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11 November 2013 @ 11:51 pm
Chapter 71: Seasons  

A/N: In which politics starts taking a turn for the sane, but another reality of life catches up with the gang. Warnings here for quite a bit of discussion about guns as well as a deathbed scene.

To Iceflower: Thanks! I am curious about the foreshadowing you spotted. :D

Chapter 71: Seasons

"It's not a sin to be doing this on Good Friday, isn't it?"

Bahorel burst out laughing at his mistress' innocent query. "This day is not a Sabbath, my dear," he said before handing her a fresh cartridge from a small wicker basket. "I dare the priests to find a commandment or beatitude we're violating with our activities here."

"Yes, but I do not think anyone considers small-arms practice as pious—another reason for us to do this outside of the city limits," Leonor said dryly as she inspected the pistol she had just finished loading. "Isn't thirty paces a little near even for pistols?" she asked, gesturing to a row of five bottles set up atop a large rock.

"Well not all of us are fine with forty paces," Eponine pointed out. She covered her ears as a single sharp report pierced the morning. "That had to be sixty paces!" she exclaimed, pointing to a shattered wine bottle set up towards a more distant rock face.

"More of fifty-five paces," Enjolras replied dryly as he carefully sidestepped to allow Feuilly to take his place on their makeshift firing line.

"Fifty-five paces if you're walking maybe; for some of us it would be sixty," Feuilly said as he carefully held his rifle almost at eye level. He was the only one in this group who carried this sort of gun; everyone else had only brought pistols, mostly owing to the fact that this venture had been rather hastily organized, leaving little time for anyone to find muskets.

"Perhaps," Enjolras said before he looked around the abandoned quarry he and his friends were using to practice their marksmanship; although it was already midmorning it was unlikely that any passerby would inadvertently intrude on them. 'More so since the Courgourde no longer needs to meet here in secrecy,' he noted.

He realized now that it had been about a year since the last time he'd been to this place, on the same day he'd caught Grantaire at his failed errand to Richefu's. All the same, this quarry on the plain of Issy seemed unchanged from his previous visit; there were no footprints or signs of human activity and detritus in the place. No birdsongs or rustlings of animals could be heard for within a quarter of a mile. There was still an air of mystery and slight desolation to this place which could not be banished by any amount of laughter or boisterous conversation. It was in an eerie sense, almost kindred to a graveyard.

Yet perhaps it seemed now to Enjolras that the grimness that had prevailed over this place a year ago was now lifting and giving way to a more pleasant sort of tranquillity. For one thing he was not here to make secret plans; this venture was educational as well as a means to get away from the somber religious spell reigning over the city. It helped that the weather was unusually warm for early April, such that there was almost no need to wear coats and pelisses; in fact Enjolras had set aside his coat and his cravat at the beginning of their target practice.

Meanwhile Feuilly had already fired his two pistols, taking out one bottle at forty paces and another at the fifty five pace mark. "How are we going to clean this all up?" he asked, eyeing all the broken glass scattered around the place.

"I s'pose we sweep it up someplace and hide it under a rock," Eponine remarked as she went up to the firing line, also carrying two pistols. "I'd have an easier time if these pistols didn't jump about a little in our hands each time we fire them," she groused, aiming at the row nearest them.

"You have to prepare for it. All guns do that," Therese advised, motioning for Eponine to adjust her grip on the weapon.

Eponine bit her lip she tried to follow her friend's instructions and then fired the pistol. She scowled when she saw that the bullet had barely glanced one of the bottles. "First too far to the left, then too far to the right," she muttered.

"You'd actually hit it if you stopped openly flinching," Leonor chided, shaking some dust off her dark blue riding habit.

"I s'pose I already know that, Leonor."

"They say that the third time is the charm; you'll hit the target this time," Bahorel pointed out cheerily.

"This one will be the fourth; the first did not get anywhere," Eponine said through gritted teeth as she held up her second pistol. This time the shot went in towards the bottom of the leftmost bottle, shattering it with a satisfying crash. "How do you all manage to hit something properly each time around, like at the barricade?" she asked bemusedly.

"Sometimes we don't exactly take aim," Feuilly pointed out.

"What do you mean?"

"It's different when one is sharpshooting as opposed to just firing regular volleys at an enemy," Enjolras explained. By nature and training he was more of the first, but he could also see the merits in the discipline that the second form of marksmanship entailed. He finished loading his own pistol and went to the firing line to take another shot at the last bottle near the rock face. He took a deep breath as he held the gun in place and pulled the trigger, taking out this final target.

