Standing at the barricades, with your friends around you, waiting for the next battle for freedom.. That's what Enjolras used to dream of. He dreamed of the day when they would finally take their stand and fight for what really mattered. All of his speeches and efforts, they were all leading up to this. He dreamed of fighting alongside his friends, his brethren, and all the other people who were brave enough to stand with him. The battle for freedom would be bloody and horrible, but it would be for a good cause. Many would die, but they would all die for a new world, a world where everyone was equal. It will be sad and horrible, yes, but it would all be worth it, because something wonderful would be born from that tragedy. And if he was one of those who should die in the battle, so be it. He would gladly die for his country. His words had inspired so many of his friends, and he was happy and proud when they vowed to fight for freedom.
And here he was. At the barricades, with his friends around him, waiting for the next wave of attacks. It was exactly as he had imagined it so many times before, and at the same time, it was completely the opposite. He had always imagined that he would die fighting for what he believed in. What better way to die, than fighting for what you believe in? Even if you fell in battle, you would die for something bigger than yourself. For Enjolras, there was nothing more noble than that.
This was the way he had always felt about life and death. And yet, this was not the way he felt now.
He felt scared, disappointed and angry. Angry at all the people who had promised to fight with them. Disappointed at their cowardice, at the way they forgot their vows to fight for freedom. Scared that the people will never be brave enough to stand and fight for what they believe in. He felt all of these things, and his friends could easily sense his emotions, even if he tried his best to cheer them on and give them hope. They saw his face, and they knew how their leader felt about those who abandoned them. But they didn't know everything. Because yes, Enjolras was scared for the future of his beloved country. But at the moment, he was more scared for his friends' lives. He was disappointed with the people, but he was more disappointed with himself, because without him, none of his friends would be in this situation now. And he was angry at those who oppressed them, but he was angrier at himself, for letting his friends down.
Above all, he felt guilt. Piercing guilt clenching his heart, making it so heavy in his chest. He tried to find a way out, an excuse to save himself. After all, they all wanted this, didn't they? They all wanted a chance to fight for their beliefs. They all wanted to do something meaningful with their lives, to make their lives worth living. And he never wanted the glory, he just wanted to do what's right. He told them that fighting for what is right may lead to death. He wanted them to understand that, he wanted them to accept the possibility of death. And they did. But he didn't.
He never once thought what it really meant to die. He knew that death was the end of one's life. And he knew that he was ready to die for his country. He never doubted that decision, not even now, in the moments he spent waiting at the barricades. But he never really thought that any of his friends would die, at least not like this. Not in this situation, when they were the last barricade and everyone else had given up or died. He never thought that his friends would have to spend their last hours just waiting, knowing that they would die, and yet being unable to do anything to change that. To die fighting for you beliefs, knowing that you made a difference was a noble thing. But to die, knowing your friends will soon die as well, that their names would be forgotten, and that you caused that? That was a terrible thing.
He didn't want his friends to die. It was wrong, and terrible that all these young people would die. Their dreams, hopes and memories, everything they are, it would just perish into nothing. And he couldn't do anything about it.
He was the only one responsible. He was the one who inspired them. With his wonderful words, he promised them a new world, a better world. If not that, at least they would die a heroic death, fighting together with the people of Paris. Everyone who believed in a better tomorrow, fighting together. And now, they would all die, alone, abandoned by everyone, and it was all because of him.
Enjolras couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't bear to look at his friends' faces anymore. The guilt was making it hard for him to breath. The adrenaline he felt made him want to run, to fight, to do something, anything that would somehow save his friends. But all he could do was sit and wait. He was starting to panic, and his eyes were tearing up. He couldn't let his friends see him, not like this, not now, when they needed him to be the rock he always was, the one who was always ready to fight and who never gave up. And if all he could do was that, he would do it. He would act as if he wasn't scared, or panicking, act if his whole world wasn't breaking apart. He would be the brave man they needed him to be.
He said a few inspiring words to them. He told them that help would come, and that they were not alone. He told them that. And with every new word, he believed less and less that what he was saying was true. But he said the words none the less. And then he moved away from them, and hid away in the shadows.
