A/N: This is a non-obligated fic in honor of The Highest Pie's birthday. I like to blow off steam by being unrepentantly silly, so it's not your fault that an Amis vs. zombies fic now exists.
Feuilly wasn't quite sure what to think of Grantaire. He was sure he had the others pegged. Enjolras came from the school of Greco-Roman statuary, all paint and color, all the extraneous, gaudy bits, worn off to reveal a startling purity. Combeferre was one of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions, on the surface something useful and somewhat curious, but then, upon further observation, a magnificent and somewhat intimidating combination of science, art and philosophy that somehow becomes an emblem of humanity and civilization. For some reason Bossuet always evaded being set firmly in any one school of art, but Feuilly absent-mindedly associated him with Shakespeare, all humor, warmth and wordplay, with a smattering of odd superstition that complimented Joly's odd homeopathic medical cures so well. Joly, too, managed to sneak out of art and into literature and the sciences. Joly was lifted straight from the Enlightenment, all symmetry and oddly quirky humor and scientific excitement. Courfeyrac, Jehan and Bahorel, in their own ways, were Romantics, a shifting spectrum of the sublime, the gothic and the liberated, all so focused on both their desires and the universal desire to be free, all exposing their hearts to the world and battling against any force that dared constrain them.
Grantaire, however, was a problem.
He was a mix of too many styles altogether. Feuilly couldn't puzzle him out and soon gave up on the attempt. Grantaire seized onto whatever interested his friends at the moment, until it had been drained of all meaning for him and he just tossed it randomly into a ramble with all the other things that he had tried and failed to understand, in the hopes that some of them would stick together and provide some sort of meaning. It irritated Feuilly. Grantaire had an education, he had the opportunity to learn, to know, and yet he understood nothing.
"What a waste," Feuilly muttered, and began setting up his materials in a table near a wall sconce. Combeferre had persuaded him to draw a political cartoon for the latest pamphlet and Feuilly had grudgingly agreed. He liked being in the Musain, it was interesting and a good deal warmer than his apartment, and Combeferre had assured him that no one would ever find out that he, Feuilly, had contributed.
It seemed alright, and Feuilly was secretly thrilled that someone as educated as Combeferre saw something worthwhile in his art, so Feuilly sat down and began to draw.
Most people, seeing the cap-clad head bent low over a sheet of paper, frowning at various engravings of political figures and occasionally scowling fiercely and crossing out various sketches with the thunderous aspect of St. Peter crossing someone out of the Book of Life, would have correctly concluded that one ought to leave the artist to his work. Grantaire, however, was not 'most people'. He had seen his friends attach themselves to Feuilly, and so decided he ought to do the same, without really knowing why.
Thus, he plopped himself down next to Feuilly and asked him what he was doing.
"Art," said Feuilly shortly. He did not like being interrupted when in the middle of sketching and the corresponding throes of artistic insecurity.
"Never was one for art, for all that I tried to study it," Grantaire said, with a sigh. "Athena need not fear my skill at the loom, and even Apollo may not fear my skill on the harp. I play the violin fit to wake the dead."
"How wonderful," said Feuilly. He looked pointedly at the table next to him, where Jehan was idly drawing circles in spilt wine on the tabletop. "There's space there. I'm trying to draw here."
"Oh," said Grantaire, moving his bottle of wine. "Didn't see the sketch there. But no, I have caused the dead to rise from their graves—"
It had all started when Bossuet had, as was usual, received an inheritance that did absolutely nothing to assuage his current financial woes. He received (or rather, Jehan did, as Bossuet did not have the money to pay the postage) two trunks full of odd junk. Joly and Bossuet had gone to investigate the trunk and Grantaire, having nothing better to do, tagged along. The trunks were full of old clothes, a few very old books that might be worth something, and a bizarre collection of cases—shaving cases, instrument cases, glasses cases….
Grantaire had amused himself with trying to form some sort of narrative linking all the objects together, had given it up as a bad job, and went to get the bottle of wine Jehan had on the table. It was near a sheet of paper, so Grantaire picked it up and began reading the jotted lines of text. "What's this?"
