Éponine woke that morning with an odd sense of foreboding. She knew almost right away that something was amiss, only to have it confirmed with the letter sitting next to her bed. Never in her life did she think she would ever see an envelope with her name written on it. A letter written just for her. She had a small rush of excitement as she read her name that danced beautifully across the front of it in Enjolras' beautiful script. Now she knew how Marius must have felt had he read the letter from Cosette. Her excitement quickly diminished as her eyes moved down the page, carefully examining each word.
Though we have only known one another a short time, I consider you a friend. It has been a pleasure to spend my time speaking with somebody who has as strong opinions as my own about the world. Today is the day, Éponine. I am sorry I was not man enough to bid you farewell in person. Only know that I have appreciated everything you have done for me over the last weeks. I have received word from my cousin in Bordeaux and she is expecting you. I sincerely hope that you reconsider my offer. Upon my death my apartment will be returned to my Parent's estate and you will find yourself back on the streets. If I accomplish nothing else with my life I will die gladly knowing I have helped at least one person better theirs. Please take any book of your choosing with you from my study. I couldn't help but notice the joy in your eyes every time I watched you read. Do not grieve for me for I will not be missed. This is my punishment and I welcome it with open arms.
I wish you every happiness.
Éponine's tears blotched the page before she reached the end. She refused to let it end like this. Dressing faster than she thought possible Éponine ran down the stairs and out the front door; barefoot and hair untamed. She knew how to run, she had been running from Javert for most of her life. She ran as fast as she could along the pavement in the direction of the Police Station. It didn't take her long and she spied Enjolras' red blazer from a mile away. He was garnering a lot of unwanted attention. The blazer had been a symbol of the revolution and the public had not forgotten it in a hurry. She pushed through the people to make it through to the front steps of the Station. When she realised she wouldn't make in time she yelled out.
He turned to look at her and a sad smile fell on his lips. He should have known she would not let him get away that easily. He waited for her to close the distance between them.
"You thought you would leave without saying goodbye?" She panted as she finally caught up to him.
He frowned for a moment. "I wrote you."
"That's not goodbye. Did you really think I would let you do this on your own?"
Enjolras smiled for the first time in a long time, it was a sweet genuine smile. He took Éponine's hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it for a short moment.
"There is no need for you to witness what lies ahead. Go to Bordeaux, please." He replied before dropping her hand.
She grinned at him. "Not a chance. I'm seeing this through until the end." Deep down Éponine still believed she could change the outcome, how...she had no inkling.
Éponine accompanied Enjolras into the police station but stood back as he approached the Inspector's desk.
The Police Inspector looked up as he shuffled the papers on his desk. He recognised Enjolras from the sketches around Paris.
"Well...we meet at last. To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I have come to turn myself in." Enjolras' posture was stiff, cold, collected.
"At least you have a moral sense of decency." The Inspector signalled for his men to come and stand next to the Revolutionary. The guards took one arm each. The Inspector continued. "I will have you scheduled before a judge within the next forty-eight hours."
"If it is all the same to you Inspector, I already plead guilty. Why bother with formalities?"
"You wish to proceed to sentencing?"
Enjolras nodded in agreement.
"You understand the harshest sentence?"
"I understand. However since I am co-operative I do ask one request. I wish for the penalty to be handed out by firing squad."
"We are not here to grant requests to criminals."
"A criminal who has given himself up willingly, foregoing his right to trial, saving the crown time and money?"
"I will see what I can arrange." The Inspector dismissed his men. "Take this man to lockup. Sentencing will be carried out as soon as it can be arranged."
Éponine ran forward to protest to the Inspector as the men began to take Enjolras away. He turned and looked back at the sound of her voice.
"Inspector he cannot be sentenced without a fair trial."
"The criminal Enjolras has refused his right to trial. It is refreshing to not have one's time wasted."
"You cannot do that!" Éponine had no grasp on the law and what the Inspector could or couldn't do.
"The matter is closed. Now I will have to ask you to move along or else I will have you charged with public disturbance."
Éponine stared as the men took Enjolras away. He smiled at her for what he thought would be the last time until he was dragged from sight.
Éponine returned to the street, furious that Enjolras would just ask to be executed. She paced back and forth for a few moments trying to expell her anger. It wasn't working. She walked to try and calm herself and ended up in front of what was left of the Cafe. This was where everything had happened. Éponine broke down and began to cry. She had never felt more alone in the world than at that moment.
She knew that voice...but it couldn't be. Éponine turned around to find Marius Pontmercy staring at her.
