"Red, I feel my soul on fire! Black, my world if you're not there!"
“Red, the blood of angry men! Black, the dark of ages past! Red, a world about to dawn! Black, the night that ends at last!”

Belle heard the cheers of the students all around the town as Enjolras and his friends, Marius and Grantaire, along with young streetwise urchin Gavroche, beckoned them to jiunge in their crusade. They were mainly men; very few there were women. Belle wanted to jiunge them zaidi than anything, but her family were adamant that she could not.

“No, Belle,” growled Maurice, her father, when she had protested. “We will have nothing to do with those revolutionaries! It’ll only end in bloodshed, mark my words!”

Belle knew there was zaidi to it than just that. Her family disliked the fact that she was close to Enjolras; they found him to rebellious and since he was the type to swali the laws of France, and her family had always been strict law abiding citizens, any hope of a friendship, au anything zaidi between them, was strictly prohibited. That, however, didn’t keep her from slipping out to visit him in one of the other taverns every so often; he was no longer welcome in theirs.

“Belle, are wewe crazy?” asked her older sister, Jane. “He’s on the side of the revolutionaries; if you’re caught consorting with him, you’ll both be executed.”

“He’s my friend,” Belle argued, “whether there’s a revolution on au not.” She picked up her bag and hitched her vazi, pazia around her shoulders. “Don’t tell Papa, please,” she begged.

“I may have to!” Jane put her hands on her hips. “You’ll be in serious trouble either way!”

“Fine, and then I shall have to tell Papa about the affair you’re having with the foreman of the factory; and the three other men wewe were entertaining here last night!”

What colour there was in Jane’s face drained. “Don’t wewe dare-!”

“There, now, we’re even!” So saying, Belle left the house and ran all the way to the nearest tavern, where she knew the students would be. None of them were surprised kwa her frequent visits anymore; in fact these days most of them smiled and greeted her as she brushed past them. Enjolras, handsome, young and rebellious, glanced up as she made her way towards him, where he sat with Grantaire. “Evening, Belle.”

“Evening, Enjolras,” she replied, feeling the blush creep to her cheeks as he smiled.

“I’ll leave wewe to it.” Grantaire announced, getting to his feet and picking up his tankard. “Where the devil’s Marius, anyway?”

He walked off and Belle slid into his vacant kiti, kiti cha and put her bag on the table. “What’s this?” asked Enjolras as she pressed a brown paper parcel into his hands.

“Much needed sustenance,” she replied, adding quickly “for the barricade. I don’t know how many supplied wewe have, so I thought I could bring wewe some extra from time to time...”

“Belle, you’re an angel,” he praised her, and she blushed again at the compliment, “but wewe shouldn’t be risking your life for us. Once the barricade arises, we’re on our own and the soldiers won’t let wewe off lightly just because you’re a woman.”

“I don’t care. I don’t like to think of you, any of you, there alone without the proper chakula au warmth au equipment au anything.”

Enjolras sighed and looked over at Marius who had just come in. “Do wewe think we’ll win?”

“I can’t say,” Belle replied, “But you’re fighting for a good cause.”

“Are we, Belle?” He turned to her, his eyes intense and alluring. “Or are we just fooling ourselves; playing at being soldiers like when we were children?”

“I think wewe stand as good a chance as any at fighting back against the laws,” Belle replied, carefully. “And you’re a good fighter; better than most.”

Enjolras smiled. He sensed her words had a deeper meaning, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to admit that his did too, when he called her an angel; his angel, he privately thought. If Belle were in any danger, brought about kwa his affections, he would never forgive himself. To lose her would be to lose his own life. Even so, tonight was the night before their barricade was due to rise and the men were rallying; it was a night to take chances, wasn’t it?

“I’d better go before I’m missed,” Belle said, hastening to her feet. Watching her go was like being physically struck and Enjolras couldn’t take it another second. He got to his own feet and caught her hand. “Wait, Belle.”

She turned in surprise. Never had she imagined that her feelings for Enjolras might be reciprocated. He leaned forwards, she closed her eyes and...

“General Lamarque is dead!”

Both turned to see young Gavroche, standing beside Grantaire and Marius. His eyes were wide in shock. Enjolras pulled himself together. “It’s the sign we have been waiting for,” he announced. “Tomorrow, it begins.”

