Sherlock (BBC) crossover with Les Misérables (mostly 2012 movie!verse but with a fair bit of reference to Hugo). The rest of Les Amis de l'ABC have been recruited to the Irréguliers of this verse, but no prior knowledge of them is necessary, I just loved their characters too much to leave out. Title from The Smiths.
Sherlock's fallen asleep on a table in the back room of the Café Musain. John walks in the door, slightly breathless from his brisk stroll across the 5th arrondissement of Paris, stopping to collect some of his medical books from one of his professors at the Collège Sainte-Barbe, making his way down past the Pantheon and along to where the café sits along the Rue Saint-Michel. He stops himself from calling aloud his friend's name when he catches sight of him.
Sherlock's head is rested on the incline of his arms, his coils of raucous hair trailing over a map of the Parisian streets rolled out over the table top and with decorated with dotted lines and circles marked on in ink. The rest of the table, scratched with age and misuse, is spotted with candles, either guttered out, their wicks untrimmed, or spluttering in their final struggles with little flecks of sound. The quinquet has died down to a low light as well, giving the whole room a sensation of lateness well in-keeping with the actual hour.
"Sherlock," John shakes his friend's shoulder, "Sherlock, wake up."
Sherlock jolts blearily out of empty dreams, casting his eyes around critically as he slowly grows to a state of awakening. "John?"
"Everyone's gone home already. It's just you and the candles at this hour."
Sherlock gives a faint sniff in John's direction and wrinkles his nose in distaste. "Your jacket is practically saturated with wine fumes. I thought you were studying with Prouvaire and Bahorel?"
"I was. It was a long night."
"Prouvaire got to lamenting the incurable loss of his beloved Chénier," John leans over and casually blows out a flickering candle, white smoke trailing up lazily until it dissipates. "Bahorel then argued that Évariste de Parney was a much better poet than Chénier would ever be, simply for argument's sake, and they spent about forty five minutes gnawing away at the matter."
Sherlock rubs his eyes and yawns into his closed fist. "Any news on Lamarque?"
"Nothing," John sighs. "It's only a matter of days now though, I'd venture." He frowns. The subject, as ever, is a source of concern to him. He's always had a lot of respect for the general. "To think, that such a man will succumb to the most ignoble of deaths."
"Death is death," Sherlock counters brusquely. "Whether overthrowing the monarchy or falling to cholera, it's all the same in God's eyes." He stands, stretching, his body still retaining a limp slowness that comes with lack of sleep, despite the keen brightness that ever pervades his eyes. "The wine makes you melancholy."
"And plotting revolutions with Lestrade and Courfeyrac makes you exhausted," John says gently, placing a hand on Sherlock's shoulder. "You can't always be made of impervious marble you know. Come. It's a bed you need now."
Sherlock grumbles as it is his nature to, but John casts down any of Sherlock's declarations that he isn't bone-dead tired and with his arm steadfastly around his waist, helps the man make it to their furnished lodgings on the Rue Royer-Collard. The room is poorly lit by a pathetic hint of moonlight, and from out of the upstairs window of the apartment, the night obscures the view of the Jardin du Luxembourg that can usually be seen.
Sherlock, despite his protestations, has gone drowsy already, drained with effort and the long nights spent in the backroom of the Café Musain, greeting in the dawn with Lestrade, John, and Courfeyrac, with intermittent attendances from the other five core members of Le Irréguliers as they talk of battles and republican revolutions and the uprising of the citizens. Tensions have been high recently for all of Paris, around Lamarque and the already present discontent, not only on account of the cholera epidemic laying waste to the poorest districts of the city, but also over the betrayal of their government by the declaration of Louis Phillipe as their king. John's understandably vocal on the subject when it's raised, resentment simmering under his usually placid surface – he did not fight at the Rue de Rohan, nor take a shot to the shoulder at the occupation of the Tuileries Palace just for another king to be crowned in place of the old, merely two years after he'd seen so many friends martyred for their cause.
