Disclaimer: I don't own any original character from Les Miserables only my own characters and plot.
When he saw the dried traces of blood, he fought the urge to empty his stomach. He should be with them, amongst the long line of the people who died for the revolution that he led. Was it cruel irony that he, who was willing to die for their cause, was the only one who lived?
All he could remember was that the barricades was blown piece by piece by the soldiers' canons. The shout from both factions was deafening and the smell of copper lingered along with the gunpowder. He saw them fall, covered with wounds and blood.
Military power was something they underestimated, and he knew it was his fault. Soldiers began to climb over their barricade and shot everyone on sight. Some of the men pleaded with the people to help them, save them from their impending death but they turned their backs on them without hesitation. Courfeyrac had gone out of his way to take Gavroche's body away from the bloodshed but he was shot on the back. A fire was heard and he felt something went through to his shoulder. Warmth spread to his upper chest and forearm. He looked around and saw Lesgles slowly slumped to the ground with a single hole on his head, he then felt something blunt hit his head and darkness consumed his vision.
When he woke up, of course he was surprised he did, he found himself staring at the white ceiling with a shadow leaning out of the window. He tried to sit up but a pain on his shoulder proved to be a challenge and his head throbbed in an agonizing sear of pain he unwilling let out a groan. The shadow moved to from the window to his side and to his amazement under the light of the lamp was Eponine.
The gruesome scene unfolded right before her very eyes. So this was the reason why Marius sent her to deliver the message to Cosette; to save her from death itself. And if Parnasse hadn't delayed her from returning after she delivered the letter for Marius, she would've died with them as well.
Many men had already fallen and succumbed to their injuries while some tried to flee. To her horror, a few distance away from Courfeyrac's body was Gavroche. His eyes were lifeless, staring at the sky with his palms wide open. She had to cover her mouth just to stop herself from crying out her little brother's name. Her legs shook as she tried not to run to his side, mourn for the loss of a sibling who had fallen for the cause they fought for.
She then saw their leader, Enjolras, out of the scattering bodies of the rebels. That red jacket was something very eye-catching and she witnessed him being shot on the left shoulder by a soldier who fumbled his way through the brambles of tables and chairs. Another shot from the canons was heard and it sent the barricade into disassembled pieces. A leg of the table flew towards his head and he fell. In amidst of confusion from a cloud of thick smoke and sawdust, Eponine slipped into the battlefield and took Gavroche's corpse out of the way.
She would've just let them be. But the sight of Enjolras lying there within inches of her made her stop. He was still alive, though just barely so she tugged him by his boot, the blood from his wound seeped to the ground and she wasn't strong enough to carry two people. One had be left behind.
She looked at Gavroche, and knew she had to make a heart wrenching decision. With that, she closed his eyes and placed a kiss on his forehead and put him down. Enjorlas was then hoisted on her shoulders as she ran through the mass of bodies that didn't even take notice of her. Or maybe they did and just let her be, thinking that she might just be a grieving widow who wanted to take her husband's body home.
Finally, there was a vacant building near the cafe and laid Enjolras' body on a dirty mat on the floor. The wound had to be cleansed and the only she can do now was to stop the never ending flow of blood. The only sturdy material on her was her clothes so she tore a good portion from her skirt and tied it tightly on the wound.
Once the blood had finally stopped, she ran out to the barricades again to look for Marius. But all she found was the broken bodies of the Les Amis and the Pontmercy was gone. The people who had refused to help them slowly peered from the windows and silently wept over the sight of blood that was spilt.
How Eponine wanted to shout and spit at their faces. If they had just gone their way to open their doors and let them escape their fate, there shouldn't be that much death.
'The Les Amis de l'ABC risked their lives for the people and the people abandoned them'
Why was the world so hell bent into putting them into tragic situations? But none of that now, Enjolras needed someone to stitch up his wounds and nurse him back to health. So as she wiped the tears of sadness and anger, she traveled to the heart of the city to see if any doctor is awake.
"The doctor had stitched your wound and cleaned the other ones. Said you shouldn't move around too much or else it would just open up again" Eponine warned, gently pushing him back to the mattress on the floor. There were no other furniture except for the table, the lamp, the lone footstool near the door and a tattered curtain on the window.
