Synopsis: He's not supposed to care. Not really. Patria is his mistress, his lover, his one true devotion. His life belongs to the fight for freedom. And yet. | The barricades, through Enjolras's eyes. Enjolras/Éponine. Oneshot.
Author's Note: Every now and again, Les Mis takes over my life. Recently, the idea of Enjolras/Éponine has taken hold of me and I can't get the idea of the deliciousness of that angst out of my head. And so.
One more day before the storm
He is trying to eat when she comes in. The fight begins tomorrow, and he's going to need all the strength he can get. But with the rest of his men asleep, anxiety is closing in on him in the quiet, tightening his chest, closing his throat. Making it near impossible to eat. And then she bursts through the door, clearly upset.
Enjolras drops his spoon onto the table with a clatter. Éponine stops at the sight of him.
"I didn't think anyone would be awake," she says.
Enjolras doesn't answer and Éponine takes a seat at a table in the corner, facing away from him. He wonders if she's crying. He doesn't think he's ever seen her cry.
He's not supposed to care, though. Not really. Patria is his mistress, his lover, his one true devotion. His life belongs to the fight for freedom.
He's noticed her eyes like fire, her hair like velvet, her smile — so rare and so precious — like the moon. He's watched from afar her heartache and her anger and her strength. She hasn't seen him, not once. But he sees her every moment.
Marius is a fool.
Éponine lets out a noise which sounds like a stifled sniff. Like she doesn't want him to hear. One of her bony, weathered hands reaches up to shakily swipe at her face. She's so emaciated. It's for people like her that they need to fight. Enjolras needs to fight because of people like Éponine.
He needs to fight because of Éponine.
It doesn't matter that she only sees Marius and she never sees him. It doesn't matter that he can't reach out to her because he's reaching too far out toward liberty. It doesn't matter that he doubts very much he will make it out of the barricades alive. If his fight can save her, it will be worth it.
Enjolras stands up and walks toward the emaciated figure across the room from him. She shies away a little when she senses him over her shoulder and she won't look at him. He reaches out tentatively and places his hand heavy on her shoulder.
He wants to say something that could help her. Something that might calm her troubled heart. But he who can inspire, soothe, and envigorate his men with fractured words that spill from his mind so easily, he cannot find within him a single word of comfort now.
But Éponine's shoulders have stopped shaking under his hand. Her breathing has evened. Her tears have stopped. Whatever he might have said, perhaps the touch of another human means more to Éponine in this hour than any words could.
Enjolras tightens his grip on her shoulder for a moment before he takes it away and turns to leave. Éponine doesn't ask him to stay. He won't admit that he wants her to.
Little you know, little you care
So close to the beginning. So close to the fight. Enjolras can taste freedom in the air. He only prays he'll be alive to see it done.
A boy brushes past him, head down, pulling him back to the necessary.
"Boy, wait," Enjolras calls to him, "I need you to take ammunition over to — Éponine?"
It's her, it's absolutely her. The firey eyes that raised toward him as he spoke are completely unmistakeable.
That gaze drops, panicked. "No," she grunts in a falsely low voice, "not me."
She spins around hurriedly to leave, but Enjolras reaches out swiftly and catches her arm, pulling her back toward him. Her face turns up to him in surprise. He imagines for the slightest of moments what it would be like to swoop down and catch her agape mouth with his own. The fantasy passes quickly.
"What are you doing here?" he demands in a hushed voice.
"I came to help," Éponine answers defensively. Almost angrily.
"You shouldn't be here," Enjolras tells her, which is the most predictable thing he could say right now, but he can't help it. He is suddenly more fearful than he's felt all day.
Éponine yanks her arm out of his grasp and he misses the warmth of it in his hand. "I go where I please," she retorts, really angry now. "I want to help Marius."
That feels like a small blow to his gut. "Did he tell you to leave?" Enjolras asks, gentler.
Éponine regards him warily before answering. "He asked me to deliver a letter."
Thank god. "Good," Enjolras sighs. "You should hurry, while it's still quiet. And then get out of the streets, they will be danger tonight."
Éponine doesn't answer before she turns and darts away, over the barricade. Enjolras's heart drops as he watches her go.
Oh god, it's everywhere
The first shot chills Enjolras through his entire being. Hardly can he react to the sound before he hears Joly yelling about a boy climbing over the wall and a familiar figure is stumbling toward Marius.
Enjolras takes off and runs toward the pair of them, pulling up just in time to see Marius catch Éponine as she collapses to the ground. There's blood in her hair.
There's blood everywhere.
A roar takes over inside Enjolras's head and he can't hear anything but the sound. Marius is talking to Éponine and crying, and she is whispering to him and smiling, but Enjolras can't hear a word of what they're saying. All he can see is blood on her face as she coughs it up. Her lips are scarlet and drenched in the stuff. Enjolras's lips tremble with longing to press them up against hers regardless. He'd gladly taste her blood for a chance to kiss her in her life.
