Blanket Girl and Baker Boy
Summary: He sees her every Sunday in the park, lying alone on a blanket, always reading a different book. How Baker Boy meets and falls in love with his Blanket Girl. E/E Modern Au.
Disclaimer: Surprise! I don't own a thing. Having to write disclaimers all of the time is now physically starting to hurt.
AN: I was taking a minor block-related break from MBFW, and the lovely Mary was kind enough to prompt me with the first line of this fic. Therefore, this fic is dedicated to Mary (for giving me the brilliant prompt) and Sophie-Louise, for all of the lovely conversations and for Bake!Jolras… This is now a thing!
He sees her every Sunday in the park, lying alone on a blanket, always reading a different book. Her dark brown hair is used as a curtain hiding her face from the harsh afternoon sun, so he only knows it is her from the ridiculous blanket that is the same every single week – it is patterned after the French flag, but there are so many odd patches on it that the thing looks more like a ratty quilt than a proper blanket.
"What are you staring at?" his friend Combeferre notices how distracted he is.
"Oh, I was just thinking," he cannot be found out as easily as this. "I still have a paper due on the June Rebellion of 1832, and I want to focus on one particular barricade, that was-"
His other friends cut him off in the middle of his sentence again, because they just are not as interested in French history as he has always been. His family emigrated from France after the Second World War, and he is still interested in the history tales that come from what he thinks of as his mother country – his Patria.
"Nobody cares," R Grant has now spotted something better. "I can see something a lot more beautiful than any of you assholes. Wish me luck!"
And with that, R takes off in the direction of his blanket girl – though she is in no way his, because he does not know her name and he has only caught glimpses of her face. He is sure that her face is not what R and Courfeyrac are now focussing on.
"Hello beautiful," R is starting out with his usual flirting technique – empty compliments.
"Milady," Courfeyrac is not too far behind, hoping to get her attention as well.
At first, the girl does not even look up from her book – he is just dying to find out just what book she is reading so intently – but as soon as the boys stand in the way of the light falling on her pages, she looks up with an air of boredom. She does not appear to be all that interested in having his two friends falling all over themselves to get a chance with her; and if he knows that look at all, there will not be any kind of chance.
"Do you mind moving a bit?" her smile is beautiful – but even from a distance he can tell that the smile is completely faked. "You are standing in my light, and I have over three-hundred more pages to read before the end of the day."
The amount of focus that she is showing on her book is admirable, but his friends are not as easily deterred as he would have hoped. They simply move to the other side of her and continue to lurk for a bit, hoping that the girl will change her mind about her readings if they just distract her for a long enough time. It is an immature and really annoying tactic, and he is this close to tearing them away from her, but he does not want to take the chance to make fun of the two of them away from her.
"Why is a beautiful girl like you reading alone?" Courfeyrac tries another line.
"Reading alone is preferable," she keeps reading this time, without as much as looking up at the two men standing high above her. "It is easier to get my work done. There is so much to do, and the two of you are a distraction. Do you mind leaving?"
He has to hide his laughter at this point, because this girl is even more interesting than he thought when he first saw her. She does not believe any of the lines or any of the other bullshit his friends have been spouting, so she tells them she is genuinely busy and asks them to leave. It is not even playing hard to get, she is just done with this stuff.
"We shall leave you alone, milady," Courfeyrac yanks R away from the girl.
They are forced to come back to their group without any success, and it makes their walks a lot less proud than they were on the way over to Blanket Girl. Combeferre is standing beside him and snickering at their friends interrupting an important discussion over a failed attempt to get with a girl. They have so many things still to arrange for their student protest over rape culture on campus – there is just about nothing being done for this on their campus, and the numbers are absolutely alarming! Sure, he has an important paper to finish in the next two weeks – he always plans ahead – but making the women on campus feel safer is much more important this week!
"Can we move on to more important things now?" he asks when his friends are back.
"I do apologize, fearless leader," R is obviously mocking him, but he ignores it.
Sometimes he feels that his friends are only thinking of their own sex lives, rather than making their campus a safer place for all. They are often more interested in getting the girls at their protest in bed than making things better for them. If they were not his closest friends, he probably would have kicked them out years ago.
"Enjolras, let them go and be idiots," Combeferre tries to mediate again. "We already have everything figured out. There is no need for another meeting right now. The guys will be present tomorrow when we will let the people know things need to change!"