"Eponine, where are the others?"
His voice sounded so... hopeful that he wasn't the only confirmed survivor. Eponine couldn't bring herself to tell him that some were piled into a cart and buried in unmarked graves, only a simple wooden cross was the landmark of their burial place while some were still waiting on the morgue, waiting for their families to claim them. She just shook her head and lifted up a small chipped cup filled with clear fluid.
Enjolras quickly gulped it down only to spat some of it out, spraying some on Eponine. "Are you trying to kill me?" he shouted, his voice coarse from the burning sensation in his throat.
"It's gin" Eponine replied calmly, wiping some of the liquid off of her face, "I don't have a supply of clean water."
Enjolras wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and hung his head in shame. The young gamin had saved his life and he repaid her by spitting on her face, even of its an accident. He tried to sit again only to meet her palm that was preventing him to do anything more. "Forgive me mademoiselle, I didn't mean to be ungrateful-"
"You're not being ungrateful, you're in pain. And I understand how you feel right now monsieur," she softly answered, not looking at him as she placed the cup on the floor, "I had lost the only family member I care for, my brother."
He didn't know that she has a sibling. All he knows of her was her name, her father's reputation and her unrequited love for the Pontmercy boy. It wasn't in his place but he needed to distract himself from the nightmare he just escaped, "And do I know your brother?"
"Yes. He calls himself Gavroche. My parents hadn't given him a name when they abandoned him when he was just but a toddler."
He never knew that Gavroche had anything of a semblance of a family except for their group. In fact, he didn't know much about them, only the general information they had given him, nothing personal such as family members or which social background they came from. He just deemed it wasn't important to know where they came from but now, he felt a cold stab of regret in his heart. They were just students, mere boys who fought for something they believed in, unprepared by the casualty that might end it. Uncertain on how it will all end and it was through him, their leader, that they thought they had a fighting chance.
And what a fool he was.
A fool who gave in to pride of thinking they could do it themselves, just because the people silently agreed with their cause for freedom and equality.
A fool who led them to their own graves.
Eponine was surprised to see the once strong and passionate leader break right before her eyes. Tears leaked from his eyes and his face flushed with red. He curled himself into a ball, not minding how his weight had shifted towards his wound. Then he started screaming. The words were powerful and his voice was raw, echoing in the room was the words "All my fault! It's my entire fault! Je'est serais mort!" He began to punch his fist on the floor, causing his knuckles to bruise and soon it began to bleed, but he continued to punch the cement, leaving bloody prints.
"Stop it!" she cried, holding on his wrists to prevent him from hurting himself. Enjolras lifted his head and stared at her. At first, she thought he would lash out at her but he just stared at her with his grayish blue eyes, tears still flowed from the corners and his nose was freckled with red. Without knowing what else to do, she just pulled him into an embrace.
He resisted at first, desperately trying to push her away but soon, he began to clench the sides of her dress and squeezed her waist through his firm arms. His head rested upon her chest and his ears were directly pressed on where her heart is. The rhythmic beating of her heart was a comforting sound and slowly, it lulled him to sleep.
She didn't know what spirit possessed her to do something intimate with the man. He was hardly a friend, an acquaintance maybe but she had never done this sort of thing with anyone except her brother. Not even Marius. But he looked so vulnerable and lost that she felt obligated to help him, even by just a simple physical contact. She spent the whole evening holding him close and swept his golden hair from his face as he slept through all the horrible events that occurred.
The next day dawned upon Paris and Eponine brought some bread for them to eat, though she wouldn't tell her companion how she got them. Enjolras examined his wound when he took off his soiled shirt, it puckered out like a marble pressed on it and it has a very angry red colouring. The stitches looked transparent and it was healing nicely, but it might be saying it too soon since it only started repairing the torn skin.
He didn't really know where to go from here. Everyone who fought with him is now dead and the soldiers are questioning the people about the whereabouts of any remaining revolutionaries. His red jacket was neatly folded on the foot of the mattress and a loaf of stale bread was placed next to a cup of, what he hopes is water. He never knew the feeling of hunger until it struck him. The growling and rumbling in his stomach and the pain of an empty body made him wrench the loaf into his mouth, savoring the simple meal like it was from the king's lavish feast. It was the first time he learned that everything tasted delicious when one is hungry.
