The idea of a Christmas party had seemed like an excellent one to all—one last hurrah before term was over, and everyone was forced to file back to often-unsupportive households, where they’d have to endure questions about every single thing they did not want to talk about.
Enjolras had been excited about this from the get go. He’d been trying to organize something like this for at least two years – as a Fresher, he’d been too overwhelmed, and as a second year he’d been caught up in a million other things, so the plan had gone on the back burner.
This year, though. This year he'd been able to make it happen.
They’re not calling it a Christmas party, of course – not even “Non-denominational Holiday Party.” It’s just a small End-of-Term social, co-hosted by a few different societies.
“Wow, E,” Courfeyrac says, barging in with a massive fucking kettle under one arm. “Excited much?”
Enjolras graciously brushes glitter off his sweater.
“It was an accident,” he says.
“I’m sorry, Enjolras,” Bossuet says.
“Babe, haven't I told you not to run with glitter?” Joly says. He can’t manage to look even vaguely regretful. He’s still giggling too hard.
Enjolras grimaces at Courfeyrac. “Don’t you think I look nice?”
Courfeyrac takes his face in his hands and makes a show of surveying the sparkling golden glitter dotting his dark skin.
“You look festive,” Courfeyrac says. “And gay. And it matches your hair!”
Enjolras rolls his eyes, but smiles at the loud kiss Courfeyrac plants on his forehead.
It sounds quite pathetic to his own ears, but he never thought he’d have this—a holiday party he actually wants to be a part of. A room actually filled with warmth, with his friends, and a mess of potluck dishes, mulled wine, bad instant coffee and Tetley tea from a huge hot-water dispenser.
“Someone needs to pick up more glitter,” Musichetta says. She’s just finished arranging the ingredient cards next to each plate, warning for allergies and labeling the vegan dishes.
“I’ll go,” Enjolras says. “It’s in the storage room, isn’t it?”
Jehan, who is just now coming in with a second massive kettle, gasps. “Not the storage room!”
“It’s fine,” Enjolras says. “I can brave the storage room. How bad can it be?”
Enjolras should have known that those words never bring anything good.
He makes his way downstairs from the conference room, passing by reception and waving at Mabeuf. The storage room is little more than a small supply closet, where society leaders and officers throw their stuff in-between events. LGBTQ+ Society has a sturdy blue box, containing everything from banners and spare tea and sugar to—obviously—spare labels and glitter.
The problem is, of course, that the door can barely open, blocked by the stacks and stacks of boxes.
“What the fuck,” Enjolras mutters, and shoves at the door harder. It only budges half an inch.
See, Enjolras is maybe five-foot-four on a day he’s not wearing flats. And he’s not much stronger than his skinny arms would make you think.
He huffs again, and considers walking all the way back upstairs to get Musichetta.
That’s of course when things get even worse.
“Enjolras?” Grantaire calls.
He’s just rounded the corner from the reception area, and is standing in the doorway blocking the flow of student traffic.
“Grantaire, get out of the way,” Enjolras says, in lieu of anything else. “You’ll get trampled.”
“Right!” Grantaire stumbles out of the doorway, which only brings him closer to Enjolras. “What are you doing down here?”
“Uhm, glitter,” Enjolras says, intelligently.
Grantaire raises an eyebrow. “Right.”
The thing is, things shouldn’t be this awkward with Grantaire. In fact, things should be really, really good with Grantaire.
Three years of running into each other at a surprising amount of society meetings—Grantaire is surprisingly present, for someone who snorts at student involvement as often as he does—gradually smoothed out the edges of their arguments. Then came the nightly study sessions at the library – blessedly open 24 hours – which had ironed out a few more wrinkles. Enjolras had never suspected how hilarious Grantaire turned at 2 AM, running on nothing but Costa coffee and white chocolate cookies.
By all means, things should be better now. Except that Enjolras is quite aware that he’s been avoiding Grantaire for a solid week.
“Care to explain?” Grantaire says, very carefully. He seems ready to bolt, like a wild animal. “Like, there’s enough glitter on you, why do you need more?”
Enjolras can’t help but roll his eyes. It’s a familiar, fond motion.
“See, if it’s on me, then it can’t go on signs.”
Grantaire grins, his hands still deep in the big pocket of his hoodie. “It probably looks better on you.”
Of course, Enjolras flushes. He thanks whatever deity is up there that it’s probably not obvious.
