To be fair, Enjolras doesn’t even remember Grantaire is in his creative writing class until the fourth week of the semester when Lamarque takes his glasses off, cleans them, and very calmly and politely proceeds tells Enjolras that he absolutely may not do his peer edits with Combeferre again. Enjolras blinks a few times and hands Combeferre’s paper back to him, a bit stunned. Combeferre simply smiles and twists around to address someone behind him (because of course he knows everyone’s name already). Enjolras is left floundering.
When he finally turns around, Jehan is already chatting with a pretty blonde girl, exchanging papers. Enjolras scans the room and sees nothing but pairs. He turns back to the front when Lamarque clears his throat.
“Grantaire is absent today, but I am sure he has done his paper. You can partner with him,” Lamarque continues, “Do you need his email?”
Enjolras blinks again, feeling gobsmacked for the second time in as many minutes. He isn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t this.
“No,” he answers. “No, I know Grantaire.” Bitter, sarcastic, cynic that he is.
Actually, it makes sense that Grantaire would be in this class. At least his major (something literary, Enjolras is sure of that much at least) is relevant. Enjolras, on the other hand, is just here to satisfy a general requirement and hopefully pick up some writing skills along the way.
He’s not used to churning out anything except argument after analysis after argument. His political theory papers are solid and he turns grays into black and white with no effort; his words are concise and clear. He can construct persuasive essays in his sleep.
Creative writing is a whole new world.
The three papers he has so far in his portfolio for creative writing have C’s on them. (Well, one is a B-, but still. If it’s not an A, it’s a failing grade.) His work in this class is far from the phenomenal grades and accolades he receives in the political science department.
And now Professor Lamarque wants him to work with Grantaire. Grantaire, who never gets along with Enjolras on any level. Enjolras takes a deep breath. Okay. Grantaire never misses a meeting, so Enjolras will try to speak with him tonight.
When class wraps up, Enjolras slings his messenger bag across his side. He’s still frowning as he walks out of the building, so Combeferre sighs and steers him toward the dining hall. If it weren’t for Combeferre, Enjolras would probably forget to eat.
“You didn’t even realize Grantaire was in creative writing, did you?” His tone is dry and Enjolras is only half-sure he’s not being mocked, but he’s decided to be petulant about it either way so he gives an annoyed huff.
“I knew,” he counters defensively. “I just...forgot,” he grumbles. Combeferre raises his eyebrows and hands his card to be swiped with another sigh in Enjolras’s general direction.
“You never look towards the back of the class, do you? Are you really that focused on Lamarque?”
Combeferre waits a moment, but then sighs again. Enjolras briefly wonders how much Combeferre sighed before they became friends. Probably not as much as he does now.
“Of course you are,” Combeferre mumbles the answer to his own question. And after a moment, “but it won’t be so bad, working with Grantaire. And stop making that face, Enjolras.” He spoons out some potatoes on his plate and moves down the buffet line while continuing to talk.
“You weren’t even looking, so how do you know what face I was making?” Combeferre actually puts down his tray and turns to look at Enjolras boredly.
“Please, you make the same face for everything Grantaire. It’s like the thought of him confuses and frustrates you so much you can’t even use your nose properly.” He is back to moving down the line, nonplussed despite having just thrown out a dry response to Enjolras’s heated words.
It’s surprisingly characteristic of their relationship.
“If it bothers you that much–” Combeferre starts again, and no, Enjolras will not concede to this one.
“No,” Enjolras hesitates. “I can figure it out.” He swears he catches Combeferre smile slightly at that.
He watches Grantaire throughout the meeting with small, quick glances. He only catches Grantaire looking back once or twice, and when he does, he can’t read the expression on the other man’s face.
Enjolras only approaches Grantaire after the meeting is wrapped up, his friends are chatting, drinks are ordered (yes, on a Wednesday) and the atmosphere is lighter than the earlier heated one that had built up during a discussion about the government’s use of drones.
He pulls up a chair next to Grantaire, who is smiling, but sitting a bit apart from the rest of Amis, making wide arcs in a sketchbook. His knees are drawn up in front of him and he leans over them, edge of his tongue peeking out of his smile. Dark curls are swept away from his eyes periodically, but other than that, he doesn’t move except to sketch.
Enjolras clears his throat and gets no response. He takes a calming breath before trying again.
“Grantaire.” The artist’s head spins up and his pencil pauses. Enjolras’s eyes flick down to the sketchpad, but Grantaire tips it towards his chest and leans back in his chair. When Enjolras looks back at his face, he is smiling softly.
“To what do I owe the honor?” Tucking his pencil behind his ear, he leans forward to fold his arms over his knees. Enjolras holds out his paper as a peace offering.
“We’re peer editing together in creative writing,” he begins, as Grantaire takes his paper with raised eyebrows. Honestly, Enjolras is just surprised he hasn’t been laughed at yet. He can only imagine what kind of scorn will be written all over his paper when it comes back to him. “Um...Lamarque paired us up,” he continues, and Grantaire nods. Once again, he expects a caustic comment or a wave of Grantaire’s hand to say he hasn’t done the assignment, but he only pulls out a battered folder and hands the paper inside to Enjolras.
“Did you want to meet up and talk about them?” Grantaire’s gaze has not left Enjolras’s, and it’s a bit disconcerting to have those bluegreengreywhatever eyes tracing the contours of his face.
“We don’t need to meet until next class,” he offers, and Grantaire raises an eyebrow suspiciously.
“You’re telling me that you and Combeferre only discussed your papers in class?” Well, he has a fair point there. But Enjolras packs his schedule pretty full.
“Lunch tomorrow?” he muses, trying to figure out how to fit it in.
