Inspector Valjean and Javert the convict
Javert looked sullenly out of the bars of his cell, his brown hair falling over his eyes as he shifted, much to his annoyance. The boy was only eight, and yet he was behind bars, through no fault of his own. His mother, a gypsy named Marie, had been pregnant when she had become a galley-slave.
His lip curled into a sneer as he thought of his parents. Good for nothing criminals. Javert despised them; it was their fault that he had been born in this nest of convicts and wrong-doers. He wanted nothing more than to be free of this place, to never have to be on the wrong side of a jail cell again.
There were a few individuals whom Javert admired; the police. They were the lights in this world of darkness, the order in this whirlpool of chaos. Every day that Javert spent in this hell-hole, he watched with awe as the guards kept order in the jail, breaking up fights between the prisoners and issuing punishment where it was due.
One man in particular caught the boy's interest. A man named Monsieur Lacroix was one of the guards who often took the night shift at the jail. Sometimes, he took time to talk to Javert. The child asked him an onslaught of questions about life serving the law. Lacroix answered with patience, even praising Javert on his loyalty to the law. It was he who had first suggested that Javert become part of the police. Since then, the idea had taken a hold of the boy, driving every other dream or desire forcefully from his mind.
These thoughts were driven from Javert's head as he heard someone coughing violently. He turned and saw a deathly thin woman doubled over in pain a few cells away. She had been sick for some days, and no one had done anything about it. It made Javert uneasy that her suffering could be so easily ignored, but he tried to shrug it off. She was a convict, a convict who had tried to escape in the past. She deserved it.
A tall woman with dark hair and piercing blue eyes crouched next to her, murmuring words of comfort the boy could not hear. He stiffened, recognizing the woman. Mother! The child in him felt joy at seeing her again, but he pushed it away. She means nothing to me!
The gypsy called out to someone Javert could not see, "Please, good M'seiur, in mercy's name, get some help! Can't you see that the poor woman's sick?"
A tall form made its way over to the cell. "That is not my concern, gypsy." The boy recognized the voice of Lacroix, only now it sounded cold and uncaring, like the bleak walls of his cell, and slightly slurred, as though he had been drinking. "Why should I care for the sufferings of a galley-slave?"
Marie drew herself up to her full height, which was tall for a woman, and told the guard coldly, "It's your job to distribute justice. If you let this woman die, that is not justice. That is an act of evil." Her voice shook with conviction, her piercing eyes staring boldly into the eyes of the guard. "This woman has done you no wrong. Why must she suffer simply because she is a galley-slave? We are criminals, not curs!"
Lacroix answered coldly, "I see no difference. Now if you'll excuse me-"
He started to leave, but Marie grabbed his arm firmly. "I damn you to the pits of hell for your desicion tonight, monsieur!" Her blue eyes flashed with a fiery conviction, the mystery of the gypsy in her voice. "May you suffer as this woman here suffers." Almost as an afterthought, she spat at his feet, raising her brilliant blue eyes to look at him defiantly.
Javert saw the man stiffen, and felt a rush of fear. Lacroix thrust his free hand through the bars of the cell and grabbed the woman's throat with a vise-like grip. "You dare talk back to me?" He hissed. The gypsy gasped slightly, her hands clutching desperatly at his arms, trying to loosen his grip on her neck.
Javert froze in shock when he saw fear flash in his mother's eyes. She had always been strong, fierce, unyielding to the point of being inhuman. In a way, his hatred of her had made him more like her, his heart growing colder in the face of her own coldness. He had never even thought that she had the ability to feel fear. She let out a small cry of pain as Lacroix's vise-like grip tightened. That was too much for Javert; his love for his mother, which he had hidden away in the deepest corners of his heart and worked so hard to ignore, burst forward in a rush of emotion. He saw the fear in her eyes, and the ice in his heart melted away. "Mami!" He cried out before he could stop himself.
Lacroix froze, turning to look at Javert with some surprise. Marie's eyes flashed with recognition, and she gave the boy a fleeting smile. Lacroix released his grip on her, and she fell to her knees, gasping for air. The guard approached Javert's cell slowly, and the boy backed up, his heart pounding in fear. Lacroix growled in a low voice, "What are you looking at, boy?"
Javert shook his head fearfully. "N-nothing." He stammered.
Lacroix scrutinized the boy, his gaze searching. Then he gave the boy a grim smile. "Alright. I'll let it slide this once." He turned back to the gypsy and barked, "Don't let it happen again!" He turned and left, disappearing into the darkness of the hallway. Once he was gone, Javert fell to his knees, trembling. The fear of Lacroix had subsided, but the revelation that his hero was a monster had shaken him deeply. His future, which he had once thought to be so clear, was shrouded in shadows.
