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Counting Heads

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Combeferre counts heads.

He counts heads endlessly.

When they’re all together, his eyes go from one to the next, checking constantly for disquiet or injury or unhappiness. 

When they’re not together, he keeps an inventory somewhere in his mind-- Joly will be with Musichetta, and Bossuet with them. Courfeyrac will be out drinking tonight and where is Jehan, Jehan should be here-- 

It’s tiring, and soothing at the same time.

He’s not quite sure when he started, but it’s a habit now, and one he doesn’t think will go away in the near future.

Enjolras plans for a glorious new republic and Courfeyrac finds girls to delight and Jehan writes poetry.

Combeferre counts heads.

One. Two. There’s Feuilly sleeping fitfully, waking every now and then, and Courfeyrac curled in his lap. Both well, both safe, both here and none the worse for the wear. 

There had been a moment, earlier in the day, when there had been a gun to Courfeyrac’s head, and nobody quite close enough, and Combeferre had locked eyes with him, had stopped breathing from the terror seizing him, because this is them, this is Les Amis de l’ABC, they do not die, they are immortal, this does not happen, and then hope unlooked for had come in the form of Gavroche throwing a rock, who seemed to never be where he ought to be, but was always where he was needed. 

Combeferre thinks, that if his gaze rests on Courfeyrac a little longer than normal tonight, he can be forgiven.

Three. Bahorel, more or less completely passed out, head thrown back against the chair. Combeferre wonders, briefly, if he ought to go wake him up, because the position he’s in can’t be comfortable. He decides against it, because rest is more important than anything at this point, and he hasn’t the heart to wake Bahorel, snoring as he is.

Four. On the couch, Jehan, facing away from the others with his hair falling into his face. Jehan, who had killed a man today and looked horrified at himself. He’s awake, Combeferre thinks, for his breathing is altogether too controlled for a sleeping man. He’s awake, and alive, Combeferre thinks, and that is all that matters for now.

Five. Six. Joly and Bousset, together as they often are. They are sharing a blanket between them, and despite everything, despite the hard day and the weariness beginning to sink in, Combeferre feels a smile pulling at his lips. 

Seven. Grantaire, in the corner. With his bottle, Combeferre notes a little bitterly. With his bottle, and none of the revolutionary fervor the rest of them share. Still, he is always included in the head-counts, and Combeferre supposes that is something. In any case, when he had shown up at Courfeyrac’s door an hour after the others, smelling of alchohol and looking half-hopefully at Enjolras, Combeferre had let him in. In the end, Combeferre thinks that he considers Grantaire one of them.

Eight. And Enjolras, still on his feet, body practically reverberating with a fervent energy. He’s looking out the window, not really seeing, Combeferre knows. He’s looking at the world he hopes for, not the one in front of him still. 

Combeferre worries about Enjolras. Change must come, change will come, but sometimes when Enjolras speaks, eyes alight and voice ringing with every ounce of passion he possesses--

Combeferre worries, because a flame that burns so brightly cannot possibly sustain itself for long.

He goes to the window, stands with Enjolras silently. 

Enjolras turns to Combeferre, says, “Go, and rest.”

Yes, Combeferre worries for Enjolras. He puts a hand on his shoulder, pulls at it gently. “Come,” he says,. “You must rest too.”

Enjolras smiles, ever so slightly. “I cannot. There is work still to be done.”

“Yes,” Combeferre allows. “There is work still to be done, but it does not need to be done tonight. Rest tonight, and tomorrow we will do what needs to be done.”

Enjolras allows Combeferre to tug him away from the window. 

Combeferre counts heads.



He supposes there will come a day when his silent roll-call will not be completed.

He supposes there will come a day when he is gone, or one of the others will be, and he cannot bear to think of it.

He supposes there will come a day, but that day is not today, and today he will sleep, and today he will sleep content in the knowledge that everyone is safe, and everyone is together, and everyone is here.