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End of the Beginning

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Enjolras wakes up with a startle. He dreamed about the final battle, of his fallen friends, of his long gone Patria.

He sighs. He can’t do this now. There’s no time to mourn for now it is the living that need his aid. He can’t give up the fight. Even though the people had given up on him before even giving him a chance, he can’t stop believing.

Maybe the barricades weren’t such a great idea. It is possible his plan wasn’t good even though he meant nothing but it. Still, he couldn’t stop thinking that had they been in more numbers things could have been different.

Enjolras closes his eyes again. Did he fail to convict the people of Paris? Didn't he make his anger and ideals clear?

He shakes his head and crawls to Jehan, who was still sound asleep. He looks at the poet and caresses his face, worried about him. His wound is healing but Prouvaire was so vulnerable when it came to feelings and Enjolras is afraid he wouldn’t overcome so much loss.

And loss was all they have left now.

Enjolras sighs. He is too depressed and that had to stop. So he takes a deep breath and decides to occupy himself. He shakes Jehan carefully.

“Good morning, mon ami,” says the poet as he wakes up, not turning away from the leader or showing any sign of surprise to find him so close.

“Are you feeling better?” Enjolras mastered a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, but Jehan didn’t seem to mind the pretense, at least for now.

Prouvaire sits up with help but his cheeks are colored and his wound clear of infection. He is healing.

“Does one ever feel good without his other half?” Jehan gives him a sad smile and Enjolras takes his hand. He listened when Jean first talked about this, when the poet confided in him with fear. Enjolras wasn’t sure he could help him then and he is certain he can’t provide comfort now.

But he looks at Jehan and he tries, “He lives in your heart, does he not? So you have him close.”

Jehan smiles weakly again and moves to stand up, leaning on the closest wall for support.

“For one who once claimed not to have ever loved, you know a lot about it, Enjolras.”

He follows Jehan up and keeps a hand on his back to help him should he falter on his way, but he doesn’t answer his friend.

He’s not sure he knows what to say.

They take turns on the tiny bathroom and they share bread and water. They don’t talk because they don’t have to. There is too much to be said and nothing at all that would give comfort. So they touch each other; a hand on a shoulder, a playful tickle. Fingers intertwined.

The revolutionaries had just sat again on their blankets when the guards entered the room. They had never seen this inquisitor. He wore all black was deathly pale. He also did not look at them as he spoke, quick and clear.

“Enjolras, leader of Les Amis de L’ABC, you have been pledged guilty of attempting to overthrow the monarchy and for that you’re sentenced to the gallows.” Enjolras heard Jehan gasp and try and move towards the guards in rage, so he took him in his arms before he could actually move. The man resumed talking as if nothing had happened, but the other guards all had their arms pointing towards the two friends. “Jean Prouvaire, you’ll serve in prison for 15 years. You’re to watch your leader fall at the end of the week. If you try to interfere, you’ll take place next to him.”

Enjolras still hadn’t released Jehan when the guards left. He kept him close, embraced him while the poet cried and at some point he’s almost sure he couldn’t let Jean go.

He depended on the man. Jehan pushed him away until they were each in one end of the room. The poet was fuming.

“What is the matter with you, Enjolras? Why didn’t you fight? Have you given up at last?” Enjolras wanted to tell him to stop moving so much, because his wound was still not completely healed, but he didn’t say a thing because there wasn’t time. “You can’t ask me to stay quiet when you’re being hanged!”

At that, Enjolras didn’t move. But his voice dropped an octave and that was enough. Jehan should be concerned to be on the receiving end of his leader’s wrath, but now he was only glad there was any anger left at all.

“Do you wish to die, then? Did you not say you feel lost without your beloved? Stay alive and search for him instead of becoming a meaningless martyr.”

Jehan took a few steps towards him and ignored the pain on his side when doing so, “You have no right. You can’t throw his name around like this.” He cried and for that he hated himself, cleaning the tears away with rage. “We don’t even know if Courfeyrac is even alive.”

Enjolras walked the rest of the way to reach him and took Jehan’s face between his hands, “Then don’t die before being sure. Heaven will be a lonely place without him to share it with.”

Jehan smiled weakly and looked down, “I never had him, Enjolras. It was all wishful thinking. It still is.”

The leader raised the other man’s shin and met his eyes with a mix of a soft and fierce stare, “Then keep wishing. And keep fighting. For him.”

“You can’t ask me to watch you die,” Jehan shook his head and more tears followed the ones already drying up.

“No, I can’t,” Enjolras sighed. “But I’m asking you to try.”

Jehan looked at him and the fire and the blaze in his eyes were both beautiful and concerning. But Jehan nodded and whispered, “I promise.”

Enjolras could pretend it was enough.

 


 

Grantaire had been watching from the top of the house when he spotted him. Valjean.

He whistled with all his breath and he saw as Bahorel’s head appeared roofs away from him. He signaled to the Elephant of Bastille and Bahorel whistled back. Grantaire climbed down and met Bossuet with a grin. “Let’s go.”

They put their hats on and disappeared in the crowd, meddling with the people. Grantaire saw as Courfeyrac reached the statue and soon tapped on his shoulder to make him follow his lead on Valjean. Bahorel found them a few moments later.

The friends pretended not to know one another so they wouldn’t gain undesired attention. Large groups of young men now meant trouble for the inspectors. And they weren’t looking for trouble. Not yet.

