"Okay, Sophia, calm down. You can get through this."
"I can't! I can't get through this!" Sophia cried into Roxie's shoulder. "I can't read a book with nineteen hundred words. I just can't. I'm going to fail junior English in the fall!"
"No, you won't. You're Sophia Flynn. You are capable of anything. Just remember that." Roxie patted Sophia's head and wiped a stray tear from her cheek. "I have a great idea to help you."
Sophia tried to pull herself together. She sniffled sadly. "How?"
"There's a musical of Les Miserables, right? You like musicals."
"I don't think even a musical could improve the source material, Roxie," Sophia said matter-of-factly.
Roxie sighed. "This is the second part of my idea. We're going to cast everyone we know as the characters, and make an illustrated book out of it. My art teacher keeps saying I need practice with perspective. What better way to do it than by drawing 1830s France? And then you can use it as a study guide."
Sophia had to admit that Roxie's idea was probably the most fun thing to do with the storyline of Les Miz, and then she would have fun pictures to help explain what was happening in the story.
Besides, everyone else would probably just watch the movie anyway.
"Let's do it!"
So the two teens set out to cast their imaginary production of Les Miserables.
"Well, our dads should be the leads," Sophia stated.
Roxie shook her head. "Aunt Candace has to be Javert, because Javert is the one obsessed with busting people. My dad can be Thenardier."
"My mom is Fantine, right?" Sophia asked.
"Yup, that way you can be Cosette and Cameron can be Marius."
"Then you should be Eponine, Roxie!" Sophia exclaimed, clapping her hands.
Roxie rolled her eyes. "But we said Michael is playing Enjolras! I'd much rather die in his arms than the arms of Cameron Brown."
"Who else is gonna play Eponine, Roxie?"
She did have a point there.
Finally, after much deliberation, the cast list was drafted.
Valjean- Phineas Flynn
Javert- Candace Johnson
Fantine- Isabella Flynn
Cosette- Sophia Flynn
Thenardier- Ferb Fletcher
Madame T- Vanessa Fletcher
Éponine- Roxie Fletcher
Marius- Cameron Brown
Enjolras- Michael Rai
Other Student Guy: Jimmy Van Stomm
Other Student Guy #2: Kenny Martinez
Other Student Guy #3: Xavier Johnson
Other Student Guy #4: Fred Johnson
Gavroche- Benji Fletcher
Sailors: Carl Karl & Albert McAllister
Recurring Constables- Buford Van Stomm & Baljeet Rai
Recurring Background Men: Francis Monogram, Heinz Doofenshmirtz, Jeremy Johnson, Carl Karl, Albert McAllister, Django Brown, Irving McAllister, Pedro Martinez, the Ballpit Kid, those listed as Other Student Guys
Recurring Background Women: Fireside Girls (both generations)
Girl #5: Adyson Brown
Roxie rubbed her nose. "I think we're good. The recurring background men can play, like, four characters simultaneously."
"Shall we begin to write, then?" asked Sophia.
In response, Roxie set pencil to paper and began writing in her messy scrawl.
1815, A Prison near Toulon, France
It was the beginning of another day of brutal punishment. Convict 24601, also known as Phineas Valjean, was chained to his fellow prisoners and shoved off towards a day full of digging in the bleak French countryside. Though he had been there for nineteen years, he never lost hope that someday he would return to the outside world. But the guards easily broke the hope of the others long, long ago, leaving them with only a simple, constant refrain of despair.
"Look down, look down
Don't look 'em in the eye
Look down, look down,
You're here until you die."
They arrived at their work place for the day, were unchained, and thrown to the ground with their tools to begin work. Phineas wasn't really sure what the purpose of this was, but he knew that if he didn't do as he was told, it would increase his sentence exponentially.
A man cried out, wiping his brow in the glare. "The sun is strong, it's hot as hell below."
The others made a simple reply, making a rhythm with their work. "Look down, look down, there's twenty years to go."
Another convict fell to his knees. He was new to the chain gang. "I've done no wrong! Sweet Jesus, hear my prayer!"
The others reminded him to get back to work before the guards beat him. "Look down, look down, sweet Jesus doesn't care."
A third man, who Phineas knew well, still pined for his lost love. "I know she'll wait, I know that she'll be true!" He looked hopefully at Phineas.
