His bare feet press evenly into the rain-washed ground, and between patches of grass there come swells of liquid mud, mingled with the blood feeding steadily into the hollows of the field. He slides easily between the corpses, and stops frequently to bow over the bodies, the Genappe road sloshing softly underneath.
Upon the opposite bank he stiffens, halts, counts a moment in which the whistle and grate of broken limbs hanging swings between his ears. Then he looks back, and down: a hand, locked onto his ankle. He crouches into the grass, pulls sharply at the arm, and extracts a purse from the darkness before he can even read the insignia: a colonel. A violent breath begins to stir within the officer's chest, and Thénardier slips into the forests by the light of the blind moon.
The roll is called; the names drawl by without the slightest pause; the ledger is closed, and the odd, dermatologically unfortunate young man to the left of Marius lets out a quiet sigh of satisfaction. The lecture begins and ends with the sound of Marius' scratching pen.
The students file out. As Marius makes his eventual turn left into the street, his bald neighbor hails a passing friend from a few paces behind. Their conversation endures all the way into the Place Saint Michel, where Marius is glad to find that their nigh-blasphemous gaiety follows a different route than he.
The child's cry rips through the consecrated wine-cellar as a bell rends the silence of a cloister, and in a moment the insurgents are in the street, struggling to break the wave of soldiers that pours over the top of the barricade, the storm surge of the Army. Gavroche, the herald, receives a bayonet in the ribs for his trouble, and Courfeyrac, stricken from his feet by an advancing guard, falls not to rise again under the man's musket.
"Fire!" The shout goes up from both sides of the wall of furniture and paving stones, and as the smoke clears, as the young and uniformed alike reload their weapons, Enjolras directs a man to the basement, where he will begin to ration out the powder from the remaining keg. The swell rises.
The barricade, breached, lies toppled in pieces over the uneven street. Weapons, debris, sometimes bodies fall from above and crash onto the upturned stones; the struggle has risen, much reduced, to the first story of the unfortunate wine-shop. Now the report of muskets is sporadic - now it is ceased. Guards descend the stairs, depart the corner, and the only sound aside from the distant marching is a clock, calling midnight. The corpses lie undisturbed within, without.
A body, collapsed upon a table in the corner of the most recent site of battle, stirs in the new silence. The very bottles that hours before leant him the look of death, and now lie in shards about his head and ankles, have served as shields against sweeping eyes and rifles.
Despite his drunken stupor, slowly lifting, he navigates the stairway, the halls, the threshold. The light of the moon glancing off the shattered lines and showing silvered blood gives him pause, but only for a moment; then slowly he makes for the defeated structure itself. At its apex, he discovers what he has been seeking. With a sigh and with infinite tenderness he turns the corpse upon its back, sits beside it, and awaits the dawn.