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Afraid of the Dark

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Enjolras hears his nose break and that’s how he wakes up. He’s in a room with a too bright light on his face and his eyes hurt from being concussed.

He knows he’s been here for hours and not days. He also notices that this is the first time someone has been into the room with him.

He more than ever wishes he was alone. Back at the Musain, there were always loud conversations, music being sung and cheers from his comrades. He welcomed it, he cherished it, but he also longed for a place to sit quiet and think.

So he’d hide for a few minutes, he’d go to Grantaire’s headquarters – as he insisted on calling it – which was used as a resting place for those who had been working too much and were finally caught on it and sent to sleep for a few hours.

Right now though, there’s nowhere he can run. The guardsman is talking and he’s angry for the lack of response and even though Enjolras is awake now, there’s little he can do to avoid the second blow.

He spits blood to the man’s feet.

“Where are they? Someone took the bodies. Who else is there in that little club of yours?”

Enjolras doesn’t know what’s happening, what he is talking about, but the simple mention of Les Amis de L’ABC gets him smirking. They were loud, indeed, but they were also warm as summer days and loyal as puppies – yes, Jehan wrote a poem about that once, and Enjolras never threw it away.

He doesn’t know where his friends are. He can’t even acknowledge the word ‘bodies’. He does not ignore it, no, but he won’t use it to talk about those who are still loved.  

Still, some of them might have survived. And that is enough to swell his heart. Some might be up and alive and maybe even together. And if they are with each other, then they are with Enjolras. Maybe they are all still one.

Enjolras is not one to lie to himself. He knows that he keeps the mask on but he leans on his friends as much as they search him for support. Because after all, what is a leader without his following?

The guardsman is not happy with his smile and proceeds to show him so. Enjolras get punched again, but the fire is back in his chest and he may not know how long it will be until they manage to break him and put the flame out but he’ll try and keep it burning.

“The little man fights as if there was still hope!”

Something flashes through Enjolras’ fogged mind and he sees a boy falling to the ground with a smirk and blazed eyes as the innocence and faith of an entire country died with him. Gavroche was the first to die, and Enjolras admits it now; he knows that when they lost Gavroche the war was over.

How could they ever win if their little ball of light had faded?

So without a blink Enjolras says to the guardsman, “This only goes to show what little people can do.”

And he gets kicked on the stomach and this time he falls over, lying on his back until the air runs back into his lungs.

He can’t imagine what is going on at the fallen barricade. If the people of Paris had not risen during the fight, what is happening now? Who is taking care of his fallen friends?

“You better start talking, monsieur, or your friend,” the man hesitates for a second, maybe trying to remember a name, “Jean Prouvaire, is it?”

Enjolras startles and is on his knees again, trying to control his breathing.

“Oh, yes. He is alive, for now. It is all in your hands. You talk, or he dies.”

Enjolras can feel the bile rising to his mouth. The wrong answer would cost Jehan’s life. Was he strong enough to deal with the after come of something like this?   

He believes himself to be strong, but he doesn’t ignore his own capacity of failure. He does know how to play. So he takes a deep breath and ignores the pain on his face, on his stomach, on his heart.

“What would you have me answer?”

The guardsman has the decency of not laughing at his defeated face. He only says, “I’ll have the names of The Friends of ABC.”

Enjolras is already saying no, shaking his head, before he can even stop and try to get back in control of himself. But he’s so tired and he hurts so much and this is impossible, he can’t do this, won’t tell him. How can he betray them like that? He has already leaded them to death once, how can he do this again?

But then the guardsman knocks three times on the thin wall and Enjolras’ heart breaks.

Jehan is screaming.

The poet, the one loved and cherished by all, being tortured as a criminal only a door away from him and there's nothing Enjolras can do to save a man who sought only love.

And Jehan kept screaming, pleading someone to stop it, just stop and Enjolras could hear his cries when the air left his lungs. He hears the way the poet’s voice is broken and hopeless as he mutters, “Please, please”.

So Enjolras cries in silence and he can’t fight it anymore. So while praying for forgiveness, the words leave his mouth, “Feuilly, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Bossuet, Joly.”

He keeps repeating the names until the man repeats the three knocks and Jehan is not screaming anymore. He can still hear the poet cry, but it’s not as bad as before, for now it is filled with relief. And maybe there’s still the lingering pain, but he’s ok, he’s ok, he’s ok.

After taking a deep breath, Enjolras returns his gaze to the man who now looks at him as if seeing a caged animal.

“Even the mighty Enjolras can break, it seems,” and then he nods at Enjolras and turns to leave the room in long strides.

That’s when Enjolras lets himself panic. He can’t breathe and the pain is too much. He had just betrayed all he believed in, all his friends trust in him.

So he cries and he pleads for forgiveness from a God he did not believe in and from friends he didn’t know if still breathed.