The others in the gang weren't so hopeful. "Look down, look down, they've all forgotten you."
Yet another man, one of the oldest on the chain gang, muttered into the sand, as he often did. "When I get free, you won't see me here for dust!
A guard threatened to hit a man who was off task, and the old refrain started up again. "Look down, look down, don't look 'em in the eye."
"How long, oh Lord, before you let me die?" cried a young man who was obviously wounded, but had been forced to come here anyway.
The convicts eventually fell into their rhythm for the day, and there was little disturbance.
"Look down, look down,
You'll always be a slave
Look down, look down,
You're standing in your grave."
Inspector Candace Javert strolled into the work area, swinging her baton menacingly. The guards immediately stood at attention. She gave them a steely glare.
"Now bring me prisoner 24601."
Phineas was scared. He'd done nothing bad in several years, by his reckoning.
But Candace brought the best news he could have ever imagined.
"Your time is up and your parole's begun. You know what that means."
It was all Phineas could do to not jump in the air and cry out for joy. "Yes, it means I'm free!"
"No!" Candace practically shouted. "It means you get your yellow ticket-of-leave. You are a thief -"
"I stole a loaf of bread," Phineas protested.
Candace put her finger on Phineas' chest. "You robbed a house."
"I broke a window pane," Phineas pleaded. He did not want to be reminded of his past. "My sister's child was close to death...and we were starving..."
Candace's glare was unwavering. "You will starve again unless you learn the meaning of the law."
Phineas would have shouted, if he hadn't realized that doing so would get him a few more years stuck in here. "I know the meaning of those 19 years. A slave of the law."
Candace pulled out the ticket-of-leave and read it. "Five years for what you did, the rest because you tried to run. Yes, 24601."
"My name is Phineas Valjean!" he cried, wanting to be treated as a human being.
Candace smirked and turned Phineas' chin towards her with her baton. "And I am Candace Javert. Do not forget my name! Do not forget me, 24601."
Another guard handed Phineas a rough burlap sack containing a coat and the ticket-of-leave. As he was escorted beyond the gates, he watched the other men still trapped inside the fence, still singing the same old song.
"Look down, look down
You'll always be a slave
Look down, look down
You're standing in your grave."
The world looked as though it had been painted with thousands of new colors. Phineas breathed in the fresh air as he walked along the dirt road towards the town - how wonderful it smelled! - and marveled at the sights around him.
"Freedom is mine. The earth is still.
I feel the wind. I breathe again.
And the sky clears
The world is waking."
He spotted a pool of fresh water, and eagerly sat near it, trying to remove the years of sweat and dirt that had accumulated upon him.
"Drink from the pool. How clean the taste.
Never forget the years, the waste."
He thought again of Candace, how she had looked down on him as the scum of the earth. No man should have to be subjected to such shame, he thought.
"Nor forgive them
For what they've done.
They are the guilty - everyone.
The day begins...
And now let's see
What this new world
Will do for me!"
Closer to the town, he found a farmer who was in need of laborers for his fields. Phineas figured that since he'd been digging for the last nineteen years, he ought to be pretty good at it by this time, and hoed alongside the other workers all day. When dusk began to fall, the workers all lined up to get paid, and Phineas followed their lead. He showed the farmer his ticket-of-leave, as he was legally obligated to do, and was greeted by cold sneers all around him.
The farmer put a few coins into Phineas' hand, with an apologetic look in his eyes. "You'll have to go, I'll pay you off for the day. Collect your bits and pieces there and be on your way."
Phineas was angry. He'd worked just as hard as everyone else had! "You have given me half what the other men get! This handful of tin wouldn't buy my sweat!"
The man behind him in line wasn't so kind.
"You broke the law. It's there for people to see! Why should you get the same as honest men like me?"
Phineas wandered away from the farm at the protest of the other workers, cursing his own naivete.
"And now I know how freedom feels
The jailer always at your heels
It is the law!
This piece of paper in my hand
That makes me cursed throughout the land
It is the law!
Like a cur
I walk the street,
The dirt beneath their feet."
He collapsed on a street corner, shaking with hunger. He hadn't eaten anything since he'd left the prison. Phineas was about to wonder whether he would just die here in the street, wallowing in misery, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Come in, Sir, for you are weary,
And the night is cold out there.
Though our lives are very humble
What we have, we have to share."
