16. Some Will Fall and Some Will Live

In the street, Enjolras looks around. It is quite quiet. The bourgeois are hiding from the little pockets of revolution. He says, "Vive la république," experimentally. It carries well since the street is still.

"Amen," says Grantaire from the doorstep, not with conviction, but cheerfully.

Enjolras had thought he was alone. His eyebrows lift, and he almost smiles at Grantaire again. "You are coming with me? Did Combeferre order you to bring me back, dead or alive?" It's almost a joke, but not.

"Alive," Grantaire says, quite seriously, coming down the steps. "You heard the man. No, he didn't send me, I came of my own accord. He may trust you not to get yourself shot in an excess of fervor, but I don't. You get so carried away."

He is joking, now. It must be an excess of gladness that Chantal is safe. "I had to be last night, that's certain." Enjolras shakes his head. "I'd rather be in some excess of conviction than of alcohol. Certitude never gave anyone a hangover."

Grantaire concedes, "This is probably true. But at least now you can say you've tried both."

Enjolras says dryly, "Hurrah." He backs up a step, away from the building. "Where shall we go to find guns and men?"

Grantaire protests, "A learning experience! Broadening your horizons!" And then, "Hell if I know."

Enjolras nods, turning away. "As I thought. We should begin with the universities, I think." In a tone that is a parody of his own orations, he says, "After all, students are firm in their beliefs, and they will follow the shining light of Justice to their deaths if they must." He clears his throat, then continues in a much more subdued tone, "I only hope that they have not lost too many over the night."

Grantaire says practically, "Won't they all have gone off already?"

"Perhaps. Who would have guns, then?"

"Oh, very well," Grantaire says, and shoves his hands in his pockets. "Lead on."

Enjolras walks several blocks toward the nearest college before he pauses, and asks, "Are you certain you want to go back? It may be hideous."

Grantaire shrugs. "So are most things."

Enjolras stops himself from sighing, reminds himself precisely whom he's walking with, and continues on.

Grantaire follows along, unperturbed, almost cheerful.

Enjolras stops outside a stately building, cups his hands around his mouth, and yells, "Vive la République!"

Grantaire winces faintly. "Doesn't that make your head worse?" he asks, but he asks it quietly.

Enjolras is entirely devoid of any sort of humor at this point. "Not at all," he says in a rather arch tone. "It wouldn't matter if it did, besides. I have no right to coddle my head when my friends may be dying."

A head sticks out of one of the upper windows in the edifice. "Who's down there? Don't you know the funeral was yesterday?"

Grantaire murmurs, "Isn't that nice." He squints up at the windows. "Ah. Life stirs."

Enjolras calls up to the student, "The funeral was yesterday. The revolution is today."

A second voice drifts through the window. "...going on...?"

The boy looks surprised, as you might imagine, but not unpleasantly so. "Is it? I'll tell this lot, and see what they think."

Grantaire grins crookedly. "You really are good at this," he says in an undertone.

"As they say, practice makes perfect."

There is a short conversation, stray words of which drift down to the street. Then, the first head is back at the window. "We've got four men, and some bullets."

Enjolras shouts, "That's enough to start. Come down to the street!"

Grantaire looks on with a faint air of amusement.

Four young men come out of the building all in a heap and begin cheering. One, apparently the leader, asks, "Where are we going? Who are we going to kill?"

A snort escapes Grantaire.

Enjolras is in his element. "We are going to the Rue de la Chanvrerie to deal with the National Guard." He makes it sound like a picnic. "Now, do you know of anyone who shares your political sympathies?"

Another of the boys says, "We have many friends. Some of them even have guns." He offers a box of bullets to Grantaire, as proof of his own pitiable condition. "We don't."

Grantaire looks at the object as though he doubts its cleanliness, but he takes it. May as well make himself useful.

Enjolras listens to the leader. "Then let's go. There is no time to waste."

When the new recruits, some one hundred men strong, are several blocks from the Rue de la Chanvrerie, Enjolras calls a halt.

Grantaire, trailing along somewhere on the fringes, where he can keep an eye on Enjolras without being a nuisance, pauses on a doorstep and listens.

Enjolras announces, "We are near the barricade. It would do little good to join the men inside, but if we ambush the National Guardsmen who are attacking it, we can remove much of the threat before they are able to do so much as turn their cannon around."

