And when the big day fell, it was more difficult to let Enjolras go. They had never told each other what this was, what it meant. Was it for Enjolras the same as for Grantaire?

Was it a longing for a little bit of peace, a way to keep on breathing, to feel his heart and to know he was still alive? An attraction he couldn’t hold back, a feeling no one could really describe, a necessity to survive in this world?

Or was it merely because Enjolras didn't want to be alone?

But they had to get up, had to get dressed. Had to greet everyone from Les Amis like it wasn't the last time they would see each other.

"My friends," Enjolras started speaking when everyone had arrived. "Today is the day. Today we will show Javert that Nassau will not stand silent while he tries to take us down. They tried to take our identity, our very belonging, and twist it into something we're not. But that will end today. Today we will take back what's ours. Today is judgment day, and we will not stand quietly." People were roaring as one. They were ready for whatever would come. Grantaire had seen Les Amis work together to capture a ship, but like this? This was a machine, ready to take off.

"I will not lie. What we will do, is not without risk. I wouldn’t blame anyone if they wanted to retreat." Did Grantaire imagine it or stayed Enjolras' gaze a bit too long on him?

"And in the event that not all of us make it today, I want to thank you. Thank you for sailing with me, for all those years we spent together, all this time you were there for me. It has been an honor."

And with those words, everyone was sent to their places.

It felt like an eternity, standing there waiting for Javert and his troops to appear. Every day they made their rounds, and it was quite a happening. They would always end up in the center of the town, usually with some poor fellow who had committed a crime and was sentenced to be in the pillory for the day.

And that was where they would make a stand. In the corridors around the center they would have a large base. The people of Nassau would hear them. And just as they had been moved to action by Enjolras earlier, they would join them now.

Yes, it felt like an eternity until they heard the footsteps, so coordinated it sounded like one. Javert’s troops were disciplined, more than Les Amis could ever be. Because they had no mind of their own, Enjolras would say. They cannot think anything else than they are programmed to think. It was the power of Les Amis, to have a mind of their own. It made it almost impossible to have a disciplined group.

When the troops came, everyone moved aside to give them space. It was expected of them and it almost looked respectful. If Grantaire hadn’t seen the silent smiles on everyone’s face, knowing it was merely an act than a token of respect, he would have thought the same too.

But then everything happened fast. Enjolras stepped forwards, waving the red flag. They had chosen red, no longer black. Even though they had spent most their lives sailing under the black flag, red was a sign of protest. Black was merely a sign of mourning.

People were screaming, the troops were getting into place. A shot was fired. It was the start of revolution - or was it the end?

Javert’s troops stepped forwards, forcing them back, slowly and steady. They had counted on that, of course. They knew Javert would want to push back, would not let this opportunity pass to capture Enjolras and stop Les Amis once and for all. And so, while keeping the charade on that they were pushed back, they actually lured Javert into the narrow alleys. The blockages were placed already.

And while Les Amis held them busy, with their swords and guns, people fell. Soldiers fell, but even in the midst of the battle, even when Grantaire was busy fighting those guys, he could see how a sword pierced Feuilly. How Bahorel pulled his friend back to defend him with all his might. That man was a tornado, but even he could not hold up forever, especially while defending a wounded friend.

But they held on, with all their might. They fought and fought. Steel hit steel, steel hit flesh. Bullets hit wood, or flesh, or nothing. They would hold on, until the town replied. Until they would stand together and show those soldiers not to mess with Nassau. In an alley like this, the soldiers wouldn’t stand a chance against Nassau.

Nothing happened.

They stood alone. Everyone had relied on the town to stand up, to show their strength. What if they wouldn’t come? Javert's troops were powerful, and were no longer few. What if Les Amis would stand alone? How long could they hold their position?

What if they would die here?

Grantaire could almost see it happening. People were dying around him. People he had loved, had cared about. Brothers, husbands. They would leave a family behind to mourn their deaths - if they dared. Because no one could mourn a pirate in public.

People would be dying, until Les Amis would be forced to retreat. Javerts troops would come in closer, until just a single door would separate them. A door didn’t block steel bullets.

And eventually that door would break. The troops would walk in. They would see Enjolras, standing strong as ever. Waving the red flag in a final rebellion. Vive la revolution. His blood would be just as red.

They stood alone, and they would die alone.

And when Enjolras gave the sign to retreat, when they had to hide behind those wooden doors with only a few wooden closets to help close it down, Grantaire missed some people. Bahorel was kneeling down next to Feuilly, trying to close the wound with his hand. Marius was supporting a limping Éponine. Enjolras was trying to build a more secure fort of closets together with Courfeyrac. But where was Joly? Or Bossuet? Musichetta was huddled in a corner, with Jehan softly stroking her hair. Cosette had never been here, Grantaire knew. Her father had kept her out of the danger. But Montparnasse had stood next to Jehan when the fight had begun. Now there was no sign of him.

