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This Vice of Lying

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Grantaire really wasn’t as bothered about being in prison as one might have thought he would be. What did it matter really when soon enough his friends, his Apollo, would be dead? He could see plainly what the outcome of their attempt revolution would be and yet he was powerless to stop them. They would not heed his attempts at reasonable discourse, branding him a cynic and a drunk. They were not wrong, it was a drunken brawl that led him to be here after all.

His musings were interrupted by the sound of voices approaching the cell where he was being held.

“-swear, sir, it’s that drunkard who’s always hanging around la café Musain with the revolutionaries.” The two men had arrived at the door of Grantaire’s cell and both observed him intently. Grantaire did not bother to acknowledge them.

“You there,” said the most senior of the men, lifting his chin towards Grantaire. “Is what my colleague says true? You are a companion of Les Amis de l’ABC?” Grantaire did not respond.

“Come now,” resumed the man, “I see that you are. You would have questioned what I meant if not.”

“What of it?” replied Grantaire scathingly, seeing no benefit in remaining silent now.

“You seem to have found yourself in quite a scrape.”

“Nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”

“You could help yourself out of it.”

“Indeed?” Grantaire was sceptical to say the least.

“Look here, I’m told you don’t believe a word of the pretty lies that come out of your leader's mouth. You know how their attempt at a coup will end; they will all die. Do not be amongst them. Watch them for us, report their plans, and you will be cleared of all charges against you.” An idea was forming in Grantaire’s head. If he could but ensure… but no! It was wrong, even he, low as he was, was not a man to betray his friends. However, if he could but save the one who mattered above all else…

“That is within your power?”

“Indeed, my good man, I am the Prefecture of Police.”

“But I, Monsieur le préfecture, am not one who would betray his friends to save himself. There is one more thing you must give me.”

“If it is reasonable.” Grantaire already knew he disliked this man and his pretence of cordiality.

“The leader of the group, he will be spared. Ensure that he will not be imprisoned or executed and I will do all that you ask. Give me your word on this or you shall have no help from me.” This was a gamble. The Prefecture obviously needed intelligence on Les Amis but with this request Grantaire understood that he was asking a great deal.

“That is impossible, such a man cannot simply be allowed to wander free. He is too dangerous! He would ignite more rebellion.”

“Then I will not spy for you.” The Prefecture seemed stricken at seeing his chance at inside intelligence slipping away. He took a breath, seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then carried on with resolution.

“Such a man could not be allowed free reign of the streets, and you will not allow him to be imprisoned here,” Grantaire was immediately on guard at the implication of that word here. “Perhaps we can then come to a compromise that he will not be imprisoned by us but he will be… kept watch over by you.”

“What do you mean?” replied Grantaire, suspicious.

“If you wish him to not be imprisoned he will remain in your charge, you will watch over him, and if he is found in the streets he will be executed.”

This was too much. It was at once everything he had ever wished for and something that he could not bear. Grantaire would be near Enjolras, would be living with Enjolras, would be taking care of Enjolras! Yet at the same time he would have betrayed him, would be imprisoning him. He would never be forgiven and yet, there was no other way. The revolution would fail even if he chose to rot here in jail and Enjolras would die. He could not allow that to happen, he could not bear it. As much as Enjolras would hate him, he had to save him.

Grantaire rose and made his way resignedly to the bars of the cell.

“Very well, Monsieur le préfecture, you have a deal.” He held his hand though the bars for the man to shake.

“Very good,” he said, grasping Grantaire’s hand.

“You will report here to me at the end of each day.” He turned to the man next to him.

“Well, release him then!” He turned to go but then stopped and said to Grantaire, “What is the name the leader, the man you want saving? And what does he look like?”

Grantaire hesitated.

“Come now, it wouldn’t do to have him accidentally harmed would it? Besides, you ought to get used to providing us with information anyhow.”

“Enjolras,” Grantaire choked out, feeling like the lowest, vilest creature on the earth, “His name is Enjolras, he has blonde hair that shines like sunlight and eyes as blue as the sky.”

“Very good.”

So began Grantaire’s unwilling treachery. He would go to meetings, listen to the speeches, take note of the plans, and desperately try to convince his friends to cease their plans, to give up their foolish dreams, to live. He did not succeed. If anything his demoralisation only made them more fervent.

