They remember their past together.
Chapter 2 - We Were Children Together
Eponine found Marius in his room, grabbing his guns out of his trunk with annoyance written all over his face. She couldn't help the soft smile that crossed her lips as she watched him for a moment in silence.
"Marius, why are you living like this? I know your grandfather has money. You could have a better life. Why do you stay?" She said the last part sadly, knowing that would mean she wouldn't be seeing him every day. When she was younger, her family had some money from owning the inn, but now they are just as poor as the majority of society. The only thing Eponine had left was her horse, Bellamy, whom she truly cherished. Most days, Eponine walked around the streets in order to avoid having to take part in her father's thieving schemes or putting up with Montparnasse, a snake of a young man who always tried to sneak a peek in her dress.
"'Ponine," Marius used her nickname he gave her years ago as he stood and turned to face her, "I refuse to take anything I do not work for. If I did not earn it, why should it be mine?" Eponine's smile widened as she kept staring at him. "Besides, everyone I care about is right here. Enjolras, my friends from school...and you're always here to keep a smile on my face. Always teasing me about something or other."
"I've never thought of it that way," she replied quietly as he walked towards her and put a hand on her shoulder. With another smile, he moved past her and down the stairs, and she frowned at his back. "You don't even see..." she whispered so he couldn't hear her before following him outside into the sunny afternoon. She plastered a smile on her face and was about to tease him some more; however, his attention was solely on one person across the street, and Eponine moved towards him to take a closer look. It was a young woman with blonde hair tucked away in a bonnet, giving money to beggars with their dirty palms outstretched towards her. Eponine froze as she saw the look of pure love on Marius' face. He was falling in love with this stranger right in front of her. And the young woman was looking back at him with a growing smile of love on her own beautiful face.
Eponine's gaze fell to the ground, and she shook her head and closed her eyes tight against the restricting pain rising in her chest. She couldn't breathe, and she grabbed the nearest wall for support, willing the dizzy spell to pass. When she reopened her eyes, Montparnasse was standing in front of her with his usual condescending smirk. She glared at him, not wanting to deal with his taunting while her heart was being ripped to pieces.
"Your father is looking for ya," he sneered as he leaned towards her menacingly. She took a step back, her eyes narrowing as she kept him at a cautious distance.
"I'll be there in a moment," she replied crankily as she stole another look at Marius, who was ogling at the gorgeous blonde across the square. Montparnasse apparently did not like her answer, for he took a rough hold of her arm and forced her to walk alongside him to where her family was standing. She huffed in indignation but went along with him, knowing better than to fight it.
"Give it up," the young man whispered cruelly in her ear. "That Marius boy will never love you. You'll always be the little poor friend in his eyes." Instead of being angry or lashing out at him, she remained silent with tears stinging her eyes. Tightening her jaw, she held it in and looked away from him, simply shoving him away weakly and focusing her attention on her father. She felt like she was either about to faint or get sick, and she inwardly cursed Montparnasse for being right. Marius looked at her like a friend or a little sister and nothing more.
"Eponine, Montparnasse...take watch. This should be quick and easy money," Monsieur Thenardier was telling them before he disappeared into a tent-like structure. She stood away from the slimy young man who worked for her parents and glanced around her warily. As she did, her eyes caught on another handsome young man standing in the doorway of the ABC Cafe. And he was staring right back at her with a mixture of confusion and fascination. Enjolras. After a moment of quiet staring between them, she broke eye contact and glanced down at her feet, unsure of where the sudden nervousness and butterflies came from. Sure, her heart raced for that young man at one point in time years ago, but those feelings were long gone. That's what she repeatedly told herself daily after she realized he had forgotten about her until she finally believed it. He was too busy leading a revolution now to think about her, and she convinced herself that he deserved better anyway.
When she found the strength to look back up, she saw the feared Inspector Javert heading their way, and fast. She pulled open the tent and warned her parents that he was coming. She ducked back out of the tent and hid behind a wall, watching as Javert began to question everyone involved. The man her parents were trying to steal from grabbed the hand of the beautiful blonde from before and ran past. He called her by the name "Cosette," and Eponine froze.
"Cosette?" she asked almost inaudibly after they had vanished around a corner. So that was the blonde beauty who had Marius so enamored? Eponine hadn't seen her in many years, ever since they were children. And now it looks as though their roles in society had changed. A hand on her shoulder softly shook her out of her reverie. Shaking her head, she looked up into Marius' dazed face.
"Who was she?" he began. Eponine knew exactly who he was talking about.
"Why are you so excited? She's just another spoiled rich girl, probably. I don't know what you see in her," she replied bitterly, not wanting to tell him who she really was.
