Grantaire brings the wishes every morning.
The FGB isn't the only stop on his list, of course, but they're his regular morning delivery. Every Monday through Friday at eight in the morning, he picks up the bag of capsules from the post office box and then bikes them across the city and to the office building, and then up to the fourth floor where the offices start. He checks in with Jehan at the reception desk, and then he starts putting wishes on desks.
Joly and Bossuet and Musichetta get the little wishes—ones for ice cream, or a good parking space, or the right brand of chips on the shelves, or a canceled pop quiz. He usually has a whole heap for them, because they work fast. Grantaire has no idea how it's chosen, which wishes get fulfilled, but it can't be a whole city's worth, so there must be some rhyme or reason to it.
Usually, Cosette and Bahorel get the wishes from children, especially the less serious ones. They look the part more than anyone else, Cosette with her bright twirly skirts and flowers in her hair and Bahorel with his hideously brightly-colored suits, and from everything Grantaire has heard the children all love them. Feuilly takes children on too, but his wishes tend to be harder, more long-term. Feuilly's is the desk Grantaire stops at with the worst wishes, the ones for a better home or a better family, but he's never not fulfilled a wish that Grantaire knows about, even if it takes time.
The rest of the wishes get spread around the office. Combeferre likes to take on students, and Courfeyrac likes to take on lovers, and Marius is still new enough to be finding a specialty besides gazing at Cosette, and any of the more abstract ones go to Fantine.
“I've got a good one for you today,” he tells her, stopping in her office after the rest of his deliveries and placing the capsule on her desk. She can probably see it already, but she smiles up at him encouragingly anyway. “He just graduated from college, and he wishes to help people.”
“Well, what do you think I should do about it?”
Grantaire shrugs. “I just make the deliveries. But I don't know. I'm pretty sure everyone in the office got here through wishing. There's some empty desks out there. You might want to make a call.”
Fantine's got a sweet smile, the biggest resemblance between her and Cosette, and she uses it now. “You know, I think I might.”
“Four is the Freely Given Bureau, right?” he asks, instead of hitting a different button.
It's been a while since he paid any attention at all to that name, but he still knows it. It's the one on all the official paperwork that lets the FGB pay taxes and all the other mundane things that it ought by all rights be able to wish away. “Yeah, that's it,” he says, and gets a suspicion about who it might be. “I don't recognize you, and I'm at the FGB every day. Are you new?”
“I'm interviewing.” He actually sticks his hand out, like he's the kind of guy who shakes hands with bike messengers without wanting to impress the people the messenger is delivering to. Grantaire shakes it, because it's only them in the elevator and it would probably be weirder not to. “My name is Enjolras.”
“Grantaire. I'm your guy if you ever need to send something across the city.”
“I'll keep it in mind,” says Enjolras, in the tone of someone who is not going to keep it in mind at all.
The elevator doors part, then, and Grantaire steps out before Enjolras does, gives him a minute to pull himself together before his interview, because he has no idea what he's walking into. No one who interviews at the FGB ever does.
Jehan is at the reception desk as always, one of Cosette's flowers stuck behind his ear and a stack of mail in front of him that he's sorting through. Somehow, mail from kids thanking their imaginary friends and fairy godmothers always seems to find its way through the post office, even though they don't exactly identify the organization they're from on the scene. “Good morning,” says Grantaire, and he gets a better reception here than anywhere else in the city, because Jehan always looks up at him and beams like seeing Grantaire walk through the door is the best part of his day. “I've got the usual delivery and a lost duckling here for an interview with Fantine.”
“That must be Enjolras, she's expecting him.” Jehan peers over Grantaire's shoulder and gives the same beam at Enjolras. It's a testament to just how warm he is that it never feels fake to be greeted that way. “Hi, welcome to the FGB, Grantaire and I will walk you back to Fantine, you can have a tour after your interview.”
“Oh,” says Enjolras, and when Grantaire looks back over his shoulder he's looking around the reception room like it's somehow weird, even though it's hilariously corporate given exactly how non-corporate they are. “Thank you, I can find my own way back if you're doing something else.”
“I'll take him,” Grantaire says, on a whim. He feels a little proprietary over Enjolras, given the timing is too coincidental for him to be anyone but the wish he passed on to Fantine. “I'm great at deliveries, she'll be really impressed I delivered an interviewee.”
Jehan holds out his hands for Grantaire's bag. “Okay, I'll record today's intake so it will be ready for you to come back and sort it when you're finished taking him to Fantine. Anything for her today?”
“I don't think so, or nothing urgent.” He puts his bag gently on the counter, even though he's never seen a capsule break before, and looks back at Enjolras again, who has started peering into the main part of the office and who seems kind of intimidated by Bahorel's bottle green suit. “You coming?”
Enjolras starts, and then smiles. It's sort of awkward and twitchy, like he's not used to it, and Grantaire should probably be more worried at how endearing he already finds that. “Yes. Thank you. And thank you ...”
“Jehan,” Grantaire supplies. “Office god. Bring him the occasional offering of baked goods or coffee and your life will be sunshine and joy.”
“Thank you, Jehan,” says Enjolras, and follows Grantaire when he starts walking to Fantine's office.
Fantine greets them at the door, full of bustle and cheer, with the brooch of fairy wings she wears when she's feeling particularly official pinned over her heart. “Grantaire, thank you for bringing Enjolras back to meet me. Enjolras, please, come in and sit down, I imagine you'd like to get started.”
Grantaire catches one last look from Enjolras, furrowed eyebrows he can't quite interpret, and then the door is shutting behind them and he's left to make his usual deliveries around the office. He lingers a little longer than usual to see if Enjolras goes storming out like the occasional applicant does when they really don't believe in magic, but Enjolras is still in there when he really can't put off leaving any longer, and he sighs and resolves to get all the gossip he can later on.
“A daisy?” They all wished for something in their interviews, even Grantaire when he was being interviewed about a special discreet assignment for the bike company. He went home with a soda he can never find in stock in the city, rumor has it Combeferre left with a rare book, and everyone knows the legend of Bahorel and the kitten who is now grown up and takes up half of Bahorel's Instagram. “Why a daisy?”
“I don't know, but he walked out with it stuck behind his ear.”
“So he believed it all?”
Cosette smiles. “I think he did, though he may be having second thoughts today. He talked to all of us—he hit it off with Combeferre and Courfeyrac, I think, and he really liked Feuilly. He asked how things work. He seems dubious about the wand and everything, but he'll figure it out soon, I'm sure.”
“Do you like him?” Cosette isn't wrong about people. No one at the FGB is, not really, other than their very poor taste letting Grantaire spend time with them in and sometimes out of the office, but Cosette especially knows what she's doing where people are concerned. “He seemed kind of stiff when I saw him, if gorgeous.”
“Interview nerves. He's ...” Cosette frowns, thinking. “He wants to help people. That's good. I'm just a little worried that he'll be disappointed if he never gets a wish for world peace on his desk.”
“Someone needs to give him the speech about the Possible Rule before he gets his heart broken.” Grantaire makes a face. “Not my business, anyway, and I should get going. Something's in the water this week, the students must be having a rash of tests, that seems to be what today's wishes are about.”
Cosette kisses him on the cheek. “I think some of us are going out after work tonight, stop by at the end of your day if you want.”
“I might,” says Grantaire, although it's his night to go take care of Éponine and the kids so he almost certainly won't. “I expect you to keep me updated on the new guy's progress and what kind of wishes he wants.”
She smiles at him like she knows something he doesn't, but everyone at the FGB tends to do that, like they get a second shipment of wishes delivered every afternoon and they're all Grantaire's. “I'll make sure you know anything important,” she says, and sends him off to deliver the rest of the wishes.
The exception, though, is on Friday. When Grantaire gets the usual shipment of wishes—more than usual today, maybe they're increasing workload with a new caseworker—there's another package in a shape he recognizes, long and thin. The last one he delivered was for Bossuet, when he broke his last month, but he recognizes a wand package when he sees one.
When he gets to Jehan, he dumps out the wishes and keeps the wand. “You do intake,” he says. “I'm going to take this to its rightful owner.”
“We really need a ceremony for these things,” says Jehan, but he's beaming. He may not grant wishes himself, for reasons Grantaire doesn't ask about, but he loves the FGB and everyone and everything in it. If anyone could come up with a wand-presentation ceremony, it would be him. “Tell him congratulations, he's been itching to take on his first wish and Fantine is going to kill him if he keeps sticking his nose in everyone's business.”
