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10 January 2014 @ 09:01 pm
Chapter 81: Defiance Allied With Progress  

A/N: Second to the last chapter. Anyone still reading this thing?

Still taking requests for one shots and outtakes!

Chapter 81: Defiance Allied With Progress

One of the more immediate consequences of these events was yet another late night for the household at 9 Rue Guisarde. 'Hopefully all of last night's work will help make today a little less frenetic,' Enjolras thought the next morning as he tried to make himself comfortable in a seat of a cramped omnibus. It was a feat easier said than done, especially with Eponine's elbow occasionally jostling his as she reread some notes, or with Gavroche's squirming restlessly whenever the omnibus had to stop to let off or take on more passengers.

As the omnibus finally approached the Pont au Change, Gavroche let out an exaggerated yawn as he swung his feet, nearly kicking off his shoes. "They should get eagles for steeds, not snails," he said as he turned about in his seat to get a better look out of the omnibus windows.

"If this delay persists we can simply walk the rest of the way," Enjolras pointed out as he adjusted the strap of his satchel. One glance told him that the bridge was now impassable: carts and carriages already formed disorderly queues all the way to the opposite bank, and increasingly irate drivers and passengers were haranguing each other or looking around to see what had caused this inexplicable delay.

He felt gloved fingers brushing against his knee and he looked to meet Eponine's alert, avid gaze. "I s'pose you mean we should run. It is already half past seven," she said as she slipped her notes back into the bag of papers she carried.

Enjolras surreptitiously took a look at his watch. "Actually it's twenty minutes after seven."

"All the same to us now," she replied, smiling playfully at him as she adjusted the string of her bonnet such that the hat covered much of her reddish hair. She looked about and saw Gavroche leaping out of the omnibus. "Now that's decided it!" she exclaimed before springing to her feet to give chase.

'Gavroche must have forgotten he's racing towards a place of ennui,' Enjolras thought as he swiftly alighted from the omnibus. It was just as well that Neville and Jacques were spending the day with Prouvaire; there was no way that the two little boys would have liked this increasingly chaotic situation. As Enjolras walked briskly, he could easily see the vivid green of Eponine's dress as well as the jaunty blue of Gavroche's hat moving through the throng, but it was difficult to catch up to them owing to all the passersby stopping to gawk at something in the general direction of the riverbank. He gritted his teeth as he finally got a good look at this disturbance; not only was the entire bridge clogged, but much of the road from the Place du Chatelet, to the Quai de Gevres, and all the way to the Hotel de Ville had been reduced to a single narrow lane. This was thanks to an opulent carriage that had apparently been stopped at one side of the Place de Hotel de Ville by a group of people comprised of some glassworkers, masons, and a few laundresses.

"There's a fly caught in the spider web!" Gavroche called from where he had climbed up onto a vegetable seller's cart.

"That is enough heckling, Gavroche," Enjolras warned. He recognized this carriage as belonging to a representative from Alencon, probably the same gentleman who had accosted Eponine and Allyce earlier that week. 'One who was not around yesterday,' he recalled, already knowing where this discussion could very well lead.

"Citizen Enjolras, we've caught this dog running with his tail between his legs!" shouted a mason brandishing a cudgel.

"A dog! I will show you what a dog is -" the representative growled.

"Let me through," Enjolras said calmly to the people blocking the carriage. He quickly walked up to the window of the vehicle and looked pointedly at the beleaguered man glaring back at him. "I do not need to remind you where your duty today is, Citizen," he said sternly.

"Duty! That's a fine word for you to say, you rabble-rouser!" the older representative barked. "If you do not send these people away, Lafayette will certainly hear of this!"

"They will leave. You are a citizen and thus you will be guaranteed of safety," Enjolras replied, making sure to look squarely at the mob surrounding the carriage. "However since you are an elected representative to the legislature, it is necessary that you turn your carriage back towards the Hotel de Ville and attend the sessions."

The representative was red in the face. "Do you think you can order me around, boy?"

"The matters to be voted on today will also concern your constituents, even if they did not have a direct hand in authoring the petition," Enjolras said, raising an eyebrow imperiously. He could hear the murmurs still persisting through the crowd, so he signed to the mason holding the cudgel to let the carriage pass. Nevertheless he made sure to look his fellow representative in the eye. "Your seat still awaits you. Good day Citizen," he said before stepping aside to let the carriage pass.

