Disclaimer: Don't own recognizable character, don't own historical events, make no money and so on.

Author's Note: Historically, this story is not completely accurate. Don't use it for school papers (. However I do hope I've captured the "essence" of the period well.

Her Revolution

The best place for introspection is in front of mirrors. Before mirrors, one has an audience that one does not fear will reveal whatever dark secrets one cherishes and passes on to the mirror alone. That is, unless one is afraid to confront one's own self. Aside from that, though, one does not have to fear of one's secrets, one's thoughts, one's deepest emotions being revealed.

This morning, Adrian Bordeaux saw someone else in his mirror.

For only an instant – an instant, a confused moment of hanging between tiredness and insanity, he looked at the mirror and dark eyes looked back at him with yearning. He saw his reflection flicker, he saw the gray woman.

When he blinked, she was gone again.

But Adrian is not surprised by that – indeed, he would not be. For weeks now he has known his sanity was wavering, and any worsening now would come as a relief. Insanity would allow him to forget.

The insane do not have to work, fourteen, fifteen hours from the rise of dawn and deep into the darkness of the oppressing night. The insane are not expected, not supposed to make the living for all of their families when the noblemen charge half the money and the Church half of what was left. No, the insane are free to their hallucination – free as they can be, in the Bastille.

Things are not pleasant in Paris, 1789.

And Adrian has already heard that there are new winds blowing through the streets of the dark city, and has already seen the people march and shout. And he knows his neighbors talk of freedom and he heard his children talk of what happened in America. And Adrian knows that the winds of change are bound to pass, and structures, metaphorical and real as one, built and standing for hundreds of years do not fall easily.

He looks up at the mirror and tried to see the Gray Woman again.

She is not there this time.

He lets his gaze fall to the floor.

Adrian walks out of his home on his way to his workshop, a small room across town. Filth and smoke and noises ruled the streets of Paris, on a day like any other that will not change those to come. Adrian is forty-one, and he feels old and thinks older. He knows things do not change. For all his life he lived in this dim city, and the streets are still narrow and the roofs still dripping from the latest July rain. The date is July eleventh 1789, and recalling that gives Adrian a measure of relief. Time still passes and moves and he is not trapped in this world forever.

So he walks across the city in the mud that fills the streets regardless of the weather, rain or sun, there's always mud in the streets of Paris. He listens to the voices of the city, and he can hear the babies crying in their cradles as their mothers rush to them, perhaps to offer a dried out breast or all that's left of moist bread and watery soup. The banging and clanging of iron on hot, melting iron, shaping out tools and sending vicious gusts of heat out the blacksmith's door. He smells the air of the city and the scents of the city send his head swimming, the stench from the filthy mud and the smell of sickness, and the smell of fresh blood from the skinner's shop. The stink of Paris is unbearable, as much as the city itself.

And on he walks – another day awaits, and he must face it, for his children, and he wonders if they would not be happier dead. Perhaps, he muses, it is better to starve to death and not live this harsh life through, with the smells and sights and sounds of Paris he finds harder every day, maybe labor, sickness, injustice are yet worse than death itself. Adrian shakes himself up and walks faster.

What is the word, the proper word for hoping for death?

He cannot remember; and he walks the city through to his workshop, his tiny, smoke-filled workshop. Inside the sounds are blocked and the smells cannot penetrate, inside he cannot see the city with its filth and mud and dimness. And after a while he does not even think of them, as his hands grab the wooden logs and the saw and he sets to his carpenter's work. Work the saw, lift the logs, give purpose and shape to shapeless wood. It takes his mind away from everything around him. He forgets.

And when he lifts his eyes, sometimes he can ignore the sights and sounds and smells of Paris, and sometimes he can ignore the funeral march and the hungry children, and forget the sickness and the death and entire of his oppressed world. And the one thing all the lower class – doctors, lawyers, skinners, artists, merchants, all as one – have in common – despair.


