Author's Note: A part of my general inspiration for this fic comes from an earlier fic of mine, "A Raven Fallen." Not quite intended as rewrite, this version reverses the roles, but maintains Eponine's perspective, and with the knowledge of what is to come is more of a burden than a gift.
What calls her presence to them isn't out of pure interest, no. Rather, it is part of her occupation.
She has been called and associated with many things; darkness, the Black Angel, a raven, the ruler of the Underworld, the Angel of Death…All are titles are associated with her and her "fellow" associates, those who carry out the same sentences as her, only in different places.
But this is her domain, her responsibility.
She sits in the corner of that upper room of the Café Musain, listening to these young men preach about a better future, a better tomorrow, for their fellow man, how the tragedies of 1789 and 1830 only paved the way for such a future that will one day come to light. Such hope in their eyes, for a reality they won't live to see.
It is what Fate has written, and it is what Death must see to happen.
Death will not weep. Death will not cry. She will only mourn, and briefly.
She has been through this many times before, seen revolutions rise and fall, seen war with fields of bloodshed. She likely saw some of the young men's grandfathers to the guillotines not even a handful of decades ago.
She does her damnedest not to scoff at those before her now. Were she a mortal herself, living such a way as her ragged clothes portrayed, she would see some logic in their arguments, while there were others that have her shaking her head, a fair portion of these men a few notches higher in the ranks than those they were desiring to help.
After all, there is only so much one can know without having to live through it.
The meeting ends as it draws closer to midnight. A handful of these men are going home to their wives and children, while the students that make up the majority are either going home to study or will be traversing the streets for a few more hours, either in search of drink or carnal pleasures. The few craftsmen will go home to little sleep before the responsibility of their professions call to them.
The sounds of the café soften as another mortal departs, until nothing is to be heard but the turning of pages and the shuffling of a single man's boots.
From her corner, she watches him sit down at one of the aged tables, going through a stack of tomes and taking notes. His deep-set, stone-blue eyes are narrowed in focus in the dim light, a few strands of blond hair coming free from their tie and falling in front of his face. One of the students, it goes without saying, not of the most wealthy families, but well-off where he hasn't had to face the struggles of surviving, his parents owning a print shop in their village south of Paris. The candlelight's flickers show off the chiseled, defined features of his face, while the dark circles under his eyes only disguise the years of turmoil he's borne witness to.
The Chief, he's sometimes referenced, other times Apollo, though the latter is more often attached to a sort of teasing the man brushes off a fair percentage of the time. More simply, and more properly among his fellow mortals, he is called Enjolras.
"Do you not have other places to be?" he asks her, not looking up from his work. "The weather is going cold."
"Not enough to kill as of yet," she answers from the shadows.
"Pontmercy was here tonight; I was expecting you would leave with him."
"No, as he was paying a visit elsewhere before heading home. Life has a hold on his heart, you know that well," she replies, keeping an even tone. She will not show him such weakness, despite how clear it is. After all, to admit to it, especially in her position, would only bring tragedy, as she's seen with a few of her associates throughout eternity. To give into it, how foolish it would be, how foolish it is! Her German counterpart has teased her for having allowed herself such a mortal emotion despite all she has done and the walls she has built, but oh, little does he know what Fate has planned for him in less than three decades…
"Indeed, but that has little bearing on your staying here."
She smirks. It's a shame she's permitted this one to know her so well. She'll admit, it was a moment of weakness in which she admitted her true self to him, but she knows him well enough he would not state her true form to anyone; he would probably look like a fool in the process, considered mad, which is perhaps another reason for his silence on the subject.
One thing she will deny, however, is having any affection towards this particular mortal, nor will she admit to the fact she'll miss him once his mortal light vanishes. She quite enjoys his company.
"I think you find yourself mistaken, monsieur," she says, walking towards the candlelight.
"Do I find myself mistaken that you still trouble yourself over him, the Baron, when you have more dire matters to attend to?" he responds sharply, saying 'Baron' as if it were a cursed word. "There must be something that requires your attendance."
"Not at the present."
His gaze flickers from the page to his notes. "Am I a form of amusement to you?"
"Depends on your definition of amusement." She leans down against the table, arms folded across the aged, wooden surface.
He pauses in his notetaking, then looks up, meeting her eyes. "You know well what is to happen. I do not, when or otherwise. Tell me, in earnest: are we nothing more than marionettes in your eyes? Is your only purpose here to steer us along towards Fate's plan? What is your purpose here?"
His words catch her off-guard, and before she forms a response, he continues.
"I can only think the worst of things with your lingering presence, and regardless of the weight of your role, I cannot remove the dark thought from within my mind that wherever Fate is meant for us to go, that it will result in disaster."
There is a trace of pleading in his eyes, a desperation holding that he will not voice, a vulnerability he will not admit to. He's right, more right than he knows, but she cannot tell him.
