Disclaimer: I don't own Les Mis or the characters.

Chapter II

The Café Musain

The Café Musain was a small café in the Place Saint-Michel. It had been there for a long time. It was never particularly very busy and was only really frequented by a group of students from the nearby university, a group which called themselves Les Amis de l'ABC. The name, of course, was a pun, as ABC is pronounced the same as abaissé, the lowly, the abased, the oppressed. They helped the poor in any way possible. The group met in the back room of the café. The back room was quite far from the main café, and connected by a long passage. It was very easy to hold private meetings there. The room had an exit by a private stairway to the Rue Cujas**. The Musain had been there for a long time, longer than most buildings in the area. It was a tall, somewhat slanted building, made from stone. The second floor had a window which permitted a view of the Place Saint-Michel. The letters over the entrance were scratched and faded and really only read L Ca é Mus in, but there was still a faint outline of the letters that had once been there. The Musain was very different from the surrounding buildings, which were pretty and new. But that's not to say that the Musain didn't have its own beauty. It was one of those old buildings that are radiant with history. It's white, stone walls told stories of those who had been there in the past. The dents in the floors and walls told of the fights that had taken place there, possibly between inebriated men or women. The scorch marks above the fireplace tell of the time that the café nearly burned down. To merely touch the wall of the café was almost like touching history.

The Musain was once a very popular place, it was always filled with customers and was a common meeting place for friends. But that had changed. Now, people preferred newer restaurants. It is a shame how few people can appreciate the beauty of history, how few people can see past the misleading dull appearance. The Musain was by no means a dull place. The staff were always friendly and upbeat. Despite how empty it was, the Musain was a very cheerful place where one could often hear laughter, especially when the students were there. Les Amis de l'ABC were a lively bunch, with bright ideas and good humours. They often engaged in vigorous debates about the government and various political figures.

As we have just covered, the Café Musain was not a dull place. On occasion, when the students had let it spread that there would be a meeting, the Musain could become very crowded. This didn't usually last very long. Some people would lose interest in what the students were saying, or some would just think them insane. There were always one or two that would stay and join the students, becoming members of Les Amis de l'ABC.

Eponine glanced at Marius, from the corner of her hazel eyes, secretly admiring him. She loved the way his jet black hair curled towards the tips. It's getting long, she noticed. Her gaze flickered to his vivacious emerald-green eyes, and then to his soft-looking lips. She quickly looked away, fairly certain that she had begun to blush. He's a very pretty boy, she couldn't help but think. She was almost the same height as him. The other kids at school often teased her for being so tall, but she didn't care. She would just remind them that she literally looked down on them. Eponine was often picked on by the other kids at school for being poor, for wearing tattered clothing, for having tangled hair. She didn't care, it didn't bother her. But it sure as hell bothered Marius. He would always defend her whenever he was present for the tauntings. He knew she didn't need defending, but he couldn't help it. He couldn't just let them bully his best friend. Eponine appreciated how much he cared for her, it really meant a lot to her. She never told him that, but he knew all the same. Eponine wasn't really the type to talk about her feelings, she never got all weepy, she never really let her emotions show at all. And yet, Marius could read her like a book. The only thing that he failed to notice, and perhaps the most important of all, was the fact that she was hopelessly and irrevocably in love with him.

Marius glanced at the girl he called his best friend. He smiled slightly. She was the best friend he could ever hope for. She was a little rough around the edges, but he knew she had a heart of gold. She always listened to him whenever there was something on his mind, she always comforted him when he was upset, and she stuck by him no matter what the circumstance. She would do anything for him. She was also rather pretty, once you looked past the tattered clothes and tangled hair. Her hazel eyes often changed between brown and green, sometimes taking on a colour that was an interesting mix of the two, and, if you looked directly into them, you could see gold flecks. Her hair was a rich shade of brown, with the slightest tinge of red. She was beautiful. Maybe not to everyone, but certainly to him. She was his beautiful best friend and he cared for her deeply. That was something that Eponine couldn't understand. She couldn't understand why he cared about her, why he enjoyed being around her, why he didn't insult her like the rest. She didn't think much of herself. Her whole life, she'd been told that she was worthless by pretty much everybody. It was hard for her not to believe it, having heard it for so long. She didn't think she was pretty for the same reasons she thought herself worthless. Marius always tried to convince her otherwise, but she found herself unable to believe him. She wanted to, she really did. But she couldn't.

Eponine and Marius looked at the stone building in front of them. The Café Musain. The sun shone upon it, making the white of the stone seem even brighter. A small smile graced Eponine's lips. She loved old buildings, she loved history in general. It fascinated her. Just knowing that the Musain had been there for so long, that so many things had happened there... it excited her. Marius couldn't help but smile, seeing the joy in Eponine's eyes, eyes that were blank more often than not. He had suggested to her on several occasions that she study to become a history teacher. Eponine would always smile a bit at that and then remind him that her father would never allow her to do such a thing, that society wouldn't allow it. "I'm poor." Eponine would say, "Do you really think I could get accepted into a university on a full scholarship? Because that's the only way I could afford it." Marius would always respond with, "Yes, I do think you could get accepted, and with a full scholarship. 'Ponine, you have the top grades in History. I think you could do it." And, after a while, Eponine had agreed that she would apply. So she sent off an application to a nearby university, incidentally the same one that Marius had applied–and had been accepted–to.

Marius led Eponine inside and to a table. The only other occupants of the Musain were the staff, and the students. Yes, those same revolutionary students. Marius pulled the chair out for Eponine and she smiled slightly as she sat down. He sat down across from her. A waitress soon came and took their orders. Marius rested his chin in his hands and looked at Eponine,

"So, 'Ponine, your birthday is in a couple of months..."

"Marius, before you ask, you do not need to get me anything."

"True, but I want to get you something."

"You've already given me so much."

"How so?" he asked, confused.

"You're my best friend, Marius. My only friend. You treat me as an equal, as an actual human being. You actually care about me... That's more than I could ever ask for. You have already given me so much by simply being my friend. There is nothing that I want for my birthday, Marius. You have already given me all that I want." she said, looking at him. He gently took her hand.

"I wish that everyone would treat you well."

"I know you do, Marius, and I appreciate that. But that won't ever happen. I'm a streetrat, and everyone knows it. They think me to be beneath them and I don't know that they're wrong. You treat me decently, yet I, myself, am not a decent person."


"No, it's true. I pick-pocket, I've been forced to sell myself before, I'm–"

"An abaissée?" a voice that did not belong to Marius supplied. Eponine looked up to see who had spoken. It was man that looked to be only slightly older than her and Marius. His hair was a golden, honey colour and his beautiful grey eyes were flecked with gold. He seemed more angel than man. All of his features were perfect, almost as if sculpted by Seraphim or some other Heavenly entity. He was tall, very tall. He was thin, but also muscular. He wore a red vest on top of a white, button-down shirt, and black trousers. "Pardon me," he said, "but I could not help but overhear your conversation. Mademoiselle," he said, nodding at Eponine, "Monsieur," he nodded at Marius, "I am Enjolras and we," he now gestured to the group of students, "are Les Amis de l'ABC."

I hope you guys enjoyed that. Sorry it took so long. I've been busy with school, what with finals coming up and all. Anyway, please leave a review!

**In Hugo's era, the Rue Cujas was known as the Rue des Grés.