21. Preparations

June 15th

Courfeyrac sits at his desk, writing out a list. "We need to write to my parents, of course, and your cousin."

"Catherine? She won't come." Manon sprawls on the bed, idly plaiting strands of ribbon. "My grandmother, though."

Courfeyrac crosses out one name, and writes another. "Who else?" He pushes his hair away from his forehead.

Manon glances up. "Who have we got so far?"

Courfeyrac reads, "My parents, your grandmother, Desmarais, Feuilly, Combeferre, Lesgles, Joly, Musichetta, Enjolras..."

Manon goes over the list in her head, trying to make the gaps in it fill. "Renée. Chantal. Merce-- no, dammit, Merceault's killed. Annette, then."

Courfeyrac frowns, then adds to the list. "Do you think we can get Chantal? She'll be home by then."

Manon goes on plaiting her ribbons serenely. "She'll come if I have to go down there myself and put the fear of God into her parents."

Far be it from René to doubt her. He adds, 'Chantal,' then looks over the list again. "Who else?"

Manon frowns at her handiwork, considering. "We could ask Prouvaire's Fleurette, though God knows I never knew what he saw in her. And Grantaire, if he'll behave. And... that's everyone I can think of."

Courfeyrac smacks his forehead. "Yes, of course Grantaire. God, how did I forget?" That name goes down immediately. "Fleurette? I don't know if she'll come, but we can ask."

"Out of courtesy," Manon agrees, and ties off the ribbons. "I never could understand why he didn't stay with Gabrielle. Now there was a nice girl. --There." She holds up the braided ribbons for his approval.

Courfeyrac glances over distractedly, not really looking. "That's nice, chérie." He looks at the list again. "It's a lot of people. Do we want a lot of people?"

"Not that many." She puts the ribbons aside and gets to her feet, walking over to look over his shoulder. "...thirteen, fifteen. That's not so bad, even if they bring people along."

He sets the list down. "I suppose I'm still nervous. Can you blame me?" He turns his head to kiss her on the cheek.

Manon slips her arms around him. "Not really." She's still for a moment, then adds quite mildly, "You don't have to go through with it, you know."

She couldn't have said anything more calculated to get a reaction. "Of course I do!" After the first outburst, he moderates his voice. "I'm not going to abandon you. I love you. I wouldn't let you go, even if you weren't going to have a baby." His voice is strained. "We could have died. People did die. We might be gone any minute. I'd rather go with you."

"Hush." Manon buries a kiss in his tousled hair. "It's all right. I know. I just... God. I just want you to be happy. I swear." She is uncharacteristically humble. "I love you."

"I will be happy. Just not today. Not until all of this is over, and I've forgotten about politics and can just relax with you." He sighs. "It's going to be a long month."

"For-gotten about politics!" She laughs, hugging him. "Don't let Enjolras hear you say that."

"I don't care what he hears me say at this point. I'm done with revolutions. He wasn't there that night." His voice is bleak again. "I want to live peacefully, kings and republics be damned."

Manon sobers, dropping to one knee beside the chair, rests her head on his shoulder and just holds him.

He repeats, "I love you," more firmly. "I want us to be safe. All of us."

She reaches up to trail her fingers through his hair. "We will be," she murmurs.

"I hope so. I really do." He strokes her hair gently. "Perhaps it would be safer if we left Paris."

"For where?" There speaks the city girl. There's a world outside Paris?

"Anywhere. Not home, but somewhere with less people than here." He's not from Paris, he could teach her how to survive in a land where grass grows in the street. "Didn't you ever want to live somewhere where gangs didn't roam around outside your window while you're trying to sleep?"

Manon says simply, "I'll go wherever you go."

He blinks. "Manon?"

"Yes, cher?" She glances up at him quizzically.

Courfeyrac chuckles. "I was just wondering if it was you, for a moment there."

Manon says dryly, "I am, on occasion, less than perfectly contentious."

Courfeyrac kisses her cheek again. "I know, love. You just surprised me."

She breaks into a grin at that. "Someone has to keep you on your toes."

... Previous ... Book One ... Table of Contents ... Next ...