Slight edits as of 7/07 to make my Valjean a bit less sparky.
Based on the '98 movie.
To my knowledge the '98 movie is the only version that has Javert snuff it in front of Valjean, and I have to say I found Valjean uncharacteristically callous in that scene. I can't see him as a guy who sits by while people commit suicide. I think that the scene should have gone down like this:
For a moment Valjean lay panting on the ground without understanding. It dawned on him slowly: Javert had fallen into the water. Javert had done this deliberately. Javert had done this to avoid the choice between returning his prisoner to the galleys and setting him free.
In a manner of speaking, then, Javert had done this thing for the prisoner.
"No!" Valjean scrambled to his feet and went to the edge. He looked down into the water and there was Javert, lying beneath the surface without struggling. Valjean fancied he could see the cold eyes open and fixed on him forbiddingly. Do not interfere, the eyes warned him.
Valjean very nearly obeyed that silent command. But then he thought of Javert's remark: "It's a pity the rules don't allow me to be merciful."
A pity? This was not the course he would have chosen, then. He was killing himself not because he truly wanted to die, but simply in order to free them from an impasse which was, in Valjean's opinion, entirely solvable by other means.
So Valjean jumped into the cold water, seized the policeman by his coat, and pulled him to the surface. Javert wouldn't swim on his own, and as soon as their heads broke the water he turned to Valjean and said shortly, "This is not your concern. Go away."
"Not my-? Javert! You know me better than that - did you really think I could sit back and watch you kill yourself for my sake?"
"For your sake?" Javert shook the water out of his eyes. "Don't be absurd. If I were concerned about you I would have shot you. I don't care a sou what happens to you from now on; it's myself I'm disgusted with. Go on - leave."
He sounded more petulant than Cosette ever had, and Valjean found himself becoming paternal in response. "I cannot allow-"
"I'm afraid you have no authority to stop me, M. le Mayor," Javert sneered. "You're a convict with no authority at all." He spat out the water that washed into his mouth, choking on it a little, and then continued: "Valjean, you will obey me. Leave."
"You know how I feel about obeying the law," Valjean reminded grimly. He spun Javert around in the water, threw an arm around him from behind, and started to tow him to the bank. "Not at the cost of a life. Not then, not now, not ever."
"No!" Undignified though it was to dig his heels in like a child in a tantrum, Javert found himself fighting desperately to avoid being hauled out of the water.
"Let me go, Valjean, I demand it!" Valjean's only answer was to continue with his steady progress towards solid ground. Javert resisted the whole way, but the handcuffs so severe a disadvantage that he found himself dumped onto the hard stone ground as quickly and easily as if he were a sack of grain. "I gave you your freedom - how dare you withhold me mine," he hissed furiously. He sat up, feeling a cold puddle form around him, and said through chattering teeth: "Valjean, no."
Valjean was shivering, too, but at those words he straightened up and flashed a mirthless smile. "Begging, Javert? Do you really think that'll move me?" He squatted down in front of him and leaned very close. "Did begging ever move you? No. Because you believed with all your heart in what you were doing – just as I do now. I will not see you harmed."
Javert looked up at him through a curtain of wet hair. "I'm afraid it's not your decision to make." He lunged forward, catching Valjean by surprise and knocking him backwards. Even handcuffed it was an easy matter to snatch the knife from the convict's pocket and flick it open.
Valjean caught his balance a second too late to prevent it. His fingers closed on Javert's sleeve and he tried to pull back and was only partly successful - the blade went deep, but into the shoulder rather than the throat as Javert had intended.
"Ah - Let go of me," Javert gasped. "For God's sake stop it!"
Valjean let go and sat back on his heels. "Fool! You stubborn bastard," he whispered. He had seen men die of knife wounds and not die of them, and by the blood pouring out from beneath Javert's collarbone he knew that the inspector had succeeded.
"Happier? Is this better?" Javert fumed at him. "Now I get to die slowly and in pain. Is this how you like it, Valjean? Is it?"
It was the first time Valjean had ever hit a dying man, but he couldn't help himself. "How dare you! You know I didn't mean-"
"I know." Javert licked the blood from his lip and dismissed Valjean with a wave of his bound hands. "Just go. Let me finish it this time."
"Are you a God-fearing man?"
Javert flared up again, but weaker this time. "And what if I were - who's going to give me my rites? You? There's not a priest in the world that would absolve a suicide and you know it." He shrugged. "Fortunately I believe God judges me on how I've lived my life, not how I conducted myself during my last three miserable minutes." His posture slumped and he dropped his head to the side wearily. "Now, if there is nothing else...?"
Valjean was shocked to feel a sharp stab of sadness for him. For Javert? "No... nothing else. I'm so sorry. Javert..." He had trouble getting the words out aloud, and finally had to whisper: "I did not intend to make you suffer. Would you rather a bullet?"
"Do you really want to add murder to your resume?" Javert watched his face. "I thought not. No, Valjean, it's kind of you to ask, but the river will be fine." He got slowly to his feet. Valjean didn't move. Javert brought himself to the edge once more and turned his back to the water. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Javert's eyes flickered to the handle protruding from his chest. "Is your knife engraved?"
"What? Yes, it is, it was a gift from-"
"Then don't you think it had better not be found in me when my body turns up?" Ever the policeman.
Valjean stood up and Javert watched placidly while he pulled the blade out. "Good. Now go."
Valjean turned away and started walking. He heard the splash and didn't look back at it.
It's the first time I've ever killed off Javert. I feel terrible!
Leave me a review, willya?