John lays Sherlock down onto the bed, taking off his waistcoat and tugging at his boots before they finally give and slip off, settling the sheet over Sherlock. He snaps the shutters closed over the window, blotting out the stars and the outside world and bathing the room in darkness barely fractured by the weak glints of starlight slipping in through the faint cracks in the shutters. He removes his overcoat and braces in the gloom, feeling around for the chair so that he may drape his clothes over the back of it, and after removing his own boots, gets into the bed beside Sherlock. Some people might have talked, if they ever knew about such sleeping habits, muttered about the implications of sharing so intimate a space together, but neither John nor Sherlock have ever cared much about the approval of others. It's what they have always done. There is no danger of anything un-Christian ever coming of the arrangement. Sherlock's first and only love is Patria, his venerated father-land of France. John doesn't think the man has ever even considered taking a mistress to distract him from his all-compassing love affair with his country. He's not even completely sure Sherlock's even noticed that another gender exists.
Sherlock makes a promissory gesture towards moving over to make room, but doesn't fulfil his intent before he's buried his head into the pillow, dropping instantly into a deserved sleep. John lies on his back for a few moments, staring at the stains on the ceiling, thinking about the words of revolution on everyone's lips, Prouvaire and Bahorel interjecting declarations as to the magnificence of the future republic between their arguments about poetry, thinking about the storm that's on the horizon, that is stealing ever closer. He thinks about how many more nights like this, the ones with softened edges, quiet, like the two of them are drifting on an edge of space, that he might have left before the fighting starts.
The first day of June and Le Irréguliers have congregated as is their habit in the Café Musain. Courfeyrac and Lestrade had earlier strolled over from the Corinthe, where they'd been playing billiards, and they brought with them the sound of chinking glass which was much celebrated as the bottles were brought forth and passed around. The room smells of smoke, and everyone is talking loudly, unconcerned with the world outside. Feuilly's chattering enthusiastically about his ever-present passion of Poland, something about the beauties of the Carpathians Mountains. On making his way to the central table where Sherlock is discussing animatedly with Courfeyrac the founding tenets of any Republic should it hope to succeed, John catches the good natured tumult of Bahorel and Bossuet teasing Joly, the two comrades ganging up on the unfortunate student:
"Oh Joly, Joly, something terrible has happened!"
"Oh, Joly, Joly…"
"In the name of Christ, Bahorel, spit it out!"
"I think I've caught something terrible…"
" Foutaise! You look fine to me."
"But Jolllly, I feel so ill…"
"Bossuet, back me up here – he looks fine, doesn't he?"
"I don't know Joly… you don't think his skin has a certain sheen of fever to it?"
" Salaud ! Stop it!"
"Language, Joly. Your bedside manner is terrible."
" Fous le camp !"
John waves the smoke away from his face and tries not to smirk – Joly tends to flush an angry red when teased, and puff on his pipe harder, wasting his tobacco. Reaching the central table, he sidles up to Sherlock's side like an ever-present shadow, the leader himself not breaking off from his speech, which has become more of a socio-political tirade than anything else – "But it's liberty that the people need! Think of the words of Robespierre!" – with Courfeyrac countering hotly by quoting Condorcet and starting off a whole new branch of debate.
The shout fills the whole room, and everyone quietens in whatever discussion they've been engaged in, and turning to the source of the noise. It is Prouvaire who has shouted, his face flushed red with embarrassment, rarely one to raise his voice, and he gestures with fluttering hands at Wiggins, the usually eager street urchin who is lingering by the doorpost looking like he's about to take flight at any moment. He wrings his cap in both hands, agitated.
"General Lamarque is dead," the boy says finally.
The silence lingers like the aftermath of a gunshot. A few bow their heads in respect, Lestrade solemnly raises his glass to a wordless toast, and the rest are all turning to Sherlock. Knowing that this is it, the spark to the tinder box, the sign that they were waiting for. Prouvaire is gnawing on his bottom lip. Courfeyrac is stony-faced, shifting from foot to foot. Bahorel looks as if he'd be up for a starting the riot right now, flinging himself outside and at the nearest embodiment of authority.
"Then we haven't a moment to lose," Sherlock says. He looks at Lestrade. "Lestrade, the procession will be passing the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Take Lesgle and Joly; go to Filspierre's, between the Barriere Charonne and the Barriere Montrueuil, I presume you know the way. We need guns and cartridges, and they'll provide arms to anyone promising to use them against the National Guards. Courfeyrac, Prouvaire, you need to spread the word. All the usual haunts, where those sympathetic to our cause might be persuaded to join us. The people will stand behind us, but they will need to be ready for the struggle. The soldiers will not be so easy to defeat."