“Right,” he says. Then, because might as well make use of this awkwardness, he gestures to the door. “There’s no way you could help open this?”
Grantaire eyes the door suspiciously. “It’s… a door?”
“Yes, thank you,” Enjolras replies, deadpan. “I’ve noticed. There’s something behind it and I can’t get it to open enough to get in.”
“Alright,” Grantaire says, drawing it out uncertainly. He tries the handle once, and encounters the exact same problem. He then gets up with his shoulder against the door, and shoves, grunting low in his throat.
Enjolras really isn’t proud of how that makes him flush all over.
The door budges back enough that Enjolras thinks he can probably squeeze in.
“Right, that’s fine,” he says. “Give me a sec, and I can try to move whatever’s blocking the door.”
He does manage to pass, though the fact that his ass almost doesn’t make it through threatens to make him plunge finally into death by embarrassment. He thought he’d never see the day.
The supply closet is, in fact, two metres by one, and little more than a claustrophobic cubicle, shoved full of cardboard boxes, posters, signs, and old campaign paraphernalia.
It turns out a box of literature about the Free Education movement has fallen off the precarious tower of stuff, at just the right angle to block the door.
Enjolras gets it out of the way, and the door finally swings open to reveal a grinning Grantaire.
“Uh, so…” Enjolras says, and turns around to face the tower of cardboard boxes. He doesn’t see their blue box anywhere. “Uhm, I’m thinking ours is behind this.”
Grantaire slides inside, closing the door because it opens towards the inside for some godforsaken reason, and there’s literally no space for him to be standing otherwise. It also, unfortunately, brings him into Enjolras’ space, where Enjolras can smell his stupid shampoo and aftershave.
“What the fuck,” Grantaire says, soft and with feeling. “Who thought this was a good idea?”
“Bring it up with management,” Enjolras says, then reaches on his tiptoes to peek over the mound of boxes. He has to bend forward slightly to see beyond, and he hears Grantaire make a strange choked sound.
“I see it,” Enjolras says. Act natural, goddamn it. “We just need to move the boxes.”
“Yeah, right, I’m gonna—you know what, I’m gonna go call someone. Courfeyrac. I don’t know.”
Despite everything, Enjolras’ stomach sinks. Not that he has any right to be disappointed, because Grantaire can’t stand being in a literal closet with him for more than five minutes. He really only has himself to blame.
Grantaire makes to open the door, and the handle only makes the door rattle.
“What the fuck,” he says. He pulls harder, putting his back into it.
This is not the time to notice the muscles in his forearms, where he’s pushed his sleeves up.
“Are you shitting me,” Grantaire says, and rattles the door one more time. He pounds on it, and yells, “Fuck.”
Enjolras feels strangely calm. He sees it all as if from a distance. It really seems impossible that they’re locked in.
Grantaire turns around, blue eyes wide with sheer panic.
“I think we’re locked in.”
Well, that’s that then.
They’re sat against the boxes, passing each other a packet of Oreos Grantaire miraculously had in his bag.
“I’m saying, like, sure, quotas are fine, but then you know a cishet white guy is just gonna get elected for the other place, so like. That becomes the cishet white guy place.”
“Yeah, but how do we go around that?” Enjolras replies, around a bite of Oreo. “We don’t have the software that we need to prioritise minorities in regular committee positions.”
“I mean, it might not even be an issue, you just gotta see who runs,” Grantaire replies.
Enjolras suddenly finds himself wrong footed, because that’s not the reply he was expecting. Grantaire doesn’t make a point of arguing against him anymore, not since Combeferre gave him a dressing down on why playing devil’s advocate is bullshit.
But he always at least throws in a cynic’s response. Something which in this case would have sounded like, I mean, you know the majority running aren’t gonna be minorities. And then Enjolras would have replied that they needed to challenge the system that made spaces like this inaccessible to those who needed representation.
That's not what’s happening, though.
They plunge into uncomfortable silence, which is what Enjolras was dreading.
It makes him start running circles in his own head again. It makes him think about the last time he properly saw Grantaire—and not just waved at him in passing in a hallway, or caught him on his way out of the library. It was at a house party at Eponine and Cosette’s.
Enjolras never drinks at these things. He’s not used to it, and he doesn’t particularly like it. And he’d made a bad call, because one thing’s drinking because you want to. Another thing’s drinking because it seems the thing to do about your hopeless unrequited pining for your friend. Your friend that you used to have a really fraught relationship with, made up mostly of arguments. Arguments that maybe, in hindsight, got you a little bit hot.
