to his knees and told him to apologise. And Grantaire would put his mouth to better use, right there, the shame and brilliance of it exquisite.

Fantasy was mingling with reality, and Grantaire dived down again, going as deep as he could. He’d never been able to relax his throat properly, so he couldn’t get any further than two thirds of the way down, but it was okay. Enjolras’ breathing was unsteady, and Grantaire was responsible for that. It was dazzling, and he pushed himself forward over and over, making himself gag. Enjolras’ hand tightened in his hair, but he didn’t make him stop. Enjolras had trusted him to set the pace, after all, and this was the pace Grantaire wanted. He sucked and lapped and alternated between taking Enjolras as deep as he could and lavishing attention on the sensitive head, licking around the crown and over the slit the way Enjolras obviously loved.

He didn’t notice he’d teared up till Enjolras’ thumbs were at the corners of his eyes, wiping liquid away. Grantaire opened his eyes and looked up, slowing down to check Enjolras’ reaction. What he saw was enough to make him choke back a moan. Enjolras was looking at him like Grantaire was the most beautiful, precious thing he’d ever seen, and Grantaire had to close his eyes again, going back to his task. Breathless and half out of his mind, he made himself gag again, more tears welling up to trickle over Enjolras’ thumbs and fingers.

“Fuck, Grantaire,” he sounded wrecked, and Grantaire couldn’t moan with his cock so far in his mouth, but god did he want to. “Grantaire, you’re gorgeous, look at you, you’re stunning, fuck, fuck, I’m gonna…”

Grantaire sucked hard, kept bobbing his head as much as he could, and Enjolras came with a shudder and a punched-out cry, his hands tightening on Grantaire’s head as his cock pulsed over and over. Grantaire kept his eyes closed, one more tear squeezing out on one side before Enjolras loosened his grip and slid away, a hand lingering on Grantaire’s aching jaw. “That was perfect,” he said shakily, and laughed, a little breathless. “That was perfect, Grantaire.”

The praise thrummed along Grantaire’s skin and he bowed under the heady weight of it, breathing heavily. “Thank you. For letting me.”

“The pleasure was mine.” Enjolras’ voice had regained that honey-like quality, and Grantaire’s eyes fluttered open as he tucked himself back into his trousers and stepped away to kneel beside him again. It made Grantaire groan, mouth open, when Enjolras wrapped his hand around his cock again and stroked slowly, too gentle to give any real relief. “Would you like to come now?” he asked, voice low. “Or would you like me to keep pushing you?”

“Push me,” Grantaire gasped. “Please.”

“Greedy, but polite. Very good.” Enjolras tightened his grip briefly – a reward that made Grantaire’s breath hitch – then let go and picked up the ruler again. With no warning, it smacked into Grantaire’s nipples, the clamps and chain dancing against his skin as he cried out in pain.

In this vein, Enjolras continued, just as brutal as before with the added torture of jerking Grantaire off at the same time as hurting him. Grantaire was totally lost, his brain unhitched and spinning off from its moorings at the constant push and pull between pain and pleasure. With Enjolras inflicting agony on his nipples with one hand and stroking his cock with the other, his body was in a blissful state, almost rapturous. He couldn’t think, could hardly breathe.

Enjolras pulled upwards on the chain, humming as Grantaire arched his back as much as he could, gasping and gasping at the strain, too far gone to even think about choking back his desperate noises when Enjolras stroked him, hand slick and warm and tight. A long, slow slide, and the tease of his fingers rubbing over the top, his thumb pressing into Grantaire’s frenulum, the gentlest of pressures even as his other hand twisted the chain hard enough to make Grantaire shout.

And then complete release, both of Enjolras’ hands disappearing for a second. Grantaire had the time to take one huge, shuddering breath before the cane whipped down into the already-sore flesh of his thighs, jerking his body taut again. Everything ached, his shoulders and thighs and chest especially, but the urgent need to come and the pleasure of that cut through those sensations and made them good, somehow. Made them clean.

“You’ve been so good, Grantaire,” Enjolras whispered in his ear, bringing the cane in steady strikes. Not too hard anymore, but still enough to hurt. “I’m going to make you come now, alright? Still green?”

“Green,” Grantaire agreed, hazy as all fuck but still managing to turn his head to find Enjolras’ eyes. “Yes, please, green…”

Enjolras dropped the cane and wrapped his hand around Grantaire’s cock again, and with the other undid one of the nipple clamps. It was awful, it was euphoric, stabbing and terrible. Grantaire gasped, high and pained, and Enjolras unclamped the other and slid an arm around his shoulders to hold him close. He kept stroking Grantaire, faster now, getting him closer and closer, and his other hand started to pinch and tug and play with one of his nipples. Grantaire cried out, thrusting into Enjolras’ hand and turning his face into his neck, the throbbing pain actually worse now his nipples were unclamped.

“Come on, Grantaire,” Enjolras murmured, giving him a particularly vicious pinch that made Grantaire buck his hips ever more frantically. “Come on, you can do it. Come for me, come now…”

Grantaire’s whole body tensed, and then he was coming. It rushed through him, wiping his mind completely blank, nothing but the thrill of it filling him up and letting him go. It seemed to go on for a long time, and when he came back to himself he was curled against Enjolras’ side, almost too tired to open his eyes. Enjolras was stroking his hair, just holding him. When Grantaire tried to lift his head, Enjolras was there immediately, touching his jaw and turning his head to look at him. “Hey there. Feeling okay?”

“So good,” Grantaire breathed, and Enjolras smiled.

“Glad to hear it. Let me untie you, okay? You can lean into me, it’ll make it easier.” A lie? Grantaire was way too out of it to try and analyse anything, so he just did as he was told. Enjolras was so warm and strong, so kind and careful as he untied the binder and massaged Grantaire’s shoulders as he pulled his arms forward. “Feeling okay? No twinges?”

“’Mm okay,” Grantaire mumbled. “Thank you.”

Enjolras touched his face again and Grantaire swayed into it. “Whoa, okay, I’ve got you.” Enjolras put an arm round Grantaire’s shoulders and helped him slide down to put his head in Enjolras’ lap, on his thigh. Grantaire curled up, utterly boneless. A moment later, something soft and warm settled over him – the blanket Marius always kept on the sofa, he realised, snuggling into it. Enjolras’ hand rubbed his back, steady and so warm.

He would go soon. Grantaire pressed his face into Enjolras’ thigh and tried not to think about it, but it was right there: this had been one of the best experiences of his life, if not the best, and it would be over soon. Enjolras would leave. He would leave because he and Grantaire weren’t anything important to each other. They weren’t partners, boyfriends, barely even friends. To think otherwise was fooling himself.

“You were perfect,” Enjolras told him quietly, and Grantaire curled a fraction closer, needing to hear it. “I didn’t think you’d want me to keep going when I gave you the option, but you’ve got such endurance, Grantaire. You’re so strong, it’s amazing. You’re amazing.”

“Thank you,” Grantaire whispered, so quietly that Enjolras didn’t hear it. He kept his eyes closed and let the praise ease away a little of the cold the drop had brought up in him. Enjolras would go, but this had been good. Grantaire had been good.

“You make me feel very lucky,” Enjolras murmured, his other hand finding Grantaire’s hair and sliding his fingertips into it, so, so gently. “That you let me do this, and see you like this. I feel like I know you better, and I feel better for it.” He paused, breathing out. “I hope you look at those pictures you take and see how brilliant you are. Like living art.”

Grantaire turned his face a fraction so that his mouth was free. “I didn’t think you cared about art,” he said, the words coming out slowly, with effort. He felt Enjolras’ shrug through the hand on his back.

“I don’t understand a lot of art that seems to move other people – it doesn’t seem to matter who made it or which era it’s from, I can almost never explain why I like or dislike something, or say whether or not it’s good. But I appreciate the way things look. Like people, tied up.” There was a smile in his voice, and the fingers in Grantaire’s hair moved in careful circles. “I like the way that looks. Like the way you looked – beautiful.”

Grantaire turned his face away again, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment before blinking rapidly, an odd sensation in his skin that he couldn’t figure out. Good or bad? Impossible to tell in his current state, so he followed his instincts and curled up tighter, huddling as close as he could into Enjolras’ warmth.

Enjolras noticed, of course, and pressed the hand on his back down firmer. “Colour?”

Grantaire opened his mouth and drew in a quick breath, mind far too slow to work out the correct answer. Green? Yellow? Not red, definitely not red, but being called beautiful was still…it was different from being told he’d done well, it cut too close, made him feel too exposed and raw. But if he didn’t say green, what would Enjolras think? So – “Green,” he whispered, and closed his eyes when Enjolras sighed quietly, perhaps in relief.

“Just checking. Thank you.”

“I should be thanking you,” Grantaire mumbled.

“And I’ll very gladly accept,” Enjolras’ voice was warm, “and say you’re more than welcome. But I get to thank you too, you know. It’s not a one-way street. I’m really glad to do this with you. Especially this,” he added, quieter.

“What?” Grantaire was slightly lost in the gentle motions of Enjolras’ hands on his back and in his hair.

“This. Aftercare.”

Oh. Grantaire tried to summon up a response, perhaps an apology, or some sort of half-true explanation for why he’d been avoiding it, but he was so comfortable and Enjolras had said, just explicitly said that he enjoyed this, that he wanted it, so it couldn’t possibly be bad to accept it? It wasn’t dishonest, or taking advantage. Not exactly.

He breathed out a quiet noise, just something to fill the quiet and acknowledge what Enjolras had said, and for a while neither of them spoke. Enjolras continued to stroke his back and play very gently with his hair, and Grantaire dozed pleasantly, coming back to himself with a start when he realised he was teetering on the verge of falling asleep.

“Sorry,” he muttered, pushing himself up and shivering when the blanket slipped off his shoulders. Enjolras was there in an instant, pulling it back up and helping him wrap it around himself, looking down at its edges as if he was almost embarrassed.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, meeting Grantaire’s eyes only for a fraction of a second before Grantaire looked away.

“Good. Really good, thank you.” He hadn’t felt so calm after a scene for…well, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so calm after a scene. He smiled slightly. “You?”

Enjolras nodded and squeezed his arm through the blanket. “Excellent.” A small pause, and then, “Would you like some water?”

His throat was dry, Grantaire realised, and he pulled the blanket tighter around his shoulders. “Yeah, please. Hang on, I’ll come with you,” he added as Enjolras started to get up. They went to the kitchen together, just like the last time they’d both been here, and Enjolras got them each a glass of water.

“Do you want anything to eat?” he asked softly.

“I think I’m okay. You can, though, if you want. Help yourself to whatever.”

Enjolras smiled, crooked. “I’m alright. Thank you.” He waited until Grantaire had finished his drink before setting his own half-empty glass on the counter. “I’ll get my stuff together. You look like you’re about to fall asleep standing up.”

“In a good way though,” Grantaire smiled and watched as Enjolras went back into the living room. He stayed for a moment, gathering his strength before pushing off from the counter and following. Enjolras was bending over, picking up the clamps and canes and sliding them back into his bag, and as he straightened, he caught Grantaire’s eye and gave him a small, amused smile.

“Go to bed, Grantaire.”

“Is that an order?” Grantaire couldn’t resist, and was rewarded by Enjolras’ smile growing a fraction.

“Yes.”

“Oh, well, in that case.” He grinned and sidled obediently to his bedroom, trying not to let his imagination fill in the gap of the near future – Enjolras finishing up and then joining him, the two of them curling up together, keeping each other warm under the duvet and falling asleep slowly…

He sat on the edge of his bed and closed his eyes, listening to Enjolras as he moved around next door and following the sounds as he came closer and leaned on the doorframe. “Go to sleep, Grantaire,” he murmured, and Grantaire hummed and kicked the duvet back, lying down on his side with a sigh. “Good. I’ll see you soon, okay?”

“Okay. Thank you.”

The briefest touch of fingertips to his hair. “You’re welcome.” And Enjolras closed the door with a quiet click, leaving Grantaire in pleasant darkness. He listened as Enjolras left, the front door making a louder noise as it shut. He was so warm, so tired, and Enjolras had been so kind. For once, it was easy to ignore the distant pressure of fear and the threat of dropping, and easier still to just keep his eyes closed and drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Grantaire moved half in a daze through the weekend, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the actual drop to pull him down. But although he had shivery, unpleasant moments, it was like his brain was focusing too much on Monday’s proximity to do much else. He would see Enjolras on Monday evening at the meeting. He would see Enjolras, and…well, nothing. Nothing would happen, but still, knowing he would see Enjolras so soon kept his head above the water.

He and Marius were early to the Corinthe, for once, though of course never earlier than Enjolras, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac. A couple of the other regulars were there as well – Jeanette and Thomas – but the room was practically empty, much quieter than Grantaire was used to. Marius went back downstairs to get them both drinks, and Grantaire found a chair a safe distance from the front (from Enjolras) and pretended to look at stuff on his phone so he wouldn’t be tempted to stare.

Enjolras caught his eye anyway when Grantaire glanced up, like he’d been waiting for Grantaire to do it. He smiled, and for a second the blood beneath Grantaire’s skin fizzed, a silent hum of pleasure. He swallowed and managed a small smile in return before looking down quickly, hoping no one else had seen. It was out of character for Enjolras to notice him, after all, and he didn’t want Enjolras to fall under any scrutiny.

Marius returned with drinks, and the room quickly filled up around them as everyone else arrived. Grantaire kept his eyes down until the meeting began, and then only lifted his head to sneak looks at Enjolras as cautiously as he could. The trick was to look at whoever was speaking first, or at least at someone else nearby so that he could be sure Enjolras wouldn’t notice.

Too often, he checked only to see Enjolras turn quickly away out of the corner of his eye. Every time it made something stutter in his chest, surprised to realise that Enjolras was watching him. It had always been easy before to get his fill of sideways looks and quick studies of Enjolras each week. This time, he only managed to catch Enjolras while he was genuinely absorbed in what Feuilly was saying, and once after that when Bahorel was telling a funny story.

He escaped with Marius afterwards, and didn’t notice till they got home that he had a text. Sent by Enjolras, just after they’d left.

Would you like to meet up this week to discuss another scene?

It was almost word-for-word what he had asked last time, when he’d asked if Grantaire would mind coming to that café to negotiate. Grantaire sank onto the sofa and pulled the blanket over his lap as Marius went to brush his teeth. Left alone with the text, he could only stare. Stare and rub the material of the blanket between his fingers.

Sure, he texted back. As if there had ever been any doubt of his acquiescence. Where and when?

I could meet you after work tomorrow? When do you finish?

Was he for real? Grantaire actually gaped at the screen, brain scrambling to catch up to the notion that Enjolras wanted to see him again so soon. He was tempted to ask why he was suddenly so eager, but that idea died as soon as it was born – he was nowhere near confident enough to ask something like that. If it made Enjolras back off, he’d never forgive himself.

Half five.

I could meet you then at the shop, if you don’t mind?

What sort of fool would he be to mind? Grantaire huffed a disbelieving sound as he replied. Not at all. I’ll see you then :) He regretted the smiley face as soon as he sent it, but it was too late to take it back now. Enjolras didn’t reply, but Grantaire assumed he’d seen it. Tomorrow they’d see each other again and talk, negotiate another scene. So soon, Grantaire could hardly believe it. He didn’t know whether he was more nervous or excited.

Marius came back in from the bathroom, hair wet and eyes drooping. Grantaire waved to get his attention. “Hey, you going over to Cosette’s this week?”

“Tomorrow,” Marius yawned. “And Friday again, I think. You arranging something else already?”

“Maybe.” Grantaire tried not to let his hope show.

“That’s faster than usual, isn’t it?” Marius leaned against the wall, huddling into his dressing gown.

“Yeah.” Grantaire shrugged and looked down at his phone. “It’s good though.”

“Is it the same person?”

Grantaire nodded and couldn’t hold back a small grin. “Yeah. He’s…”

Marius held up his hands. “Say no more, I’m going to bed and you don’t need to tell me anything.”

Grantaire laughed. “Night, then.” As soon as Marius was in his bedroom, Grantaire looked back down at his phone and went to the photographs of himself that Enjolras had taken. If they did this again, perhaps…Enjolras tying him down and beating him, doing whatever he wanted with the flogger, his canes, Grantaire didn’t mind. To be bound in place, naked this time, Enjolras looming over him…and then instead of ending the scene there, taking it further. Bringing some humiliation in this time, now that they trusted each other more.

Grantaire let out a long breath and got up, going to his bedroom and sprawling on his bed, sitting up against the wall and letting his mind continue. Enjolras could make him beg now, he would be okay with that. If Grantaire was tied to the coffee table, Enjolras would be able to kneel in front of him and touch himself, taunting Grantaire with what he couldn’t have. He’d tease Grantaire for how eager he’d been to suck him off last time, he’d sit right in front of him and make Grantaire beg to relive the experience.

Grantaire closed his eyes and shoved his jeans and underwear down, licking his hand before wrapping it around his cock, stroking himself slowly to full hardness. He knew what Enjolras’ cock looked like now; it was so easy to imagine, to picture Enjolras grinning as he made Grantaire stretch forward and beg to touch, to taste.

He’d look so desperate, so needy. Enjolras could let him stick his tongue out, reaching out as much as possible to just get a second’s taste. Grantaire shuddered and lifted his hand, spitting into it before continuing. Would Enjolras come down his throat? The angle would be difficult, so maybe he’d just tease and tease till Grantaire couldn’t think, using something to hit him at the same time (his mind ran lightning-quick through the options and settled on his crop). He’d make himself come, and Grantaire would just have to watch, he loved to watch, it would be torturous to be held back from participating but brilliant at the same time to see Enjolras come over his own hand, over his gorgeous fingers, and his face would be the best of all.

Grantaire remembered the glimpses he’d managed to get of Enjolras’ face while he’d been sucking him off on Friday and arched his back, eyes squeezed shut. Enjolras’ eyelids had been fluttering, his lips parted, his usual control absent. And the way he’d looked down at Grantaire –

Grantaire came silently, mouth open in a silent moan.

He showered once he’d gotten his breath back, more relaxed now. Still nervous as all hell about meeting Enjolras tomorrow, but he suspected it wouldn’t be as bad as it would be if he had to wait longer. This gave him less time to worry, after all, and that could only be a good thing.

Tuesday seemed to stretch on forever, a grand total of eight customers wandering in to look at the odd collections of junk Grantaire had arranged on the shelves. He even made two sales, though that was hardly enough to break up the monotony. Grantaire flipped the sign on the door to ‘closed’ promptly at five, and cleared everything up faster than he ever had before. He was done in fifteen minutes, which meant he had ten anxious minutes to wait before Enjolras showed up outside.

It was a shock to see him, coming out of the back room and being stopped in his tracks by the vision of maroon-jacketed Enjolras on the other side of the window. It was like turning up the contrast settings for his eyes – whenever he saw Enjolras it took a few moments to adjust to the sight, always a second’s pause needed to accept the way his brain recalibrated and became intensely aware of his presence.

“You’re early,” he said as he came out and locked the front door. Enjolras shrugged.

“So are you. I’ll apologise if you want.”

Grantaire shoved his keys in his pocket and tried not to smile too wide, warmth blossoming in his chest. “We’re good, you’re good. You, um. You wanted to talk?”

“We could go to another café,” Enjolras suggested. “Do you know any near here?”

“There’s a crêperie down the road.” Grantaire stepped forward and Enjolras started to walk alongside him. Grantaire swallowed. “We could go through the square?”

“Sounds good.” Enjolras smiled at him, and Grantaire looked down, reminded of the meeting the night before. He’d hoped Enjolras would agree to walk through the Square Léon – it was a short walk through, but they would be less likely to be overheard than in a café.

“So, another scene?” It was okay to joke in person, when he could judge Enjolras’ reaction. “That was quick.”

“You don’t have to,” Enjolras said quickly. “If you don’t –”

“Hey, did I say no?” Grantaire braced himself and looked sideways. Enjolras was frowning, like he was worried. “Relax,” Grantaire told him before he could overthink it. “I’m definitely not complaining.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I wouldn’t have said yes to meeting you if I wasn’t.” Grantaire went through the barrier to the square first, pausing on the other side for Enjolras to fall into step with him again. He kept his pace deliberately slow, hoping to give them plenty of time. “Did you have anything in mind?”

Enjolras didn’t answer at once, looking up at the branches of the trees above them for a moment. “I thought we could maybe talk about that, actually. About what we want.”

Grantaire hesitated. “You mean like…in general, or something like a fantasy exchange?”

“Fantasy exchange.” Enjolras seized the term and nodded, giving Grantaire an approving look that made something in him preen. “I know some of what you like, but I thought we could go into it a little more. If you don’t mind.”

“As long as it’s a fair exchange.” Grantaire managed to grin, which got a small smile out of Enjolras.

“Well, you know how I feel about equality.”

“Doesn’t everyone,” Grantaire snorted, then cleared his throat and gestured, hoping Enjolras wouldn’t take offence. “Anyway, um. What did you…how do we start?”

“I was wondering what sort of porn you watched,” Enjolras said, and Grantaire took a moment to wish they were doing this over email or text instead so he could give that statement the minute or so of silent screaming it deserved.

“Okay.” It was a miracle his voice didn’t come out in a squeak. “Wow. I, um. I don’t, really. I mean, I do, but I don’t…” He took a breath. Slow down, stop babbling. “I look, I don’t watch. Pictures and descriptions are more my thing. And gifs.”

“Why don’t you watch any?” Enjolras asked, giving him an intrigued look.

Because decent porn websites required account subscriptions and money. “I prefer my imagination. And the sound is always really off-putting,” he added. “It kind of ruins it for me. You can imagine it’s real when it’s just the images, but the sound makes it…I don’t know, embarrassing. More obviously fake.”

Enjolras nodded. “That makes sense.”

“What about you?” Grantaire asked, while his courage was high. “What do you watch?”

“Amateur porn.” Enjolras gives him a quick, almost sly smile. “For the realism.” Grantaire had to grin at that, and Enjolras continued into the silence. “What about fantasies then? What’s a fantasy of yours?”

“I…” Grantaire’s brain stalled. All he could think of were the daydreams and mental scenarios where he was with Enjolras. “You first,” he blurted, hoping he didn’t sound guilty.

Enjolras stared ahead, biting his lip ever so slightly. “You wouldn’t laugh,” he said after a few long seconds, looking at Grantaire, who shook his head quickly.

“Of course not.” He wouldn’t dare.

“And you wouldn’t use it against me?”

Grantaire raised his eyebrows. “No? I’m not a complete asshole.”

“You’re not an asshole at all.” Enjolras looked forward again, walking a little faster. “I imagine myself as a nobleman.” A pause, and when Grantaire said nothing Enjolras continued, maybe a little less tense. “Or just someone very rich with a big house or a castle. And I keep someone locked up inside for my pleasure.”

“No one specific?” Grantaire asked when Enjolras hesitated, and smiled when he shook his head.

“Not usually. Just a nameless man.”

“Locked up how?” Enjolras clearly needed the prompts, and Grantaire was more than happy to help. His curiosity was out of control – he’d never imagined Enjolras as someone with fantasies like this before they’d started…whatever they were doing. He’d almost imagined Enjolras as the sort of person who ignored morning wood and took cold showers instead of jerking off.

“In a room in the middle of the house. Somewhere without windows, but not underground. Somewhere very…” He checked Grantaire’s expression before continuing. “Somewhere luxurious. Lots of cushions, that sort of thing.”

“Doesn’t sound like a bad prison.” Grantaire smiled. He almost nudged Enjolras playfully, but stopped himself in time. “The man’s just locked in this room?”

“And chained up.” Enjolras looked down and lowered his voice slightly before going on. “Thin chains. Nice-looking ones, not like choke chains or anything like that.” Of course, only the best for Enjolras’ imaginary captive. “They hold him up.” Each word seemed to be carefully considered before Enjolras spoke it. “Around his ankles and wrists. And his neck.”

Breathplay, Grantaire remembered. Enjolras had said when they first met in Le Grande that he liked that. “What do you do to him?” he asked. “When you get there? Do you untie him?”

“And retie him.” The barest hint of a smile at Enjolras’ lips, gone in an instant. “To a St. Andrew’s Cross. A wide one. Or over a table.”

Another hesitation, and Grantaire nodded, keen to hear more. “And then?” He wasn’t even pretending to himself that he wasn’t storing all of this away, or that he wasn’t imagining himself as the nameless man in Enjolras’ prison.

“Take a wild guess.” Enjolras gave him a shadow of a smirk, and something in Grantaire’s stomach twisted pleasantly.

“You beat him?”

Enjolras nodded, looking away again. “With whips and canes, mostly.”

“Do you fuck him?”

Another nod. Grantaire wondered if Enjolras was blushing – his skin was too dark to tell. “And say things, call him names, make him…feel humiliated. I think I mentioned once, I like to make people cry.”

“Yeah, you did.” Grantaire had been too numb with fear and surprise at the time to appreciate how weirdly hot that was.

Enjolras coughed. “So. That was one of mine.”

“A favourite, I take it.”

Enjolras gave him a sharp look that eased once he saw Grantaire was smiling. “Yes,” he admitted. “You don’t think it’s too hypocritical?”

Grantaire bit back a grin. “I kind of like that it is, to be honest. Besides, it’s all hypocrisy, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like you’d ever do it to someone who didn’t want it, or I’d want to be flogged by some random stranger dragging me into an alley. I know you don’t actually want to live like a rich tyrant and keep some poor naked man in a dungeon for sexy stress relief.”

“It’s not a dungeon.” To Grantaire’s delight, Enjolras actually rolled his eyes.

“Fine, your very plush windowless inner sanctum.” And there was definitely something oddly charming about Enjolras’ secret aesthetic streak. Perhaps because he seemed so buttoned-up and severe, almost Spartan.

Grantaire realised a second later with a jolt of surprise that he’d just teased Enjolras. Like they were friends.

Enjolras didn’t seem to have noticed. “Your turn then,” he said. “What’s a fantasy of yours?”

“Um.” They were nearly at the gates of the square, and Grantaire shook his head. “After we’ve gotten food. I’m not quite okay with sharing that sort of stuff in front of innocent bystanders.”

“Fair enough. How was your day?”

Grantaire didn’t know why he was surprised that Enjolras hadn’t pushed – of course he hadn’t, he wasn’t that sort of person. “Um, normal. Boring. Well, we finally sold Franklin, which I’m a bit bummed about. He’s a stuffed moose head,” he explained. “With massive antlers, I mean, he takes up half a wall. It’s probably a good thing he’s going, but I’ll still miss him.”

“Jehan said there were a lot of stuffed animals in there. Do you always get attached to them?”

“Hard not to, really. Not many people come in, and if you want them to look good enough to sell they need dusting as much as anything else. Which is difficult, especially with the birds. Dusting feathers without pulling them apart takes practice. What about you?” He didn’t want to ramble about dead animals like a weirdo. “Good day?”

“Yeah.” Enjolras actually smiled. “I submitted the article yesterday, so I was catching up on domestic stuff today. Combeferre’s been leaving passive-aggressive notes about the washing up and laundry.”

“The article,” Grantaire repeated, racking his brains. “The article you’ve been working on…that made you so busy?”

“That’s the one.”

“How long have you been working on it?” It surely couldn’t be the one that had been taking up so much of his time over a month ago.

“Two or three weeks, on and off.”

Okay, not that one then. Grantaire avoided Enjolras’ gaze as he asked, “What was it about?”

“Seriously?”

Fuck. When Grantaire checked, Enjolras had raised an eyebrow. “Sorry,” he said automatically.

“It was about online data protection and privacy. We’ve been talking about it in the ABC for the last two meetings? Do you just ignore the topics?”

There wasn’t really a good answer to that. Grantaire stalled by gesturing Enjolras through the square’s exit barrier first, wincing when he met Enjolras’ frown on the other side. “If it’s a subject I know will go over my head, I try and keep my mouth shut,” he said, looking down as they crossed the road. “Remember when I first joined and I’d…you know, I’d…” Drink too much, say too much, embarrass himself. “Talk out of my ass a lot,” he settled on. “Like, never enough to make you kick me out or anything, but I wasn’t exactly contributing. Not that I do now, but still, I mean…”

He trailed off as they approached the red-fronted crêperie and went up the steps into it. It was a small, shabby establishment, but Grantaire was glad of the excuse to stop talking to Enjolras and order a cheap ham and cheese crêpe. His chest was tight, his fingers clumsy as he counted out the money for his order, avoiding Enjolras’ eyes.

ABC meetings weren’t something he went to because he was interested in making a difference. He hadn’t been kicked out yet, so he didn’t usually worry about his place in the group, but every so often someone would say something about hangers-on or get angry over people who just didn’t care and he would become acutely aware of how stupid and useless he was. It was selfish to use a group dedicated to justice as his personal lifeline, but he never felt truly happy in the company of any other people. He didn’t like to think of what his life would be like if he’d never met Bahorel and been introduced to them all.

Enjolras ordered the one vegetarian option and a coffee, and they waited in uncomfortable silence for almost a minute before Enjolras looked at him again. “Do you not think you’re welcome in the ABC?”

Grantaire turned towards him but couldn’t answer, the breath struck from his lungs. Trust Enjolras to cut right to the heart of his fears. “That’s not,” he started. “It’s not like that. I just don’t want to…if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything, y’know? And the same goes if you don’t know enough to say anything useful. I’d rather be silent than, than…” He gestured uselessly to the air.

“Than say something you think would annoy anyone else?”

“Right, yeah.” Sort of, at least. He’d rather force his mouth shut than start rambling. He’d been indiscriminate about it at first, letting himself talk and babble on for the amusement of everyone else. But as the ABC had grown from a collection of friends to a real group, with a membership list and real goals, his rants had become less welcome.

A member had once bellowed across the room for him to shut up, and though Joly had leapt to his defence, Grantaire had never forgotten how many others had looked relieved or vindicated to see him put in his place.

He saved his stupid speeches for the nights when it was just the old crowd now, when he really couldn’t hold himself back. He’d gotten much better at swallowing the urge over the past couple of years.

As they left the shop, Enjolras bumped their arms together. “You’re always welcome, you know. Even if you decide not to speak. I can’t remember the last time you missed a meeting.”

“Last year,” Grantaire told him, the tightness in his chest easing. “I went with Joly, Bossuet, and Chetta to Berlin for a weekend away, and we couldn’t make that week’s meeting.”

“Well then. Do you want to eat back in the square?” Enjolras asked, and led the way when Grantaire nodded. There was a bench just inside, and they sat down and watched as a couple of pigeons fluttered closer, hoping for scraps.

“So a fantasy of mine,” Grantaire began, hoping to get them back onto happier subjects. “You wanted to hear that?”

Enjolras straightened and nodded, seeming to brighten. “If you don’t mind.”

Grantaire took a bite of his crêpe before continuing. “Okay, so…being a prisoner of a group of people has kind of always been a thing for me?”

“Always?” Enjolras tilted his head. “You said you used to tie yourself up when you were a kid, so…”

“Yeah, since then. But, y’know, it wasn’t sexual then, obviously. It was just a weird thing I had. Pretend games, y’know? Tying myself up in my room and pretending to have been captured by…whoever. It changed depending on whatever I was into at the time. Being put in stocks was also a thing I picked up when I was way too young.” He smiled sheepishly.

“What would they do to you?” Enjolras asked, taking a sip of his coffee. “When you were captured?”

“Before I hit puberty, just shove me around, bully me.” He could feel heat creeping up his neck and quickly took another bite of his crêpe. “A bit weird, but there it is.” He’d thought this would be easy; that he could be upfront and matter-of-fact about it. But if Enjolras looked at him once more he was sure he’d burst into flames on the spot.

“And after puberty?”

Grantaire chewed, swallowed, and tried to concentrate on making full sentences. “Well, they did other stuff. Not like…not gang-rape or anything like that, nothing that brutal, exactly. It’s more…like, um, blindfolding me and shoving me around between them. It’s more about…” Breathe, he needed to calm down, this wasn’t a big deal. “The, um, the humiliation aspect? Being on display and having no control. It’s the helplessness. But it’s not the sort of fantasy I’d ever want to actually try out,” he added hastily. “I can barely get into doing scenes in clubs if it’s in front of other people.”

Enjolras nodded. “I’ve never been able to do much in clubs. I feel like everyone’s judging my technique and thinking they could do better.”

“You – seriously?” Grantaire stared at him. “You get performance anxiety?”

“If the observers are people I know, I don’t mind,” Enjolras shrugged one shoulder. “But if they’re strangers, I can’t concentrate properly. Tell me more about what would happen to you while you were captured?” Smooth. Grantaire took another bite of his crêpe to buy time, and Enjolras leaned forward slightly. “You don’t have to.”

“No, it’s…it’s fine.” Grantaire swallowed. “I’m just trying to figure out how to explain it. Without tripping over my own words and stuff.”

“Take your time then.” Enjolras moved his hand, a flick of his fingers to gesture for Grantaire to continue. He watched them curl around Enjolras’ coffee cup once more and wondered whether to mention that being made to suck fingers (among other things) often featured in those fantasies.

No. He didn’t need to tell Enjolras everything. He didn’t want to embarrass himself too much.

“The outline usually stays the same,” he said, hoping he didn’t sound as shifty as he thought he did. Enjolras wanted to hear this, he didn’t need to be embarrassed. “Me captured, like I said, and, um, roughed up.”

“Roughed up how?”

“Pushed around, slapped, um. Being dragged around by my hair?” He swallowed. “Nothing too bad. Being sort of…”

“Shown off?”

“Yeah. Nothing I’d ever want to actually happen to me,” he added, and Enjolras nodded.

“I know, it’s fine. Like you said, I wouldn’t actually want a castle with a captive sex slave. They’re just fantasies.”

Grantaire relaxed a fraction. “Right, yeah. Okay, so…you know how there’s always like, a school bully sort of guy? With a little gang of cronies?”

“Unfortunately.”

Grantaire raised his eyebrows and made a mental note to follow up on Enjolras’ flat, almost angry tone there at another time, if ever. “Well, I’d be left alone, and then this gang would come back, at night or whatever, and sort of…” He hesitated. “Like I said, it’s not rape, not really. It’s like…being bullied into something I secretly want, or like.” The flush in his neck was definitely in his cheeks now, and he ducked his head in a poor attempt to hide it.

“Being broken in?” Enjolras asked, like he was trying to figure it out. There wasn’t a single note of judgement in his voice, and Grantaire took a deep breath and let it out again, forcing himself to relax.

“More like being taught.” Like the way Enjolras had been teaching him to be polite, moulding him and directing him.

“But they’d be rough about it?” Enjolras asked.

Grantaire took another bite and nodded. “Not cruel, exactly,” he said after he’d swallowed. “More mean? But they want me to like it, because it’s more humiliating for me that way.” 

“And they get a well-trained…toy? Out of it?”

Grantaire suppressed a shiver and nodded again. “Yeah, exactly.”

They fell into silence while they finished eating, and Enjolras leaned back and sipped his coffee with a contemplative look on his face. One arm was spread along the back of the bench (not the one next to Grantaire) and his legs were slightly parted. It was a compliment that Enjolras was so relaxed in his company, and Grantaire tried to return the favour, looking at the disappointed pigeons instead of Enjolras.

“What’s a common element in all your fantasies?” Enjolras asked suddenly, without looking at him. “Something you’d say you need in order to go down or get off?”

The answer didn’t need a lot of thought. “Being restrained,” Grantaire told him, free to watch Enjolras’ face while Enjolras stared into the middle distance. “Even if it’s just my hands tied, I can’t get into a scene if I’m not bound in some way.”

“What about complete immobilisation? You weren’t a fan of my bed’s restraint system.” Enjolras shot him a quick look and Grantaire’s head whipped to face forward again like he’d been burned.

“I wouldn’t mind trying it now – it just wasn’t what I was expecting at the time. Being laid out flat like that is just…I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.”

“You don’t have to explain, it’s alright.” Enjolras pursed his lips, an expression Grantaire recognised from meetings, from when Enjolras tried to formulate responses to difficult questions. “Could I tie you over your coffee table again?”

Grantaire nodded, his fantasy from last night leaping into his mind. “Yeah, that’d be…not a problem.”

“Have you played with vibrators before?”

Holy God. “A couple of times, yeah.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“What’s not to love about vibrators?”

Enjolras’ lips twitched. “I’ll take that as a yes. Okay. I’d like to tie you over that table again and cane your ass. Okay so far?”

Grantaire’s heart thudded against his ribs. “Very okay.”

“I’d like to make you come by using a vibrator on your cock. If you can’t come from that alone, I could improvise.”

“I can’t imagine it’ll be a problem.” Negotiation shouldn’t be this arousing. “What about you?”

