I am going to have sex with Marius Pontmercy. Or, at the very least…blow job.
Mornings on the ULM campus are always so peaceful. If it's a weekday, the few students who dared to sign up for 8 AMs (and, even more daringly, actually attend them) brave the early hour on their own, quietly treading across campus, regretting their decisions. On the weekends the campus remains dead for a large portion of the early afternoon, as most people are lying in bed, regretting their decisions.
On this particular morning, however, the campus was bustling. Minivans overflowing with cardboard boxes were everywhere. Nervous voices and laughter came from all directions and filled the air. Nearly everyone out wore red T-shirts bearing the ULM logo.
The freshmen were coming.
"Hi, welcome to ULM! I hope you're ready for the greatest four years of your life! Here's your welcome packet, and may I have your name, please?"
The girl's face lit up. "Ooh! I loooove that name! Is it French?"
"Ye—can I have my information?"
The girl glared at her and flipped through the papers on her clipboard. "Thenardier." She highlighted the name and reached for the box that rested under the table.
"Here," She tossed the papers onto the table. "Room 246. Use your card to swipe your way into the building, the elevators, and your room. Mailbox combo is 4487. Once you're settled, there's an activities fair behind held at Granger Quad. Have a nice day!" She tipped her visor at Eponine.
She took the stairs to her floor, her angry father trailing behind her with multiple bags slung around his shoulder. He swore all the way up, but she could hardly hear him. She had one thing on her mind: Finding the boy she'd met and fell in love with over the summer.
At the entrance to campus' liveliest neighborhood sits a small white house. It is not unlike the other homes in the neighborhood: student rental, slightly run down, often filled with people, blaring loud music, and the inhabitants within never showing signs of life before noon. The house does, however, have one thing about it that makes it different from the rest: Its bright pink door. That famous door was a landmark of sorts for the many students who stumbled past it, trying to make it back to their dorms before they collapsed from exhaustion and the high levels of Karkov running through their veins. The words "I'm by the pink door house. Come pick me up." had not been typed into hundreds of text messages, but not for lack of trying; generally the messages would end up more like "ib b heee pin drr house cmme pickup".
In the kitchen of this special pink-doored house sat Enjolras, typing away ambitiously on his Macbook. He was the only one in the house to already have showered and dressed, a fact he felt quite proud of.
One of his roommates, Combeferre, came in from one of the bedrooms down the hall, wearing a burgundy robe and little else.
"Up already?" Combeferre said cheerily.
Enjolras grunted in response, deeply involved in his work.
Barely a moment later, another roommate joined them, in his own matching burgundy robe, something that he and Combeferre had purchased together.
"Schoolwork already?" Courfeyrac mused, looking over Enjolras' shoulder.
From the room Courfeyrac had emerged from came a girl, tiptoeing past the kitchen, where she spotted the boys and broke into a speed walk, waving at them with her head down.
"Good day!" Combeferre called after her with a laugh in his voice.
Once they heard the sound of the door shutting, Combeferre asked, "Was that Jill?"
"Who?" Courfeyrac went to the fridge and pressed a glass against the water dispenser. "Hey, where's R?"
Enjolras looked up from his computer and tapped his fingers against the keypad, thinking. "Hold on." He pushed his chair back and it creaked against the tiled floor. They followed him through the living room and to the front door, which Enjolras pulled open to reveal Grantaire, asleep on the cold cement of the front porch with his cheek resting in a pool of vomit.
The three men made faces and waved the smell away from their noses.
"He's barely been here a week."
"It's only going to get worse." Enjolras said.
Jean Prouvaire, Jehan to his friends, sat in a wobbly old wooden chair in the corner table of The Grounds, his favorite coffee house, scribbling in a well-worn notebook. The page was opened to his latest work of art, a poem simply called "Barista" that was inspired by the cute girl behind the counter who kept making eyes at him. He didn't know how to approach her, so he settled with a shy smile every time he caught her looking.
The door jingled open.
"I knew we'd find him here."
Two of Jehan's best friends, Marius and Bahorel, had walked through the door. Bahorel gave a quick wave to Jehan before going to the counter to discuss something with the barista.
Marius came and sat at the chair opposite Jehan.
"First party of the year at E and R's tonight."
"I hate their parties." Jehan whined, not raising his eyes from his poem.
"You hate all parties."
"Look, it'll be fun. You have the whole year to be boring, just come out with us tonight."
"It's a Monday."
"It's welcome week."
Jehan opened his mouth to protest further when both of their phones dinged. It was an email from Enjolras:
First SUJ meeting Wed. 3 in the Student Building.
They both rolled their eyes. SUJ was Students United for Justice, the activist organization Enjolras had started his freshman year. He forced all of his friends to join, even though none of them took it very seriously and they skipped a lot of the meetings.
