Okay, so I meant to have a one-shot, but other thoughts kept popping into my head and the lovely people following the story encouraged me. Much thanks! (As for Cosette's last name, I considered a few of Valjean's aliases, but considering he's an ocean away from Javert, it just felt right.) Also, in my head, they tend to speak whatever the French version of Spanglish is to one another, mixing French and English – French because it's natural and English because most foreign exchange programs are immersion-based, so they've gotten used to it. (One of these days, I will learn French well enough to write in it. Today is not that day.) I've provided translations at the end as well.
Snow had blanketed the East Coast overnight, and "snow day" meant one thing to Grantaire – he didn't have to put up with that idiot of an art history professor who believe that no artist could live without passion for the world around them. Grantaire had passion for exactly two things: Enjolras and alcohol, in that order. Sometimes reversed when Enjolras was being particularly obtuse. That was enough for him.
Despite the fact that classes were canceled, Enjolras had headed out the door early this morning, something about helping a Lower East Side homeless shelter hand out coats. That was Enji, always saving the world. Marius was off to...wherever he went when he wasn't in class or the apartment. Grantaire cared about his friends, but he was definitely not their keepers.
Grantaire had assumed Marius was off with Cosette, as the preschool she worked for was closed as well, but that notion was dispelled when Cosette Valjean herself showed up at the door. Grantaire had never met her, and despite listening to Marius go on about her for hours, had never developed an opinion on the woman one way or another. He only recognized her because she was fairly popular on campus, and Marius had shoved a picture or two into Grantaire's line of sight.
Grantaire opened the door, curious as to how she'd found the flat. Marius had never brought her by – he'd assured them quickly that it had nothing to do with Grantaire and Enjolras' status as a couple, because Cosette was very open-minded. Grantaire didn't care why she hadn't been over; they really had nothing to show off. Plus, if they'd been expecting company, he'd have probably been asked to dismantle his wine bottle pyramid, which he rather liked. "Marius isn't here." He wasn't trying to be rude, but there was no reason to waste the girl's time.
"I know." Cosette smiled. "Last I saw him, he was having a snowball fight with the chess club in front of the library."
"Okay." So if she had known Marius wasn't home, why was she there? "Can I help you?"
Cosette shrugged. "I've been curious to meet you. Marius talks about his friends a lot; he's very fond of you all. I've been to a few campus events with Enjolras, but you seem to keep very much to yourself, Monsieur Grantaire."
Grantaire snorted. She was immaculately dressed, every piece of her winter clothes coordinating. He was wearing his favorite sweatpants and painting shirt and he hadn't yet bothered to run a comb through his hair. They must have been quite the sight together. "You didn't have to bother yourself. If you wanted to meet me, you could have asked." Unless Marius was ashamed of him? It was always a possibility, Grantaire supposed. He stepped back from the door, figuring he should invite her in. "The maid hasn't been in yet; move what you need to." They didn't have a maid, but it at least sounded better than, "I just woke up and I have no desire to clean right now."
Cosette smiled shyly. "I suppose you know who I am, based on your reaction, but maybe we should make it official. I'm Cosette Valjean."
Grantaire chuckled. "Yes, daughter of the great Jean Valjean, defender of the poor."
"You've met my father?" she asked, looking curious.
"Probably." Grantaire had been dragged along as Enjolras' arm candy to a few events; he was rarely sober enough to remember everyone he met, but Enjolras described Valjean as "a champion of the downtrodden." Enjolras didn't really care about anyone else's romances but his own – and even then, the plight of the people took precedence – but once he'd learned who Cosette's father was, he'd been impressed. "Anyway, I'm Grantaire."
Cosette offered her hand for him to shake and he accepted. She didn't seem bothered that there were dried splotches of paint decorating his hands. "Do you and Enjolras have first names or is it just some style of yours?"
