It starts a week before Valentine’s day.
Enjolras was exhausted; it was the week before midterms, and every professor he had decided it was a lovely time to have papers due. He had spent nearly all night in the library, an hour and fifteen minute power nap on a table sustaining him for the past 48 hours, typing away through an analysis of Gulliver’s Travels and a hideously long, rambling paper about the annexation of Crimea.
It was early light before he had gotten back to his dorm, grouchy and stomach rumbling. He keyed open the door, and promptly stepped on something on the floor.
It crunched, and he stilled with a sigh. He paused a moment, inwardly probably more annoyed than the situation called for, before lifting his foot. It was a pink envelope, and he couldn’t help but squint when he saw his own name in nice calligraphy.
He bent down and picked it up, and then walked over to their dining room table. He threw his bag on top, a little too hard considering it carried his laptop, and slumped down into a chair. With an uncareful hand, he opened it up, sliding out the note.
It was one of those children’s valentine’s day cards. It had a picture of R2D2 on it, proclaiming in bright pink letters “U R2 CUTE” and signed Your Secret Valentine.
Deciding he was ultimately too tired to deal with this, he threw it back down on the table, went to his bedroom, and fell asleep with his shoes still on.
He wakes to a text.
Grantaire: Dinner in thirty?
He has a bit of a standing date with Grantaire this term to catch dinner on days they both had a night class in the same building. It had started as stopping by the university Taco Bell, walking to class and chatting, and had since evolved into 2 hour affairs that always left Enjolras smiling through at least the first thirty minutes of International Theory and Practice.
He checks the time and promptly curses, sitting up with such force that he has to close his eyes against the dizziness. He has about ten minutes before Grantaire would knock on his apartment door, and he is still in yesterday’s clothes, hair uncombed.
He flies through his morning routine, inwardly cursing himself for caring so much that he looked put together. Last summer, Grantaire had joined he, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Feuilly, and Bahorel on their yearly camping trip. Grantaire has seen him waking up on the forest floor with literal bugs crawling through his hair - a little frizz won’t faze him.
It doesn’t stop Enjolras from putting a clump of mousse in his hair.
He’s toeing on his shoes when he hears the knock, and takes a second to steady his shaking hand and pounding heart so it doesn’t show when he opens the door.
Grantaire smiles when he opens the door, all green eyes and sunny skies, and, blankly, Enjolras wondered when this stopped being “dinner with a friend” and started being “dinner with a friend."
“Hi,” he greets.
“Hello, royal knight of the apartment complex. Are you ready to yonder down to the fair?”
“If you mean am I ready for a burrito, then, yes.”
Enjolras reaches up to grab his keys off the keyring. When he looks back, his gaze slides down to Grantaire’s shirt.
It’s a The Force Awakens tee, with C3P0 and R2D2 under the title.
His gaze shifts back up to Grantaire, who is looking back, slightly confused but unabashed.
“Nice shirt,” he says slowly.
“Thanks,” Grantaire says. He cocks his head. “I thought you weren’t into Star Wars.”
Enjolras opens his mouth to reply, and finds he doesn’t really know what to say, so he just shrugs, says “I like the droids,” and heads out.
The next day it’s a small box of chocolates in his mailbox. The note is signed exactly the same way, no further indication of the sender’s identity. He squints at the writing, and realizes it's written by someone who is left-hand dominant - a random elective in forensic science actually coming in handy.
Grantaire’s left handed. He remembers because they kept accidentally bumping arms when seated next to each other at a letter writing campaign.
But then again, so is 12% of the population, including Courfeyrac, who would definitely do this just to cheer him up.
“Courfeyrac!” he shouts, and waits.
“What?” he hears through Courfeyrac’s bedroom door.
“Did you give me chocolate?”
He doesn’t come out to further investigate, which means he’s probably busy with some guy in his room, or very behind on school work.
Somewhere inside him, he knows he could just ask Grantaire, but something is stopping him, something known but unnamed.
