AN: This is essentially a really, really long filler chapter. I probably could have split it into two, but I was feeling lazy and couldn't find a way to make it work within the structure I've got so... enjoy!
With the Musain up and running again for the first time in over a month, it finally felt like things were returning to something like 'normal'.
Of course, for Enjolras, now fully recovered from his hangover, this was bordering on criminal. He used every spare minute to either furiously write out letters, or research to find out which of the currently sitting government officials he hadn't badgered to the point of insanity yet.
Éponine had been actively taking an interest in what the group had achieved so far, trying to catch up on what she'd missed whenever she hadn't made it to the meetings before the barricades. Enjolras was happy to oblige, and they would often spend hours discussing even the smallest elements and Enjolras' plans to reform them.
Enjolras was not surprised to find that Éponine had a lot of opinions about said plans, though he was just marginally shocked when he noted how often she was right.
"You know, had you actually been a part of the cause from day one, we might have gotten a lot further a lot faster," he noted one evening. They'd started a conversation during dinner about a small element that he'd now forgotten. Three and a half hours on, they were leaning against opposite arms of the sofa with their feet meeting in the middle, still talking, although their conversation had moved on to gaining more support from the masses.
Éponine smirked, "Well, had someone invited me, I might have been inclined to join," she teased, "But no, you were all happy to let me trail after Marius and stand in the shadows."
Enjolras rolled his eyes, "Alright, that was possibly an oversight on our part," he agreed, "But, had you actually tried to share your opinions rather than trying to hide all the time…"
"I wasn't hiding," Éponine protested, "I was just… well, I suppose I was hiding a little bit."
"I think this is one we can blame on Marius," Enjolras said decisively after a moment, "He spoke to you all the time, but never suggested you join the cause. Definitely his fault."
Éponine breathed a laugh, "Agreed," she said. They fell into silence for a moment, "Has Marius said anything to you about him and Cosette?" she asked.
Enjolras frowned, "I don't think so," he replied, "Why? Has Cosette said something to you?"
"Nothing explicit," Éponine replied, "But he has been spending a lot of time at her house. She said her father was planning on offering him their spare bedroom when I last spoke to her, so clearly this is more than him pining over a pretty girl."
"And her father certainly likes him, if he's offering to house him before he and Cosette are even engaged…" Enjolras added.
Éponine's eyes widened just slightly, "You don't think… no, they would have told us if Marius had proposed, surely?"
"I'm sure they would have," Enjolras said, "Maybe Marius has just asked for her father's blessing and is waiting for the right time to pop the question."
"Maybe," Éponine agreed. She paused for a moment, "God, we're never going to hear the end of it once he does propose…"
Enjolras snorted quietly, "I'm sure Marius will only bring it up every other sentence."
Éponine scoffed, "That's optimistic. I'm sure Cosette will be talking about it constantly until the big day, and probably after that, too…"
"That's very insightful, given that you've only been friends with her for about a week," Enjolras teased.
"I'm a very insightful person," Éponine smirked, nudging his leg with her foot playfully, "You haven't exactly known Marius that long either."
"I've known him long enough to know that when he gets caught up on something it takes months to sway him," Enjolras said, "You should have heard some of the rubbish he was talking when Courfeyrac first introduced him to everyone. Marius was one of the most die-hard Bonapartists you could ever hear…"
Éponine breathed a laugh, "Well, clearly you managed to change his opinion."
"Two months, that took," Enjolras muttered, "I've never spoken to someone more infuriating… although I suppose it was good practice for when we eventually got around to actually challenging the government. Maybe if I'd built a barricade outside of Marius' house, he would have come around quicker…"
"I'm glad it didn't take such extremes," Éponine said, smiling at his dramatics, "You know, I don't think anyone has ever told me how you all met."
She was genuinely curious, as this was one element of the revolution that no one had told her yet; she had become close to almost all of the Amis, and was at least on speaking terms with the rest, but she had never heard the story of how the group had come to be the way it was.