Eponine appeared behind the door with a white shirt and a pair of trousers on her arm. She gave him a hesitant smile before she placed the clothes next to him.
"I'm sorry if it's not what you're used to. It's all I could find" she sounded apologetic and he has no idea why. In all honesty, he should be on his knees, thanking her for everything she had done for him.
"It's more than enough mademoiselle" he said, taking her hand to his lips and pressed a soft kiss on it. She blinked in confusion and felt the familiar warmth spreading on her face; it was the same feeling whenever Marius would smile at her. But right now, she doesn't want to hear about Marius.
There's been talk around the markets that the Pontmercy heir had returned to his family, wounded but alive with a mysterious blonde girl with the name Cosette Fauchelevant on his arm. Her heart broke when she heard they were to be wed in a week. Pain gripped her heart like it was filled with barbs and her breath came out as gasps. Several people who walked by looked at her but rather than concern, they looked with disgust and even edged away from her with their handkerchiefs on their mouths in case she had any sickness.
His clear voice called her out of her memories to see him holding the clothes she got for him to change into. "If you don't mind, I would very much like some privacy to change-"
"Oh forgive me. I will just step out then," she spoke, hurriedly walking out of her own room and leaned on the door. The door itself was thin enough for them to have a conversation so she did just that.
"How are the clothes monsieur?"
"It's perfect Eponine, merci. But I do have a favor to ask of you"
She raised a brow with question, what could he possibly ask of her? Maybe information regarding the events of the barricade?
"What is it that you ask for monsieur?"
"My favor is for you to call me by my name. Just Enjolras, no formalities."
She didn't know why but she felt her lips being tugged upwards to a smile. Smiling was a rather expensive commodity these days and for him to make her do that so easily made her confused. Who are you Monsieur Enjorlas?
He promised himself he wouldn't come back but he had to let his family know he was alive at least. When he knocked on the door, a woman dressed in an extravagant gown let out a shriek of surprise and happiness, "Ma chèré! It's our son! He's alive!" He could feel the air in his body being squeezed out of his lungs as his mother embraced him tightly. His father, in his usual fashion, calmly walked down the stairs with his mouth set into a straight line without any expression of happiness.
Eponine hid under the bushes as she watched Enjorlas disappear behind the door. She knew that Enjorlas was well-off since he studied in a university but not this wealthy. He had scolded Marius of treating the revolution like it was just a game for a rich young boy but he was in actuality wealthier than most of them put together. This house, no, manor was one of the biggest ones she had ever seen.
It wasn't really her intention to follow him and best be on her own and leave him, her concern for his still recovering body convinced her to do otherwise. As she had expected, his maman was happy to have her son back. But what she didn't anticipate was a loud crash and a shouting match echoing throughout the whole manor. After several minutes of yelling, cursing and a woman crying, the front door flew wide open and Enjorlas came out with a large trunk in his hand and an older gentleman yelling about him being the biggest disappointment of the family.
The young man didn't even bother to look back and instead, walked faster towards the road he'd took to get there. All the while ignoring the looks the others gave him.
"Bonjour monsieur" Eponine greeted through the doorway. It was a small flat with only two rooms and one for the bathroom. Inside was Enjolras who was busy placing unpacking his belongings to his new home.
"Eponine" he greeted back without looking up. She became a familiar presence that he would be surprise if she didn't visit him at least once a day. The young woman had taken upon herself to keep him company even if he didn't want any of the sort. But it kept him from being lonely and slowly, his passion towards Patria began to grow again.
He was now a wanted man by the law but he got a job in the printing business as a writer under a fake name. The man who owns the business had recognized him and hired him as a debt of gratitude even when they had lost the fight.
With the money he had saved all those years and his inheritance that his mother had hid from his father, he wanted to settle down as a simple person. Not with his family's name attached to his own. With a small portion, he kept it safe, intending to use it for emergencies and projects. And the rest, he just gave it away.
"You never told me you're a Moreaux" she said, walking into his home as if she owned it but he didn't mind the slightest. He just shrugged and began to place his set of books about the constitution on a small coffee table, "Does it matter?" For many, it does. His father's family was a renowned line of lawyers and judges that it would be a scandal to see that the ones who uphold the law have an offspring that was rebelling against the government itself.