In part of his mind, he tried to sort through his scrambled thoughts and make sense of them. What did the future hold for him? Clearly he could not join the Force, now that he had seen what lay under their guise of justice. In time, he would be released from prison, once he was old enough to care for himself, but what then? What would he do, now that his dream was gone?
Suddenly, he heard a voice. "Son." He looked up to see Marie looking at him, a smile on her face. She had gotten to her feet, and she was looking down at him with tenderness in her eyes. "My Rick."
He started a bit at this; he hadn't heard his first name spoken aloud in years. She continued gently, "My son, you cannot let misery rule your life. You cannot let my mistakes make you bitter. You deserve better than that."
Javert sighed. Part of his mind still rebelled against this new-found affection, but in truth, these new revelations had rendered him too tired to hate. He answered wearily, "I know."
They conversed the rest of the night, speaking quietly from behind the bars of their cells. What passed between them is not for us to know. It was the healing of two broken hearts. The unyielding woman was softened to a mother, and the cold-hearted boy was allowed once again to be a child. They spoke all through the night, and in the morning, she was transferred to another cell. He never saw her again.
And so Javert was saved from a life of serving the law. The mercy and love he had felt for his mother in that moment had melted some of the ice from his heart. Hate had softened to distrust, disgust to disdain. He was by no means gentle or loving, but was no longer cold. He had a quiet compassion, which only grew in the years to come. He once again used his first name, Rick, as a show of forgiveness to the mother who had forgiven him.
After his release, Javert moved to a quiet town named Chastelar, where he began doing whatever jobs he could find, saving up to buy his own farm. He knew that he was strong and dedicated enough to run a farm successfully, he simply lacked the funds to start one. The people there found him to be reserved but polite. One man took a particular interest in the young man. His name was Monsieur Maheu, and he had lived in the quiet town as long as he could remember. He saw a potential in Javert, a kind of dedication that can seldom be found in one so young. He guided Javert, teaching him all the ways of farming, and giving him whatever jobs he had.
Years passed. Javert bought his farm, and due to Maheu's help, he did quite well. But a farmer has no control over the weather; a year came, when Javert was in his thirties, when a hailstorm destroyed most of his crops. For most of that winter, he had barely enough money to feed himself. He grew even more reserved, only leaving his home when he needed to, making the occasional visit to Maheu and his wife. He was hungry most days, and the hatred he had long surpressed began to appear again.
One day in late winter, Javert was walking through the town, his head down, his step brisk, when he heard a voice call out, "Hey you!" He looked up to see a man in a long overcoat walking somewhat unsteadily towards him, a beer bottle in one hand. He said a slurred voice, "You know where theresa place t'sleep 'round 'ere?"
Javert raised an eyebrow, looking at the drunk man disdainfully. He answered mildly, "There's an inn just that way." Just then, a glint of metal caught his eye. It was coming from the man's pocket. He was carrying money in his pocket, the fool. Javert paused. It was indeed foolish of him to carry around money and not keep it hidden. He was clearly too drunk to see straight; he would never notice if a sou or two disappeared from his pocket...
Javert instantly berated himself. You fool! You've been in the galleys before! Do you want to go back there? Just then, his stomach clenched painfully. He gritted his teeth, trying to ignore his hunger. It didn't seem right that this man had enough money for food and wasted it on liquor. He didn't deserve what he had. All Javert needed to do was do it.
This internal debate only lasted a few moments. The man gave a drunken half-smile. "Th'nksalot, buddy." As he stumbled past Javert, he didn't notice the farmer's hand slip gingerly into his pocket and retreated with three coins clasped loosely in his hand. But a woman standing a few feet away did.
She had walked out of her house to pay her brother a visit. She had seen the farmer's hand descend into the drunk's pocket, and she had seen the glint of metal in his hand when it reappeared. "Thief!" She cried out, causing both men to look up in alarm.
Javert fled, but he didn't get far. People who were milling around nearby were alerted by the woman's cry, and worked quickly to catch the man. Javert was soon on his knees, restrained by three men, who held his arms behind his back. Inside his head, he was screaming at himself. You idiot! What on Earth possesed you to do that? You are a farmer, not a thief! What have I done?
One man sneered at him, "The law is going to know about this." Javert closed his eyes, despair overwhelming him. He could already hear the cries of the galley-slaves deep in his heart.
When Javert was in his first few years as a farmer, another man was in the galleys, working towards his release. His name was Jean Valjean.
Valjean had been caught trying to steal a loaf of bread for his family. He had been sentenced to five years, five long years as a slave. That is what he had told himself, that he was a slave of the law, that he had been punished unjustly. Oh, how wrong he had been. The police weren't evil; they had only been doing was good and just. He saw that now. It hadn't been easy accepting that he had done wrong. For some time, he hated the guards for keeping him locked there, for being free when he was not.
