pro_patria_mortuus: (to days gone by)
Enjolras ([personal profile] pro_patria_mortuus) wrote2015-01-21 10:27 pm

(no subject)

In Room 89, the television is on. Courfeyrac has been mastering the arcane mysteries of the remote control.

Previously, this meant a great deal of switching between channels at random intervals; Enjolras arrived in the middle of this exercise, and settled down with a book and his thoughts to affectionately ignore Courfeyrac's entertainment. (It was a bit like being in a mostly empty café or near an open window, except that the sound abruptly flickered to a new scene every so often.) But then Courfeyrac found a show created by the Tourism Board of France.

Right now, a cheerful woman's voice is explaining the Lemon Festival of Menton.
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-22 04:20 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre comes into the room, carrying an enormous book. After his conversation with Bahorel, he went to the library and spent several uninterrupted hours reading Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. He's brought it back to the room with him now.

"Fête du Citron?" Combeferre is easily distracted, but in fairness, the amount of bright yellow on the screen would distract most people. "That does look like an interesting local tradition--it must be excellent for trade and agriculture...and I see you've learned the controls, Courfeyrac." He peers over Courfeyrac's shoulder for a moment, looking at the small buttons on the wand that could change the screen from far away. Wondrous.

He comes back to himself. "Enjolras, do you have a moment to talk?"
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-22 05:10 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre sees Enjolras's look go to the book. "I don't know if you heard about this at all," he says. "But Victor Hugo--you remember him--wrote this book, and we feature in it. All nine of us."

"In some detail," he adds. "We are not the main focus. Monsieur Fauchelevent from the barricade is the closest thing to that. But we're named, and Hugo describes the barricade."

le_centre: (Revolutionary)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-22 09:01 am (UTC)(link)
'There is a castle made entirely of oranges and lemons,' says Courfeyrac, his gaze glued to the screen with the sort of focus one might associate with some momentous sporting event. 'Do you suppose people could live in it? For a few days, I don't see why not.'

Then it registers that his friend's attention is elsewhere - and there is a book he has never seen before, and some rather thoughtful expressions in evidence. Well! This must take precedence over fruit, so he carefully presses the button that makes everything go silent (how is that possible) and directs his sprawl in favour of the other two.

'Bahorel is mentioning what, to whom?'
le_centre: (Bloody Smile)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-22 07:34 pm (UTC)(link)

Courfeyrac snorts at once.

'That old Romantic? I saw a photograph of him in a book the other day, he looked as if he were in a swoon - though I will say, he improves in the face with age, largely because he grows a beard. But-'

He moves on hurriedly, because of course Enjolras does not care about the hair arrangements of other men.

'-I saw that name a number of times, and assumed he had written a social treatise of the time. It was on my list to read. You say it includes us - and Marius? Here-' he comes to his knees on the sofa, and stretches a hand forward, '-may I? Thank you. I should think-'

He riffles through pages, reaching the latter half before stopping, reading a few lines, and letting out a bark of a laugh. '-so that is why he only went out in the evening. Ah, dear Marius. I do wish he would join us.'
Edited 2015-01-22 19:35 (UTC)
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-23 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre nods, and grimaces a little. He has read the whole book. "The account of Monsieur Fauchelevent is very detailed, accurately or not. What's more, the broad outlines of his story, as it appears in Hugo's book, are not only public. They're famous, and have had a strong influence on culture and society. Hugo's story has been adapted for theaters. For what are called movies, which are rather like this television--I presume you've read something of them. And, most famously, for a type of opera, which has been performed round the world. Monsieur Fauchelevent's story is the center of all of these adaptations."

Combeferre, in addition to reading the book itself, has spent some time reading about its popular reception and cultural legacy. He pauses before continuing.

"I will not tell either of you the details if, out of respect for Monsieur Fauchelevent, you would prefer not to hear them. But I know them. The world knows them. Anyone in Milliways can know them if they read this book. Whether the book consists more of truth or of fantasy--either way, whatever's in it isn't private."

No matter how much M. Fauchelevent may wish it otherwise. Combeferre is in heartfelt sympathy with the man, on that count and on several others--but so are multiple generations of humanity, thanks to Hugo. Which is exactly what M. Fauchelevent doesn't want.
le_centre: (Serious)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-23 01:00 am (UTC)(link)
Courfeyrac's humour on the subject falls away.

'Well, that is...I have not met the old man here, and could hardly claim close acquaintanceship with him at the barricade. But I think it's a poor show that he should be exposed so, when it is quite clearly what he doesn't want, and might still be dangerous for,' he hesitates here, and his brow furrows. '- him. And also his family.'

His daughter. And Marius.