Sherlock turns to the rest of the assembled room.
"This is it. The people will have anger in their hearts at the death of such a figure. We must be there on the day of his funeral, help them arise in rebellion, direct their fire to stoke the flames of revolution higher. The barricades will be built and we must be ready to defend them to the last."
"Our sword arms wont falter," avows Courfeyrac.
"Every man will hold within him a lion's heart," says Prouvaire, who is well known for waxing lyrical when he's excited.
"For liberté!" someone shouts up.
Sherlock grabs a musket that's been lying on the table next to a bottle of Absinthe and the map of Paris, with a spot already encircled for where they will mount their barricade, and he raises it above his head. The action is mimicked by all those in the room, lifting aloft bottles, tankards, beer-jugs, pistols and empty fists. Someone shouts up "Vive la révolution!" and the cry is taken up, repeated, chanted, the words a mantra, a call to arms. They are saying that they are not afraid. That they defy their king. They say that they are the revolution.
Sherlock, with John by his side, shouts just as loud and for just as long.
The first day of the insurrection is chaos. The loading of arms and arming of every man who flocks to their cause; the students, the artisans, the work-men, the oppressed, the disenchanted all gathering at the Café Musain; the melting down of cheap, coarse metals to make sorely needed cartridges; the quick and rushed raising of the barricade at the intersection between the Rue Saint-Michel and the Rue Gay-Lassac, the arrival of soldiers immanent.
Furniture is thrown down from windows and out of doors – dressers and chairs and tables, and even a piano flung from a second story window which crashes and splinters as it hits the cobbling. Gunpowder is hoarded by the barrel. Joly and Bossuet cry out with a cheer as they manage to force the upstairs table rudely through the window, and Feuilly bounds this way and that, moving and lifting and shouting a new revolutionary chant every five minutes with the sort of rhyming skills that would make Prouvaire weep. Prouvaire is thankfully elsewhere, passing out muskets and pistols and swords to any man who is sprinting to defend the barricade, and when Bahorel shouts across to him over the hubbub, "In God's name Jehan, you haven't come to the Revolution of the People wearing that !", gesturing at his inventive jacket-waistcoat combination, the poet just beams and stands prouder in his duty.
Lestrade and John have armed themselves, old hands at this game – Lestrade, a former policeman, and both men seasoned revolutionaries, and when Sherlock is the first to climb to the top of the barricade, planting a red flag in defiance, and readying his musket for any oncoming soldiers, they are behind him without question, cocking their weapons in turn. All over the city, other barricades are arising, from the Rue de Menetriers to the Rue Maubee, a third of Paris taken up by the revolution.
There is the first assault from the authorities on horseback, charging headlong at them, the retorts of the blunderbuss and the street smoky with the discharge of guns, and for a long while there is only the pounding of gunfire, the whinny of horses, a hundred voices shouting with words thrown up and out and garbled by the time anyone hears them. Lestrade, a sword in one hand, swinging the blade with surety, cuts down the rare infantry man who tries to clamber up the structure of the barricade, John taking pot-shots with a deadly accuracy at any man attempting to light the cannons the artillery-men have wheeled in. Sherlock hears the clipped noise of muskets and not the sound of his own voice, although he is shouting words lost to the melee, sees a fluttering tricolour draped over the left of the barricade, a student bleeding out of it, drowning out the blue and white and perverting those colours red.
By the time the sun has begun to set over Paris, Sherlock has lost his coat and his original weapon, now clutching a musket with a pistol tucked into the loop of his belt. There's a splatter of red on his jacket from when the student next to him took a shot to the shoulder. Lestrade's found a double barrelled hunting shotgun and has lost both his hat and cravat, hair tousled and looking worse for wear, but is seemingly uncaring, having broken away from the safety of the barricade to go in search of any man left wounded and unattended. John goes with him.
The soldiers have retreated for now, the barricade for the moment still standing, and under cover of the dusk light, they take the bodies of their comrades from where they have fallen, and try to do what they can for the living, tearing shirts and enemy uniforms for bandages and giving the wounded wine to try and numb the pain. John and Joly, the only two with any degree of medical knowledge, work tirelessly, digging out grapeshot with tweezers, heating water in a bucket over a small fire to clean the wounds, bandaging, attempting to set broken bones, struggling to ward off any infection that might set in. Bahorel's slipped away to collect any useable ball-bearings for ammunition on the litter of the battlefield.
