Her Children
By: Manna


July 14th, 1789—Evening

She heard it from the doorway to the servant's quarters. The news and the gasp, followed by a long period of shocked silence that left her heart pounding.

Why did it hurt so much? Hadn't she known this could happen? Hadn't she fretted and worried enough of her life away because she was afraid of something like this?

She almost choked on the news, herself, almost burst into tears on the spot as she stood there, holding Madame's lovely red-and-white vase filled with the wildflowers one of the maids had picked fresh that afternoon. But she held it in, all of it.

She had tried warning him, she had… Had tried and had failed because he did not want to listen to her until it was far too late. What good was love, then, she wondered…if love could not save your children? Monsieur had understood too late.

No, neither had been saved this time. This time, both had gone, and both had returned, though not with smiles on their faces as they laughed over another close call before sipping tea on the balcony. Oh, how she would love to see them smiling that way! How she would have smiled, herself, to see them shrug out of their dirty uniforms and slip into something comfortable… Those two never did get enough rest…

She could not hold it in any longer. Tears fell down her face as the vase crashed to the floor and broke into a million pieces—as many tiny fragments as her heart was in, she was sure. She ran past Monsieur, past Madame, past the somber, tearful eyes of a young man in soldier's clothing before she could shake them all and ask them why this had happened.

She saw the cart. It was small, tiny, and probably the best thing the soldier had been able to find. She approached it, her footsteps light though her legs felt like leaden jelly, and pulled back the coarse white cloth covering the top. "Oh!" she shouted, her voice trembling as much as the rest of her at the sight underneath. She traced the gunshot wounds with her eyes, traced every lock of curly hair, every curve of their faces.

No, no, not the two of them, not both… No…

The blood was all but forgotten as she shook her head, as she saw the way they both couldn't quite fit in the small cart side-by-side; it was most likely meant to carry something else. She could taste her own tears as she reached a hesitant hand out to push their bangs away from their eyes, and she bit her lip, nearly choking on a sob. They were together now, weren't they? But no matter how many times she tried reasoning with herself, it hurt just the same to see them that way.

This was what she had been afraid of, she remembered. Losing them both. No, not the both of them… Please, God, not that… But really, she thought, what was one without the other? They'd been inseparable for so long, now… So very, very long… Why start now?

Her chest still ached as if it was being crushed. She saw the way Oscar's fingers curled around his arm, her touch looking gentle even though her fingers were stiff, and the way his head seemed to lean towards her just the slightest bit…

Are you happy now, André? Can you see now? Can you see your Oscar? Oscar, you're not alone, don't you know? André has always loved you more than life itself. Take care of my boy for me… Don't worry, children, don't worry… You're safe now, you're safe… No more pain, no…no more heartache…you have each other… you have…

"My babies!" she shouted, her heartbroken wail carrying inside of the open front door. "Not my Oscar! Not my André! Lord, how could you have taken them from me?" She wept bitterly, burying her face into their uniforms, her fingers reaching out, touching, caressing, memorizing, unable to stick with just one of them. No, she had to hold them both. They both needed her, didn't they? They were both children, nothing but children… She gathered them in her arms, grasping at them as if she were afraid to let go, her kisses raining down across their dirtied faces, her tears blurring her vision. "My poor, sweet, beautiful babies! Oh, Lord God, my babies have gone and left me all alone! Why did you take them, God? Why?"

She cradled them close to her, biting her lip, running her fingers through their hair, rocking them as she held them tight until her voice became a quiet, cyclical murmur. "Oh, Heavenly Father, my tender-hearted, gentle André… My lovely, selfless Oscar… My babies… Oh, my brave, brave babies… I love you both so, so much!"

Ah, but they did look peaceful, so peaceful… Tenderly, she stroked the sides of their faces, her fingers trembling as she looked towards the sky for a brief moment before fixing her gaze back again; the deep oranges of the sunset fell across the still faces of the two people closest to her heart. Yes, but they certainly did look serene… "Oh, God, please take care of them, please… Please take care of them... Oh… My precious, precious children, how could anyone have done this to you?"


Author Notes:

If you couldn't tell, this is from the viewpoint of André's grandmother (also known as Oscar's nanny). I firmly believe that the two people she loved most in the world were Oscar and André. She was more of a parent to them both than either's own parents (for different reasons). I can only begin to imagine how she felt when she learned of their deaths. Can you imagine outliving your own child, and then your grandchild (plus his friend-turned-lover)?

This is just a small tribute to Grandma/Nanny. She might have been inserted mostly as comic relief, but I think there was a lot more to her than just that. She is, after all, a grandmother/practically mother twice-over; I'm sure she knows more than she lets on. And she loved both of those children with everything she had.

If you didn't know, the soldier who brought Oscar and André's bodies is supposed to be Alain. I'm going with: as soon as things cleared up enough that afternoon (after Oscar's death), he recovered André's body as well and took them both home. The news would be better coming from a close friend of theirs, wouldn't it? (Unfortunately, not by much.) Thank you very much for reading! Feedback would be greatly appreciated!