Author's note: This is basically setting out my Enjolras family headcanon. This is also me firmly adding myself to the 'tiny!Enjolras must have been an utter nightmare' camp. Canonically Enjolras is an only child, but I've chosen to ignore that detail for the purposes of this fic. Call it artistic license and a fondness for semi-cyclical structures. Apologies if it pulls you out of the story any.
When Enjolras is four years old he asks why the servants must stand at meals instead of sitting at the table with his family. His father tells him sharply that children should be seen and not heard and does not answer his question. He asks again, because he has always been equal parts stubborn and fearless, and his mother gives him a stern look and tells him that this is the way things are. This answer does not satisfy him either, and he is sent to the nursery without being permitted to finish his dinner. His nurse, a red-faced woman of good character and easy laughter, smuggles him a piece of cake and smiles as he insists that she eat half of it.
When he is seven his little brother is born and his nurse is replaced by a tutor, stern and fat, who tries to teach him to read and does not believe that he already knows. He neglects his lessons, dull and meaningless, and instead makes friends with the stableboys and climbs the tallest trees he can find. Invariably he is found and dragged back, made to sit and pay attention and keep his mouth shut. In all his short life he has never met anyone who does not insist that he be silent, and anger grows inside him with each repetition of the command.
When he is seven and a half his tutor resigns and is replaced by a young man who stutters terribly in front of Enjolras' father and keeps mixing up his notes. Enjolras likes him more than the previous one, but this new tutor is too frightened of losing his position to answer any questions and too easily intimidated to keep order. Within a few months he too has left.
By the time he is nine and three quarters he has gone through three more tutors and grown more sullen with each. He is angry all the time now, his cherubic features contorted into a scowl, his eyes blazing with silenced resentment. He does not ask anymore why the servants must stand, nor is he permitted to play with the stableboys, but he still climbs trees whenever he can get away and he takes his meals in the nursery with his brother because he cannot be made to keep quiet at the dinner table.
When he is eleven his parents send him to the local school. Here he meets boys his own age, boys who jeer at him for his effeminate looks and his privileged background. He has always learned quickly, but that is not an advantage in the schoolyard, and he comes home the first day with a split lip and bruises darkening on his shoulders. For perhaps the first time in his life he keeps silent as his mother questions him, and her frustration is clear in her eyes as she sends him away. When the next day the boys surround him again he hits back, and though it does not stop him from being pounded it gives him the first surge of purpose he has ever had.
He has always been a quick study, and now he dedicates himself to learning to fight with everything he has, watching as the older boys wrestle with each other and doing his best to imitate the technique of those who still torment him. Within a few months he has learned to inflict damage of his own upon the others and they back away. He does not like this newfound power of his, does not like to use violence as the answer, but he will do what he must.
His schoolmaster likes him no more than did any of his tutors, and only the threat of retribution from his father keeps the school from throwing him out. He speaks out of turn, challenging his teacher's words and demanding to know why things must be the way they are. Again and again he is told to be silent; again and again he ignores the command. He has no friends. Publically he never allows this to bother him, if only because some parts of his upbringing could not help but sink in, but alone in his bed he clutches his books and demands of the air why it is that no one understands.
When he is sixteen he leaves for Paris. His father makes no efforts to stop him from leaving and wishes him goodbye as he would a stranger. His only concession to the familial bond is a strict order not to make trouble, one Enjolras does not deign to hear. There has never been any love lost between them – the father cannot tolerate such a rebellious son and the son cannot respect when he is not himself respected. His mother sheds no tears either, though she entreats him to write. She too begs him to behave himself, an order couches as a plea. His brother hugs him and asks him to stay, and Enjolras explains to him in terms he will understand why he cannot. He and his brother are not close, but Enjolras has done his best never to tell the boy to be silent. He does not look back as he walks out his front door for the last time.
Paris is not what he expected. The city stinks with rotting animal flesh and fecal matter, and he can barely hear himself think over the unceasing clamor. He gets lost three times in his first week, once having to rely on fighting skills learned as a boy to escape with injuries only to his dignity and his face. After that he sets to memorizing the maze of streets, learning which to avoid and what hours to travel and then deliberately venturing into those parts of Paris men like him habitually avoid. He speaks with any who will listen and grinds his teeth together as here too he is told to be silent and let those who know better talk. In his classes he is routinely ignored, his teachers here having the same attitude as all those who sought to impart knowledge back home. He wonders occasionally why he thought Paris would be different, though at least he is free of his parents here.
Slowly he discovers the city's charms as well as its vices, learns to see the beauty in its choked streets and imposing architecture. He frequents student cafes and learns to fight properly and everywhere demands to know why things are not better. His reputation precedes him in places now, a reputation made from angry diatribes and blazing glowers. 'Watch out for Enjolras, with his woman's face and his golden hair,' they say. 'He cares for philosophy more than he does for men and his tongue cuts as sharply as his fists.'
When he is seventeen he finds himself in an impassioned argument with a man he does not know, a student a few years older than him with sober clothes and gentle eyes, who hears his points and offers thoughtful rebuttals instead of angry retorts. He counters Enjolras' every point without raising his voice, his expression serious but not angry. His calmness is a revelation to Enjolras, who has been angry for as long as he can remember, and when at last they argue each other into a draw he finds he does not want to end the conversation there. The stranger, his face still serious, holds out a hand and congratulates him on his rhetoric. Enjolras takes it and finds that after a lifetime of speaking out of turn he now finds himself without anything to say. He introduces himself instead, words tumbling over themselves as though seeking to make his new acquaintance retract his earlier compliment, but the other only smiles. 'Combeferre,' he says. 'Might I interest you in a drink and a less volatile conversation?' Enjolras accepts with a self-conscious nod and as he waits for Combeferre to come back with his brandy he thinks he can feel his heart sing.
When he is twenty one his father dies and his mother writes asking him to come home for the funeral. Busy as he is with his schoolwork and his republican activities he declines the invitation. His mother does not write again. He barely notices.
When at twenty six he gives his life for the republic who loved him, his mother sends for his body and learns that he left instructions that it be buried in Paris. She receives his things instead, a bundle of clothes and books and papers, and spends three days going through everything. When at last she has finished learning all she can about the son she barely knew she locks herself in the room she once shared with her husband and cries. She cries to God and begs for insight into why he wasted his life so, why he threw everything away without consideration for the family he'd left behind. God does not answer and when at last she has exhausted her tears she joins her remaining son for dinner and does not ask him to be silent.