Warning: I'm about to break some hearts. Bear with me and forgive me. It had to be done. It's more tragic and beautiful this way.
Enjolras listened as Eponine silently wept beside him, kneeling by his feet.
She wept for the ambitious, yet foolish, young men who were in over their heads.
She wept for their mothers, wives, and daughters who would lose a loved one tomorrow.
But most of all, she wept for Marius. Her one and only love.
She decided that, no matter what, she would go out there and join him in battle.
If he ended up dying, she would be right there next to him. Like Romeo and Juliet, they were in this together.
"Have you ever been in love, Monsieur?" She asked the leader.
They hadn't left the room, not yet ready to face the jolly faces of their friends for perhaps the last time.
She thought she saw the slightest hint of a blush cross his cheeks as he turned his head to look out a window.
"The only love I've ever known is for my mistress, Patria." He said firmly.
That answer made her smile. Of course, what else did she expect him to say? He was the embodiment of freedom and liberty. There was no room in his heart for anything else. With so many lives he was responsible for, Enjolras could hardly afford the same sort of distractions that men like Marius were free to enjoy.
She wondered if he'd ever allowed any special lady into his life. Had any other girl, besides herself, ever gotten as close to him? Aside from all his grandiose speeches and friendly demeanor, he seemed rather reserved, shy even.
"Really." She mumbled. Had the thought of marriage ever occurred to him when he was younger, busy making plans for his future as a law student like the rest of the men?
"From what I've seen of love, I'd say she's not particularly kind."
"She's quite brutal, actually." Eponine said.
Again, she noticed that look, a mix of pity and compassion in his green eyes.
"If I were to wish you anything, Mademoiselle, it would be for a love that would last a lifetime." He said, taking her hand and kissing it softly.
A wave of sorrow threatened to grab hold of her as she realized he was making his last farewell. She could almost feel her heart sinking inside of her. He didn't know that this was her last day as well.
Oh, how she suddenly wished that things were different. That they'd gotten to know each other sooner, that he would somehow, by the grace of God, survive and live to fall in love with a wonderful lady and eventually start a beautiful family.
"I wish the same for you." Was all she could think to say in reply, as he got up and headed for the door. She did not know anyone more good or more kind.
The merriment continued with Grantaire opening up a few more bottles of wine, trying to lead the men in a patriotic song. Combeferre was sitting at a table with Bahorel, discussing their philosophical theories concerning revolution. Courfeyrac was trying to console a mopey Marius by suggesting he forget about his Cosette altogether and take up a mistress. Jean Prouvaire was reciting poetry to one of the barmaids and Joly was busy poring over his medical books, studying for his exams next week, not knowing that he wouldn't live long enough to become the doctor he'd dreamed of, let alone live to take his exams. The air carried with it both gaiety and apprehension, as if they all subconsciously knew what awaited them the next day; but all were busy distracting themselves from thinking, or even allowing themselves to consider, the inevitable. It was easier that way.
Meanwhile, in just the other room, where all noise and laughter was muffled and time itself seemed to stand still, there was a young man and girl who stood beside the doorway; the latter of which, before letting the man go, reached up and put a small, dirty hand on his shoulder, standing up on her tip toes to place the lightest of kisses on his cheek. A kiss, barely felt, barely there. A kiss that lingered a moment too long. One that said her last thank you's and goodbye's. A kiss of death.
Enjolras entered into the crowd, immediately ambushed by his friends, two of which tried to convince him to join a hand wrestling match. Grantaire thrust an open bottle of wine in his hands, urging him to drink to the coming dawn. But the young leader looked past all the smiling faces and found, at last, the sorrowful gaze of Pontmercy. Pontmercy, stuck in a corner, faintly listening to Courfeyrac's rambling.
For the first time, Enjolras felt an unusual mix of conflicting emotions. As he stared at the pitiful face of his forlorn friend, he felt a strange sort of resentment. Here was Marius, whining about a girl he barely knew, completely oblivious to the fact that he'd unknowingly won the heart of a most virtuous and caring creature. A girl who took on the thankless task of delivering letters between both him and his amoureux. It astounded Enjolras that such a person, surrounded by despicable parents and terrible circumstances, despite her horrible upbringing, was capable of such undying affection, passionate love, and selflessness. It assured him that everyone, no matter the situation, had the capacity and capability of both doing good and becoming good.
And who was Marius to earn a love like that? A love so virtuous and true? How could he be so blind, how could he not see?
Yet, even so, Enolras stared into those sorrowful eyes and felt a semblance of...similarity.
Marius had fallen deeply in love only to have his heart shattered into pieces. Enjolras was beginning to understand what that might feel like. Could it be? Would he dare compare himself to Marius in this regard? It's not like he'd experienced some great and devastating love affair of his own...But that kiss.
"Who cares about your lonely soul, we strive towards a larger goal..."
His own words echoed in his mind, words he'd used to scold the lovesick Marius. Now he felt as if someone should be saying the same to him.
He was all too prepared to die for his country and his people. His family had disowned him, his friends would join him and probably die alongside him in this upcoming battle. He didn't need a tie to this world. The last thing he needed was a reason to doubt or someone to regret leaving behind.
He and Eponine shared much more than they both knew This same passionate, selfless, noble love they had both experienced- he for Patria and her for Marius. He couldn't help wondering, if everything had somehow turned out differently, what could have happened had they had the chance to share this love with each other.
As the night progressed, Enjolras spotted Eponine sitting beside Marius, both of them quiet and solemn, not saying a word. He caught her gaze briefly and could feel the phantom trace of her lips on his cheek again. Only this time, he knew what the kiss was, what it had really meant.
Not love. The time for romance had passed. Their days were numbered and fate was beginning to count down the minutes, the seconds, to their deaths.
The kiss had been the last touch of humanity.
The last breath before the slow, sinking plunge into a watery abyss.
The last battle cry, refusing to surrender even as the bullets began to fire.
A comforting bandage to a fatal wound.
An angel's song, beckoning the dying into God's light.
That kiss was all they had. Her last farewell.
"Who cares about your lonely soul, we strive towards a larger goal. Our little lives don't count at all."