In her realm, Despair's day was passing quietly.

When in their respective realms, the Endless have an odd sense of time. It can be said that each shapes his or her time as he or she see fit. In Destiny's garden, it is always now, in the Dreaming, the only true difference is between day and night, and even that is sometimes hazy, and Delirium has no such sense at all. Only Desire and Despair measure time as humans do, because their functions are so closely tied to all things human, and indeed humans measure the growth or fading of their desire or despair in passing days. Despair is a quiet, tolerant being, and does not mind such minor things as how to measure her time so much. She has all the time there ever was.

Despair's realm is bleak and empty, save for hundreds, maybe thousands of mirrors that look out into our world and catch the desperate in their hardest moments, for Despair's function is her pleasure, too, sometimes. Most her siblings perform their duties out of necessity alone, and might have been more pleased with choosing their own way in 'life' – Despair enjoys the hooking of souls.

Today her victim in a man in the oppressed France. Despair cherishes oppression – rarely do her victims come in such large groups. A whole nation can be seen in her mirrors, and she passes each in his or her turn, and nods solemnly to herself, assured that things are still and unchanging, and that the face will still be there for many days.

She has observed things happen in France of late – observed and enjoyed, somewhere in the depth of her dismal soul. For every hope, she knows, there is an end, and when that end comes, she is there.

Despair looks through her mirror on the face of Adrian Bordeaux, but the face is not her business. On her fat, short finger is a golden ring sprouting a hook, and she takes the hook and leans its fearsome edge against her palm. Despair is patient, and her victim's heart is right there now. She waits a little more, knowing she could wait forever. The perfect moment is upon her, almost…

She pushes.

Clammy flesh is pierced and blood begins to flow. Despair cherishes blood. She pulls and tears, carving her palm, carving her wrist. She knows the moves well, and her fingers are experienced. Despair rips and cuts, and with every cut she feels herself grow powerful. Pain, there is some pain – but it is a price she gladly pays.

Despair hurts but a moment – mortal hearts have certain difficulties healing.

Palm and wrist slashed and torn, she puts her hands to the mirror. The blood flows on a smooth, cold surface, soon the wound will close. Her cold eyes capture the look on Adrian's face and something moves inside of her. She does not know what. Despair doesn't pity her victims.

She isn't sure what she expects to happen now – he would not break out of her hold, she is certain. Most likely, he will take his own life, or live a semblance of a life, always in her shadow. Despair knows. Some pleasure there.

And yet Despair knows other things, and some things are quite painful, even for her cold heart. Despair is calm and sensible, and for a moment – only a *moment* – she wonders what use is there for her function at all.

But Despair banishes these thoughts. The Endless were not meant to be beneficial.

They simply are, as is she, for better or worse, they are.

Despair reaches with her ring and stares into Adrian's eyes.

The pain will serve to distract her; her duties will make her forget.


Adrian worked for hours now, and he it tired, tired…

He lets the wooden logs go and stands up from his crouch. He straightens his aching back. The saws are heavy and the hammer even more so. He stretches and breathes in deeply.

He doesn't like the smoggy Paris air.

For a moment a thought deceives him, that perhaps the air is clearer outside his workshop, that perhaps the saw-dust and the smell of sweat make it thick and horrid to breath. He knows it is not so, he remembers the smells of Paris.

And still he steps out of his workshop into the street, breathing in deeply. In the crowded streets the people walk with empty eyes and do not truly see. They gaze inward at a view, which is none the prettier, and Adrian knows. Even with his mind entirely in his work, he knows.

Across the street from his tiny workshop, there is a pool of murky water, flowing slowly from here to there, waiting for the rain to sweep it away, away from this city, away from this hell. And Adrian wishes to be like pool, and be swept away with the flow of the water. The rain would serve to clean the dirty waters; Adrian feels impure.

His face reflects well in the water on the pavement, and he sees the Gray Woman again.

