The house was quiet. The boys were all asleep but then again, they could be pretending. Bossuet was.
He was sitting in front of the fireplace, a bottle of wine on his hand, still untouched. The tears were still rolling but he didn’t even blink them away. There was no reason to, because more were about to follow.
How could he keep on walking when his legs had just been ripped from his body?
Joly was what kept him standing. He was the reason for his smile. The moment he met Joly, he started doubting his lack of luck.
Bossuet sighed and finally opened the bottle. He took a long gulp and closed his eyes, feeling the alcohol burn his throat. What had become of him, to be the only one drinking when not even Grantaire had touched any liquor recently?
Bossuet had once believed that should Joly die, he would too. And he had never been more right; he sure as hell felt like a walking corpse.
So he drank more and opened his eyes, watching as the flames danced around each other. Joly and Musichetta hated it when he drank because his ability to break things amplified with that.
Bossuet stood up like a mad man. He breathed irregularly, trying to calm himself. Musichetta! How could he forget to go back to her? He knew not much had passed his mind but the feel of Joly’s cold skin and his glazed eyes that burned a permanent place into his brain.
But now, Bossuet felt his chest hurt. Who held her when she cried for Joly - for both of them?
He dropped the bottle and the noise should have woken his friends up, but they were exhausted and Bossuet couldn’t wait a minute longer.
He got to his feet and he barely remembered getting his gun and his hat before storming outside.
His feet took him through a well-known path, but as the night rolled in, the streets were mostly deserted save for the guardsman and the whores.
So Bossuet had to be extra careful until he reached Musichetta’s house. He walked as a ghost, hiding in the shadows of alleys and for once, he didn’t trip or make a scene.
He collected the key she hid behind a dislodged brick next to the door and carefully entered the house he used to call their home.
Bossuet found her lying on the makeshift mattress that they all slept in, surrounded by worn sheets that were used as replacement for her men. When she saw him standing at the doorway of their bedroom, her eyes widened and she kneeled to the bed end.
“Lesgle? Is that you, mon amour?” She looked wrecked. The ever cheerful and strong Musichetta looked lost. But weren’t they all?
He closed the space between them with quick steps but that wasn’t enough to miss the way she bent her neck to see behind him, searching for the one always at his side, for Joly and his remarks about tidying up the apartment and preventing disease and “don’t you all know that cholera could be at our door?”
But Joly was not there and she let a strangled noise out, covering her mouth with both hands as she started sobbing.
Musichetta was devastated, just as Bossuet had been, because even though they were there, holding each other, that relationship was all about Joly. Always had been.
Bossuet loved Musichetta and she did love him back, but Joly was forever first in both their hearts.
But now they embraced and Bossuet cried with her, shame and hurt taking over him, “I’m sorry Chetta, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t – I tried – I lost him,” but the girl suddenly shushed him with a kiss, dry and fierce, the pain ever present.
“Love me, chéri.”
He did. He didn’t waste much time kissing her because that’s not what they needed. They had to move together in order to stand as one again.
So he entered her in one move and he cried, the tears meddling with the sweat. She kept looking at him, not making any sound, both listening to the friction of their bodies.
The tears rolled and hands touched, fingers intertwining as they tried to convey acts into words. And Bossuet never once tried to avoid thinking the words he longed to say to her, “I’m sorry I didn’t die instead of him.”
Musichetta kissed him while he came inside her and she smeared his tears away. They tried to regain their breaths, but the Monarchy had taken their oxygen away; how were they supposed to cope with that?
It was a long time before Musichetta spoke again, and still Bossuet couldn’t look her in the eye.
“How did he die?”
She knew it was not fair of her to ask him, but some part of her blamed him, even though she hated herself for that. She hated Bossuet, because if he loved Joly so much, how could he let him be part of this revolution?
But Musichetta herself couldn’t talk him out of it, or persuade Bossuet either.
Bossuet closed his eyes and she wondered what he saw, “I was downstairs when he, Combeferre and Enjolras were ambushed at the second floor. I heard the gunshots, but I couldn’t believe it was him. I had hoped –” He shudders and he can’t speak for a few seconds, regaining control. “Grantaire found him, later. When everything was over.”
She closed her eyes and pulled him close, embracing him while petting his bald head. Musichetta had lost a lot before this all had started. She had years on them, but she could pretend all she wanted; nothing had ever hurt her like this.
Lesgle was torn inside out and she wasn’t sure she could fix him. The man was devoted to Joly in a way that she had never seen one be. But when she started to get to know them better she didn’t miss the way Joly was as far gone as Bossuet.
But still, they couldn’t be together because something was always missing. They were perfect together, but even though they could share kisses and they could hold each other at night, they weren’t attracted to one another.
Musichetta brought them together and she loved them because they made her a better person. Lesgle was joy, Joly was hope. They weren’t perfect, but neither was she.
Lesgle broke way too many things and bad luck followed him around. Joly had panic attacks more often than not and his hypochondria sometimes verged on insanity, but she loved them, because they were real and they were hers.
Bossuet woke up a few hours later. They were so tangled he barely moved in fear of waking Musichetta up.
He took his time working his mind to place. He doesn’t know where to go from here. He’s not sure he can look after her; he is a fugitive now, and enemy of the monarchy. She’ll be better off without him.
But he’s almost certain that he does not have the heart to do it. He can’t afford to lose Musichetta. Bossuet knows he wouldn’t be the same. Not with both parts of him gone.
He doesn’t have to make a decision though.
