The Café Musain looked ready to burst. Les Amis de l'ABC were running around as usual, carrying wine, women, or a tune as they went about their pre-meeting affairs. Grantaire, his cheeks already a mite rosy from the evening's first bottle of wine, was sauntering over to the bar to claim a second when his brown eyes fell upon the pitifully frail form of Éponine Thénardier sitting hunched and alone at one of the back tables. His alcohol-induced smile slipped into a look of friendly concern and he sidled over to the girl, afraid she may fly at him in anger for the lewd comment he made to her the day before.
"Hey, 'Ponine, what're you doing all by yourself, ma petite chère?" Grantaire asked, ducking his head slightly to try and get a look at the girl's face. If she was mad about the line he had dropped, she didn't show it. Grantaire was too busy searching for anger to notice the wet streaks on her dirty cheek and the fresh tears brimming in her chocolate eyes.
She turned away, wiping her face on the grimy sleeve of her tan overcoat. "I am waiting for Marius, monsieur. He said he had a favour to ask of me." The unsteadiness of her voice did not go unnoticed by the drunk and his glassy eyes widened as she turned her face briefly, flashing him a tear-stained smile.
"Éponine, what's the matter? Let me go grab us a bottle of wine," he said with genuine concern, quickly touching her shoulder reassuringly before turning back to the bar. He needed the wine just as much as she did; he wasn't good with the problems of women, only the pleasing of them.
Grantaire decided to buy two bottles, and after grabbing them from the busty barmaid with a wink, he unsteadily turned back to go over to Éponine. The table was empty. At first he thought it curious, but his attitude changed when he looked down at his hands and the two bottles he held.
"More for me, mon ami," he said to himself, plopping into the nearest rickety chair and ruffling his own curly brown hair in contentment. Grantaire opened the first bottle with a pleased sigh and, raising the wine above his head, yelled at his gathering group of friends, "Vive la France!" before chugging half of the carafe in one go.
The rest of Les Amis cheered in response so loud that Éponine, who had dashed out of the Café Musain after Grantaire had turned his back, heard their whooping in the street below. Her sad eyes turned to look up at the glowing window and the sounds of happiness and drunken, manly revelry fell upon her finely tuned ears.
With a sigh she walked out of the circle of light she was standing in and moved to sit in one of the darkened doorways of the businesses around the Café. Her bare foot caught painfully on a sharp piece of stone that had broken free from its place in the cobbled street. Éponine cursed aloud, holding back the curtain of her limp brown waves as she bent over to examine the damage the damned rock had done to her foot.
"Mademoiselle, you may not want to be saying such words so loudly, you may offend someone," a man called from somewhere behind her.
"I hope I haven't offended, monsieur, but it is anyone's natural reaction to pain," she replied without looking up, gingerly lifting her foot and reaching out to touch the blood she found pouring from her big toe. She sucked in the cool night air audibly, noticing that there was a piece of the assailant stuck underneath of her skin.
Éponine heard the man walk up and, finally looking up at him, noticed it was Enjolras, the leader of la révolution. The quickness at which she had looked up had thrown her off balance, and she began to fall towards the pavement with a yelp of surprise.
Before she could connect with the ground however, two strong arms shot out to interrupt her descent. Her breath caught in her throat, relief and surprise washing over her at the same time.
"Good evening, Éponine, it is nice to see you as well," Enjolras said with a sarcastic smile as he helped her right herself. She smiled wanly back, sad that it was not her Marius who was in such close proximity to her. Tears threatened to spill onto her cheeks again at the thought of her – no, Cosette's – Marius.
A look of surprise and apology replaced the jovial sarcasm on Enjolras' face, concern clouding his brilliantly blue eyes. He stooped his shoulders and squinted in the dark at the crying girl, trying to make sure she was genuinely crying and it was not his eyes deceiving him. When she turned her face towards the Café, the warm light from the upstairs window bathed her face in a yellow glow that revealed her accusing tears to the man.
"Éponine, what is the matter?"
"Nothing, monsieur, that concerns you," she replied, trying to sound tough. It only made her sound like a brat.
"If it were nothing, you would not be crying," Enjolras insisted, standing up straight again and shaking his wavy blonde hair from his face. His usually serious face had softened when he saw that her tears were genuine and he placed one of his large hands on her emaciated shoulder, a gesture of unprecedented familiarity.
Éponine sighed, both an exasperated and lonely sound at the same time. "Monsieur, you do not know me, what is it to you?" She turned her grubby, tear-stained face to his impeccably clean one and shook her head when he opened his mouth to answer but shut it again without a word.
"Exactly. Neither I, nor my problems, matter to you, or anyone," Éponine smiled ruefully, shrugging out of his gentle touch. She turned and began to hobble off in the direction of the Café, certain that Marius would be there soon to ask his favour of her. She did not want to be late for him, or worse, be caught crying. How shameful!
Enjolras let her go, his face returning to its usual statuesque seriousness. He took in a deep breath of beautiful summer air, not needing an explanation from the unfortunate girl to draw his own conclusions. It must be something Pontmercy has done, or perhaps not done, he mused.
A sigh similar to Éponine's escaped his lips as he straightened his black satin waistcoat and shook his head to clear his mind. It is none of my business; not my concern, Enjolras thought. It was time to make one of his weekly speeches, rallying Les Amis de l'ABC for the revolution that was drawing ever nearer.
"It is not time to be thinking of pretty, witty girls or their tears, Enjolras," he said to himself before walking into the Café Musain to receive the familiar applause and praise.
A/N: Hey guys! I'm actually writing again, oh my God. I promise to stick with it this time, this is actually something I really want to see happen. Anyway! I hope you enjoyed it and I welcome any and all suggestions/comments/questions - trust me, I love/need people to bounce ideas off of. Oh, and I hope you all enjoyed the new Les Mis movie! Seen it three times, and counting.