It was silent… Dead silent, Éponine looked at the room that surrounded her confused of where she lay, it looked like the cafe but it could not be so. She had been shot, she had died in Marius's arms and could remember her world growing dark and disappearing. It was impossible and improbable to be in the cafe if she had died, so there was only one answer.
"I'm alive?" Éponine whispered, she sat up and was very confused and dizzy with pain, "how?" She wondered quietly. The café was still quiet; no one except her was there at least from what she could see. Still unsure if she really was alive or dead she ran her hand down to her chest where the bullet had pierced her. Her shirt was still covered in her blood but some had been ripped away and her wound had been bandaged; had someone saved her life and then left her here alone? Why?
Getting off of the table she had been lying on, she stretched her stiffened back and tried to walk but her feet were not willing to comply causing her to trip over a nearby chair. Slowly she raised herself up and steadied against the chair. "Marius…" The name went from her mind to her lips, a tear slid across her cheek; he didn't know she was alive. But then where was he? Had Marius survived too?
As quickly as she could she grabbed her coat which had been set beside her, she noticed that her hat was gone... But that really wasn't important right now she told herself as she left the café.
Now back in number 55 Rue Plumet, Marius was in the small guest bedroom sitting at a small table with Cosette beside him. The barricades had fallen less than a day ago and already people were trying to snap Marius out of the perpetual gloom that hung over him. "Marius, it's over now and we can get on with our lives… together." Cosette spoke tenderly while Marius looked old working man's cap still grasped tightly in his hands; somehow it had stayed with him his entire journey.
Cosette looked at the hat "You know, I don't understand why you insist on keeping that God-forsaken thing," She spoke eying the brown cap he held.
All Marius could think about was Éponine's sad brown eyes closing for the last time, her crimson blood staining his hands. "Marius? Who did it belong to?" Cosette asked.
Marius took a deep breath and looked away sadly, "Éponine…" He softly spoke her name.
"A girl?" Cosette asked looking at Marius pointedly "was she the one that was here that night? She scared away the robbers... Didn't she?" It would be impossible for Cosette to forget the events that had happened that night.
"She was a good friend of mine." He sighed, grasping the hat. It was all he had left of her, the one who had done so much for him. Yet it was now that he realized how blind he had been; Éponine had always tried to smile around him even if there were new cuts or bruises or her skirt a little more torn.
"Marius you keep talking about her as if she…" Cosette stopped.
"Died?" He answered bitterly, her death was still too painful for him to deal with.
"I'm sorry," Cosette said softly, "But, what happened? Was she at the barricade too?"
At first Marius did not say anything, "I-I shouldn't tell you… It was terrible," he finally replied.
Cosette was not going to back down easily, "Please? Just tell me what happened to her."
Marius took a deep breath and started to explain, a feeling came over him as if he was back on the barricades the cool night air was nothing but a simple breeze. "Gavroche had just disclosed that one of the volunteers was a spy, a police inspector, Inspector Javert." He recalled the praise bestowed upon little Gavroche. Then he remembered that horrid sound, the crack of a gunshot.
"Immediately we all ran to the barricades, Joly climbed to the top and looked over, he said there was a boy..." Marius continued his story while Cosette gently grasped his hand. He remembered Joly helping the "boy" over the top of the barricade.
"When they pulled the boy over, all I could see was that I recognized the coat. Éponine had been wearing a man's clothing to get to the barricade. The coat on that boy was hers. " Cosette's eyes widened in shock to think that a young girl like the one she saw that night would dare climb a barricade.
Marius looked out the window as he remembered what happened next. "I ran over to the boy… Then when I saw his face I knew it was Éponine, I wasn't sure what to do… Mostly I was angry; I had given her the letter to keep her away from the fighting. She told me that she had done as I had asked, she had delivered the letter but that your father had gotten it... I noticed she was struggling to stand, I tried to help her but she fell into my arms ..."
Marius took another breath before continuing, "I saw there was a small gash on her head, I hoped and prayed that was the worst of it… Then I saw a scarlet spot on her coat… I didn't want to believe it so I pulled back her coat and found her shirt covered in blood, she had been s-shot." Marius ended his sentence shakily. Cosette although unsure of what really happened felt a pain for the mysterious girl.
"She told me I didn't need to worry it didn't hurt her but, in a way I know she was just putting on a brave face like she always did." Marius shook his head "Cosette please forgive me as I say this…" Marius looked to Cosette who nodded in confusion. "Éponine told me she loved me... That she had ever since we first met…" he heard Cosette elicit a small gasp. "She soon fell unconscious and Joly took her inside the Café, he couldn't save her, he and Combeferre tried so hard. She was my best friend!"
Marius thought back to the table where the still body of the young street urchin lay motionless, Gavroche had been standing next to him. The young boy had lost his sister, the two of them had an odd relationship but it didn't mean that they didn't care for each other.
Marius looked at Cosette, even though she had just heard Marius tell her about another girl who loved him. Marius hoped she didn't take it the wrong way he still loved Cosette but he had known Éponine for what would almost be two years if she had lived.
Cosette felt that maybe she understood the relationship of this girl to Marius but she wasn't going to dig deeper, it wasn't her place; she knew that. But, she couldn't stop herself from saying something "I knew an Éponine once, when I was a small child in Montfermeil living with these wretched people, the Thenardiers. Éponine, their daughter, was my age and I guess she copied whatever her mother did and treated me just as badly." Cosette thought back to some of the childhood she remembered but had tried to forget.
She hadn't noticed that Marius eyes had opened wide in shock. "Thenardier?" he asked. Cosette nodded her confirmation. "Dear God, that was her…" He whispered but Cosette heard him.
"The girl who died at the barricade was Éponine Thenardier? That spoiled girl from Montfermeil became a street rat?" Cosette exclaimed in an unladylike manner. She had wondered when she saw that girl for a brief time why she had shown a look of recognition on her face. Cosette couldn't believe it, it shocked her so much, to think that Marius was friends with Éponine Thenardier? It was a strange thought.