title: Langue d'Oc
attribution: idyllique.net
date: 2017-04-17
rating: General
word count: 1,293
setting: Multi.
relationships & characters: Enjolras
keywords: Five Times and One, Languages
summary:
"I have not spoken any patois for some time," Enjolras said.
Scenes between a man and his home language.

i.

"Iokin," he murmured, taking great care not to turn his head or lean too far from his desk. "You are better at Ovid, what do you think for line thirty-four?"

"I've passed it, hold on -"

Iokin turned back a page in his book, but he took less care than his friend, and the crane of his neck to see the word in question was enough to alert the tutor. He walked to them with rod in hand.

"Monsieur Enjolras, Monsieur Detcheverry. I hope you each recall what happened the last time you sought one another's consult during an examination - with the Aenid, was it? And please, cheat in French, if you must cheat at all."

Each received a rap at the hands. Both boys straightened and turned from one another, and they returned to their dormitories separately for the second time in a week (a rarity).

Some months later, newly thirteen, Enjolras began to read pilfered volumes of Grégoire and Condorcet, and although his Latin did not improve substantially, his French did.


ii.

"How is that for a first lecture!"

Enjolras whipped around, confused at who could be speaking into his ear when he had left the hall so quickly. Beside him stood a man who seemed his own age, with curly dark hair, rosy brown skin, and clothing which was far more fitted than Enjolras's own.

"De Courfeyrac," said the man, beaming. "Euh, for now. I was seated behind you, and meant only to congratulate you on your height - are you new to Paris, also?"

"Have we met?" interrupted Enjolras, and he realized his error only after the words left his mouth.

This did not phase de Courfeyrac.

"Wonderful! Myself, also." In patois. "Toulouse, or thereabouts. You?"

"My mother was from Toulouse." In French.

Uncomfortable, Enjolras began to walk again, at a brisker pace than before, but the other kept good pace with him. He continued speaking, also, in a quick, casual manner which reminded Enjolras only of the most annoying boys in his class year at lycée.

"I did not ask about your mother, but if she is anything like her city she must be just as charming as you."

"I am not charming." He neglected to say, 'and she is dead'. He also neglected to ask de Courfeyrac to leave, but he took the hint anyhow:

"I beg to differ, although you do seem vexed. No matter — I shall sit behind you once more next week. Do not bother to tell me where in advance, one needs no great observational skills to notice you... Enjolras. With or without a fuss at roll, eh? I admire you for it. Until then!"

Although he had half a mind not to, Enjolras attended class the next week, also, and he accompanied Courfeyrac - who had after a fortnight free of his father already altered his name - to a café afterward.


iii.

"Tournefort," the other man said, bringing his wrist to his brow to brush back his hair, smiling. "I shall tell you our saying: our aim in the Cougourde is to feed the hungry. We are horticulturists."

"Enjolras," he replied. Tournefort raised a brow - only one. "The Society of the Friends of the ABC wishes for the comprehensive education of all children."

They shook hands.

"Splendid. Are you all from Paris?"

Tournefort spoke with the accent of a Southerner and tone of a working-man, but he was dressed as Enjolras himself was: in tailored, clean clothing, the uniform students wear when their university does not mandate one.

"No, none who are here - I myself am from Carcassonne. And you, are you all from Aix?"

This earned him a laugh, and Enjolras returned only a smile. Aix was not so desirable a place to live as Paris, for some. "Yes. Forgive them all for being timid. We don't talk at home like one does here."

Enjolras looked at the others in the room: Tournefort's three men seated roundtable, huddled, and his own — Bahorel, Courfeyrac, Joly - separated as though by some invisible wall, without presentations.

"I have not spoken any patois for some time," he said, when he became cognizant once more of the privacy of his thoughts. "But, if it would help..."

"Langue d'oc, you mean! Say, Citizen Enjolras, tomorrow, you can tell someone, 'I spoke some patois yesterday' — Mouton! He is from Carcassonne, isn't so your uncle?"


iv.

The heat of summer was suffocating, and the only respite came with an occasional faint breeze through Jean Prouvaire's window. He lay on the floor, his feet set in Combeferre's lap. On the divan beside Combeferre sat Enjolras, a book open against his knees.

When a lull occurred in Combeferre and Jean Prouvaire's poetic conversation, he closed it quietly: "I do not find these arguments as compelling as I used to," said he. "To be complacent in my own obscurantism has been a great, exaggerated fear in my mind. However much thought I have squandered upon it, it could have been better spent."

"Oh?" returned Combeferre, as he finished a visibly absent-minded massage of Prouvaire's ankles. "I should not go so far in my judgment so soon. Perhaps I am unused to your disdain of the thinkers of the Republic."

"I harbor no disdain," Enjolras retorted, but before he had mind of how to continue they were interrupted by Prouvaire (now eye-level with Combeferre's navel, through what surely could only have been the use of his arms, not abdominal strength).

"Combeferre will not like it, but perhaps you should be — after all, for those whom you claim to disdain, you are never anything other than charming toward. Is this not the true obscurantism ! If you are thinking of patois again, your thoughts will become more clear through experiencing them fully as emotions, Enjolras, friend."

Enjolras stood to replace the book with Combeferre's things — they would walk home with one another as always.

"I will think and write upon it."


v.

Rainfall did not dampen the fervor which was present at the barricade, and both conversation and cannonfire steadily continued in spite of it. The latter, however, ceased prior to the former, and from then on there was not much left to do but tally and talk.

Enjolras observed, made mental pronouncements with need: night offered some cover, and dawn was still hours away. He would speak to those whom he needed to about tactics, about reconnaissance. The lack of sleep did not affect him then as it did on ordinary days.

He was vigilant, but knew he required interaction to maintain it. Feuilly was occupied; Combeferre, too.

The decision of whom to approach was made for him when Favre came to sit beside him.

"What a day it has been," he said, slowly - Enjolras knew this was for his benefit.

"Thank you for your presence, Citizen, and for your journey so far at little warning," replied Enjolras. He offered his hand, and Favre clasped it. Scrutinizing, Enjolras thought he saw a flush arise at his cheeks, but thought little of it. "And too for your skilled marksmanship."

"We must all thank you for your captaincy, Enjolras. I would not fight under any other."

A pause.

"You fought under Tournefort," reminded Enjolras, attempting delicacy. It would not do to dishonor the dead at such a place, at such a time.

Favre hummed. "Yes. That's right." He unwound the piece of lint at his thumb, then wound it again. Enjolras looked up: the clouds made the night sky a murky, star-dotted expanse, in a way he had not considered before.

"I ought to go check on Arnaud," said Favre suddenly, and he ceased picking at his bandage, squeezed Enjolras's hand before releasing it, and stood. "See if the blood's stopped. Thank you for speaking with me. Like old times."

"Like old times," repeated Enjolras.