It was freshman year of high school and the only thing that saved Grantaire from blowing the day off entirely were his art classes. He'd been coaxed into testing by his guidance counselor and was placed in the school's magnet track for creative arts. In order to graduate, he'd still have to do the boring French and math classes – science wasn't so bad – but thanks to his so-called parents' chosen style of child-rearing, Children's Welfare had a close eye on him and cutting school in favor of getting drunk was not an option. He'd learned that lesson the hard way. (Vodka or clear rum in a water bottle got him through the day, and he had become remarkably adept at toeing the line between buzzed and smashed until the final bell rang.)
Art history was not nearly as exciting as had been promised; the teacher had very rigid interpretations of classic works – all of which Grantaire had studied on his own. So Grantaire generally entertained himself by pretending to take notes while sketching on a piece of paper. Most of it went straight into the trash; he needed a certain environment to do his best work. (As in, a place where a crotchety old woman was not droning on about brushstrokes equaling clear intent.) But sometimes he watched the other students. One in particular caught his eye because he was so very unique.
His name was Jean Prouvaire, but he went by Jehan, and he was gorgeous. Not Grantaire's type, though he was well aware that he was attracted to men. Grantaire was into bad boys and Jehan was anything but. Soft-spoken, caring, always ready to lend a hand. His long, wavy hair was usually decorated with an array of flowers and he dressed in soft pastels that always coordinated. It was kind of impressive, actually. Grantaire was content if his clothes weren't so full of holes they were considered indecent and he only remembered to brush his hair three days out of five. (With curly hair, it was easy to get away with.) Grantaire liked blonds, but Jehan was just not the one for him to go after. He was pretty sure they might have gotten along, if they ever spoke – the one time Grantaire had tried, Jehan had blushed as pink as the rose above his ear and hidden behind a book of poetry. Grantaire saw Jehan try not to giggle when sarcastic remarks were made.
Naturally, with his sensitive nature, Jehan was bully-bait. Most of the creative arts students were, but people knew not to mess with Grantaire. He wasn't as renowned for his fighting skills as that boy in his English class, Bahorel, but he could more than hold his own. Grantaire didn't go looking for fights, but he couldn't stand to watch anyone being bullied. So he watched out for the kids who weren't complete assholes to him, including Jehan. He didn't know the young poet well, but he'd read scraps of poetry that fell from Jehan's binder and Grantaire could tell he was really talented. He tucked some of them into his own binder to save for later. One in particular was definitely going on the Internet, if he could talk Jehan into it. If he had an actual conversation with the kid at all.
Grantaire settled into his usual chair at the back of the class with all the grace a mostly-drunk fifteen year old could muster. He pulled the poem out and looked it over again. "Raven curls frame an alabaster face; stormy eyes that have seen many a dark place." The poem went on to describe a beautiful but troubled boy and Grantaire was drawn to it. He hadn't had the most ideal of childhoods and it spoke to him on a personal level, like good poetry should. Then there were the other ones he would just love to let Jehan know he had, if only to see how many shades of red Jehan could possibly turn. It seemed that the flower child – a title Jehan happily accepted if it wasn't meant cruelly – had a serious crush on a boy in his algebra class. A boy that he liked to write very smutty poems about that flowed with the beauty of Song of Solomon. (It was the only book of the Bible that Grantaire had actually read and that was only for the sexy parts.) Grantaire had no idea who the guy was or if he was even into guys, but he hoped the guy was kind enough to at least give Jehan the time of day. And maybe even take a chance on him.
Jehan was the next into the classroom and he moved to his customary desk, two rows to the right of Grantaire. He nodded in greeting.
"Hey." Grantaire had been trying all year to get Jehan to talk to him; there was no reason to give up now. Besides, Jehan looked like he could use a friend at the moment.
"Um, hi." Well, that was a start.
"You okay?" Grantaire asked.
Jehan nodded firmly, quickly – too quickly. "M'fine," he murmured.
