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Enjolras draws back his belt again, bringing it down hard on the soft curve of Grantaire’s ass. He hits him several times, sharply, criss-crossing the blows to leave raised crosses on Grantaire’s pale skin. Grantaire bites his lips, trying hard to stay silent.

Enjolras just keeps hitting him, harder and harder. He wants it to stop. He wants the pain to be over. He wants to fight through this and get to the sweet place when he is in Enjolras’ arms, held safe and treasured and good.

But he doesn’t want to displease.

So he bites his lip and endures.

Enjolras layers blow after blow onto his skin, until Grantaire can hardly think with the pain, until his whole body is consumed with it. His ass feels like it’s on fire, like the skin is being torn open.

But he will endure.

At least there’s nothing for him to do but wait. He just lies there on the bed, motionless, trying to stay silent, trying to be good.

He could stop it. He knows Enjolras would stop in an instant if Grantaire asked. But he doesn’t want to hold anything back from his beloved, from his master. He only wants to please, and if the pain is what it takes—even if it is this much pain—then it’s worth it.

He wouldn’t want Enjolras to stop hurting him entirely. If he goes a little too far, well, he goes a little too far. Grantaire can accept that. Grantaire can endure that.

Grantaire can do anything, for him.

So he bites back the word that would make Enjolras stop. He holds still and silent and he suffers.

Because it is for Enjolras’ pleasure, and nothing in his life could be a higher cause.

Around the twentieth blow, Enjolras stops, dropping the belt. He switches to his hand, a lighter pain, smacking Grantaire’s sore and welted ass sharply. It doesn’t hurt nearly as much, and Grantaire relaxes, sighing, into the predictable, even rhythm of the stinging slaps against the marks the belt left on his skin. This pain he enjoys, receiving it for his own sake as well as Enjolras’.

And this is how it always ends. With pleasure, and then with lovemaking, Enjolras’ perfect body moving against his. And then, best of all, the comfort afterwards. Enjolras’ hands across his wounds, trailing cream to soften the marks, pressing ice against the worst of it, kissing his bruises, murmuring words of praise.

Grantaire would endure anything for that.

 

“Look at me, you filthy fucking whore,” Enjolras commands, forcing Grantaire’s chin up so Grantaire meets his eyes even from his position kneeling on the floor.

“Sir—“

“I didn’t give you permission to speak to me.”

Grantaire whimpers, apologetically, and Enjolras slaps him hard across the face.

“I said shut up, bitch.”

Grantaire remains silent this time, staring up into Enjolras’ angry eyes.

“You’re going to suck my cock.” He grabs a handful of Grantaire’s hair, tugging hard. “Now you can answer me.”

“Thank you, sir,” Grantaire manages, his voice strained as Enjolras pulls his head all the way back, his throat uncomfortably tight.

“You don’t sound very grateful. I’d think you’d be a little more appreciative, since it’s the only thing you’re any fucking good for.”

Grantaire tries to look away, but Enjolras keeps his head held firmly in place.

“So what does a little cocksucker say when he’s allowed to fulfill his only purpose in life, hmm?”

Grantaire can’t answer. Physically can’t, his head is pulled so far back that he can’t make his vocal cords move.

Enjolras releases his grip—actually, more or less throws Grantaire, to the ground, away, like he’s flinging away a piece of garbage. “If you can’t do as you’re told, then you won’t get anything at all. I’ll leave you here and find someone who can do it properly.”

This time, there is real desperation in Grantaire’s voice. “No, no, sir, please, don’t leave, please. I’ll do anything, anything you want, please.“

Enjolras shrugs, feigning—Grantaire hopes he’s feigning—disinterest.

“I’m yours, yours completely, there’s nothing—nothing I wouldn’t do, sir, and I, please, I’ll be good, I promise.”

“Sometimes I doubt you’re even capable of that.”

Grantaire lets out a quiet sob, leaning forward to kiss the tip of Enjolras’ boot. “Please. Let me please you. Let me—let me—“

“Say it,” Enjolras commands, his voice haughty.

