When Enjolras and Grantaire started debating in the middle of the Musain backroom, the other Amis kept talking as usual. This was common practice between them. It was simply a fact in their world: the sky was blue, grass was green, and Enjolras and Grantaire would always argue.
But then the two of them kissed and the facts changed in all of the surprised Amis’ heads. The sky was mostly blue, grass was mostly green, and Enjolras and Grantaire would mostly argue. The time spent not arguing would pass with the two of them staring lovingly into each other’s eyes, secretly entwined hands under the table, and light kisses that their friends chose to ignore (then discuss with joy and excitement after the two left to ‘rest’ for the night in their shared apartment).
When Enjolras and Grantaire walked into the backroom with a little boy and frightened faces, the Amis were shocked. Even Combeferre’s jaw had dropped.
“Enjolras, Grantaire,” Joly said slowly, “why do you have a child?”
“We found him on the steps of our building, and none of the other patrons were willing to take care of him,” Grantaire answered, while Enjolras kept staring with unconcealed fear at the sleeping child in his arms. “We couldn’t just leave him to be alone.”
They found the boy wrapped in a dirty blanket and clothes that were too thin for the impending winter with a tuft of dark brown hair. On the corner of the blanket was a poorly embroidered name: Antoine. Chocolate eyes that were too young to look that sad stared up at them in silence.
Antoine grew up around Les Amis. After that faithful night, Antoine had always joined Enjolras and Grantaire to the meetings in the backroom and had grown accustomed to the adult men. He was often called ‘petit Antoine’. All of them had had tried their hand in taking care of the child. Even Marius, who was technically not even a part of the group, had looked after the boy a few times.
But at the end of the day, Antoine would always go back home with their leader and cynic, and they were the only ones who would be called Papa. None of them were surprised.
And when the two of them started lovingly calling the child their son, none of them were surprised either.
When Enjolras and Grantaire turned out to be amazing fathers, the other Amis would be lying if they said they weren’t surprised.
They still argued, because they won’t be the same without it, but it’s lost its sharpness ever since Antoine started attending the meetings. Every time one of them seemed about to deliver a line that would cross the line between friendly debate and hurtful arguments, he would take a look at the little child and their expression and words would immediately soften.
The most obvious change in Grantaire, who was still Papa, was that he stopped drinking. At first, he only made sure to never drink a single drop of wine near the little boy, but then it turned into never drinking a single drop. When he started getting sick from the withdrawal, all of the Amis helped him. It was hard to watch, but he pulled through in the end. None of them had ever seen him look so healthy and cheerful. It was like he was a completely different, but better, person. What did stay the same were the charcoal and paint stains on his skin, though the subject of his art changed dramatically. It used to be of a pale man with blonde curls and piercing blue eyes in chiaroscuro, but his latest artworks featured a recurring little child with wavy brown hair and brown eyes in soft colors.
None of them had expected Enjolras, who became Father for Antoine, to become such a doting, loving father. They didn’t even know their fearless leader was capable of having so much love; love for his friends, themselves, love for his beloved, Grantaire, and love for his child, Antoine. He made sure Antoine would receive only the better things in his life and properly educated him. And every time the child studied, Enjolras would be by his side as often as he could, helping out whenever he was needed. From there developed an interesting habit between the two – tapping each other’s noses. Whenever Antoine scrunched up his nose at something he couldn’t understand Enjolras would tap the boy’s nose before helping him. After awhile, Antoine started doing it back to his Father, and the simple action had turned into something more for them both. It represented the three words they were too scared to say.
When Enjolras and Grantaire appeared to a meeting one day with a familiar face with dark brown hair and chocolate eyes in a poorly fashioned dress, their friends was curious more than anything.
“Well then,” Courfeyrac had said with a friendly grin. “Who is this lovely mademoiselle?” He knelt down and took the child’s hand, bestowing a light kiss on it.
“I’m Mademoiselle Élisabeth,” the child answered nervously.
"Well, petite Élisabeth,” Courfeyrac said, “I have never seen a more charming lady.” Her Father and Papa’s smiles were bright, but her own answering smile was the brightest thing Courfeyrac had ever seen.
When Grantaire fell gravely ill, Les Amis were devastated. No matter how sad they were, though, it was nowhere near what Élisabeth and Enjolras went through.