Enjolras crossed his arms and rested them on his knees, smiling slightly, "It started with Courfeyrac and me, actually," he said, "Many, many years ago, long before our degrees. We both grew up in wealthy families, and our parents were acquaintances. They encouraged us together, I think; Courfeyrac has three sisters, so his parents wanted him to have some male company. I think I became as much a brother to him as he did me.
"When I told him I was moving to central Paris to study, he decided to come with me. We had long since started noticing societal injustice, we would discuss it most evenings, and… well, I suppose it grew from there. We picked up Combeferre in the library one day, when he overheard us talking about what we would change if we could. He was on his second degree by then, studying medicine, but his first was in law. We must have sat there for hours, discussing things, and we agreed to meet at the Café Musain the next evening to continue."
"Ah, and so the rest was history," Éponine said with a grin.
"And so the rest was history," Enjolras agreed.
"Did you meet them all through your studies?"
"Some, not all," Enjolras replied, "I met Joly through Combeferre, of course, because they were studying together, and Joly started bringing Bossuet to the Musain whenever he was staying with him. Grantaire would always be in the Musain when we would meet and would listen in and occasionally challenge our views. He was another infuriating case, though I think he mostly argued with me because he knew how irritated I could get…"
Enjolras smirked slightly, "Although, actually, that worked in my favour. It was one of my arguments with Grantaire that attracted Feuilly and Jehan to the cause. And Bahorel was studying at the same law school as me, but we eventually met because he was working with a group similar to the Amis. He started acting as a kind of go-between to share thoughts and ideas with other groups across the city."
"Wow," Éponine said, "I find it amazing how you all came together because of a shared interest. The only things I've ever witnessed a passion for are money and cruelty, and I didn't come from a wealthy background even before we lost the inn."
Enjolras grimaced, "And therein lies the problem in our broken society. The poor think that money will make them rich. In truth, I think the rich would look down on a self-made man as if he too was a peasant…"
Éponine shook her head, "You do have a way with words, Apollo," she said, slightly in awe, "It's no wonder you were able to convince Marius to leave his old views behind."
"It is nice to speak about the cause with you," Enjolras admitted, "I'm missing the meetings, but I don't want to stop the others from socialising when they've done and risked so much already. And there's also not much point in calling regular meetings when none of us know what we're preparing for. We always knew that there was going to be a revolt before the barricades, so we knew to focus on finding key locations, acquiring weapons, gathering support. Not knowing where we stand… it's a position that I haven't been in before."
Éponine looked at him sympathetically, "You're doing all you can," she assured him, patting his knee, "You're writing to find someone who will listen. I refuse to believe that every single one will ignore you, but if they do… that offers you as much clarity as getting a positive response will. Either someone listens and we start to implement change… or they refuse to see sense and we force their hand again."
Enjolras blinked at her for a moment, "And you say I have a way with words…"
Éponine blushed slightly, not really knowing how to respond to his compliment, but they were both content to just sit with the silence for a while after talking for so long.
"So, are we going to the Musain tomorrow evening?" she asked eventually, "We haven't been in over a week."
"Well, if Courfeyrac and Grantaire weren't so intent on getting me drunk whenever I walk in the door…" Enjolras complained, "Honestly, I tried so hard to keep an eye on my drink last time."
Éponine grinned, "They know you too well, Apollo," she told him, "They know exactly how to distract you. That is a downside to your passionate nature, I think."
Enjolras grimaced, "I know it's only happened twice, but I refuse to wake you up in the middle of the night throwing up in the sink again. But by all means, you go. I don't want to keep you inside if you'd rather be elsewhere."
"It's no fun without you," Éponine protested, "You know I appreciate the others and consider them all friends, but… you make the group whole. And I feel like a little bit of an outsider when you're not there."
