The night was loud and warm, the fire bright and full of fuel, filling the space with a welcoming glow. Several conversations littered the air from all different corners of the room, from polite discussions of favourite recipes to loud political discourse. The Café Musain was littered with empty wine bottles, glasses, dishes, food that had been long abandoned, and so much miscellaneous garbage that the sleeping Gavroche was almost buried under it.
Tonight was a good night, Éponine thought, to try out something she'd had for a while. Tucked into her dress, hidden well out of view to all but the most determined of perverts, was a small vial of love potion, gifted to her by a favourite customer of her father's, a lovely, old, and moderately wealthy lady who had no issue paying some extra fees for special treatment. She'd watched the lady mixing the potion herself, a few ingredients odd, but nothing that wouldn't have been considered a viable ingredient for one of the inn's meals. The potion, she had been told, would cause a strong enchantment of infatuation on the drinker, lasting no longer than a few days.
Her initial thought, naturally, was an attempt at Marius. Just a couple of days to see what it would be like to have him utterly head over heels for her, but several small voices in her head told her not to, for varying but overall fair reasons. Her second thought, however, was far more fun.
“‘Ponine,” slurred an unusually drunk Combeferre, noticing her standing, “would you get me another glass?”
Éponine smiled politely and took his glass, walking over towards the table in the middle of the room, which was loaded with all the full bottles of wine that were yet to be drank, casually stealing Enjolras’s almost empty glass from his hand as she passed.
She glanced around quickly and hummed to herself as she set to work, first pouring most of the vial into the stolen glass, nodding contently as it turned a brilliant red to indicate its working, then adding a few drops of the potion into each of the already opened bottles. Once it had all been used up aside from a few drops she saved just in case, she took one of the few untampered bottles for herself, and filled a glass for Combeferre.
As soon as she handed him the glass, a loud whistle echoed through the café, and all eyes turned to Enjolras, who was now standing at the front of the room.
“I’d like to propose a toast,” he declared slightly too loudly, obviously tipsy from just his one glass of wine, “to France, the revolution, and Joly’s birthday!”
As the chief kept rambling about an assortment of things very barely related to the actual event, the students started crowding around the table, each pouring themselves a glass, much to Éponine’s delight.
The night continued smoothly, everyone was too drunk for the effects to be obvious right away, but by the time almost all the bottles were empty, the fire was dying, and attendees were leaving, everyone was making sure to say a proper, friendly goodnight to Enjolras, Jehan even going so far as to kiss him on the cheek, though their usual hugs goodbye didn’t make this a particularly suspicious occurrence, and Enjolras himself was certainly still too intoxicated to notice.
As she begrudgingly left the café, following Feuilly as the last one out the door, she looked at how much of the tampered wine was now gone, and smiled to herself as she anticipated how amusing tomorrow morning’s meeting would be.
The meeting was chaos, but in the best possible way. The affected amis were near tripping over each other to help out Enjolras.
Bossuet had pulled out a chair for him and basically forced him to sit in it, Combeferre had started tidying the mess surrounding him for the most comfortable possible environment, Jehan had immediately started combing and braiding his hair, and Courfeyrac had even brought cookies.
Enjolras, stuck in the middle of it all, couldn't possibly be more confused. He kept looking to Éponine, the one member not going out of her way to make him comfortable, silently but almost desperately begging her for some kind of explanation.
After fifteen minutes of just watching the chaos, she walked over to sit on the table next to Enjolras, grinning at him as she did.
“Having fun?” She asked innocently.
“What did you do to them?” He spoke through gritted teeth, keeping his voice relatively hushed so the others didn't hear.
“Why on earth would you assume I did anything, Enj? I'm insulted you would even suggest something like that.”
Enjolras just rolled his eyes “You're not speaking like an innocent person, ‘Ponine. Just tell me what you did.”
“Are you sure you wouldn't rather I do your makeup? Clean your shirts?”
“Very funny,” he said flatly “but the only thing I'd like from you is an explanation. Why are all of these guys in some kind of trance while you're perfectly fine?”
“If you must know-”
“I spiked all the wine last night with a love potion, using your wine glass to make you the target.”
“And you're not affected because..?”
“I took a bottle for myself before adding the potion. Obviously.”
“And where is Grantaire?”
Éponine rolled her eyes, then stopped.
“He's even later than he'd normally be, even after a night of drinking.”
“Now, that… I cannot answer.”
It wasn’t exactly uncommon for Grantaire to be late to meetings, especially after he’d drunk so much the night before. The cynic made his way idly along the familiar path to the café.
As he approached the door, there was much noise inside. Excessive talking, furniture moving, and general chaos. Considering the group he spent his time with, there was nothing out of the ordinary with that, either.