"Ideas for a poem," said Jehan, sifting through all the old clothes. "Bossuet, do you really not want this?" He held up a pastel pink frock coat from the days of Louis XIV.
Bossuet looked at it in amusement. "You paid for it. It's yours."
"You have no idea what treasures lie hidden beneath all the tissue paper," Jehan scolded him. "But yes, I want to write a poem about the Danse Macabre, when the devil plays his violin with such force the dead rise from their graves and the veil between worlds is pierced by art."
Grantaire attempted to interest himself in the trunks again, since the others were not interesting in drinking, and, beneath a farthingale, discovered a violin case. He drew it out and discovered a somewhat worn, but still functioning violin, bow and rosin. The violin was scratched up (there was a design under what looked like claw marks, Grantaire thought), but solid and unbroken. "Hm. Mind if I play, Bossuet?"
"You play the violin?" asked Joly, who, in the absence of anything more interesting to do, had begun examining his tongue in his hand mirror.
"I had lessons when I was younger," said Grantaire. "The Muses would cringe to hear me, but I worshiped at Apollo's shrine often enough." The motions came back easily—rosin the bow, hit the metallic fork at the bottom of the case to hear the concert A, tune the strings, tuck the violin under his chin, position the hands and arms—
"E flat, A flat, tritone, Devil's chord," Grantaire sang, playing them. "This is a good violin, Bossuet."
"It is yours," said Bossuet, trying to examine a book. It was near Halloween and, in a fit of pagan enthusiasm, Jehan put carved rutabagas around all of the candles in his apartment and closed the curtains against the afternoon sunlight. "Can I open the curtains, Jehan? I have no idea if this book is as filthy within its pages as… you live next to a graveyard?" Bossuet tied back the curtain so that everyone else could see as well.
"How macabre," said Joly.
"Isn't it wonderful?" asked Jehan. "I spent ages looking for one, and to have an apartment by the Cimetière Montparnasse…! Ooh, this looks like a doublet, or at least it could if I tailored it a bit."
There was some sheet music in the trunk. Grantaire picked it up and scanned it. "I… hm. A bit like that Devil's Trill Sonata…." He stuck the sheet music into the bottom corner of Jehan's mirror and tried to remember how to read sheet music. That was… a C—
The violin felt almost hot under his chin and against his shoulder and Grantaire found himself playing without really knowing why. He did not know what he was playing, he did not know how to move his fingers, his fingers just moved without his understanding it or willing it, the music flowed out of the violin without any reference to the sheet music or to Grantaire.
He did not mean to play and he could not stop, which frightened him more than he could say. His hands flew over the strings, the horsehair in the bow was breaking, he was cutting his fingertips on the strings, the music was growing wilder and wilder and wilder and Grantaire could not pull his hands away—
"Grantaire, are you alright?" asked Bossuet, turning to look at him.
"The violin's playing me," said Grantaire, trying, and failing, to stop.
Something whizzed through the window, nearly shattering Jehan's pot of violets.
"My violets!" wailed Jehan, grabbing the pot and cradling it in his arms. "My violets, my poor darlings, who would have tried to tear you away from me?"
Bossuet had dropped his book to pick up the rock that had whizzed through the window. "Rather… mossy… did someone break this off of a tombstone?"
"If they did, I am keeping it," said Jehan, at which point Joly began choking on nothing in particular and gibbering, 'window, window, heart failure!'
Grantaire managed to tear the bow off of the strings of the violin to see what appeared to be an army of decomposing corpses surging out of the graveyard and up to the apartment.
"Oh, how exciting!" Jehan practically squealed.
"I have lost my mind," said Joly. "Or my sense of sight. I must have—"
"I see them too," said Bossuet, staring out the window in fascination. "Jehan, is this some bouzingo prank?"
"If it is, no one told me anything about it. Oh, what a wonderful surprise if they have—"
One of the creatures pulled itself up and began struggling through the now completely open window. Joly screamed, and Bossuet stumbled back with a curse; Grantaire was too busy fighting to keep the bow and violin apart to take much notice and Jehan was nearly dancing with excitement.
"Oh this is wonderful, wonderful! Is that…."
