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breathing's just a rhythm

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Élie Thénardier is the only person who ever texts her, so when Grantaire receives a text from an unknown number directly after school on Thursday, she’s a little surprised. Actually, she’s pretty sure it’s just spam, but she reads it anyway.

I have to write about how society is damaging to non-conformists and give examples from literature and real life. I’m very tempted to talk about the amount of queer teen suicides in 2015, but then again, “non-conformist” technically means they don’t conform on purpose; most queer teens are not queer on purpose.

Grantaire’s eyebrows furrow in confusion. She’s never received a text like that. Ever. She isn’t sure whether she’s more amused that this was accidentally sent to her or that the sender actually used a semicolon in a text message. The ideas presented in the text intrigue her, though, so she responds.

fucking do it, man.

also just so u know, a nonconformist is someone whose behavior/views don’t “conform” to the world’s ideas. so, u know. if u wanna do it, go for it.

The reply comes only seconds later, and as Grantaire is still sitting on the hood of her car waiting for Élie, she decides to continue to humor this kid.

Wait, you aren’t Combeferre. Who is this?

Oh and, um, thanks. For the definition.

Combeferre? That girl in Grantaire’s Future Choices class with the badass long hair/undercut combination and glasses? Of course it’s Grantaire’s luck that this wrong-number text happened to come from a student from her own school. What a small world.

lol no, definitely not combeferre

the name’s grantaire, but u can call me R. & ur welcome

Élie materializes out of nowhere, wearing his trademark leather jacket. “Who the hell are you texting? The only person who ever texts you is me,” he says, not sounding particularly bothered that Grantaire has found someone new to text as he shoves her off the hood of the car.

Grantaire opens her door and climbs into the driver’s seat. “Some random kid texted me thinking I was Combeferre,” she says once Élie is in the car.

“What? You’re nothing like Combeferre.”

Grantaire snorts. “Yeah, well, obviously this kid doesn’t still think I’m her,” she says, checking her phone as she starts the engine.

I’m Enjolras. It’s… nice to meet you, I suppose.

“What’s this person’s name?” Élie at least looks mildly interested, to his credit.

“Enjolras, apparently.”

Élie’s eyebrows shoot up. “Are you sure?”

Grantaire shrugs; that’s what the text says. “Yeah, why?”

“Damn,” Élie says. “Well, if you ever wanna find Enjolras, look for the hot blonde at lunch yelling about justice and equality or some shit. Pretty hard to miss, even for you.”

“Sounds like fun,” Grantaire chuckles, texting Enjolras back.

nice to meet u too enj

so u gonna write that paper?

She drops off Élie at the Thénardier household like usual, then drives the couple blocks home with music blaring softly from the radio. When she gets out of the car, she has a few more texts from this Enjolras kid.

Please don’t call me Enj.

Yes, I’m going to write it. I appreciate your help. Combeferre thought it was a good idea too.

Grantaire slumps up the stairs to her room and tosses her backpack on the messy floor. There’s a sound that she thinks might be something breaking, but she doesn’t really care. As long as it’s not her phone or any of her art stuff.

u should let me read it when ur done? i mean, if u want

She almost doesn’t send the text, but she’s too interested by now to feign indifference. (If only she were this interested by her own homework.) She flops down on the bed, and while she waits, she mulls over the mystery of this new person in her life.

Enjolras. Grantaire realizes a bit belatedly that she doesn’t even know if Enjolras is a guy or a girl. She doesn’t want to just ask, but frankly, it’s kind of hard to tell.

Élie called Enjolras hot, but that really doesn’t mean anything. Élie would call anyone hot if they were hot enough. Hell, Élie’s probably called Grantaire hot at some point – not that she minds. Hot is just an observation that Élie is not afraid to make.

Grantaire’s phone buzzes in her hand.

Uh, yeah, if you really want to read it, I guess you can.

Meet me by Lamarque’s Poli Sci classroom after third block. I’ll have it done by then.

Grantaire has absolutely no idea where this classroom is – it takes her long enough to even figure out what Poli Sci even means. So it’s a few minutes before she texts back.

sounds good. it’s a date ;)

you’ll rly have it done by tomorrow? damn, hardcore

Then she texts Élie, because if anyone knows where the Political Science classroom is, it’s him.

where tf is lamarque’s classroom

Enjolras is apparently a faster texter than Élie.

