64. Aftermath

In the evening of the second day after the upheavals, when Paris has quieted somewhat, Grantaire arrives home and goes quietly into the library.

Enjolras is reading there. He looks up when Grantaire enters. "Evening, cher."

"Evening," returns Grantaire, uncharacteristically subdued, and crosses to a seat nearby.

"What is on your mind?" Enjolras asks quietly.

Grantaire drops heavily into the chair, folds his hands, and looks at them blankly a moment. "Saw Jeanne."

"What was her news?"

A pause, then, reluctantly, "Feuilly."

Enjolras pales, then, quietly, "He's dead, isn't he?"

Grantaire nods once.

Enjolras is silent, for once, for a minute. He looks at the floor. "One more."

Grantaire nods again, shortly, and says nothing.

"What a hideous mess. I hope that this time, they have it right. Soon." Enjolras shakes his head. "Poor Paul."

"Funny, that's what she said." Grantaire pushes to his feet again, shoving his hands in his pockets. "Idiot."

"Idealist," Enjolras corrects softly. "A distant cousin of the idiot, but with a nobler glint in his eye. Ah, Paul, didn't you learn?"

Grantaire snorts, and crosses to stare out the window without comment.

"This is what I wanted to avoid. This. Not Feuilly, not anyone in particular, because I didn't know, but anyone at all. Damn it."

"Yes." Grantaire sighs. "I know."

Enjolras shakes his head. "Is Jeanne all right, then?"

Grantaire stares out the window. "She's taking it hard."

"I can't blame her for that. Does she need anything?"

A long, long pause. "Nothing I can give her."

Further silence. "When is the funeral?"

"Day after tomorrow." Grantaire rakes a hand through his hair. "Damn him, damn him-- no, God, I shouldn't say that, but-- God."

Enjolras stands and crosses the room to embrace him. "I doubt your words have any effect."

"Well, no. They never have before, have they?" bitterly, before he turns and hugs Enjolras tightly.

Enjolras returns the embrace. "Thank God you weren't there."

"Me? Since when do I get mixed up in bloody revolutions?"

"Not for years, chéri. I know."

Grantaire strokes his hair. "I wouldn't risk leaving you like that."

"I should hope not. I can't imagine what I'd do if you did."

It should be raining. The sun shines brightly through the windows of the little church. There should be crowds of people to mourn the passing of a life. There are only a few, dressed in ragged black. A very few of these are well dressed, likewise in somber colors. They are not among the pallbearers who lift the closed casket and carry it into the churchyard.

Jeanne leans heavily on the shoulder of her older son, Jacques. She listens to the priest go through his Latin, half-mouthing the words. At the end, she is crying and protesting quietly, "There have been too many funerals, Paulin. Damn you, damn you, why did you have to make another?"

Grantaire drifts slightly from Enjolras's side to rest a hand on her shoulder, silent.

"Why didn't you stop him?" Jeanne asks her brother in an anguished voice. "Damn it, I thought your infernal lawyer was in control of idiocy like this."

Grantaire glances back at the 'infernal lawyer' briefly, and says nothing, only rubs soothingly at her shoulders.

Jeanne's shoulders shake in his hands. "Oh, God, Paulin, forgive me. I was right, and I was wrong, and I can't mend it, and you trusted my judgement as if I knew who was right, as if I could have known."

Marie Desmarais, gaunt and windblown, glances up at them with troubled eyes, and then away, to look directly at Enjolras for the first time; a dimly curious expression on her face.

"Dear heart--" Grantaire moves to embrace his sister fully, trying to still her trembling.

Enjolras is doing his best to give Grantaire space to comfort Jeanne. He does not recognize anyone in the churchyard except Jeanne's married daughter and her gawky sixteen-year-old son, neither of whom he wants to address. He stares blankly at the grave, lost in his own thoughts, not noticing the strange, poor people, trying to forget how little he belongs at the moment.

Jeanne pushes her brother away. "This shouldn't have happened. Damn it. None of it should. I would have said yes, but that wouldn't have stayed him, either. Damn revolutions, damn governments. They steal everything and everyone."

Grantaire catches at her hands, glancing briefly at Jacques as if the boy knows better than he how to comfort her. "I know. I know..."

Jacques shakes his head and says nothing.

Marie picks at her rough fingernails a moment, then sidles past her silent sons to approach the silent man she's almost certain she remembers. "M'sieur Enjolras?"

Jeanne wipes her eyes on her sleeve in a swift gesture. "You know. Hell if you know that. You didn't lose a damned thing."

Enjolras looks up, somewhat startled, expecting Grantaire's niece. He blinks at Marie. "Yes, madame?"

"Jeannette--" Grantaire falters, tightening his grip on her hands. "Little sister." Another hesitation, then, with difficulty, "He was my friend, too."

She tries to pull away. "How dare you say that? He wasn't my friend, François. I loved him. You don't understand. You couldn't."

Marie smiles faintly. "You don't remember me," she states, rather than asks.

Enjolras looks at her closely, then away, and answers contritely, "No. I don't."

"Maman..." Gigi moves to intervene, brows furrowed anxiously.

Grantaire blinks, then glances down. "Jeanne, I..."

"No." Jeanne extricates her hands from his and turns away from both her brother and her daughter. "You can't know what this is like."

"Marie. Marie Desmarais?" She offers a cautious hand.

"Desmarais?" Enjolras repeats. He takes her hand and shakes it, then remembers. "I am sorry for your loss."

"Maman," Gigi protests again, and goes to hug her.

Jeanne allows this, reluctantly. "Why'd you have to go and get married, stupid girl? Why don't they learn?"

Grantaire rakes a hand through his hair, and watches mutely, blocked.

Marie looks away, and shrugs, as though to say she'd as soon not talk about it; then looks up at him again, with that same questioning look.

"What did you want, madame?" Enjolras asks, quietly if not gently.

Gigi rests her cheek against her mother's hair. "Oh, maman."

Marie tilts her chin up, with a sort of pathetic pride, refusing timorousness. "Wondered if it was you." She pauses. "You weren't in it?"

"Maybe I should have married a revolutionary when I had the chance," Jeanne adds, her voice choked, her words addressed much more to her brother than to her daughter.

Enjolras shakes his head. "I had my fill of the process a long time ago."

Grantaire turns away: away from Jeanne, away from all of them, and stands rigid, hands in his pockets.

"Ah," is all Marie says, and, with perfect deference, "Good day, m'sieur." She turns away then, walking past her children, past the graveside to where Gigi is ineffectually soothing her mother. "Jeanne. Jeanne, ma soeur, I'm so sorry..."

Jeanne lets go of Gigi and wipes her eyes again as if drying tears will prevent new ones from coming. "I hate revolutions."

Marie puts a hand on her shoulder. "I know, chère. I know."

Enjolras had been reluctant to approach Grantaire while the latter was engaged in familial duties. Now that Jeanne has forsaken him, the quiet suggestion, "Shall we leave?" is made.

Grantaire takes in a breath, and nods, turning back. "Might as well." His voice is a trifle husky.

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