That makes sense, so he waves everyone off, knowing that they all have other things to do, and that they value these things a whole lot more than their cause. It does not consume them the way it does him, this love for justice. Nothing matters as much to him as making the world a better and safer place for people to live in – which is why he is enrolling in law school after his imminent graduation.
"Please take some time off from studying to relax a little," Combeferre urges him, before he too walks away. "You are overworking yourself again."
There is just so much to do, and he still has a list of things that he would really like to get done before the big rally tomorrow. But when he looks at the girl on the blanket, he is just so tempted to try what she is doing – just taking in her book without any eye for what is going on around her. He always has several books in his bag, and he has not taken the time to read anything for fun in the longest time. He misses that.
"Excuse me," he finds himself next to her before he knows it.
"I am not going to date you," she rolls her eyes and looks back at her book.
She is not as patient as she was with his stupid friends, so she must think that he is here to try the same thing with her, when he is not even interested in any way in having romantic relationships with a person of any gender. He does not want to come across as a creepy guy by telling her all of that before he even knows her name, so he is going to at least try to say the right things to her. He has never been all that good at talking to women, so he has no doubts he will have insulted her within seconds.
"I just wanted to know if you minded sharing your blanket," he wants to smack himself because of how stupid that sounds. "I have some books I would like to read and I was not smart enough to bring a blanket of my own. I'm willing to offer you some of the homemade cookies in my bag if you will let me join you. I won't make you talk."
Other people drink when they are stressed, and he bakes. He also color-codes his notes and makes pro and con lists, but usually he just bakes – a lot. He has several cakes and pies in the kitchen of the apartment that he shares with Combeferre and Marius. The guys are used to it, and they are no longer surprised at finding various baking supplies in odd places around the apartment, and they enjoy eating the fruits of his labors.
"It depends on the cookies," she has considered him carefully.
"I have a bit of an assortment," he shrugs as if it is normal for men to carry several big Tupperware boxes of different kinds of cookies, cupcakes and muffins.
He unpacks, because by now it is pretty obvious that she will let him stay with her if he just provides her with enough delicious goodies. He shows her the big container with the cupcakes and muffins, and the two smaller containers with various cookies and her eyes just about bug out of her head in surprise. She sees the amounts of chocolate chip, and the tiny amount of oatmeal raisin, and she is practically drooling.
"I just might let you stay," she tells him, already grabbing her first cookie – it is a rather plain snickerdoodle, he immediately notices. "As long as you keep me in food."
It is surprising that she does not go for the cupcakes with the glazing in bright colors, or the delicious chocolate muffins that are a favorite with his friends. He really only makes the snickerdoodles when things are really bad with the stress, and the scent of cinnamon somehow reminds him of his childhood and his mother's cooking.
"I think I can manage that," he tells her as he lies down and grabs his book.
His friends probably would have told him that he needed to hide the cover of his book, because apparently reading the Hunger Games is not particularly manly. He is just really interested in the book's depiction of a dystopian society that has some hints of the society they now live in – mostly the focus on outer beauty and wealth. Also, he admires the strength of the Katniss character, and he thinks that she can probably be used as a positive role model for some of the young girls he tutors at the youth center.
So he is not going to care about being seen reading young adult fiction aimed at girls, because he finds this to be a very interesting novel. He settles on his stomach, grabs an oatmeal raisin cookie that is at least a little healthy, and he starts to read.
"I brought snickerdoodles again," he tells her the next week when he sees her again.
She merely pats the place next to her in response. His Blanket Girl is not a very talkative person, he has already discovered. Still, he does not mind, because this way he can finally have some peace and quiet – the end of his senior year is steadily approaching and everything is going mad with stress. Hence the cakes he has at home and the boxes of cookies in his bag – she does not seem to care for cupcakes or muffins as much as she does for those simple snickerdoodles. So he makes more batches of those now, and there is one big Tupperware box filled entirely with what he presumes to be her favorites.
"Here you go," he puts that particular container next to her.
It is easy to immediately start reading his book after he hears the container open, because she is completely captivated by Katniss still fighting for her life – he is almost at the end of this first book. He will not be reading the other two, because the girls at the youth center told him that the next books are not for him, with more focus on romance than on the ideas of rebellion. They had surprisingly thought-out opinions of the novel and its protagonist, and that makes him all the more proud of them.