“You have no idea.”
“Well, then, I'll get him his wand.” He wanders off into the sea of little offices and finds Enjolras stuck near a corner in between Feuilly and Combeferre and Courfeyrac, one of the offices so small it must have been a closet in the original plans. There isn't much in it yet, just a desk and a chair and a computer and Enjolras, who looks up at Grantaire and takes a second to place him. “It's Grantaire,” he says, because he's at least nice enough not to make Enjolras try to remember. “How are you settling in?”
“Well, thank you.” Enjolras looks at the package in his hands. “Is that—”
“Your very own bona fide fairy godmother wand? Yes it is.” Grantaire hands it over, because Enjolras's hands immediately shoot out and he doesn't have the heart to tease him with it.
Enjolras rips open the package with his hands instead of the scissors that are sitting literally three inches from his left elbow, and Grantaire lingers, not entirely surprised when a few people just happen to be walking by the office door and stop to watch. They'll all have found excuses to see it by the end of the day.
It's a utilitarian wand, which isn't really surprising, made of oddly-sheened not-quite-silver that he recognizes from Feuilly and Combeferre's wands, long and unembellished except for the requisite star at the end, this one cut from some kind of smoky quartz. Enjolras looks enthralled and delighted and immediately waves it, causing a gentle ringing noise that startles him. “Very dashing,” says Grantaire from the doorway. “Suits you, I'd say. I'll let you get to know it and go check on the wishes for the day, see if there's one earmarked for you.”
It turns out there is, and it turns out that Enjolras's smile when he's really happy is devastating—mostly, he looks gorgeous and severe, which Grantaire is into, but the smile makes him look like a kid, like someone Grantaire could actually get along with if he tried.
Grantaire isn't sure he wants to try, but he still can't help but be delighted when Enjolras's first wish is helping a young conservative win a school election and he looks like he's suddenly sucked on a lemon.
Grantaire is exhausted by the time he gets through the door of the Corinthe, the bar half a block down from the FGB office building that the whole crew tends to meet at. He doesn't fit in with the rest of the business crowd in the fitness wear he uses to bike across the city all day, and he's sweaty, his hair sticking to his neck where it's fallen out of his ponytail.
At least everyone from the FGB looks tired too. They're all piled into three booths, tables cluttered with beer and bar food, Cosette massaging a kink out of Feuilly's neck and Joly asleep on Musichetta's shoulder.
“Long day?” he asks, pulling up a chair to the end of the nearest booth. “I went back and forth between these two office buildings half the city away from each other like four times, I think at that point you should just get a fax machine.”
“Seriously, why don't they have fax machines?” asks Bossuet, smiling at him and pushing over a bottle of beer. It's still cold enough that Grantaire presses it against his neck instead of drinking from it right away. “Or e-mails, or whatever.”
“They do, but honestly I am mostly delivering unfaxable items, or confidential documents, shit like that.” He rolls his shoulders. “Anyway, how's life in the wish-granting business? Send anyone to a ball today? Glass slippers?”
“Someday those jokes will get old,” says Courfeyrac from the next booth, and Grantaire turns to find that Enjolras and Courfeyrac have both turned to face him, and that Enjolras looks much less tolerant than Courfeyrac does. “You could come join us at work, see what it's really like. You know Fantine would hire you on in a second.”
“Alas, I don't think I have the talent of granting wishes in a way that wouldn't fall apart,” Grantaire says, toasting him and finally taking a drink of his beer. “Besides, then who would deliver your daily supply? Someone has to bring you news from the outside world.” He looks at Enjolras. “Are you enjoying it?”
Enjolras smiles, and he's got that settled kind of look that people get when they're happy working at the FGB. Grantaire knows how to recognize it by now. “It's good work. I'm surprised you don't want to do it, they've said that you've been at the office almost as long as Courfeyrac.”
Grantaire shrugs. “Feels like too much of an uphill battle for me, really. Always another wish, and usually a sad one.”
Everyone else has heard it before, but Enjolras frowns at him. Of course he does. “We get to fix it, though. We get to help.”
Cosette, bless her, intervenes, looking up from concentrating on Feuilly to frown at Grantaire before he can explain all the reasons why saving the world one wish at a time would feel like drowning. “Any other stories from your week, R?” she asks in leading tones.
If there's one thing in the world Grantaire knows how to do, it's talk. His stories are the ones most easily told in public, so he embellishes the tale of two law firms that have been sending heated mail back and forth all week and how he's pretty sure there's a Romeo and Juliet situation going on with them. Enjolras turns back to a conversation with Combeferre and Jehan pretty quickly, but that's fine. Grantaire isn't expecting to be his best friend, and definitely not anything else either.
“They'll appreciate it,” says Jehan with a smile, and starts his well-rehearsed routine of going through the stash for the office statistics, taking a count and demographics even though there must be some kind of recording to that at the mysterious main office that sends the wishes on in the first place. “How are you today?”
“I get the afternoon off to spend some time with Éponine, so I'm great.”
“Send her our love.” Jehan frowns, like he's thinking that through, and then shrugs and lets it stand. Grantaire will pass on the wishes, and maybe Éponine won't even scoff at them. “Or at least tell her hello.”
Grantaire scrapes the pile of wishes back together as Jehan finishes them. “I will. I'm trying to convince her to come to the Corinthe with us one of these weeks, but family matters prevail.” And she really would not want the do-gooders at the Bureau to know what kinds of family matters she's dealing with, so he'll leave it there.
“We'll all buy her a round if she comes,” says Jehan, and sends him off into the main part of the office.
The office is already bustling with the aftermath of yesterday's wishes, Feuilly and Combeferre talking over the coffeepot and Joly filling out some paperwork, and everyone smiles at Grantaire as he drops off the day's wishes. There are at least twenty for small wishes, seven to split between Cosette and Bahorel, and a heap of more than a dozen for the rest of the office. Normally, Grantaire picks and chooses more than that, but he has four more deliveries to make before noon, and they're all far-flung.
“Looks like a busy day ahead,” he tells Fantine as she comes out of her office to help him with the sorting, frowning at a few of the capsules and setting them to the side. “I didn't look too close this morning, sorry, general collection isn't sorted very well.”
“You go above and beyond doing the sorting that you do anyway,” Fantine says, looking up from squinting at one of the capsules and then putting it in the pile that he assumes is going to go to Combeferre from the feel of it. “Technically it's Jehan's job or mine, but you do such a good job of it that I've never wanted to stop you.”
Grantaire shrugs. “I know the kinds of things people like to do by this point, and I have a routine down. It would be a shame to stop.”
“Well, we're always glad to have you, if you ever want a more permanent situation.”
Fantine hasn't asked him to come work for her in a while now, and he thought she'd stopped for good. Grantaire gives her a sideways look, but she's still sorting. She has to have said it consciously, though. “I don't want to grant wishes.”
“Jehan doesn't grant wishes. I don't very often.” Fantine puts her hand over his before he can shrug it off and change the subject. “I don't want to make you uncomfortable, R, but people tend to find their way to these offices for a reason. I only want you to know that you have the option. And more options than you might think, if you say yes.”
Grantaire knows the FGB's operation is bigger than the office—someone has to collect the wishes, put them in capsules, put them in a post office box for him to pick up. Someone has to make the wands. Nobody he knows has ever talked about that end of the operation, and he's a little surprised Fantine is mentioning it now, but all he does it nod. “I'm aware.”
“I get it, I get it, I'll stop,” she says, and squeezes his hand before she lets it go and scoops up an armload of wishes, ruining her carefully sorted pile. “I'll take these around to the correct desks. You go on about your day, and I'll see you tomorrow.”
Grantaire smiles at her, an apology for being an asshole and thanks for never minding that he is, and he waves her off to her deliveries and returns to his with only a brief stop at Bahorel's desk on his way out to compliment the pink silk waistcoat he seems to have found somewhere.
Enjolras is standing at reception as he leaves, conversing seriously with Jehan about something. He looks more like a businessman than anyone else in the office, though he seems to have conceded to the general atmosphere by accepting a barrette with butterflies on it to keep his hair back. “Enjoy your wishes,” Grantaire tells him when he looks up from his conversation, and doesn't bother to stay around to see what Enjolras has to say to that.
