Although this is in the LM book archive, I have a feeling there are some musical references, or some characters acting in a musical sort of way at some point in this story. If so, I apologise. I own nothing. Unfortunately. I'd love to, but I don't.
The last thing Marius Pontmercy could remember was coughing painfully, and telling his beautiful wife that he loved her.
Then, quite suddenly, he was on the Rue St. Denis, and there was no cane in his hand. Tentatively, he stretched out his leg, and when it didn't throb painfully, he put it down. No sharp pain. Nothing. He couldn't remember a time his leg hadn't hurt – it had been several decades since he had got the injury after all.
Thinking about the injury led him to wonder why he found himself on this particular street, on a warm summer day. Marius tended to avoid the Rue St. Denis, especially during June.
"Ah. Marius. There you are."
A crisp, cold voice that sent chills down Marius' spine. He turned, and saw Enjolras, marching down the road towards him. Marius swallowed.
"W-What? Am I dreaming?"
Enjolras raised an eyebrow in a look of such disdain that Marius felt that asking that question was the worst mistake he had ever made. Then he wondered why a twenty year old man had such an effect on him, whose hair had been white for years.
"I should hope not, Marius. Only Grantaire and other useless layabouts sleep during the day."
Marius inhaled a shaky breath, and closed his eyes, counting to ten. When he opened them again, Enjolras was still there, looking more and more impatient. Marius inwardly cringed, but was saved from the blonde's wrath by another voice, this one deeper, hoarser.
Enjolras' features creased into an expression of loathing as he turned to face Grantaire, who was clutching a half full absinthe bottle and had forgotten his hat. Marius looked at the two of them – brimming with life and the characteristics he had almost forgotten – and felt tears prick his eyes.
Of course he was dreaming. He would wake up soon enough, and Cosette would be at his side, holding his hand, wearing his ring. An excellent reality, but not perfect. It could never be perfect, as long as there were graves bearing the names 'Enjolras', 'Courfeyrac', 'Prouvaire' in the churchyard.
"You were taking a long time, so I came to see why," Grantaire explained, and his guttural voice brought Marius out of his reverie.
"That was not necessary," Enjolras replied, shortly. He turned back to Marius. "Are you coming then?"
Enjolras opened his mouth to reply, but didn't have the chance, as an arm was thrown over Marius' shoulder.
"Bonjour, Marius Pontmercy."
"Bousset," Marius smiled up at the man. "And Joly too!"
"I would shake your hand, Marius, but I'd give you my germs." Joly said, ruefully. "Why are we all out here anyway, Enjolras? It's very cold. I don't want to get hypothermia."
"It's June, Joly," Bousset sighed. "But why are we out here?"
"Not for much longer," Enjolras snapped. "I don't know why you all came –"
Éponine Thenardier came running down the road, her brown hair escaping from the beret she had stuffed it under, and her long trench coat flapping open. Enjolras pinched the bridge of his nose, his blue eyes flashing with irritation at being cut off once again.
"Éponine!" Marius smiled at the girl, who came to a halt just in front of him, and twisted a lock of her hair round her finger, looking up at him hopefully.
"It has been too long," Éponine said. Her low voice was heavy with regret and unshed tears. "But you are happy now."
Something about that statement didn't quite mesh with the rest of them – gathered round to take him into the Cafe Musain of his dreams, but Marius pushed it aside. Éponine had often talked in riddles – using slang that he didn't understand.
"Yes, yes. It is very touching, but Apollo is getting annoyed," Grantaire cried. "So we must let him finish, no?"
"Don't call me Apollo," Enjolras growled. "Marius, as I have been – "
"Combeferre!" Marius laughed, clasping the bespectacled man's hand and shaking it. "How is medical school?"
A frown appeared on Combeferre's face, and he turned to Enjolras who threw his hands up in the air.
"I have been trying, Combeferre."
"He has," Joly agreed, pocketing his handkerchief, only to pull it out again and blow his nose. "Shall we go inside and explain in there?"
Bousset nodded, but before anything more could happen, a boy of twelve tumbled into the street, brown hair messy, and wearing tattered clothes. He raced towards them, and pulled up next to Joly, who stepped out of the way, muttering about diseases.
"What're you all doing out here?" Gavroche demanded. "It's just Marius."
Marius had never had much to do with the urchin. The only interaction with him that came to mind was when he – Marius – had asked Gavroche to deliver a letter to Cosette during the revolution, but he always turned up in his dreams – haunting him. His death was, perhaps, the hardest for Marius to realise. The little boy, so full of life and promise, had died, despite Marius' attempt to keep him away from the barricade. The man had never managed to escape the idea that had he tried harder to protect Gavroche, he would have lived on.
Éponine turned to Marius, and there was a change in her expression – something she had never worn when looking at him before.
"Monsieur, I did ask you to keep him safe, didn't I?" she said, accusingly. Marius blinked.