Élisabeth couldn’t stop crying, and wouldn’t sleep when her Papa was in pain. In the end, she passed out from exhaustion and Bahorel carried her to his and Feuilly’s home along with Joly, who made sure she wasn’t infected by whatever had hit Grantaire. And when she woke up, she screamed and begged to be returned to her fathers. Bahorel couldn’t let her out, not when he knew seeing her Papa’s degrading state would only break her even more.
Enjolras never left Grantaire’s side, much to the exasperation of Combeferre, Joly, and even Grantaire during the moments he was conscious. No matter how much convincing the Amis tried to do, Enjolras wouldn’t budge. He would spend every hour he could, every day by his lover’s bed, accompanying him. His friends understood his worry, but they couldn’t comprehend why he would watch over Grantaire with such diligence.
(Later, they would learn that it was because Enjolras didn’t want his Grantaire to die alone, just as he always said he would.)
When Grantaire died, their friends pretended not to hear Enjolras screaming in agony by his bedside.
When Grantaire was buried, they quietly watched an almost numb-looking Enjolras crouch and wipe at his daughter’s face.
“Élisabeth,” he said, his voice rough from screaming and crying. He took a deep breath and tried again, this time with a smile that looked as fragile as he was. “Élisabeth, my dear, how would you feel about getting a last name?”
“A last name?” she asked, her voice broken.
“Yes, a last name,” he repeated. “How would you feel about getting your Papa’s last name?”
The little girl nodded. Enjolras leaned up to kiss her forehead – she was getting taller and taller – and his smile looked a little less sad. From that moment on, Élisabeth became Élisabeth Grantaire, her Papa’s daughter forever.
Enjolras wiped the little girl’s tears. He tapped Élisabeth’s nose. Élisabeth tapped Enjolras’.
When Enjolras walked through his and Grantaire’s (because it would always be Grantaire’s too, everything of Enjolras’ was Grantaire’s) apartment at midnight, none of his friends stirred.
They didn’t hear Enjolras slowly opening the door to Élisabeth’s room and stepping in. They didn’t hear hear him softly weeping while stroking his daughter’s hair. They didn’t hear the quiet vow he made to the sleeping child to make the Earth a better place for her to grow in and make her own, a place where Grantaire could’ve been happy. They didn’t hear him quietly slipping into Élisabeth’s bed and staying there for the night.
When Enjolras started planning the upcoming revolution with more rigor, the Amis were worried, but they didn’t know what to do but follow along.
They left him be until it got to the point where he wouldn’t eat; wouldn’t even talk about anything except for the Cause. Even Élisabeth was getting shut out bit by bit (but he always made sure to smile at her, at least once, every day).
Combeferre had tried to get him to take a rest more than once, but all his efforts were pointless. Enjolras wouldn’t budge. But instead of sighing and leaving him be as usual, Combeferre felt his patience run out.
“Enjolras, I understand you’re still in mourning, but this is getting unhealthy,” he said, keeping his voice as low and comforting as possible, though it was taking on a tired tone. “You need to eat and rest if you want to go on with the Revolution.”
Enjolras stayed silent at his desk, but his hand had stopped writing. His shoulders were shaking.
“We’re all worried about you,” he said softly. “Élisabeth especially.”
Enjolras crumbled. All his defenses, the cold exterior he’s maintained the few months after Grantaire’s death, fell down and Combeferre gathered him in his arms to keep him from falling apart. He let his closest friend gasp and sob into his shirt and held him steadily as Enjolras shook.
“I have been-“ Enjolras gasped, “-such an ass to all of you, to Élisabeth, and I-“ He clutched desperately onto Combeferre, searching for something that could help him regain some composure. Combeferre’s patience returned and he patted the blonde as he tried to arrange the words in his head in an order that would make sense.
“I miss him,” Enjolras whispered. “I miss him so, so much it hurts.”
He could relate to that, at least.
Combeferre moved them to the bed (he was frightened by how light his friend was, but he didn’t let it show in his face) and they stayed in silence for a bit, holding each other. It was broken by Enjolras, who said, “I can’t rest, ‘Ferre,” in a quiet voice. “I have to- I have to make sure everything is perfect. I don’t have time to waste. Everything has to be perfect, it has to be perfect, for- for Élisabeth.”