"Bullshit." Grantaire shook his head. "I'm no shrink, but you look upset." This was the longest conversation they'd ever had, which confirmed Grantaire's theory that Jehan needed someone to talk to.
"It's nothing," Jehan insisted.
Grantaire snorted. "What class you got next period?"
Jehan looked disarmed by the apparent random question. "Um, modern literature. Why?"
"Sounds better than geometry." Grantaire shrugged. "I'll follow you."
Jehan laughed at the absurdity. "You can't just cut one class to go to one you're not in."
Grantaire snorted. "Watch me."
"Okay, fine." Jehan still didn't look Grantaire directly in the eyes, but he began to talk as he played with his ponytail, dislodging a daisy. "It's nothing, really. I mean, I'm used to guys saying I'm too girly and I need to stop acting like a fairy."
Grantaire's lip curled. "Name 'em and I'll handle it."
Jehan looked doubtful. "I'm not a fan of violence."
Grantaire shrugged. "Me either, to tell you the truth. But I can talk to them."
"Oh, that'll probably just make things worse." Jehan shook his head. "I'll be fine. I'm used to it, really. I just want to be me. And I don't want to be a girl. I like my penis just fine."
Grantaire burst into laughter. It was the last thing he'd expected to hear come from Jehan's lips, but...given the smutty poetry, maybe he shouldn't have been surprised. "Got anyone in mind to use it on?"
And there went the array of red hues returning to Jehan's cheeks. "It's...no, not really. There's a guy in one of my classes...he's cute, but...I don't even know him." He blushed even harder. "I – I guess you're not surprised that I'm gay, are you?"
Grantaire rolled his eyes. "Gay people have been making contributions to the arts for thousands of years, Prouvaire. You ought to know that. And you don't see me laughing. There is only one thing that I love more than my art and that's cock."
Others were beginning to fill the room and Jehan giggled helplessly into his sleeve and turned to his textbook, staring hard at it. Grantaire smiled and slipped the smuttiest of the poems back to Jehan, who looked like he might die of embarrassment. "That's some good shit right there, kid." Jehan was only two years younger than him, but he had an aura of happiness about him that made him seem younger.
"Oh, God, you didn't show this to anyone, did you?" Jehan hissed.
Grantaire shook his head. "Of course not. But it's still really good. And hot." He was holding onto the tale of the raven-haired, stormy-eyed boy for awhile longer. He tore a page out of his notebook, scribbling a makeshift poem. A writer he was not, but sarcasm, he excelled in. "Roses are red, violets are blue...I'm smarter than all of you idiots combined, so excuse the fuck out of you." He passed it to Jehan. "Here, give 'em this the next time they mess with you. The pentameter or whatever you call that shit's probably messed up, but it'll do in a pinch."
A grin spread across Jehan's face. "Would you be too offended if I revised the structure?"
"Not at all," Grantaire assured him. He slunk back into his seat as the people who normally sat between them took their seats, but he caught Jehan's mouthed thanks and nodded.
Ten years later...
Grantaire hadn't realized it at the time, but that stupid poem had become the beginning of a beautiful relationship, as cliché as the idea sounded. Jehan had quickly warmed to him – he'd just been shy, thinking Grantaire was one of the "cool kids" who wouldn't be interested in talking to him. They'd started to hang out together at lunch, between classes, after class...and eventually they became best friends. Never lovers – it just wasn't there between them. And as it turned out, Jehan's algebra crush, Julien Courfeyrac – was somewhat pansexual and definitely interested in Jehan. They finally gotten together junior year and they hadn't been apart since. It had been an open relationship at first, at Courfeyrac's insistence, but in time, monogamy had come about.
Senior year, Courfeyrac invited them to a meeting several of his friends had organized, a group dedicated to the plight of the underdog. Les Amis, they called themselves. Grantaire supported the idea in theory, but he was far from political. One look at their blond god of a leader, however, who could have been Apollo reincarnate, and Grantaire was in. Thus, they'd ended up where they were today, having drinks at the Cafe Musain and listening to Enjolras prep them for a marriage equality rally. That, Grantaire could get behind, so he refrained from his usual snide commentary.