Belle felt her moyo sinking. She could feel Enjolras slipping away from her kwa the minute. Enjolras looked at her and knew it would be foolish to bring her false hope. “Get yourself home, Belle. We have much to do before tomorrow.”

The look she gave him broke his heart, and so did the soft, quiet way she whispered “I’ll see you, Enjolras,” before walking out through the door of the tavern and into the night. Enjolras sighed and leaned against the table, rubbing his forehead.

“Women,” alisema Grantaire, laying a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Enjolras didn’t even have the moyo to tell him to shut up. Thoughtfully, he reached into the package she had brought and drew out an enormous book. It was the Bible. He smiled, wondering whether Belle was worried for their souls au whether she had simply thought they needed something to read in the barricades.

Belle was woken the inayofuata morning kwa the sounds of gunfire. She woke up to see Jane standing kwa the window, staring out into the streets. Belle joined her and, looking down, she saw the students and the guards locked in a fierce gunfight. “What’s happening?” she cried.

“An innocent woman got shot; she wasn’t anything to do with the rebellion!” Jane shook her head. “The students opened moto first; look, they’re retreating to their barricade.”

Belle shot downstairs, ignoring her sister’s shout of “No, Belle!” Pulling open the front door, she watched the fleets of students and followers hurtle back to the barricade. Enjolras was among them to her relief he hadn’t been shot, but when she shouted out his name, he didn’t notice her.

“Back inside, Mademoiselle,” alisema one of the guards, condescendingly, “Keep safe; it’s going to get rather brutal here.”

Belle ignored him and tried to venture out further, but he held her off with his rifle. “Not to worry, Mademoiselle; we’ll soon sort it out.”

All day, Belle itched to run out and jiunge Enjolras and the others as all she could hear every sekunde were the sounds of gunfire. She was constantly on edge and each time she heard someone shout out in pain, she twitched and hurried to the window. It was never Enjolras, but she was worried even so.

“Belle, for goodness sake,” sighed Sarah, her mother, after about the tenth time Belle had rushed to the window. “Stop it! People will think we’re part of the revolution!”

“We should be!” Belle snapped. “Only a handful of people have joined Enjolras and the others; it isn’t right!”

Maurice snorted. “Revolution brings nothing but bloodshed and death! Those idiots will all be dead come tomorrow night, wewe make my words!”

Belle flinched. “Enjolras is not an idiot, Papa!”

“Anyone who comes up with a hair-brained scheme like this is an idiot!”

“Let’s not start this again!” began Sarah, but Belle had bristled now.

“He’s just devoted to his cause, Papa! He believes in a fairer world, as we all should!”

“Belle, Enjolras is a fool for defying-!”

“I don’t care!” Belle’s voice had reached such a level that her parents and Jane simply blinked at her in bewilderment. “I don’t care what wewe think! I don’t care if his cause is a dead loss! Enjolras is passionate about something vital and I upendo him, no matter what!”

Her father’s jaw dropped. Sarah stared at her. Jane gave a tiny groan. Belle clapped her hands over her mouth in shock, unable to believe that she had just alisema it.

Maurice’s face hardened. “You are never to see that boy again, Belle! Do wewe hear me?”

“How can I help hearing?” Belle snapped. “You’re shouting loud enough for people to hear wewe over the gunfire! wewe can’t ask me to banish my own feelings just because wewe tell me to!”

So saying, Belle snatched up her vazi, pazia and hurried for the door. “If wewe take one zaidi step, young lady, you’re not welcome in this house any longer!” Maurice shouted.

“Maurice!” exclaimed Sarah, in shock.

“Belle, don’t,” begged Jane, but Belle couldn’t help herself. She pulled open the door and stepped out into the street. Their house was only inches from the barricade, and the fighting had died down; clearly the soldiers were planning some kind of secret attack. She prayed Enjolras would be ready for them.

“Someone’s coming!” came Marius’s voice over the barricade.

“Ready your weapons!” shouted Enjolras.

Belle felt her moyo leaping. “Wait!” she cried.

“Wait!” came Gavroche’s voice. “Enjolras, it’s only Belle!”

“Belle?” Enjolras lowered his bayonet. What was she doing here? “Let her through!”

Belle smiled, gratefully, at young Gavroche as he beckoned her to enter their barricade. The sekunde she was there, she was greeted, cheerfully kwa the students, who seemed none the worse for wear, considering they had been battling all evening. Enjolras pushed his way towards her and, before he could stop himself, he hugged her. “Belle, what are wewe doing here?”

