Disclaimer: Les Misérables and all its associated characters do not belong to me.
Summary: One inch was all it took for Éponine's life to be spared and it altered the fates of four people. Éponine/Enjolras.
Author's Notes: Thank you so much for the terrific responses! Got some excited new readers too, which is cool, because I would not think that a 36-chaptered, 150+k-worded fic would be something that a new reader would tackle, but I very much appreciate your enthusiasm all the same. This chapter should have come as a second part to the previous one, which is why I'm updating quite quickly. Hope you like it!
I forgot to say in the last A/N that my theme song for this chapter and the one before is "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons. It was basically my 2012 song and one I kept in mind while writing the two chapters. Also, I've passed 100,000 views on this fic! Amazing! Huzzah!
While Éponine was running around town with Joly, and Marius was reacting to the news of Jean Valjean, Enjolras only had his mind for company in his cell, which was actually quite decent, all things considered. It had a window and a small bed and he had it to himself. He supposed it was because he was a first-time offender and was only there in remand, not yet convicted of any crime. Furthermore, as much as he hated to admit it, the fact that they knew precisely who he was and his station in society might have also influenced his reasonable lodgings.
Still, there was no disguising the reality that he was in prison. He was reminded of that time he went out to the convent garden for the first time, after more than a month of being mostly confined inside. He recalled comparing his experience then to being incarcerated, though he also admitted that Éponine's company had made his time vastly different to jail.
Well, she was no longer there with him, was she? It had not occurred to him until today, but he had not been without Éponine's presence for a single day ever since they were both brought back from the barricade. And they had slept next to each other for the past two months now, so he had perhaps taken it for granted that it would continue on for many more in the future. Before, he was perfectly fine with sleeping alone. In fact, he had never shared his bed with anyone prior to her, so he had assumed that he would be reasonably fine with sleeping by himself again last night.
It was not so. To say that he missed her was an understatement. He craved her presence. He wanted her warmth beside him, her soft body against his own, and her sweet scent filling up his nostrils. If he were given a chance to lie with her again, he would savor every moment, imprinting everything about her in his brain.
Suffice to say that Enjolras did not sleep well last night. And he had nothing to do today besides stare at the wall of his cell. He had been allowed to send for a lawyer, which he did, but he had somewhat taken care of that when he told Éponine to alert Marius, though his main purpose was to let the latter know of Jean Valjean's whereabouts. He was quite certain that Éponine understood his meaning. He supposed he should probably just wait and see if Marius would show up.
He also hoped that someone had thought to send a message to Combeferre. Joly probably would. Enjolras could use his best friend back, though at the same time he would not wish to take Combeferre away from his mother and his family. It was a most inopportune time for Enjolras to be arrested, as far as Combeferre would be concerned, not that there was actually a good time to be arrested…
Wishing to take his mind away from the thought of his friends, Enjolras decided to do his stretches. If nothing else, he could at least ensure that his healed leg did not become weaker in confinement. It was during one of these exercises that he was alerted of a visitor. The guard escorted him to the parlor, where Enjolras expected to see Marius (with Éponine, if he was lucky). Instead, he was greeted by someone whom he had not seen for many months now.
"Father," he said.
The older Enjolras replied gruffly to his son, "Émile."
The two men did not embrace each other, as it was not part of their usual greeting. Each took a seat across the other, a table separating them. He might have been imagining it, but Enjolras could swear that his father looked almost relieved to see him. Well, he had been searching for him for a while now…
"How did you find out?" he asked in a neutral tone.
"I suspected that you might be apprehended eventually, so I've gotten some men to keep a lookout at the prisons. Imagine my delight, Émile, at waking up this morning to the news that you have been arrested at the other end of the city. If you insist on living a life of criminality, why stay in Paris? You could have at least made your way home."
"You would like that, wouldn't you?" Enjolras said in a harsher tone than he meant. "I was about to leave, father, but they caught me. I was not completely lying when I told you I had been injured. I broke my arm and leg at the barricade. Up until recently, I could barely walk."
And then his father exploded with something that could only be described as anger. Enjolras had never seen the man show this much emotion, so it took him by surprise, "What happened? How could you have gotten yourself involved in this nonsense?! They said that you led a group of students and workers to their deaths? And that you yourself killed soldiers? I have spared your mother the horrid details, Émile, but this is unacceptable. We have always known that you are a radical, but we thought that you had enough sense to stay away from such a useless and dangerous endeavor. Clearly, we underestimated you."
"I was fighting for this country, father." Enjolras said through gritted teeth. "I cannot comprehend your complete lack of care at the plight of multitudes that are still under the tyranny of—"
"What makes you that think this is your fight, Émile? You have a good life. Why can't you be happy with it?"
Enjolras sighed in frustration. His father would never understand. They'd never had this fight so openly, but it was something that had bubbling in every one of their interactions ever since the younger man became politically aware. If his father had confronted him prior to his time at the barricade, Enjolras would have exploded with fury and stormed out (providing he could storm out and was not, as such, in jail). But now… He saw the futility of rage. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself down and eventually said in an almost listless voice, "Just because your life or my life is good, father, does not mean that everyone else's is just as well. I was simply trying to fight for those who cannot."