And in his head he already decided who she was. She was his despair, the embodiment of it. So he could project it away from him and into the mysterious, half-existent figure. And Adrian thinks that maybe when the rain will wash the pools away, he could walk the streets and she won't be there anymore.

Outside his workshop people are talking. Paul and Anne Marie and Olivier talk of hard life and of America. Adrian comes closer to his friends and hopes that he can melt into the conversation. When he speaks of his despair it again goes with the words and is not a part of him, hanging in the air and fading when he closes his mouth.

" – so I've heard, that they kicked the English out, with a bang! Only Americans left there now," Paul says with excitement, slamming a fist into his hand. But Paul is the excitable sort. "And they also said that the Americans have declared that all men are born equal, no matter their bloodline or fortune."

Olivier shakes his head. Olivier is old and sensible, and like Adrian, he has seen certain things in his life already. "The Americans are great dreamers, but when reality will stand before them, they will remain with their mistakes."

"Great dreamers – this is what we need here!" Anne Marie interjects. Anne Marie is young and beautiful, and already her hands are coarse and sore from long days' work, and now her belly is growing. Anne Marie speaks with fondness of the baby yet unborn, as if she could promise him a life away from Paris, away from France, in her and Paul's land of great dreams.

Adrian feels he can no longer be silent.

"And still, this is not America," he tells the three. "And our oppressors are not of a foreign blood. They are French as we are and have claim over this land. Who are we to banish them?"

"We are people, Adrian!" Anne Marie cried, amazed. "Though crushed and hurt and trapped – we are people!"

"They would see us as less."

Paul snorts, a young, defiant voice. "You speak old words, Adrian, you speak like one who has seen streets awash with oppressors' blood. What do you know of revolutions? In one day's time, we will have no choice."

And then Olivier nods, and Adrian feels a doubt crawl into his heart. Olivier is wise and level headed, and would do better to counter the young fools. "You speak truth, Paul. Soon, we will have no choice. Our houses and families scream out to be released. We either break – or we will act. But I am afraid that most will break sooner."

Yes, Adrian thinks, there will be no rise. Most will break sooner. There is no hope, after all, of that he is certain, no hope for an uprise – only despair.

But as Olivier, Paul, and Anne Marie part into the dark Paris alleys, one frightening thought keeps in Adrian's head, 'what have we to lose?'


Rats scurrying around her feet, Despair stands and watches through the mirror. She is fascinated.

It is most unusual for Despair to be fascinated.

And yet this man draws her to him like a moth to a flame. What he is feeling is new to her, and as she tastes it as the Endless do emotions at times, she is nearly overwhelmed, an amazing thing by itself. Because as she is what she is, Despair knows the depth men fall into, thought she has seen the bottom of the Abyss. And still something opens here, something she has not seen before.

Despair thought she has seen everything. Every horrible deed done in her name.

This man, Adrian Bordeaux, this man is beyond despair.

And as the new emotion plays, Despair is drawn deeper and deeper. He is beyond her hooks; they are already so deeply in his heart that they are part of him, inseparable. He is like a kindred spirit to Despair, although she cannot tell why. She is confused and frightened, when she thought that she could never be. She is magnetized, mesmerized, she is drawn away from herself. She fears a transformation – she holds herself together tightly, and walks to her gallery.

Despair isn't certain why she chose to seek help with her family, they would not understand. But as she stands alone and uncertain, she pulls the heart from its wooden frame and speaks.

"My twin, I stand in my gallery and I hold your sigil. Speak to me, Desire… speak to me."

From the other side of nowhere she now hear Desire's silken voice. Though twins, Despair and Desire have little in common, little at all.

"Hmm, yes? You wished to speak to me? I knew you would, sooner or later." And though she doesn't see it, Despair knows Desire is smiling. "Speak, then. It is about that man, is it not?"

