Summary: Marius and Cosette's relationship is both ethereal and substantial
Marius pushed aside the wrought iron broken bar, his heart thudding. His heart had not felt normal for the past five days, ever since he had met Cosette. Since that first night, he had not been himself. A smile hadn't left his face, and sleep had been beyond him. The words she said stayed in his head for hours after he'd seen her and her face never left his mind.
However, his mind sometimes left him.
"Hello there," he said, beaming at her once he was in the garden and she was standing under the trees in front of him. The sky still had a hint of light in it, and he could just make out her eyes.
"Marius," she said, sounding just as shy as she had the previous day. They had spoken for hours in the past few evenings, but she seemed to be bashful at the beginning of every evening. It seemed they had to warm to each other still, and recover from their time apart.
She led him to their bench, and sat beside him. Before he could say anything, however, she produced his jacket. Marius balked; he didn't even realize he was missing it.
"I..." he began.
"You left this here last night," Cosette said, biting her lip.
"I'm sorry," he said. "Thank you for keeping it for me."
"I found it when I went walking this morning," Cosette said. "My father wasn't awake yet, thank goodness."
"But..." Cosette began, sounding nervous. "Could you be sure to..."
"I'll bring it with me tonight," Marius promised, feeling solemn. Their relationship was brand new, so he had no desire for more. He had so much left to learn that he was perfectly content with how things were. But he could not deny that it was disconcerting to know that leaving a piece of him with her was hazardous.
"Thank you," she said.
"What is your father like?" Marius asked after a time. "Will he like me?"
"Oh, he will adore you!" Cosette exclaimed, but Marius already knew enough about her to sense her playful tone of voice. "I'm sure you two will get along famously. He enjoys reading, and so do you. You'll talk about books while I'll sit with you and do my sewing, listening. We can sit in this garden, perhaps-"
"No, no," Marius said, playing along. "We'll return to the Luxembourg and you'll take my arm while he tells us stories of France from before we were born..."
They talked on and on, and Marius tried to ignore that Cosette resorted to fantasy the moment he introduced the thought of he and her father meeting.
Still, he could not erase the thought and he decided to press things. Feeling skittish, he boldly said: "When we get married, I want to travel with you. We'll go somewhere in the world where we'll be the only two people for ages, and we can stay out just like this under the stars. Only we won't be enclosed by a fence, hiding from anyone."
She smiled, and laid her head on his shoulder, which made his stomach flip. When she touched him that way, he felt strong and protective. She looked at him as though he was knowledgeable, a genius, mature and infallible. All he'd known was being a young inexperienced man struggling to know what he believed in. But Cosette saw him differently and made him want to be who she thought he was.
"I've scarcely been outside this garden," she said wistfully. "Anything would be wonderful."
Marius extracted his arm and wrapped it around her shoulders, knowing that if he had her, he would never have to travel again. As long as she was by his side, he would stay anywhere. He would go anywhere, or stay there forever.
The next night, he brought her a letter. It was simple and not his best writing, but that was hardly the point. But he wanted to know that, when he left, he would leave something behind with her. It made it more permanent somehow.