She ran up to him when she caught sight of the red of his hunched shoulders in the dead of night. His crimson jacket gave hint of what was to come in the next few hours, when General Lamarque’s casket would traverse the city of Paris to commemorate his life as a great man of the people and the blood of the young men of Paris would boil into revolt.
Still, Éponine could not understand. She looked at his back as he dragged his feet in the direction of the Musain, and even if she could not see his face, she could tell his usual strength and enthusiasm was not there.
“Enjolras!” she called before she even knew what she was doing. The pain of seeing him like this, after everything they’ve done and everything they’ve become was too great to keep her silence.
The blond man she had come to hold so dear in her heart turned, and just as expected, there was such a deep weariness in his eyes that made him look so much older and yet so much younger than he truly was. There was the wisdom and exhaustion of a man twice his age in the eyes of a man who looked twice as young. The innocent fear and the mature resolution in his countenance highlighted the polarity of Enjolras’ character, and it was an amazing thing how she had come to understand the complexity of this man in such a short time and so completely.
“Good evening,” she greeted almost shyly, still not completely comfortable with opening her heart to this young man, even though she had done it numerous times before.
He did not reply, but the pain in his eyes as he found her spoke more than words ever could.
“We have not seen each other in a while.” The words came out of Éponine’s mouth on their own, and before she knew what they were, she was already speaking them. “Did you not miss me?”
He took a deep breath and found her dark brown eyes with his clear ones and she felt shivers down her spine as she always did whenever the blue steel of his gaze rested on her. “Of course I have. How could I not?” The longing in his voice was proof of the truth in his words, yet even so, he did not approach, nor say anything else.
Before, when they would meet, his hands would be so eager to touch her skin and his mouth would be so hungry for her own. The roaring fire that was Enjolras’ passion for her now seemed to have dwindled, not for lack of feelings between them, but for the deeper, darker emotions that dwelled deep within his soul and that shadowed everything else that made him what he was.
They loved each other, deeply, painfully, but even that was pushed aside in favor of duty and Patria.
“Please…” Éponine’s voice was ragged and raw in her ears, which seemed to fit with the stinging feeling in her eyes and the ache that tore her heart in two. “Please, don’t go. Stay with me. We can go somewhere together, be free on our own. We could be happy. Please Enjolras.”
Something flickered in his eyes for a moment, but it was gone just as quickly as it had appeared.
“I can’t.” His words were like daggers, and it seemed to pain him more to throw them than it did her to receive them. “I am sorry, but I cannot. I must go, and I must win. If I cannot do even something like this, then my life would have been a waste.”
“Am I a waste, Enjolras?”
These words seemed to spark something within him, and for a moment, the man she loved was in front of her again. “No! How could you even think something like that?” He took a step forward, but went no further than that. “You are the angel of my life, you know that. I may not be a perfect man, and I may do you wrong, but you must never doubt my love for you. Never.”
“Then why do you break my heart so?” Tears were threatening to fall, but Éponine fought them back with strength she did not even know she possessed anymore. “Why do you go to your death and leave me alone?”
“Because it must be done.” The resolution and firmness had returned to his face, and while she could still feel the regret coming from him in her bones, she realized he could not be swayed.
“I cannot promise you to return, ‘Ponine, nor can I even promise to win, but I swore on God’s name and my own that I would fight with all my might for what I believe to be righteous and true, and I will not break my oath.” He took one more breath and inclined his head. “I pray you will not hate me, and I also pray you will not forget me should we not see each other again.”
“Please, go find safety and stay out of the streets.” His jaw was so tight, his lips barely moved as he spoke, yet his words were still clear and rung in her ears louder than the bells of Notre Dame. “I love you, Éponine, with all my heart. I am sorry.”
And as she watched his back as he left and disappeared into the night’s darkness, Éponine found her own resolution.
If she could not stop him, then she would join him.
Happy Birthday Melody!