This is it. This is the end. It is rather short because it is more of an epilogue than anything, BUT it is not over yet. Meet me at the end notes once you're done reading.
When morning came, Valjean opened his eyes to find Javert anxiously pacing in front of the door. The Inspector was mumbling to himself, and he had not noticed the other awaken, so Valjean managed to sneak up on him without difficulty.
Putting his arms around his waist, he said: "Good morning, Javert. You look nervous."
The man started and turned half around, glaring at the other unhappily.
"Perhaps I am," he said and wriggled out of the embrace to fully face Valjean, "would you not be, were you in my place?"
"You have nothing to be worried about," Valjean reassured him, quietly smiling to himself at the picture Javert made. He had rarely had opportunity to see the Inspector at anything less than his very best, and witnessing him display the human characteristic of anxiety was comforting. It was the last prove Valjean needed to know that Javert fully trusted him; he would never allow himself to let his feelings show openly otherwise.
"Cosette will be nothing but thrilled," he continued, gently taking the other's hand in his. "Please. Do not worry yourself so."
"Easy for you to say," Javert sighed but didn't jerk away. "You are not the one who left her."
"I told you: there is no place for resentment in her heart," Valjean insisted, gently dragging Javert out the door by his hand. The Inspector made an attempt at resisting, but the other was more determined than him; they were soon standing in the kitchen. Valjean, thinking the reunion would be aided by the presence of breakfast, moved to grab bread. Javert distracted himself by presuming his frantic pacing once again.
"She must certainly hate me," he mumbled to himself, unaware of his surroundings. "She will surely throw me out."
"Who will?" a sleepy voice behind him asked, and Javert started so violently, Valjean thought he must surely drop dead the next moment. The Inspector swirled around with wide eyes, taking in the girl in front of him who was tiredly rubbing her eyes, seemingly unbothered by the intruder in her kitchen. "Papa and I would never be so rude as to force a visitor to leave. If you're talking about Toussaint, she knows we would be very cross with her if she did."
"Cosette," Javert said blankly. He had heard not a word of what she had said; it was all the same to him. She was standing not ten feet away, and that was all that mattered. He had dreamed of this moment for the past six years; it had never occurred to him that Cosette might have grown during that time. Until only a second ago he would never have thought of her as anything other than the frightened little girl they had taken in in a past life.
He saw now that that had been a mistake.
Cosette had grown into a beautiful young woman during the time he had been away. She was glowing, it seemed, and Javert knew at once that she was all right; his absence had not damaged her. His knees gave in underneath him, and he instinctively grasped for a chair to keep himself upright.
It was too much. He had not been prepared for this; a bitter, resentful child, yes, but not this. He could have wept with joy, for it was only now that he believed Valjean's reassurances; this was not the face of a girl who would despise him.
"You didn't tell me we were expecting a visitor," Cosette turned towards her father with an accusing look on her face, "I would have gotten up sooner had I known."
"Cosette," Javert croaked and took an uncertain step in her direction. She met his eyes politely— and started.
"Mon dieu," she breathed and looked between the stranger and her father in quick succession, eyes wide. "Can it be…?"
Javert managed to close the distance between them before he fell on his knees and took the girl's hands in his, grasping them tightly and putting kisses all over them.
"I'm so sorry," he muttered, voice unsteady, "I am so unbelievably sorry."
Cosette said nothing; she was still in shock. Looking down to see the man trembling at her feet, she was overcome with joy.
"Father!" she cried and dropped to the ground herself, freeing her hands from the other's grip to put her arms around him and bury her face in his neck. "You're here! You returned! I don't believe it!"
Javert was dumbstruck; he stared at the light hair covering nearly all of his sight in speechless amazement and wondered what to do next.
"I did," he said eventually, careful not to spook the girl in his arms.
"But where have you been all these years?" Cosette asked, leaning back just far enough to look imploringly at the Inspector. "Have you forgotten all about us when you were hunting that criminal?"
Javert frowned, looking with some confusion at the girl and asked: "What criminal?"
"The one you were chasing, silly," Cosette laughed and shook her head. "Have you caught him then?"
When the Inspector continued to look blankly between her and Valjean, she said with a long-suffering sigh: "Papa told me all about your quest to catch that dangerous criminal that had gotten loose. I was still surprised it took you that long to find him. Was he that good, father?"
"I suppose he was," Javert said quietly, meeting Valjean's gaze with piercing eyes. Feeling that he could escape the truth no longer, the former convict sighed and took a step towards the others on the floor.
"I told her that you needed to find the man," he explained, carefully weighing his words, "because he was dangerous and no other could do it. She had to know why we were leaving. Without you."
Javert looked silently between the two, but Cosette said with a vigorous nod: "Yes, it's true, he told me. I know you wouldn't have wanted me to know, father, but it was only right I should be informed. I might have been a child, but you can't possibly have expected me to never find out."