Joly had his handkerchief out and over his nose and mouth. "My God, that smell, it's like opening up a grave a little too late oh God it's crawled out of a grave oh my God a maggot just crawled out of its eye socket!"
"Hush now," said Jehan, beaming. "You get to play with corpses whenever you want to, I don't get a chance—"
The creature lifted a skeletal hand out and grabbed Jehan's untidy neck cloth. "Braaaaaaaains." It then began to gnaw on Jehan's head.
Bossuet slammed his book down on the back of the creature's neck, which severed the remaining neck vertebrae and caused the body to slump over the sill and the head to tumble down to the floor like some sort of unwanted plaything.
"It was a love bite," said Jehan.
"It wanted to eat your brain!" screeched Joly. "And—oh God, there's more of them, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!"
To Grantaire's horror, he could not put either bow or violin down. He was defenseless against the mass of moving undead climbing through the window, and so, deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, scrambled up onto the dining room table and from there to the top of the bookshelf, which was uncomfortable but safe from the animated corpses pouring into the room.
Bossuet tried to shove them out as best he could, Joly helping, sort of, by using his walking stick as an impromptu foil to knock the climbing corpses off-balance, but there were too many of them. Joly ran for cover and Bossuet had to go hide in the closet to keep from getting his bald head cracked open like a hard-boiled egg.
"Oh, that I should live to see the end of the world, when death and life are as one!" Jehan concluded triumphantly, from where he stood on his dining room table, even though he was surrounded by members of the living dead, surging around him and grabbing at his legs. "Oh, how wonderful, art can extend a hand past the grave—"
"WE ARE ALL GOING TO CATCH SOMETHING DREADFUL I KNOW IT," wailed Joly, who had managed to climb up the armoire to crouch of the top and deploy his walking stick against any member of the living undead so rude as to approach him without a proper introduction. "JEHAN THEY ARE NOT LOST PUPPIES THEY ARE TRYING TO EAT YOUR BRAIN."
"Are not!" Jehan insisted. "And-oh, someone's at the door. Come in!"
Combeferre opened the door and looked around the apartment without changing his expression. "Ah. Another bouzingo demonstration?"
"No, I'm beginning to think not," said Bossuet, from inside the closet. "I doubt Borel would try and eat my brain, despite the temptation to do so. Combeferre, I think we have somehow accidentally reversed life and death."
"Alright," Combeferre said peaceably. "How did you do it?"
"Possessed violin would be my guess," said Bossuet. "I'm unlucky enough to inherit one and to have a friend willing to play it."
The creatures realized that there was a voice coming from the hall and they began to turn and lurch toward Combeferre, arms outstretched. "Braaaaaaaaaaaaains."
"No, don't let them out," Jehan cried in dismay.
"Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains," said one of the animated corpses, lunging forward.
"Run Combeferre," shouted Joly, as Combeferre ducked out of the way and the creature fell flat on its face into the hall. "You have more brains than the rest of us; they will go after you first!"
Combeferre tried to close the door, but could not hold it shut; he lurched to the side as the door swung open, and then whirled around to hide between the wall and the door. The living dead shuffled out, leaving bits of decomposing flesh in their wake.
"Oh, now they have all wandered off," said Jehan, sounding incredibly disappointed.
"They are not kittens, Jehan!" Joly pointed out, hysterically. "They are putrefying corpses out to crack open our skulls and feast upon our neural tissues! Oh my God, I am having a heart attack, its heart failure; I swear its heart failure—"
"Breathe, Joly, breathe," said Bossuet, emerging from the closet. "You forget to do that sometimes when you get panicked. Deep breaths, in and out… and… oh hell." Bossuet opened the curtains to the other window, the one that faced the Boulevard Montparnasse, as opposed to the graveyard Montparnasse, and stared after the herd of living dead.
Combeferre looked curiously at Bossuet, and then followed his gaze. "They… oh no, they must be headed to the Sorbonne!"
"And the Law School!" exclaimed Grantaire, realizing, with a start of horror, that Enjolras was a law student.
"And the Pantheon!" Jehan exclaimed, looking quite excited. "Do you think Voltaire and Rousseau have risen from the dead too?"