"I worried that all this time behind desks would have an adverse effect on you. Fortunately it hasn't," Bahorel remarked approvingly over the cheers and applause of the rest of the group. He handed his pistol to Therese. "Are you up for another round?"

Therese grinned just as a sudden gust of wind blew through the quarry. "Well maybe in a few minutes-oh there go some of our hats!" she cried, pointing to the pile of discarded hats, coats, and pelisses.

"And the basket of cartridges! Gilles don't stand there, help me with this!" Leonor shouted, seeing the basket tip over in the breeze.

Enjolras heard Eponine throw down her pistol before she ran off towards the back of the quarry to chase after her bonnet, which had also gotten caught in the breeze. 'There's a steep slope right at that side,' he recalled, quickly walking after her to make sure she stayed away from danger. A number of friends had very nearly tumbled into the precipices and ravines around this place, usually when a little inebriated towards the end of a meeting.

He caught up with Eponine just as she was retrieving her hat from a prickly bush. "I cannot believe you, Coutard, and so many others used to meet here," she said as she shook some thorns out of her hat.

"This place has escape routes," Enjolras said, gesturing to the twisting paths all around the rock faces. He swallowed hard as he looked at Eponine; her hair had gotten out of the pins holding it back behind her ears and was now falling to frame her face most becomingly. "We should return to the others."

Eponine shook her head as she stepped away to run her hands over a bumpy rock. "Not yet," she said, giving him a knowing grin. She grabbed his hand to pull him to her side. "I kind of like looking at these. They're almost as pretty as the statues down at the promenades. I sometimes think the sculptors see the statues in these rocks before making them."

"This quarry was for more practical purposes such as rocks for roadwork," Enjolras said. Nevertheless he could appreciate what a more imaginative or fanciful eye could see in the rough crags surrounding them. "These rocks would have been broken up though."

"That's a shame," Eponine said, quickly driving the heel of her right boot into one of the crevices on a nearby boulder. In a few moments she'd scaled the rock and seated herself on top of it such that she was practically face to face with him.

"Not content with the view?" Enjolras quipped as he stepped closer to her.

She laughed as she ran her fingers over his shoulders, deftly tracing his collarbones through his waistcoat and on towards the bare skin of his throat. "Oh how did you know?"

He looked her in the eye as he brought her left hand to his lips and kissed the bare skin of her palm, making her breath catch quite audibly. "It was only a guess."

Eponine beckoned for him to lean in closer and brushed her lips over the angle of his jaw, not hiding her mischievous grin when she saw his eyes widen at the contact. "I like looking at you from up here," she whispered breathily in his ear.

Enjolras smiled at this understatement before brushing her hair out of her face and capturing her mouth with his. He felt her lips part almost immediately under his as she returned his kiss eagerly. For a moment he caught a whiff of the harsh smell of soap lingering on her skin, but it was mingled with a deeper, sweeter scent that he knew to be uniquely hers. It was a maddening combination, more so when she slipped her arms around his neck and pressed her body flush against his, nearly throwing them off balance. He grabbed her by her hips to steady her as he pulled her off her seat, but before he could safely set her on her feet she wrapped her legs around his waist.

Eponine giggled at this unusual position; the very sound was enough to deepen the blush rising to Enjolras' cheeks. "You're not embarrassed by this?" she asked slowly as she twisted some strands of his hair around her fingers.

"No. It might just take some getting used to," he admitted in a low voice, adjusting his hold on her so she wouldn't slip. He knew there was a high probability that their friends would walk in on them, but somehow this lent a certain thrill to this moment, which was only magnified when he met her gaze; she too was enjoying this slight risk. He dropped a kiss on the crook between her neck and her shoulder, lingering as she let out a needy whimper and dug the heels of her boots into his back. He gritted his teeth at the slight discomfort but soon he found himself distracted by the feel of her lips brushing over his ear before making a trail of kisses down his jaw all the way to the side of his neck. All the while her hands were running through his hair, tugging lightly every now and then. "Eponine..." he groaned when he felt her mouth moving down to the neckline of his shirt.

She grinned mischievously before pressing her lips to the hollow of his throat. "You like it?"