Lestrade and Courfeyrac carry the dead inside the Café Musain and lay their bodies out on the dusty ground of the main entrance, making sure their eyes are closed, saying small prayers and committing their souls to God before covering them with a black pall sheet. Sherlock flits, here and there, seemingly everywhere at once, aiding in all aspects of the clear-up without complaint; rebuilding the holes in the redoubt blown through by cannon fire, shifting wood and corpses of the Municipal guard from the barricade.
The night, when it finally comes, is long. They light candles and argand lamps and make isolated fires, carefully watched in case of sparks catching the main barricade. No man sleeps much, their eyes trained for any errant marksman who would seek to shoot from some bird's nest high up on the roofs. Everyone holds their weapon close. It's begun to rain, and there is fear that it'll damage the gunpowder. The showers, while heavy, are thankfully intermittent, and they can only hope that the weather will improve come morning.
The insurgents pass around bottles in the early hours of light and mourn their dead. Joly and Lesgle start up intermittent songs, some bawdy, some inspiring, and little refrains spring up here and there in response, voices joining in, filled with hope and unbeaten by fear.
Sherlock pauses from his current task of shifting a dining table upright to cover a gap in the outer defences, feeling a hand on his shoulder. He glances up to see John, eyes tired, but faint smile unfaltering. His friend frowns.
"You look frozen through! Where's your coat?"
"Being hoisted on a flag pole somewhere, I should suspect…" Sherlock is saying, but John is already removing his own coat, patched with the remnants of dirt and blood and gunpowder, draping it over his friend's shoulders. Sherlock protests haughtily, but John ignores him, sitting him down and passing him a half empty bottle of wine that's been making the rounds. He's not much of a drinker, but Sherlock takes a swig to assuage his thirst, and stares up at the stars. Over in another corner, he can hear scattered conversations – Joly and Bossuet talking in fond tones about Musichetta, the soft voice of Prouvaire explaining the constellations to Courfeyrac.
"It'll be worse tomorrow," John says with a quiet detachment. "They will have rallied the troops by then. Infantry detachments, drums, trumpets, the works. We had the element of surprise before, not now."
"We'll just have to work on living through tomorrow then. The people will rise soon enough."
"And if they don't stir?" John's glancing down at his own drink, watching the light gleam a dull green on the sloping bottle-neck. Ever the voice of what Sherlock would rather dismiss as out of his control. Concerned with a broader philosophy, not Sherlock's clinical logic. Sherlock is glad he is here, even if he doesn't often show his gratitude. John's presence rounds the leader, making softer a character that otherwise would be passionate but terrible, blurring their shades together into the foundation on which Le Irréguliers are built. Men would fight under the leadership of Sherlock, that was certain, but it is John who would rouse their cries of revolution, John who they would have followed with banners held high.
Sherlock takes another drink and doesn't answer.
"Will our deaths mean anything?" John carries on. His voice is quiet, and Sherlock hones in on it, cutting off all the inconsequential noises in the background; Courfeyrac singing in a low baritone, Prouvaire joining in with a lighter, sweeter harmony. "Will anyone remember us? Remember me? Remember you?"
Sherlock turns to look at him, sharp eyes fixing him with an intense and unreadable look.
"Are you frightened of death, John?"
John scoffs and takes another swig. "Of course I am." He says the words without a trace of shame.
"Yet here you are."
"Where else would I be?"
"Safe. Alive. Away from here."
"Someone's got to make sure you don't get yourself killed," John smirks and knocks shoulders with Sherlock. "You barely remember to eat, how can I trust you to make sure your heart keeps beating?"
"I apologise that my lack of self-preservation is such a burden," Sherlock replies with a glimmer of amusement in his dark eyes.
"Thank you. It's nice to know I get some recognition for my tireless efforts," John smiles at him, then gives that small lift of the lips reserved just for him. Sherlock would live if just to see that smile, made for him and only him. He is not a creature of love, not built for it, uninterested in the rituals of passion, his heart and first romance the cause and always the cause. He cannot love John with a love of the flesh, but John has taught him that his heart can hold so much more love than he had thought it could, different forms, different ways of loving. Sherlock's given his heart to the Revolution, to France, to Patria, but it is John who guards his soul. John is his shadow, his guide, the human and gentle to Sherlock's loftier divinity, the name spoken with his own, intertwined and bound up together in this loom of fate they've found themselves woven into.