The inequality of society does not simply extend to the poor, but also to the criminal. The notes he came across citing Les Miserables gave an outline of its content, so he is aware it centres on a convict character - Fauchelevent, it seems. And France in 1832 is not kind to the criminal classes; the people too low to even have a class.

'He must be warned,' he says, seriously. 'We cannot let him find out by a careless tongue.'
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-23 01:10 am (UTC)(link)
"That was my thought," says Combeferre. "Better to be warned--and perhaps for his daughter to be warned, too--than for him to stumble unawares upon someone armed with the information. But I haven't spoken to him here at Milliways. I can't claim close knowledge of him any more than you can. I've spoken to his daughter, a little, but discussing such a subject with a lady I'm distantly acquainted with--well, it's probably better for her to hear it from her father."

He turns to Enjolras. "You know him better--do you agree that we should warn him?"
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-23 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre frowns, both at the thought of M. Fauchelevent's pain, and at the thought of his daughter's ignorance.

"She may not," Combeferre says. "But the world does, and she can, if she reads the book. I won't inform her myself; it's not my place, as a stranger to her, and a near-stranger to her father. He has the right to share his secrets with his daughter in his own time. But not the right to leave her unprotected against information the world knows."

Combeferre takes a deep breath. "There are also sections of the book concerning Mlle Fauchelevent herself--her childhood and youth--that she may not want widely known, on her own account. There are descriptions of her that she might find...improper. She can't do anything about them, of course. But I believe one has the right to know if there are near-salacious descriptions of one circulating to the public at large. Even if it's the public of the future. She is at Milliways. She may encounter those who have read it, and they may not all be as harmless as I am." This last is said dryly.

"Speaking of improper descriptions." Combeferre supposes he may as well say it now. They're in private, just the three of them. Enjolras will be as comfortable as possible when he hears this. "You should know, Enjolras--I don't expect you'll read the book, and there's no reason why you should--but Hugo becomes rather...florid, in his portrayal of you."
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-23 03:05 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre catches the wince. "Yes, it's awful for her."

He hesitates. "And for you--perhaps not as bad, since it would be worse for a woman, and since there is other information about Mlle Fauchelevent's origins and childhood in the book. But even so..."

How to say this delicately? Even so, Hugo obviously badly wants you for his catamite isn't something Combeferre will say out loud.

"Hugo is obviously very taken with your appearance," he finishes. "He goes on, at rather embarrassing length. And he also describes your..." Friendship? What to call it? It is a friendship of sorts, certainly, but Hugo puts a different light on it. "...your...well, Grantaire's attitude to you. And Bossuet is telling Grantaire about it. To put it plainly, Hugo says Grantaire loves you, while you disdain him, until the end. Except he goes on for much longer about it."

Combeferre pauses. "I only tell you this so that you will be informed, if anyone--whether it be Grantaire, or one of our other friends, or the spy, or someone else at Milliways--seeks to surprise you with this information. And because I believe everyone is owed the truth of their legacy, no matter how little personal vanity they have."
le_centre: (Wary)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-23 10:57 am (UTC)(link)
As the other two have been talking, Courfeyrac has been skimming through the book. His first instinct takes him to the final page, and then he rather wishes he hadn't given in to it. He moves away without reading the details, but with the obvious truth imprinted in his memory.

Then, naturally, he looks for his own name - but Combeferre's words stop him, and he goes looking for Enjolras instead.

There may be a bark of laughter, hastily stifled, and then amusement barely concealed as he reads on. Well, Victor Hugo. Who would have thought?

He looks up when Combeferre tells Enjolras of Grantaire, and then hurriedly back to the book. He is not surprised that Enjolras has been oblivious to all of it, but to his mind, it is not news. It would never get mentioned were it not for this book, but Grantaire's hopeless affection and Enjolras' lack of notice has always been clear - and is something that does not deserve to be paraded for all to see.
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-24 05:32 am (UTC)(link)
"I doubt Grantaire will wish to speak of it either," Combeferre says wryly, giving Enjolras's hand an answering press. "I don't know what there is to speak of, truly. Again, I only raise the subject so you will be informed."

Combeferre is less amused and more offended by Hugo's prose than Courfeyrac. But then, he will freely concede he knows less of literary fancies, and has less of a sense of whimsy regarding such things.

"I don't know who else in Milliways should be warned of Hugo's literary effort. Certainly not the spy, though our friends should know what the novel has to say about him. But he spares our other friends the worst of his attentions. Though some suffer from his neglect--Feuilly only has the chance to say one line, if you can believe it, even though Hugo lets Grantaire and Bossuet prattle on for paragraphs."
le_centre: (Wary)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-26 06:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Courfeyrac snorts at the page he's on, and turns it, then looks up.

