Notes: I have tried to approximate in English how Gavroche would have talked in informal street French, and I can only hope that I didn't do too bad a job. The long Latin quote in this chapter translates to, "May it be my privilege to have the happiness of establishing the commonwealth on a firm and stable basis and thus enjoy the reward which I desire, but only if I may be called the architect of of the best possible government; and bear with me the hope when I die, that the foundations which I have laid for its future government, will stand deep and secure." There are two other Latin quotes here but they're short and kind of self-explanatory. As always, thank you for the reviews, follows, and favorites! I don't even know, guys, I wanted this to be a tragic story but it's turning out to be more like a slumber party at the barricade. And I'm glad you all like the cow! That was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Corrections, suggestions, and constructive criticism are very welcome.
Day Four: Fear At Last
Gavroche returns with the first rosy streaks of dawn, his small frame and quick feet easily slipping past the soldiers standing guard at the minor rampart blocking the Rue Mondétour. He dumps a couple of sacks at Enjolras' feet. The smell of fresh-baked bread rises in the air.
"We're the only barricade left," announces the gamin. "The lumps aren't taking prisoners. The other Societies've been offed."
"Why, then, do we still stand?" asks Combeferre.
Gavroche's eyes sparkle mischievously. "They're hot for the leader. They know Enjolras is here. They want to break him."
Feuilly claps Enjolras on the back. "Excellent work, my friend! You've made quite a name for yourself, it seems."
"The National Guard will not find me so easy to break," Enjolras vows sternly, albeit with a gleam of satisfaction that he can't quite mask.
Gavroche points to the food. "Compliments of the bakers. I didn't have to steal them. Parisians love a good story."
Courfeyrac ruffles the child's hair. "Within this scrawny little chest beats a heart as stout as any man's!" he fondly declares.
Gavroche beams, but before he can bask in the compliment, his expression changes, his eyes widening at the sight of something in the distance, and then he's throwing himself forward, screaming "Éponine!" at the top of his tiny lungs.
Éponine is running, too, a blur of laughter and dark hair. The two siblings collide into each other, conversing rapidly in argot. Enjolras watches her eyes light up, watches the quick flash of her smile. It occurs to him that he knows so little about her, that what he's seeing is another layer falling away to reveal someone who is not merely an urchin or Marius' shadow, but also a sister. He wonders about her family life and where she learned the pretty, proper French she uses with him, so different from the rough dialect of the streets that she's speaking now.
And, because he is Enjolras and there is business to be taken care of and he is not comfortable thinking fanciful things about other people, he strides over to them and interrupts the reunion perhaps a bit too harshly.
"Gavroche, I need you to tell me all the information you've managed to acquire from your night out," he orders. "Troop movements, the public mood, and the like. Walk with me while I inspect the fortifications."
Disgruntled, Éponine sticks her tongue out at him. He pretends not to notice.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Gavroche exclaims, glancing at the sacks once more. "I also grabbed some feed. The cow's still here, isn't it?"
Inside the Corinth, Enjolras and his lieutenants study a map spread out on the table. With Gavroche's help, they mark the spots that are under surveillance. Soon the Rue de la Chanvevrie is almost completely surrounded by thick black X's.
"Ran into Madame Huchloup," says Gavroche. "She's staying with relatives. She told me her house here's got a loose section of wall and we can break it down if we need to get away."
"That will not be necessary," Enjolras remarks. "We shall defend the barricade with our last breath."
He'd been expecting the usual cheers from the other Amis, and so he is surprised when none comes. He glances around. There are bags under his friends' eyes and their complexions are wan.
We're all tired, he thinks.
Éponine turns this way and that, her skittish eyes roaming the bare bones of Madame Huchloup's house. The rebels had spared exactly one bed and the mantelpiece.
"Nice place," she says.
Enjolras leans one hand on the doorframe. She is incongruous within walls, within the trappings of domesticity, against a backdrop of curtains that trail from the windows in the summer breeze; she is made for secret streets and furtive nights.
"I am glad you like it," he says nevertheless. "You will be staying here from now on."
At her raised, questioning eyebrow, he continues, "It is unseemly for a girl such as yourself to sleep in the wine shop with the rest of us. And, here, there is a bed. You will be more comfortable."
She nods, but her tone is skeptical. "Right. And the fact that this house has a loose section of wall which I can break down if I have to escape has nothing to do with it?"
He does not deign to reply. She huffs. "You don't need to look out for me. I can take care of myself, Monsieur-"
"I've been thinking about that," he interrupts. "Honorifics are part of the archaic traditions that keep the people in chains. There will be none of that here at the barricade."
Éponine snorts. "Well, I'm not calling you Citizen Enjolras. That sounds stupid."
"Just Enjolras, then," he says. "Are you agreeable, Citizenness-?"
