If the world should end right now
If the walls came crashing down
I’d be right here by your side
I’d be right here by your side
These are the days of our freedom
These are the days of our lives
These are the days, these are the days
And they’ll last forever
(London Rain, Neon Jungle)
Remember when we sang
We made echoes off the green house walls
The harmonies we made
Are ghosts a-wandering these halls
Who wants you
Who haunts you
Echoes dancing in our blood to some refrain
Shadows take our places here in this ballet
(Spirited Away, Lily & Madeleine)
On a moonless night in a burned out building
Your heavy cries were floating
Seems all your life has needed mending
So you cut the ties to the old things
(Long Lost Century, The Woodlands)
Enjolras sat on the window ledge with his back resting against the wall and the tips of his wings brushing the worn wooden floor.
It was the window where he’d fallen from, the one where he’d died.
And tomorrow it was being demolished.
Structurally unsound, the Musain had been derelict for years, now only home to rats and pigeons. It had been condemned years ago but the demolition crew had only moved in last week and tomorrow the building was going. Razed to the ground and a new shopping centre was going to be built.
This was the last sunset Enjolras would see from here.
The street outside had changed, the people had changed and now finally the last remnant of the past was now changing too.
Enjolras wasn’t averse to change. In fact he welcomed it; it reminded him what he had fought for long ago, when he was human. Change was exciting, change was good.
Still, his heart ached this evening, looking out at the sky as it deepened to oranges and pinks and reds. His soul yearned for what he had lost that night, the night he’d died in 1832. He’d lost his cause, he’d lost friends and he’d lost his life.
His cause had been realised eventually, history moving on, gathering pace. Now, in the twentieth century change was happening everywhere.
And even losing his life hadn’t been the end. He’d woken up in the company of strangers to find he now had wings, that he was now an angel.
But his friends, his friends had not become angels, they had been buried. No one even present at their funeral- they deserved so much more.
It was just him. Enjolras the angel.
He hadn’t planned on becoming an angel; he didn’t know why he even was one. There was been no tunnel of light, no pearly gates where he was given a choice. He just opened his eyes in the darkness and felt, on his back, the most extraordinary thing, wings.
His wings were an off white colour, prone to getting quite dirty especially if he didn’t tuck them in and just let them drag on the floor which happened quite often when he was distracted. This evening the sky was turning his feathers a burnished copper-gold colour.
Enjolras no longer wore his nineteenth century clothes, instead he wore plain dark trousers, and a plain white shirt. It was uniform of sorts, although heaven’s angels could mostly wear what they wanted they tended to veer towards smarter looking clothes. They took inspiration from the human fashions of the day but still erred on the more professional side of things.
Angels were rarely visible to humans, unless there was a pressing need they tended to stay unseen. Babies were the only exception; they could see angels, their young human eyes allowing them to see the smart, slightly glowing figures with wings. A select few humans could also see them; those with supernatural gifts, the ones whose souls ran close to the spirit world.
Nobody could see Enjolras up here, sitting on the window ledge, one knee brought up with his arms clasped around it.
He tipped his head back against the wall until his golden curls became slightly squashed as he closed his eyes and remembered that night.
It was becoming fuzzy as the years passed. Faces and voices were fading; he couldn’t remember where people were in relation to one another when he’d talked to them. There was only one thing he remembered with absolute clarity and that was the desperate hand gripping his just one moment before it ended. He remembers the green eyes, the dark, eternally messy hair and the feeling of his palm on his.
He’d belittled Grantaire, snubbed him, rebuked him for not helping, for prophesying doom and failure. But in the end, he’d stood with him and died with him.
And whilst things had worked out in the long term for people’s freedoms- still a long way to go but progressing every day- in the immediate aftermath of the revolution Enjolras had sunk into the throes of despair.
When, a few days or so after the event, he’d flown back to the spot where it had all happened the barricade had been cleared away, the bodies now six feet below fresh soil and he’d seen Marius, clambering laboriously up to the first floor.
He’d stopped in shock. He’d thought they’d all died! But here was Marius, looking worse for wear, but still, alive!
He’d followed his friend, unseen and wondering at how he could be breathing, when he himself was not- not really.
And then he’d seen Marius wander dejectedly around the upstairs of the café and he’d heard the words ‘Don’t ask me what your sacrifice was for!’ and he’d broken down and cried. Cried so hard that the other angels had to come and take him away.
