ONE - 2010
About three dozen pumpkins on the porch. Ten skeletons. A hundred mason jar candles. Three fucking ghost statues. If there was an award for ’most overboard Halloween decoration’, Enjolras’ mother would surely win it. They’d moved in two weeks ago, and their house was already a tourist attraction.
„Very pumpkin. Much spoop,” Courf had said when he’d emailed his old friends a photo.
„Those skeletons are anatomically incorrect,” Ferre had added. „But you can’t go wrong with that much pumpkin.”
Enjolras himself was tempted to organize a rally against the commercial holiday of candy corn and unnecessarily sexy costumes. At his new school he’d already earned himself detention for a speech held on a cafeteria tabletop; he wasn’t afraid of earning it again. He’d designed flyers and planned further speeches and had all necessary arguments prepared should he find himself in a fight.
At the moment, though, it was other things he needed to concentrate on.
Namely, the pumpkin pie they were attempting to bake.
And the can of pumpkin that needed to be opened.
The unfortunate consequence of moving houses is that certain items always get lost. And even though they’d only moved from the city centre to the suburbs, a whole array of things had been declared missing, including a pair of sneakers Enjolras had been particularly fond of and a porcelain figurine he didn’t miss at all. And now the can opener.
„Go ask a neighbor for one,” his mother eventually sighed. Enjolras took in the sight of the kitchen, with all cupboards open and four drawers upturned. A paper skeleton lay draped over a chair and the kitchen counter pumpkin had landed in the sink. It was a sorry sight. Enjolras supposed it was inevitable that he should meet the neighbors.
Of the two families, the left one seemed friendlier. All he knew about either of them was that the left hand house had lots of flowers and the right hand one kept turkeys and other constantly screeching fowls, and the choice was fairly obvious.
He stood before their door for almost twenty seconds after ringing the bell.
He probably looked remarkably stupid standing with a jumbo can of pumpkin in his hand and he thought of heading over the turkey family instead, but then he heard the shuffling of slippers on stone and the door was swung open.
„Pizza?” the guy murmured, and then he rubbed his eyes and blinked. „Sorry, I thought it was pizza. Hey.”
Enjolras did his best to appear friendly, even though the guy seemed dangerously disoriented.
„Hey. Umm, it’s Enjolras. From next door.”
„Grantaire. Which next door? Regular next door or Halloween next door?”
„Halloween next door.”
Grantaire just stared, first at Enjolras, then at the can of pumpkin in his hand.
„Yeah, I should’ve guessed. You seem pretty pumpkinsexual.” He grinned. „Come in. We’ve got pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake bars, and if I don’t fall a asleep, I can even whip up a pumpkin spice latte for you.”
„No, thanks... I, err, just wanted to ask for you to open this can of pumpkin. We lost our can opener while moving and-”
„Dude, just accept it. It’s the payment I require for letting you unleash even more pumpkin on the neighborhood.”
„But-” Nobody left Enjolras speechless. Nobody. Sixteen years had given him more than enough time to equip himself with a most fearless, unstoppable attitude few people could boast of, and if he didn’t know how to respond, it was probably because he was asleep. But the local teenage insomniac had apparently shut him up.
Because who was Enjolras to refuse a free homemade pumpkin spice latte?
Grantaire didn’t end up falling asleep in the kitchen, though he dumped a suspiciously large (and bordering on gross) amount of pumpkin puree into the coffee, and forced no less than seven big slices of pumpkin desserts onto Enjolras’ plate. He prepared to say no, but once again: who was he to refuse free dessert?
„So, you’re not a big fan of Halloween, either?” he asked between bites, eyeing the slightly disgusted look the guy regularly directed towards the can of pumpkin.
Grantaire raised an eyebrow.
Enjolras stuffed a slice of pumpkin bread into his mouth. He chewed under Grantaire’s scrutiny for what seemed like the longest twenty seconds of his life, then finally swallowed.
„I hate Halloween. I only like pumpkin.”
Grantaire suddenly seemed wide awake.
„You hate Halloween and you like pumpkin? Dude, that’s fucked up.”
„It’s fucked up that I dislike a capitalistic holiday and like a perfectly delicious vegetable?”
„Perfectly evil vegetable.”