'Is there anyone we suppose must know of it already? I remember when I came in, Teja was not surprised to see me - but he said that was because you were here already Enjolras, as well as Grantaire and Fauchelevent. My clothing and the blood made it obvious, so he might not have read it. But who else? The cannibal doctor speaks French and had some education in Paris. Would he know? What about your Russian friend, Enjolras? I do not thing we can assume everyone has seen it, but I would prefer to have an idea of it. I suppose there is no way to find out.'
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-27 02:49 am (UTC)(link)
"Hannibal Lecter!" The cannibal doctor has read of them? No wonder he seemed to recognize Combeferre's name, and expect his presence. And to know--what was it he'd said? Their number, their politics...well, at least he was from far in the future, although...

"What unholy motive could he possibly have for reading it? Other than to gloat about knowing things about us without being told, of course. Does he plan to tell the spy anything? About...well. The book has information on future events that a police spy might wish to know."

Combeferre shakes his head. "I take it the spy himself doesn't know of the book?"
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-27 04:00 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre looks at Enjolras.

Combeferre knows perfectly well that there is a simple practical way of keeping the spy from learning anything of the book's existence--or indeed, from learning anything ever again. He knows that Enjolras knows it, too. But Combeferre refrains from bringing this up: if Enjolras has not raised the topic, that means it is not under any real consideration at this time.

"Didn't I hear that M. Fauchelevent had been spending some time with the spy?"

Combeferre directs this question to both Enjolras and Courfeyrac, who have been here longer than him. "If so, perhaps we can ask M. Fauchelevent whether the spy knows anything. Perhaps even enlist his help in diverting the spy from the book. Though I don't know if M. Fauchelevent would be willing to do this, or if you would be willing to ask him."
Edited 2015-01-27 04:03 (UTC)
le_centre: (Serious)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-27 06:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Courfeyrac is hastily riffling through the pages now - he would like to read about 1848! But it's a big book and he cannot find it, so he looks to his friends.

'I would volunteer to speak to the man about this, but I have not seen him here yet. I will introduce myself - properly this time - if you'd like me to, but if you are speaking to him about the book anyway Enjolras, perhaps you might enquire after this at the same time? The spy cannot find out anything about the future - he may be dead in sixteen years time, but that does not mean he won't leave instructions behind him.'
Edited 2015-01-27 18:45 (UTC)
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-27 09:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Combeferre nods. It may be laudable for Fauchelevent to see good in the spy, as it was for him to spare the spy at the barricade. But as much as Combeferre may feel sympathy for that, the spy is still a threat to them. And, more importantly, to their friends and allies still living.

"He did give us that last uniform at the barricade," Combeferre says. "I suspect he will be amenable to an appeal on behalf of those of our sympathies, who will go on to play a role in 1848. Their lives and liberty, their families...I believe he will feel charitably to them, regardless of his disinterest in their politics."

He believes this based on what he's read in the novel. Highly embroidered it may be, even altered in many details, but the charitable impulse--that is a consistent feature throughout the book, and tallies with what Combeferre saw in the old eccentric at the barricade, and with what he's heard of Fauchelevent since. Combeferre believes in Fauchelevent's charity because he knows things he has no real right to know. There's a twinge of guilt that accompanies this; still, it would be foolish to ignore such a weapon. And information is a weapon--the greatest weapon--even as it is a balm and a light.

Combeferre doesn't like that thought much. It turns his greatest passion to violent ends. He sits down, and rests his chin on his hands.

"Let us hope so, anyway," he finishes.
le_centre: (Serious)

[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-27 10:05 pm (UTC)(link)
He closes the book. He does not miss the look that passes between the two of them, and understands what it means. And his face is quite serious as he thinks it over; the conclusion is not hard to reach. If it must be done, then so be it. As with any of them, Courfeyrac is not afraid to make the hardest choices.

Still, he sits down too.

'I cannot contribute before reading it; I cannot claim any knowledge of him at all, beyond his actions at the barricade. But while it may be a hard thing to ask of him if he is friendly with the spy, surely he cannot possibly refuse to help? If he is a charitable man - and he is a man who will not kill, even! - then he will not condemn any future families by inaction.'
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[personal profile] wings_of_a_swan 2015-01-29 05:50 am (UTC)(link)
Combeferre nods. He finds has a surprising amount of faith in Fauchelevent's conscience. The eccentric who came to a barricade and refused to kill--yes, that's a man who has earned some trust.

"Then I wish you good luck for that conversation, my friend," he says, wryly. "It will be painful for him, and I expect for you also--but perhaps it may be fruitful nonetheless."
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[personal profile] le_centre 2015-01-29 09:36 am (UTC)(link)
'It is all that can be hoped for, I would say.'

He looks down at the book in his hands, his expression rueful.

'It is not a good position for anyone, but we must make the best of it. Save who can be saved, if possible. So I wish you luck also, Enjolras.'

In the meantime, he is going to read the novel.