Today, he's in her tiny apartment with his head under her sink, frowning and trying to figure out what's blocked up, since the building manager is an asshole and hasn't fixed it in the week it's been broken.
Azelma and Gavroche are home from school, squabbling in the bedroom over something (and he should really ask Éponine about whether it counts as Stockholm Syndrome for that to be a comforting noise at this point) and Éponine is sitting with her legs crossed on the couch, massaging her own feet and occasionally reading him instructions from the plumbing web page she has up in front of her.
When there's a knock on the door, he hits his head on a pipe, and he's still swearing when Éponine opens it. Grantaire is expecting the building manager, with his usual poor timing, but when he pulls his head out of the plumbing Enjolras is at the door instead, looking very official and no doubt giving Éponine a heart attack that someone's called Child Services knowing she has two minors living with her who are legally supposed to be halfway across the city with her parents.
“Oh no,” says Grantaire, because he knows exactly what happened. Éponine knows to be careful with her wishes, but Azelma and Gavroche don't. His money is on Azelma, but either way, this isn't good.
Enjolras finally seems to notice him, and judging from the horror on his face, he agrees. He can't be counting on someone ruining his attempts at helping the Thénardiers out by knowing he's granting a wish, but the jig is already up, because Éponine is looking suspiciously between them, and then she's crossing her arms, closing up. “I don't know what you're here for, but—”
“Please, Miss Thénardier,” says Enjolras, horribly stiff (he's a terrible actor, which Grantaire would probably find funny if they were anywhere else). “I'm an advocate from the Freely Given Bureau, we're a non-profit who—”
“She knows what the FGB is, Enjolras,” says Grantaire, and stands up, wiping his hands on his jeans.
Éponine already looks so tired, and the noise in the bedroom has stopped, the kids pretending they aren't there. She pinches her nose. “What did they wish for?”
“I'm here on Azelma's behalf,” says Enjolras. Grantaire wouldn't exactly say Enjolras is ever gentle, but he's toned down now, not ready to blaze in and fix their whole life. “She wants you to have custody.”
“Yeah, so do I.”
“I have the names of six lawyers who will take on your case pro bono and eight different forms you can fill in to make it easier to get full guardianship without putting yourself or them in danger from your parents, if they are a danger,” says Enjolras, lifting his briefcase. “Grantaire?”
“He'll try for you,” Grantaire says, because it's the best he can do with Éponine looking at him. “You know anyone in that office would try for you. They've all no doubt been waiting for the right wish. Talk to him. Or have Azelma talk to him.”
Éponine looks trapped for a second, and then she shakes it off, stands up straight. She still looks ready to fall back onto the couch and take a nap, but there's not much to do about that right now. “Get the kids, R, will you? And you're going to stay here and tell him it's bullshit whenever it turns into bullshit, because I don't have the energy today.”
“Right,” says Grantaire, and goes to get Azelma and Gavroche. “It's okay,” he tells them, because they both look curious and a little wary. “It's someone I know from work, he's good people, and he's here to help Éponine get official custody of you two.”
That, of course, gets them right on Enjolras's side. Gavroche plays it cool, but Azelma, is immediately starry-eyed and excited, and all five of them squeeze around the kitchen table to talk about it.
“This isn't going to be a one-day project,” Enjolras says once he's gone over all of it. “It might take a while, but it's possible.”
Grantaire could say a lot, about how Éponine's apartment probably isn't going to pass inspection and how her parents might fight it just to spite her, but Éponine actually looks hopeful for once, and Enjolras looks like he's going to manage it all through sheer determination, and if ever a family needed some determination, it's this one. “Probably not bullshit,” he tells Éponine, after due consideration. “But he's not lying about the taking a while.”
“I didn't think it would happen anytime soon,” she says, shrugging like it doesn't matter even though her knuckles are white where her hands are clasped in front of her. Azelma is dashing at her eyes and Gavroche is smiling that smug little smile like he does when he's really sure he knows what's going on better than any of the adults. Which, fair enough, he usually does.
“You'll all help, though?” Enjolras asks, looking around the table. Grantaire is surprised to find himself included, Enjolras looking at him last and raising his eyebrows like he's waiting for some kind of cue. “It will go faster with help.”
“Obviously,” says Azelma, blurting it out before Grantaire has to come up with anything to say, because he thinks that question was for him.
“And in the meantime,” says Grantaire, standing up and going over to the fridge mostly for something to do, “maybe the kids can go get out of the way and you can wave your magic wand and help me out with the sink so I can make a fabulous gourmet dinner for these nice people.” He looks at Éponine, who gives the slightest nod. “Which you're welcome to join in on, by the way.”
After a second's hesitation, Enjolras shakes his head. “No, I have to get home. I—I'm not sure if you knew, Grantaire, but I moved in with Combeferre last week, and we've instated weekly apartment dinners. I don't want to miss.”
“I didn't know, that's great.” He knew Enjolras and Combeferre were getting close, so it's not surprising, but it's still odd, having Enjolras get ever more involved in the office. Even though by all rights he should be involved more than Grantaire is. “Tell him hello for me, and that I want to talk to him about that documentary he recommended.”
Enjolras nods, slowly, like he thinks maybe Grantaire is trying to speak in code in front of the kids. “I'll let him know. And I can do my best with the sink.”
Éponine, at least, knows her cues, and she shoos the kids back into the bedroom, asking about homework and what they want Grantaire to cook, leaving Grantaire and Enjolras alone in the kitchen. “I really did mean waving your literal magic wand,” Grantaire says when a few seconds have passed in awkward silence.
“Oh! Right, of course you did.” Enjolras starts rifling through his briefcase, and Grantaire takes a second to close his eyes in horror at the thought of it just sitting there at the bottom of the bag. “Sorry, I don't use it often. I tend to get cases that involve more paperwork than magic.” He looks at the wand when he finally pulls it out, and there's a hint of humor in his expression. “I guess I'm not used to it.”
“Well, get used to it. If you want the formal request, I wish you would fix the sink.”
Enjolras frowns, thinking, and then waves the wand. There's an audible creak from the pipes, and both of them freeze, but when nothing else happens, Grantaire braves the faucet and turns it on for a minute. The water runs cool and clean and drains properly, and that's several points in its favor. “There,” says Enjolras with an awkward gesture, another wave of his wand that doesn't do anything. Which is good, since waving them around without a direct goal in mind can sometimes end in disaster.
“Thanks. I appreciate it, I'm good with my hands but I can't say plumbing is my first specialty.”
“Right.” Enjolras coughs and shifts on his feet. Éponine is still talking next door, segueing into scolding one or both of the kids about something. “How do you know Éponine?”
“Not through the Bureau, if that's what you're asking. I met her before Fantine—well, I met her first. Used to live sort of near where she did, so we ended up getting our morning caffeine fix in the same place.”
“Of course.” Now Enjolras looks like he'd like nothing better than to flee from the apartment, or use his wand and head right back to the office. Though perhaps he's not cleared to do that yet, it seems to take most of them a few months before they do it. Which is ridiculous, Grantaire goes places for a living, if he could travel by magic wand he would do it in a heartbeat.
Éponine rescues them before Grantaire has to come up with anything else to say, coming out of the bedroom and marching straight up to Enjolras. “Do not fuck this up, or I will never forgive you,” she says, low and even, and Enjolras backs up a step. “Grantaire seems to like you, which is the only reason I did not toss you out of my home, but I'm going to really hope you can do what you say you can do, because otherwise I'm going to have to break my siblings' hearts.”
Enjolras frowns and nods, and Grantaire backs off, because this is about them. “If I can't do it, someone can. I promise.”
Normally, Éponine doesn't trust promises, but maybe she's picked up just how determined Enjolras is to grant this wish, so she nods back at him, sharp. “Good. I'm going to give you my number so you don't turn up on my doorstep uninvited again. R, shouldn't you be fixing the sink?”
“Already fixed, I'll start on dinner,” says Grantaire, and hastily gets to work, making a point of humming while he does it so they can have the end of their conversation in private.
Enjolras coughs when they're finished, and Grantaire turns around to find that Enjolras is watching him. “I'll see you at the office in the morning.”
“I guess you will,” says Grantaire, and waves him out the door.
“I wanted to talk to you, if you have a moment,” says Enjolras.
“We've got about three moments, this is a slow elevator.” Grantaire sighs and tips his head back against the elevator wall even though he knows it can't be sanitary. “So what do you want to know about Éponine?”