The older Enjolras was silent for a while. He was not heartless. His son might not believe it, but he actually did recognize the other man's passion for social justice. He just wished that Émile would realize that he was simply one person, that he could not change the world, especially not in a way that was so reckless. It was a miracle that he did not get himself killed. Next time, he might not be so lucky. Monsieur Enjolras did not wish to think about how close he came to losing his son. He was so relieved earlier when he saw that Émile still looked as physically strong as he always had, though he was limping a little. In hindsight, he supposed that Émile being incarcerated was a preferable outcome than death. And yet… It was still frustrating that Émile had created this scandal for the family, which was why the next thing he said possibly sounded more severe than he intended.
"Could you not have at least used a pseudonym, rather than tainting our good name?"
Enjolras snapped, "Oh, because that is your primary concern, isn't it? You will be fine with me doing what I did, getting people killed, shooting down soldiers, if I had just used a completely fake name. Well, father, you will be happy to know that I had actually gone by our last name only, based on what you keep telling me: 'The Enjolras name is plentiful in this country, but we are the only Émile Enjolras'."
"I was told that when you were arrested, you were calling yourself Émile Fauchelevent."
"Yes. I used our last name only before and our first name after. Never together."
It was the kind of juvenile argument that was making the older Enjolras lose his almost-non-existent temper. Was Émile goading him? Did he do this purposely, because for some reason he hated his family legacy?
Monsieur Enjolras fought to suppress his anger. There was no further use for it. The damage was done. Émile was in jail. The family name was tainted to an extent, but it was not beyond repairs. He needed to focus on what to do next, on how he could get his son out. If not for Émile or the family, then at least for his mother, who just wanted him home.
"I am going to hire you the best lawyer," his father said.
"Do not bother. I have already asked for my friend Marius. He is a recognized lawyer."
His father's eyes narrowed, "Your friend? How old is he?"
"He is my age."
"Then he cannot be such an experienced lawyer yet, can he? How many trials would he have seen? No, you need someone with experience. These are very serious charges that you are facing. You might be looking at an extended jail time. Or worse."
"Marius is employed at a respectable firm. I am sure he can get the guidance of his more senior partners."
"Where does he work precisely?"
Enjolras told him, trying to prove his point that Marius must have had some skills to be hired there.
His father nodded, making a mental note of the name, "Then I shall have a talk to his superiors and see if I can persuade them to handle your case themselves."
"No! Can you just please stay out of it? This is my life. I am of age and have the right to select my own legal representation." And then he added the following part, more to appear strong, rather than — he must admit — out of true conviction, "I trust Marius and his abilities."
"At least let me call on my contacts at the courts. My acquaintance, who is a judge, said that he would be able to see to it that the charges never make it to trial. Of course, he did say this before you were apprehended. I am not sure what he can do for you now that you have been charged. I shall ask him all the same."
"Please don't." Enjolras was feeling exasperated, almost tired of arguing with his father. Obviously, he did not wish to stay in jail, but there was a small part of him that thought that he might have deserved it, that it was only fair if he faced what he had done. "I am guilty of these charges, father. I did incite a rebellion. I did lead those people to their deaths. I did kill those soldiers. Perhaps I should stand trial and let the court decide my fate."
"That would be most imprudent, Émile. You have access to all these different avenues which may help your cause. It would be very foolish indeed if you did not accept them out of some misplaced idealistic desire to be treated like the common man. What will you tell your mother if, as a result, you are convicted and sent away on an extended sentence, perhaps for the rest of your life? It is time you accept that you come from a place of privilege. It does not make you a bad person to use the means afforded to you."
It was then that they were told that their time was up. As he rose up from his seat, his father spoke again, "Now you do what you must. Speak to this lawyer friend of yours. I am certain he will tell you that you need better representation. In the meantime, I will also do what I must. You are my son, Émile, so I will do everything I can to make sure that you do not stay in jail."
Enjolras felt almost tired. He could not stop his father speaking to whomever he wanted to speak to. And he might very well be able to get him out, as a result. But at some point Enjolras had to let his parents know that the life that he was intending to lead, if he ever regained his freedom, would not be one of which they would approve. He needed to make them aware of Éponine, for one…
Not today though, as Enjolras was already being escorted out. His father said that he would come again soon. Enjolras did not say anything back.
Author's Notes: I know this was a short one and there was no Éponine, but I hope you nevertheless liked how much Enjolras already misses her. There was supposed to be another scene after this one, but I ran out of time. It's already Thursday night where I am and I'm leaving on my holidays on Saturday morning, so if I don't post this now, I don't know when you guys will see it. I have my laptop with me though, so I'll keep on writing. It's just that the chapters will likely be shorter and be posted less frequently. If you want to nudge me along through reviews or messages, please do so. I would not mind :-).
So what do we think of Enjolras' dad? I don't want him to be a stereotypical tough controlling dad who disapproves of his son's activities. Enjolras actually does have good parents, though he might not fully appreciate it, because they have vastly different political views to him. His parents really just want him to settle down and quietly enjoy the good life that has been afforded him. Their family has done well persisting all this time by not making waves, so they wish that their son would do so as well. But of course, Enjolras is the worse kind of revolutionary… It's bound to create tension, though his parents have so far been such passive people that they've never confronted Enjolras on his firebrand tendencies until now.
I hope it wasn't confusing reading about the two Enjolras, who (I've decided) have the same exact name (You can call them 'Senior' and 'Junior', hah). There is a reason for it, which I will divulge in the future!
Next chapter should have some more Éponine and Enjolras, so please stick around. Have a good week!