„Perfectly delicious vegetable,” Enjolras said, drawing his eyebrows together and preparing himself for a fight; but then he noticed the still unopened can of pumpkin sitting on the coffee table. „Would you please open my can?”
„No. Pumpkin is the spawn of the devil,” Grantaire declared, and Enjolras could hear Courf’s heart breaking from across the city. „And besides, how can you not like skeletons? And ghosts? And dressing up? I mean, being pumpkinsexual is lame on its own, but hating Halloween, that’s like... jeez, want some 4 dollar wine? I need to digest what you just told me.”
Grantaire padded over to the kitchen and Enjolras gaped because no way a high schooler was casually keeping alcohol in the fridge. His surprise must have been written on his face because Grantaire chuckled.
„Everybody’s gathered at Auntie Eulalie’s and they’re not coming back till midnight. I pretended to be unwakeable.”
Smart bastard, Enjolras thought. The biggest perk of having spent his entire life far from his birth town of San Fransisco was the distance of the relatives, and he was glad he got to spend almost all holidays with his mother, who, despite her general enthusiasm for decorating, was pretty cool. And sometimes Ferre and Courf came to spend the holiday at his house, or they drove up to Cape Cod with Ferre’s family, who had a smaller mansion there. He supposed if his life were any other way, he too would end up sitting home alone drinking contraband wine and waiting for the pizza guy to arrive.
His phone started ringing and Enjolras jumped. It was his mother, of course, and she wanted to know why he was taking so long with the can. Did they not have can openers, either? Should she make apple pie instead?
„Gotta go, Mom’s waiting. Would you please open my can?”
„If I must. God, I hate pumpkin.”
Enjolras supposed he was going to start another long rant; but he had been the fiercest kid on the debate team in his old school. So he decided to shut him up.
„Hey, Mom forced a plastic skeleton into my room and I hate its shit-eating capitalistic grin. Want it? In exchange for the sacrifice you’re making? I can have my pumpkin then and you can have your Halloween.
„Sure. But only if I can pack your mom some pumpkin bread.”
TWO - 2011
„So, how do I look?”
Grantaire’s jaw dropped. The school’s Halloween party was usually astoundingly horrible. But his next door neighbor (and since recently, boyfriend) was about to give tradition a good old kick in the arse and Grantaire couldn’t have been happier. Senior year was going to be awesome.
Because Enjolras, sweet, pro-pumpkin, anti-Halloween Enjolras, had decided to make an attack on the holiday he judged over-commercialized and sexist, and his plan was one Grantaire inevitably found himself loving: Enjolras had dressed up as a sexy nun and was ready for a fight.
„Ah-khm... you look... hot.” He felt himself going red. Because yeah, Grantaire loved the plan, because he got to see Enjolras in stilettos and short skirts and lipstick, but also... he got to see Enjolras in stilettos and short skirts and lipstick. And it was very distracting. „You look like you could destroy Halloween with a stomp of your high heels,” he added.
Enjolras tugged at the décolletage of his costume and gave his dangerously red lips one last pout, then took Grantaire’s offered arm.
They somehow managed to make it down the stairs - despite the weeks of praticing, the stairs were still dangerous territory in heels - then headed for Enjolras’ van. Grantaire took the driver’s seat, Enjolras called shotgun.
„I wonder how much detention you’ll get,” he said, rolling out of the garage.
„I wonder how much pumpkin pie I can steal before they kick us out.” Enjolras stared at himself in a pocket mirror, and raised his eyebrows. „I look really hot in this lipstick. I should wear it more often.”
„You look hot in almost anything, Apollo.”
„I’ll dress up as a pumpkin, see how you like me then.”
„Well then, I’m afraid I’ll end up wanting to kiss a pumpkin. I’ll turn pumpkinsexual, too. Good God.” He made a disgusted face and Enjolras laughed even louder and they pulled up at Bossuet’s house and Bossuet and Chetta and Joly were already waiting for them, dressed up in horrific witch and sorcerer costumes they’d ordered from Amazon and blinged out with several tubes of glitter. Grantaire doubted Enjolras’ van would ever be rid of that much sparkle. They next picked up Bahorel and Feuilly (Error 404 - Costume Not Found sharpied onto white shirts), and the van was sooned filled with excited chattering and laughter.