“Sounds good,” Grantaire says, “I’ll meet you outside the dining hall at one.” Enjolras nods his assent while Grantaire shoves his folder back into his bag and pulls a sweatshirt over his head.
“Please actually have it done by then,” he requests, and Grantaire crosses his arms.
“You positively wound me, Enjolras. Would I let you down?” The last sentence is thrown over Grantaire’s shoulder as he makes his way out of the café.
Enjolras gives a half-smile at Grantaire’s retreating form before tucking the paper into his bag. Come to think of it, Grantaire hasn’t ever actually let him down (unless he counts drunken rambling at important protests).
Or maybe he’s never specifically let Enjolras down because Enjolras has never trusted him enough to actually give him something to do.
Enjolras doesn’t actually get to Grantaire’s paper until late that night, having shoved it to the bottom of his stack of work. So by the time he uncaps one of his red pens and smoothes the paper out habitually, Combeferre has already bid him goodnight and retreated from their apartment’s living room.
This week’s prompt is a short story in the horror genre, and Lamarque had given the class a list of tropes with instructions to include at least three of them. Enjolras takes a deep breath and begins, ready for an amalgamation of spelling errors and gibberish.
To his surprise, the first line is gorgeous, stunning prose – fluid but ornate with engaging character introductions. Stylistically, it’s as far cry from what Enjolras usually writes. The story continues in much the same way, weaving in metaphors and constructing lines that sound more like they should be in a book of poetry rather than in a college paper.
For god’s sake, Grantaire has included no less than twelve classical allusions as well as puns in at least three different languages. And Enjolras is not above admitting that he’s probably missing a few as well.
However, Grantaire’s five-page story starts to crumble around page three, when his plot goes to hell and he kills off the main character. Death and decay suddenly permeate the work as his characters die off one by one for no reason other than, as far as Enjolras can tell, that Grantaire has several thousand creative ways for people to meet gruesome deaths.
Red marks litter the paper when he’s done with it. He’s never been so constructive in his life. He even sketches out a basic story line on the back of the last page, outlining where the story should peak and no, Grantaire, it’s not foreshadowing if you just say outright that everyone is going to die.
Enjolras has never been interested in campaigning for office, but he would consider it, if only to have Grantaire write his speeches. Grantaire is more intelligent than Enjolras has ever given him credit for (and definitely more than Grantaire perceives himself to be). Enjolras sees the potential there and wonders why he hasn’t noticed it before.
The character arcs he traces out on the back next to the plot line are concise and clear while taking into account the marvelous characterization Grantaire has created. He fills the rest of the margins with comments and finally sets it aside to get some much needed sleep.
“How many red pens did you use for this, Enjolras?” Grantaire laughs through a bite of his chicken Caesar wrap. “Eight? Nine? Just tell me if I’m above or below.” Enjolras rolls his eyes. Grantaire snorts.
He should’ve known working with Grantaire would be a pain in the ass – it’s not like he ever cuts Enjolras any slack when they hang out with their friends. He refutes every single point Enjolras tries to make with caustic cynicism and incredible intelligence. Enjolras has spent entire afternoons wondering how he is so articulate, so able to eloquently crush the most well-thought out arguments even after eight drinks.
And it’s not that they aren’t friends, but this may be the first time they’ve ever been alone together. Enjolras generally spends most of his time with Combeferre (or Courfeyrac, if he’s being dragged out to “have fun for once in his life”). But he’s even been taken to events by Joly, or cornered by Jehan to read over poems. Being alone with Grantaire is new and it puts an uneasy itch between his shoulderblades, like he’s waiting for an attack.
Grantaire doesn’t look like he’s about to attack, though. If anything, he look a bit fidgety and uneasy himself. The absence of alcohol does make it less likely for him to throw a wrench into Enjolras’s rhetoric, and it’s not late enough for him to be drinking yet; he still has class this afternoon.
Even Enjolras doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that Grantaire puts alcohol above his precious Greek composition course. Enjolras had been floored finding out that there was something Grantaire held onto so dearly, but when he’d mentioned it earlier, pulling folders out of his bag in an effort to find Enjolras’s paper, his eyes had sparkled and he had grinned just at the thought.
Granted, smiling is something Grantaire does a lot. However, Enjolras has never seen it so pure and genuine, not like this. There’s the thinly veiled amusement at Bossuet’s misfortunes, the smirks he throws over his shoulder at Courfeyrac paired with a well-placed pun, and the downright evil grins Enjolras gets right before Grantaire’s about to tear him to shreds.
But then the conversation turns to creative writing, and Grantaire’s face morphs into a mask of focus and contemplation.
Grantaire flicks through the pages and Enjolras waits to look over his so he can answer any of Grantaire’s questions, instead eating his salad. Grantaire’s face goes through a myriad of expressions, but he does not speak. When he finally looks up, Enjolras isn’t sure what to expect.
“Fair enough. I’ve never been good at storylines that actually make sense.”
Well, that’s definitely not what he’d expected.
“Wait. You aren’t going to argue about any of it?” This is not the Grantaire he’s familiar with.
“It’s called peer reviews, Enjolras. The entire point of them is to improve our writing by getting another perspective. Jehan may have, um,” he laughs, “Jehan goes a bit soft on editing.”
Enjolras raises his eyebrows.
“So what about yours?” Grantaire asks, before picking up and draining his Coke. Enjolras finally looks down at his paper, which is heavily marked up with green ink. (And Grantaire really shouldn’t have said anything about Enjolras’s edits because he’s written between nearly every line, either with comments, remarks, or revision marks). Enjolras’s brow furrows and he looks up.
Grantaire chuckles at his unasked question.