R carefully pried open the door, and, expecting to just slip in the back of the meeting like he’d done so many times, didn’t immediately comprehend the scene taking place in front of him.
So much chaos, and in the centre of it all, Enjolras, bickering with Éponine while Jehan ran their hands through his hair and Feuilly polished and repolished his boots.
Something burned in Grantaire’s gut. It wasn’t something he hadn’t felt before, but it was certainly stronger than he’d ever experienced. The sight of everyone obsessing over Enjolras made him feel… really mad. He felt as if someone was twisting a hot knife in his stomach as a chill ran up his back. Something in his was protesting wildly to the scene in front of him and he didn’t know how to respond. Grantaire wanted to yell, scream that something wasn’t right. He wanted to break the whole thing up. A part of him wanted to hit Enjolras for seemingly no reason.
The reaction his body went with, however, was crying. He felt his face flush as tears pricked at his eyes, a shocked expression still on his face. This was embarrassing. He couldn’t let anyone see him like this.
Grantaire turned around to leave, every part of him just wishing to run back home and escape. As he pulled on the door there was a slight creak and
“Grantaire!” R froze as Éponine called his name, “We were just wondering where you were.” Shit.
Grantaire paused and slowly pushed the door shut again, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes as subtly as he could and attempting to replace his crying with his usual sarcastic expression as he turned around.
“Really?” he walked over to the others as casually as he could. “I wasn’t sure if you guys ever noticed me here.”
Enjolras seemed open his mouth as if to speak, but didn’t actually make any noise. A slight redness covered his cheeks in what R could only assume was anger at his assumption he wasn’t paying attention to everything at all times.
Grantaire was quickly disturbed from his mild anger, however, by a very distracted Bahorel walking directly into him, then walking off without even acknowledging him.
“What’s… What’s up with these guys?” Grantaire asked, trying to quickly change the subject.
“Someone,” Enjolras looked pointedly at Éponine, who merely shrugged, “laced all the wine last night with a love potion. So now everyone is obsessing over me.”
The drunk snickered slightly at the situation, causing Enjolras to glare at him. His eyes seemed to stare down Grantaire’s very soul, causing something in him to melt slightly and-
Oh shit. Something heavy dropped in Grantaire’s stomach and a look of terrified realisation fell on his face. At the exact same moment, a significantly more amused version of his expression appeared on Éponine’s face. Fuck.
“Hey, R?” She almost sang the words, she was forcing so much innocence into her tone, “How come you’re not affected? You drank most of the wine last night, why aren’t you just as lovesick as these nerds?”
“How come you’re not affected?” he snapped back.
“You really think I’d drink from the stuff I spiked?”
“What about Enjolras? Why’s he not self obsessed?”
“It’s not effective on the target. Any more questions, or are you going to actually answer mine?”
Grantaire felt all the colour drain from his face, wishing desperately he could just sink into the floor.
“Either of you mind telling me what’s going on?” Enjolras was glancing between the two of them, clearly confused.
“I don’t know, R. Why don’t you tell him?” Éponine grinned at him, fully aware she’d backed him right into a corner.
Grantaire tried to talk, tried to wriggle his way out of admitting what the potion had made so clear. But words didn’t come. He just stood there, staring at Enjolras, and starting to feel slightly faint.
“Éponine. Please,” Enjolras spoke harshly, done with her teasing, “What do you mean by that?”
“I'm only saying, Enjolras, that I think Grantaire and I both know why the potion didn't work on him. He drank more wine last night than anyone else, perhaps even combined, yet even the drinking after I added the potion didn't affect him at all. hell, Marius had like a glass and he's giving you a hand massage as we speak.”
Enjolras’s focus now switched to his hand, where Marius was all but breaking his fingers. “Yes, it's very painful. Thank you for that.”
“But if that much potion has an effect on Marius, why does so much of it to R cause no reaction? Think about it, everyone is currently affected by a very strong love potion, the only exceptions being me, you, and him,” she gestured in Grantaire’s direction, but Enjolras stayed watching her as she talked, “why neither of us are affected is easily explained. We didn’t drink a potion that should have an effect on us. But R should be affected a dozen times over. But if it’s a love potion, there’s a fairly logical explanation as to why someone might not be affected by it.”
Enjolras just sat there, blinking at her and trying to figure out what she meant by that.
“What I mean is… If there were some existing feelings...”
