Hungover...that's the opposite of drunk, isn't it? It is if you ask Grantaire and he was somewhere in the middle. The direction he was going in all depended upon the bottle in his hand. Was he going to get up and get another or just finish what he had and waste away? It was just as well Enjolras had pushed him onto a pile of rubble and told him "here, stay where you can't do any damage." Ironic that he had little patience for Grantaire's drinking, considering he was the chief cause of it. From the beginning...even in university Grantaire knew things about himself that he couldn't tell anyone. First it was a hunch but eventually he knew it was a fact. He was fine until first year in university. He might have even been fine in an all-male residence, just make himself scarce and not allow himself to get attached to any of his peers...you can't fall in love with someone you don't know, right? WRONG!
Grantaire joined Les Amis just to be close to Enjolras. Anywhere he was, that was where Grantaire wanted to be. He had no idea what the whole thing was all about. Yes, yes, he knew it was the class war and anything but he had no idea that it would lead to all of Enjolras' passions vanishing for anything else. They didn't have much of the same interests anyway but at least Enjolras used to smile and losen up. He used to be able to relate to people and was starting to talk about the business he was looking forward to running. It had been ages since he mentioned being a lawyer and even longer since he smiled. He was still beautiful but oh to see that smile again.
Enjolras was right, Grantaire couldn't have been any good in the scrimmage that had occurred earlier between Les Amis and the few soldiers. The air stunk. Not only of gunpowder and the body parts that scattered around but a fierce smell that it wasn't near to being over and there was no possible outcome but that they were going to get their asses kicked. But, not tonight. It was warm and hazey...granted the haze was from the gunpowder and particles in the air but he knew, somewhere across town was his friend Marius, once again just a wrought iron fence away from the blonde. They were all pretty tired of hearing about her and how Marius was too chicken to face her father. If Marius got in good with the wealthy family, that may restore the bad situation Marius had with his grandfather. Monsieur Gillenormand's main problem seemed to be Marius' interaction with the middle class and his turning his back on his "own kind". Well, if he got in with Cinderella, obviously a well-to-do family with no known scandal (mostly because nobody knew who the hell they were.) As Grantaire took the last swill from the bottle, Eponine came and sat beside him in the rubble. "Did you get loverboy delivered to his nightly post?" he asked her and she nodded. "Why do you take him there if you like him?"
"I guess it has something to do with...if he doesn't want me to make him happy, at least I can be partly responsible for his happiness." she shrugged. "Makes no sense huh?" she asked.
"Nothing makes sense right now." Grantaire shrugged, throwing his bottle up on the barricade as though it alone would stop the next barrage. "Gavroche!" he hollered at their 'mascot'. "Go find us some food." They used him for that, people were more kind to begging children. He hadn't noticed his gaze was fixed on Enjolras who seemed to be forever pacing, arranging and re-arranging, negotiating and forever impatient with people who were led by their heart than by their gut.
"He really knows what he's doing..." Eponine said when she followed Grantaire's gaze. "Or, maybe it's a case that everyone is confident following him." she struggled for words to describe his personality. Yes, he was beautiful but, not only was her heart for Marius but Enjolras' seeming disdain for anyone who wasn't just like him would have killed any kind of affection from her.
"Confident...that's the word. He's really the only one who seems to have his shit together. I'm sure he's already hatching up another plan." Grantaire nodded.
"As good as the last one?" Eponine laughed at the splinters of wood lying around. "It worked so well."
"Obviously better." Grantaire nodded.
"Does he know?" she asked.
"Does he know what? What he's going to do?" Grantaire asked.
"No! That you're in love with him?"
"How did you..." he asked, breaking his gaze.
"There are only two reasons you just sit and stare. One is at the end of the evening when there is no more wine and you've drank 3/4 of it and the other is any time Enjolras is around." she grinned. "And you're not quite drunk enough yet."
"Anyway..." Grantaire sighed. "unless you have a flag on you, Enjolras doesn't notice anyone."
"I'm sorry." Eponine said. "If it's any comfort..."
"I know." Grantaire said and nodded. She didn't need to say she knew how he felt. He knew she did. He picked up a rock and threw it at a bunch of kids who had been throwing rocks at Gavroche as he ran back towards them. In his hand, a bag of food and there was evidence of plenty more stuffed down the front of his shirt and in his pockets.
"You have changed." Eponine laughed. "There was a time that you in your fancy school clothes were throwing rocks at us too." she pointed out how nasty the rich kids had been to them as kids.