She gave a crooked smile and sat on his bed that was pushed to the farthest side of the room, "Not in the slightest."
Their friendship began to blossom. They would spend their evenings talking about the most random of things like their opinion on the government (he always had something to say about that) or how the voices of people should be heard. They had a rather bad fight with that topic and it ended with her storming out. Eponine came back the third night, acting as if it never happened.
Then there came the personal talks that he was always reluctant to share but found it was easier if it was Eponine that was listening. She would talk about having a sister named Azelma but she had lost her when she was just seventeen, then of course was Gavroche. He in turn, would talk about the innocent Les Amis days when Combeferre would recite different theories as to oppose Prouvaire's poetry orations. Grantaire would drown himself with ale, Courfeyrac would laugh aloud with Joly, Lesgles and Bahorel would just watch from the back. It never failed to bring sadness and occasionally tears in the Les Amis leader's eyes but Eponine would just say nothing and hold his hand for reassurance.
He also never said anything when she comes by with a bruise on her arms or face or even a large gash on her feet. She never asked for anything from him despite her pitiful state and he supposed she has her pride. He felt a change within him whenever she was near. An overwhelming feeling of protecting and caring for her was something foreign to him and although she haven't given him any particular sign of infatuation, she was certainly attached to him to a point he began to attach himself to her as well.
The life of a street dweller had taken its toll on her. She can't go back to her parents and the Patron-Minette lest she would sentence herself for a lifetime of beatings. And she has no money to persuade them into keeping her for a night with them. Hunger was now an unwanted friend and she had nothing else to do but to ask for alms in the streets. Snow fell from the sky and covered them like a very cold white blanket; and here she was barefooted and her clothes were something only someone with suicidal thoughts would dare to wear in the winter season.
Her breath was visible as she tried to warm her hands through her fingerless gloves. Enjorlas was busy with his work and he worked rather late these days so she had no one to talk to. Desperation had always shadowed her steps and although she never acted upon it, she can feel it scratching through the borders of her rational state.
A sudden pain in her stomach made her lean on the alley and clutched her aching body. It's almost been a day since she last ate something and her body's now asking for nutrients that she can't provide. Her ribs stuck out against her skin and her feet were now numb with cold.
A hand was suddenly placed on her shoulder and made her look up to see a man wearing a coat and a cane on his arm. The glint in his eyes was quite lecherous and the way he licked his lips gave her an idea on his intentions with her.
"My my, aren't you a lovely bit" he said, his breath reeked with alcohol and fingered her matted brown hair with interest. "How about you keep me company tonight cherie? I can pay you with a large sum" If she had no pride left, she would have grabbed the opportunity, but she wasn't about to let this crétin have his way and stood up on her full height.
"Monsieur you have mistaken me for a whore. I'm above using my body for money and I'd rather let myself freeze from the cold than have your hands touch me" Her voice was shaking but she kept her head high.
But the man, a trickster he is, saw the shiver from her body and her lips that were paler than natural. "Are you sure about that mademoiselle? I have a fireplace that promised warmth and food that will fill your belly. Come now, does your pride feed you?"
His words rang true and she almost conceded as he grabbed her wrist. Panic rose in her entire being so she began to tug her hand from his grasp, "Let go of me!" When he didn't, she curled her hand into a fist and punched him squarely on the face which made him yell out in pain.
The man raised his cane to hit her when someone pulled him to the side and repeatedly punched him before he slumped to the ground with blood dribbling from his nose and mouth. Eponine then found herself being dragged by Enjolras towards his flat before he pushed her inside and locked his door.
Eponine wasn't sure on how she would react, angry at him for shouting at her for an hour straight, shameful at herself for almost selling her body for just a promise of a one night of hot meal or just stay silent as her body began to wear down.
"Are you even listening to me?!"
His voice sounded like it was a mile away, her heart beat pounded to her ears and she felt so sleepy. Eyelids are so heavy and a chill shot down to her spine. The crackling of the fire enticed her and she ran towards the fireplace and curled in front of it. It had been an hour but it was only now that she felt the prickling cold. Her feet were numb and so was her face. A blanket was draped around her to keep her warm but she felt nothing.