That’s hindsight, though.
Because in hindsight, the fact that his friends tend to make out a lot at these things had been no good excuse to kiss Grantaire.
To be fair, it had been more something about the fact that Grantaire looked really, really nice in that navy sweater, how it made his eyes pop, how he was laughing at something Enjolras had said. And not even the laugh he used when he thought Enjolras was being impossibly naïve, no—he was actually laughing as if he found Enjolras funny. In a good way.
He’d been smiling, and they’d been really close, for some reason, enough that it had been really easy to slip a hand through Grantaire’s curls. He’d thought about that a lot—he must have been really smashed, because he never would have done it otherwise. Grantaire had gone still and looked at him intently, and his eyes had been so blue and—
And it had been a terrible idea.
Because now they’re crammed in a closet with a bunch of boxes, on the cold hard floor, and Grantaire has scooted as far away from him as possible. Enjolras has noticed. He’s also pointedly not looking at him, which seems a bit much.
He huffs, in the end. What’s the point? Might as well address the elephant in the room.
“I’m not gonna do anything, you know?” he says.
He’d meant to be abrupt, maybe, a bit piqued. It comes out soft and wounded, instead, which only makes it worse.
Grantaire turns and stares at him for a moment. “What?” he squeaks.
“I mean—” Enjolras sighs, squeezes his eyes shut. “We can’t just—I know we’re not talking about it. But I—I kissed you.”
It’s surprisingly hard to get the word out. His face burns.
Grantaire goes white as a sheet, and says, “You remember that?”
Does he remember that? Does he remember the one glorious moment he’d had Grantaire’s warm, chapped lips against his, and the too-brief pressure that seemed to be Grantaire leaning in, moving his lips against his –
He remembers that.
“Yeah,” Enjolras says, and frowns. “Did you think I didn’t?”
“I —you were—Enjolras, you got so fucked – ”
“Not that much!” he says. Yes, he was drunk, drunk enough that his better judgment had flown out the window, but not so much that – “I wasn’t—I remember. And I wasn’t so wasted I don’t know what a rejection looks like. You know—you must know I wouldn’t do anything more, I’m trying not to be weird about this—”
“Woah, okay, hang on a second,” Grantaire says, and throws his hands up.
Enjolras goes quiet, and Grantaire turns around to face him better. He’s frowning at him something fierce, but he doesn’t really look angry, or repulsed, or creeped out—
He looks confused.
“What the hell are you talking about? Do anything?”
“I don’t—I’m saying, you don’t have to worry. I’m not like—gonna keep coming onto you or anything. I know how to take a hint.”
Grantaire just stares at him, for a moment, eyes wide as if Enjolras were speaking in tongues.
“What the fuck,” he whispers, once again, heartfelt. “What even.”
“Grantaire?” Enjolras says cautiously. “You’re not making sense.”
“Me?” Grantaire bursts out. “You are not making any sense. Take a hint? Enjolras, I just wasn’t gonna make out with you while you were off your face!”
Enjolras frowns. “You’ve made out with our friends while drunk before.”
“Oh my God, that’s different.”
“Oh,” Enjolras says. And it’s not like it’s rational, but he does feel his chest constrict a little, because he knows he and Grantaire aren’t as close, comparatively, really—
“Oh, God, whatever you’re thinking, you’re wrong.”
“No, it’s okay, I’m not asking you to qualify your consent—”
“We have never made out while drunk!” Grantaire says, throwing his hands up. “Hell, I’ve never seen you kiss any of our friends while drunk. I wasn’t just gonna assume consent, Enjolras.”
Now, that makes a lot of sense. Of course. And he’s right, really—in fact, he probably wouldn’t like Grantaire as much if he didn’t think like this.
It’s not about Enjolras’ stupid feelings, is the point.
He nods. “Yeah, you’re right.”
Grantaire is still staring at him. “Wow, well. That’s a first.”
Enjolras scoffs. “It’s been known to happen. Sometimes.”
Grantaire still looks like he doesn’t quite believe Enjolras is himself, but he smiles tentatively.
“Are we good, then?” Grantaire asks.
Enjolras nods, even though, really, this doesn’t make it any better for him. But again, stupid feelings. They can go back to being friends, and Enjolras can go back to trying very, very hard to get over it.
“We’re good,” he says.
