Enjolras found himself getting progressively more annoyed with one Marius Pontmercy. Not only had the student arrived late for that night's meeting, he had been distant and distracted from the second he'd walked in.
"Marius, you're late," Enjolras said seriously as said student made his way up the stairs.
"Apologies, mon ami," Marius smiled sheepishly at him, "I was looking for Éponine. She's doing me a favour."
"And I suppose you couldn't wait one night to find out if she had completed said favour?" Enjolras commented dryly, "Just sit down and pay attention. We have much to discuss."
When Enjolras finished speaking ten minutes later, the small smile that had formed as he spoke so passionately of how they would save the people of France turned to a frown. Marius was staring out of the window from his seat, his eyes glazed over and a smile on his face as he reminisced.
"Marius, what is wrong with you today?!" he demanded, "I'm beginning to think that you didn't listen to a word of what I just said. Please, for the sake of my sanity, say that I am wrong."
"I'm sorry, Enjolras," Marius said, at least looking slightly guilty, "I've just… got a lot on my mind."
"Haven't we all, mon ami?" Joly grinned, "Though, you look much worse than the rest of us. Why, did you spot a ghost on your way here?!" Marius smiled slightly.
"She may well have been a ghost," he said, his voice happy as he remembered the woman from the street, "I only saw her for a moment."
"Good God," Grantaire feigned a look of shock, "Has Pontmercy finally found himself a lady?! And here I was, thinking that we would never see the day!" Everyone turned to Grantaire, a few chuckling at his statement, "I mean, here is our dear Apollo, preaching about the rights of the people, of how we should all devote our lives to achieve equality... And in comes our friend Marius, as love-struck as one about to be married!"
The Amis all laughed as Grantaire made his speech, watching as the man waved his arms around in an impression of a lovesick Marius. Only Enjolras was uninterested in the scene.
As the laughter died down, the revolutionary leader once again took the podium, "It is high time we all stopped acting like schoolchildren," he stated seriously, looking at those around him, "We are grown men, fighting for a cause. Or, do we fight for the right to love, now? Do we fight for something that we are already privileged enough to have?" the men around him were now silent, and Grantaire had the decency to at least look slightly ashamed.
"We all need to think of the consequences we could face when the time for us to fight comes. We are not children; we need to stop acting as if we are. We must take charge of our own lives, and things that take our attention away from what is important must not distract us. The world is changing by the day, mes amis, and the people call for our help and our help alone, for we are the only ones who will fight for them. "
"You don't understand, Enjolras!" Marius protested, "If you had seen her today... you would be as struck as I am. She captured my heart without even trying. It is she who is changing my world, never mind the government changing the country."
"Please, Marius!" Grantaire called, ignoring the glare Enjolras was shooting him, "Enlighten us on how your beloved has captured your soul, for you clearly wish to express your irrepressible feelings!"
"She makes me feel as if my world is focused solely on her," Marius began immediately, apparently not hearing the groans from the Amis, "She sets my very heart, my very soul, on fire. Without her... I am nothing."
"All of that from one bloody glance across the street..." Courfeyrac muttered to Feuilly who chuckled quietly.
"Marius, you are not a child." Enjolras repeated firmly, "There are more important things in life than this girl, whoever she may be. You have been an asset to the cause up until now. I urge you to not make the mistake of changing that."
"No one cares about your lonely soul, Marius!" Grantaire called, "We have more important things to do, obviously. Our dear leader has spelt it out for you, has he not?"
"We must live by the colours of the world we live in, my friends," Enjolras' voice rose, "We must change as they do, and we must fight for what is right. We are mere pawns in a much larger game."
Before he could continue, Gavroche burst into the room, making everyone fall silent.
"General Lamarque is dead."
Silence fell across the room once more; Lamarque? Dead? They all knew that this day had been coming. What they hadn't expected was for it to arrive so soon.
"Lamarque's death is the sign we've been waiting for," Enjolras said quietly, "On his funeral day, we shall fight, in his name, for the people of France. We will free the oppressed and we shall make our country a better place! Prepare yourselves, mes amis. Our time is almost here!"