"'Ponine?" his angry tone now shifted to concern. The girl's usually tanned skin was now deathly pale and the corners of her lips had slowly turned blue.
She looked at him and wrapped her arms around herself, "I wasn't about to... sell myself. But I was thinking about it..." she confessed, trying to avoid his eyes. "But aren't you a literate woman? Surely you could have found a better job than beg for alms" he quietly chastised.
Eponine gave a short bark of laugh before she stood up and threw the blanket off of her. "Indeed I am but without a proper education, people see me as dirt. I may not be educated but I am smart enough to survive on my own. Tell me, Monsieur Moreaux, will your degrees feed you or your diplomas shelter you from the elements? You can't tell me what I should do, sir" she spat the word like venom, "I lived in the gutter for most of my life but I have limits for what I can do. I will do whatever it takes then I will be a whore if it helps me live!"
She then found herself being thrown into his bed and his weight kept her down. "Wh-what are you-"
"You say that you want to be a whore? Then I shall pay you for your services but in turn you'll only answer to me and no one else" he said. She shivered on the dark tone he used, but his eyes reflected of sadness and anger.
"You can't tell me who I shall bed sir. Business is business."
Enjolras said nothing as he pulled out a note of forty francs and thrusted it into her hand, "And business had been made"
Eponine kept her eyes fixed to the young man sleeping on top of her. His head was on the middle of her flat stomach and the blanket barely covered them. For the most part, their 'business transaction' was raw, filled with emotions that surely something a prostitute would have never experienced and while he was rough on the bed, he kissed her so softly that it seemed innocent. Though what they did was far from it.
Their fragile friendship, where has it gone?
It's been half a year since the barricades, half a year since Marius' marriage and half a year since he lost everything. Enjorlas' mind was filled with a million thoughts but as soon as he pressed his lips to hers, they have all been banished to the darkest recess of his mind. When he tore her dress off of her, he saw her tiny frame that was literally skin and bones. Her shoulder blades were apparent and her ribs can be seen. What horrified him most were the different wounds she had hidden, scars that were shallow while the others, he can't even imagine how she got those. But he still found her beautiful, scars and all.
But as soon as she moaned and cried his name, everything didn't matter. It was the two of them in their own world and nothing would ever harm them.
Neither one said anything that morning. Eponine whined slightly at the sight of her torn dress that was discarded on the floor and he silently placed a spare shirt that was two sizes too big for her and a pair of trousers. She murmured thanks and walked slowly to the table and began to gnaw on the bread he had bought earlier. She'd never voice out how sore her lower extremities was and as heaven as her witness, she will never tell him that it was an experience she wouldn't want to forget. Something happened that night, even with the tangle of heated bodies, breathless sighs, moans and groans and the delicious friction between them, she mostly enjoyed the soft whispers and how he clutched her tightly as if telling her not to go.
It was then she knew she already fell for him within the six months of their unlikely friendship; it was only a matter of time before she realizes it.
Until he handed the forgotten forty francs in front of her.
She just stared at it. Her mouth had gone dry, and her heart dropped.
"You said it is just business" he answered quietly, lifeless. The only sound that replied was a hand connecting with a cheek. His head snapped to the side as she slapped him with all her strength. He turned to her, about to ask why she would slap him when he saw tears beaded out of the corners of her eyes and flash of pain across her face. Without a word, she threw the money back to his chest and ran outside.
She didn't come back after that. Three weeks had already passed and she still hadn't made an appearance. Surely she wasn't in trouble? During the time of her absence, he questioned himself on why he had done that. He would imagine what his friends would have said if they were still living. Grantaire would have laughed at his face and tell him he was a coward and an idiot, Combeferre would just encourage him to look for her while Courfeyrac would advise him to give her space. Prouvaire would just rave on and on about the beauty of love.
He was a stranger to that sentiment. Love for France yes. For family... not so much. But for the opposite gender? Eponine was closest female he had even let into his personal life. Not even his own mother had known what was in his heart and soul because he knew she would never try to understand. The gamin had been his anchor in reality, she would go out of her way to visit him and ask if he had already eaten even when she herself was starving.
How could he be so blind?