"Marius?" She gasped in a mixture of shock and delight. She went to hug him until she realised he was still recovering from his wounds. He could walk now but his arm was still in a sling. "I thought you were dead."
"I thought you were too." He smiled at her in disbelief that she was in front of him. "What were you doing on the barricade 'Ponine? You were so lucky."
Éponine considered her response for a moment. She had kept Cosette's letter from him out of spite. She had tried to convince herself she joined the barricade to make a difference...to stand up for something. In reality Éponine had only gone to stay close to Marius.
"I went to give you the letter from Cosette. The fighting had already started." She lied. There was no need for him to know that she had been there the whole time.
"It fell from your coat pocket when I handed you over to the women. The letter reached me after all...that is all that matters."
"I tried to look for you when the fighting had stopped."
"It's a long story. Perhaps saved best for another time."
"Enjolras had me convinced no-one else had survived."
Marius blinked in disbelief. "Enjolras made it as well? That's wonderful news. Éponine can you take me to him?"
Éponine tried to choke back a sob. "He has convinced himself that he is responsible for everybody who died that night. He gave himself over to the police and he is to be executed for treason."
"He was tried by a judge?"
Éponine shook her head frantically. "No...thats just it. He refused to have a trial. Told the Inspector he was guilty and asked for the penalty."
"I'm not surprised. The alternative to execution is life imprisonment. I know which one I would rather. Enjolras would not cope if he was thrown in prison to rot."
"Marius this isn't right. The answer to death is more death? This does not teach anyone anything."
Marius eyed her skeptically for a moment. "What has he been teaching you?"
Éponine simply huffed in response and then using her eyes, pleaded with him to do something.
Marius had just studied law at University. "It is illegal not to stand trial. I will go speak some sense into him."
Éponine accompanied Marius back to the police station and waited impatiently while he went in, claiming to be Enjolras' lawyer. It must have worked because he was in there awhile.
When he came back out he was shaking his head.
Éponine was worried. "It did not work?"
"Oh it worked, but Enjolras was not happy. The man has a death wish, but this will buy us some time. He stands trial in three days." Marius sighed. "Éponine I don't know what you want me to do. If his sentence is lessened he will spend the rest of his days in prison. He's not walking away from this. I suppose we all knew the risks involved."
"Well we have three days to work it out."
"I didn't know you cared so much for Enjolras. You barely know him." Marius observed.
Éponine went on to explain how he had found her that night. Ever since the revolution they had only had each other. He was her friend. He was Marius' friend also.
Satisfied, Marius spent the next three days with Éponine holed up in Enjolras' study pouring over his law books after spending the mornings with Cosette. When Marius would leave in the evenings Éponine felt empty again. Marius and Cosette were to wed in the coming week and with Enjolras gone she didn't know where to turn. Having Marius in front of her again only brought her emotions to the surface. She was still in love with him. Marius decided on arguing that Enjolras could revoke his guilty plea on grounds of insanity, insanity that was brought on by the overwhelming grief of watching his friends be slaughtered. If he was found not-guilty of treason he would be set free with the charges dropped. However no Judge in their right mind was going to find Enjolras not-guilty.
The day of the trial did not go well. Enjolras sat silently throughout the hearing with his head bowed. He wouldn't even look over at Éponine, who sat in the front row of the public gallery. He was unshaven and ragged after spending four days in custody. Despite Enjolras' previous protests Marius did succeed in having the guilty plea revoked but that was as far as the Judges sympathy would stretch. Enjolras was found guilty of treason and his execution was scheduled for dusk that day. Éponine cried at the sentence, even though it was what Enjolras had wanted. Marius had told her that the execution would be public. The citizens that Enjolras had disrupted could watch him be punished, even King Louis-Phillipe would be there. His crime was treason against the crown after all.
Marius promised to go with Éponine to the execution, but there was still an hour or two before dusk. Something Enjolras had said to her would not leave her mind.
"The crown does not care about the law, they care about what people think."
She refused to give up. Éponine told Marius she would meet him there and spent the next hour running around the streets of Paris telling anybody who would listen that Enjolras was to die. Everybody who died on the barricade was going to be forgotten. Enjolras was trying to make a better world for the lower class and now he was going to pay the price and nothing was going to change. The people failed to rise on the night of the revolution but if they truly cared they would rise now. She wanted a protest and she got one. Éponine managed to gather close to one-hundred people, women and children mostly, ones who had lost their men that night. When she found Marius in the town square he asked her why she had come with all of these people and she just smiled coyly.