Normally his dreams followed a pattern. His friends would appear. Normally, they were all there (almost all of them, anyway), but there had been occasions when Marius had just dreamt of Éponine, or Combeferre, or Enjolras. They would talk among themselves briefly – as they had in the old days – and then they would get to planning the revolution. And Marius would hear himself begging for them not to go to the barricade, but they would never listen. Then there were the nightmares. Marius would walk into an empty cafe, see the empty chairs at the empty tables, only the chairs wouldn't be empty for long. Les Amis would appear, drenched in blood, wide eyed. Enjolras and Grantaire would be bleeding profusely from a hundred bullet wounds, and Jehan would be blindfolded, and trussed, and his mismatched clothes would be crimson, and Gavroche's side would be drenched in scarlet from the bullet that had killed him, and Éponine would be whimpering and moaning, holding her hand up to Marius, begging him to make it better, and they would all whisper; It's your fault, Marius. It's all your fault.
And he would wake up, screaming, and sweating, and more often than not he would retch because there had been so much blood.
This dream however was different. More real. Even though Marius knew it was a dream, he... He couldn't explain it. It was just different. They had touched him, for one thing, and he had felt the pressure of their hands. For another – he wasn't their Marius – lovesick Marius fresh from his teenage years, but just Marius as he had been when he fell asleep. He felt younger, there was a spring in his step, and his leg didn't ache. He hadn't seen his reflection, but he had the impression his hair would be black, and his eyes would be sharp. Nevertheless, he had all the experiences of his time in the world without them all. He knew of Cosette, and their life together – their children.
"Marius? A dreamer as ever." Bahorel had appeared, and he laughed at Marius' expression. "Come on now, mon ami. You don't want to be late."
"Late for what?" Marius asked. Gavroche turned to Enjolras, a wicked grin on his face.
"You haven't told him yet?"
"I have been trying," Enjolras said, haughtily. "But I kept on getting –"
"Interrupted!" Enjolras exhaled sharply, and Jehan visibly wilted.
"Come Enjolras," Combeferre laughed, clapping his blonde friend on the shoulder. "Jean didn't mean any harm."
"Jehan never means any harm," Joly pointed out, slightly muffled, since he was still clutching his handkerchief to his face.
"Gavroche, come away from Joly, you're scaring him," Bousset advised, steering the gamin over to his sister.
"Well since we're all here," Enjolras said, stiffly. "We might as well just take Marius in."
Another voice, this one sounding quite insulted. Marius turned hopefully, and saw Feuilly wandering towards them.
"Alright, alright!" Enjolras frowned. He muttered something under his breath, and it sounded like 'Robespierre never had to put up with these cretins.
"Tell me, Marius," Feuilly said, curiously. "What is the world –"
"Feuilly, mon ami," Grantaire slurred, throwing an arm around the younger boy. "Apollo needs to speak. Speaking is as to Apollo as breathing is to the rest of us."
Enjolras threw him a filthy look, but Grantaire just beamed at him.
"Well. We'll be going in then?" Gavroche asked. He was on his hands, his whole body in the air, and Marius was quite sure he had never seen the boy do that in life. Éponine looked up at him, smiling again, and held out her hand. Marius looked at it awkwardly, but he was saved from embarrassing her by Gavroche tumbling into her, and sending them both sprawling to the ground, and into Enjolras, who also fell over. In the ensuing chaos, with Joly near hyperventilating (are they dead? I can't look! I knew that gamin would be the death of us! Figuratively speaking.) Grantaire and Bahorel laughing maniacally and the others trying to pull everyone up, and crashing into one another, Marius felt that now would be the time to wake up, and return to his normal life.
Whatever Enjolras had thought, Marius Pontmercy was not stupid. Perhaps he had always known – from the moment he fell asleep. Maybe it had been the arrival of Enjolras, or maybe it had been the constant mentions of something they had to tell him, somewhere they all had to go.
"Are you coming?"
It was him. The last one. The one Marius had really wanted to see. The one he wanted to apologise to the most.
"I'm sorry," he blurted out. "You were a good friend to me, and I couldn't be the same to you."
Courfeyrac waved the apology away.
"You never came," Marius continued. "I dreamt of the others, but you were never there. I've wanted to say sorry since... None of you should have died."
He couldn't continue. He was vaguely aware of a distinct wetness on his cheeks. There was a long pause, and then Courfeyrac smiled.
"Come on, Marius."
They all filed past him – Éponine looking over her shoulder at him before disappearing into the bright white light Courfeyrac was shielded in. Enjolras, Grantaire and Gavroche stopped next to him, Enjolras pushed Grantaire away, and then it was just three of them. Marius hesitated.
"Am I dead?"
"Dying," Gavroche chirped.
"Does it hurt?"
"Dying?" Enjolras sniffed. "Well."
"It does when a bullet hits you," Gavroche said. "Searing pain, and –"
Courfeyrac elbowed him away, and looked at Marius, a familiar smirk on his lips.
"Not a bit," he assured him. "Come on."
"Will be fine," Enjolras said, gruffly.
"I have no choice?"
"As the gamin said – you are dying. You've held on longer than most, but you really must come now."
"One more thing."
"Make it quick."
Marius gestured to the Rue St. Denis, and Courfeyrac and Enjolras looked.
"What do you see?"
"The Rue Saint Denis."
Both men laughed. The sound was strange coming from Enjolras. The 'splendid statue' as Grantaire had often called him.
"Well. I suppose it's because we came to collect you." Courfeyrac reflected, calmly. "And this was the place we died. Come on now, Marius. You can ask all the questions you want later. Eternity awaits."
And Marius followed them into the light.