[A/N]: For tomorrowatdawn, I hope you forgive me for the long wait. I hope you enjoy this. :)
i know your eyes in the morning sun
Love is _.
Love is [insert some melodramatic feels-y description of how it is for some individual who is dearly coveted by someone].
Or love _.
Love [insert an adjective that tries to ground all the feelings that cannot be defined and makes the people cry or nod in reverence at how it definitely explains how they had experienced it, and thus, makes them think back on their past or almost relationships].
Éponine is not sure how she would answer these questions because she was just bored, trying to humour herself with this "fun" quiz she found on a random website. She was supposed to be fixing her argumentations on whether or not she agrees on the remilitarisation of Japan, but meh. (But, hey, if you asked her, she would totally support it, since it would cut the budget deficit of Japan from relying too much on Uncle Sam for the materials, and—alright, she will do that later.) Instead, she finds herself procrastinating and bullshitting even this—this smidgeon of an overgeneralising test online.
But, yeah, she is not sure how love should be limited to one comprehensive, albeit convenient, paragraph. It would sound too sanitised or superficial, so she cannot really find it in herself to do it. So to hell with it. She's not going to answer it, haha. Closing the tab on that feels-y website (she blames her boredom for letting herself wander into that part of the cyberspace for the nth time), she tries to make her points on her paper better by glaring at it and hoping that whatever word that she was typing from her brain farting session earlier would be enough to help her ace this.
Yeah, dreaming that her professor would be kind enough to let her get at least an eighty is just that—a dream.
She needs to get a life, seriously.
Well, she does, especially because life with her friends is good, her siblings have managed to do well since they got away from their parents five years ago, and yeah, it's good. Éponine could finally focus better on her schooling and working part-time in the university as an envoy. It's just that the romantic side of her life is pretty much, well, equal to her giving a fuck about it: zero.
She's really happy she's managed to grow up from her unhealthy infatuation with Marius because she can freely tease Cosette about it nowadays, but she gets a little lonely, you know? She enjoys her solitude and the fact that she can travel without worrying a lot, but when lethargy gets to her as she is resting, it's one of the topics her mind goes to. And it makes her smile sadly, thinking how she might not have anything like that.
And it's pathetic, so she thinks that whoever tried to standardise love into bite-sized acts of courting and delirious songs as measures of love is pathetic, as well.
Dammit. She's just bitter that she hasn't gotten laid in a long time and that no one has probably thought of her as relationship-worthy.
As she's contemplating on her inevitable descent to old maidenhood, her phone rings, and the face of Enjolras pops up on the screen. She puts it on speaker and greets him with a cheerful, "Hey, what's up?"
"Hey, Éponine, are you free as of now? I need your help on something," he replied a little tiredly, the nasal quality of his voice revealing his northern upbringing. This is what happens when he gets exhausted from work. His accent shows, and he doesn't really like it when it does. He must have just come home from one of his trips in Palestine.
But she does owe him from when he helped her with her position paper for Uruguay (oh, and yeah, working pro bono for her guardianship case for her siblings), so she answers, "Sure, where do we meet?"
"La Musain, at our usual place with the Amis, if you do not mind?" Enjolras offered.
Saving her files before she closes her laptop, she responds, "Yeah, please order me my usual, too. I'll pay once I'm there."
"Tiramisu and Irish coffee?" he chuckles softly, and she realizes she has missed its warmth. It has been a month since he left, and they weren't able to contact each other because he was not permitted to use the internet service during his stay there.
"You lovely man, yes, thank you, and tell me about Palestine, yeah?" she says, grabbing a scarf, a bag, and putting her platform sandals on the way out.
"Will do. I've missed you, 'Ponine," he responded.
"Likewise. See you soon."
Entering the café and nodding towards the owner to proceed to the back, Éponine recalled the memories of her earlier college days with the amis. She feels nineteen again, and the smile that comes with it does not fade until she opens the door to the backroom and finds Enjolras, napping, alone on one of the tables there.
He must have been really worn out from what he did, so she quietly goes to him and wakes him up by bringing her fingers to the waves of his blond curls. Ah, how she missed messing it like this.