“You have absolutely no style whatever. It’s worse than those political theory textbooks you read for fun.” Enjolras’s jaw clenches, and Grantaire looks down for a moment with a small smile. When he looks back up, Enjolras still hasn’t spoken. He can feel his lips twitching, itching to fight the criticism, but Grantaire had taken his so well. Enjolras instead takes two deep breaths through his nose and attempts to quell his raging thoughts.
“Go ahead, Enjolras,” he chuckles, after a long minute of tense silence. “I know you want to argue.” He doesn’t sound angry; he sounds amused. Amused and indulgent.
“Isn’t it better to be straightforward and get your point across?”
As usual, Grantaire doesn’t even need a moment to formulate a response.
“There’s a difference between straightforward in an essay and straightforward in a story. Sure it works fine with your essays, where you’re hashing out eviscerating arguments. You like telling people they’re wrong and exactly why. And you’re very good at it. But you can’t outline your narrative at the beginning and then still tell it effectively.”
“I do not–”
“Enjolras,” Grantaire’s voice is surprisingly serious, “your foreshadowing isn’t even shadowing. You tell your reader what’s going to happen like a topic sentence.” He gestures with his hands in a chopping motion to better get his point across, knocking over his empty cup in the process. “Also, I don’t think a rumination about the plight of the people was what Lamarque was thinking of when he assigned the horror genre.” Enjolras rolls his eyes at Grantaire’s smirk. “Your eyes are going to get stuck that way if you keep doing that, you know,” he warns.
Enjolras goes to roll his eyes again, but stops and makes a frustrated noise in his throat instead.
“It would be entirely your fault if they did,” he grumbles, feeling all the more like a petulant child. His headache ebbs as he rubs his temples. The next few pages of his paper, he sees, are much like the first. Grantaire has added everything from adjectives to sentences and has even gone so far as to cross out entire lines.
“Be that as it may, whining won’t help your writing.” Grantaire’s smirk is infuriating. Actually, everything about Grantaire is infuriating, why had be expected anything else?
“So how do I fix it?” Grantaire drums his fingers against the table and makes a face. Enjolras lets out an exasperated throaty noise that is most certainly not a whine.
“Write about what you know. It’s the biggest cliché ever, but-”
“I know about-”
“Jesus Christ, Enjolras. Things you know personally. Not things you know from books.”
“And you know mass murderers who slit throats and suffocate people?”
Now it’s Grantaire’s turn to roll his eyes.
“No,” he allows, “but I do know someone who would drops plates at the worst possible moment. I know someone who would fight back until her last breath. I know someone afraid of dying alone.”
And oh, that’s why his characterization is so amazing. Enjolras looks at him with an air of suspicion. “You killed off our friends for an English paper?”
“I just borrowed real characteristics. Real quotes, in some cases. It’s not a crime.”
“You do realize that you never wrapped up any of your loose points and that your ending doesn’t fit with the last eight paragraphs? The murderer’s terrible childhood doesn’t really seem to matter that much after you’ve already graphically depicted him strangling three people for no reason.” Grantaire grimaces.
“Don’t hold back, now. Tell me what you really think,” Grantaire says, before flipping through his paper once more.
“Between the two of us, we could probably write a decent story,” Enjolras allows grudgingly. Grantaire snorts, then puts his head in his hands.
“What?” Enjolras asks tentatively.
“We have a pairs project coming up.” Enjolras is silent. Grantaire continues. “Lamarque is assigning partners.”
“Ah.” Enjolras bites his lip.
“Sometimes I hate how smart Lamarque is.” And oh, Enjolras does too.
Still, Grantaire sits and explains every edit that he’s made on Enjolras’s paper while Enjolras grits his teeth and tries to understand the constructive part of constructive criticism.
It turns out that Grantaire isn’t wrong. The following week they get their assignment: a piece of historical fiction that they’ll be submitting to a national writing contest, the winners to be published in an anthology. Lamarque reads off pairs, and Enjolras twists back around in his seat to grimace at Grantaire. The latter is sketching something out in his notebook with a look of concentration on his face. Enjolras clears his throat and raises his eyebrows when Grantaire's eyes meet his own. Grantaire smiles before making his way to sit in Combeferre’s empty seat.
The awkwardness is not helped by the fact that they had fought last night in the Musain. But then again, they fight most nights in the Musain. It’s not really an unusual occurrence. They’ve learned to live with the tension of always being half out of step with each other.
“So,” Grantaire begins, trailing off into nowhere.
“I already have a list of ideas,” Enjolras says, sliding his notebook over. He finds he wants to win, which is not an unusual occurrence.
“Of course you do,” is the reply he gets, the corners of Grantaire’s mouth quirked up.
As soon as he’d gotten the assignment, Enjolras had a list of ten things in his mind. History is one of his passions, and well, fictionalizing history is pretty much his dream prompt. He’s listed all of his favorite revolts and revolutions, spanning centuries.
As Grantaire reads the list, his eyebrows inch farther and farther up his brow.
“You certainly have a one track mind,” he quips.
“At least it’s going somewhere.”
“Ouch.” He wheezes, faking a shot to the chest. “Come on, Enjolras, it’s like you didn’t even try. I know you can hit harder than that.”
“Do you want to fight?”
“Sure, why not? It’s the only way we talk, anyways.” He sounds tired, but not upset. Suddenly Enjolras feels weary as well.
“Maybe we wouldn’t fight if you cared about something besides criticizing everything I do.” It’s weak and he knows it; they’ve had more biting arguments while half-asleep.
“We both know that’s not true. Can we just pick a topic and argue about it later? I’ll meet you for dinner or something.” He’s shoving things in his backpack now and pulling out his headphones to attach to his phone.
