It was the 18h anniversary of Jean Valjean's death. Marius and Cosette were always quiet on that day. During most of the year, Marius and Cosette often talked about this man among themselves, but neither could bring themselves to mention him tonight. At nine o'clock, Cosette rose out of her chair and walked upstairs, already retiring for bed. Marius knew why: 18 years ago, at about this time, they had been in her father's room when he breathed his last breath.
Marius began to remember the old man who loved Cosette so much, and who Marius had treated like vermin. As they always did when he thought of his father-in-law (for despite what he knew that Cosette and Jean Valjean were not related, he could not being himself to think of him as anything less than his father-in-law) his insides squirmed with a mixture of guilt and awe. For a long time, Marius sat in his favorite armchair by the fire and thought of all the things he would say to that man, had he been with him at that moment.
Not able to take the silence any longer, but not wanting to go to bed yet, Marius decided to take a walk outside. He opened the door and walked outside, thinking that he would just take a short stroll around the garden. But there were already two people in it.
Yes; two dark silhouettes were sitting on his bench, their heads together.
"Hello?!" Marius cried out. The two silhouettes broke apart quickly, and his heart skipped a beat. One of the silhouettes was his eldest daughter, Marie Euphrasie. "Marie! What are you doing out here?"
But Marie only bowed her head, her face crimson. Marius turned his livid gaze onto the young man who was sitting next to her (the rogue!) who was now standing up. His face was just as bright as Marie's. He began to speak.
"Monsieur, my name is Jacques Fabre. I… well, monsieur, I guess I should say it right out." Jacques twisted his hat in his hands, but did not break eye contact with Marius. "Your daughter and I are in love. I come to your garden every night, but I promise sir, I would never do anything dishonorable-"
"Except come into my garden every night at midnight. But keep going," Marius said patronizingly.
"Well… Monsieur, if I could, I would marry your daughter right now. But I am only twenty-three, and, well," he looked down, turning red again. "I am very, very poor." Marius, try as he might not to, was starting to have flashbacks from his own youth. He heard his daughter start to speak.
"Papa, please do not be angry. But I love him." Marius almost scoffed. "Like you love Mama."
Now he was listening. He didn't believe that could be possible: someone loving another person as much as he loved Cosette. But she said she did, and if she didn't love this man, this Jacques, then how would she know what being in love felt like?
"Marie, come inside," Marius began, already knowing he would regret this. "Jacques… I expect to see you here for dinner tomorrow. Goodnight."
Marius waited until the young man had left, and Marie was inside until he followed her into the house. He walked right passed her, beaming, knowing that he could not take any more tonight. He simply walked upstairs and went to bed. He would tell Cosette about this in the morning.