"Now you're talking," someone approves.

"To do this properly, we need to be quiet. All men with guns, to the fore, now. The rest, be ready to assist where you are needed." Enjolras waits for this to be acknowledged, then hefts his borrowed gun and leans onward.

There's a rustling murmur in the ranks as they move to obey.

Which leaves Grantaire in a quandary. Enjolras is bidding fair to get himself killed, and the R can't have that now of all times. On the other hand, he's unarmed, which is largely because he wouldn't know what to do with a weapon if he had one. He frowns darkly, and pushes forward to pull at Enjolras' sleeve.

Enjolras is in no mood to deal with Grantaire. "What?" he asks shortly.

Grantaire leans in. "This isn't me, this is Combeferre. Be careful." He lets go.

Enjolras steps out of the way of the crowd of men, turning and stopping to protest, "I cannot be careful!"

"And I can't get involved in revolutions. Just watch yourself, will you kindly? You've a wedding to attend. All right?"

The men in the front line pause as their nominal leader falters, and the men behind them stop to avoid running into them. This continues until they have all stopped. Several ask, "What's the problem?"

Grantaire ignores them with the grand indifference of a man with a fixation.

For a moment, Enjolras considers Chantal, and that he ought to be with her, and not here. The sentiment fades from his face, and he turns to the men. "We are almost there," he says. "See, in the next street are the sentries."

The two Guardsmen left in the next street were upset to be excluded from the fighting. Sentry duty? It's a barricade! How are they going to leave? We've got guns pointed at them! After several hours of complaints in this vein, they began playing cards and drinking, and once it got dark, just drinking. They're sound asleep, heads pillowed on the curb.

Grantaire shoots the Fearless-not-to-say-Reckless Leader one hard look, and falls back, staying out of the way.

The poor bastards never have a chance. Half a dozen insurgents are on them within a minute, and one of them is summarily disposed of before anyone even contemplates doing otherwise.

Enjolras leaps into the fracas to stop them from dispatching the second. "Tie him up," he orders. "He'll do no harm here. And take his comrade's gun." He takes the one from the living man himself, and looks for his own conspicuously unarmed companion in the morbidly eager crowd.

Somewhat abashed, the rebels do as he orders. Grantaire, looking on from the back of the throng with a grim expression, catches the glance and lifts a hand by way of asserting that he's still here.

Enjolras skirts the edge of the group until he's by Grantaire, and offers him the gun. "If you want me to be careful, you must do the same. All of the Guardsmen will want to shoot you, and if you are unarmed, you cannot defend yourself or anyone else."

Grantaire blinks, hesitating. The obvious question is 'What about you?', but being Grantaire, he says gruffly instead, "I wouldn't know what to do with it."

Enjolras looks slightly shocked. He hadn't considered that possibility. He holds his own gun to demonstrate. "One hand here, the other there, pull the trigger and watch out for the kickback."

"God's sake," mutters Grantaire, and, "Never mind. I can duck."

Enjolras frowns in a show of royal displeasure. "Damn it, take the gun." That is definitely an order. "I won't have you dead because you were defenseless."

Grantaire takes the thing gingerly. "And you're going to duck, yes?"

"If the opportunity presents itself, yes, I will duck." He's slightly relieved that Grantaire took the weapon, because even though he does not care for the fellow, Combeferre does, and if one does not trust one's brother-in-law and best friend, one is lost. He walks back to the head of the throng.

Grantaire watches him go, and looks back down at the firearm with unveiled distaste, not to mention befuddlement.

Enjolras surveys the men at his command, looks over to where the dead sentry lies, and where the live one is tightly bound, and asks, "Are we ready?"

A murmur of assent.

"Then forward! To the future! For France!" Enjolras's battle cries lose no fervor by being quiet. Undismayed by Grantaire's solicitous warning, he sets off down the street in the lead.

The crowd surges after him, trailing a dubious R in their wake.

The National Guard is not paying any attention to their back. They know that there are sentries there taking care of any new disturbances. This particular group of soldiers has a barricade to attack, and, more importantly at the moment, they have captured a rebel from it. As the new group approaches, the Guardsmen prepare to destroy their prisoner like the proverbial one rat among nine cats. The scene makes very little sense to the men who are arriving from behind the troops. It merely seems to them that the Guard is distracted. This is a boon, not to be questioned.