“In a minute. How would you feel about me talking down to you during that part?” Enjolras finally looked at him, and Grantaire’s chest constricted as he met his eyes.

“Talking down how?” He was definitely getting better at this whole eye contact thing. “Like, calling me names?”

Enjolras nodded. “If you like. I meant more along the lines of taunts. Calling you desperate, teasing you for wanting it, making fun of you – that sort of thing.”

Grantaire’s head was nodding before he’d fully taken that in. “As long as…that’s good, but I’ve got, um.”

“Limits,” Enjolras said, inclining his head. “Things you don’t want me to say. Tell me?”

“Nothing about how I look.” Best to get that out of the way quickly. “I mean, um. Nice stuff is fine, but nothing negative. I know it sounds really vain, but –” Enjolras shook his head.

“You don’t have to justify it, Grantaire. Is there anything else?”

“Uh. No animal references, and no baby names. I think that’s it, really.”

“Baby names?” Enjolras asked, frowning.

“Anything like baby, little boy, nothing like that.”

“No problem. I want to make you come at least once from that, twice if possible. Would it be too much if I fucked you then?”

Grantaire swallowed while he considered it, throat dry. “If I was already prepped, I could take it, I think.”

“Are you sure?” Enjolras was serious, and Grantaire straightened.

“Yeah. In the moment, I’ll probably love it.” He wouldn’t have been able to get away with maybes and probablys like that a few weeks ago, but now Enjolras accepted it with a nod. Something in Grantaire thrilled to be trusted so obviously, and he couldn’t suppress a grin. “Marius will be out this Friday, if we’re leaving the rest open-ended.”

Enjolras smiled, his pleased, crooked one. “Sounds good. I’ll come over at eight?”

“I’ll text when I find out when he’s going, but that should probably be fine, yeah.” Grantaire stood when Enjolras did. “Are you going to Barbés-Rochechouart?”

“Yeah.” Enjolras dumped his crêpe wrapper and empty coffee cup in the bin as they passed it. “You can tell me on the way what the last thing to actually get your attention in an ABC meeting was.”

It should have been awkward. Perhaps a few weeks ago it would have been, but somehow Enjolras managed to dismiss Grantaire’s fears of offending, and prompted him when his sentences trailed off. They made it to the station without Grantaire wanting to crawl into a dark hole and never emerge, which was nothing short of a miracle in his opinion. He thought for a wild moment that Enjolras was about to hug him when they parted before the barriers, but Enjolras’ jerky movement in his direction became him straightening his jacket and looking down.

“I’ll see you on Friday then.”

Grantaire nodded. “Can’t wait.”

Enjolras smiled, crooked and knowing, and went through the barrier. Grantaire leaned against the wall to wait for a little while. He didn’t want to stare across the tracks to the opposite platform and just watch till Enjolras’ train arrived, and besides, his insides were feeling a little fluttery.

In just a few days, Enjolras would fuck him. While Grantaire was tied over his own coffee table, no less. He let out a long breath and forced himself to stand up and go through the barrier. Waiting for Friday was going to be torture.

 

Marius left to meet Cosette when she finished work on Friday, so Grantaire had hours to kill before Enjolras’ arrival. He tried to occupy himself with video games, the internet, reading, and cleaning, but nothing held his attention for long. The closer to eight o’clock it got, the more fidgety he became, eyes drawn to the coffee table every five seconds.

He was so on edge that he tensed when he heard someone walking up the hall outside at ten to eight, and when there was a knock on the door he let out a relieved breath and got up to open it. Enjolras seemed taller than usual, and when Grantaire looked down as he let him in, he saw that Enjolras was wearing the heeled boots he’d been wearing the first time they’d met in Le Grande. “Feeling the need for extra height?” he asked, butterflies fluttering in his stomach when Enjolras smiled.

“I like wearing them outside clubs sometimes, when the mood takes me. Are you ready?” 

“I’ve been ready since Marius left.” Grantaire had showered for what was really an indecent length of time, something he was sure would be reflected in the water bill. “You?”

Enjolras lifted his bag off his shoulder and went to put it on the sofa. “I’ve got everything we need. You’ve eaten? Just checking,” he added serenely at Grantaire’s unimpressed look. “Shall we begin, then?”

Finally. “Yeah.”

“Safewords?” Enjolras started taking things out of his bag – two canes, a bottle of lube, a bundle of the same kind of red rope he’d used on Grantaire before, a purple vibrator about five inches long, and – Grantaire tensed – a small ball gag.

“Red, yellow, green,” Grantaire said quickly. “No gags.” Enjolras looked around at him with raised eyebrows, but put the gag back in his bag without comment. Grantaire let out a breath and stood a little easier. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Enjolras stood and moved the coffee table so it was to the side of the sofa, not in front of it, then sat in the armchair closest to Marius’ room. “Strip, and come stand here.” Where the table had been, like Grantaire was the new centrepiece.

Grantaire was only wearing a t-shirt and jogging bottoms, but he took a moment to just watch as Enjolras sat down. Then he took a breath and undressed, leaving his clothes on the floor as he came to stand in front of Enjolras. There was something about the fact that Enjolras hadn’t even taken his jacket or boots off that made Grantaire feel even more naked than he was, and Enjolras didn’t say anything for a few long seconds. He just stared, eyes creased at the corners in what Grantaire recognised as satisfaction.

“Good,” he murmured at last. “Kneel.”

Grantaire fixed his eyes on the carpet as he obeyed wordlessly, goosebumps racing over his back and arms. He rested his hands on his thighs, resisting the urge to ball them into fists or shift on his heels. It was so quiet – he was still too much in his head. Anticipation jumped in his stomach as Enjolras rose to his feet and walked around him, inspecting him. But not touching him. “Back straight,” he said instead, and when Grantaire had obeyed, “Head up.”

He kept his eyes down as Enjolras went back to the chair and sat. There was less than a meter between Grantaire’s knees and Enjolras’ boots. “Grantaire, look at me.”

He had to take a second before he could do it, and fresh goosebumps pimpled his shoulders as he did. Enjolras was gazing at him, and it was difficult to keep meeting his eyes instead of glancing away instinctively, submitting to his power in the situation. “Here,” Enjolras said, threw something at him. He threw it gently, but Grantaire still barely caught it in time – the bottle of lube, which up close he could see was more than half empty. Enjolras must have grabbed it from the sofa as he walked around Grantaire. “I want you to prep yourself,” Enjolras said, very softly. “Colour?”

Grantaire’s mind raced. He hadn’t expected this; the scrutiny he was under would kill him; he wasn’t in the right headspace yet. Except…he sort of was? They’d done enough together by now that he knew Enjolras would take care of him and get the right reactions out of him, and he was already reacting to Enjolras’ controlling presence and his quiet orders. His body wasn’t being guided physically, the way it usually was, but Enjolras’ words were having the same sort of effect regardless.

He had to swallow to get his throat wet enough to speak, but he managed to say, “Green.” Enjolras’ smile was an excellent reward, his satisfaction radiant.

“Good. Spread your legs.”

Deep breath. He could do this.

He looked at the bottle as he tipped it up and let a small amount of lube squeeze out onto his middle finger. The bottle wobbled as he put it down and pressed the hand he’d been holding it with into the floor, lifting his ass up just a little bit. Another breath, and he moved his other arm back, keeping his eyes on the carpet between his knees as he spread the lube over his entrance, and pushed his finger in. He rarely fingered himself while masturbating, too lazy to bother, and he didn’t consider himself particularly good at it. It usually took a while before he passed the barrier of discomfort into pleasure.

With Enjolras watching, however, the discomfort was taking a back seat. He’d never masturbated in front of anyone else before, not like this. Not with them just watching and not participating in any way. He could feel the weight of Enjolras’ gaze, unblinking and so intent it was as if a fire could break out right next to him and he wouldn’t stop staring, drinking up the sight in front of him.

Grantaire hadn’t expected to get more than half-hard from this, and that not till he was a little further along, but his cock was already swelling. Not much, admittedly, but it definitely wasn’t limp, and he licked his lips and tried not to breathe too fast as he pushed his finger further in on the next thrust, then pulled it out.

He dribbled more lube onto his fingers, middle and ring this time, and as he reached back and slid both into himself, pushing faster than he should have done, Enjolras spoke. “Grantaire.”

“Mmm?” Grantaire bit his lip, eyes closing for a second.

“You will either look at me, or close your eyes.”

Just like their first scene. Grantaire had closed his eyes then – Enjolras was challenging him, he was sure of it. He pulled his fingers out and just pushed the middle one back in, taking a couple of shallow breaths before lifting his head and meeting Enjolras’ eyes. For a moment, it wasn’t difficult. They’d looked at each other enough times now for Grantaire not to burn up every single time, but as he pushed his finger in and out of himself, he had to fight the urge to look away.

Enjolras’ favourite maroon jacket was unzipped, gaping open as he leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs. Everything else he wore was black, black shirt and black jeans, so the maroon and his bright hair made for a brilliant contrast. His eyes were so dark, so focused, and for once Grantaire was more concerned with his lips than his hands, even though they were laced together right in front of him. If he looked at those it would be too obvious, but by meeting Enjolras’ eyes he could study his lips at the same time.

Had he ever noticed before how soft they looked? Of course, many times, but always from a distance. Even in their other scenes he’d never stared like this before – he hadn’t been given the opportunity. He’d noted on many occasions how expressive Enjolras’ lips were. Given how rarely he smiled properly, Grantaire had long ago learned to look for his feelings on matters at the corners of his eyes and his lips. How had he ever thought Enjolras statue-like? He couldn’t think of any lips more obviously sensuous, more inviting.

It was harder by the second to keep looking at him; he was so exposed under Enjolras’ dark eyes. This close, he could clearly see the desire in them, possessive pleasure and poorly-concealed excitement. It was only that that kept him from looking away and trying to hide, as if such a thing were possible now. The contrast between them was so stark like this. Enjolras, seated in the armchair like it was a throne, fully clothed and completely in control, and Grantaire kneeling before him, opening himself up, open in every way, naked and subservient.

Grantaire’s cock was almost hard now, the steady thrust of his finger and Enjolras’ eyes on him somehow arousing, against all the odds. If Enjolras had been able to see his ass, it might have been a very different story, but Grantaire still felt like there was enough concealed for him to retain a shred of confidence. He could do this. He was doing this.

He shifted in place, bringing his fingers back round to squeeze some more lube onto them. His eyes fluttered closed of their own accord when he pushed them in again, his chest rising as his spine arched. It was always difficult to relax for his own fingers, and he licked his lips as he pushed himself on, pushing in as far as he could go and sliding them out again.

When he opened his eyes, Enjolras met them. He lifted his chin – the tiniest nod of encouragement – the corners of his lips turning up. Heat curled through the pit of Grantaire’s abdomen and he looked away as his breathing hitched.

“Eyes closed, or on me,” Enjolras reminded him, steel in his voice, and Grantaire bit his lip hard enough to really hurt as he forced himself to look back at him. Beautiful, aloof Enjolras with his perfect mouth, his plump, soft lips. “Keep going,” Enjolras murmured, and Grantaire realised that he’d gone still. He ran his tongue over the dent in his lower lip and nodded, starting to move his fingers again.

The stretch wasn’t good yet, but the slide of his fingers against the sensitive skin of his entrance really was. There was lube smeared all over his fingers now, and he leaned forward as he started to work his index finger in alongside his middle and ring. He never usually bothered with more than one or two unless he was preparing himself for being fucked, and that hadn’t happened for a while. He squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed the little noises welling up in his throat.

“Take your time,” Enjolras said. “There’s no rush.”

“There so is,” he retorted. Apparently speaking wasn’t a problem as long as he wasn’t looking at Enjolras. “The sooner I do this, the sooner you cane me.”

Enjolras snorted. “I won’t cane you unless you do this properly.”

“I am doing this properly. I wasn’t aware I was meant to be following a manual,” Grantaire sniped, trying not to grin or gasp as he attempted to relax around his fingers. If two was slightly uncomfortable, three was verging on painful. “Besides, it’s difficult with an audience.”

“Then pretend I’m not here.”

“Oh, no problem.” Grantaire opened his eyes and looked at him, just to prove that he could. “Just me, all alone in my apartment.” It was harder to keep that note of humour in there when Enjolras kept looking at him, kept smiling that tiny, hungry smile, but Grantaire tried, sliding his fingers out and looking down to pour a much more generous amount of lube onto them than before. “No big deal,” he breathed, closing his eyes and leaning further forward as he pushed two, then three fingers in, trying not to waste any of the lube. “Who doesn’t finger themselves in their living room, right?”

Enjolras didn’t reply, and Grantaire dropped his head and took deeper breaths. He let his index finger stay out on the next outward slide and started to fuck himself with just two, biting his lip again to try and keep any noises in. They escaped anyway, little exhalations and shivers of sound he couldn’t repress.

“Better,” Enjolras said, and stood up. Grantaire heard him move, and opened his eyes in time to see his boots move from in front of him to his left. Enjolras could see everything now, and Grantaire faltered under the knowledge. “Keep going,” Enjolras instructed. “I’m not even here, remember?”

“Well that’s my night ruined then,” Grantaire huffed, starting to thrust his fingers again, a little slower than before. “I was…” Breathe, he could do this. “Hoping for a little more than just…doing all the work myself.”

“Greedy. And rude.” Enjolras sounded amused though, and Grantaire jumped when a toe nudged his ass. “Can you manage a third finger?”

Manage,” Grantaire muttered, pulling his fingers out and sliding three in slowly, consciously relaxing to allow it. Of course he could manage, he could manage perfectly well. If he went slowly, anyway.

“Very good,” Enjolras murmured. “Keep going.” He stepped away again, and Grantaire heard him pick the coffee table up. He put it down on the other side of the sofa, out of Grantaire’s line of sight, and then pulled a thick towel out of his bag. “You can wipe your hand on this,” he said, dropping it at Grantaire’s side. “Do you think you’re stretched enough?”

“Yeah, probably.” He withdrew his hand and wiped the lube off on a corner of the towel, shivering as he sat up. “What –”

“Shh.” Enjolras picked the towel up again and folded it. Grantaire turned his head to watch as he made sure the wet bit was on the inside and went behind the sofa, presumably to lay it over the coffee table. “Crawl to me,” he said as he straightened. “The long way round." 

Of course. Grantaire suppressed another shiver and turned round on his knees, eyes on the ground as he made his way around the sofa to Enjolras and the coffee table. Enjolras’ eyes were a heavy weight on his back. Heavy, but welcome. There was something very visceral about crawling for someone. An extension of kneeling, a way of showing how far he was willing to go, how much he was prepared to debase himself for the continuance of the game. He paused when he got there, the carpet rough under his knees, but before any uncertainty could settle in, Enjolras was there. “Over the table, just like last time. I’m going to tie you to it – colour?”

“Green.” Grantaire didn’t look up as he draped his chest over the table, grabbing the legs with his hands.

“Wait, okay, not just like last time,” Enjolras corrected, going to stand behind him. “You need to back up a little – I need to be able to reach your cock, so it can’t be on the table.” Grantaire shifted back and lifted his hips obediently, muffling a squeak when Enjolras knelt and wrapped a hand around his cock, stroking once. “Good.”

How was this his real life? How could this be happening right now?

Grantaire kept his head low, forehead pressed to the towel on the table, and tried not to shift his hips when Enjolras let go and started to tie his right thigh to the table, the rope tightest around the back of his knee. He’d forgotten – how, he didn’t know – how far apart this position spread his legs. Of course, he’d been wearing boxers last time, so he hadn’t felt quite so exposed. And last time, sex hadn’t been a part of the proceedings.

“I wonder if you know what you look like,” Enjolras said, starting on his other knee. Grantaire twitched, not sure how to respond. “I keep thinking about those photos you take of yourself – do you look at them and see how desperate you look?”

Oh. Grantaire closed his eyes and opened his mouth to exhale a long, quiet breath. Talking down to him – that was how Enjolras had put it. Embarrassment prickled his skin, but it was accompanied by warmth in his belly, heat that flared when Enjolras slapped his ass. “Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire assured him, turning his head slightly to catch his eye. Enjolras smirked (the heat grew) and slid forwards to start tying Grantaire’s left wrist to the table leg.

“Of course. So answer me, when I ask you a question. Do you look at them afterwards?” 

Grantaire’s brain stuttered on several choice expletives before he could manage a nod and a whispered, “Yes.”

“I thought so. No point in taking them otherwise, is there? Is there?” he repeated sharply, and leaned back to smack Grantaire’s ass again, on the other cheek this time.

“No,” Grantaire breathed. Rhetorical questions would apparently not be a feature of this scene, which he was very okay with.

Enjolras finished with his wrist, checked the tightness, and moved to his other arm, kneeling so close that Grantaire could feel the warmth from his body. “So you look at these photographs afterwards – what for? To remember how much you wanted it in that moment?”

“Yes.” His back was cold, covered in goosebumps, but his face against the towel was flushed and hot. He had to close his eyes, even the tiny glimpses of Enjolras so close too much for him right now.

“Do you ever get off to them?”

Oh God. “Yes.” His voice trembled, and Enjolras’ hand squeezed his forearm.

“Colour?”

“Green, I’m fine, it’s good.” It came out in a tumbled rush, and Enjolras squeezed again before letting go and getting to his feet.

“It’s good, is it? You like being tied up and embarrassed like this, do you?”

Grantaire nodded against the table, flexing against the reassuring tightness of the ropes. Enjolras slapped his ass again, and Grantaire jumped. “Yes,” he choked. “Yes, I…I…”

“You like it,” Enjolras said, smug, towering above him. “I can see that.” Grantaire heard him kneel down, and there was only a second’s warning as a buzz started up before the vibrator was lined up under the length of his cock. He gasped, his whole body jerking from the shock and pleasure of it. But Enjolras wasn’t touching him, wasn’t pressing his cock down onto it, so it was more of a tease than anything else. But such a good tease, sending shivers across his skin, making his hips shift against the line of the coffee table.

He couldn’t prevent his reactions, couldn’t help when he started to try and thrust against it. Enjolras’ laugh was soft, mocking, and Grantaire groaned, twisting his body against the table. The embarrassment kicked up another notch when Enjolras slapped his ass again and Grantaire yelped, mind spinning too much to filter in time.

“That’s how I know I’m getting through to you,” Enjolras told him, slapping him again, then again, one cheek at a time, then across the middle. “When you stop holding yourself back so much, you start getting noisy. You just can’t help yourself, can you?” Another slap, and Grantaire groaned again, breathing a, “No,” into the towel under his mouth. “You’re gagging for it,” Enjolras went on, and Grantaire let out a high, breathless sound when his other hand reached under Grantaire and covered his cock, pressing it down onto the vibrator.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Grantaire could feel his heart in his chest, beating hard. Enjolras turned up the vibrations with another laugh and Grantaire keened, way too far gone for dignity to even cross his mind. His whole cock was vibrating, and he could feel it in his balls too, down his thighs and up to his stomach, so much sensation his body didn’t know how to process it. Enjolras’ hand was rubbing his cock just slightly, mimicking shallow thrusts.

“Such foul language,” Enjolras leaned forward to whisper it into Grantaire’s ear. “I’ll punish you for that in a minute. And you’ll love it, won’t you? You’ll beg me for more after every strike.”

Yes, please, please –” He was so close, he was right on the edge, every muscle in his body tense and ready.

“Please,” Enjolras repeated, mocking him. “Please, please – you’re begging now, and I haven’t even told you to. You just can’t help it, can you? It’s instinctive.” The vibrations increased and Grantaire muffled a high yell into the towel, body tightening up and going rigid for a second before his orgasm crashed through him, leaving him wrung out and whimpering on the table. Enjolras turned the vibrations down quickly, waiting for Grantaire’s last aftershocks to end before turning it off and taking it away.

“Jesus, fuck,” Grantaire breathed, chest heaving. “Christ fucking God.” Two stinging smacks came down on his ass in quick succession, making him jump.

“Language,” Enjolras scolded. “I’m going to warm you up properly now – colour?”

“Green.”

“Good.” Enjolras started slapping him again, alternating between cheeks and going so fast that Grantaire would have swiftly lost count if he’d been trying to keep track. As it was, he could only manage shaky panting, pressing his face into the towel and trying not to make any embarrassing noises. Enjolras was not holding back, and it couldn’t have been more than a minute before Grantaire was squirming, hands gripping the table legs so hard the wood cut into his palms.

“I think that’s probably warm enough,” Enjolras said, delivering a final, brutal smack. “What do you say, Grantaire?”

Grantaire swallowed, opening and closing his mouth a couple of times before answering. “Thank you.” Enjolras using his name made it so much more personal, somehow.

“Good. But I haven’t forgotten your language earlier. I’ve counted five fucks since we started, and I think I’ll give you five for each one. Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire said, turning his head so he could see when Enjolras reached over the back of the sofa to get his cane. It was one of the thicker ones, and when Enjolras saw him looking he tapped it against Grantaire’s shoulder.

“Looking forward to this?”

“Yes.” Grantaire was expecting the smirk this time, but it still made him very conscious of the heat in his cheeks. All his cheeks.

“Of course you are.” Enjolras walked to his other side and knelt down. Grantaire lay his forehead on the table again and took even breaths, anticipation jumping in his veins. “We both know the punishment is just a smokescreen, after all. You just like being beaten down, don’t you?”

Grantaire licked his lips. “Yes.”

“Which do you like best?” Enjolras asked casually, and Grantaire yelped as he brought the cane down across the middle of his ass with a whack. “The pain? Or the helplessness?” Another whack, and Grantaire bit back a moan. This was a cane without much give; solid, unrelenting, and forceful. Much like Enjolras himself. Whack. “Answer me when I ask you a question. Where are your manners?” Whack.

“Hgh, I, I –” Whack. Grantaire let out a pained sound. “Fuck, sorry, sorry –” Whack. “Ahh!”

“It’s a simple question, Grantaire.” Enjolras saying his name made something shiver in the pit of Grantaire’s stomach. “Pain or helplessness?” Whack.

“Helplessness,” Grantaire panted, grinding his forehead into the table and gasping on the next strike. “Fuck! Sorry,” he added quickly.

Enjolras snorted. “As if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, swearing like that. That’s ten more you’ve earned right there.” Whack. “Making it…mm…” Two more quick hits. “Twenty-five to go,” he said cheerfully. “How greedy you are.”

Grantaire made a sound that might have been in agreement, and screwed his eyes shut as Enjolras brought the cane down again. “I’m going to count out nine more,” he said, “and if you can keep your mouth shut for them, I’ll give you a reward. Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire said quickly, and only remembered just in time not to cry out when Enjolras hit him again. It was much more difficult than he’d expected, trying to swallow the sounds that rose up in his throat. He ended up writhing against the ropes to try and release the tension, biting down savagely on his lip to stop himself gasping as Enjolras brought the cane down harder on every strike. His ass was burning, so painful Grantaire wanted to scream, but so good at the same time that he concentrated all his efforts on remaining silent.

“Very good,” Enjolras hummed after the tenth strike. “You really are desperate, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Grantaire gasped, the sound bursting out of him louder than intended. His neck flushed at Enjolras’ snort of laughter.

“Big surprise. Now, I think I promised you a reward.” Grantaire had been expecting the vibrator again, and sucked in a sharp breath when Enjolras stroked the pad of a finger across his entrance, still wet with lube. “Colour?”

“Green,” Grantaire whispered, and completely failed at holding back an embarrassingly breathy sound when Enjolras slid his finger in. He opened his mouth in a silent gasp as Enjolras slid his finger in and out a few times, then added a second once he was apparently satisfied with the amount of lubrication. He found Grantaire’s prostate easily, and Grantaire twitched against the table, tiny, high noises slipping out of his mouth without his permission. He was always more responsive to other people’s fingers.

Enjolras was so cruel, his fingers so clever. He found out in no time that Grantaire went wildest for firm, fast thrusts, and used the knowledge ruthlessly to turn Grantaire into a whining mess, jerking against the rope and turning his head to the side so he could suck in great gasping lungfuls of air, eyes squeezed tight shut.

Without warning, the cane smacked into his thighs. Enjolras must have been holding the cane in his other hand, reaching round to angle it perfectly. Grantaire jumped, crying out, and Enjolras wasted no time in continuing the beating. The strikes weren’t too hard, but they were firm enough to sting, and certainly enough to make Grantaire clench around Enjolras’ fingers every time.

“You look like such a mess,” Enjolras said softly, withdrawing his fingers and bringing the cane down on Grantaire’s ass, brutal once more. “Have you ever had any pictures taken mid-scene? I wonder if you’d like what you’d see. You look like you’d do anything for more, you know. Anything at all. How far do you think you’d go?” As he spoke, he kept caning Grantaire, steady as a metronome. “Would you beg for it?”

“Yes,” Grantaire moaned, frantic.

“Go on then.” Enjolras gave him one more whack and reached forward to grab a fistful of Grantaire’s hair, dragging his head round so they could look at each other. He was glowing, pupils dilated, lips parted. “I’ll give you twenty more if you beg for it.”

“Please,” Grantaire breathed, shaking. “Please, Enjolras, I’ll do anything you want.”

“I want you to beg, not just ask. I know you can do better than that.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Grantaire blurted, face on fire. “I’m sorry, I’m, I want, please, please give me more, please…”

“So needy,” Enjolras taunted, and laughed at Grantaire’s involuntary whimper. He tried to turn away, but Enjolras just tightened his grip, forcing him to keep facing him. “If you want more, you need to use your imagination. What would you do? What service could you possibly render to encourage my generosity?”

Anything.” The line between fantasy and reality was so blurred now it was practically invisible. Enjolras’ haughty tone was perfect, his scorn exactly as Grantaire had so often imagined. It was humiliating and painful, but so, so welcome, making hot coils of need burn under Grantaire’s skin. “Use me, use me however you like, do whatever you want, please, fuck me, hit me, choke me, anything, please!”

“But those are all things you want,” Enjolras smiled, cruel and beautiful. “What about what I want, Grantaire?”

“Tell me, I’ll do it,” Grantaire babbled. “Anything, please, anything.”

“Anything?” Enjolras repeated, so amused, so composed.

“I’d black your boots,” Grantaire begged. “Please, tell me what you want, I’ll do it, I will, I swear –”

“Shhhhhhh.” Enjolras gave him a thoughtful look, then twisted to sit down properly and used his free hand to – Grantaire’s brain screeched to a halt – tug off one of his boots. He lifted it to Grantaire’s face and smirked. “Anything, Grantaire? Kiss my boot.”

He did it. He stretched his neck, pulling against the hand Enjolras had in his hair, and pressed his lips to the toe of Enjolras’ boot without even hesitating. Enjolras took it away before he could do it again, sliding it back onto his foot with a low hum of pleasure. “Very good,” he said, and Grantaire tried not to whine. “You really would do anything, wouldn’t you? And look how much you want it.” He let go of Grantaire’s hair and reached below the table to swat Grantaire’s cock, fully hard again.

Grantaire pressed his forehead to the table again, brilliant shame flaring like fire when Enjolras laughed and shifted back. “Hard from this, Grantaire? From being treated like this is all you’re good for?” 

“Yes,” Grantaire whispered, and groaned when Enjolras slapped his ass, his palm stinging.

“I can’t hear you.”

“Yes!” The humiliation washed over him in hot waves, robbing him of any inhibitions he might have been clinging to. “Please, please, I’m begging you –”

“You want this?” Enjolras asked, the innocent tone of his voice a direct contrast with the force behind the cane as he brought it down with a loud whack.

“Yes!” Grantaire wailed, twisting and quivering on the table. “Yes, please!

“Well, since you’ve finally learned to ask politely.” Enjolras laughed and started to bring the cane down again, and again, and this time he combined it with a wet, hot hand around Grantaire’s cock. It was so much, too much to process with any kind of clarity. Grantaire had no control over his body at all, and even less over the amount of noise he was making. He just knew he wanted, that was all. Frantic, wild desire for this to never end, but at the same time for Enjolras to bring him through it, to make him come and beat him as it happened, exactly as he’d begged for.

Enjolras’ hand on him was so tight, so fast. Grantaire dug his forehead into the table and cried out on every exhale as he was brought closer, closer, the pain in his ass and thighs urging it on, forcing him closer with every vicious whack. The pitch of his voice rose higher…higher…and finally cracked on a dry sob as he came, the table actually moving against the carpet as his whole body shook from the strength of it.

Grantaire drifted in blissful white noise for a few long seconds, and couldn’t open his eyes till Enjolras cupped his cheek. “Hey,” he whispered. “Grantaire.”

“Unngghhh,” Grantaire managed, forcing his eyelids apart. “G’een…”

Enjolras bit back a smile, and his other hand stroked down Grantaire’s back (which was sweaty, he realised) to his ass. A finger slid into him, and Grantaire shivered, throat catching on a moan. “Do you want me to fuck you?” Enjolras asked, looking right into his eyes.

Grantaire nodded. His senses were returning, but he knew what he wanted. “Please.”

“Definitely green?”

He nodded again. He was hazy, oversensitive and hyper-aware of Enjolras in the way he knew indicated he was deep in subspace. “Slow at first?” he added, mouth clumsy as it formed the words, but he knew it was the right thing to say when Enjolras smiled. His approval always lifted Grantaire up, but like this it was everything, the most glorious feeling in the world.

“I will.” Enjolras’ thumb stroked the skin below Grantaire’s eye, and then he was out of sight, behind Grantaire again with two fingers inside him. “Hm. Stay there.”

“Where could I go?” Grantaire mumbled, eyes half open as Enjolras got to his feet and went to grab the lube, on the other side of the sofa where Grantaire had left it. It got a grin out of Enjolras before he knelt behind Grantaire again.

“Good point. You’re staying right here till I’m done with you.”

“Mmmmmm.” Grantaire smiled and shivered as Enjolras’ fingers returned to his entrance, cold with fresh lube. He took his time making sure Grantaire was stretched enough, going as slow as he’d said he would. By the time he was up to three fingers, Grantaire was arching his back and moaning impatiently, which caused Enjolras to smack his thigh in chastisement.

“If you want something, you ask for it. I really thought you’d learned that by now.”

“Please,” Grantaire groaned. “Please, I’m ready, fuck me.”

“What you lack in finesse you make up for in enthusiasm, I suppose.” There was a soft sound – a condom wrapper being torn open, at last. “Desperate to the last breath, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” It came out in a croak, Grantaire’s breathing going shallow as Enjolras’ cock pressed against his entrance.

“Even now, so wrecked you probably couldn’t stand, you want more.”

Grantaire tried to push back onto him, but Enjolras slapped his thigh again. “Please,” he begged. “Enjolras.”

“You don’t need to stand anyway.” Enjolras pushed into him slowly, and Grantaire squeezed the legs of the tables as hard as he could. Three fingers had been thicker, but Enjolras’ cock was longer, and Grantaire screwed his eyes shut as he adjusted to the sensation. “You belong on your knees, don’t you?”

Yes.” It came out automatically now, if higher than either of them had expected.

“That’s right.” Enjolras pulled out halfway, and started to thrust, careful not to go faster than Grantaire could handle. “On your knees, serving me.”

Because he belonged to Enjolras. Grantaire nodded, gasping another, “Yes.”

“Mine to do whatever I want with.”

Grantaire moaned, trying to meet Enjolras’ thrusts. “Yours,” he agreed, breathless, eyes shut as he imagined it. Part of Enjolras’ fantasy, with himself as the nameless man locked up for Enjolras to use and abuse at his leisure. “Would you…ah…would you keep me chained up?”

Enjolras laughed, catching on. “You’d like that, would you? Kept captive, chained and naked so you’re always ready whenever I feel like it?” He was speeding up, and Grantaire nodded, unable to reply in the affirmative before Enjolras continued, clearly on a roll. “You’d have to make sure you’re always prepped, so I can come in whenever the mood takes me and just fuck you without having to wait.”

Grantaire moaned, fully in favour. He jerked as Enjolras slapped his thigh again. “And I’d beat you whenever I liked too, tie you up and break you down just like you need, because that’s half the fun, isn’t it? You’re dying for it, you can pretend all you like that you’re not, but we both know what you want.” Enjolras was out of breath now, his thrusts getting shorter. “You want it so badly you’d kiss my boots for the privilege, wouldn’t you? You said you’d do anything, and I’d make you do everything.”

Grantaire couldn’t speak through the haze of want, barely conscious of the little sobbing noises he was making, but Enjolras rightly took that for an affirmation and groaned. “Fuck, you’re perfect, do you even realise…” His body behind Grantaire’s stiffened, then Enjolras gasped as he came, bending low over Grantaire’s back as his hips twitched a few times, and went still.

Everything seemed to be happening slower than normal. Grantaire was dimly aware of Enjolras pulling out, and managed to give a lazy smile when Enjolras knelt by his head and asked if he was okay. “Good,” he mumbled, gazing at the flushed state of Enjolras’ face. “So good. Pretty dead now.”

Enjolras’ smile was so fond that Grantaire had to close his eyes. His wrists and thighs were released from the table, and Enjolras helped him up, practically carrying him round to the sofa to sit down. “Stay here, okay? Where are your pyjamas?”

“Bed,” Grantaire whispered, and Enjolras vanished for a second, returning with a loose pair of pyjama bottoms.

“I couldn’t find a shirt,” he said quietly, kneeling in front of Grantaire and lifting each foot in turn, guiding them into the pyjama legs and pulling them up. “Stand up, R, give me your hands.” Grantaire obeyed, and Enjolras pulled him into an upright sort of crouch so he could pull the pyjamas up properly. “Here.” Enjolras draped the sofa’s blanket around Grantaire’s shoulders and brushed a hand through his hair. “Comfy?” At Grantaire’s nod, he smiled, then bit his lip. “Do you mind if I change too?”

Grantaire shook his head, blinking at him. Enjolras was still fully clothed, though his fly was undone. That made Grantaire smile, tipping his head back onto the back of the sofa. He pulled his legs up and closed his eyes, ass throbbing. He didn’t notice Enjolras return until the sofa dipped next to him, and he opened his eyes to see that he’d put soft jogging bottoms on instead of jeans, and taken his boots and jacket off.

“You were wearing the jacket the whole time,” Grantaire realised. “Weren’t you hot?”

“By the end, yeah.” Enjolras smiled and moved closer, putting an arm around Grantaire’s shoulders. From there, it was simple to just keep sliding down, shifting so his head was on Enjolras’ thigh. Enjolras adjusted the blanket so it covered him completely, and ran gentle fingers through his hair. “You were perfect. Was anything I said too much?”

Not in the slightest. “Perfect,” Grantaire echoed, eyes falling closed. “Don’t let me fall asleep,” he sighed.

“Why not? You can sleep if you like.”

“No,” Grantaire protested. His brain felt sluggish, but an unpleasant coldness trickled into his stomach at the thought of falling asleep with Enjolras there, and waking alone. “Not till you’re gone,” he mumbled.

The hand in his hair stilled. “I should go then,” Enjolras said quietly. “You obviously want to sleep.”

“No, don’t.” Grantaire pushed himself up again, the cold forming a lump under his ribs. “Not yet, you don’t have to.”

“Okay.” Enjolras moved to press their shoulders together, his fingers brushing against Grantaire’s knee. “Okay. Do you want to watch a movie or something?”

“If you like.” Grantaire was blushing, he could feel the heat in his face, and he ducked his head to try and hide it. “My laptop’s in my room.”

“I saw it.” Enjolras pressed his hand to Grantaire’s thigh and got up again, graceful as always. He returned with Grantaire’s laptop and plugged it in at the wall. While it booted up, he brought the coffee table round to put it on. “What’s the password?” he asked. “Or do you want to…?”

Grantaire shook his head and managed an embarrassed smile. “It’s ‘liberty’.”

Enjolras stared at him for a second, then snorted, turning away to put it in. “I approve.”

“Thought you might. I’ve got a bunch of movies on there, just put on whatever you like.” He watched to make sure Enjolras found the right folder, and smiled when he selected Jurassic Park. “Really?”

“You can pick something else if you want,” Enjolras offered, but Grantaire shook his head.

“I wouldn’t have it if I didn’t like it.”

Enjolras sat close to him again, their sides pressed together from shoulder to thigh. Somehow, over the course of the next hour, Grantaire ended up with his head on the arm of the sofa, his legs draped over Enjolras’ thighs. Enjolras had one hand on Grantaire’s leg, the other in his hair, and it was outrageously comfortable.

Grantaire barely noticed the movie, his head still spinning from the scene. All he could think of was how close Enjolras was, and how soft around the edges he looked. How warm they both were, the silence between them more comfortable than it had ever been before. The hand in Grantaire’s hair wasn’t moving much, just the occasional stroke of fingers against his scalp, but Enjolras was still being so tender. Like Grantaire was something precious and worthy of care.