That’s quite clearly a lie. The silence between them isn’t any less tense. Enjolras stares at the wall in front of him, the grey wash peeking in-between old protest banners.
“Fuck’s sake,” Grantaire sighs. When Enjolras turns he’s also staring straight at the wall, and he can see a muscle twitching in his jaw.
“Okay, fine,” Grantaire says, and turns back towards Enjolras. “That’s not all.”
Enjolras can only stare at him, raising his eyebrows.
“I mean, everything else I said is still true, but I—there’s more,” Grantaire says. He looks half irritated, half desperate, and suddenly Enjolras knows they’re standing on a cliff edge.
If they push over it now, things are never going to go back to the way they were.
“You don’t have to—”
“No, I think I do,” Grantaire interrupts. “I’m tired, Enjolras. Aren’t you tired?”
Enjolras’ lips part, but nothing makes it out. He only nods.
He is so tired.
“Okay, so—there’s more. There’s always more, with you—and you know, might as well get it out now, and then if it goes to shit we can go off for break and we don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
He seems to be talking more to himself than to Enjolras, at least until he looks up and meets Enjolras’ eyes. He's still hesitant, holding his gaze uncertainly, always just about to look away.
“I didn’t want to kiss you like that,” he says. “It’s not just—it’s not like it would be with everyone else. It’s different, with you.”
Enjolras takes a deep breath, through his nose, and finds himself clenching his jaw.
“Why?” he manages to ask, holding himself as still as he can. He realizes his hands are still shaking very faintly.
“I—I just—” Grantaire starts, then closes his mouth, and takes a deep breath. “I know you didn’t mean it, and I can’t—I’m not strong enough, you know? I can’t have you kiss me like that and not. Not mean it.”
The last three words come out soft, quiet, and absolutely devastating.
Enjolras realises it’s imperative that he say something right the fuck now, but he finds he can’t quite breathe.
Grantaire’s hands are clutched tightly together in his lap, the knuckles white.
“You mean—” he starts. He can’t do this. Has he even heard right? Is he projecting? He must have misunderstood.
Grantaire groans. “Christ, Enjolras, can’t you just let it go? Yeah, so I wanted you to kiss me and mean it, and not like—not like that. Not while you were drunk off your face”
I wanted you to kiss me. It just replays itself in Enjolras’ mind in one long, giddy loop. He doesn’t know what his face is doing. I can’t have you kiss me like that and not mean it.
“Maybe we should try again,” Enjolras says. He hears it as if from a distance.
Grantaire’s eyes snap back to his face, and his mouth parts. “What?”
“We should—we should try again. Then,” Enjolras repeats.
Enjolras finds himself reaching out very slowly, and brushing Grantaire’s cheek with his fingers.
“Please,” he says. “Trust me for a second.”
Grantaire gives him a look, pleading and desperate all at once, and Enjolras has to hold his breath as he leans in. Grantaire holds very still.
His breath goes out all at once, when their lips meet. It’s nothing like their first—it’s too tentative, and soft, and shy. Enjolras can’t keep his hands steady, so he rests them on Grantaire’s shoulders.
He pulls back, and watches Grantaire’s eyes flutter open, staring right at him.
“I meant it,” Enjolras whispers.
Grantaire makes a sound, in the back of his throat, which Enjolras doesn’t have the time to analyse, because he is pulled back in.
Grantaire kisses him again, except this time there’s nothing hesitant about it. It’s deep and thorough – Grantaire takes his mouth, and Enjolras can only kiss him back, and hold on for dear life, digging his fingers in those shoulders. God. He’s had thoughts about Grantaire’s shoulders.
When they break apart again, they’re both panting, and Enjolras knows his smile is definitely edging towards dopey.
“God,” Enjolras says. He can’t hold in a whisper of a laugh. “Please don’t apologise.”
They stay very close, looking at each other, and Enjolras can see Grantaire’s blue eyes dart to his mouth when he bites his lip. It does nothing to tame his smile.
He finally slides a hand up the back of Grantaire's neck, feels him shiver as he tangles his fingers in dark curls.
“Why’d you stop?” he asks, soft and intimate, and so close their noses brush.
His heart feels too full for his chest, and he can’t quite believe it, but Grantaire kisses him again. And again. Grantaire is kissing him, slipping him just enough tongue to make it hot and wet and good, pushing him back against a pile of cardboard boxes and—
And fake, plastic-and-silk mistletoe starts raining on him.
“Fuck,” Enjolras says, pulling away.