The young captive is deathly pale, and his grey eyes are unnaturally bright, but he stands very still and very calm against the wall where they've placed him. Either he's too stunned to realize his position, or too fey to care.

The four men assigned to execute this treasonous boy begin to count. "One."

The rebel winces, dropping his gaze for a moment. He whispers something rapidly, inaudible even at ten paces, and clenches his hands at his sides.


Jean Prouvaire's nails cut into his palms, and he raises his head resolutely. Which lets him see the miniature army advancing just behind the soldiers, with Enjolras in the lead. Relief, renewed terror, despair, and a kind of mad exultation follow each other in succession, between one heartbeat and the next, and in the third he shouts on a gasped breath, "Vive la France! Long live the future!" To the National Guard he no doubt appears wild-eyed, staring into some mythical tomorrow, but in point of fact his gaze is fixed on Enjolras, and he is almost, almost smiling.

"Three." The four men fire.

Prouvaire's shout is echoed, after the shot, by Enjolras's answering cry. "Vive la France!" He can only say the first word, but that is enough. The men behind him surge forward even as he falters, taking up the battle cry with full lung power.

Inside the barricade, Courfeyrac cries out, "Jehan!" but far too late for the fallen poet. His anguish is replaced by bewilderment when the cries of "Vive la France!" continue, and more shots ring through the street.

Grantaire stops short, stunned. Was that who it sounded like? From behind upwards of a hundred men, he naturally can't see, and that's probably just as well. All he has the presence of mind to do is stumble out of the way.

Manon breaks into a stream of profanity to rival a sailor's, and pushes forward to scale the barricade recklessly, shouting abuse at the Guards; then she stops in mid-curse, and almost falls back into the street, tearful black eyes wide. For once, she's speechless.

Joly has been staying out of the way, for the most part, but when the shooting begins he and Bossuet come to the edge of the barricade. "What's going on?" Joly asks, along with every other man there.

"Prouvaire," Feuilly explains, but he's distracted by the sudden ruckus, and, to a lesser degree, by Manon's carrying on. "What in the hell are they doing?"

Enjolras has fallen aside, for reasons which are not clear to the men in the street, but they have the momentum of an angry mob, and carry on quickly toward the Guard without his assistance. "Vive la France! Vive la République!" Before the cannon can be turned, the gunner is dead. Before the infantry can descend, the first rank is down. Some of the rebels in the street are down, as well, but their compatriots carry on without them.

Bossuet makes for the barricade to find out. Courfeyrac is climbing beside him, and a bit above, so he is the first to shout, "They're here!"

Grantaire dodges gunfire as best he can while keeping an eye on Enjolras and trying to figure out just what has just occurred.

"The bastard," Manon gasps, on the crest of a wave of hysterical laughter. "He did it. The bastard. The golden-haired son of a bitch, he's done it!"

Enjolras is not doing anything just now. He is not making a particularly conspicuous target. Chantal would be proud. He is leaning, and half sitting, against a building, and has a handkerchief to his eyes.

Joly makes it up the pile of stones with remarkable speed for a poor sick lad, and joins in the cheering. He breaks off, though, and asks Bossuet, "Where is he, though? It must have been Enjolras, but where is he right now?"

All the R's instincts are after him to cross the street to offer what comfort he can, but his faculty of logic, for once, is functioning enough to tell him that Enjolras would probably not appreciate this. He stays where he is, in what cover he can find.

Presently Manon recovers herself enough to clamber up beside the boys, perching there while she attempts to get the better of her giggles. "Damn. What a comeback."

The Guardsmen are not faring well. The reinforcements have decimated them effectively, to the point where some of the new men have the time to make their way around to the Rue Mondetour, and thence into the barricade to offer fresh ammunition and cheers.

Courfeyrac clambers down from the barricade to greet the new arrivals. "Welcome!" he says to the first. They are very different; Courfeyrac is dirty and rather wan from missing a night of sleep, while this new fellow has just come from home and is clean and healthy. "Where's Enjolras?"

There are only about fifteen Guardsmen left. One of the men, remembering the fiasco with the sentries, tries to take control and orders, "Tie them all up! We'll serve them to Louis-Philippe for dinner, but don't kill them yet!"