"You're not an outsider," he said, reaching out to hold the hand that was still resting on his knee, "You belong there as much as any of them. But… you're right about us not going for a while. I suppose I should make an effort to see them, now that we don't have the meetings as an excuse."
Éponine smiled, "Thank you," she said genuinely, "I know you don't always enjoy the socialising, but… just the opportunity is a bit of a novelty for me. I'm astonished that my father hasn't managed to track me down yet."
"Don't jinx it," Enjolras said, "Although, by the sounds of it, you were the one who did most of the finding before."
Éponine shrugged, "It was one of my many talents," she said, smirking slightly, "He does have other sources though." A slightly haunted look came across her face, but she shook it off after a moment, replacing it with a kind of resigned smile, "Shall we go to bed?"
Enjolras nodded, releasing her hand as they both stood up from the couch.
"Éponine," he stopped her gently, resting his hands on her arms, "Try not to worry about your father. I doubt he'll find you here, but if he does… I'm ready and more than willing to fight him."
Éponine smiled properly then, "I know," she replied, "You proved that the first night we properly met."
Enjolras couldn't help but smile himself, recalling that night just days before the barricades.
"Yes, I did," he said. He squeezed her arms before dropping his hands to take hers, "Let's go to bed."
Given Enjolras' reservations regarding his friends getting him drunk far past his limits against his will, Éponine spent most of the next morning giving him tips on how to avoid that very event.
"It's all about balance, Apollo," she told him, "You just need to eat, and drink as much water as you do alcohol."
"You make it sound so easy," Enjolras replied, eyebrows raised, "And you're sure that will work?"
Éponine shrugged, "Hopefully. And at the very least you get to give Courfeyrac and Grantaire a taste of their own medicine."
And so they headed arm-in-arm to the Musain that evening with a plan. It almost felt like the old days, walking from his apartment with an agenda in mind, though the idea of going just for fun still felt slightly wrong to Enjolras, and he said as much to Éponine as they walked.
"There will be more meetings, Enjolras," Éponine assured him for possibly the hundredth time in the last few weeks, "You just have to play a bit of a waiting game first. You said it yourself, getting everyone too hyped up now would be pointless. And besides… I think they've earnt a little bit of celebration time, don't you? Taking a few weeks to rebuild, recover and regroup does not invalidate your passion for the cause."
Enjolras nodded reluctantly after a moment, "You're right," he agreed, "Although, maybe I could start provisionally planning for a range of different possibilities…"
"Maybe you could," Éponine said, "But for tonight… can we just have some fun with our friends, please?"
Enjolras nodded again, "Of course," he replied, squeezing her arm lightly with his spare hand.
They had reached the Musain by this point and were met with a chorus of cheers as they reached the top of the stairs.
"Ah, Apollo! We thought we might have scared you off for good!" Grantaire teased.
Éponine and Enjolras brought over chairs and slotted in between Joly and Jehan at the table. It was a slightly smaller group than usual, with Combeferre, Bahorel and Feuilly all missing, and though Marius was physically present, Éponine tried to catch his eye across the table and he seemed completely oblivious to the world around him.
"I'm afraid not," Enjolras replied wryly, "You'll have to try slightly harder than that to scare me away."
"But if he wakes me up one more time throwing up at two in the morning, I'll make sure that it's not worth your while to try," Éponine added, smirking.
"Ah, it's all just a bit of fun," Grantaire said, waving their comments off.
"Although, that did sound an awful lot like a challenge, Enjolras," Courfeyrac said, a glint of mischief in his eyes.
Enjolras glanced at Éponine almost imperceptibly, and she hid a grin behind a feigned cough.
"Well, why don't we make it a challenge?" Enjolras suggested, "A… wager, of sorts."
Grantaire and Courfeyrac were both silent for a moment, staring at him with wide eyes.
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" Courfeyrac asked.
Enjolras nodded, "Éponine has given me a few, supposedly common sense, tips. And I'm intrigued to see if they work."