"Enj," she greeted, once he finally awakes and looks at her blearily with his blue eyes.
"Hey," he says, grinning, and then making her near him by placing his hand at the back of her waist. His fingers bring a certain warmth that transcends the folds of her dress, and she finds her stomach knotting so much that a breath coaxes out of her. Ignoring the blood rushing to her face whenever he does it, Éponine doesn't question such intimacy from him. It has been this way with him even back then, so she simply sits and hugs him.
She meant to embrace him briefly, but she must have underestimated the month long absence of his presence because he grips her tightly a little longer. She does not mind, though. She's glad that he's home.
"I've missed you," he breathes into her hair, and her lips curl fondly at his statement before telling him likewise. Then he releases her, and gestures to her food at their table.
"Thank you, so how was Palestine?" Éponine asked, taking a bite of her tiramisu.
"Fun, but you know how I define the word," he responded, wiping his eyes free of some morning glories and then disposing it with one of the tissues from the table.
Éponine chuckles, saying, "So you had a hard time dealing with the people there, again, yeah?"
Enjolras nods. "As usual. But only because the Israelites rejected the earlier proposal for safe convergence zones for the innocent citizens of the countries in dispute."
She snorted at this old news, so she drank some of her coffee before turning to him and asking what he needed help with.
At this, Enjolras seemed to pale a bit. His eyes refused to meet her for a second before he finally got the courage to say, "I have taken a liking to a woman, and I do not know how to, as Courf says, 'break it' to her, and before you say that he should be the one to help me with this, I have to disagree with you on the point that this is a rather different situation, so I am hoping to approach it in another angle."
"Angle being a woman's perspective; so long story short, you would like to know what women think or want so you can be responsive to her, am I right?" Éponine replied, feeling something tug at her heart. Curling her fist, she ignored the sensation and focused on the way Enjolras's face is heating from embarrassment.
He nods, before saying, "Precisely, and you know how I am, I haven't had experiences with this, really, so I was hoping you could teach me, and because I understand this might take a good deal out of your schedule, tell me how you wish I can repay you."
She is silent for a second before replying, "Do you mind if I know who this person is, so I can help you better? And puh-lease, do not feel obliged to pay me. I am your friend as you are mine. Just do your best on this one, yeah?"
Enjolras pales even more. Hmm, maybe he does not want to tell her who it is because he wants it only to himself. She needs to find out who that girl is.
"Hey, Enj, if you can't tell me who it is, it's alright. I understand. Just tell me how she is, so I can help you?" she offered, taking a bigger slice to eat. All this is a bit too much to process. Maybe she can eat the suffering away.
Wait. What suffering? Brain, do not fuck with her.
She'll file away this feeling for later consideration. Right now, her priority should be helping her friend, Enjolras. But since he has gone mute, she has to get his attention. She decided to grasp his hand and softly tell him, "Hey, it's alright. Maybe I can just teach you how to please a woman, so you can get her to like you better?"
That got him to listen. He gazed at her, asking, "How do I do that?"
"In various ways," she says, turning away from him to hide a pained smile, "but women tend to fall for the smallest of gestures, so maybe we can start with that, if you want."
Oh, she is not in love with her friend, she is not. Brain, stop putting silly realisations in her head. Do not. She cannot. He likes someone else. It's not the right time, please. Don't make her think that just because he's saying all this.
She finishes her cake before turning to her coffee again, and that's when she realises she is still holding on to his hand. She takes it away, but then she notices Enjolras's expression when she does. Éponine tries not to think too much about it.
Why is it always like this? Why does love surround her, but never touch her the way it would warm and fill other people's hearts? Why is it always her who knows her way around this kind of affair, even if she has not yet experienced it in its supreme, like how it is with Marius and Cosette or Joly and Musichetta and Bossuet?
And now, Enjolras and whoever that woman he has 'taken a liking to'?
Why can she never get it right? Even her past rapport with Montparnasse proved to be one disastrous failure.
Where is the justice in all of this? For her?
Ah, dammit. She thought too much about it.
"—start with holding?" he was saying, and Éponine jolted from her thoughts.
"Sorry. You were saying something about holding?" she asked, blinking a few tears away before facing him.
