Watery grey light dribbled through the bare window, baring the room's contents to the world.
Grantaire Sat on the ratty sofa, that he and his sister had spent months finding the fabrics for and stiching together the cover. A paint brush which was still wet with paint was lodged behind his ear. Gripped in his hand was another brush, tiny , intended for painting intricate detail.
He had on a worn, paint stained hoody, which had once been green, but had lost its colour after years of washing. It was still far too big for him, although it had belonged to his sister for many years before he had inherited it, and xe was small.
He huddled into the soft material, he'd not been able to afford paying for the heating, for all that he'd cut back on food. His fingers shook, for it had been weeks since he had been able to buy alcohol. For two reasons, a) he was skint, b) you couldn't paper cut whilst tired, let alone drunk or you'd take off a hand (which he needed pretty badly) and c) he needed to buy canvases. Even the cheap ones from the Works (AN: the Works is a discount English bookshop which also sells dvds and cheap but sometimes suprisingly good art materials, I have no idea of the French equivalent and I haven't found one yet) were more expensive than his budget would allow, especially as he needed a few dozen of them. By the time he'd ruined his work yet again, he would now have spares.
He stated out of the window at the lightening (but not getting any less grey) sky. His mind was as blanck as the world outside. Every time his mind provided him something to think about, he shoved it aside and focused on staying blank.
HIs phone buzzed. He drew it out of his pocket. The screen showed a message from Courfeyrac. He opened it and sighed. Les Amis were all busy tonight and so the meeting had been moved to 11:00 am, by which time even the laziest of them would be up.
Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was already 7:50. He had a few hours to go until he had to leave for the meeting. A few hours until he would see Enjolras.
He let out a dry sob, drawing his knees up under his chin. Pathetic. That's what he was, loving his Adonis from afar, like Aphrodite did when he was living in the Underworld with Persephone. His love would never actually be requited. Not ever. But this wasn't just fairy-tale pining. This was an abyss yawning within him. A hole he'd never be able to fill, because he just didn't deserve Enjolras' love. He knew that.
He shut his eyes, trying to push away the horrible empty feeling of tiredness, hunger and depression. But it kept gnawing away at him, on and on. He couldn't bear it. Although he felt an all consuming love, when he let the pit open up, it swallowed everything until he did something about it. And do something about it, he must. He couldn't go to the meeting like this- someone might notice, and they could find out. No one could find out.
Without realising that he'd moved, he was suddenly at the window where his desk was. He plucked his craft knife from where it rested and sat down. He reached down and opened a draw, and took out the plastic case with the extra blades in. He couldn't let anyone see the blood, so he had different blades for art and blades for other things.
He removed the bottom from the craft knife and slid the blade out. Setting it down he opened the plastic case and removed a blade from it. Frowning he saw that the blade was dull. He snapped off the top of the blade with pliers. He then fixed it into the body of the craft knife.
He carefully rolled up his sleeve, he set the blade to his wrist and dragged. First there was a deep painful tearing and then bliss rolled over him. He repeated the process until his arm was a cross hatch of scars and deep, bleeding lines. The colour of the blood that seeped up was the same red as that of Enjolras' favourite red jacket. He dabbed at it with a tissue, before rolling down the sleeve and returning everything to it's hiding place.
He returned to the sofa, and dozed until ten, when he started out for the Musain. A cold drizzle had started up and it trickled down Grantaire's neck, but he ignored it, having grown up in the rainy East-Anglia. When he reached the Musain it was only ten-thirty, but he made a habit of turning up early so the others didn't notice he'd walked. His flat was a few miles away, but he had a fast walk and could normally get there in half an hour.
He sat down at a table in the corner of the back room where the Amis held their meetings. Madam Hauchlop set down a hot chocolate in front of him. He started to protest, but she cut him off, "On the house. You look like you need it , dearie." He gratefully sipped it.
A few minutes later Jehan slipped into the seat next to him. "Hey you," they said softly, Grantaire nodded back, too busy drinking to reply.
When he set the empty cup down, Jehan grabbed his arm. He froze but relaxed when he realised it was his right arm, not left. Uncapping gold and silver gel pens, Jehan started to draw on his arm. He watched as a series of thorned vines intertwined with grapevines unfurled on his arm. Jehan was just adding dog-roses to the vine when the other Amis started to trickle in.
Enjolras started talking passionately about some issue or another; Grantaire drank it all in, but made no comment, which was becoming more frequent. He allowed himself to talk to Enjolras if he managed to go the day without giving in to his need to get rid of the abyss but most days he couldn't do it
The meeting ended at half twelve when everyone broke up to go to lunch. Only Enjolras and Grantaire were left at the cafe. "R, could I ask you something?" Enjolras said nervously, which caught his attention, when was Enjolras nervous?
"R, Grantaire. Would you please, go out with me?" This brought him up short. He looked at him blankly. Really? What was going on? He nodded mutely. And nodded again. "Yes," he managed to choke out. Suddenly Enjolras was right up ne xt to him, his lips pressed to his.