They heard Bahorel yell "Fuck!" from the counter. He hurried over to the corner table.
"Did you guys get this email from Enjolras?" he asked. They both nodded. "I completely forgot that was even a thing." He stood there for a moment in thought. Then he looked back to his phone and began saying aloud what he was typing.
Marius and Jehan giggled. Enjolras hated being called by his first name.
"I will unfortunately be unable to attend as I've got an appointment to have a dildo removed from my ass at that time. Hope all goes well. God bless. Your pal, Barry." He finished typing and pressed send. Pocketing his phone, he said, "So I just got word, I'm going to be doing my set here Friday, and I expect all you bitches to be there."
The woman sitting at the table next to theirs cleared her throat and glared at them. Bahorel gave his friends the "whoops" face and shrugged.
"You guys wanna hang for a little bit? Joly just got here and he needs help unpacking."
"I can't," said Marius. "I'm working the clubs fair in a little while. I should actually probably get going."
Marius was an active member in ULM's theatre community and did a lot of tech work for the shows. He was responsible for manning the theatre booth today at the recruitment fair.
He waved goodbye to his friends and was gone.
"So, you wanna go see Joly? I haven't seen that bugger all summer," Bahorel said. "Besides, I heard he's got something to show us…" He pulled his index finger and thumb up to his puckered lips in a gesture Jehan immediately understood.
"Sure, why not," Jehan grinned and began gathering his things. "Hold on." He flipped his notebook open to the poem he'd been working on and tore it out.
"What are you doing?" Bahorel tried to get a glance at the paper. When he saw Jehan write his number on it, his eyes widened excitedly. "Dude. Duuu-uuude!"
Jehan walked to the barista and slid the paper across the counter, then turned to leave with Bahorel, his heart pounding at his own audacity.
Cosette had known it was going to be hard saying goodbye to her dad, but not for the reasons she'd expected. She'd assumed that when the moment came, she'd collapse in tears like a little girl not wanting daddy to leave.
Surprisingly, she was the brave one. Being at college, even though she'd only been there a few hours, already made her feel stronger, more independent, cooler. She was fine with being on her own. But now, looking her father in the eyes, it killed her to know that he was going to be driving the two and a half hours back home on his own, and that he would then have to occupy an empty house until she came home for break.
She sucked in a deep breath and hugged him. "Thanksgiving isn't that far off. I'll be back before you even start to miss me."
He pulled her into a bear hug, like he would when she was small. "I've already started missing you."
He kissed her on the top of her head and, after one last moment, he pulled away, taking his keys from his pocket.
"Be safe. Don't do anything you—"
"—don't feel comfortable doing, I know daddy."
His eyes were glassy. "I love you."
"I love you, dad."
And with that, he got in the car and drove away. Cosette felt sad for a moment, but that sadness quickly melted away when she turned to face the building she would be living in for the next year. A huge smile forced its way onto her face.
"Here goes nothing." She said to herself excitedly.
In her room, her new roommate was already unpacked and was busy decorating her side. They'd spoken briefly when Cosette and her father had come in to drop off her things. She seemed nice, but perhaps a little closed-off, although that was only Cosette's first impression.
She looked over her shoulder when she saw Cosette enter the room. "Hey Cosette. Do you need any help unpacking?"
Cosette shook her head. "I think I might unpack later. I'd rather check out the activities fair first, to be honest. Wanna go?"
Eponine looked around at the work she'd done and at the pile of posters and polaroids yet to be hung. She shrugged. "Sure, I could use a break. Uhh…should I change? How do I look?"
"You look fab! Come on," Cosette smiled kindly, urging the girl out the door.
Once they got out the door of the building they began playing the get to know you game.
"So, what's your major?"
Cosette smiled. "I'm a math major."
Eponine made a surprised face. "Wow that's…I didn't expect, I mean—"
"I know, 'I don't look like a math major.' Don't worry, I've gotten that before."
Eponine cringed. "Sorry. Does that bother you?"
Cosette shook her head. "No, I mean I get it, I'm a pretty blonde, I wasn't exactly at the bottom of the social ladder in high school, so it doesn't really bother me. I'm glad to be breaking stereotypes. If I can make people stop and think 'hey, maybe math isn't just for nerdy guys' I'm 100 percent okay with that. Not enough girls go into STEM fields and it's because of that stereotype," Cosette smiled proudly.
"I wish I was good at math," Eponine laughed.
"So, anyway, what about you? What's your major?"
"Well, we're freshmen, so you have plenty of time to decide."
Eponine's stomach churned nervously, as it did whenever she thought of the future.
"That's what everyone keeps telling me."
The activities fair was about a hundred different booths set up in rows on the grassy lawn in front of Granger Hall. Students, mostly freshmen, milled about, picking up brochures and listening to the pitches of different club members.