"I was...yeah." Grantaire nodded. "That was before I saw it. That was one of the things Enjolras made sure we all learned in there..." he pointed towards the cafe. "When it comes to fighting this thing, we're all on the same side...sort of." he said. Grantaire understood that part of the whole fight but, politically he was a tweenie. "I'm sorry..." he said. "Many years later but I'm sorry for any rocks I hit you with."
"I got you back a few times." she reminded him.
"I still have the lump on the back of my head where you threw a rock...THIS BIG..." he held up his hands to indicate something the size of a watermelon as Eponine laughed.
"It wasn't that big!" she said.
"It was!" Grantaire argued and rubbed an imaginary lump on the back of his head.
"It wasn't...because it wasn't even a rock, it was a crabapple!" she said and reached for their rations of food that Gavroche was handing them.
"They didn't give you any wine huh?" Grantaire asked and Eponine smacked his shoulder.
Gavroche made his rounds to the rest of his friends, it was the least he could do for them, they took such good care of him. Protection, acceptance, affection...all of the things he should have had from parents but didn't get, he got from his 'big brothers' in the cafe and now at the barricade. The last person he took food to was Enjolras, who sat in stoic silence away from the rest of the bunch, no doubt pissed off that once again Marius was in heat and Grantaire was shitfaced.
"Hungry? Brought you something to eat." he said, holding some bread out. He was one of the few who had the nerve to sit down with Enjolras when it was so obvious he was in a 'mood'.
Enjolras' eyes drifted sideways when he heard the voice beside him and it broke him from the trance he had been in. "I'm very hungry...thanks, Gav." he said quietly and reached for the bread out of the boy's hand. "Did you get any?" he asked him.
"I ate it on the way here." he said. "That's for you. Bon appetite." he nodded but knew the leader of the cause could see through the words and broke the bread in half, handing back to him. He hadn't really invited the boy to sit next to him and strike up a conversation, but as was said, Gavroche got away with a bit more than anyone else so Enjolras shifted slightly to the left on the plank of wood he was sitting so that Gavroche could sit down.
"Today didn't go so well, huh?" Gavroche asked and Enjolras shook his head without saying a word. "It'll get better, you'll see." he nodded and Enjolras smiled slightly. Gavroche had no idea what they were fighting for. He knew only a few things. People were poor, they were hungry, cold and things had to change for them. On the other hand, the upper class...those would be the families and friends of all of the students at the cafe and ultimately the barricade...well they didn't want things to change. They were very comfortable with things the way they were. Thus, resulting in just about every one of the students having disappointed their parents. "Tell me about when you were growing up." Gavroche begged. He loved hearing about families the way they were supposed to live.
"Not now Gavroche." Enjolras shook his head. He felt that it was the eve of destruction, the last thing he wanted to think about was that it was all going to end and he would die without reconciling with his father.
"What are your parents like?" Gavroche asked.
"Good people." Enjolras nodded. He had to say that, it was true. Narrow minded but by all intents and purposes good. "I'm just very different from my father so right now we're not speaking."
"Kind of like me and my old man." Gavroche shrugged.
"No..." Enjolras came about as close to smiling as anyone had seen him in a long time. "Not the same at all." he said. "You've done nothing wrong."
"Well, what did you do wrong?" Gavroche asked.
"I've...just had more years than you so I've made mistakes...well, not mistakes but there's just something that happens when you oppose your father so..." he stopped. Who was he to talk about disapproving fathers? Gavroche's father didn't even admit they were related. He finally took a bite out of the bread. "Fresh..." he said, surprised as he knew the urchins generally got day old food. "...where'd you get it?"
"My mama's kitchen." Gavroche said.
Crumbs went flying as Enjolras spat his mouthful of bread faster than any of the muskets that had blasted holes in wood and people earlier on. He threw the rest of it away from him like it was alive. He had never been in Mme Thenardier's kitchen but he could tell just judging from the outside that he didn't WANT to be. It never surprised him that Gavroche and his brothers ate out of the back of stores and stole food when they could. "Thanks, Gav, I always wanted screaming diarrhea whilst barricaded in a dead end street."
"Hey!" Gavroche said when the bread went flying. He jumped up and picked the un-eaten portion before the rest of the urchins came flocking like birds the moment they heard food hit the filthy pavement. He shoved the lump of bread in his pocket but also picked up the half-chewed stuff Enjolras had spit out. "You told me you were hungry!"
"I am!" Enjolras said.
"Clearly, not hungry enough." Gavroche said and stuffed the half-eaten stuff into his anxious mouth.