He rests his head against John's shoulder, listening to the quiet of the hour made homely by firelight and the undercurrent of talk; the snatches of song, the murmured prayers. Prouvaire is reciting poetry and Bahorel interjects with his own filthier verses. Lestrade starts up with a rendition of La Marseillaise , which is quickly taken up by the rest of the gathered Le Irréguliers , the whole barricade ringing with the lyrics.
Later, when the fires are dying low, the two of them drink and talk quietly under the watch of the multitude of stars until Sherlock falls asleep on John's side, the doctor's hands threading soothingly through his thick locks. The dawn is not far off.
Sherlock had left earlier to scout over to the other barricades and comes back just as the cold morning light is turning grey the wooden structure of their defences. Most of the men are stirring, gathering up weapons and checking their ammunition is in place, tucking swords into belts, with their hands hovering over them every other minute to check they're still in place. Prouvaire sits up suddenly and blearily, dislodging Courfeyrac's jacket which had been put over him while he was sleeping. Bahorel is grumpy and snappish when spoken to. Joly and Bossuet have managed to unearth the final bottle of wine, and talk of saving it for their victory celebrations. Still, the morning is a heartless one, bleak and rain-soaked, and a muttered lament is being passed through the ranks as Sherlock returns: little of the gunpowder is left dry after last night's rainfall, and many barrels are now ruined and unusable. They're low on ammunition, low on food, and they look eagerly to Sherlock when he arrives.
"What news?" Lestrade is the first to ask. The rest gather around Sherlock to hear the reports from the rest of Paris.
Sherlock reads the faces looking up at him, desiring comforting, wanting reassurance, but Sherlock cannot give them the support they so need at this time, the encouraging words, the truth sugar-coated with empty promises. They're looking for some hope, yet they will not find it here. He is brutally honest.
"We're the only barricade left," he says solemnly.
Courfeyrac's face drops into a grim despair, and John, standing nearby with his arms folded, has a grave expression.
"But the others –," Feuilly starts.
"Have fallen," Sherlock interjects. "Attacked and overcome in the night."
"What about the Rue Maubee?" says Joly with a hint of desperation. "The Rue de la Chanvrerie? Rue Saint-Merry? Surely they haven't fallen."
"All of them," Sherlock snaps. "Do you not understand? It's just... us. Just us. The National Guard is readying to attack us in force at any moment. We are outmanned and outgunned, and with barely enough ammunition to withstand them for a few hours. It will not long before they arrive."
He lowers his eyes for a moment before glancing around. "I am staying. I believe in the revolution, and even if we are to be made martyrs, our sacrifice will sit in the minds of the citizens for years to come. They will not forget. And the time will come when they do rise and take our place and march behind the banner of liberty, but we will not be there to see it. But you must make a choice now. Every man here is brave and ready to fight in the name of the Republic, but that will not be enough to save you. If you want to leave, go. There is no shame bowing out of a fight we cannot hope to win."
There is silence. Utter silence. Then Lestrade looks up, with steel in his eyes and fervour in his heart, and says with an unquenchable determination, fingers tightening around his shot gun:
"Vive la révolution!"
It is like the night before the uprising, in the musty back room of the Café Musain, so ignorant of what was to come, innocent and naïve. Their beliefs had not been tested. But now those same men, boys really, barely out of school, hands more used to ink and parchment than the handles of guns and swords, are standing here before the final blow is struck, clothes dirty with sweat and blood, their heads unbowed, their gazes steady. They are undaunted and unashamed, and the cry is taken up, "Vive la révolution! Vive la révolution!" again and again, and Sherlock is proud to die by the side of these men.
He turns to John, who is still standing next to him.
"You can leave, you know. No one will judge you for it."
"Don't be stupid. My place is by your side. There is no-where else in France I would rather be."
"Yet you've never truly believed in this cause. This doesn't have to be your fight."
"But it is. I may not have ever been able to imagine this perfect republic of yours, but you made me believe it was possible. That faith has not changed," John says without a tremor in his voice. His eyes stare unflinchingly at Sherlock. "I believe in you. That has always been enough for me."
"My Pylades," Sherlock murmurs with a faint smile, "My Patroclus, my Nisus, my ever-present Hephaestion."
