Title- When Tomorrow Comes
Rating- T because it's Miz
Summary- Musichetta has a letter to mail...
"My friends, there is a tomorrow. And you won't be there on that tomorrow... but your families will!"
M. et Mme. Joly-
We have never met, but I feel as if I know you. Your son mentioned you often,
and he always spoke highly of you both.
It is because of Alexandre that I am writing to you today. By now, news will
surely have reached you of yesterday's uprising in the streets of Paris. It is my
sad duty to inform you that he was killed in the fighting. I do not know when
or how he was killed, but the men who returned his body tell me that he died
bravely. There is respect in this city even for rebels, and for that I am
thankful. Alexandre was a good and noble man; he does not deserve the scorn
of those who killed him.
I loved your son very dearly, and his death pains me more than I can say;
therefore, I will be brief, for I am too overwhelmed to write more. I have made
arrangements for a funeral, on the Tuesday of next week. It could not be done
sooner than that. There are many graves to be made in Paris today. I pray
that the delay will allow you to be present, and urge you to come to Paris with
all possible haste.
Yours in respect,
It is a good letter, she thinks. It is the third copy she has made. Her first attempt was rambling and incoherent, and the second too stained with tears to send. This, she thinks, is acceptable. She will not be ashamed to have Alexandre's parents receive this. She is proud of her use of "uprising" instead of "riot." She takes a moment to admire her handwriting, a little amazed that it can still be so neat and pretty even now. Somehow it seems as if even that should have gone to bits, but no, even now her hands are steady with the pen.
Musichetta had spent more than two days in tense agony. The fighting had not been in her district; from the sound of firing, she was pretty sure everything was out in the fauborgs. The quiet little street where she lived, and where she worked stitching bindings in a printer's shop, was perfectly safe even in the middle of an emeute, and part of her was grateful for this. The rest was filled with a reckless urge to cast off her pretty bonnet and run to Saint-Antoine as fast as her feet could carry her.
She did not go. At night, when the crack of rifles died into rumbling silence, she was tempted more than ever. It was quiet, no one would see her, she could run through the streets and find the street where those boys had built their barricade, and she could go to Alexandre's side. She could see him and kiss him and beg him to come home with her where it was safe.
But no, she did not go.
She did, however, pray. Musichetta offered everything she had. She offered her life and her soul to God or to the Devil or to anyone who would listen if only they would bring him home. She had never been very devout, but this was different. This was her Alexandre. As she lay there that night, listening to the silence and imagining she caught echoes of more firing, she imagined speaking to him. She imagined what she would say if ever she saw him again. She imagined throwing her arms around him and promising him anything. She imagined taking back all the cold words she had said to him these last months.
When the knock came in the morning of the seventh of June, she thought that maybe it was him, coming home to her.
In a twisted way, it was.
She walks languidly down the street on the way to post the letter. She has found herself walking slowly everywhere these last two days. It's the outward reflection of what she feels inside. She feels heavy and disconnected, as if in a dream. Maybe if she's lucky, it really will be a dream. Maybe if she's not, she'll keep walking slowly like this for a long time.
As she walks, she thinks wistfully back on that last conversation between them...
Alexandre was leaning heavily on his forearms rested on the table in her flat, a pensive look on his face. His hazel eyes, ordinarily bright and jovial, were clouded with worry and exhaustion. From the bright red shade of his nose, she guessed that he had a cold. Again.
"General Lamarque is dead," he said somberly.
"I heard," she said icily. "What are you doing here, Alexandre?" She didn't know why she was being so cold, why she had been so cold for so long now. She wasn't really angry with him. It was just a silly little argument, really, now that she thought about it, but somewhere along the line her pride had been bruised and she never had known how to back down first.
"The revolution... it starts tomorrow. We're using public mourning as a foundation for public uprising," he said. "I'm not sure whose idea that was."
"Stinks of that friend of yours, if you ask me," Musichetta responded sulkily. "You know the one... tall, blonde, gorgeous... what's his name?"
"Enjolras?" Alexandre suggested wryly. "Yes, it does sound like his style. I don't know. Regardless, I'm fighting. I've come to say goodbye in case- in case it goes poorly."
The words had a curious effect on her. She felt chilled to the bone; at the same time, the ice she had used to protect her heart melted. From the moment he had walked in the door, his face had been set in stone, and it had taken her several minutes to work out that he was afraid. Despite his frequent complaints of ill health, she had never seen him genuinely frightened before, and that more than anything else made her soften. "I don't want you to go," she said abruptly.
He looked up, attentive, at her tone. Her face must have given her away, because his own expression softened and he stood up. "I have to. It's the right thing to do." Seeing her unswayed, he repeated: "I have to."
Musichetta bit her lip. "Please. Please don't go."
He hesitated across the room from her, looking as though he wanted to come to her side but still hesitating. Had she done that? Had her behavior in the past month hurt him so badly? She had to fix this. She almost ran across the chasm between them and threw herself into his arms.
"Musi," he said in a pleading tone, returning her embrace.
"I love you, Alexandre," she said, forehead pressed into his shoulder. "I haven't said it lately but I do. I do! I'm so sorry for everything. Please don't go. Please don't leave me all alone."
"And you know I love you. But I cannot stay behind while all my friends are going off to fight."
"That's not a reason."
"I may not come back. I know that. But if I do... if I do, I want you to wear this. I won't ask you now, because that's not fair, but if I return..." He pressed something into her hand, and before she could see what it was, he had captured her lips in a soft, bittersweet kiss.
He didn't come back. Of course he didn't. She knew it that night, that when he went away in the morning he wasn't coming back. He was a fool. He dared to dream that a new world would dawn and he would help to bring it to birth. She admired that, but she also hated it. Alexandre Joly was too young to be taken away just because the world wasn't quite ready to be remade.
She stops outside the post office, and glances down at the letter in her hand. Somewhere in Avignon, a family is living, believing their youngest son is still alive. The envelope in her hand would rip that away from them.
As she is contemplating the letter, her attention is distracted by a glint of light. She looks at her fourth finger on her left hand, encircled in a plain gold band, the last thing he ever gave her.
As he said, it wasn't fair, and he didn't ask her. But she answered anyway. She has no intention of taking this ring off as long as she lives.
Musichetta sighs. Then she mounts the steps of the post office and goes inside to post her letter.