After the meetings he would go to the Prefecture and report it all and he would hate himself. He despised himself for betraying his friends, in effect signing their death warrants, just because he selfishly could not live without Enjolras also being alive. He could not bear the thought of a man who already all but despised him being dead.

He began to prepare for after. He knew he could not hope to keep Enjolras in the tiny dishevelled apartment that was his current lodging. Not only did Enjolras deserve so much better, he would escape within a day and if he were found on the streets then he would be executed. Grantaire would have to find somewhere more secure where he could hold Enjolras. His main problem in this aspect was lack of funds. He did not have the money to buy a house suitable for the situation. He had considered trying to renegotiate his deal with the Prefecture but he realised that it would be futile. The Prefecture did not care whether Enjolras lived or died, so long as he was no more trouble. If Grantaire lost Enjolras he would be just as happy to execute him and have the whole thing over with. Grantaire would have to find some other way to obtain the necessary funds.

As Grantaire made his way to the Prefecture that evening to make his report he was consumed by gloomy thoughts of the future. Even though Enjolras would survive, his other friends would die and he would have had a hand in making it happen.

He arrived at the police station and was let in by the guards, who recognised him well enough by now. As he made his way through the station he ignored the scorn he felt directed at him by the men there and continued on to the Prefecture.

He knew that these men hated him. If there is one thing that the brothers in a watch house understand, it is kinship. To see that betrayed, even for their gain, cast loathing upon the betrayer, upon Grantaire. He took their contempt quietly, bowed his head to their hate-filled comments. It was no more than he deserved after all.

He made his way into the Prefecture’s office and told what he had to report; Les Amis would outreach and try to gain the support of other groups within the city but that they could not hope to reach them all with so few men.

“Good,” responded the Prefecture, smiling at him. “This gives us an opportunity. You will offer to go rouse one of the groups, and you will fail.” At this announcement Grantaire sensed another opportunity for gain. He could not achieve the funds he needed through pleading with the man he knew, but it could be possible through bargaining.

“No.” stated Grantaire quite adamantly.

“Excuse me?” asked the Prefecture.

“No, I agreed to spy for you. This is not spying. This is sabotage.”

“It hardly matters. You know they will lose in the end regardless.”

“It matters to me. That is a betrayal too far. I will not do it.”

“Perhaps we can come to another agreement?”

Grantaire hesitated once more. He knew that he wanted the achieve here, what he must achieve, however he hesitated before the extent of his betrayal. This was not simply providing information. This was actively taking action to ensure that his friends would fail, that all but one of them would die. But it was for Enjolras…

“Five thousand francs immediately. After that a further one hundred francs a month in perpetuum.”

“I’m afraid that is impossible-”

“I will not negotiate. You may think me without morals and willing to sell out my friends but even I have limits. This is my price, either agree or make do with only information from me.”

“The monthly payments will have to be accounted for.”

“I will open a bank account. Pay it in there for reasons of ‘services to the state’.” said Grantaire, thoroughly unimpressed with the man’s attempts. It was easy to see the Prefecture was getting angry now. He had a colder look in his eyes as he laid aside his previous attempts at joviality.

“Very well. I will give you what you wish but you must give me what I wish in return.”

“I am already giving you what you wish. I will sabotage my friends efforts for you.”

“Something more than that,” said the Prefecture, standing. “I see your purpose here. You need the money to look after the man you would save. This Enjolras.” The man was taking off his jacket now and advancing on Grantaire.

“It’s quite obvious that your interest in him goes beyond the platonic,” the man continued as he proceeded to undress.

“You would do all this for him and now you demand this money, no doubt so that you can give him some measure of comfortable lifestyle. As if that will make him forgive you, as if he could ever return your affection, because it’s quite clear from what you’ve told me that he does not.” He had backed Grantaire into the wall and now seized his shoulders and gripped them harshly.

“To be clear, what you require of me is…” Grantaire’s voice broke and he could not continue the sentence.

“Is than you remove your clothes, bend over my desk, and stay as still as possible.” Grantaire began to struggle and would have been able to push the man away if it had not been for the words he continued to hiss into his ear.

