The response for this story was completely overwhelming, thank you all so much. I wouldn't have continued this if it weren't for your words of encouragement. This is for you guys. :) Also, thanks to Elle (miss-prepaholic on tumblr) for her feedback and Jess (thatgirljazz on tumblr) for being an awesome beta. Thanks again for the amazing response to this fic. Hope you enjoy.
She lies in her bed alone. In the silence of her apartment, all she hears is the leaky faucet in her kitchen through her thin bedroom door. Her eyes graze over the cracks in the stucco of her ceiling and the chipping paint in the far corner. She notes how different her and Enjolras' dwellings are, having been accustomed to spending many nights in it; those immaculately painted walls, those perfect ceilings, in his bed, under him...
Not tonight, though. He decided to fuck everything up by telling her that he had feelings for her.
She thinks back to that moment days ago. She remembers tackling him and landing on his bed, telling him to shut up, to stop whatever nonsense he was spouting and just fuck her. Because that was always the deal; nothing more.
She feels his arms wrap around her middle and it's too comforting and warm that she actually squirms, trying to pull away from it. She shoves against his shoulders; his hands just won't stop caressing her back in this way that makes her want to relax into his touch.
But she's never been one to give into weakness. She bites his shoulder with a growl - a little trick she learned from him - and he sucks in a breath, ceasing his ministrations.
He rolls them over and takes her hands, pinning them above their heads.
"I didn't promise anything," he says into the crook of her neck, replying to her earlier accusation. She's snaking her hands between their bodies and undoing his jeans once more, but he beats her to it and pulls back before rolling them onto their sides, once again wrapping his arms around her waist."We need to talk."
'Like you haven't said enough already,' she thinks. "No, and we certainly aren't fucking cuddling either, Enjolras. Can you just, fuck-" she lets out a short and desperate huff. This was not the plan tonight.
He stares at her before he sighs. She tries not to flinch at the dejection she can see in his eyes. "That's really all this is to you then, isn't it?"
It's not so much a question as it is an observation. She just clenches her jaw in response. Good, maybe now he'll get angry. She likes how he is in bed when he's angry. Fingers digging into skin, biting, scratching; all familiar territory. Her own twisted definition of safe.
She just hopes he doesn't try to bail again, because leaving her high and dry twice in one night is beyond cruel. Instead he gets a look in his eyes; one that she recognizes whenever he goes up in front of their friends to make a speech, or when he's set on finishing a paper even at 4 in the morning, practically burning a hole through the pages.
A smirk forms on her lips at the familiar determination now etched on his face. Anticipation floods over her as he hastily removes the remaining clothes on his body.
She expects him to pin her completely against the mattress, but instead he's pulling her in and caressing her cheek with his fingers and 'what in God's name is he doing?' He's kissing her and running his fingers through her hair, and soon enough his body is hovering over hers and then he's inside her. 'Finally.'
But he's moving slowly, savouring each thrust and kiss. The friction is already almost too much for her. They've never done it like this and, fuck, it's the farthest thing from terrible.
"Look at me, Ep." His breathing is ragged and there's something in his tone now. She knows it's not enough to simply look in the direction of his voice, blank and distracted like she usually does. Something in her causes her to gaze up at him, completely transfixed. He wants her to look at him, and she does, but it's too much. And his eyes... they're so blue and honest; though she can barely see the blue of his irises, dilated and cloudy with want. She can practically see her own reflection in them, but she's so not enough for what this man deserves so she tears her eyes away and instead looks down his back at the lines of their joined bodies. They're sweat and tangled legs; torrid physicalities. That's what she's good at.
"Merde," he grunts, head falling against her collar bone; whether he's cursing at being close or at her for looking away, she's not quite sure.
'Bite me, go hard and fast, tear me apart,' she almost yells in desperation. But his lips are soft while he's caressing her, kissing her. She whimpers - fucking whimpers at how good he's making her feel, and she loathes herself so much for it.
She tries to rectify the situation by digging her nails into his back, scratching and attempting to bring things back to what they were. But he tugs at her arms, laces his fingers with hers and once again pins them above her head. His thumbs stroke her knuckles and she might be holding onto him a little bit tighter than usual.