"Enjolras' name is Gabriel." Grantaire shrugged. "No one ever uses it, but it's there. I suppose they'll slap it on a Nobel Peace Prize someday. Me, I'm an artist. We don't need first names."
Cosette seemed to accept that, even if she smiled a little. Her eyes trailed to the wine bottle pyramid. "That's a bit classier than I've seen in most places. Usually they just stick with beer cans."
Grantaire snorted. "That would require me to actually drink American beer, and...no. I would have gone for a bit more variety, but the cap of the Nuvo bottles makes them very hard to balance." It was an import Grantaire had developed a taste for, part French champagne and part vodka. He wasn't even bothered by the fact that it was pink and came in an overly stylish bottle obviously meant to appeal to women. It tasted good and if anyone tried to call his sexuality into question...well, he went to bed every night with a man, so what was there to question, really? "So, which was it? You didn't want to spoil your boyfriend's snowball fight by dragging him home or he didn't want you to meet me?" He had no problem being blunt.
"Our schedules don't really match," Cosette replied. "Marius actually seemed very eager to introduce us – but you seem to keep pretty busy."
It was true; Grantaire did like to spend a few hours after his evening classes, drinking with other artists and bohemian types and smoking the occasional joint. "You can usually find me in the Village."
"That doesn't surprise me." As an artist, Grantaire could appreciate a woman's beauty without feeling any attraction to her, and Cosette was certainly a beautiful woman. She didn't back down in the face of his sarcasm and general lack of interest, and that scored her a few points. Plus, now that they'd met, maybe Marius would relax a bit. Grantaire vaguely recalled that Cosette had been in an abusive, alcoholic foster home when she'd met her father, and while Grantaire was an extremely mellow, happy drunk, he'd worried a bit that Marius didn't want his dearest to know one of his best friends was a shameless boozer. He glanced at the other wine bottles around – those not in the pyramid. There were nearly enough to start another, and Cosette caught him looking. "Oh, don't worry about that. Marius warned me – he's so protective. I don't mind. Everyone's seen you in the campus bar; we know you wouldn't hurt a fly unless you were defending someone's honor."
So, "You're an alcoholic, but you're a friendly-type alcoholic," Grantaire thought. Apt enough. He shrugged. "A glass of wine is better than a man most days – it doesn't talk back, doesn't tell you to stop drinking it, and when it's gone, you feel better."
Cosette laughed, then turned to her phone as it beeped. "Oh, that's my alarm. I promised my roommate I'd help her unpack some boxes she had shipped from home." She extended her hand again and Grantaire shook it. "It was lovely meeting you. Hopefully I'll see you again soon."
Grantaire bowed his head dramatically. "Enchante, mademoiselle." Art students were allowed to be outrageous, even if some felt he took that privilege to extremes.
Cosette waved cheerfully on her way out. "Bon apres-midi!" Most other women, that would have just seemed pretentious, but she got away with it because of her heritage – and, technically, she was responding in kind.
Grantaire shrugged and put the chair back on the door after Cosette left, settling back down with his latest painting and a Mozart CD playing in the background. He lost track of time, absorbed in his art, but somewhere in the middle of the Turkish March, there was a knock on the door. Grantaire sighed and almost considered pretending he wasn't home, but the music was a dead giveaway and the knocking was impatient. He tucked the paint brush in his hand behind one ear – he'd just rinsed it – and glanced through the peephole, then laughed in delight and opened the door. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Joly burst inside, grabbing Grantaire in a hug. "You seem remarkably sober."
Grantaire shrugged. "The day is young." He always loved any chance to see any of the other Amis, but they usually called in advance. "What brings you across the pond?"
"Hospital in-service program," Joly explained. "Two weeks here, learning how they do things. I wasn't going to go – all that time in an airplane, circulating the same air everyone else breathes; no thank you. But Louis Milhaud had a family emergency and Dr. Allende sent me. So here I am!"
Grantaire grinned. "I'd say this calls for a drink."
