The Passing of the Grey Company
He held Enjolras' hand with breathless ecstasy, their fingers linked into each other, his fingertips on Enjolras' knuckles. His thumbnail brushed the underside of Enjolras' thumb, and Enjolras' smooth skin brushed against his own rougher hands.
They stood close, closer than he had ever dared to come to his beautiful god. He couldn't help but stare, close enough to see the lines in Enjolras' lips and the thick strands of golden hair, loose, unbound, dramatic, and tangled from fighting. There was blood smeared in a shooting star over Enjolras' cheek, and it was also striped into his hair, but none of the blood belonged to him. Enjolras' eyes were dark, dark blue, and he was smiling, just a little bit, a welcoming sort of smile as they met hands.
But Grantaire himself could not smile. His own lips parted barely in heartbroken wonder, because he understood that this beauty would be gone in just a few moments. He received the gift he'd longed for all his life, and it would disappear as soon as it had been given. The god, the angel, the revolutionary, all that was Enjolras: just a little while, and it would be lost.
To mirror his, Enjolras' own smile faded.
They heard the sound of guns being cocked, and Enjolras tightened his grip on Grantaire's hand urgently. The expression on his face was desperate, and angry, and almost contorted from the two emotions. Even contortion was unable to mar his beauty, but his clear voice was ragged.
"Damn you. Don't stand there like that. You look as though the world were about to end. Damn you. Not yet. It hasn't, yet."
Grantaire swallowed hard, and tried to force his appearance to less than misery, more than awe. Anything to please Enjolras. "I..."
"Please! You can't do this to me now. I understand now. I don't hate you, Grantaire; I need you now. We're dying... --No, don't speak. You're not an idiot. You needn't grin like one. Just... give me a smile. That's an order. An order. Just... don't you have any hope?"
"Hope...?" Grantaire whispered harshly.
"You look like death walking!"
Enjolras' throat convulsed, and bright blood gushed from the bullet hole in his neck. Other tiny fountains poured from his collarbone, his shoulder. The lowest was at his breastbone.
Grantaire put his free hand up to one of the three crimson marks scattered over his chest. "Perhaps... Perhaps I am..." And he smiled, with a bitterly amused sigh.
Enjolras let his head tip back, leaning against the wall of the cafe. His lips moved one last time, in words that Grantaire could hardly hear, strangled with pain and blood. "Then you've come to take me away from here, Death?"
"To carry you to Olympus, surely..." His voice was not as soft as Enjolras', and he made the promise - for it was a promise - firmly, so that his dying angel could catch it. Then he tumbled past Enjolras, unable to stand a bare moment longer, knees giving way. Their fingers tore away from each other, the handclasp as ruined as those who made it. Grantaire lay on his side, and kept his smile, reaching out with a struggle to rest his now-free hand on Enjolras' foot.
Enjolras raised his eyebrows weakly at the ceiling, and his smile hadn't yet completed itself when his eyelids closed with content weariness. The blood streaked down his white shirt in fey patterns, swirling around its trails with dreamy slowness. He could have been a druid king, with his pale golden hair and his white skin and his air of lost magic. And now he was dead, at last.
"I'm coming to carry you to Olympus... My Lord..." breathed Grantaire, and his fingers curled in resolution as he died in turn.
The Municipal Guardsmen squinted and blinked at one another, quite confounded by the scene they had just witnessed. One, or perhaps two, silently looked away, comprehending without meaning to, and speared with sorrow by the comprehension.
Their leader, however, walked over to the two lifeless boys. He knelt beside Grantaire, and prodded the curled hand with an inquisitive forefinger. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders, then straightened and frowned at Enjolras. He touched Enjolras' soft, warm cheek, and laughed.
"This child was the leader of the insurrection? Such children are dangerous. I expect he played havoc with his tin soldiers when he was little. But Olympus? What illusions! What vanity! No one is taking you to Olympus, my dear."
He turned away. "Instead, let us take them out into the street. In here, they might look dignified. The people don't need any more damn heroes to give ideas. Lump them as you will, and get them out."
The Guardsmen gathered the bodies up, both insurgents and their own fallen companions. They piled Enjolras in Grantaire's arms to drag them from the cafe. They nestled the blond boy easily against the homely man in his old coat. If the two corpses hadn't been smiling before they died, one might suppose that they were amused at the irony.
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