He's still moving against her slowly, as if she's some precious, delicate little thing. She's really not, and it's unfamiliar but it feels so, so good. Then he's holding her face in his hands, and she's a bit breathless and elated; squeezing her eyes shut, her fingers move and travel down his neck to flutter against his shoulders - she's so close...
"Open your eyes," he says breathlessly. "Éponine, please," he grunts, hips bucking. When she does, she does so with a gasp; brown meets blue once again and his gaze is burning right through to her core and, yes, she's looking at him like he asked. But it's more than that. She sees him. Enjolras, ever loyal and reliable Enjolras. Enjolras, maybe not quite the marble statue everyone makes him out to be, who just admitted to actually feeling something towards someone, let alone her… he's never been so open with anyone in his life, ever, and here he is practically opening himself up completely...
Enjolras, Enjolras, Enjolras...
She's gasping his name in between mewls and whimpers, clinging to him as if she's trying to reassure herself that this is actually happening. Soon, they're both panting and she's arching up, her feet scratching at his legs, kneading the pads of her fingers into his back and shoulders and just everywhere.
She's urging him on while he speeds up and both of them are nearing the edge.
Neither of them can tear their eyes away and they come together for the first time.
It's only when he's kissing her face and pressing soft kisses onto her eyelids that she lets them close.
Éponine is flushed just thinking about that night, never mind that she can still feel every trail that his lips have left on her body, ghosting over her at that very moment. It takes almost all of her willpower not to trail her own hand down those very paths until she reaches her centre, just as he did.
But then she's wondering what the hell gives him the right to say things like that to her? He's supposed to know her better than anyone with all the shit she puts him through and he all of a sudden thinks that's an invitation to change their entire relationship? She's baffled to the point where she's almost offended.
She was gone when he woke up. He shouldn't have been surprised, but a part of him was. It hasn't helped him since then, not when that night and the morning after keeps playing over and over in his head.
He thinks back to her eyes boring into his and for a few seconds, he thought he had her. But then she leaves with only the scent of her on his pillow as a reminder.
He braces himself as he walks up to his dresser. He pulls open the drawer that she'd adopted as her own and filled up with her clothes.
He remembers closing the wooden drawer with more force than necessary. If that's how she wants to handle things, then fine. He reassures himself that there are more important things to worry about, and that this is exactly the reason why he never opens up to people.
Their friends start noticing the growing distance between the two, and he supposes their blatant ignorance of each other makes it pretty obvious. But no one's said anything for the last week, which Enjolras is thankful for.
That is, until Grantaire opens his mouth.
"Okay, what the hell is going on with you two?"
The look that Éponine shoots the dark-haired man is enough for all of them around her to cower back a little. Combeferre looks from her to him curiously.
"Nothing," Enjolras clips, glaring at Combeferre. Because it's true.
There is absolutely nothing going on.
She starts showing up to the Musain less and less and starts picking up more shifts at work. The only time she actually talks to any of the Amis (save for one) is through text messages, and even those are growing shorter and less frequent as days pass.
The next time she would actually talk to him is after a protest at the Sorbonne. And there's no way in hell she can avoid him now.
She's jumping out of the shower and stomping angrily over to where her phone's been ringing for the last twenty minutes. She checks the call log and sees three missed calls from both Bahorel and Combeferre, and four from Courfeyrac and Jehan. She knows she's been out of touch, but this is getting ridiculous. Letting out an annoyed huff, she goes to silence the ringer, but then it starts up again. Courfeyrac.
He immediately starts talking when she picks up. "Finally! Why the hell haven't you been answering?"
"Courf, I'm not—"
"Look, I'm sure you have your reasons for ignoring us, but right now isn't the time."
He sounds rushed and breathless, and she can hear shuffling and other frantic voices in the background. "What the hell is going on?" Now she's a little bit worried.
"We're at the hospital. It's Enjolras."
Before she can even ask Courfeyrac what happened, she's dressed and out the door on her way to the hospital, her phone pressed between her ear and shoulder as she fumbles with her keys. Fifteen minutes later, she's there and she's not surprised to see a handful of the guys pacing the hallway or sitting down on the uncomfortable waiting chairs. Bahorel's knuckles are bloody and Grantaire is holding an ice pack to his cheek. She rolls her eyes, putting the pieces together. Fucking really? Stupid boys.