At first Despair is surprised – but surprise fades quickly. Suspicion takes its place. "You know of him?"

Desire has an ivory laughter, a lazy, melodic sound. "I know far more than 'of him', my twin. Forget him, leave him to me," and then Desire's voice is a low, venomous and yet amused whisper. "He is on the border now, the thin border between my realm and yours. And I intend to have him, Despair, and I will not be defied."

When its voice has faded into nowhere, Despair is shaken. She is close to her twin sibling – their functions are closely associated, but never have they mingled. Despair is not used to being spoken to in this fashion, not by Desire.

And when she once again stands before the mirror, determination like which she has never known before builds inside of her. By now, she is no longer surprised by strange, unfamiliar emotions. And she stares deep into Adrian's eyes and knows she cannot stand to lose him, not to Desire, not to anyone. Indeed, it is unusual for Despair to feel driven.

She places the hook on her chest, unwilling to give up the feeling. For the first time in her infinite existence, Despair feels something uncomfortably close to hope.

She pulls.


It is July 12 and the taxes had been collected. Adrian Bordeaux is not a rich man.

In his walk across the city he has seen the noblemen in their colorful wear, and a new feeling started inside of him at the sight of them. Adrian dreads the feeling he finds hard to name and place. He dares not call it hate.

Adrian is a quiet, peaceful man – it has never been in his nature to hate, even rage. He has gone through his forty-one years with ease, caring for those who cared for him and caring not for all the rest, and the situation is satisfying. Forty-one years he felt empty – all his life, perhaps it was a basic feeling of injustice that nagged at the back of his head and inspired restlessness, some knowledge that things aren't as they ought to be. When he was a young man, he could not place the feeling. Poverty and injustice were all he knew.

Time took a toll on that innocence, and now Adrian could tell that the differences between him and the noblemen were unjust. And perhaps he preferred the simpler time, because although then he could not hope for a better life, he could also not despair over knowing it to be impossible.

Today he saw the satiated, happy noblemen on the streets, and saw the fine thread of their silken clothes, the feathers in their fancy hats. Today he saw their round cheeks and stomachs and the confidence in their walk. And he gazed down on his simple black clothes and his thin, old hands, and hated them.

Hated them, and felt deep inside at the core of his being the feeling of injustice.

Then he despaired.

He could never hope for such beautiful clothes – could never hope to be fat and happy, like they were, like they have always been. And he was always blind to his hatred. And he wondered how despair made his vision so much clearer. The differences made painful because they could never be erased.

Adrian glanced into the puddles on the pavement and saw the Gray Woman.

The lines of her fat, sad face got clearer every day.

And he walks on his way home from his workshop and doesn't think of the sights and sounds and smells of Paris. He thinks of the Gray Woman, he thinks of despair.

He finds comfort in despair.

Hope was broken – hope was forgotten. Hope was strangled and torn apart. Despair lasted – despair was familiar. Despair would always be there. He takes comfort in despair.

Despair was more powerful than hope, Adrian decides.

Then, when the noblemen pass, he again sees Paul.

"Adrian," the young man says. "Yesterday, outside your workshop…"

Adrian stops him.

"Yesterday is gone, Paul. Do not dwell on it."

Paul shakes his head then. "I feel the need to tell you that you were wrong. We are men, and we cannot break in front of the oppressor. We can banish them, Adrian, we will."

Adrian hushes him and looks around in fear. "Paul, watch your words! They would do no good in the Bastille."

"The Bastille will not imprison our spirit, Adrian. The body is a fleeting thing. Life is short but freedom is eternal. I will stand by the eternal, to my death, Adrian, if I must."

Adrian shakes his head and leaves the place in a hurry.

But after all – he thinks, some time afterward – what was for Paul to lose? He was young and had no family to mourn him. Let the fool die in his ignorance, it will not affect him. But he, Adrian, he has a family to look after, indeed he does. His children must grow, even if into a world like this, even if into Paris, 1789 Paris…

And Adrian firmly believes that his children deserve a better world, even if their father is a poor carpenter and their mother is dead. All children deserve a better world.