Enjolras stares at the chocolate for a long, long minute, before shrugging, and eating five.
They’re hazelnut, which isn’t his favorite, but they’re okay.
The next day, Enjolras asks to stop by his mailbox on the way to dinner.
“Expecting something?” Grantaire asks easily. His hands are in his pockets, shoulders slumped, the picture of casual, and Enjolras just honestly can’t tell how good of an actor he is to know if it’s real or not.
“Possibly,” he evades.
He opens his mailbox, and low and behold, there’s a small bear, stuffed and holding a heart.
Grantaire’s silent as he watches Enjolras hold it, leaning up against the door to the mailroom. He turns, holding it towards Grantaire.
“Any idea where this may have come from?”
Grantaire shakes his head, bushy hair moving with him. “No note?”
“No. I got two earlier this week too, a card and some chocolate.”
“Sound like an attempted seduction to me,” says Grantaire, but there’s something pinched to his voice, just on the edge of awkward, and he’s avoiding Enjolras’s gaze.
“Well then.” Enjolras has no use for a bear, and has no idea what he’ll do with it, but he’s mindful to make a show of being careful with it, just in case.
The cupcake outside his door in a package is vanilla with red frosting. He normally isn’t the biggest fan of sweets, but it’s nice and thoughtful.
He takes a picture of it and texts it to Grantaire with the caption of “?”
His phone buzzes.
Grantaire: Not I, said the fly.
A moment passes, then it buzzes again.
Grantaire: Looks good, though.
Grantaire’s t-shirt is too small for his shoulders.
“Put on a coat,” Enjolras advises. A beat. “Because it’s cold,” he adds helpfully.
“Of course.” Grantaire sounds amused. He puts on his coat, his favorite one, an old beat up barn jacket with paint stains on the corner and the smell of musk deeply ingrained and perfectly sized, and, really, that isn’t any better.
“You sure you want to go?” Grantaire asks after they’re already outside and he’s locking the door. “I could text Joly last minute - he’s always sort of liked avant-garde art, God bless his soul.”
“I thought this was a Dadaism exhibition,” Enjolras says, puzzled. “Like, with the stupid art.”
Grantaire laughs, and they fall into step. “Dadaism is avant-garde art. And calling it stupid isn’t really convincing me that you want to go.”
“Really,” Enjolras deadpans. “Because no one would ever call something stupid but still show up, again and again and—”
“Point taken,” Grantaire concedes.
“And who knows, maybe I’ll take to art.” Doubtful, but that’s not why he’s going. “And I said it because I believe it, you say it to rile me up and make everything more annoying.” He tries to put affection in his voice, which probably works, because Grantaire laughs.
“I don’t strengthen your arguments with my well supported and controversial beliefs?” There’s a genuine question there underneath the teasing, and Enjolras huffs slightly.
“Not particularly. I don’t like you there because you enjoy picking fights with me - I like you there despite that, actually.”
It’s the truth; Grantaire’s comments are, generally, unhelpful and obnoxious, derailing everything far more than being an actual help. It wasn’t until far later, almost three months after they met, that he found out Grantaire spouted shit for the sake of spouting shit - he didn’t ever really believe what he was arguing. After the third time he showed up to a bake sale with a pro-environmentalist t-shirt, Enjolras privately forgave him for his talkative quirks and actually started to form a personal relationship.
Since then, things have progressed.
And come to a screeching halt, in other ways.
“Hm,” Grantaire hums. They pick up their pace slightly, and Grantaire’s legs are so long that Enjolras can feel himself start to lose his breath keeping up. “That implies you like my company.”
“Of course I do, R,” and it shouldn’t cost him anything to say that, he says it enough to his friends, but his heart skips a beat nonetheless.
“How about that,” Grantaire mutters, and Enjolras isn’t sure he’s supposed to hear it, so he doesn’t reply.
The moment passes, and the conversation shifts.
The poem in his mailbox goes unfound until the next day.