They heard a scream, followed by a shot. Then silence. It was a silence on both sides. The shot wasn’t followed by another scream, and they all knew what that had meant. They all had recognised Joly’s voice. The once so optimistic man, with his laugh that could make feel anyone welcome and could comfort anyone. No one would hear that sound again.

“We need to go.” The words of Enjolras sounded hollow. Yes, they needed to go. But none of them really wanted to leave. Leaving would mean leaving their men, their friends, behind, even when they all knew there was no one left to leave behind. Bossuet, Montparnasse, Combeferre. Joly.

“Take the window on the first floor. Stay on the roofs and move as quickly and quietly as possible,” Enjolras instructed them all. “Help each other, especially those who are injured. And get the fuck out of here. Outside of town you will find a young boy, going by the name of Gavroche. He will help you get out of here. Tell him I sent you.”

Bahorel looked at Enjolras. “Why don’t you tell it him yourself?”

Enjolras grabbed the pole of the red flag tightly. “I will buy you some time.”

There was no time to argue, even though every single living member wanted to. There was no time to lose, and even with the few seconds Enjolras could buy them, there was no telling whether they would survive the flight. Feuilly was really badly injured and would slow them down, Éponine could only move slowly. But one by one they climbed the window, until it was only Grantaire and Enjolras inside the room. The others walked, crawled over the rooftops. All they could do was hope for them to get out of here. If even one soldier would look up, they would all be dead.

“It’s time to go, Grantaire,” Enjolras said softly.

Grantaire shook his head. “I’m staying with you.” A suicide mission, he knew. There was no way Enjolras was leaving that room alive. But Grantaire had realized something during the past few days, the past few minutes perhaps. He would never survive without Enjolras. He needed the man to breathe, to keep his heart beating. Even leaving him behind to save himself would merely mean a slower, and much more painful death.

And then all they could do was wait. They could hear the banging on the door, the loud and steady sign Javert was working his way inside. They could see the closets falling apart, moving out of the way of the wooden door. They could see the light coming in through the ever-growing crack, until the crack was large enough to let a man pass.

One by one the soldiers flocked inside, until there was no more room left. Enjolras and Grantaire stood next to each other, blocking the window, and therefore the view on the others, with their bodies.

“And finally we meet again,” Javert said. If he was surprised to only find two men, he didn’t show it. Did that mean the others had been found already? Or did Javert only care about the grand price, the famous captain himself?

His gaze landed on Grantaire. “I should have known it,” he said. “No one is able to resist that man. There was no way you could, not after spending so much time on sea. I should never have believed your anger.”

“And yet you did.” Grantaire’s mouth felt dry. Standing next to Enjolras, being judged by Javert. It had to come to this. He had been eating on both sides, even if one side had been only an act. But now they had come to the end of the play, the climax had come and it had been time to reveal his true colors. Yet it felt naked, it felt vulnerable, even when he had chosen this.

“You can still change,” Javert said. “You can still choose the right path, instead of sharing the fate of this lunatic.”

Grantaire shook his head. This was the right path, even if it made him like Enjolras, a lunatic, a fanatic, a doomed one. He would never betray Enjolras.

“And do you have to say some final words?” Javert asked Enjolras. His execution might have been delayed, but was still inevitable. He still had the right to ask for his final condonation.

In response, Enjolras held the red flag high. “Vive la revolution,” he said. “To a free Nassau.”

Javert aimed his gun. His soldiers followed, until there were several guns pointing at both Enjolras’ and Grantaire’s chest. And yet he didn’t feel afraid. He was going to die, he knew that. But he had chosen to stay by Enjolras’ side, and to die by his side.

Enjolras took his hand.

It felt like slow motion, the bullets coming to him. The bullets piercing his skin one by one. He had always known Enjolras would be his undoing. He had always known he was walking a treacherous path, always balancing between that goddamn smile and losing himself. Worshiping a cruel god was a dangerous thing to do, and would never end well for the human. Worshiping a god who didn't know their cruelty would end up even worse.

But as he felt the bullets hit his body, as he saw his blood mix with Enjolras', their hands still clasped together, he knew he would blindly choose this path all over again.

He would devote himself to Enjolras all over again, even if it would just end in death, and destruction, and desolation all over again. Enjolras was his Apollo, and he was Icarus, reaching for something he would never have.

And when his body hit the ground, he finally understood how falling could feel like flying too. There was a bitter triumph in crashing when you should be soaring.

Reageer (2)

  • Renna

    Shiiiiit I knew how it was gonna end but still the tragedy man 😭❤
    But also: love love love that final line!!

    2 maanden geleden
  • Phlegethon

    Oh no. /: I do love how closely it still esembles the end in Les Mis and how your ending works with the title.

    2 maanden geleden

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