The school’s sports hall was decorated with paper pumpkins and paper skeletons. They all stumbled in grinning, joined by a vampire-turned Éponine, and Grantaire gave Enjolras a peck on the lips before he released the blonde’s arms.
And the show started.
Enjolras had planned his performance meticulously. He’d practiced for weeks in either his or his boyfriend’s room and Grantaire now watched him turn from giggling teenager into femme, er, homme fatal as he headed towards the snacks table, hips swaying in a way that could’ve been considered porn. Grantaire would’ve sweared Enjolras had hidden a fan somewhere in the room, just so his blonde hair and short skirt could flutter perfectly - wasn’t this shit supposed to impossible when considering the laws of physics?
And heads were turning. First a football player whistled at Enjolras, then stopped dead when he realized who it was. Then Mrs Humboldt started punching Mrs Clarick’s arm, begging for her to look, and by the time the graceful figure reached the bowl of punch, half the hall was staring at him.
„Mr Enjolras,” the principal began, but he was cut off.
„This is the sort of costume they advertize for women,” Enjolras began his speech, but he too was cut off.
Because Mrs Clarick had fainted.
And the Halloween party had descended into chaos.
Grantaire would later realize that it actually wasn’t more than about thirty people actively shouting, but at the time it seemed as if the entire school had gone mad. The principle had first started screaming at Enjolras, and Enjolras had then started screaming at the principle, and then Musichetta had also started screaming at the principle, and Bahorel had punched some guy, and that guy had punched Bahorel back, and then Bossuet had also gotten punched by some guy, and Joly had started sneezing, and Grantaire had also decided to join the fight and-
They sat in the Musain, stuffing their face with cold croissants, and Bahorel and Bossuet and Grantaire were being given ice by Mme Houcheloup. Musichetta was downing a glass of rosé. Feuilly was rebraiding Éponine’s hair, and Joly, blessed Joly, had bought a jar of jam and was spreading it on croissant after croissant for them.
„Well this went awry,” Enjolras observed. He’d been buried in his phone, but now lifted his blue eyes onto his friends.
„That’s Texas for you,” said Bahorel.
And Enjolras grinned.
„Don’t worry, Ferre has invited all of us to Cape Cod next year. And since you’ve been warned a year in advance... don’t you dare spend your next Halloween elsewhere.”
CHAPTER 3 - 2012
Enjolras’ van, as large and ugly as it was, didn’t prove itself big enough to fit in itself a friend group as numerous as the ABC, as they’d taken to calling themselves. Enjolras’ and Grantaire’s friends had inevitably become friends themselves, and then they’d met Jehan Prouvaire, the doe-eyed poet who’d left several dozen revolutionary poems on the walls in both the girls’ and boys’ bathrooms (the moment he’d heard of the kid, Enjolras had known they’d become friends), and Courf had found a freckled boy named Marius, who’d ended up dating a girl named Cosette sometime during the summer break.
It was with a rented bus they’d made the journey across America.
They arrived at Ferre’s mansion in the following afternoon, and Enjolras couldn’t help but sigh when he saw the familiar bricks and the geraniums lining the windows. He had so many wonderful memories linking him to this place that wasn’t even his. And now the entire ABC would spend Halloween there together and Enjolras didn’t believe he could feel happier.
But of course, thirteen college freshmen unleashed upon the quaint mansion on the Cape is never going to end well.
He was dressed as Saint-Just. Louis Antoine de Saint-Just. He hadn’t been joking. Holy fuck.
Enjolras gripped Ferre’s shoulder to steady himself as his eyes wandered down Grantaire’s figure, resplendent in full eighteenth century costume. Yeah, his fave had always been Robespierre. But Saint-Just had always been the hotter one of the two... and Grantaire was dressed like a dead French revolutionary and Enjolras was preparing to faint. He wasn’t ready for this sort of shit.
„You alright, Enj?” asked Ferre.
„Sure,” he murmured. „Perfectly not fine.” He stared at Grantaire, who was tipping his head backwards to down his beer, long neck arching and adam’s apple bobbing. Ferre followed his gaze. „He even has a fucking cockade. And tight pants. And a fitted jacked. Good God.”
„I never thought you were so into dead revolutionaries.”
„I didn’t, either. What do I do?”