It was a dark time for Enjolras. He’d been given a chance to live again, but what a chance, when his friends were nearly all dead, when Marius was crippled both with guilt and wounds and all because of him. And for what? The people had not risen. They were continuing as normal. Their deaths meant nothing. And it was all his fault.
It had nearly ended him a second time. It took a very long time for him to come out of the clutches of despair, to hope again. To live again.
He began to undertake small tasks that the archangels gave him. Answer a little girl’s prayer here, help a widower there. And through helping people, doing his angel work Enjolras discovered how to hope again. Every human he helped he gained more in hope and inspiration. If they could live and take the hope that he gave them, then he could hope in return.
Time passed differently in heaven to earth. For Enjolras it had been around half a century since he had been killed. Angels could travel to anytime in history, they flitted backwards and forwards, helping out where necessary.
Now, Enjolras was in the mid twentieth century, and when he looked around he was full of hope. Changes were happening all over. And this time, people were answering. It was a heady time to be alive in.
Still, being back here at the Musain it was bringing the hurt and sorrow back. He’d foolishly thought it would stick around forever, it had been here a couple of hundred years, what’s a couple more? But Enjolras forgot, angels don’t age, they don’t decay, humans, plants, animals and even buildings did.
It was his last physical contact with his past. And it was silly really to get emotional over it. It was far gone, decaying and rotting inside and out, it was a wonder this ledge was still surviving.
He’d stay here tonight and move on in the morning.
But it was difficult. He could see out of the corner of his eye the point where Grantaire had emerged. The moment where Enjolras had been prepared to die, bracing himself for the impact of bullets and then, moving past the soldiers in the room, Grantaire had materialised.
Enjolras had thought he was alone and had been ready to die alone, so he thought. But with Grantaire appearing he realised he hadn’t wanted to die alone. The relief at seeing the cynic had been overwhelming. And it was only now, many, many years later that he realised how deep his feelings went. He was able, with time and space, to think over that moment, the way you run your tongue over a sore tooth. It hurts but you keep doing it.
He realised he cared for the man. That stupid man who hadn’t believed in anything. Who’d made mistake after mistake but still kept coming to be a part. Enjolras didn’t know why Grantaire had kept coming but he was eternally grateful the cynic had. He’d provided comfort, right at the end, and not let Enjolras die alone. Now Enjolras knew what dying was like he was glad it had been the two of them at the end. He wouldn’t wish a lonely death on anyone, although the angels never let anyone die alone. There’s always one of them there. But you don’t know that as a human, and Enjolras had felt alone, until a tight grip had encircled his hand and it was the last thing he felt.
Enjolras swallowed thickly.
Why was he an angel and Grantaire not?
Grantaire didn’t even believe yet he’d lain down his life for his friends and for him. Enjolras couldn’t see why it wasn’t Grantaire in his place now.
He’d chased this thought over and over during the years and whilst yes, part of him thought that Grantaire fully deserved to be rewarded by heaven for his selflessness, a part of Enjolras, a larger part, also just wanted to see him again.
For you see, Enjolras was in love with him.
How had he not realised this when he was mortal?
How had he not seen Grantaire for what he was? He’d focused on the outer image Grantaire put across and never once truly looked at the man. The real man, the man behind the troubles, behind the snark and the jesting. He’d never once truly looked at Grantaire.
He did it all the time now, as an angel. He could look at a human and see their soul.
He didn’t need to look at Grantaire to see his good soul. He’d experienced that first hand, but by then it was far too late. He was gone.
A tear trickled from Enjolras’s eye and down his marble cheek. He couldn’t help it. It hurt when you remembered someone you loved.
He’d paced these rotten floorboard so many times, talking about revolution and the future and he’d let the present slip away from him. There had never been time for love in his life; love was a waste of time. Let others love, he didn’t need it, he didn’t want it.
He still wasn’t sure he wanted it but he had no choice, it was there, weighing on his chest, constricting his breathing, reminding him every time he inhaled that something was missing. That Grantaire was gone.
He’d realised too late. And now there was nothing to do about it.
Sometime, when the sun was peeking up and over and around the Parisian buildings. Enjolras stopped. It was time to move. The past was the past and he had work to do. He stood and stretched, his wings flaring out before settling back into a tucked position. Enjolras stepped onto the ledge and took off into the morning air, leaving the Musain and painful thoughts of the man he loved behind him.
Grantaire had always teased him for his ideals. Which of them had been right?
Both, he mused.