The Blood Of Angry Women

Chapter 4

Enjolras relaxed and drifted off to sleep again. But she slept fitfully, and tossed about so much that Grantaire finally moved his head to the floor, where it would be safer.

After a few hours of this, she gave up on attempting to sleep and fumbled for her watch on the nightstand. It was nearly noon, and she didn't want Courfeyrac to miss his afternoon classes. She leaned over the side of the bed and called out to him. He did not stir. She sighed and dragged herself across the bed, leaning over the other side, to peer down at Grantaire.

"Grantaire?" she murmured. She picked up the paperback book that Courfeyrac had laid on the nightstand and flung it at Grantaire. The spine of the book struck him on the back of the head. "Grantaire!" she called again, louder.

"Yes?" He lifted his head. "What a striking voice you have! Hits me like a ton of books, it does."

"Could you please go to Combeferre for me? Ask him to come over and sit with me this afternoon. I believe he's done with classes soon; perhaps you can catch him before he goes home. Then Courfeyrac can leave and go to his classes. He's at the medical school, probably on the third floor. Ask around and see if you can find him. I don't think they'll give you too much trouble for being there."

"For you, I'll try. Of course, they might mistake me for their newest cadaver and try to make me their experiment, but what the hell. If I come running back here, pursued by young men with scalpels, you'll know what happened."

"Just don't die before you tell him." She waited until he'd left the room to smile.


Grantaire wrinkled his nose as he entered the medical school. How he detested the smell of that place! Luckily, he was able to locate Combeferre quickly, as classes were just getting out. He ushered him outside and they walked along the boulevard.

"Enjolras needs you. He had an accident last night. Broke his arm, banged his head.." Grantaire related the details of the accident with surprising clarity.

Combeferre's eyes widened. "Oh my! Well, he's alright, though?"

"Relatively speaking. He's resting comfortably now, and he's still got that same fire in his eyes. He's retained his most important faculties." Grantaire bit his lip, afraid of saying too much. He began to see how difficult this secret was going to make his life.

Combeferre shook his head slowly. "Is anyone there with him now?"

"Yes, Courfeyrac is there, asleep. If Enjolras really needs anything, he can always fling a book at his head. That's the best way to study, you know. Knocks the words out of the book, and into one's head. You know, I do believe I can recite "A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman" by heart, and I've never even read it!" They passed by a wineshop, and Grantaire could not resist. "Go on ahead, Combeferre, I'll meet you there. I do believe I hear my mistress calling."

He ducked into the wineshop. The sight of the dark red liquid in the bottles almost cleared his mind of the troubling thoughts. Almost. He then thought that perhaps he was a bit hungry, and Enjolras and Courfeyrac probably were as well. He rounded the corner to a bakery and bought a sack of rolls and pastries. He then returned to Enjolras' room.

He was surprised to find Enjolras sitting up in bed, cocooned in a wool blanket. She was drawing street directions on a slate. Combeferre sat next to her on the bed, watching every movement of her hands, listening intently to the directions.

Grantaire sat in the corner and listened a bit. He soon realized that Enjolras wasn't giving directions, she was explaining battle plans. It seemed that she had preplanned the best place to build a barricade, should the need arise.

"There now, if I die, you can carry this out?" She looked up into Combeferre's eyes anxiously, waiting for an affirmation.

"Don't be ridiculous; you're not going to die!" he exclaimed in horror. "If you were going to die of this, you'd have done it already."

"Well, I've been thinking. If Grantaire had not been with me, I'd be dead right now. I don't want to see the Republic suffer from my untimely demise. You're a competent leader. You and Courfeyrac together can handle it. Promise me!"

"Alright, alright, I promise. In the event of your death, I will carry out your plans. Satisfied?"

"Yes. Quite." She looked at Grantaire and the bags he held in his hands curiously.

"Breakfast," Grantaire explained. "Thought you might be hungry." He reclaimed the chair beside the bed and set the bag down beside her. "Feeling well enough to eat, I hope?"

She shrugged. "I suppose I should." She pulled a roll out of the bag and began picking at it. "You should wake Courfeyrac, I think. He'd better leave soon."

Grantaire gently nudged Courfeyrac's shoulder with his boot. "He's not waking up. It's going to take a bit more force than that." He got out of his chair and knelt down beside the boy grabbed his shoulders, and shook him a bit. "Wake up, you lazy lout! Do your parents pay to send you to Paris to sleep on other men's floors all day? Why, you've got an education to get! Now, I know you only take afternoon classes for a reason, but this is no grisette's chamber! You're in Enjolras' room! You silly boy, you've missed your date last evening, and your mistress will be furious!"

Courfeyrac stared up at Grantaire in utter bewilderment. "Ugh.. what a night. Did I pass out here?" He sat up and rubbed his head, then looked up at Enjolras, sitting in bed with her arm swathed in bandaging, and then he remembered. "Merde! How are you feeling now, then, mon ami? You look even worse today."

Indeed, she did. The side of her face was swollen, just below her temple, and it was dark purple and blue. A spot of blood was crusted in the middle, where the skin had been abraded slightly upon impact with the wall. Her chin length, raggedly cut hair was loose, strands of it stuck to her face, and other strands sticking up in the back.

No one had ever seen her with her hair down. It had always been tied neatly back in a sedate black ribbon, or sometimes a leather cord. If she had not had that ghastly wound to her face, perhaps her angelic beauty would have given her away. She was, however, more pitiful than beautiful at that moment.

She smiled weakly at Courfeyrac. "I do feel a bit better, thank you. For all you've done. Now, I insist, you and Grantaire must go to class. I won't have anyone missing class on my behalf." Her voice was a command, as always. Courfeyrac straightened himself up as best as possible, grabbed a pastry, and went toward class. Reluctantly, Grantaire followed.

--Jeni Baron

Chapter 5