The painful knowledge that this was the perfect example of the relationship Grantaire longed for but would never have lay heavy in his chest, pushed down as far as he could manage. He didn’t want to drop now, right in front of Enjolras. He wanted to keep this evening as perfect as possible, especially this part. He would cling onto this warm, gentle pocket of time and think of it later, after Enjolras had gone. Being alone again wouldn’t feel so terrible, because at least he would have had this; the length of a movie curled up on the sofa with Enjolras’ hands on him, kept warm by Enjolras’ body, kept safe, kept close.

If he closed his eyes, he could even fool himself into feeling loved.

Chapter Text

Grantaire felt the lack of Enjolras’ attention keenly in the next meeting, and felt it all the more for the way Enjolras was so clearly distracted. Last week, he’d seemed to barely take his eyes off Grantaire – this time, he didn’t so much as glance in his direction all evening, and left earlier than usual as well.

For a mad moment after his departure, Grantaire considered texting him to ask whether he was alright. It was a wrench when the reality of the situation asserted itself a second later. He and Enjolras weren’t friends. As far as anyone else knew, they’d never even spoken properly, if the occasional exchanges in meetings were discounted. And no one was going to know. It wasn’t his place to ask Enjolras whether he was okay. That right belonged to closer friends like Combeferre and Courfeyrac.

The week passed quickly, Grantaire’s disappointment turning to anticipation for next Monday. It was like someone had turned back the clock – he hadn’t been so attuned to Enjolras’ presence since they’d first met, and he hadn’t felt so emotionally dependant for about as long. If Enjolras smiled at him on Monday, the week of dull, worried waiting would be as good as erased. Hell, a smile wasn’t necessary; a look would do.

If Le Grande had been open that weekend, Grantaire would have gone. Not even necessarily to find Enjolras. There was a restless, itchy mood that had settled under his skin and kept him on edge. Enjolras’ steady presence and warmth after their scene had soothed him enough to prevent a real drop, but in the days since the meeting and Enjolras’ disregard, it was like Grantaire was stretched thin, jittery and too aware of everything.

His alarm made him jerk awake every morning, slicing into his dreams and disconnecting them, so he would feel like something had been left unfinished all morning. He dozed in the shop, every customer’s entrance an unpleasant surprise. Loud noises jarred; the process of riding the métro to work became an ordeal as he was crammed into small spaces with many other bodies, rush hour necessitating their physical contact.

If Enjolras acknowledged him on Monday, however slightly, he was sure the lingering tension he couldn’t seem to let go of would dissipate. Enjolras would fix it. If it wouldn’t have been too obvious, he would have gone early to that week’s meeting, but he curbed his impatience and waited to go with Marius instead. It was safer that way.

Two minutes before the hour, they entered. Grantaire found Enjolras immediately, his hair a beacon he couldn’t have ignored if he’d tried. And as they stepped in, Enjolras looked up to see who had arrived, and their eyes met. Grantaire’s heart leapt, and flew even higher as Enjolras graced him with a small smile, the barest tilt of his lips.

He and Marius sat down by Cosette, and Grantaire bit back an elated grin, keeping his eyes lowered as he squeezed up to make room for more latecomers. The meeting passed him by the way it normally did, the background chatter a pleasant hum once the main speakers had said their bits. He got sucked into a conversation with Jehan and Bahorel about aesthetics verses necessity and argued both sides, throwing himself into it to distract himself.

He’d studiously avoided looking Enjolras’ way all evening, but as soon as Enjolras rose to leave, Grantaire looked around without thinking. It was as if a part of him had been unconsciously aware of Enjolras the whole time, and had prodded his attention as soon as Enjolras moved.

Enjolras didn’t look at him as he left, nodding to a couple of other people who called goodbyes, and in an instant, he was gone. Grantaire was seized by a wild impulse to follow him, catch up and talk and maybe…maybe…

No. There wasn’t anything they could do tonight, even if that scenario wasn’t completely ridiculous. Grantaire looked away and forced himself to concentrate on Jehan again, secretly pleased when Marius got up to leave, giving him the excuse to slip away as well.

The urge to text Enjolras, or email him, to ask if he would perhaps be interested in another scene played like electricity under Grantaire’s skin all the way home. It was too soon, he knew, but still. Enjolras had been eager last time, hadn’t he? Still. He shook the nagging thought away and went to bed without reaching out. And in the morning, there was an email in his inbox from none other than Enjolras himself, timestamped from five past two that morning.

Would you like to meet up today to negotiate another scene? Just say if it’s too soon.

Grantaire stared at his phone with a grin spreading across his face, warmth unfolding through his whole body. He replied in the affirmative immediately, and Enjolras answered just a minute after. They would meet in that café they’d gone to before at six. The time couldn’t pass fast enough, and Grantaire was there first this time, almost twenty minutes before Enjolras turned up. If he’d closed the shop half an hour early out of impatience, no one needed to know.

Enjolras smiled when he saw Grantaire waiting, and slid into the seat opposite without getting anything from the counter. “Been waiting long?”

“Nah,” Grantaire lied. “Only a few minutes.”

Enjolras nodded and leaned back in his seat, looking down. Grantaire waited, and a few seconds passed in silence before Enjolras spoke, unusually hesitant. “You remember when we met in Le Grande, that first time?”

“Yeah.” How could he forget?

“Am I right in remembering that you don’t always sub?” Enjolras shot him a look from under his lashes, and Grantaire blinked, taken aback.

“I, what? No, sorry, I mean…yeah, I switch, sometimes. Not often, but yeah. I have before.” There was no way this was going where he thought it was, there was no way. “Why?”

Enjolras hesitated again, his lips moving just slightly before he spoke, like he was rehearsing a line. “I’ve been thinking about it. I…you don’t have to, obviously. I’d understand if you don’t want to mess with the dynamic we’ve already got – I don’t want to upset that either, but I thought I’d ask, just in case you were amenable to the idea.”

Only Enjolras would phrase something like that. Grantaire stared at him, momentarily lost for words. Someone behind the counter dropped a cup, the sound of shattering ceramic making both of them jump and exchange embarrassed smiles. It broke the awkwardness as well, and Grantaire leaned forward to check. “Are you suggesting we switch?” Enjolras looked at the table, then lifted his eyes and gave a tiny nod. Grantaire let out a breath. “You want me to dom you?”

“If…yes.” Enjolras nodded again, more sure, though he still kept his chin down so he seemed to be looking up at Grantaire, ready to go on the defensive at any second. Grantaire had never seen him look at anyone like that before. “Just for a scene,” Enjolras added. “And only if you want to.”

Rational thoughts were within his reach, Grantaire was sure of it, but his brain was currently too stuck on a loop of holy shit holy shit holy shit to get there. But every second he didn’t answer, the more wary Enjolras became. “Give me, like, two seconds,” he blurted, scooting his chair back. “I mean, more than that, but – I swear I’m not running away, and I’m not saying no, but I need to just walk around the block really quick, is that okay? I’ll come right back, you should get a coffee or something, but I really need to just…”

“Freak out for a minute?” Enjolras asked, raising an eyebrow. But he looked more amused than upset, and Grantaire almost bowed under the relief.

“Your words, not mine. I’ll be right back, I promise.” He lurched to his feet and slipped past with far more grace than the situation deserved, hurrying outside and taking a sharp right. Holy shit. Holy Christ and all his saints.

This was a very, very long way from how he’d expected the afternoon to go.

His blank state of shock took him almost to the end of the road, and it was only as he turned the corner to circle back around that he started to grasp some of those rational thoughts that had eluded him earlier.

The idea of him dominating Enjolras was absurd. That was his first reaction. The roles they’d been playing came so easily because they were close to their normal personalities – Enjolras was a leader, a powerful, driven figure with the passion to do what he believed in, and the dedication to continue working at it through thick and thin. Grantaire hadn’t taken charge of anything in his life – barely even his own life’s direction. He bounced aimlessly from job to job, attaching himself to people who were more together than he was, and he allowed himself to be guided by so many influences, he could hardly figure out a single opinion of his own.

But that was part of the fun of BDSM, subverting the roles they took on in their everyday lives. That was what Grantaire enjoyed about domming. Not often, as he’d told Enjolras, but occasionally. Now and again. It had been such an unexpected thrill to find out that he could do it, and do it well. But could he do it for Enjolras?

Imagining Enjolras as anything other than perfectly in control was difficult, but Grantaire tried as he walked, hands deep in his pockets and brow furrowed. He couldn’t picture it with any clarity without knowing what Enjolras actually liked, but…he could imagine Enjolras kneeling in front of him. It was strange, at first, but not unpleasant.

Then he thought of Enjolras in Le Grande, and of Madame Phoenix. If she touched Enjolras the way she’d touched Grantaire that first night, reaching up to trail her fingernails down his face. Enjolras might bow his head into it, lowering his gaze, and there, there it was. Grantaire held onto the mental image and licked his lips, thinking fast. Enjolras wanted to submit. It wasn’t so strange – he’d probably done it before. In fact, Grantaire was sure of it. Perhaps he’d hinted at it when Grantaire had first said he was a switch, but he couldn’t remember – his head had been spinning so much that night.

It would be tricky. It would require a lot of negotiation. But Grantaire was breathing steadily now, and he was already thinking back to the last few times he’d played the dom for people, wondering what he could apply to Enjolras. He quickened his pace, not wanting to leave Enjolras waiting for his response for longer than absolutely necessary.

When he came back into the café, he studied Enjolras from behind for a moment, his courage wavering. It was one thing to decide he could do this while walking down a street, quite another to talk about it while facing Enjolras himself. And it would be another thing entirely to actually do it, to actually break Enjolras down. He stood near the end of the queue for the counter, suddenly uncertain, but as he watched Enjolras leaned an elbow on the table and ran his hand over his hair.

Grantaire had seen him do that before, when faced with a difficult decision, or when he was too tired to come up with a response to a question immediately.

This was difficult for Enjolras too. When had Enjolras ever hesitated like that to speak to him before? When had Enjolras ever looked down so much? It couldn’t be easy, being in control all the time, and being the one everyone looked to for answers and guidance. It made sense that Enjolras would want to let go every so often. And what better way to do that than to let someone else take over for a while? It wasn’t exactly hard for Grantaire to understand.

He took a breath and stepped forward, going to the table and sliding back into his seat. Enjolras sat back as soon as he did, hands falling to his lap, and Grantaire gave him a small smile. “Told you I wouldn’t run away.”

“And you’ve made a decision?” Enjolras’ voice was neutral, expression carefully blank. Grantaire nodded.

“I’ll do it. If you still want to after we’ve talked about it, I mean.”

Enjolras nodded, and Grantaire could see the way he was holding himself easier already. “I needed to ask whether you would even be willing before asking any more questions.”

“Ask away.” Grantaire’s coffee cup was half empty, its contents cold, but he wrapped his hands around the mug anyway.

“Have you done this before?”

“Yeah. Not as much as I’ve subbed, obviously, but…”

“Enough to know what you’re doing?”

“I think so?” Grantaire lifted a shoulder. “I could probably get you, like, references if you want?”

“That’s okay, I believe you. I trust you.” Enjolras said the last quieter, and Grantaire’s lips parted, not quite able to hide how much of an impact those words made. “That’s why I asked. I’d never do this with someone I didn’t trust.”

“Oh. Well. Um. Thanks.” It’s an honour, he bit back. “Before you really decide though, you should know, I’m not, my style isn’t quite like yours.” And yep, there it was, there was the rising heat in his neck, what a surprise.

Enjolras frowned slightly. “What do you mean?”

“I mean…” He squeezed the coffee mug, hoping Enjolras wouldn’t see the way his knuckles had turned white. “I’m not, I’m a lot more, um. Hands-on, I guess? Just, I’m not as experienced as you, so I don’t think I’d be able to do it the way we have before, with a really loose plan? I’m a kind of…devil in the details sort of guy, on this side of things. Sorry.” 

“No, that’s good.” Enjolras’ tone was relieved, and Grantaire looked up in surprise. “That works. I was going to warn you that this would probably need a lot more negotiation than usual.”

“Oh. Okay, cool.” Grantaire let himself slump in exaggerated relief, grinning slightly when Enjolras smiled. “So, um. What do you like?”

“I…” Enjolras looked down, smile vanishing. He looked at the side of the table instead of Grantaire when he spoke. “It would depend on what you’re willing to do, I suppose.”

“Try me,” Grantaire offered, attempting a smile he hoped came across as reassuring. “I mean, I can say what I definitely won’t do, if that helps?”

“It would, yes.” Was he imagining a tiny sigh of relief there? Impossible to tell. Grantaire shrugged, noting the way Enjolras’ eyes flicked to his and away again instead of pinning him in place the way they usually did. Whether it was awkwardness or Enjolras already taking on a submissive role, he couldn’t tell.

“No blood, no serious bruising.” He kept his voice barely above a whisper, very conscious of how many people were around them. “I’m not really into watersports, and consent play is kind of…tricky to do. Definitely no rape play. Roleplay in general isn’t usually my thing. Um, no age difference stuff, no daddy kinks or anything like that. I think that’s all the majors covered.”

Enjolras nodded, taking it all in. Grantaire watched him, trying to catch any clue to his thoughts in his face and posture. “I’m not,” Enjolras started, then jerked his head and started again. “None of that is an issue, at all. Thank you.” A pause as he took a quick breath, looking at Grantaire’s coffee mug. “I don’t enjoy pain as much as you do,” he said, and gave Grantaire the smallest of smiles very quickly before lowering his eyes again. “I certainly can’t take a beating the way you can.”

Grantaire looked down at his mug as well, a startled smile tugging at his lips. He wasn’t sure whether Enjolras had meant to flatter him by saying that, but he was pleased either way. “That’s cool. I don’t have to flog you half to death if you don’t want.” Enjolras breathed out, a small huff of amusement, and Grantaire managed to catch his eyes briefly. “So what do you like?”

Enjolras looked down at his lap, and Grantaire heard one of his knuckles crack. “I prefer teasing.” It came out sounding almost like a question. “Sexual stimulation, if that’s…if you’re comfortable with that.”

Sure, part of his brain had broken off to start screaming at the idea of teasing Enjolras into submission, Grantaire couldn’t deny that, but he could definitely ignore it right now in favour of nodding and holding tight to the rational side of his mind. “Yeah, that’s definitely fine.” More than fine. So much more than fine.

Holy shit.

“So.” He cleared his throat, very glad that his voice hadn’t jumped up an octave or two. “No pain at all, or…?”

“Only light stuff. No…I’m not very…responsive to…” Enjolras jerked his head again, a frown flickering across his face. “Anything more than hands tend to be too much for me. No implements like canes or floggers or…”

“Anything,” Grantaire nodded. “That’s cool. Relax,” he added on impulse, and shocked himself by daring to nudge Enjolras’ foot under the table. Going by the way it made Enjolras snap his head up, eyes wide, it had surprised him too. “You’ve seen me in some pretty compromising positions, you know. I’m like, the last person to judge.”

“I know.” Enjolras looked down again. “I’m less used to talking about this than you, I think. That’s all.”

“It’s cool.” Grantaire squeezed his mug. “Really. Um. So, no implements – what about stuff like, um.”

“Slapping anywhere but my face is fine,” Enjolras thankfully stepped in. “Pinching, scratching, biting…that’s all fine.”

“Awesome. Okay, great, that’s. Yeah.” Grantaire shoved his nerves down ruthlessly – he was meant to be the one taking charge here. “So okay, teasing, light painplay. What’re some, y’know, good experiences you’ve had before? Good scenes you’ve done, and stuff?” He needed to iron out those hesitations when they actually did this. He certainly wouldn’t trust a dom who sounded as awkward as he did right now.

Another knuckle cracked underneath the table, and Enjolras swallowed. “I like the…I like scenes based around the idea of punishment and reward. Which I know is, can be difficult, because I don’t like pain very much.”

“It’s fine, we can work with it.” And he would think later about how surprisingly hot that was.

“I like…” Enjolras hesitated. “I need long scenes. It can…it usually takes me a while to get into it. I don’t go down easily.”

“Why not?” His usual awareness of Enjolras seemed to be jumping up a notch with every expression of nerves Enjolras gave. He was twisting his fingers under the table, Grantaire could tell, and he hadn’t looked up for what was, for Enjolras, a long time.

“It feels very awkward,” Enjolras said in a low voice, addressing his hands. “Like I’m making a fool of myself.”

“And sensation overload helps,” Grantaire guessed. Enjolras nodded, some of the tension in his neck and shoulders easing. Grantaire smiled, more relieved than he wanted to let on. Sensation overload he could do. And the idea of being allowed to do it to Enjolras was…well. Overwhelming to say the least. “Okay.” Stay calm. “Do you like edging?”

Enjolras scrunched up one of his eyes for a second, something else Grantaire had never seen him do. “Yes, but…not right away. I can’t if I’m not in the right headspace. Sorry.”

“Relax, it’s not a problem. What about prostate stimulation?”

Enjolras nodded. “I have a couple of toys for that.”

“Of course you do.” It sounded far too fond, and Grantaire went still as Enjolras lifted his head.

“What does that mean?”

“Only…” Grantaire waved a hand, making himself meet Enjolras’ eyes. “You know. You deserve the best. It’s a good thing,” he added, lips twitching at the way Enjolras snorted. “Hey, seriously, you have like, ten canes. Of course you have more toys, it makes sense.”

“Eight canes,” Enjolras corrected, rolling his eyes. Grantaire grinned – an exasperated Enjolras was a more relaxed Enjolras.

“Right, of course, only eight, silly me.” A foot bumped his under the table, and he knew it was too much to hope that he wasn’t blushing.

“Shut up. What else do you want to know?”

Right, he was meant to be focusing here. “Specific things you’ve done before that you liked?” he suggested. “And limits, obviously.”

“Right.” Enjolras straightened, nodding at the table, but didn’t say anything for a moment. “What do you mean by specific?” he asked finally.

“Like…okay, being choked, or…being gagged, stuff like that. Things that you’ve enjoyed, that you’d want to do again.” With him. Enjolras would be doing this stuff with him.

“Oh.” Enjolras lifted his head, but looked at the counter instead of at Grantaire while he thought. “Blindfolds help, especially at the beginning of a scene,” he said, seeming to force himself to look at Grantaire when he spoke. “Being tied up or cuffed. Being plugged, temperature play, sensation play in general…” He blinked and looked down, arms tensing. “Explicit orders, praise…I have a collar too,” he added, quietly.

There was absolutely no way Grantaire was going to be able to get through planning this scene without masturbating at least once. “All good things,” he said, voice miraculously steady. “What about limits?”

“No name-calling, at all.” This, at least, Enjolras was confident in saying, even meeting Grantaire’s eyes again to say it. “Nothing like slut, whore, bitch…nothing like that. No humiliation. If I’m blindfolded, I’d appreciate it if you tell me what you’re doing, and what’s about to happen.” He waited for Grantaire to nod before continuing. “Traffic light safewords are fine. No surprises.”

Grantaire nodded again, squeezing his mug. “Okay. What about other names?”

“Like…?”

“Endearments.” It was a stab in the dark, but something about the way Enjolras had listed explicit orders and praise right next to each other was standing out. His awkwardness finally seemed to be taking a backseat – he only had to swallow once before going on. “Darling, sweetheart, stuff like that. What about good boy?”

Enjolras’ lips parted, a shallow breath slipping out, and Grantaire knew he’d been right even before Enjolras nodded and looked down. “That’s…they’re all fine.”

“Cool.” Keep it casual, he could react to that later. Probably loudly, into a pillow. “Am I right in thinking this is going to be pretty much exclusively sex play?” A tiny nod. “How many times do you want to come?”

Another knuckle cracked under the table, the chatter and bustle of the café around them very loud while Enjolras wavered. “I don’t mind,” he decided at last, eyes flicking back up to Grantaire’s. “Once, minimum, but beyond that…it can be up to you.”

“Okay. How do you feel about orgasm delay and denial?”

Enjolras scrunched up one eye again. “Like edging. Good sometimes, but not always. Sorry, I can’t be more specific than that.”

“It’s cool, don’t worry about it.” He ran over everything they’d said and leaned back in his chair, finally letting go of his mug. His fingers tingled at the loss of pressure. “When do you want to do this? At yours, I’m guessing?”

“Preferably. I needed to know whether you would agree before arranging things, but I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve talked to Combeferre.”

“I’d like to stay the night.” Grantaire said it before he lost his courage. “If that’s alright – I’ll sleep on the sofa and clear out early, but if it’s okay, I’d like to stay over.”

Enjolras raised an eyebrow. “And yet you’re so prickly about me staying longer than absolutely necessary.” The corner of his lips lifted, but the smile didn’t reach his voice.

“It’s not like…that’s not…” Grantaire shook his head and frowned. “I’m not prickly.”

“Sure.” Enjolras rolled his eyes, but he sounded warmer now at least. “You can stay over, I don’t mind. Speaking of after,” he added, tentative, and Grantaire had to nod before he went on. “If it goes well, I might not speak for a while once we’re done. It doesn’t mean I’m dropping.”

“Thanks for telling me.” He couldn’t quite keep the surprise from his tone, but Enjolras didn’t comment. “Um. Anything else?”

“Only thank you.” Enjolras finally relaxed, smiling wryly. “I should get going. I’ll call you later?”

Grantaire nodded, something in him stuttering at how familiar Enjolras made the words sound, like they called each other all the time. “Sure. Sounds good.” He watched in silence as Enjolras got up and gave him one last smile before leaving. Dusk had fallen outside, Grantaire realised, shocked. He’d been so focused on Enjolras that he hadn’t noticed. And when he checked his phone, he had a missed text from Marius asking where he was.

Went wandering, lost track of time, he texted back. On my way home now – want anything?

Milk please! :D

Grantaire snorted and slipped out from behind the little table. As soon as he put his phone away, the enormity of what he was going to do washed over him so forcefully he almost stumbled, steadying himself against the doorway of the café as he left.

This was going to require a lot of planning. And a lot of secret freaking out. And probably a lot of masturbation.

The sheer amount of trust Enjolras was placing in him was staggering – if he thought about it too much, he’d really lose his head. And he couldn’t afford to do that if he didn’t want to disappoint. He remembered what it had been like to submit his first few times, so nervous he could barely look his partners in the eye, so embarrassed he’d been red-faced through the whole experience. The shame had been exquisite, but uncomfortable and awful as well.

And if Enjolras didn’t sub for anyone he didn’t trust, he probably hadn’t had as much time as Grantaire to work through that embarrassment. Well, that much was obvious from his half-formed sentences in the café, and the way he’d avoided Grantaire’s eyes. Avoided judgement.

The secrecy of this mattered more to Enjolras than it did to Grantaire, clearly. And he would have to be careful about constructing a scene that eliminated as much potential awkwardness as possible. He hadn’t switched for almost a year, but talking about it had jump-started his imagination. As a sub, he enjoyed surprises, not knowing quite where a scene would go and where the dom would take him, what they would do and how, but as a dom he was definitely a planner.

Every aspect would need considering, nothing could be left up to chance. Enjolras was trusting him, after all – it had to be as close to perfect as Grantaire could make it. It helped to contextualise it like that, thinking of this as another way of serving Enjolras, showing his devotion in the most intimate way yet. Submitting to Enjolras was easy, after all. It came naturally. This would be harder, but no less intense. Perhaps even more so, since he wouldn’t be able to drift or get complacent, not if Enjolras was trusting him to take the lead.

For the first time, he was being encouraged to be attentive. He would be allowed to take care of Enjolras, invited to see him at his most vulnerable and exposed. It was a thrilling prospect. Nerve-wracking too, absolutely, but thrilling.

  

Enjolras called about an hour after Grantaire got home, and he surreptitiously leaned over the side of his bed to pull his door shut before he answered. “Hey, hi.”

“Hi.” He’d never heard Enjolras over a phone before; another new experience to tuck away and hold close. “Would this Saturday be too soon? It’s Combeferre’s sister’s birthday and he’s going home for the whole weekend.”

Considering how much time Grantaire was going to spend agonising over every tiny detail, four days was plenty. “No, that’s fine. Lucky, really.”

“That’s what I thought.” It sounded like Enjolras was smiling, and since he couldn’t see, Grantaire leaned back against his pillows and allowed himself a smile of his own. “So, Saturday afternoon?”

“Sure. I, um.” Courage, he was in control here. “I had a couple of questions, actually?”

“Okay. Go ahead.”

“Right. So, you said long scenes, I’m guessing that’s longer than an hour, but how long is long for you? Are you saying afternoon because you’re going to need a lot of build-up?” There was silence, and Grantaire’s smile slipped away. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to like, bombard you or anything, we can do this over email or something if it’s easier?”

“No, no, that won’t be – it’s fine, I was just.” He cleared his throat. “Sorry. What do you mean exactly by build-up?”

Good thing he’d actually thought about that. “Well, like…okay, this leads into the collar, which I was going to ask you about? Like, is that something you want to wear throughout, or something you have to earn, or…?”

“Throughout.” Either Enjolras’ signal was dropping out, or he’d gotten quieter.

“Okay, awesome. So collaring you would come first, before anything else, and build-up would be stuff like…giving you small orders, nothing too intense, just little things. To get you in the mood, you know.”

“Like what?”

“Undressing an item of clothing at a time?” Grantaire suggested. He could actually feel the heat in his face – it was a good thing Enjolras couldn’t see him right now. At least he could fake composure through his voice. “If you really need a long time, we could watch an episode of something with me on the sofa and you kneeling, that sort of thing.”

“That probably won’t…I don’t need that long. But the small orders would be good. Telling me…how to stand, what to do, everything like that.”

“Sweet, okay.” He closed his eyes, concentrating on picking up as much through the phone as he could. “Next thing – I was thinking about what you said about reward and punishment, and I thought, well, I wondered how you’d feel about making it a sort of game?” He screwed up his face in anticipation of scorn and outright refusal. None came.

Enjolras make a quiet, hesitant noise, then said, “What sort of game?”

“Oh.” Grantaire opened his eyes, blinking at nothing. “Um. Not like a board game or anything like that – really simple. I ask you questions, correct answers get rewards, wrong answers get punishments. Punishment in this case being, um. Holding a difficult physical position, like stretches? So, it’s not painful, but it’ll be kind of uncomfortable, getting worse the longer it lasts. If this is a stupid idea, cut me off at any point.”

“It’s not stupid. What sort of questions would you ask?”

A knot of worry in his chest that Grantaire hadn’t even noticed loosened, and he sat up a little straighter. “I wasn’t really sure yet about that. I mean, I know a lot of random shit, so I was thinking maybe just stupid trivia? But I can mix in some decent questions too, stuff like world affairs, and…well, I could do journalism questions? And law too, I know you know a lot about that.”

“That sounds good,” Enjolras said slowly. “They’d all be yes or no questions, wouldn’t they?”

“Yep. No opinions involved. Oh – just say if there are any topics you want me to avoid.”

“Nothing personal,” Enjolras said. “I trust your judgement on everything else.”

Maybe if Enjolras said it enough, the gut-punch feeling would start wearing off. Grantaire swallowed. “Okay. Thanks.”

“I imagine the pleasure will be mine.” Enjolras sounded amused, and Grantaire closed his eyes again, mouthing a curse to himself. “Was there anything else?”

“Not right now. I’ll probably text or whatever if anything else comes up.”

“Once you’ve got everything figured out, can you email the outline to me?”

“Sure, yeah, no problem. I’ll, um. See you Saturday, I guess.”

“See you then.” Enjolras hung up, and Grantaire carefully put his phone aside before sliding down his bed and putting his hands over his now burning face. At least if Enjolras wore a blindfold, he wouldn’t be able to see Grantaire’s feelings written all over his face. Small mercies. 

 

Grantaire went over the plan for what felt like the thousandth time on the way to Enjolras and Combeferre’s apartment, fingers tapping out a jumpy, irregular pattern on his thigh. He was so wound up, he couldn’t even listen to music. The stakes today would be higher than they ever had been before, or at least that was the way it felt to him.

Going over the plan helped, like rehearsing lines for a play. And he had backups in place for potential hitches, dialogue he could reliably fall back on, and best of all, a sense of steady calm that had been building up since Tuesday. He’d done this before; he could do it now. Enjolras believed he could do it, and that was the most important thing. Enjolras’ belief made it true.

It was odd to emerge into daylight from the métro tunnel, and he realised very suddenly that Enjolras was one of the only people he’d ever played with during the day, their activities not cloaked by darkness. It seemed significant for a reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on, and he pushed the thought aside as he started walking, shaking his head to dislodge it. He had more important things to concentrate on right now. Like going over the plan. Again.

Also, it wasn’t really day, not really. Six o’clock definitely counted as evening, which was much more acceptable. Not that Grantaire cared.

Enjolras opened the door while Grantaire was mid-knock, and both of them laughed at his raised hand, still curled into a fist. “Sorry, come in.” Enjolras stepped back. Had he been waiting on the other side of the door since buzzing Grantaire into the building? Grantaire shrugged his bag off his shoulder and turned to look at him. Enjolras was fully dressed (apart from his lack of shoes), freshly showered if the smell was any indication, and he stared right back while Grantaire took the sight of him in.

In their normal situation, Grantaire would have ducked his head, maybe pushed a hand through his hair or rubbed his fingers together, waiting for Enjolras to make the first move. Now, he consciously straightened his spine and held Enjolras’ gaze. “Shall we?” he asked, tilting his head towards the living space.

Enjolras’ shoulders moved as he let out a small breath, and he nodded.

“Where are your things?” Grantaire asked, watching Enjolras’ adam’s apple bob before he answered.

“My bedroom.”

“Show me.”

Enjolras walked silently past Grantaire to the open door of his bedroom. Grantaire followed, and smiled when he saw that Enjolras had made his bed and laid everything out on top. “Nice.”

“I thought you might appreciate it.” Enjolras’ lips turned up, and Grantaire grinned at him before stepping closer to touch his fingertips to the collar. It was dark red, just a shade brighter than Enjolras’ favourite jacket, just under an inch wide with a buckle at the back. No rings or other decoration, which made Grantaire smile – he’d expected something a little fancier, but it suited Enjolras perfectly.

To the right of the collar were two pairs of black cuffs that Grantaire recognised – he’d worn them himself, when Enjolras had strapped him to the bed and caned him. Next to them were a couple of carabiner clips, a soft-looking black eye mask, Enjolras’ bottle of lube, a plug that Grantaire recognised as a prostate massager (an expensive one, by the look of it) and a folded blue towel.

Filing away the thought that he needed to ask Enjolras if they could use that plug next time Grantaire was submitting, he picked up the collar. It was leather, well-made and soft on the inside, and Grantaire rubbed his thumbs over the material before looking up to meet Enjolras’ eyes. “Come round and sit on the bed.” He stepped back so Enjolras could pass him, watching him for any signs of hesitation or discomfort.

There were none he could see, and he stepped between Enjolras’ knees without any hesitations of his own, like it was something he’d done a hundred times before. Pretending everything was intimately familiar was half the trick when it came to dominating, he’d found. “Safewords,” he prompted, addressing the top of Enjolras’ head, since Enjolras was looking down.

“Red for stop,” Enjolras said quietly. “Yellow for pause, green for go.”

“I’m going to put your collar on,” Grantaire said in a low voice, every sense trained on Enjolras. “Colour?”

“Green.” Enjolras lifted his chin, then his eyes. Grantaire met them for a long second, frozen, then took a breath and lifted the collar. He wrapped it around Enjolras’ neck, and Enjolras bowed his head again so that Grantaire could buckle it at the back, sliding a finger beneath it as he did to check the tightness. It was a snug fit, and he stepped back to admire how it looked on Enjolras, the red warm against his brown skin.

Enjolras kept his eyes on the floor, but smiled just slightly when Grantaire said, “It looks lovely on you.” He’d practised this, murmuring endearments and compliments out loud to an imaginary Enjolras to get used to saying them, letting them out when for so long he’d kept such thoughts bottled up. This was his opportunity to indulge the desire to shower Enjolras with sweet phrases and praise, and he was going to indulge properly.

“Up,” he said, stepping away and watching as Enjolras rose to his feet. For a moment, Enjolras’ eyes remained downcast, but then he shot Grantaire a sideways look that gave the impression of a smile. It was something in his eyes, something welcoming. Grantaire couldn’t help the little grin that crept onto his face in response, the two of them sharing the look like it was a secret, a silent recognition of the fact that they could do this; they could switch roles and everything would be okay.

“You get the cuffs and clips, I’ll get the rest.” Grantaire tilted his head towards them without looking away from Enjolras, who nodded and turned to obey without a word. Grantaire watched until he was out of the room, then grabbed the lube, plug, towel, and mask and followed. “Put them on the table,” he told Enjolras, and put everything but the mask with them before going to sit on the sofa, pretending to ignore Enjolras.

Who stood, still and silent, his eyes on Grantaire as he relaxed against the cushions, getting comfortable before he looked over at Enjolras and said, “Come here,” in as much of an offhand tone as he could manage, making sure he sounded absolutely assured of himself. If he expected Enjolras to follow his orders, Enjolras would do so. It was like a much more rewarding form of positive thinking – he just had to believe it.

Enjolras came over, and when Grantaire said, “Kneel,” he went to his knees without protest, resting his hands on his thighs.

“Good boy,” Grantaire said, watching closely to see if Enjolras would react. He didn’t appear to for a second, but then he glanced up at Grantaire with something like anticipation, and Grantaire smiled. It made Enjolras smile too, a brief, almost shy twitch of his lips before he looked down again quickly. “I’m going to put the mask on you.” Grantaire leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Give me a colour.”

“Green.” Enjolras murmured it in the direction of his knees, and Grantaire reached out to slide a finger under his chin, tilting his face up so they could look at each other again. Enjolras’ lips parted, and Grantaire held his gaze as he lifted the mask and placed the fabric gently over Enjolras’ face, holding it there as he slid the elastic over his head. Had he ever touched Enjolras’ head before? Felt the surprising softness of his hair? It was buzzed so short at the sides that Grantaire could feel the heat from Enjolras’ skin against his fingers, and he pulled his hands away as quickly as he dared, secretly relieved that he wouldn’t have to worry about his expressions anymore.

“How does that feel?” he asked. “You can adjust it if you want.”

Enjolras touched his fingers to the mask’s surface. “It’s fine.” He cleared his throat and spoke louder. “It’s fine, thank you.”

“Glad to hear it.” Grantaire smiled. “Stand up.” Once Enjolras obeyed, Grantaire stood as well. He’d intended to stay seated for this, to better play the part of commanding observer, but he could see that his view wouldn’t be as good from waist-level. And he wanted to see everything. “Take your socks off,” he said quietly.

Enjolras wobbled as he did so, trying not to lift his feet too far off the ground for fear of losing his balance and falling. Grantaire had never really thought about feet, beyond the practicalities of trying to draw them a few times, but Enjolras’ were beautiful. Elegant. The tendons stood out under his skin, making Grantaire think of marble statues and feats of strength performed in ancient countries.

“Take two steps to the left, and take off your jacket,” he said, stooping to pick the socks up and chuck them onto the sofa. He walked behind Enjolras, circling round to stand in front of him as Enjolras shrugged the jacket off his shoulders, fabric sliding down his arms and crumpling in his hands. Grantaire took it without touching him. “Good boy.” He didn’t miss the way Enjolras’ cheeks lifted a fraction in pleasure at that. “Shirt,” he prompted.

Enjolras lifted it from the hem and swept it up and over his shoulders and head, and thank goodness he was blindfolded, because that meant Grantaire didn’t have to hide his appreciative stare. He’d never seen Enjolras shirtless before, not properly. Strange, that they’d done so much and Enjolras had never done this, never removed more clothing than absolutely necessary. He’d even kept his jacket on while fucking Grantaire, and barely pushed his trousers down for Grantaire to blow him.

Grantaire drank the sight in, taking the shirt from Enjolras almost absently, though something in him shivered to feel the way warmth clung to the material. Enjolras wasn’t the sort of person who made time for the gym, but he was naturally well-built enough for his stomach to be almost flat anyway. Grantaire couldn’t even find it in himself to be annoyed.

A not-insignificant part of his brain wanted to derail the scene for a moment, pause to allow Grantaire to reach out and slide his hands over Enjolras’ shoulders, to find out whether he felt as good as he looked.

He shook his head and cleared his throat, tossing Enjolras’ shirt onto the sofa. “Jeans.”

Enjolras obeyed silently. Grantaire swallowed as he unbuttoned his fly and pushed the jeans down off his hips, past his thighs and knees, standing on one leg at a time to pull them off before holding them out. It took Grantaire a second to take them, his mouth dry despite his best efforts. “Good boy,” he managed, quiet and miraculously steady. God, thighs like that should never be covered. Enjolras looked lean and strong, the curve of his thighs and calves and ankles so perfect that Grantaire could have wept. He’d always known that Enjolras had an enviable body, but it was one thing to notice that through clothing and something very different to have Enjolras in front of him like this, showing him everything without restraint. Only his red underwear was left now, and Grantaire had to take a deep breath before saying, “Boxers.” They were more briefs, really, but Enjolras didn’t protest the term.