"And just how much did your papa tell you, Cosette?" Javert asked carefully, squinting at the other man with some suspicion.
"Not much," the girl shrugged. "That we needed to leave immediately because a criminal had fled from the galleys, and that he knew you. Papa told me you thought he might come after us and try to harm us, so you told him we should leave and you would take care of it."
"That sounds like something I would do," Javert said vaguely, glaring at Valjean. He had wondered just how the other had convinced Cosette to give up her old life and start a new one, and he knew he shouldn't be as surprised as he was to learn the truth.
"But you are here now, so you have caught him, yes?" the girl asked with bright eyes, smiling happily at the Inspector. "You will stay with us now?"
"I seem to recall a scene just like this one," Javert said with a lump in his throat. "I remember you asking me to stay as if it had been yesterday. What did I say then?"
Cosette frowned, etching away and said gloomily: "That it was complicated and that you needed to speak to papa."
Javert laughed and, nodding guiltily, said: "Yes, I did. You have an excellent memory, girl. I expected you would not forget this. And what did I do after that?"
"Well, you talked to papa and…" she stopped, eyes widening, and a smile spread on her lips when she continued, "you stayed."
"How could I not?" Javert sighed and stood, affectionately ruffling her hair as he did. "But there are still many things that need to be discussed."
"I suppose I could go to my room…" Cosette said slowly, unhappily straightening and turning slightly towards the direction she had come from.
Javert shook his head and, exchanging a meaningful glance with Valjean, gently grasped her shoulder and guided her in the direction of a chair.
"You really should stay, seeing as this concerns you more than anyone."
Valjean too sat down, as did the Inspector, and they began telling Cosette about the barricades. They omitted some details; there was no reason she should hear about Javert as a prisoner on the brink of death, or either of them being there in the first place. Valjean, not wanting her to know about his rescue of the boy, told her he had seen him being carried away by none other than Javert on his morning walk, and that the boy had mumbled Cosette's name. Valjean, recognising him as the young man they had frequently encountered on their walks, had asked for his address and was planning to visit him this afternoon.
Cosette, shocked into silence at the tale, jumped out of her chair when it was over and declared: "Let us go at once, then."
Incapable of denying her anything — Javert because he was still stricken by the realisation that she had accepted him back in her life as if he had never gone, and Valjean because he had never been able to say no to her before — they decided to visit Marius immediately.
Monsieur Gillenormand, upon realising the girl on his doorstep was the one his grandson had been speaking about before he had been grievously wounded, and the only thing ever since, welcomed them with a smile brighter than the sun and ushered them all into his living room before they had even finished introducing themselves.
Javert was recognised as the police man who had delivered the boy home, and was showered with endless gratitude and offerings of riches beyond imagination. The Inspector uncomfortably shrugged off any praises and rewards, every now and then allowing himself to glare at Valjean who was still refusing to take any credit for the rescue.
Cosette, being told by the doctor that Marius was far too weak to be excited at the moment, was not allowed to meet him, but that did not deter her in any way; realising that she could not be with Marius for the moment, she decided that she might as well help him as best as she could while they were apart and set out to make as many bandages as she was capable of, day and night, until she was too exhausted to continue and fell into a happy slumber.
Marius recovered slowly, but when he did, his first words to his grandfather were "If you don't let me see Cosette, I swear I will walk out of here right now and never return."
Monsieur Gillenormand, himself smitten with the girl, laughed and told him everything; her father, who dropped by to deliver the bandages the girl had made every day; the police man who had brought Marius home and who appeared to be a close family friend; the impending wedding Monsieur Gillenormand himself had decided on, whether Marius liked it or not…
Marius, too shocked to speak, only recovered when Cosette was finally allowed in and told him everything herself. He had been convinced of having seen both Monsieur Fauchelevent and Javert at the barricades, but neither of them mentioned any such occurrence, and Marius shrugged it off as something his feverish brain had fabricated; he had doubtlessly noticed Javert carrying him home — and perhaps heard the voice of Cosette's father when he encountered the police man — and created an illusion in his mind.
It mattered not.
Cosette was with him, and he was happy. She visited every day, and when Marius had finally recovered enough for the wedding, he realised the past was of no importance. He still thanked Javert for the rescue profusely whenever the police man wasn't quick enough to avoid him, and Fauchelevent for allowing him to take his daughter's hand in marriage, and that was all the connection that remained of his life before Cosette.
The newlywed couple moved in with Marius' grandfather, who was at least as much in love with Cosette as his grandson, and offered Monsieur Fauchelevent a room with them, but he respectfully declined. Cosette alone knew the reason, but she remained silent; she had learnt a long time ago that not everything was meant to be shared with the world.
