A ghost fic! :D Enjoy!
(note: LeBlanc is what Courfeyrac calls Valjean.)
"Who cares about your lonely soul? We strive towards a larger goal; our little lives don't count at all."
~Red and Black
Courfeyrac rose and could only stare.
The clamor that had been around him seemed to be halfway returning from a muffling silence. Shouts became gradually clearer, and Courfeyrac watched as a bald young man screamed his name and tried to scramble over the mess of the battle to reach his dead body.
The thought never really crossed Courfeyrac's mind that he was dead- at least, he never put it into words then, but the fact that he was looking down at himself hatless and lifeless proved enough.
He looked around, hoping at least to see others who had gone before him, but all were either shells of bodies or still alive. Weren't people supposed to go somewhere when they died? Courfeyrac had always assumed so, and it seemed that all the others who had died had gone. Had Courfeyrac been left behind? Why?
Another person caught his eye, and startled him, standing over his identical image. "Courfeyrac?"
Courfeyrac hurried over, and his heart rate would have increased had it not been already stopped. He didn't know why his voice broke. "Bossuet?"
His friend's face shone with that familiar smile. "I don't see why you're so upset, seeing as you are in the same position as I am." He turned his head, and his smile grew sad. "I'm staying for Joly. And you?"
Courfeyrac's head spun. He'd remained for another person's sake? A friend? Which friend? "I don't know."
"I'm sure you will figure it out." Bossuet bit his lip. "There's not much chance anymore of winning- we'll all be gone soon enough." It was a bitter truth, made worse somehow by Bossuet's lack of his usual optimism. He had always greeted death as an old friend.
"How do you expect to help?" Courfeyrac needed the answer- how was it Bossuet knew and he did not?
His friend shrugged, as if it were simple. "Be there until the end." He moved away with a final smile and a nod of his head- "Until we meet again, mon ami."
Not knowing which friend in particular he was supposed to stay with, Courfeyrac wandered to them all.
He helped Combeferre to his feet, trying not to look at the wounds that had killed him or the other man whose soul had vanished upon dying, and listened, a little painfully, as Combeferre explained that he was still to be the guide of Enjolras.
Courfeyrac knelt by the sides of strangers, courageous strangers, all of which stood thanking him, none lingering long.
He came at length again to where Bossuet had remained almost immediately since his death. Joly didn't move. Bossuet's expression was more distraught than Courfeyrac had ever seen him, and he whispered as Courfeyrac drew near, "He's hurting."
"Not long now?" Oh, Jolllly.
And it wasn't.
Both Joly and Bossuet left soon after. It was only when Courfeyrac stood again that he saw Feuilly was gone too. No chance to say goodbye.
They were nearly all dead when the time came for the last effort. Courfeyrac stood beside Combeferre, and they watched Enjolras shouting, calling for every man to get inside.
Almost every living man did.
Was it chance that turned Courfeyrac's head at that moment?
He saw Marius fall. No spirit left Marius's body- he was alive.
Courfeyrac left the others to their battle; it was his no longer.
With no idea how, Courfeyrac realized in that instant that he had been left to help Marius.
Courfeyrac followed Monsieur LeBlanc, unsure of how the old man hoped to get Marius away from the barricade unnoticed. (Far off he heard silence fall inside Corinthe, and his heart cried Enjolras, but he couldn't dwell on that now.) Marius lay as if dead, and Courfeyrac clenched his fists in growing fear. His thoughts burned in his mind- I should have known sooner. What sort of friend forgets another?
The white-haired man lifted a cover from the pavement, and suddenly Courfeyrac realized his intentions. "You cannot be serious!" he exclaimed, forgetting that no one was able to hear him. "He will die from the sewers, wounded as he is. You can't!"
But there was no other way, and when Marius was carried into the filthy darkness, Courfeyrac had no choice but to follow.
The sewers didn't bother Courfeyrac much- he supposed, being dead, nothing physical ever would- but that was not to say nothing bothered him. On the contrary.
Every time LeBlanc stumbled, every time one of Marius's wounds opened again and bled into the mire, every time Courfeyrac reached out to help and his hand couldn't touch his friend, the uselessness of it all was freshly pounded into him, and it was all he could do to keep whispering encouragement that went unheard. You will live. You are going to live.
When the old man and his burden sank deep into the quicksand of sewage, anxiety nearly killed Courfeyrac all over again.