What? I don’t even… I’m not even going to reply to that.

I work fast. I’ll see you then.

Élie’s text comes in as Grantaire is trying to decide whether or not to reply, so Enjolras’s text goes unanswered.

rm 302, ground floor. y?

meeting someone there

this have anything 2 do w/ ur new txting buddy?

so what if it does? r u mad?

nah, i guess it is ur turn to get a love life

a what??? lol

anyway, good luck w/ enjolras. u need it

wow. thanks i guess

-.-.-.-.-.-

Grantaire doesn’t know what she is expecting on Friday after third block, when she hurries to the Political Science room from art with paint still on her hands and, admittedly, face. It’s not like she cares about impressions, but the moment she gets there, she wishes she had washed her hands.

Right when she arrives, a tall girl steps out the door of the classroom, shouldering a black bag. The girl’s long, gloriously curly golden hair is pulled back into a high ponytail that swings with her steps. She is pale with a smattering of freckles, and possesses the coldest, bluest, most intense eyes Grantaire has ever seen. She wears a white button-up, a deep red hoodie, black combat boots, and black skinny jeans that are far too tight to be appropriate for school. “Hot” doesn’t even begin to cover it – she is fucking beautiful, radiant, a goddess. Grantaire feels woefully inadequate next to this girl.

“Are you Enjolras?” she manages to say, stepping into the girl’s path.

Those intense eyes immediately focus on her. “Yes, and you are?”

Grantaire forces a grin onto her face. “Grantaire,” she says cheerfully, holding out one paint-streaked hand. “You accidentally texted me about your homework yesterday?”

Enjolras looks faintly surprised. Clearly, Grantaire isn’t what she was expecting: a short, scruffy girl with messy dark hair, an olive green beanie, and a possible large splash of purple on her cheekbone. Still, she shakes Grantaire’s hand, if a little warily. “Right. You wanted to read my paper.”

“Yep.” Grantaire nods, shoving her free hand into the pocket of her ragged jeans. Damn, this girl’s intimidating. “D’you have it?”

“Right here.” Enjolras pulls out three sheets of notebook paper, all covered in a somewhat messy scrawl, out of her bag and holds them out to Grantaire. “Be careful with this – it’s due in fifth block, so you’ll have to give them back to me before then.”

The mere prospect of having to see Enjolras again makes Grantaire’s grin widen. “Got it,” she says mischievously. “So, like, I probably shouldn’t lose it or shred it or sacrifice it to the gods, right?”

Enjolras looks heavily unamused. “Right.”

Grantaire laughs. “Kidding,” she says, taking the papers. “Thanks. See you later, Artemis.”

The nickname just slips out, and for a second she wishes she could take it back. Sure, referring to your hot new (friend?) as a goddess in your head is one thing, but out loud – that’s a whole different story.

But the look on Enjolras’s face as Grantaire walks away is completely worth it.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you called her ‘Artemis’.” Élie is giggling, a sound Grantaire rarely hears. “I told you she was hot.”

“She’s not just hot,” Grantaire sighs wistfully. “She’s gorgeous. She’s incredible. There aren’t enough words to describe her.”

“You sound like Jehan,” Élie says.

A flash of long ginger hair out of the corner of Grantaire’s eye makes her turn her head, and a voice says, “Did someone say my name?”

Jehan Prouvaire, poet and lover of nature, is easily the sweetest person Grantaire has ever met. They’re a gentle soul, badly dressed and friendly, with a surprisingly good taste in music. Grantaire’s love for them knows no bounds.

“Grantaire has a crush,” Élie says. “Over here spewing poetry. She sounds like you.”

Jehan laughs, pushing their hair out of their face. “Who is this crush then, R?” they ask, sitting on the edge of Grantaire’s desk.

“Enjolras,” Grantaire says. “Heard of her?”

Jehan’s eyes widen in recognition. “Wait, Enjolras as in the blonde? The leader of the ABC?” they stutter slightly.

“Um… yeah, whatever the hell the ABC is,” Grantaire answers, shrugging. She suddenly doesn’t want to talk about this right now. “Hey, Jehan, can I braid your hair?”