Bishop Monogram, as Phineas later found out the man was called, helped him into the house, gave him some warmer clothes and what he considered a feast fit for a king.
"He let me eat my fill
I had the lion's share..."
The table was laid with precious pieces of silver. Even a fork was highly valuable, at least in the eyes of Phineas.
"The silver in my hand
Cost twice what I had earned
In all those nineteen years -
That lifetime of despair
And yet he trusted me."
The Bishop went up to bed, and showed Phineas his room. Though he knew that he probably shouldn't, Phineas went downstairs just to get another glimpse of such wealth.
"The old fool trusted me -
He'd done his bit of good
I played the grateful serf
And thanked him like I should
But when the house was still,
I got up in the night.
Took the silver
Took my flight!"
He couldn't help himself. He was so desperate for money that he grabbed as much of the silverware as he could and ran into the night. Unfortunately, the constables on patrol snatched him up immediately and searched his satchel. They questioned him about the silver, and Phineas came up with the first thing that he could think of in order to not be sent back to jail. Several people nearby heard the ruckus and came down into the street to see what was happening.
When the bishop came out into the street and saw what had happened, the constables questioned him again.
"Tell his reverence your story," the bigger, paler one said menacingly.
"Let us see if he's impressed," the constable who looked like an exile from British India said, in a less menacing manner.
"You were lodging here last night," the first asked the Bishop.
"You were the honest Bishop's guest.
And then, out of Christian goodness
When he learned about your plight," the Indian constable said.
"You maintain he made a present of this silver?" the first constable said, shoving the silverware in Phineas' face.
"That is right."
Everyone looked at Bishop Monogram in surprise.
"But my friend, you left so early,
Surely something slipped your mind.
You forgot I gave these also,
Would you leave the best behind?"
Bishop Monogram held out two beautiful silver candlesticks, obviously quite old and much more valuable than the simple forks.
"So, Messieurs, you may release him
For this man has spoken true
I commend you for your duty
And God's blessing go with you."
He made the sign of the cross over the constables and helped Phineas back inside. The people generally dispersed now that the excitement was over.
Phineas knew that Bishop Monogram had lied to save him from returning to jail. But why?
The Bishop gave him a simple answer.
"But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!"
Without another word, the Bishop went back upstairs to return to bed.
Left alone, Phineas pondered just what the Bishop had done for him.
"What have I done?
Sweet Jesus, what have I done?
Become a thief in the night,
Become a dog on the run
And have I fallen so far,
And is the hour so late
That nothing remains but the cry of my hate,
The cries in the dark that nobody hears,
Here where I stand at the turning of the years?"
Could he really forget everything that had happened to him since his initial arrest? Was it possible for him to be able to change?
"If there's another way to go
I missed it twenty long years ago
My life was a war that could never be won
They gave me a number and murdered Valjean
When they chained me and left me for dead
Just for stealing a mouthful of bread!"
He fell to his knees, the generosity he had just received overwhelming him. He'd never had anything so precious in his life. What was he supposed to do in return?
"One word from him and I'd be back
Beneath the lash, upon the rack
Instead he offers me my freedom
I feel my shame inside me like a knife
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit comes to move my life?
Is there another way to go?"
The Bishop had said to use the candlesticks to become an honest man. But how was he to do that when his ticket-of-leave marked him forever as a thief?
All at once, Phineas knew what he had to do. He must escape to a new town, change his name, and start over as a completely new person.
"I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
And I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I'll escape now from the world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin!"
He took out his ticket-of-leave and ripped it into small pieces. A small act of defiance, but one that would surely lead him to greatness.
A/N: So welcome to The Miserable People, everyone! Inspired by BroadwayFanGirl91's The Fletcher of the Opera, and a random drawing I did of Isabella as Fantine, it's basically Les Miserables with the Phineas and Ferb cast playing the characters. You probably noticed that there's stuff missing, that's because I'm using the MTI Student Edition script, not the full thing, 'cause I know this way better.
Sophia and Roxie will be interjecting when they see fit (hint: when Roxie wants to complain about being Eponine). The "illustrated" part that they speak of will be available on deviantART; actually, I put up quite a bit of art for this concept already. Updates on this will probably be sparse, considering I'm in my very own production of Les Miz in real life and our tech week starts on the 16th. =)