"He shouldn't leave," the mason growled, his grip tightening on the cudgel.

"We cannot prevent that but he will be duly sanctioned by the assembly," Enjolras answered. This answer seemed to be enough for some of the people in the crowd, who then began to step away. One man grabbed the leader of the crowd, whispered something in his ear and then pulled him away from the scene.

As the crowd continued to disperse, Enjolras glanced at Gavroche, who was hurriedly pocketing a pebble. "It appears that the meetings today may be just as heated. I trust that despite this, you will conduct yourself properly," he said.

Gavroche thumbed his nose. "Only if they don't throw their fists first."

Enjolras sighed at this before he looked about for Eponine and finally caught sight of her on the steps of the Hotel de Ville, standing on tiptoe as if she was searching for him and Gavroche in the throng. With her were Combeferre and Claudine. Eponine sighed with obvious relief when at last she saw them approaching the steps. "Some of the police were getting ready to step in; they might have done it if you'd been there a minute longer," she said.

"Their best course of action would be to escort that carriage safely out of the vicinity. Anything else could be easily misconstrued," Enjolras pointed out. It was clear that any attempt to apprehend the leaders of the mob might have resulted in a brawl or something worse.

Combeferre wiped his spectacles. "Citizen Bayard is here," he noted. "As expected, there is no change in his disposition. I had been intending to sit in also on the session but since he is present, it might be best that I absent myself."

"We'll need to win the other committee members' opinions so they can overrule him by a majority," Claudine muttered with distaste. "All these spectators might turn the committee hearing into a show."

'Someone of authority will have to be present to help bring back order to the proceedings if necessary,' Enjolras thought. At that moment, as they entered the Hotel de Ville, he noticed Charles Jeanne just ending a discussion with Feuilly, who was accompanying some envoys from various consulates and foreign correspondents. He nodded to his colleague, who took the opportunity to excuse himself from the previous conversation.

"It seems as if it will not be a prudent idea for you to attend the hearing on the Parisian petition," Jeanne said to Enjolras before cordially greeting the rest. "There is far too much speculation."

"I intend to be at the hearing of the artisans from Lyon," Enjolras answered. "That is also another matter that requires attention."

Jeanne nodded understandingly. "Then I will sit in on the Parisian petition. Enough of us are present for a quorum this afternoon, but I have not yet seen Bamatabois. Rossi is attending the hearing about the Verdun petition since it concerns some matter of infrastructure he'd like to look into. Mathieu is already here, and he said that you two talked with him last night?" he said, also looking to Eponine.

"Only for a little while," Eponine said with a grin. "Long enough to get him to understand some things."

"It seems you two made quite the impression," Jeanne remarked. He nodded to the ladies. "Well let's not keep the committee waiting."

Enjolras discreetly reached for Eponine's hand and squeezed it, earning him a smile that was both confident and affectionate before she followed Claudine and Jeanne to a meeting room on the ground floor. In the meantime Enjolras, Combeferre, and Gavroche went upstairs, towards where most of the other committee hearings were to be held.

The second floor corridor was crowded with even more people, many of them trying to edge closer to what appeared to be an argument towards the middle of the hall. Suddenly someone shrieked just as Mathieu evaded Bamatabois' attempt to tackle him, just seconds before he sent the younger man to the floor with a punch to the nose.

"What is the meaning of this?" Enjolras demanded as he quickly held back Mathieu by the arms while Combeferre sprang to assist Bamatabois, who was trying to staunch a nosebleed.

Bamatabois responded by trying to get to his feet, which he would have done if not for Combeferre's firm grip. "You will take back what you said about Citizenness Moreau!" he snarled at Mathieu.

"It is not my opinion; it's that of the papers. I'm only stating what they wrote," Mathieu snapped.

"What paper is this?" Combeferre asked, pressing a handkerchief to Bamatabois' nose.

Gavroche quickly retrieved a paper from the floor. "You can use this to wrap fishes in," he said, holding it up for the two newcomers

Enjolras' brow furrowed as he let go of Mathieu and then caught sight of the piece titled 'Eustace and the Beauties of the Pont d'Arcole'. He already knew the gist of this ribald story, since Eponine had warned him about it the night before. All the same, laying eyes on the actual text was enough to heighten his disgust and embarrassment at the lurid descriptions of a night at a brothel. Although he did not know whether this prose was in any way accurate in its depictions, he could imagine the uproar and scandal this would certainly have produced in some quarters. He handed the paper to Combeferre for the latter's perusal. "This is not a prudent way of dealing with this insult," he warned his colleagues, also giving Mathieu a pointed look. "It is exactly the reaction they seek to elicit."

