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drift right on

part one of paris, i love you, a modern au les amis series.

Courfeyrac brings some big news to a meeting, and Combeferre meets a wild night child pulling a drunken Grantaire into his sitting room.

““Nobody remembers the night of Bahorel’s birthday,” Feuilly reminds him gently, “I just have a black hole from seven when we did those shots at that place in Montmartre until four o’ clock the next afternoon.””

here at ao3.

death by hangover

part five of you cannot conquer the sun (but if you believed i could then i would)

The morning after a brutal drinking game, everyone’s feeling extremely worse-for-wear – but still, most of them manage to find something to be cheerful about. [mostly a friendship fic but with Joly/Bossuet/Musichetta and undertones of Jehan/Courf and Marius/Cosette]

under the cut or here at ao3.

Jehan wakes up first the morning following Lord of the Ring of Fire. He comes to pressed up against Courfeyrac’s back, and under any other circumstances he would have stayed there quite happily all day. As it is, his head is pounding so hard he thinks it might explode, so he detaches himself gingerly from his friend and wobbles to his feet, holding a hand over his eyes to block the bright sunlight streaming in through the window.

He almost trips over Feuilly fast asleep halfway into the bathroom, who had obviously passed out there after running out to throw up the previous night, and very painstakingly does a full 180 to return to the sitting room and pluck up a cushion to slip under his head. It takes him about four times as long as it usually would, since he has to do everything very slowly in case his head falls off. 

Once he has completed this task, he weaves towards the kitchen, having to support himself on the walls. He pushes his way through the door into the big, well-lit room, and stops in astonishment.

“Chetta!” he croaks out in delight, recognising the girl at the stove, “When did you get here?”

Musichetta turns towards him with a big smile, dropping her spatula to come and gather him up into a hug. Jehan does his best to return the hug – Musichetta gives the best hugs in the whole damn world – but she quickly realises that he’s not feeling himself.

“Sit down,” she says fondly, pushing him carefully into a chair and moving over to a cupboard on the other side of the room, “I got here about an hour ago. Nobody else is up yet, but I saw all the empty bottles and thought it would be best to let you all try to sleep it off. You and Courf looked very cute,” she adds conspiratorially as she comes back over to him, pressing two aspirin into his hand and placing a glass of water on the table next to him.

Jehan blushes wildly and hastily occupies himself with knocking back the aspirin. Musichetta laughs and heads back over to the stove to concentrate on the eggs she’s cooking.

“You know he likes you, right?” she says with a pointed look over her shoulder, “And you like him. You should do something about it.”

“I don’t know,” he replies quietly, looking down at where his hands are twisting together in his lap, “I don’t want to lose our friendship if it… if it all goes wrong. He’s my favourite person in the whole world, Chetta. I’d die if I lost him.”

“Okay, Mr Overdramatic,” she teases with a chuckle, switching the stove off as she dishes the eggs out onto two plates. Jehan gives her a very impressive fake scowl, but can’t keep it up for long at all. Musichetta plonks one plate down in front of him and the other opposite, and then quickly grabs orange juice and cutlery and sets it all out between them.

Jehan, with a great sigh of bliss, digs in.

“These are amazing,” he tells her once he has stopped eating for long enough to breathe and talk, “Thanks, Chetta. You’re the best.”

“I know,” she replies, voice full of fake arrogance, “I’m the best cook in the whole world.”

Jehan laughs and kicks her foot gently under the table. He’s feeling much better already, the aspirin and food and juice all combining to cheer him up greatly. His hangovers are usually better than most, which has irritated a lot of his friends for a long time.

“Seriously, though, Jehan,” Musichetta says seriously as she eats her way delicately through her eggs, “I think you should just go for it with Courfeyrac. Look at Joly and Bossuet – their friendship has only got stronger and better since we got involved, right?”

“Well, yes,” Jehan replies thoughtfully, pausing to take a gulp of orange juice, “But they have you. And you can make anything work.”

She laughs and tries to brush off the compliment, but Jehan is already moving on, barely aware he’s said something nice, “And I really do like him. A lot. But he’s – he likes a lot of people. He always has.”

“Never the way he likes you,” Musichetta insists, reaching over to place her hand on top of Jehan’s and still his slightly nervous movements, “Trust me.”

Jehan looks up at her then, a trifle desperately, and he’s just about to add something else when the kitchen door crashes open and Enjolras and Cosette appear, the latter looking like death itself.

