Marius ducked a bit as he slipped through the loose bar of the gate which locked Cosette's garden away from the rest of Paris. As soon as he was through, he replaced the bar, taking care not to make any noise. Even though this movement was routine, in the very back of his cloudy mind, he fretted he would misstep, make too loud a sound, and Cosette's father would come investigate.
After all, he was meeting Cosette without her father's consent, which wasn't at all appropriate. But the thought of being without Cosette made his heart nearly stop, and he couldn't have something trivial like her father's disapproval risk his precious moments with her. Of course, that wasn't trivial at all, it was everything. But in Marius's frame of mind during the May of 1832, reason and propriety didn't exist.
Marius turned from the gate and quickly scanned the garden for a sign of his love. The night was glorious. The moon was full, illuminating the garden with it's alien beams. Despite the fierce glow, stars speckled the sky, brighter than diamonds. Marius with his searching perceived Cosette was not in sight, and he swiftly pulled out his watch. It was ten o'clock on the dot, and she was usually waiting for him. For a moment, Marius panicked, the dreamy fog he had been submersed in for the passed month wavered with the appearance of worry. Had her father discovered they had been meeting? Was she locked in her room now? He whirled around to stare at the house, where not a single light was in sight. Surely, she couldn't have forgotten him. Marius took a few strides toward the back door of the home, stopping before the stone bench where Cosette was usually awaiting his arrival. He sat down, shaking. He sighed, trying to relax. Marius Pontmercy was one to over-think. Dozens of worst case scenarios could fly through his mind at any one moment of slight distress. It was a rather exhausting existence.
She'd be out in a moment. Just wait.
Suddenly, Marius heard a soft rustling from the corner of the yard, and he anxiously turned to see Cosette sitting up from the ground, looking at him questioningly, an easy smile on her flawless face.
"What are you doing all the way over there?" She asked lightly. Marius rose, smiling, relieved beyond belief to see her in her usual spirits, if not in her usual waiting place. He strode across the garden, and found Cosette sitting on a pale blue blanket upon the dewy grass. The moonlight illuminated her cascading blonde hair, making her glow. Her illuminant smile was so dazzling, Marius stopped breathing. He was a man possessed. Completely and utterly taken with every aspect of her being.
Cosette patted the empty space next to her on the blanket before gracefully laying down. Marius looked her questioningly, but carefully complied, placing himself next to her on the ground. Once situated, he slowly picked up her hand and kissed her knuckles gently.
"Why are we on the ground tonight, my love?" Marius asked quietly, lowering her hand from his lips.
"The stars." Cosette whispered back. "They're so beautiful tonight."
"Their beauty pales in comparison to you." Marius retorted in a dutiful valiant whisper. Cosette giggled, nudging him slightly, her hand still intertwined with his. "Oh hush."
"It's true!" He defended before falling silent.
The two lovers simply watched the stars gleam above them, needing not to say a word.
After a few moments a shooting star tore across the Paris sky; it's tail trailing behind, staining the sky with a pearlescent ribbon of light. Cosette gasped in wonder. "Make a wish!" She demanded fervently, rolling over closer to Marius and resting her head on his collarbone. Marius froze for a moment. She had never been quite so close, save for their one shared kiss. But he hadn't been thinking then. Not that he at all regretted it, Cosette's kiss lingered on his lips thereafter, her touch his most treasured possession.
She curled her fingers around the edge of his spring jacket, scooting closer until her body was pressed up against the side of his. He carefully brought his arm around her, his hand ever so gently above her waist. Against his ribcage, he could feel the warm softness of her stomach, her chest moving as she breathed along with the steady beating of her heart. She sighed contentedly, her breath sweeping across his chest, tickling his chin. The movement only made him more aware of her gentle curves that were against his form. Some reason broke through to Marius for a moment. Lying with a Cosette under the cover of darkness, (lying in the most innocent sense of the word) it wasn't proper. His dearest love shouldn't be so close to any man! He felt jealously for a quick moment before he recognized the ridiculousness of the thought. He couldn't be jealous of himself! He felt it his duty to preserve her virtue, as she was purer than any of God's angels. Despite his mind telling him to correct his position so close to her, he couldn't find the will to move. As if the stars had thrown him into a romantic spell, he allowed himself to lean down and kiss her temple softly. Cosette didn't say anything, but she wordlessly blushed against his chest.
Marius broke the silence.
"What did you wish for?" He inquired, with actual interest. Marius couldn't actually recall wishing on any star, even as a child. There was a lack of childhood enchantment in the Gillernormand household where he grew up, and any star-wishing would have been deemed frivolous or even ungodly in the eyes of Marius's grandfather.
Cosette giggled. "Oh Marius, you know that I can't tell you!"
He was taken aback for a quick second. "Why not?"
Cosette laughed again. "If I tell you my wish, it won't come true!"