The gallows had been prepared, rather than a firing squad and as Enjolras was lead out with his hands bound he turned to the Police Inspector who would act as executioner. "I am to be hanged? I asked for a firing squad."
"You are a criminal boy. Why would we grant you such a request? Besides we had to put on a show for King Louie."
Fear showed for the first time in Enjolras' eyes. He was prepared to meet his end, but not like this. He was ready for the kiss of the metal as it passed through his chest, not the slow suffocation as his windpipe was crushed. He was led up and sat upon a black horse. The crowd that had gathered were silent. Enjolras looked around and saw Marius standing with Éponine. He wished they had not come. The noose was tied around his neck. He took deep breaths now...savouring each one as he knew they would soon be his last. The executioner began to read out the charges.
"Adrien Julien Enjolras; you have been found guilty of treason against the crown and our honourable King Louise-Phillipe. You have been sentenced to be hung by the neck until you are dead. May God have mercy on your soul."
As the Inspector rolled up his parchment to carry on with proceedings Éponine signalled for her protesters to cry out. With an uproar they tried to make their voices heard and some began to push through the guards. Éponine used this as a distraction and slipped through the people, until she was up on the executioners podium. Marius was on her heels trying to stop her. She would be executed too if she wasn't careful. Éponine spoke as loudly as she could up to the King who was watching from his seat higher above.
"Your Highness, this man does not need to die. The crowd who have gathered here all lost their loved ones during the revolution and yet they are still here calling for him to be spared. All he was trying to do was make France better for those of us without a voice. The only message you are sending today is that anyone who has a difference of opinion will be punished. How will anything change?" The guards had formed a perimeter around her by this point and Éponine looked over at Enjolras. He was staring at her in shock. "Enjolras the people forgive you. They forgive you!"
Marius grabbed Éponine around the middle and dragged her to the ground to show she was no threat to the guards, that she wouldn't try and release the prisoner. She continued calling out to him.
"You do not have to give yourself in exchange for the lives that were lost."
Relief passed over Enjolras' features for a moment, perhaps he had accepted his forgiveness. Now he could die in peace.
The King stood and the crowd hushed. He appeared to have taken in what had just happened but the law still stood. He waved for the execution to continue. A hood was placed over Enjolras' head and the horse's hind legs were struck. It bolted out from underneath sending Enjolras to fall the short drop. The noose pulled and he began to struggle impulsively. Éponine began screaming and crying out and trying to break away from Marius but he wouldn't let her. Instead he turned her to face away and took her into an embrace. It typically took ten minutes for the victim of a hanging to suffocate completely.
After a minute or two and the initial shock had passed the crowd of protesters began to charge up again. They guards managed to hold them back and so they began to chant "Cut him loose...cut him loose...cut him loose."
The crowd became more and more restless until King Louis-Phillipe realised he would have a fully blown riot on his hands. He sighed and gave the order to cut Enjolras down. Perhaps the crown really did care about public opinion. The Inspector hurried over to the body, gave him a sharp kick in the ribs to see if he was still alive and pulled off the hood. The rope around his neck was cut. Enjolras gasped for air not knowing how he was still alive. He had been hanging for at least a few minutes. Enjolras was forced to his feet to be addressed by the King.
"Monsieur Enjolras. You have been given a reprieve. It would not be wise of me to upset my citizens further. I grant you a full pardon but take heed, you stir up trouble again and you will find yourself back in the noose. Release this man Inspector."
Enjolras' hands were cut loose and the crowds began to disperse. Éponine ran over and threw her arms around him. "You're alive!" She whispered into his neck, being careful of the marks that the rope had burnt into him. She didn't care if he was uncomfortable with the gesture Éponine only wanted to breathe him in.
"Éponine you will be the death of me, not some piece of rope. You staged that protest all on your own?" Even though his posture was stiff, he welcomed the physical contact.
"I learnt from the best." She poked fun at him.
"You risked your life for mine...one more step towards me and the guards would have cut you down. You're foolish; throwing everything away when...I wished for death." He murmured into her hair.
"The last two weeks have made me selfish. I would have missed you. Come now, would you have really wanted to set me upon your cousin? You can barely handle me yourself." She grinned into his shirt, her fingers grasping at the fabric, too afraid to let him go in case he would disappear.Marius looked on at his two friends with curiosity. He would never have thought Enjolras would allow a woman to be in that close a proximity to him, let alone an embrace. Was Éponine melting the man with the marble heart?