Too bad, too bad that they will never have it.

Adrian glances down and sees the Gray Woman.


And Despair is puzzled.

Adrian was thinking the wrong thoughts.

When the first human came into being, Despair was there, as Destiny awaited the universe and Death and Dream awaited life. Despair always knew what awaited her in the new world and always knew what it would be like, or so it seemed to her. In the beginning there were a few hazy centuries, when she would call herself a child if she was aware enough of herself, but once despair took shape in all its forms and ways, its mistress knew herself in and out and knew her function. And since then, nothing new happened. Despair remained as she was, knowing everything about herself.

Until France 1789, until Adrian Bordeaux.

She looked at him all day.

When one is eons and eons old, one begins to be frightened of new things. New happenings have never brought much joy to the Endless; they are comfortable in duties that remain the same throughout the passing years. And Despair feels it to be unfair, in a way. People die in many ways, but eventually, they all die, and there aren't many forms to death. And people dream many strange things, but all dreams are basically the same and dealing with them is monotonous. Yes, it isn't just – but Despair is not complaining.

People die when they despair, people give up, people stop. Despair serves failure and inactivity. And desperate as he is, Adrian's thoughts take on new directions, thoughts of freedom, thoughts of justice…

And contrary to common belief, Despair isn't evil. She merely performs her function. And maybe it was an error on the universe's part to make her as such – because sometimes, Despair, who truly isn't evil, wonders what is her purpose. Doubtlessly, despair leads to nothing but death – and there is already one Death.

It isn't pleasant, feeling useless.

And now, when Despair gazes upon the face of Adrian, she feels confusion, because the feeling of uselessness is fading. Having never felt anything like it, she is unsure, unsure of anything.

But she knows that he makes her feeling infinitely better.

She pulls. The look on his face turns sadder, more desperate every day.

And Despair knows the depth of the hurt she commands.

Despair hurts for her victim.

She is very frightened.

But with every tug, with every rip, new things are happening in France.


Adrian hears whimpers outside his workshop's door the next day. July 13th, 1789.

Anne Marie is sitting there, her face awash with tears. She sits on the wet pavement, lost, hurting. Adrian knows pain.

He sits down next to her. The ground is wet and unpleasant to touch, people rush past and splash mud and filth. He doesn't mind. There is no clean spot in Paris; there are no clean people. The noblemen, he recalls within a moment, and wonders why he thought them apart from people.

Adrian takes Anne Marie in his arms. She sobs, and the words she speaks chill him to the bone.

"Oh Adrian, they took him, they took him," Anne Marie sobs. There are small circles forming in the puddles, pure salty water mixing with the murky ones. People pass and glance down at her with pity, but they do not stop, none of them will. Paris is not a friendly city, and with time, people grow blind to the worst of pains. "They took our Paul, they put him in the Bastille…"

The young fool, Adrian thinks, most likely said the wrong thing to the wrong man. And he knew it was coming, since their conversation the last day, and even before that in the talk outside his workshop. Young people have too much fire in their blood. The smart among them learn to turn it down, and in some it burns out on its own. Hope and fire are correspondent, and both are uneasy to keep. The Bastille devours hope – all know that. Some, Adrian thinks, with rage and sorrow and despair he can no longer tell apart, some know and ignore.

And he sits with Anne Marie for hours, his workshop abandoned. She has enough tears to drown out Paris, and only nightfall sends them both home.

And Adrian knows that Paul was a good man who did no true harm to anyone, and he knows he is rotting now in the Bastille – indeed will for the rest of his young life – for no reason aside from having insulted a nobleman, perhaps a preacher. And Adrian knows that people are brought to the Bastille for less than that, and he chokes on the new feelings. It isn't just. It isn't fair. Nothing is fair. Nothing can ever be. This is the way of the world, the way of France, the way of people, one that he can never hope to change. And Adrian recalls he cannot hope for anything, truly. And despair drags despair and tears follow. And Adrian is ashamed of crying, ashamed and angry.