As cheers erupted from those in the room, Marius ran to the stairs, only Enjolras seeing him go. Éponine waited for him halfway up the staircase, and they conversed quietly for a moment before Éponine led him away.
Enjolras watched them go, his friend who had been led astray, and the curious girl who seemed to be so much more than what she seemed to be on the surface. He barely listened to a word Courfeyrac said to him in the next thirty seconds, unable to concentrate on anything except Marius' exit.
"Excuse me, mon ami," he said quietly. Courfeyrac nodded understandingly, instead turning to Combeferre to continue his speech.
Combeferre really did try to focus on what Courfeyrac was telling him about their plans for artillery but, really, how was he supposed to concentrate when Enjolras had walked out at the exact moment they needed him most?! It was the eve of revolution and their leader had disappeared without a word, following Pontmercy after his precious lark, no less.
"'Fey," Combeferre had to interrupt him after five minutes, "Where do you think Enjolras ran off to?" Courfeyrac frowned at him in disbelief.
"We're about to put our lives on the line and you're worried that Enjolras has gone for an evening stroll?" he scoffed quietly, "Good to see that you've got your priorities straight, 'Ferre!"
Combeferre rolled his eyes, "I know where I stand, mon ami," he reassured him, "But I hardly think us doing anything without Enjolras here will end well..."
His friend laughed quietly, "We're not incapable, Combeferre!" he exclaimed, "Where is your spirit?! We're about to fight the National Guard, for god's sake! Use some initiative! Now, tell me where we're going to source enough weapons for all of us and the people, because if we fall down on something like that, Enjolras is going to murder us twice on the other side..."
"It's not exactly like Enjolras, though is it?" Combeferre pressed, "You know what he's like, Courf; he's barely allowed us to take charge of anything these last few months. Now the revolution is on our doorstep and he's happy to let us get on with it?"
Courfeyrac sighed, "What do you me to say, 'Ferre? That we should go after him? Because I doubt he'll thank us for following him."
Combeferre groaned quietly, "Alright, fine," he muttered, "What's the worst that could happen, I suppose..."
Courfeyrac grinned, clapping him on the shoulder, "That's the spirit, Combeferre!" he glanced around the room, stopping at what he saw in the corner of the room, "Grantaire! Put the bloody bottle down and detach yourself from Mademoiselle Elaine!"
"Oh, get off your high horse, 'Fey, you'd be in my position in a heartbeat if any self-respecting woman would take you!" Grantaire called back, revelling at the frown his jibe had placed on his friend's face.
"I bet you wish Enjolras was here now," Combeferre said with a smirk, "Grantaire wouldn't dare to do anything like that if Enjolras was around to see it."
"Just show me your plans, 'Ferre," Courfeyrac rolled his eyes, "I'm sure we can manage without Enjolras for half an hour..."
Unbeknown to Marius and Éponine, Enjolras followed them all the way to Cosette's. Of course, he was going to keep an eye on Marius; he didn't want his friend to get too carried away and propose to her or anything stupid like that. Marius was, as Enjolras had said before, an asset to the cause; he wanted to keep it that way.
But then he thought of the way Éponine looked at Marius when he wasn't looking. It was a look of love, and happiness, but also of pain and disappointment.
And that interested Enjolras. He had never quite understood why people pretended to feel something different to what they were actually feeling, but here it was happening right in front of him. It wasn't unknown that Éponine had a thing for Marius; yes, she was a fighter and she got herself in her fair share of sticky situations, but there were times when she really did follow Marius around as if she were a puppy and he was her owner. It was as if her very personality contradicted itself.
'So why on Earth was she helping Marius find his true love?' was the real question that had struck Enjolras as he had slipped away from the commotion inside the cafe. Which brought him to where he was now, following Éponine and Marius down a maze of streets, always staying out of sight; he wasn't stupid after all, and knew that Marius would happily punch him without any reservations if he found out.
Enjolras noted how Éponine stood back as Marius approached the girl of his dreams at her garden gate, the two expressing their love for each other. The pain was clear on Éponine's face, and Enjolras frowned; was Marius really so blind that he could not notice Éponine's so obvious feelings? He certainly seemed to have eyes only for the girl he had spotted momentarily across the street.