A grin spreads across their face. “If you have enough time before the bell,” they say, sliding off the desk and coming around to sit on the floor beside Grantaire.

“You kidding?” Grantaire snaps one of the hair ties on her wrist, wiggling her fingers in preparation. “I am an expert at braiding your hair, Jehan.”

Hardly forty-five seconds have passed before she ties off the end of the fishtail braid. “Enjoy your hair,” she says, tugging it slightly.

Jehan bounces up, beaming. “Thanks, Grantaire!” they say, then hurry over to their seat just as the bell rings. They just barely make it, and as the teacher walks in, he gives them a glare.

“Please be in your seat when the bell rings, Miss Prouvaire,” he says, and Jehan stiffens.

“I’m sorry, sir,” they mumble.

Grantaire balls her fists. “I am so sick of everyone calling them that,” she says, just loud enough for Élie to hear.

Élie nods, his eyes like daggers at their teacher. “They don’t deserve it,” he says.

Grantaire hates this class. For one thing, the teacher is a homophobic, transphobic douchebag, and so are most of the students. Plus, chemistry is a really shitty subject and she sucks at it.

She spends the entire class period covertly listening to music with her earbuds hidden underneath her curly hair, the cord trailing inside her sweatshirt, and trying not to fall asleep. So when the teacher passes out their homework, Grantaire stares at it blankly for a moment before stuffing it in her bag with a shrug.

“I’d tell you that you should pay attention in this class, but you’re not going to listen to me,” Élie says. “Plus, I don’t pay attention either.”

“Exactly.” Grantaire laughs.

With nothing better to do until the end of class, since she is definitely not doing that damn homework sheet, Grantaire pulls out the paper Enjolras wrote. It’s rare that she keeps her word, but she is doing her best to keep Enjolras’s work safe. Slouching a bit in her seat, she starts to read, eyes scanning the paper quickly.

Enjolras is an extremely compelling writer, she discovers. Grantaire is a self-proclaimed believer in nothing, but now, if there’s one thing she does support, it’s equality for queer teens like herself. However, there’s something missing that’s really nagging her.

Miraculously, she tracks Enjolras down right after chemistry. “This is your rough draft, right?” she asks in lieu of a greeting, holding up the essay.

If Enjolras is surprised at her sudden appearance, she doesn’t show it. “Yes,” she answers simply, taking the papers.

Grantaire nods. “You should add in stuff about trans kids too,” she says. “If you can fit it, anyway.”

Enjolras appears to consider it. “That’s actually not a bad idea,” she says, almost like she can’t believe it. “I’ll think about it.”

“Yeah, you do that.” Grantaire grins, but it’s a little dimmer than usual. Is it really all that surprising that she has a good idea, even to someone who she barely knows? “Hey, you know Jehan Prouvaire?”

Enjolras blinks. “Of course.”

“They mentioned you being the leader of some group – ABC something?” Grantaire keeps her voice casual, pushing her hand into her pocket idly and tangling her fingers in her headphone cord. “What’s all that about?”

“What?” Enjolras looks stricken. “How did that come up?”

Grantaire shifts awkwardly, trying to pretend she doesn’t feel her cheeks heating up. “Um… You know, I can’t remember,” she says helpfully.

Enjolras shakes her head. “It’s just a club,” she says, her voice clipped. “Goodbye, Grantaire. Thank you for reading my paper.” With that she turns and walks away purposefully, confidence and coolness in her stride, leaving Grantaire standing alone in the middle of the crowded hallway.

A few seconds later, there’s a tap on her shoulder, and she turns to see Jehan standing there with concern evident in their green eyes. “R, you okay?”

She frowns. “Yeah, fine,” she mumbles. Most likely, this ABC club is some stupid thing that has to do with either English or law, neither of which Grantaire gives a shit about. She figures she can just let it go.

-.-.-.-.-.-

Lunch is somewhat better than usual today.

Élie, unsurprisingly, is nowhere to be found. He usually eats alone in an empty classroom (or at least Grantaire assumes he’s alone, he might be with Montparnasse) and only braves the cafeteria on exceptionally good days. So, as usual, Grantaire finds herself sitting by herself.