"This is why I still deem him as a boy," Mathieu said in a vehement undertone. "One who thinks he is still fighting with his fists on the schoolyard."

Bamatabois glared viciously at Mathieu. "If you were in my position, you would not say such things." He gave Enjolras an astonished look. "How can you stay calm? You and your wife, even your other friends were very much vilified in this piece!"

Enjolras looked at Combeferre, whose jaw was set as a sign of barely disguised fury. They themselves had been thinly disguised as the brothel's clients who'd led the hapless 'Eustace' astray, while Eponine and Claudine had been shamelessly alluded to as two of the brothel's coarsest bawds. Other friends such as Feuilly and Grantaire, as well as other friends in various groups and a few other legislators had also been very much abused in this publication, having been written down as various sorts of lechers, drunkards and every class of unsavoury character associated with such places of pleasure. "An unnecessary outburst will only confirm these poor impressions. Do not give the writers that satisfaction," he said at length.

Combeferre checked Bamatabois' injury. "The bleeding should stop in a few minutes."

"That or he'll have to visit the dyers," Gavroche sniggered.

Enjolras gave him a warning glance before looking at Bamatabois. "Unless you have planned to visit other hearings, I think you will find the petition from Lyon particularly interesting," he said to his friend.

Bamatabois muttered something in assent before inspecting the bloodied handkerchief pressed to his face. "I will be there in a few minutes," he said grudgingly before going off to allow Combeferre to tend to his injury.

Mathieu looked curiously at Enjolras. "I see you are not a duellist either, whether in actual practice or simply in temperament. Considering your skill in marksmanship..."

"A skill I do not intend to employ towards reckless behaviour," Enjolras said coolly.

"You will let this piece of calumny go unanswered?" Mathieu asked, appalled at the young man's seeming impassivity.

"It is more trouble than it is worth to make the expected reply," Enjolras replied. 'Time will vindicate all of this,' he thought as he went with Gavroche to the meeting room; he was not about to disrupt the rest of the day's pace with another unnecessary altercation.

Regardless of the interruptions and terse incidents of the morning, he could see that matters were playing out as he had hoped they would. Several days of investigating, asking, and making the proper connections had led to an alliance that was now swiftly at work: the representatives were already present at the smaller sessions, some of the more trustworthy journalists were seeking admittance, and the general conversation included much anticipation of the afternoon's plenary session. He knew that he could rely on Jeanne's astuteness, Bamatabois' and Rossi's enthusiasm, and other redeeming and useful qualities of some other colleagues within the assembly. Outside the legislature he could count on a myriad of other people from different groups interested in the proceedings, as well as the presence of foreign correspondents and envoys who would wish to see the assembly at work. The diplomatic corps' involvement, albeit a little from afar, had been owing to some clever work on Feuilly's part. Then of course there would be Grantaire's candour and Coutard's meticulousness as far as dealing with the local journalists was concerned. He had also known that Combeferre and Claudine would find some way to be involved in events. He realized bemusedly that the only thing he had not exactly predicted was Eponine's part in the matter; he was sure that she would take the lead in presenting the Parisian petition, but he had certainly not counted on her helping him to ensure Mathieu's attendance at the Hotel de Ville. 'Far more than a mere advantage,' he thought, remembering the spiteful words that the Lafontaines had said just mere months ago.

Not surprisingly, the hearing on the artisans' petition was so full to the point that Enjolras and Gavroche had to settle for standing towards the back of the meeting room. The principal authors had showed up in full force, as well as the committee members. Aside from these, there were also some deputies from other towns, leaders and outspoken members of various guilds and ateliers in Paris, and a handful of journalists. The leader of the artisans, a man who Enjolras had met once, prior to the Glorious Days of 1830, nodded cordially to him but threw a more sceptical look at Combeferre and Bamatabois when they entered the hall.

At some point in the session, one of the older stoneworkers standing nearby gave Enjolras a toothy grin. "Not so much the bourgeois boy anymore, Citizen?" he said candidly. "Good to see your support. Where's Citizen Jeanne?"

"He is attending another hearing," Enjolras replied tactfully.

"Ah, appeasing the neighbours?" a more cavalier glassworker chimed in. "That poissarde will be glad to hear of the interest."