"You… you're actually allowing us to get you drunk?"
"Call it an experiment," Enjolras shrugged, "But… there are two conditions. First, you have to drink just as much of whatever you give me as I do. Both of you."
Grantaire and Courfeyrac glanced at each other, seemingly weighing up the potential consequences.
"Done," Courfeyrac said firmly after a moment, "And the second?"
"To avoid this becoming a permanent feature of this new reality we find ourselves in… if either of you wake up in a worse state than me tomorrow morning, you have to swear to never try to get me drunk ever again, secretly or otherwise."
Grantaire and Courfeyrac looked at each other again.
"Do not ruin this for us," Grantaire said, pointing a finger at Courfeyrac accusatively.
Courfeyrac held up his hands, "I won't, I promise."
They looked back to Enjolras with matching grins, "Deal."
Grantaire shoved a cup of wine in front of the man before he could change his mind. Enjolras picked it up and held it up to the two of them, "Let the best man win," he said, smirking slightly.
Grantaire had already acquired another drink, and both he and Courfeyrac raised their glasses.
"Try not to be too upset when it's not you, Apollo," Grantaire said, "We do have much more experience at this than you."
Enjolras didn't dignify that with a response, simply rolling his eyes as he turned to Éponine.
"They also don't have you on their side," he muttered to her quietly.
Éponine grinned, "This is going to be fun…"
The evening itself at the Musain had been relatively uneventful; Enjolras never seemed to get past 'slightly tipsy', and didn't do anything worth noting (aside from refusing to let go of Éponine's hand for at least an hour, eventually relenting only because she threatened, lovingly, to cut it off if he wouldn't let her go to the toilet).
Grantaire and Courfeyrac were significantly more entertaining, but it had now got to the point where them slow dancing around the Musain's upper floor was a regular occurrence, rather than a fun novelty.
The next morning, Enjolras woke up with a slight headache but otherwise completely fine, so he deemed their experiment a solid success. He even managed to have a full-on debate with Éponine over breakfast, which spoke volumes about how capable he really was despite the amount of alcohol Grantaire and Courfeyrac had plied him with.
It was early afternoon when Enjolras discovered how his friends were coping. The news came in the form of Combeferre, who was grinning when Enjolras let him into his apartment.
"I don't know what you did to Courf last night, but I'm gutted that I missed it," Combeferre said, "He's suffering. I went to see him this morning and he wasn't even out of bed. He threw up twice whilst I was there, and repeatedly said that it felt like the entire French army was stampeding through his head."
Enjolras smirked, "That'll teach him for getting me drunk… twice. What of Grantaire? How's he holding up?"
"I haven't seen him, but no doubt he's doing better than Courf, given that he's an experienced drunkard," Combeferre rolled his eyes, "Honestly, that man has too much of a leniency for alcohol…"
"You don't need to tell me," Enjolras muttered, "But I suppose that's just Grantaire."
"Well, I'm glad you're not suffering too much, mon ami, but I was only popping in quickly to fill you in," Combeferre said, making his way towards the door, "I told Courf that I'm come and check on him again."
He opened the door and was met with Éponine, who had just returned from meeting with Cosette.
"Good afternoon, Éponine," he said with a smile.
"Oh, hello, 'Ferre," Éponine replied, "What brings you here?"
"The same thing that is now making me leave," Combeferre told her, "Courfeyrac's feeling a little bit… indisposed after last night."
Éponine smirked, "That'll teach him for getting Enjolras drunk… twice."
Courfeyrac laughed, "That's exactly what he said," he replied, gesturing to Enjolras.
"Is it bad that I slightly want to witness his suffering?" Éponine asked.
"Oh, I found it thoroughly amusing," Combeferre replied, "You're welcome to come with me, if you'd like?"
Éponine glanced at Enjolras who grinned.
"I think I should make sure Courf understands the result of our little bet in person, don't you, Éponine?"
