Four days later, Combeferre sent word that the Musain was now fully refurbished, all of its furniture back where it should be. Éponine's eyes had lit up when she'd read the note, already imagining how it would feel to finally spend an evening with all of the Amis (who really had become her friends over the last few weeks, with at least one of them coming in to check on her every evening). She found herself genuinely excited about something for the first time since being told that she could leave the hospital four weeks earlier.
That is, until Enjolras decided to rain on her parade.
"I'm not sure that's such a good idea, Éponine."
She stared at him, at a complete loss for words.
"What?" she managed eventually.
"I just think you going out and about and throwing yourself back into normal life might be a bit much for you, that's all."
"How is it any different to going to visit Cosette, Apollo?"
"Well, for one, there were none of the Amis present," Enjolras replied, "And frankly that's reason enough for you to not go whilst you're still healing."
Éponine settled him with a look, "Those people risked their lives for you and your cause," she reminded him, "And you don't trust them to be careful with me for one evening? And need I also remind you that two of them are doctors?"
"Not whilst they're drinking, they're not," Enjolras muttered, "I just… it's quite a lot, Éponine. You were exhausted when you got back from seeing Cosette…"
"Yes, but I'd walked there and back, and I was there for two and a half hours talking about things that I hadn't even thought about in almost a decade," Éponine said, "The Musain is five minutes' walk from here, Enjolras. I think even I can manage that. And I know the Amis can be somewhat… enthusiastic sometimes, but…"
"Boisterous would be the word I would use," Enjolras interjected.
"But," Éponine continued, giving him a look that clearly said 'don't interrupt me', "They're our friends, Enjolras. They know how injured I was, and they know that I'm still recovering. They will be careful. There's really no need to be quite so overprotective."
"It's not overprotective if I'm following doctor's orders, Éponine," Enjolras argued, "And the doctor at the hospital said it would take another five weeks for you to recover, which it hasn't been yet."
Éponine settled him with a look across the breakfast table, "Enjolras, if that was really your problem with all of this, then you wouldn't have let me go to see Cosette at all. So what are you really worried about?"
"You wore me down about going to see Cosette," Enjolras pointed out, "And really, I'm just worried about you."
He stared into his tea as they both fell into silence. His refusal to meet her eyes told Éponine a lot more about how he was feeling than what he was saying; Enjolras was never one to avoid eye contact during any kind of confrontation, he always made efforts to ensure that his opponent knew exactly how serious he was.
"Is it… is it about us?" Éponine asked eventually, "You're worried one of them might work it out?"
Enjolras sighed, and Éponine knew she'd hit the nail on the head.
"It's not that I don't want them to know," he said after a moment, finally looking back up at her, "I just feel like the last few weeks have gone so well. I've never felt the way I do with you about another person before. I don't want to jinx it, or… let other people get in the way."
Éponine smiled, reaching out and taking one of his hands, "Enj… I feel the same. Exactly the same. This is still new, and we don't even know what it is yet… But most of the Amis have seen us together already, and no one has noticed anything. So there's nothing stopping us going to the Musain together, as friends, and just not telling them that there's a possibility that we might be more than that."
Enjolras grimaced, "You think they'll believe that we're just friends?"
"They have no reason not to," Éponine reminded him, "You let me stay here whilst I'm recovering out of the goodness of your own heart. As far as they're concerned, that's the start and end of it."
"Grantaire suspects, I think," Enjolras admitted, "That night on the barricade, when I made it back… I was sat on watch, and he came up and joined me, and… he said that I was the reason he was there. And then he said that he believed in the cause even more now that I was there for a person too. He saw right through me, Éponine. And that was before we lived together for a month."
"Well, luckily for us, Grantaire isn't considered a particularly reputable source of information," Éponine said, "Especially not when consuming alcohol. Honestly, Enj, I don't think anyone will say anything. And, more than that… if you keep me cooped up inside for much longer, I might have to kill you."
Enjolras breathed a laugh, "Alright, alright," he said, "We'll go. But only if you promise to take it easy. I do actually care about your wellbeing."