He briefly wondered why he felt like this. Why he suddenly felt so responsible for the fate of all those people. Never before had he felt like this for someone. He had been sad when someone close to him had died in the past of course, and happy when something good had happened to someone he knew. But in every one of those moments, those feelings of happiness or grief were always in second place. They were always less important than the plans for the revolution. He felt affection for all the students whom he saw every day, but the love for his country had always eclipsed all other feelings. Never before had his or anyone else's fate been more important than the fate of the country. That's why now Enjolras was slightly shocked and surprised at the amount of guilt he was feeling. He had expected that there would be casualties. But it was all worth it, because it was for his beloved Patria. That was the truth, that was what he always believed. And even though he had always thought that, another contradicting thought was now bouncing around in Enjolras's head. The thought that these people shouldn't die, that it was wrong, and that Patria wasn't worth dying for. The second thought was completely foreign to Enjolras. And it was that second thought that was currently occupying his head, pushing the old familiar one out. He loved his Patria, but at the moment, all Enjolras could feel was guilt and sadness. He thought of how he had led all his friends to their death. And that was killing him faster than any bullet could.
The sound of people singing reached his ears. Those people were his friends, singing about friendship, love, and all the good days they have lived through. The song was sad, and it just reminded Enjolras of what his friends would lose forever because of him. With tears in his eyes, he quietly sang along, repeating the words along with his friends, not daring to look at them. He knew that no one blamed him for their impeding death, and it changed nothing, because he just felt more guilt because of it. That was when he heard him. Grantaire. It shocked him at first. Grantaire was singing. He wasn't joking around, or giving sarcastic remarks, as he so often did. He was actually singing. He sang of the happy days they had lived through, as did all the other before him. But then his song changed. He sang of the things of the thing Enjolras was thinking about. He sang of life and death, of the fear people felt when they thought of their death. And he sang about the thing Enjolras feared the most. That he would die and he would be forgotten. No one would remember that he once walked the streets of Paris. And worst of all, his death would be for nothing. Those were the things that Enjolras feared the most, and here he was, listening to Grantaire singing about them. Grantaire, of all people! The drunkard, the cynic, the one who never took anything seriously, who always made fun of Enjolras's idealism. The one man who never believed in anything. And yet that same man was now singing a song like this. And he sang with such deep feeling, and with such honesty, that it broke Enjolras's heart. Had Grantaire always felt like this? Maybe, Enjolras thought, maybe that's why he was always so cynical. Maybe he had always wanted to believe in something greater than himself, but he was just too broken by the world's cruelty. And even though Elnjolras couldn't imagine just giving up on the world and becoming a bitter cynic like Grantaire, he could at least finally understand Grantaire. He was always baffled as to why Grataire always insisted on being with the students. Enjolras could always see the bright new world they could live in, and that's why he always fought for it. Grantaire could never see this world, but he could always see the light of this world shining in the eyes of the students. Enjolras finally understood Grantaire. And now, as he was listening to his song, he couldn't keep stop himself from crying. He cried quietly, but deeply. He cried for his people, who would have to keep living dreadful lives. He cried for all his friends. His wonderful friends who were all so brave, and who were all hoping to be a part of this new, brave world. And finally he cried for Grantaire. For Grantaire and all the people like him, who so desperately wanted to believe in something. And when Marius sang at the end, he cried for him too. He cried for all of them, but he never cried for himself.
The song ended. No one talked for a while after that. No one dared, for what could anyone say? They all knew that death was near. And even though they all wanted to have hope, they just sat there quietly, thinking about their lives, and how quickly they it will all end.
Enjolras stood in the shadows for a while longer and just watched his friends. There was no denying that they would die. No one was coming to help them. They had lost, and someone else would have to fight for freedom now. He was no longer the leader of the fight for equality, freedom and brotherhood. They had lost the battle, and they would soon die. But he was still their leader, and even though there wasn't much more they could do, he would not give up. He would put on his bravest face, and he would go to his friends. He would offer anyone who wanted to leave a chance to go. And he would do that with the most honest intention, and he wouldn't think anything less of anyone who decided to leave now. For who was he to decide who should leave and who should die? He would offer them that. And then, if there was anyone left, he would keep fighting. He would fight until the end, until his last breath. He would never betray his Patria and his people. Most importantly, he would never betray the trust those brave and magnificent students had in him. And if he should die as one of them, that would be the most noble way to die.