The soft touch of Fantine's hand felt so real all of a sudden, and the light that blinded his view of Cosette wasn’t painful or unwelcome. Voices filled his head, gentle singing and a sense of hope and longing that held no resentment for their demise. It didn’t last long though and when Valjean felt his vision slowly return, the voices faded. He didn’t feel hopeless or fearful, just less fulfilled. Confused, he took in his surroundings. Everything seemed... blank. Or vague. The sense of existing but being very unsure of it. Somewhere inside he knew this wasn’t heaven, yet Fantine still stood beside him, calmly waiting for him to settle. Valjean looked upon her in concern.
“May I ask.. where am I? For.. I sense this is not God's realm.”
Fantine gave his hand a soft squeeze, looking so much more peaceful and content than he ever remembered her being.
“This is purgatory, and no.. it's not your stop but... there has been someone waiting here for months and I fear he doesn’t know what he’s waiting for. I believe it’s you.”
Fantine raised a hand to point towards what looked to be a bench, one Valjean vaguely recognised from his walks along the Seine, no doubt a conjugation or memory of the one sitting on it. Valjean let Fantine's hand fall from his as he made his way over, a touch of sadness covering his features when the figure came into view properly as he sat next to him.
The inspector startled, face turning as though not expecting company.
“You!? Of course it'd be you...”
Javert seemed to take in Valjean's appearance gradually, noting the glow of light seeming to emit from him. Javert's lip curled slightly in an annoyed sneer.
“I see I was right about you... a saint no doubt.”
Valjean lowered his gaze, feeling an emotion rolling off of javert like a wave. But not anger like he expected. Guilt.
“I was... unaware you had passed. Is that why you did not have a chance to come for me after that night?”
Javert huffed in a short, bitter laugh, facing forward again like he was waiting for a carriage to arrive.
“Something like that. You are right about one thing, I was dead by morning.”
Valjean sighed, assuming that the bloodshed of the barricades hadn’t ended the moment he slipped away in the sewers and that Javert, the dedicated inspector that he was, was killed in the aftermath.
“I... had I known... I'm sorry. I should have let you follow me and you could have been busy with my arrest rather than fighting in the streets.”
Javert tensed up, scowling at seemingly nothing.
“You think I died in a mere scrap with boys?”
Valjean turned to face Javert properly.
“You did not?”
Before Javert could reply, a bright light fluttered into existence infront of them both, a figure barely visible amongst it. An unidentifiable voice came from the being.
“Your time waiting is over, are you ready to continue your journey?”
Valjean watched the being in awe, swearing if he had a heart it would catch in his throat just being so close to what was no doubt one of God's angels. He went to nod but felt his attention drawn away when Javert stood, addressing the being.
The being seemed to take in Javert with an odd look of scrutiny.
“You are aware that your journey, because of your final actions in living, takes you to Hell.”
Javert, unshaken, opened his mouth to agree when Valjean, seemingly both stunned and horrified, jumped to his feet.
“Wait! There must be some mistake. I know this man, he believes in nothing but justice.”
The angel, looking upon Valjean as though just noticing him, hovered closer.
“Are you, Jean Valjean, aware of this man's final actions in life?”
Valjean, aware that such a being would of course know all about him and his understanding of Javert, shook his head.
“No but it cannot be anything worse than I have done in the past, and I have been told I am due for Heaven. This must be a misund-”
Valjean verbally stumbled as Javert cut him off, eyes wide as he looked at him.
The inspector frowned at Valjean, arms folded professionally behind his back.
“The night I let you leave, I took my own life. By God's words that takes me to Hell. I knew this when I took such actions. A man who spends his life trying to drag a saint into a cell or worse has no place in Heaven.”
Valjean stared in utter shock for a few long moments, something akin to his heart breaking inside of him. He grabbed Javert by the shoulder, feeling nothing but sorrow at the flinch the other man gave.
“I am no saint, Javert. Especially not if I caused you to end your own life...”
The angel, reaching out slowly, spoke up.
“It is time for your punishment. Come.”
Javert bowed his head in obedience, raising his hand to take the one offered. He'd never looked so small to Valjean before, like the wolf hunting him all these years was just a starved dog waiting to be kicked. Valjean pulled Javert back, putting himself between the inspector and the bright Angel.
“No, I cannot let you take him. He is not in the wrong here, I am. I am the cause of his suffering, I am the reason he broke this rule.”
Javert stumbled back enough to almost grab at Valjean for balance, shocked at the scene playing out before him.
“Valjean, really, this is my own doing, I knew the consequences...”
The judging figure of light left it's outstretched hand lingering.
“He will be coming with me for his punishment. It is all arranged.”
Valjean, stood protectively between the angel and Javert, squared his shoulders and held out his own hand.
“Then take me in his place, for I have as good as murdered this man.”
Everything seemed to stop for a moment, even the angel appeared stunned into silence. Javert grabbed Valjean roughly, dragging him around to face him.
“What do you think you’re doing!? You cannot give up eternity for... for me! I’m nothing but a thorn in your side, a disease that’s plagued you for far too long, I’m a-..”
Heavy hands took Javert's, holding them in their own like good friends. Valjean softened his face, smiling sadly.
“You are a good man who thought he was doing right. Nothing less.”
Valjean lifted Javert's hands to his lips briefly before stepping back and letting them go, the hand of the angel falling on his shoulder in a blinding flash of light.
Valjean opened his eyes slowly, stunned to see Fantine before him, holding out her hand.
“Come, Saint Jean. Heaven awaits you.”
Valjean stood still for a moment, wondering if it had all been a figment of his imagination.
He reached out to turn around, trying to indicate behind him where the bench had been before, only to come face to face with the inspector in question. Javert held an expression he’d never seen on his face before but knew all too well. Javert hesitantly placed his hand on Valjean's arm.
“...i.. thank you.”
Valjean couldn’t help himself and threw his arms around Javert with a laugh.
“Anytime, my old friend.”
When he finally pulled away, still holding the arm of an awkward but grateful Javert, he felt Fantine's touch on his shoulder. Turning, keeping Javert in one hand and Fantine in the other, Valjean stepped into the light of Heaven.