Grantaire did not sign up for this. Well, technically he did. Technically that’s what he did, went down to the university’s co-op headquarters and put his signature on a series of papers, but Grantaire only kind of skimmed them. Who knows, maybe it’s all there in the fine print: “Be advised you are going to wind up getting in a knock-down screaming fight with the most beautiful man in the world about organic bananas.”
The point is, Grantaire didn’t join a co-op intending to be part of the crazy utopia vanguard. He came on the understanding that rent would be cheap, dinner would be provided five nights a week, and that none of his old friends would want to live with him once he announced his intentions to cut back on the old spend-your-weekends-getting-blackout-drunk routine. This last assumption, at least, has proven right; turns out they’d been less buddies and more drinking buddies, which, well, the more you know.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” says Grantaire, “Everything I could find said rent would be one amount, and now you want to raise it by 20 dollars a month just so we can buy fancier produce?”
This is a civilized debate, which means that the nice one with the glasses — Combeferre, wonderful, kind Combeferre, who looks Cree or maybe Ojibwe and has sort of a hot librarian thing going on that is really working for him — must call on people before they’re free to yell at each other. However, the rest of the room has fallen silent, so it’s just a moderated pinball back and forth between Grantaire and the rude gorgeous one with the hair, Enjolras.
Grantaire hasn’t been able to use the jazz hands of consensus even once. It’s a crying shame.
“Enjolras,” says Combeferre.
Enjolras puts his hand down. “Look, I know people might be reluctant to pay more,” he says. “But we’re not talking about a silly extravagance. Conventional farming is doing real, measurable harm to the environment. The water supply, the soil quality, anything living nearby — it’s all affected, and it all connects back to us. What are our priorities here? I just think we need to all take a good long look at what kind of a house, at what kind of people, we want to be.”
It’s a good speech. The words could use some work, but the delivery has Grantaire wanting to hold up a lighter and sway. (Are lighters allowed in Amis House? Maybe for candles.) From up in his neutral president’s chair, Combeferre is trying hard not to look moved. He actually looks a little enamored. To his left, the black guy with the start of an afro and a downright improbable name — Courfeyrac? — murmurs something about “the co-op power couple.” Grantaire’s stomach sinks. It makes sense that the two most dazzling people in the house would be together, but well. He’d been hoping Combeferre was single.
Here’s the facts: I have been Enjolras/Grantaire trash since before I was a teenager. My entrance into Les Mis fandom probably predates any other of my obsessions except for Harry Potter, and in the way of these things, I am kind of protective of my ship. I was hesitant to read In Defiance of All Geometry at first since it’s got multiple pairings (Enjolras, Combeferre, and Grantaire in a variety of combinations and eventually a poly triad) but I loved idiopathicsmile’s other fanfics so much that I figured I’d get over it, and indeed I did—it was more than worth the read.
In Defiance of All Geometry is a delightful take on the college AU trope where Les Amis all live in an off-campus co-op together. Grantaire is a new addition to the house and is a source of constant frustration to Enjolras because of his cynical attitude and apparent apathy about the ideals of the co-op. Meanwhile, Combeferre and Enjolras have been crushing on and dancing around each other for ages, and Grantaire’s attraction to both of them, along with his inept attempts to fit into the household, are making things complicated.
There isn’t a ton of action in the story—most of the plot movement is about the budding romance between the three guys, and the character development that goes along with that. But it’s fantastic romance and excellent character development, and sometimes ya girl wants a love story between three oblivious dweebs without any other complications. While I was hesitant going in about the poly dynamic, purely out of a proprietary love of the E/R ship rather than any dislike of OT3s, I was very invested in the relationship between the three of them by the end of the story. The negotiation and discussion between the three that led to all three dating was thoughtful and fascinating, and if I had one complaint it would just be that I don’t remember college boys being so mature when I was in school.
Furthermore, idiopathicsmile does a great job at writing a generally inclusive story. I appreciate the general trend in modern Les Mis AUs to characterize the Amis as both diverse and super-intersectional, especially since the original Amis were a bunch of rich white boy activists (with all the potential fail that entails). The co-op house is racially diverse, and includes queer and gender-variant people, people from a variety of religions and economic backgrounds, and people with various disabilities. Even in our main trio, Combeferre has Native American heritage and Grantaire is Jewish, twisting the usual tendency to racebend everyone but the main characters.
In fact, the story makes a point to make fun of the sort of rich-white-boy activist that is more concerned with being righteous than listening to oppressed peoples’ opinions or taking the entire situation into account, whether that means introducing a straw-man annoying character or embarrassing Enjolras himself. One example of this is the argument that’s happening in the snippet I quoted above.
Enjolras is insistent on trying to raise the monthly living fees to account for purchasing only organic, and at first shames Grantaire into feeling guilty for not fully supporting more sustainable purchasing. But Grantaire surprises him by reframing the conflict about class – the increase in rent over the course of the year is not a tiny amount, and it could be alienating to house members with lower incomes to insist they pay in for organic produce or be considered bad people.
In Defiance of All Geometry is a little over 50k and is an excellent diversion for an hour or two (or however long it takes you to read fifty thousand words). You can check it out here on AO3!