The way she looked at him was the same on how she used to look at Marius. But it was with even more intensity and while she followed Marius everywhere in secret, she visited him whenever she finds it acceptable. He would sometimes catch himself thinking about how she was doing and would turn back to his work to see that he had wrote her name on his paper.
And that offer he made... why? Why, oh God above, why?! It was wrong enough that he already pushed her reason to the edge on having her sell her body, and what's worst, he paid her to just only do it with him. It felt so right at that moment even when he knew it was wrong. So. Very. Much. Wrong.
'What was right seemed wrong and what was wrong seemed right'
Weren't those the exact words Marius said on the night before the fight? The night when he questioned everyone's dedication for the cause. Maybe he should have emphasized more on the live or die part... But now isn't the time to reminisce on the past. He had to look on to the future and he can't imagine the future without a long brown haired girl with earthy eyes and tough attitude by his side. Love wasn't supposed to develop this fast... or maybe love knows no timeframe. It just happens. And as he found no reason to not go and look for her, he took his red jacket that was hidden in the trunk and went out to look for the Thenardier girl.
Eponine ran away from the yelling soldiers through the alley. It was a bad decision to pick up that apple that fell from a passing cart. As soon as a soldier saw it, he immediately yelled 'Voleur!', alerting his fellow guards. If she even tried to explain herself, she would just be placed in prison without fair trial. And that's the way it is, plus she would need a really good lawyer. A sudden image of Enjolras flashed in her mind before she shook her head, now was not the time to be thinking about that crétin!
A hand suddenly shot out of nowhere and pulled her to the shadowed part of the narrow passage. She was about to scream when another hand cupped around her mouth to prevent her from making a sound. The guards who were chasing her ran past them, she turned to squint at the darkness to see the familiar red jacket.
She quickly turned to flee from him but he held her fast on the wrist and peered into her eyes. An unspoken apology was made by his expressive eyes and she didn't know whether she could forgive him yet or not. But nevertheless, she let him pull her out of the alleys, out of the city through a network of underground tunnels and just outside the city where a patch of land was landmarked by a wooden cross.
It was the final resting place of the Les Amis de l'ABC. On the foot of the cross was a bouquet of beautiful flowers, which Eponine suspected was left by the Pontmercy. Curiously, she has no ill-feeling towards the two of them. Maybe it was because she had been caught up with the present matters that she hadn't thought about them for a long time now. Or maybe it was due to the man who was now standing beside her that she was finally free from the pain they unintentionally caused her.
"My friends," he stated, looking at the earth with a doleful smile, "I apologize for not visiting you. There's a lot going around in Paris and I had to adjust back into a life without you." There was a slight shake in his voice but he pressed on. "I had been running away from all of you, pitying and blaming myself for what has become of everyone."
She took his hand with hers and noticed how he firmly laced their fingers together; "But I now I have the reason to move on. I will continue fighting for our freedom but in a different way and I hope we shall see each other again in proper time." From his pocket, he took out the patch of the Les Amis and pinned it on the center of the cross, "I shall visit you all soon" he promised, "And the revolution will happen. France will soon be free."
"You said you now have a reason to move on" Eponine pointed out as they sat on a grassy hill near the graves. "May I ask what it was?"
Enjorlas was silent for a while before he turned to her and said, "I'm looking at the reason right now."
Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest and she felt her face grow hot. She playfully rolled her eyes and looked forward, "Don't be too sure of having me monsieur. I still haven't forgiven you for what you have done."
Enjolras looked thoughtful for a moment before he took her hand brushed his lips against it, "Then I shall do everything in my power to get back to your good graces and win your love." Eponine scoffed at him and pinched his cheek as she like she used to do to Gavroche when he was being too cheeky, "I'm not one for the romantics sir. Just make sure you'll make an honest woman out of me soon so you'll live long enough to see the freedom of France."
"I give you my word mademoiselle"
"Good, now let's go back. I have to hide in you place for a while since the guards might still be looking for me."
He nodded and helped her stand and with a final glance to the cross, he gave a nod to them and started to walk next to Eponine with their hands entwined tightly.
They didn't know what the future holds, their dreams might come true or not but as long as they are together, they will be strong enough to endure it. And their lives will start anew, when tomorrow comes.