Enjolras remained behind a wall as Marius and Cosette conversed, watching both the loving couple and Éponine, trying to decide which of the two left him more annoyed.
A man's voice rang out, supposedly Marius' love's father, calling Cosette inside. Marius watched after her as she ran back to the house, before turning around reluctantly, passing both Éponine and Enjolras without even noticing them.
Éponine stood there, apparently trying to hold herself together as different footsteps echoed down the side street. Enjolras backed further into the shadows to avoid detection, and a group of men passed by his hiding place, their voices ringing out.
"Who is this hussy?" Thénardier sneered. Enjolras grimaced angrily; was the man so stupid that he didn't recognise his own daughter in the night?
"It's your brat Éponine, don't you know your own kid?" one of his idiot gang voiced Enjolras' own thoughts.
"Éponine, go home, we don't need you for this." Thénardier said, walking past her and waving her away. Éponine looked around desperately.
"I know this house," she said desperately, "There's nothing here for you! Just an old man and his daughter, they have nothing that you'll want!"
"Don't interfere," Thénardier said, his voice quiet but harsh, "You've got some gall. Take care, my girl, or your mouth shall run away from you and-"
"I'm going to scream, I'll warn them! The police will come!" she said, a hint of defiance added to the desperation in her tone.
"One little scream," Thénardier said, his voice sharp and warning, "You'll regret it for a year."
Éponine looked around desperately, before screaming as loud as she could. This caught Enjolras' attention, and he leaned forward to look around the side of the wall. Éponine did not cower in front of her poor excuse of a father as he threatened her.
"You wait, my girl, you'll rue this night, I'll make you scream-" Éponine had no reservations when it came to spitting in her father's face, "You'll scream alright!"
Enjolras was on the verge of breaking point; how dare he treat Éponine, strong, beautiful Éponine, in such a way as that?!
The crack of Thénardier's palm connecting with Éponine's face pushed Enjolras over the edge.
"If I were you, monsieur, I would think before I act," Enjolras' said, his voice careless but the threat unmistakable, "But I am not you. And therefore, all I can do is strongly suggest that you keep your hands to yourself." Éponine met his eyes and she shook her head slightly, warning him away from the situation.
"Oh, you do, do you?" Thénardier sneered, approaching him.
"That's right, monsieur." Enjolras said, looking down slightly at the pathetic excuse of a man.
"I think this little boy needs to be taught a lesson!" Thénardier laughed threateningly.
Enjolras scoffed, "I beg you to try," he said, spreading his arms out to welcome the men to have a go, "But I will warn you: I am a revolutionary. I am armed with more than one weapon and I am certainly not afraid to go down fighting. Oh, and..." he cocked his head slightly, listening, "I believe your daughter has alerted the police. So, do please run along, monsieur, because, frankly: you're both boring me, and wasting my time."
Thénardier stood back slightly, glancing around to his followers. They all looked to him for guidance.
"Make for the sewers," Thénardier said suddenly, "Go underground!" the men scattered, leaving Éponine alone with Enjolras.
"Why did you do that?" she asked as he approached her.
"Because your father is an ass." Enjolras said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "And he hurt you."
"That was nothing," she muttered. Enjolras frowned, confused, "My father is not the only ass I live around." Was the only explanation Éponine offered him. Enjolras brushed her cheek, red from the hit. She flinched away slightly, then leaned into his hand, smiling at the warmth on her face. Drops of rain fell onto the pavement, then onto the two of them, progressing from a few drops to a downpour in a matter of seconds.
"We should go," Enjolras took her hand in his, "Before the police arrive. And besides, it won't do us any good standing out in the rain." She smirked slightly, leaning against his arm as they walked.
"I happen to like the rain, monsieur," she countered, but she let him lead the way, not trying to stop him.
"Of course you do, mademoiselle," Enjolras replied drily, "I, however, would rather not catch a chill in the days running up to the revolution."
They were both silent for a moment before Éponine spoke again.
"Thank you," she said quietly, "Not many people would have stepped in."