Jehan looked up from where he was scribbling a poem on his napkin, as least as well as he could around Courfeyrac, who decorated his lap and kept trying to distract him. Several of Jehan's flowers had made their way to Courfeyrac's hair. "You still with us?" They had a bet going that Courfeyrac was going to manage to scandalize someone during the rally. Which really wasn't much of a bet, because Courfeyrac was good at that sort of thing.
Grantaire scoffed. "Hell, yeah. Easy money."
"Easy money, lying on a bed," Courfeyrac sing-songed from Jehan's lap.
Grantaire laughed. "Go home, Courf, you're drunk."
"What, like you aren't?" Courfeyrac asked.
It was a fair point. "Yeah, but I'm not a sloppy drunk." He played with his phone, doing random vanity searches on his friends. Jehan never dragged up anything surprising, just most of the poetry he'd published online. Grantaire skipped a page in to see what else he could find. An Angelfire website; that sounded promising. That had to date back at least a few years. And Grantaire smiled widely as it came up. It was old, a collection of poems from high school that Jehan had apparently emailed to a friend, according to the page description. They had all been translated to English, but aside from a few grammar snafus – easy to do – the translation was pretty faithful. Grantaire's favorite poem from that era hadn't changed and he never did find out who the inspiration was. He'd assumed Courfeyrac, once they met and he saw what Courf looked like, but Courfeyrac was entirely too joyful for it to relate.
A note above a poem Grantaire hadn't seen before mentioned that the next selection was a sequel to a poem that had been written but lost. And as he read it, Grantaire warmed. It was definitely about the same person, but this one was softer, focusing on a soul tempted by darkness but drawn to the light.
Courfeyrac glanced at the screen. "God, green print on a blue background? Where's that site from, 2001?"
"Close," Grantaire said. "More like 2003. He grinned and showed it to Courfeyrac. "More stuff Jehan wrote in high school."
Jehan flushed. He was still quick to embarrassment. "Oh, give me that! I was fourteen! You don't see me showing anyone your drawings from back then!"
"That's because they've all been burned." Grantaire laughed. "I like this one. It's really good, actually. I saw the first one...it fell out of your binder." He didn't want to admit that he still had it at home. "I always wondered who that kid was."
Jehan blinked. "It was you, 'Taire."
To say Grantaire was surprised would have been an understatement. "Me?" The raven curls matched...actually, most of the physical description did. But Grantaire didn't consider himself a real subject for poetry, unless it involved raunchy limericks.
"Yeah...before we got to know each other." Jehan nodded. "You were really kind of fascinating to me."
Grantaire laughed into his drink. "That had to be a real mind-fuck, finding out what I'm really like."
Jehan shook his head. "Not at all. I think I was exactly right."
Now Grantaire was the one blinking in surprise. "Excuse me?"
Jehan tossed his hair over one shoulder. "I happen to be an excellent judge of character. And you heard me. I was right. You're pretty amazing; you just won't let yourself see it."
Grantaire didn't buy it, but he knew from experience arguing would get him nowhere. He plucked a poppy from Jehan's hair and put it in his own. "You're pretty awesome yourself. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go see if I can get Enjolras to wear this. Combeferre doesn't think I can, but LeFerret, he underestimates the power of a distracted Enji."
"Good lu-" Jehan's well-wishes were cut off by Courfeyrac's determined lips on his.
Grantaire shook his head, grinning as he began to put his plan into action. These guys may have been just a little too idealistic for his tastes sometimes – a lot of the time – but he wouldn't trade their company for anything.
Hope you liked it...this was just a cute, fun friendship bit inspired by fanart and the interaction between R and Jehan in a rp I'm involved in. A bit of harmless fluff. :) Because this fandom needs some of that, too. (I swear I really am working on my in-progress stories, but stuff like this keeps distracting me.)