Chapter 5.- Qualité
That was the point, the point in which she couldn't turn back. Her desires of taking risks had completely clouded her warnings as well as her logic. And now, on the floor, in front of the les amis d'l ABC, humiliated and discovered, she was regretting every second of it.
Their laughs, murmurs, joking comments and such, were just distant sounds, smudges; the whole café was spinning, her eyes just couldn't focus anymore. What will they do to you? You are the only one to blame here, if you just weren´t that worthless and stupid. You don't even know how to walk properly, who does that? Only you.
One by one, her thoughts and fantasies of what would become next, started stabbing her soul, ones deeper than others. Would they let her stay? Would they kick her out? Would they insult her? What would the leader do? The last one being one of the most fearful questions. But not because of the possible answer, just because in the ambit of a young girl trying to infiltrate in one of their meetings there was nothing written, in the wonderful book of Victor Hugo there weren´t words dedicated to a situation of this kind. So there she was expecting anything, a page in blank.
Her respiration came in short breaths as the control silently slipped from her fingers. Could she escape? If only she could move her legs.
When her instinct made her try to stand up, her balance leaved her body to its own luck. With trembling legs she sat on her toes not daring to look at what she would have to confront eventually: A group of students gathered around her.
The young lady sighed defeated. And as she was about to leave the cold wooden floor, the girl felt a presence just a few inches away, a sudden wave of fear taking all her systems. Donna waited the blow; instead a gentle and delicate hand offered her help. Donna hesitated several seconds, the hand insisted, she held it still insecure, and finally she could stand up. The girl found the firm but gentle expression of Jehan Prouvaire.
''Are you alright, mademoiselle?''.-asked the poet politely. She avoided his gaze and discreetly nodded and murmured her thanks, the girl's mind trying quickly to come with a plan, they would probably question her. She felt footsteps just behind her. Defensively the young lady turned around to find 5 students staring suspiciously at her with a fierce gaze. She gave a step backwards, they gave 2 forward.
When the idea of an escape was becoming the most available choice, the whole presence of the leader emerged from the little crowd. A shiver ran through Donna's spine. It was as if the court was waiting for the judge to make his appearance.
''What is happening here?''. –the firm voice of Enjolras echoed through the room, making the girl even more scared, fear in her eyes. Then the intense eyes of the marble man laid on the little gamine. Severe as always he declared: ''Who are you?'' as in an interrogatory.
''I…. I am Donna… sir''.-she stuttered trying to sound calm but failing miserably.
The murmurs between the members of the small group surrounding her began; but quickly ceased when the marble man talked. ''What is your purpose in here, mademoiselle?''.- then Combeferre approached his comrade with the security of a friend and he whispered to the leader as Enjolras never kept his eyes off her: ''I know what this is, Enjolras. A few students at the faculty warned me about some unfortunate and desperate people who would do anything just for a few francs. The government knows and exploits this. A little bit of food in exchange of a little of information,'' and the leader´s right hand turned to look at her accusingly raising his voice ''Wouldn´t that be the ideal treat?''
Donna opened her mouth to start her defense but Apollo´s voice rang in her ears and the possibility of making an argument seem a lot less appropriate. ''Are you implying that…''
''Of course! Brilliant theory, my friend. She is a spy out of necessity.''.- said a very excited Joly, as if it was a big crime solved by an important detective. She quickly tried to explain herself but was interrupted once again by another student.
''Well! Fool me, then. I just thought it was another of Courfeyrac´s conquers.''.-said a young man, probably Bahorel. Some of the almost drunk people in that little group laugh at that comment. And again under the laughs when she articulated the word ''Monsieurs'', the one who made her fall in the first place: Grantaire, spoke with a slurred and careless voice. ''What a productive evening, I discovered a spy all by myself. You see now, Apollo, how useful I can be to you.''
Enjolras just rolled his eyes at this statement and continued staring at her. She felt the pressure and the judgement on those cold brown eyes. She was losing this place, losing her chances to make a change given the circumstances she was in, losing the possibility of being able to see them again, even. But it was just a dream, she had said, then why did she care so much about it?, about them? She couldn't answer that. Nevertheless it was time to say something, anything, in order to not be what they thought she was, in order to prove them wrong.
Donna experienced a struggle to raise her voice, to even say anything. The girl clenched her fists and forced herself to just fight. Come on! Just do it, or do you want to stay like the useless girl you always are? ''Monsieurs…''.-the girl whispered. Come on! That´s all you can do? ''Excuse me…''.-Enjolras was now attending the students which were already planning what they would do to her. You are worthless, you can´t even stand for yourself. If you are going to do it, do it right, not that poor excuse of a fight. ''Please! Just… SHUT UP!''.-she screamed, her vocal chords almost breaking. After that the café went silent, even Donna trying to recover from that emotional scream as quickly as she could. Her lips were trembling. ''Sorry… I just… I just need you to listen, I want to explain you my reason for coming here today.'' Some of the most close minded students in the back of that tiny crowd tried to intervene. The leader just stopped them with a gesture of his hand, not even looking at them. The girl was impressed to such power in a man; he was paying her his full attention now, and her fear quickly incremented as well as her insecurities.
''I swear I'm not an infiltrated if that´s what you suppose. I came here because… because I wish to help, not only the les amis d´l abc, I have a desire to help people, to make a change, even the smallest. What an empty life mine would be if I just sit and waited for life to walk away, pretend I'm blind to daily injustices.''.- her words became less and less doubtful, and even a little of confidence was sneaking between them, until an attacking whisper was heard. ''Enjolras, you can´t even consider in the slightest to trust her. Just with seeing the gamine we can notice that she is just here for bad proposes. She is probably useless and just taking up valuable space and our time''.-even as a murmur Donna could hear it.
