Eponine sighed, and looked down at her reflection. If only he could have seen her like this: beautiful. Now, her hair was thick, shiny, and a clean dark brown falling in waves to her elbows. Her skin was not chapped, it was smooth, and her eyes sparkled. All her teeth were in her mouth and in the right place. Her arms were rounded and her stomach filled out.
But she was dead. Alas.
At least she had made it to Heaven. There was no cruelty here, and no one who wanted ill unto others. However, she was still sad, for she still missed her Marius.
Eponine walked down to the visionary pools, where one could look to people on earth. "Marius Pontmercy," she spoke, and the pool rippled as though someone had dropped a coin into it. The picture slowly became clear.
Marius was sitting at a desk, with his hands in his hair, shaking his head. He seemed to be struggling with something, and she wanted to call out to him, to tell him she was there. Just then the door to the study opened and the girl walked in... Cosette. She walked up to her husband and kissed him on the cheek. Eponine's animosity toward Cosette had once been the strongest force in her life. Eponine hated to admit it, but it was stronger than her love for Marius. She wanted what Cosette had. Now, separated permanently, she wondered what she would have done if Marius loved her instead. Would she have been afraid?
Her jealousy of Cosette had been the cause of her death. If she hadn't felt that way, she would not have gone to the barricades. It's her fault! Eponine thought angrily. No, no it's not. You would have found another way to end it somehow, she told herself, more reasonably. Truly, she did not hate Cosette anymore. There was nothing she could do to change anything.
"Marius Pontmercy," she heard a voice behind her say. She jumped, and looked up to see the man she saw often but never spoke to. He was sitting by a different pool and trying to look down on the same person as she. She knew him from when she was alive. It was the man who lived with Marius. He saw her looking at him. "Hello," he said.
"Hello, Monsieur de Courfeyrac."
He flinched. "Just plain Courfeyrac. I may be dead, but I will never be called that." Eponine smiled. "And what's you're name?"
"Eponine Thenardier," she whispered, spitting out her last name. She wished she could change it somehow. Courfeyrac mouthed her name again.
"Have we met before?" He examined her face closely, but sat back, not recognizing her.
"I don't know if we've met, but I know you. You lived with Marius. I... I also died at the barricades, Monsieur. I doubt anyone but he noticed."
"Marius. Aren't you looking down on him, as well?"
Courfeyrac nodded. "He was my best friend, off though he was. He seems happy now. I can see why. But every once in a while he thinks of us, I can see it. He goes pale and closes his eyes. He has nightmares, you know."
"I know. I've seen him have them."
"How-" Courfeyrac seemed struggling over a question. "How do you know him?"
She knew this was coming, and she didn't want to answer. He would think her a silly girl, obsessed with a boy. But she looked up at him, and his eyes were kind. That pushed her to answer. "He lived next door to my family for some time. He gave me some bread one day. He asked me to help him find the girl, Cosette."
"That girl?" Courfeyrac pointed down at the pool. Eponine nodded. Courfeyrac examined her face again. "What were you like on earth? I... I'm sure I would have remembered you."
Eponine shook her head. "No, you wouldn't have. I was wretched. I was poor, but not poor like you and Marius. I was one of the miserable, the starving, an urchin. My father was a thief, and I hated him. I was thin, and dirty, and people thought I was mad. Maybe I was, I don't even know!" Her voice grew more and more passionate, with a touch of hysteria. "For the last years of my life, I had to fight to get anything I wanted. But I always lost."
Courfeyrac moved closer to her. "Poor girl. How old were you when you died?"
"That's too young to have seen all that suffering," he whispered.
"You weren't much older! The oldest boys at the barricade were, what, twenty-five? And Marius was twenty-one. But he didn't die," she said, almost proudly.
"Marius, again," Courfeyrac noted. "Why him?"
"He was kind to me," she defended.
"How could he not be? I would have been kind to you!"
"But you weren't. I knew him. And I wanted him to be happy. But I was too selfish to realize it then. Look where I am now!" she cried. "Dead."
"It's not so bad up here. I met you," he said. She blushed, for possibly the very first time.