“I think she's known here. And you know her. When you know someone who needs help, why wouldn't you encourage them to make a wish?”
Of course that's the question, and Grantaire closes his eyes and silently apologizes to Éponine. “Fantine offered her a job. Before almost any of us. But there was something weird with her siblings, and with a few people at the office, and she didn't take it. She hasn't really wanted to get involved.”
“That isn't much of an answer.”
“It's all the answer I've got, unfortunately. Look, some people don't want the help. They want to do it the old-fashioned way. Maybe Éponine wants to believe in magic, so she doesn't wish just in case they don't come true.”
“The fact that it landed on my desk means that it will,” says Enjolras, all stubbornness.
Grantaire opens his eyes. “Sometimes you can't do it, you know? No shame in that. Everyone's got at least one case that's always open on their desk, a long-term client or two. Cinderella's fairy godmother couldn't get her out of her house, but she could give her shoes and a night out. Sometimes that's what you've got to do. Sure, I know you're going to try to help Éponine, but you can't rescue everyone.”
“I don't accept that.”
It's not hard to imagine that Enjolras wished to help people, just like it's not hard to imagine Joly and Bossuet wishing to make people happy and Feuilly wishing he could adopt every single kid in the foster system. “I guess that's why you're granting wishes and not me,” he says, and maybe he made a subconscious wish that works out, because that's when the elevator doors open. “Going up?”
Enjolras's lips thin. “Yes, I guess I am.”
Grantaire practically runs off the elevator, shouldering his way by someone he thinks works on the eighth floor. He didn't want to have any of that conversation, and he doesn't want to take the chance that Enjolras isn't done with it.
Grantaire stumbles to a stop halfway up the staircase to his apartment. “Holy shit, Éponine, that's amazing.”
“Can you stop by before work tomorrow? Gav and Azelma want to make cookies for the office, I thought you could take them in.”
“Only if I get to steal one.”
“You can take three, you're the one who vetted him.” Éponine still sounds shaky, and she sounds happier than he's ever heard her sound, and he's going to have to thank Enjolras, and probably apologize to him too, because Enjolras has been treating him with chilly politeness ever since their conversation in the elevator and he did what he said he would do. It can't have been easy, and he expects some bribes changed hands to get Éponine's apartment even conditionally past inspection.
“Do you want me to come over there and help with the cookies?”
“No, three inept cooks is enough for one kitchen, and they wouldn't be from us if we delegated them to you.” Éponine laughs, and it sounds a little manic, but he can't blame her for that. “I've got to go before they decide to start measuring out ingredients, but … thank you.”
“You did,” she says. “I know we don't talk about this shit, but you did, okay?”
Grantaire wonders what she would say if he told her that he told Enjolras is might be a hopeless case, but she probably would have just agreed with him, so he decides not to fight the compliment. “Well, I'll pass your love on to the Bureau. They keep inviting you out. If you ever want a babysitter ...”
“Maybe,” Éponine says, and Grantaire blinks, surprised. “I need to talk to Cosette first, and maybe Fantine, but maybe. I'm going to need a better job sometime if I'm going to support two teenagers.”
“Fantine's always telling me that she invited me once and the offer stands, so you'd probably be good there, but I'm guessing you'll want some time to think. Good luck with the cookies. And give the kids my love, okay?”
“I will. Bye, R, see you in the morning,” she says, and hangs up on him.
He has Enjolras's number in his phone, programmed in optimistically by Joly at a night at the Corinthe and never used, and he gears up his courage and texts Thank you before he finishes making his way upstairs.
Enjolras gives him a nod and a tight smile the next day when Grantaire arrives with a medium-sized batch of wishes and a large batch of misshapen cookies, and that, as far as Grantaire is concerned, is the end of it.
“You do have a wand for a reason,” he says when he stops by at the end of a work day, called by Fantine to return a shipment of files to the post office box to find Enjolras with three different law books open on his desk and his hair in disarray. He's got a flower stuck in his lapel, probably courtesy of Jehan, and it's all wilted. “I know some things can't be done by magic, but finding relevant information probably can.”
“It's not as exact as I want it to be, so I need to do it by hand, find some precedent. I didn't leave college expecting to use magic.”
“If this isn't the way you want to help people, Fantine wouldn't fault you, you know,” Grantaire says slowly, because maybe no one's told him that yet. “No one would. They'd hook you up with an internship somewhere, maybe.”
“No. I want to do this. I just don't want to substitute magic in where it might not do the best job.” Some of the severity leaves his expression when Grantaire nods, and he looks almost sheepish. “Besides, I'm not very good with it yet.”
“You don't need to be good with it, it just needs to be good with you. Can I see it? Sometimes I can help with tune-ups on them.”
Enjolras blinks at him and frowns like maybe he's expecting some kind of joke, but then he opens up his desk drawer and passes the wand to Grantaire.
Grantaire takes it and waves it around a few times. Wands don't work for the people they aren't made for, but he can still usually get a feel for them. The balance seems fine, if a little tip-heavy. Enjolras hasn't been taking great care of it, that much is clear—the silver is tarnished, and there's a scratch or two in the quarts of the star, and Grantaire does his best to polish with his shirt, but it still looks a little dingy. “So what's the deal with it?” he finally asks. “Won't do what you ask it? Leaves the job undone? You can file for a new one with headquarters.”
“It's just uncomfortable to use. I've only known magic exists since my interview. It's a lot to catch up on.”
“You'll never get better with it if you don't try.” He squints at the wand again. It doesn't seem very much like Enjolras, now that he knows Enjolras better. Fantine's wand is all made of carved crystal, and Bahorel's is thick heavy wood with glass at the end, and Combeferre's is all made of plain polished wood with the star at the end more of a starburst. This doesn't look like Enjolras at a glance, the way all of theirs do. “And maybe once you're used to it, you can ask Fantine about one. You just might not like the wand.”
“Well, in the meantime, I'll just use this.” Enjolras makes a face down at his desk. “And these books. Some things do need to be done by hand.”
“Yeah. Just figured I would check.” Grantaire puts the wand back down on the table. “Take care of that, though. Stop sticking it in the bottom of your briefcase, or wrap it up before you do.”
“Right,” says Enjolras, voice gone flat. Grantaire said the wrong thing, or overstepped a boundary, but that's nothing new or surprising, so he makes sure the papers are stowed in his bag and heads for the elevators, only stopping to chat with Musichetta on the way.
Grantaire looks up from his morning wish-sorting and finds himself more surprised than he ought to be that Enjolras is the one standing in front of him asking. “Fine. I think I'm babysitting for her next week so she can go out with you guys.” And he thinks she's almost worked up the courage to talk to Cosette and Fantine, but that's no one else's business.
“Oh. Good. I'll be glad to see her.”
“She's still … she's grateful. She likes you. You should feel honored. Éponine doesn't like a lot of people.”
Enjolras smiles. “I am honored. Especially since … well, I'm glad.”
“Do you check in on all your old clients?”
“I don't have many yet. And not really. I know that unless they're long-term we're supposed to let them go. But I can't help being curious.”
“Well, you did good there.”
Enjolras raises his eyebrows. “What, you're not going to tell me that something else is bound to go wrong or it will get reversed or I should have used more magic?”
“Look, I'm not that much of a dick. You helped one of my best friends, even if you were technically helping her sister. Who has a massive crush on you, by the way.” He's starting to feel a little solidarity with Azelma, which is horrifying when he thinks about it. He didn't exactly mean to develop a crush on Enjolras, but Enjolras is gorgeous and passionate and kind of grouchy, and that's unfortunately Grantaire's type. “I'm not saying that you in specific can't fix everything. I'm just saying wishes in general can't fix everything, whether you grant them by magic or by hand.”
“I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.” Enjolras looks away. “I should get to work. Tell Éponine I look forward to seeing her.”
“I will,” says Grantaire and, waves him off.
Grantaire doesn't really mind. He maybe should, since he's still got some of the expensive acrylics left over from college, but Azelma and Gavroche like painting all over his junk canvases that they've painted on a hundred times until the paint is so thick on them it would probably flake off, and it's the only time he gets any art done these days.
Today, they squabble over whether they're painting a sunset or an ice cream sundae. Grantaire is not totally sure how those two things are at all alike, but it's usually his policy not to ask.
