Cosette awoke for the fourth time that night and groaned. She twisted on her little bed and spread out diagonally across it, reaching for the small clock on her nightstand. But then she stopped and mused: this was the last night she could do this without kicking Marius in the leg. She shook her head slightly and grabbed the clock. By the light of her little fireplace in her room, she saw that it was a few minutes after 3 o'clock in the morning.
With a jolt, she realized that in twenty-four hours, she would be Madame Pontmercy. They would be married. The ceremony, dinner, and party would all be over. She blushed and realized that at 3 o'clock the next morning, she would not be a virgin anymore.
Now, Cosette didn't know exactly what that entailed. She only knew that the Blessed Mother had been a virgin, and it was always described as a good thing. Did that mean what she and Marius were about to do was wrong? No, it couldn't, weren't married people expected to do that? She knew very little about what she was expected to do, but she knew this was the way people made children, and that was why they were supposed to do it. So how was that bad? This was so hard! Someone should have taught her about this, just to take the nerves off. Then she thought of her father sitting on the edge of her bed stuttering over what she was expected to do on her wedding-night. Oh! That would be horrible, she thought, and giggled in embarrassment to herself. For the thousandth time in her life she wished for a mother.
She had to admit that some of it she was looking forward to: she and Marius had scarcely since his visits to the garden in the rue plumet, and it had been over eight months! To add to that, she had been different last spring. Younger, and much more naive, never imagining that their time together would come to an end, not knowing anything about the state of Paris. Now she knew better. Marius' encounter with death was long, terrifying and cruel. It seemed that Death was smiling about Marius and holding his cold fingers about his neck, unyeilding. But finally the time had passed, and it seemed that she hadn't breathed at all until it had. But the experience had roughened her up and shown her things she had never wanted to see again. She had persisted in making her father tell her all about how her country was organized, if only for the purpose of being able to understand Marius when she saw him again and argue with him if he mentioned anything about fighting again. After all this, she knew much of her naivete had gone away.
She valued her time with him, and not craved him in a different way than she had ever done in the garden all those months ago. They were children back then, sitting together and delighting in each others presence. Two children playing at being in love, not knowing that they could hurt themselves with it. But now they both knew better, and she knew their time together in the coming night would be even more special than their hours in the garden.
Despite her gradual growth into a woman, Cosette was not treated as one yet, unless you count her father telling her about France. She knew nothing more about men than any other seventeen-year-old girl. Maybe even less, for she had never been allowed out. But she did know Marius, and she trusted that he would help her. Furthermore, she blushed thinking it, but she could guess that he knew little more about women than she knew about men.
Still, they were never left alone. They were betrothed, but they always had a chaperon. To be more specific, she always had a chaperon. They hadn't ever been "up to anything" in her garden, but she couldn't deny how much she missed being able to talk to him freely, and occasionally falling into his arms. And, though they had only kissed twice, Cosette missed that, too. But without having been told, she knew she would have to take her clothes off tomorrow night (they didn't tell young girls anything, but she wasn't an idiot… she could guess most of it) and that embarrassed her terribly. Even alone, she felt her neck getting hot and knew her whole head must be bright red.
This is what she wanted; marrying Marius is truly a dream come true. And she knew that by tomorrow she would probably laugh about how nervous she was. But now, she could only think about the things the girls at the convent had told her. They said that it was always supposed to be terribly painful, and then men would become pushy and lusty, forcing you to do things you didn't want. They had said that some men drank lots before coming to bed, and were even worse because of the wine. Her heart started going faster as she saw horrible scenes in her mind, ones in which Marius looked at her and found her ugly and didn't want to touch her, or worse ones where he became cruel, coming at her too fast and hurting her.
Cosette shook her head, ashamed that she even thought that. She knew Marius too well to think something like that: he would never do that! And Cosette even let out a satisfied laugh, thinking about the girls at the convent. What did they know? They were all studying to be nuns! Cosette was about to get married. Wouldn't she know a little bit more about this than them? Most of those girls had never even met a man, aside from their fathers and the Fathers.
Still… though she was feeling better, she couldn't go back to sleep. She replayed the scene from earlier that day in her mind. Today had been the first time they were alone at all since before the barricade, and it was only for about four minutes. Still, it counted…
She and her father were on their way out, and Marius was walking them to their fiacre. Suddenly her father stopped and remembered he left his gloves inside the house.
"I'll be right back." He said, giving Marius a stern look.
Once he was gone, Cosette reached for Marius' hand.
"No one trusts me with you, Cosette… it's like they think I'm going to kidnap you! We're getting married tomorrow. What could I possibly do to you?" She giggled. "Have you realized that this is the first time we've been alone since last spring?"
"I was thinking about that yesterday, actually. I've missed it," she said, and Marius kissed her fingers.
"But it's alright… after tomorrow evening we can be alone whenever we want. To think! How lucky I am! To have you all to myself!" he said melodramatically.
"Think about how far we've come to gawking at each other in the Luxembourg," Cosette whispered. "We're to be married tomorrow!"
Marius smiled and wrapped her in his arms for the first time in months. He heard Cosette sigh; he knew her well enough to know that it was a sigh of extreme satisfaction.
"Of course," she spoke into his shoulder, "I won't see you until five o'clock. That's an eternity!"
He agreed, but didn't admit it. "Well, tomorrow night we'll really be together."
She looked up into his eyes and they both blushed as the same thought came into their minds.
A minute later her father came out of the house and they broke apart very quickly. The three of the exchanged a few generic words about the wedding the next day, and then Cosette and her father were on their way. That was the last time she had seen him. She had gone home and jittery ate with her father, who was very quiet. Being with her father hadn't helped. She usually never ran out of things to say to him, but tonight he was silent, and they were both wrapped up in their thoughts. Cosette was too anxious to observe his melancholy demeanor. His silence only made her more nervous. She recalled that the only time she hadn't felt nervous about getting married was earlier, with Marius.
She did recall how good it felt to be pressed up against him, and how much she had wanted to kiss him. She sighed and wondered what Marius was doing right now; she hoped he was asleep, dreaming sweetly, but she knew him better. He was probably over thinking everything, just like her, and lying awake. She laughed quietly, and then started getting scared again. What if she was so tired from not getting any sleep tonight that she fell asleep as soon as she hit the bed? Of course I'm not going to do that… I scarcely slept at all last spring and I had enough energy to make it through the day!
But the next night she would sleep in Marius' arms, and that made all her worries seem petty. Even if what happened tomorrow night was embarassing and awkward, surely everything else that came with marrying him would make it all worth it. Or so she hoped!
After awhile, her nervous thoughts put her to sleep.