She was perfectly happy with seeing her parents at least once a week; Valjean, who took his usual walks in the direction of their house, daily, and Javert on the weekends, although Cosette did often happen to be in the neighbourhood when the Inspector was on one of his rounds, and, already being there, she joined him. Javert did not object; he resigned himself to squinting suspiciously at the girl whenever she appeared and smiling quietly to himself if she was not looking.
It was a good life.
Javert had decided to continue doing his duty; he could not imagine a life outside the police, hard as he tried, and even though he no longer agreed with the system as he used to, he was still at heart a police man. If he was a bit more kind towards beggars and prostitutes, and perhaps a bit harsher towards the rich and powerful… well, who was brave enough to tell him he was wrong?
Valjean had changed little about his habits; he still went on his usual walks, and if he accidentally ran into Javert and perhaps Cosette when he did… such was life. Coincidences happened all the time. What use was there to fight them?
Javert had officially moved into Cosette's old room, but anyone who might have happened by would have noticed that nothing about it had changed; it was still the domain of an adolescent girl, but who was there to be suspicious? Toussaint had moved out to work for Cosette, leaving Valjean and Javert alone in the rooms in the Rue de l'Homme-Armé.
Marius had found it odd at first that the Inspector was living with Monsieur Fauchelevent, but his wife assured him that they had been lifelong friends, and that Javert struggled with paying for his rent. Marius, knowing about both Fauchelevent's kind heart and the notoriously bad payment of police officers, was content with that explanation and asked no further questions. When Cosette told him Javert had often entertained her in her youth, he also shrugged off his wife's strong attachment to the police man and her insistence on inviting him whenever possible.
"Besides," she always said, "you know how uncomfortable papa is on his own. It will be much more pleasant for him if Javert is there to keep him company."
Thus were their lives. Summers came and went, and it was only when they were holding their second grandchild in their hands that Valjean finally broke down in tears and croaked: "You did this. Without you, I would be dead."
Javert, caught by surprise, took the sleeping baby out of his partner's arms and laid it down gently in the crib before he carefully approached Valjean and embraced him gently from behind, murmuring: "I did nothing; it was all you."
"No," he vehemently shook his head and turned to face Javert, "no, it was you. I could never have continued without you— I would never have gotten so far! I would not have raised Cosette, I would not have known how to love, and I would never have been here to see her children grow!"
"You are being dramatic," Javert said gently and pulled the other's head down to rest on his shoulder. "You would be fine without me. And you would never have not raised Cosette; don't be ridiculous."
"If you hadn't helped me get her…" Valjean said, his shaking voice muffled by his position.
"You would have found a way," Javert assured him and carefully stroked the other's hair. "Besides, haven't I told you not to worry about what might have been? No good can come of it. We cannot change who we are, and we are stuck with the lives we have now. Why must you always ponder on what-ifs? It is exasperating."
Valjean chuckled through his sobs and, raising his head to wipe his cheeks, said: "Oh, if you weren't here to lecture me… I wonder what my life would be without you."
"Tragic," Javert snorted, grimacing at the sound of the crying baby that had awoken behind him, "just tragic. But infinitely quieter."
He hurried towards the wailing sounds and desperately tried to calm the child. Valjean looked after him, a contemplative look on his face, and stood motionless for a long moment. Eventually, he nodded slowly and said: "Yes, I would expect so; I doubt I would prefer it."
So this is it. Roughly 3 months later, and here we are. It has been a fun ride, I can say that much. All my love and thanks to my readers; you are my crew and my motivation. Well /
I am terrible at goodbyes, which would explain the crappy ending, so this isn't goodbye; it's simply the next step in the story.
As a sort of "thank you" to my readers, I have decided to do this:br /
Everyone who has ever commented on this fic (including this chapter) can drop me a prompt. The only requirement is that it fits into the story. Consider it /
So what does that mean? Well, if there is anything you want to see done, like pre-Toulon, Toulon, M-sur-M, raising Cosette, Paris, after the end… any point before, during or after the story, tell me. It needs to make sense for this story (so no supernatural stuff, Modern AUs…) and integrate into it. Other than that, everything's fair game (I will try my best, no matter what it is, but I don't make any promises on quality *chrm* porn *chrm*).br /
As a bonus-bonus, everyone who has commented on every single chapter (or at least most of them) gets to request 2-3 prompts. Just order them according to preference so I know which one to tackle /
Prompts will be filled on a first come, first serve basis and/or how and when the motivation strikes /
To request something, put it in a comment below or message me on tumblr (same name as here), but tell me what your name on here is because I won't be answering prompts for people who didn't comment. I will check. I am determined to reward my crew, not distribute free candy.
Anything else? Idk. If anything's unclear, just ask, I will answer any and all questions. I will be posting the filled prompts as a separate story in the A World of Kindness-Series on Ao3, so watch that /
So, to close: thank you. If every writer gets the readers they deserve, I should actually be in for a Pulitzer because you guys are amazing and I have never met fans I liked better than you.