He watches, mouth dry, as the fire leaves Éponine's eyes for the first time. Her hand falls limp away from Marius's face and Marius presses his lips against her forehead before collasping over her in grief. The roaring cuts off in Enjolras's head just in time to hear Marius's first scream of pain.
The rest of the camp is silent, grieving by proxy. Some of them knew her a little, but none so much as Marius. Marius had been her friend.
But no one in the world had loved her as much as Enjolras had.
"She is the first to fall," he finds himself saying in a reverent whisper which seems to echo over every man. "The first of us to fall upon his barricade."
Marius raises his head and locks eyes with Enjolras. "Her name was Éponine," he says as though Enjolras doesn't know. His voice shakes weakly. "Her life was cold and dark, yet she was —" he breaks off, overcome, then gathers himself and finishes softly, "— unafraid."
Combeferre takes up the cry. "We fight here in her name."
"She will not die in vain," Prouvaire promises. His words strike to Enjolras's heart.
Lesgles steps forward and calls out the first loud words since the shot was fired. "She will not be betrayed."
There is silence for a moment. Enjolras is very aware that they need to move forward. That his pain cannot be entertained. That Éponine cannot die in vain.
"Take your positions," he says, but his voice is weaker than he wants it to be. "We need to be ready."
The rest of the men move as the sound of his order, but Marius remains curled over Éponine's still form.
"Marius, you must move," Enjolras says, not unkindly.
"How can I?"
He has little answer to that.
"Let her go, friend," Enjolras persists. "I will take her inside."
Marius nods and rises. The man is stronger than Enjolras often gives him credit. Marius leaves quickly and Enjolras is alone.
He steps up to Éponine's body and kneels before it, feeling his throat constrict. It is as though the world is crushing him and catching fire at the same time. He manages to lift the girl up into his arms and take her into the tavern, laying her down on a table before the tears overtake him.
He lies over her body, tucking his face into the crook of her shoulder and letting his own shoulders wrack with sobs. It only lasts a moment before he calms himself and pushes himself up off of the dead girl. He's soaked in her blood. She is gone. He cannot change that. He cannot fix it.
But he can avenge it.
He leans over her and presses his open mouth against her forehead, his lips brushing over her still-warm skin as he whispers, "Your life was important. I will not let you die in vain."
The night is falling fast…
Enjolras find himself among the wreckage of the barricade. The bodies and the blood and the lifeless shapes of his friends are piled around him. Marius's eyes shine empty at him from ten yards away. There is no life here.
Until a pale, thin hand reaches out to touch his face.
Enjolras gasps. "Éponine?" he rasps out as her fingers brush over his jawline. "You survived? I though you were dead!"
"Not yet," Éponine replies, smiling.
"The others?" Enjolras asks.
Her smiled fades.
"But I survived?"
He catches her hand with his own. "Éponine, I love you," he whispers eagerly to her as she pulls him up to a sitting position. "I never told you before, and I should have. I love you."
Éponine's wonderful smile returns. "I know," she whispers back.
It's enough for him. He takes her face in both of his bloodied hands and crushes his lips against hers, soaking in her glory, trying to make up for lost time. Trying to find the light in all of this darkness around him. He kisses every inch of her that he can reach with his mouth and holds her tightly against him. She is warm. She is alive.
Enjolras wakes with a start. Marius stirs near him and wakes also, looking at him with very clear, very living eyes.
"Are you all right?" Marius asks groggily, seeing Enjolras's expression. "You made a noise."
The dream was so real. Enjolras can feel Éponine's mouth against his skin and her warmth against his body even now in wakefulness. But she is lying cold now. There is no warmth.
The night air feels so much more chill than when he went to sleep.
"Enjolras?" Marius asks, concerned.
Enjolras looks at him, thinking of her. What he says is, "It's getting cold."
Until the Earth is free
Éponine is dead.
Gavroche is dead.
Soon, Enjolras will also be dead. Grantaire will be dead. Marius will be dead. Every death this night will be heroic. Will be faced. Will be for freedom.
Enjolras prays that others may rise to take their place once they are gone. He cannot control what happens. But he can take hold of his freedom, if only for a moment.
Marius yells out as he is shot and drops to the ground. Someone else falls off of the barricade almost onto Enjolras. He doesn't stop to see who it was. It doesn't matter. It's every one of them. He runs forward, dropping his gun which has already run out of bullets as he leaps up the barricade, over unidentified bodies and lonely limbs, up to the very top. He is free.
He takes up the flag they have planted deep into the rubbish of the barricade and begins to wave it across the sky. Red against black. He is free until they kill him. He is free.
The first bullet that rips through his body is like a message from God. The second like the flames of Hell. The third lifts his eyes to see Éponine, her hands reaching out to touch his face, unable to reach him yet. And then his body falls backward and his hands release their flag as the fourth shot sends him home.
He is free.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will ris