She looks away, no longer able to hold his gaze. It gives her away, it must have, and when she looks back towards him, there's pain in his eyes.
"You know I have no control over it." She reaches for his free hand, warm underneath her cold skin.
He doesn't pull away, and instead releases a shaking breath. "I am aware of that. Revolution does not succeed without a cost. Sacrifice is always a necessity."
But what you do not know is that it's more than your sacrifice, she keeps to herself. She curses inwardly, allowing herself to become attached to these few mortals. They are nothing but mere ants from her place in the universe, but from where she sits, there is a tightening in her chest at the knowledge of what is to come.
When the time arrives, she feels it's all too soon.
She follows them, her appearance once again a disguise to all around her, even if it's masculine clothing compared the ragged skirt and worn blouse she's shown herself in at the group's meetings. She assists in gathering materials and building what is to be their barricade, though in its completed form, appears as deadly as the attacks to come.
She occupies her time loading the carbines and muskets. The first attack is near in coming, she knows, as is the rain that will soak the gunpowder and spell a portion of their demise.
And there is nothing she can do. She has heard talks of moving said gunpowder inside the Musain, but no mortal has made a motion to do so. She would do so herself, but were she to meddle too much with the mortals, especially the avoidance of their disaster, she risked punishment at Fate's and Destiny's hands. The initial success of 1789…she blames herself for a majority and any bloodshed that followed.
Sixteen years…pushed this country back sixteen years… She curses inwardly.
She knows in the distance, somewhere, there are men in red and blue preparing to fight against who to them are nothing more than a nuisance and traitors. There's those among them who if it weren't for duty, they would be on this side. A blend of them will perish as well, but only twenty less than the rebelling side throughout Paris.
Much of this will be a waiting game, but compared to some of her previous involvements, it will be a short one.
The expectation remains more people will join them as the fight continues on. She hopes on it, for were that to happen, the outcome could shift, surely. But if there's one thing she knows of Fate, is that they would not lie to her, not change tapestries without her knowing. She can plead with every portion of her immortality to change the outcome of the fight, not have these innocent mortals suffer for the error she made decades ago, but their lives, to be taken soon, is among the last of the punishments Fate keeps in their grasp. To keep them from success is only the portion of that.
To watch the one she cares much for perish, and to be the one to remove his mortal light…She finds herself unprepared for the act, even if she is only pondering the thought.
The first attack comes upon the barricade not long after dusk. No man dies here, not yet. A few wounds requiring medical attention, yes, but for now, all will survive.
Pontmercy has the mind to take a barrel of gunpowder in the middle of the fight, unknowing of the musket pointed at him. Her eyes dart from him to the Guardsman, and she grasps the barrel of the musket and turns it away from him, but not in time for herself.
The sharp pain in her chest takes a moment to register, only noticing a burning sensation as the shock from the gunshot runs through her. One thing she has forgotten about the temporary mortal forms she takes is they do feel pain, and if it comes to it, bleed. The sticky, crimson liquid stains her shirt, and she hisses in pain as she makes her way to the base of the barricade to gather herself.
Here, is where she says her goodbyes to them, though it will only be a brief separation, as she will be the last thing they see before their souls depart this world. In Pontmercy's case, the separation will be longer. Life holds him tightly in her grasp, and Death has seen to it that she has him still for some time, but not without the scars from today.
A peculiar thing involving her mortal form is the sensation of dying. The weakness in her limbs, the struggle for breath, and for a moment, she wonders if mortals feel the same.
Pontmercy finds her after the gunfire ceases, and then, the rain begins to fall. He cradles her in his arms, murmuring words of comfort as she shivers and struggles to speak.
There are words she wants to tell him, ones she will not be able to say when he lays upon his deathbed decades from now, but time is not a friend to her, and her form goes limp.
She watches from the rooftop of the Musain in her unseen form, darkness falling upon the cobblestones. There's a heaviness in the air, not one brought from the rain, as the men rest for the night after a round of wine.
Enjolras leans against one of the buildings at the edge of the barricade, his form hidden by shadow amidst the flickering flames of torches, knees bent and form unsteady as if on the verge of collapse. He's crumbling from the weight of what is to come, she guesses, and she has the urge to go to him and murmur gentle words into his ear, but such words have no use to him.
He had had hopes of the people of France banding together, as they had done a few years earlier. And no one has come.
She removes herself from her perch, and glides down beside where he stands, out of sight from the others.
"I should have known," he says, almost inaudible. "I had hoped this would not come to disaster, and it appears that it will. No good ever comes when La Mort always looms."
Her gaze drifts to the stones at her feet.
"You have no control over it, I know that well. In honesty, tell me: does any man here survive this, or are we all meant to drown?"
She looks up, catching the fear and sense of dread in his expression, the light of hope fading. She swallows. "Many will fall, but not all."