Combeferre looked at Enjolras. His face was gaunt, there were shadows under his eyes, cheekbones, lips, and his exhaustion was visible to anyone. “Élisabeth would be more content with seeing you healthy,” he said, finally. Enjolras closed his eyes, and Combeferre slipped out of the room.
(Later that night, when Enjolras heard walking around the apartment, he walked into the living room, holding his breath. Élisabeth froze for a moment, then said, “Well, good thing I bought extra.” Enjolras smiled at her.)
When Enjolras stood atop the barricade he and his friends built, for a moment, he and the rest of Les Amis felt the full passion he had experienced before Grantaire died. He looked upon the people that were gathered for the Cause, for the Revolution, from his corner and he couldn’t help but feel as if he was soaring. Maybe, he could prove Grantaire’s arguments wrong. Maybe, he could achieve what he’d been dreaming of for years.
But then there was marching, yelling, fired guns, fallen bodies, spilled blood, and as Enjolras gave out orders and took his enemies down one by one, he couldn’t help but feel as if he was going to see Grantaire again soon.
He almost smiled at the thought, but then his mind reminded him of Élisabeth, and he hated himself for wanting to be so cruel to his daughter. He had to live through this, for Élisabeth’s sake.
Enjolras brought his mind back to the battle. If he wanted to survive this, he had to devote all of his attention to what was happening right before his eyes.
When Élisabeth showed up at the barricade in a boy’s clothing (without losing any of her feminine touch), her Father’s friends were shocked silent. None of them knew whether or not they should tell Enjolras or immediately send her away.
“Éli,” Jehan said, softly. “Why are you here?”
“I want to help Father,” the still too-young girl answered. “I want to be by his side.”
Bossuet turned and saw her. His eyes went wide and he ran to the girl, his hand reaching for her shoulder. “Élisabeth!” he said. “It’s not safe here! Quick, you must go, I’ll take you to Louison-”
“No!” Élisabeth protested. “I have to help Father!”
“What is this ruckus?” Enjolras’ sharp voice cut through the air, and the man appeared amongst the tense Amis. Then, his eyes fell on the little girl and he dropped his gun and fell to his knees. “Élisabeth,” he said, his face pale, “what are you doing here? You can’t be here!”
“I want to help you!”
“You can’t! This- This is dangerous. You can get hurt, please, go back home. For me, for Papa, okay?” Enjolras pleaded. “You’re too young for this-“
“I am not!” the little girl protested. She looked around, and her eyes fell on a boy, who was walking through the other adult men at the barricade with a sharp grin. A pair of watchful eyes under a hat watched the boy from their perch on the barricade. “There’s someone else as young as I am, if not younger!”
“Gavroche is different,” Enjolras said. “All his life, he’s lived in poverty and struggle. I did everything I could so you didn’t have to be like him – a child who knows how to hold a gun because he’s had to use one to live.”
Someone called for Enjolras, and he spun around. A man ran up to him and reported that their ammunition was running out, causing the leader to swear under his breath. He looked frustrated, and he sighed and called for Joly. The hypochondriac came running, and when his eyes fell on Élisabeth, he froze, and his gaze went back to Enjolras. “Please take care of her,” he said, looking pained, before running off to handle the ammunition.
Joly turned his gaze back onto the girl, who had her arms crossed and a glare she had, without a doubt, learned from her Father. “Don’t you dare send me away,” she said.
In hindsight, Enjolras probably should’ve appointed someone else to look after Élisabeth. Joly could never resist her.
The medic sighed, looked at the little girl, and then rubbed his forehead. “Come help me in the back,” he said. The least he could do was keep her away from the gunfire.
When Élisabeth saw the little boy from earlier brought in to the Musain, where Joly had set up his station, she couldn’t help the gags. Joly looked at her sympathetically.
The boy – Gavroche – was put on the floor in a corner next to a body that had watched him when they were still alive. Side by side like that, Élisabeth could see their similarities. They had been siblings. Élisabeth's hand shook as she closed Gavroche's eyes.
When Élisabeth heard the gunshots start all over again, she was terrified. She looked at Joly, who was looking at the door. They could hear bodies falling. None of them were brought in. There was no one to carry them.
“Wait here,” Joly whispered, holding her shoulder, before he grabbed his gun and walked out. Élisabeth stood there, in the corner, terrified.
Then, the door burst open, and Joly, Combeferre, Courfeyrac, and Enjolras stumbled in. Joly, Combeferre, and Courfeyrac quickly did everything they could to barricade the door while Enjolras ran to Élisabeth and pushed her onto the floor, next to the other dead bodies. Élisabeth stared at her Father.
