Wow. I'm left a bit speechless here, so just gimme a sec...
Right. Here we go.
First, the references, oh dear, the REFERENCES. You thread them through so well, and it helps the descriptions feel so natural, particularly when describing Enjolras. It really helps to feel like a reader is inside Grantaire's head, particularly considering his lofty regard for his lovely Apollo, who is characerized very well as a Charming Man Capable Of Being Terrible. It's a bit like witnessing the moods of the ocean at times, in this story. "The rage of Achilles" line had to be my favorite, with the references to Hephaestus being a close second. In all honesty, it really reminded me of the Iliad when discussing Achilles and Patroclus at some points.
The descriptions were lush and fitted very well with Painter!Grantaire, but not to the point of being purple prose-y, particularly considering the material. You nailed the tone Victor Hugo used so many times, particularly when discussing these two, and the references really helped to nail down it was canon era. Without them, this story would probably serve very well as timeless.
I would have to say, though, if it weren't for the summary, I wouldn't really get the context (Possibly on a second read? Certainly deserves it), nor quite be sure whether Enjolras is really Apollor or merely his Charming Terrible self. Surprisingly though, I'm rather okay with it. As far as Grantaire is concerned, Enjolras the Leader and Apollo the Warrior are one and the same, something you communicate without ever saying it so well, and I feel satisfied with this conclusion. This feels like some sort of a prelude to the barricade - the calm before the storm, and fits extremely well with canon.
Additionally, I normally don't like second POV, just because it can get pretty confusing, but you do an excellent job here. It helps nail down Grantaire's thought process as winding but purposeful, and when his name is mentioned for the first time, even though the reader knows it's him, it still feels like some sort of a reveal.
All in all, a wonderful character study of Grantaire and Enjolras, to some degree, and was a joy to read!
Hi Laura, here for our swap! <3
Each time I read one of your works (and yes, I’m calling them “works” because each one feels like a masterpiece) I always go through it slowly, and I reread sentences and phrases and words because I can’t help but stop and appreciate how beautiful your words are. Everything is just so impeccably written, and it sounds as though every word is right where you want it to be, and the wondrous glow you’ve cast over Grantaire’s point of view comes through so well, and I am honestly in so love with your writing. It’s a gift to this world, truly.
Normally, I would point out my favorite lines, but every single sentence in this story is worthy of being in a museum, and I feel I would end up just quoting the entire one-shot back to you. Just know that everything is beautiful and your writing makes me cry from the sheer delicacy or boldness, whichever you choose to use.
My knowledge of Les Miserables is limited; I’ve never read the books, but there was a period of time when I knew the musical by heart. So I know the basic stories of Enjolras and Grantaire, though not to the detail I’m sure the book provided, so my insight on their characters may not be terribly useful. However, this one-shot is filled to the brim with beautiful, magical, blasphemous (at least, to Grantaire) language, so there are a lot of other things to talk about.
One of my favorite things about this piece is that you wrote it in second person. In just a couple of sentences, I was so absorbed into Grantaire’s voice that it barely registered that the story is in second person, but really it suits the style of this work so well. Somehow second person provides an extra familiarity that allows us to get into the character’s head, while still adding a sort of distance from the character that allows you to use descriptions to their fullest potential. I don’t know, second person is a strange point of view to work with, but you wield it masterfully and you evidently know how to use it, and so I think it made this piece even more beautiful.
Also I loved how you thematically tied the subject of the paintings to the conflict between Enjolras (nearly typed Apollo there haha) and Grantaire in each section; I loved hearing Grantaire’s thoughts on the strokes of his particular artwork or something he needed to alter or add, while the rest of the section focused on his introspection or his relationship with Enjolras. Everything tied together, and literally the whole time I was reading this piece, my brain was just shortcircuiting in awe of you and your writing capabilities, and I was thinking, “How does she do this? How is she so amazing?” Because nothing’s in here for nothing; you use the paintings to your advantage, and ugh I just love reading your pieces so so much, and I’m so happy I chose this one.
I can’t leave without mentioning the beautiful recurring theme of Enjolras being the sun, being Apollo. Grantaire clearly worships Enjolras, and raises him up as a god, and he mentions that Enjolras does not like it whenever Grantaire makes an analogy of servant-and-god to represent their relationship (I agree with Enjolras). So each time Grantaire calls Enjolras “Apollo,” my heart twisted, in part because I really do find the amount of commitment and admiration Grantaire holds for Enjolras to be sweet in a way, but also because the relationship feels imbalanced. But omg you write this deifying of Enjolras so stunningly, and from beginning to end, we see Enjolras through Grantaire’s eyes, and I can see why he would compare Enjolras to Apollo. And at the end, Grantaire reaches for Enjolras first instead of the alcohol, which, for him, is a huge deal. Everything about this recurring idea is just so thought-provoking, and truly I love it; it’s such a beautiful idea, and the execution is, as always, done perfectly.
And how beautiful is that final line? <3
At this point I think I’m just rambling, and I have no idea why I talk so much hahaha, so I’m going to leave you here, and thank you for writing this beautiful one-shot, and for such a unique fandom too.
I’m still reeling from your descriptive language. Ugh I actually cannot comprehend how wonderfully you write, it’s just beautiful and stunning and perfect, and I love it. <3
My dear Laura, I'm here for our review swap! It has been far too long since I've read your writing, and this piece is no different: it is just as beautiful as I remember.
HOW DO YOU DO YOUR DESCRIPTIONS?! I just. They paint such a clear image in my mind, making it easier to read. And considering the main character is a painter, the language flowed really nicely with that. I also super loved the formatting; the way you broke it up with advent, which I know was part of the challenge, but you really tied it in nicely, and I loved that you had reference to the candle in each of the segments.
Also, it was an interesting choice to have it be narrated in second person; it caught me off-guard at first, but then it flowed seemsley and made it a lot easier to empathize with Grantaire. I really felt for him; he clearly adored Enjolras, and the times where it wasn't as clear -- like when he tried to pull him forward and Enjolras chastily rejected him -- were really heartbreaking. Their relationship is complex, and you do a really great job of navigating us through it, and the ending is just really cute and I'm glad they were able to work through everything, at least for the day.
And with your writing as always, you know I appreciate your references to Greek mythology. Comparing Enjolras to Apollo did two great things: he was clearly adored and beautiful and even a little intimidating.
I'm unfortunately not super familiar with Les Mis, so I can't really comment too much on characters, but they both were very relatable, and there were so many times where I wanted to just hug Grantaire and tell him that he deserved better, but also Enjolars kind of came around in the end, at least for now. You leave me with feeling like maybe these two can work things out -- although Grantaire seems to have his affections sorted; Enjolars, not so much. :P
Another stunning piece, and thanks so much for the swap! ♥