"That's enough of your bourgeoisie classics," John says, but it's with affection. He straightens the rosette on Sherlock's lapel, adjusting his neckerchief, brushing off the dust that mars the navy of the coat Sherlock is still wearing from last night. They press their foreheads together briefly, before parting. "Come on. Let's give them hell before they take us."
There's a shout from the furthest corner of the barricade – Bossuet, who is pointing out at the street before them.
"Here they are!"
The guardsmen arrive in a slow trail, more in numbers than yesterday, a greater show of force, three times the remaining revolutionaries. Cannons are wheeled in, the men taking their positions, aiming their sights, the short, sharp clicks sounding of loaded chambers. The barricade will be soon overrun, and everyone knows it.
John raises his gun in readiness, and Sherlock lifts his own. There isn't even the sound of birds for a few seconds.
"Put down your arms!" The leader of the guardsmen shouts up at them. He doesn't look like he wants to fight either, "You must know by now that it's hopeless."
The sudden shot surprises both parties, a loud crack in the quiet. A Municipal Guardsman in his nervousness discharges the weapon he holds in shaking hands, and Sherlock hears a brittle inhale of breath and a thump of something dropping, someone shouting: "Jehan!" The act starts off a brief volley of shots from either side, more wildly firing then particularly well aimed, yet over the crack-crack-crack of gun retorts, Sherlock hears Courfeyrac bellowing, his voice cracking in rage and anguish: "You bastards! You bastards! You shot him! Jehan! Jehan, open your eyes!"
He turns, ducking behind the upturned roof of the piano, to look down and see Prouvaire, his body fallen back down to the bottom of the barricade, splayed over the cobbles, eyes wide and watery, breathing fast. He is still wearing Courfeyrac's jacket, ruined now by the quickly expanding blood stain, and his whole body is shaking like he's cold, any words he's trying to mouth coming out in jerky fits and starts. Courfeyrac is leaning over him, clutching at his hands, repeating his name, begging him to keep his eyes open, tears gathering in his eyes.
He lets out a shattered, enraged howl when Prouvaire blinks, takes his last stuttering breath and is still.
"I'll kill them…" Courfeyrac is sobbing, his uncoordinated body trying to get up to throw himself wildly at the nearest guardsmen, enough anger in his bones to tear him limb from limb, Feuilly struggling to hold him back from doing anything rash. Joly is checking Prouvaire's pulse and is shaking his head miserably, leaning over to close the young man's eyelids over that unseeing gaze. "Those bastards, I'll kill them."
"Stop firing!" the leader of the guardsman is shouting over the din. "Stop firing!"
The guardsmen hold their fire, and Sherlock holds up a hand for their side to cease. The whole barricade can hear Courfeyrac's angry wails, his half-formed hatreds: "Those bastards…" he says "Those bastards," even as he is lifting up Prouvaire's limp body and cradling it.
"Why not spare more bloodshed?" the leader of the guardsmen shouts up at them again. When Sherlock resituates himself at the top of the barricade, focusing away from the broken sobs of Courfeyrac and Feuilly trying to awkwardly pull him away from the corpse of their friend, he sees the leader looking white and shocked, struggling to maintain his composure. "You're on your own, no one is coming. You haven't a chance; you'll be throwing your lives away. "
"Let us take as many as we can," Sherlock hears Lestrade snarl to his left, "While we still have blood in our bodies."
"Let them pay for the dead," Courfeyrac chokes out.
"Let them know that the revolution is greater than a few dead men." That voice is Feuilly's.
"That they cannot shoot an ideal." That one is Lesgle.
"That we die unafraid, by the side of those we love." That one is John. His jaw set, and eyes adamantine hard if not for the slight softening when he locks eyes with Sherlock. "That if our end comes today, we haven't died for nothing."
Their gaze lingers, neither of them saying anything, before Sherlock turns back face the soldiers. John's hands clench around his gun, adjusting it in his grip, arms held steady and without a tremor.
"Open fire!" Sherlock shouts and the whole world descends into hell.