"You made them for me, didn't you?" she is biting into her first cookie.
"I noticed you only ate snickerdoodles last time," he shrugs, barely turning to her.
He is at the climactic end to the games, when Cato is threatening Peeta and the mutations are close. He is mentally applauding Katniss for her bravery, but he is still a bit distracted by the girl reading next to him – well, she does not appear to be reading as much as just inhaling his container of snickerdoodles. He turns to watch.
"Stop staring," she orders without even looking in his direction.
There is some hesitation, during which he takes another look at the words on the page in front of him, but then he looks at her again, and really sees her. She is too skinny to be completely healthy, and her brown eyes are too dull for someone who should be just bursting with life – her smile hardly even shows. She is occupying herself with a thick novel; one that he is sure will be on the list for most literature majors. While she is at least somewhat focused on the book, she seems more interested in food.
Altogether, he is getting a rather worrying image of her life.
"You're staring again," she warns him, and she still has not looked at him.
The riff from Rent that is now playing in his head can be blamed on Joe and his girlfriend Melody – she is a theater performer who insists on practicing for an audience, and he often gets roped in. Last week it was this particular song from Rent.
"You seem to enjoy my food," he shrugs. "I like watching people appreciate my food."
Oh yes, he is terrible at interaction with women. Judging from this relatively small sample, people would never be able to tell that he is the best student in all of his political science classes, and that he is actually a gifted orator. He is normally quite good with words, but around strangers and especially around women, he stammers until he has squeaked out something that resembles a full sentence. He feels like an idiot.
"You're not bad at this baking thing," she tells him, still stuffing her face.
"Thank you," he does know how to handle a simple compliment.
He shoots a smile at her, not even knowing if she can see it, and then focuses on his novel again – he really wants to know if Katniss will be okay.
A few weeks later, the routine between the two of them has not changed all that much – she is always there early with her ratty blanket, and he shows up when she is already busy reading, always carrying some kind of baked goods. He has started bringing lunch as well two weeks ago, and while she did not seem happy at the idea of charity, she did eat an alarming amount of food. So he just keeps feeding her. And he is actually starting to see the results, because her cheeks have filled out a bit more.
"What's on the menu today?" she asks him as he sits down on the blanket.
"The usual," he teases, not giving her a real answer.
For some reason, he is actually starting to get rather comfortable around this girl; comfortable enough to tease her like they are actually friends rather than two strangers who still have not exchanged names. He calls her Blanket Girl in his head, and she has occasionally teased him by calling him Peeta or Baker Boy.
"You didn't," she is digging through his bag and she has struck gold.
He was freaking out over his finals, and that made him stay up several nights baking the craziest things. His masterpiece is a Patience cake in several interesting flavors, and Blanket Girl is cradling the box that contains it with a reverence that makes him smile.
"Happy eating," he tells her, digging his book out of his bag.
The adventures of Katniss have been replaced by a classic novel. It is an old favorite that he has not read in a while: Huckleberry Finn. Some of the girls he tutors are now reading the book for school, and he promised that he would read it with them. He does not mind reading extra books now that he has Sundays with Blanket Girl.
"This is the most amazing thing I have ever had in my mouth," she talks with her mouth half full with his Patience cake. "I know my ex-boyfriend would totally take offense, but his dick was not that great and it surely did not taste that good."
What the heck is he supposed to say to that? He can feel himself turning red at that mention of an ex-boyfriend and oral sex – and he cannot look her in the eyes. Everything he could possibly say would only come out as something awkward, so he just stays silent and tries to pretend that he did not hear a single thing that she said. Well, maybe the first part of her speech, but the part after that has to be erased from his memories.
"How are you not responding to that?" she asks him, gently touching his arm.
"I do not think that this is any of my business," he speaks rather stiffly.
She is smiling at him, so amused at how flustered he is that he instantly feels hurts at once again being treated as the sexless little brother. It bothers him when his friends do this too, as if the topic of sex has to be avoided around him just because he has chosen not to get distracted by romantic or sexual relationships.
"I was complimenting your lovely cake," she tells him, a smirk on her face. "Albeit in the oddest way, and I should not have given you the TMI this way. So, sorry for that part."
For some reason, she is much too pleased at his flustered response, and she still has not taken her hand off his arm, and she is now running her fingers up and down his arm almost continuously – it is making him feel a bit odd. Is this her flirting with him?