"In there?" she asks without greeting, jutting her thumb towards a door. Combeferre and Feuilly give her a nod.
He's asleep, but he's not hooked up to anything so she takes that as a good sign. She does grimace slightly at his bruised arms and bandaged leg. His cheek is an alarming purple colour and his fists are clenched; she can see the harsh red welts cutting along his knuckles. He as a split lip, but as banged up as he is, she can't help but notice how relaxed he looks in his sleep. Of all the times that she's stayed with him in bed long enough to see him sleep (which she could literally count on one hand), she's never noticed how young he looked.
Stupid, stupid boys, she thinks.
His eyes blink open and he sees her right away. He must have moved or made a noise because she strides right to him from her spot near the window with a frown on her face. She pauses and her eyes flicker to the cast on his leg. He barely opens his mouth to greet her before she moves again.
"You idiot," she says immediately as she's within arm's reach of him, smacking him on the shoulder. He can hear the relief in her voice, which makes her greeting less painful. Not by much, though.
He winces and visibly shrinks away from her. "I'm a bit tender at the moment, Éponine."
"You scared the shit out of me." The harshness in her tone is still there, but thankfully she's making no move to manhandle him.
"At least you're talking to me again."
"Not fucking funny," she deadpans. "Your idiot friends wouldn't stop calling; I thought you died!"
He looks at her, amused by the colourful language that's just so Éponine, and the assumption that he had died from a few punches (and a crowbar to the leg, but she doesn't need to know that). "A fight broke out at the protest."
"I gathered that after seeing the others out there." Her face twists into confusion and she lowers herself into the chair next to his bed. "You're normally the voice of reason when fights break out; what happened?"
He looks at her a little bewildered as she talks to him like nothing out of the ordinary has gone on between them. Nothing like a good old beat down to bring people together, he thinks sardonically.
"Some men in the crowd threatened a couple with a knife and a pipe and stole their stuff, so I went and got it back. They cornered me and, well," he swept his hand over his body, indicating his injuries. "The others found me, chased them away, and here we are."
"So you went after them willingly. Alone."
He nods, shrugging. And the big deal was…? Better him than innocent people.
Sighing, she drops her face in her hands, mumbling through her fingers, "I swear to God, Enj." His eyebrows furrow as he watches her. She looks disheveled and absolutely exhausted. Was this because of him? Was she really that worried? He'd be a liar if he said it didn't make him feel a little better.
"Don't do that."
He clenches his teeth, raising an eyebrow at her. "And who exactly are you to tell me what I can or can't do?" Last he checked, she didn't want anything to do with him.
She visibly blanches, but in true Éponine fashion, she's sending him a scowl not a second later. "Well pardon fucking moi for being concerned."
He can see her suddenly fidgeting in her seat and knows he's made her uncomfortable. He really doesn't want her to leave; he softens and shoots her an apologetic look. "I'm alive, aren't I?"
"Yes, but you don't have to always play hero to everyone all the time. Just leave it. Some people can handle themselves."
He wants to ask her who exactly she's talking about now, but he decides against it.
"I just want my best friend back," she says sadly, her voice strained. Reaching over, she touches the bandage circling his palm. "In one piece, if you don't mind."
Even though he's the one bedridden and broken, he wants to turn his hand over and hold hers, comfort her. But he's too tired and he doesn't want to scare her away again. Not when he just got her back.
Her words make him feel numb all over, but he musters up a smile and nods.
He's back home the next day, but has been confined to bed rest for the rest of the week. It annoys him that he can barely move to do things for himself, so at his friends' insistence, they all take turns checking up on him throughout the day.
It's almost night time and he's ready to give up on trying to sleep when he hears the extra key the guys have been passing around open his apartment door, followed by a set of footsteps. None of his friends' footsteps are that light. Except for Jehan; Enjolras is about 90% convinced that he's some kind of pixie.
He knows who it is the second they enter his bedroom and sits on the edge of his bed, just by their scent. It's the one that's clung to his pillowcase, mocking him for days until he got fed up and washed it about three times over. His eyes are still closed, but he can feel her fingers running along his bare shoulder. He grabs her hand with his uninjured one and almost growls. "I wouldn't do that."