Enjolras' anger and annoyance turned to sadness when he saw the little boy eating...even worse than the crumbs off the street but food out of other peoples' mouths. People like Gavroche were exactly the people whose cause Enjolras was fighting for. "You're right, Gavroche. That was stupid of me, forgive my ignorance, please." he said. He wasn't going to go as far as asking for the rest of the bread back for two reasons. First, he wanted a child to have it and second, he still wouldn't be able to eat it. "You shouldn't be here." he told him. Gavroche, being a child had the enormous advantage that nobody would associate him with the barricade. For the rest of them, walking around could get them cheered or jeered. Fed or killed. They had no idea who was on their side. "You want to know about my parents, go there." He gave him the address. "Tell them I sent you and hope they'll feed you properly, maybe give you a bath." He wasn't sure if that would happen but his parents were good people with no children anymore. His mother, in the high society circles often lamented of the children that she was sorry she couldn't take them in and feed them. Maybe not all of them but perhaps one and besides, it would be a way to let his mother know that he was still alive.
"I want to stay and fight." Gavroche said.
"You can't fight this." Enjolras said. "I'm not even sure what we're going to do. I want you out of here, take your sister, it's no place for her either."
"If she heard you say that, the National Guard would be the least of your problems." Gavroche laughed. "Besides, she has to go pick up Loverboy. Something about if anyone sees that they're walking together they won't think he's one of us."
"One of us?" Enjolras said. "Gavroche, YOU'RE not even one of us. Would you do me a favour?" he asked because he knew what the boy's answer always is.
"Anything." Gavroche said.
"Get lost. I gave you the address. Come tomorrow morning, today's battle will look like a water fight." he repeated his order with the voice of a commander that many people seemed to think he was. He watched the little boy who wanted so badly to be a little man climb over and through the rubble. He hoped Gavroche would give it a shot. Worst case scenario, he would be sent away from the wealthy end of town. When he got back they'd all be gone and he would just go back to his plaster elephant. He sat awhile longer, the sun set, a small fire burned for the guys to keep warm. Marius had returned some time ago, Eponine was gone and the June evening was now a bit chilly. Grantaire was in a snoring, drunken stupor after somehow acquiring yet another bottle of wine. "The national guard is going to think we have some magical secret weapon with all that noise." he said to himself. Maybe he wouldn't mind him so much if he weren't such a drunken asshole. He slipped his toe under Grantaire's shoulder and, with more force than he probably needed, rolled him over on his side so he would stop snoring and maybe not wake up choking on his own puke.
Gavroche hadn't gone too far, just out of Enjolras' sight. The cafe was warmer than outside and he found a cupboard to shut himself in and sleep the night away. He woke a few times but the cupboard was warm and sheltering. This way he could stay close to the barricade if they needed him but they wouldn't know he was there so they couldn't send him away.
The first noise that woke him was the shouting, then the gunfire...then a louder noise that he hadn't heard before. He had never been close to a cannon. The shouting outside startled him but he could hear everyone running upstairs so they would soon be able to share the news of what happened with him. He heard the footsteps, then the students trying to hush each other and creaked the door to the cabinet open. At the same moment, the muskets ripped through the floor, hitting his friends as they stood there, killing them in a single second, all but Enjolras.
Enjolras saw him open the cabinet door and peek out but waved him to close it again as the quiet footsteps came up the stairs. Through the crack in the door, Gavroche watched the national guard line up in front of Enjolras and raise their guns. He saw the proud and defiant look in Enjolras' eyes and knew that one of the last things Enjolras saw was one little blue eye peeking out through the crack in the door.
He didn't fall when he was shot. Not for awhile. His head just slumped forward and it took awhile for his body to hit the floor. Upon seeing everyone lying on the floor, knowing there were just as many outside who had fallen, Gavroche had nothing. There was nobody in the city who would take care of him as well as the friends of the ABC did...he had nothing to lose. The guardsmen turned quickly when they heard the cabinet door squeak open. One had his rifle raised until they saw that it was just a little boy who came out. "Put your gun down...it's just a child." said one of the guardsmen. "Go home, boy." he shooed Gavroche out like he was a stray cat.
"I...I want the food." Gavroche pointed to the counter.
"Bon Appetite." the guardsmen said and filed back down the staircase. As soon as they were gone, Gavroche dropped on the floor, first beside the group who had died. Tearfully, to each one he gave a kiss to the forehead. All of them being recently graduated students had their gold rings and he began to peel them off of the fingers. He may as well, it was only a matter of time before his father would be coming around doing the same thing. Then he crawled over to where Enjolras' body finally hit the ground. This was the ring he most wanted. Not because it was worth more but because at least he knew where to take this one.
