Grantaire grit his teeth, breath coming in short gasps. Nearly there. His wrist was starting to hurt, but it was going to be worth it.
'Come on already,' Enjolras said, frustration building. Grantaire could hear it in his voice. He gripped harder and firmly twisted his hand, and as it finally came he could hear Enjolras' sweet sound of satisfaction.
'Seriously. How hard is it to open a jar?'
'I didn't see you helping,' Grantaire said, passing Enjolras the jar of capers and pinching his hip as he passed him on his way to the bread bin. 'What are you putting in this salad thing again? You know none of the guys eat salad.'
'We needed a vegan option. Cosette's coming tonight.'
'Chips are vegan.'
'You always cover them in gravy.'
'Isn't gravy vegan? Isn't it just, I dunno, onion and seasoning and brown paint?'
'I only have packet stuff. Apparently it's got animal bits in.'
'How does she even know? Do you think she just comes into the kitchen during meetings and reads the labels on all your stuff?'
'Maybe. Apparently her dad does that at the supermarket and it drives his partner nuts.'
'Didn't he marry a cop who charged him with theft? Is that romantic, or is that just weird?'
'I think it's weird, but Cosette thinks they have a dynamic, or something.'
'What the fuck is a dynamic?'
'I don't know. Apparently we have one too.'
'It sounds like a really demanding pet. Like, oh, I've got to take the dynamic for a walk, it's destroying the carpet.'
It took a little getting used to, at first, being all of a sudden surrounded by Grantaire. It was like getting used to suddenly having a million dollars, or a wonderful and demanding beagle. It was a combination of infuriation and stunned bliss, holding him at night, knowing he was there, they had finally made it through all the madness, being woken up by lazy kisses, or occasionally sleepy foreplay, notably one morning when Grantaire had woken Enjolras by tipping a glass of orange juice over him, then chasing him into the bathroom for a pre-prepared bath, bubbles and all, and washing his hair. Naked. The shower sex was the best. For a stumbling drunk, Grantaire had amazing skill for finding traction on slippery surfaces while sober.
He was equal parts ridiculous, and beautiful and deeply important, tethered to Enjolras' heart, an anchor on the sea bed, both necessary and a decadent luxurious excess. He baked a lot, and sang along with the radio, and stole Enjolras' clothes and paraded around the apartment naked on hot days. He was the odd one out, the New Zealand coin in the cash drawer, unique. Special. And he belonged, heart and soul, to Enjolras.
The congratulations when the group found out (and word spread like wildfire) had been so enthusiastic that Enjolras was immediately again concerned that he had been a step behind everyone else. But it was hard to feel anything negative when he knew that Grantaire loved him, moreover, that there had never really been cause to be jealous.
Not that that stopped him from being wary around Courfeyrac. Grantaire still hugged Courfeyrac and pretended to kiss him, and Enjolras couldn't really blame him, when he had to respond every time by dragging Grantaire possessively into his arms, reminding himself that for every fake kiss Courfeyrac got, all the real kisses were for the REAL boyfriend.
Courfeyrac himself, now back to chasing ladies, mysteriously found himself being enthusiastically chased in return, and by attractive men as well, which he didn't seem to know how to respond to, except to respond encouragingly, especially when ladies were watching.
Joly and Bossuet seemed more comfortable expressing their feelings for each other after Grantaire wrapped himself around Enjolras and stuck his tongue down his throat in front of a church billboard quoting Leviticus. They even took a photo on Bossuet's phone and posted it to facebook, accompanied by a short and sweet poem about truth and beauty, supplied by Prouvaire.
All in all, there was a soft, pleasant, satisfied feeling replacing the discontent. It filled Enjolras from his toes to the top of his head. He was still angry at Parliament, of course, and he still organized meetings and set up rallies and protests with as much vigour as he had when all of his time had been devoted to the cause. But now, there was something inhabiting that other part of him, that part that had been the gaps in between, the moment just before going to bed, the early morning, the quick lunchtime snack and the fed up moments when he hit a dead end or was cornered by law or by circumstance. Instead of rattling about in a box, he was wrapped, cushioned, soothed, and it was odd to think, considering how blatantly damaged Grantaire was. There was something almost inspiring about the way he refused to be politically correct and guilty about being a heavy drinker (though not so much anymore – when Enjolras tentatively asked about it, Grantaire said he had found something new, stronger and better to be a addicted to, and for a split second Enjolras had been afraid he'd discovered drugs, until Grantaire shoved his hand down Enjolras' pants and the conversation was bam over). It was as if he refused to be unhappy. He refused to show the socially acceptable response to being homeless and having practically no money. They were both rattling around in the same box now, shielding each other from the worst of the impact.
'So. Capers, sprouts, whatever those flaky soggy yellow bits are.'
'Right. And that other green and white stuff. I've got to be honest, love, it looks like compost.'
'Yes, it does,' Enjolras said suspiciously, gazing at the salad. It was edible, and had slightly fancy things in it. And it was Cosette's own fault for being vegan. Next time she could bring her own damn food.
Grantaire took the second batch of chocolate bikkies out of the oven. Some of the boys had already arrived.
Before too long, the lounge was filled with voices and the occasional shout, Enjolras debating with Combeferre at the table, trying to discern the plan he'd laid out the night before with the charts he'd drawn up while half-asleep. The radio was barely audible above the general chatter, and Grantaire was in the kitchen, responding to the powerfully enthusiastic response to his chocolate biscuits.
Suddenly, he exploded out of the kitchen and ran to the radio, turning it up, making Enjolras stand up ramrod-straight, and Joly hide his face firmly in Bossuet's back, and Courfeyrac explode into gales of laughter.
'Enjolras! Baby! This should totally be our song!' Grantaire declared. 'It's dopey and sweet and full of lesbian subtext, just like us!'
Enjolras covered his face with his hand, trying to make it look as if he disapproved, but really, he was trying very hard not to laugh.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,
I'm beggin' of you, please don't take my man