There's a foot of thin dowel sitting on his coffee table, left over from when he was fixing a curtain rod, and he picks it up mostly for something to do with his hands, waves it around like it's a wand. It doesn't do anything, of course, but it's comfortable to hold, a good weight, and when he lets it go he rests it on his lap, looks down at it speculatively.
He can't make a wand, of course, not a real one, but he could design one Enjolras might like better than the one he still avoids using, anyway, and just like that he's already reaching out for the tube of really expensive gold paint he bought for a project years ago that glows and shimmers just like the real thing.
Gavroche and Azelma both look at him occasionally, bemused, but Grantaire paints the whole piece of dowel with a thick coat and then finds a toothpick to scratch in designs before the paint dries. He makes dinner while it does, and texts Éponine to make sure she's still having fun with the people from the Bureau, and picks the dowel up again after a break for dinner.
He still has some copper wire left over from when he made a bracelet for Éponine, and he wraps it up around the length of the dowel, and then he pauses.
“It's like a wizard wand,” says Gavroche, startling Grantaire enough that he almost scratches the paint trying to tuck the end of the wire in.
“More of a fairy wand,” says Grantaire, and waves it a few times.
Azelma tilts her head, and she's too perceptive, same way the whole family is. “It needs a star on the end,” she finally says. “If it's going to be a proper fairy wand. Maybe crystal.”
“Yes, because I definitely have a crystal star just sitting around the place.”
“Well, it needs something at the end.”
Grantaire wants to just roll his eyes and tell them it doesn't matter, but he wants to finish now that he's started, even though he's never going to be able to show it to anyone but the Thénardiers. “Fine, let's look for something.”
Gavroche is the one who surfaces from Grantaire's closet with a bead, also from Grantaire's jewelry-making phase. It isn't star-shaped, but it's crystal-clear and multi-faceted, and he'll take what he can get, so he takes it and binds it on with more copper wire.
Éponine arrives almost as soon as he finishes, and he stuffs it under a couch cushion even though that makes Azelma and Gavroche more likely to tell her what he was doing.
“Did they convince you to join the organization?” he asks as he lets her in, gesturing at Gavroche to actually put on his shoes and not just pick them up. “I'm pretty sure they wanted you so they could indoctrinate you.”
“Everyone conspicuously avoided mentioning it. I don't know, I might sometime. Had a brief chat with Cosette about it.”
Grantaire nods, because that's about as much information as he expects to get from her. “You can always ask Fantine about afternoon childcare now that the monsters are yours,” he offers, and she nods right back at him. She might even actually do it, from the expression on her face.
“You two ready?” she asks, looking over his shoulder, and there Azelma and Gavroche are, looking like innocent angels who haven't covered half his living room in paint. “I've got to get them home, but thanks, R, I owe you.”
“Not at all.”
“Everyone says hi, by the way,” she says, and gives him a significant raise of her eyebrows before she ushers the kids out the door, leaving him wondering, no doubt just like she wants.
When they've gone, Grantaire grabs the fake wand out from behind the cushion again. It seems silly, now that he thinks about it, but it looks good, and it looks more like Enjolras than his current utilitarian option.
There isn't really anything to do but leave it somewhere most guests won't see it, but he waves it around a few times first, and then drops it when the weight changes in his hand, when the sheen of fake gold paint and plastic crystal change too.
Grantaire stares at it sitting there on his couch for a few seconds and then picks it up again. It makes his fingers tingle just like touching anyone's real wand would, and it's not wood and plastic anymore. He made a magic wand. On his own, by accident. For Enjolras.
“I wish,” he says out loud, self-conscious, and points the wand at the mess of paint smeared on the wall next to his easel. All the excess paint in the room disappears right away, and he drops the wand again.
He should call Éponine back, or interrupt Fantine at home, or something, but he goes to his room and gets his softest t-shirt instead, picks the wand back up and wraps it. He worked hard on it and somehow made it a real wand, like hell is he going to let it get scratched up now.
He'll have to do something with it in the morning.
There are a lot of wishes, the whole city wanting something on a rainy Tuesday, so Grantaire dumps them on Jehan's desk for the intake notes and then goes to Fantine's office and knocks on the door.
“Come in,” she calls, and Grantaire does, shutting the door firmly behind him. She looks up at him, frowning a little like she can already tell how nervous he is. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Grantaire decides it's going to be easier to tell by showing, and he pulls the t-shirt out of his bag and puts it on her desk. Fantine gives him a quick look before she unrolls it, and then draws in a sharp breath when she sees what it is. “I made it. By accident,” he says, because it has to be said. “Enjolras and his aren't getting along, and I was thinking of a design that might suit him better, and mocked up a version with paint and a dowel and a plastic bead, and then that happened.”
Fantine puts her hand over her mouth for a second, and then puts it down again, touching the wand. “This is incredible, Grantaire. I don't know how they're made usually, but I can ask. But it's good. It will work. You can give it to him.”
Grantaire puts his hands up. “No, definitely not doing that. You can give it to him. I'm just the delivery guy, tell him I delivered a wand, that is really all he needs to know.”
“You know I won't do that.”
“I kind of figured, but I thought I would register my opinion on it anyway.” Grantaire shifts from foot to foot. “Please just give it to him when I'm not here?”
“He'll want to thank you.”
“He shouldn't, did I mention the part where I did it completely by accident?”
Fantine smiles at him. “I know you did, and I'll tell him that if you think it will help, but he'll still want to thank you. And I certainly want to thank you, I've noticed his reluctance to use his wand and I have my suspicions this will help.”
“I hope so. It's going to be even more embarrassing otherwise.” Grantaire really wishes his bike shorts had pockets to stick his hands in, but he hitches his bag up on his shoulder instead. “Look, I'll leave you and Jehan to do the sorting for today, okay? I'm going to go be anywhere but here before you hand that over.”
Fantine looks back at the wand on the desk, still resting on his shirt. “You could at least take that back before you go.”
“Right, yeah, that's a good idea.” Fantine picks the wand up, and Grantaire takes the shirt back and promptly flees without saying goodbye, because every second that passes makes it more likely that someone's going to ask what's going on.
He nearly runs into Enjolras on his way out of the office, but he just waves him off and shouts something about being very busy and gets in the elevator before anyone can say anything else to him, even though he catches Jehan watching him with eyebrows raised as he speed-walks past.
“No.” Enjolras is shifting from foot to foot, like he's ready to bolt, and Grantaire really wishes he would. He would do it himself, except he's at home and that seems like a really stupid plan. “Could I? Come in, I mean?”
“I guess, if you came all this way.” Grantaire opens the building door and starts up the stairs, Enjolras trailing him in awkward silence. He knows what this is, some kind of thanks he really doesn't want, so he expects Enjolras is going to be in his apartment for all of thirty seconds, but if Enjolras wants to come up, he isn't going to stop him. “Do you want water or something?”
“No. Thank you.”
That's about all the conversation starters Grantaire has, so when they get to the third floor and his apartment, he just opens it and lets Enjolras in. The front room is a mess, covered in the art supplies he's actually been using a little bit since making the wand. He hasn't made anything else wand-shaped yet, but there's a fairly non-shitty picture of a dog he might give Azelma for her birthday.
“It's beautiful,” Enjolras says abruptly, too stiff, the second the door is shut.
“It's not much, I haven't cleaned in a while,” says Grantaire. Talking about the state of his apartment is far preferable to talking about the wand, although he really does not think he's going to get that luxury.
“Fantine said you might be uncomfortable if I brought it up to you, but I couldn't not. The wand, it's … it's an incredible gift, Grantaire, and you made it for me. I have to thank you.”
“You really don't, can't we embrace the toxic ideals of Western masculinity and not talk about things like emotions?”
Enjolras almost laughs, which considering Grantaire isn't even joking is kind of amazing. “I don't want to upset you, but I can't ignore it, either. I'll take better care of this one than I did the other one.”
Grantaire puts his bag down on his table and sticks his head in the fridge just so he doesn't have to make eye contact. He's pretty sure that forgetting to go grocery shopping over the weekend means he's going to be surviving the rest of the week on takeout. At least there's a promisingly non-moldy loaf of bread left. “You'd better. If there's a scratch on it I'll take it back.”
“I didn't think it was possible,” Enjolras continues.
“Believe me, neither did I.” Grantaire shuts the fridge door and turns back around. Enjolras is still hovering in the doorway, clutching his briefcase. “So, accidents don't need thanks. But thanks.”