She lets out a small gasp and narrows her eyes at him. "I'm just checking up on you before I go to work."
"I'm fine," he says between gritted teeth. He feels like an invalid.
She scoffs incredulously and looks down at his stomach, where a blotch of red seeps through his bandage.
His eyes follow hers. "No idea how that happened."
"Well, you always were a fidgety sleeper," she says fondly, her lip turning up at one corner. It's gone before either of them can even blink.
An awkward silence hangs in the air and she coughs, mumbling something about Joly killing her if she doesn't change his bandages. Frankly, he doesn't want an infection and needs to get back on his feet as soon as possible. So he doesn't stop her this time when she attempts to touch him.
Plus, he really does miss feeling her hands on him.
She misses touching him, too, and neither of them say anything as she concernedly brushes her fingers over the bruises on his shoulder, even after he's cleaned up with fresh bandages.
"I'm not living up to that whole 'marble' thing you all go on about, am I?" his voice is low, lazy and relaxed but at the same time tense as she touches him.
"No, you're not marble," she murmurs, tracing his chest with her nails. "You bruise and bleed like everyone else." She presses her nails down against him, pulling and watching as she leaves behind a trail of pink under his skin. He hisses and she smirks. "Like me."
He brushes a loose strand of hair behind her ear and lingers. Her eyes still survey her work on his already damaged skin and leans down, grazing her lips along the offended flesh just below his collar bone. As soon as she touches him like that, she knows she should pull back, but she doesn't. Because she's stupid, and naïve, and selfish. She remembers how she had marked him night after night. Reminders that he was hers and nobody else's. And if he's willing to be with her (he still was willing, right?), then why couldn't she be selfish and just let him?
But then she feels his fingers tangle themselves in her hair and tug her slightly upwards. She's an inch away from his lips and she can feel his breath on her, and she almost misses what he says thanks to the pounding in her chest.
She snaps her mouth shut because she realizes she might have waited too long and now they staring at each other. His eyes are steely but almost pleading, and she decides not push it. She chuckles bitterly, standing up. "Get some sleep."
Marius and Cosette have their wedding in June, and it's about as grandiose as Éponine can expect from the two of them. She wonders what the wedding would have been like had she been the one marrying him. But she'll never know about anything of that life now. She's not even sure if she wants it.
The couple is cutting the cake and everyone in the room laughs as Cosette smashes a bit of it in her husband's face. God, they're adorable. It makes her sick. Even Enjolras, who's sitting across from her and is very much in her peripheral lets out a chuckle. She subtly watches him and wonders what he would be like on his own wedding day. What would his bride be like? To her horror, the thought of the bride being a complete stranger makes her a little angry and she catches herself before her mind wanders even further. She mumbles out an "excuse me" to no one in particular and pushes her seat back before leaving the banquet hall.
She takes a deep breath once she's outside, having felt suffocated the longer she stayed indoors. After a few minutes, she hears someone approach her from behind and she just knows. He followed her out.
Of course he did.
"Everyone's looking for you," he says quietly; stoically, she notices. She doesn't make any indication to move and neither does he. There's no rush to get back and they both know it. It's just the two of them outside, alone and completely out in the open.
"I needed some air."
"Are you okay?"
He's asking about Marius, she knows. She thinks about it – really thinks about it, and nods. "Yes. I'm good."
She only hears the shuffling of his feet and they stand in silence.
"So now that we're talking again," he starts, breaking it, "am I allowed to ask why you left?"
"I just told you, I needed some air."
"I didn't mean tonight," he says.
She blinks and flinches a little. "Well, you didn't hesitate very long to bring that issue up."
"This is me you're talking to, Éponine. You know I don't like gray areas."
She shoots him a condescending smile before turning away again. "You make it sound so trivial."
"Is it?" Now he's standing beside her, a good few feet between them. He's got his hands in his pockets and continues to stare out into the night. "To you?" She doesn't know what to say and keeps her sight trained on a flickering streetlight above them. "Because that's the last thing I'd use to describe it."
"Oh? Go on, then. What does the mighty silver tongued one think?"