What tears? Shit.
Mentally shaking her head, she watched his Adam's apple bob a little before he repeated, "I was thinking about what you said about small gestures, and it dawned on me that one of those is hand-holding, so maybe we could start with holding?"
Blinking owlishly because she was surprised, she felt her lips part a little. Then Enjolras said, scratching the back of his neck, "I thought about that because I liked the feel of your hand upon mine, but if you can think of anything better to start this with, go ahead. I'll incline myself to your decision."
Éponine felt her face heat a little, but she ignored it and said, "Oh, no, handholding is fine. It's a good way to start. Alright, may I have your hand?"
He immediately grasped hers, and she tried not to feel breathless about it. Come on, guys, it's just hands. Seriously.
"All right. So holding hands... usually, it is done to offer warmth, comfort, or consolation. You can do it in public—that's how you show people you are together without being too affectionate or sappy like some couples. It's how you respect other people who aren't as 'in love' as you two," she explained, liking his grasp on her hand.
She could sense the callouses and lines from his palm, and now that she has turned her hand to meet the inside of his, she could feel the lines meet, as if they were intertwined.
Or meant to be, a small voice whispered inside her head.
Thump, thump, thump.
Focus, Éponine. Focus.
"All right. If, for instance, I hold it while we are walking, will I be able to show more, make you feel more pleased in some way?" Enjolras asked.
'Make you feel more'? You... me?
"'Make me feel more pleased'? Are you talking about me or the girl?" she asked alarmingly.
Enjolras paled a bit.
"Oh, I meant... y-you know... t-the woman I have taken a liking to," he answered, blushing and suddenly gripping her hand a bit more tightly.
Oh, all right.
"Oh, sorry, yes. I admit I have been too carried away teaching," she replied. "But to answer your question, yes. Yes, you can please her more while holding her hand. I'll show you."
Then she intertwined her fingers with his. "Like this," she explained. "Or this...," she paused, releasing herself from his grasp to hold his hand inside her palm. Then she kissed each of his knuckles softly. After that, she looked up at him to gauge his reaction and was honestly surprised. His blue eyes were heavily lidded with a tenderness she has not yet—never, in fact—seen from him.
So if she felt her breath taken for a bit, she did not mind.
Éponine smiled, moved up, and then proceeded to rub circles on his hand.
"That's how you please her, as well, even if you are just holding her hand. Mind you do it in private, though, if you would," she elaborated.
Enjolras nodded. "I like it very much. May I do it to you?"
Her eyes widened a bit, but she bobbed her head in agreement.
Enjolras took her hand and did the same. He even closed his eyes as he did. Éponine could not help but gasp and shut her eye lids, as well. His lips were too soft, too tender, too sweet, and she could feel every nerve on her knuckles and hand alert and nearly bursting.
So when he took his hand and lips away, Éponine opened her eyes and smiled. Enjolras realised this as her approval and grinned. But before she could even praise him for it, he suddenly grasped her hand again.
And then he opened it and kissed her fingertips. Then he moved his lips to her palm... and then her wrist... before he looked up at her with hooded eyes.
Then he smiled at her and sat up again.
"You... did very well, exceptionally well, Enjolras. You can do that, too," she said breathlessly.
His smile widened.
If smiles could kill, this one would.
"Well, you told me to do my best," he said.
She grinned and shrugged her shoulders. Then she leaned in and patted his cheeks. "You're a fast learner, Enj," she said.
He blushed, but asked, "So what do we do next?"
Éponine smiled, saying, "Are you game for how women want men to hug them?"
"There is such a kind of wanting?" Enjolras asked, arching a brow.
"Yes, and use it wisely," she said, standing up and urging him to do the same. "It's fortunate that the others are not here to tease you. It'll be easier to help you with it if we have the room to ourselves like this."
Enjolras stood and looked at her appreciatively, saying, "I'm really thankful for you."
Éponine curtseyed in response, and he laughed. She suddenly threw her arms around his neck and told him, "Grip my waist." Letting her head rest at the top of his shoulder, she felt him gasp at the unexpected contact. Her lips unconsciously curled fondly at it.