"I think they are more likely to have their brains eaten by these animated corpses," replied Combeferre, honestly worried. "We must stop them!"
(At that point, Feuilly really could not take it anymore, put down his pencil and tried to interrupt with either a, 'what the hell, will you just shut up and leave me alone' or a 'how could Combeferre have known, the Boulevard Montparnasse is goddamn long and does not lead to the Latin Quarter', but Grantaire was in full monologue mode and could not be stopped.)
Grantaire, Combeferre, Bossuet, Joly and Jehan made their way to the Latin Quarter ("On foot?" demanded Feuilly, quite snidely, and was just as snidely ignored in return). Combeferre took a detour to find some of his Polytechnicien friends ("That's a pretty damn far detour," said Feuilly), and returned with both them and artillery ("How in hell did they do that?" demanded Feuilly).
They all arrived to see Enjolras on the steps of the Pantheon, Courfeyrac and Bahorel struggling vainly to keep the more blood-thirsty corpses at bay, and Enjolras taming the others by the sheer force of his rhetoric ("Seriously?" asked Feuilly).
"We are all equal in death," said Enjolras, glaring some of the living corpses into submission. "My fellow citizens, do not attack your brethren here."
"Besides," said Courfeyrac, "Voltaire's brain isn't here and you can't just eat Rousseau's."
A living corpse lurched forward, knocked off Courfeyrac's hat and began to gnaw on his head. Bahorel shoved the corpse away and Enjolras pulled Courfeyrac back, and further up the steps of the Pantheon.
The Polytechniciens finished loading their cannon ("How many Polytechniciens did you have there?" Feuilly demanded) and shot it into the crowd of living corpses, mowing down several rows of the living undead. However, the animated corpses rose to their feet soon after being shot and lurched towards the Pantheon.
"The grapeshot's not working," exclaimed Sadi Carnot, one of Combeferre's friends.
"Well of course not, they're dead," Joly said, somewhat hysterically. "You cannot kill someone who has already been killed. It doesn't work like that. Logic—cause and effect—"
"Cause and effect?" mused Grantaire. "I…." He looked down at the violin and bow in his hands. "The cause of all of this can be traced back to the devil, so an angel... ah ha, Enjolras!"
Enjolras turned to look at him, and Grantaire flung the violin and bow at Enjolras. Enjolras reached out two pale, slender hands and caught them. ("Alright, first, how could you release them then, and only then, and second, did you even know if Enjolras could play, and third, how could you throw a string instrument successfully over an entire graveyard full of the living dead and… why the hell am I taking this seriously?")
"Play, Enjolras, as Orpheus tamed Cerberus!" cried Grantaire, and Enjolras swung the violin up under his chin, his golden hair brushing against the bridge of the instrument. At first Grantaire heard the old, familiar song, but Enjolras forced resolutions, transposed it all into a major key, changed the meter and played so beautifully one could see Gabriel throwing down his horn in envy and all the cherubim and seraphim flinging away their harps. Enjolras played a song of France, of its soil and its skies, of the equality and peace of the grave, and of the constant striving against inequality and war in life. The creatures began to stumble and fall to the ground, moved to tears by Enjolras's performance and the rest of the Amis, and the Polytechniciens began shoving the animated corpses back to the graveyard from which they came. Enjolras played on, a haunting melody, so perfect all music thereafter seemed incomplete, and, for one moment, smiled at Grantaire to thank him—
"Have you seen a specialist in moral alienation?" asked Feuilly.
Grantaire was pulled abruptly out of his happy daydream of Enjolras's thanks and Enjolras's smile. "Eh? This happened, I swear."
Feuilly picked up his pencil just so he could slam it against the table again. "What is this, time to tease the token worker? He doesn't know any better, he's so goddamn desperate for an education we'll just feed him any idiotic story about the living undead feasting on the brains of the living—I mean seriously, what the hell? He's ignorant, he has to educate himself, if we feed him misinformation—God, it's just like Poland—"
At that point, Feuilly heard a distinct, "Oh hell, who let Grantaire loose on Poland Guy?", a curse from Bahorel and a quick, "Ah, Feuilly, I see you have finished, may I see?" from Combeferre, who ran over from where he had been talking with Enjolras, in the center of the room.