“Let me be any use. To you. Sir.”

“That’s more like it, slut.” Enjolras grabs Grantaire’s hair again, hauling him back up and onto his knees. “Do you deserve this, hm? You think you’re good enough to have my cock in your mouth?”

“No, sir.”

“Of course not. You’re lucky I let you anywhere near me.”

At this moment, Grantaire almost wants him to leave. He knows he’s going to cry, really truly cry, at any moment, and he doesn’t want Enjolras to see him like that, though he doesn’t know what pride he’s hoping to salvage.

“I wonder what it must feel like, to know you’re so low I don’t even feel bad when I hurt you. I’d never treat anyone else like this, you know, but you practically invite suffering on yourself. Don’t you?”

“Sir—“ Grantaire begins, not sure exactly what the next word out of his mouth is going to be.

“You’re only good for this. No purpose in life other than to be hurt. Lower than the dirtiest whore on the streets. Begging to suck my cock… utterly pathetic, aren’t you?”

Grantaire can’t speak.

“Say it.” Enjolras slaps him, hard, when Grantaire doesn’t answer immediately. “Degrade yourself even more. Tell me what a worthless thing you are. Beg me to spare you a scrap of attention. Plead to be hurt like the filth you are.”

Grantaire opens his mouth, planning to do as he’s told, wanting to please still, but he can only make one word come from his lips. He looks up at Enjolras and rasps, “Red.”

Enjolras lets go of him completely, stunned, and the tears well over.

“Red, red, stop, please, red, red!”

 

Immediately, Enjolras drops to his knees by Grantaire. “May I?” he says, his voice soft, holding out his arms.

Grantaire nods, not sure what exactly Enjolras is doing.

Enjolras scoots closer to him and pulls Grantaire into a warm embrace, settling the other man’s head against his shoulder, their chests touching. He holds Grantaire for a few long moments. “I’ve got you,” he murmurs, soothingly. “I’m here. I’m right here. It’s going to be okay.” He doesn’t let go until Grantaire’s sobs have quieted slightly, though there are still tears coming from his eyes. “Come on, my love, let’s get you into bed. Shh.”

He helps Grantaire up, pausing along the way to pick up Grantaire’s discarded shirt. He pulls it over Grantaire’s head, covering some of his nakedness. It’s big, so it falls almost to his knees, affording him some modesty. He practically carries Grantaire to the bed, struggling a little under the other man’s greater weight, and then eases him into the bed. He tucks the blankets around Grantaire and cuddles up beside him, waiting patiently for Grantaire to speak.

“Whenever you’re ready, please talk to me.”

“I’m sorry,” Grantaire practically sobs, burying his face in Enjolras’ chest.

“Shh.” Enjolras rubs his back soothingly. “Nothing to apologize for.”

“Sorry,” Grantaire repeats, his voice breaking.

“It’s all right, love. It’s all right. It’s going to be all right.” Enjolras kisses his forehead tenderly, hoping the contact won’t frighten him. Grantaire clings to him, desperation in his touch.

Enjolras feels terribly helpless, something he rarely does. He holds Grantaire close, waiting for his sobs to subside.

It takes quite a while. Finally, Grantaire’s crying slows a little, and his intermittent whispered apologies cease. Enjolras kisses his forehead again before he asks, “What can I do for you, love?”

“Sir?”

“Tell me what you need.” This time it’s more like an order, and so Grantaire answers.

“Stay?” Grantaire asks, pleading. “Please?”

“Of course. Where else would I be?” The thought occurs to Enjolras suddenly, horrifyingly. “Sweetheart, you don’t think I meant—you know I would never mean those things I said. Never.”

“Sorry,” Grantaire repeats. “I’m stupid. Shouldn’t’ve gotten all… I know it’s just…”

“Grantaire. Be quiet.”

Grantaire’s mouth practically snaps shut.

“Are you trying to tell me that you genuinely believe I think so little of you?”