He found himself nodding as he dug his fingers into her hips, making her moan before she continued to kiss her way down to his collarbones. After a while he could feel his arms beginning to ache with the effort of holding her up, so he moved to a spot on the ground that was not littered with rocks and then sat down so he could pull her into his lap. He had an even better view of her in this more comfortable position; the sight of her flushed cheeks and her dark eyes was reason enough for him to want to spend the rest of the morning kissing her senseless.

Eponine shifted a little to get more comfortable in his arms before she kissed his cheek. "Maybe we should sit like this more often," she quipped.

Enjolras had to bite back a groan at this suggestion; it was becoming more and more difficult to control his arousal especially when she talked that way. "This can't always be good for either of us."

"Oh?" Eponine asked, idly placing a hand on his knee. "I don't hear you objecting very much to it."

"Point taken," Enjolras concurred before kissing her passionately once again, this time bringing one hand up to run down her back, only to trace languid circles on her hips. One of her hands moved lightly over his chest and then on to the buttons of his waistcoat, while her other hand tightened its grip in his hair. Eventually the need for air became too great and he pulled away to let them both catch their breath, leaning his forehead against hers as she held on to his arms. He saw that she had shut her eyes so he planted light kisses on her eyelids and the tip of her nose till he heard her giggle as she took his hands and pressed them to her flushed face.

Suddenly a rustling sound followed by a cough came from the direction of one of the rocky paths leading out of the quarry. "Come on, keep up!" Navet's voice shouted from some distance away. "This isn't a field you know!"

Eponine's eyes widened with shock as she and Enjolras tried to get to their feet. They just managed this feat a mere moment before Navet, accompanied by Inspector Thierry Perrot, entered the clearing. Perrot's eyes widened as he caught sight of the pair before he cleared his throat in an attempt to regain his composure. "Good morning. Would you know where Citizen Combeferre is?" he asked.

"He has the morning shift at the Necker today," Enjolras replied. "Is something the matter?"

"A message for him from Picpus, to be more exact the lady at Picpus," Navet said, puffing out his chest in an attitude of self-importance.

"The lady, you mean Claudine Andreas?" Eponine asked.

"Well the old man's daughter; he's gone a bad way and now cannot get up or move even a toe. He needs doctoring," Navet replied, scratching at a sore spot on his leg. "She gave me this note as some sort of explanation," he added, handing over a much folded sheet of paper.

"Your concierge thought that Citizen Combeferre had accompanied you and your friends to this place," Perrot explained. "So you will relay the message to him?" he asked Enjolras and Eponine.

"After fetching some things," Enjolras replied, leading the way back to where they had left their friends.

When they arrived, Feuilly and Leonor were getting ready to fire at a bottle placed seventy paces away, while Therese and Bahorel were simply conversing. Therese jumped to her feet on seeing them. "What are you doing here, Thierry?" she asked the inspector.

"Simply assisting this gamin here," Perrot said, gesturing to Navet before proceeding to explain the rest of the situation.

Bahorel's forehead furrowed at the close of the tale. "Combeferre may need a black cravat by the end of the day," he remarked. "Not to doubt his abilities or anything, but it sounds like he and Claudine are up against the inevitable."

"The very limit of medicine," Enjolras concurred as he began retying his cravat.

Bahorel winced before he looked Enjolras over. "Something is different..." he said, quickly going over to take a look at his friend's back before the latter could protest. "What have you and Eponine been up to, there's something in the shape of a boot-" he quipped.

"Nothing of particular consequence," Enjolras said sternly as he donned his coat. He saw Eponine adjusting her pelisse as she explained the situation to Feuilly and Leonor; Leonor's normally cool expression was now morose as she crossed herself, while Feuilly was shaking his head. "Eponine, you can stay here longer if you wish to," Enjolras said to her.

"I thought I'd go on ahead to Picpus and help out Claudine. I'm sure she could use it, since it might take some time for you to find Combeferre," she said.

Enjolras nodded approvingly at this course of action; it was probable that Claudine could use some company, or even practical assistance. He looked to Navet, who was scratching himself again. "Go on to the Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau. Gavroche is there now."

"Is there breakfast?" Navet asked eagerly.

"When we left, there was. You'd better hurry," Eponine chimed in.

Navet grinned good-naturedly. "He's got a belly deeper than the Seine. Wonder where he puts all of it," he said before following Enjolras and Eponine out of the quarry; Perrot lingered to converse with Bahorel and Therese.