His tears drop into a puddle and obscure the image of the Gray Woman.

Adrian thinks for a moment that he should welcome her, that he knows her and has learned to deal with her. All that he knows. She should bring him stability, the stability of despair. And yet as she looks at him and he stares back, he feels defiance and he feels a pull on his soul. He wonders what it would be like to give in.

He wonders, for a moment, if he hasn't already.

Adrian walks home and the Gray Woman is everywhere. In the eyes of the people he sees her staring at him with large, dark eyes, he sees her and imagines she is smiling. Paris gives much pleasure to despair.

And he thinks of Paul and Anne Marie, poor Anne Marie will walk to the Bastille tomorrow and beg her friend's release. Adrian knows they will not release Paul, he knows they do not release anyone. And still his mind and heart function apart the more he wonders. Would they let Paul go? Would the hearty pleads of a young woman soften the stoniest of hearts? Surely, Paul's sin could not have been great. Even Anne Marie, sentimental Anne Marie, knows when she should not even try.

And Adrian walks the streets of Paris and looks at the people. And he sees the people pass each other by and say nothing, pass by the sick and the fallen and he sees their eyes remain locked ahead, looking forward. And he sees a tall chariot run down a child and aside from a screaming mother, he sees no movement, hears no sound. And Adrian sees the beggars on the sideways and wishes he could share his food or money but knows he cannot.

And he wonders what to think of the people of Paris.

He wonders, do they look ahead because they feel they can walk on forward, even as others cannot? Hope crawls into his mind and he does not feel it. Adrian's belief is strong.

And he believes, consciously or otherwise, that things will still be better. Perhaps with time, perhaps…

And if he is fooling himself, he does not notice.


Despair has watched Adrian all day. Both her hands are shredded.

And when his eyes close and he drifts away to her brother's realm her legs give way under her and she settles on whatever makes up the floor of her realm. She has fought a great battle all day, and she is tired beyond reckoning and tried beyond all endurance, and the blood flows down and stains the fur of her rats, and she does not know…

She does not know, and she does not think, and she does not care. And whatever fruits her battle will bear will be seen in time. And Despair is patient, she is always there, eventually she is always there, and Despair can wait and she knows she will. And somehow she takes comfort in that because in the meantime things are the same, and her victim is clinging to hope, useless hope and seeks salvation.

But Despair has vowed that this will not be hope's triumph, but hers. And through her vow Despair quietly remembers past times. Hope is not Despair's enemy, Despair has no true enemies, and yet at times, she would think of the need of her function and view hope as a hated rival. Hope, great, glorified hope, bearer of wonders, maker of revolutions, highest of all human emotions, second only to love.

And Despair is enraged for a moment, a mere moment before all feeling fades, at hope, which is not a sentient, tangible creature and nothing that can be hated.

Still she sits, and remembers the taste of Adrian's heart. Gray, cold Despair, her hands torn and bleeding and her immortal heart heavy, thinks of her craft tasting sweeter than finest wine, and she clings onto that thought if only to bare through another night, another day. And if something were to happen, finally happen, though she knows not what or how or when, she trusts memories and the chance to taste the heart again to keep her eyes open and take in the view.

And it's a strange, new feeling for Despair, and she wonders its rightness, how just it might be for her to feel what she is feeling. And perhaps, she thinks, this is not her triumph to indulge in, not her doing, not her place. Despair is second youngest of the Endless, and innocent as they go, easily deceived, easily tricked. Perhaps Desire is playing with her, perhaps it has Adrian, has France, in its grip. Perhaps she is trespassing, holding to a false image, false craving, false faith…

Yet even if it is so… how can she take her gaze away from Adrian's weary, tearing eyes? How can she risk the downfall of everything that has built in France… and inside of her?