"There are other reasons," Enjolras said, not wishing to indulge this seemingly dangerous line of comment. Still he had to silently acknowledge that the mere word of Jeanne's presence at the hearing downstairs would help mollify Allyce Legendre's temper, regardless of the result. 'Now the same cannot be said for this hearing,' he thought just as the sound of a ledger slamming against a table pierced the air just as a deputy got to his feet to answer a pointed remark made from one of the petition's authors.

Gavroche pumped his fist excitedly. "There starts the first report!"

Combeferre shook his head as he began to roll up his sleeves. "Some of them are on the point of apoplexy especially with this summer heat," he said. He watched the debate cautiously for a few moments until the angry representative was pacified and everyone had returned to their seats. "This may not guarantee the immediate passage of the petition."

"We'll make another attempt if it is turned down," the stoneworker cut in, cracking his knuckles. "But for their sake—"he added before an exclamation from the convenor of the session suddenly had the room erupting into cheers. "What did he say, Citizens?"

"The petition is now forwarded to the afternoon assembly," Enjolras replied, having just heard the news over the din and commotion that now seemed to also be coming from outside the room as well; clearly the other sessions were just concluding. He made his way to the door and peered out in time to see Grantaire talking excitedly with a younger journalist.

Grantaire grinned widely when he saw Enjolras. "I've been to the post, and word has it that the assemblies in other cities have already finished their voting sessions. Our assembly is the last to come to a decision."

"Well then, what about the committee hearings?"

"Five approved for later, one denied, and the last I have no news of."

"Which one was denied?" Enjolras asked tersely.

"The one from Verdun," Grantaire said. "The last one, there has been no messenger, no Iris or Hermes ascending from downstairs to tell us of it-"

"I will have to play that part then," Claudine said, running up the stairs but slowing down to a more dignified walk when her feet found level ground again. "I could hear your conversation all the way from the landing."

"The verdict was?" Enjolras inquired.

"We made it as far as the assembly too," Claudine replied triumphantly before hurrying down the hall to reiterate the news to Combeferre, who was just emerging from the meeting room with Bamatabois. No one could hear exactly what she said to him, but the amazement on Combeferre's face was evident as well as her delight when he kissed her hand by way of congratulations.

A quick glance at his watch told Enjolras that it was already a quarter before one in the afternoon; the committee hearings had all dragged on far longer than anyone had expected and now there was little time to rest, eat, or simply catch one's breath before the plenary session slated for one in the afternoon. Nevertheless he followed the increasing hubbub of voices downstairs, to the lobby where he knew people would be gathering en route to the session hall.

The spacious lobby was just as cramped, perhaps even more, than it had been on the day of the opening assembly on the first of March. Since it was summer the powdered wig had gone entirely out of fashion; the last holdouts were only too evident in a sea of bare heads and simple caps. Many people still wore cockades and plumes of the various parties but there were still more who donned the tricolor cockade. More women had shown up today in comparison to the first assembly, and they were now openly mingling with various personages and officials. Despite the fact that all the doors and windows had been thrown open for ventilation's sake, the air in this room was practically stifling, and it was all that Enjolras could do to prevent from rolling up his sleeves or loosening his cravat to seek relief from the heat.

As he made his way down the last few steps, he heard an enthusiastic yell and turned to see Gavroche sliding down the banister, leaping down with an impish grin as he reached the end of the rail. "Something better than feet," he said cheekily, making a sweeping bow for the other astonished onlookers at this scene.

"But not for your bones or your trousers," Enjolras said dryly, noticing that Gavroche had ripped the hems of his trousers. He looked around and caught sight of Eponine speaking excitedly with Musichetta, Bossuet, Feuilly, Leonor, and a few other acquaintances. All of them had doffed their hats and Feuilly had even gone as far as rolling up his sleeves. The ladies had tricolor rosettes; Musichetta and Leonor tucked theirs in their décolletage, but Eponine had somehow pinned hers to her hair. As Enjolras began walking towards them, with Gavroche in tow, he heard a humourless, almost sardonic laugh from the crowd. A quick look told him that the source of this was the physician Bayard.

"They may have succeeded in gathering a quorum today, but it is only to assure a defeat," Bayard said confidently to some officials. He cast a patronizing, almost disdainful glare at Enjolras. "No truly conscientious legislator would vote for the approval of such dangerous legislation."