"I'll agree to those terms," Éponine replied, "If… you try and have some fun. You've been working so hard over the last few weeks, Enjolras. Just… maybe bump the cause slightly further down your list of priorities for one night?"
Enjolras grimaced, "I may have to see what replies I receive before then," he said, "If they don't suggest us meeting before next March, I may well have to spend my evening drafting another letter…"
He looked slightly exhausted at the thought; between keeping an eye on Éponine (a full-time job in and of itself) and sending letter after letter to the government requesting that they pick a date and time for their meeting (and being continually pushed back and encouraged to put his demands in a letter instead), he was certainly kept busy at all times thinking about either one thing or the other.
Éponine was unavoidably, given their living arrangements and the fact that she had spent too many years eavesdropping on people to stop now, kept privy to the issues Enjolras was having getting the government to uphold their end of the bargain.
"I don't know why you're surprised, Enjolras," she said, "You forced them into a rather unsavoury position with the rebellion. You did a good job of embarrassing them. And scaring them, probably. The National Guard is hardly supposed to be so weak that a group of students could bring it down."
"Well, if they think I won't do the whole thing again, then they've got another thing coming," he had muttered, picking up his quill to start penning yet another strongly-worded letter.
"Enj," Éponine said gently, resting a hand over his and making him pause before the quill touched the page. "Can you start another fight with the aristocracy tomorrow? I really do think you could use a proper break. Why don't we go for a walk? And then we can come back for some supper and spend a whole evening with our friends for the first time since you achieved the impossible."
Enjolras met her eyes, seeing her desperation; he knew that the only reason she'd stayed inside and rested over the past few weeks was for him. He had absolutely no doubt that she could have left the apartment and been halfway across Paris before he noticed had she wanted to, even with a still-healing gunshot wound.
He also knew that if she hadn't been there, he would have become consumed by the fact that he hadn't received a proper response from the government yet, and probably would have done something significantly more drastic than sending them a letter by this point had she not been taking up at least fifty percent of his attention at all times acting as the voice of reason.
They had both played their part in the keeping the other safe and sane over the past few weeks. Enjolras supposed he owed Éponine at least something for that.
"Alright," he replied, "I'll leave it until tomorrow. I suppose sitting in waiting for a response isn't the most productive use of my time."
Éponine raised her eyebrows at him, smirking slightly, "Your new France does not seem to be living up to your expectations, Apollo."
Enjolras scoffed, "My dear Athena, we are still very much in the old France," he replied wryly, picking up his coat from the back of the chair as he stood up, "My expectations are far from being met, as of yet." He shrugged the jacket on and offering his arm to Éponine "Come on then, mademoiselle. I will humour you for one day, and go for a walk."
Éponine grinned widely as she hooked her arm through his, "Well, this is a first."
Enjolras shrugged a shoulder, "Well, hopefully this will tire you out enough to keep you from wanting to go to the Musain tonight…"
Éponine gasped indignantly, elbowing him in the side as they made their way out of his (their, it was definitely theirs by this point) apartment.
"That won't work, Apollo," she told him, "I have been inside for weeks, permitted one singular excursion. Rest assured, that I will be, safely, partying the night away, whether you're willing to join me or not."
Enjolras smirked, patting her arm, "We shall see…"
On this occasion, Éponine had ultimately won out, wide awake as the evening approached and so excited about going out that she could barely sit still during supper.
When the clock hit seven, Enjolras sighed but didn't argue as Éponine pulled on her boots and her shawl, waiting for him impatiently by the door. She'd successfully distracted him all afternoon, inviting him to help her make lunch and then asking him to read aloud to her, avoiding any and all mention of government officials or revolutions.
She practically skipped the whole way to the Musain, Enjolras trailing along just behind her, unable to hide a smile at her excitement.
Éponine entered the Café Musain to cheers from her friends, catching her entirely off-guard. Courfeyrac wrapped her in a hug that lifted her off her feet, and she had to remind him before Enjolras bit his head off that, whilst she was well enough to leave her bed, she wasn't quite recovered.
"Ow, ow, ow, Courf," she said, "Not so tight!"