When he heard someone creeping back up the stairs, he scurried back to the cabinet and shut himself in there. When he looked through the crack, all he saw was Grantaire, swaying as though he was in a boat on rough sea, looking around, finally bursting into tears. Grantaire hadn't seen Enjolras at first, as he was away from the others but when he saw him, he cried a different kind of tears. He should have been there. There wasn't much he could have done but at least he could have died with him. He jumped when the cabinet door creaked open and once again Gavroche crawled out. "Did you see this?" Grantaire asked.
"Every bit of it." Gavroche nodded. "They got them first...then Enjolras on his own."
"Come..." Grantaire held his arms out and Gavroche ran to him. Somehow, though hammered, Grantaire managed to pick Gavroche up and carry him down the stairs and out of the broken, body-filled cafe. "Don't look back." he said and held Gavroche's head down on his shoulder. "THIS IS NO FUCKING LIFE FOR A CHILD!" he hollered at the people watching him as he walked away.
The boy grew too heavy for his arms in about fifteen minutes but they didn't stop walking for about an hour.
Suddenly, they turned a corner and Gavroche looked at the street scene. How everything shone. He had heard that Heaven was paved in gold, perhaps that's where he was now. "Enjolras, you never told me you grew up in heaven." he said under his breath. Carriages with polished brass and silver moved up and down the street. Homes with nice doors lined either side and he watched as people came through the doors to carriages with hired drivers. Fancy dresses, immaculate suits, the men all wore ties...just like the friends at the cafe, only these guys actually did theirs up...and of course THESE men were still alive.
"That one there." Grantaire said as they sat on a bench in the park. Gavroche watched the door of Enjolras' parents' house until it opened. The man who stepped out would be Enjolras' father. He looked so...ordinary. Gavroche expected someone very opposing, forrbidding and 'correct'. He expected him to be more like Enjolras, then thought of his own father and realised the apple sometimes fell close to the tree and other times it rolled far, far away from it. He wasn't sure if he wanted to meet this man, even though Enjolras said he was good people so he waited until the man left in the carriage.
The next time the door opened, it was the cleaning lady. She hung a rug over a railing and beat the hell out of it for awhile. Gavroche winced. He'd had a taste of that a few times from his father. He sighed and settled on the bench beside Grantaire, eventually he took the ring out of his pocket and played with it. "Go on, take it to her. She'll open the door for a child." Grantaire prompted him to his feet and pushed him forward a bit.
Gavroche left the greenery and flowers of the park and walked up the few stairs to the door. He stretched up to reach the bell. "I can't reach..." he said over his shoulder and turned around to call to Grantaire. "Grantaire?" he looked at the bench that was now empty. "Grantaire?" he called again, jumping when the door opened. "I..." he said and stammered a bit. "...brought something from the barricade."
"The where?" the cleaning lady asked.
"The Barricade?" a voice said behind her. A woman stepped forward. Handsome, well dressed...the kind Gavroche always wished his mother was like. "You've been to the barricade?" she asked, her anxious face and eyes making it no mystery who she was. She probably hadn't smiled or seen a happy day since the last time she saw her son the day he left to stay at the cafe.
"I live there." Gavroche said, "...used to." he looked over his shoulder again, wondering where Grantaire was. "I brought you something..." he said and held out the ring. The woman took it from his grubby hand and shook her head, trying to process it, wanting to deny it but knowing she couldn't. "...I'm sorry." Gavroche said. "If it matters, he was very good to me. Told me all about you, said you were good people."
"What's your name?" she asked him, loving his shaggy blond hair and blue eyes. Had she ever let her son get that dirty in play? Perhaps but certainly not the clothes. "Are you about ten years old?" she asked him. "Gavroche..." she repeated his name. "...are you hungry?" she asked, noticing his fleabitten hands and face. She stepped aside and let him in.
"Caroline..." she said to the cleaning lady. "...send to the store for some clothes. Five outfits, some sleepwear and maybe some books."
"I can't read." Gavroche said.
"We'll fix that." the woman said and closed the door.
Grantaire stepped out from behind the trees, looking at the closed door. He had no idea how long Gavroche was going to be welcome there because he hadn't been able to hear the conversation but the fact that she let him in the house at all was a good sign. Besides, even if she did boot him out like a stray animal, he would only go back to his neighbourhood and Grantaire would see him again...but he hoped not.
After a hefty hour's walk, he went into a cafe and ordered a glass of wine. "You look like you lost your best friend." the cafe owner said.
"All of them..." Grantaire nodded.