Éponine nodded immediately, "Definitely," she replied, "Not to mention, Cosette asked me to pass a message on to everyone, so… two birds, one stone."
Enjolras picked up his jacket and they both followed Combeferre out of their apartment.
"What did Cosette ask you to pass on?" Enjolras asked her.
"Just for everyone to meet in the Musain at eight o'clock tonight," Éponine shrugged, "Something about Marius wanting to introduce her to everyone properly, as they missed the grand reopening. I think it's probably more her wanting to meet everyone than him, but she didn't elaborate."
"I still haven't met her," Combeferre said, "So I suppose it makes sense if Marius really is in love with the girl."
"Oh, they're besotted, 'Ferre," Éponine assured him, "Enjolras and I were talking about how imminent a proposal probably is just two nights ago, weren't we, Enj?"
"We were," Enjolras confirmed, "He did seem very unfocused last night though, even for Marius…"
"I noticed that as well," Éponine frowned, "I hope everything is alright with him."
"Well, no doubt we'll find out this evening," Combeferre shrugged.
Combeferre took advantage of the walk to Courfeyrac's apartment, asking if Enjolras had heard from the government. Enjolras readily shared his new plans to start considering a range of potentialities and how they might react to each one.
"Sounds like you have everything under control, Enjolras," Combeferre said with a smile as they climbed the stairs of Courfeyrac's apartment building, "If you'd ever like to discuss or run anything by someone, you know where to find me."
"I do, mon ami," Enjolras assured him, "It's all preliminary at the moment, but now that Éponine is well-"
"You could have started this weeks ago, don't pin this on me!" Éponine joked.
"I'm starting to make progress," Enjolras finished, ignoring his girlfriend's jibe.
They reached Courfeyrac's door and Combeferre didn't even bother knocking, simply pushing it open.
"Courf?" he called, "Are you still alive?"
"Shhh," was all they got in response from a mound of blankets on the sofa.
Combeferre approached, pulling the blankets back to reveal Courfeyrac's squinting face.
"'Ferre!" he protested, "It's so bright in here…"
"Yes, this is what the afternoon looks like, 'Fey," Combeferre teased, "I brought visitors."
"Why would you do that?!" Courfeyrac groaned, "You are a terrible friend!"
"Hi, Courf!" Éponine said brightly, "You look terrible."
He did look terrible; his face was pale with dark circles under his eyes, his hair stuck out at odd angles and he was shivering even with four blankets piled on top of him.
"I, er… think this counts as you being in a worse state than me, don't you, mon ami?" Enjolras asked cheerfully.
"You, both of you," Courfeyrac emphasised, looking between Enjolras and Éponine, "Are evil."
Enjolras turned to Éponine and grinned, "It's true what they say. Revenge is sweet…"
Combeferre had disappeared into Courfeyrac's kitchen, but he returned then with a cup of water in hand.
"Drink up, Courf," he instructed, "And remember how this feels the next time you feel like teaming up with Grantaire for a bet…"
"Oh, God, I forgot about him," Courfeyrac said, running a hand over his face, "He's going to kill me…"
"Tonight may be even more fun than last night…" Enjolras said, still grinning widely.
"I'm never going to the Musain again," Courfeyrac said with as much conviction as he could muster.
"Oh, don't be such a drama queen," Éponine replied, though her tone was somewhat sympathetic, "You'll have to come tonight, at least. Marius has ordered all of us there at eight so that Cosette can meet everyone."
"But I've already met her!" Courfeyrac whined, "No one wants to see me in this state, anyway."
"Don't be stupid, we want you there," Combeferre said, "Hungover face and all."
"Plus, I'm going to need to prove to everyone that I won the bet," Enjolras added. Éponine immediately nudged him with her elbow, giving him a look that clearly said 'don't be insensitive, this was you a week ago'.