Enjolras frowns at him. “You thought of me, and the trouble I was having, and fixed it. That doesn't deserve thanks?”
Grantaire waves a hand. “Call me Batman, thanks make me uncomfortable.”
Enjolras keeps frowning. “Okay. Though I'm not completely sure that's one of Batman's better-known traits.”
That really should not be as endearing as it is, and Grantaire just shakes his head. “Just use it, okay? That's what it's for. You shouldn't work somewhere where there's magic and not do magic at all, it's some kind of violation of the rules.”
“I'll keep it in mind,” says Enjolras, and he's smiling a little now, shoulders relaxing. “But I shouldn't stay and argue about it. I just wanted to thank you, and you don't have to hear it again if you don't want to.”
“Well, you're welcome.” He can be that gracious, when he has his suspicions Enjolras waited every minute of Grantaire's overtime out on that front step and now intends to leave after a conversation that took under five minutes. “See you at the office in the morning?”
“Of course. Bye.”
“Bye,” says Grantaire, and watches Enjolras open the door and leave again. He wants to go to his bedroom window and see if he can catch sight of Enjolras on the sidewalk when he gets down there, but it seems both pathetic and ridiculous, so he opens his fridge again instead and starts figuring out what he wants to eat for dinner.
“For you, always,” he says, because whether he wants to have the conversation or not, she deserves it. “In your office?”
“That's probably wisest.”
Grantaire drops the day's wishes on Jehan's desk, and Jehan gives him a wide-eyed look and mouths Everything okay? behind Fantine's back. Grantaire shrugs, because it's the best he can do, and follows Fantine when she starts walking.
She shuts the office door behind him and then sits down at her desk and gestures him into the chair. “Don't look at me like I'm about to fire you. I wanted to talk to you about Enjolras's wand.”
“That's what I was afraid of.”
“The central office wants to hire you.” Fantine holds up a hand before he can say anything. “I know you've said no before, but this isn't granting wishes. It's making wands, or whatever else you could think of that we might need. It's helping us, and you already do that, so you can't say that it's too much responsibility.”
“I don't—I don't know what you'd even need, besides wands.”
Fantine beams, like she knows that means he's at least considering it. “Oh, take the Cinderella example. Maybe you would make the glass slippers. I don't know what else you could do, but you're creative.”
“And what about the central office? They've always kind of been ...”
“Anonymous and mysterious, yes,” Fantine says, though she's smiling. “We're an old organization. There are habits. But we've never had an attached wand-maker and inventor before, so things could change. You could work here, and still deliver our wishes in the mornings, and make us whatever you'd like to.”
“Who's been making the wands before this?”
“There's a workshop at the central office, but most of that office is devoted to collecting the wishes and sorting them out, and I don't think you would want to do that. And I'm told they would be happy to cede the duties, as they're not a secret agent supply facility.”
“No, definitely not.” He leans back a little in the chair. “I made one wand, by accident. I don't even know if I can do it again.”
“Then do it again.”
“For whoever you think needs one.” Fantine gives him one of her gentle smiles, the ones that make him sure she must have worked with kids a lot before she started heading up the office. “For Éponine, maybe.”
Grantaire raises his eyebrows. “Has she finally said yes?”
“No. But I'm trying to find options for her. It couldn't hurt if she knew she had a wand waiting for her. Or you could make one for someone else.” She gestures past him at her door. “Everyone is very jealous of Enjolras's beautiful new wand, even if he's declined to say its exact origins. If they knew it was from you, they might break their own on purpose.”
“That's awful, definitely don't tell them.”
Fantine laughs. “I won't. But you should. They might help me convince you to come work with us. We'd do a lot better at our wishes, with you to help.”
“I'll think about it,” says Grantaire, and doesn't even panic at the thought. That's farther than he's gotten in quite some time, so he'll take it.
Fantine seems to agree, from her satisfied expression, and she stands up again, freeing him to do the same. “I should get to my workday, and you should get to yours, but I'd be glad to hear about any progress that you make in your experiments, if you choose to do more. And if you'd like advice about how to go about it, I'm glad to give you the number for the other office.”
“I'll keep it in mind,” he says, and gives her a nod and a wave before he walks out of her office.
Enjolras is waiting a few feet from the doorway, looking like he's been lurking there, and he perks up when he sees Grantaire, which is disconcerting enough to make Grantaire stop where he stands. Enjolras has Grantaire's wand stuck through his bun like it's a pen, though even diagonal the end of it seems to be caught in his jacket collar. “I've got coffee for you,” he says, like that isn't the weirdest thing Grantaire has heard today, despite the job offer.
Enjolras holds out a travel mug. “I wished for it to be how you like it, I don't know what it is but it smells good.”
“Right. Of course.” He takes the mug and looks from it to Enjolras and back again. “Is this you trying to thank me again even though I said not to?”
“It's me giving you coffee,” Enjolras says, just quickly enough that it's a confirmation.
“Thanks, I guess,” says Grantaire, and takes a drink. It's delicious, of course. “I'll return your cup tomorrow.”
Jehan gets a short, slim wand wrapped in silver wire with tiny glass beads at intermittent intervals to give it some texture, with a glass moon on the end, and Grantaire has to wave it four times before it settles right, changes into what it's supposed to be.
The next day, Grantaire slips it to Fantine, and the day after that, Jehan comes out from behind his desk to throw his arms around Grantaire and hold on for at least a full minute. When Grantaire manages to get himself free, at least four people are watching them and beaming, and Grantaire ducks his head and says “Are we going to sort wishes, or are we going to stand around hugging all day? Because much as I like the hugging, I do have other places to be.”
“I'm buying you a drink next time you come to the Corinthe,” says Jehan, and releases him.
Grantaire starts his usual routine, going through the wishes and sorting them out for everyone. It's an average day, nothing special, with a pile of fun little wishes for Joly and Bossuet and Musichetta and enough to keep everyone else occupied and hopefully not gossiping about him. “I think I'm free Friday night, I could come then,” he offers.
“Good,” says Jehan, and gives a significant look over Grantaire's shoulder. Grantaire doesn't dare turn around. “Everyone will be happy to see you.”
“That's because I'm delightful,” says Grantaire, and sets aside a wish for Enjolras that will actually let him use his new wand.
Grantaire looks up from picking at the bar napkin he's been sketching on to find Enjolras across the booth from him and not in the tangle of people dancing to whatever Bahorel punched up on the jukebox. “A drink?”
“A wand, of course.”
“Not actually an employee of the FGB, you know.”
“Semantics.” Enjolras frowns and looks at the napkin. He's drawn Cosette, who's wearing bright pink fairy wings today, apparently feeling festive and literal. He could make her a better pair, maybe, if he were working for the FGB. Or make it part of the uniform, because he can just imagine all of them strolling around the city with wings on their backs. “It might help you make more.”
“I'll think about it.” He picks up his pen again, sketching a line on the paper, doodling a star at the end. “What do you think it should look like?”
“Well, it shouldn't have a star,” says Enjolras, like it's obvious. “That's for granting wishes, this is something different. A sun, or a moon, if you want something celestial still. But not a star.”
Grantaire looks down at the napkin again and doodles a few more sketches. Wands, though, are all in the detail work. He can't exactly figure that out on a napkin. “Not a moon, that's what Jehan has and we don't do the same things. But maybe I'll do it,” he says, and looks up in time to catch the end of Enjolras's smile. “Couldn't hurt, even if I'm freelance.” Which he seems to be, given the size of the tip on his weekly check.
“Everyone would … no one would mind if you weren't freelance anymore,” says Enjolras carefully.
Grantaire has to sift through a few responses to find one that he thinks he can get out without sounding sarcastic or besotted. “What, even you?” That probably sounds both sarcastic and besotted, now that he considers it, but he waits for Enjolras to answer anyway.
“I consider you a friend,” Enjolras says, just as carefully as before, like Grantaire is some kind of startled animal he's trying not to spook off. “You helped me with Azelma's case, and you made me a wand. Why wouldn't I consider you a friend?”
It makes Grantaire like him even more that he calls it Azelma's case instead of Éponine's, even if he ended up talking the most with Éponine. It was still Azelma's wish, after all. “Good point,” he says, and it only comes out a little strangled.
“You two aren't dancing!” Musichetta says, coming out of the crowd and putting her hand on Grantaire's shoulder. “That's unacceptable, we're all dancing.”
