The Blood Of Angry Women

Chapter 3

Grantaire sat up quickly, pressing his palm to his temple. "I-- I, uh--" He looked down at the floor in chagrin. "I know. I know that you're a girl, and you just looked so beautiful--"

Enjolras winced. "Of all people to find out, it had to be you! I suppose everyone else in Paris knows by now, as well?"

"Never!" Grantaire exclaimed. "I would never betray you like that."

"Does the concierge know?"

"Not unless the doctor blabbed."


"Not unless he got a bit nosy during the night." Grantaire slid off the chair to sit on the floor and lean his head on the bed once again, still looking up at her.

"Thank God for small favors. That's all I'd need, the two of you with the least respect for women finding out." She cast a benign smirk at him, a look so near to friendly that Grantaire's breath caught in surprise. "I thank you for keeping quiet. In the future, keep your hands - and your lips - to yourself. Save it for your waitresses," she commanded, firmly but softly.

Grantaire grinned lopsidedly. "That won't be easy, but I'll manage somehow. You're a prettier girl than boy, I'm afraid. I'm just relieved I'm not-- " He bit his tongue suddenly, horrified at its treachery.

Enjolras blinked slowly, this half-statement taking a moment to settle in. An indignant tone crept into her voice. "So, you were lusting after me when I was yet a man to you? Perhaps you are, after all. I shudder to think what you've done, drunk, that you don't recall."

Grantaire flushed slightly. It was useless to protest. What she said was logical, and she had a right to berate him for it. "I've never been quite that drunk," he mumbled, a weak attempt at saving some semblence of dignity.

His eyes discreetly wandered up and down her blanketed form. How could he have been so blind as to not notice that she was a girl? This bewildered him. She was so slight, not at all curvy. And she'd always been bundled in heavy waistcoats and buttoned up in ill-fitting coats. He continued to look down at the foot of the bed, lest she catch him staring and lash out at him again.

"How did you manage to change sexes so efficiently? How did your parents allow such a fine candidate for a marriage escape? Surely, one could have gotten a fine piece of land in trade for such a specimen as you." There was a sharp edge of sarcasm in his words, and she seemed to pick up on that, for she just looked into his eyes, her blue eyes darkening with sadness.

"How did you know? My parents-- sent me away to a convent five years ago, because I refused to marry. It was there I met one of the sisters-- she had become a nun in the early days of the Terror, hiding from some political crime she'd committed in the name of Justice. She opened my eyes to a whole world beyond what I'd been taught before. I finally understood why things were the way they were, and why it must change." She paused, brushing back her hair with a shaky hand.

"I was in the garden one day when the opportunity arose. The gardener's helper had gone out on an errand, and I slipped into his shack and stole some clothes. Well-- I did leave him my dress, I suppose that's an exchange." She smiled weakly.

"I made my way to a friend of Sister Helena's, told him that I'd been recommended by her. That I was an orphan, somewhat educated and that she'd said he might be willing to sponsor my education. And so he has." She looked down at Grantaire's tousled head. "And so I've spilled my soul to you. I certainly hope you'll forget all about it when you sober up. It feels good to get it out, but I don't like the idea of anyone knowing."

"Your secret is safe with me, dear lady. Indeed, there are thousands of secrets floating about in my brain. The wine tends to melt them, and they all sort of merge together, until I cannot remember what I know about whom. By tomorrow, I'm liable to think that Bossuet is a woman, Courfeyrac is a nun, and you are a chimpanzee. It doesn't matter much, anyway, does it?" He yawned suddenly, giving Enjolras a chance to answer.

"Grantaire, you cannot address me as "lady"! You have no idea what would happen to me if anyone found out. Sling whatever epithets you'd like at me, but if you go around hinting at what I really am, I'll deny it and then you'll look like a fool--" She stopped short, biting off some derisive comment that sprung from habit.

"As you wish, my androgynous statue." Grantaire met her eyes with an oddly gentle look, then dropped his head back upon the mattress and fell asleep.

--Jeni Baron

Chapter 4