“Help,” Cosette says weakly as they collapse onto the bench at the end of the table, Cosette leaning bonelessly against Enjolras, who is somehow managing to look pitying and intensely amused at the same time.

Musichetta springs into action instantly, heading straight for the aspirin, while Jehan pushes a glass and the juice towards Cosette.

“Thanks,” Enjolras says with a grin, reaching for it and pouring the juice out for Cosette. “Hey, Musichetta. When did you get here?”

“About an hour ago,” she explains, returning with a whole packet of aspirin, “I was just saying to Jehan, I thought I’d better let you all try to sleep it off as best you can. How much did everyone drink last night?”

“Too much,” Cosette moans, banging her already-empty glass down on the table and pushing it towards Enjolras for a refill, “Why did we do that? Why do we hate ourselves?”

Enjolras hands the newly full glass of juice back to her and gives her a sympathetic pat on the arm. As ever, he says far more with a simple touch than he ever would with words, and Cosette seems to accept the unspoken reassurance that she doesn’t need to have an existential crisis and instead takes two aspirin and swallows them hastily.

“I’m dying,” she moans, leaning into Enjolras. Musichetta, who has not had a vast amount of interaction with Cosette so far, looks like she’s not quite sure what she thinks about the newest member of their friendship group.

“She’s usually much more up-together,” Enjolras informs Musichetta, catching the look on her face. Jehan, finishing off his eggs, gives Cosette a sympathetic smile and agrees.

“Alcohol is a cruel temptress.”

Cosette just lets out a soft wail and slumps forward onto the table. She’s just muttering something about wishing she was dead when Bahorel appears in the doorway and minces gingerly around the table to take a seat next to Musichetta.

“Hi,” he whispers, obviously the victim of a pounding headache, “Nice to see you, Chetta.”

Jehan wordlessly pushes the aspirin towards him.

In dribs and drabs, the rest of their group of friends appears until the whole lot of them are sat morosely around the table. Only Jehan, who has had the bonus of food and a bit of extra time, and Enjolras, who didn’t really drink, are looking cheerful. Oh, and Bossuet and Joly, who appeared together and appeared to instantly shake off any traces of hangover at the sight of Musichetta.

It is only Éponine threatening to throw up all over the table that gets the three of them to stop being all over each other, at which point Joly merrily pats the top of her head and volunteers to get breakfast started.  Musichetta helps, but when Enjolras also offers to lend a hand everybody hastily waves him down. He may be an incredible, glorious leader and all, but he is the shittiest cook any of them have ever encountered and they’ve all been victims of his cooking one too many times.

So instead he sits with one arm draped around Cosette’s shoulders to prevent her from keeling over sideways and simply watches everyone else quietly.

Conversations gradually begin to bubble up, Courfeyrac and Éponine almost nose-to-nose as they argue over who has the worst hangover, and by the time the food is sitting waiting on the table most of them are beginning to feel slightly better.

X

They spend the rest of the day recovering, mostly sunning themselves on loungers around the pool or going for little wanders around the expansive grounds. By the evening, everybody is very sleepy and relaxed – apart from Cosette, who has burned to a crisp.

“I told you to put on suncream,” Enjolras comes across Éponine reminding her unsympathetically while she stands miserably under the shower on its coldest setting, still in her bikini. Torn between amusement and pity, Enjolras folds his arms and leans against the doorframe.

“I would have thought you’ve have learned by now, Cosette,” he announces fondly, and she just glowers at him and turns an extremely pink back on him. Éponine laughs and swivels around where she’s sat on the closed toilet to look at him.

“She’s done this before?”

“Oh, god, yes,” Enjolras says,  “Unless her father pinned her down and covered her in suncream she always used to forget. She burned so much it’s a wonder she doesn’t have skin cancer.”

Cosette mutters something very uncouth from the shower, and Enjolras laughs and pushes himself up from the door.

“Don’t worry,” he tells her, smiling reassuringly as she cranes her head around to look at him, “I’ll go and get some aloe vera. I’ll take Courf, he was saying he wants to show off his tan.”

Cosette swears again, and both Enjolras and Éponine laugh. Courfeyrac, of course, has tanned beautifully and evenly despite not wearing any sort of protection over the course of the day because he’s Courfeyrac.

With that, Enjolras disappears to find his friend. It takes them an hour in the supermarket because Courfeyrac keeps stopping to flirt with all the women in sight, but eventually Enjolras manages to get him back and heads upstairs with the aloe vera for Cosette.