“Yeah, sure. Musain at seven?”
“You mean before the meeting?”
Shit, yeah, meeting. He has to look up figures or nonprofits or something. Les Amis are important, yeah, but he also needs to graduate. While Enjolras runs over his internal monologue of self-justification, Grantaire stands awkwardly and waves a hand in front of Enjolras’s face.
“Hello, earth to Enjolras? Meet you before the meeting?” Enjolras blinks and looks up at him.
“Sure. See you then.” Enjolras watches him leave and rubs at his eyes. “Why do I feel like we just defused a bomb?” he asks.
(He doesn’t get a response, but he doesn’t really need one.)
When their friends start filtering into the café around eight, Enjolras and Grantaire are arguing. It’s not loud and it’s not disruptive, but it’s apparently distressing his friends because when he looks over, Feuilly is staring at him with a pained expression. Courfeyrac has an unreadable expression on his face.
“What?” Enjolras searches Feuilly’s face, trying to remember any major transgression he’s made recently that would put that look on anyone’s face. He comes up with a blank, and Feuilly blinks.
“You two are arguing,” he says weakly.
“We argue all the time,” Grantaire frowns.
“Yeah, but,” Feuilly takes a deep breath. “You’re arguing about the Oxford comma.” Enjolras and Grantaire both blush at that and Grantaire laughs weakly. The chair scrapes across the ground as he pushes out and rises, heading to the counter to get something to drink before the meeting begins.
“We can continue later if you like. I’ll type up the outline tonight,” Grantaire offers over his shoulder and adds from the counter, "Want anything?" Enjolras shakes his head. "Feuilly? Courf?" Instead of answering, they still look back and forth between Grantaire and Enjolras with pained expressions. Feuilly shakes his head, and sits down next to Enjolras.
"Did you get the figures from the housing department?" He asks. Enjolras cringes before shaking his head no.
"I've just been so busy, with-" Feuilly cuts him off with a wave of his hand.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s not like we’re working on anything big at the moment.” Feuilly smiles, but Enjolras winces. They haven’t done anything in ages because he’s been wrapped up in school, classes and work and essays and the mess that is his creative writing class. (He supposes it is not going to get any better, now that he’s working on this project with Grantaire.) He’s the driving force behind Les Amis, but he hasn’t been very...driving this semester.
“I know, I’m sorry.” Feuilly rolls his eyes again.
“Don’t be, Enjolras. There are still important issue to discuss, even if we’re not applying for rally permits or organizing a fundraiser.”
“Shh,” he placates, and looks over his shoulder at Combeferre. “‘Ferre, tell Enjolras to stop worrying about ABC’s lack of activity this semester.” Enjolras frowns and feels slightly more miserable, but Combeferre laughs, and moves to sit next to Enjolras and Feuilly.
“Relax, Enjolras. God knows you need it. It’s okay if we’re not protesting for a new cause every weekend. We can still help. Courfeyrac and I were talking earlier about the work study program and improvements we think we could make,” Combeferre smiles, “Why don’t we talk about that? I can draft up an email later.” Enjolras smiles back and nods, taking a deep breath through his nose.
He zones out for a moment to try and get his bearings again, but his thoughts end up swirling down to anxiety about school and graduation and the club and the eight thousand other things he needs to get done by next Friday. A motion from behind his chair startles him out of his inattention.
“Drink. Eat,” Grantaire orders from behind Enjolras, setting down a Coke in front of him followed by a plate with a muffin. “I know for a fact you haven’t eaten anything today. I saw you at both lunch and dinner time.”
“What if I ate something in between?”
“We both know you didn’t, angelface.” Enjolras glowers at the patronizing nickname, but indulgently breaks off a piece of the muffin and washes it down with a long gulp of soda. And, well, he actually feels a lot better almost immediately. He glances at Grantaire suspiciously.
“Looked like you needed it,” he shrugs and saunters over to the corner where his cushy armchair awaits. Bahorel and Jehan are laughing nearby and easily welcome him into conversation.
If Enjolras argues with him a little less that evening, it’s only because he feels like he owes him. For the muffin, that is.
“Come on, Enjolras. Like they wouldn’t have had alcohol on the barricades?” Enjolras is regretting their topic - deciding to write about the Paris Uprising of 1832 had been a bad idea. Fictionalizing a historical period he is passionate about had sounded like a wonderful and engaging concept at the time, but now Grantaire is poking holes through his beloved historical conceptions.
“No, Grantaire. I’m saying they would not have chosen a night like that to get drunk, not with the National Guard about to come down on them.”
“A toast then? After all, they are about to die. What better time? With alcohol comes a sense of camaraderie, you have to admit.”
“Enjolras,” Grantaire is in earnest, but quietly. “The story doesn’t work if you don’t add some human aspects. They believe in their cause, yes. Well, most of them. Probably. But the rebellion isn’t their only motivation; it can’t be their defining characteristic. They have friends, families, lovers. That depth has to come through in writing. Otherwise, how do you expect your readers to care about the characters?”
“Fine, fine. Why don’t you work on that and I’ll do a bit of research to come up with the information we’re missing? We can reconvene tomorrow afternoon.” Enjolras has another paper to write and an online quiz to take by midnight on a Friday, of all days. He needs a break, or even just a day off, but cannot allow himself the luxury.
“Tomorrow is Saturday,” Grantaire remarks. His tone is light, but with an edge, as if he’s trying to remind Enjolras of something. Oh, right. ‘Normal’ people don’t work on Saturdays, according to Courfeyrac.
“You’ll be awake by three, right?” Grantaire goes out with Courfeyrac on most Friday nights, Enjolras knows. Courfeyrac usually sleeps until late in the day, but he’s not familiar with Grantaire’s habits.