"'Ponine, find her. Please. I'll give you anything," he said as he tried to fish around his pocket for money. This angered her, and Eponine turned quickly to leave him with his fantasies. He took her arm in his hand, and she stopped for a moment to look back at him, her heart breaking again. He began to plead with her, telling her that when she searched for the stranger not to be seen by her father, or anyone else, for that matter. And then he took off without another word, and she watched him go before exhaling deeply and running a hand through her hair. Why didn't she run when she had the chance, before she agreed to help him find this love at first sight?
Enjolras was watching the alluring young woman standing there in the square, her dark eyes constantly glancing around her as if checking for someone specific. He was still surprised that she knew who he was, but he still had yet to know her name. He was usually the first one to remember names and faces. And then she was looking at him, and he remained motionless in his spot in the doorway. He felt guilty at being caught looking at her, but he didn't know whether to look away and pretend it never happened or keep the eye contact. After a moment, she made the decision for him and broke it, her eyes going elsewhere. He let out the breath that he didn't even realize he was holding and then saw the police coming down the street. He shrunk back into the cafe and hid his face, glancing out discreetly. He found himself unable to make out what they were saying and frowned in frustration.
"Enjolras!" A male voice startled him, and he whipped his head around, only to find his good friend Combeferre blinking at him with a bemused expression.
"The police are gone. It was just a small fight with the Thenardiers and a wealthy man," the student patted his shoulder once and then cocked his head to one side. "Are you all right?"
"Yes. I'm fine," Enjolras answered as he straightened up and nodded stiffly, waiting until Combeferre had moved away to sigh and move back to the doorway just in time to see Marius talking to the brunette girl. She seemed to be angry at him, but then Marius told her something that clearly affected her. Enjolras saw her upset face staring after Marius while he walked away towards the cafe, and Enjolras' frown deepened to one of concern.
"Marius. The girl you were just speaking to? Who is she?" he inquired just as his friend walked into the cafe. The young man smiled at him in return and then back out at the street. The girl turned in the opposite direction and sped around a corner, seemingly on a mission.
"Eponine. We have been friends since childhood. Don't you remember?" Marius raised a brow at him, amused. "She's the one who accidentally almost trampled you with her horse when we were younger." Enjolras' expression slowly changed to recognition and something akin to laughter. Marius was slightly taken aback, as it was rare to see his normally stoic friend laugh these days.
"Yes! I remember her now. She seemed so carefree and happy. She apologized at least ten times before I could even get a word in." His mouth quirked in a half-smile before he realized what he was saying and doing. In a second, he had an unreadable stare back on his features as he gazed around him at his friends and followers who were all drinking and talking amongst each other. "A lot has changed since then. Happiness is a hard thing to come by these days," he recovered with a determined clear of his throat.
"That is true, especially for revolutionaries who long for a better France. However, I think that when you do find happiness, you should hold onto it with everything you've got, especially since the times have grown as dark as they have," Marius replied with a kind smile, clapping a hand on his friend's shoulder before heading to the keg of alcohol and leaving Enjolras alone with his many thoughts. Watching Marius pour himself a drink, he tried to organize his thoughts for his rallying speech at the Friends of ABC meeting that evening. Nonetheless, his indifferent appearance softened minute by minute as he envisioned a giggling girl sitting on a handsome grey horse and tossing her brown hair around.
"I'm so sor-" she began to say, but he put up a hand to stop her.
"You've already said that nine times," A fourteen year old Enjolras smiled calmly, even though his heart was pounding a mile a second.
"Can't I say it ten times?"
"Only if you want to sound annoying."
"Fair enough. I'm Eponine, and my horse is Bellamy," she introduced, putting out her hand to shake. He reached up and took it in his, liking how soft her hand was in his.
"Bonjour, Eponine. I'm Enjolras," he returned the favor, his gaze never leaving her face. She smiled right back at him gently, the dimples in her cheeks prominent. He was pleasantly caught off guard by them, thinking they were delightful and fit perfectly on her face.
"Are you sure you're all right?" she asked him worriedly, but he just laughed it off.
"Yes. I'm fine!" he told her truthfully, realizing their hands were still joined. They locked eyes again, both of their smiles widening.
Enjolras' face softened at the memory, remembering times when he was still untroubled and young. Eponine...he now knew exactly who she was. Why did it take him so long to remember her face, particularly when it was one of his favorite childhood memories? It worried him that he could easily forget such happy memories in his past because the unpleasant experiences of the present kept taking their place. Everyone believed him to be incapable of love, and perhaps they were right. He was beginning to forget what it felt like to care about people. He was beginning to become somewhat of a "marble statue," and it unnerved him.