"I'm not 'many people'," Enjolras shrugged, "And, for the record, I, er... I think Marius is an ass. And a blind one at that." Éponine grimaced, but shrugged.
"Perhaps he is," she muttered, "Are you an ass?"
"I sincerely hope not," Enjolras chuckled, "Grantaire may disagree."
"I don't believe you're an ass," Éponine told him seriously, "Spirited, maybe. Not an ass."
"Thank you, mademoiselle," he nodded.
They fell into another silence, neither of them really feeling the need to fill it as they walked.
"Monsieur, if I may... I must ask that you tell no one of what you saw," Éponine said after a few minutes, "Obviously I have no right to ask anything of you but-"
"Your secret is safe with me, mademoiselle," he assured her. She smiled.
"Thank you," she said, "Again, I suppose. I know you didn't have to do either of those things."
"It wouldn't do for me to deny anything of one who fights for my cause, would it?" he questioned as the Musain came into sight.
"Who says I fight for your cause, monsieur?" Éponine asked, some of her usual defiance slipping into her tone. Enjolras simply breathed a laugh.
"You come to more meetings than almost anyone," he pointed out, "Don't think I haven't noticed. And don't say that you're there for Marius, either, I've seen you without him, making faces at my speeches."
Éponine frowned, blushing slightly, "Well, your ideas certainly aren't perfect," she pointed out, and Enjolras couldn't deny that she was right, "But at least you have ideas. I suppose I'm not opposed to everything you have to say."
"I will accept that as the highest praise from you, mademoiselle," Enjolras replied, no hint of insincerity in his tone.
They were soaked through by the time they reached the café, and they went their separate ways once reaching the door, Éponine slipping out the back to run home and change, and Enjolras into the very centre of the planning for the next day's revolution, acting as if he had never been gone.
Enjolras was only gone for twenty minutes, but that was long enough to earn the suggestive glances he received when he arrived back at the Musain soaking wet and with Éponine at his side. Combeferre didn't even know that the two were acquaintances, let alone anything more, but he had known Enjolras for long enough to leave the matter alone.
Their leader, predictably, ignored the suggestive looks, returning to his seat next to Courfeyrac and immediately continuing their conversation, not even allowing his two friends an opportunity to question his absence.
"Has Marius' shadow found a new body to follow, Apollo?!" Grantaire called loudly across the room. Enjolras shut his eyes, attempting to compose himself as Combeferre and Courfeyrac shared a worried glance; it wouldn't be the first time that Enjolras and Grantaire had ended up shouting insults at each other.
"Grantaire, would you like to weigh in?" Enjolras replied eventually, "We're discussing how to source enough artillery in the next few days and where to store it. It could make or break our entire operation."
The meaning behind Enjolras' statement was clear: that there was much more that could make or break their fight than just artillery – loyalty and comradery would be key too their success, or to their failure.
Enjolras and Grantaire held each other's gaze for almost a full ten seconds before Grantaire put the bottle in his hand down and took the remaining empty seat at their table.
There was silence for another moment before Enjolras continued from where he left off, and it was as if the last half an hour had never happened.
Enjolras, however, was more than aware of the fact that it had. He couldn't help but think that Éponine had made a fantastic point in saying that he wasn't perfect – he had been fighting what had felt like a solo battle for so long that he had placed all of his faith in his own ideas, his own beliefs, long since forgetting to wonder if they might counter those of the people he was trying to help. It occupied his thoughts for the rest of that evening, and he'd be lying if he'd said that he hadn't changed some of his original plans after asking himself 'What would Éponine think?'.
Éponine herself was equally as preoccupied. She had thought she'd been so subtle, slipping into meetings with the crowds and obscuring herself however she could, keeping her opinions silent although, clearly, not secret. Enjolras had noticed her, and having had to try so hard for Marius to offer her the same courtesy, to have it served to her on a platter was… unusual. Enjolras had certainly confirmed what she had been thinking for so long: Marius didn't see herm either for what she wanted him to see or for what she truly was. Maybe it was about time she stopped trying.
With the revolution looming over their very heads, however, neither Enjolras, nor Éponine, was willing to give up everything they believed in just because they'd shared a small moment when walking through the rain.
Not yet, anyway.