As they made their way through their open bedroom door, Marius set Cosette down, who leaned against the door and shut it. In a passion, she grabbed Marius' collar and tugged him towards her. His heart skipped a beat as Cosette touched him this way, amazed at her candour mixed with a deep well of passion. They undressed each other quickly, as though they did not have all the nights in the world laying ahead of them, just waiting. They moved quickly as young people do, because they could not wait to begin. Cosette undid the buttons on Marius' shirt, and he did the same to the ones on the back of her bodice. As layer after layer of clothing was removed from them (though far more layers were getting in Marius' way. He thought in aggravation that Cosette wore far too many undergarments), they got closer and closer to beholding each other. Their fingers fluttered against each others skin, lips brushing against each part of the body that was revealed by the clothing that fell away to the floor. They stepped out of their shoes, awkwardly holding the other for balance and laughing as they tripped. They giggled when buttons stuck or bits of apparel were fussy, eager to keep moving, but not getting frustrated when their process was slowed down. After all, yes they felt the urgent pressing on of their passion, but they were not rushed. They had all the time in the world to be together.

But as they finally shed their last pieces of clothing, a distinct shyness overtook Cosette. How could she act so boldly, ripping her clothing off the way she had? She blushed, turned her eyes to the floor, and crossed her arms around herself.

Marius kissed her, gently uncrossing her arms and bringing her hands to his cheeks.

"Don't be embarrassed," he whispered against her ear, kissing the side of her face. With him so close like this, she couldn't help but do what he said. Her reservations fell away, joining their clothes on the floor as she held his face in her hands, kissing every part of it she could reach. "You're beautiful," he mentioned, and she knew she'd been right not to be embarrassed.

"So are you," she responded, smiling as he led her to their bed, which for the past few weeks had only be used for sleeping. She felt the flutterings, familiar and identical to the ones she'd felt on her wedding night, but this time they were not mixed with fear or nervousness. This time, she just felt love as they touched each other, and she allowed herself to feel a kind of desire she'd never felt before. It was deep and all-consuming, new and intriguing. For the first time, she allowed herself to feel these sensations- this wasn't wrong, it was a blessing and a gift. They really had won the highest prize in marrying each other. Grandfather had been right- they were the luckiest people in the world.

They were laying side by side, and she mentioned this thought to him. He rolled over her, and she laughed as he held himself above her, kissing her playfully.

"We've won something, Cosette," he said. "It seemed for a time that the odds were stacked against us, but now I realize it's just the opposite. God was guiding us through all those hard times, making sure we made it through."

"And here we are," she answered, drawing him lower to kiss him yet again. He rolled over again, taking her with him this time, so she lay atop him. "Together."

"Cosette, let's vow right now to never take this for granted. We have everything it takes to be happy," he remarked, twirling a piece of her hair between his fingers. "So let's promise each other to always value that. We can't just take a gift like this and be ungrateful. I promise to cherish this forever. Let's never let this go," he promised.

"Never," she agreed. "And let's start now," she finished. He laughed, and rolled over again, and she felt a combination of love and affection mixed with safety and exhilaration. As they touched each other and explored each other, she felt pure happiness and trust, in the arms of her lover and husband. It was all so new, the novelty still not worn off, yet they were familiar enough that there was no awkwardness. This time, they just focused on each other, not allowing anything to interrupt their togetherness. She knew as they loved each other that she never had, nor would she ever feel as connected to a person as did to Marius. She remember Marius' words from their wedding night.

"Cosette, I know you don't know what you're supposed to do tonight, but don't be scared. We already share a connection stronger than anything I've ever felt. I love you with my whole soul and heart, and this is just simply loving with your body. It's a different kind of love, but love all the same."

He was right. Though sharing their bodies with each other had not caused her to love him more, their connection had deepened, and she knew his words had been truthful. She now had everything from him that she could ever ask for, and they had shared everything with each other. There was nothing more that she wanted. She'd given everything to him, and he had reciprocated. She loved him forcefully, almost physically feeling the relationship they shared. It was so strong she could almost see it.

As she lay in his arms, listening to his breathing as he slept, she knew she'd happily die for this opportunity. She'd rather have one day sharing what they shared than a lifetime without love. Nothing else mattered in the world, she knew. It all paled in comparison.

Thinking the night over, she didn't know if she would be so inclined to give up intimacy again for next Lent.

Finished at last!