Feuilly, who when he stops being phlegmatic becomes positively manic, fairly flings himself on an arriving acquaintance and thumps him on the back. Desmarais, of a more even temperament, emerges cautiously from Corinth with his face alight.

The fellow addressed by Courfeyrac blinks, and glances around at his comrades. "He was here a minute ago." A few of them start to look uncertain.

Courfeyrac persists, and begins to look worried. "He was leading the charge, wasn't he?"

Grantaire's lethargic courage revives a bit, and with a final glance at Enjolras he moves forward to help subdue the remaining soldiers. He still doesn't know what to do with the damned gun, but if necessary he's perfectly capable of knocking people on the head.

Joly and Bossuet join the questioning crowd. "You were following him, weren't you? Was Combeferre with him?"

"Yes," the newcomer assures Courfeyrac quickly, "he was ... he was with us a minute ago," he explains again. And then, "I don't know your Combeferre. I didn't join up until late..." He's terribly flustered now.

On the crest of the barricade, Manon says softly, "There he is." As the dust settles, things grow clearer below, and she has now spotted the upset Enjolras. "Lord, have mercy."

It is quiet outside the barricade, now, or at least the air is free of gunshots. The men are cheering. Enjolras looks up and sees first the fallen Prouvaire, and then the victory. The first brings fresh tears to his eyes. The latter brings him to his feet with a shout of "Vive la France!" though his throat is thick, and his voice lacks its normal ringing quality.

Manon raises a hand and calls back firmly, "Vive la République."

Joly asks, not of the man being interrogated, but of anyone, "If Combeferre isn't here, where is he?" No one has an answer.

There are a couple of mutters of "haven't seen him", but most of the men look blank. Enjolras is much more visible on the whole than Combeferre.

The men in the street, having bound the remaining Guardsmen, echo Manon's shout, and some come over to Enjolras, thumping him on the back. "Did you miss the whole battle like that? Pity! It was a good one."

Courfeyrac hears the first shout, then Manon's, and turns away from the knot of people to go out into the street. "Who's down there?" he asks her as he climbs.

"Him," Manon says laconically. She seems drained suddenly.

Courfeyrac frowns at first, then recognizes Enjolras in the midst of a group of people. "We did it!" he calls out to all of them as he goes down the other side of the barricade. Manon can be drained all she likes, after the victory party. Until them, he is not paying attention to her.

Feuilly glances back at Joly, and ventures, "I would guess from last night's demonstration he's probably keeping Car-- the girl under guard."

Joly, never one to miss a potential double entendre, says, "Under guard? I should think so!" and nudges Bossuet, who attempts, half-heartedly, to quell him.

Grantaire is drawn, iron-filing-wise, across the street toward Enjolras once all is settled. His hands are in his pockets again.

Feuilly rolls his eyes. "That was bad, Jolllly."

Enjolras's face is streaked with a few tears. He shares the triumphant spirit, but he cannot forget Jehan. In a quiet voice, he says, "We did it," to Grantaire. It almost sounds like an apology, but if he wants to say more, he is interrupted by the arrival of Courfeyrac.

Courfeyrac embraces Enjolras as a dog leaps upon its people after a long parting. "You're here! We did it! We drove back the Guard! Can you believe it? We won!"

Grantaire nods a little, soberly, before stepping back swiftly to make way for the tornado that is Courfeyrac.

Enjolras is a bit taken aback. He musters a slight smile. "If only we had been a minute sooner," he says, almost wistfully.

Manon is quiet atop the barricade. Her eyes stray from Enjolras to Prouvaire, looking very small and childlike at the base of the stone wall, to the bound and fuming soldiers, to the somber capital R, to her exuberant lover, and thence to Enjolras again. She rests her chin on her folded hands.

This lack of glee calms Courfeyrac as little else could have. "Jehan. Yes." He shakes his head. "But think, you saved us all, and not only are we alive, we won."

"I suppose we did, but the King is still alive." Enjolras turns away and looks over the jubilant crowd outside the barricade, at the barricade itself, and at the men leaving it to join the celebration. He only winces slightly when he sees Prouvaire. "We must move on. Surely you are not the only ones in need of rescue."