She clung to him, since he was now the only person she knew who wasn’t angry at her. “I just had to know that you, that wewe all, were safe. I couldn’t kubeba hearing the guns and the shouting and not knowing what was going on.” She looked at them all. “May I stay a while?”

The students looked at one another and exchanged smiles, before looking to Enjolras. As their leader, he had the final say. Enjolras smiled, his moyo beating rapidly. “Until first light, Belle, but then when the fighting begins again, I won’t wewe to get as far away from here as possible.”

“I promise.”

“It’s been quite fierce here,” alisema Grantaire, running a hand through his hair. “Brutal, even.”

“If anyone wants to bottle out now and return home, I understand,” Enjolras said, “but now’s the time to say so.”

The students, however, were adamant that they were staying put. “Relax a while,” Grantaire advised Enjolras, clapping his shoulder. “We’re all tired; we need our strength for tomorrow. Come on, Gavroche,” he added to the boy he had taken to like a brother.

As the students relaxed around various places around the barricade, Enjolras sat down and watched Belle remove her vazi, pazia to bundle up and sit on. She seemed distressed, he noticed. “Belle, what’s wrong?”

“My parents are mad at me because I’ve been standing up for wewe and the others,” Belle sad, softly. “They think you’re mad for doing this.”

Enjolras shrugged. “Maybe we are, Belle. Maybe we are.”

“No!” Belle reached out and touched his arm. “You’re fighting for a better world; for something wewe believe in.” She sighed. “I wish my family were brave enough for that.”

Enjolras smiled. “You strike me as being pretty brave, Belle.”

“I suppose I’ll have to be from now on.”

“What do wewe mean?”

“I think I might be out of nyumbani now,” Belle sighed. “My father alisema that if I stepped out of the house, I’d never be welcome there again.”

“You risked that...to see me?”

Belle looked up into his eyes, and her moyo swelled. “Yes...I didn’t have a choice...”

His face was so close to hers now. “Belle,” he whispered, and then he kissed her. Belle felt like she was drowning in intoxication as she responded to him, her senses reeling. Enjolras knew it couldn’t last, what with the revolution going on, but in this moment, he didn’t care. If this was the only chance they would get, then he was prepared to take it.

Belle fell asleep soon afterwards, sitting at his feet with her head on his knee. All night long, Enjolras stroked her hair and prayed that he might live to see her again when the revolution was finally over.

“Red,” he sang, softly, “I feel my soul on fire! Black, my world without wewe there! Red, the colour of desire! Black, the colour of despair!”

Dawn came too early. There was an inn nearby, and the innkeeper and his wife said, yes, kwa all means, Belle could stay there until the battle was over. Carefully, so as not to disturb her dreams, Enjolras carried the sleeping girl he loved into the inn and left her there to fight as the first sounds of the guns began to echo around the barricade.

Belle woke up to find herself in the inn. It was the sound of Grantaire screaming “Gavroche! No!” that woke her. A chill ran through her. She ran to the door in time to see the soldiers opening moto on the students as Grantaire dragged Gavroche’s body into the barricade. The child wasn’t moving.

“No,” Belle whispered, realising that when Enjolras had alisema the guards didn’t go easy on women, au children, when they were part of a revolution, he hadn’t been joking. This was horrible. Students were dying right in front of her eyes, and those who knocked on the doors of taverns and houses weren’t admitted. How could the people allow this to happen and not do anything? She spotted Enjolras being pursued kwa several soldiers to a tavern at the end of the street.

“No!” Belle cried, rushing after them. Bullets whistled around her, but, somehow, none of them touched her. In a blind panic, she stumbled onwards, her feet dragging her body to the tavern and she burst through the door in time to hear the soldiers rushing up the stairs.

“Surrender now, au die,” alisema one.

“I will never surrender,” replied Enjolras, and Belle noted the fear in his voice.

“Ready,” commanded the soldier who had spoken.

“NO!” Belle screamed, rushing up the stairs. The soldiers turned on her, but Enjolras cried out “No, wait, she’s not part of the revolution! wewe can ask anybody! She’s not one of us!”

“Please,” Belle whispered, tears of panic rolling down her face. “Please...”

“May I be allowed to say goodbye?” asked Enjolras.

The soldiers exchanged a look. “Very well,” alisema the one who had spoken before. “We’re not completely heartless.”