Marius, more freckly than ever, pokes his head out of the sitting room where he’s watching TV with Bahorel and Jehan as Enjolras passes.

“Is Cosette okay? She looked really red earlier.”

Enjolras is about to reply simply and carry on when he is distracted by a pointed cough from Jehan, sat just in his line of sight on a sofa. Jehan looks very pointedly at the bottle in Enjolras’ hand, then at Marius, then back at the bottle. Enjolras frowns slightly – and then it clicks. Of course.

“Here,” he says, offering the bottle over to Marius, “Why don’t you go help her? I think she’s still mad at me for saying that she always burns herself.”

Marius, flushing slightly, mutters a clearly grateful thank you and takes the proffered bottle, heading upstairs so quickly he nearly trips. Enjolras goes to take his place in front of the TV, and exchanges a grin with Jehan.

“How can she resist a man bearing aloe vera?” Jehan inquires with a laugh, and Enjolras chuckles too.

“I don’t think she physically can, my friend.”

the days after death, athelstan/lagertha

The day after the funeral, Athelstan disappears into the woods and doesn’t come back.

under the cut or here at ao3.

The day after they burn Gyda, Athelstan disappears into the woods and doesn’t come back.

Lagertha gives him two nights before she hefts an axe into her hand and goes after him. She’s moving numbly, now, the whole world a seascape around her. Everything is viewed through water, through agony. Two children ripped away from her in less than half a year – that is cruel, even by the standards of her gods. The axe steadies her, wood and iron and calm solid strength.

The world doesn’t make sense anymore, but weaponry does.

She doesn’t even have to look, really. She finds him in the burnt-out shell of their house – blundering footsteps dragging through ash, blood smeared on the wall from where he must have caught his hand on broken wood.

He’s in the corner where he used to sleep, hollow-eyed and messy.

“Priest,” she says quietly, the same tone she always used when waking Gyda from a nightmare, “Athelstan.” It’s like a knife, knowing she’ll never have a child to use that on again. He lifts his head towards her, eyes seeking blindly, and she knows he barely sees her.

“He took everything,” the hoarse whisper comes back, his throat wept ragged, “He takes and He takes and He takes and He gives me nothing in return.”

Lagertha takes a step forward. She is not sure how she can deal with a crisis of faith. Not now, when the only thing holding her to hers is her anger.

She looks for something to say, but finds that there is nothing. Nothing to say at all. He is the only person who can come close to depths of this despair, and she knows that there is nothing anybody can say to diminish that.

So she simply lets the axe fall, and has crossed the fired space to him before it clangs against the floor. When she reaches him, she realises that he has cut his hair short again, shaven the beard from his cheeks so raggedly his skin is scattered with cuts.

“My daughter,” she finds herself saying, and those two words are all she has left, “My daughter.”

Athelstan looks up at her, seems to really see her, for the first time. He is all resentment, all desolation, all bewilderment. It’s that that gets Lagertha. The strong and simple, “Why?” written right across his eyes.

“Your daughter,” he agrees, and then holds a hand up to her without the slightest hesitation. Lagertha takes a beat. The priest has never initiated contact, never done anything that might offend, that might be misconstrued, that might be considered too familiar. But he is doing it now, and Lagertha is hesitating only because she is not sure that she will be able to keep from weeping if she allows him to hold her.

“Please,” he mutters, not meeting her eyes, “Please. I just – being alone is making it worse.”

Lagertha thinks back over two sleepless nights, mealless days, prowling shadows in the dark, and decides that he’s right. So she grasps his hand, sinks down to where he is sat, and presses herself up against him. He doesn’t put an arm around her, doesn’t do anything more than clasp both his hands around her own and lean his bloody cheek to hers and sit, silent and desolate.

Lagertha lasts three minutes before she starts crying. He feels her tears on his own face, must feel them, but he simply clutches tighter at her hand and allows her the comfort of closeness. Steadfast, that is the priest. Ragnar’s antithesis: all consideration and quietness and solid reassuring presence. Lagertha finds, in the depths of despair, that it is more comforting to be next to the priest like this than it has ever been to be held in her husband’s volatile embrace.

They end up asleep there eventually, curled around each other. She has cried too long, gone without eating too long, to stay awake much later and the dimness of the house sends her almost delirious with tiredness. Athelstan lies behind her, but he does not touch her until she starts shaking and gasping, Gyda’s ghost a sharp fresh pain behind her eyes. Then he wraps one arm around her, tight and unyielding, and simply holds her. Somehow, it is enough. So Lagertha sleeps, deep and dreamless.

x

They wake to sunlight streaming in through the holes in the ceiling and unravel from each other, stiff and uncertain now the night is gone.