He thought for a moment in silence, then realisation dawned on him, but the thought had barely occurred when-
“It means I’m in love with you, you fucking moron!” The yell came from just next to him, startling the rest of Les Amis for a moment before they went back to fussing over him. But that was not what startled Enjolras. The reason his stomach dropped was the utter heartbreak in Grantaire’s voice. It seemed almost as if he was-
He turned to look at R and it was not a pretty sight. The cynic seemed to be trying to hide his emotions, but it was not going very well. His face was flushed such a bright, blotchy red, any other colour seemed to be drained out of it. His eyes were watering and obvious tear tracks ran down his cheeks as he bit on his lip so hard he seemed to be drawing blood, and his nose even seemed to be running a bit. It was obvious he’d started crying while Éponine was explaining the situation.
Sure, Grantaire had flirted with him a lot, but Enjolras had always assumed he was teasing, trying to degrade the importance of the matter at hand. Evidently, that wasn’t the case.
Enjolras just sat there and looked at him for a moment, all three of them in a stunned silence.
Then Grantaire’s expression shifted from heartbreak to horror, as if he’d only just realised the words that had come out of his mouth.
“I… have to go.” R’s voice broke slightly as he spoke, but as he got up to walk to the door, something inside Enjolras stirred.
He barely noticed himself getting out of his own chair, ignoring objections from the other revolutionaries. He just knew that the most important thing right then was stopping Grantaire from leaving.
His hand grabbed tightly onto Grantaire’s wrist, which seemed to be slightly damp from wiping tears.
“Let me go!” The shorter man shouted, choking on his words as he tried to pull out of Enjolras’s grasp.
“R, just talk to me.” Enjolras pleaded, not loosening his grip.
“I can’t! I fucked everything up!” His voice cracked as he screamed at Enjolras, still facing away from him. “Let. Me. Go!”
Grantaire twisted his arm away from Enjolras and ran for the door.
Enjolras paused for a moment to look at Éponine as the door slammed shut behind him.
“I’m going to follow him. Keep an eye on these guys,” he gestured to the lovesick amis “and don’t let them do anything stupid, okay?” Éponine nodded and he ran out the door, following Grantaire.
For a man of his stature and disposition, Grantaire was fast. Granted, Enjolras was also fast, but he was struggling to keep up well enough not to lose him.
After a few minutes of running through the streets, Grantaire seemed to feel as if he’d sufficiently escaped from the situation. He slowed down to a walk and Enjolras stayed not far behind him, trying his best not to draw attention to himself so he wouldn’t run again.
Grantaire walked down a few more sidestreets before stopping in one, and Enjolras watched from around the corner as he sat down and hugged his knees to his chest, shoulders shaking as he cried to himself.
It took a moment for Enjolras to regain his composure. Seeing Grantaire crying in the Musain was one thing, but to see him crying alone in the dirty streets of Paris seemed… Almost too intimate. Grantaire thought he was alone and Enjolras felt terrible for seeing him like this. Normally when anyone was being too emotional, Enjolras had no issues. He would simply walk up to them and command they get their shit together. There was no time for this in revolution. But something about this particular scene seemed different. Likely because he knew he’d caused it, but something about the fact it was Grantaire made it hurt more than it normally would.
Grantaire’s sobbing seemed to be calming down now. His shoulders were shaking less violently and he was barely making any sound. Enjolras took a deep breath and walked over to him.
“Grantaire...” His soft tone took even him back for a second. Enjolras didn’t think he’d ever used a tone of voice this gentle before.
R looked up, startled by Enjolras’s voice, and moved, presumably to try and run again. But before he could, Enjolras crouched down on one knee in front of him, resting a hand gently on top of R’s and smiling at him slightly.
“Enjolras. I-” Grantaire paused, clearly trying to think of what to say, but Enjolras just kept smiling at R and squeezed his hand slightly, waiting patiently for him to find the words he needed.
“I know you don’t feel the same way. I’ve known for a long time. I’m stupid and ugly and I know you hate me, I just...” Grantaire started tearing up again, his lip quivering slightly as the tears started falling back down his cheeks.
Without thinking, Enjolras moved his hand to wipe a tear from R’s cheek with his thumb. R smiled at him gratefully, and leaned his head slightly into Enjolras’s hand, causing a heat to rise to his face at the sight.
Grantaire had never been pretty, but in this moment, he almost seemed it. Enjolras was starting to notice features he’d never really seen before. Grantaire’s face was soft to the touch, his rounder face shape definitely contributed, but he also had a layer of soft, if slightly prickly stubble, though his shave was nowhere close to neat. He had a mole under his left ear and a small scar on his cheek.
Enjolras glanced around his face, slightly amazed by seeing all the little details up close, before settling on his eyes. They were wide and tired, brown with a patch of green, and staring back at Enjolras, though he seemed more entranced than amazed, as if he’d already taken in every detail of the face in front of him, which, considering what Enjolras had just learned, was not unlikely. The thought made his face flush a little more.