"I do think it's odd you did not offer me your dick to taste," she continues.
"You were testing me?" he asks, finally seeing what this was about.
Most men would have at least tried something at that point, maybe even commenting on giving her something that tastes a lot better than what he has been baking. He would not even think of saying something so terribly crude to a girl whose last name he does not even know. He would not say something like this to anyone, really, and he cannot even picture himself saying something so crude to a lover – if he ever chooses that.
"Maybe a little," she shrugs it off as if it does not mean a thing. "Where I'm from, some place called the real world, men do not provide women with food without asking for something in return. So, this is me asking: where is the catch Baker Boy?"
He likes to think that they all live in the same world, but she does not seem to agree with that. She seems to think that he lives in a better world than she does, and that her world is a world of quid pro quo. Sure, he knows that some people can be cruel and that they ask for things that people like Blanket Girl are not willing to give, but he has never been that kind of a man. He just thought that she would have known that.
"There is no catch," he tells her, trying to make her believe him. "I promise."
She grabs another bite of cake instead of actually verbally responding to him. He is relieved that she is no longer touching him so obviously, but he also feels some regret over the very same thing – and that is enough to make him worry. She is starting to become a distraction, and he is not sure how to feel about that.
"There you are," she stands up, and wraps herself around him.
It has only been three weeks since he last saw her – he had to miss two Sundays due to finals, exams, and papers – but for some reason she has missed him. Not only are her arms wrapped around him, but she has also jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist, leaving the two of them closer than they have ever been.
"Hi," he mutters, not knowing what else to say to her.
"I missed you," she smiles at him and plants a quick kiss on his lips.
What happened on those two Sundays to make her act like this? He is starting to get really worried about the situation, because he cannot imagine anything that would make her act like this. She is usually unflappable, and she now seems a little scared.
"What's wrong?" he has to ask, gently letting her down.
"You have no idea," she sidesteps and avoids giving any kind of real action.
She is still holding on to his hand as they both move to lie down, and that worries him even more. She does not seem all that scared anymore, rather just a bit nervous and she cannot look him in the eyes. He wonders why she would feel so weird around him now after two weeks of not seeing him. He told her beforehand that he would be gone for a few weeks, and she did not act upset about that then. Now she seems different.
"I brought snickerdoodles again," he smiles at her.
Her response is once again enthusiastic – she plants another kiss on his lips, and this time the kiss is almost long enough for him to kiss her back. He is surprised that he would want to kiss her back, because he just does not get interested in anyone this way.
"What's up?" he asks her again, phrasing it a bit differently this time.
"I just missed you, Baker Boy," she sits so close to him now, and the sun feels hotter than ever. "I don't get fed nearly as well if I spend my Sundays on our blanket alone."
It must be the sun that is making him feel so warm, because the presence of another person has never had this kind of effect on him. Still, he is starting to wonder if this heat is because of her, because he has never felt this hot and had goose bumps on his skin at the same time. This strange Blanket Girl has managed to get under his skin, and while he did admit to missing his Sundays – Combeferre was kind enough not to make fun of him when he said that – he cannot imagine himself so close to a practical stranger.
"Our blanket?" the response is almost involuntary.
"Well, we usually share it," she is trying to sound careless, but he can see that there is more meaning in this conversation than she is showing. "I think we can safely call it our blanket. We could always christen it properly some time."
He knows that term is often used for sex, but she cannot mean that. That would be too big of a step for him, and she would understand that like she usually understands him and his needs without him even saying a word. She usually knows when she is on the line and when she is crossing it. Right now she is in "no way, Jose" territory.
"And what would that mean exactly?" he is not giving her an answer yet.
"I can bargain for a proper kiss," she teases, her hair close enough to touch his skin lightly. "And maybe some making out. We are in public, after all."
She is leaning into him more and more, and now he is starting to understand that she is not joking, and that she is actually interested in him that way. It makes him think of how he would feel about that – and surprisingly he is not thinking of distancing himself from her. Rather, he is thinking about giving this thing a try, with her. He still thinks she is very interesting, witty, and intelligent. Somehow, he has started to like her as well.
"So you really did miss me?" he is surprised at this.
"It was a surprise to me too," she is grinning at him, and her dimples are showing.