He takes a deep, wavering breath.
"You hoped for better, monsieur, and I do not possess what is necessary to lie to you regarding this." She walks toward him, the tips of her fingers brushing his face. His red-rimmed eyes flicker to meet hers, shadows of sadness within them. "Please know, I do wish better for you."
Silence. Torchlight brings shadows to dance around them. Her hand rests upon his cheek, and there's a look in his eyes, longing, desperation, she wishes she could understand. A weight lingers in her chest, knowing it will be merely a few hours before the mortal before her ceases to exists, and she fights back the tears. She does not cry, she will not cry.
Life gets to possess, for a time, but for Death, she can only release; she cannot keep what she takes.
Then again, no one tried to stay.
She looks away, not willing to admit the harsh truth that causes the ache within her chest. Only, his hand, a warm, comforting touch beneath her chin, brings her back to meet his eyes, a pleading yet soft look within them.
And he draws her in closer. She leans into him, her eyes drifting close as she feels his breath upon her lips…
"No," she says, pulling away. "I can't; it's not your time, not yet."
The hurt is visible in his expression, and she pities him, feels a stab in her chest at this moment of vulnerability. The hold on her loosens, arms dropping to his sides. His gaze drifts towards the resting forms along the barricades, then releases another wavering breath. "After the reconnaissance, I will see to it some of the men leave. Prevent the waste of lives. I cannot ask all of them to leave, however; some will refuse."
Because they refuse to abandon you.
"I will not abandon this fight, I cannot." He turns back to face her. "Those who we are fighting for may have abandoned us, but will not abandon them. We will continue for those who will rise tomorrow, and hope that our deaths were not in vain for the world we longed to see."
Something she's always found peculiar in mortals: the ability to gather the strength and courage to fight, even when all seems lost, when there is no hope to found. It's snickering in the eyes of defeat, to continue on and acknowledge what unfortunate outcomes lay on the horizon, and look an Angel of Death is the eye, daring to strike them down without a fight, as if they were immortal themselves.
"They will one day rise, will they not?" he asks, a trace of doubt in his features.
She nods. "One day."
Dawn is drenched in blood and gunpowder.
And she's overwhelmed and powerless.
They fall, one by one, and as much as she desires to look away, her obligation does not provide her the option. Every scream, every pain-filled cry, and she must rise, repair the damage to the walls she had once surrounded herself. She has no option but to continue on.
She knows which bullets are meant for him. She has played it out in her mind hundreds of time, as Fate had said: one of the last living on the barricade, cornered and seemingly unafraid, on the wrong end of thirteen guns, but only twelve fire, and he's stricken by eight of them.
Death does not weep. Death does not cry. She can mourn, if only briefly.
She wants to avoid watching it, dreading the few moments remaining, but she calls herself to the place near which he stands.
And he is not afraid, covered in blood and gunpowder. Despite defeat, he appears triumphant, not wavering with the guns before him.
She has the urge to step between them and shield him, but in her current form, she is nothing but air except to those she chooses. She brushes his shoulder, to let him know she is there, while his gaze remains forward, and she catches a corner of his mouth upturn as the gunshots resound.
Dust settles, and she stares at his still form, her eyes flickering over where the bullets struck him. His stone-blue eyes are forever closed, lips turned in a small smile.
She chokes, feels herself suffocating, knowing of the mortal light that still resides within the shell that will never hold life again. She feels water swelling in her eyes, but refuses to let them fall. She won't, she won't, she won't!
He'll be free in moments, and she will never see him again. This will be her final sight of him, as no one stays with Death.
She runs her hand through his hair, removing the strands that obscure his face. Then, she brushes his cheek, and the warmth she once found so comforting has already begun to fade.
She takes a wavering breath, leans in, closes her eyes, and presses her lips to his.
The mortal light vanishes, a flame burning out.
She pulls away, waiting for the spirit of him that remains. They're always a flicker to her, as their choices of where they should go is always quick, pulled by entities she has no bearing on.
And so his spirit appears, and just as quickly, she expects him to be gone.
But he remains, staring at her expectantly.
Her brows furrow, trying to understand. "You're free. Go where you desire to be; you have a choice in the matter."
"I know," he replies, taking a few steps towards her. "Do I find myself mistaken that it is not the Baron you trouble yourself with?"
She smirks at memory, shaking her head in disbelief. She holds back her tears. "Please do not do this to amuse me."
His hand brushes her cheek. "If you will have me, I wish to stay with you."
"No one stays with me, as who wants to stay with the one who took them away from all they have known?" she replies, her eyes flickering away to avoid his.
He pulls her closer to him. A hand glides beneath her chin, gently turning her head to meet his gaze, softness within a sea of blue. "Will you have me?"
Death does weep, Death does cry. But here, there is little to mourn.
She holds him close, and close he remains.