The trio parted ways just outside Richefu's at the Barriere Du Maine; Eponine took a fiacre to the neighbourhood of Picpus, Navet claimed he knew a shortcut to the Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau, while Enjolras headed for the Necker. Despite the fact that it was a holiday, the hospital was still busy owing to the fact that some people who'd been injured in the attacks earlier in the week were now finally being sent home. The premises were crowded with patients being assisted by their family members, as well as a number of bystanders inquiring about relatives who were still receiving treatment or awaiting the doctor's permission to leave the hospital. An intern directed Enjolras towards one of the second floor wards, where Combeferre had been assigned for the day.

He arrived in time to see Bayard storming out of the ward with a contemptuous sneer on his face. The senior physician stopped to look over Enjolras from head to toe. "What brings you here?" he asked.

"I have a message for Citizen Combeferre. There is an emergency concerning another patient of his," Enjolras replied.

"Who is this, the father of Citizenness Andreas?" Bayard scoffed.

Enjolras' eyebrows shot upwards. "Yes, and what of it then?"

"The woman is well-read, she can nurse him herself."

"Perhaps Citizen Combeferre should be allowed to assess this situation first. He has been attending to Citizen Andreas for some time now, and would have some insight as to the care required."

Bayard chuckled mockingly. "Such gallantry is not necessary, especially towards those who only usurp authority in a field that is not their own. I suggest you leave us be to our business."

"You are preventing care from reaching a citizen in need, and at the same time hindering a colleague from practicing his profession," Enjolras retorted, meeting Bayard's condescending expression with a cold glare. Bayard paled and stepped back, which was enough for Enjolras to walk towards the door of the ward, where he could see Combeferre taking notes as he walked away from a cot with a sleeping patient.

Combeferre looked up from his writing and gave Enjolras a questioning look before hurrying over to his friend. "Enjolras, what are you doing here? You couldn't have finished target practice so early," he asked confusedly.

"I quit it early, to be exact. You're needed at Picpus; Citizen Andreas requires medical attention; he is abed and apparently immobilized," Enjolras said in an undertone.

Combeferre's usually calm expression crumpled as he looked down. "So it begins," he murmured. "Wait a moment, Enjolras; I will go there shortly but first I must endorse my cases to another attending," he added before quickly walking to where another physician was also taking notes. After conferring with his colleague for a couple of minutes, Combeferre went to a small sort of cloakroom and returned with his overcoat and his satchel. "Do you know anything more of what happened?" he asked Enjolras as they made their way downstairs.

Enjolras passed the note that Navet had given him earlier. "It should all be there."

Combeferre's face was stricken as he read the note. "As I feared; I can do only so much but I am still needed. I had hoped he would live to see another summer." He looked at Enjolras gratefully. "Thank you for coming all the way here to tell me."

Enjolras clasped Combeferre's shoulder; it went without saying that he would now accompany Combeferre to Picpus and perhaps wait the next few hours there with him. "It's a good thing that many of your other patients seem to be on the mend," he remarked, noticing another man walking out of one of the wards, all the while leaning heavily on a friend.

"That being a slight grace. Those from the Rue de Babylone garrison will be transferred out to various other postings; I hear that Theodule Gillenormand is one of them," Combeferre said.

Enjolras nodded understandingly; this was one way of reducing and containing the influence of these would-be-mutineers. There were inherent risks in this move, but he hoped that the presence of astute and vigilant commanders would help reduce the possibility of future trouble. "No one disturbed them for the sake of investigation?"

"Thankfully no; they needed the time to recuperate. However some of the other physicians wouldn't have minded letting in the inspectors," Combeferre said ruefully. "A case of disordered priorities there; the investigation regarding the émigré involvement is going well enough even without unnecessarily disturbing those who were merely small pawns in a huge plan."

As they walked up the Rue Petit-Picpus, they caught sight of Courfeyrac leaving the Andreas residence. "What are you doing here?" Combeferre asked.

"I came to give some help from an apothecary, but now I must fetch a priest," Courfeyrac replied grimly.

Combeferre's eyes widened with dismay. "Is he in such a bad way already?" he asked in dismay and disbelief. "It's too fast even for this."

"I wish I could say you were right, but I don't think he has long left," Courfeyrac said before hurrying off down the street.

