The Blood Of Angry Women

Chapter 1

A balmy late April breeze blew in through the open window of the café. The breeze was strong enough to dissipate the noxious smells of Paris, and it lifted the spirits of the students gathered around the little tables. Enjolras, a grim expression on his face, strode purposefully over to the window and shut it tightly, then marched to the center of the room and lit the large lamp in the center of the table. The meeting was called to order.

Enjolras stood in front of the room and spoke of the unfairness of the political system under which they were living. Somehow, the speeches never grew stale from week to week. There was always another point made, another option to consider, another corrupt matter to discuss. After Enjolras' speech, the little group became loud once again. Some continued on the social issues he'd spoken about, others drifted into the various entertainments of young men. Enjolras simply sat back in a corner and observed them.

While all this was going on, someone was observing Enjolras, as well. Grantaire sat in another corner, drinking heavily and chattering loudly, but all his attention was fixed on Enjolras. If anyone was inclined to look for sense in his speech to begin with, they would find it sorely lacking tonight. His troubled mind was trying desperately to forget an incident of a few days ago. Unfortunately, the harder he tried, and the more he drank, the more he remembered.

Grantaire was quite certain that there was something wrong with him. He'd always known that there was something he admired about Enjolras. The passion, the idealism, the pure faith in the triumph of good that emanated from this young man's heart astonished him, enthralled him, drew him in. Yet, Grantaire'd never thought he could take admiration for another man so far.

A few nights ago, Grantaire had begged for a chance to be allowed to go to a certain Richefeu's to heat up some lukewarm republicans; really, to impress Enjolras. He'd failed miserably, of course. He had every intention of doing it correctly, but just before he'd left Musain to go there, something had happened. Standing next to the slim boy with his golden hair and pouty lips and figure almost like a girl's, he'd imagined what it would be like to kiss those lips. When Enjolras had stared into his face and said "Grantaire, you're incapable of belief," his heart had sunk. When Enjolras had finally consented to try him, he'd become nearly giddy with delight. Inwardly, of course. Grantaire was a master at hiding his true self, except when deep in the grips of hard drinking, a difficult thing to define for one who spent most waking hours at least a little tipsy.

It was only when he was walking away from the Musain, toward the meeting of those other fellows, that he began to clearly see what had happened. This was a first for Grantaire. He'd always loved women, not men! Why, that was just wrong! He tried to put the thought from his mind, but it always came back.

Now, a week later, reflection on this, and the persistant desires that simply would not be banished, had thrown him into a bitter depression. Being ordinarily pessimistic, none of his friends noticed a difference, and he was thankful for that.

The last rays of sunshine were leaving the sky when Enjolras rose, swept a pile of books from the table into a canvas bag, and left the café, bidding everyone a polite good evening. Grantaire rose to leave just a few moments later, saying that he had a few other cafes to visit before dawn. He soon caught up to Enjolras on the street.

"Hey. I, uh, just wanted to apologize for screwing up last week--"

"Don't bother. If I'd expected you to do it right in the first place, I might be upset," Enjolras replied curtly.

Grantaire sighed. "I really did try! I just-- well-- something got on my mind--"

Enjolras snorted. "I'll say! Absinthe, brandy, or gr--?"

"Besides that!" Grantaire snapped. "As if I couldn?t handle liquor by now! No, I-- ah, hell, why am I telling you this?" He raised his eyes from the paving stones to stare ahead and realized they were crossing an intersection. He head the clattering of wheels upon the stones, and a carriage came flying down the side street at them, at a breakneck pace. "Look out!" he shouted terribly, throwing his body against Enjolras' slight frame, knocking them both out of the path of the crazy driver. Grantaire himself just narrowly rolled out of the path of the wheels. Enjolras had landed a few feet farther away than he.

"Ugh," Grantaire moaned. He'd struck his head on some piece of debris when he'd landed. An old packing crate. He crawled over to where Enjolras lay, slumped up against the wall of a building. "Hey! Are you alright?" He nudged at the boy, gently. Enjolras did not respond.

"Merde! Mon Dieu, I've killed him!" Grantaire breathed. He thought quickly. Should he carry the wounded youth to a hospital? Where the hell were they, anyway? Grantaire looked up at the nearby building, hoping for a street number.

They were three doors from Enjolras' flat.

Quickly, Grantaire picked up the unconscious student from the pavement, and half ran, half walked. It was not difficult; Enjolras weighed no more than his little sister. The concierge responded rather quickly to his kicking at the front door. She showed Grantaire to "Monsieur's room" and then hovered as Grantaire laid Enjolras on the bed. "Shall I fetch a physician, Monsieur?"

"Oh, now there's a bright idea! If it wouldn't trouble you too much!" retorted Grantaire acidly. He quickly felt up and down Enjolras' limbs, trying to determine if any bones were broken. The concierge left in a huff, presumably to get a doctor.

Arms and legs seemed to be intact, and Grantaire then began to press on Enjolras' chest lightly, in a clumsy, instinctual manner. He knew that broken ribs would be bad. Broken ribs could hinder one's breathing. But, he couldn't discern anything through the bulky layers of clothing. Why, it was late April, and the boy still ran around with his coat buttoned all the way up!

Impatiently, he began tearing at the clothing, so as to better examine his chest. Gone were any thoughts of improper lust. Grantaire was not taking advantage of this serendipitous opportunity. He was only concerned with his beloved idol's health, at this moment.

He finally managed to tear open the fine white linen shirt. There was a slight bruise to the abdomen, which did not look too serious, but, oddly enough, there was already a bandage around Enjolras' chest - a tight one. Grantaire impatiently unwound the yards of heavy linen bandage, wondering what wound Enjolras had been concealing.

There was no wound.

Enjolras was a girl.

--Jeni Baron

Chapter 2