This turns out to be very, very good, because from where she’s sitting today she has a perfect view of one golden-haired girl.

Élie was right; Enjolras does shout a lot. And she is amazing. From here, Grantaire can’t hear a word she’s saying, but she recognizes the knotted brow, the wild eyes, the waving hands, the way her mouth moves to know that she’s angry about something and apparently ranting. Grantaire is glad she brought a sheet of paper with her – she sketches Enjolras, using her pencil to shade because she has no colored pencils on her. It’s not perfect, but she forces herself to finish it off.

When she gets back to class, she pins the drawing inside the front of her sketchbook.

-.-.-.-.-.-

Future Choices, Grantaire’s sixth period class, is probably the most pointless class in the entire world.

They don’t even do anything in this class half the time, and when they do, it’s just watching dumb movies about jobs or health or something that everyone talks through, anyway. The teacher doesn’t even care if they walk around the room. Just as long as they don’t get “too loud”, but even then the teacher doesn’t seem to give a damn. Future Choices is the only class that Grantaire isn’t at least somewhat failing.

That’s why she has no trouble sauntering over to Combeferre and putting her hand on the desk, smirking at the other girl.

“Enjolras let you read her paper yet?” she asks, tilting her head.

Combeferre looks up. “She said that she wanted to add something and would let me read it once she’d done the first revision,” she says, apparently having figured out that Grantaire is the one Enjolras had accidentally texted. “Did she let you read it?”

Grantaire straightens and picks at some of the dried paint on her hand. “Yeah,” she says. “I was the one who suggested she add something.”

Combeferre stares at her for a moment. “You’re Grantaire, aren’t you?”

“The one and only.” She grins, tipping an imaginary hat. “Pleasure to officially meet you, Miss Combeferre.”

“You, too,” Combeferre says politely, looking back down at the sheet of paper in front of her and lifting her pencil again.

After an awkward pause, Grantaire slides into the seat beside her. “What’re you writing?” she asks, resting her chin on her folded arms.

“A speech. I’m on the debate team,” Combeferre explains, not looking up as she begins to write again.

“Oh.” Grantaire gets the feeling that Combeferre doesn’t want to be bothered right now, so she gets up again. “I’ll see you, then. Have fun with your speech.”

Combeferre gives her a faint smile. “Thank you, Grantaire,” she says mildly.

“Yeah,” Grantaire mumbles, going back to her desk and taking out her phone. She has three new texts – from Enjolras, for some reason.

I appreciate all your help with my paper.

However, it’s rather clear to me that you have little interest in this topic – or in anything at all, for that matter.

So I think it’s better if we forget about all of this. You and I are too different, and our paths should not cross again.

Eyebrows scrunching, Grantaire rereads the texts. What the fuck? Did she do something wrong?

what?

what did i do?

is this about the artemis thing??? bc if it is im sorry

There’s no reply, and Grantaire starts to think that the answer might be yes.

The comment about her having “little interest in anything at all” stings. Maybe it’s true, but so what? And anyway, it’s not true – she’s interested in drawing. And Enjolras. And drawing Enjolras.

Grantaire texts Élie, desperate for confirmation.

do i have any interests

yeah u like enjolras

anything else??

nope, all u r is enjolras obsession

oh yeah? well i could say the same for u about maria

As soon as she presses send, she wishes she hadn’t. The topic of Maria, the completely oblivious girl that Élie’s had a crush on since middle school, is a sensitive one, and he really doesn’t like having it brought up. Especially not like that.

There’s radio silence from Élie for about a minute before Grantaire breaks and texts him again.

sorry. that was totally uncalled for.

yeah it fucking was r

im sorry

look im just upset bc of this

attachment: screenshot_2015-10-15-16-56-23

well thats harsh. but we already knew enjolras is an asshole, right?

i mean i guess so

well no i didnt really, i just thought she was really standoffish

nope shes a straight up bitch sometimes

as u can see

apparently -.-

Grantaire shoves her phone back in her pocket, pondering this new turn of events. She’s not willing to let Enjolras go this easily, but what the hell is she supposed to do?

An idea begins to dawn on her, and a grin spreads slowly across her face. She knows exactly what she’s going to do.