“I’m sorry,” he offers finally, when she is upright and dusting herself off. She turns to look at him, expression unwavering.

She is not.

They return slowly to the village and the great echoing hall. Sickness lingers there like a bad dream, and it quickly transpires that Athelstan cannot be there. Lagertha, in truth, is relieved of the excuse to leave the building. There are no words to describe its emptiness without Gyda in it.

The priest leads her off in silence, and she follows mutely. They end up in front of Leif’s empty house, devoid of life since its owner took Athelstan’s stead at Uppsala.

“I don’t think he’d mind,” Athelstan offers after a long pause, and she nods.

“No, he would not. He was a generous man.”

So they go in without another word, picking their way past discarded belongings and the carcass of a dog that obviously crept in there and died sometime after the trip to Uppsala. Lagertha picks it up to drag outside without another word, and Athelstan takes up a broom. They worked alongside each other once, and with grief comes a quiet sort of equality. When she comes back in, she picks up a pail to fill with water, and it’s as simple as that.

x

Sorting the house gives them something to do, more to do than they’ve had since Ragnar prised the earlship from Haraldson, and that evening finds them physically weary rather than just emotionally. They prepare a meal in easy silence, eat it the same way, and somehow the lack of words helps. The simple reassurance of having the other present is beginning to soothe their souls, and Lagertha finds herself not fearing the night as the dark draws in.

She takes the bed without a thought, the furs they have moved from the great hall piled around her, and watches a trifle incredulously as Athelstan moves across to a simple wooden cot at the side of the room.

“Priest,” she says, and he starts around in surprise. She considers a moment. Inviting him in seems somehow intimate, despite how they spent the previous night, but she cannot bear the thought of being alone again. He thinks his god is watching, though, and she is not sure he will be so quick to come close as he was the previous day. So she breathes in sharply and orders, “I need you. With me. I cannot – I will not sleep otherwise.”

Something crosses his face, a look that is halfway between relief and reluctance, and she simply throws back the furs like she is not expecting even a flicker of hesitation. So he comes towards her and, having divested himself of his shoes, slides in beside her. They do not touch, he is careful to keep to less than a third of the bed, but simply having him there seems to take half the weight off her shoulders. It is unfathomable. Ragnar has always been a comfort to her, but a comfort much the way a mountain lion would be if you brought it into bed with you. A warm, affectionate, tense mate, always lingering on the edge of violence. But Athelstan – Athelstan is a sleepy puppy, no more capable of harming her than of giving up his faith.

Silence stretches between them again, but comfortably, and Lagertha is just beginning to drift off when she feels the bed move and opens her eyes to find Athelstan on his side regarding her seriously.

“What will Ragnar do?” he asks her quietly, “When he comes back and finds out – when he knows that she’s dead.”

“He will rage himself ragged,” she replies calmly, turning on her side also, “But not for long. Then he will go and think on it, and he will conclude that he is being punished by the gods for something. I love my husband,” she adds, her forehead creasing, “But it seems that the gods must take from me also every time they wish to set him back.”

“You should take something from them,” Athelstan whispers, and as Lagertha meets his eyes she realises that maybe they’re not exactly talking about her and her gods any more, “If they just keep taking from you, why shouldn’t you take something from them? Punish them for a change.”

“I love my gods,” she reminds him slowly, and he rolls onto his back with the sort of groan that can be produced only by the pinnacle of a crisis of faith.

“As I love mine. And yet… I am angry with Him. I want to show Him… I want to take something for myself before everything is gone at His hand. But there – there is nothing I could take. What could I do?”

Another silence stretches, and Lagertha finds Gyda’s ghost in the gaps between them like a wound, so suddenly that she almost cries out.

“I wish to take from your god as well,” she breathes fiercely, and Athelstan turns towards her once more in surprise as she reaches an arm for him, “I want to punish him for taking my daughter.”

There is no accounting for the sudden rush of hunger that fills her, other than the fact that her daughter is dead and at that moment she knows that if she doesn’t have somebody closer than close she will drift away and never come back. So she seizes Athelstan, moves over him, and flattens him into a kiss before he can move away.