Courfeyrac immediately let go, "Sorry," he said quickly, "My bad. It's just good to have you back in the real world, 'Ponine."
Éponine had been shocked to hear over the previous few weeks of the impression she had made on the Amis during the months of planning the rebellion. She had tried so very hard to go unnoticed, learning about the men from afar and trying to interact with them as little as possible. Her main motivation for going to the meetings had been to be with Marius. Little did she know at the time that she was making quite an impression as 'Marius' shadow' (a name that had earnt Courfeyrac a solid punch when she'd heard it).
"Well, it's good to be back," Éponine replied with a smile as various members of the Amis shuffled chairs and found empty ones to let her and Enjolras sit down, "Especially now that someone…" she looked pointedly at Enjolras, "Has stopped holding me hostage."
Enjolras rolled his eyes, "Goodness knows what sort of trouble you would have gotten yourself into if I hadn't…"
"Well, you would have drowned in paperwork by now, so I suppose we did each other a favour," Éponine agreed.
Grantaire interrupted them by standing on his chair, "I believe a celebration is in order!" he announced, already swaying slightly, "In honour of Éponine's return to the real world, I say we all get completely drunk!"
"Nothing different from normal for you, then!" Joly called, earning laughs from all of the Amis, Grantaire included.
"Perhaps it isn't," he agreed as the laughter died down, "But... it would be a first for our dear leader!" everyone turned to Enjolras, who had finally sat down in an empty chair next to Éponine; his face fell into a disapproving frown.
"I am most certainly not getting drunk."
"Enjolras, don't be such a killjoy!" Courfeyrac complained, "One little drink is not going to kill you!"
"I am not being a killjoy," Enjolras protested calmly, "I simply think that it'll be beneficial for everyone if there is at least one sober person in the room." He rested his arm on the back of Éponine's chair casually, as Les Amis de L'ABC tried to persuade Enjolras to join their drunken night.
"So you are being a killjoy then?" Courfeyrac repeated.
"Maybe he's scared that he'll reveal something he doesn't want anyone to know if he's drunk." Combeferre suggested. Enjolras frowned.
"I do not keep secrets," he stated. Although apparently I do tell lies, he thought to himself. He had never denied being in a relationship with Éponine, but he certainly hadn't volunteered the information.
"Then drink." Grantaire placed a cup down in front of him. Enjolras glanced sideways at Éponine, who was apparently trying to control her laughter.
"Where is Marius when I need him," Enjolras muttered, reaching forward and picking up the cup, "Someone relatively sane in amongst this crowd of lunacy..."
"Dearest Apollo has lost his saviour," Grantaire almost sung. Grimacing, Enjolras looked around at the group of men surrounding him, each of them awaiting his next move. He sighed, figuring that not drinking would look more suspicious at this point.
"What the hell..." he muttered and downed the contents in one. A deafening cheer erupted around him and Grantaire clapped him on the back.
"Welcome to the dark side, Apollo," he laughed, "There's no going back..."
Enjolras argued that he had proven his point, but very few around him agreed. Grantaire, Combeferre and Courfeyrac, a somewhat unlikely alliance, found themselves united in an attempt to get their glorious leader to let go a little. In short: they intended to get Enjolras well and truly drunk.
Their plan was simple: get Enjolras to agree to 'one last drink', make him swear to drink it all, and then proceed to top it up when he wasn't looking.
And it was incredibly effective.
By the time the clock struck ten, Enjolras was laughing a lot louder at things that really weren't very funny at all. Twice he had insisted that he wasn't drunk, and twice he had stood up defiantly to argue his point and almost fallen to the floor. He had been repeatedly interrogated on the things he kept secret, and apart from really disliking cats, Les Amis de L'ABC had yet to get anything out of him.
Éponine was finding the whole ordeal rather hilarious, and she and Joly barely stopped laughing as they each pointed out one of Enjolras' drunken characteristics that the other had missed: the way he waved his hands around dramatically when he started arguing his point; the way he repeated 'now hang on a minute' at least twice before protesting; the way he was completely oblivious to Grantaire, Combeferre and Courfeyrac refilling his glass every five minutes.