“We need to pick a new restaurant,” Enjolras says. He picks at his burrito bowl with his fork. “There’s only so much Taco Bell one should consume, and we passed that threshold months ago.”
“Your digestion system shall thank you,” Grantaire replies, but it doesn’t stop him from stuffing over half a soft taco into his mouth.
Enjolras knows he’s got a problem when he just feels fond.
“So,” he starts, his hand fiddling with his fork. Grantaire watches his movements, his eyes shifting from the fork to Enjolras’s face.
“So?” His mouth his half full.
“So. Today’s gift was a Starbucks gift card.”
Grantaire swallows roughly, then takes a large gulp of his Mountain Dew. Enjolras waits patiently, foot tapping underneath the table.
“That’s not very romantic.”
Enjolras squints. “The gift card had hearts on it.”
Grantaire shrugs, conceding the point. “Okay. Well, you do like coffee. You get one before every class.”
“Not usually Starbucks,” Enjolras points out, carefully gauging Grantaire’s reaction.
“Yeah, but there’s one right next to Miller Hall - you always seem to have an international relations class in there.”
“True,” Enjolras concedes. His foot is still tapping. “Do you think it’s a good gift?”
Grantaire shrugs. He’s now picking lettuce out of his taco and putting it on the tray table, which is weird, since Grantaire likes lettuce.
“It more matters if you think it’s a good gift.”
Enjolras nods. “I do.”
“There you go, then.”
“Did you send it?” He blurts, and quickly colors.
He’s almost hoping Grantaire will say no, just so their big ‘getting together moment’ isn’t in a Taco Bell where there’s a group of teenage boys in the corner rating female celebrities’ breasts.
“No,” Grantaire says, and Enjolras still feels his heart drop slightly. “I’m not quite that romantic.”
The thing is, Grantaire is that romantic, and Enjolras happens to know this because of not-creepy means.
Eponine had just been talking to Cosette slightly too loudly, and Enjolras had been the next table over. She had been making fun of Grantaire for going to too far of lengths for the birthday of his two month girlfriend, someone named Rosa, the whole nine-yards of candles and rose petals, champagne and romantic music.
“Our apartment looked like a goddamn high class brothel,” Eponine had moaned. “Took him three days to clean up too, the bastard.”
Grantaire just keeps eating his taco, and Enjolras lets it drop.
A coffee slams down next to his hand, and Enjolras jumps in his seat, his knee coming up to hit the table.
Grantaire laughs, clear and ringing, and Enjolras shoots him a glare.
“Delivery for your highness.”
“Thank you, noble knave.” Grantaire looks delighted at his playing along, and Enjolras finds himself smiling as Grantaire plops down in the chair next to him.
“Studying for my midterm tomorrow. Where’d the coffee come from?”
“I got it for myself, but they made it with soy. Didn’t realize until I was halfway into the library. Wasn’t worth the effort of going back.”
“Well, thank you.” Enjolras grabs the cup and takes a tentative sip, as the cup is very hot. He hums pleasantly when the drink hits the back of his throat.
“My pleasure. Do you need any help?”
“I mean, if you don’t mind quizzing me—”
“Notecard me up, bitch,” Grantaire interrupts.
“Really?” Enjolras says. He’s not sure why he sounds so surprised, and it’s a little embarrassing. “Wouldn’t have guessed.”
“I’m actually really into the color blue. And, I don’t know, they’re pretty.”
“I like daisies.”
Enjolras shrugs, or as best he can while lying on a couch. “They’re the friendliest flower.”
He feels rather than sees Grantaire laugh.
It’s going on about 5AM, and they’ve foregone studying about two hours ago. The library is silent in the wee hours of the morning, the sun just starting to lighten up the sky from its pitch black. The red hearts the library hung from the ceiling in celebration of Valentine’s gently move over his head.
They really should have retired by now, called it a night and went their separate ways, but there’s something about Grantaire’s company, his attention, that he craves worse than any other non-physical thing before in his life - it’s an actual ache, a desperation to not let someone out of his sight.