“You’re wonderful...” The words were barely audible, probably wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t seen Grantaire’s lips form the words and felt the breath on his face.
And for whatever reason, that caused Enjolras to lean down, just the short distance still separating them, and press their lips together.
‘What am I doing?’ he thought, ‘I don’t like Grantaire. I never liked him before. Why am I-’
His internal protests stopped as R leaned into the kiss, causing Enjolras to melt slightly. Sure, he’d never really felt anything for Grantaire in the past, but there was something about kissing him. The feeling of Grantaire’s body so close to his, they way he kissed was so soft but full of feeling. He felt Grantaire’s arms wrap around his waist and pull him closer. It just felt so… right.
Suddenly he didn’t want to ever let go, he just wanted to stay like this forever. Sure, Grantaire’s face was still damp from crying, but everything about the kiss felt so perfect.
Maybe there was something about Grantaire. He always watched for him at meetings, finding great pleasure in teasing him for his tardiness, although he wouldn’t have it any other way. And when Grantaire would flirt with him, drunken and offhanded, perhaps Enjolras would blush a little more than would be considered normal. And when Grantaire had confessed that he loved him…
The kiss broke apart gently. Enjolras didn’t remember closing his eyes, but when he opened them again, he saw Grantaire looking up at him, utterly amazed, his face still red and eyes still puffy from crying, but he also seemed to be blushing. Enjolras smiled at him, his face starting to flush again.
“I don’t hate you. I never hated you, R. I just never realised that your feelings were...”
Enjolras chuckled slightly. “I guess you could say that. I’m not smart when it comes to feelings, Grantaire. But I guess I know now that my feelings for you aren’t very far from what yours are for me.”
Grantaire smiled widely at him, starting to tear up again.
“I’ve wanted… for so long to hear you say that… but never did I ever think...” He began to choke on his words, and Enjolras wrapped his arms around him.
“I guess I’m just too much of a dumbass to have ever realised otherwise, huh?”
Grantaire chuckled, pulling Enjolras tighter and burying his face in his shoulder. “The biggest dumbass, Apollo.”
Something about the nickname made Enjolras’s heart flutter. Grantaire had used it so many times before but there was a new meaning to it now. Thinking about it made his face flush a little more, and he buried his face in Grantaire’s hair to hide it.
They stayed there for what felt like ages, but must, realistically, have only been around fifteen minutes. However long it was, it wasn’t long enough.
Enjolras pulled himself away from the hug gently, leading Grantaire to let out a slight whimper of protest as he looked up at the blond, though he couldn’t exactly complain about being allowed to look at his face again.
“I know… You’re in love with me,” Enjolras spoke slowly, as if choosing his words carefully, and it made Grantaire’s gut twist a bit. “But I… Well, I’ve never really been the best at emotions, and love isn’t exactly something I’m… I mostly ever deal with anger, if I’m being honest, and it’s hard to...”
“I get it,” It hurt to say, but seeing Enjolras struggle, though mildly amusing, was hurting him more than if he’d just say what he was avoiding. “You can’t say you love me. I never expected you to be able to. I never expected you to return any feelings. You can take your time, Enjolras.”
“I’m sure… That with a little time, I could say the same, but, you know, it all feels a little sudden.”
“I know, Enj.” He smiled up at him, trying his hardest to show that he understood. “I never would’ve sprung it on you so fast if it weren’t for the circumstances. And when we see Éponine again, you can hit her for me, okay?”
Enjolras laughed, and it was a wonderful sight. Sure, Grantaire had seen him laugh before, but it was usually because of Courfeyrac or Bossuet, seeing a laugh for him was something new and wonderful. Even if it was just a small one.
Enjolras stood up and offered a hand to R.
“Let’s get back to the Musain, okay? Éponine’s probably going through hell babysitting the rest of the amis, and this street reeks of piss.”
Grantaire chuckled as he took Enjolras’s hand and pulled himself to his feet, grinning as Enjolras kept holding his hand as he started walking.
Enjolras walked in long and fast strides, making it fairly hard for Grantaire to keep up with him, but nothing was going to stop him from holding Enjolras’s hand as they walked. Eventually, though, Enjolras seemed to notice Grantaire struggling to keep up with him, and slowed his pace a little. R leaned into him a bit and smiled.
“You could’ve asked me to slow down sooner-”
“Not for that, well, I guess that too, I mean just… Everything. Thanks for coming to find me. I… I really needed it.”
Enjolras didn’t reply, but he squeezed R’s hand slightly, which was all he needed to do.
And they continued walking back peacefully, Grantaire leaned into Enjolras’s side, their hands clasped tightly and their minds at ease.