“No. No, but when you say it, sometimes, it makes me feel like… maybe you do. Like I said, it’s stupid. I know you wouldn’t. I know that. But I’m so… pathetic. I can’t believe it. I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, Grantaire,” Enjolras tells him firmly. “You did not do anything wrong, except that it seems to me you should have stopped me a whole hell of a lot sooner than you did.”

“But I… I just want to…”

“You are a good boy and I’m proud of you,” Enjolras says, almost matter-of-factly. “You please me more by helping me take care of you—by stopping me when you need me to stop—than by anything else. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir,” Grantaire whispers.

“Do you believe me?”

Grantaire hesitates, then admits, quietly, “No, sir.”

Enjolras sighs. “We’re going to have to deal with this, love. But not right now.” He continues soothingly petting Grantaire’s back. “You aren’t in trouble, and I’m not angry with you. But we are going to talk about this. Right now, though, you just have to let me take care of you.”

“Yes, sir,” Grantaire says.

“I love you. I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m very proud of you for using your safeword when you needed it,” Enjolras tells him, aware it may be foolish but that Grantaire probably needs the reassurance. “You are so beautiful and so good. I’m glad you’re mine and I love you.”

“You said that already,” Grantaire teases, a smile growing on his face.

“I know. I figured it bears repeating.” Enjolras searches for words to undo the damage he’s done. “I’m so in love with you, Grantaire. Your bravery, your wit, your intelligence—even your damned cynicism, I love. I love everything you are, and I treasure the way you submit to me. I would never want to be with anyone but you.”

“I love you,” Grantaire answers, breaking into sobs again, and Enjolras sighs and holds him close.

 

Enjolras holds him through the night, as Grantaire cries softly in his arms. He falls asleep around two, but Enjolras stays awake. He watches Grantaire sleep for a while, watches his face soft and peaceful, listens to his heart beating.

Around seven he slips out of bed to make breakfast for the two of them. He eats his own eggs and toast standing up in their meagre kitchen, but carries a tray over to the bedside for Grantaire. The smell of coffee wakes him.

Enjolras’ arms are back around him by the time Grantaire awakes, so that he won’t have to feel alone for a second. “Good morning, my love.”

“Morning.”

“I made you breakfast.” Enjolras points at the bedside table.

“You didn’t have to.”

“I want to. We need to talk, and I want it to be minimally awful.”

“You’re sweet,” Grantaire says quietly, looking at the tray of food, noticing the tiny flower Enjolras had plucked from the box in the window and placed in the corner, floating in a dish of water.

“I want you to feel loved, R. To feel safe and treasured.”

“I do.”

“Eat,” Enjolras urges him, and Grantaire picks, dispirited, at his food. “And talk. What happened? I mean, I definitely understand that I went too far. But I need you to be honest and tell me what exactly went wrong.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Grantaire says, suddenly panicky again. “I didn’t mean to stop you.”

“That isn’t what I meant,” Enjolras sighs. “Obviously you should use your safeword if you want me to stop, Grantaire. That’s the rule, all right?”

“I know but I didn’t want—didn’t want to displease—“

“There are few things in the world less pleasurable than the thought of forcing the man I love into something that frightens or hurts him,” Enjolras says firmly. “If you want to please me, you must be honest.”

“Sorry,” Grantaire whispers, his voice full of shame, and Enjolras’ heart could break in that instant.

“Love, I need you to answer the question. Why did that make you safeword? What exactly was it?”

Grantaire shrugs. “I don’t mind… I mean, I like when you say… that I’m yours, even when you call me a slut or whatever, it’s hot. And… and I don’t mind that sometimes you say that all I’m good for is… is sex.” He’s blushing bright red. “I like that. In the moment. I mean I know it isn’t true. I know you care about me.”

“I love you,” Enjolras corrects, and Grantaire blushes impossibly brighter.

“Yeah. But. I mean it’s kind of like… hot being treated like I’m just… like my whole purpose in life is to please you with sex. I know it isn’t true but it’s a nice fantasy and I never doubt that’s what it is… a fantasy.”

“So it wasn’t either of those things. What was it?”