„Well, you could’ve dressed like nun again, like last year. That would already have become a solution of a sorts.” Indeed, Grantaire had later confessed his thoughts on last year’s costume, and it had made Enjolras blush, and it made him blush again to think of the consequences it would already be having.
But there was no sexy nun costume.
„I trash-canned it,” he said with a sigh.
Enjolras looked down at this year’s costume, a tacky zombie he hadn’t put too much effort into. Discoloured converses he’d dug up from the bottom of his high school PE kit. Torn jeans, offered by Feuilly. 1950s jacket, a donation of Grantaire’s grandpa. And a zombie mask he’d picked up for two dollars. Pretty lame and guaranteedly useless to catch Grantaire’s attention.
Who was now giving an impassioned speech, like Enjolras himself often did, and like the revolutionary probably had back in the day.
He’ll never be able to look at Saint-Just’s biography the same again.
„You could always be a naked zombie,” Ferre eventually said, and then Enjolras realized it was not water but vodka in his glass, and that not even his wisest friend would be of any help tonight. He had to take matters into his own hands.
It took barely five minutes to race upstairs to where his suitcase was spewing clothes and change into his favourite red jacket. Grantaire always had coloured pencils lying around; he drew himself a cockade and pinned it on with a paper clip. It would do.
Grantaire was still arguing with Joly, about pumpkins, and the argument was every bit as good-hearted and stereotypical as Enjolras expected. Of course, Grantaire was preaching vehemently against the vegetable.
„But you can’t deny it looks awesome,” Joly was saying. „Especially if you decorate it. I once saw a pumpkin carved as Oscar Wilde’s face and I literally screamed.”
„That doesn’t change the fact that they’re disgustingly orange and pulpy and I don’t see why anyone would willing touch them. They stink like poop.”
„I guess you could say they’re... spoopy.”
Grantaire obviously couldn’t decide whether to groan or laugh, so he just flung a Dorito in his friend’s direction and reached for his beer to clear his throat for a new round of arguing. This was the moment Enjolras chose to slink behind his boyfriend and wrap his arms around his waist.
„Boo,” he whispered.
„Boo,” Grantaire chuckled. „I thought you were a zombie.”
„I was a zombie. Now I’m a ghost. Shapeshifting is the way to go.”
Grantaire grinned and turned around in his boyfriend’s arms.
„Well I think you purposefully shifted into a red-jacketed god because you saw me dressed as Saint-Just.”
„Well I think you’re correct.” And though he could see the disgustingly mocking shine of Grantaire’s eyes, Enjolras was preparing to lean in for a kiss when he saw it from the corner of his eyes. In the shadows. Almost hidden by Cosette and Marius’ awkward slow-dance. Ferre and Courf. Making out.
And perhaps it was that one beer in him. Or the shock of Grantaire dressing up as a french revolutionary. Or maybe just the sheer surprise of seeing one of his childhood friends pinning the other against a wall.
But Enjolras gave in to his instincts and screeched.
Everybody went quiet. Nicki Minaj went on rapping in the backround, but Feuilly turned the volume down. All eyes turned to him, wrapped around Grantaire who was staring at him in shock, and he felt himself going red, but his own eyes were still fixed on Ferre and Courf’s corner. Where the two boys were still pinned against the wall, albeit they were both looking at Enjolras.
One by one all eyes started following Enjolras’ gaze, and Enjolras himself struggled to find the words as Courf started laughing.
„Well, it really was about time to be discovered.”
„Congratulations?” the blonde blurted out. Joy was fast replacing the shock.
„What do you mean ’congratulations’?” Bahorel shouted. „This needs to be celebrated properly. Ferre, Courf, continue making out. Feuilly, fix the cake. Jehan, write something pretty.” He scrunched his eyebrows. Then he grinned. „Chetta, I think I saw champagne in the fridge. Bring it in, would you?”
Enjolras glanced at Ferre and Courf, who had indeed resumed their kissing, then let his eyes wander around the rest of the members of the ABC. They were more than his friends, they were family, and as he snuggled up to Grantaire, he couldn’t help but feel a warmth spreading in his chest. This was where he wanted to be.
„Hey,” Grantaire whispered. „Wanna shift into a naked guy once the party’s over?”