Enjolras frowns, but Grantaire is glad for the interruption, and he lets Musichetta grab his hand and pull him into doing some sort of modified jitterbug that doesn't go with the beat at all. The next time he looks, Enjolras is in a ballroom hold with Combeferre, looking somewhere between bewildered and amused, and Grantaire's napkin is gone.
Éponine calls a few days after Grantaire's evening at the Corinthe, when his life seems to still be settling into some new kind of routine where Enjolras wanders by him every morning when he's sorting the wishes and makes a point of stopping to say hello and ask how he is.
“I gave notice at all of my jobs,” she says when he picks up, and she sounds overwhelmed and nervous, but happy somewhere underneath it all.
“You're joining the Bureau?”
“Gavroche and Azelma told me I should. I can't really gainsay them of all people.” She breathes out. “So I'll be there in about two weeks.”
“That's amazing. Fantine must be beside herself. Everyone is probably celebrating right now.” He looks at the pile of craft supplies sitting on his couch. “I'll make you a wand.”
“I've been … sort of doing that. I made Enjolras a new one, and I made Jehan one. So I'll make you one.”
“Sure you don't want to come and work there with me?” she asks, wry.
Grantaire taps his fingers against his leg a few times. “I don't know. I've been thinking about it. I don't really want to deliver documents forever, and Fantine says I can make wands and whatever other supplies, not have to grant wishes.”
“Good. I wouldn't trust anyone else to make me a wand. It's going to be badass as shit, right?”
“Couldn't be anything less, to be yours,” he assures her. “I'll start on it tonight, and you'll have it for your very own on your first day of work. Congratulations, by the way. You're still figuring out daycare?”
“Maybe I'll just wish for it,” Éponine says. “Or if you come to work at the FGB and don't have enough to make you can babysit them in the afternoons and on vacations.”
“Sure. Gavroche would make great magic wands.”
“On second thought, I am going to put them in a daycare all the way across the city from you,” she says, and she even laughs.
After a second, he risks asking a question that goes a little deeper. “You're happy about it, though? Good with it? Doing it for you and not for whatever other reason?”
“Yeah, R, I am. You and Enjolras helped me—and shut up, yes, you were involved. Maybe I can pass it on. And Cosette and I sort of have things worked out.”
“Sometime I'll ask you about that.”
“No, you won't.” There's a loud noise from her end of the phone. “Azelma's celebratory dinner might have exploded,” she says, sounding fond instead of stressed. “I'll talk to you soon, okay? And I'll talk you into joining this office with me, they could use you there and anyway, Gav is going to want your current job in a couple of years.”
“Like I said, maybe. And I'm definitely building you a wand.”
He starts on it as soon as they hang up, cutting a star out of cardboard and covering it in tin foil since it's the closest he can get to a pure metal star without special tools at home. Hopefully the magic will make that more elegant when it starts working. He doesn't start on the shaft of the wand, but he does text Éponine to let her know that it's begun.
“I'm excited to finally work with her,” says Marius, and sometimes Grantaire forgets that Marius knew her when they were teenagers before they fell out of contact, probably because Éponine doesn't like to talk about it.
“Are you coming along too?” Joly asks, all studied unsubtle innocence.
Grantaire shrugs, and frowns at a wish capsule before deciding to put it in Feuilly's pile. He deserves a happy wish once in a while. “You're getting greedy, just because she's doing it doesn't mean everyone will.” He doesn't want to say how seriously he's considering it in front of everyone, because then he'll never get a minute's peace, and he needs it, if he's going to get there.
“Of course it's his choice,” says Enjolras, and then ruins it by looking up at Grantaire's face and saying “But we would like to have you here.”
“And you're the newest addition to the crew, so I suppose I should assume it's exponential with length of acquaintance or something, I suppose.” He tosses a capsule hand to hand before finally putting it in Courfeyrac's pile.
“I suppose,” says Enjolras.
The last wish is one for small wishes, someone wishing the radio would play something good for once while she's in the car, and Grantaire puts it in the pile and gestures around the table. “Since you're all here, you can pass word around that they're all sorted for the day, right?” Musichetta, bless her, is the first one to nod and start picking up wishes. Enjolras is the last. “And I'll see you all tomorrow.”
“Do you want some coffee for the road?” Enjolras asks, picking up his wishes for the day and following Grantaire a few steps towards the door.
“Thanks, but it's warm enough outside that a hot drink doesn't seem like a great idea.” He gives Enjolras an awkward nod and backs off a few more steps. “But thanks.”
“You're welcome,” says Enjolras, frowning a little, and Grantaire all but runs out of the office before he can say anything else.
It's probably not a coincidence that he doesn't have to refill his water bottle all day.
“Not at all, she's been waiting for you, even though she knows she has some training first,” says Fantine, coming up behind him and squeezing his shoulder. “I'll help Jehan, you go hand it over to her.”
Grantaire beams at her, grateful, and trots into the main part of the office, tracking down Éponine sitting with Feuilly and Courfeyrac, hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, smiling about something. “I've got something for you,” he says when she looks up and raises her eyebrows at him.
That gets Éponine on her feet. “Show me.”
It's a little uncomfortable, with Feuilly and Courfeyrac right there watching and no plausible deniability about being the one to make it, but he hasn't had that since he handed Enjolras's wand over and he knows it. He takes it out of his bag instead, wrapped up in washcloth because he was pretty certain Éponine wouldn't want one of his shirts, and lets her open it up.
The star is some kind of steel, rippled a little from originally being tin foil, edges just barely dull enough to prevent accidental cuts. The shaft is steel too, with crystal wrapped around it like wire, which was definitely more the magic than Grantaire, who only wrapped around some ribbon before he started waving it around.
“It looks like I could curse someone with it,” she says, sounding delighted, and she actually hugs him.
“You may be the good kind of fairy godmother that doesn't do things involving spindles and long naps, but no reason you can't look badass. And if you're worried about scaring clients you can always tie some ribbons on.”
Éponine smiles down at it. “Maybe I will. Depends on what kinds of wishes I get, I guess.”
“I'll save all the best ones for you, I'm allowed to play favorites and Fantine and Jehan can sort them themselves if they object.”
“I knew that knowing you had to be good for something.” She looks back down at her wand and smiles at it, and Grantaire shifts awkwardly, because that's the kind of face that leads to thanks, and he and Éponine don't do that.
“Knowing me is good for everything,” he says, probably too grand and loud for it to seem like anything but a distraction, but it makes Éponine relax and roll her eyes, anyway, so the danger has passed.
“Grantaire,” says Fantine from a few feet away, and she sounds far too serious for what's usually cause for office-wide celebration. “Can I speak to you for a moment?”
“That sounds like I'm in trouble,” he says, and then curses himself because he really doesn't want confirmation in front of his friends if he is.
“You aren't at all. I just need to speak to you. In my office, I think.”
Grantaire follows her, good mood slowly deflating, and shuts the door behind them once they're in her office. “Are your job offers going to get more threatening now that Éponine is here or something?”
Fantine produces a wish capsule from her pocket and puts it on the desk in between them. “You have a right to see this wish before it gets assigned to anyone.”
“Is it mine?”
“Just look at it, R.”
Mostly, Grantaire doesn't know the specifics of wishes as he sorts them. He goes by feel, and if something is hard to assign he'll concentrate on the details. This one immediately suggests itself as Enjolras's, and after a second he realizes it's because it's from Enjolras. He's never seen a wish in the Bureau from someone working there except the ones that get them working there in the first place. “Shouldn't you be asking him about it?” he asks before he looks any closer.
“I'm asking you.”
It feels like an invasion of Enjolras's privacy, but Fantine asked, so Grantaire looks closer. It's a wish for courage, which seems ridiculous when Enjolras is ready to take on the world to grant wishes. It's a wish for … “A wish for the courage to ask me out,” he manages to say out loud, and he's amazed his voice doesn't crack.
“So you see why I wanted you to see it. If you don't feel the same, I'll destroy the capsule, no harm done.” He doesn't know what his face looks like, but her expression softens. “And if you do, what you do is up to you.”
Grantaire puts the capsule very gently back on the desk, because his hands are shaking and he might break it. “I think right now I am going to go back to doing my job.”
“No. Thanks, but … I can't do this today.” He shrugs. “If Enjolras doesn't have the courage for this, then I definitely don't.”
“If you're sure,” says Fantine, and she looks tired and sad and sorry for him, and he hates all of it. “I won't keep you. But would you say yes?”