Nonetheless, though, he obeyed, but it wasn't enough for her, so she said, "Tighter, as if you would want to mould me into you."
And he did by using one arm to grip her better and letting one trace the cord of her spine. She felt her lids fall as shivers went down it. "Better," she said, her voice faltering, trying but failing to let him notice that it affects her too much. "Then hold her like this longer than you normally would for friends, alright?"
Enjolras hmmed in response as his other hand dropped to her waist, and she felt his breath on her neck. She eased her hold to face him, arms still wreathing his neck.
"Alright. I'll be turning around. Just keep your hands on my waist that way. Women like it so," she stated, dropping her hands as she half-gyrated in his arms to let her back face his front. "Wrap your arms around me as you did earlier, but only more tenderly."
His hands started to caress the sides of her hips gently, and she nodded, trying not to feel too much again. It was well that she chose to wear her white flowy dress today. She could feel the imprints of his fingers through the thinness of the cloth. The sensation was highly pleasant to the point where she was day-dreaming of him doing this to her while she slept in his arms.
Éponine sighed internally, elated. If only she could have him.
Why are there so many answers to the questions she cannot ask? She cannot dare it, but then what of her? Is her life really that empty a shell? Oh, Lord, can she not have Enjolras? He would be more than enough for her.
Hold it right there, Ép. Enough drama. Just enjoy this while it lasts.
"Yes, exactly like that," she said, before letting her head fall back to his shoulder and letting her hands rest on his arms. Enjolras seemed to sigh in content as well.
Then he crossed his hands to ensconce her better in his arms before asking, "Is there any way I can make this better?"
Éponine hmmed for a bit, responding, "Let's leave it to your instincts. What do you think would make it better?"
He held her more tightly, then, saying, "May I do it to you?" His breaths were getting a bit ticklish on her neck, but she did not mind. Éponine bobbed her head in agreement, though.
Enjolras moved the hair covering her neck and put it behind her ear. Then she felt his eye lashes at the base of her neck. He seemed to be inhaling her scent, so she held her breath, knowing what he will do but not trusting herself to control her reactions. He put his lips on it softly before nibbling on it.
Éponine could hardly stop herself from moaning when his lips eventually decided to leave kisses on her collarbone and the curve of her neck. His hands gradually caressed her lower stomach in circles, and she was finding it difficult to breathe. Her legs were getting a little weak from all the sensations. But then he stopped at the middle of her neck and focused on just that part.
"Aurèlien," she found herself sighing his given name, feeling his smile against her skin.
Then he stopped and kissed that part chastely before releasing her from his hold. Éponine was too buzzed from the sensations to process everything.
"Did I do well? I'm afraid I went too far." he asked, his cheeks turning incarnadine more than ever.
She was glad she wasn't facing him because it helped her sort her probably dazed face to a blank mien when she finally turned to him. Éponine noticed his neck was a bit red from earlier. Hmm. That's good. That meant he was affected by what he did, as well. He was breathing a bit hard.
She was thinking it kind of looked a bit hot, too.
Oh fuuuuuuuck. Shut up.
She was still trying to regain herself even if her voice suffered as she answered, "Ah, yes, exceptionally well. Again. Do not worry about going too far. It's good practice."
Then Éponine thinned her lips before asking him, "So what would you like to do next?"
"I was wondering if it was true that females felt more attracted to guys when they are ensconced by a guy's hands on their sides? I was inclined to disagree with this notion because I felt like men were taking advantage because of the differences in physique, but what do you think?" Enjolras ranted, lips pursing as he eyed her.
"It depends on whether or not there is attraction between the two involved, but as far as I know, it is a bit true," Éponine responded, wondering where this was going.
"Ah, I see, so, if say," Enjolras said, walking towards her and making her step backwards until her back hit the wall, "I do it like this, it will still be okay?" He put his hands on each side of her head and neared his face to hers. The fact that the three buttons on his red polo shirt were open was making her feel hot. But she ignored it, looked at him directly, and affirmed it with a nod.
His eyes were boring into her, and she wasn't sure if he was getting nearer as each second passed by, but then he put his hands down and let it rest on each side of her waist.
She refused to look down. No, monsieur, she won't.