He didn’t protest anything, pushing the elastic down his thighs and letting them fall to the ground. He bent to pick them up, and Grantaire had to force himself to take them, taking another deep breath before saying, “Good boy.” Of course Enjolras wore red underwear. Of course he did. Grantaire threw them onto the sofa with the rest of Enjolras’ clothes and flexed his fingers afterwards.

If he didn’t talk, Enjolras would lose focus, and it would be very obvious that Grantaire was helplessly distracted. If they were closer, would Enjolras let him take photographs? The way candlelight would look on his skin…Grantaire had to stop himself right there or risk sighing aloud. “You’re beautiful,” he said instead, utterly serious. The words sent a jolt through his stomach – he’d never been so honest with Enjolras about how he saw him.

Enjolras bowed his head, curling the fingers of his right hand and pushing his knuckles into his thigh. His mouth moved – biting the inside of his lip, Grantaire realised. “Colour?” he asked. Enjolras had asked the same from him.

“Green,” Enjolras murmured, and swallowed after he said it.

“Good.” Grantaire took a breath and straightened, pretending he was taller than he was. “Okay. Not to get all Jigsaw on you, but do you want to play a game?” He smiled when Enjolras did, lifting his chin.

“Yes, please.”

“Awesome. I’m going to ask you random questions. For every wrong answer, you hold a physically demanding position. Right answers mean you can relax. Probably. Either way, you do exactly what I tell you. Green?”

“Green,” Enjolras confirmed.

“Good. Sit down, cross legged.” He knelt in front of him once Enjolras had done as commanded. “Okay, uncross them a bit, and pull your right foot in, left foot in front of it.” It was a relief when Enjolras didn’t ask for clarification – the idea of touching him right now was a little too much for Grantaire to handle. His dick was right there, right behind his foot, on display for Grantaire to stare at as much as he liked.

“Are you warm enough?” he thought to ask, and relaxed a fraction when Enjolras nodded.

“I’m fine.”

“Good.” Grantaire moved to the side as quietly as he could and cleared his throat. “First question. What’s my middle name?”

Enjolras’ lips parted, then turned down. “I don’t know.” He sounded almost wounded, and Grantaire couldn’t help smiling. “Have you ever told me?”

“Nope.” He grinned. “And not knowing the answer counts as incorrect. Stretch your arms forward and touch your forehead to the ground.”

Enjolras huffed, but leaned forward without protest. It took him a few seconds to get his forehead against the floor – he had to strain for it, fingertips digging into the carpet as if he was trying to pull himself forward.

The sight of his back flexing was beyond description. Grantaire licked his lips and shook his head, trying to clear it. “Good boy.”

“But I got it wrong,” Enjolras said, his position making his words come out in a cramped-sounding rush.

“And now you’re accepting the consequences,” Grantaire shrugged. “Very nicely, I should add. What’s the name of Captain Jack Sparrow’s father?”

“What?” Enjolras turned his head, gaping sightlessly in his direction. “What sort of question is that?”

Grantaire clamped down on a swell of anxiety and sat up straight, narrowing his eyes. “A question I chose. Do you have a problem with it?”

Enjolras stilled, then jerked his head once in the negative and turned his face back towards the floor, still stretching forwards as much as he could.

“Good. Can you answer it?” Grantaire asked, injecting a note of disdain.

“No,” Enjolras admitted quietly.

“What a shame. I guess you’d better keep stretching then.” Grantaire made sure to sound careless, though he watched Enjolras’ face to make sure his tone wasn’t too harsh.

But Enjolras was only quiet for a second, and then murmured, “Sorry.”

It was impossible to tell whether Grantaire was more endeared or aroused by that – he certainly hadn’t been expecting the second reaction. “Better,” he said out loud, and got up, because he had to see Enjolras from all possible angles when he was stretching like this. “Okay, what’s the capital city of…hmmm…Austria?”

“Is it Vienna?” Enjolras asked, uncharacteristically hesitant.

“It is, congratulations. You can sit up – do it slowly, roll it up from the base of your spine.”

Enjolras did, and tilted his head to each side once he was upright, his neck cracking both times.

“Still green?” Grantaire checked. Enjolras smiled slightly.

“Still green.”

“Great. Okay, which artist painted the famous melting clocks?” There was a long silence, and Grantaire grinned. “Forward again, sweetheart, and then stretch round to your right.” As Enjolras obeyed, Grantaire took the moment to mouth a few expletives to himself. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined that he would ever get the chance to call Enjolras sweetheart. It was doing funny things to his insides. Pleasant things.

He swallowed and moved on.

Once established, the rhythm was easily followed. With a rough ratio of two incorrect answers to every correct one, Grantaire kept Enjolras contorted for the majority of the next hour, both of them falling further and further into the roles they’d taken on. Grantaire’s whole world narrowed to Enjolras, analysing his every movement and calculating the next step.

Perhaps someone who hadn’t watched Enjolras as much as he had wouldn’t have picked up on all the signs, but to Grantaire they were like flashing lights. The way Enjolras started to take deeper, more steadying breaths about half an hour in; his swallow before every answer; the tilt of his head as he turned it to better track Grantaire’s voice as he moved around. It wasn’t so obvious minute by minute, but by the time Grantaire began to struggle to think of more questions, the difference in Enjolras’ demeanour was glaring. He responded better to a gentler tone, Grantaire discovered as they went along, so he dropped the commanding voice, its loss making it easier for him to concentrate on Enjolras.

It could be a side-effect of the stretching, but he seemed looser, less conscious of his body. He wasn’t lifting his head at all, and his voice was quieter. He was smiling more as well. Not wide, but often. Little, relaxed smiles that grew whenever he got an answer right, or whenever Grantaire told him he was being good, doing well. This was what his submission was about, Grantaire guessed – putting himself in a situation where to succeed, all he had to do was follow orders, and those orders were easy and pleasurable to follow. He didn’t have to think or plan. He just had to do as he was told.

It was only as they were doing it that Grantaire realised how essential this part was for him as well as Enjolras. He’d never expected this scene to be a breeze (how could it be, with his massive crush colouring every aspect), but it was even more intense than he’d imagined to enact the plan. But this was an easy way to familiarise himself with the reality of Enjolras submitting. It helped that Enjolras couldn’t see every time Grantaire clutched his hair or mouthed frantic curses, venting in tiny silent bursts.

Enjolras in control was electrifying, making Grantaire want to bow before him. But with their positions reversed, Grantaire felt more connected to him than he had in any of their previous scenes.

For the last fifteen minutes, Grantaire began to touch him. He’d only been using his voice to guide Enjolras’ movements, but the next time Enjolras made a mistake, he took a step closer. “Your angle is wrong, darling. I’m going to straighten your back, okay? Give me a colour.”

“Green,” Enjolras murmured, and his lips parted when Grantaire pressed his hand to the dip between his shoulder blades and lingered for a second before sweeping down, down to the small of his back. There, he pressed in, forcing Enjolras’ spine to straighten.

“Better,” Grantaire whispered into his ear, heat coiling in the pit of his stomach when Enjolras shivered. The sense of power was hypnotising, the knowledge that he was leading and Enjolras would follow without question no longer scary, but good. He slid his hand back up Enjolras’ back, taking his time, and when he got to Enjolras’ shoulder, he rubbed a thumb against the bottom of the collar.

Enjolras tipped his head back immediately, breathing shallow, offering himself up.

What Grantaire wouldn’t have done to be able to kiss him then.

The urge shook him, snapped him back to reality and reminded him of what he was doing. “Good boy,” he said quietly, and watched a tiny smile flicker across the lower half of Enjolras’ face in response.

He kept touching Enjolras after that, correcting his positions and then just…touching him for the pleasure of it, and to remind Enjolras where he was. Now that he’d started, it was impossible to stop. He could have spent hours touching Enjolras, mapping his body with only his hands. It was now that he discovered where Enjolras was ticklish (his feet, the insides of his upper arms, his sides below his armpits) and started leaning close to give his orders in the softest voice he could, making Enjolras tilt towards him to hear. He was so eager to please.

And eager to be touched, if his reactions to Grantaire’s hands were any indication. Grantaire couldn’t stop himself looking back to Enjolras’ cock again and again, watching as it began to harden. When he made Enjolras spread his legs for lunges, he ran his hands up the insides of his thighs, ostensibly to feel whether Enjolras was shaking or not.

He wasn’t, but he trembled when Grantaire’s hands left him, and his breathing cracked on an exhale, his mouth opening in a silent gasp. And Grantaire couldn’t let that pass unrewarded – this was all about helping Enjolras to break down those walls of restraint, after all – so he did it again, and left his hands there at the end, each of them fitted to the curve of Enjolras’ thighs where they met his pelvis. This close, the hair there tickled the sides of his pinkie fingers, and he pressed his thumbs very gently into Enjolras’ skin. 

Enjolras gave an odd, hitched gasp and then bit his lip to stifle any more, his head hanging low. Grantaire was stood in front of him, a little contorted to both reach Enjolras’ thighs and stay clear of touching his head. “Good boy,” he said, quiet but firm, and Enjolras’ chest heaved, but his lips stayed bitten closed. Still a few walls to go then.

“How many keys are there on a piano?” he asked, keeping his hands where they were.

Enjolras swallowed twice before answering, his lower lip dented from his teeth. “I don’t know.”

“Slide lower.”

Enjolras grunted as he did, his thighs stretched to their limits.

“What’s the date of Bastille Day?”

Enjolras’ lips twitched. “July fourteenth.”

“Very good. Now, you have a choice – you can either stand up a bit, so your legs aren’t so stretched, or I can touch your cock.” Over an hour of build-up was worth it for the way he could say that without his voice breaking,

Enjolras’ mouth opened, but he didn’t answer for several long seconds. During which, Grantaire just waited, his hands warm on Enjolras’ thighs. Finally, Enjolras whispered, “Option two, please?”

“Good boy.” Grantaire moved his right hand, slowly and deliberately, and leaned back to watch Enjolras’ reaction as he wrapped it around his cock and started to stroke. Enjolras couldn’t seem to get enough air into his lungs, though his mouth was wide open. He gasped as he leaned forward and almost lost his balance, but Grantaire moved closer to brace his shoulder with his own, their heads suddenly right next to each other. Enjolras’ breath was hot and fast on Grantaire’s neck, whose view was now only of Enjolras’ back.

“Legs closer together, sweetheart,” he murmured, suddenly far too hot for all the clothes he was wearing. “Find your balance.”

“I can’t,” Enjolras whispered, and Grantaire slid his free hand up to Enjolras’ hip.

“You can,” he told him. “Pull your legs in, just a bit. You can do it, I’ve got you.”

Enjolras let out three quick pants against Grantaire’s shoulder, then took a deep breath and dragged his feet in one at a time, reducing the gap between them to about a meter before Grantaire squeezed his hip and said, “Enough, stop there. Good boy.”

Enjolras made the suggestion of a sound as Grantaire ceased stroking and just held his cock, something catching in his throat – a protest.

Grantaire smiled and stood up straight, no longer supporting Enjolras as he moved his hand from Enjolras’ hip up over his stomach (which tightened under his palm, Enjolras’ cock twitching in his other hand), up his chest to his neck, where he rubbed his thumb again against the lower edge of Enjolras’ collar. “Ready for more?” he asked, and grinned when Enjolras nodded.

“Yes.”

“Okay then. Stay right where you are.” He let his hands fall away, the heat in his skin flaring at the almost inaudible sound of loss Enjolras made when he did. “I’m getting the cuffs.” There was a tiny smear of precome on his hand, and he gave it a mournful look before wiping it on his jeans. He seriously doubted whether Enjolras had any STIs – he was the type to get checked after every sexual partner, Grantaire was sure of it – but safety was important. They weren’t swapping any kinds of fluids, and even if Enjolras wouldn’t have been able to see if Grantaire licked the precome up, Grantaire would still know, and that was enough.

The table was close enough that he only had to take a step to reach the cuffs and a carabiner, and he touched Enjolras’ shoulder as he did. “Hands behind your back, Enjolras.”

Enjolras dipped his head and obeyed, his cock hanging heavy between his legs. Grantaire stepped behind him, wrapped the cuffs around his wrists and clipped them together, admiring the way Enjolras’ arms looked. Crooked at the elbow, relaxed, his curled fingers resting just above the curve of his ass. Grantaire tried to fix the image in his mind in lieu of taking a photo, and rested his hand on the back of Enjolras’ neck, sliding his thumb underneath Enjolras’ collar.

The hairs on Enjolras’ arms rose, goosebumps spreading down his skin. Grantaire squeezed his neck and let go, stepping away to get the towel. “One step forward, I’m putting the towel down.” He spread it on the floor and touched Enjolras’ arm when it was done. “Okay, step back.” Once he had, he put his hand on Enjolras’ neck again. “Down, one knee at a time. Nice and slow. Good boy.” He kept his hand in place as Enjolras knelt, and reached over to the table to grab the bottle of lube on the edge before kneeling behind him. He ghosted his hand down from Enjolras’ neck, brushing his fingertips over his hands and halting just below them. “Give me a colour for opening you up, sweetheart,” he murmured.

Enjolras’ fingers curled, and he let his head dip lower. “Green.”

“Good boy.” Grantaire put the lube down and spread both hands over Enjolras’ upper arms. “Bend down for me, forehead on the floor or wherever it’s most comfortable.”

Enjolras’ breathing was shallow, but he did as he was told, turning his head so his weight was on the side of his face rather than his forehead.

“Lovely,” Grantaire said, not bothering to censor himself. Enjolras looked so vulnerable like this, exposing himself before Grantaire’s eyes. The angle pushed his ass up, and when Grantaire leaned back he could see Enjolras’ toes curling, his fingers twitching when Grantaire let go of him and put one of his hands on Enjolras’ ass instead. “You look amazing, Enjolras.”

Enjolras’ breathing cracked again, the way it had before, and this time he managed to speak. “Thank you.”

Grantaire smiled, squeezing his ass. “So polite. I’m going to start now, okay? Give me a colour.”

“Green.” Enjolras pushed backwards, almost impatient, and Grantaire breathed out – this was okay. Enjolras wanted this.

“Okay.” He popped open the lube and squeezed some onto his fingers, letting it warm there for a few seconds before pressing them against Enjolras’ entrance. “Good boy,” he murmured, when Enjolras gasped, fingers twitching again. “Just relax for me.”

Enjolras did, taking deep breaths as Grantaire slid his middle finger in. There was no resistance, and Grantaire wished he’d taken his shirt off before starting this, because he was really heating up. Did Enjolras finger himself regularly? Did he use that prostate massager often? Grantaire didn’t dare ask, not wanting to unsettle the careful balance they’d found. Instead, he spread his other hand over Enjolras’ hip and began to thrust his finger in and out, drinking in Enjolras’ reactions.

His mouth was open against the carpet, his sides heaving as his breathing became shaky. His fingers clutched at empty air, tension growing in his arms, shoulders, and back. Grantaire squeezed his hip. “Relax, darling. I’m barely getting started.”

Enjolras twisted his face into the carpet and moaned, just a quiet little, “Ohhh,” but fuck if it didn’t go straight to Grantaire’s cock. It was Enjolras’ first moan of the evening, and Grantaire couldn’t wait for more. He wasn’t kidding about barely getting started either – there was still a lot more planned ahead of this. The game had worked better than Grantaire had expected too, if the way Enjolras was getting into this was any indication.

He took his time, liberal with the lube, and had to lean back to pull his shirt off before long. It would take too long to take his jeans off, and he didn’t want his attention split right now. In any other situation, the pressure on his cock would be unbearable, but he was completely focused on Enjolras at the moment. Enjolras’ shivery little breaths, his choked-off gasps, his shaking shoulders. He was stunning, and Grantaire told him so, whispered it against Enjolras’ trembling fingers.

“Thank you,” Enjolras breathed, voice much higher than normal. “R…”

Grantaire had two fingers in him, and he twisted them and pressed in, seeking Enjolras’ prostate. “Yes?”

“Ah…ah…” Enjolras turned his head, pressing his forehead to the ground and clenching around Grantaire’s fingers.

Grantaire kept pressing, slow and firm, fierce pleasure curling through him when Enjolras groaned. “If you want something, Enjolras, you have to ask for it. Those are the rules.”

“Can’t,” Enjolras gasped, and groaned again when Grantaire quickened his pace.

“You can,” he told him. “I know you can. What do you want?”

Enjolras panted, building up to it, and spoke in a rush. “The plug, please, I want the plug.”

“Not yet.” Grantaire smiled and went faster, a pace that had his wrist and fingers aching in seconds but which made Enjolras twist his head and gasp. “You’re not ready yet.” This was all planned – Enjolras had warned him he’d be greedy, but that it would be better if Grantaire drew everything out for as long as possible.

Enjolras wanted this scene to go on and on, and Grantaire was more than happy to oblige him. He stilled his hand, grinning at Enjolras’ noise of frustration, and drew his fingers out. “I told you I was only just getting started, remember?”

“But –” Enjolras cut himself off and made another frustrated noise when Grantaire stroked his entrance, clenching fruitlessly around nothing. “Oh, come on!”

Grantaire slapped him, firm but not stinging, across his ass. “Quiet.” Enjolras shivered and stilled, and Grantaire leaned forward to hold his collar, sliding his fingertips beneath the leather to tighten it around Enjolras’ neck. “Don’t forget this,” Grantaire told him, and slapped him again. He wished he could see the rest of Enjolras’ face – judging by his open mouth he seemed to be on board, but his eyes would have confirmed it. “Apologise.”

Enjolras sucked in a breath and swallowed, making the collar pull against Grantaire’s fingers. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Good boy.” Grantaire hit him again, and again, the smacks amazingly loud. “You let me put this collar on you; you can stop this any time you like. But till you do, I’m in charge. Is that clear?”

Enjolras’ head jerked in an aborted nod. “Yes,” he croaked. “Yes, it’s clear.”

“Good.” Grantaire gave him a few more slaps, then slid his finger over Enjolras’ entrance again. It was slick with lube, sensitive to Grantaire’s touch. “I’m going to uncuff you, and we’re going to go through some of those exercises again. I think you need reminding of your place.”

Enjolras shuddered, but didn’t object. Grantaire wiped his hand on the towel and unwrapped the cuffs, putting them back on the table. “Up,” he ordered. Enjolras pushed himself to his feet, swaying in place for a second until Grantaire’s hand brushed the small of his back. “Touch your toes. Try and keep your back straight.”

Enjolras was strong, but his flexibility was poor. He could hold a plank for longer than Grantaire had expected, but his fingertips barely stretched to his ankles. Grantaire let him struggle, and slid his hand from his back over the curve of his ass, just teasing. “Good boy,” he murmured. “Straighten up, then sit down.”

He put Enjolras through his paces once more, making him do sit-ups, press-ups, and tricep dips in quick succession, waiting for Enjolras to start breathing a little faster before giving him some gentler stretches. “You’re doing so well,” he told him. “Cross-legged again, and do those neck stretches, right side first. Nice and slow, that’s right.” He knelt behind Enjolras and spread his hand over the back of his neck, pushing the collar into his skin.

Enjolras’ mouth opened and closed a couple of times, his lips pressing together like he was trying to stop himself speaking, or perhaps find the words he wanted to say. “Gorgeous,” Grantaire told him softly, thumb sweeping against the side of Enjolras’ neck, feeling the stretched muscles. “You’re so good, Enjolras. Come out of that stretch now, love, do the other side.”

He had to bite his lip as Enjolras obeyed, glad Enjolras couldn’t see the conflicted expression on his face. Sweetheart and darling were the only petnames he’d decided he could handle, but love had slipped out before his brain had caught up, rolling off the tongue like he’d said it a hundred times before.

He had to keep control of himself. If he couldn’t do that, he couldn’t control Enjolras, and this whole scene would fall apart. He was doing this for Enjolras – his own feelings weren’t to be considered or fretted over. They had a plan, and he was going to stick to it.

“Hands on the back of your head,” he said, playing very gently with Enjolras’ collar, slipping his fingers underneath it and out again, pressing the edges into Enjolras’ skin. “Let the weight pull your head down, nice and easy.” Enjolras obeyed, the back of his neck an inviting curve Grantaire longed to kiss. “Good boy,” he murmured instead. “On your hands and knees. You’ve done so well, sweetheart, you see what happens when you please me?”

Enjolras’ breathing hitched at that, and Grantaire smiled, filing it away for later. “I’m going to open you up a little more,” he said, “then put the plug in you. Give me a colour.”

“Green.” So quiet, Grantaire would have worried if not for the way Enjolras had positioned himself so quickly, so eager to proceed.

“Alright then.” More lube, and Grantaire started fingering him again, stretching him more than before. The prostate massager wasn’t overly thick, but it was longer than Grantaire’s fingers, and Enjolras had said he preferred more lube to less. So Grantaire spent a good few minutes just thrusting his fingers in and out, his other hand stroking Enjolras’ back. Enjolras took him so well, and Grantaire told him so in no uncertain terms. He was so accommodating, his responses becoming less and less restrained. No more moans, alas, but his breathing was a wonderful measure of how he was feeling.

By the time Grantaire was satisfied, Enjolras was panting, shifting slightly on his knees. But he hadn’t demanded more, and Grantaire smiled as he pulled his fingers out and reached for the plug at last. “I’m so proud of you,” he grinned, pouring more lube over the toy. “You want it so much, but you haven’t said a word. So good, Enjolras. Do you want the plug now?”

“Yes,” Enjolras blurted, fingers curling into the carpet. “Please.”

“Good boy. Here we go then.” The plug slid in so easily, the flared base settling with the forward-facing arm pressing into Enjolras’ perineum. Enjolras sighed, going still as he adjusted to it, and Grantaire watched as he clenched a couple of times and then shivered, his breath catching. “Feel good?”

“Yes,” Enjolras breathed. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Grantaire wiped his hands and slid both palms down the backs of Enjolras’ thighs, entranced by the way Enjolras was clenching around the toy, his body starting to rock into it slightly. “You look incredible right now.”

Enjolras made a high sound, and when Grantaire looked he saw that Enjolras was biting down hard on his lower lip. “Such a good boy for me,” Grantaire encouraged, voice soft, and dug his nails in as he dragged his palms back up to Enjolras’ ass. Enjolras shivered again, a full-bodied ripple, and Grantaire smoothed his hands down his legs to his ankles. “Lie down, sweetheart, on your back.”

Enjolras swallowed and knelt up before turning over and lowering himself to the carpet, shifting until he was comfortable. Grantaire drank in the sight, momentarily arrested. Would Enjolras’ dislike of pain extend to candle wax? It wasn’t the same sort of pain as whips or paddles…

“R?” Enjolras breathed, and Grantaire shook his head, focusing on the present again.

“I’m here. A bit mindblown, but here.” He knelt next to Enjolras and pressed a palm into his chest. “You look good enough to eat, you know that?” It was okay to say that now, like this. He was allowed.

Enjolras smiled, trying to bite it back. Grantaire steeled himself and pressed his thumb against Enjolras’ lower lip. “Ready for me, Enjolras?”

Enjolras’ smile faded, his mouth opening. The tip of his tongue flicked against Grantaire’s thumb, and he swallowed, giving a tiny nod. “Yes.”

“Good boy. All green?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay then.” Grantaire took a moment to breathe, then moved to lift Enjolras’ hands over his head, stroking the palms of his hands before pressing his wrists to the ground. “Keep these here for me. If you move them, there’ll be consequences.” Enjolras nodded, so Grantaire continued, smoothing his hands back down Enjolras’ arms to his shoulders. He cupped Enjolras’ jaw with one hand, turning his head away, and slid the other down his torso, ghosting for a moment over his cock.

Enjolras jerked up into his hand, but Grantaire ignored him, sliding his fingers further down, between Enjolras’ legs. Enjolras lifted his knees and spread his legs instinctively, giving Grantaire access to the plug. Which he ignored in favour of stroking his fingers lightly over the join of Enjolras’ thigh and pelvis. Enjolras was shifting and twitching in a matter of seconds, responding faster than Grantaire had expected, and grinned as he pulled his hand back up to Enjolras’ chest.

Enjolras was easy to tease when he was in this state, a joy to play with. Perhaps his senses were heightened due to the blindfold, but he reacted to Grantaire’s every touch like his hands were electrically charged. He twisted his head and trembled, trying to thrust whenever Grantaire’s hands were near his cock. He gripped his wrists so tightly his knuckles were pale, his mouth open and wet, chest heaving with shallow, irregular breaths. Grantaire trailed his fingers, pressed in with his knuckles, caressed with his palms, but still Enjolras made no noises, nothing like those groans from before.

So Grantaire started to play a little rougher. It was easy to bring fingernails in, gentle at first, just to get Enjolras used to it. Then Grantaire kept one hand playing with one of Enjolras’ nipples, starting to pinch just a little, while he took a breath and leaned down to press his mouth to Enjolras’ shoulder. A kiss at first, if it could even be called that. He had to close his eyes, forcing any thoughts beyond the plan and the scene out of his head.

This was about Enjolras, not him. This was just a roundabout way of showing how much he appreciated him.

He opened his mouth and scraped his teeth together against Enjolras’ skin. Enjolras made a noise not unlike a high-pitched, “Ah!” and a jolt of heat went through Grantaire’s stomach, so strong he almost lost his balance and head-butted Enjolras’ arm.

Grantaire lifted his head and gave Enjolras an amused look he couldn’t see. “Enjoy biting, do you?”

Enjolras turned his face away, actually lifting his arm partially to hide it, and Grantaire reached out immediately, grabbing Enjolras’ arm and pushing it back to the floor. “Come on, sweetheart, you can’t honestly think I’m going to judge you for anything here?”

“I’m…it’s just…” Enjolras was tense, lips turned down, and Grantaire sat up, putting both his hands on Enjolras’ chest and pressing down gently, smoothing one down his side.

“I think you need something to occupy your mouth,” he decided impulsively. “Are you any good at tongue twisters?”

“Tongue twisters?” Had Enjolras’ eyes been uncovered, Grantaire was reasonably sure he would have been staring at him.

“Yeah.” Grantaire rested one hand on the ground on Enjolras’ other side and leaned forward, forward, until his lips were close enough to Enjolras’ ear for his teeth to close very gently on his earlobe. “Tongue twisters,” he whispered around it, and grinned when Enjolras choked, his hips lifting into the air. He sucked gently while he waited for Enjolras to decide, breathing in the smell of Enjolras’ body so close, hot and supple below his own.

(He was enamoured, enraptured, possessed – so in love that for a second he could barely breathe for yearning, wishing it could always be like this, the two of them always so close and trusting.)

“Okay,” Enjolras said, so soft Grantaire wasn’t sure for a moment whether he’d heard him.

“Okay?” he checked, lifting his head, shaking errant thoughts from his mind once more.

Enjolras nodded. “Which…what should I say?”

“Hmmm.” Grantaire considered it, rolling one of Enjolras’ nipples between his fingers. “How about, she sells seashells on the seashore?”

“The…the shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure,” Enjolras breathed, head tipped back.

“Very good,” Grantaire grinned, impressed. “But of course you have a talented tongue – I shouldn’t be surprised. Let’s see if you can keep it going though.” He lowered his head again and bit at the nipple he’d teased to hardness. Enjolras hissed, but not in discomfort if the way his hips twitched were any indication. “Go on,” Grantaire murmured, one of his hands slipping down to Enjolras’ thigh. “I’m waiting.”

Enjolras took a deep breath. “She sells seashells on…on…” He broke off, chest heaving, as Grantaire pressed at the plug, rocking it inside Enjolras.

“Go on,” he urged, grinning. “Where does she sell her shells?”

“On the, on…” Enjolras swallowed, heart thudding below Grantaire’s lips as he started giving him a hickey there. “On the seashore,” he managed in a great rush, and Grantaire hummed, pulling his mouth away with a smacking sound.

“That she does. Keep going, darling. Show off a bit.”

“The shells, she…shells, sells –”

Grantaire tutted and gave the plug a hard push. The forward-facing arm pressed into Enjolras’ perineum and he gasped, his whole body shuddering. “I expect better, Enjolras,” Grantaire told him softly. “From the beginning, no mistakes.”

Enjolras nodded, jaw tightening with resolve even as Grantaire moved away from his torso and sat himself instead between Enjolras’ legs, the better to abuse Enjolras’ sensitive inner thighs. “She sells seashells on the seashore,” Enjolras breathed, shifting as Grantaire stroked his hands from his knees to his ass. “The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.”

“Very good,” Grantaire hummed, sweeping his fingers back and forth, back and forth along the backs of Enjolras’ thighs. “Again.”

“She sells seashells on the seashore. The shells she sells are…are seashells, I’m sure.” His voice shook as Grantaire bent forward to kiss the side of his left knee.

“Again,” Grantaire breathed against his skin, and sucked gently on his next kiss.

“Ah…” Enjolras’ voice cracked, and he dug his heels into the carpet. “She sells seashells on the seashore,” he babbled, pitched much higher than his normal voice. “The shells she sells are seashells I’m sure, she sells –”

“Shhhh.” Grantaire cut him off by squeezing his thighs, feeling the muscles contract and twitch under his palms. “You’ve got the hang of this one, and you should keep your tongue nice and limber, hm? How about Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers?” 

“Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” Enjolras said back, faint, and Grantaire laughed.

“How do you know all these?”

“Theatre group.” Enjolras flexed his legs; a reminder of what they were doing, as if Grantaire could forget. “When I was a kid.”

“Aren’t you full of surprises. Peter Piper then, go on.” Grantaire bent his head again, his neck protesting the angle as he nipped at where he’d sucked a moment before.

It took Enjolras a second to collect himself. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” he said carefully, though his hips twitched as Grantaire started to bite a gentle trail down his thigh. “Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?”

“Very good,” Grantaire mumbled, biting a little harder just to make Enjolras’ leg jerk against his hand. “Again, faster.”

“Peter…Peter Piper picked a peck –”

Faster.” Grantaire pressed forward as much as his position would allow and managed to press his teeth for a moment against that line where Enjolras’ thigh ended.

Enjolras’ hips snapped upwards and he moaned, at last. Grantaire breathed deep, savouring the sound and the heat of Enjolras’ thighs either side of his head, the smell of soap and precome. “Go on,” he said, raising his voice so Enjolras would definitely hear him.

“Fuck.” It was quiet, but Grantaire grinned like a fool all the same because Enjolras was losing his cool, and it was thanks to him. His trust wasn’t unfounded – Grantaire could do this. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” Enjolras recited, a fraction faster than before. “Where’s the peck o-oh, oh, oh –”

Grantaire mouthed at Enjolras’ other thigh as he pressed the plug again, this time putting more pressure on the arm against Enjolras’ perineum. “Where indeed,” he grinned. “From the top, Enjolras.” Enjolras whined in response, and delicious heat spread under Grantaire’s skin. “Come on, you can do it.”

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” Enjolras croaked, slow and shaky. “Where’s the…peck of, of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.”

“Again,” Grantaire instructed, stretching an arm forward to slide up Enjolras’ side, making him twitch.

“Peter Piper picked a peck,” Enjolras whispered, digging his heels into the carpet so hard he actually pushed himself into the air for a second. “Of pickled pep-peppers, Peter…fuck, where’s…”

“Again,” Grantaire smiled, trailing his hand back down, over Enjolras’ hip and thigh and all the way down to his beautiful ankle.

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the pap of pickled peckers – fuck!”

“It’s alright.” Soothing hands pressing Enjolras’ hips down, gentle mouth on Enjolras’ knee. “Go again. You can do it.”

Enjolras sniffed and nodded, and from this higher viewpoint Grantaire could see the way he was holding onto his wrists so tightly his arms were shaking. “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,” he whispered. “Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.”

“Excellent, sweetheart. See, I told you you could do it. How about another? Something shorter. Red lorry, yellow lorry?” He had to concentrate to say it correctly – how would Enjolras manage, strung out and shaking as he was?

“Red lorry yellow lorry,” Enjolras breathed, shifting in place. Grantaire bent down and pressed his nose to the base of his cock, closing his eyes as Enjolras gasped. “R –”

“Go on, keep going,” Grantaire mumbled, lifting his face a little to see what he could of Enjolras’ expression. His mouth was trembling, and Grantaire looped a hand under his leg to touch the tip of his cock. Enjolras jumped, biting his lip hard, and Grantaire danced the fingers of his other hand up the back of Enjolras’ thigh. “Keep going, Enjolras. Don’t keep me waiting.”

“Red lorry, yellow lorry,” Enjolras muttered, arching his chest as Grantaire pressed his fingers to his cock again, smearing precome around the head. “Fuck, fuck, I can’t –”

“Yes you can.” Grantaire made his voice unyielding even as his fingers gentled, teasing with tiny strokes over Enjolras’ frenulum.

“Ahhhhhh…” Enjolras thrust upwards, crying out in frustration when Grantaire didn’t change his tactics at all. “Grantaire!

The memory of Enjolras saying his name like that would haunt his fantasies for the next fifty years, Grantaire was sure. Instead of cursing the way he wanted to, he tutted. “Tongue twisters, Enjolras. If you want me to stop, you know how to make me.”

Another furious, desperate noise, but Enjolras took a couple of deep breaths afterwards and tried again. “Red lorry, yellow lorry.” Careful and deliberate, if still higher than normal. “Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry, ohh –” 

It was like the plug was directly connected to Enjolras’ ability to form sentences. Grantaire rubbed his thumb over the base, rocking it into Enjolras at the same time as he stroked slick fingers over the head of his cock. “Faster, darling,” he said softly. “I want you to work for it.”

Enjolras’ throat worked soundlessly, and Grantaire took mercy, slowing down the rhythm of his fingers. “Red lorry,” Enjolras whispered. “Y-yellow lorry.”

“Faster. You can do it, sweetheart.”

“Red lorry yellow lorry.” He breathed the words out quickly, agonised. “Red lorry yellow lorry red rorry yellow…” He trailed into silence, and Grantaire frowned, scooting backwards out of the cradle of Enjolras’ legs to kneel at his side, cupping his jaw with one hand.

“Give me a colour, Enjolras.”

“It’s green,” Enjolras said thickly. “It’s fine, I’m sorry, I’m just messing up, I can’t help it.”

“That’s the point of tongue twisters, love.” Grantaire brushed his thumb across the edge of the mask, over Enjolras’ cheekbone. “No one can keep them up. It’s okay.”

“Can I try again?” Enjolras asked, sounding a little steadier.

“Always. To your heart’s content. Or, y’know.” Grantaire smiled, trying not to get worried. “My heart’s content.” That got a smile out of him, at least, and Grantaire stroked his free hand up Enjolras’ arm, making him shiver. “Go on.”

“Red lorry, yellow lorry,” Enjolras whispered. Grantaire imagined he was frowning under the mask, concentrating hard. “Red lorry yellow lorry, red lorry yellow lorry.” Grantaire let go of Enjolras’ jaw and reached for his cock instead, resuming the teasing strokes from before. “Red…fuck, red lorry yellow lolly, lorry, red lorry…yellow…”

“It doesn’t count if you’re pausing between every word,” Grantaire told him, slightly preoccupied by the way a trickle of precome was making its way down Enjolras’ side. Enjolras’ cock twitched under his fingers, the head flushed where Grantaire could see it through his fingers.

“Red lorry yellow lorry,” Enjolras bit out, gasping as Grantaire trailed his other hand close to his armpit. “Yellow – red lorry, lello, fuck, R, R –”

“Ticklish?” Grantaire grinned and tweaked Enjolras’ nipple instead of tormenting him further. “Go on, keep trying. I want at least five in a row.”

“Red lorry yellow lorry,” Enjolras panted. “Red lorry…yellow lorry. Ah –” He squirmed, throwing his head back as Grantaire leaned down to suck a hickey onto his collarbone. “Red lorry,” he continued after a second, his heart in overdrive. “Yellow lorry. Red lorry yellow lorry red lorry yellow lorry!” His frantic recitation became a moan as Grantaire finally spread his whole hand over Enjolras’ cock and stroked him properly, just twice.

“Very good.” Grantaire propped his chin on Enjolras’ chest, all his weight on his right elbow so he wouldn’t squash Enjolras. “You’re wonderful, Enjolras.” He kept stroking him, the promise of a reward. “Is this what you want now?”