Belle ran to Enjolras. “They can’t do this!”

“They can, and they will,” Enjolras muttered, grimly.

“You won’t surrender, will you?” Belle whispered. She knew Enjolras too well; she knew he would never back down, no matter what the cause. Her moyo was breaking as she stared at him, bravery etched all over his face.

“Belle,” whispered Enjolras, taking her hands, “I just want wewe to know that, well, ever since the first siku I met you, I’ve loved you.”

In spite of her tears, Belle felt a ray of hope inside her. “You...you have?”

“Always. Without you, my life is as black as night.”

“Enjolras, did it really take eight men pointing rifles at wewe for wewe to say “I upendo you?” she stammered.

Enjolras smiled. “I’ve wanted to say it for so long, and now I’ll never get the change again, so...” Without finishing, he leaned down and kissed her. Belle held him for as long as possible, making it last. No matter what, she decided, I’m not moving from this spot. They can shoot me when they shoot him.

Enjolras must have read her thoughts, for suddenly he broke the kiss and said, over the juu of her head “Go ahead, then.” Just as swiftly, he pushed Belle away from him so suddenly she fell to the floor. Startled, Belle looked up in time to see the soldiers moto their guns. “NO!” she screamed as Enjolras fell, dangling the red flag of rebellion from the window as he did so.

“ENJOLRAS!” Belle screamed, scrabbling forwards to his side. The soldiers promptly turned on their heels and left as Belle sobbed into his front. “No! No! Enjolras! Come back to me! Please!”

“Alright.”

He alisema it so casually that Belle thought for a sekunde she had imagined it; until she felt his hand touch her hair. With a startle squeal, she sat up in time to see her lover mouth “Shh!” at her and press his finger to her lips to muffle her cry. She waited and then realised that he was listening for the sounds of the soldiers below. She heard none and sekunde later Enjolras breathed a sigh of relief.

“How...but...you...how?” Belle faltered, staring at him. She didn’t understand; she had just seen Enjolras hit kwa eight bullets; how could be alive now?

In answer to her question, Enjolras reached into his shati and drew out the large Bible had aliyopewa him. “I knew there had to be a reason wewe gave me this!”

With a gasp of delight, and almost choking on her tears, Belle flung her arms around his neck. “Oh, Enjolras! I thought...I never imagined wewe might...might...”

“Might what, Belle?”

“That wewe might upendo me too,” Belle whispered.

Enjolras wrapped his arms around her and ran his fingers through her hair. “Belle, I’ve thought of nothing but wewe since the siku we met.”

“Why not just tell me?”

“Your parents would never allow us to be together, Belle. wewe know how they feel about me.”

“That doesn’t matter anymore,” Belle said, finally managing to cease her tears. “They’ve disowned me now.”

“You can’t give up your old life for me, Belle.”

“What life? My life is with you, and only you.”

“Belle, we’ll have to leave Paris now. The authorities think I’m dead; if I stay, they’ll make sure they do it properly inayofuata time.” Enjolras took her hands. “Come with me, Belle.”

She nodded. “I’ll follow wewe to the ends of the earth, Enjolras.”

“It needn’t be that far.” He got to his feet. “Quickly, before they come back.”

Cloaked and sneaking through the crowds of Paris as their fellow citizens washed the blood from the paving stones, Enjolras and Belle moved, hand in hand, stopping every so often in case they drew attention to themselves. They passed a room where Inspector Javert was eying the dead bodies of those who had been involved in the revolution. Enjolras felt the lump in his throat and forced his feet to keep on moving past them, holding Belle’s hand. She sensed his sadness and linked her arm through his, giving it a comforting squeeze. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, not daring to use his name in case they were overheard.

“All my friends...gone...” whispered Enjolras as they turned down an avenue. “They could have bottled out when they had the chance, but they didn’t. Our revolution brought nothing. Everyone lost. What did we gain?”

Belle leaned her head against his arm. “You gained one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“My heart.”

Enjolras smiled and slipped his arm around her waist. “Then I did win the greatest thing of all; even greater than freedom.”

Together they left Paris as the sun began to set. “The colours of the world,” murmured Enjolras as they took one last look at the place, “are changing siku kwa day.”

“Red?” Belle whispered.

“The blood of angry men.”

“Black?”

“The dark of ages past.”

“Red?”

“A world about to dawn.”

“Black?”

“The night that ends at last.”

"You're fighting for a better world..."