"I'm going to head into town to replenish our supplies." I announced, taking my
coinpurse and dumping its contents into a bigger bag.
"Are you sure you wouldn't like me to do it?" Quentin questioned, getting up
from the chair he'd retired to.
"Yes, I'm certain. You've been unstinting in your favors for me, it's about time
I began pulling my own weight!" I laughed, winking at him.
"No, I really don't mind…" he began again, but I cut him off and motioned him
back down. "No. you stay here and rest, I'll be back within the hour. Come along,
Erik!" I called to the tiny boy, wanting to get him off Quentin's hands for a while.
"No mamán! I need to make a bed for Frédéric!" he whined, holding up the
masterful doll. I sighed, giving in. "Alright, but you must be very quiet. Let Quentin
have some time to rest, okay?" Erik nodded in a vigorous agreement. "Okay." And
with that, I bid them farewell and left. I went outside and asked one of the locals for
directions before heading down the street they'd pointed, out towards the
marketplace. It was late afternoon, yet the town was bustling with citizens, all
rushing past in a frenzied flurry; busy as worker bees with whatever simple life
tasks God had thrown at them that day. I couldn't help it; as they passed me by my
mind instinctively picked out all of the ideal moments for pick-pocketing; the
Achilles' heel of each passerby's saunter. One man walked with a slight limp on his
left side, making the easiest time to slip the wallet from his pocket in that brief
moment in which he put his weight on his right leg and was closest to me. That
woman held the hand off a small child, the perfect, built-in distraction for snatching
a purse. That man swung his arms as he walked; challenging, but still entirely
possible to rob should you be quick enough to throw your hand into his pocket
between the flesh and blood pendulums. And I'd always been quick enough.
And yet, I refrained.
I was not that girl anymore; the one who picked pockets to please her father and
shamelessly abiding no laws but that of the streets; survive.
I was not the girl who'd followed Marius Pontmercy like a puppy-dog.
The thought sent a pang through my head, yet I forced myself to think his full name.
No, now I was a new woman with some of the same old habits, but only when
absolutely necessary. Yes, some of my traits still remained, but that was one that I'd
just have to let go. And that's when I realized just how frustrated I was with those
words. I despised the reiterating déjà vu of having to tell myself over and over to
forget him. Why couldn't I? It was strange and so ironic it was nearly laughable;
once, all I'd wanted was him. Now, all I wanted was to get over him.
"Uh… Madame? Is there something I can help you with?" a deep voice
inquired, breaking my train of thought. I snapped back to earth, realizing with a
blush that I'd been standing like a mindless fool before a fruit stand for several
minutes straight. "Oh! Um… yes sir. What fruits are fresh today?" I asked, trying to
recover from my embarrassment. He instantly knew that he was about to make a
sale, and didn't say anything about my blank stare. "Well let's see; we've got some
chestnuts freshly harvested, cherries, some pears I personally picked yesterday…
and oh! These apples came in this morning." He listed, pointing to each of the fruits
as he described them. I looked at them hungrily, asking, "How much?"
"For you Madame, only seven sou for three of each." The man winked
amiably. My eyes widened at the generous offer, but my instincts, as usual, were
immediately wary. "That is very generous, Monsieur. But, forgive me, what makes
me any more special than anyone else?" I asked, attempting to make it sound like a
"Nothing but that weary look in your eyes, Madame. It is the look you see
only in a young mother." He replied, grinning warmly.
"Oh. Well, thank you very much." I replied, caught off guard. Was it really that
obvious that I was tired? I thanked him for the fruits and handed him the money I
owed, then prompted to walking down the street again. Food was not the only
necessity; we'd need a few changes of clothes as well. I quickly located a cloth shop
and ducked inside; my senses immediately being hit with stuffy air, a temperate
warmth, and the smell of muslain, new and old. I looked around at the sample
dresses and walls that stretched ceiling to floor with bolts of cloth, nervously noting
the scarcity of finished products. "Excuse me, Madame," I directed towards the
woman behind the counter, "do you have any complete articles of clothing?"