“I hope so,” says Grantaire, as honest as he can be, and stands up and walks out before she can say anything else.
The hall is clear on his way to the door, and he makes a note to thank Éponine later, and he doesn't do more than wave at Jehan as he goes into the elevator.
This time, he starts with a paintbrush, because it seems apropos. It's one of the bigger ones, meant to cover distance on a canvas, but never-used, so the bristles are still soft enough to tickle when he brushes it across his wrist.
Wood isn't his medium, but he does his best carving into it, whittling abstract patterns, leaves and flowers, detail work using practically every extension on his Swiss army knife, which he knows really shouldn't be used for the purpose. He starts getting texts around noon, someone guessing that something is wrong and passing the word around to see who he'll text back, but Grantaire ignores everyone except Éponine, and he only texts her to say that he hopes her first day is going well.
He can't say he's surprised when Enjolras knocks on his door when he's finished whittling and started painting the wood with one of his favorite dark stains.
“Someone let you in the building,” he says when he opens the door, because he could leave Enjolras out on his doorstep knocking all day, but if Enjolras is really determined eventually he's going to wish the door open.
“I wasn't sure you were here,” says Enjolras, and steps around him so Grantaire is the one closest to the door. Grantaire wonders if it's funny or just sad that Enjolras is giving him space to bolt from his own apartment. “You're making a wand.”
“I'm making my wand.” Enjolras gives him a startled, happy kind of look that puts Grantaire's heart in his throat, right where he doesn't want it. “It seems kind of inevitable at this point. I don't know if I'm quite ready, but it can't hurt to be ready.”
“No, it's just … I brought you something. You don't have to use it, but I thought it would be a gesture.”
“You don't have to make a gesture just because you made a wish.”
“You know what the wish was,” says Enjolras, and he has to have known already if he came after Grantaire, but he still looks uncomfortable about it. Grantaire can't blame him. “It wasn't … all it was for was courage, Grantaire. You seem to feel that I'm here under some kind of obligation, and I'm not.”
“Look, I know what it's like to have a crush and not be ready to make a move, you know? You've got to know. I made you a damn gold wand.”
“You did,” Enjolras agrees, taking a pause from looking uncomfortable to beam at him. “But I wanted to do it. I was ready. I just hadn't geared myself up to do it. But I can.”
“What, did the Wizard give you some courage?”
“No. But Fantine showed me the wish and I thought … well, I hoped it might be self-fulfilling. So I brought you something.” He reaches in his pocket, and Grantaire wants to make some stupid joke, but Enjolras looks too serious for that, and he's starting to believe that Enjolras is serious about all of it, that the wish wasn't one made in passing.
Grantaire puts out his hand automatically when Enjolras holds his out, and a second later there's a stone pressed into it. Some kind of rough green semi-precious stone, one he can't identify at first glance, small enough to fit in his palm. Just the right size to put on the end of a wand. “I made yours, so you're helping to make mine,” he says slowly, following the logic of it.
Enjolras sighs, relieved. “Yes. I thought about trying to find a stone cut like the sun or a comet or something, but this seemed more like you.”
“I like it.” He closes his hand around it. Some of the rough edges bite against his hand, but not much, just enough to ground him. “Thank you.”
“You're welcome,” says Enjolras, with just enough emphasis that Grantaire wonders if he's being shown how to take gratitude, which makes him smile. That, in turn, makes Enjolras smile, looking more sure by the moment. “What do you think, then?”
Grantaire could say that Enjolras already knows what he thinks, that he already thanked him for the stone so obviously he likes it, but he knows a change of subject when he hears one. He still wants to hear the words. “Think of what?”
Enjolras nods, looking down, and then looks back at Grantaire. “I'd like to kiss you,” he says, frank and quiet. “I'd like to take you on dates, or stay in on dates, if you prefer. I'd like to keep making you drinks before you leave the office, as long as you keep leaving the office. What do you think of that?”
There isn't anything Grantaire can say to that, not even with sarcasm, so he does the best thing he can instead, which is to step forward and kiss Enjolras. Enjolras makes a surprised little noise and puts his hands on Grantaire's shoulders either to steady himself or to push Grantaire back against a wall, which is more what ends up happening. It's not hot and fast, not anything but their mouths moving slowly together, but Grantaire still finds himself leaning most of his weight against the wall before they're done. “That's what I think,” he manages after a moment too long.
“That seems like a positive response.”
Grantaire kisses him again, and even manages to get a hand on him this time, gripping Enjolras's waist with the hand that he isn't still holding the stone in. Enjolras leans into him more this time, coaxes Grantaire's mouth open with his tongue and then finally pulling away with a satisfied noise. “Definitely a positive response,” Grantaire says when he remembers what the last thing Enjolras said was.
“Good. Fantine told me that this is my case for the day, so I'm free to stay. If you'd like.”
Grantaire nods. “Yes, I'd definitely like. I was finishing up a coat of stain on my wand. Did you want to watch?”
“I would love to,” says Enjolras, warm and happy. “Show me.”
After another kiss, Grantaire does, taking especial care with the brush and the stain and kissing Enjolras in between coats until it's as dark as he wants it and as even as he can get it. He makes them both lunch while it all dries and texts Éponine while Enjolras is in the bathroom to ask if she's using her newfound power to make all his wishes come true. She texts him back to tell him not to be a sappy asshole, and that's good too, to have something to ground him when Enjolras comes back and grins at him again like he's having an even better day than his first day at the FGB.
“What should we use to put the stone on?” Grantaire asks when he finds his voice.
Enjolras tilts his head, considering. “Copper wire. Like mine. It would look nice with the green stone.”
“Copper wire it is, then.” And it will be a reminder of Enjolras as long as this lasts, too, which matters maybe more than the color of the stone.
He's careful about wrapping the wire on and just which parts of the stone are bared to the world, and when he's done he barely has to touch it before it's settling into being real, carved mahogany instead of whittled whatever it was before, all his designs neater and crisper and more even. The stone doesn't change at all.
“What are you going to wish to test it?” Enjolras asks, hushed like Grantaire just did something incredible.
Grantaire shakes his head. “It's not for granting wishes, it's for making things.”
“What are you going to make, then?”
“Nothing.” When Enjolras frowns, mouth already open to object, he shakes his head again. “I'm going to give it to you and you're going to store it in your desk, and whenever I'm ready to come work for the Bureau full-time, you're going to give it back to me, and then I'll make something.”
Enjolras takes it from him when he holds it out and inspects it again, testing it for the balance, feeling the bristles on his palm, touching the stone a few times. “I'll make sure to keep it safe,” he says.
Grantaire nods. “That's why I'm leaving it with you.”
“I feel like someone's about to jump out and yell surprise, but you're all doing a really bad job of hiding,” he says, dropping wishes on the counter so Jehan can start the intake, though Jehan is looking just as expectant as everyone else.
He's not surprised that Enjolras is at the front of the pack with what looks like a flute case in his hands (and of course he found a nice box for it instead of wrapping it in a shirt or a towel). “Since it's your first day, I have something for you,” he says.
“This is going to be a thing, isn't it?” Grantaire asks, even though everyone's barely-contained joy for the last two weeks hasn't made him expect any different. “Come on, hand it over, it's not that exciting, I already know what it looks like.”
“It's very exciting,” Fantine says, as severe as Fantine ever gets, and takes the case from Enjolras. “As the director of this branch of the Fairy Godmother Bureau, I'd like to welcome our first Wish Technology Support staff member, and to present you with your wand.”
“Seriously, you have to open it,” says Bahorel from the back of the crowd. He seems to have broken out a suit in a truly alarming shade of daffodil for the occasion (he really must make his own, Grantaire can't imagine someone selling them in good conscience). “Enjolras won't show any of us what it looks like.”
Grantaire does open it. It looks just the same as it did a month ago, just as obviously his as everyone else's wands so clearly belong to them. Everyone still looks like they're waiting for something, so he dutifully waves it around a few times and takes an awkward bow when they start clapping and cheering.
“What are you going to make first?” Enjolras asks him under the noise, an echo of the question he asked the day it was made.
Grantaire thinks of the oddly-shaped canister that was with the wishes when he collected them, an assignment that's no doubt for him, and looks around at all his friends, who are settling down and getting ready to get to work, clapping him on the shoulder as they pass or, in Éponine's case, giving him a nod across the room. “I guess we'll have to find out.”