Despair raises her head defiantly, and does not give in to her namesake.


It is the morning of July 14th, 1789. Adrian stands at the entrance of his workshop and feels the new day.

The streets are narrow and cold and dark; and he breaths in the murky Paris air and hears the painful Paris sounds and wonders if something – if anything – might have changed at the time that he was asleep and dreaming and away from this foul world. And the more he stands outside his workshop and takes in the sights, in a desperate, daunting effort to find good at the root of all evil, the more he remembers. And the memories carry him across the city on dark wings of denial and into the halls of the Bastille.

And he does not want to think of it and has no choice.

Adrian breathes in and out slowly, ever so slowly, trying not to smell the inhaled air, and he tries to hold onto hope and in turn hold onto his mind and common sense. And they do not slip out of his grasp for the time being, so he sees what he wishes to see as hope twists the view of Paris and the people stand a bit taller, a bit straighter, and walk as if toward certain goals.

With hope comes light, even if both are false.

And Adrian thinks of his children, and through sheer effort of mind, he is able to picture a bright future for them, a smile on their small, dirty faces. It has never taken so much effort of him.

And it is frightening, in a way, to hold onto hope as one holds onto a slippery rope over the edge of a cliff, a conscious, panicking grip kept through force of will. Natural grasp, that which humans use to delude themselves every hour of the day in many other places, is firmer than mountain rocks. Yet once it is a conscious grip, a deliberate delusion, an earthquake might level the mountains, and it does not have to be a strong one.

Adrian does not know all that. He looks out into Paris and tries to see the best of it.

And then his legs move as if on their own mind, and he begins to walk.

Knowing not why or toward where Adrian Bordeaux walks the streets of Paris. Through air almost gray with smoke, through streets wet and worn, splashing mud, caved walkways, exhausted roads. Through pathways too narrow to look sideways. Through a stream of people flowing, flowing across Paris, sweeping him in. In puddles of rain, in puddles of tears, in puddles of blood he walks, all flowing, all mixing together in a cacophony of natural and human weeping until he cannot tell them apart. In every puddle, he sees the Gray Woman.

And perhaps it is her face that makes him keep on going as he walks and listens to the whimpering, as he takes in the shouts and the screams and the sighs and the moans. As the cries of children strike his ears like spears and swords. As he breaths in and out and the smell is a powerful attack, the smell of decay, old meat and human flesh rotting together under multiple feet carrying multiple stomachs and mouths that will tear at both without recognition. As he reaches out and his fingers stroke old walls, once proud, perhaps someday proud once more, as people touch him as he passes, brief touch tender, never proud, neverlasting. In the air, he tastes despair and even if the taste is imaginary, it matters not. And all five senses are assaulted as Adrian walks through Paris, and as one mind struggles under the load, trying to comprehend, to make sense and draw conclusions, for once, he cannot.

Adrian walks through the streets of Paris, and sees no *point* in it all.

Still he walks, still not knowing where, still barely minding. His feet carry him without thought, without conscious command, he walks as if ordered, as if carried by some higher force, he walks like a ghost through the ghostly city, feeling himself dreaming and yet the only man awake. On the streets people walk around him and he wonders where, and then realizes how little it matters. For all would reach one goal eventually, all would reach the Gray Woman. And after her, there is only death.

He walks.

And walks.

And walks.

And he reaches the Bastille.

And near the gate to the Bastille, Anne Marie is struggling, guards grabbing at her arms. They pull brutally and powerfully, pulling her away from the gates as she weeps and she begs and she scream's Paul's name. Her young features and round belly, her great beauty and greater courage, spark no fire of humanity in them. They pull, they strike, and she falls.

And she falls.

And Adrian looks on. And he is mesmerized.

And the walls of deception crack, and twist.