She starts when she realizes he's asking for her last name. "Jon- Thénard- no. Call me Éponine."
"Éponine." He can't stop himself from testing it out, tasting how it feels. The syllables flit gracefully on his tongue, like the ripple of water, like the flutter of wings. Epponina. The Roman insurrectionist. The loyal wife who died for love. "It suits you."
He wishes that it doesn't.
A shot rings out in the silence of late afternoon. Enjolras had been busy mediating Bossuet and Joly's argument over the bathing schedule, but when they hear the sound, they drop everything and rush into the street.
At first, Enjolras thinks someone's finally cracked and killed the blasted cow. But when he lays eyes on the chaotic scene, his pulse freezes.
One of the workers is sprawled on the cobblestones, blood blossoming from his chest like a red flower in the shadow of the barricade. The man they call Le Cabuc is standing over the body, a gun still smoking in his palm.
Bottles of liquor on the ground, playing cards everywhere- Enjolras is suddenly filled with an icy, demonic rage. Drawing his pistol, he marches over to Le Cabuc and claps an imperious hand on the man's shoulder.
"On your knees," he snarls.
"He called me a cheat!" protests Le Cabuc. "My honor demanded-"
"What would you know of honor, you who shot a comrade-at-arms in cold blood?" Enjolras tells him implacably. "On. Your. Knees."
Everyone else gathers around in a wide circle, watching with bated breath as Enjolras forces the trembling Le Cabuc to kneel on the ground.
"Mercy," whines the man, his cheeks pale.
"Collect yourself." Enjolras draws out his watch. "Think or pray. You have one minute."
Le Cabuc bows his head, mumbling fervent prayers to whatever gods he serves. Movement flickers at the periphery of Enjolras' vision; his eyes snap to Éponine, who has gathered Gavroche to her, pressing the child's face into her shirt. Behind her, the cow's ears twitch apprehensively, as if it senses the tension in the air.
She'd named the thing Aurore. He had liked that, in a foolish sort of way, because it had been full of hope. But the afternoon shadows are long and they hide his face and he is about to execute a fellow revolutionary. There is no dawn here.
Taking advantage of his momentary distraction, Bahorel calls out, "Due process, my friend. The man is entitled to a trial."
"We are all aware of his guilt," Enjolras retorts.
Bahorel approaches him tentatively. "Yes," he says in a low voice meant for Enjolras' ears alone. "But we need to know why he must die while we allow Javert to live. I am a poor student, but one thing I have learned is that even the unworthy deserve the law. Your fight for equality- it can start here, Enjolras, don't you see? With the people. Your people."
My people, Enjolras reflects, looking around. Ita mali salvam ac sospitem p. sistere... His troops are all staring at him. In sua sede liceat atque eius rei fructum precipere... They are a ragtag group of rebels, in which lay the foundations of something bigger than all of them combined, if he let it become so. Quem peto, ut optimi status auctor dicar et moriens ut feram mecum spem… The barricade catches the light of the setting sun. Mansura in vestiguo…
"Very well," he declares. "There will be a trial."
Suo fundamenta rei p. quae iecero.
Le Cabuc is found guilty by a jury of his peers. There had been a street full of witnesses.
As night falls, Bahorel solemnly hands the pistol to Enjolras. The murderer shakes in the ropes that bind him. Enjolras looks upon the doomed man's face and feels no more anger, only resignation. He holds the gun to Le Cabuc's head.
"I pull the trigger so no one else has to," he says quietly, almost to himself, but his voice is amplified in the silence that wraps around the Rue de la Chanvevrie in a fog so thick it is almost tangible. "This is yet one more bullet I must carry, but I don't carry it for you, Le Cabuc. No, not for you."
Éponine is standing a few feet away. Her eyes are oceans in the darkness.
Vox populi, vox Dei. Ubi libertas ibi patria.
The National Guard decrees another grace period. Several more workers leave, but Éponine and Gavroche don't. Enjolras doesn't even try to argue anymore.
Grantaire offers him a drink. He takes it. And another. And another…
And when the world sweeps into midnight, when the passage of time brings Paris to the fifth day of revolution, he removes himself from the circle of his equally addled friends, who have taken it upon themselves to sing some desperate little rebel ditty in rounds, and his stumbling steps lead him out into the street, to Éponine's door.
"He saw himself seated on a throne, spending his life trying, and never succeeding, to make poor people rich; miserable people happy; bad people good; never doing anything he wished to do, not able even to marry the girl that he loved.
The cries arose louder than ever: 'The king! The king!' And as the young man heard, a cold shiver, that he knew not the meaning of, ran through him.
'This is fear whom you have so long sought,' whispered a voice, which seemed to reach his ears alone. And the youth bowed his head as the vision once more flashed before his eyes, and he accepted his doom, and made ready to pass his life with fear beside him."
To Be Continued