They’d agreed that this choice would be Enjolras’, but Grantaire couldn’t help being surprised when Enjolras shook his head. He would’ve taken the orgasm, quick as a flash, but then he would have been a whimpering, pathetic mess by now, whereas Enjolras had enough self-control to not even need restraining. “No?” He stilled his hand, but kept it wrapped around Enjolras’ cock. “What do you want then?”

“To…you, I want,” Enjolras swallowed. “I want to…thank you…”

“You want to please me.” Grantaire wanted to kiss him. He forced the desire down and smiled instead, sitting up so he could cup Enjolras’ jaw again. “Is that it?”

“Yes,” Enjolras whispered.

“You want to be good for me.” Enjolras nodded, making a choked sound of agreement. Grantaire brushed his thumb over his lower lip, his own heart starting to beat harder. “Do you want to make me come?”

“Yes. Please.”

“I couldn’t deny you anything.” It slipped out before Grantaire could stop himself, and he hurried on quickly. “Okay. I’m going to sit on the sofa, and you’re going to kneel in front of me and suck me off. Sound good?” In the original plan, he’d been standing, but he knew now that there was absolutely no chance of him retaining the ability to stay upright if Enjolras was giving him a blowjob. His knees would probably give out in under five seconds.

Enjolras nodded. “Yes.”

“Good boy. I’m going to help you up, alright? What’s your colour?”

“Green.” Enjolras’ forearms had little marks where he’d dug his nails in, so deep that Grantaire thought for a second he’d cut himself. He levered himself off the ground hips first, gasping a little as the plug shifted inside him. Grantaire found himself supporting more of his weight than he’d expected, holding Enjolras up while he found his feet.

“Thank you,” Enjolras murmured. Grantaire had to resist the urge to press a kiss to his jaw in response.

“You can thank me in a second, sweetheart.” He walked Enjolras carefully over to the sofa, the few steps stretching out for long seconds.

“On my knees?” Enjolras asked, a smile flitting across his face.

“That’s right.” Grantaire slid his arm away from Enjolras’ waist and smiled, pushing his shoulders. “Down you go, good boy.” Once Enjolras was kneeling, Grantaire sat down in front of him and hooked a finger through Enjolras’ collar. Enjolras’ reaction was instantaneous – he jolted and stilled, head tipped back and lips parted, and Grantaire realised after a second that he was actually holding his breath. “Good boy,” he breathed again, and gave the collar a tug. “Come forward, that’s right.”

Positioning was going to be a slight issue, he realised now. He was sitting on the edge of the sofa right now, but he was still going to need to either take his jeans off or push them right down to his ankles for his legs to be spread wide enough for Enjolras to fit between them. He would also need to lean back, and when he did so experimentally, he found that if he was completely relaxed, he was half lying down. Why on earth did Combeferre and Enjolras have such a deep sofa?

First things first. “Stay there,” he told Enjolras, letting go of his collar to undo his fly and lift his hips off the cushion. “Um. Lean back a sec?” Enjolras did, and Grantaire shoved his jeans and boxers down quickly. No time to take them off – he just pulled Enjolras forward by his collar again, focusing on the way it made Enjolras’ breath catch. And holy shit, Enjolras’ head was very, very close to Grantaire’s cock.

“My jeans are right in front of you,” Grantaire told him, unnecessarily since Enjolras’ knees were pressing into the material. “There’s a condom in the pocket to your left. Still green?”

“Yes.” Enjolras fumbled at his jeans, suddenly touching Grantaire a lot more. His shoulders slid against the sides of Grantaire’s knees, his fingers fluttering around his ankle, his breath warm on the skin of his thigh. Grantaire closed his hand carefully around his cock, squeezing too hard to bring any real pleasure. If he didn’t desensitise a little before this, he’d go off like a rocket, like a fucking teenager.

Enjolras slid his hand up Grantaire’s leg, condom between his fingers. “Can I,” he started, then paused, licked his lips and swallowed. “My…the mask, can I…”

“Do you want me to take it off?” Grantaire asked, running his finger under Enjolras’ collar, up to the bulge of his adam’s apple and back to the side.

“Yes, please.” Enjolras sounded hesitant, but relaxed when Grantaire let go of his collar and cradled his face.

“Okay. I’m going to take it off, but keep your eyes shut for a few seconds. Let them adjust. Alright?”

“Thank you,” Enjolras murmured. Grantaire took a breath, forced down his fears about being seen, and pushed the mask up and off Enjolras’ head. He put it aside without looking, gazing instead at Enjolras’ face. His eyes were a very welcome sight. Even closed, Enjolras’ eyes and eyebrows were the most expressive part of his face. On its own, his mouth wasn’t enough. Grantaire needed to see all of him to pick up on the subtler things he didn’t say.

Like the way that he was very into this right now. His eyelids fluttered, then opened, and Grantaire stared, enraptured, at the sight of an Enjolras practically hazy with pleasure, if not deep in subspace then at least definitely in it. “All good?” he asked quietly, letting his hands fall from Enjolras’ head to his shoulders.

Enjolras nodded, and blinked a few times before looking down, at Grantaire’s cock. And all of a sudden, Grantaire remembered what they were doing. “Can I…” Enjolras pressed his fingers against Grantaire’s thigh, the condom wrapper crinkling, and Grantaire nodded before he really knew what he was agreeing to.

“Slowly,” he said, as Enjolras let go of him to tear the wrapper open. Enjolras nodded, serious and calm, and Grantaire let go of his cock and thanked fuck that Enjolras wasn’t looking at his face right now and therefore couldn’t see the way Grantaire was mouthing curses to himself. He didn’t have long for introspection – Enjolras’ hand was on him, warm and beautiful, so beautiful, making the simple act of rolling a condom onto him look like art.

“Good boy,” Grantaire whispered. He left one hand on Enjolras’ shoulder but moved the other to the back of his neck, weighing there but not pushing. “Time to put those deepthroating abilities to good use, hm?”

Enjolras grinned up at him, sly and fucking stunning, brown eyes gleaming, and Grantaire barely had time to take a breath before he was leaning forward and taking Grantaire’s cock into his mouth, hot and tight and so sudden that Grantaire was groaning before he could even think of holding back. He squeezed Enjolras’ shoulder, which Enjolras’ obviously took as encouragement, sucking harder and sliding his mouth down, down.

Grantaire fought for breath, staring and staring at Enjolras’ closed eyes and stretched jaw, his top lip shining slightly from where he must have licked it before starting. “Fuck, you’re good at this,” Grantaire choked, and Enjolras pulled back enough to hum, eyes creasing at the edges with a smile his mouth couldn’t complete. He was holding his wrists again, Grantaire noticed when he craned his neck to see, pressed to the small of his back even though Grantaire hadn’t told him to do so.

Which meant Enjolras wanted it that way, even if he hadn’t said so when they were outlining this part of the scene. They hadn’t lingered over it – just agreed that Enjolras would suck him off, and then they’d move on – but now Grantaire forced himself to take stock. It was very, very difficult to concentrate when Enjolras was sucking gently at the head of his cock, experimenting with his tongue, but Grantaire curled his toes and made himself look.

Enjolras was curved forward as much as he could, arms crooked out at an angle so more of his skin was touching Grantaire’s thighs. His breathing was uneven and his eyes weren’t creased in a smile anymore, but in something like desperation. As an experiment, Grantaire curled two shaky fingers under his collar. His cock slipped from Enjolras’ mouth as Enjolras gasped, a little tremor running through him that Grantaire might not have noticed if he hadn’t felt it where Enjolras’ shoulders pressed into his thighs.

“Do you want something, sweetheart?” he asked, not even caring how raspy his voice was. Enjolras didn’t answer, just opened his eyes briefly and slid his lips back around Grantaire’s cock and doing something with his tongue that made Grantaire moan, his hips twitching forward. Enjolras jerked in response, pushing his mouth down further. Grantaire took a breath and pulled him back by his collar.

More weight pushed against his right thigh – Enjolras relaxing, Grantaire realised, practically melting into Grantaire’s tug on his collar. “Good boy,” he whispered. “You just want to please me, is that it?”

Enjolras nodded before he managed to say, “Yes.”

“Do you want me to direct you? Move you where I want you to be?” Enjolras was nodding again before Grantaire had even finished, looking up at him with wide eyes. “Okay then.” Grantaire squeezed his shoulder. “If you want me to stop or pause, you grab my ankle, understand?”

“Yes.” Enjolras swayed forward, pulling against the grip Grantaire had on him.

“Gently, sweetheart,” Grantaire murmured, and Enjolras bowed his head. “Good boy. Okay.” Deep breaths, he could do this. “Slow, that’s right.” He guided Enjolras’ head forward, pulse jumping as Enjolras licked the end of his cock into his mouth. “That thing with your tongue you did before – fuck, yes, ah, just like that. Christ, you’re good, you are way too good at this.”

Enjolras looked up at him for a second, looking pleased, and Grantaire laughed weakly. “What, you didn’t know? I should’ve known, really – your mouth’s always been the deadliest part of you.” Enjolras curled his tongue again, running it under the corona, and Grantaire pushed gently on the back of his neck, urging him further down. “God, you’re beautiful, that’s perfect, holy…” He trailed off, guiding Enjolras’ mouth back and forth till he got the message and started doing it himself, slow and tight.

It was incredible. Enjolras responded to his slightest touch, and pulled back of his own accord to breathe when he needed to, which was a weight off Grantaire’s mind. He didn’t seem to mind that Grantaire was making him give what was possibly the slowest blowjob of his life, or that he was being held quite tight between Grantaire’s thighs. Every time Grantaire squeezed his shoulders, his eyelids fluttered. If he was far back enough, he even moaned.

“You like being manhandled, sweetheart?” Grantaire painted, trying very hard not to thrust into Enjolras’ throat. “Held nice and still for me?”

Enjolras made a choked noise that didn’t sound negative, and Grantaire shuddered when he slid right down and swallowed around him. “Fuck, oh my…Jesus, Enjolras, your mouth, I can’t believe you can do this, how the fuck…”

Enjolras hummed as he came back up, and Grantaire tipped his head back against the back of the sofa, already far too close to coming. “Mmmm?” Enjolras didn’t take his mouth away as he made the noise, and Grantaire looked back down at him, swallowing.

“Oh I’m good, believe me. Not as good as you, but that would be basically impossible right now.” Enjolras’ eyes creased in another smile he couldn’t make with his mouth, and Grantaire slid his hand up from his shoulder to press against his neck, thumb against his jaw. “I mean every word,” Grantaire told him, nudging him down again and groaning at how good it felt. “Every fucking word, fuck, fuck, you shouldn’t be allowed, this is ridiculous, there has to be a law against making someone feel like this…” He was babbling and he couldn’t stop, not when he could see what the praise was doing to Enjolras.

If human beings could glow, there was no doubt in Grantaire’s mind that Enjolras would have been shining like the sun. He barely needed Grantaire’s hand on the back of his neck, sucking and swallowing with single-minded devotion, pressing as close as he possibly could. Grantaire managed to slide one of his knees behind his shoulder to help and Enjolras shuddered in response, his expression ecstatic. And with every sound of pleasure Grantaire made, he seemed to brighten.

Reassurance that he was doing well, Grantaire understood, rubbing his fingers under Enjolras’ collar to keep it tight around his neck. “Brilliant,” he managed to gasp, thrusting a little despite himself now. “Enjolras, Christ, do you even…oh, oh God, fuck, let me breathe, you’re going to ruin me for any other mouth, do you realise that?”

Enjolras pulled back and moaned, tongue flat against the underside of Grantaire’s cock, the faint vibration enough to make his hand clench on the back of Enjolras’ neck. Enjolras’ moan leapt up about two octaves and Grantaire felt him shift, thrusting against nothing, and fuck if that wasn’t one of the hottest things he’d ever experienced. He was a hundred percent sure that Enjolras would love nothing more right now than for his mouth to be fucked, but that really wasn’t something Grantaire wanted to do, not without negotiation.

So, alternative plan. “You want to make me come, Enjolras?”

Enjolras looked up at him through his eyelashes as he hummed in the affirmative, and Grantaire squeezed the back of his neck again. Enjolras groaned in response, the sound cutting off as he pushed forward and took Grantaire right to the back of his throat. Grantaire tightened his grip helplessly for a second before regaining a modicum of self-control and gasping, “Good…oh my fuck, okay, that’ll do it, good boy, good…yes…”

If it felt this good with a condom, Grantaire couldn’t even imagine what it would feel like with nothing between his cock and the slick heat of Enjolras’ mouth, nothing to prevent Enjolras from swallowing everything down and sucking him clean, taking it with that rapturous expression he was wearing right now –

Grantaire was silent as he came, all the air he might have used to make a sound pulled from his lungs as his cock pulsed, Enjolras swallowing and swallowing, the constriction of his throat glorious and depraved and fucking divine. Grantaire barely remembered to relax the hand on Enjolras’ neck so he could pull back and breathe once Grantaire was done. 

“Fuck,” he breathed. He’d thrown his head back, he realised, and he let out a shaky breath as he curled forward again and stroked Enjolras’ jaw. “God, you’re good. I…fuck, I might actually need a second.” If he didn’t move back now, the desire to kiss Enjolras might just overpower him. Enjolras closed his eyes and nodded, mouth still slightly open, lips shiny and pulse thundering under Grantaire’s thumb. He was the most beautiful thing Grantaire had ever seen.

Two deep breaths later, he pulled on Enjolras’ collar. “Shuffle back, sweetheart, and stay nice and still for me. Good boy.” With more space in front of him, Grantaire pulled the condom off and stood to pull his jeans back up. He could go to the kitchen to throw the condom away, but that would mean leaving Enjolras alone, which he couldn’t even consider right now. He’d never gotten the hang of tying them off, so he just folded the open end over and left the condom on the sofa to deal with later.

“You’ve been so good,” he murmured, kneeling down next to Enjolras and reaching for his cock with one hand and the plug with his other. Enjolras’ spine snapped to straightness immediately, his mouth flying open, and Grantaire grinned and bit his shoulder. “So good for me, darling, I think you deserve to come now.” His cock had been leaking precome the whole time he’d been blowing Grantaire, the head sticky with it, and Grantaire lifted his hand just for a second to hold it in front of Enjolras’ mouth. “Spit.”

Enjolras drew in a shuddery breath and had to work his mouth for a couple of seconds before spitting into Grantaire’s palm. “Good boy.” Grantaire spat as well, and reached down to spread it over Enjolras’ cock. “A combined effort, you could say,” he grinned as Enjolras threw his head back and whined, hips and legs twitching as Grantaire started to rock the plug inside him. “How does it feel?”

“I…it…” Enjolras cried out and twisted his body so that he could press his head against Grantaire’s shoulder, panting little, “Ah!”’s on every exhale.

“Answer, Enjolras, or I’ll stop.”

“No, please…it’s, I can’t, R –”

“It feels good?” Grantaire tightened his grip on every upstroke, Enjolras gasping against his shoulder.

Yes, yes, it’s so good, fuck…”

“You’re allowed to come whenever you like,” Grantaire whispered into his ear, and Enjolras cried out, clenching so tightly around the plug that Grantaire felt it move against his fingers. He went stiff for a second before his whole body spasmed, a broken noise torn from his throat as he came. Grantaire really hoped he wouldn’t mind that there was now jizz on his living room carpet, but technically it was fair play – he’d made Grantaire come on the carpet of his and Marius’ apartment, after all.

He held Enjolras up as he slumped, keeping his head tucked against his neck. “Good boy,” he murmured. “Time for a break, I think. You’re doing so well, I’m so impressed.”

“Really?” Enjolras sounded faint, and Grantaire gave his shoulders a squeeze, surreptitiously wiping his hand on the carpet.

“Really. How’re you doing?” Enjolras made a soft, mumbly sound in response, and Grantaire closed his eyes for a second, refusing to do something ridiculous, like say, “Awwwww,” or kiss him. “Okay, let’s keep it nice and simple. Do you want me to take the plug out?”

“No.” Enjolras’ head moved against his shoulder as he tried to shake it.

“Alright, that’s fine.” He wouldn’t be able to sit down properly, but whatever, Grantaire could work with it. He stretched a hand out and grabbed the sofa cushion he’d been sitting on, digging his fingers into the fabric and pulling until it slid free. He barely lifted it clear of the wet patch on the carpet, but managed to use the momentum to lift it over both their heads and drop it to the floor on Enjolras’ other side. “Lie down for a second, okay? Awesome, that’s great.” He helped Enjolras lower himself down without jostling the plug. “I’ll be right back, alright? Give me a colour.”

“Green, I’m okay,” Enjolras murmured, curling up.

“Great, two seconds then.” Grantaire grabbed a toilet roll from the bathroom first, rinsing his hand while he was there. He left the roll on the sofa and went into Enjolras’ bedroom next, bundling the duvet into his arms and bringing it out to lay it over Enjolras, who opened his eyes a crack and smiled.

“Thanks.”

“I don’t want you getting cold.” Grantaire almost reached out to touch his face, then turned away and went to wipe as much come off the carpet as he could. “Water?” he asked when he was done. At Enjolras’, “Yes, please,” he took all the rubbish to dump in the kitchen bin and got them each a glass. He considered getting under the duvet with Enjolras for a ridiculous second before settling cross-legged next to him on the floor. “Here,” he said softly, waiting for Enjolras to straighten up a bit before handing his drink over.

“Thank you.” Enjolras smiled, eyes half-open as he sipped.

Grantaire watched him, checking him for any signs of dropping. “How’re you feeling? Do you want anything to eat?”

“No, thank you. You can help yourself if you like though,” he added quickly, and Grantaire smiled, shaking his head.

“I’m fine, don’t worry. You ready to keep going in a minute?”

Enjolras nodded, taking a larger swallow. “You could…if you like,” he said slowly, “you could be meaner now?”

Grantaire almost frowned. “But you…like what, humiliation?” Enjolras nodded, but Grantaire was already shaking his head again, smiling to soften it. “No negotiation mid-scene, sweetheart.”

“Okay.” Was it his imagination, or did Enjolras look a fraction more relaxed? Grantaire was relieved he’d accepted the rejection, whatever the reasons behind it. He could ask later why Enjolras had asked for something he’d been so obviously against during the negotiation process. They finished their water in silence – Grantaire hadn’t finished running through the next part of the scene before Enjolras put his glass down and gave him an expectant look.

“Ready for more?” Grantaire asked, biting back a smile at Enjolras’ nod. “Alright. On your knees, darling. Do you want the mask?”

“I’m okay, I think. Thank you,” Enjolras added, pushing the duvet aside and kneeling, ass on his heels. Grantaire hadn’t expected his expression to be visible at this point – keeping his composure was going to be difficult – but he had a back-up plan. He settled behind Enjolras instead of at his side, wrapping an arm around his chest and pulling until Enjolras was tilted back against him, head tipped back against Grantaire’s shoulder.

“Colour?” Grantaire murmured, reaching between them to touch the plug. Enjolras’ breath caught, eyelids fluttering before he managed to find his voice. 

“Green.”

“Good boy.” Grantaire nipped at his earlobe and started to touch him, gentle and soft, pressing his face against Enjolras’ neck and kissing the soft skin there. Enjolras’ hairline was particularly sensitive, and Grantaire lavished attention on it, feeling the pulse under his mouth pick up, Enjolras’ heart thumping faster under his hands.

It was easy by now to focus entirely on Enjolras, and it helped that he was so arresting, so responsive. He wasn’t as restrained as he had been earlier, no longer trying to hold back every sound louder than a gasp. He moaned when Grantaire stroked his inner thighs, whimpered when Grantaire lifted one of his hands and kissed his palm.

Grantaire couldn’t get over Enjolras’ hands. He trailed his own fingers over Enjolras’ stomach and kissed his palm again, interlinking their fingers and pulling Enjolras’ hand back so he could kiss his wrist as well, press his lips to the veins and delicate bones there in reverence. “You have the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen in my life,” he told Enjolras, past caring about being too honest. “I mean, all of you is outrageously stunning, but your hands, Enjolras, they’re really something else.”

Enjolras’ throat worked, but he didn’t speak. Grantaire brought his fingers forward with no resistance and kissed the tip of each one, lingering as much as he wanted to, giving them all the attention they deserved. Once he’d kissed the thumb as well, he pressed Enjolras’ middle finger to his lower lip, breathing in deeply. He slid it back and forth, revelling in the way Enjolras’ twitched and shifted impatiently against him, and finally flicked his tongue over it and took it into his mouth properly.

Enjolras whined, the sound sending goosebumps racing across Grantaire’s skin. He pulled Enjolras’ finger slowly from his lips and murmured, “Such a good boy. See how much better it is when you let yourself react to things properly?” He licked the pad of Enjolras’ index finger and wrapped his lips around that next, smiling at Enjolras’ groan. He scraped his teeth along it as he pulled it away, and pressed a quick kiss to his palm again. “Gorgeous. I hope you know how much I appreciate it.”

“Because of art?” Enjolras breathed, turning his head to press the sides of their faces together. The intimacy of it took Grantaire aback, his mind momentarily muddled before Enjolras continued, “You draw people, don’t you?”

“Oh, you like that idea?” He could run with that as long as he kept a degree of separation there. He grinned and guided Enjolras’ arms back to wrap around him, holding them together. Hands freed, Grantaire ran both down Enjolras’ chest to his thighs, digging his fingertips in to see the way the flesh yielded to the pressure. “You a model for some artist, lounging on a sofa to be painted? Or sculpted, actually – I don’t think paint would do you justice.”

He slid one hand in to curl briefly around Enjolras cock, half-hard and sensitive. Enjolras hissed and arched, and Grantaire lifted his other hand to his collar, spreading his hand across Enjolras’ throat, teasing with the threat of choking. “You should be sculpted in bronze,” he said conversationally. “Gold’s too gaudy, but you need to shine. And you’d need to be measured, of course, for it to be realistic.” He dragged his other hand up Enjolras’ torso, pinching a nipple when he got close enough. It made Enjolras jerk, his breath stutter. “Every inch,” Grantaire told him, murmured it right against his ear to make him groan quietly.

Distantly, Grantaire remembered that photograph he’d saved to his laptop of the woman strung as a living harp. He was playing Enjolras like an instrument now, coaxing cracked, breathless noises from him and savouring them as though they were the sweetest music, pressing his fingers and mouth to Enjolras’ skin to make him sing. It didn’t take long for Enjolras to reach full hardness again, and it was the work of a moment to encourage him to kneel up properly for a second so that Grantaire could slide his leg between Enjolras’.

“Careful, sweetheart,” he murmured, squeezing Enjolras’ hips as he sat back on Grantaire’s thigh. The second the plug’s base came into contact with Grantaire’s leg, Enjolras’ mouth fell open.

“Ohhh, fuck…”

“Still green?”

Yes, oh God.” Enjolras swallowed and leaned all his weight back against Grantaire’s chest, starting to rock against his leg. “Oh…oh…”

“I thought you might like this idea.” Grantaire had to grin, tightening the grip he had on Enjolras’ collar and forcing him to slow down. “Good boy.” He bit Enjolras’ shoulder, twisting their bodies to get a better view of his face. It meant more strain on his right arm, but it was worth it to see Enjolras’ expressions as he moved, overstimulating himself and shuddering, biting back a groan as Grantaire started to stroke his cock.

He was helpless, mindlessly following his body’s desires with no thoughts for discomfort or inhibition. Grantaire pushed his leg up slightly, pushing the plug and its outer arm further into and against Enjolras, and Enjolras actually cried out, sounding almost pained as he thrusted into Grantaire’s hand.

Just as his hips began to gain a wild edge to their movements, Grantaire stopped him. He let go of his cock and squeezed Enjolras still against his own body, holding him in place. “Not yet, love.”

Enjolras made a sound halfway between a whine and a growl and forced himself back down against Grantaire’s thigh, still frantically chasing his orgasm.

“No.” Grantaire let go of his collar and pushed him forward, bending him at the waist so his hips tilted up enough for Grantaire to pull his leg away. Ignoring Enjolras’ frustrated groan, he hooked his fingers beneath his collar again and twisted, pulling it tight against Enjolras’ throat until he went still, shivering, his face hidden against the floor. “If you want me to stop, or pause, you know what you have to do,” Grantaire told him quietly, secure in the knowledge that Enjolras would do no such thing. “But till you do, I lead, remember? Not you. Got that?”

Enjolras nodded, but Grantaire could see him clenching around the plug. He snorted and pulled at the collar again. “I think you’d better give me a colour, sweetheart – I’m going to spank you if you don’t stop.”

“Green,” Enjolras said immediately, saying it over Grantaire’s last words, so quick that Grantaire almost laughed. 

“Up you get then, darling. On your feet, over the table.”

Enjolras staggered up, leaning on Grantaire’s offered arm for a second before tip-toeing over to the table and lowering himself carefully, beginning to clench around the plug again as soon as he was still.

“Insatiable,” Grantaire muttered fondly, grabbing the cuffs and going down on one knee to touch Enjolras’ ankle. “I’m going to cuff you, darling. Give me a colour.”

“Green.” He sounded urgent, needy, and Grantaire grinned as he wrapped the cuffs around Enjolras’ ankles, clipping them together with a satisfying snap of the carabiner. It was only two inches long, forcing Enjolras’ legs together in a way Grantaire could tell was already killing him. He was shifting against the table, rutting against the edge until Grantaire pinched his thigh.

“Stay still.” He walked round to get the other pair of cuffs, bringing Enjolras’ arms up over his head and locking his wrists together. “Good boy. Still green?”

Enjolras nodded, forehead against the table. “Yes, yes.”

“Alright.” Grantaire took a quick breath and squeezed Enjolras’ ass, nerves melting away when Enjolras jerked forward against the table.

Ahhhh, ahhhhh, ahhhhh –”

“Good boy.” Grantaire gave the cheek he’d just squeezed a slap. Barely hard enough to have an impact, certainly not enough to hurt. He leaned forward to squeeze the back of Enjolras neck and slapped him again, his breath catching as Enjolras groaned against the table. “Very good.” He watched the bit of Enjolras’ face that he could see as he kept going, keeping the smacks light and spaced out, careful not to hit the plug. Enjolras looked desperate, crying out one second and clenching his mouth shut the next, eyes screwed shut, almost fierce in the way he was responding without thought now, letting himself react without filtering first.

Grantaire hadn’t expected the ‘punishment’ to really stop Enjolras trying to come, and after a minute he grinned and grabbed Enjolras’ shoulders, pulling him up against Grantaire’s body so that he could reach around and squeeze his cock. Enjolras whined, arching against him as he pressed his own arms tightly to his chest, holding them out of the way.

Pity he was taller – Grantaire couldn’t quite reach his earlobe to bite it, so bit his shoulder instead. “Good boy. I bet you couldn’t say a tongue twister now.”

“Peter Piper pecked a pick of pickled pickers,” Enjolras gasped, groaning when he realised how badly he’d messed it up. Grantaire stifled a laugh against his shoulder.

“Well, points for effort, I suppose.” Grantaire turned them around so that he could sit on the edge of the table, that extra height just enough to allow him to kiss and nip at Enjolras’ neck the way he wanted to as he kept stroking him, urging him on. Pressed together like this, he could feel every movement Enjolras made, every shudder and twitch, so it was easy to keep going, noting the differences as they escalated. He only paused to squeeze a large pool of lube into his hand, the better to jerk Enjolras off with.

Enjolras pressed back into him, thrust forwards, went up and down on his toes, ground back against Grantaire’s crotch in a way that couldn’t be comfortable but would definitely have made Grantaire see stars if he hadn’t been so focused. When Enjolras threw his head back and started to hit a good rhythm, he helped him along, stroking him faster, holding him tightly so he could grind back harder, and right as Enjolras began to tense up, Grantaire let go of his cock and gripped his waist with both hands, holding him still.

Enjolras almost screamed, trembling all over, but he didn’t protest the way he had before. Grantaire kissed his neck and waited half a minute before wrapping his hand around his cock and starting to build him up again.

The second time Grantaire stopped him from coming, he twisted in his grip until Grantaire tightened it, forcing him still and sinking his teeth hard into his shoulder. The third time he was good, crying out but not physically resisting. Grantaire built up to the fourth slowly, forcing Enjolras to keep to a slow, steady pace until he could barely stand, almost all his weight leaning back into Grantaire’s body. When Grantaire stilled his hand and stopped thrusting, Enjolras just shook, unable to do anything more than gasp.

Grantaire could feel his own pulse, his jeans painful against his erection as he started up again, thrusting against Enjolras’ plug and resuming the movement of his hand on his cock. A lot of the lube was gone, but enough remained to keep everything slick, and Grantaire sped up in gradual increments till Enjolras was thrusting to meet him again, breathing so shakily he could have been crying, though his eyes were dry.

This time, Grantaire didn’t stop when he felt Enjolras begin to tense. He kissed the shell of Enjolras’ ear instead, and whispered, “Good boy.” 

Enjolras’ body jerked so hard when he came a few strokes later that he almost fell from Grantaire’s grip. Grantaire managed to tighten his hold in time and pressed his lips to Enjolras’ pulse, awed at the speed of it, watching as Enjolras’ legs really began to shake. “Good boy,” he murmured again, sliding his hand from Enjolras’ cock. “I’m going to uncuff your ankles, okay? Put your hands on my shoulder as I come round.”

Slowly, slowly, he slid out from behind Enjolras, wiping his lube-covered hand on his jeans before using it to hold Enjolras steady as he knelt down to unclip the carabiner, then stood again. “Brilliant, sweetheart. Over to the cushion now – you need to lie down before you fall down.”

Enjolras’ eyes fell closed and he smiled, still breathing unevenly. Together they walked the four or five steps over to the sofa cushion, and Grantaire helped Enjolras kneel, and then lie down against it. Grantaire pulled the towel over to clean him up as gently as he could, and this time sat with his legs pressed to Enjolras’, his hand steady on Enjolras’ shoulder.

“You’re incredible,” he said quietly, gazing down at Enjolras’ blissed-out expression. “I can’t believe how well you took that, you were amazing. Absolutely amazing. You beautiful, brilliant…shining star. You couldn’t have been better.”

Enjolras made a content humming sound deep in his throat and fumbled at his shoulder until he was holding Grantaire’s hand, his eyes still closed. And either Grantaire’s heart was literally swelling, or he was having palpitations. He was fine either way as long as Enjolras didn’t let go. He could even deal with still being extremely aroused.

As if hearing his thoughts, Enjolras shifted and rolled over, reaching for Grantaire’s fly. “Whoa, hang on.” Grantaire caught his hand and lifted it away, squeezing to get his attention. Since Enjolras’ hands were still cuffed together, both rose into the air. “Hang on a second, okay? I want a colour first, sweetheart.”

It took Enjolras a second to focus on him, and he frowned when he did. “What for?”

His tone of voice relaxed Grantaire slightly – he didn’t sound as dazed as he looked. “For the rest of the scene,” he told him quietly. “You look wrecked, darling. Are you sure you want me to fuck you?”

Enjolras nodded, squeezing Grantaire’s hand. “Yes, green. It’ll be…it’s what I want, please.”

“Okay.” Deep breaths. “Okay. Can you stand?” Enjolras nodded again. “Up on your knees then. Undress me.” He helped Enjolras forward onto his knees and then rose to his feet, trying very hard to keep calm as Enjolras’ fingers skated up his jeans and unbuttoned his fly. Grantaire concentrated on breathing evenly as Enjolras pulled his jeans halfway down his thighs, then tugged his underwear down as well, pulling both until Grantaire could step out of them. It was harder for Enjolras with his wrists cuffed, but the effect was beautiful, such a visible symbol of his submission. Grantaire had to lift his feet one at a time for Enjolras to pull off his socks, the action somehow even more intimate than removing his jeans had been.

“There’s another condom,” he said quietly. “In my pocket, just there.” Enjolras found it and tore the wrapper off, kneeling up again and carefully rolling it onto Grantaire’s cock. Grantaire had to hold his breath and bite his lip as he did so, the sight of Enjolras’ fingers on him almost too much. “Good boy,” he whispered. Another deep breath, and he unclipped Enjolras’ cuffs before stepping away to get his bearings. “Now take the plug out, nice and slow.”

He backed up while Enjolras obeyed, keeping his eyes on his face as he fumbled on the table for the lube and then sat down on the towel. Enjolras’ head tipped back, his mouth open and tiny expressions flickering across his face as he eased the plug out and dropped it with shaking fingers to the floor. Grantaire beckoned him over, and lay back once he was close enough, skimming a hand up Enjolras’ thigh and urging him to straddle his waist.

This had been the only act of pure selfishness he’d allowed himself in planning the scene. One of his favourite fantasies was the idea of Enjolras riding him, and who knew when this opportunity would arise again, if ever? He helped Enjolras settle on his thighs and looked up at him, reaching up to touch his collar. “Still definitely green?” Enjolras’ cock was conspicuously soft compared to his.

“Yes.” Enjolras shifted, grinding down against Grantaire’s legs, and Grantaire nodded.

“Okay. Kneel up a bit, darling.” He dribbled some lube on his fingers as Enjolras obeyed, and reached round to slide them into him. He was still open and wet from the plug, but more lube never hurt anyone. It only took a few seconds for Grantaire to be satisfied, and he slicked himself up next. Setting the bottle aside, he wiped his hand on the towel without looking and gripped Enjolras’ waist with one hand, his cock with the other.

Enjolras slid down onto him slowly, eyes fluttering closed and mouth falling open with a small groan as he took it all. Grantaire was going to die, he was going to expire on the spot and it would be completely worth it for such a happy ending. He held Enjolras’ hips with both hands, digging his fingernails in as Enjolras dragged himself up of his own volition, thighs trembling as he started to ride him.

Grantaire pulled him forward with a hand on his back, finally catching his breath as Enjolras planted his hands either side of his head and let out a shaky gasp. The sound broke Grantaire’s silence, and he whined, eyes closing instinctively for a second before he forced them open again. Enjolras’ face was inches from his, and he wanted to see everything.

“Fuck, you’re beautiful.” He groaned and curled a hand around the back of Enjolras’ neck, revelling in the way it made him shiver when he slid his fingers beneath the collar. “And you feel so good, Enjolras, fuck.” They were so close, so much of them touching, and Enjolras moaned and fell down onto his elbows so they were even closer, Grantaire having to thrust at a different angle to stay in him.

He was doing this, really doing this, really holding Enjolras close and keeping him there, keeping them pressed together, tight and brilliant, heat and desperation eroding any dignity or grace that might have been left between them. It was beyond description, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t trying. He was babbling into Enjolras’ ear between moans, frantically fucking up into him and burning up because Enjolras’ weight on him was perfect, the heat and smell and taste of him was perfect.

He pressed his lips to the skin behind Enjolras’ jaw, just above his collar, and tensed up before rolling them over. His minutes of selfishness were over – he knew Enjolras would want this to end with Grantaire in as physically controlling a position as possible, and this was it. Sure enough, Enjolras whimpered as his back hit the carpet, snapping his hips up and wrapping his legs around Grantaire’s as if he’d been waiting for it, holding onto Grantaire’s shoulders and throwing his head back to gasp and gasp and gasp.

“Perfect,” Grantaire breathed against his neck, biting gently before pushing himself up to look at Enjolras’ expression. He was incandescent, a tiny, ecstatic smile playing about his mouth as his eyes rolled back in his head, glorious and generous and in this moment, all Grantaire’s. He moaned and twisted, pulling Enjolras’ arms from his shoulders and slamming them into the ground, pinning them in place. Enjolras cried out, shuddering all over as Grantaire pressed his face to his throat, squeezing his eyes shut as he came.

For a moment afterwards as he came back down to earth, he couldn’t tell which of them was shaking. Both of them, he realised after a second, though Enjolras was shaking harder, his eyes closed and face tipped back, still holding Grantaire close with his legs.

Grantaire would have happily given up all his worldly possessions to kiss him right then.

But this wasn’t a fantasy, and he had a responsibility. He let go of Enjolras’ wrists and pushed himself back, holding the condom at the base as he slid out. Enjolras gasped as he did, impossibly half-hard, and reached out for him when Grantaire leaned away to put the condom near the table where it hopefully wouldn’t get trodden on before he could clean it up.

“Hey, it’s okay.” He slid an arm under Enjolras’ shoulders and pulled him up slowly, something fluttering in his stomach as Enjolras hugged him, wrapping all four limbs around him and sighing into Grantaire’s shoulder. Grantaire swallowed and stroked his back. “I’m not going anywhere, don’t worry, you’re fine – you’re brilliant, Enjolras. You’ve done so well for me, and now it’s time to take those cuffs off, okay?” Time to come back to reality. And try not to focus on the fact that they were pressed together all up their fronts, legs cradling each other close, and if he thought too hard about the intimacy of it he might start crying.

Enjolras drew away obediently, and Grantaire unwrapped the cuffs from his wrists one at a time, putting them to one side before cupping Enjolras’ face. His eyes were still half-closed, lids fluttering slightly. “Enjolras?” Grantaire rubbed his thumb along his cheekbone. “Can you look at me?”