Grantaire doesn’t voice his reasons, but he’s stayed as well, gradually making his way from the upright wooden chair to the old, worn brown couch next to the table. Enjolras has very little idea how, but somehow, his head is up against Grantaire’s legs, where it has been for the past hour as they discussed trivial topic after trivial topic.
Enjolras yawns, long and heavy, his eyes closing in exhaustion.
“Here, let me move,” Grantaire says. Enjolras makes a vague noise of dissent, blinking as Grantaire maneuvers himself out from under Enjolras’s head. Enjolras opens his eyes, watching as Grantaire shoulders off his hoodie.
He’s back in that fucking t-shirt.
“Do you not own clothes that fit,” Enjolras mutters.
“What was that?”
Grantaire hands him the hoodie, which Enjolras takes with slow movements. “For a pillow,” Grantaire clarifies, and Enjolras nods slowly, placing it under his head, his eyes immediately drooping again.
Grantaire takes a seat across from him in the armchair, and old, gross yellow thing. He curls up, knees to chest, his head resting on the armrest. He takes his winter coat off the floor where he chucked it hours before, and places it over himself.
Enjolras lets his eyes fall.
It’s quiet for a long moment.
“Tomorrow you might figure out who it is sending the stuff,” Grantaire says.
Enjolras opens his eyes, bleary. Grantaire’s still curled, but his head is up, bright eyes staring directly at Enjolras.
“Yeah? You think he’ll reveal himself?”
“Or she,” Grantaire corrects. “Yeah, makes sense, right? For Valentine’s?”
“Suppose,” Enjolras slurs. His eyes drop back closed, so, so heavy. “Why do you ask?”
“Just - what if you’re not happy with who it is?”
“What if I am?” Enjolras counters.
Grantaire doesn’t reply, and Enjolras expends the herculean amount of energy it takes to open his eyes. Grantaire has let his own eyes fall closed, but Enjolras can see where he’s clutching his coat around him, knuckles white.
Enjolras snuggles back into the couch, head nuzzling into hoodie. It smells like musk and paint, and it’s somehow incredibly comforting. “Don’t worry about it, R.”
“‘M not,” Grantaire mutters.
Enjolras has already fallen asleep.
They’re on their way back from the library at about 10AM after a long nap and being awoken from the morning students.
They’re fairly quiet, just making idle chatter as they slowly trek back to Enjolras’s dorm.
When they are almost there, a guy comes out of a neighboring dorm, and starts to walk towards them. They both move simultaneously out of the way so he can pass, but the guy moves back in their path, blocking them.
“Enjolras,” the guy greets. They all stop, and Enjolras sees Grantaire throw him a curious look. Enjolras shrugs, bemused.
“Hello,” Enjolras replies. The guy beams at him, and Enjolras sends a side-eyed look to Grantaire. When he looks back, the guy is still smiling. Enjolras raises an eyebrow. “Can I help you?”
“Remember me? Craig, from International Negotiation last term?”
“Oh, yeah,” Enjolras says slowly. The memory of the guy is slowly dawning on him. He sat behind Enjolras and to the left. “What’s up?”
“Well,” says Craig, drawing out the sound. He bounces on the balls of his feet, and Enjolras can hear Grantaire let out a small sigh of frustration. He leans closer to Grantaire, brushing his arm in a silent apology. “I just wanted to do the last one in person.”
Dumbly, Enjolras watches as he reaches into his book bag and pulls out a rose. He tries to hand it over to Enjolras, who stares at it in mid-air, uncomprehending. As the seconds pass, Craig’s smile dims. He slowly lowers the rose, and Enjolras’s gaze snaps up to catch his, dumbstruck.
“Surprise,” he says, his hands making a little ‘ta-da’ motion. “I’m your secret valentine.”
“And that’s my cue,” says Grantaire. He moves to walk away, and Enjolras finds his hand lunging out, curling around Grantaire’s elbow and harshly yanking him backwards.
“Nuh uh uh,” he says. “You stay.”
