Cosette, feeling more sure of herself, stepped closer to Marius. He watched her graceful movements intently. Her hands twisted nervously at her stomach, but her light smile revealed something curious. Her long, blonde ringlets glowed angelically in the soft light of the Rue Plumet. He saw she was small, nearly a head shorter than he; and her modest, light green dress could not hide her delicate form. His eyes drifted to the hollow of her neck, where a cross necklace hung, gleaming silver. She is no ghost, but an angel. Marius thought. Meanwhile, Cosette's wide blue eyes searched his. There was such amazement reflecting in both of their gazes, as if the two were in awe that the other was real, and standing there in front of them. Cosette took another step. In a slow, but assured motion, Marius reached for her. She took his hands in hers without hesitation, and glided closer to him. The casual touch of a man was new to Cosette, and she felt herself begin to blush. Embarrassed, she looked down at their intertwined hands, her eyes downcast. She found her skin was much paler than Marius's. Her small hands looked consumed by his, and yet they seems to fit together perfectly. They said nothing for a moment, then Marius lightly squeezed her dainty fingers, and ran his finger along the milky skin of the back of her hand. A nervous, almost laugh escaped him as he whispered, "Do I dream?"

Cosette allowed herself to look at his face. He was looking down at their joined hands as well, a thoughtful look apparent in his kind eyes; a small, incredulous smile upon his face. She released one of her hands from his grasp, and brought it up shakily to his stubbled cheek. He lifted his gaze. He too, was beautiful. His face was thin and strong, with a hard jaw line. He had short, dark hair that clung to his head in tight curls and gleamed in the subdued light. His eyes, though. Those deep brown eyes. There was so much thought in them. Such pure kindness and something else. Something she had only seen a few times before. She saw it everyday within the safe, protective eyes of her father. But she was sure there was another instance when she had seen such a stare. Perhaps in a distant dream, or memory. She didn't know which. It was so long ago. But looking into the eyes of Marius Pontmercy, she saw it. Love.

The realization made her feel profound, and her heart leaped. She could not look away from his eyes.

"I'm awake." She breathed, with a wide smile.

Marius smiled back, and he gently brought his hand under her chin. He touched her as if she would break. Without a thought, Cosette closed her eyes. Marius slowly leaned down and brought his lips ever-so gently to hers. She moved deftly into his tender embrace. She brought her hands up to his bent neck, and his hands were on her waist with a featherlight caress. Where their bodies met, Cosette's skin warmed.

For unfathomable reasons Cosette never imagined herself in love until this day. Of course she believed it existed, but never for herself. But when she saw the nameless boy in the street, some sort new hope suddenly appeared; and in the hours since then, there had been nothing but hope, and love itself was now a need. And here he was! It was all so fast!

Within a moment, they lightly broke the kiss. Marius leaned his forehead against hers. They both smiled and quietly laughed. They both were in no spirits to let each other go.

With a careful touch to Cosette's radiant cheek, Marius affirmed in a hushed laugh, " Not a dream after all."