Grantaire looks away from him. “You said I don’t deserve to be near you,” he whispers, his voice breaking. Then he grabs Enjolras tight, holding him desperately around the waist. “Please, Enjolras, please, don’t leave me, don’t. I’ll be so good, I promise, just please let me stay with you. You don’t have to do anything, don’t have to give me anything, just let me be near you, please—“

Enjolras grabs Grantaire’s wrists, stilling him forcefully. “Shh. Sweetheart. Shh.” Eventaully, Grantaire’s desperate babbling stops, and Enjolras can pull him close, comforting him. “I’m right here, R. I’m not going. I’m never leaving you, love, I’m yours, you’re mine, and I love you so much. I love you. Unconditionally. Not just because you’re so good for me, not just because you’re my beautiful obedient boy, but just because you’re you and I love you.”

“I’m sorry. I’m being stupid.”

“Grantaire, your feelings are not stupid. They are valid—they are sacred—and I respect them. If I hurt you, I hurt you—and looking back on what I said, I can’t imagine how that wouldn’t be hurtful. I got very carried away, and I… I was enjoying degrading you. Getting off on making you feel low. I did not stop to consider your feelings. I didn’t. It was cruel of me.”

“You stopped.”

“Of course I stopped. I am not a monster.” He holds Grantaire’s hands. “It is your submission I enjoy, not your suffering.”

“I didn’t submit.”

“Yes, you did. You submitted to more than you should. If you failed, it was in failing to stop me.” A horrible thought occurs to him. “Have you done this before, Grantaire?”

“What?”

“Submitted because I wanted you to, and for no other reason? Done something you did not enjoy, that hurt you, for my sake?”

“Don’t be angry,” Grantaire whispers, unable to deny it, and Enjolras’ eyes well with tears.

“No. No, I’m not angry. Not with you. Never with you.” Enjolras holds him close now, comforting him. “I’m sad for you. Worried about you. Never angry. I love you, Grantaire. And I’m not going anywhere. You have my word.”

 

 

They are lying in bed about a week later, just cuddling, when Grantaire asks him. “Enjolras?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Can I ask you for something?”

“Anything. You know that.”

Grantaire hides his face in Enjolras’ shoulder. “Punish me.”

“What?”

“Y-you heard.”

“I did but- why? Why would I-“

“I didn’t obey. You told me to stop you if I needed it. I didn’t. I was bad.”

“You weren’t bad. You were afraid. Of me. That’s my mistake, not yours.” Enjolras runshis fingers through Grantaire’s hair. “But then again, you did disobey an order. And I told you I would punish you if you did that.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I ought to keep my promises, then. If I’m to earn your trust back.” Enjolras kisses his forehead gently. “All right, love. Get up and strip.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t thank me yet. We’ll see if you’re still feeling grateful when your little ass is red and sore.”

Grantaire smiles, stepping out of his pants, standing naked in front of his Dom. “I will be. Sir.”

“Good boy. Bend over the bed.” Enjolras stands, circling to stand behind Grantaire, eyes on his exposed, naked ass. He places a gentle but possessive hand on it. “I’m going to hurt you.”

Grantaire sucks in a breath, aroused by the threat.

“You’ll probably cry. You’ll be sore for days. Do you want this?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What do you say if you want me to stop?”

“Red, sir.”

“What happens if you do that?”

“You stop. And comfort me.”

“Good.” Enjolras slaps his ass sharply, watching the firm flesh shake under the blow. “You’re a good boy, Grantaire.”

Grantaire moans a little, deep in his throat, and Enjolras hits him again, harder. Enjolras hits him again and again—this is just a warmup, so the real blows won’t land on cold muscle. It probably feels good. Nonetheless, Enjolras rewards him for taking it so well with a long caress before pulling away. “Now you’re going to go into the other room, where the toy chest is. Choose what you want to be punished with. I’ll decide how much you’re going to take, but you pick the implement. Got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good boy. You can crawl there.”

“Yes, sir,” Grantiare whispers, dropping to all fours and doing as he’s told.