“I don’t need to watch this,” Grantaire whispers to him, leaning in slightly.
“I need the support,” Enjolras answers, just as quiet.
Craig’s smile has been slowly dimming as the moments pass.
Enjolras turns back to him and plasters on the nicest, fakest smile he can muster.
“I’m flattered, Craig, but I’m not interested.”
“Oh.” He looks deeply disappointed, and Enjolras almost feels bad as he watches him tuck the rose back in his bag. “Are you sure? We seemed to have a connection in class last term.”
Come to think of it, they did have a one week project together, writing about liberalism. They generally agreed on everything, which is probably why Enjolras doesn’t remember it almost at all.
“I’m sure,” Enjolras confirms with a nod.
“Oh,” Craig repeats, and runs a hand through his hair. “Okay. Well, have a nice, uh, holiday then, I guess.”
He turns to walk away, shoulders slumped and feet dragging slightly. Enjolras watches him go, mind blank. Vaguely, he wonders if he’s in shock.
Moments pass, and then, next to him, Grantaire says in a faux-cheer voice, “Well, that was uncomfortable.”
Enjolras whirls around, his book bag flying out with the force of it and hitting Grantaire in the leg.
“Hey,” Grantaire objects, but is drowned out by Enjolras, who is pointing a finger straight at Grantaire’s chest.
“The gifts weren’t from you?”
Grantaire’s face shifts to surprise. “I only said it wasn’t me like, a good half dozen times.”
“But…” Enjolras is at a loss for words. “But you always acted funny when I received them!”
Grantaire’s face twitches. He ducks his head, and pulls his sweater sleeves over his fingers, gently picking at their frayed ends. “Yeah, well.”
“And we’ve been on the edge of this thing — ” Enjolras gestures between the two of the wildly, and Grantaire’s head snaps back up fast enough for whiplash. “For months now!”
“Thing?” Grantaire repeats.
“I can’t believe this.” Enjolras starts to pace, just three steps back and forth. “I kept the damn presents! I looked at them like they meant something! I spent days being fond about them and thinking about what I’d think of them in four years, but, no, they’re from some random guy I don’t even know—”
“Wait wait wait,” Grantaire interrupts. He puts a hand on Enjolras’s shoulder, effectively stopping the pacing, and turns him so they’re face to face. Once Enjolras looks him in the eyes, he realizes what he’s been ranting about for the past thirty seconds. Two spots of color rise to his cheeks, and he can’t quite meet Grantaire’s eye. “You wanted them to be from me?”
Enjolras’s mouth opens to reply, but he realizes he really can’t think of what to say, and he closes it, just looking helplessly at Grantaire. He waves his hand in the air vaguely, and if it’s meant for clarification, it does a poor job.
“You would have accepted them from me?”
“Of course,” Enjolras yells. He abruptly realizes how loud he’s being and flushes, looking down at his shoes.
“You weren’t asking me as a way to tell me to tone down my obvious crush?”
“What? No!” When the words sink in, Enjolras goes still. He blinks at Grantaire. “Crush?”
“Why do you sound surprised?” Grantaire cries, hands going up in the air. “Everyone knows, and you said it was a mutual thing, that presupposes that—”
Enjolras reaches forward and grabs his hands from midair where they are gesticulating. Grantaire falls silent.
“What I’m gathering,” Enjolras says calmly, heart thumping. “Is that we’re on the same page, thing wise?”
His fingers are intertwined within Grantaire’s. He squeezes, and Grantaire breaks out into a radiant grin, eyes bright.
“Wait, shit,” Grantaire says, grin dropping, and Enjolras can feel a spike of cold terror ricochet through him. “This means our anniversary is on Valentine’s day. Jesus.”
“What’s wrong with that?” Enjolras asks, his heart pumping once again.
“It’s so corny.”
Enjolras waits a moment, feels the second of frustration he so oft feels with Grantaire build, and then swallows it down.
“I could do with some corny in my life,” he says, and Grantaire snorts.
“Now that was—”
Enjolras quiets him.