Bahorel spotted Valjean again and Grantaire nodded at Courfeyrac. They had all met Valjean at the barricades, but Courf had been the one more in touch with the old man and therefore more likely to be recognized by him as a harmless man.

Grantaire took his position nearby, as did Bossuet. Bahorel walked close to Courfeyrac.

Valjean was buying food and wine at a shop when Courfeyrac approached him slowly, pretending to be a buyer as he inspected some bread. The owner of the shop looked at him wearily but Courfeyrac did not falter. He only whispered at Valjean, not looking at him, “Hello Valjean. And please do not make a scene.”

The old man jumped in surprise, but Courfeyrac also saw him smile. “My dear boy. What are you doing out in the streets of Paris?”

Courfeyrac notices the concern on the man’s voice and feels his heart ache, “Can we have a word in private? I promise to be quick.”

Valjean pays the man and he puts a few extra coins after he notices the man trying to listen to their conversation. He motions for Courfeyrac to lead the way.

Bahorel joins them a few seconds later and Bossuet and Grantaire keep their distance while at the same time following close. They all meet on a street that leads to the Café Musain but that is not their destination. Not today.

They enter a house and Bossuet hugs Musichetta firmly before kissing her lips in a chaste kiss.

She had to move from their previous place and had somehow ended up here. Grantaire sighs. It was even worse than his old quarters and he once believe nothing could beat that.

Bossuet had been against meeting here but they had no other option and she had been fierce on wanting to help.

Valjean smiled as he watched them all, “My boys. I am so happy to see you all breathing. I did not believe any of you to yet live.”

Bahorel frowned, “Is Marius not alive? I saw you carrying him.”

Valjean looked surprised but nodded, “Yes, Marius is alive and recovering.”

And for the first time since the barricades fall, Courfeyrac smiled wide. “Can we see him, then?”

Before Valjean could answer, Grantaire stopped them all short. It was not the time.

“We need your help, Valjean.”

The old man looked at Grantaire and he had to check a second time, not recognizing him for a moment. Bahorel noticed this and snorted.

“Meet the sober Grantaire. Crazier than Enjolras.”  

Grantaire doesn’t even look at Bahorel. “What can I do for you, then?” asks Valjean.

“We know you didn’t kill Inspector Javert. Bossuet encountered him a few days ago. And we would love to repeat that.”

Valjean looked in awe at the bald man, “Did he talk to you?”

Bossuet shook his head, “Not. But he let me go without a scratch.”

Valjean hummed. He paced around and looked out the window. No one said a word as they all respected his moment. When he finally looked at the friends of the ABC, his eyes were hard.

“I can help you meet with him, but only as long as you promise not to lay a hand on the Inspector.”

Bahorel is about to argue when Courfeyrac takes a step towards Valjean, shaking his head, “We won’t. There’s been already enough blood spilled.”

Valjean nodded and smiled weakly, “It is settled then. I’ll contact you next week about when and where shall our next meeting be.”

Grantaire moved before thinking twice. Valjean was reaching for the doorknob when he positioned himself between Valjean and the exit. “Have you heard from Enjolras?”

Valjean looked at the door behind him, “No. The last time I saw him was at the Musain.”

Grantaire did not move. Something was not right. Valjean didn’t meet his eyes.

“That is not what I asked you. Have you hear anything about him?” he raised his voice and pressed closer to Valjean. He did not falter on his stare and Valjean didn’t move. Bahorel took a step to Grantaire and stood next to him in support.

Valjean shook his head. “Listen to your friend,” the old man pointed to Courfeyrac. “There’s been enough blood on both sides. Let this go.”

Grantaire grabbed him by his collar and even though Valjean was two times his size, he didn’t care. He needed to know about his Apollo.

“Tell me!”

And Valjean must have seen the desperation and grief and anger but most of all he probably saw the need in Grantaire’s eyes. Need for closure, for a cause to fight, for a reason to live. And Valjean couldn’t deny him that. The boy everyone always teased was now their pillar of hope. Valjean didn’t know how that happened, but if their drunkard earned something, it was respect. And answers.

“They will announce it tomorrow at the Place de la Bastille, but I heard a guard talking. Jean Prouvaire will serve fifteen years in prison starting the day after tomorrow,” Courfeyrac had to lean on Bossuet or he would faint. Jehan. Jean. His poet. His everything.

Valjean looked at him with pity in his eyes but when he looked back at Grantaire and Bahorel, there was also sadness in his iris, “Enjolras is going to be hanged at the same day.”

Grantaire let go of his collar as if he had been burned. The drunkard grasped for air and when Bahorel reached him, he shoved the man away.

He’s pretty sure he is having what Joly used to call as “panic attacks”.

Grantaire tried to calm himself down and he leaned both palms on a wall to avoid falling to the ground. His legs were shaky and actually, he was shaking all over. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on something, anything, even on Courfeyrac’s crying. But he only came to his senses when he heard a voice in his ear, “Are you good for anything, Grantaire?”

When Grantaire looked up and met worried stares, there it was again, “Be serious.”

So he took a deep breath and he didn’t care if they all saw how wounded he was or listened to the pain in his words; they all met his eyes with equal fierceness and devotion when he said, “We have two days to rescue them.”

No one smiled. And he hadn’t expected them to. In fact, each one of the amis looked shaken and Bahorel’s eyes were red, Courfeyrac gripped his own legs with almost numb fingertips and Bossuet was far away from Musichetta, looking outside the window to the clouds, or maybe searching for Joly?

Grantaire didn’t need any more answers.

The pain was enough for now.