"You know what I think."
Their quiet is disrupted by a group of people that Éponine doesn't know coming out of the building, laughing and obviously quite drunk. Enjolras doesn't know them, either, judging by his lack of a reaction. His eyes are glued on her. She blinks away from his scrutiny and focuses on the group just mere feet away; they're passing around a lighter to light their cigarettes. She could definitely go for one of those right now. Then she feels Enjolras' stare practically burning through her.
"Dammit, Enj," she mumbles exasperatedly, reaching out and pulling him by the lapels of his suit jacket until her back hits a wall and encases them in shadows. The stones that make up the building are biting into the bare skin of her back that her dress doesn't cover, and she gladly welcomes the feeling. Reaching up, she pulls him closer to her and looks pointedly at him. He's illuminated by faint city lights and the stars and the moon; she hates what looking at him is doing to her insides. His eyes are on her lips but she takes his chin and nudges him up to look her in the eyes. "Look at me."
Their eyes lock, her mind immediately flashes to the last time they were… together, and his voice rings in her head.
'Look at me, Ep.'
The tables have turned, but now, with all their proximity and the familiar blue haze boring into her, the last thing she wants to end up doing is run away.
They need to settle some things.
His breathing becomes shallow, because the last time she was this close to him, he almost lost it.
"I left because I was scared, okay?"
"But I thought you weren't scared of anything."
"I'm scared of you," she says, almost disbelievingly. "I'm scared of what you're doing to me, how you're making me feel. How you and your stupid face have been plaguing my thoughts since we… I just, I'm not used to it, and I'm confused, and I don't like it."
"Do you regret any of it?"
"No," she says firmly. "No. The only thing I regret is letting it get to the point of ruining our friendship."
"We're still friends, Éponine," he's surprised that she could even think they weren't," that hasn't changed."
"You're too good to me, you know that?" she scoffs, looking down as her fingers slide under his tie, fingering the material.
"You deserve good things," he murmurs, watching her.
"I know I do," she chuckles. "I deserve the fucking world."
He hums in agreement and her lips hover over his now, so close that he barely has to move for them to be on each other.
"And you think you can give that to me?" her tone is teasing. "Monsieur?"
"Only if you want."
"Even after I've been a bad, bad girl, using you to get over a stupid little crush on some married man?"
He nods, his lips grazing hers for a fraction of a second. He doesn't miss the quick breath she draws.
"I don't know," he mumbles.
"Don't you know what people say about me?" she asks, her gaze drifting down again and fingering the buttons of his dress shirt. "They say I'm dirt…"
He dips his head down to catch her eyes once more. He's moved even closer now and his eyes are hard; fiercely piercing into hers. "You're not."
Her head shakes in contempt. "That I'll always be my father's daughter. 'That Thenardier girl…'"
"Don't," he breathes, kissing her. He's known her far too long and far too well to know when she's testing him.
"I'm no good for you, everybody knows it. They wouldn't like seeing us together."
"When I have I ever cared about doing what other people wanted?"
"Oh, of course, brave little Enjolras," she smiles wickedly, bitterly, bumping his nose with hers. "Always gets what he wants, doesn't he? Trying to change the world; trying to change my world." She leans back away from him very slightly and even still, he feels cold at the loss of it. "You can't fix the unfixable."
"There's nothing to fix," he whispers darkly. "You're just being stubborn, as always."
"I'm being stubborn? I'm practically giving you an out."
He shakes his head and he doesn't miss the little look of relief that passes through her features. "I don't want one. And if you're really trying to push me away, then why have you still got me pressed up against this wall?"
She throws her head back and laughs. "Wow. Fuck you, you pompous son of a bitch."
He scoffs and his hand finds itself on the side of her face, pulling her gaze back to him. "I'm not going to force you into a relationship that you don't want to be in. We were friends before and we still can be. I'm whatever you want me to be, but you just have to tell me. Because I don't want to waste my time and you of all people should know how much I don't do this kind of thing." He shakes his head again, but it's more at himself than anything. "It's like you fucking broke me, Éponine."
He feels winded as her lips crash onto his. She's murmuring incoherently against him and he can only make out a few words like 'want' and 'sorry' and 'talk tomorrow', and he pulls away because he wants to know what that even means. He needs to know.