Enjolras stopped to look Bayard in the eye. "The danger is not in these petitions, but in those who would seek to misuse the legislative process for self-serving and tyrannical ends."

"Do not mistake me, Citizen. I am for this Republic and a patriot as much as you and every man here is," Bayard said, making a poor attempt at a cordial smile. "I only do not want to see it plunged into chaos after such a long struggle to bring it to stability. A legislator must make educated and just decisions for his constituents, not leave them to a squabbling rabble that will tear the state apart."

A few shocked gasps and indignant exclamations sounded through the crowd, but Enjolras silently regarded Bayard for a long moment, knowing that this man was revelling in this revelation of an opinion. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Bossuet and Musichetta trying to nudge Eponine closer to join this debate, but the young woman did not move. For a fleeting moment she caught his gaze, nodding almost imperceptibly, yet in those brief seconds Enjolras felt a jolt that he could have sworn coursed through the marrow of his bones. The silent challenge and encouragement in Eponine's eyes were unmistakable, and it could only be met with a fire beyond this very debate.

"Your words would make it appear as if citizens as a whole are devoid of the capacity to work for the resolution of long-standing ills, and thus, representatives must be deemed separate from them," Enjolras finally said to Bayard. "This can never be the case."

"What do citizens know of governance?" Bayard scoffed. "They vote, isn't that enough? They do not need to tell their representatives what they have to do."

"This state would be impossible without the citizenry; it is not only they who decide the very presence of a representative, but who will see to the day to day workings of the policies so 'intelligently' decided on within these assemblies. It is they who will decide if these will be sustained or simply be confined to paper. The true stability of the state lies in the very effort and will of the people; against it even the strongest tyrant or the most benevolent republic cannot truly hold sway," Enjolras retorted more strongly. The murmurs and hubbub of conversation had died down; in fact it seemed as if the very air had stilled. People were now pressing closer to this conversation, and in fact some others who till earlier had confined themselves to the perimeter of the room were now edging for a better view. Some women had climbed on chairs for a better view, while men had gone as far as extinguishing their cigars.

"The rabble cannot understand anything of governance," Bayard sneered, his eyes hard and glittering behind his spectacles. "You would have the common beggars and farmers throwing dice in the assembly to make decisions owing to their ignorance."

Enjolras shook his head at this gross caricature. "Ignorance can be cured with literacy, especially if it is available to all. You are an educator yourself, Citizen, and you can attest to the benefits that education has on the conditions and character of the individual, then eventually the private and public spheres."

"Only to individuals who are worthy of it."

"A judgment that should not be arbitrarily made. To deny learning, especially to the willing, is to enforce the same inequalities we are all seeking to eradicate. This is a time of illumination, when advancement and improvement of the human mind and condition should be permitted to all, to pursue when and where they will choose, without hindrance and censure from government, neighbor, or infirmities. To deny this is not only an act of slavery and injustice, but folly in itself and the worst sort of blindness. It is far more fitting for France to march with Progress than to be dragged by it."

Bayard's already livid visage darkened as a number of people in the lobby cheered while many others nodded and murmured approvingly. He glared venomously at Enjolras for a long moment before spitting at the young man's feet and then striding out of the lobby amid the jeers and catcalls of some of the workingmen and law students nearest the doorway. By this time someone had opened the assembly hall doors, and soon people began to shove and squeeze their way towards the long benches at the back of the hall and the narrow staircases leading to the galleries. Gavroche practically bounded to the galleries to look for a seat, while Enjolras made his way towards the front of the room, where the representatives were usually seated.

Enjolras was immediately greeted by a jovial fellow, a representative from Livry. "It was an uneven match, Citizen. That fool Bayard should have confined himself to the clinics," this man remarked admiringly. "Now he's been crossed twice in one day, and will never be able to hold up his head in a committee after this."

"When was the first?" Rossi asked, emerging from where he'd been trying to retrieve a pen from under the table.

"Why, at the committee hearing-where he was trounced soundly by two young ladies!" the man from Livry guffawed.

"I would not call them women, even! They were out of control harpies-"a clerk muttered darkly before Rossi elbowed him.