“I can be, if you need me to be.” It’s a simple answer, but Enjolras frowns.
“I need you to be.” He half expects Grantaire to scoff and roll his eyes, but he is strangely accommodating.
“Well, then I’ll be awake by three. Want me to come over?”
“No, I can come by your place.” Courfeyrac doesn’t like when he does work on Saturdays – he prefers to put a carton of ice cream in Enjolras’s hands and sit on him until he relents and watches a movie with him and Combeferre. If Grantaire comes over, between Courfeyrac and Grantaire, they’ll never get anything done.
“Sounds like a plan. Jehan is visiting home this weekend, so we’ll have the room to ourselves.”
“Oh, you still live on campus, don’t you?” Enjolras hasn’t lived on campus since freshman year, instead opting to room with Courfeyrac and Combeferre off campus in a small apartment since then.
“Unfortunately,” Grantaire laments, “but it’s covered under scholarship and it doesn’t really make sense for me to move off when I would have to pay more than I do now.”
Enjolras blinks and wonders how he never knew Grantaire was here on scholarship.
"Oh. Well, just text me your room number and I'll come over when you're awake."
Later Grantaire texts him the building and room number. He also sends Enjolras a detailed character description of the leader at the barricades, painting him as a savage Antinous, a leader golden as Apollo.
The more Enjolras reads, the more the words take his breath away. He smiles and replies to Grantaire's message saying that he hopes Grantaire and Courfeyrac won't get into too much trouble tonight, and sits down to work on editing what they have so far.
When he shows up at Grantaire’s door with a coffee tray the next afternoon, Grantaire exalts him as if he were a god and ushers him in. Enjolras is surprised to find Granatire showered and dressed and the room somewhat clean. He deposits his laptop on Grantaire’s bed and his bag on the floor. He settles against the wall while cradling his coffee cup in both hands, and Grantaire yawns loudly before climbing up next to him with his own laptop.
“How was your night with Courfeyrac?” Enjolras mutters as he scrolls through his Facebook newsfeed.
“I came back around one – I couldn’t stop thinking about stupid revolution shit.” Enjolras starts sputtering in indignation at his comment but Grantaire continues, “I wrote another few thousand words. Hopefully you can string them together with some semblance of plot.”
Enjolras just glares at him, but opens the story on Google docs and begins to scroll through. There are several more pages there than when he went to bed last night.
“How late did you stay up?” He asks in amazement. Grantaire yawns.
“Haven’t been to sleep yet,” he grins. Enjolras narrows his eyes. “I also finished three essays, dusted the room, and cleaned the pizza off the floor.” Enjolras frowns in disgust and Grantaire laughs, which segues into a yawn. He clutches the coffee cup even tighter. After rolling his eyes in exasperation, Enjolras takes the cup out of Grantaire’s hand and goes to set it on the dresser.
“What?” Grantaire asks, confused, blinking up at him and looking personally wronged.
“Take a nap. I’m going to edit this.”
“You’re no good to me if you’re delirious and falling asleep.”
“I can handle all-nighters, Enjolras, I’m…” he trails off as Enjolras levels him with his best glare. “Jesus, fine. Only here for three minutes and already barking orders.” Enjolras would contest that, but the grumbling is good-natured.
Enjolras scoots up father on the bed to give Grantaire more space. He would move to Jehan’s bed, but it’s unmade, and he’s walked in on Courfeyrac and Jehan enough times to know not to sit in any space where the two of them spend time. The lack of space is obviously not an issue however, as Grantaire curls up like a cat at Enjolras’s side. When Enjolras murmurs his name softly just a few minutes later, he receives no response.
Enjolras finds that Grantaire talks in his sleep. It’s soft murmuring, but Enjolras catches some real words amidst the mumbles. Grantaire also twitches and shifts in his sleep, still curled up but inching towards Enjolras until his head is pressed against Enjolras’s leg. Enjolras stops in the middle of a sentence to look down at the black curls pressing against his sweatpants.
It is horribly domestic and unsettlingly adorable.
He tries to scoot away, but Grantaire frowns and protests, features scrunching up even in rest. Enjolras lets out a theatrical sigh and rolls his eyes before realizing Grantaire isn’t actually awake to experience his exasperation. It’s completely ridiculous and Enjolras wants to throw up his hands, but Combeferre would tell Enjolras he’s being overdramatic and didn’t you want him to take a nap, Enjolras?
So, Enjolras lets Grantaire rest and goes back to typing furiously, occasionally getting sidetracked on an argumentative tangent that he is sure Grantaire will contest later.
“Mmmm,” Grantaire hums, from near Enjolras’s hip, “good.”
“What?” Enjolras asks absentmindedly, while adding a description of the barricade.
“Smells good,” murmurs Grantaire with a smile. Enjolras colors immediately, hyperaware of the cologne he’d put on this morning. He watches Grantaire’s eyes blink open and find his almost immediately. Grantaire’s cheeks flush as well and he bites his lip. “Um.”
“Um,” Enjolras echoes.
“How long was I asleep for?”
Enjolras checks the clock on his laptop.
“A little over two hours?” Grantaire sits up quickly and rubs the back of his neck.
“Shit, sorry. Here, let me type for a while.” He opens his laptop and looks through what Enjolras has done so far. He nods in agreement while Enjolras explains his edits, but snorts when he starts to read some of Enjolras’s new material.
Enjolras grimaces, but holds his peace.
“Do you think we have a chance at getting it published?” Enjolras asks mildly. He didn’t think it would be important to him; it’s just a writing contest. They wouldn’t even receive a monetary award. Still, he has been thinking about it – maybe Les Amis could reach more people through stories like this. After all, fiction is a powerful form of communication.
