As she ran over the barricade, back to Marius, back to the only place she could ever want to be, she did not think of the danger she was in. She did not think that she could be killed. She did not think even of what would happen if she were injured. One thought pounded in her head, thrumming to her heart beat: Marius, Marius, Marius.

So she was shocked when she felt a crushing weight on her chest, and felt the wrenching agony, which cleansed her mind even further until she could no longer think of anything else. Through the torment, that one thought remained: Marius, Marius, Marius. Eponine was a smart girl despite going to school, she knew that with the amount of blood she was losing, she would more than likely die.

She wasn't ready, God she wasn't ready, but perhaps it was better this way. She knew that she had to make it back to Marius, but after that…? What? He loved Cosette in a way that he could never love her. That realization alone crushed and ached far more than the gunshot wound she received. It hurt in a way that only unrequited love can. It hurts you inside out.

It was as she was suffering from both pains that she finally stumbled over the barricade. She faintly thought that she heard someone shout out, but then Marius' face was there, and she had to hurry before she could no longer speak. Eponine felt the dark blackness closing in.

"I took the letter like you said,

I met her father at the door.

He said he would give it…

I don't think I can stand anymore-"

She collapsed forwards into Marius' strong arms. He gently maneuvered her to lay against him, his voice sharp with worry.

"Eponine what's wrong?

I feel there's something wet upon your hair.

Eponine, you're hurt! You need some help!

Oh God! It's everywhere!"

Eponine, detached by her torment from her body, looked down at her breast, slick and dark with crimson blood that poured still in great torrents. It plastered her thin blouse to her chest even more so than the rain that had begun to pour. Thin rivulets of red began to run off of her as the rain continued to pour.

Vaguely, she noticed as others grouped around her, and she heard Marius shout to one frantically to get a doctor.

"Don't you fret, Monsieur Marius,

I don't feel any pain-"

Her chest throbbed harshly to remind her of her lie. But she couldn't bear to watch the torment in Marius' eyes. He was blaming himself. Eponine knew him well enough to realize that. And so she sang. Her voice was not perfect; it was rough from pain and exhaustion, but it still held a beauty that comes from sacrifice for someone you love.

Marius joined her, singing words of comfort to her. She smiled before gasping as sheer agony wracked through her body and she coughed on blood that was welling up in her mouth.

"I'm here."

"That's all I need to know…

And you will keep me safe,

And you will keep me close,

And rain…will make the flowers…"

"And rain will make the flow-"

With the last of her diminished strength, Eponine wrenched herself up and kissed Marius with the passion of one who knows it will be their last act on Earth. Without words, she conveyed to him her loneliness, and her love for him. And then…only then…did Eponine let herself sink into the darkness. Only then could Eponine accept death.

XXXXXXXX

Marius' POV

Marius cradled Eponine's small form in his arms. His shoulders shook with the force of his sobbing. He wept for the girl he held. The girl who had done so much for him. The girl who was his best friend.

"Marius! Wait! She is still alive."

Marius looked up at Enjolras, and noticed, for the first time, that Eponine was indeed alive. Her breath was weak and came in ragged gasps, and a small amount of blood trickled from the corner of her lips, but she was alive.

His hope rekindled, Marius stripped off his jacket and pressed it firmly to the would on Eponine's chest, trying to staunch the blood loss. When the doctor arrived, and Eponine was picked up and carried to a tent nearby, Marius waited outside at Enjolras' request. The older student knew that Marius would be no good to anyone when he was anxious over news of the street girl he was so fond of.

When the doctor exited the tent, his arms and clothes covered in blood, Marius leaped for news.

"How is she?"

The doctor smiled at him sympathetically, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"I have done all that I can do for her. The rest is up to whether she has the desire to live."

"Please, may I go to her?"

"Yes. Perhaps if you speak to her she will have a reason to fight for her life."

As Marius dashed into the tent, the doctor looked after him sadly.

"Please God," he murmured, "let her live. Without her, I do not know what will become of that young man." He shook his head and moved off, readying himself for the upcoming battle and the resulting injuries he would have to see to.

Marius, too, prayed, as he sat beside the narrow cot that Eponine lay on. He held her small, cold hand in his own, his head bowed as he begged for Eponine to be spared.

"Let her live. If you do, I swear to you, I shall care for as I would for a sister. She shall not want any longer for food and shelter. Please, dear Lord, let her live…"

Marius kept a constant vigil over Eponine, alternately praying and watching, thinking over his feelings for the girl in front of him.