"Alright, I get it," he said, his eyes brightening at her and lips curling fondly. "Is kissing considered a small gesture?"
Éponine swallowed a bit before responding, "It depends on where you leave a kiss." She discerned it's time for a bit of a payback for what he did to her earlier, so she placed her lips softly on the edge of his. She heard him take a deep breath as she left, and that is when Enjolras eyed her from the deepness of his lids.
It looks like he's been challenged, she hmmed, a smirk finding its way to her lips.
But then he neared her cheek and began tracing the softness of it with his nose before he proceeded to kiss the edge of her lips as she did earlier. Before Éponine could react, however, he turned and placed his mouth on the other side, as well. Feeling her lips tingle from sheer want, she felt her breath taken away as Enjolras smiled against her skin again.
Éponine closed her eyes, nuzzling against his cheek unconsciously, before saying, "If it is alright for you to let me be your first kiss in lieu of the woman you have taken a liking to so that you can better it by the time you have had enough courage, it is fine with me."
"May I?" Enjolras said, breathing harshly, tracing her lower lip with a finger.
I want it so badly.
"Yes," she replied, too overwhelmed by the sensations that she does not want to fight her brain anymore.
She opened her eyes and saw his blue ones were filled with a desire that made her stomach clench in desperate wanting. It flitted slowly to gaze into her before he licked his lips and finally met hers. Éponine wanted to cry from the contact.
Enjolras thread his fingers into her hair, and it was more than she could ask for. She opened her mouth and licked his lower lip. Hearing him groan at that, she attacked his tongue and felt his other hand at her waist grip her tighter. Then he left her lips for a bit to kiss her eye lids and the back of her ear.
Then he pulled her closer to him, and she was hoisted up against the wall as his lips made its way to the valley of her chest. Her hands found its way to his curls, and she was not trying to stop herself from moaning anymore. (She could really feel herself getting a bit wet down there.) Enjolras, upon taking note of it, decided to go up to her and kiss her senseless.
Maybe it's because he doesn't want others to hear her.
But then—this is just practice, right? Right.
"Aurèlien," she said, trying to make him pause in between kisses. "You are doing really well."
He stopped kissing her when she got hesitant to respond to him. Gazing at him, Éponine noticed how flushed his face was before he licked his lips and rested his head upon her shoulder.
"I apologise," Enjolras said, sincerity evident in his tone. "I must have missed you so dearly that I forgot my boundaries. I am sorry."
Éponine put her arms around his neck and kissed his hair. She whispered, "It's alright. I accepted your plea, and I do miss you so."
He returned the embrace and just held her like that. It seemed as if they were breathing each other in. Letting her lips rest on the side of his neck, she closed her eyes. Éponine understood this kind of longing and allowed him to do so.
"Thank you," he said, playing with the ends of her hair before letting her go.
Éponine let her lips curl fondly, placing a hand on his cheek, saying, "You are a priority to me. Do not forget."
She does not fully understand her reasons for saying so, but it was the truth, and it was so liberating to say it.
His blue eyes widened before he took her hand and kissed her knuckles. Éponine saw tears forming in his lids, but she kept quiet because his lips were still making her brain short circuit.
Against her knuckles, he replied, "As you are to me. Tomorrow, if you are free, come again, and I will tell you more."
Éponine arched a brow, but consented, nonetheless. She does have papers to finish, anyway. Maybe what he means is that she will probably meet the woman he has 'taken a liking to'. She felt something crumble within her. Her eye lids are starting to tear up.
Thinning her lips as she looked away for the first time, she let her hand fall away from his hold before she responded, "It's you asking. Of course, I will go."
She could feel his gaze upon her when he said, "Thank you, 'Ponine. Oh, and I have paid for your meal today, so do not worry about that."
Éponine stared at him, and she kissed his cheek. "Tomorrow."
[A/N]: Ah, I love this one so much. I miss writing. Long time, no see, Enjonines! This is a two-chappie thingy, so stay tuned for more. Tell me what you think, yeah? ;)
P. S. The lyrics you see as the title is from the song "How Deep Is Your Love" by Bee Gees. I don't know why, but it fits the mood of this story. For me, at least.