“Do this- do this and you can take your love, take your money, and live out the rest of both your lives with him in perfect comfort. Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to be able to give him anything he wants?”

Grantaire stilled, his shoulders slumped in defeat, and he silently began to undress. He could do this, for Enjolras. He kept that thought in mind as he did as he was bid and bent over the desk. He thought of Enjolras, how he could possibly one day earn his forgiveness if he could make him happy enough, when he felt himself entered. He though of the time that he would get to spend with Enjolras as the Prefecture moved inside him and as the man spent inside him he gave up thinking on specifics and just thought of Enjolras’ golden hair, his face, his rare smiles.

The Prefecture released him and he dressed quickly and went to leave, fighting through the pain, eager to leave as soon as possible. He was stopped at the door by the Prefecture’s voice.

“I expect your report of how you undertook one of these groups and failed to convince them tomorrow. You shall have your 5000 francs then.” Grantaire nodded his head in acknowledgement and then left.

This is how Grantaire came to offer himself to go to the Barrière du Maine, knowing he would fail, knowing that the incident would only make Enjolras distain him more.

His only consolation was that he now had the funds to purchase a house that was suitable for Enjolras and the cost… well, there was nothing he would not suffer for his love. It was best forgotten. He spent days looking at houses in Paris, for it would truly be better to stay where he knew, he could easily get what he needed on a day to day basis and minimise time spent away from Enjolras. Partly so that Enjolras would not escape, as he would surely try to in the beginning. (He would come round though Grantaire promised himself, he would.) Partly because Grantaire had no interest in spending time anywhere that Enjolras wasn’t when he didn’t have to. Yes, it would have to be Paris. Besides, no one pays attention to abnormal behaviour in Paris.

He looked at dozens of houses with owners desperately trying to sell every good quality and ignore all of the bad. They were all very nice houses but none of them were good enough. If Enjolras was going to reside in it then Grantaire wanted it to be perfect. In the end he had to settle for the best of them as his friends had begun to notice that he was not spending all day drinking in the Musain as was his wont. The house was pretty enough, he supposed. It had cost him four thousand francs which meant that he had a thousand left over to spruce the place up. Its main attraction was a walled garden, with good sturdy walls too high to climb over, that had a single gate which permitted entrance. The house itself was not overly large; it had a kitchen, dining room, parlour, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. The latter three rooms were located upstairs. The kitchen was in a mild state of disrepair that did not make it unusable and the rest of the house was perfectly sound. Having the kitchen fixed up to his exacting standards took a reasonable amount of effort but he would accept no less for Enjolras. Grantaire also took great pains in having the larger bedroom redone. He made sure that every single detail was perfect, down to the colour of the curtains (red, of course) and the material of the bedding (silk). When it was finished the room had attained a level of luxury that one would be hard pressed to find outside of the estates of the most affluent families in France. The parlour, with it’s mahogany furniture, tall Biedermeier bookcases, and heavy velvet curtains, was perhaps only a step behind in luxury. There was no need to have a lock installed on the bedroom door as one was already fitted. He did have them fitted to the latches on the windows however, just simple padlocks to go through the latches. As a precaution he had this done in all the other rooms and claimed a fear of burglars to justify it to the workman. He acquired a chain and padlock for the gate as well as various books that he had heard Enjolras mention and thought himself as prepared as he could reasonably be.

At last the time of revolution came and it was decided that it would take place at Lemarque’s funeral. As Grantaire reported this to the Prefecture he felt both relief and trepidation. He was relieved that this would all be over and that he could stop lying. He also knew that he would be the direct cause of his friends deaths. As he was about to leave the Prefecture grabbed his arm to detain him. Grantaire shuddered at that man touching him again.

“The guards that will go to the barricade at the Musain have been informed of our arrangement,” the Prefecture assured. “I will keep my word.”

“How honourable of you.” replied Grantaire scathingly.

“Are you not happy? You will have your love by the end of the week.”

“For than I thank you but by the end of the week all my friends will be dead and I will be, at least in part, the cause.” The man nodded and Grantaire hated him, hated his pretend understanding and his insincere sympathy.

