Grantaire was in love. There was no other way of putting it. The young man had been hit by cupid's arrow and there was no going back. She was a baker's daughter, her name was Audra. He had met her one night while buying his meager supper. She had enchanted him. In his opinion, she looked like an angel. Long, blonde hair that reached all the way down to her hips; big, innocent-looking, blue eyes; thick, black lashes; and perfect pink lips. She was a shy girl of just sixteen. After seeing her for the first time, Grantaire came back every night to the little bakery. It didn't matter that the bread was horrible, all that mattered was that he would get to see the girl who had made him forget all the things he had told himself to believe. He had always told himself that love did not matter. After his father left his mother, he decided that there had to be more to life than being tied to one woman your entire life. Obviously that was what his father thought. So, as soon as he was old enough, he set off for Paris. He would meet women, enchant them for the night, and leave them in the morning. Yet there was something about that that made Grantaire feel empty. And when he saw Audra that cold, fall evening, he knew that he could stay with her his entire life.
One evening, he got up the nerve to talk to her. He had come into the shop and waited for her to come out of the kitchen. He was alone in the shop when she stepped out.
"Bonjour, Monsieur. How are you?" She asked shyly, wrapping up the bread.
"I am fine. How are you, Mademoiselle?"
"Forgive me, I haven't introduced myself. I am Grantaire."
"I am Audra." She replied, blushing just the slightest.
"I know." He whispered, barely loud enough to hear. The girls blushed even more. They began to talk and realized that they very much enjoyed the company of the other person. Grantaire soon realized it was getting rather late and that he must go.
"Mademoiselle, are you ever allowed to go out during the day? Perhaps for a small meal at a cafe?" He inquired.
"On occasions." She replied.
"I was wondering if you would be interested in joining me for lunch someday soon?" Grantaire asked.
"Possibly, Monsieur. It depends on when you would like to go." She responded.
"Tomorrow?" He asked hopefully.
"That would be brilliant!" She agreed. Grantaire's face burst into a large smile. Audra's shy smile lit up her face.
"Where would you like to meet?" He asked, exuberantly.
"There is a café down the street, would you like to meet there?" She inquired.
"That would be perfect, Mademoiselle. Shall we meet around 1 o'clock?" He asked.
"That would work, Monsieur." She said.
"Then, I bid you Au Revoir, Mademoiselle." He said, stepping out of the shop, looking back to see Audra staring at him as he walked into the night.
Weeks passed. Audra and Grantaire had slowly fallen in love over those days. They met at the café at least once a week, usually more than that, though. Her father was not too thrilled about the budding romance between the poor man and his own poor daughter. He wanted to marry off young Audra to someone rich and powerful. Not some waif who couldn't provide for his daughter.
Grantaire was walking Audra home one night when he realized that he had never been happier than he was at that moment.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked in her soft voice, clasping his hand in hers.
"About how happy I am right now. About how.....about how I am in love with you." Grantaire replied. Audra turned to face him.
"Do you honestly mean that?" She inquired, almost holding her breath as she awaited an answer.
"Yes. I honestly mean that. I am in love with you, Audra!" He responded, smiling slightly. She looked at him in shock. It had been the first time those words had been uttered to her. Not even her parents had told her that. She had never been told she was beautiful, that she was loved, that someone cared about her. Her parents viewed her as another mouth to feed. Her siblings resented her for being 'pretty'. And yet, this young man she barely knew told her all of these things. Then he leaned in and kissed her gently. And in that fridgid November night, Grantaire had found something to believe in.
Days later, a knock was heard on Grantaire's door. It was late at night and Grantaire was confused. Who could be calling on him at this hour? He answered and there stood Audra, her eyes red and her cheeks tear-stained. His heart broke just looking at her. Her took her hand and silently lead her into his apartment. He guided her to a chair which she collapsed in. He sat on the floor next to the chair, stroking her hand gently as her sobs quieted.
"He's...going...to.....marry.....me....off....to...some...rich....politician...!" She managed to choke out in between tears.
"Oh, dearest." Grantaire said, not sure of what to say.
"I...didn't....even....think....that...a....politician....would....want...to...marry....a....poor....baker's...daughter." She explained.