This time, Marius laughed. "Forgive me. I'm not very versed in the ways of your magic stars. But may I confess my wish?"
"If you insist!" Cosette responded, flipping over on the blanket and propping herself up on her elbows to look at Marius, head in her hands.
He smiled brilliantly at her and her constant playfulness. He couldn't stop himself from reaching out to touch a tendril of her blonde curls.
"Well?" she raised expectantly. She closed her eyes in bliss when Marius touched the skin of her jaw gingerly with the back of his fingers.
"I wish…" He began, permitting himself another touch to her cheek, distracted by the smoothness of her skin. "I wish that I could remain with you forever. I wish to be your husband… we'll be married in the most beautiful church in Paris! You would be the loveliest bride the world has ever witnessed…" Marius began to speak his wishes faster as he became increasingly thrilled. Cosette watched him enthusiastically paint an image of utter happiness in her mind. He was looking at the starred sky, his eyes untamed and seeming to search the heavens for the future he hoped for desperately for. Cosette felt as if she was floating into the sky with all of his desires; images of a bright future filled with love, sending her into the cloudless atmosphere.
"And we would be surrounded with every kind of flower you could imagine, no, only your favorites-!"
Cosette perked up, sitting up more from the ground. "Roses?!" She interjected passionately, with a wide, childish smile. Marius turned his gaze to her, looking almost surprised at her choice, "Roses…" He echoed. Suddenly he sat up and took her into his arms without a thought, laughing with amazed joy, and she reacted with a chorus of giggles.
"Yes! Roses! Of course! Roses! All the roses you desire!" He vowed, kissing her head multiple times.
"Pink ones?" She asked him, laughing.
He snuggled his face into her hair, kissing her again and again. This was not normal behavior for the pair, and not at all suitable for an unmarried couple, but Cosette couldn't help herself. His harmlessly affectionate embrace was heaven. She let him continue his delightful assault.
"Pink ones, yellow ones, red ones, green ones, blue ones, I'll make you a rainbow of flowers!" Marius promised before growing quiet; his laugher fading but the look of faraway wonder still plain on his features as he looked at Cosette in his arms. Her face was to the heavens, still wrinkled in gleeful laughter. She felt his eyes on her, and she turned her head, blonde curls swinging.
She smiled dazzlingly at him, blushing at his intense stare but keeping her blue-moon eyes locked with his. Their faces were remarkably close, their breaths dancing in the small space that separated them.
"Are you going to kiss me, Marius?" Cosette asked bravely, blushing deeper still.
Marius didn't say a word. He brought his hand to her face and stroked her cheek as if she were rare porcelain. His touch moved to her jaw and chin then slid to her ear and beyond to her neck. Cosette began to tremble. She closed her eyes, the moonlight made her lids glow the faintest of blues. She anticipated the unearthly sensation of Marius's lips, willing them to hers.
Marius continued to find amazement in the angel before him. He watched and felt his hand touch her, yet she didn't seem real. An apparition, a mirage, his mind had conjured after seeing the impossibly beautiful girl in the Luxembourg Gardens. Marius saw the full, enticing shape of her faintly puckered lips and he wanted nothing more on this Earth to give in and kiss her, as he did once before this night. He felt his lips burn with her kiss already upon them. He leaned forward, so close he felt her sharp intake of breath at his imminence. He slowly and painfully pulled his lips from the path towards hers and provided one chaste kiss to her forehead, which quickly wrinkled in confusion. Marius smiled against her skin. As he pulled away, Cosette opened her eyes, questioning and disappointed. Cosette was not one to let things go.
"I don't understand, Marius. Do you want to kiss me?" She asked, feeling rejected.
Marius produced a tiny smile at her baseless fret. "More than anything, my love." He answered slowly, bringing her hand to the lips in question.
"I still do not understand. Why won't you then?" She questioned quietly, shifting closer to him.
He kissed her hand again. "I couldn't possibly…" he whispered back to her. His lips never leaving her skin.
"Marius I-" Cosette began, worry beginning to find it's way into her voice. Quickly and gently he put a finger to her lips, where his single kiss still lingered. He looked deep into her eyes before speaking again. "Euphrasie Fauchelevent," He began. Cosette jumped a bit at the romantic use of her birth name, which she had only told but once. On her own voice, the name her mother had given her was nothing but a mouthful she spoke with shame. But coming from Marius's lips, her name was an impossibly tender melody that touched the lost child in her soul.
"I vow to you on this night that the next kiss we share will be at our wedding." Marius swore. Cosette felt tears prick her eyes. She believed this man's vow to her. She believed him with every fiber of her being. It did not matter that their lips hadn't met tonight. She would have a lifetime with Marius, and of that she was certain. Cosette fell into her Marius's arms without a second thought.
Little were the captivated lovers aware that Marius Pontmercy would break his promise in the June of that same year. Despite all the stars in the night sky, no amount of wishing could wish away the world outside of the Rue Plumet.