“Your Enjolras will be subdued and you will both be brought here. You will then give me the details of the bank account into which the one hundred francs are to be deposited every month. Then we can part, on cordial terms, our deal concluded.” Grantaire held his tongue and nodded. He knew how precarious his position was now that he had told the Prefecture everything he needed. He could not afford to disagree with him. His arm was released and he fled the room and the station, thankful that he would only have to return there once more.

They day of the funeral had arrived, the flame had been ignited, and now they all sat behind the barricade, waiting for a second attack. Grantaire looked around at these men, the first real friends he’d ever had, and realised that they will be gone by morning. Joly, Bahorel, Bossuet, Jehan Prouvaire, Feuilly, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Marius. These are the names that he knows he will carry with him from this day on and he wishes that he could simply confess everything to them. That he could fall to his knees and beg for their forgiveness because the worst thing- the worst thing is that these men will die thinking him a friend. They will die never knowing of his treachery. They will die thinking him one of them and that is the though that haunts him. He doesn’t deserve to live in their last thoughts as a friend but rather as an enemy. Someone to be hated, despised.

He’d already seen one spy being dealt with and he wishes that he would be treated the same because in the end it will make no difference to the outcome but instead will allow them to treat him as he deserves instead of offering affectionate smiles and fraternal grasps. He can’t risk anything that might compromise his deal though so he holds his peace and watches as his internal torment rages.

He saw an older man in a National Guard’s uniform being allowed over the barricade but could not stir himself to go and investigate what was happening. Enjolras was no fool, he wouldn’t let a National Guardsman over for no reason. Even as he was thinking these thoughts he saw his friends turn their guns on the man and disarm him. A whispered and fervent conversation passed between the man and Enjolras; Enjolras seemed to be becoming more and more furious with each word that passed. Finally, he turned around violently and called Grantaire over. Grantaire of course hurried to his side swiftly, with all the eagerness of a dog heeding its master’s call. He could not bring himself to be ashamed of that; he knew exactly how Enjolras owned every inch of his being and had long since accepted it.

“Grantaire,” said Enjolras, seething with fury. Grantaire was not sure if it was directed at him or the man who was still held at gunpoint. “This man claims that he is not a National Guardsman. That he is in fact a volunteer. He offers as proof of his earnestness that he heard the Guardsmen laughing and jesting about a spy in our midst. One who has been spying on us for months and who reported to the Prefecture. He claims that he heard them say that this spy was the drunkard who spends his days at the Musain, who passes his time with our society though not a revolutionary himself. In short, Grantaire, he claims that this spy is you. I trust that there is no truth to this?”

He didn’t believe it, Grantaire could see. He looked around at his friends and saw that with one denial from him they were prepared to take this man and place him with the other prisoner, and look upon the truth as no more than a vicious attempt to break their ranks with slander. He gazed and beheld all of this and yet he could not bring himself to deny it now that he had been presented with an opportunity to tell the truth without jeopardising his deal.

“Yes,” admitted Grantaire, bowing his head dejectedly and falling to his knees at Enjolras’ feet. “It is true.” For a moment Enjolras seemed stunned into silence. In any other situation Grantaire would have marvelled at such a thing actually being possible. Now however, he felt too wretched to do anything but stare dejectedly at the ground. Finally Enjolras managed to compose himself enough to utter one choked word.


“For you.” Grantaire murmured, finally mustering the courage to lift his head and look into the other man’s eyes. What he saw there was rage so intense that he cringed under its fervour.

Me?” This was hissed and Grantaire could feel within it the weight of the fury that Enjolras was barely holding in check.

“Yes, yes, I’m sorry, yes,” Grantaire was speaking quickly now, needing to confess. “That is the deal. I spied for him and you will live. You will be safe after the barricade falls.”

“The barricade will not fall!”

“It will, I’m sorry Enjolras but it will.” Enjolras seemed to be about to hit him and Grantaire would have welcomed it, would have welcomed any small chance to be punished for his betrayal but Enjolras restrained himself and merely delivered his edict.

“You will be judged for your crimes by the people of the Republic. Until such time you will be restrained.”

“Very well.” said Grantaire, knowing no such thing would ever happen.