Courfeyrac groaned, resting the cup of water in his hand against his forehead, searching for the tiniest bit of relief.
"Eugh, fine," he said eventually, "But I'm not drinking. And you three have to protect me from Grantaire." He pointed at each of them individually, giving them looks that just about managed to be menacing.
Éponine grinned, "Thanks, Courf. I know Marius will appreciate it." She glanced at the clock on the wall and rested a hand on Enjolras' arm, "We should go, Enj, I told Cosette I'd make sure everyone knows about tonight."
Enjolras nodded, "See you both this evening," he said to Combeferre and Courfeyrac.
"See you tonight," Combeferre confirmed as Courfeyrac buried himself back under his blankets.
Enjolras shook his head in disbelief as he and Éponine headed out of the building, "I cannot believe your plan worked… now I'm curious as to what else you can teach me."
Éponine slipped her arm through his, "Oh, I could teach you... how to pickpocket... how to cry on demand... how to blackmail people into handing over everything in their coat..." she almost laughed at the look of shock on his face, "It's how the oppressed live, Enjolras. You should know that."
"Yes, I probably should," her muttered, wondering jokily if Éponine had used one of her many tricks to make him care for her so dearly.
Éponine and Enjolras spent the rest of their afternoon going to see each of their friends in turn to pass on Marius and Cosette's request. By suppertime, they had managed to track all of them down and make sure they would be in the Musain that evening.
The two made their way to the Musain slightly early, strolling from their apartment hand-in-hand.
"I hope it's not too much of a late night," Éponine said as they reached the door, "Two nights in a row almost feels too much after a week of not going out at all…"
"I agree," Enjolras replied, "We've both met Cosette, maybe we can sneak out early…"
Éponine snorted as they started up the stairs, "Are you really counting that time we bumped into her and her father as you 'meeting' her? You said 'mademoiselle' and then launched into talking about the revolution with Monsieur Fauchelevent!"
"If it gets me to bed earlier then, yes, obviously I'm counting it!"
They reached the top of the stairs, finding around half of their friends already there, Marius and Cosette among them. Enjolras set about finding them both seats as Éponine walked around to say hello to their friends.
"Éponine!" Cosette smiled brightly as she approached, immediately wrapping her in a hug, "Thank you so much for getting everyone here, Marius and I were just so busy this afternoon…"
"What are friends for?" Éponine asked rhetorically before Cosette could start rambling (a habit Éponine had identified over the previous few weeks).
Cosette released her but she was almost immediately engulfed in another embrace from Marius, catching her off-guard.
"It really does mean a lot, 'Ponine," he said, "Thank you."
When he let go, Éponine stepped back a little bit, looking at Marius in bemusement, "Well, you certainly seem a lot more 'with us' than you did last night," she commented, "You looked like you were asleep with your eyes open when we were here yesterday evening!"
Marius breathed a nervous laugh, rubbing the back of his neck subconsciously, "Did I? I suppose I had a lot on my mind…"
Cosette snorted quietly beside him, but by the time Éponine had turned to look at her she seemed to be having a minor coughing fit, covering her mouth with her hand and inadvertently attracting Joly's suspicious attention.
As Cosette waved Joly away, insisting that she was fine, Éponine's eyes narrowed slightly, "What are you two up to?" she asked suspiciously.
"Us? Up to… don't be absurd, we aren't… I mean, we would never…"
Éponine simply raised her eyebrows and Marius' flailing trailed off, "Fine, don't tell me," she said, holding her hands up, "Keep your secrets…"
She moved away, making her way back around to Enjolras, who had squeezed two chairs onto a table with Combeferre, Feuilly and Jehan. He frowned when she reached him.
"Why do Marius and Cosette look like you just told them you were going to eat them?"
"Because they're hiding something," Éponine muttered, "And I caught them trying to cover it up by acting normal in the most abnormal way I've ever experienced."
"Ah," Enjolras smirked, "Yes, that makes more sense."