"Come on Grantaire," said Bahorel, appearing at Grantaire's shoulder. "I have an unopened bottle of whisky I cannot finish. Come join me in the opposite corner, will you?"
Grantaire went peaceably enough, and Combeferre took Grantaire's seat. "I, ah… Grantaire is a good fellow, on the whole, just… a little… much from time to time."
"A little much?" asked Feuilly. "He spent the past ten minutes telling me that he played a violin possessed by Satan, raised a band of brain-eating corpses and then earned Enjolras's thanks by allowing Enjolras to subdue the ranks of the now living dead through sweet music on the steps of the Pantheon. He never once shut up!"
Combeferre gaped at him. "He… the living dead?"
"Yes, and Grantaire out-thought you and your Polytechnicien friends."
Combeferre continued to gape at him. "He… ah… I think perhaps Enjolras will have to have a talk with Grantaire. However, Grantaire is not usually that divorced from reality… Jehan?"
Jehan, dressed as hideously as ever in frockcoat and justaucorps that had gone out of fashion about a century ago, leaned back in his chair and tilted his head back so that he could look Combeferre in the face, albeit from upside down. "Yes, my dear Combeferre?"
"Do you remember when we got into that scuffle at the Pantheon, with the National Guardsmen on their furlough?"
Jehan nodded, which looked extremely odd. "Yes. Bahorel couldn't stop grinning for weeks. They were a dreadful bunch, weren't they? So blinded by chains of duty and bourgeois respectability, really! It was like fighting a bunch of animated corpses—no independent thought, all so lost since their officer was elsewhere—no brains, any of them—"
"I did mention they would be better off going off in search of a brain than heckling you, did I not?" asked Combeferre.
"Yes, and they put up such an awful fuss when Grantaire tried to play the violin in my apartment. It is my apartment, they were staying in a hotel across the street and could barely hear it, I swear. And then they were dreadfully rude about my flute-playing. I was quite glad to find them heckling the law students later, and to try and provoke Bahorel into getting arrested. I never wanted to punch someone so much in my entire life as that stupid, brainless, shambling idiot who threw that rock at my window and nearly knocked over my pot of violets."
"Yes, it was unwise of them, as unarmed as they were, to engage in a battle of wits with Enjolras," said Combeferre. "I thought he was remarkably convincing, lecturing them into submission in the end, even if that drunken one decided that the best way to end the debate on the divine right of kings was to try and smash in Courfeyrac's head with the butt of his musket. It was a good thing Sadi Carnot and some of my other friends from the Polytechnique were at the Musain that day. That was one of our more successful skirmishes. No real injuries, Enjolras's rhetoric winning the day, or at least a temporary peace…."
"What the hell is Grantaire on?" asked Feuilly, unwillingly fascinated. "I mean, to be part of that and say that, instead, you had fought the living dead instead with a cursed violin Legles inherited, and that only Enjolras, with his mystic angelic powers of republicanism, could purify…."
Jehan looked uneasy.
"Did you feed Grantaire hashish again?" Combeferre asked, sounding mildly admonitory.
"Not that much," Jehan said weakly. "He wanted some, Combeferre, what else was I supposed to do?"
"Sometimes one ought to restrain desire—"
"Restrain desire! Combeferre, what are you saying? Do you know just how ridiculous you sound?"
Feuilly tuned out the argument. Across the room, Enjolras, hair catching the light in a way that made Feuilly's hands itch for his paint box, was pointing at a map of Paris, talking in a low voice with Courfeyrac about the places where the workers were most likely to be open to republican sentiment. Grantaire was almost back-to-back with Enjolras, looking even grungier than usual, talking at the top of his voice with Bahorel about which working-class women would be willing to open their legs to a little Romantic (or romantic, Grantaire wasn't particular) sensation.
Too many schools of art altogether, Feuilly decided, eyeing Grantaire, or perhaps just a classical ruin, too broken to make sense any more, as seen as whole only through the bottom of a wine bottle.