In all truthfulness, she much preferred the calm, steadfast Enjolras with whom she could debate any topic without any love being lost as a result; the Enjolras who had carried her through the rain and nursed her back to health; the Enjolras who was never the first to make a move in their relationship, but who was never the one to end it.
But, even she had to admit that drunk Enjolras was the most hilarious sight she had ever seen.
She was actually quite enjoying the freedom of not having him watching her every second, though she did occasionally catch him whipping his head round wildly until he caught her eye from across the room. He seemed to relax once he saw her, and she was sure the others were noticing it, but that didn't stop her giving him a reassuring smile every time.
She'd finally found some time to spend with Courfeyrac, who she'd been wanting to talk to for weeks, after he'd mentioned in passing that Gavroche had been staying with him since the barricades.
"Are you sure you don't mind him staying with you?" Éponine checked, "I can't imagine he's easy to look after, although that being said I haven't lived with him for longer than I'd like, so I suppose I wouldn't really know…"
Courfeyrac smiled, "He's no trouble, 'Ponine, really," he assured her, "And I don't necessarily 'look after' him. He comes and goes as he pleases, I think it'd be impossible to tie him down and I think he'd hate me for it if I tried. I just make sure he has somewhere safe to sleep if he wants and that he eats at least once every twenty-four hours. I'm happy to do it, really."
"It should be me, really," Éponine said, "I tried to look out for him where I could, but… it was always difficult, keeping track of him, even for me. Especially with my father breathing down my neck."
"Gavroche loves you, Éponine," Courfeyrac assured her, "After all this time, I don't think he wants someone to look out for him. Of course, we're going to do it anyway, but… he just wants something or someone to come back to, when living on the streets gets a bit much. He knows that he can go to you, and he knows that you love him."
Éponine smiled slightly, "Thanks, Courf," she said, "I'm just not sure how Enjolras would feel about having him in the apartment all the time, you know? But if it does get too much for you to look out for him, then just let me know, and I'll talk to Enjolras."
Courfeyrac shook his head, "I like having him around," he assured her, "And besides, with you still staying there, isn't Enjolras kind of out of spare beds?"
Éponine frowned slightly, about to remind him that Enjolras has a spare bedroom, before she remember that, as far as Courfeyrac was concerned, she was using that spare room.
"Of course," she replied quickly, "I was thinking Gavroche could sleep on the sofa, but… you're right, I'm not sure Enjolras' apartment would be big enough for three."
Courfeyrac nodded, and she thought she saw maybe a little bit of suspicion in his eyes, "So, we're agreed then," he said, "Gavroche can stay with me. And, now that Enjolras is letting you out of the house… you can come and visit whenever you like."
"Thank you, Courf," Éponine said genuinely, "It really does mean a lot. And not just the last few weeks… I know that he really looks up to you. I remember seeing him at the meetings and how he'd follow you round like a little shadow."
"That must be a family trait, hmm?" Courfeyrac teased, "Gavroche had me, you had Marius…"
Éponine punched him playfully, "I thought we'd agreed not to call me that anymore?" she retorted, "Where is Marius, anyway? I thought he'd be here, it being the grand reopening and all. I sent word to Cosette, but I'm not sure if it reached her in time."
Courfeyrac shrugged, "I saw him yesterday, when we finished up the last few things that needed doing. He said he had plans this evening, but that he'd catch up with us another day."
Éponine shrugged, "That's a shame," she said, "Although, he's probably doing something with Cosette, so I suppose he's happy."
Courfeyrac gave her a curious look, "Do you really still care that much? Even after he spent so long oblivious, using you?"
"It was never like that," Éponine protested, "He didn't use me, I offered to help and he accepted. I was just as blind as he was, I think. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to be his friend. Cosette and I have managed to put our past behind us… there's no reason why I can't do that with Marius. I want him to be happy just like I want you, or Combeferre, or Grantaire, or any of the Amis to be happy."
Courfeyrac reached out, patting her hand, "You're a good person, Éponine," he said, "A really good person. One who certainly does not deserve to deal with that when you get home…"
Éponine followed the direction he was smirking in, seeing Grantaire engaging Enjolras in some kind of elaborate quickstep, their feet getting tangled and inevitably ending with both of them in a heap on the floor.