And at the sight of the Gray Woman, her face in his mind, they shatter.

And without knowing why or from when, there is a stick in his hand. Nearby a fire is burning.

The crowd stands, waiting, what do they wait for? For death? For the Gray Woman? What do they expect to happen? What do they hold on to? There is nothing more to hold on to, all is lost, all is gone, nothing will be returned. What do they wait for, the people of Paris?

Do they have hope that things will yet get better?

What have they to lose? Their lives? What lives do they posses? What lives, enslaved, oppressed, hated and hating?

And without knowing, without thought, without knowledge save Anne Marie's blood pooling to the ground, the stick in Adrian's hand is dipped in fire. And as fire catches hold on its edge he swings it into the air, into the burning Paris air that will never be clear of the smell of death, and the cry erupts from his throat "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, ou la mort!!"(*)

A thunder breaks out above the city of Paris, a thousand voices cry out the same words; a thousand fists rise in proud, enraged union. The July rain tickles down and weapons are armed, and men and women rush forth and strike without thought, without hope of succeeding, without intention save despair. And as from despair something new rises like a phoenix from the ashes the rain flows down on the pavement and sweeps away blood and sweeps away the puddles. And as the image of the Gray Woman is gone Adrian is again taken by the flow, an energetic, assaulting, acting flow of people who from despair now hope to be free by nightfall.

With a roar and a thunderclap, and the fiery scent of gunpowder and revolution, the crowd storms the gates of the Bastille.


In her gray, silent realm of nothingness and mirrors, Despair stands triumphant.

Despair stands triumphant and looks out at France, and she sees distant fires gathering to a great billow of infernal rage and a rising uproar of the hurting, not inspired, people striking. She sees them strike and is comforted in the knowledge that they strike for high and noble ideas, but in her name.

She turns her attention to Adrian then.

Still he is in her mirror – perhaps by sheer force of her will. Fighting throughout the day, gathering, leading brave men, he has little time to think of her or feel her pull. Turning, she sees his sunken, empty eyes and as the moment the pride, the hope wells inside of her, she sees them reflected in him.

Alarm rises in her, and panic.

"No…" she whispers through dry gray lips. "No, do not leave me yet. There is much to be done. See how I have brought you this far…"

Back on the battlefield in France, Adrian abruptly freezes. Between the bullets and the screams of death and defiance, the other combatants barely notice.

"Are you the Gray Woman?" He asks, "Are you the one who haunted me until I had no choice but to start… start this?"

"Yes," Despair replies quickly. "Yes, it was me, and me alone." Pride is in her answer.

"You are Despair…?" Adrian asks uncertainly. "And you have brought us here?"

"Yes…" Despair begins to say…

And then she stops.

Her head turns and her gaze flashes across mirrors. France is quickly fading, its people no more hers to touch. Now they are fighting, now they are acting, now they have a cause, and a dream, and hope…

Yes, they have all that thanks to her, and now…

Something like a whimper chokes her, and she gasps without needing air. Around her the mirrors grow empty, shrieks of bullets gone, brave faces fading.

"No," she says, says into his mind, all their minds, and hearts. "It is done. It is over. You are my brother's now. I have brought you this far… but only dreams and hope can take you farther. Do as you must, forget me… please forget me."

Forget me, she commands, torn asunder by the words.

And yet, was this not the intention all along?

What have Adrian and his people to achieve in her dark, silent realm? What more has Despair to offer now that there is hope? No, it is over.

And better that they shall only think of hope now.

Turning her back to all the mirrors, as the visions of her revolution fade continuously from her grasp, Despair is left alone to ponder pain and irony.

And in France, one last, desperate blow breaks open the gates of the Bastille…

1.1 End

2 For if darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had

Better by far you should forget and smile

Then that you should remember and be sad

Christina Rossetti / Remember

(*) You know… "freedom, equality, fraternity, or death" in a direct translation.