That is the moment he knows for sure that he is falling for his Blanket Girl, and the only way that he knows of to show that is to awkwardly plant his lips on hers and to hope that she gets that hint – and fortunately enough, she does. Her lips move against his, coaching him in proper kissing techniques until he figures it out and instinct takes over.
"Hi," she smiles as they break away to breathe.
"I'm Enjolras," he is breathing rather heavily. "I figured you'd want to know my name."
She just laughs at that, because the idea of exchanging names after the first kiss is a bit off, since it does not happen very often – especially not for him, not ever. He is the guy who is patient and not interested in people that way.
"That is not your name," she protests, smiling at him.
"It is my last name," he tells her, but he caves at her pout. "Gabriel is my first name."
His Blanket Girl might be one of the few people he will actually allow to call him Gabriel, since most of his friends call him by his last name – they all call each other by their last names, with the exception of R. Even Marius is usually called Pontmercy, no matter how much he protests. They call the girls by their first names, and Joe Leigh has become Joly so long ago that people forget that is not actually his name. It has become a thing.
"Éponine," she replies. "My name is Éponine."
He sounds it out in his head, and he remembers the old tale of Sabinus and his tragic wife, who was also named Éponine. He hopes his Éponine has not had such a tragic life, but he fears that she has endured more than she had to. That is not something they will talk about now, though. Right now he wants to focus on her smile.
"Nice to meet you," he grins at her, leaning in again.
Their lips meet, and when her tongue slowly starts to tangle with his, he realizes that this just might be so much more than he ever thought it would be.
"Get a room," a random bystander yells at them.
Éponine gives the stranger the finger before pulling him close again for another kiss.
When the time comes to ask his 'Ponine to marry him, he has no doubts whatsoever, not about her answer and not about where he is going to ask that question.
The blanket is even more threadbare than when he first saw her lying on it, but they still keep it around for sentimental reasons. That blanket was one of the first things he noticed about her, and it has become a symbol of their French heritage and their relationship – though their relationship is not quite as damaged as the blanket.
They both love the ratty thing, though.
So when he takes it out of the closet one night, he is worried that she will figure out the details of his plan before he can put it into action. But everything goes according to plan, even though he bakes a lot in the week before he plans to propose.
"More snickerdoodles," she shakes her head with a smile.
The basket he is planning to bring along to their romantic picnic is filled with all kinds of baked goods – and the family ring. His mother has never been so happy as when he announced that he had a serious girlfriend, but she came close when he asked for the ring so that he could officially make Éponine a part of his family.
"I need to show you something," he holds her hand.
She must know that something special is going to happen, because while they often spend time at the park together, it has not been quite like this in a while. He does not usually bring a picnic basket, and their blanket is suspiciously absent from the basket – only because it is already at their place in the park, waiting for them with hopes for the future. That blanket will never fall apart, and neither will they.
"You didn't," she sees the blanket before he thought that she would see it.
"Do you not want to go for a picnic?" he asks, acting as if nothing is different.
Of course, she has long ago caught on to his ploys, and she is just humoring him, because the only person that he can never fool is she, his 'Ponine. Even after they have spent most of the last two years together, they manage to occasionally surprise each other in the little things. Never in any big issues though – they know each other well, and that understanding that they made on those first few Sundays have never gone away. They do not always need words to make things clear. They just get it – as she does right now.
"I know what is going on here," she tells him, basically beaming.
"I thought you would figure it out too soon," he rolls his eyes at her, and she punches his shoulder. "But I am going to ask you anyway, and you can pretend to be surprised."
Her hand motions tell him to just get on with it – because she has never been and she will never be that patient of a woman. It is just one of the many things that he absolutely loves about her, because he can always tease her by keeping her waiting.
So he slowly gets down on one knee and gets the ring from his pocket.
"My 'Ponine," he smiles at her. "You have always thought that I never needed to use my speech-giving powers on you. So all I need to ask is: will you marry me?"
The tears in her eyes are a new sight for him, but the smile on her face tells him that she is so very happy. She nods, because she is reverting back to that girl who did not speak when she could make her feelings clear without words.
"Yes," she finally manages to say.
And as they fall down on their blanket together, he thinks of those first Sundays. Now that Blanket Girl and Baker Boy have finally tied themselves together, he smiles.
AN: So that's it. I took a very simple prompt and made it into a big thing – story of my life. Once again: I want to thank Mary and Sophie-Louise for helping to make this story happen. Let me know what you think!