Enjolras’ tongue darted out to wet his lips, and after a moment he flicked his gaze up to meet Grantaire’s, then looked away again immediately. It was clearly an effort for him, and Grantaire stroked his cheek. “It’s okay, you’re good. I’m going to clean you up now, alright? Good boy.” That made Enjolras smile, dazed and tired, and Grantaire swallowed before letting him go and scooting backwards, reaching for the towel they’d rolled off of at some point.

He dabbed Enjolras clean of lube and pulled the sofa cushion and duvet over rather than making him walk or crawl the short distance. Enjolras only settled when Grantaire came under the duvet as well, curling around him and keeping him warm. Enjolras was still wearing his collar, but Grantaire didn’t want to mention it just yet. Not while Enjolras was still so deep in subspace. The most important thing now was making him feel safe and comfortable, and if that meant naked cuddles then Grantaire was perfectly capable of sucking it up and behaving like an adult who wasn’t helplessly in love with the man he was currently spooning.

Everything would be fine. He would be fine.

The clock on the wall read half nine, which was sort of mind-blowing. Where had the time gone? Had they really been doing this for three and a half hours? Enjolras shifted against his chest, pressing back into his warmth, and Grantaire ducked his head down to press his lips to the back of Enjolras’ neck. Not quite a kiss, but not not a kiss either.

“Good boy,” he murmured, smiling when he heard Enjolras give a little hum of pleasure. Grantaire couldn’t stop his eyes falling shut, tiredness catching up with him. He dozed and fell into little half-dreams of loving Enjolras like this as though it were normal. Dreams of the two of them kissing, hugging, holding hands. The two of them going to meetings together, sleeping in the same bed, kissing each other’s cheeks with easy familiarity born of a long relationship.

A sudden growling noise jerked him awake, and he tensed in alarm before he realised what he was hearing. He grinned against Enjolras’ shoulder. “Hungry, sweetheart?”

“Mmm.” Enjolras nodded, apparently still not up to shaping words.

“I’m not surprised. Let’s get something to eat, okay?” He sat up and stretched, yawning. Below him, Enjolras rolled onto his back and watched him through lidded eyes, blinking slowly. Grantaire hesitated, then sat further back and offered Enjolras a hand up. He came up quickly and let the momentum carry him forward, leaning into Grantaire for support as naturally as though it was something they’d done a hundred times before. Grantaire’s body wasn’t impeded by the static clouding his brain, so he had an arm around Enjolras’ shoulders while he was still trying to figure out what to say.

“Are you okay?” he whispered. Enjolras nodded against his neck, and Grantaire let out a breath, relieved. “Okay. Come on, sweetheart, let’s get some food.”

They got into their pyjamas first, Grantaire pulling his own on first before helping Enjolras far more carefully into his. Enjolras seemed only half-awake, slow and unsteady on his feet, and Grantaire made sure they were always touching, always close enough for Enjolras to lean into him, always welcoming it so Enjolras wouldn’t feel rejected in any way.

Enjolras stood behind Grantaire while he made them both cheese on toast, his arms wrapped loosely around Grantaire’s waist and his forehead resting against Grantaire’s shoulder. This was going to haunt his dreams for weeks if not forever, Grantaire could tell. The domesticity of it was almost more painful than the sex, playing right into the daydreams and fantasies he was most ashamed of.

They ate on the sofa so Enjolras could curl up against his side, long legs tucked up underneath him. Once both their plates were empty, put out of the way on the floor, Enjolras rested his head on Grantaire’s shoulder and murmured, “Grantaire?”

No more ‘R’ then, but at least Enjolras was verbal again. “Mmm?”

“Can you stay?” He was so quiet that if Grantaire’s ear hadn’t been inches from his mouth he might not have heard him. “I know…you said you’d sleep on the sofa, but could we…would it be okay if you stayed with me?”

“Of course.” Grantaire said it without thinking, only wanting to reassure him. “That’s fine, we can share the bed.” He felt Enjolras relax, and rested a hand on his thigh. “Want to go now? You sound dead on your feet.”

“Yes, please.” Grantaire helped him stand again, and grabbed the duvet before they went into Enjolras’ bedroom, hitting the light switch with his forehead as they did. He left Enjolras for just two seconds after getting him into bed, making sure the door was locked and the rest of the lights were off before joining him. Enjolras clung like a limpet as soon as he was within arm’s reach, trapping one of Grantaire’s legs between his and curling up so his face was against Grantaire’s shoulder.

On his back, Grantaire shifted until he was comfortable and closed his eyes, very aware of the way Enjolras’ scent was all around him, how close and warm his body was. The way they fit together so well, so easily.

He couldn’t imagine what waking up in Enjolras’ bed in the morning would be like. He was too tired to be scared, too comfortable to stay awake, and he fell asleep in minutes.

Chapter Text

Grantaire woke up with his face mashed into an unfamiliar pillow, something large and warm radiating heat behind him. His first thought was that Enjolras was a furnace to sleep next to – Grantaire was sweating, already pushing down the duvet in an instinctive quest for cool air. His second thought was less a thought than a slowly rising tide of trepidation.

Had last night really happened? Evidence was positive – he and Enjolras were sprawled under a duvet together, so close that their legs were touching. Grantaire shifted, rolling very carefully onto his back so that he could look to his left. Enjolras was sleeping heavily, hands curled together by his chin in a position that made him look almost childish. It was strange, to see him expressionless. It emphasised how expressive he was when he was awake, even if his cues were smaller than most people’s.

Grantaire slid towards the edge of the bed and out from under the duvet as quietly as he could, keeping his eyes on Enjolras’ face the whole time. Either he was normally a heavy sleeper, or last night had completely wiped him out, because he didn’t even stir. The gaps at the edges of the curtains were bright, and Grantaire only opened the door as much as he needed to wriggle through, letting as little light in as possible.

The living room was a mess. One of the sofa cushions was still on the floor, along with their plates. He’d dealt with the condoms last night, but Enjolras’ plug was still on the floor where he’d dropped it, and Grantaire wrinkled his nose as he picked it up – he had to pull it off the carpet, where the lube had stuck it in place. “Gross.”

While Enjolras slept, he got dressed and cleaned up. It didn’t take as long as he would’ve liked to get everything back to normal, the living room looking as pristine as it had when he’d arrived. Was it always this tidy? Or did Enjolras clean up in preparation for a scene the way Grantaire did?

His phone said it was half past nine, and Grantaire ended up settling on the sofa with a book borrowed from one of the many shelves to wait for Enjolras to emerge. Maybe if he’d gone for something a little less intimidating than the gigantic tome he’d picked (Gormenghast was a cool title, and he was shallow) he might have been able to distract himself properly. But now that the cleaning was all done, he could only assume that he’d been in a state of quiet shock till now. Because now he was beginning to panic.

He tapped his fingers against the edge of the book and dug his toes into the sofa, legs curled underneath him. Had last night gone well? Had he done enough? Had Enjolras really enjoyed himself? He’d thought so at the time, but now he agonised over how long it had taken Enjolras to go down, how much more he could have done. Should he have been more forceful? It had seemed like Enjolras wanted that at points, especially during the blowjob. Should he have been harsher? Been more like Enjolras when he was in charge?

Had the tongue twisters been a good idea? Enjolras hadn’t liked tripping up over them, failing so many times in a row. And God, what had possessed him to choose ‘red lorry yellow lorry’ while they were using red and yellow as safewords? It hadn’t even crossed his mind at the time, and now Grantaire wanted to kick himself for being so stupid.

Some rational space in his mind told him that he would have recognised the difference between Enjolras reciting a tongue twister and calling a safeword. It reminded him of how much better Enjolras had responded to soft words and gentle endearments, how completely out of it he’d been by the end, unable to even speak. But was that a good thing? Just because Enjolras had warned him about it didn’t mean it had been positive.

And on the subject of Enjolras’ warnings, why had he suddenly asked for humiliation in the middle of a scene? Grantaire’s empty stomach sank at the prospect of bringing that up, but it wasn’t like he was going to ignore it.

He was five pages into Gormenghast and hadn’t taken in a single word when the bedroom door finally opened and Enjolras came out, still in the loose t-shirt and shorts he wore as pyjamas. His body relaxed immediately once he saw Grantaire, and he held onto the doorframe and stared for a long moment, a small smile on his face.

“Morning,” Grantaire said finally, something fluttering in his chest when Enjolras’ smile grew, crooked and charming.

“Morning. Have you eaten?”

“Um. Not yet?”

Enjolras jerked his head towards the kitchen, and Grantaire followed him when he led the way, leaving the book on the sofa. “There’s cereal, if you want it,” Enjolras said, nodding at a box of something supermarket-brand on top of the fridge. “Or toast?”

“Toast is good, thanks.”

Enjolras gave him another smile and got the bread out, putting two slices in and opening a cupboard with a surprising variety of spreads. “Last night was really good,” he said, looking down as he got two plates out, handing one to Grantaire. “Thank you.”

“Hey, it was…yeah, same.” How could he act so smooth during a scene and sound like a complete idiot now? Grantaire bit the inside of his cheek and chanced a look at Enjolras when he asked, “I, um. Do you want to go over it? There were a few…I mean, the tongue twisters, we didn’t plan that, I don’t know if you –”

“They were fine,” Enjolras interrupted firmly. “They were good. They made me concentrate, and I needed it. It was a good idea.”

“Red lorry yellow lorry though?” Grantaire made a face. “I mean…not the smartest one to pick.”

Enjolras raised his eyebrows, like that hadn’t occurred to him either. “Maybe,” he agreed. “But it worked out fine. It was good, Grantaire, you don’t need to overanalyse it. I enjoyed everything. Even the exercises.” He smiled, wry, and took the cover off the butter dish, sliding it between them.

“Okay.” Grantaire bit his lip, and jumped about a foot in the air when the toaster popped. Enjolras tried valiantly to hide his grin as he put the slices on Grantaire’s plate and put two more in for himself. “Sorry,” Grantaire muttered, shaking his head at himself before he started spreading butter on his toast. “I wanted…last night, just after you…um, after you came the first time?” He actually hated his body, he could feel himself blushing. “You told me I could humiliate you?”

“Oh, yeah.” Enjolras frowned down at his plate. Grantaire focused on his toast while Enjolras thought, and he’d just taken a bite when Enjolras spoke again. “It’s something I’ve done before, and it’s something I know works really well for me. It doesn’t take me anywhere near as long to…really get into it if humiliation’s involved.”

Grantaire swallowed, confused. “So why –”

“It also tends to make me drop afterwards.” Enjolras made a face, and grabbed his toast when it popped up. “I’ve had some unpleasant experiences with that, and I wanted to avoid it with you, which is why I said no humiliation while we were negotiating. I just wasn’t thinking straight when I brought it up during the scene.”

“Okay.” Grantaire absorbed that, a little relieved. “So it’s all good? I mean, no negotiation mid-scene, that was…”

“Yeah, you definitely made the right decision there.” Enjolras gave him an uncharacteristically awkward smile before starting to butter his own toast. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Grantaire wished he could step closer and press their shoulders together, maybe kiss Enjolras’ cheek to reassure him that everything was fine, have Enjolras kiss him back to tell him the same. But that wasn’t going to happen, so he kept his eyes down and finished his toast in silence, both of them eating at the counter, not bothering to move to the table. 

“Are you doing anything today?” Enjolras asked him quietly, just after they finished. Taken aback, it took Grantaire a moment to find his voice.

“No, not…no, I’m free. If you’re asking for…no, sorry, no I’m not doing anything.” Maybe if he lived to forty he’d figure out how to give simple answers without rambling. He could only hope.

Enjolras nodded. “Could we meet up later? This afternoon, or whenever works for you, I know you probably want to go home and shower first, but I’d…I want to talk to you, if that’s okay.”

Panic gripped Grantaire’s insides. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No!” Enjolras shook his head quickly. “No, you were perfect, last night was perfect. It’s not about that. Not exactly.”

Part of him wanted to demand Enjolras tell him now, that they have the conversation now. But Grantaire found himself nodding instead, and saying, “Okay, sure, no problem. Where do you want to…?”

“The café? Would three be okay for you?”

Giving him about four hours to freak out and then compose himself? “No problem.”

He left after getting his stuff together, the ride home passing in a blur. What did Enjolras want to talk about? If it wasn’t about last night – but no, he’d said it wasn’t exactly about last night, which probably meant he wanted to talk about this weird thing they were doing in general. It seemed unlikely that he wanted to end it if he thought their scene last night had gone so well, so what else was there?

If he wanted to switch permanently, Grantaire was going to have to figure out how to say no. The occasional scene he could do, but every time? The responsibility would crush him. So maybe Enjolras wanted to talk about other partners? Establishing this as an open…thing (he couldn’t even think the word ‘relationship’). It was a possibility. Maybe he wanted to try something like a threesome, or using a play space at a club for the superior equipment. As long as it wasn’t public, Grantaire would definitely be up for that – it wasn’t like either of them could install big stuff in their apartments, after all. And he was still regularly thinking about Enjolras’ sex slave fantasy, and the involvement of the St. Andrew’s Cross therein.

Marius wasn’t in when he got home, and Grantaire was glad of the opportunity to continue worrying about every single possibility without distraction, his guesses becoming increasingly wild and ridiculous. He very much doubted Enjolras wanted to talk about walking in the BDSM section of the next Pride Parade, for example, and yet his brain tormented him with that for about ten solid minutes.

He barely ate lunch, unable to finish the bowl of pasta he made. He stuck it in the fridge for later and left the apartment before one, knowing the only way to keep himself from freaking out further was to walk. It was a reliable tactic that had served him many times before, and it didn’t fail him now. It was a warm day, if cloudy, and he meandered through the streets without any destinations in mind save Enjolras’ café at three.

He avoided parks and squares for once, walking instead between tall buildings, held in a space that varied little from street to street. It was regular, reassuring, relaxed. The rhythm of his feet on the pavement calmed him down, his body’s movements steadying the static rush of his brain until it quieted to background noise. An hour into his strolling, he was thinking of things besides Enjolras for minutes at a time.

Enjolras was waiting for him in the café when he got there at five to three, tucked into a corner with his chin in his hand, eyes on the floor. He looked up when Grantaire was only half a step inside the door, though he couldn’t possibly have seen him from where he was sitting.

“Hi.” Grantaire sat opposite him, his stomach unpleasantly tight, too tense to even try butterflies.

“Hi. Do you want some coffee, or anything?”

“I’m okay.” He’d rehearsed these lines, ironing out any possible hesitations and ‘uh’s. “You wanted to talk?”

Enjolras nodded and straightened. For once, he was wearing an expression that Grantaire recognised. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who’d been preparing dialogue.

“Everything we’ve done together since we saw each other in Le Grande has been brilliant,” he said, meeting Grantaire’s eyes. “I don’t want you to think for a second that it’s been anything less. I told you before our last scene that I wouldn’t ever consider subbing for anyone I didn’t trust, and that was a big motivation in my asking you to do it – I haven’t found anyone I trust enough to do that for a long time, and you were perfect. You are perfect.”

He paused, and Grantaire let those words sink in, loosening the knot of anxiety in his throat. If he was less worried, that would definitely have warmed him to the bone, he knew. “Thanks,” he mumbled, and Enjolras smiled slightly.

“You’re welcome. But…” Oh God, here it was, this was whatever it was that had prompted this meeting. Enjolras took a breath. “But I wouldn’t feel comfortable continuing without telling you that I’ve developed feelings for you.” He looked down at the table as he went on. “If you don’t reciprocate, and of course I don’t expect you to, then we can continue as we are with no problems if you’re comfortable with that. Maybe with a short break, I’m not sure. But if you’d like…if you feel the same way, or if you just want to try, maybe, I’d…I’d like to date you. If you don’t mind.” 

Grantaire stared. It was quite possible that his heart had stopped. His brain had definitely stopped, somewhere back when Enjolras had said something about developing feelings. For him. For Grantaire. Feelings. A date had been mentioned, he was fairly certain, but his ears were ringing so he couldn’t be sure.

Enjolras had feelings. Date-positive feelings. And now Enjolras was looking at him and waiting for him to say something, and Grantaire couldn’t even move. Forget speaking – he couldn’t even breathe right now.

What the fuck.

For a split second, he entertained the notion that Enjolras was joking, but no. Enjolras didn’t – wouldn’t – joke about something like this. But he couldn’t be serious? He had to be mistaken somehow, or maybe he was testing Grantaire to see how he’d react. Maybe he was trying to figure out whether Grantaire had feelings for him, and this was a bluff, a trick, some sort of lie.

But what if he was telling the truth? As soon as the thought occurred, he shoved it away, instinct kicking in to remind him that Enjolras liking him back was impossible.

There was no safe reaction, and every second the silence extended the worse it became. His chest was tight, palms damp. If he said the wrong thing, he might lose Enjolras forever. They would never be this close again, ever. He couldn’t fuck this up, he would miss it too much, he couldn’t say the wrong thing, but what was the right thing? What could he possibly say?

Enjolras was frowning slightly, a crease between his eyes, but Grantaire was paralysed, frozen in place with his breath trapped in his throat. Enjolras took a deep breath and looked down at the table again, leaning back in his chair and clearing his expression. “We can pretend this never happened,” he said quietly, and the air rushed back into Grantaire’s lungs. 

“No!”

Oh holy God, he’d practically shouted it. He flushed, heat rising from his neck to his hairline, and stood instinctively, wincing as his chair scraped against the floor. He needed to walk around the block and think, his brain was too full of static and screaming to figure out what to do. But Enjolras was staring at him, lips parted – he couldn’t just leave him behind.

“I need to,” he started, and swallowed. “Can we walk? Please?”

“Sure?” Enjolras rose to his feet, frown back in place, more perplexed now. “Don’t you like it here?” he asked as they left, half a step behind Grantaire, who was hurrying.

“I do,” Grantaire said quickly. “It’s fine, it’s great, I just don’t – y’know, everyone can hear us in there, I couldn’t…sorry, it was…sorry.”

“You should’ve said so before.” Enjolras frowned harder, and Grantaire shook his head so fast his hair whipped his cheeks.

“No, it’s fine, it doesn’t matter.” He swallowed and looked down, goosebumps pimpling his arms despite the warm afternoon. He was already feeling less like he was about to keel over and die, just from the familiar sensation of his legs carrying him forward. He could do this. A couple of minutes of this, and he might even be able to sort through that whole absurd statement Enjolras had made.

Had he really said he’d developed feelings for him? Grantaire snuck a sideways look at him, but Enjolras was looking away, biting his lip and continuing to frown. He was beautiful, a million miles out of Grantaire’s league. He couldn’t have meant it.

“This doesn’t have to change anything,” Enjolras said suddenly, lifting his head and catching Grantaire mid-stare. “We can keep going as normal, nothing has to be any different.”

Denial made Grantaire’s stomach lurch, and he protested. “No, that’s not what…” Enjolras waited, and Grantaire moved his mouth soundlessly for a moment before forcing himself to go on, painfully awkward. “You can’t…what we’ve been doing, the scenes, they must’ve…I mean, I get tripped up too, sometimes? But it’s fine, it doesn’t have to mean anything. You just…you probably think you like me because of that, but seriously, it’s not…like it’s real, yeah, but not real real. You’re confused, or something, that’s all.”

He regretted that last sentence the second it was out of his mouth, but there was no taking it back. He could see Enjolras turn cold and retreat, his hesitance frosting over as he looked at Grantaire with narrow eyes.

“I hope this isn’t your way of letting me down gently,” he said, voice hard, “because implying that I don’t know my own feelings is very insulting, not to mention patronising.”

“Oh fuck.” Grantaire winced at the crack in his voice. How was it possible that he could fuck something up so badly when he was trying his hardest to fix it? “No, shit, that’s not what I meant, I swear – I’d never, I don’t want to insult you, that’s the last thing I’d ever want to do, you don’t realise how much –” He snapped his mouth shut, breathing far too quickly. He shot a panicked look at Enjolras and flinched at his curious frown.

“How much what?”

Grantaire had to stop walking. His limbs were too weak; he stepped to the side of the pavement and leaned against the wall of a building, next to a door between two shops. His stomach was no longer squirming – he felt completely hollow, horribly torn. He didn’t have time to think this through. There wasn’t any time to get his thoughts on a leash and figure out what the safest course of action was. And he was still trying to wrap his head around the earth-shattering idea that Enjolras had feelings for him, if that was really true.

Charming, terrifying, beautiful Enjolras. Dominant, generous Enjolras. No longer just an intimidating, magnetic figure to crave the attention of once a week, now so much closer. Grantaire knew what it felt like now to touch him, to lose himself to him. Enjolras had texted him, emailed him, laughed with him, let him see his bedroom. He’d let Grantaire take control. He’d been the best dom Grantaire had ever had.

If Grantaire had only loved him before, he was in love with him now.

Enjolras had been honest with him. Grantaire couldn’t doubt him – he trusted him too much. And if Enjolras had been honest, didn’t Grantaire owe it to him to return the courtesy?

Pity he wasn’t brave like Enjolras.

“Fuck,” he whispered.

“How much what?” Enjolras asked again, quieter. He’d stopped and come closer, getting out of the way of everyone else walking past them. Lucky people who weren’t currently staving off emotional terror.

Grantaire swallowed twice, clenching his sweating palms in the fabric of his pockets. “How much I like you,” he croaked finally. “How I…I’ve liked you for ages.” He couldn’t look, he didn’t dare. “For longer than we’ve been…y’know. Longer than we’ve been doing this.” He’d only imagined doing this a few times, his certainty of rejection too strong for more. He hadn’t imagined he’d feel literally nauseated from nerves, but apparently that was happening.

Enjolras was quiet for so long, the seconds stretching out, and Grantaire finally broke and let his eyes dart up to check his reaction. Enjolras was frowning at him, and the second their eyes met, he spoke, as if he’d been waiting for it. “You never said.”

The laugh burst from Grantaire’s throat before he could stop it, ugly and too loud. “Fuck, sorry.” He pulled a hand from his pocket and covered his mouth for a second. “Sorry,” he muttered, fingers dropping away. “Sorry.”

“Stop apologising.” Enjolras shook his head, apparently confused. “I don’t understand…”

“You’re so out of my league,” Grantaire explained, dropping his eyes again as his mouth took over. “You never…I mean, fuck, have you looked in a mirror? I didn’t want to bother you or anything, and I knew, I mean…you never noticed me for anything good, not that that’s your fault or anything, I’m just a dick a lot of the time, so it’s not surprising, but…look, I’m not anything worthwhile, and when we started, y’know, I didn’t want to make things awkward or look like more of a creeper than…” His shoulders sagged. “More than I am. I never should’ve said yes that first time, I’m so sorry, it’s fucked up, I know, it’s all my fault –”

“Shut up.” Grantaire cut himself off abruptly as Enjolras clamped his hand around his arm. Incredibly, he was smiling. Only a tiny lift of his lips, but still smiling. “I’m noticing you now. And I’ve liked everything I’ve seen, especially what little you’ve let me see outside our scenes. I like noticing you more. I want to keep doing it. I don’t mind that you didn’t tell me you liked me, R.” His grip tightened. “Is that why you didn’t let me stay after scenes? Why you kept pushing me away?”

Grantaire could only nod, stunned into silence. For some reason, that made Enjolras grin and step closer, right into his space.

“You thought, what, it was okay to…never mind, we can talk about that later. Do you want to date me?”

“But I lied to you.” Didn’t Enjolras understand how awful this was? How much Grantaire had taken advantage of him?

“I don’t mind. I forgive you; does that help? Please answer my question.”

“Your question?” Grantaire blinked, stumbling behind Enjolras’ train of thought.

“Would you like to go out with me?”

Grantaire’s head jerked, but he stopped it from shaking in case Enjolras thought he was saying no. But he couldn’t say yes. “But…”

“Do you still like me?” Enjolras’ eyes were bright, a long way from unkind, but Grantaire still winced under a fresh wave of heat in his face and ducked his head to try and hide it.

“Yes,” he muttered apologetically. Enjolras squeezed his arm.

“And I like you. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but I’m not the sort of person to let opportunities pass by, especially ones like this. If we both feel the same way, it makes no sense not to at least try, don’t you think?” He squeezed Grantaire’s arm again, gentler, and Grantaire tried very hard to breathe like a normal human being, and not someone who’d just spent several minutes underwater.

He steeled himself, then looked up again. Enjolras met his eyes and waited, eternally patient while Grantaire searched for any hint of hesitation, for the slightest trace of displeasure. He couldn’t find any. Enjolras was so close now they were practically toe-to-toe, mere inches between their bodies, and for a split second, Grantaire followed the familiar day-dream path in his head. For just a second, he allowed himself to imagine them together as more than play partners, more than almost-friends.

The wistful yearning of every sappy, shameful fantasy he’d ever let himself dwell on burst through his mind. Yes, they had been painful, but only because he’d thought there wasn’t the slightest chance of them coming true. His heart was beating so hard against his lungs that he could barely draw breath, but he could manage a nod. It was small, and definitely still scared, but it was there.

Enjolras lit up, and Grantaire couldn’t help relaxing a little in the face of his radiant smile. His eyes were shining. “Can I kiss you?”

“Here?” Grantaire blurted before he could think, their surroundings suddenly jumping back into focus, the noise of the cars and of chattering people deafening when a moment ago they’d been no louder than a whisper.

Enjolras’ smile became a grin, completely unrestrained. “Wherever you like.”

Holy fuck. Were they really doing this? “I need to sit down,” Grantaire muttered, pinned in place by Enjolras’ gaze. And if they were kissing, he also needed to brush his teeth, and maybe hyperventilate into a bag for a while.

“My place is only ten minutes away?”

Grantaire swallowed and managed another nod. “Okay.”

Enjolras squeezed his arm once more before letting go and stepping back into the middle of the pavement. He waited for Grantaire to take a step forward as well before beginning to walk. Grantaire hurried alongside him, worried Enjolras would think he was reluctant.

Was this happening? Enjolras kept looking at him, still grinning like Grantaire had just single-handedly brought down the government. He toned it down as they walked, but only enough to make it look like he was trying not to break into song. He was practically bouncing.

Grantaire’s stomach couldn’t decide between knots or butterflies, but at least it was a step up from that hollow feeling. The next time he sneaked a look at Enjolras, Enjolras smiled at him, and just as Grantaire’s heart flipped, something brushed his hand. He looked down, unsuspecting, and stared as Enjolras’ fingers skated over his knuckles. When Grantaire didn’t pull away, Enjolras twisted his wrist and slid his fingers through Grantaire’s, pressing their palms together.

Enjolras was holding his hand.

Grantaire barely had time to process that before his toe caught on an uneven paving stone and he lurched forwards. Enjolras didn’t let go of him, tightening his grip to keep Grantaire from falling to his knees. They didn’t exchange a word as Grantaire stumbled back to a walk, his face red, but they stayed close afterwards, their arms and shoulders even brushing as they continued.

Had he fallen, Grantaire wasn’t sure whether he would have been able to get up. He was dizzy, uncertain, and there was a not-insignificant part of himself that wanted to kneel in front of Enjolras and press his head to his thighs. Enjolras would take care of him. Enjolras would know what to do.

Now more than ever, Grantaire wanted the excuse of a scene to give him the space to bow before Enjolras and just stay there, certain of their roles in that if nothing else.

He’d never wanted anyone like this. Never enough to want so much. He wanted everything.

Enjolras squeezed his hand before they turned a corner, and Grantaire let his eyes fall closed for a dangerous second, trying to be cool. Trying to adjust to the new idea that maybe, maybe, Enjolras wanted to give him everything.

Enjolras didn’t let go of his hand once they got to his building, but entered the building’s code and unlocked his apartment door one-handed. It probably shouldn’t have made Grantaire’s heart clench the way it did, but here he was, his stomach having decided on butterflies and his blood trying to imitate the sensation with fizzy effervescence.

As soon as the door was closed, Enjolras turned to look at him, loosening his grip on Grantaire’s hand but not letting go. “You seem calmer.”

The walk had helped. Grantaire nodded, meeting Enjolras’ eyes. “I’m…freaking out less, yeah.”

“But still freaking out?”

“It’s a lot to take in.”

Enjolras nodded and looked down at their hands. Daring, Grantaire tightened his grip, his heart leaping when it made Enjolras smile and look at him properly again. “You’re sure then? You want to do this?” 

Grantaire licked his lips, taking a deep breath before nodding. “Yes.” Courage – he could do this. He’d always been able to do more with Enjolras. Another breath, and he reached up with his free hand to touch Enjolras’ jaw. His skin was warm, smooth, perfect in a way that almost made Grantaire retreat, but his other hand was still held in Enjolras’. The only way to go was forward. “Kiss me,” he whispered.

Enjolras moved instantly, squeezing Grantaire’s hand tight and pressing him to the wall next to the door, standing so close their fronts were almost touching, their faces so, so close. Grantaire couldn’t breathe, hyperaware of everywhere their skin touched, shivering at the way Enjolras was close enough for his breath to warm Grantaire’s chin. Their heads were tilted already, age-old instinct taking over. The wall was cool against his shoulders, Enjolras’ body radiating heat against his chest, and they were so close now that Grantaire’s eyes were half-shut, his lips parted in expectation for what he knew was coming.

But apparently it was this close, and no closer. Enjolras bumped their noses together, leaned in so their stomachs and thighs touched. Grantaire’s breath caught as their lips brushed, just for a fraction of a second. There and gone again, a tease that made heat burn inside him, desire finally overtaking fear. He was the one who closed the distance and pressed his lips to Enjolras’, the hand against Enjolras’ jaw settling on the side of his neck.

Enjolras breathed out through his nose and kissed back fiercely, pressing Grantaire into the wall with his whole body now and humming when it made Grantaire gasp, a gap of one breath between their lips before they kept kissing.

Grantaire let go of Enjolras’ hand to hold onto him properly, going up on his tiptoes to get more of an edge, tilting his head the other way to try a new angle, opening his mouth and going weak at the knees when the slide of their tongues against each other made Enjolras moan and clutch at Grantaire’s waist. He’d made Enjolras make that sound. With a kiss. They were kissing.

There was no space at all for doubt here – Enjolras wanted him right back, was sliding a hand up Grantaire’s arm to his face, his gorgeous fingers spread against Grantaire’s cheek and jaw and neck, absurdly tender even as he pinned Grantaire in place with his body and started kissing him slower. It was Grantaire’s turn to groan as Enjolras tilted his jaw up and closed his teeth on Grantaire’s lower lip. The nip became a hard bite, Grantaire holding on for dear life and trying very hard not to move his hips.

“I knew you’d like that,” Enjolras purred, kissing him before Grantaire could reply, soothing the sting with soft, closed-mouth presses of his lips. “I just knew. I’ve wanted to do that for so long, did you know?”

“Do I look like I knew?” Grantaire gasped, pulling Enjolras closer and kissing him again. He was on fire, lit up with relief and hunger. This was allowed now – Enjolras wanted this. Enjolras wanted him. Set off the fireworks, throw a parade, release the doves because Enjolras wanted him. Grantaire could have flown, he felt so light.

“After every scene,” Enjolras breathed between kisses, “I wanted so badly, especially after the fourth time –”

“Which one was that?” Grantaire felt Enjolras’ laugh in so many places it was dizzying – the exhale against his lips, the curve of his smile, the lurch of his chest.

“Second time you came here.” Enjolras kissed him, pulling him away from the wall so he could loop an arm around Grantaire’s back. “You safeworded, remember?”

Grantaire made a sound of distaste that earned him another stinging bite. It was far from discouraging – it short-circuited his brain again, his breath stuttering on an inhale.

“You practically ran out as soon as we were done,” Enjolras murmured, kissing Grantaire’s cheek. “I told you you were welcome to stay, I gave you my number…”

“I remember.” Grantaire chased his lips, arching against him as Enjolras slid his hand down his spine to his ass and squeezed. “Fuck –”

“I wanted you to stay, why didn’t you?”

Grantaire kissed him again, breathing fast. “I didn’t…didn’t want to take advantage.”

“What does that even mean?” Enjolras groaned, pulling away only to nose Grantaire’s chin up so he could kiss his neck. The warmth of his mouth made Grantaire shiver, his answer slow to form.

“I…ah…did you miss the part…where I’ve been in love with you forever?”

His brain caught up too late, his body freezing up even as Enjolras lifted his head and kissed him again. It took Grantaire a second to respond, slowly relaxing into it. Maybe Enjolras hadn’t heard? Or he didn’t mind?

“You’re…” Enjolras gave up on description and kissed him again, like he couldn’t get enough. “I can’t believe you,” he murmured finally, pressing their lips together almost before he finished getting the words out. It was an effective way of stopping Grantaire interjecting, at least. “You let me flog you half to death, but you think cuddling is taking advantage. How long have you liked me?”

“Don’t ask me that,” Grantaire pleaded, any effect he might have had completely lost when Enjolras kissed his jaw with enough teeth to make him gasp.

“A long time?” Enjolras sounded suspiciously pleased, and Grantaire stared at the ceiling for a moment, having to put a lot more effort into concentrating than usual now that Enjolras was kissing his neck.

“Fuck, holy God…”

“You like this.” It wasn’t a question, and didn’t need to be one. Grantaire moaned as Enjolras trailed soft kisses up to his ear.

“What gave it away?” he breathed, shuddering when Enjolras’ tongue flicked against the shell of his ear.

“Everything.” Enjolras grinned and kissed him again. By all rights it should have been sloppy – it was filthy enough to be – but Enjolras kept it too slow and controlled, groaning when Grantaire’s nails scraped against the back of his neck. “How long have you liked me?”

“You just want me to feed your ego,” Grantaire accused, laughing when Enjolras just grinned, nipping at his lower lip again. “Ahhh, shit…” His whole world had been flipped on its axis, everything reversed and spun around in under an hour. He couldn’t focus on a single thing for more than a second because Enjolras kept kissing him and kissing him, both of them moving together in perfect synchrony.

Grantaire had always suspected Enjolras would be a wonderful kisser: it was nice to have it confirmed, and mindblowing to be able to confirm it himself. Enjolras smiled against his lips and pulled away only enough to murmur, “Would you like to go out with me?”

Grantaire blinked, trying to catch up. “Yes? I did say that before, didn’t I? I’ll say it again, fuck it, yes, definitely, always. God, stop me talking, please.”

“As you wish,” Enjolras grinned and kissed him again, one of his hands sliding into Grantaire’s hair. “I meant more…like now? Like a date?”

“You…now?” Grantaire’s lips were wet, his jeans definitely tighter than they had any right to be.

“Have you had lunch?”

“Not really?” A few bites of pasta didn’t qualify, and now Enjolras had mentioned it, he was feeling pretty hungry. He started to smile, unable to help himself. “You have any ideas for where to go?”

“A few.” Enjolras pressed their lips together again, a soft, swift peck. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot.”

“What, lunch?”

Dates.” Enjolras grinned, the hand in Grantaire’s hair sliding forward to his jaw. “Shall we go?”

“On a date?”

“On a date. If that’s okay with you.”

Grantaire nodded, eyes wide. “It’s okay with me.” It was so, so okay.

Enjolras held his hand again as they left, giving Grantaire a small, ridiculously pleased smile as they left his building. “This is so weird,” Grantaire muttered, his brain-to-mouth filter apparently erased by their make-out session.

“Good weird?” Enjolras said, smile vanishing. “Or bad weird?”

“Good, definitely good.” Grantaire squeezed his hand (reassuring Enjolras – that was new). “Not weird, more like…unreal.”

“Why?”

“Because…” Grantaire waved his free hand, trying to encompass the vast differences between them. “Because you’re…I mean…why would you like me? What do you see in me?” It was genuinely baffling, and he stared as Enjolras pursed his lips, then squeezed his hand.

“I think it’s more the fact that I see you at all. Now that I’ve seen you, now I know you, how could I not fall for you?”

Jesus. Grantaire tried not to grin, face heating up. Who just said stuff like that? “Well everyone else has managed not to,” he said, trying to compose himself. “I’m hardly a catch.”

“You sell yourself short.” Enjolras shook his head and looked up, squinting as the sun burst out from behind the clouds. “You’re witty, quick, cute –” Grantaire’s brain dissolved into embarrassing noises. “– and most importantly, you’re trustworthy. Also,” he added, apparently unable to leave it there, “you’re discrete, and honest, and you’re brave.” 

Grantaire spluttered. “Oh come on, I am the most cowardly person you know.”

“Do you know all the people I know?” Enjolras raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, but like, you know people like Courfeyrac – out of the ABC, I am definitely the biggest coward.”