Grantaire laughs, and Enjolras can feel his breath puffing against his lip, and the way his chest shakes against him.
“Sorry, sorry,” Grantaire says, and picks mistletoe out of his hair. “What the fuck’s this doing here?”
“English Society had some at their Christmas social, I think,” he says, and frowns at the interruption.
Grantaire is smiling so close to him, though, and Enjolras can’t really complain about it too much. Even though they are still stuck in the supply closet.
“You know,” Grantaire says. There’s still something vaguely shy in his eyes. “I think that means you have to kiss me.”
Enjolras pulls him in by his hair, and swallows his pleased hum. Then he bites into his lower lip, sucks it into his mouth.
The moan comes from the back of Grantaire’s throat, and makes him feel warm to his toes.
Grantaire pulls back, again, but returns immediately to trail kisses across Enjolras’ jaw.
“Grantaire,” Enjolras whines. He doesn’t even have time to be embarrassed about it, because he feels teeth on the soft skin of his neck. “Grantaire!”
Then the door opens, revealing a wide-eyed Courfeyrac.
Enjolras’ sighs become a frantic, “Grantaire? Grantaire!”
“Oh, sweet baby Jesus,” Courfeyrac says.
Grantaire has stopped kissing his neck, but hasn’t made a move to rise.
“God,” he mumbles. “Leave me here.”
“You know what, I’ll give you guys a second,” Courfeyrac says, and closes the door.
“Don’t go anywhere!” Enjolras yells after him. “I think it only opens from the outside!”
There’s no answer. Grantaire is still nuzzling his neck, which is very nice, and Enjolras takes a moment to run a hand through his hair.
“R?” he asks, tentatively.
“One second,” Grantaire sighs, and kisses the underside of his jaw, very softly.
Enjolras can’t help but relax into it, even though his heart is still going a mile a minute.
Eventually, Grantaire groans and hoists himself up, offering Enjolras a hand.
He looks a bit of a mess, though not much more than usual. His hoodie is all twisted, though, and Enjolras is pulling it to rights before he even has the time to stop and consider whether that’s a good idea.
When he looks up, Grantaire is smiling at him.
“What?” Enjolras asks.
“Nothing,” Grantaire says, still grinning.
Enjolras wants to roll his eyes, but ends up smiling back, then patting the centre of Grantaire’s chest awkwardly.
“Better go,” he mutters.
“Yeah,” Grantaire says, then bites his lip. Which. Rude, and distracting. “You said – you said you meant it, right?”
All that uncertainty is unacceptable, seen as how Enjolras was panting against him only two seconds ago. Therefore, Enjolras rises up on his tiptoes and kisses him, soft and brief like the first time.
“Yes, I did. I do. I can tell you again later, if you like, but Courfeyrac is outside, so…”
“Fuck,” Grantaire says, seemingly snapped out of the daze he’d been in, looking at Enjolras like he’d hung the moon. “Yeah. Let’s go.”
Enjolras has to bang on the door to get Courfeyrac to open it. He is presented with Courfeyrac’s phone pointed right at him.
“Here comes the Got Laid Parade!” he shouts, then laughs at both of their wide-eyed faces. “Snapchat story started, guys. Happy holidays!”
Enjolras groans, but he’s still grinning. He knocks into Courfeyrac’s shoulder and makes sure he’s sent the video to him as well.
Grantaire grins at them from the door, still faintly flushed. Enjolras notes, pleased, that he has glitter all over his hair and scattered down the front of his hoodie.
“We still got the boxes to move, by the way,” Grantaire says, pointing back towards the closet.
“That’s right,” Courfeyrac says, and dives back into the supply closet hell.
“Someone prop the door open this time!” Enjolras says.
The Snapchat story goes something like this:
Enjolras and Grantaire emerge from the supply closet with sex hair, both covered in glitter.
The inside of the supply closet is recorded for posterity, to document the inherent messiness of university students.
Musichetta, in the upstairs room, dutifully showers her boyfriends in tinsel.
Jehan has somehow climbed up on Bahorel’s back, and insists on being carried around all night.
Combeferre and Courfeyrac take a disgusting number of couple selfies.
Both Cosette and Eponine somehow manage to end up in Marius’ lap.
And lastly, Enjolras and Grantaire are curled up on a couch, talking softly with their heads close together. Enjolras smiles, then slowly reaches out to hold Grantaire’s face in his hands and kisses him.