“I cannot,” he gasps when she pulls back, too uncertain of himself to even move his hands to push her away, “It is –”

“A sin,” she agrees, nipping kisses along his ragged jaw, “But you told – you told Gyda once, I heard you. You said that your god says to love and be loved, and I would like you to love me tonight. Would that be a sin? To help someone who is in desperate need.”

“I do not know,” he tells her in what is almost a cry, her hands seeking for the hem of his tunic already, “I don’t know anything anymore.”

“Then don’t know,” she commands calmly, pulling her dress over her head in one graceful moment, “Don’t think. Not tonight.”

She is not sure that he has surrendered, but she kisses him again anyway. It is the only way she knows to save them both.

x

Ragnar does not return until a year later, fresh and strong from a war that should not have been his. He strides into his home with his princess at his side, one son at his side and another in his arms, and calls out for his family to come to greet him.

Lagertha smiles and rises to her feet serenely, moving towards him with calm elegance.

“Husband,” she greets quietly, brushing a kiss against his cheek and then against the forehead of the son he carries, “Forgive me for not coming to meet the ship. The baby was crying.”

Ragnar sees, then, looks anew at the unexpected calmness of her as she sweeps Bjorn into an embrace, and then past her at Athelstan, standing in the shadows with a sleeping child in his arms.

“What baby,” he asks, not looking away from his priest, still and coiled as a wildcat, “Whose baby?”

Lagertha just gives him another of those private little smiles and walks away from him, placing herself firmly just in front of Athelstan and resting a hand on her dark-haired daughter’s head.

“Bjorn,” she calls quietly, beckoning her son to her, “Come and meet Inga. Your sister. The gods took away, and then they gave in return.”

Athelstan, clearly given courage by her presence – and undoubtedly the axe at her hip – meets Ragnar’s gaze calmly and then looks at the son sleeping in his captor’s arms.

“We are fated,” he says softly as Bjorn comes close, taller than him now, and takes his sleeping sister with a quiet kind of awe. “We cannot escape it.”

these days you’re fine, enjolras/grantaire

[R-Rated] You are twenty four and you’re on the floor and life never ends up like this in books. You’re crying and you’re yelling and you’re choking and somewhere in the midst of the tears and the snot and the fury you notice that his shoes are handmade, the Italian kind, and it scrapes at you that you do not know what the feet inside those shoes feel like.

You know what the shoes look like turning and walking away, though.

you should blame richard siken’s poetry and a lot of feelings after vikings and five cups of coffee

You are twenty four and you’re on the floor and life never ends up like this in books. You’re crying and you’re yelling and you’re choking and somewhere in the midst of the tears and the snot and the fury you notice that his shoes are handmade, the Italian kind, and it scrapes at you that you do not know what the feet inside those shoes feel like.

You know what the shoes look like turning and walking away, though.

Your future was supposed to be a fucking saga of ambition and drive and screeching the hell away from the past. Instead you’re stuck reliving it over and over again. Judgemental faces, pitying glances, everybody avoiding you because you make them uncomfortable when you start talking about philosophy like you know about a whole lot about it. (And you do, that’s the point, you know a fucktonne about it but people don’t like it when drunk boys talk too cleverly.) They look at you like they look at a car crash. It sort of burns, when you’re not too drunk to feel it.

You started drinking because you didn’t like the way people looked at you and it turned out alcohol tastes a hell of a lot better than disappointment so then you just kept drinking and, well, How Did I End Up Here is an alright sort of motto if you think about it. At least it means you came from somewhere.

Somewhere was dark and depressing and a psychologist once said you’re a sum total of your influences and you piped up that you one hundred per cent weren’t because none of your influences thought about boys the way you did and your mother made this horrible strangled sound and that’s the point at which you gained a really excellent coming out story. That’s what your life is, anyhow. A really long series of short moments that meant everything but nothing and tended to end up with someone bruised and bloody. (If you counted it’s you beaten up more than the other way around but you failed Maths three years in a row so.)

Late adolescence was a violent place. You loved boys, sure, but you loved them angrily, bitterly, like a burning building loves the flames that eat it. You loved their fists against your ribs and their tongues against your lips and the way you were great at getting this whimpery little sound out of them. You always fucked in silence. It felt more powerful  that way. It felt best when the school bully came at you on the playing field after a school party, everybody else long gone, and he sank his fist into your stomach and you were drunk enough to just crumple right there. He went with you, tripped on top of you, and you felt him harden with a blurry sort of surprise. You found a strength, then, the sort of strength that drove lone warriors to take down entire bands of soldiers once upon a time and you flipped him and kissed him and sucked him off between the goalposts. He cried after he came and you just laughed and walked away. That was the most powerful you’ve ever felt.

