AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to everyone who reviewed! Again, the idea and summary for this fic belong to electrum-whip, but the story belong to me.
He was there again.
Éponine watched the young man with curly blond hair out of the corner of her eye as she approached the counter. He left the table he shared with a dark-haired man and came behind her in line.
There are certain people, she had noticed over the years, that had a presence about them, a charisma that drew attention. Especially in men, you could feel their body heat if you stood close; confidence radiated off them, and they all but commanded respect by merely letting their gaze rest on you.
This man was one of them.
She could feel his gaze on her as she ordered an ice mocha. But for some reason, Éponine knew that his eyes were not roving her body, guided by a primal urge.
He was just watching her.
Éponine paid for her drink and went to her usual table, opening her book. Over the edge of her cup, she watched the man order a straight black coffee. After paying for the drink, he returned to the table he had left and set the coffee in front of his friend. The dark-haired man thanked the blond, who sat down opposite him with a nod to acknowledge his companion's words.
Éponine had seen the blond before in the Café Musain. He often sat alone by the window with an black coffee and a leather messenger bag filled with books. Occasionally he would read a thick law textbook, but the majority of the time he had seemingly been content to gaze out the window in silence. Éponine gathered that he was a law student, likely attending the esteemed university a few blocks away. She guessed he was in his early twenties, about the same age as herself or perhaps a year older. He seemed focused and controlled, something she could not say about herself.
He then glanced over at her for a split second, and she dropped her gaze to her book, pretending to read but not really paying attention to the words on the page. As was often habit, Éponine let her mind wander.
The first direction her thoughts took was towards her friend Marius, which seemed to be a recurring theme ever since she had met him. She had developed feelings for him, but, as she had never dared to tell him, Marius had never once viewed her as anything more than a friend. She had begrudgingly helped him further his relationship with his now long-time girlfriend Cosette, all the while dreaming of a relationship with him that was not to be.
Her thoughts then moved to her current relationship with her boyfriend. Montparnasse was the opposite of Marius in every possible way. While Marius had honest, open features, Montparnasse was rugged and dark. The former was only twenty-one, a year older than herself; Montparnasse was almost ten years older than her. Where Marius was kind, Montparnasse was rough and demanding. The latter smoked and drank heavily, while former drank only on a very rare occasion and had never been seen to lift a cigarette to his lips. Marius had never raised a hand against anyone, while Montparnasse seemed to enjoy using his girlfriend as a punching bag. Éponine often wondered why she was still with Montparnasse after all he had done.
Yet she stayed.
Éponine then let herself fantasize for a moment, imagining what the law student was like. He was serious, yes, but he seemed kind and respectful. She let herself dream of what her life would look like if she had the nerve to leave Montparnasse. She would approach the blond and say something clever and smart, giving him a winning smile. They would talk, and she would impress him. They would part ways, and return to the café the next day, intrigued by each other. He would be able to look past her scars and hard exterior to see her the way she really was, and they would fall in love.
But Éponine knew all too well that life did not have a happy ever after tacked onto the end.
Enjolras and Grantaire looked up as the door of the Café Musain was flung open, the bell above the entrance ringing madly. Marius burst through the door, his gaze trained on the girl with the book and clearly seeing nothing else. Enjolras knew Marius well; they attended law school together. But Enjolras was growing distant from his friend as Marius became more enamored with his girlfriend and less focused on graduating. Still, Enjolras considered Marius a friend, albeit a distracted one.
The girl's face lit up the second Marius entered the café. A smile graced her features as he cross the room and sat across from her.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, setting her book aside. Her eyes shone as Marius leaned forward.
"I need your advice," he said.
"Anything," she said breathlessly.
"I want your opinion on how I should propose to Cosette."
Enjolras watched as the girl stared at Marius. It seemed as if she had not really heard his words, but then realization began to creep across her features.
"What?" she choked out.
"I know it's a bit soon to be proposing, but…" Marius trailed off. "I don't want to make a mistake, you know?"
"Of course not," the girl said, letting her gaze drop to the table.
Marius reached out and took one of her hands in both of his; she gazed at her hand caught between his for a moment. He gave her a smile, then released her hand, leaning back in his chair. "I was thinking about taking her to the park, by the lake…"
As Marius talked, Enjolras watched as the girl seemed to close in on herself. Her shoulders tensed, she leaned forward slightly, and her gaze was trained on her hands resting on her lap. Marius explained his plan for the next ten minutes, during which the girl never once met his eyes.
"And that's all I had planned," Marius concluded. The girl did not look at him."Do you have any suggestions?" he asked.
She finally looked up, running a hand through her hair. "No, it sounds lovely," she said. "Forgive me, I'm a bit distracted," she added quietly. "Migraine."
Worry clouded Marius' features. "Do you think you'll be alright?"
"Actually," she said, "I'm not feeling too well. I think I'll… I'll go home."
Marius stood with her as she collected her belongings. "Do you want me to call Montparnasse for you?" he inquired.
"No!" she said desperately, loud enough for the entire café to hear her, an anxious look in her eyes. She forced a weak smile, lowering her voice. "No, I'll be fine."
As she walked to the door of the café, Marius followed her. "Do you want money for bus fare?" He reached into his pocket for his wallet.
She shook her head. "No, I don't want your money. I'll walk."
"If you're sure," he said reluctantly, and she smiled sadly at him, not replying. "Be safe," Marius said, resting a hand on her elbow for a moment. Letting go of her arm, he left.
Enjolras watched as the girl slowly went to the door, tossing her empty cup into the trash. Shifting her book in her hand, she exited the Café Musain.
Éponine walked numbly down the sidewalk, barely noticing the people that passed by. Tears filled her dark eyes, and she angrily brushed them away before they could fall.
Marius was now lost to her forever.
In reality, he was never hers to begin with. Before he had met Cosette, Éponine had hoped their friendship would develop into something more. But then that angelic beauty had arrived in Marius' life, shattering Éponine's dreams of receiving his love. Though even then she had been living with Montparnasse, she still held out in hopes that Marius would sweep her off her feet. But clearly he had no intention of doing so, and asked for her assistance in furthering his relationship with another woman. Éponine had thought Marius had broken her heart completely.
But his intentions to marry Cosette effectively shattered her heart into a thousand pieces.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: By the way, does anyone like Enjonine for a ship name for Enjolras/Éponine?