Notes: Thank you, awesome people, for the reviews, follows, and favorites! In this chapter: a Firefly reference and what remains of my schoolgirl Latin, and perhaps a bit of a grudge against Hugo for killing off Prouvaire first. Hope you guys like! Corrections, suggestions, and constructive criticism are very welcome.
Day Two: Sole, Luna, e Talia
In the early hours, Enjolras orders all the food that can be scavenged from the houses gathered into one place. There's not much left after what the citizens took when they evacuated, but he and Combeferre get down to canvassing, anyway.
"Let's see…" Combeferre taps the paper in his hand. "Gavroche, fifteen workers, the prisoner Javert, ten of us, including Marius-"
"Nine," Enjolras corrects him tersely. "There are only nine of us now."
"Right," Combeferre mutters, shadows falling into his eyes. "I forgot."
"There will be time to mourn later," says Enjolras, who will not allow himself to tarnish Jehan's death by letting it stay his heart with grief. Jean Prouvaire gave his life for the revolution; the revolution will live on in his name.
"Enjolras." Joly appears at his side, fretful and tense. "We need to do something about the bodies. They will soon start to… smell."
"There are coffins at the undertaker's shop. We can seal them in there for now," Enjolras decides.
He and Joly walk into the Corinth. Grantaire has roused himself from his stupor but seems determined to work his way back into it as soon as possible, judging from how he's nursing another bottle.
"Vive la France," he croaks, raising his drink to them.
"Go easy on that," says Joly. "You wouldn't want to run out."
Enjolras stops short at the sight of the two bodies on the floor. I killed you, he thinks, staring at the pale faces of the churchwarden Mabeuf and the girl Éponine. I didn't pull the trigger, but I carried your bullets.
He had known- in an abstract sort of manner at the back of his head- that not everyone will come out of this alive, but seeing the proof of it now is almost too much. Suddenly, he is glad that Jehan perished on the other side of the barricade, far from his eyes. His reaction to his friend's corpse would have been worse.
"Grantaire, give us a hand, won't you?" Joly asks, lifting Mabeuf by the arms.
Grantaire starts to protest, but he takes one look at the haggard expressions of the two other students and slowly rises to his feet. He and Joly haul the dead man out of the Corinth, leaving Enjolras alone with Éponine.
She is silent as she always was, but infinitely more still.
It had taken him an embarrassingly long time to realize that the gamin always hanging around at the corner table of the Musain was, in fact, a gamine. There were some things a cap and loose clothes couldn't hide, such as the curve of a cheek, the quiet little steps, the sweep of lashes. He found it sad- when he had time to think of it at all- that she was following an oblivious Marius around like a lost puppy. This kind of devotion was curious to a boy who had ever only loved an idea, and so he began to watch her through side glances. He began to notice things about her from the corners of his eyes.
Grantaire's jokes made her smirk. Jehan's poetic turns of phrase made her snicker. Bossuet's baldness seemed to fascinate her, while Feuilly's bold rhetoric made her sigh and look away. She was perpetually in motion, all fiddling fingers and tapping feet; her stillness, whenever it took hold, was that of a bird before flight.
Enjolras knew fire when he saw it, and he sometimes found himself idly wondering how she could possibly have feelings for a limpid Bonapartist like Marius. And then the time for idle wondering was past, because, suddenly, it was June, and Lamarque was ill. As plans for the barricade began to unfurl, he completely forgot about her. She slipped from his mind so easily; perhaps she was water, after all.
Even in death she is so light. Her bony shoulder-blades dig into his chest as he cradles her, her dark hair draping over his arm like a flag. He scoops her up cautiously, not wanting to drop this fragile thing for fear that she might shatter into pieces.
She stirs, and he almost drops her anyway.
Her eyelids tremble. Her chapped lips form noiseless words as she curls deeper against him, into him, one hand coming up to clutch weakly at his sleeve. He sets her down again as gently as possible, shouting for Joly.
The other boy runs in. His eyes widen at the signs of life. In a flash he's pulled up her shirt to expose the pale, blood-crusted skin underneath, and Enjolras averts his gaze, ever mindful of etiquette.
"Miraculous," Joly breathes. "The bullet missed her vital organs. She's lost some blood, but it's clotted a bit…" He rushes out once more, muttering about bandages, and Enjolras is left kneeling on the floorboards beside the girl who didn't die, who is broken and battered but still holding on like his revolution, and he can't help this feeling, that the dark hand that swept out to cover the land has drawn back, retreating once more into the folds of night.
Much, much later, when his watch has ended and his eyes are at half-mast, he troops back into the wine shop, where the other Amis are snoring away on their makeshift pallets, while their patient lies still and huddled under a threadbare blanket, the slight rise and fall of her chest being the only indication that she continues to dodge the Reaper's scythe.
He settles himself into the empty space between Joly and Éponine, leaning his back against the wall. The languorous glow of candlelight fans out over her grime-coated cheeks. Enjolras has never really had any time for women, but in the haze of his exhaustion he stares at her blearily through arcs of shadow and bursts of flickering light, and it's as if he's looking at her from far away and she is beautiful in all her distance.
She starts to stir. The action is quiet and hesitant, like a butterfly crawling out of its cocoon. He watches as she opens her eyes and metamorphoses before him, all dark gold-flecked irises and paper lips and hair and flesh and blood.
"You," she grates out, hoarse and frail and whisper-soft.
"Me," he agrees. Not the one you love, but the one who's here. A half-smile curls at the corner of his mouth. "Welcome back, Mademoiselle."
She shudders. She looks like a caged animal; she looks haunted by ghosts. "You should have let me die."
And there had been this one night in the Musain, when tempers ran high and loud voices slammed into the walls. Enjolras and Combeferre were arguing, because that had been in the early days when Combeferre was more of a reformist than a revolutionary.
Beyond the jut of Combeferre's shoulder, Enjolras noticed the girl who was dressed like a boy slipping into the room. She cast furtive glances around, and after a while her posture drooped; Marius wasn't here tonight. Combeferre had everyone else's attention as he ranted about lobbying for increased democratic rights and social welfare, and Enjolras watched as Éponine took advantage of this distraction to snatch a piece of bread from a nearby table. She crammed it into her mouth, barely chewing, gulping it down as if she hadn't had a bite to eat in days, and that was when something clicked in Enjolras' head and he found his voice.
"The people are not even aware that they are entitled to rights!" he snapped at Combeferre.
He began to speak, then, of lives in shadow, of souls who slipped through the cracks, of human beings who did not know they were supposed to matter. Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. He discussed at length the need to shake lofty society to its core so that it would look down. Insurgo insurgi insurrectum. He held his friends' gazes until they shied away. And although he was so swept up in his fervor that he never spared another glance at the girl in the corner, some distant part of him was aware that this was one of his finest speeches to date, and that he was speaking to her, and she was listening.
"'Ah, dear prince,' replied she, 'it was you who were my companion during my long sleep. The moment I saw you, I recollected your face.'"
To Be Continued