"Marius was babbling and stumbling over his words like there was no tomorrow when I asked what they were up to," Éponine told him.
Enjolras shrugged, "Well, Marius does tend to do that sometimes," he admitted, "He's not the best at dealing with being challenged."
Slowly but surely the rest of their friends arrived, and the volume in the room increased as numerous conversations started overlapping. Courfeyrac sat in a corner, having arrived twenty minutes late. He was still pale, and his eyes were narrowed, though no one bothered to ask whether this was to fight off his persistent headache or out of suspicion that Grantaire was plotting some way to kill him.
Grantaire was furious that they had lost their bet, but he did congratulate Enjolras with a customary smirk.
"There's a drunkard in you yet, Apollo!"
"There most certainly is not," Enjolras told him, "I'll be sticking to one, singular, not-refilled cup from now on, thank you."
Cosette and Marius spent the next hour making a round of the room, ensuring that she got to meet everyone individually (and, of course, hear numerous embarrassing stories about Marius).
Enjolras and Éponine were engaging in casual conversation with Jehan and Combeferre, Feuilly having disappeared to get another round of drinks.
"So… they haven't even told you why they really wanted everyone here?" Jehan asked.
Éponine frowned slightly, "Well… they just said so that Cosette could meet everyone."
"It does seem like a lot of effort, doesn't it?" Combeferre pointed out, "And why so all of a sudden?"
"Well… they've been together a couple of months now, maybe they just thought it was time?" Enjolras suggested. Combeferre and Jehan both stared at him and he sighed, "Alright, I did think it was a bit bizarre."
Éponine turned to look at him, "Why didn't you say anything? Is it really that weird?"
"Well… Marius and Cosette have been awfully distant since things started getting… serious between then," Combeferre pointed out, "Marius hardly ever comes for a drink anymore, and before today I think you were the only one who had met Cosette properly at all, Éponine."
"Courfeyrac has met her a few times," Éponine protested, "And Enjolras had as well…" she trailed off when Enjolras gave her a look, and she sighed, deflating slightly, "Alright, I suppose it is a bit strange. But I can't think of anything that…" she trailed off, frowning suddenly.
"What is it?" Enjolras asked.
"Well, it's just that… on the first night of the barricades… Cosette asked me to take a letter to Marius. She didn't know who I was then, of course, or at least not enough to remember that we'd already met. And I… well, I read it. And she said that her father was taking her to London, and she begged Marius to go with her. He didn't, of course, and something else must have happened because Cosette's father joined you on the barricades, but… I'm wondering if perhaps they're intending to go through with that plan now after all."
Jehan frowned, "But surely she would have said something to you? I thought you two were quite… close."
Éponine smiled slightly, "We're friends," she told him, "But… well. I'm not sure we're quite that close yet. We're still learning to trust each other, and… well, there are quite a few years for us to leave behind as well."
"You certainly seem a lot more friendly than you think, 'Ponine," Combeferre told her, "And having spoken to Marius… they both seem very grateful for you."
Éponine shrugged, "Anyway," she said quickly, "Perhaps the reason they called us all here wasn't just for Cosette to meet everyone…"
"But to say goodbye as well," Jehan finished for her, "It would make sense, wouldn't it? Goodness knows, after everything… I can't imagine the group without Marius there. Especially given how ready he was to blow himself up with the barricades…"
"Leaving that kind of behaviour behind may not be a bad thing," Enjolras muttered, "Given how unproductive that would have been that night…"
"Probably about as unproductive as you abandoning your post to carry me through the heavily-guarded streets of Paris to a hospital in the pouring rain," Éponine said to him. Enjolras smirked slightly as he took a sip of his drink.
"I wouldn't call that entirely unproductive," he replied, "You survived, didn't you?"
Éponine rolled her eyes, but didn't get a chance to retort as Marius and Cosette found a space where everyone could see them and the former of the two coughed loudly.