“Good choice,” Enjolras tells him when he returns, a long, thin cane in his mouth. It’s a harsh implement. There’s no way to hit someone with a cane that won’t leave welts, won’t hurt. Grantaire is serious about being punished, it’s not a way to tease a fun spanking out of Enjolras. If that were the case, Enjolras would be fine with it—he’s just glad he can be sure.

Grantaire kneels up, offering him the cane. Enjolras takes it and strokes his hair, then presses the point of the cane under Grantaire’s chin, forcing him to look up.

“Tell me whether or not you want this.”

“I want you to punish me, sir.”

“With this cane?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Up and over.”

Grantaire resumes his previous position, his ass displayed. Enjolras touches the spot where he’s going to hit with the flat of the cane, gently, so Grantaire is prepared, and then swings it down hard. Grantaire grunts but doesn’t move away.

“Tell me why I’m punishing you,” Enjolras orders.

“I didn’t stop you from going past my limits.”

Enjolras brings the cane down again. “And why is that wrong?”

“Because I was being dishonest.”

And again, harder, leaving a long line behind on Grantaire’s pale, smooth skin. “And?”

“Sir?”

Enjolras hits him twice, as hard as he can. Grantaire cries out. “There’s another reason. It’s important.”

“I… I let you hurt me.”

“And that’s wrong because?” Enjolras hits him again.

“You don’t want to hurt me?” Grantaire says, tentative.

“Good.” The next stroke is a little lighter, but it still leaves a great mark. “Why not?”

“Sir?”

“I said why not. Answer me.”

“Because you—you—I don’t—I can’t—“

“Because I love you.” Enjolras brings the cane down again with a satisfying crack. “Say it.”

“Sir?”

“You heard me, boy.” Enjolras hits him hard. “Do as you’re told. Say it.”

“Y-you love me.”

“Good.” Enjolras brings the cane down three times in succession, and Grantaire cries out, then bites his lip. “You’re taking this so well. You’re so brave.” He cracks the cane against Grantaire’s ass. “Say it.”

“I-I’m brave.”

“You look so beautiful when you’re taking this for me. Tell me you’re beautiful.”

“Sir, I-“

Enjolras hits him hard with the cane. “Do as you’re told.”

“I’m beautiful,” Grantaire whispers.

“You always do as you’re told, don’t you. So obedient.”

“I am. I’ll always do as I’m told.”

Enjolras hits him again, admiring the mass of welts that have now accumulated. He decides this is enough—one more, and then it’s over. “You’re my good boy.”

“I’m your good boy, sir.”

Enjolras swings the cane hard against his ass, criss-crossing the welts he’s already made, and then lets it fall. Grantaire sobs, and Enjolras grabs him around the waist, pulling him up and into Enjolras’ arms.

“Shh,” he whispers. Grantaire is crying softly. “Shh, shh. It’s okay. It’s over.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you sir, thank you,” Grantaire is whimpering, again and again, almost incoherently.

“That’s it. It’s all right. You’re my good boy. So good. You took that so well.”

“I’m sorry, I’m-“

“It’s over. I forgive you. My perfect boy.”

Grantaire, still crying, buries his face in Enjolras’ neck and lets himself be practically carried into the bed.

"Do you need anything for the pain? Ice?"

"No, sir. It feels good."

"I'm glad. I don't want to hurt you too much."

"I know," Grantaire says, and Enjolras is blessedly able to believe it.

He kisses the top of Grantiare's head. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, sir. Thank you so much, thank you-“

“We’re going to start again. Both of us. We’re going to do it right this time, and you’re going to take care of yourself. Because you are the most precious thing in the world to me.”

“Thank you,” Grantaire whispers, his voice reverent.

“I’m proud of you for asking for this punishment. I’m proud of how well you took it.” He kisses Grantaire’s forehead, wrapping his arms around him. “Go to sleep, darling. Tomorrow is a new day.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.” His eyes flutter closed.

“You’re safe here. You’re mine.”

“I know. I love you.”

Enjolras pulls Grantaire tight against his chest, watching as he falls asleep.