It had cost Grantaire some time to find his room, and even more time to find sleep. In his dreams he kept seeing Enjolras. Swinging on a noose, with his head on the cutting block, being stabbed. Dream after dream Enjolras kept dying and dying and dying, until lying awake with his own thoughts almost seemed more pleasant than being asleep.
Breakfast was a silent one. It felt weird, sitting here with both inspector Javert and the mayor, like they were some strange, dysfunctional family. If anyone would have asked Grantaire a year ago where he would be in a year's time, this definitely would not have been his answer. And if anyone would have asked a week ago, this still would not have been his answer.
“Can I see him?” Grantaire was the one to break the silence.
Javert looked at him over his plate like Grantaire had disturbed him during something very important. Grantaire didn’t need to specify who this him was. It was clear for all of them.
“Why?” Javert asked. He looked at Grantaire just like the first time they had met. Like he was trying to get into Grantaire’s head and see through everything.
“Because there are some things I still want to say to him,” Grantaire answered. “If he is going to die tomorrow, this might be my only chance to get my own peace.” Because he couldn’t bear it not to see him. To know that the only time he would see Enjolras again was with a noose around his neck. Enjolras still hadn’t escaped, was still locked up in the dungeons - or so Grantaire had heard. His plan seemed to be failing, and the clock kept ticking those valuable seconds away.
He needed to see him one last time, before it would all be gone. Maybe it would be easier to forget those kisses then or the way Enjolras had stirred something inside him.
"This afternoon," Javert said. He definitely wasn't talkative in the morning. It was strange somehow, to have Javert decide. The mayor was sitting with them, and even though they kept the illusion for the outside world that he was still in charge (an illusion no one believed), here it was clear the inspector was the one giving the orders.
Grantaire nodded and focussed his attention on his own plate. It seemed better not to provoke the inspector, or let him do some digging of his own.
The rest of the day was an uncomfortable one. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, he was left alone with his thoughts and the memories of the trial. His own speech was remembered by heart, even when had improvised it all. He would hear his own words over and over again, until all he felt was empty.
It was almost a relief when the afternoon came and Grantaire could visit Enjolras. Almost. Because as a guard brought Grantaire to the dungeons, a knot in his stomach didn't want to leave. He was scared to see Enjolras, scared to see what has become of the once so strong and independent leader. Scared of showing Enjolras how scared he was.
Every step felt like an entire marathon.
There he was, sitting inside that cell. A chain around his foot, to keep him inside the cell. They didn’t trust the captain with only a lock. But at least chaining someone down by the ankle was human, right? Or was it too much like slaves, like a way to dehumanize somebody?
“Enjolras?” Grantaire said. He knew he was alone here. The guards were out of sight, out of hearing distance. For some reason Grantaire thought he had the mayor to thank for that.
Enjolras looked up. His hair was lying flat, was looking dirty. Even though he seemed unharmed, he had not been treated well these past days.
Slowly Enjolras rose to his feet. The chain around his ankle made a lot of noise. “Grantaire,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
“I just needed to see you,” Grantaire said. Even in this dirty state, the sight of Enjolras did something with him. He was once again so aware of the spots Enjolras had touched, how Enjolras’ lips seemed to know exactly those sensitive spots.
“I couldn’t let you enter that platform tomorrow without seeing you.” Maybe he wanted to say goodbye. It was as he had told Javert, he needed this for his own peace. Even when he knew he would definitely fail with that. There was no way he could ever make peace with what he had done.
Enjolras stepped even closer, until the ywere separated by a few stale bars. Grantaire had had his hands lying on the bars. Enjolras took them in his own.
“It will be fine, Grantaire,” ENjolras said softly.
Grantaire let out a chuckle. “How will it be fine? Everyone will be at high alert tomorrow. There is no way you will get out of there alive. Don’t try to sugarcoat me. We both know what is going to happen and we both know it won’t end well.” How was it that Enjolras was trying to comfort him, while it was his head on the chopping block? Enjolras should be the one who wanted to scream about the unfairness of it all. Who should feel like they were falling apart, like every breath could be the last one.
Enjolras squeezed his hand. “I know it doesn’t feel like it. But you’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.” No he definitely wasn’t going to be fine. Not when every night he saw Enjolras in his dreams. Not when his heart almost didn’t beat, trying to handle the situation.
He shook his head. It wasn’t an attempt to hide his watery eyes, really. “I- I can’t,” he mumbled. “You’re dying and it’s my fault and I can’t let you go.” Enjolras pulled him closer, until only the metal bars separated the two men. He put his arms around Grantaire. To hold him, just a little longer.
“I’m scared,” Grantaire mumbled. He couldn’t bear to lose Enjolras. Even when the captain didn’t know it, he had become so very important for Grantaire.
“Me too,” Enjolras answered. It was the first time since Enjolras had told him he had a plan, he showed any kind of doubt. “There is a plan and if it all goes well, it will be fine. But…”
“But there’s Javert,” Grantaire finished. He wanted to pull the man even closer, but he couldn’t. He wanted to melt into those arms, to be with Enjolras forever.
“Yes. There’s Javert.”
What a cross to bear it must be, deliberately risking your own life for the greater good, as Enjolras had called it. He was putting himself in danger, risking everything he had. It was something Grantaire could never do. Not for the world, not for everyone else. Perhaps that was the difference between Grantaire and Enjolras. Grantaire cared about a few, would hurt everyone else for those few. Enjolras would give up everything for the world, even those he cared about.
Grantaire knew that for Enjolras saving the world would always be the ultimate goal. Anyone else would be in second place.
“You should go,” ENjolras whispered. In response Grantaire only held on tighter.
“I don’t want to go,” he said. The next time he would see Enjolras, he would be walking to his death. He wanted to postpone that moment, wanted to stay here as long as possible.
But Enjolras began to free himself from Grantaire’s grip. The place where his hands had been around Grantaire’s body felt empty. “I know,” he said. “But you should.”
"This isn’t goodbye, Grantaire." Then why did it feel like it was?
Walking away from Enjolras felt so, so difficult. He kept turning around, kept looking at Enjolras. He wanted to remember his face, the freckles on his cheeks, how his eyes would lit up when he became passionate about something. Anything to remember the captain by.
His feet had barely brought Grantaire back to his room when he broke. He almost collapsed on the ground, hugging his knees tightly while tears were streaming down his face. He just couldn’t control the sobbing, how his body would shake. Everything seemed to be shaking. He needed someone, anyone, so badly. He needed Éponine, or Joly. Or Courfeyrac. Just a shoulder to cry on, someone to hold him until he wasn’t breaking into many more pieces, to be there for him until he would be able to fix himself.
But there was nobody but the cold, hard floor.
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