“Put him with the other spy.”

Grantaire was taken into the café and bound to one of the posts so that he was sitting against it and if his friends were unnecessarily rough with him, well, he could hardly blame them.

They all came to see him that night, after the other spy had been taken out and killed and he was left in the room alone. Most came with harsh words but some were not satisfied with that. Bahorel gave him a blow to the stomach when he had finished his tirade, while Combeferre and Courfeyrac decided that he did not deserve to sit, and retied him standing with a rope around his neck so that if he did not stand on the very balls of his feet he would begin to choke. Feuilly spat on his face before he left. Grantaire took all these torments meekly and with a sense of relief. They knew what he was. They would not go to their graves thinking him a loyal friend. They could gain some measure of satisfaction from giving him what he deserved.

Eventually it became clear to Grantaire that the barricade was under attack again. He watched in a sort of daze as Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Joly, Bousset, and Feuilly ran upstairs while Enjolras pulled the steps out and climbed up after them. He supposed that the rest must be dead. He felt curiously numb as that thought occurred, and he thought that the room might be spinning. He was vaguely aware of soldiers entering the café, and of gunshots, and of a shout of:

“Not that one, he’s to be taken to the Prefecture along with the one tied up downstairs.”

There seemed to be a ringing sound in his ear. Then someone was untying him and leading him along to a carriage at the end of the street. Inside he found Enjolras, bleeding from a head wound, not moving, with his hands tied behind his back. The thrill of panicked fear that he felt cleared his mind rather abruptly and he rushed forwards, crying Enjolras’ name, trying to gain some response from the man.

“He’s alright,” said the man who had lead him to the carriage. “He’s only unconscious. We had to knock him out; he wouldn’t stop fighting.” He wanted to tear apart these men who’d hurt Enjolras but he knew that it would be better for the both of them in the long run if he got in the carriage and saw his deal with the Prefecture completed. Then he could take Enjolras home and keep him safe and make him happy and make sure that no one would ever hurt him again.

It was not a long journey from the barricade to the police station and Grantaire spent the entire time anxiously watching Enjolras’ face, checking for any sign of awareness or discomfort.

When they reach the station Enjolras was carried in by Grantaire, who refused to allow anyone else to touch him. There were blatant stares from the watchmen as they travelled the corridors and Grantaire supposed that they must make quite a sight. Him the ugly, bedraggled, unappealing betrayer whom they all hate, carrying an unconscious man who looks as if he is a god come to earth to bless mere mortals with his presence.

When he reached the Prefecture’s office he was greeted by the man with a jovial smile, as if they were old friends.

“Grantaire, my good man! How nice it is to finally see the man who caused all this trouble and who you went through no small amount of trouble for. Well not to worry about that, he’s yours now. How pretty he is!” Grantaire wanted to curl around Enjolras and protect his from this man’s poisonous gaze.

“He is not mine! He does not belong to me!” growled Grantaire, indignant at the implication. If anything it was Grantaire who was owned, body and soul, by Enjolras.

“No, no, of course not. Now if you will give me the details of your bank account you may leave and our deal will be concluded.”

Grantaire laid Enjolras down tenderly in the chair opposite the desk and proceeded to write the details of his bank account on the piece of paper that was offered to him. That done he offered the page to the Prefecture and took Enjolras up in his arms once more.

“Very good,” said the Prefecture. “The carriage which brought you here will take you anywhere you wish to go. I bid you farewell.” Grantaire was about to leave but was called back with a final warning.

“And remember, if he is found on the streets he will be executed, so do be sure to keep him… secure.”

Grantaire nodded his head and departed as swiftly as he was able, burdened down as he was with Enjolras’ unresponsive form. He carefully laid Enjolras in the carriage and told the driver where to go. As they pulled away from the station he was glad to think that he would never return there. He sat with Enjolras’ head in his lap, gazing at his almost painfully beautiful face, wishing he could run his hands through his golden hair but not daring to go so far while his love was unconscious.

As they drove on Grantaire was struck with the thought that they were heading towards their home. Their home. His and Enjolras’. Enjolras would live with him. Would stay with him, and be cared for by him, and would be made happy by him. He had Enjolras now, and he never had to let him go.