''What?''.-she whispered weakly. The student turned to her.
''Yes, little brat, you heard me. You are just an ignorant, stupid girl that doesn´t know what she's proclaiming. I'm surprised that you are still here, make us all a favor and go away, your absence would be greatly celebrated ''.-And her world came crashing down. She felt hurt, anger and anxiety all at once like a strong wave that hit her as the commentary was listened. But what she didn´t expect was herself responding to it, combating with arguments of her own before the leader could reply.
And when the young girl finally said it all, she went speechless of amazement. Tears of courage, despair and effort threatened to fall from her brown eyes but she quickly contained them, faking composure. She couldn´t even remember the exact words coming from her mouth. It was as if her actions and sentences were a blurred hurricane. Her emotions had articulated the words without her rationalism, and it probably would cost her, the question was: How much?
When a more heated discussion was about to happen, the almighty leader said firmly to Donna´s opponent ''Enough, Claude! As valid as your opinion can be, in this time we can´t be closed to new perspectives. As this lady said, if we want to help the people of this Paris, of this: our very motherland, we need to take into account points of view that differ from ours. Without noticing we were discriminating our own people. And we need to change that. So, now I ask you, Claude, will you leave this defensive state and apologize? Because if not I'm afraid I have to ask you to go. I don´t care if we finish with 5 students at the end of the night, I prefer that than persons who won´t accept one of the essential points of this cause''.- for the second time in that night the café felt silent. Nobody dared to leave, at least at that moment. What is happening? Am I causing all of this? Is this a good thing? Am I doing the right or will I cause them pain at a long term? What am I supposed to do? ''And you, mademoiselle Donna''.- the girl waited for his sentence-. ''We'd like to make you the invitation to stay.'' She nodded and thanked him automatically; incredulous of what just happened before her eyes and that a man who she greatly admired was asking her to be there, that man who was making her feel inexplicable sensations. Of course, it has to be a dream and nothing else. Why would Enjolras see you otherwise? He has more important things to take care of.
The group of students murmured about Apollo´s statement. Some agreeing, others distrusting like Combeferre who was clinging to his theory. Courfeyrac looked amused. The group dispersed and just when Donna was walking towards a solitary chair in a very convenient location Jehan tended her that forgotten hat with an encouraging smile and sympathy. She returned the smile shyly and put the hat back without hiding her hair anymore, it was useless.
Claude approached her, resigned and not completely convinced, he apologized with a simple ''my apologies'' and went to his table with other students that probably shared his ideologies. The girl couldn´t suspect any less selfishness from him than with that empty exculpation but reminded quiet.
With new subjects and opinions the meeting was extended another hour, and although Enjolras had requested her to stay she didn´t feel welcomed, instead she was eyeing the door every 5 minutes just in case she needed to escape, tapping her feet anxiously on the wooden floor. The poet of the group openly expressed his support and sit at the same table, next to her, she stayed silent, it was enough with what she´d done, but thanked his companion nevertheless with a glance. And after a while Combeferre convinced by Courfeyrac came at the same small table. Courfeyrac made his appearance with Feuilly and Joly and the almost empty table became a crowded group that only served to increase the girl´s anxiety. Still no one broke the lack of sound.
Listening to Enjolras passionate words, once again she felt in a trance absorbed by his essence and a light filled her soul with what she thought was hope. Hope of a better world, hope for a better society, for a good change, for a successful revolution that wouldn´t happen.
The time passed too slow and too fast all at the same time. And fortunately she didn´t received as much attention as she believed, because they all were looking at their fearless leader. Who would look at a very simple mortal having a God at the same room?
The meeting ended with a new found and reconstructed cause, the whole meaning of equality with a renovated twist. But as always there were some who were still reluctant to the change, led by Claude, he left the café with an indignant attitude, a very small group of gentlemen following him. It was a possibility that they would never come back.
The students kept leaving as the reunion was officially over and the party barely starting. The youngest of the les amis d´l abc tried to make small talk, trying to break the awkwardness between the students and the girl. Joly and Feuilly didn´t stay for long, each one with his particular reason. Courfeyrac was barely awake because the alcohol had taken the best of him, a few of his friends, that she didn´t recognize and wasn´t introduced to, helped the center of the group to go home.
She remained seated and silent trying to take all she could before waking from that dream, and because she didn´t have a place to go than the cold and miserable streets of Paris. Her future was uncertain and the fragile stability of her current location was far more welcoming.
Finally Grantaire left saying ''I must tell you oh mighty Apollo, I still consider her just another admirer that came to see if the God of the sun was real. If I were she, I'd probably would have made that myself''.- and with a calculated incoordination he walked away, probably to the nearest bar. Enjolras and the young girl were left alone.
2 whole minutes passed and the Musain was quiet, and when the girl began planning her near, terrible and fearful future, the man at the center table broke the silence with a firm voice.
''May I have a word with you, mademoiselle?''
A/N: Here I am, after almost a whole year. I have to apologize with you for the big waitbut some impediments came in the way. I made myself a challenge, I have to post at least a chapter by month, so I hope I can complete it and in the process learn and improve my writing. I hope it´s worth the time. And a big thanks to my wonderful friend for taking me out of writer´s block and for being a great human being and writer, and for inspiring me. And of course to Mdnight Juliet for her friendship and her continuous support and to S Nuur because she is one of the best writers and persons I had the pleasure to meet and read.
Thank you, this story has over 1,000 views and it´s almost unbelievable! It seems unrealistic. Thank you for your support and your presence. I really wish to be worthy. Have a very nice day people.