Grantaire, standing a little apart from this conversation, seems slowly to be overtaken by a thought. He glances again at Enjolras, then quietly crosses the street again, leaning down to gather up Prouvaire's body with as much dignity as possible. It's a tricky proposition, for Jehan though slight was somewhat gangly, but he does his best.

Enjolras pales, and asks, instead of ordering, "Would you put him in Corinth, with the old man, Monsieur Mabeuf? Please, Grantaire?"

Courfeyrac is surprised, not only by the politeness of the question, but by the frailty of the tone in which it is delivered. "Shouldn't you go home to your sister, Enjolras? Make sure she's all right? Have a little rest? You must be exhausted. I know I am."

Grantaire inclines his head in acquiescence, like some grim and silent faithful retainer of the Middle Ages, because he can't trust himself to speak. With great care, he straightens, and starts for the corner of the Rue Mondetour.

Manon buries her face in her hands for a bit.

"No!" That comes out with more clarity than all of the request of Grantaire. The following sentence contradicts the power of the first word, because Enjolras is worn out by more than just the barricade. "I can do this. I have to do this. Now."

Grantaire starts a bit at that denial, but recovers.

Courfeyrac shakes his head. "Listen to yourself. You found all of these men. Surely they can manage to continue." He adds, quizzically, "After all, you didn't even lead them to the foot of the barricade."

Enjolras asks in a strained voice, "How could I? Jehan." Perhaps he called Prouvaire "Jean" once before today. Possibly. His voice trembles, but he continues. "It was too much, just then, when I was so sure that I'd brought you all victory after leaving so idiotically. I brought new fighters. You were all supposed to be safe. I could not save him."

Manon raises her head with a curious twist which brings her eyes in contact with her sleeve, and unfolds in order to drop down on the other side of the barricade. Darn right she's been eavesdropping. Only poor-spirited wenches can't cry and eavesdrop at the same time.

Courfeyrac does not know how to cope with a crying Enjolras. He wishes, fleetingly, that Combeferre was here to help. "You saved us. You helped us win. If you don't get to sleep soon, you won't be able to save yourself."

Manon crosses the street briskly, and, failing to ask permission, puts a sisterly arm about Enjolras' shoulders. "Enjolras. It's not your fault, about Jehan. It's these bastards' fault--" she jerks her head toward the captive soldiers as she digs out a handkerchief. "Or maybe," she goes on steadily, "it's our fault for letting him fall into their hands. But it is no way on God's earth your fault. How could you know? How could you do more than you did?"

It is Enjolras's turn to be surprised. Support from Manon is unprecedented, but welcome. "You're probably right," he says in an oddly subdued voice. His shoulders slump. "And you want me to go home, don't you, Maman Manon?" It's almost a tease, but without enough energy to be a real joke.

Courfeyrac looks from one to the other, shaking his head. He says nothing, because there is nothing to say. What a very odd, very long day it has been.

She quirks a bit of a rueful smile at that, tightening her arm about him. "You're impossible," she says gently. "You've just done the impossible, you've saved all our lives-- can't you let us take care of you now?" She darts a fleeting wry glance at Courfeyrac. "You're only one man, Enjolras. Go a little easy on yourself."

Enjolras's tone is bitter. "I did that last night. I saw what happened. Perhaps, if I had been here, I could have stopped it." He sighs, and nearly leans his head on her shoulders. "It would be nice to see Chantal, and tell her that we are alive." He pauses for a moment. "Yes. I should go home. I only hope Combeferre can forgive me."

Manon sighs at that, looking down at the ground. "God, that's right, we'll have to tell him." She glances at the barricade a moment, then looks back at the two of them. "Let's go in for a bit, sort things out, and then we'll walk you home, Enjolras. Will that resign you, hmm, if you can get me out of your sacred barricade by going?" Her tone is lightly teasing. Very lightly.

The answer shows no response to the tease at all. "I was not the one who sanctified this ground." Enjolras looks up, and at the men, who are rather perplexed as to this whole situation, but not asking. "Yes. If you walk me home, I will go."

Manon pats his shoulder gently. "All right then." She looks up at Courfeyrac, offering her other arm.

Courfeyrac manages to smile at that, though he doesn't understand what either of his favorite people are thinking. He takes Manon's arm. "Yes, we'll walk you home. No trouble at all." He is interrupted by a huge yawn. "And then, to bed. Being alive is enough for me. Someone else can deal with the government."