“Who knows,” Grantaire sounds equal parts bored and indulgent. “It’s a nationwide contest, Enjolras. We’re up against a lot of people.” When he sees Grantaire deleting whole lines, Enjolras makes a strained noise in the back of his throat.
“Calm down.” He sets his laptop on the bed and turns to face Enjolras. “You should write a beginning.”
“We already started with the funeral procession.”
“Write something before it, some exposition. Put your idealism there and not in the middle of the story where good men are dying for their cause.”
“So-” Enjolras tries to start again.
“Even just a couple lines, like in Pride and Prejudice, or Moby-Dick. Something to set the stage. And there you can mention revolution and ‘the people’ as often as you like.”
“I haven’t read-” he begins, but Grantaire waves him off.
“On the desk.”
Enjolras slides off the bed and stands in front of the desk, wondering where to begin. There’s a shelf above filled with books, but there are also stacks filling the entire right hand of the desk and overflowing from a drawer. They’ve also managed to take over the chair and most of the floor.
“If it’s a short story, isn’t it better to just jump right in?” Enjolras huffs, moving books around to try and find one of the few books Grantaire listed off.
“Maybe, yeah. But a few lines will help to set the stage, especially for those who aren’t so historically inclined. Not everyone knows about émeutes and the history of the French monarchy.”
Which is, of course, true. Enjolras frowns, but throws a few choice books back on the bed and climbs up next to Grantaire to start reading. Grantaire has grabbed the old cup of coffee and is drinking it in several large gulps. Enjolras feels like he’s going to throw up all over Grantaire’s bed.
“That is disgusting,” he bites out, watching with morbid fascination as Grantaire downs the entire thing. “You just drank an entire large cold coffee.”
“Does the same thing as when it’s hot,” he says amicably. “I really like this line,” he continues, changing the topic, and Enjolras leans over to read. Surprisingly, it’s something he wrote. He smiles.
“Don’t sound so enthusiastic,” Enjolras says, but there’s no malice behind it.
“Shut up and work on your revolutionary spiel.”
Enjolras resists the impulse to throw a book at his head.
“Are you sure it’s done?” Grantaire asks, worrying over the paper as he flips through it again. They’re hovering just outside the classroom, watching as people file in.
“We were up until two, it is done,” Enjolras affirms. He feels the strain of sleep deprivation and all he wants to do is curl up and take a nap. He’s spent the past two weeks working on this paper every other day, fitting in frequent editing sessions with Grantaire. They had spent the last evening cutting it down to maximum length and fine-tuning the language.
Enjolras really needs to do well on this paper. His GPA cannot take a hit, especially from a supposedly easy senior elective. But what’s done is done, and the paper is due in ten minutes.
“But don’t you think-” Grantaire begins, and Enjolras lays a hand on Grantaire’s shoulder.
“Grantaire,” he reassures, “it is fine. We worked really hard on this. Even if we could do anything else, it’s due now and we don’t have time to change anything. We already submitted the electronic copy for the contest anyways.”
“I suppose.” It’s grumbled below his breath, but Grantaire follows him inside the classroom and places their paper on Lamarque’s desk. Grantaire takes his typical seat at the back of the classroom and Enjolras sits down next to Combeferre in the front.
“So, how did it go?” he asks casually. Enjolras shrugs.
“It went well, I think.”
“The two of you have been fighting a lot less,” he remarks, as Lamarque comes in the door. Enjolras laughs.
“Probably because we fight when we’re alone now, and we’re too exhausted to continue around everyone else.”
“Courfeyrac wants to know, and I quote, ‘what is up with all of the unresolved sexual tension?’”
“We do not have unresolved sexual tension,” Enjolras forces out, tensely.
“You don’t?” Combeferre smirks.
“Shit,” Enjolras hisses. “I mean we don’t have sexual tension. At all.” He looks back at Grantaire, whose eyes flick up to his. Grantaire smiles easily, and Enjolras flushes red. Grantaire looks at him questioningly, but he only spins back around and slumps around in his seat.
“Whatever you say,” Combeferre says lightly, with the hint of a smile.
Enjolras crosses his arms and tries not to think about his friends’ totally unfounded queries. He tries not to think about French revolutionaries. He tries not to think about arguing with Grantaire over coffee in the middle of the night. He tries not to think about how easy it has been to just go over to Grantaire’s room and rant and let off steam. He tries not to think about how their project is over, and how he doesn’t really have a reason to be in constant contact with Grantaire anymore.
On all counts, he fails miserably.
It is not until Enjolras finishes an essay and two study guides that he realizes he is exasperated and agitated, with no outlet for his pent-up frustration. He drums his fingers against the arm of the couch for a solid five minutes before Combeferre closes his book and very pointedly puts it down on the coffee table. Courfeyrac looks up from his sudoku puzzle, where he is sprawled out on the floor. They look at Enjolras expectantly.
“It’s okay to want to be friends with Grantaire,” Combeferre notes. “You don’t need to be working on a project with him to spend time with him.”
“I never said anything about Grantaire,” Enjolras splutters defensively. Courfeyrac laughs and puts his chin on his hands.
“You have spent three of the last five evenings with him, and now you are glaring at the wall,” Courfeyrac offers.
“Yes,” Combeferre agrees, “so forgive me for making assumptions.” He moves to pick up his book, but Enjolras pulls his feet up on the couch and hugs them to his chest. Courfeyrac moves to sit on the sturdy coffee table, completing the triangle.
“I’ve never really been friends with Grantaire before, have I?” Enjolras asks. Combeferre takes a breath slowly through his nose and adopts a look of concentration.