But they made it.
Courfeyrac fell to his knees and made sure Marius was still breathing, while LeBlanc fell to his knees in prayer.
They were trapped, and a leering man appeared from the dimness and offered a key in exchange for money. Courfeyrac cringed when the stranger called Marius a corpse.
LeBlanc pulled coins from his own pocket- he didn't take anything from Marius- and gave them to the man, who seemed to turn up his nose but accepted them all the same.
And they were free, but the welcome relief was immediately dampened.
Courfeyrac's shock was indescribable. The spy? He should be dead!
LeBlanc knew him, it seemed, though it was plain the two were not friends. The old man asked the spy to help him take Marius home.
Marius has a home?
To bring him to his grandfather.
Marius has a grandfather? What else do I not know?
And the spy agreed, somewhat reluctantly, calling on a cab to take them to the address. (He, too, thought Marius as good as dead.) Courfeyrac slipped into the carriage as the door closed, reminded suddenly of the day he'd met Marius.
"There's a sort of history attached to it, and I don't know where to go."
"Come to my place, sir."
Courfeyrac stood, as there was no room to sit down, but strangely, he didn't seem to take up any space.
They arrived, the spy telling a frightened servant the barest form of the story- "His son is brought back. He went to the barricades, and now he is dead." No, thought Courfeyrac. I have not come this far to see him die.
It was quite a large house, but Courfeyrac had no desire at the moment to look around. A light was brought, and Courfeyrac's chest tightened in fear at the sheer amount of blood.
The wounds were terrible. A doctor was sent for at once, and years seemed to pass before he arrived. He set to work immediately, anxiously, cleaning and dressing the injuries, murmuring to himself all the while.
From listening and watching (it was awful to watch; he'd never been able to look at things like this for long, not like Combeferre and Joly could, but he owed it to Marius to watch), Courfeyrac gathered that Marius's broken collarbone was the most severe, although the bleeding cuts on his head worried the doctor as well.
Marius did not wake up.
Courfeyrac lost track of the days, only seeing the danger his friend was in, itching to do something but having no idea how to help.
Marius spent his days in pain, his nights in agony, and in his fevered state he called, and no one but Courfeyrac was there to hear.
No one at all could answer him.
An idea arrived, on a night when Marius would not cease his repetition of one name. Courfeyrac listened, puzzled. Who is Cosette?
Was she the name Courfeyrac had begged Marius for dozens of times, that sacred topic he had never let slip? The cause of Marius's absolute madness when he had first fallen in love?
Marius was healing slowly in body, but Courfeyrac worried that his mind was not well. He recalled how silent Marius had always been, how easily despair came upon him, how serious- how frightening- he had been in wanting his own death at the barricade.
Perhaps Cosette could help in a way Courfeyrac couldn't. But for all Courfeyrac knew, she had no idea Marius had even been hurt.
With a last look at his suffering friend, Courfeyrac made his decision.
"You need your girl, Marius. I'll come back soon."
The world carried on as always when Courfeyrac stepped outside. He didn't even need to open the door to exit the house, and despite his pressing worries, a grin stole onto his face.
It faltered when Courfeyrac realized two problems concerning what he was about to do. Firstly, he didn't know where to find this Cosette, and secondly, how would he manage to talk to her?
But he needed to do something besides endlessly waiting.
He walked for a while, admittedly not for the original purpose of searching for Cosette, but rather to clear his own mind. Courfeyrac sighed. He wasn't used to taking a stroll on his own; he'd always had a friend or two to talk to before as he went.
It wasn't possible now, and Courfeyrac felt suddenly lonely.
And then someone called out to him.
He didn't believe at first that someone would actually be addressing him- no one had since the barricade- and at first Courfeyrac paid no attention, assuming the cries of "Citizen!" were meant for another.
"Monsieur Courfeyrac!" the voice demanded, and Courfeyrac stopped dead.
A small being caught up to him, snatched his coat from behind, and laughed. "Have you no ears, citizen? Gone deaf from the gunfire?"
Courfeyrac was too startled that someone had physically touched him that he didn't say anything. The boy continued his talking animatedly. "I could 'ave picked your pocket, and you'd never know! I'd've thought you'd be a little more vigilant."
Courfeyrac managed at last to get words out of his open mouth. "Gavroche?"
"Of course. Where are you off to?"
"Why are you here?"