There are loud bangs at the door and he shakes Musichetta until she’s up and out of the bed. The door is being forced open and he pushes Musichetta towards the stairs that lead to the hidden attic.
She shakes her head in refusal and her lips form her protest, but he kisses her quiet and helps her up with fear and desperation in his eyes.
There’s only place for one there.
He locks her there just in time for the front door to burst open.
Bossuet puts a shirt and his trousers in a matter of seconds and he can hear the first room being searched. He leans outside the window and before he can regret it, he jumps.
He falls on an already broken table and he feels an intense pain on his left foot and his forehead hurts from where he hit it with the cold hard floor. He wastes no time - he stands up and starts running.
The guards are already on his trail and he knows he won’t succeed, he cherishes the idea of meeting Joly, but at the same time he can’t – he won’t disappoint him. He needs to live.
When he passes the Musain, he notices people screaming his name and Grantaire’s sister is there, cleaning the blood on the street, and she smiles when she sees him.
She is the first one to move.
She follows him and holds her ground when the guards start flying by. And then more people are doing the same; getting out of Bossuet’s way but going back to where they were and purposefully bumping into the guards.
He doesn’t smile, but had this been another time, a day back, he could have, for his heart aches with the knowledge of what that action meant.
He looks back and there’s no one following him anymore. He hears shouts of protest and maybe a fight is happening near the Musain, but he keeps running and looking back every now and then.
That’s why he doesn’t notice the man until he almost bumps right into his chest.
Bossuet doesn’t move and the only sound passing between them is the student’s heavy breathing due to his frantic running.
Javert looks at him. The inspector sees his bleeding forehead and the way his bare left foot has swollen abnormally.
When they lock eyes, Bossuet is sure that he can’t hide anything from the inspector. Javert must see the defeat in them, mixed with the need of more fight and more rest and freedom at last.
When the Inspector moves, Bossuet is ready. To run or to fight, he’s not sure, but he’s ready.
But Javert simply moves aside and starts walking away towards the opposite direction to which Bossuet is headed.
The student doesn’t need to be told twice. He resumes running as fast as he could, always looking back in fear of being followed and taking the longest route to their safe house.
When he gets there, he doesn’t bother knocking and that’s so stupid of him, he realizes it the moment he does so, and there are three guns pointed to his forehead in a matter of seconds.
He doesn’t care though. He is exhausted and the pain is driving him crazy and he falls to the ground, still out of breath. They are all shouting and Bahorel is out of control, close to hitting him if Grantaire hadn’t hold him in place and Courfeyrac is almost crying until Bahorel shouts, “What the hell were you thinking Lesgle!”
There is a moment of silence and something must have passed between the three men because then Courfeyrac is kneeling beside him and surveying his foot.
Grantaire mutters something about needing a drink but he does not move towards it. Bahorel does. And he takes a large gulp before offering the bottle of wine to Grantaire. The drunkard looks at it with both longing and disgust, and he doesn’t accept it.
Bahorel sighs and takes the bottle away from him, going into the bedroom to drink alone.
Courfeyrac is cleaning Bossuet’s wounds and they are all in silence until Grantaire sits next to Bossuet and puts the man’s head to his lap, petting his bald head with care, avoiding the bleeding cut.
“Where were you?” asked Grantaire with a gentle voice. “We woke up and you were gone. We weren’t sure you’d come back.”
Bossuet closed his eyes for a moment, “I went to see Musichetta. I had to.”
No one speaks again and Bahorel rejoins them, more composed.
“What happened?” Courf asks, looking at the man’s wounds.
“They found me. I don’t know how, I was certain no one saw me get there. I hid ‘Chetta and jumped out the window,” he hard their curses and he took a deep breath before sitting up. “But when I was running from them - you should have seen it, your sister was there Grantaire - the people of Paris saved me. They blocked the guardsmen from following me.”
His voice was warm and he noticed that information was lifting their hearts. But it also hurt a lot. Had the people fought before, then Joly, Combeferre, Feuilly, Eponine and Gavroche might still live.
But still. Maybe the monarchy could yet fall.
And there was still the more pressing matter.
“Javert found me after I lost the guards,” he said and his friends were all shocked. Bahorel shouted a loud curse and rose to his feet to pace around the room, obviously nervous.
“How did you escape him? Did you kill the inspector?” Bahorel’s fierce eyes met his for a second and that rage was contagious.
“He let me go.”
At that, they all blinked confused and unbelieving. Courfeyrac finished bandaging Bossuet’s foot and looked at him. “Are you sure he didn’t follow you?”
Bossuet nodded. They all stayed in silence.
“Valjean let him go then. But the old man fought with us. He killed with us,” Bahorel muttered but the man was loud enough even when trying to be quiet.
“Javert letting you walk away is worrying. It makes no sense,” said Grantaire with a frown. When Courfeyrac spoke, they all turned attention to him. He had barely spoken since the day before, when the fight took place, too lost in sorrow and despair. The center of Les Amis was unbalanced and they didn’t know how to put him back on track.
“Maybe he realized enough blood has been spilled.” There were tears in his eyes and they were quiet after that.
They all got changed to eat and rest. When they were lying together on mattresses and blankets, Grantaire said, “Tomorrow we find Valjean. Marius must be with him.”
Bahorel said Valjean had carried Marius away from the barricade after the student had been shot. Maybe he still lived. “If we find them, we might have a chance to get revenge.”
They curled around each other and they all had anxious hearts. The prospect of fighting for the fallen, fighting even for the living, brings blood to their aching hearts and rage and hope follows within.