“You have never shunned Grantaire,” he muses. “But where you praise Feuilly, you ignore Grantaire. Where you laugh with Jehan, you rebuke Grantaire. Where you indulge Courfeyrac, you glare at Grantaire. I do not think you have been overly cruel, but you’ve certainly not made an effort where he is concerned. Does that make sense?”
“It does,” Enjolras furrows his brow as he thinks it over in his head.
“It may be something you have to work at. The two of you don’t have an easy friendship. You obviously can work well together in an academic setting. But for something more, you may have to put in more effort. The question you have to ask yourself is if that is something you want.”
“It’s not so hard,” Courfeyrac interjects softly, “if you want it to, it will fall into place.”
Enjolras looks at his phone.
“I do like arguing with him,” he allows. Courfeyrac snorts and puts his head in his hands.
“Yeah, that is the part you would focus on,” he groans.
“But what if he doesn’t want to spend time with me?”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake-” Courfeyrac starts.
“Courf,” Combeferre says exasperatedly. “Just….just let it go.” Enjolras narrows his eyes and looks back and forth between them. Combeferre sighs loudly, and turns to Enjolras. “Invite him over for a movie or something. If he doesn’t want to come, he won’t.”
It seems simple enough, so he sends Grantaire a text.
Grantaire replies back in the affirmative, and Enjolras sits back on the couch, relaxing a bit.
“So?” Courfeyrac asks.
(And now that he’s not seeking the advice of his friends, Enjolras thinks Courfeyrac’s being a nosy shit.)
“He’s on his way over.”
“Well done, Enjolras,” Combeferre replies with a smile.
They fall into a routine in the following week. Not much changes except that Enjolras usually meets Grantaire for breakfast at the café in the student center and they half-argue about whatever is on their minds. It's pretty early to get it in before both of their classes, but the semester is ending and they are both busy on most weekday evenings.
During meetings, Grantaire continues to heckle from the corner and Enjolras continues to glare at him. But then after, they laugh and Grantaire will walk him home or he'll walk Grantaire home. It is easier than Enjolras assumed it would be and he doesn't even realize how much he enjoys spending time with Grantaire until he calls him on a Saturday morning. Usually he’ll ask Combeferre to do something, or go out himself.
"I'm bored," is his opening statement. Grantaire's laughter comes down the line, and then a pause.
"Entertain me," he whines, and smiles reflexively when he hears Grantaire laugh again.
"What's your poison today? Disney movies? A lively debate on the state of financial aid? A quiet afternoon-"
"Let's go for a walk," he decides spontaneously.
"Sure. Now?" Enjolras checks the time; it's eleven, not too early for Grantaire to be up.
"Why not?" He’s feeling good. No exams this week, essays all done.
"Uh, okay. I'll be there in ten minutes?"
"I think that could be arranged."
When Grantaire knocks on Enjolras’s door fifteen minutes later, he puts on his black peacoat and grabs the two cups of coffee off the counter. Grantaire is grinning on the doorstep, black curls peeking out of his blue hoodie. He makes grabby hands at the cup and Enjolras hands it to him indulgently.
“Mmm, thank you,” he inhales, eyes closed in bliss. Enjolras locks the door behind him and starts off on the sidewalk, heading somewhere towards campus. Grantaire walks amiably by his side, sipping at the beverage.
The sun is out and bright, but they are having an unseasonably cold November and the wind whips at Enjolras’s nose enough to be annoying. It’s lovely and crisp.
“You are uncharacteristically happy,” Grantaire remarks, with a smile. Enjolras takes a drink from his travel cup. He can already feel the effects of the caffeine and it is wondrous.
“I had two tests this week and turned in three essays.” It feels so good to be done, just for now. Finals are around the corner, but far enough away to not be frightening yet.
“Ah, so free for the moment?” They’re heading towards the campus quad and there are only a few people out and about - some still obviously coming back from Friday night adventures.
“For the day, I think.” He could do anything, he could take a nap, he could watch an entire season of Game of Thrones, he could make cookies.
“And you wanted to go for a walk? With me?”
Enjolras turns and smiles at him. he could make up something, say Courfeyrac and Combeferre are busy. But...
“Yeah,” is all he offers. Grantaire’s answering smile is worth the admission.
Grantaire mentions something about pancakes, a slight blush coloring his cheeks, and Enjolras steers them in the direction of the nearest IHOP.
Enjolras’s creative writing class is winding down flash fiction in-class edits when Lamarque clears his throat to end class. Enjolras hands Jehan’s paper back to him with a smile and a quick comment before they turn to face the front.
“Maybe move this part first? Alright class, your edited flash fiction is due to my email by eight this evening. And a friendly reminder that today the anthology is listing online the student works being published – the results should be on their website right about now. Have a wonderful day, and I will see you all next Tuesday.” The class begins to pack up, absentminded chatter filling the empty space. Enjolras begins to make his way out of the room, but lingers outside the door and waits for Grantaire, who grins when he spots him waiting.
“See you back at home,” Combeferre says, and Enjolras and Granatire wave at him.
“Do you want to check the website?” Grantaire asks immediately, pushing open the doors of the building and heading out onto the sidewalk. Enjolras already has his phone open and is typing in the address on his phone’s browser.
They already received their grade on the paper (a resounding A, much better than any other grade he had earned in the class so far). However, Enjolras has been excited about this paper from the start and he just needs to know if they’ve made it. Grantaire has rolled his eyes a hundred times, reminding Enjolras that they’re up against the best writers from across the nation, and really, does this anthology actually mean anything to anyone besides him and Lamarque? It’s of no real consequence, after all. Despite the protestations, Enjolras is still incredibly excited.