“I highly doubt that. Not many people are brave enough to ask for what they really want. Everything you’ve done with me is brave, all the things you’ve let me do to you – opening yourself up like that is incredibly courageous. You can’t contradict that without calling me a coward too,” he added, a gleam of triumph in his eyes. “It was brave of you to accept my first offer. You said you liked me before we started, as well – how long…?”

“Why did you offer?” It was a very transparent deflection, but Enjolras allowed it, giving Grantaire another smile.

“You surprised me. I didn’t expect to see you there, and you were so shocked to see me. I barely knew you – I probably couldn’t have listed ten facts about you, and suddenly there you were. It was like being struck by lightning.”

Something like electricity was definitely flickering under Grantaire’s skin. Enjolras had been struck by him? By him? He must have been making some sort of expression, because Enjolras snorted.

“You don’t believe me. Put yourself in my shoes – you co-run a society you continued from university, and there are several people who have been involved since the beginning. A few are obviously less invested than others, so as a result you know them less. You’re out at a fetish club you regularly go to, and suddenly one of these people turns up, obviously not a beginner. Of course I was interested. You clearly had hidden depths.”

Grantaire was startled into laughter. “Okay but…look, BDSM is not a hidden depth, come on.”

“Isn’t it? You’ve kept it hidden – at least from most people – and it’s a depth.”

“How does kink equate to depth? You can’t be shallow enough to think that people who are vanilla in the bedroom only lead boring lives.”

“Of course not, but it’s unusual. And immediately, it was something we had in common that I hadn’t known about. I never would have suspected.”

“Did you suspect anything about me at all?” Grantaire asked dryly, as though he wasn’t hanging on Enjolras’ every word.

Enjolras considered it. “I knew you had to be kind because Marius loves you, and Marius is incapable of loving unkind people. I decided a long time ago that you had to be either a secret supporter, or a secret bigot.”

“What?!”

Enjolras’ lips quirked. “Don’t worry. I doubt any bigot would bother coming to our meetings for so many years – that suspicion died quickly enough.”

“Glad to hear it.” Grantaire huffed, pretending to be more offended than he was. It was hard to be annoyed when he was still so curious – he wanted to hear everything Enjolras had ever said or thought about him, in intimate detail. “You didn’t notice me apart from that though, did you?”

“Not really. I knew you could drink a lot, and sometimes you paint your nails. Or let someone else paint them, I don’t know. That was all I knew about you before we met in Le Grande.”

“And after?” Grantaire asked, urging him on.

“And after, I knew more.” Enjolras smirked at his poorly concealed exasperation. “Do you paint your own nails?”

“Sort of. It’s technically Marius’ nail varnish – or Cosette’s, if there’s a difference. We end up doing it together because he can’t stay in the lines for shit, so he gets me to do him, and then I figure if the room already stinks, I might as well do myself as well. What about after?” he added, pressing. “You can’t…this can’t just be because of the kink.” He squeezed Enjolras’ hand, suddenly worried that it was.

“It isn’t. We went to your bedroom the first time, remember?”

“Trust me, I’m not going to forget.”

Enjolras gave him a quick grin, a flash of light. “Well, bedrooms and apartments show a lot about a person.”

“Like what?”

“You like sci-fi and musicals.”

“The Singing in the Rain poster,” Grantaire realised. It had been a present from Cosette, and was tacked to the back of his door.

“And those books on your floor. I assume they’re sci-fi because of the planets and stuff on the covers, but I could be wrong?” He gave Grantaire a small smirk.

“You’re not, and you know it.”

“I might have also stalked you online after that, so I know you like photomanipulation and animal documentaries and walking, among other things.”

Other things,” Grantaire repeated. “That sounds ominous.”

“In a bad way?” Was he nervous? Grantaire shook his head, grinning.

“Just unexpected. Really unexpected.” Enjolras relaxed, and Grantaire glanced down at their hands, a little bubble of excitement and awe expanding in his chest at the sight. How many times had he wished for this? “Where are you taking me then?” he asked, trying not to sound too keen.

“It’s a surprise?” Enjolras shook his head and laughed at how hesitant he sounded. “I think you’ll like it. You’ve probably been before, but it’s the sort of thing you can go back to many times.”

Grantaire narrowed his eyes, trying to think. “Is it a museum?”

“No. Do you like museums?” Enjolras added, looking at him.

“Depends on the museum, I guess. Have you ever been to the Museum of Eroticism?” he asked, unable to resist.

“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure.” Enjolras’ lips quirked, and Grantaire grinned. “We could go together?”

“That sounds like fun.”

They hadn’t even been on their first date for more than a few minutes, and already they were planning the next. Grantaire’s mind spun, his smiles coming faster and easier as Enjolras led the way to the métro and took him to the third arrondissement, and then to the Marché des Enfants Rouge. He had been before but food markets were, as Enjolras had said, places that could be returned to over and over.

Food helped to ease the breathless disbelief still fluttering in his chest. They took it away to eat it in a square round the corner since he got couscous and Enjolras got crêpes, and the vendors were very territorial over their tables and didn’t permit mingling. It was far from a hardship – the square wasn’t as filled with tourists, and it was actually nicer to sit on the grass in a spot of their own. It didn’t hurt that Enjolras leaned into him and kept smiling that small, pleased smile, as if Grantaire was the most fascinating person he’d ever spent time with. Grantaire had never seen him smile so much, and he was swiftly becoming drunk on it, on the visible proof that Enjolras was enjoying himself.

Eventually, Enjolras lay back on the grass, hands behind his head. He squinted up at Grantaire and knocked their knees together, a bid for attention that was as pointless as it was charming – Grantaire hadn’t looked away from him for more than a few seconds since they’d left his apartment. “I know we both have work tomorrow, or I’d ask you to stay tonight, but would you like to come over after tomorrow’s meeting?”

“We both have work on Tuesday as well, you know.” Grantaire grinned at the frown that flitted across Enjolras’ face. “That doesn’t mean I don’t want to. Are you sure though? Won’t Combeferre be there?”

“Courfeyrac too, probably. He usually comes back with us on Mondays before heading home. Other people have joined us before,” he added, probably reading Grantaire’s trepidation in his face. “It’s not exclusive.” 

If Enjolras had asked him earlier, he would have said no. Made his excuses, brushed off the invitation while angling for another, but Enjolras had picked his moment well. The sun had just dipped out of sight below the trees and buildings, and Grantaire was buoyed up by Enjolras’ attention, his kindness, his touches. “Okay,” he said, before he could second-guess it any further. “If you’re sure?”

“I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t. Oh.” He blinked, staring into the distance for a second and then sitting up. “I just realised – Combeferre’s going to know it’s you. Courfeyrac as well.”

“Know what’s me?”

Enjolras frowned, turning towards him. “They both know I’ve been seeing the same person for a few weeks now. They’re going to know it was you. They both know I go to Le Grande, so they’ll put the pieces together.”

“Marius as well.” Grantaire bit his lip. “I mean, I told him I was seeing the same guy for scenes as well.”

“Do you mind?” Enjolras asked, touching his hand. “We can figure something out if you do, pretend to…break things off and then get together or something?”

“No.” Grantaire looked down, wincing at the abrubtness of his reply. “I mean…that’d take ages, wouldn’t it? And I’m pretty sure they’d figure it out and we’d just look like idiots anyway.” When he glanced at Enjolras, he was smiling.

“Okay. We can just tell them then?”

“And watch the magic of gossip at work as everyone else finds out in under an hour,” Grantaire said, not quite able to hold back a grin. “You wait, Bahorel will have a banner or something ready by the meeting.” And everyone would know. Everyone would know they were together; they would be allowed to look at each other, Grantaire would be allowed to touch Enjolras, even kiss him where anyone could see.

Like they’d been doing since this date had started – had Enjolras been easing him into it, seeing how nervous he’d been about just admitting his feelings?

“Would that bother you?” Enjolras asked, interrupting his thoughts. 

It took Grantaire a second to catch up, but he shook his head. “And deprive Bahorel of the excuse to make a banner? It’d break his heart.”

“That would be terrible.” Enjolras pressed his hand again. “Are you completely sure though?”

Grantaire chewed his lip, then flipped his hand over and slid his fingers through Enjolras’. “I think you probably care more than I do. I don’t care if C-squared know I’m into kinky shit. Do you care if Marius knows that about you? And Cosette,” he added. “He tells Cosette everything. But she can definitely keep a secret, so we have two people each.”

“Kinky shit,” Enjolras repeated under his breath, shooting Grantaire a wry look that made heat rise in his neck.

“It’s up to you,” he mumbled.

Enjolras was quiet, lying back down on the grass again. “They definitely wouldn’t tell anyone?” he asked after a moment.

“Marius and Cosette? No. Come on, you know they wouldn’t.”

Enjolras nodded, then sat up in one fluid movement and turned to kiss him, a hand going to Grantaire’s cheek to keep him steady as their lips pressed together. “Okay,” Enjolras said, so close that Grantaire could feel the words spoken against his skin. “We’ll tell them tonight?”

“In time for a banner tomorrow,” Grantaire breathed. “Yeah.”

At the métro station where their ways parted, they kissed for ages, Enjolras apparently doing his best to impress on Grantaire how little he needed to worry. It didn’t stop him pinching himself on the way home, or grinning helplessly as he went inside, pulling his keys out of his pocket.

He and Enjolras were dating. As boyfriends, not just play partners. Enjolras knew how he felt and didn’t care. Better – he liked it, and liked him back. Grantaire unlocked the door and went in, grinning when Marius turned round on the sofa and said, “Hey. Wow, you look happy. Good night?”

“Yeah.” Grantaire laughed, leaning back against the door and pressing a hand over his face. “Holy shit. You are never going to believe what I’m about to tell you.”

“I’m listening.” Marius marked his place in his book and turned around properly, eyes bright. Living with Courfeyrac had given him an excellent appreciation for gossip.

“I went on a date today.” Grantaire was overflowing, on the verge of laughter again.

“With the guy you’ve been…”

“Playing with, yeah.” He nodded, trying not to smile so wide. “Enjolras. We went on a date. I went on a date with Enjolras.”

“Wait, Enjolras? Our Enjolras?” Marius stared. “But you said…” He trailed into silence, eyes wide. Grantaire nodded in confirmation, laughing when Marius’ jaw dropped. “You’ve been seeing Enjolras behind my back? Oh wait, that came out wrong –”

Grantaire was practically giggling, only the door behind him keeping him upright. “A bit, yeah.”

“Since when?” Marius started to smile, still gaping.

“Since my usual club closed down a few weeks ago.”

Weeks?” Marius got up and came over. A different person might have hit him – Éponine definitely would have done – but Marius hugged him instead, squeezing so tightly Grantaire was lifted away from the door. “R, that’s ages! Why didn’t you say?”

“It was just…it wasn’t personal,” Grantaire explained into Marius’ shoulder. “We weren’t seeing each other like that.”

“But you are now?”

“Yeah.” Grantaire stared to grin again, just in time for Marius to pull away and stare at him.

“Wait, does that mean Enjolras is into…all the stuff you’re into?”

If Marius didn’t want to say ‘kinky shit’, Grantaire wasn’t going to make him. “Yeah. But don’t tell anyone, okay?”

“Sure, of course not. Oh, um –”

“You can tell Cosette,” Grantaire smirked, saving him. “As if you’d be able to keep anything from her anyway.”

“Thanks.” Marius stepped back and gave him an amazed look. “So you and Enjolras are a thing now?”

“It looks like it.” Grantaire shoved his hands into his pockets and grinned. “We did go on a date.”

“Can I tell other people that?” Marius asked, wide-eyed, and squeaked when Grantaire nodded. “Oh my god, this is so exciting. This is the biggest relationship gossip since Joly, Bossuet, and Chetta finally got their shit together.” He darted back to the sofa and his phone, texting with a huge smile. “And you went on a date? Where? Tell me everything!”

“So you can relay it to everyone else?” Grantaire laughed.

“Would you rather fend off questions all night tomorrow when we see them?” Marius countered, and Grantaire shook his head.

“Definitely not.”

“Then tell me everything.”

“Courfeyrac has ruined you,” Grantaire snorted, but obediently told Marius about Enjolras taking him to the Marché des Enfants Rouge and then to the Square du Temple. That, of course, got Marius onto his first encounters with Cosette in the Jardin du Luxembourg and they ended up on the sofa, ordering takeout and watching sappy romcoms.

It was so normal, such an ordinary evening, but every time Grantaire remembered why they were watching sappy movies there was a funny jolt in his stomach. Every time Marius grinned over a new text from one of their friends exclaiming over the news or Grantaire’s own phone buzzed with congratulations and questions he had to grin, toes curling with the pleasure of it.

Twelve texts and three calls, Enjolras texted him just before eleven. What about you?

Twenty-three texts, but no calls, Grantaire texted back, holding back a laugh. Work tomorrow is really gonna drag.

Tell me about it.

“Apparently we text now,” he announced to Marius, because he was physically incapable of not sharing some of his amazement now that he could.

“You didn’t before?”

“Not to just talk. I mean, we texted to arrange meeting, but that was it. Now we talk.” He grinned at his phone, and Marius nudged him, also smiling.

“I’m happy for you, you gigantic sap.”

“Hey, Mr Thinks-Of-Valentine’s-Day-Presents-Months-In-Advance, you have no ground to stand on here.”

“But I’ve never pretended to be anything but a sucker for romance,” Marius pointed out. “You’ve been pretending to be a cynical bastard since birth, probably.”

“Come on, I wasn’t born disillusioned. I just act like it.”

“Exactly.” Marius grinned. “And there’s no way you’ll be able to pull that off anymore, not with Enjolras as your boyfriend.”

“Why?” Grantaire raised his eyebrows. “What does that mean?”

“You know Enjolras is an all-or-nothing kind of person. I bet you ten euros he’s a cuddler, and that he’s more than happy with PDA.” He laughed at whatever expression Grantaire was making. “You’ve got nowhere to hide!”

“I’m not even going to want to stop him.” Grantaire tipped his head back against the sofa, trying not to smile. “You’re right, I’m a complete sucker.” And he already knew Enjolras was perfectly comfortable with public displays of affection. Would the same be true in front of their friends? Secretly, Grantaire hoped so. The thought of everyone else knowing wasn’t scary at all if what they knew was that Enjolras obviously liked him.

 

He and Marius went early to the Corinthe the next evening. Grantaire’s skin tingled the whole way there, anticipation making him light-headed. Time seemed to slow as they entered and went up the stairs, and the moment they appeared, Enjolras was there. In his usual place with Courfeyrac and Combeferre at a small table, he broke into a smile when he saw Grantaire and gave him an expectant look. Grantaire’s feet carried him forward before his brain could even get on board, a smile of his own growing in reply.

“You came.” Enjolras pushed a chair out for him and Grantaire fell into it with a breathless laugh.

“Where else would I go on a Monday evening?”

As it wasn’t a proper meeting, everyone was free to talk about what they wanted, and too late Grantaire realised that he hadn’t come up with a good answer to the inevitable question – how had they gotten together?

Luckily, Enjolras obviously hadn’t been so forgetful. According to him, he’d accidentally emailed a rant to Grantaire instead of Courfeyrac a few weeks ago, and Grantaire had replied, and they’d struck up a conversation. “More of an argument,” Grantaire decided, grinning at the way Enjolras rolled his eyes.

“Fine, whatever you want to call it.”

They were holding hands under the table, clasped on top of Grantaire’s thigh. Enjolras kept rubbing his thumb back and forth over the back of Grantaire’s hand, and it kept Grantaire tethered every time he worried that someone would point out how they’d barely spoken before this, every time he imagined one of them mentioning Grantaire’s astonishing luck in somehow ensnaring someone like Enjolras, someone clearly so far above him.

But no one did. Perhaps if they’d known how long Grantaire had been pining from afar, things might have been different, but he hadn’t kept his secret in vain. Bahorel hadn’t made a banner, but he did pretend to cry when he saw them holding hands, and he bought drinks for both of them. It was easy. Despite all of Grantaire’s internal worrying, the reality of it was easy. All he had to do was sit there and try not to smile constantly or let himself look as overwhelmed as he felt.

When they left, Combeferre and Courfeyrac walked ahead, Courfeyrac shouting enthusiastically about some TV show Grantaire hadn’t watched, and Enjolras fell back and squeezed his hand. “Was that alright?”

“My cheeks are killing me,” Grantaire told him, what little tact he possessed erased by the happy buzzing under his skin. “I can’t stop smiling, this is terrible.”

“Oh no.” Enjolras smirked, giving him a look from under his lashes that made Grantaire want to stop and lean against a wall for a moment, or possibly sit down. “You’re right, that is terrible.”

It’ll be terrible if my jaw aches too much to blow you. The response leapt to Grantaire’s lips, but he bit it back and nudged Enjolras instead, still too shy to say something like that. Enjolras’ smirk grew as if he could hear his thoughts anyway, and he gave Combeferre and Courfeyrac ahead of them a quick glance before stopping. Grantaire halted as well, not willing to let go of his hand, and before he could ask what was wrong, Enjolras was kissing him.

Despite Marius’ predictions regarding PDA, the most they’d done in the meeting was hold hands. Grantaire hadn’t realised how much he’d wanted this until Enjolras’ hands were on his hips, humming when Grantaire immediately wrapped his arms around his shoulders to hold him close. Enjolras’ lips were warm, his grip firm, and he made another pleased humming sound when Grantaire opened his mouth, their tongues sliding against each other.

When they stopped, Enjolras’ eyes stayed closed a moment longer than Grantaire’s, so Grantaire caught him smiling like he was the one who couldn’t believe his luck. It was a very flattering look, and he tried to commit it to memory even as Enjolras opened his eyes and tilted his head towards the receding Combeferre and Courfeyrac. “We should catch up.”

Grantaire nodded, not quite up to speaking, and let Enjolras tug his hand to lead him forward. If this was going to be his new normal, he would be the last one to protest.

Chapter Text

Grantaire was fully aware that watching people sleep was a creepy thing to do, but he was awake and Enjolras wasn’t, and he was far too comfortable to get out of bed. So what else was there for him to do? Besides, he was having a moment. He’d thought that in the days following their first date, either reality would assert itself (in the form of Enjolras coming to his senses and dumping him like a hot potato), or he would get used to the idea of being Enjolras’ boyfriend. Neither had happened. So he was resigned to committing as many moments like this to memory in preparation for the inevitable day when Enjolras took a good look around and realised how much better he could do.

Hopefully, that day was distant. Grantaire couldn’t get over not having to hold himself back anymore. They’d been dating two weeks, and Marius had definitely been right about Enjolras not doing things by halves. He wasn’t clingy, but he was always present. He responded to any texts or emails within minutes. And whenever they were together he was always touching Grantaire – fingers brushing his skin, a hand on his arm or shoulder, feet and ankles pressed together, little kisses on his cheeks, his temples, his eyelids.

Enjolras kept treating him like something precious and beautiful, and every single time he did it made something flip over in Grantaire’s stomach, a pleasant shiver going through his body. He’d never much cared for the phrase ‘making love’ before, but when they had sex, it felt like it meant so much more. It was so disgustingly sentimental he couldn’t even think of telling anyone else about it. Not even Marius, who was still routinely teased for his sentimentality.

Enjolras’ eyelids shifted, a brief warning before they opened. Grantaire closed his own quickly, not wanting to be caught staring, but he couldn’t help smiling at the contented little hum Enjolras made on seeing him. “I know you’re awake,” he murmured, voice raspy from sleep.

“Prove it,” Grantaire muttered, shuffling down the bed to hide his face. Enjolras huffed, amused, and Grantaire felt him kiss the top of his head.

“Well, you’re talking for a start.”

“Loads of people talk in their sleep, that doesn’t mean anything.” Enjolras slept bare-chested, like Grantaire usually did, and Grantaire didn’t hesitate before pressing his nose against Enjolras’ sternum and smiling. (He was allowed to do this sort of thing now.)

“True. Not many people are coherent when they do though,” Enjolras pointed out, lifting a hand to slide it through Grantaire’s hair, scratching his scalp gently the way he liked. Grantaire’s eyelids fluttered, a deep sigh of pleasure lifting his whole chest.

“Who says I’m coherent?” he mumbled. It made Enjolras laugh, hook a leg over Grantaire’s and pull him closer. He was hard, and just feeling that made Grantaire’s breath hitch, his hips rocking forward instinctively. It was Sunday; neither of them had anywhere to be or anything pressing to do.

“You sound pretty coherent to me,” Enjolras smirked, and Grantaire rolled onto his back, pulling Enjolras on top.

“Keep going and I won’t be.”

“Promises, promises.” Enjolras’ grin was wicked, beautiful in the half-light. “Will you fuck me?” It hadn’t exactly taken him long to figure out how much Grantaire loved to see Enjolras riding him.

A dozen unformed replies flitted through Grantaire’s mind, none of them funny or clever enough, and Enjolras was so warm and beautiful above him that all he could say was, “Yes.” 

Enjolras kissed him, apparently not caring about morning breath. It all came so easily now, even after just a couple of weeks. It was easy to push their pyjama bottoms down and kick them away, easy to reach for a condom and the lube on the bedside the table, the towel on the floor. Enjolras prepped himself, kneeling astride Grantaire and breathing deep as he stretched himself open. Grantaire spread his hands across the sides of Enjolras’ thighs, drinking in the sight of his face, the tiny smile turning up the corners of his open mouth, and only reached for the condom once Enjolras’ exhalations turned shuddery with pleasure.

Enjolras slicked him up once the condom was on, wiping his hand on the towel before shifting forwards and angling himself up. Grantaire held his breath, holding Enjolras’ gaze as he sank down, the little whine he let out now almost familiar. Grantaire gripped Enjolras’ hips, already fighting not to groan too loudly in case Combeferre was still in. “Fuck…”

“Yeah,” Enjolras agreed, smile growing as he started to move. Grantaire slid his hands back to hold his ass and started fucking up into him. Enjolras had told him straight out that when he wasn’t domming he loved being fucked, and Grantaire was already completely enamoured with the way he could make Enjolras’ mouth fall open, his eyes roll back, all coherency driven out of him in a matter of seconds. “Fuck,” Enjolras gasped, lowering himself onto his elbows and mouthing at Grantaire’s neck. “Fuck, R, R…”

Grantaire was way too gone to reply, lost in the heat of Enjolras clenching around him, the weight of his body, the scent of his skin. All he could do was keep going, urged on by Enjolras’ teeth against his pulse, his breathy little sounds of encouragement. Grantaire slid a hand between them and wrapped it around Enjolras’ cock, watching to see the way it made Enjolras shudder. This was real – he couldn’t stop thinking it, even now, especially here in Enjolras’ bed with Enjolras riding him into the mattress.

Enjolras came with his mouth pressed to Grantaire’s shoulder, and they slowed for a minute until he nodded for Grantaire to keep going, kissing him breathless until he came as well.

“Good morning,” Enjolras murmured after he’d wiped them both off and thrown the towel onto the ground again.

Grantaire grinned, pulling Enjolras down next to him and kissing his shoulder. “Morning.”

“Just ‘morning’?” Enjolras asked, sounding amused.

“Of course not.” Grantaire stretched, remembering too late that he’d wanted to keep his arms down in case Enjolras was put off by the smell of his armpits. “Amazing morning,” he said, curling up again. “Brilliant morning.”

Enjolras smiled and slid one of his legs between Grantaire’s, pulling the duvet up over their shoulders to keep the warmth in. “Flatterer.”

“Flattery is empty. I’m just being honest.”

Enjolras snorted, nudging Grantaire’s chin up to kiss him. “You know,” he murmured after a while. “We should plan something.”

“Something?”

“A scene. Do you want to?”

Grantaire’s heart leapt. “Definitely.” His eagerness must have shown, because Enjolras’ smile grew on one side, turning crooked. “What sort of thing were you thinking? I’d be subbing, right?” he added, suddenly worried. Enjolras nodded, kissing his cheek.

“Yeah. I wanted to hear if you had any ideas, actually. I don’t have anything fully-formed, no more than the usual ‘tie him down and beat him’ routine, anyway.”

“Hey, don’t knock it,” Grantaire told him. “That happens to be my favourite routine.”

“Well, I’ll bear that in mind.” Enjolras’ lips quirked. “But go on – any ideas?”

Grantaire looked down, eyes coming to rest on Enjolras’ neck. “Our fantasies,” he said after a long moment. “We could…those could be a starting point?”

Enjolras nodded slowly. “That could definitely work. Which –”

“Could we –”

“Oh, you –”

“You go first,” Grantaire blurted, but Enjolras shook his head.

“No, you.”

“Um. Alright…” No big deal, he just needed to get his thoughts in order, try and figure out what he wanted to say. Enjolras didn’t prompt him again, waiting patiently for Grantaire to speak. “Well,” he said eventually. “There’s, um. I’ve kind of been thinking a lot about your…about, y’know, being your…well, yours. The castle thing, I mean, not like…anyway, that.”

“Being my sex slave?” Enjolras summarised.

Grantaire didn’t know why he’d bothered avoiding the words when hearing Enjolras say it still made him blush. “Basically.”

“Okay.” Enjolras slid down the bed a little so that he and Grantaire were nose to nose. “Go on.”

“No pressure,” Grantaire muttered.

“We could do it over email if you like?”

Grantaire huffed. “No, come on. We’ve done this in person before.”

“Sure, but – well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought of what to say ahead of time.”

Would it ever get less mindblowing to hear Enjolras admit to things like that? Grantaire doubted it. “Really?”

“Of course. We both go in with rough ideas of what we want, don’t we?”

“I guess, yeah.”

“Well then.” Enjolras kissed him, and despite himself Grantaire relaxed into it, letting Enjolras take the lead. “No pressure,” Enjolras murmured as they parted. “Seriously.”

Grantaire swallowed. “Okay. Do you have any rough ideas then?”

“Like I said, nothing concrete. I was…thinking more about breathplay though, if that’s something you’d like?”

“Choking’s always good.” Grantaire brightened, drinking in the sight of Enjolras smiling.

“Choke chains?”

Grantaire made a face. “Rope’s better, or a collar. Have you ever worn a choke chain? Like the ones they use for dogs?” Enjolras shook his head. “The links are too wide, so your skin gets pinched in them. I guess some people like it, but…”

“But you don’t,” Enjolras finished for him. “Rope then. That sounds good.”

“I keep thinking about the bigger stuff at Mask 21,” Grantaire confessed, more relaxed now. “The equipment, I mean – I don’t really know what Le Grande’s got. Probably more, now I think about it, since it’s bigger and fancier.”

“You think Le Grande is fancy?”

Grantaire shrugged. “It’s big, and it’s got a stricter dress code than I’m used to.”

“Would you rather turn up in jeans?” Enjolras asked, amused.

“There’s nothing wrong with jeans,” Grantaire protested. “I know it’s about keeping assholes off the street out and creating an atmosphere and all that, but I’m not exactly…it’s not awkward when you get in and everyone’s all dressed up, but right up till you’re in, and after you leave, you stand out. I hate that.”

“You do have an understated look. Or you have the couple of times I’ve seen you in Le Grande, anyway.”

“I don’t really like the dressing up. Maybe I would if I could teleport straight from home to the club, but it always takes so long to get there.”

“You’d never wear a corset or PVC or anything then?”

Grantaire looked down. “I’ve got an underbust,” he admitted after a moment’s silence. “But I don’t think I’ve worn it more than a few times.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like the way I look in it. I don’t have the right body for it. Hey,” he added quickly, stalling Enjolras before he could start a tirade. “Don’t? Sorry.”

Enjolras closed his mouth and looked down, lips twisting. “I’ll try and persuade you in other ways then. You were saying something about the equipment they have in clubs?”

Grateful for the subject change, Grantaire nodded. “It’s probably a dumb idea though. I mean, I know how expensive it is to rent those rooms out.”

“Something to save for a special occasion.” Enjolras’ smirk was full of promise, enough to make Grantaire forget for a moment what he’d been saying.

“Uh…yeah. Sure.” He swallowed and went on, hoping he wasn’t blushing. “So…something we can do here. Or at mine, that might be easier.”

“Marius goes out more than Combeferre does,” Enjolras agreed. “I don’t have any chains, but I could tie you with rope. There wouldn’t be anything to tie you to so that you could stand though.”

“No. Well…” Grantaire raised his eyebrows as he remembered. “There’s my room – you know I hang my clothes from that railing? If we moved the drawers out, you could tie me to that. I think it’s firm enough.”

“Could it support your full weight?” Enjolras asked, obviously intrigued.

“I don’t know. Probably not. But it can support a bit at least.”

“That sounds good.” Enjolras sucked his lower lip into his mouth, chewing on it. “And it’s in a separate room, so that would reinforce the idea of you being held against your will.”

“Waiting for you to come in and do whatever you like to me?” Grantaire started smiling.

“Yeah. Or…” Enjolras’ eyes lit up. “Or I could catch you. After all, captives don’t come with castles – you have to actually capture them. And once you have them, you need to break them down.” Whatever Grantaire’s face did in response to that made Enjolras grin, as if he could sense the delighted little shiver that had just run down Grantaire’s spine.

“Why on earth would you pick me?” The question was out before Grantaire could stop it, his filter eroded by their intimacy. “I mean,” he hurried to clarify. “You’re a lord or whatever – you could have your pick of whoever’s in your…villages? Or towns, I don’t know, you could have anyone from the places you rule.”

“I’ve got very particular tastes though.” Enjolras moved an inch closer, his hand sliding up Grantaire’s back. “I wouldn’t just want anyone. Whoever I pick has to be…special.” He leaned in, brushing their lips together for a second before he lifted his head and kissed the side of Grantaire’s neck. Which was frankly unfair – he knew what neck kisses did to Grantaire’s ability to concentrate.

“Special?” Grantaire managed to whisper.

“Mmm. Someone…who would put up a good fight,” Enjolras smiled, lips pressing to the underside of Grantaire’s jaw. “But who secretly wanted it.”

“Are you quoting my own fantasy at me?” Grantaire asked, concentrating very hard on sounding normal.

“You’re indulging mine – let me return the favour. Besides, in this scenario they blend pretty perfectly, don’t they?”

“They…do, yeah.” There was no disguising the way his voice was turning breathier with every kiss Enjolras pressed to his neck.

“Well then.” Enjolras scraped his teeth against the soft skin below Grantaire’s ear, humming smugly when it made Grantaire groan.

“Evil,” Grantaire muttered, turning his head to kiss Enjolras properly.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Enjolras grinned.

 

Grantaire surveyed his bedroom critically, glaring at the gigantic pile of clothes on top of his chest of drawers. He’d moved them out of the way first, but it had taken longer than he’d expected to get his clothes down off the rail, and the pile they’d made was large and ugly. Certainly not in line with the aesthetics of Enjolras’ fantasy prison.

Maybe if he covered it with something? It would still have an ugly shape, but it wouldn’t be quite such an eyesore. Before he could decide, there was a knock at the door. He cursed as he checked the time on his phone, sliding it into his pocket as he left his room. “You’re early!” he shouted. There was an answering mumble on the other side, and Grantaire couldn’t help smiling as he opened the door. “Hi.”

“I’m not that early.” Enjolras kissed his cheek as he stepped inside. “Only fifteen minutes.”

“You’re lucky I already showered,” Grantaire huffed. “Here, help me decide.” He beckoned for Enjolras to follow as he went back to his bedroom and gestured at the pile of clothes. “What should I cover that with?”

“The blanket from the sofa?” Enjolras suggested. “Why do you want to cover it though?”

“I…” Grantaire hesitated, suddenly unsure. “Well, I thought…y’know, a fancy prison wouldn’t have a weird lump of clothes like that in it, would it?”

Enjolras smiled. “Probably not. I’ll get the blanket.”

Grantaire followed him out and stayed in the living room while Enjolras presumably adjusted the covering to his liking. Marius was out all day and staying over at Cosette’s for the night, so they were starting the scene earlier than normal – just after lunch. Grantaire had agreed by habit when Enjolras suggested it, but now he suspected that Enjolras had engineered this to leave lots of time for aftercare. Which…Grantaire didn’t object to, not at all. But it was a little intimidating.

Every time he started getting too nervous about it, he reminded himself of the time he and Enjolras had watched Jurassic Park, and how nice that had been. And this time, he’d be allowed to get closer. Not enough to freak Enjolras out – hopefully his observation wouldn’t be too shot after their scene – but still closer than last time.

Unless things went catastrophically wrong, there would be kissing this time. Grantaire shook his head and sat down on the arm of the sofa, trying to focus. This was a scene, just like any other. Albeit with a little more roleplay than usual, but that wasn’t a problem.

Enjolras came out and paused when he saw him, a little smirk playing at the corners of his mouth. “Ready to start?” He was holding a length of rope in his hands, red like the stuff he’d used before.

“If you are.” Grantaire pushed himself to his feet, the familiar anticipation that had been simmering under his skin all morning igniting into heat.

“Well then.” Enjolras stepped forward until they were nose-to-nose – or nose-to-chin at least – his smirk growing. “Safewords?”

“Red for stop, yellow for pause, green for go.”

“Very good.” Enjolras kissed him, sudden enough for it to catch Grantaire by surprise. It was over before he could even kiss back, and then Enjolras’ hand was on his arm, spinning him around and pushing him against the sofa. “Green?”

“Green,” Grantaire confirmed, heartbeat already picking up as Enjolras pulled his wrists roughly behind his back and started to tie them together. Had he told Enjolras how much he appreciated his speed with rope? He would have to try and remember to tell him afterwards, either way. What would have taken Grantaire a minute or more with additional time for fumbling, Enjolras accomplished in about thirty seconds.

“So let’s recap,” Enjolras breathed in his ear. “I was paying a visit to one of my towns, a place that I own, and saw you out in public. Behaving badly, let’s say – what were you doing?”

“Making a nuisance of myself, probably.” Grantaire arched against him, picturing the scene in his mind. “Maybe I was drunk, pontificating on some finer point of how the local lord is an entitled bastard.”

“Very good.” Enjolras kissed the shell of his ear. “And I come riding by, overhear, and have you arrested. But I don’t have you taken to a cell – that would be far too much of a waste. I can see the way you react to being handcuffed.”

“I like it,” Grantaire agreed, settling into the fantasy.

“You do.” Enjolras squeezed his wrists. “And I can tell, and I take custody of you instead. I want a plaything, someone pretty to break down and own, and you’re the perfect man for the job.”

“I’m not pretty,” Grantaire muttered, humming in satisfaction when Enjolras twisted the rope against his wrists.

“You’re very pretty. And you belong to me, even if you don’t want to think so. So.” He nipped at Grantaire’s earlobe. “We’re in my castle, I’ve dragged you to my…inner sanctum, let’s call it. And now I want to convince you to give into what you secretly want. Which is to belong to me in body and soul.” He was grinning, Grantaire could hear it in his voice.

“You’re wrong.” He couldn’t think of anything wittier to say, and he winced at how contrived it sounded, but Enjolras didn’t give him time to doubt.

“Impossible. I’m always right about these things. Call it a sixth sense.” He yanked Grantaire backwards and shoved him to his knees, sliding a hand into his hair and pulling his head back so he was looking up. Enjolras was perfect, an arrogant curl to his lip and possessiveness radiating from his stance. “Why else do you think I wanted you?” he asked, tightening his grip. Grantaire’s mouth fell open to lessen the strain on his throat, and Enjolras smirked. “There’s no fun in taking someone who doesn’t want it.”

“I don’t –” Grantaire started, and gasped as Enjolras pulled his head back further, forcing his mouth further open.

“Such lies. I think you do want it.” Enjolras lifted one foot and pressed the toe of his boot gently against Grantaire’s crotch. “I’d put money on it, in fact, but you don’t have any to bet with. All you’ve got are the clothes on your back.”

And in this fantasy, even those belonged to Enjolras. Grantaire shifted, putting up a feeble show of resistance that only served to arouse him further when Enjolras didn’t give an inch. The hand in his hair was so tight his scalp was tingling, and Enjolras’ foot against his cock was a pressure he couldn’t ignore. Which of course, was just what Enjolras wanted.

“Look at that,” he crooned, rubbing his toe back and forth, careful to keep the pressure light. “I think you just lost that bet.” When he lifted his foot, Grantaire’s dick made an embarrassing tent at the front of his jogging bottoms, and Grantaire flushed when Enjolras laughed. “That was fast too – you like this even more than I thought.”

“Don’t,” Grantaire managed to croak, and Enjolras shoved him away so hard that he overbalanced and fell onto his side. He started pushing himself up, but Enjolras crouched down behind him and pushed him down again, sliding a hand down Grantaire’s belly with no preamble and wrapping it around his cock. Grantaire jerked, startled, gasping when Enjolras started to stroke him through his jogging bottoms.

