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Not Quite Beyond the Barricade

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For a moment after the gunshots, Enjolras thought the soldiers had missed.  The light swirling around him soon disabused him of that notion, however, not to mention the translucent, glowing Grantaire hovering above the slumped, bleeding Grantaire.  Enjolras looked behind him and yes, there was his own body, less slumped but equally bloody.  He nodded to himself.  It had been a good death, a meaningful death.  Even, Enjolras thought, looking at Grantaire, an inspirational death.  The barricade would be remembered, perhaps, by those who would continue its work.

But his part of that work was over.  As the soldiers rushed out of the room, Enjolras completed the smile he had begun in life, let go of Grantaire’s hand, and surrendered to the pull of the next world.

“Oh, don’t go!  Please don’t go!”

The world had grown misty, but the woman who spoke was clear and vibrant, untouched by the grime of the barricade.  Enjolras rarely took any notice of fashion, but even he could tell there was something odd about the woman’s purple gown.  It looked like something an aristocrat might have worn in the years before the Revolution.  Her hair, too, was silly in a different way than women’s hair was usually silly, and she spoke with an accent that might have been English.

 “I’ve been so lonely, for so long,” the woman continued as Enjolras and Grantaire exchanged puzzled glances.  “So few people have died here, until today, and the ones that have ran off so quickly!  Even them,” she said, gesturing to the other bodies scattered about the room.  “I don’t blame them for wanting to get away, it was so loud and nasty here for a while.  But now!”  She clapped her hands and beamed, the image of pure delight.  “Now, we can talk.”

“If you wish to, mademoiselle,” said Enjolras.  The light was still pulling at him, but he could spare a moment to be polite.

The woman giggled.  “So formal!  Please, call me Kitty.”

“Very well.  And I am-”

“Enjolras!” Kitty burst in.  “I know.  I’ve seen you before!  And you’re Grantaire, aren’t you?  Did you enjoy your oysters yesterday?  I was hoping they’d gone bad and you and the others would die, but now I’m glad you had a nice last meal!”

“Uh,” said Grantaire, at a rare loss for words.

Kitty clapped again.  “Oh, we’re going to have so much fun!”

“Pardon me,” said Enjolras, “but we have not said that we will stay.”

Kitty’s face fell.  There was nothing in the world so sad as her eyes.  “But why not?  Don’t you like me?”

“I-”

“It’s not so bad, you know, being a ghost,” said Kitty.  “One gets to see the world go by.  Well, not the world, just this bistro, but I hear the news.  There’s an awful lot of it, with all your revolutions.  And other ghosts come to visit, sometimes!  They say there are even some living people who can see us, somehow.”

The future, which had been cut short, suddenly stretched before Enjolras’s eyes once more.  “Then we could continue our work,” he said.

“…yes!” said Kitty.  “Yes, work, definitely!  Does that mean you’ll stay?”

Enjolras turned to Grantaire.  “What do you think?”

“I will if you will,” Grantaire answered immediately.

Enjolras smiled and shook Grantaire’s hand once again.  They solidified, the light around them fading.  There was still much to be done in this world – the next one could wait.