"Excuse me, everyone?" he called, "I have, er… something I'd like to say."
It took a few moments, but the room eventually died down, all faces turning to look to the couple.
"First of all, we'd like to thank everyone so much for coming this evening," Marius started, "It's been wonderful for Cosette to meet you all and learn a little bit about what brought us all together. So, thank you to Éponine and Enjolras for doing the rounds and getting everyone here."
There were some claps and cheers directed in Éponine and Enjolras' direction before Marius was allowed to continue.
"But, um… we perhaps weren't entirely honest in our reasoning for getting everyone here tonight…"
"Knew it," Jehan muttered, catching Combeferre's eye with a grin.
"Shhh," Éponine said, hitting his arm.
"The thing is… Cosette and I are engaged to be married ," Marius said.
There was utter silence in the room for a moment, which was probably a first for the Amis, until everyone clamoured to congratulate them at once. The group slowly converged on the couple to give hugs and handshakes, and Cosette looked distinctly uncomfortable when Grantaire wrapped her in an embrace that lifted her off the floor.
Éponine breathed a laugh as she wrapped her in a gentler hug immediately after, "That's the kind of thing you can look forward to now," she warned playfully, "Congratulations, Cosette. I'm so happy for you and Marius."
"Really?" Cosette checked, her voice dropping slightly so that it was masked by the noise of the others, "I thought about telling you this morning, but… I was worried you might be upset."
"Nonsense," Éponine said firmly, "Marius and I are friends. Close friends, Cosette, but… just friends. I want him to be happy, and I want you to be happy, and I'm glad you can have that together."
Cosette looked like she had tears in her eyes, but she pulled Éponine into another hug before either of them could start feeling awkward about it.
Eventually, Marius tried to take control again.
"Thank you, everyone," he called over the noise, "We're so glad that you can share in our excitement. Especially given that the wedding is in a months' time."
There were murmurs of surprise.
"A month, mon ami?!" Courfeyrac called, his hangover somewhat forgotten in his shock, "Don't these things normally take slightly longer than a month to plan?"
"Well, yes, normally," Marius confirmed, "But… well. With everything that's happened, we thought… why wait?"
One glance at Enjolras told Éponine that he could think of several reasons why they should wait, but no one voiced any as Grantaire stood up and lifted his cup.
"A toast, then!" he called, "To the soon to be Mr and Mrs Pontmercy! Good luck to you Cosette… I don't know of many who would attempt what you are with our dear Marius…"
Grantaire winked at Éponine, who gave him a death glare worthy of Enjolras in return, as their friends raised their glasses.
"Marius and Cosette!"
"Thank you," Marius said again, "We, er… we're going to need all the help we can get preparing for this wedding, so it's good to have you all on board. But, for tonight… we'd like it very much if you'd all just celebrate with us."
The group descended onto mild chaos as everyone tried to give Marius and Cosette their best wishes. Enjolras and Éponine had returned to their table, happy to sit back to take in the news for a moment by themselves.
"Looks like times really are changing," Enjolras muttered, his eyes following a beaming Marius for a moment.
Éponine smiled softly, "Their lives, certainly," she agreed, resting a hand on his arm, "They've got a big new adventure ahead of them. But do you know what?"
Enjolras turned his head to look at her, "Enlighten me."
Éponine turned to meet his eyes, smiling brightly, "I'm quite happy in our own little adventure right now. I wouldn't change it for the world."
Enjolras breathed a laugh, leaning forward slightly until his forehead rested against hers.
"Is that your not-so-subtle way of telling me not to mope?" he asked.
Éponine simply smiled wider, kissing him lightly on the lips.
"I'm happy, too," Enjolras murmured when she pulled back again, "I'm glad I've got you by my side to face whatever is coming next."
And with that, they sat back to revel in their friends' joy, glimpsing just a sliver of what their new 'normal' was going to be like.