It had taken the escape of one of his fellow prisoners for him to realize how great the police truly were. They had quickly orginized themselves, obeying their superiors, offering no arguements as they were divided into teams. They quickly brought down the criminal, bringing him back faster than Valjean could have ever predicted. Their efficiency and order impressed the criminal, more than he cared to admit.
That was the spark that had started his flaming passion for the law. Like the child Javert, he began watching the guards, his admiration for them growing as the years passed. He began reflecting on his actions, and in realizing the horror of his crime, his reverance for the law increased dramatically. His vision of the world narrowed, leaving only room for black and white, good and back, legal or illegal. By the end of his fifth year, he had only one thought; to join the police and live the remainder of his life serving the law.
Directly after his release, he joined the Surete National, where ex-convicts like him were welcome. He worked hard, forcing pity and mercy out of his heart. His dedication and his near inhuman strength gained the respect of his colleages. His crime of the past was overshadowed by his achievements of the present.
Valjean had washed his heart of pity, and yet something remained, some gentlemanly nature of years ago, some faint shadow of a past he scarcely remembered. He had no particular hatred of the poor. As long as they stayed out of bars, he didn't care if they only had two sous to their name. Even criminals stirred no true hatred within him. After all, he himself had once been a prisoner, and he knew that redemption was still possible. But he let nothing stand in the way of duty. People who broke the law deserved punishment. That was his one deep belief, the thought that drove his every action. The law must be upheld.
He had a certain respect for women and children, believing them to be naturely purer than men. Perhaps some faint memory of his sister and nephew still clung to his heart. Whatever the cause, he was more gentle in his speech to them, except when they were behind bars. A criminal was a criminal, no matter in what form.
To the surprise of his colleages, Valjean was stationed as a guard at Toulon in his fourth year of service. Others might have objected to this assignment after having to serve time there, but Valjean hardly cared where he was sent, so long as he was given the chance to serve the law. Besides, there was a certain satisfaction in being on the right side of his old cell. A day came, thirteen years after Jean Valjean joined the force, a prisoner numbered 30941 was due to be released. Valjean had been watching the prisoner in his own quiet way. 30941 was reserved, avoiding contact with the other prisoners. Valjean saw a hatred begin to grow in the convict's eyes over the years, subtle but strong. Valjean distrusted the prisoner; this was not the kind of man who could be redeemed.
Near the end of the day, Valjean called out firmly to one of his colleages, "Bring me prisoner 30941!" His colleage brought out a tall man in rags, his dark hair long and pulled into a tangled ponytail, his bangs falling over his eyes. The guard threw him to the ground, causing the man to fall on his knees, bending forward a bit as he landed. His head remained bowed, his hair shielding his eyes.
Valjean told the prisnor in a brisk tone, "You have served your time. Today, your parole begins. Do you know what that means?"
The man lifted his a little, two pale blue eyes peeking out from behind his long bangs, cold as ice. "It means I get my ticket of leave, I know. I am now under the servalience of the law." He said in a tired voice. "May I leave now?"
Valjean narrowed his eyes. "If you break the law again, your sentence will not be so light. The law does not easily forgive thieves." He warned coldly.
That one word, thieves, seemed to awaken some anger in the prisoner. "Monsieur, all I did was take three coins from a drunk man's pocket. I doubt that justifies twelve years in the galleys." He said with a kind of tired anger.
The lawman glared at the convict. It was this kind of remorseless behavior that he hated the most. "It would have only been two, 30941, had you not tried to escape. It is your own fault."
Anger flashed briefly in the prisoner's eyes. "My name is Rick Javert!" He insisted, defiance creeping into his tone.
Valjean replied promptly, "And I am Valjean. Do not forget me, 30941. If you ever should falter again, you will find no mercy from me." He handed the prisoner his yellow ticket of leave. "Take this and get out of my sight. And pray that we do not meet again."
He watched quietly as the ragged man left, his eyes following Javert's every step, distrust deep in his heart. Do not forget me, 30941.
I get the distinct feeling that this story should not exist. If Victor Hugo/the characters ever saw this, they might hurt me severely for this. Oh well, it was fun to write. I'll write more if anyone else thinks it's a good idea.
As for the story itself, I got the idea from Rinjapine of deviantArt's Lion King stories, which make Scar and Mufasa switch places. It was very fun to write, and I kind of like the idea.
Also, a million thanks to TWSythar for helping me with making this as factual as possible. I know you said that an ex-convict was unlikely if not unable to become a guard, but I couldn't figure out a way to make the Javert Valjean faceoff work if he wasn't a guard. Thank you for your help, it is highly appreciated.
Valjean and Javert (c) Victor Hugo and the guys who made the musical
The rest of the characters (c) Me