Manon half-smiles, and guides them both back toward Corinth.

Once they reach the Corinth, Enjolras disengages himself from Manon with a slight nod and smile. He takes several deep breaths, then begins to speak. "Fellow citizens of the Republic," there is a cheer from the crowd, "we have won the battle, but the war is not over! For true victory, we must remove the canker named Louis-Philippe from our lives and government, forever!" Another cheer. "There can be no better time to do this. Let us gather armaments and go!"

Manon exchanges a Look with Courfeyrac, as more cheers rise from the crowd. They're maybe somewhat more ragged cheers from those who've been here for twenty-four hours, but they're still cheers.

Courfeyrac notes the look, and that his comrades from the night before are just as tired as he and Manon are. He steps forward a bit so he's next to Enjolras, and declares, "Men, I think that everyone who was here last night should have a vacation today. Go home. Sleep. Be glad that you are alive!" He puts a hand on Enjolras's shoulder. "Leave the fighting to those who have energy enough to carry through to the end. To the Republic!" There is another cheer.

Manon relaxes. That's her man. "The Republic!" she echoes, along with the rest. And barely restrains herself from adding something about chicken soup.

Desmarais tries not to look overly relieved. He's willing to fight on, but he's been worried about Marie and the children. Others of the crowd appear similarly appreciative.

Enjolras was going to attempt to join the fighting force in the bump and jostle of leaving, but with Courfeyrac in this mood, and Manon just behind him, he realizes that he will have to go home, or at least to Combeferre's apartment. He raises his voice, and says, "Let those who can gather guns and complete what was started here. Vive la France!" Even as the echo comes, he turns away from the position of control, giving up the right to orate.

Another man, one of the new recruits, steps up as soon as Enjolras has moved a step away and begins to say, "Here's what we'll do. We need to collect all of the guns that the Guardsmen had, and as many of the uniforms as are salvageable."

Joly slumps slightly against Bossuet. "Oh, what a good idea. Home. Bed. With Musichetta."

A few of the insurgents chuckle, already getting his drift. "That's the ticket!" and similar murmurs drift up, even as the Chanvrerie veterans start to drift thankfully away from the throng.

Manon moves to take Courfeyrac's and Enjolras' arms again. "All right," she murmurs soothingly. "We're all right, now."

Bossuet agrees, putting an arm around Joly's waist and starting to walk home with him. "That sounds like just the thing."

Grantaire, slouched dully against a wall, his shirt slightly bloodstained, does not react at once. He watches the others filter out with a sort of detached indifference.

Enjolras shakes his head. "It won't be all right. What if she's angry with me?" He's not asking Manon or Courfeyrac, but he doesn't seem to be able to stop worrying. "I hope she understands, but how could she? I don't understand, myself."

Feuilly cuffs Desmarais lightly on the shoulder -- he has to reach up -- and together they walk slowly toward the door.

Manon just pats Enjolras' shoulder again and tries to keep him on the path toward the doorway.

Courfeyrac glances at Manon, and decides that he cannot cope with Enjolras in this particular mood. He casts about for someone or something else to address. "Grantaire, you're going home, aren't you?"

Grantaire stares blankly at him for a moment. Then he shrugs. "I suppose so."

Courfeyrac offers, "Why don't you walk with us?"

There is another lag. Then: "Very well," Grantaire says dully, and pushes away from the wall.

Enjolras raises his head at this. "Yes, do come along. You can tell Etienne that you helped save me. He'll be so proud." It's another almost-joke. There seems to be something not quite working in Enjolras's mind. He holds to Manon's arm as if he is afraid she will pull away and leap from a tall building.

Who is Grantaire to demur? He makes his way across the room to join them, slowly, but reasonably steadily.

Nearly all of the barricade's overnight defenders are filtering out. One, however, remains with the more energetic group. He sighs and leans on his gun, thinking that, after all, there is no point in his continuing to live. Republic or not, he will die of a broken heart. He might as well stay with those who care enough to fight, rather than go home to an empty heart and an empty hearth.

Within half an hour, the barricade in the Rue de la Chanvrerie is entirely deserted, save for a number of bodies in the street outside the wall, a scatter of inquisitive birds, and the silent forms of Mabeuf and Jean Prouvaire in the basement of the Corinth.

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