It was better than he'd ever imagined, it was amazing. Until Enjolras had his hand on Grantaire's wrist. He hissed in pain and flinched away.
"Grantaire are you OK?" Enjolras asked , his hands were now cradling his wrist. Enjolras pushed up his sleeve until his whole forearm was bared. Enjolras paled.
Grantaire pulled away, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he turned and fled.
He ran until he reached His flat, and threw himself into his bed and pulled the duvet over his head , like a small child would. He couldn't belive that Enjolras had found out about him. Now Enjolras would think less of him. He wasn't just a good for nothing drunkard. He was a good for nothing drunkard who was so weak he couldn't cope with life. He sobbed into his pillow hating himself even more.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. Fuck. He must have forgotten to lock his door. The duvet was drawn back off his face. “Grantaire, look at me,” Enjolras’ voice was soft and gentle.
Reluctantly Grantaire sat up and looked at Enjolras. And was startled, there was no sympathy or even pity on his face, there was only an expression of deep sadness.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked quietly. Grantaire looked down at his hands, which were folded in his lap, and shook his head. Enjolras reached out and hesitated, his hand hovering over Grantaire’s, who nodded and Enjolras gently took them.
“I’d been meaning to talk to you about it, but I’ve noticed you not drinking during our meetings. I wanted to congratulate you on that,” Grantaire looked up at him, wide eyed.
“Would you let me explain something to you?” Enjolras asked, his voice velvety and soft; Grantaire would never be able to deny him anything when he was talking like that. “Yes. Please” he whispered, his voice thick.
“You know my views of my father?” Grantaire replied that he had. “He never did anything physical to me. He hated the fact that I would never go into his line of work, he hated my views and that I’d never bring back a girl. Sometimes the things he said would make me cry when I was little. My mother tried to make him stop, but he said that boys needed to be tough.
“As I got older he’d say worse and worse things to me. By then my skin was thick enough to take it/ But then he started blaming my mother. She wasn’t a weak woman but she adored my father and it broke her.
“When I was sixteen she took an overdose of painkillers with bottles and bottles of alcohol and died. Every time I saw you drink, I thought of her and I couldn’t bear it.”
Understanding crept through Grantaire. He took a deep breath, “The same happened to me.” Enjolras gave him a small, sad smile- he’d guessed as much, but had never asked. People might have thought that he was insensitive, but that wasn’t the case. He had Asperger’s, and although he didn’t deal with people well, he was observant, having taught himself to really read people.
He said nothing. Grantaire stood up shakily and went over to the window. “Xe was four years older than me. Xe loved art, dace and classics as much as I do. Xe helped me get a place here, xe spent an entire summer decorating this place.”
“Xe went down the historical route, instead of art. Xe went to Oxford and read archaeology and got a First. Xe was always there for me,” He gazed out of the window, over Paris.
Sensing Enjolras had a question, he turned back around, “Excuse me for asking, but I thought you had a sister?” Grantaire nodded.
“I did. Xe changed xir name and pronouns at sixteen. Xe said xir had always been my sister and that we had too big a bond to change xir to just being a sibling, which doesn’t sound at all close.” Enjolras nodded, although he was an only child, Combeferre and Courfeyrac both had siblings and he saw how much they loved their families despite their differences.
“Although Xe got a First, no one was really willing to employ xir because xe was openly pan and agender. Xe went through a year of this, xe had suicidal depression since even before xe realised xe wasn’t a girl. Xe couldn’t cope.”
He went back down and sat on the bed. He leaned against Enjolras who pulled him into a tight hug. They stayed like that for a long time.
Enjolras pulled back, all blue eyes and red lips and ivory skin, and asked in a low voice, “do you permit it?” before leaning forward and brushing his lips against Grantaire’s. Grantaire’s eyes widened, but pulled Enjolras back into the kiss.
When they broke apart, Grantaire let out a harsh laugh, “You can’t just kiss it better, you know?” Enjolras got off the bed and knelt before him, and took Grantaire’s hands. “I know” and he proceeded to push up the worn grey material of his sleeve. He bent over Grantaire’s forearm and kissed lightly each cut, scab and scar, “Now you can heal.”
Grantaire looked down at him and realised that he was right. The abyss, which had opened back up whilst he was telling the story, was by no means gone, but had started to recede, nothing major, but there was a difference. However small that difference was, he knew he now did have a chance to heal/
He smiled at Enjolras, who smiled back and stood. Going over to Grantaire’s CD player, he looked at the battered case of CDs. Grinning broadly, he slipped a white, red and black CD into the player. He jabbed the skip button for a few minutes before going back to sit on the bed next to Grantaire and intertwined their fingers.
Soon the bitter sweet chords of “When September Ends” filled the room. “Never had you pegged for a Green Day fan,” Grantaire teased. “I respect Billie Joe Armstrong immensely. Although he’s a cis white guy, he’s been openly bisexual since the eighties.”
“And very Anti-Establishment”