You have found three other ways to feel powerful since then: one, to drink your way through more spirits than a body should hold (that’s power. That’s invincibility right-fucking-there); two, to pick up a paintbrush and take a person’s whole complicated soul and put it on a canvas; and three, to stand amongst believers and feel not even the slightest stirrings of faith.

You probably fell in love with him because he thwarts you in two and three. You were in your favourite café one afternoon and suddenly it was full of excited, babbling students and one of them jogged your table and paused only long enough to cry, “Excusez-moi!” before scrambling to sit with his friends. And then a god was speaking, bright and golden and glorious, and you felt like crying because he was the most transcendent thing you had ever seen.

But you are angry and lonely and that afternoon you were covered in paint from a perfect session that made you feel more powerful than ever and so you stood up and interrupted him. Twice, and then three times, until suddenly you were sat amongst that group and they were making room for you and laughing because you can be a witty little fucker when you want to be and when the beautiful Apollo hopped down off his chair in a blinding rage at you you just laughed and introduced yourself and that was that. You were in, and you were lost.

Falling in love is as simple as a look, it turns out, and it hurts like absolute hell.

And so now you’re sobbing into your floorboards and trying not to care that you look pathetic. It’s ninety per cent frustration in all honesty, but listening to his footsteps walk away is the damnedest thing. It’s sort of like what you picture going off to war would be – all you can think of is how long it’s going to be before you see him again and whether he’ll be quite the same as he was when he left. You know you won’t be.

“I can’t love you,” he’d said, almost desperately (but not entirely so, because it’s Enjolras and you know he can never be desperate), “There’s too much at stake, Grantaire, too much to do. I don’t have time.”

And you’d screamed at him then, screamed about all the afternoons spent lying in a pool of sunlight while you painted him time and again, lazy and golden and gorgeous; screamed about love and philosophy and about how life was about making time. But Enjolras has never liked fighting with you outside of your intellectual debates and so that was that, he turned and walked away, and now you’re in a pool on your own floor wondering if killing yourself would be an overreaction.

Instead you unearth a bottle of vodka and drink yourself into unconsciousness.

Nine days later you come to after the worst bender yet and hope you haven’t spent all your money in your drunken state. Enough remains, though, and you consider going out before realising that there’s a thunderstorm outside the apartment block which is really all you fucking need when there’s nothing left in the fridge except mould.

After a hot shower you sit down bollock-naked and paint your feelings onto a blank canvas. It almost feels better until you stop and stand up, and then it just feels raw and too close and you are reaching for more vodka when the front door swings open.

“Oh,” Enjolras says, clearing his throat and turning his head away, like you are embarrassing him or something, “I’m sorry, I just – I still had the key, and I brought you food. Courfeyrac said – he thought you probably didn’t have anything to eat.”

You pull on some boxers just to get him to look at you before you ask, “What the hell do you want?”

He moves in, places the shopping bags carefully down on your dirty kitchen counter, and shuts the door behind himself. Then he moves forward purposefully, puts his hands around your wrists, and looks at you seriously.

“What,” you repeat slowly, “the fuck do you want?”

The silence is infuriating and agonising and about this close to a fucking trainwreck before he replies, “I – I don’t know. I don’t. But I know… I know I think about you a lot, and I’m more sorry than I can say for my actions last week.”

You look back at him, and you know you probably still smell of alcohol under the shower gel, but he has this little crease in his brow and you cannot believe what you think is happening here.

Here are the things that you know: you are uncouth, and an alcoholic, and there is a beautiful boy standing in your flat giving you this look. You also know that here in front of him you feel powerless, helpless, unable to resist. You are not good at not feeling powerful.

“Don’t screw with me,” you say roughly, and your tongue is raw around the words, “Don’t you dare screw with my head. Not now.”

“I’m not,” he replies firmly, and his hands slide up your arms to grip your elbows, your shoulders, the sides of your neck. You don’t stop him, so he takes your heart, and kisses you. You don’t kiss him back, trembling with the effort to keep your feelings wrapped up tight. His mouth is like a river rushing down the mountain, like a flood dragging you under. He is overwhelming.

“Jesus,” you grind out as you start kissing him back, and his hands slide into your hair and tug gently enough to set you alight.