Combeferre swore under his breath and wiped his face. "This shouldn't be happening; he was fine yesterday," he said as he and Enjolras continued on to the house. Although Courfeyrac had left the door unlocked and there was still a candle burning in the living room, it almost seemed to Enjolras as if the house was wrapped in a gloom so stifling as to banish all signs of life. It was only when he and Combeferre were on the second floor that he finally heard some low whispers coming from a room towards the end of a short corridor.

When he followed his friend into the sickroom, he had to swallow hard. Valentin Andreas was almost unrecognizable as he lay very still and pale, with the blankets drawn up almost to under his chin. His eyes were half-open and his limbs were stretched out in a posture that was akin to an ominous sort of rictus. The only remaining sign of life was the feeble rise and fall of his chest.

Claudine was sitting at her father's bedside, chafing his wrist as if she was trying to feel for his pulse. Her eyes were clear but wild with the beginnings of grief when she looked at Combeferre and Enjolras. "I thought he would wake but he's been slipping away faster over this past hour."

Combeferre merely acknowledged this with a nod before going to the dying man's bedside. He stopped for a moment to clasp Claudine's free hand before helping her adjust the pillows in an attempt to make Valentin more comfortable. "What happened?"

"He complained of a headache during breakfast before he suddenly collapsed. At that moment he still at least was cognizant of his surroundings," Claudine explained. "It's a good thing Navet was looking for something right by the convent; I asked him to get you. He's why Courfeyrac is here too with some things from an apothecary; Navet somehow met him, Paulette, Joly, and Musichetta all at breakfast.

Enjolras looked to where Eponine was pacing the room, biting her lip uneasily. "I said my goodbyes already. You should too," she said to him when he caught her eye.

'Can he even hear it?' Enjolras wondered as he went to the bedside. He had heard tales that the last sense to depart was that of hearing, but of course he never met anyone who could ascertain this fact through real life experience. He gingerly clasped Valentin's frail shoulder; it was all he could do not to flinch on feeling the chill in the man's mottled skin. He had to take a deep breath before speaking. "Thank you for everything, my friend. You should rest easy now," he said in a low voice. It might have been a trick of the eye but it seemed to him that Valentin stirred, almost as if in protest.

"Father, he is right. So are Francois and Eponine. I'll be fine. You do not have to worry," Claudine said, just managing to keep a tremor out of her voice. "I'll be able to go on, I'm sure of it."

On hearing this, Combeferre looked down before murmuring an apology and then getting out of his seat. Enjolras raised an eyebrow at this before following him out of the room. He saw Combeferre rest his head against a door, biting his lip as if he was trying desperately not to verbalize some unspoken regret or grief. Enjolras shook his head and waited for Combeferre to regain his composure before giving him a pointed look.

Combeferre wiped his eyeglasses several times before managing to speak. "I failed him and her," he said at last. "No, not as a physician, but I should have done what was right by Claudine earlier. Now I will have to wait for a year or so for propriety's sake, and that is hardly fair to her."

"What do you mean?"

"I had planned to ask her to marry me, last year. But Lamarque's funeral happened, and of course I was in no position to make such a proposal in the months after. I knew that Valentin was very ill; I saw the first signs of it. He had hoped that I would protect Claudine and offer her safety and security and whatever else I could give."

"Did he ever have doubts about it?"

"Quite the opposite. He had hoped to actually see it."

"He would have preferred to see the two of you go about it at a better time instead of being ill-prepared for it," Enjolras pointed out. 'If Combeferre had been able to get that post of a lecturer, this would have been resolved differently,' he thought, feeling a rash of irritation towards Bayard's condescending behaviour early in the day.

"That might be the case, but there was still that disappointment," Combeferre said ruefully. He straightened up and glanced back at the door. "Maybe it may not be too late to make amends..." he murmured before quickly returning to the room.

When Enjolras followed his friend, he saw that Combeferre pulled up a chair beside Claudine's. Combeferre had taken Claudine's hand, but he seemed to be whispering something to Valentin, but it was impossible to tell whether it was an apology or a promise. Regardless of what it was, it seemed to be what Valentin needed to hear, as his grimace suddenly appeared less strained and almost peaceful.

Knowing better than to intrude on this scene, Enjolras went to where Eponine was standing by the window, looking out on the street. She sighed grimly as the bell at the nearby convent tolled the noon hour. "We tried giving him some of the things that Courfeyrac had brought but they wouldn't take. Do you s'pose he was just waiting?" she asked Enjolras.

"Waiting to hear something?" Enjolras clarified.