"Why are you here?" Gavroche didn't wait for an answer before answering the question Courfeyrac had asked, motioning in the direction he had come from. "I've got two babes to look after." As if it was obvious. Courfeyrac looked, and indeed saw two young children hurrying towards them. Apparently, Gavroche had left them behind to run after Courfeyrac, but now they were catching up.
Courfeyrac laughed in spite of himself. "Where did you get children?"
"Saved 'em from a devilish barber," said Gavroche, waving for the children to move faster, which they did. Breathless, they turned their heads to look up at Courfeyrac, not without a little timidity. Courfeyrac realized they could see him, and that too shocked him.
These two children could see Courfeyrac. Why could Marius not?
Gavroche introduced them- "This is Monsieur Courfeyrac, from the barricade I told you about."
The eldest, who couldn't have been over eight, dared to ask, "Is he… is he dead too?"
Gavroche shrugged. "I should say so, but it don't matter much."
"Are they your brothers, Gavroche?" Courfeyrac asked.
"With one another, yes. With me, they ain't. What put that idea into your head?"
"They look very much like you."
"Ah." Gavroche changed the subject. "So, citizen, state your business. Where are you going?"
"Do you remember Marius Pontmercy?" Gavroche nodded. Courfeyrac clenched and unclenched his fingers. It had been so long since he had had someone who was able to listen. "He is alive. He survived the barricade."
Gavroche's face broke into a smile. "Excellent. Are you looking for him, then?"
"I know where he is. I'm looking for someone else."
"Another of your Amis?"
"No. Marius has a girl."
"Mademoiselle Cosette?" said Gavroche knowingly. Courfeyrac opened his mouth and closed it again, letting a real smile onto his face. Of course Gavroche knew.
"I suppose you are familiar with her address as well?"
"Be serious, Gavroche!"
"You are headed in the wrong direction. I delivered a letter to the lady from the barricade, and I know where she lives."
"Then tell me."
"I can take you there. We'd like an adventure, wouldn't we, young'uns?" Gavroche grinned at the two younger boys. The smallest one nodded immediately with a soft "yes, sir", but Courfeyrac shook his head.
"It would be best if I went alone, I think." A frown from the littlest child. Courfeyrac smiled. "She will not be expecting a party of gamins, you know."
"She won't be expecting you." Gavroche's eyes twinkled.
Courfeyrac sighed. "I will pay you for the address."
"Money ain't of use to me anymore."
"For your children?" Gavroche stopped.
Courfeyrac continued, "I had a place, Rue de la Verrerie, No. 16. If it is not completely ransacked by now, you three are welcome to whatever you find."
The little ones began to smile, and Gavroche frowned, then nodded, holding out his hand. "A good bargain, citizen." Courfeyrac laughed as he shook the child's hand, holding on perhaps longer than necessary. (Who knew if he would ever be able to touch another person again?)
Gavroche tipped his head forwards in the manner of a polite gentleman as he began to lead his two children away.
"Good day to you, Citizen Courfeyrac. You shall find Lady Cosette at the Rue de L'Homme Arme, Number 7."
Cosette sat alone in her bedchamber, her eyes red with weeping and her fingers red with the endless preparation of bandages.
A rustle came from behind her, and she started, her work falling from her hands. A young man stood in the middle of her room, black curls framing his face, a soft smile turning up his mouth and brightening his eyes.
Cosette opened her mouth to speak and could not. The stranger seemed to be restraining laughter, and he bowed to her as if she were a queen.
"Forgive my intrusion, mademoiselle. I wasn't sure whether you would notice."
Cosette found a little of her voice, although she was still shaken. Not trusting herself to be able to call for her father, she asked in a frightened whisper, "Who are you?" It was by no means her only question, but at present it was the one to which she most desired an answer.
He stepped a little closer, and Cosette's fingers wound themselves more tightly into the skirt of her dress. "My name is Courfeyrac. I've come because I know a person whose happiness, and quite possibly health, depends upon you." He looked at her as if she had been formally introduced to him. "It was wretchedly difficult to find you, you know. Marius never even mentioned you to me by name."
And suddenly Cosette remembered where she had heard that name before. "Monsieur Courfeyrac," she stammered. "I- I sent a letter for Marius to your address."
He looked confused for half a moment, as if he hadn't known about the letter, but then his smile grew and he nodded.
