Characters/Pairings- Eponine/Enjolras, might be considered ship or platonic, however you want to read it
Summary- Was this, then, his reward for all he'd done? To wander forever in a twilight realm with nothing but the ghastly reminders of the friends he had led to their deaths for company?
A/N- Happy Barricade Day(s), all! I've been thinking about this story for awhile now, and I couldn't imagine a better time to post this particular story than today. I think it's been done before, but hopefully not quite like this... Admittedly, it was written very late (or very early, depending on perspective) so it's a tad incoherent. Nevertheless, I think I said what I meant to.
"Take my hand, I lead you to salvation.
Take my love, for love is everlasting.
And remember, the truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of God."
Death was not what Antoine Enjolras expected. Then again, he did not think much about death. He was always too focused on doing what had to be done in life to worry about what came after. Combeferre was the philosopher, not he. Nevertheless, he'd had some vague idea of what the afterlife might be like.
This was not it.
The battlefield lay all around him in the dawn, the bodies of his fallen comrades and the shattered barricade, and all of it seemed foggy and very far away, even as he wandered aimlessly through the blood-soaked street. It was a world of shadows, and he was less than a shade. He had form, but when he studied himself, he seemed filmy and grey and barely-there, just a smudge of soot against a landscape of charcoal.
He paused a moment, then. He stood over the echo of the corpse that was once Grantaire. A single tear rolled down his spectral cheek. Was this, then, his reward for all he'd done? To wander forever in a twilight realm with nothing but the ghastly reminders of the friends he had led to their deaths for company? He dropped to his knees in the dust, and it was only the vestiges of his own nature that kept him from weeping openly.
She did not appear suddenly in a burst of light. Nor did she fade slowly into existence. She simply was, and it was easy to accept.
He knew her at once. He shouldn't have, because she hardly looked like herself. Or rather, she did not look like the girl he had known. She did, however, look more like herself than she ever had in life.
Gone was the malnourished girl so skinny you could see every bone of her body. The dirt that had caked her skin and matted her hair had been wiped away. Her missing teeth were restored. Vanished were the ratty and stolen rags she had called clothes. Gone, too, was her look of eternal melancholy.
In place of that creature of ill fortune he had known was a woman. Her shining mahogany hair was bound up and her dark eyes laughed all by themselves. Her hollowed cheeks had been filled in and she wore a dress of silver. This was not the Eponine he had known. This was Eponine as she was meant to be, whole and pure and beautiful and no longer damaged by the world's care. A light from nowhere was around her, and he thought suddenly of the ancient myths he had read of the Valkyries, the women who came to carry the fallen warriors from the battlefield.
"Antoine," she said softly, and he heard then that her voice, too, had changed. It was no longer rough from years of shouting and wear, but gentle and melodious.
"Take my hand," she commanded.
"How like you, to accept me being here only to question something so simple."
She smiled sweetly, and it was beautiful. He looked up at her in awe.
"I don't understand."
Eponine knelt down next to him, there in the dirt. "Of course you don't," she told him. "How could you? But you will. I've come to take you on."
"I could answer that so many different ways. I could say it was because you don't have any family waiting for you yet, or because you intimidate the others or any number of things. But the real answer is that I volunteered. I wanted to be the one to bring you home." Her smile turned teasing. "And before you ask, I don't know why any better than you."
She rose to her feet, and he stood with her.
"Take my hand," she said again.
And he did.
The light that she carried about her spread to him, and slowly, the world was rolled away. The grim and gray battlefield swept back to reveal, behind it and within it and all around, a world beyond. The light in them both came from there, and all around them it was silver and glass, and the rain he hadn't known was falling stopped.
The world that rose before them grew brighter and brighter until it was unbearable, but even as he felt he must surely look away or go blind, somehow it was easier to look, and beyond that a still greater brightness grew, and beyond that was one greater still, each radiance more wonderfully unbearable than the last and also more terribly beautiful. The light that had earlier made Eponine look divine was just a shadow of this glorious sunrise.
Still holding her tiny hand in his, he looked at her now, bathed in this light of ages. She was hard to look at; the glory of heaven turned her into a creature beyond his understanding.
She turned to look at him also, and an awed look crossed her face. "You look even more like an angel," she murmured, squeezing his hand. Then she turned back to the new day dawning before them, and a brilliant smile burst across her face. "Look!" she said, pointing with her free hand. He followed where she pointed, and saw so many familiar faces there, just beyond, waiting.
And Enjolras heard the people sing.