"Maybe just for him," Eponine said, gesturing to Combeferre. "At least there's time for a goodbye, and there's someone to hear it."

Enjolras clasped Eponine's arm just moments before they heard something like a long sigh coming from Valentin's bed. The elderly man let out another breath before seeming to sag back against the pillows. Combeferre felt for Valentin's pulse and then watched for a few moments before gently drawing the man's eyelids shut. Claudine nodded slowly before burying her face in the sheet to muffle her sobs even as Combeferre held on to her. Enjolras felt Eponine's hand close around his tightly; when he looked at her she was clearly fighting back tears.

At that moment the bedroom door swung open to reveal Courfeyrac, looking out of breath. With him was a young priest who seemed to have thrown on his coat over his cassock and stole. The curate sighed and crossed himself. "A few minutes too late," he murmured before going over to the deathbed. Claudine looked up and gave him a slight nod before stepped aside to let the priest begin to say prayers over Valentin's body.

Courfeyrac's face was stricken as he went to Combeferre and clasped his arm. "You were more than a son to him; you were a friend," he said in an undertone. He nodded to Claudine and when she went to him, he kissed her hand. "My condolences, Claudine."

Claudine nodded as she wiped her eyes on her sleeve. "Thank you. All of you. You've done more than you should have today; you need not stay to help make arrangements."

"We will though," Eponine said, letting out a slightly unladylike sniff. "It's the least we could do, and I don't think you could tell us to leave."

"I'd have an easier time damming up the Mediterranean," Combeferre said dryly. It was quickly decided that Combeferre and Claudine would handle the arrangements for the burial, as per some instructions that Valentin had left behind. Eponine volunteered to take charge of cleaning up the house, while Enjolras and Courfeyrac would notify Valentin's friends and neighbours about what happened.

Courfeyrac only dared to speak again once he and Enjolras were out of the house. "I know this is an inopportune time to be asking this, but I could not help but think of it anyway," he said with uncharacteristic seriousness. "If it turns out that Paulette and I will have a son, we would like you to be his godfather."

Enjolras paused, taken aback by his friend's words. "I am honoured, yet I must say this is surprising."

"I guess you must be wondering why I didn't ask Combeferre, Pontmercy, or even some of the others," Courfeyrac said. "It's because of how you look out for Gavroche, Neville, and Jacques. It's not only for Eponine's sake."

"That is true," Enjolras said. "If you should have a daughter though?"

"Musichetta will be the godmother. She would be offended if otherwise," Courfeyrac replied wryly.

Enjolras smirked, knowing their friend's wrath all too well. They parted ways near the gate of the convent; Enjolras made the rounds of his contacts and Valentin's friends in the nearby neighbourhood, while Courfeyrac headed to meet up with some friends in the market district, where Valentin had done business till last year. It took Enjolras the better part of the next two hours to finish his trip; by the time he returned, he surmised it was almost two o'clock. By this time the house was cleaned up, ready to receive any mourners. Black drapes now graced the windows, and the lights in the living room had been put out.

Eponine was sitting on the stoop, trying to make a sort of cockade out of black crepe. "Claudine and Combeferre have gone on to the church with the body," she informed Enjolras. "I s'pose we should follow there, once we get word."

"What is that for?" Enjolras asked, gesturing to the cockade.

"To put on the door. Claudine wants it," Eponine said. "Is this how a wake ought to be? Black everywhere, no songs about even if it's almost Easter..."

"Customarily, and even then, only in some quarters," Enjolras replied. He remembered little of mourning for any relatives back in Aix, but even so he was sure that his kindred were not particularly fond of ostentatious mourning. 'Which even then is more than some people can ever afford,' he thought.

Eponine stuck a needle in the half-finished cockade. "I've never been to a proper funeral. I don't even have a black dress for it, though Claudine told me I don't have to wear one tomorrow at the funeral." She sighed as she looked at her handiwork. "Antoine, where do they bury people who die in prison?" she asked at length.

"A common grave, sometimes out in the nearest cemeteries," he said, feeling the weight in this query.

"Oh. I s'pose I would have liked to know where my mother was," she whispered. "I know it doesn't matter to her, but it matters to me."

'It's always for those left behind,' Enjolras thought as he clasped her hands. He felt her squeeze his fingers tightly, as if seeking some form of reassurance. For a long time neither of them said anything, not even when the convent bells tolled the hour.