Cosette hesitated. "You have seen Marius, then? Is he well? Was he very badly hurt? What my father tells me is next to nothing, and I've been too afraid to ask."
Courfeyrac took a deep breath before answering. "Yes, he was badly hurt, but nigh fully recovered now."
"What troubles you then, Monsieur Courfeyrac?"
Courfeyrac's fingers dug into his palms. "He believes he is alone."
"But he is not!" Cosette looked up at her unexpected guest in disbelief. "Does he not know what agony I have suffered these long months without seeing him?" A thought occurred to her suddenly. "Does he not have you, sir? You have been to see him, have you not?"
"Certainly, Mademoiselle, I have seen him." He paused, as if the words were painful. "But he has not seen me."
Again her voice was barely a whisper. "What do you mean?"
Courfeyrac came to her and reached to place his hand on her shoulder. Cosette felt a sudden chill… and never felt his hand. She was glad that she was already sitting down. "You are dead."
He cast his eyes down as if he were embarrassed. "I am."
He shook his head. "I was killed at the barricade. We all were. All but Marius."
All but Marius. She didn't quite know what to say. "I'm sorry."
Courfeyrac fixed his eyes on her. "You must come to see him soon. He needs you."
Tears grew in her eyes as she nodded. "I will."
He straightened. "Well, Mademoiselle Cosette, it was a pleasure to meet you at last, though I apologize for the circumstances. I am pleased to find that Marius did not exaggerate your beauty." His eyes shone again with the smile that seemed to be his most natural expression.
"You are leaving?" He looked apologetic.
"Perhaps we shall meet again presently? I shall be waiting with Marius for you."
"But shall I see you?" Cosette tried to memorize the features of Marius's friend- why? So that she could tell him? Would he believe her? Would it sadden him that she had seen Courfeyrac and he had not?
Cosette blinked and Courfeyrac was gone, so suddenly the girl wondered if his visit had only been a trick of her imagination.
Days later, Cosette's heart pounded within her in fear and excitement as she waited in the hall of the Gillenormand home.
Oh, to see Marius again!
The few minutes flew by like half a second, and then Cosette forgot everything else as she grasped his hand once more, whispering anything and everything into his ear, pouring out months of her worry, her frustrations, her love, and hearing again his gentle voice breaking as he murmured to her a hundred times over, "Cosette, my angel, I adore you!"
They were aware of the many adult pairs of eyes that were watching, and minutes passed in which the two young hearts cared not who saw. Eventually, however, the older folk finally came to understand that Marius and Cosette would rather be left alone.
The door to the room closed. There was a brief silence in which they simply looked at one another, each taking in the other's face and reading the other's eyes.
And then Cosette caught a glimpse of another person in the room. She couldn't hold back a small gasp, and from behind Marius's bed came the sound of Courfeyrac's laughter.
Marius turned around so quickly his healing collarbone was in danger of becoming dislocated again.
For a moment no one spoke. Courfeyrac's eyes teased. "I'll leave you two alone now. Carry on."
Marius seemed to unfreeze. "Wait!"
Courfeyrac chuckled. "And now you see, at long last. It has been too long, Marius."
"Ever since you fell I've been with you. Well, I did leave for a little while, to fetch your Cosette, and very glad I am to have done so."
Marius looked at Cosette, his expression a mix of so many that it was hard to read. "You have seen him?"
Cosette took his hand and answered softly, "He came to me days ago. He told me how you were. I thought it was a dream."
Marius put his head in his hands, then looked back to Courfeyrac. "But… you are dead."
"That is correct."
Marius seemed to have lost the ability to breathe. "And- the others, Courfeyrac? Are they all dead?"
"Sadly, yes, though I have not seen them yet."
Courfeyrac reached out a hand, then remembered and pulled it back. "I could not leave you until you were well, or until you died. It was to be hoped you would not die for many decades yet, but there was only one who could make you really well, and as you see, I have found her."
Marius trembled. "And now you will go?"
Courfeyrac swallowed. "Mon ami, I have to."
Cosette spoke up, as Marius was no longer able. "Shall we see you again, Monsieur?"
He grinned. "That depends on whether or not my friends and I will be invited to your wedding."
"Please come. Bring them all," Marius said.
And suddenly he was speaking to empty air.
They stood together in the night, their feet among the flowers, their souls among the stars. Cosette leaned against her husband's shoulder and sighed in pure contentment. He held her close, more like his former self than he had been since he had come home from the barricade.