“Stay here,” he whispered, his voice laced with fear, “and stay still, okay?” Élisabeth nodded, and Enjolras kissed her forehead and tapped her nose. He was already running up the stairs with the others before she could tap back.
She closed her eyes and took deep breaths to calm herself down. She could feel the cold, sticky skin of the corpses around her and tried to hold back her shudder. Hopefully she had enough blood to pass as a corpse.
There was the sound of the doors rattling before it was forced open. Élisabeth held her breath. Footsteps, and the voice of someone commanding. She could hear them shuffling, arranging their position. The commander yelled, “Fire!” and she couldn’t help the flinch when she heard the gunshots and the muffled thump of the bodies of the people she loved the most falling. (She didn’t want to think of her Father being one of those bodies; she didn’t want to think of Enjolras dead, she didn’t want to-) No one saw her.
They went up the stairs, and she took the chance to breathe as quietly as she can. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t trust herself enough to keep her sobbing quiet.
For a few moments, she couldn’t hear anything but barely audible noises. The only thing she heard clearly was Enjolras’ distinct voice yelling, “Vive la Révolution!” followed by gunshots and a thud. She struggled to keep her face blank and she prayed her tears weren’t visible among all the blood and dirt on her face.
The group went down the stairs, and it was so, so hard to not pounce onto and strangle all of them. She gritted her teeth and held her breath as they took their merry time to exit the Musain. It hurt to hold herself back from running up the stairs until their footsteps were gone.
After she couldn’t hear them anymore, she opened her eyes and quickly went up the stairs as quietly as she could. When she reached the top floor of the Musain, she nearly fell onto her knees. On the floor in front of her were three bodies that she recognized as Combeferre, Courfeyrac, and Joly with a pool of blood underneath them. She gaped and stared in horror at three of the most valuable people in her life.
Élisabeth heard a groan, and her head snapped up. There Enjolras was, leaning against the wall with a blood-soaked shirt with his head bowed. His hands trembled over his chest and abdomen.
She ran to her Father and helped him to the floor as gently as she could. “Father,” she gasped out. Enjolras’ breaths were coming on slow, and the few breaths he took were shallow. Élisabeth kneeled over him, trying to keep her sobs to herself.
“Élisabeth,” he said weakly. He slowly lifted his hand and wiped away her tears. “I’m sorry I was such a bad father.”
Desperately, she grabbed his hand. “You’re the best father I could ever wish for, please, please don’t die Father, don’t leave me-“
“Shh,” he whispered, curling his fingers around her hand. He smiled as best as he could. “You know I love you, right?”
“I do, I do, I love you too, Father, I love you and Papa so, so much,” she cried out.
“I love you.” Carefully, he tapped her nose. Élisabeth tapped back.
Enjolras’ hand became a dead weight in her own, and his chest no longer shook. His smile was still on his face, and his eyes stared emptily into Élisabeth.
When Élisabeth spotted Marius and a well-dressed lady side-by-side on the streets, she didn’t think before running up to them. Her arms went around Marius, who froze, then held her back.
They stayed there for a long moment, the lady silent beside them. Then, they pulled apart with tears in both their eyes.
“Élisabeth,” Marius said, in the gentlest of whispers. The lady’s eyes went wide.
“Marius,” she whispered back. “I- I didn’t know you survived.”
They hugged again, tightly. Élisabeth sobbed into Marius’ coat, and the man had his arms around the girl’s shoulders, occasionally stroking her long, dirty hair.
She sniffed loudly and let go. She took a deep breath to compose herself, then smiled widely at Marius and the lady beside him. “Bonjour,” she said, bowing her head slightly. “I am Mademoiselle Élisabeth.” Her Father did teach her manners, after all.
“Madame Pontmercy,” the lady said, with a soft smile. “I’ve heard of you.”
“Madame Pontmercy,” Élisabeth repeated. “You’re Cosette, then?”
Cosette smiled wider. “Yes,” she said, while Marius still stared at the little girl in shock. She looked at Élisabeth up and down, and came to a decision. “Come dine with us,” she said, holding her hand out. “There’s always room for more.”
Élisabeth looked back at Marius, who was nodding frantically. She turned back to Cosette and took her hand.