She simply breathed a laugh, shaking her head at the craziness unfolding before her and trying not to think about the idea of dealing with a hungover Enjolras the next morning.
As the night progressed, Enjolras became more and more hilarious. More than once Grantaire sat on his lap, something that he had only ever tried to do once before when it had resulted in Enjolras' bayonet to threaten somewhere Grantaire would not have wanted an injury (safe to say, he leapt as far away from Enjolras as he possibly could for his own sake).
But the piece de resistance was most certainly the completely unexpected event that occurred at a few minutes to midnight. Enjolras and Grantaire were standing on a table, singing completely out of tune about something undistinguishable. They finished their duet to a round of applause from the others in the room, and they bowed dramatically, Grantaire perhaps a bit too enthusiastically as he fell into a dive off the table, ending up sprawled on the floor for at least the third time that evening.
Enjolras on the other hand jumped off the table, approached Éponine, who was standing almost directly in the centre of the room talking to Combeferre, and kissed her passionately. Completely gobsmacked she froze for a second; Enjolras, kissing her in public whilst they were still in a not-completely-official relationship? She must have been dreaming. But after a moment of thinking that, she threw the thought out of the window, resting her hands on his waist and kissing him back.
Éponine didn't know how long it went on for but when the two finally broke apart, silence filled the room. Éponine blushed bright red as Enjolras grinned like an idiot.
"Okay, who bet that Enjolras and Éponine were secretly more than friends?" Courfeyrac asked. No one said anything, so he grinned, "Oh yes! That was me! Money, s'il vous plait, gentleman!" he laughed, happily taking several wads of notes from some very grudging hands.
"Did I just make a huge mistake?" Enjolras asked her.
"Ask me again when you're sober, Apollo," she said, patting his cheek, before leaving him in the blissful company of a marginally less drunk Combeferre.
Enjolras woke the next morning with a headache and no memory of the night before. He groaned as he rolled out of the bed he now shared with Éponine, trudging through to the living room. Éponine was sitting on the sofa, accompanied by Combeferre and Courfeyrac. The three of them looked up as he entered.
"I, um... don't suppose any of you would like to enlighten me as to what on Earth happened last night?" Enjolras asked. The three of them started laughing.
"Apollo, you must get drunk more often!" Courfeyrac managed.
"You put on quite the show!" Combeferre agreed.
Éponine walked into their little kitchenette and poured Enjolras some water, "Here," she said, handing it to him. He smiled gratefully before pushing Courfeyrac off the sofa so that he could sit next to Éponine. He caught the suggestive glances the other two men gave them.
"What did I do last night?" he asked carefully. The two men started laughing once more.
"Let's just say I don't think we'll be hiding our relationship any longer." Éponine whispered to him, taking his hand in hers.
"And there's no way we could just... brush it off and make everyone forget about it?"
"Not even the slightest chance," Éponine smiled. Enjolras grinned.
"In which case..." he said, leaning towards her and pressing his lips against hers, causing Combeferre and Courfeyrac to fall silent once more.
"There's definitely no going back now," she murmured, leaning her forehead against his
"I don't care," he replied, smiling.
"I feel like we're intruding," Courfeyrac muttered to Combeferre, "Do you think we could just sneak out...?"
"No." Enjolras and Éponine stated immediately.
"So... when did it happen?" Combeferre asked, smirking.
"After the barricades," Enjolras told him grudgingly, "I cannot believe you got me drunk..."
"In our defence..." Courfeyrac started protesting, then shrugging smiling triumphantly, "It wasn't hard." Enjolras rolled his eyes as Éponine chuckled.
"It really was very entertaining, Enj," Éponine told him, "And, I'm happy to say that you are a much better singer than Grantaire, even as many drinks down as you were."
"Well, that's something I suppose..." Enjolras grumbled.