Suddenly, she gasped. "Marius!"
And then the garden became a very overcrowded place.
A large group surrounded Marius, all talking at once so that the voices seemed to flood everywhere. Cosette wondered how it was possible that no one else would hear. She pressed Marius's hand more tightly for fear of being swept away by the many ghosts that had arrived.
"Well, Marius," she said playfully, "are you going to introduce me?" He seemed to shake away the emotions that he was clearly struggling with and found a smile for her sake.
"Of course he will," came a familiar voice, and Cosette smiled at the sight of Courfeyrac's curly hair bouncing as he couldn't keep still.
It took a long time, but Marius brought her to each of his friends in turn, and Cosette met them all.
Loud, friendly Bahorel and quiet Prouvaire ("Call me Jehan", he insisted, blushing), polite and happy Joly, laughing Bossuet, gentle Combeferre, kind and sensible Feuilly, sarcastic Grantaire, and proud, handsome Enjolras. Old Father Mabeuf, whom Cosette loved instantly.
None of them seemed at all dead.
And then they came to a group of four people who immediately resembled a family: a girl about Cosette's age and three young boys.
The girl waited as Marius tried to find words. "Cosette, this is Eponine."
'Ponine? Cosette smiled in greeting, but her mind was desperately thinking. I know her.
Perhaps her confusion was plain on her face, for Eponine laughed a little. "I know you, Cosette, and you know me. You remember when we were children?"
Cosette gasped. "You and 'Zelma- your doll-" (A stupid thing to say, perhaps, but that was the detail that first returned to Cosette's mind.) A look passed between the two girls, a look that shared the agreement I've forgiven you. Don't tell Marius. Marius looked slightly confused.
"And are these your brothers?" Cosette said, hastily changing the subject. Eponine nodded.
"No, we ain't!" said the eldest boy in surprise. "'Ponine, these two brats-"
"They're our brothers, Gavroche," Eponine laughed, delighting in the shock on the boy's face. "Mama got rid of them when they were small."
For once, the boy called Gavroche was speechless.
Whether minutes passed or hours, Cosette could not tell, but the time came at last for the visitors to go.
While Marius bid many farewells to his friends, little Gavroche, with the two boys trailing behind him as always, came to Cosette.
He seemed to be hesitant, scratching his neck as he shuffled. "We're leaving, those of us who've died."
"Yes," said Cosette, wondering what else was to follow that statement.
"And they can't come with me, you know."
"Your brothers? Why not?"
Gavroche stared at her. "Why, Madame, they ain't dead."
Cosette inhaled sharply. Oh. She'd simply assumed…
Gavroche continued, "I thought per'aps you and Marius could take care of 'em, seeing as I can't keep 'em forever, and they ain't really made for the streets."
Cosette was stunned- married for only a few hours, and already two children? Yet, as she looked at them, refusal never even crossed her mind. She held out her hands to the children.
The youngest one was crying, "Gavroche!"
Gavroche had a strange expression on his face as he spoke to the little boys. "Listen. This lady's your mama now."
"Why?" asked the elder child.
"Because I have to go, and I shan't come back for a long time."
"Stay," pleaded the small boy. "Stay, please?"
Gavroche ran his fingers through the little one's hair. "Can't. Behave yourselves, hey? No crying."
Cosette felt her heart swell inside her as a small hand wrapped itself in hers and a quiet voice tried out the word, "Mama?"
She bent to kiss the child's head. "Yes."
A soft breeze arose, and the two children pressed into Cosette's dress as their brother vanished and the garden became quiet once more.
Marius came to Cosette, his tears dried, and took her by the hand, inclining his head to the children with a puzzled look. "Cosette-"
"They are ours now, Marius. They haven't anyone else."
"The things people will say!" But she saw in his eyes that he would consent.
She laughed. "Let them say. I know my father will not object, and you know perfectly well your grandfather will agree to whatever you wish."
Marius laughed softly. "That is true."
Cosette laid her hands on the shoulders of the boys. "Children, this is your father."
Courfeyrac had lingered a little behind the rest as they departed.
A/N: Please, please let me know what you think! Reviews are the most amazing things ever! :)
Now that you've finished this, check out "A Ghost, You Say?" by civilizedrevolutionary. (Another ghost fic, loads better than mine hehe.)
Thanks for reading!