“Here is the list,” Enjolras is breathless, and they stop on an empty street corner to look. Grantaire cranes his head next to Enjolras’s, blocking the sunlight so they can see the phone. His breath hitches as they scroll down, and Enjolras’s heart drops into his feet when he sees their names. Grantaire starts laughing.
He keeps laughing and Enjolras shoves his phone in his pocket and looks at Grantaire, who has a stupid happy grin on his face and it’s so gorgeous that Enjolras can’t stop himself from cupping the back of Grantaire’s neck and fitting their lips together.
It’s quick and forceful and the loveliest thing he’s done all semester, but Grantaire pulls away after a long moment with a choked expression.
“No,” he chokes out, looking like it’s physically painful to back away, “no,” and he turns and leaves, tucking his head against his chest and not looking back. Enjolras can see from the corner that Grantaire is shaking, but he can’t make his feet move, can’t open his mouth to call after him.
The soaring feeling in his chest is suddenly constricting his airway and his stomach is filling with lead. It’s a matter of minutes before he can even move.
He had been so sure, too.
Enjolras arrives at Grantaire’s door that evening with the intent to apologize, a coffee tray clutched tightly in his hands. It is Jehan who answers the door and his eyebrows shoot upwards upon seeing Enjolras.
“Grantaire,” he calls, “for you,” as he lets the door fall shut in Enjolras’s face.
He can hear a quick argument on the other side of the door and shifts uneasily from foot to foot. After a few moments, Jehan is out the door, jacket clutched in one hand and phone in the other. He smiles encouragingly at Enjolras, but Enjolras is more focused on the door, and how it opens slowly.
“Hey,” Grantaire mumbles. His arms are crossed protectively over his chest and he’s looking at Enjolras’s feet.
“Hey,” Enjolras replies, for once feeling at a loss for words. They stand in silence for a moment. He clenches his jaw and tries to ignore the impulse to run. “Can I come in? I promise, um…” he trails off. “I promise I won’t try to kiss you again? And I brought coffee?”
“Um,” Grantaire hesitates and stands to the side of the door, holding it open for Enjolras. “Sure?”
For two students who are going to have their work in a national anthology, they’re being rather ineloquent.
Enjolras doesn’t take his coat off, instead setting the coffee tray down and wringing his fingers together. Grantaire locks the door and moves to stand in front of him. He eyes the coffees warily.
“I came to apologize.” Grantaire blinks, so he continues, slowly sitting down on Grantaire’s bed. “For kissing you. I’m sorry, I should not have assumed you felt that way; I should have asked. I’m sorry.” He picks at the hem of his coat and waits for Grantaire to say something.
“Wait,” Grantaire says, and it sounds strangled. Enjolras looks up to see a battle of emotions playing out of Grantaire’s face, and he aches to reach out and grab his hand. It’s like with that one kiss, all his emotions came flooding out and he can’t keep a lid on them anymore.
“What exactly are you apologizing for?”
“Kissing you. Specifically without your consent, especially since you don’t…”
“Like you?” Granatire finishes his sentence. Enjolras cringes.
“Since you don’t like me, yes,” he finishes in a small voice. He looks at the floor, and sees Grantaire’s scuffed converses a step to him. He doesn’t expect Grantaire to lift his chin with a finger. It is hard, but Enjolras meets his eyes and takes a slow breath.
“You think I don’t like you?” Grantaire’s voice is unfathomably kind and his eyes are soft. He desn’t give him a chance to respond. “Enjolras, you must be the stupidest person I have ever met.”
Enjolras frowns and wants to argue, because what even is going on?
“Okay, so to be sure,” Granatire begins. “You are sorry that you kissed me even though you didn’t have my permission, not because you think it was a stupid thing to do and you regret it?” He looks mildly nervous, but it’s also the look he gets when he’s about to jump into something headfirst.
“Why would I regret-” he begins, but Grantaire smiles and cuts him off with a kiss. It is without a doubt the most confusing thing that has happened all day (and it has been a whirlwind of a day) but he’s not complaining. Grantaire’s lips are soft and chapped and he’s still smiling, which makes Enjolras laugh into his mouth. Grantaire slides a hand into Enjolras’s hair and deepens the kiss for a moment. When he pulls away he lets their foreheads rest together.
“What?” Enjolras asks, breathless and a bit flustered. “I’m not complaining, but what?” He isn’t quite sure how they got to this point.
“Apparently in that big brain of yours, you managed to miss the fact that I am absolutely head over heels for you.”
“You’re-” his eyes go wide and he looks at Grantaire, who is pulling away and unbuttoning Enjolras’s jacket for him.
“Yup.” He slides the jacket off his shoulders.
Enjolras wraps his arms around Grantaire’s waist from where he’s sitting on the bed, and buries his face into Grantaire’s chest, taking a shaky breath. He feels a kiss being dropped on the top of his head, and he smiles into Grantaire’s t-shirt.
“Head over heels,” he muses, voice muffled. Grantaire pulls back a bit to smile down at him. Enjolras finds his hands gravitate to Grantaire’s hips to pulls him closer by his belt loops.
“So then why did you run earlier?” he asks. Grantaire shrugs.
“You had just found out something really exciting that I helped with. You were emotional, I was there. You’re a very passionate person.”
“So you thought I didn’t mean it?”
“Well, yeah. It’s me.” His furrowed brow is adorable, and Enjolras finds he wants to smooth it out with kisses.
“I never do things I don’t mean,” he emphasizes, raising a hand to pull Grantaire toward him. Grantaire follows willingly, leaning against the bed to duck his head down to meet Enjolras’s lips.
“My mistake,” Grantaire chuckles, and then he’s kissing him again.
Neither of them could have written a better ending themselves.