“Do,” Enjolras grinned, leaning down to bite his earlobe. It made Grantaire shudder – Enjolras was clearly going to abuse every scrap of knowledge he’d picked up about Grantaire’s soft spots. “Protest all you like – by the time I’m done with you, you’ll be begging for my attentions.”

Grantaire took a deep breath and rolled away, staggering as he got his legs underneath him and rose unsteadily to his feet. “Not happening.”

“Isn’t it?” Enjolras’ eyes gleamed as he stood as well. “Looks to me like it is. And you already lost the bet on your clothes – I think it’s time for me to collect.”

This line at least, Grantaire had prepared. “Just you fucking try.”

Predictably, the curse made Enjolras act faster. It was like the first time they’d tried roughhousing, but better. Both of them were less careful, and this time Grantaire didn’t try so hard to escape. He revelled in Enjolras twisting his arms behind his back and pressing him to the ground, holding him down with a knee on his shoulders as he yanked Grantaire’s jogging bottoms off, slapping his ass as soon as it was exposed.

His shirt would be harder to remove – Enjolras had to untie him for that – but Enjolras dragged him to his feet and bent him over the arm of the sofa instead, landing another slap on his ass with enough sting to make Grantaire shout.

“Fuck!”

“Language,” Enjolras scolded, slapping him again, and again, pushing him down with a hand on Grantaire’s bound wrists and hitting him without pause. “Let’s see how you respond to this, hm?”

“Fuck, fucking…ahhhh, God, fuck!” Grantaire pressed his face into the sofa cushion and moaned, panting and squirming as Enjolras laid into him. It was so fast; unrelenting smacks on skin that was fast turning hot and probably bright red, stinging and throbbing and so, so good. He was thrusting against the arm of the sofa as well, and might have been able to get himself close enough to come if Enjolras hadn’t pulled him back up and pushed him down to his knees again.

“Look at that,” Enjolras smirked, gripping the back of Grantaire’s neck to make him look down at his erection. “What was that you were saying about not wanting this? Not very convincing, if I’m honest.” He knelt down behind Grantaire and started untying him, leaning forward at the same time to kiss the side of his neck, mouthing at the skin there. Grantaire’s head fell sideways to give him more access, eyelids fluttering as Enjolras kissed and bit a trail up to his ear. “Looks like I chose well,” Enjolras murmured, and the gust of air across Grantaire’s ear made him shiver. “You’re a needy one.”

Grantaire really wanted to protest, to keep in character, but with Enjolras’ tongue brushing the shell of his ear like that it was all he could do to stay upright. He managed a whine, but all that earned him was a laugh. “If that was you trying to deny it, you’re doing a terrible job.” Enjolras’ voice was low, amused with an edge of cruelty that made Grantaire’s desire spike, a delicious flare in the pit of his stomach.

Enjolras pulled away, and Grantaire found his arms freed, his shirt being pulled up over his head and tossed carelessly aside. Taking advantage of the sudden lack of restraint, Grantaire lurched to his feet and tried to run for the first door his eyes fell on – the bathroom. He didn’t get far. His pulse raced as Enjolras grabbed his arm from behind, and instead of yanking back, pushed forwards so that Grantaire tripped and almost fell. Only Enjolras kept him upright, using his momentum to get him against the wall next to the bathroom door. 

It was cold all down his front, and he was forced up onto his tiptoes as Enjolras pinned one of his wrists to the wall by his head and twisted the other high against his back. Grantaire was tense with the strain, trying not to grin from the exhilaration. There was nothing quite like being physically overpowered and manhandled, giving in and yielding under a firm hand. “Nice try.” Enjolras bit his shoulder, and kissed the same spot a second later. “I can’t help notice that you’re still hard though.” He rocked his hips forward, laughing when Grantaire choked back a groan. “I like your spirit, but I won’t tolerate disobedience.”

“Might as well let me go then,” Grantaire muttered, hissing when Enjolras bit him again.

“When we’ll both enjoy the process of breaking you down so much? I wouldn’t deprive myself that pleasure. Come on.” He yanked both Grantaire’s arms back and used his grip on them to pull him away from the wall and walk him into his bedroom.

Grantaire’s eyes fell instantly on the rope dangling from the railing, not secured to anything. Enjolras let go of one of his hands and grabbed something from the bed, pulling Grantaire around to face him. Cuffs, Grantaire realised a second later when they were wrapped around his wrists, and he stilled for long enough for Enjolras to check their tightness before he started pretending to struggle again.

“Punishment for resisting, I think,” Enjolras murmured in his ear, pushing him backwards towards the rope. He tied one end to the connecting chain, which was only a few links long, and Grantaire’s breath hitched as Enjolras grabbed the other end and pulled, slowly drawing Grantaire’s arms up over his head. He rose up onto his tiptoes, then back down again when Enjolras gave him enough slack to stand with his feet planted on the ground. Neither of them wanted to break his railing, after all.

Enjolras’ bag was on Grantaire’s bed, its contents hidden from view, and Grantaire shivered as Enjolras stepped back and surveyed him with a smirk, still holding the rope. “Very nice.” And yep, there it was, there was definite heat rising in his cheeks. Grantaire ducked his head as much as he could, trying to ignore his persisting erection. There was nowhere to hide like this. Enjolras could see everything, every blemish, every flaw, every reaction.

“You belong to me,” Enjolras said softly, and there was no way he could miss the way those words made Grantaire twitch. “By the time we’re done, you’ll be agreeing with me.”

He’d agree now if it wouldn’t spoil the scene. Grantaire swallowed and lifted his head, taking a breath before saying, “Not likely.”

It made Enjolras grin, and he pulled on the rope, forcing Grantaire back up onto his tiptoes. “Very likely. Certain, I’d say.” He knelt down and slipped the rope under the corner of Grantaire’s bed, tying it around the leg. “You’re going to be all mine, and you’re going to love every second.”

Grantaire couldn’t answer, couldn’t think of anything to say – roleplay had never come easily to him – but Enjolras didn’t falter. He rose to his feet and reached into his bag, rummaging for a second before he drew one of his canes out. It was one of the thinner ones, long and slightly curved from use. “You enjoyed my hand so much.” Enjolras stepped up in front of him and kissed his cheek. “I think you’ll like this too.”

Grantaire was so taken aback by the kiss that Enjolras’ hand on his hip made him jump, though he relaxed an instant later and obeyed the push, turning to face the wall. “So good,” Enjolras purred, pinching his ass to make him jump again. “Let’s see how long it takes you to open that pretty mouth of yours. Colour?”

Grantaire nodded, grounded by the prompt. “Green.” 

“Excellent.” The tip of the cane touched Grantaire’s neck and traced a slow line down his spine, right to the crack of his ass. He rocked further up on his toes, trying to avoid it, and Enjolras laughed. “You’re not going anywhere. I’m going to thrash you, and I’m only going to stop when you thank me for it.”

Grantaire licked his lips, looking up at the railing. It was steady, not even bending under the weight he had to put on it to keep his balance. “Why would I thank you for it?”

“Why indeed?” Enjolras was grinning, Grantaire could hear it in his voice. He stepped to one side, just into Grantaire’s peripheral vision, and that was all the warning he had before the cane came down across his ass, hard. Enjolras wouldn’t have started out so harsh if Grantaire hadn’t been warmed up, but the shock of it still made him yelp and try to jump forward. Enjolras laughed and kept going, setting a rhythm that had Grantaire fighting to catch his breath in seconds.

Hard and fast were clearly Enjolras’ watchwords today, and Grantaire’s ass was bearing the brunt of it. He panted and twitched, little pained grunts slipping out over the sound of the constant smack-smack-smack of the cane, relentless and unstoppable. It might have become unpleasant if Enjolras hadn’t come closer and wrapped his free hand around Grantaire’s throat. Barely hard enough to impede his breathing, but making the easy point that he could, and suddenly Grantaire was there.

He tipped his head back and groaned, movements slowing down. He couldn’t go anywhere – he was trapped and helpless, completely at Enjolras’ mercy, his life in Enjolras’ hands. “Better,” Enjolras murmured, squeezing his throat before stepping away and beginning to strike Grantaire’s thighs. Far gentler than before, it still hurt, but in a good way. “I should get a whip for you,” Enjolras said absently. “I wonder how you’d like that?”

Grantaire shuddered, struggling not to let the railing take his full weight. It was harder than he’d thought it would be to maintain this position, his shoulders and arms tight with the strain, constantly wobbling on his toes as he fought not to pull too hard on the railing. The mental image of Enjolras standing at a distance and lazily flicking a whip across his shoulders was glorious, especially in this fantasy of a luxurious prison.

“I’ll train you to like it,” Enjolras said, and Grantaire hissed as sharp nails dragged four lines down his left shoulder. “Because that’s what this is, really. You’ve got a lot of potential, but you need training to reach it. You’ll be the most perfect, submissive pet by the time I’m done with you, but you need to be broken first.”

Grantaire managed to make a sound of denial, and Enjolras scratched down his other shoulder. “Oh hush, don’t pretend you’re not enjoying this. There’s visual proof of your lie, look.” The cane paused, and Grantaire squeezed his eyes shut and gasped as Enjolras reached round to stroke him, too fast and tight for it to be that good, ending too soon for him to respond. “See?” Enjolras whispered right into his ear, stepping closer so they were pressed together, Grantaire leaning back into him.

“M’not,” Grantaire breathed, the tiny smile lifting his lips betraying his eagerness for more. Enjolras snorted, his hand disappearing for a second before it came back to Grantaire’s chest, with something cold in his fingers. Grantaire didn’t have to look down to see that it was the nipple clamps, but he did anyway, captivated by the sight of Enjolras’ hand on his skin, the silver bright against it.

“Think of this as being tagged,” Enjolras said casually, still murmuring it into Grantaire’s ear. There was a small thud as he dropped the cane and reached round with his other hand, both of them watching as he started playing with Grantaire’s right nipple, teasing it to hardness before he put the first clamp on.

“Tagged?” Grantaire croaked, clenching his teeth against the pain.

“Mm. Because property is tagged, and you belong to me, don’t you?” His other nipple was pinched, twisted, Enjolras’ hips rocking gently against his ass, and Grantaire fought against the fog of arousal clouding his thoughts.

“No.”

“Oh, but you do.” Enjolras kissed his ear and put the other clamp on. The weight of both of them was always more than Grantaire could remember, the pain settling back into a steady throbbing ache. “You’re mine. I own you.”

Fuck. Grantaire had to take two deep breaths before he could reply, his voice hoarse. “No one owns me.”

“I do.” Enjolras pulled him around to face the room again, and went to get something else from his bag of tricks. Grantaire sucked in a breath when he saw, eyes wide with anticipation. “The promise of a reward often gets the best results, I’ve found,” Enjolras smirked, turning the vibrator in his hand on. It buzzed quietly, and Grantaire tried not to be obvious in the way he was leaning forward. The last time Enjolras had used a vibrator on him had been fantastic, and he didn’t expect this occasion to be any different.

But instead of pressing it to his cock, Enjolras bent to pick up his cane, and then touched it to the clamp attached to Grantaire’s right nipple. The shock of it made him twist, a startled noise bursting from his throat, but Enjolras kept the pressure up and Grantaire threw his head back, gasping because it felt good. Strange, but good, very good, a weird mix of pain and pleasure that was confusing his brain, making his cock leak. “Fuck,” he choked, and Enjolras hummed as he pressed the vibrator to the other clamp. “Fuck.”

“I wondered if you’d like that, but look at you, you’re so into it.” He stepped away and turned the vibrator off, only that second of warning before he was pushing Grantaire around enough for the cane to land on his ass again. Grantaire gave a loud, “Ah!” and jerked away, but there was nowhere for him to go, and Enjolras laughed. “You can’t have one without the other. Count out ten more hits, and you’ll get the vibrator again.”

Grantaire was tempted to challenge him, to push against the rules, but that wouldn’t be playing the game properly, and he was enjoying this far too much to risk ruining it. So when the first vicious smack landed, he gasped, “One.” Enjolras laughed again, and it continued, the pain building up to the final number ten, when Enjolras dropped the cane and palmed his sore ass, squeezing to make him wince and writhe.

“Amazing. And after all that talk about not being owned, look how ready you were to drop your principles for a bit of pleasure.” Grantaire flushed, tilting his head back to avoid looking when Enjolras turned the vibrator on again, pretending embarrassment that wasn’t entirely pretend anymore. “I told you I was certain. You’re pathetic.” The word sent a spike through him, something not entirely shame or desire, but some blend of the two. He couldn’t figure it out before the vibrator was on his left nipple, and his thoughts were entirely blotted out by the sensation, needy sounds pulled out of him without his permission.

“Oh, you like that?” Enjolras crooned. When Grantaire only whined, the cane smacked into his ass again, a burning line across sore flesh that punched the air out of him. “Answer me. Do you like this?” He moved the vibrator to Grantaire’s other nipple and Grantaire nodded.

Yes, fuck…”

“Of course you do.” He turned the vibrator off again and grinned, sliding it into his pocket so he could take hold of the chain between the clamps. “And if you want it again, you’re going to have to ask for it. Very nicely.” Smack.

Grantaire jerked forward, then further forward as Enjolras tugged on the clamps. “Ahh, fuck, ow, oww –” Smack.

“Keep your balance, don’t forget,” Enjolras sounded so smug, so put-together, and Grantaire struggled to stand on his toes, trying not to put too much weight on the railing, but it was so hard to remember to do that with Enjolras caning him on one side and inflicting agony on his nipples on the other. “Filthy, look at you.”

Grantaire whined, eyes half-closed and mouth gaping. He must look obscene, he knew, but he couldn’t think past the pain and the sound of Enjolras’ low voice.

“I must say, I expected more,” Enjolras murmured in his ear, twisting the chain and making Grantaire whimper. “But you haven’t put up much of a struggle at all. How long have you wanted this? I bet you’ve longed for it your whole miserable life, desperate for someone to come along and treat you like the degenerate you know you are.”

Grantaire blinked rapidly, whines and groans coming out on every exhale now as Enjolras crowded right up against him, the heat and bulk of his body growing to fill Grantaire’s entire world, everything beyond it shrinking into insignificance. Enjolras wasn’t letting up the pressure on his nipples for a second now, and the smack of the cane was slowing to a stop. “Look at you, you’re ready to get on your knees and beg for more,” Enjolras whispered, and Grantaire couldn’t find any words to deny it. The cane changed direction, twisting so it was pressed between his cheeks against his entrance, cool rattan against overheated flesh. Enjolras rocked it down so it bumped against his balls, and Grantaire shuddered, whining when it made Enjolras laugh softly.

“Oh, so needy. I bet you’ve dreamed about this, haven’t you? You’ve imagined being captured and trained to be good and obedient. You’ve got all the potential, after all. You’re loving this, for instance.” He pressed the cane further forward, bumping it against the underside of Grantaire’s cock as well. Grantaire turned his face away, sucking in shaky breaths. It wasn’t what Enjolras was doing anywhere near so much as what he was saying. He amended that thought a second later, when Enjolras let go of the chain between the clamps and flicked one of them instead.

It hurt perfectly and he was nothing but this, nothing. “You’re so good at this,” Enjolras breathed, kissing his ear and flicking the other clamp, practically holding Grantaire up now. “A natural. Like you were born to be mine, all mine for me to play with whenever I like. You’re just my toy, that’s all you are. Something for me to use and break.”

Grantaire’s chin trembled, his heart pounding. Enjolras sucked gently on his earlobe and then bit it, humming happily. “You can’t help it, can you? I know. All you want to do is be owned and ruled. It’s what you need, I understand. And I’m going to take such good care of you, you know.” A tug on the chain and Grantaire let slip a shaky gasp. “I’m going to break you down so far you won’t remember your own name,” Enjolras murmured, ruthlessly pressing his advantage. “I’m going to make you forget everything outside this room, and everyone except me. You’re already halfway there, just look at you, whimpering on my cane because it feels so fucking good to you. You’d let me fuck you with it if you thought it would feel good, wouldn’t you? You’re that desperate, that low, you’d let me grind your face into the dirt and you’d beg for more because that’s all you’re good for and you know it. You’re nothing but the filth beneath my shoe, and you’re lucky I’ve given you my attention for even this long. You should thank me for every second I deign to spend on you.”

Grantaire only realised he was crying when he felt something wet fall into his ear, his throat too tight to speak. They’d agreed that Enjolras was to keep going if this happened, but he hadn’t expected it to feel like this. He hadn’t realised how much more naked it would make him feel, how ashamed, how exposed. He felt completely stripped of all his guards, but Enjolras was there.

Enjolras was there, lips against his neck, and the vibrator suddenly against his chest. It was incredible, and Grantaire sobbed helplessly as Enjolras slid behind him and held him up, dropping the cane to wrap a hand around his cock. “I’m going to take such good care of you,” he promised, kissing Grantaire’s temple. “I’ve got you. You’re all mine, don’t forget. God, do you even know what you look like right now?” Grantaire couldn’t answer, couldn’t even think of an answer. He felt like he’d never been so hard, never been so desperate for release, and Enjolras was stroking him too slowly.

“Depraved,” Enjolras purred, taking his hand off Grantaire’s cock and lifting it to his face. “Lick. Lots of spit, come on. Show me what that tongue’s good for.” Grantaire could barely manage it through his crying, but more than anything right now he wanted to obey. He wanted to be good, he wanted Enjolras to be pleased, maybe even proud.

“Please,” he choked, “please…”

“Shhh, I’ve got you.” Enjolras kissed his neck and wrapped his hand around his cock again, thankfully wet this time, though still too slow. “You’re so good for me, a natural just like I said.” He lifted the vibrator away from Grantaire’s chest and pressed the tip against the crown of his cock. Grantaire shouted, his whole body jerking, and he sobbed when Enjolras let go of his cock and smacked the clamps hard as punishment.

“Your place isn’t to demand,” Enjolras hissed in his ear, and this was just what he needed, Enjolras unyielding and terrible, glorious in his anger. “Only I get to do that. You shut up and take what I give you, because that’s all you’re for. That’s your life’s entire purpose, do you understand? You’re only one step up from a doll.” He bent down and picked up the cane. “Ten more – count it out.”

Grantaire sucked in a sharp breath at the first smack, but still managed to choke out, “One.” Smack. “Ahh. Two.” Smack. “Three.”

“Do you understand what this punishment is for?” Enjolras asked, swinging the cane again. Smack.

Four.” Grantaire took a deep breath. “I demanded, I wasn’t good.”

“Indeed.” Smack.

“Five.” It came out as a shaky rasp, his chin continuing to tremble.

“This is for your own good, you know. I know you can be good, and I want you to be the best you can be – for my benefit, of course.” Smack. A pause, and Enjolras flicked one of the nipple clamps, making Grantaire sob. “Am I boring you?”

“No, please, six, I’m sorry.”

“Better. Keep it up, I expect the best.” Smack.

“Seven.” He could barely speak through his tears now, his head hanging low. Smack. “Eight.” His arms ached so much, his throat was tight, his ass burned, and he hadn’t been good, he needed to be good, this was for his improvement, Enjolras was doing this for him, to make him better. Smack. “Ni-i-ine, ahh…” Smack. He cried out, chest shaking. “Ten.”

“Much better.” Enjolras rubbed a hand over his ass, squeezing like he owned it – which of course he did. “What do you say?”

“Thank you,” Grantaire gasped, only remembering a second later that thanking him had been the condition for him to be let down from the railing.

“Very good. I knew you’d be good for me.” Enjolras wrapped his hand around Grantaire’s cock and stroked, slow and too loose, grinning when Grantaire whimpered and gasped and twisted his body to try and get more. “Oh, you want more?”

“Please, please…”

“Are you that desperate?”

“Yes!” Grantaire couldn’t think clearly, consumed by feeling. Every cruel, teasing word made delicious, shameful warmth glow in the pit of his stomach, feeding his need to come. “Please, I am, I want –”

“Tell me you’re desperate,” Enjolras whispered in his ear, kneading his ass with one hand, stroking his cock with the other.

“I’m desperate!”

“Tell me you’re pathetic.”

“I am, please, I’m, I’m pathetic…” 

“Tell me how greedy you are.”

Please, I want to come, please, please!” He was frantic, practically dancing in place trying to thrust into Enjolras’ hand.

“You’ve always wanted this, haven’t you?” Enjolras growled, pressing his fingers against Grantaire’s entrance on his next squeeze. “I bet you wanted to be the village whore, passed around for anyone with a passing fancy to fuck on a whim, only allowed into the pub if you were there to service the patrons. I bet you wanted to kneel under the table and suck cocks for the sheer joy of it, didn’t you?”

Grantaire couldn’t breathe, so close to coming from those images and the humiliation they brought out in them that he could only whine, high and wild, driven beyond conscious thought.

“So pretty,” Enjolras murmured. “I’m going to fuck you now – you need it, don’t you?”

“Oh God, please.” Grantaire breathed the words out, shuddering from his toes to the tips of his fingers.

“Very good.” Enjolras pressed a kiss to his cheek and gave his cock one last stroke before stepping away to untie the rope from the end of the bed. Grantaire shivered and gasped as his arms were lowered slowly, Enjolras coming close to catch him as he swayed forwards. “Onto the bed now, come on. I want to taste what I own.”

Grantaire moaned weakly, his cuffs unclipped as he was guided to the bed and moved into a kneeling position. His chest ached, his head was spinning, but underneath all of that was a blissful certainty that he was doing what was asked of him. Enjolras kept a hand on him, pressing between his shoulder blades to make sure he was steady before he grabbed a towel out of the bag and spread it below Grantaire’s middle.

A moment later there was a finger at his entrance, wet with lube, and Grantaire accepted the intrusion eagerly, craving more, needing the visceral push that would cement his humiliation. He was nothing but this, nothing but Enjolras’ toy, an outlet, empty of thought and doubt and fear. “I’m going to train you so well,” Enjolras told him, adding a second finger and thrusting quickly, finding Grantaire’s prostate and making him whine. “This is the only place for you, the only place you’ll ever fulfil your purpose.”

Grantaire panted, arms and shoulders trembling from the strain of holding himself up as Enjolras kept going, ruthless and unrelenting even as Grantaire shook with tears. “You need this,” Enjolras said in a low voice, slapping Grantaire’s thigh with his free hand, pausing to work in a third finger. “You know you do. And I’m the only one willing to give it to you, the only one willing to play these games. It’s a good thing you’re so obedient – only slaves on their best behaviour get to beg for my cock.”

Grantaire groaned, arms giving way. He fell down onto his elbows and hid his face in the duvet when Enjolras crowed with laughter, slapping his ass again. “You like that idea, do you?” he teased, fucking Grantaire with his fingers again. “You’d better get to it then.”

“Please,” Grantaire mumbled into the duvet, and sobbed when Enjolras dragged him up by his hair, pulling their bodies flush together. Enjolras’ cock was slick and ready, warm against the crease of Grantaire’s ass.

“What was that?” Enjolras breathed in his ear, free hand coming around to flick one of the nipple clamps. “I must be hearing things, because that sounded like the worst attempt at begging I’ve ever heard. I’m sure someone as desperate as you can do better than that. Persuade me, come on. Tell me why I should bother fucking something like you. Why should I make your day?”

Grantaire could hardly breathe. “Please,” he gasped, “please, I’ll be so good, I’ll do anything, anything you want.”

“You’ll be mine? Only mine?”

“Yes, yours –”

“And you’ll obey my every command? And accept the punishment if you fail?”

“Yes, please, please, Enjolras…”

“Shall I tell you what I’d do?” Enjolras murmured, playing gently with the chain between the clamps. Even gentle tugs hurt, Grantaire’s back arching to try and lessen the power of each pull. “I’d clamp more than these.” Another tug, another choked whine from Grantaire. “I’d play with you for hours, and I wouldn’t let you come. Oh no. I’d put a cockring on you and fuck you till you cried, but you wouldn’t be allowed to come. Only good slaves get that privilege.”

“I’ll be good,” Grantaire choked, head tipped back against Enjolras’ shoulder, their cheeks pressed together. “Please, I promise –”

“Oh I know you will.” Enjolras kissed his neck, twisting his head to the side and starting to bite as well, licking and sucking to make Grantaire shudder. “Because you love this, don’t you? You’re dying for more, lapping up every scrap of attention I give you.” Grantaire could only moan in response, tears still leaking from the corners of his eyes. “You’ve always wanted to give in like this and let somebody else take control, own you from the inside out. Look how well you’ve gone down for me.”

He’d done well. Grantaire’s eyes fluttered closed at the words, another sob shaking his chest. He’d done well; this was what Enjolras wanted.

“Oh, you want that?” Enjolras grinned against his neck and started thrusting against him, teasing. “You want me to tell you how good you are? You want to earn my praise?”

“Not…” Grantaire couldn’t speak, his throat too thick, head pulled back too far. Enjolras eased his grip and pushed his head forward a little so he could continue. “Not good enough,” he gasped, trembling. “Please, I’m not, I can be better, I can, I promise.”

“I know you can,” Enjolras murmured, giving the clamps another tug. “You want it so badly, and I love that. You’re so willing and eager. But I’m not done with you yet – do you really want me to fuck you?”

Yes, yes, please, so much.”

Enjolras hummed, pleased. “Then tell me what you are.”

“Nothing,” Grantaire gasped immediately, Enjolras’ words flowing through him. “I’m filthy, I’m disgusting, depraved, you…please, I’m just…”

“You’re my toy, aren’t you?” Enjolras prompted, thrusting harder, his cock sliding back and forth against Grantaire’s entrance.

Yes,” Grantaire moaned, shuddering against him. “I’m yours, your property, you can do whatever you want to me, I need it, I’m desperate, I’ll do anything, please, God, please…” He started crying again, too hard to keep talking.

“Very good,” Enjolras crooned, and in a fantastically smooth movement he pulled back, and angled both of them so that on his next thrust forward he slid into Grantaire. The angle wasn’t great, and Grantaire’s breath hitched in discomfort – Enjolras noticed immediately and bent him forward again, lowering him gently to the bed. The next thrust was perfect, and Grantaire buried his face in his arms and gasped, overwhelmed and consumed. Enjolras was everywhere, all around him, inside him, keeping him still and safe so he wouldn’t fly apart.

“God, you’re perfect,” Enjolras breathed, thrusting slowly, bent low over Grantaire’s back. “Fucking perfect, you were made for this, made for me.”

“Yes,” Grantaire barely realised he was speaking, moaning into the cradle of his arms. “Yes, yes –”

“Mine to use at will, whenever I please, I could do whatever I wanted –”

“Yes, please –”

“Leave you hanging in here, ready for me,” Enjolras gasped, moving faster. “Always ready, and I’ll come in and you’ll ask me to fuck you, but I won’t.”

Grantaire whined, another helpless cry bursting from his throat as Enjolras fucked him harder, lighting him up from the inside. “Please, I want…”

“I know, you’re so greedy,” Enjolras groaned, sliding a hand through the hair at the back of Grantaire’s head. “Perfect for me. But no, I’ll hurt you first – you have to earn this, you know. And you’ll love the pain as well, just as much.”

“I do,” Grantaire promised, head spinning, eyes squeezed shut. “I love it, please don’t stop.”

Enjolras moaned, so low it was almost a growl. His hand was shaking as it slid from Grantaire’s hair to the back of his neck, and when he squeezed Grantaire bucked against him, making sounds so desperate he wasn’t even sure if he was the one making them. He was so close, completely lost in sensation. He only existed where Enjolras touched him, their thighs slapping together with every one of Enjolras’ thrusts, their knees and calves and feet rubbing together where they knelt on the bed, Enjolras’ stomach and chest against his back, his wrist against Grantaire’s shoulder, his hand gripping the back of his neck so tight, so completely in control.

Grantaire was speaking again, distantly aware of it – a confused tumble of desperate pleas and yes’s, so out of it he didn’t know which way was up. Enjolras was speaking too, telling him how good he was, how well he was doing, and his hand was suddenly around Grantaire’s cock, wet and warm and glorious, urging him on and on, over the edge. Grantaire came after just a few strokes, crying out as it blazed through him.

There was a disconnect between what was happening to his body and what was happening to his mind. He was aware of Enjolras pressing his face to his shoulder and making a choked noise as he came, his hips twitching against Grantaire’s ass as he rode out the aftershocks. He could feel all the places their skin was touching, and the duvet beneath him, but at the same time he was floating apart from all of it. Everything was calm, everything was good.

Enjolras was moving him, Grantaire could feel it, but he couldn’t open his eyes. He smiled when Enjolras stroked his hair, murmuring words he couldn’t quite make out, though he could tell they were gentle. He lay on his side as Enjolras directed him, taking deep breaths – his heart was still racing from the exertion and he was slick with sweat and come, but he’d never felt so relaxed and clean.

Enjolras was close, cleaning up or something. There was always a hand or his fingers on Grantaire’s skin – his hip, ankle, brushing through his hair, and then he was lying behind Grantaire, holding him close with his lips pressing kisses to the back of Grantaire’s neck.

“You’re amazing,” he murmured, close enough now that Grantaire could pick out the words. “Absolutely amazing, Grantaire, I’m so proud of you. You did so well, better than I could have even imagined. You’re stunning, you know that? I’m so lucky I have you.”

Grantaire sighed, arching into Enjolras’ warmth happily. Enjolras had him. Everything was perfect.

They stayed like that for a while, Enjolras trailing off into silence and just holding him, slotting his arm beneath Grantaire’s to hold his hand. Finally, Grantaire found enough of himself to lift their hands to his mouth and kiss Enjolras’ fingers.

“Hey,” Enjolras whispered. “You with me?”

“Mmhm.” Grantaire shifted, rolling onto his back so they could look at each other. Enjolras was smiling, not looking away for a second.

“How’re you feeling?”

“Dead,” Grantaire breathed, lacking the energy for proper speech. “So dead. I’ve ascended.”

Enjolras laughed and kissed him, tangling their legs together and squeezing his hand. “Feeling up to a shower?”

Grantaire groaned. “Don’t make me stand up.”

“Fine, no standing up.” Enjolras sounded like he would indulge Grantaire’s every whim at this point, too fond not to. “We can just stay here and cuddle, I like that plan.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.” Enjolras kissed the tip of his nose. “I love cuddling you.”

Grantaire made a soft noise and curled closer, hiding his face against Enjolras neck and suddenly having to fight back more tears.

“It’s okay,” Enjolras murmured, somehow knowing. “It’s okay, I’ve got you. Everything’s alright, you don’t have to hide anything.”

Grantaire swallowed, closing his eyes and letting Enjolras’ warmth fill him up. Enjolras was right, so everything was okay. He was safe, he was wanted, he was welcome. That pleasant calm started flowing through him again, Enjolras’ body against his helping it stay. Grantaire nuzzled his shoulder, Enjolras’ skin warm and smooth against his lips. “Thank you.” Enjolras’ arm tightened around him, an acknowledgement, and a second later Grantaire smiled as he felt lips press against his forehead.

They showered together a few minutes later, once Grantaire thought he could stand without falling over. He still had to hold onto Enjolras, or at least felt like he had to. Enjolras seemed to understand, holding him close under the spray even though it made washing harder. Grantaire had never showered with anyone else before, and he couldn’t stop sliding his hands across Enjolras’ skin, soaking in the way it felt with hot water sluicing down it in waves, their bodies warming to the same temperature.

Enjolras seemed equally preoccupied with pressing as much of his body to Grantaire’s at all times, and Grantaire was certain that had they both not come very recently, they would have been hard in seconds. “Shower sex,” he mumbled into Enjolras’ neck, leaning practically his whole weight into him as Enjolras massaged shampoo into his hair for far longer than necessary. “To do.”

“Seconded.” Enjolras scratched his scalp gently, humming when it made Grantaire arch against him. He swivelled to get Grantaire under the water and tipped his head up, slicking his hair back so that soap wouldn’t run into his eyes. “You’re so beautiful.”

Grantaire couldn’t even find it in himself to disagree. That reluctance to accept compliments would come back later, he was sure, but for now he just felt too good to protest. And it had the added bonus of giving Enjolras a reason to kiss him, and Grantaire had to hang onto him tighter or fall to his knees because this was paradise.

They stayed in the shower for longer than either of them needed to, not wanting to face the cooler air outside the cubicle, but they had to get out eventually. Grantaire sat on the closed toilet with his head bent, smiling as he let Enjolras towel him dry. He probably could have managed fine by this point, but Enjolras clearly wanted to indulge him. He actually knelt in front of Grantaire to do his feet and legs, pressing little kisses to the dried skin and smiling up at him.

Was this what Enjolras had wanted to do after every scene? Take care of him like this? If so, Grantaire had been seriously depriving both of them. He doubted anyone had ever paid this much attention to him, noting every reaction he gave, every expression and exhalation and movement, and it was downright intoxicating. Enjolras took his time as well, delayed by the number of kisses he couldn’t seem to help giving Grantaire along the way.

Grantaire stole one of the towels from him when he was done and draped it over Enjolras’ head, rubbing his hair even though it was so short it really didn’t need any drying. Enjolras emerged laughing anyway, hugging Grantaire close for a long moment. “Thank you,” he murmured. 

“Anything,” Grantaire replied, instinctive.

Enjolras made a fond noise and pulled back to kiss his forehead. “Come on.” They padded back across the flat to Grantaire’s bedroom to change, and Enjolras grabbed the duvet to cuddle under as they left. Grantaire laughed at Enjolras’ insistent look as he nudged him towards the sofa.

“Aren’t you coming?”

“In a second – snacks first, then cuddling.”

“You’re like a sheepdog,” Grantaire grinned, sprawling obediently on the cushions and letting Enjolras spread the duvet over his legs. “I feel herded.”

“Do you mind?” Enjolras’ smile faltered, and Grantaire shook his head quickly.

“Go for it, knock yourself out.” He grinned when Enjolras brightened again – it was like his mood directly correlated to how much he could do for Grantaire. It was bizarre, but if it made him happy Grantaire was okay with it.

He ended up curled between Enjolras’ legs, leaning back against his chest as they watched Lilo and Stitch and ate biscuits. He couldn’t remember ever feeling so good, so relaxed and content. It was like Enjolras had beaten all of the fear and doubt and troubled thoughts out of him and filled the empty spaces with what felt suspiciously like love. It fizzed pleasantly whenever Enjolras pressed a kiss to his temple or laughed at the movie, his chest moving against Grantaire’s back.

“How was the making you say stuff bit?” Enjolras murmured.

“Making me say I was needy and that?”

“Yeah.”

“Good.” Grantaire threaded their fingers together. “Really good. I can’t believe you made me cry.”

“Was that alright?”

“You know it was.” Grantaire tipped his head back to smile lazily up at him. “Weird, almost. I mean, that’s never happened before for me.”

“I could see you were getting close, but it was a bit unexpected – I was sure it would be edging that would bring you to tears, not all that stuff I said.”

“It was good stuff.” Grantaire closed his eyes, trying to remember the details. “The bit about fucking me with your cane, I loved that.”

Enjolras kissed his cheek, smiling. “Duly noted. Anything else?”

“Calling me…the village whore, was it? All of that, that was…”

“Good?”

“Really good.”

“Anything you didn’t like?”

Grantaire shook his head slowly. Nothing was coming to mind. “Roleplay’s still kind of difficult,” he settled on. “But you got me into it really well.”

“And it doesn’t have to be something we do every time.” Enjolras squeezed his fingers. “Just occasionally.”

“Yeah. And this time was really good.”

When the movie ended, Enjolras slid down slightly to rest his chin on Grantaire’s shoulder. “I was going to wait till maybe tomorrow to say this, but I’m not very patient, so I’m going to tell you I love you now.”

Grantaire stopped breathing for a good few seconds, staring at the credits on the laptop screen. It took Enjolras’ kiss to the side of his neck for him to start again, sucking in a deep, rattling gasp. “You do?”

“Yes.” Only Enjolras could make it sound so simple, an irrefutable fact. “I love you. I have for a bit now, but I wanted to be completely sure before I told you. And I am, so…I’ve told you.”

A tiny smile stole onto Grantaire’s lips at Enjolras’ rare awkwardness, and he twisted round to look at him. “Tell me again?”

Enjolras smiled back, perhaps a little relieved. “I love you.”

Grantaire was aware that later he would probably pick this whole memory apart, searching for some proof that Enjolras was humouring him, telling him what he wanted to hear, trying to make the day absolutely perfect (which he really had), but for now he was too languid and happy to overanalyse. Enjolras loved him. He couldn’t help grinning. “Again?”

Enjolras laughed and leaned in to kiss him. “I love you,” he murmured against Grantaire’s lips when they parted. “I’m in love with you. I’ll tell you whenever you want to hear it, and probably more just for myself.”

“I don’t mind,” Grantaire whispered, more than a little awestruck.

“Good.” Enjolras smiled and kissed him again, deep and sure.