"Monsieur, I am still wretched. I may be beautiful now, but I should not be here, in heaven. I dragged Marius to the barricades with me. I tricked Cosette's father into thinking he had to leave, and take her to England. I brought Marius with me, to the inferno. I almost killed him! Him!" Tears poured out of her eyes, and she couldn't stop them.
"But he's not dead, and you are here!" Courfeyrac realized for the first time that death had given him new perspective. He had never been able to be serious this long, when he was alive. "Were you in love with Marius?"
"No! Of course not!" she defended.
"You were, weren't you?" he asked in wonder.
"I told you, no I wasn't. Please leave me alone." She turned back, looking down at the pool again.
"If you didn't love him, why do you watch him every day? I see you. And you were so jealous of that girl, you said." She didn't answer. "But he didn't even notice, did he? Marius wouldn't notice, he was too thick for that..."
"Alright. Maybe I was a little in love with him! How could you expect anything different? He was the closest anyone ever came to being kind to me. And when he asked for my help, I couldn't say anything but yes."
"I see." Courfeyrac nodded.
"And I hated her for a while. I really did... but now? There's nothing I can do. And he loves her, not me."
"Maybe he wasn't right for you anyway. Marius is a dreamer- that's really all he does is think. It gets infuriating when you're trying to have a conversation with him. I always wondered who the girl was, and how she could put up with that. Trust me, you couldn't. It would drive you insane."
"I wouldn't have minded," she pouted.
"Now you're just sounding like an infatuated girl. Tell me, really. How did you know you were in love with him?"
"Why do you care?" she jibed.
"I want to know!"
"Fine..." She thought hard. How did she know? It wasn't something that was easily identified. Like she could find one moment in her head and say 'Oh! That's when it happened.'
"See, if I were you," Courfeyrac said, sounding like he was thinking out loud. "I would have thought I was in love with Marius, too... I mean, he's around your age, pretty good-looking, and he's kind of nice to you. He gives you attention, and you 'fall for' him."
She felt threatened all the sudden, and she hedged for time. "You think Marius is good-looking?"
"That's beside the point. Would you have fallen for me, if I spoke three words to you?"
Her cheeks turned red and she stood up. "I'm not taking any more of this. Why do you even care?" she turned on her heel and began walking away, until she felt him pull at her elbow. "Let me go! People are supposed to be kind in heaven! Leave me alone!"
"I am being kind. I want you to realize that maybe you didn't love Marius. Maybe you did, I don't know. But he didn't love you. And if you keep entertaining the fantasy that, had you not died, someday he would have gone for you, then you'll just go crazy. And you'll be waiting a long, long time."
She was seething by now. "Maybe I needed that fantasy. Maybe, with living on the streets and seeing all the pretty girls in their silk dresses, I needed to somehow believe that I could be loved, too. And maybe it kept me from going crazy! I know it's not going to happen. Don't tell me you've never wished for something you couldn't have!"
"Alright. I have. But I'm not trying to make you angry. I'm trying to help!"
"You don't even know me. Stop trying to help. I don't need help from anyone."
"I think you do. Going to heaven doesn't solve everything. You still need someone to care about you."
"Well, that's not going to happen, is it?" Her eyes burned.
"What makes you so sure?"
"He's the only one I've ever wanted, and he's down on earth." She spoke as though what she said was obvious and made perfect sense.
"Forget about him!" Courfeyrac demanded. "He was my best friend, but I'm glad he lived. I'm glad he's not here, because that means he's alive. But we're not."
"So..." Courfeyrac didn't answer. "So maybe all you need is a friend. Someone who'll talk to you, laugh with you. I could be your friend."
"Oh, yeah. I've been doing so much laughing since I met you."
"Honestly. It would be nice to be friends with you, Eponine."
Against her will, she felt a bit of warmth in her chest. "You think so?"
"I do. I want to be your friend."
I want to be your friend. No one had said that to her before. She had never had a real friend. And, despite the anger she felt toward him just a few minutes ago, she found herself agreeing.
"I'd like that." And Eponine smiled.
Courfeyrac smiled back. He missed having a friend.