The battle is swift, fragmented, a grand scene of smoke and slaughter. There are bullets rebounding from the surrounding walls, a ferocious discharge of arms, the roar of gunfire. There were not humans fighting there, at the midpoint of that terrible clash, there existed only the clang of swords and the clamour of gunfire, thick and acrid smoke breathed in by all as shot after shot is fired by either side. Someone screams in pain and falls, and another rises to take his place, knowing the defeat it promises. Sherlock loads and reload and loads and can see nothing but death and prays that this won't have all been for nothing. In their final hour, there is something feral and heroic about their tenacity, blood trickling from slits in their clothes ignored, kicking and fighting and throwing themselves into the fray until at last the light is extinguished from their eyes.
Cannons have blown a hole in the centre of the redoubt, and those still living, a meagre few now, over-run and haggard but still blazing with unholy passion retreat to the Café Musain, its front peppered with bullet spray, ugly and wrecked but still standing, training their guns out through windows with the glass long since shattered. Feuilly is killed, a musket shot to the chest, and Bahorel manages to take down four soldiers, his notched sword gleaming in the light as the sun reaches its zenith, before he takes a bayonet in his arm, swinging around to bear down on his assailant before another stab pierces him right through the heart.
They fling bottles when they've no ammunition left, drawing swords against guns and falling all the quicker, using their fists and going out brawling, retreating as their numbers get fewer and fewer, the soldiers advancing, more in number than they ever could hope to match. Some students try to block the doors, prolong the inevitable, but are quickly pushed back, swords in their breasts or bullets in their flesh and the names of remembered loves on their lips, dribbling out along with the blood. Joly falls with barely a whimper, and Bossuet has turned around to see his friend fall with an expression of horror on his face, his name half formed as a cry, when he is shot by three separate bullets, his body jerking with each strike.
There aren't many of them left now. Lestrade's riddled with injuries, blood draining out of him, but he's still fighting, shouting insolently, "If you want my life, you'll have to pay dearly for it," as he discharges his gun, flinging it aside immediately afterwards, the ammunition out, and drawing his sword instead. Courfeyrac stabs at each oncoming attacker with bestial fury, red staining the left side of his face. Sherlock's lost sight of John in the fray.
They are pushed slowly rearwards, moving into the back room, and Courfeyrac gives a cry as grapeshot thuds into his shoulder; Lestrade, trying to push the man out of the way of any more fire, takes two bullets to the back and falls with his eyes still wide open. Courfeyrac surges up with sword in hand, and manages to slash at the jugular of one of their besiegers before he too is killed.
Sherlock, left now with only a sword, is frozen for a moment, despair welling up inside him as he realises he's the only one left. The soldiers must realise that too, for they surround him slowly, like one would a wild animal. Sherlock lowers his sword before letting it fall to the floor. Disarmed, staring down the barrels of muskets and bayonets, his very own firing squad, raising his head in a haughty expression of defiance. He wipes away the blood that is dripping into his left eye from a weeping scratch to his forehead, and stands bold before the prospect of his own oblivion.
"Take aim!" one of the soldiers shouts.
A loud voice calls out behind the assembled guardsmen, and Sherlock glances over to see John, weary and limping, all his weaponry exhausted and abandoned, but with a matched expression of rebellion in his eyes as he crosses the room. He pointedly ignores the raised guns ready to give their dreadful report, his head unbowed, making his way unashamed through the men gathered around their prisoner, only looking at Sherlock, the leader of their revolution, with his face smeared with the flash of gunpowder, his figure filthy and matted but upright and unafraid.
"John…" Sherlock whispers. It's the only time his voice has wavered during this whole uprising. The witnesses afterwards who will relay this moment to a council of war will later recall his tone of voice the most. The way the leader's eyes had flicked to his companion's, the way his voice had shook as he watch the other man getting closer. They will mention that it's the last word he will speak before the end.
"Long live the Republic," John says calmly, placing himself beside Sherlock. He raises his neck, staring into the eyes of each and every man aiming their guns at him. He is a resplendent revolutionary in that moment, unyielding and unbroken, the gleam of defiance in his eyes even as he stands defenceless and disarmed and with his hands spattered with blood from a flesh-wound hidden by the dark folds of his clothes. The rosette on his lapel is torn and hanging off, but it is still there, the crinkles of red and white and blue proclaiming his allegiances and signing his death certificate.
Turning gently to Sherlock, he asks: "Together?"
Sherlock puts his hand in John's, a final glance at his Pylades, and nods, his hand grasping the other man's with a soft smile on his face.
The smile doesn't fade even when the guns go off, and they crumple.
Their hands stay clasped tightly together.