"That doesn't surprise me, coming from you." Joly grinned. "But I do think I'll take advantage. Where have Marius and Enjolras gotten off to? There's a foot of snow out there; my flight had to circle until they could clear the tarmac."
Grantaire moved into the kitchen, grabbing two coffee mugs and a bottle of Nuvo, since it was open. No one had ever accused him of being bourgeoisie. "Here, let's drink. To friendship."
"That's as good a reason as any." Joly snorted, though he didn't hesitate to accept the offering. "Pink champagne?"
"Shush, there's vodka mixed in there." Grantaire grinned and the two retired to the futon in the living room with their drinks. "And, yes, I'm fully aware we ship that stuff stateside so we don't have to drink it, but it's better than grocery store wine. These Americans have a very strange definition of what constitutes acceptable alcohol. So, how've you been? What disease do you have this week?"
"Been lucky so far," Joly said, "but I made sure to load up on vitamins and immune system boosters during that flight. Speaking of that, I should probably shower."
Grantaire nodded toward the bathroom with his head. "First door on your left."
"But my clothes are back at the hotel," Joly protested. "I mean, not that I don't enjoy your company, but..."
"But, but," Grantaire teased. He disappeared into his bedroom, returning with a set of Enjolras' clothes. "Here, Enji's stuff ought to fit you. Wouldn't want you inhaling any stray germs for longer than necessary, would we?"
It seemed an acceptable solution, and Grantaire returned to painting as Joly disappeared to shower. He'd be in there awhile, Grantaire knew from experience. He sometimes wondered how Joly even managed to get through the first few years of medical school without his hypochondria dragging him down into a full-blown panic attack. But they all had their quirks.
Grantaire's phone buzzed – a text from Marius that he was going out with Cosette. No surprise. Grantaire considered telling him about Joly, but Marius would come bounding back with Cosette in tow and Grantaire wanted a little guy time first. He didn't dislike Cosette – she seemed like a perfectly nice girl – but she wasn't one of the gang, at least not yet. Besides, Marius acted like a kid at Christmas when presented with a pleasant was surprise, so that would be fun when he got home.
Enjolras arrived home while Joly was still in the shower. Grantaire stood to greet him with a kiss on the cheek. "So, save the world yet?"
"No, but we certainly made sure a few people were warmer." Enjolras returned the kiss, then moved to sit down with Grantaire on the futon. "Two cups? You know I don't like that stuff."
"Not for you." Grantaire shrugged. "I had company."
"Yes, I got a text from Marius – you've met his Cosette." Enjolras looked around the living room, a little disconcerted. "I'm sure she loved your bottle collection."
Grantaire grinned smugly. "Actually, she seemed to think it was a fine objet d'art." He made sure his tone contained as much "so there" as possible. He nuzzled Enjolras' neck. "Je t'aime."
Enjolras smiled, leaning his head so that Grantaire had better access. "Moi aussi, je t'aime."
And that was when Joly chose to come out of the shower, wearing Enjolras' jeans and hoodie. He jumped a little at the tender moment, but then carried on – it wasn't as if their relationship was a secret. "Enjolras!"
Enjolras jumped up, narrowly missing kneeing Grantaire in the groin. Grantaire recoiled reflexively, then stood up as Joly and Enjolras hugged.
Enjolras grinned. "So, 'Taire, this is your company?"
"Eh, he's as good as any." Grantaire shrugged. "Sorry about your clothes and all, but he had germs on him from the plane, and-"
Enjolras understood. "Say no more. It's all right." He sat back down, pulling Grantaire with him, and patted the empty space. "Come on, Joly, sit. I want to hear the latest from home."
Joly grinned. "Well, it's more of the same, really. Jehan's finding a publisher for his latest poetry anthology...Gavroche gets into of trouble as quick as he gets out of it, though 'Ponine's been keeping a tighter leash on him lately..."
I didn't intend for this to become a series, but these little snippets are so fun! Let me know if you'd like to see more.