Instead of dignifying this jibe, Enjolras carefully observed the other participants in the session. 'There is a theoretical possibility that Bayard may be correct, but in practice a prolonged absence would be better than consistently voting down every petition,' he noted. The very fact that a quorum had occurred on relatively short notice was a slight encouragement in itself. He allowed himself a glance towards the galleries, where he immediately located Eponine, Gavroche, Combeferre, Claudine, Grantaire, Feuilly, Leonor, Bossuet, and Musichetta, as well as Coutard, Allyce Legendre, Simone, and even Alain Foulon in the leftmost gallery. Everyone was standing; in fact the stragglers and fashionably late in other galleries were duly greeted by curses and admonitions to keep their shoes away from their neighbors' toes.

After a few minutes the representative assigned to preside over the assembly entered the room and took his place at the podium. "In the interest of time, we entreat our fellow legislators to refrain from making lengthy explanations of their stances, and proceed directly to the casting of votes-"he began amid the protests of several of the representatives.

"Censorship!" one bellicose gentleman cried.

"Sit down, you old windbag, and do remember your manners," his neighbor chided him over the harried pounding of a gavel.

The convenor paled but recovered his composure quickly. "We will now begin by voting on the petition from Calais-"

An almost audible sigh of relief swept through the hall; the petition from Calais was on a relatively quiet matter concerning allocations, a question that would not have excited much comment had it not been for the delay with voting on it. As the legislators were called in alphabetical order for the voting, Enjolras quietly listened to the half-murmured replies of 'approve' and 'disapprove' passing through the room before giving his own vote in the affirmative. The voting for the next petitions proceeded smoothly till four out of five petitions had been approved, and one turned down but recommended for a further hearing of reconsideration. By this time it was past three in the afternoon, and the heat of the day had not diminished by very much.

The convenor finally breathed a sigh of relief after the approval of the petition from Lyon before picking up the last petition in line. "We will finally vote on the petition from Paris," he began, wincing already in anticipation of the crowd's reactions.

"I disapprove!" one representative barked.

"You have not been called yet for your vote, Citizen Astier," the convenor said pointedly. "Sit down. May we call on Citizen-"

"I disapprove," a pale man chimed in from behind the sleeve of his coat.

The man named Astier smirked as he subsequently gave his vote of 'disapprove', only to pale when Bamatabois countered loudly with an 'I approve'. "Have you gone mad?" Astier sputtered over the scattered applause from the gallery.

Bamatabois gave him a venomous look. "Don't question me."

"Mad with love perhaps?" Astier's boorish neighbor snickered, further rolling his eyes when he heard Simone gasp rather audibly in the gallery.

Enjolras, already sensing a catastrophe, grabbed his friend by the shoulder to keep him from launching himself at Astier and his cronies. Bamatabois clenched his jaw before reluctantly sitting back down, his expression still murderous before his cheeks reddened with growing shame.

The convenor chewed on his lip tersely before calling out the names of five other representatives, nodding at each reply. "What of your vote, Citizen Enjolras?" he asked.

"I approve," Enjolras replied firmly over the enthusiastic chatter and raised arguments in the galleries. The hubbub grew louder as representative after representative was called, making a deafening crescendo when it was Rossi's turn to cast his vote for the petitions approval, thus making the votes of the Parisian districts unanimous.

After the last vote was cast, the convenor pounded his gavel uselessly before proceeding to read out the result of the voting. "By a vote of 21 to 12, this assembly approves the petition from Paris. This and the four other approved petitions will be signed into law by Citizen Lafayette on Monday-"he shouted before his voice was thoroughly drowned out by jubilant yells and cheers from the assembly floor and the galleries.

For a moment Enjolras was in disbelief till he heard someone call his name. He turned in time to get pulled into an enthusiastic hug by Bamatabois and then by Rossi. "This was brilliant! If it wasn't for you almost single-handedly pulling together a quorum, everyone's work here would be for nothing," Rossi said to Enjolras.

"You must extend your gratitude as well for everyone else present," Enjolras said, clapping his friend on the shoulder. He nodded to Jeanne and Mathieu, who were also talking to other friends and supporters, before hurrying to look for Eponine and their friends. He caught sight of them already making their way out of the gallery, squeezing their way through the crowd on the narrow stairwell. Owing to the celebrating crowd on the session hall floor, it took a few more moments till at last they met at the doorway of the assembly hall.

Eponine immediately reached for his hand in order to pull him to her. He caught her with an arm around her waist, as she brought out another tricolor rosette from her pocket to tuck in his lapel. "That was magnificent, Antoine," she said in his ear.

Enjolras took both of her hands in his as he met her bright smile. "I'm so proud of you Eponine."

Hearing Eponine laugh with delight at these words was among the best victories of the day.