Cosette and Eponine walked slowly through the maze of people and tables, fliers being practically thrown at them at every turn, when suddenly Eponine spotted something that made her heart jump into her throat.
Marius Pontmercy. He looked even better than she'd remembered. He wore a white t-shirt that read "ULM Theatre" and khaki shorts. He'd definitely gotten a haircut, but the shorter look suited him. Marius had been the leader for Eponine's orientation group over the summer, and in those two days she'd managed to get very close to him. On the last day he took her for a "private tour" and he almost kissed her under the university's famous elm tree (dubbed "The Lovers' Tree" because it's supposedly the location where one of the university's most famous presidents had his first kiss with the woman who would become his wife or some shit), but instead gave her his phone number and made her promise to text him over the summer (a promise she easily kept).
Eponine slowed down.
"What's wrong?" asked Cosette.
"That guy, at the theatre booth, we kind of had, like, a little bit of a thing over the summer."
Cosette looked to the boy. "Wow. Do you wanna go talk to him? Or is it like, weird now?"
"Um…" Eponine suddenly felt sick. What if he didn't like her like that? What if he wasn't excited to see her?
Cosette raised her eyebrows.
"Y—yeah I guess so…" Reluctantly, she walked over to the booth.
"Hey! 'Ponine!" Marius exclaimed loudly with a wide smile.
Eponine felt relief wash over her, and suddenly felt very giddy. "Hi Marius!"
"You're here!" He looked genuinely happy to see her. That was a good thing, right?
"Yeah!" She laughed, and for an awkward moment they both stood there grinning at each other.
Marius laughed. "Here," he made his way around the table that separated them and pulled her into a tight hug. "Hi!"
"Hi!" She pulled back and giggled girlishly. "It's good to see you again!"
"You too!" He stepped back and glanced at Cosette, smirking slightly for some reason. "Hi!"
Cosette spoke up. "Hi! It's nice to meet you, I'm Cosette, Eponine's roommate." She held out her hand.
Marius took it and squeezed it in his own, holding it there for a moment. "Cosette. That's a beautiful name."
Cosette bowed her head, smiling politely. "Thanks, I like it." She chuckled.
Marius laughed at that.
"So how are you, Marius?" Eponine asked, trying to bring herself back into this interaction. His eyes didn't move from Cosette's for a couple seconds. Oh, fuck.
"I'm good, I'm good. Enjoying college?"
"Too early to tell." Eponine admitted.
"Well, I'll help you decide. There's a party at my friends' house tonight. You two should come."
"I'd love to!" Eponine said, looking to Cosette.
"Oh, I'm not a big partier…" Cosette said.
"Aw, come on! It'll be fun! And I'll be there, so it'll be really awesome." Marius said.
Cosette laughed. "Well maybe I'll stop by."
"Great! Well, I gotta get back to the booth, but I'll see you both tonight!"
"Sounds good!" Cosette said.
Marius winked at her. "Great to see you again, 'Ponine."
They continued down the rows.
"He seems…nice." Cosette remarked. Eponine looked to the girl, worried that she was going to see on Cosette's face the same look she's seen on Marius. Instead, she saw a look of mild distaste.
Cosette shrugged. "I don't know. Look, I don't know him like you do. He just seemed really into himself, that's all."
Eponine shook her head. "I think he's just confident, that's all."
Cosette nodded vigorously. "Yeah, yeah that's probably it. Like I said, I don't know him."
"Oh, hold on." Eponine swerved quickly to get to a booth they were about to pass. It was for the ULM Daily, the university's student-run newspaper. "I want to see if their newspaper is any good."
The girl standing at the table lit up when she saw Eponine come over. "We've won several awards. We're actually accepting applications for new staffers for the semester. Do you do any writing?"
Eponine looked up and grimaced politely. "Well, I mean I've written before, nothing for a newspaper or really anything that's been published, so…"
"We train all our staffers ourselves, no prior experience needed. We're taking emails down for people who want more information—"
Eponine shook her head. "Oh, no I don't think so."
Cosette spoke up. "Why not? I think you should go for it! Get involved, get your writing out there. At least put your email down…"
Eponine bit her lip. "Well I guess I could just put my email down. No harm in that."
Hi all! For any longtime readers of my other Les Mis fic, thanks so much for checking out my new AU! This is just a fun little something I've been working on for a while now, and I figured I should go ahead and post it and see if there'd be any interest in me continuing it. So let me know!
As for A Heart Full of Love, yes, I've recently dusted off the ol' Word doc and am hoping to get a new chapter up in the coming weeks. I have totally abused your guys' patience, so I'm really going to try to get that going again. Thank you so much for hanging on with me for so long!
Also...welcome to any new readers!
Can't wait to hear what you all think!