"Well, we'll leave you two to... well, whatever couple-y thing you're going to do today," Courfeyrac chuckled as he stood up, Combeferre following his lead, "We'll all be in the Musain again this evening if you fancy it. I'm sure the others would agree that we're simply desperate for another show like the one you put on last night!" Enjolras threw a sofa cushion at him, leaving both of his friends laughing.
"The mighty Enjolras, revolutionary leader... who resorts to throwing pillows as revenge!" Combeferre gasped out between laughs, "Now what would that revelation do for your image?!" And the two escaped Éponine and Enjolras' apartment before anyone could say another word.
Éponine, too, was laughing, at which Enjolras rolled his eyes again, "It wasn't that funny, Athena!"
"Oh, but it was," she said, her laughter reducing to a quiet giggle.
Enjolras, sensing that this conversation would only cause him more embarrassment should it continue, decided to change the subject, "So, what 'couple-y thing' should we do? Courfeyrac may have been joking, but I think it sounds... nice. Normal. Sober..."
"You've obviously never seen my parents in the same room as each other," Éponine murmured, pressing her lips to his, "You… you don't want to get back to writing your letters to the government?"
Enjolras shook his head, "I don't think I'll be writing anything coherent in this state," he admitted, "And besides, I'm still waiting for a rejection of my last letter."
Éponine grimaced, but then broke into a grin, "In that case... I think you should teach me how to play the violin." Enjolras' face fell into a disbelieving frown.
"I hope you realise that that isn't something I can do in a day," he stated, "It's taken me fourteen years to get as good as I am..."
"How old were you when you started?!" Éponine asked, looking thoroughly shocked
"Eight," he said, frowning, "My tutor didn't think I engaged in enough activities that weren't schoolwork... playing the violin seemed intellectually challenging enough to keep me entertained." Éponine shook her head.
"You are far too clever for your own good."
"Perhaps," he stated, "But it does, apparently, give us a 'couple-y thing' to do."
"Apparently it does," Éponine agreed, standing up and pulling Enjolras up with her by the hand, "Now teach me, please."
"Can we not wait until this headache has passed?" Enjolras pleaded, pinching the bridge of his nose with a grimace.
Éponine snorted quietly, "Fine," she replied, "So what shall we do?"
Enjolras thought for a moment, before nodding decisively, "We should have a nap."
Éponine looked at him in disbelief, "Really?"
Enjolras simply nodded, dragging her towards their bedroom. Éponine briefly wondered if he was using 'nap' as a code for something more, but when he sprawled himself across their bed, still fully clothed, her question was pretty much answered.
She sighed, climbing up next to him and sitting with her back against the headboard. Enjolras certainly looked worse for wear, and she stoked his blond curls gently with a small smile on her face.
Enjolras hummed in content, shuffling until his head was in her lap.
"You must learn to handle your alcohol, Enj," Éponine said, her tone still slightly amused.
"Hmm," Enjolras replied, "Maybe one day." He turned until he could look up at her from her lap, his eyes meeting hers with a mischievous glint, "Sing to me?"
Éponine breathed a laugh, rolling her eyes, "Well, I suppose I do owe you that after all the times you've done it for me," she agreed.
Éponine sang until Enjolras had fallen asleep again, and then simply sat there, running her hand through his hair gently and wondering how on earth she had ended up here. Not two months previously, she had been living with abusive parents, trailing after Marius believing that she was in love with him, passively absorbing the beliefs of the Amis and finding herself somewhat supportive of their cause.
Now she was living with Enjolras, the last person she even expected to know personally, let alone live with. She was pretty sure she felt something akin to love for him, though it still felt too new to put a real label on it. She wasn't even sure she wanted to label it, given the bizarre circumstances that had brought them here. She was spending her days being actively involved with attempts to reform the political hierarchy of the country, a cause that she now had a vested interest in, given that she almost died for it. It still hadn't really sunk in that she had almost died, and if it hadn't been for Enjolras' stubbornness, she probably would have.
But here she was, sat in bed with a man whose will had almost singlehandedly led to the revolution of the French government, even if the government itself didn't actually know that yet. She had no doubt that Enjolras would force their hand, even if it took years and another rebellion to do so. And frankly… she couldn't wait to be a part of it.