Marius lay for a long time between life and death in a state of fever, endlessly repeating the name of Cosette.
‘He mustn’t get excited,’ the doctor warned.
Every day, according to one of the servants, a white-haired, well-dressed gentleman came to ask for news of the sick man.
Finally, after three months, the doctor announced that Marius was out of danger. But he had to spend the next two months resting because of the damage to his shoulder. M. Gillenormand grew happier as his grandson’s condition improved. He did strange, unexpected things, like running up and down stairs without knowing why. He gave his neighbour, a pretty woman, a bunch of flowers, which greatly annoyed her husband.
Marius, meanwhile, tried to make sense of what had happened to him. He thought about Enjolras and Eponine, and wondered why Cosette’s father had been at the barricade. He could not understand why nobody could tell him how he had been saved. All he knew was that he had been brought to his grandfather’s house in a carriage. He noticed his grandfather’s tenderness towards him, but he could not forget the old man’s unfairness and cruelty to his father, who had died penniless and unloved. Most of all, however, he thought about Cosette, and how he could find her again.
‘There’s something I have to say to you,’ Marius told his grandfather one day.
‘What is it?’
‘I want to get married.’
‘But of course,’ the old man laughed.
‘What do you mean — of course?’
‘That’s understood. You will have your little girl.’
‘I don’t understand,’ Marius said, almost speechless with amazement.
‘You will have her,’ the old man repeated. ‘She comes here every day in the shape of an old man who asks for news of you. While you’ve been ill, she’s spent her time crying and making bandages for you. I know all about her. She lives at Number 7, rue de l’Homme-Arme. You see, I’m not as unkind as you think. I’ve found out that she’s a charming girl and that she loves you. I knew you were angry with me, and I thought, «What can I do to make him love me?» Then I thought, «I can give him Cosette.» I wanted to invite her to see you, but the doctor warned me that you would probably get too excited. So I advise you, dear boy, to eat more meat and get better soon. Then you can marry your Cosette and be happy.’
Having said this, the old man burst into tears. He held Marius’s head to his chest and they cried together.
‘Grandfather,’ Marius said at last, ‘I’m feeling much better already. When can I see her?’
‘You can see her tomorrow.’
‘Why not today?’
‘All right, I’ll fetch her today. You’ve called me «grandfather»; you’ve shown me that you love me after all. You’ve earned your reward!’
Later that day, Cosette arrived at M. Gillenormand’s house. Standing beside her on the doorstep was a white-haired man with a strangely nervous smile.
M. Gillenormand showed them up to the room where Marius was waiting. Cosette stood in the doorway, overcome with happiness. She wanted to throw herself into Marius’s arms, but was unable to move, afraid to show the world that she loved him.
‘Monsieur.’ M. Gillenormand addressed Jean Valjean. ‘I have the honour, on behalf of my grandson, Marius Pontmercy, to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.’
Jean Valjean bowed.
‘Good, then that is agreed,’ M. Gillenormand said and, turning to Marius and Cosette, he added, ‘My children, you are free to love one another.’
When they were alone together, Cosette and Marius kissed.
‘Is it really you?’ Cosette murmured at last. ‘I can’t believe it. I’m so happy to see you. I was so excited today that I haven’t even dressed up for you. I must look terrible. But why don’t you say something? Why are you letting me do all the talking? Do you still love me? Oh, I’m so wild with happiness
‘My love…’ Marius whispered.
The wedding was arranged for February the following year. Jean Valjean arranged everything. Having been a mayor, he knew how to solve an awkward problem: the question of Cosette’s real family He told everybody that he was not her father, but her guardian. He also invented a dead family for Cosette, so that everybody believed she was an orphan. Valjean, as her guardian, gave Cosette a large amount of money — half a million francs — but did not tell her that the money was his. He told her that the money came from a man who preferred to remain unknown. It was arranged that the couple, who could not believe their sudden, new-found happiness, would live with M. Gillenormand after the wedding.
Cosette, accompanied by Jean Valjean, visited Marius every day. Marius did not speak much to Valjean. Despite enjoying an occasional conversation with him, he found something strange about the old man. He could not believe that this was the same man he had seen at the barricade all those months ago — it seemed like a bad dream to him.
But there were more important things for Marius to think about. Apart from preparing for his wedding, there were two people that he wanted to find. First, there was Thenardier.