"Why does he want to?" Grantaire asked, how though, he would never know. His head was spinning, the words felt slurred. "He...thinks....it...would....be....good....for....his...image! He....thinks....it...would...show...he...had...sympathy....for...the...poor." She hiccuped, the tears finally subduing.
"You don't need to marry him. You can stay here and marry me. I am not promising that I can alway provide a meal or a roof for you, but I can promise that I will always love you." Grantaire whispered. She kissed his cheek gently.
"May I stay here tonight. I will go home in the morning and inform my father that there is no need to arrange the marriage for I shall be gone. I'll be with you." She smiled. He stood up and then sat in the chair beside Audra. She curled up into his arms and as he started stroking her long, glossy hair, she fell asleep. Grantaire breathed a sigh of relief. He had been worried that he would loose her.
Audra entered her father's shop. He was behind the counter, not facing the door.
"Father." She said loudly. She felt surprised of herself, sounding so commanding, not small and timid.
"There you are!" He screamed at her.
"I am here to inform you that I refuse to marry that man. I shall go and live with my Grantaire. And I shall never bother you with my presence again." She replied.
"Ha! You think you'll survive with that man? He don't have a job, he'll be bored with you after awhile, and he won't feed you. You will starve to death on the streets. On your own. He won't stay with you." He father lashed.
"That is not true. Grantaire is different than you or your friends. He loves me!" She yelled.
"Ha! He thinks he's in love with you. Really, he's just indulging his fancies. Soon, there will be someone else he 'loves'" The man sneered
"But I won't be loved if I marry that politician!" She cried.
"No, but you'll never miss a meal, you can raise your children without fear having to turn them out because you cannot afford to keep them. You will never have to worry about where you will sleep. You will always have a bed and a roof. It is up to you, m'dear. But you must made your decision by tonight. I must close the deal with Monsier Duboisse by tomorrow morning. There are many young girls here in the slums who would kill to marry him." He father chuckled darkly. Audra left the shop and made her way to Grantaire's apartment, wondering what she would choose.
Audra burst into Grantaire's apartment. He smiled.
"Hello, my love. How did that go? Is it nice to never have to deal with him again?"
"Grantaire, I need to talk to you." She sighed, looking into his deep brown eyes. Grantaire suddenly felt concerned.
"Listen, I love you Grantaire. And I honestly think you love me as well. But, love, you cannot provide for me. You cannot guarantee that you can feed me, that you can give me a warm house to sleep in. Monsieur Duboisse can insure this. And though I shall never love him, I will have a better life. Please forgive me, my love, but I cannot spend my life wondering if you've found someone new, if your love has moved on to someone else. I shall never stop loving you, but I will learn to live without it. Dearest Grantaire, try to understand." Audra said, gently placing her hand on his face. He pulled away.
"Grantaire.....I am sorry. I wish you would have never come into the shop. I wish I would never feel this pain I feel now." She said, tears falling down her face. She stood to go.
"Don't go...." He said, looking up into her eyes. She saw the tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Goodbye, Grantaire." She whispered and left. Grantaire ran down the stairs after her, but she soon melted into the crowed and he couldn't see her any longer. He went back into his apartment and flopped into the chair in which he had slept with Audra in his arms just the night before. Hours after Audra had left him, Grantaire took a few sous from his pocket and headed to the nearest pub. He entered, laid the coins on the counter, and said, "Give me your best brandy."
A month later, Grantaire stumbled through the cold, wintery streets of Paris in search of a new bottle. He saw a warm light coming from a café, The Café Mussain, and he leached in a drunken stupor in the door. Inside a blonde, young man was shouting out words of revolution. Grantaire watched in silence as the man preached his message. After the man concluded the speech, he went to greet guests who had come to listen to him. He came up to Grantaire.
"Hello. I am Enjoras. I am part of a group, Les Amis de l'ABC, where we believe that all citizens should be equal. Will you join our cause?" The man said, sounding rather rehearsed. Grantaire laughed.
"I don't believe in anything." He slurred. The man turned to him, and said, sounding more sincere, not rehearsed:
"Then we will make a believer out of you."
Hope you enjoyed!
Over and Out!