"Let's just get out of here, please," she whispers.
They spend the night at his place, parked on the floor in front of the television like they used to. They're wrapped up against each other but neither of them makes a move to go any further than a few kisses and caresses.
It continues this way for the next few weeks. Enjolras gives her space and she takes it, but she refuses to ever take too much. Not this time.
They sleep together again and it's just as euphoric as the last time all those months ago. The difference is that she doesn't leave… not suddenly, anyway. Now she wakes him up, kissing him and murmuring against his lips that she has to go.
He's pretty sure she doesn't have to,but it's progress, and he'll take what he can get.
It's some random day in the summer when it hits her.
She finds herself lounging around in his apartment all day; nothing out of the ordinary, really. But today she doesn't have work and he's cancelled the meeting at the Musain, saying they'll regroup tomorrow.
He's not even doing some big, grand gesture, either. He's just asking her if she wants pizza or Chinese. But for some reason she just stares at him in wonder for too long that she only snaps out of it when he starts waving two take-out menus in her face.
Maybe it's that he didn't even have to ask her if she was staying for dinner, or the fact that he's letting her choose what to eat for the both of them. Her mind reels at the domesticity of the entire situation and how comfortable she feels in it. How long has this even been going on? She doesn't know what's happening anymore.
But that's when she knows that, fuck, maybe a part of her does love him.
Later that night, she's still trying to make heads and tails out of her new-found discovery while absent-mindedly running her fingers through Enjolras' hair. She curses in surprise as he bites her inner thigh, startling her out of her thoughts.
"God," she gasps, opening her eyes and looking down at him, an exasperated laugh escaping her lips.
He smirks slightly and places a kiss on her hip before propping himself above her. "If you're not into this tonight, I can go."
And park himself on the living room couch? That's the exact opposite of what she wants. Then she's mentally slapping herself, because the man's skills with his tongue isn't limited to just oration and she can't even enjoy it now because she's thinking too much about how she might be (no, she's positive that she is) in love with him.
But she doesn't know how to tell him that, so she rolls her eyes and hooks her leg around the back of his thigh, pulling his body flush against hers.
"I want this," she reassures. You, she thinks.
"Good morning," she drawls the next day, stretching her arms above her head.
"You're still here," he murmurs, blinking her into clarity.
He lets out a soft grunt, half surprised and half asleep. "Why?" He asks sounding genuinely confused after a bit of silence. She feels a bit guilty for being so difficult with her feelings.
"Because I want to be here. With you," she shrugs, closing her eyes and pretending to doze off. It's really just so he can't see in her eyes how much she really, really means it this time. Who knows what else she might say if she actually looks at him. But she's said what she said and now she feels naked (which is saying something, seeing as she's literally already buck-ass naked save for a thin blanket twisted haphazardly over her waist).
She's almost dreading his reaction, but a part of her wants him to react the way she knows he will. She decides to open her eyes because she wants to feel wanted, to see that look on his face where his eyes darken and narrow in the slightest; where his lips part before breaking into that smile that rarely happens, but when it does… she can't even think, she just wants those lips on hers.
And she's happy when it happens.
He hums and rolls on top of her, pulling back and nuzzling his head in the crook of her neck, running his hands down her arms. "Why?" he repeats, and she can feel his lips curving into a smile against her skin.
Oh, now he's just being a bastard.
"You know why," she squirms delightedly under his touch.
"Say it," he teases.
"Please don't make me say it," she groans, "You haven't even said it the entire time you were passionately lusting over me."
But she feels it; he doesn't even have to say it.
He lets out a chuckle, low and amused at her dramatic tone. He pokes at her side, eliciting a laugh from her. "I've never…" he shakes his head against her neck.
"But… we're getting there," he pulls his head back to look at her face. He's searching her eyes with his and oh fuck, here we go, she's sinking, ready to give him everything. "Right?"
God, yes. She nods and pulls him in by the back of his neck, failing to keep the smile from tugging at her lips. "Now, shut up."
He chuckles before she closes the gap between them.
Maybe they can't say those three words out loud for now, but they don't need to. They have all the time in the world for that.