He took long breaths and he smeared the tears and the blood on his face until he has control back. He is not a man who can feel hope slip from his fingers and not fall.

Suddenly the door opens and a man is shoved inside.

Enjolras conjured all the strength left in him and crawled to the whimpering body, the relief washing over him like tormented waves.

“Jehan, Jehan, are you ok? Tell me where it hurts,” he combs the man’s hair and rests the poet’s head on his legs at the same time.

“’Jolras,” Jehan smiles and the leader starts crying silently again, taking it all in. The raw voice from having screamed so much tries to lighten the room, even though the darkness reigns in there. “They treated my wound. Joly will be happy.”

Enjolras tries a smile and they are quiet, it’s always quiet before the storm, but can it be it’s not over? The battle ended but do they have to prepare for war?

He doesn’t know who’s still out there, but even though he craves to follow his ideals once more, he can’t bear the thought of seeing more of them fall.

So Enjolras doesn’t tell Jehan about Joly, about the way the doctor muttered “This can’t be sanitary,” before encountering the floor with a loud thump and two holes in the stomach.

He can’t recount the way Combeferre smiled at Enjolras and how he had tried to reach the man, but Combeferre shook his at Enjolras, saying “Don’t worry, I am not alone.”

And he won’t be able to ever describe how, in the moment Combeferre fell on top of Joly, he didn’t care if the guard shot him in the head right there.

He can keep tracing his fingers through his friend’s hair though, and watch the rise and fall of his chest. Jehan falls asleep, the tiredness taking him to a land of make believe.  So Enjolras lets himself close his eyes.

He’s not going to sleep, but he can pretend. Enjolras has always been an objective man, but right now he thinks he can afford to let go.

He tries to remember where each one of his friends were when the barricade fell and then he proceeds to make up what happened to them afterwards.

Enjolras remembers Courfeyrac receiving a blow to his neck and falling to the ground unconscious, at the feet of the barricade. And he imagines the flirting and joyful man waking up and kissing the first person he encounters, and maybe it could be Bahorel.

The man was strong and built and the opposite of Courfeyrac. They used to call him the “fighter of abc” and he’d be loud and his witty remarks got him into fights more often than not. Still, Bahorel would only laugh at Courfeyrac and tell him to get lost. Enjolras remembers seeing Bahorel kill two soldiers at once, standing on top of the wounded Jehan, caught in the barricade wreckages. Bahorel got shot at the arm at some point but Enjolras resumed fighting and didn’t see the aftermath.

Enjolras sighs and opens his eyes. He takes a look at the closed door and then starts raising Jehan’s shirt.

He remembers seeing Jehan being stabbed with a bayonet on his side, but when he looks at the wound he sighs in relief. It’s still a deep cut but it’s sewed and it’s probably going to mend alright. He rests his hand on the man’s stomach as he closes his eyes, being drawn back to the barricades.

When Feuilly fell, Enjolras didn’t think he was going to wake up. They were inside the Musain and Enjolras had jumped right into chaos as bodies were piled on the floor, bloodied and forgotten. Feuilly had just killed a guardsman when another hit him from the back. Enjolras had shouted then, “Coward!”

He doesn’t think Feuilly heard him.

Bossuet appeared then and he killed the man. But he said, he pleaded, “Enjolras! Upstairs!” and then he started fighting another guard, but he found time to raise his voice as Enjolras started towards the second floor, “Save him!”

Enjolras failed him. He didn’t save Joly. He didn’t save anyone.

He remembers tripping in a bottle of brandy on his way upstairs and in that moment he connected that bottle to one of his friends, but that hadn’t seemed important at the time, because all he could think was “joly joly joly”. 

But. Grantaire. He had passed out drunk the night before the fight and it’s with a heavy heart that Enjolras wonders what happened to him. And then he’s opening his eyes, breathing deep and painfully.

He hadn’t given Grantaire’s name to the guardsman. It was not uncommon, he never thought of Grantaire as one of the Les Amis de L’ABC. Grantaire was something else. Not a revolutionary, no, but a friend nonetheless.

And while trying to avoid having another panic attack, Enjolras surprised himself by finding a smile take place on his face.

Maybe Grantaire was right. The man would breathe the guardsmen all to death, fool his own death by welcoming it. Enjolras could only hope and pray for his safety if he woke up.

Grantaire was loud and obnoxious and he had no fight inside him, and yet Enjolras cared for him. He had tried to make the drunkard leave, yes, several times. But when he kept coming back, when he had tried earning Enjolras’ trust (even though that led to the episode at Richefeu’s, of which they don’t talk about), when he stayed at the barricade when Enjolras told them they could leave whenever they wanted…

Enjolras should have said Grantaire’s name, because he deserves to be remembered as one of them. So why didn’t he?

With one more look to the door and then after planting a kiss to Jehan’s hair, Enjolras rested his forehead to the poet’s and welcomed sleep.