"Just the dresses, and unfortunately I charge a little extra if you buy them,
seeing as they're samples." The woman replied, shrugging sadly. I bit my lip. We
needed clothes, and sewing was one thing I couldn't do if my life depended on it.
"Are there any places around town that sell finished pieces?" I inquired desperately,
as if she'd tell me and lose a sale.
"Afraid not, dear. Why the long face? Didn't your mother ever teach you how
to sew?" the woman wondered, brow furrowing. I had to bite back my acidic laugh.
As if. "No, I never learned. I've tried in the past, but it always ended with nothing but
blood, tears, and mangled bunches of thread." I told her, smiling weakly. The
shopkeeper clucked her tongue. "Shame, shame, shame! Well, there are still the
samples; it's really not much of a difference price wise."
"No, please Madame. You don't understand; I'm shopping for my husband
and son." I told her, surprising myself with the smoothness with which I dictated my
"Oh. Well I suppose that could pose a problem." the woman said, smile
disappearing as she fell deep into thought. After a moment of this silence, she
snapped her fingers, and her smile lit back up as if incited by the action. "I know! I'll
teach you to sew, right here in the shop!" she exclaimed, beaming at me. I forced a
grin back, though in truth was far from content. I hated sewing, didn't want to learn,
and was getting a bit annoyed by this woman's incessant smiling. Didn't her cheeks
"Oh! That's um… very kind of you." I managed, trying to think of a polite
excuse out of it. Nothing. Or at least, nothing that provided a complete escape.
"Actually, my husband's expecting me home soon, but perhaps you just show me the
basics of it…" I trailed off, knowing that the seamstress would likely not be appeased
until I had some knowledge of the art of making clothes. I was spot-on correct.
"Wonderful! Oh, but we must hurry then! Don't you move a muscle, I'll be
right back with my things!" she sang, shooting me one last sunny smile before
disappearing into what looked like the door to a storeroom. I did as she asked, not
even thinking of making a run for it. I needed the clothes, so I would just have to grin
and bear it.
She returned within the minute with a basket-full of supplies in her arms. "Here we
are," she chirped cheerfully, "some lovely cotton bolts and a needle and thread."
"Oh Madame, I don't think I can afford all of this." I told her nervously, staring
at the fine items she held.
"Nonsense, you don't have to! A teacher always provides the necessary
supplies for learning." The lady replied, waving her hands dismissively. My
eyebrows rose. Free supplies? Perhaps this wouldn't be as bad as I'd originally
thought. "Thank you again, that's more than generous." I told her, a true smile
forming on my face.
"You're more than welcome. Now, come come! Let me teach you a simple yet
sturdy stitch." She waved me forward, sitting down on a nearby stool. "Now, to
thread your needle, I always find it easier to wet the end of the thread before putting
it in the head." She began, displaying the thread as she worked. She flew through the
procedure, thoroughly explaining each step to sewing it together. She'd stop every
once in a while to let me try whatever it was she'd just displayed, and the change in
hands was evident. What had been neat, tiny, perfect little rows of stitches turned
into a turbulent tornado of string, and what had been tightly bound seams would be
gaping and sagging, sighing miserably at their impeccable, masterful friends. After
about fifty minutes, we managed to get half of a tiny shirt done, and she turned back
to me, handing me more materials. "Alright, just continue on with what I showed
you, and come in tomorrow and I'll put the finishing touches on it." She told me with
"Thank you. I cannot promise that it will be in the final stages by then, but I
will certainly try my best." I laughed. She joined in, then continued, "No worries
child, I'll fix it for you tomorrow if needed and start on your husband's order in the
I exhaled in relief. "Bless you, Madame…"
"Lewis. Aimee Lewis." She curtsied.
"Pleasure to meet you. I'm… Phillipa."
"Same to you! Now, off you go, back to your family! I'll see you tomorrow!"
she tittered, ushering me off. I bid her goodbye and walked out the front door,
heading back in the direction of the inn. As I was sauntering along, I adjusted the
basket in my hands to balance on my hip, looking over the nearly-finished shirt we'd
started for Erik. 'The child has softened you, 'Ponine. The old me would have hightailed
out of that little sewing class the second she stepped out of the room.' I thought,
chuckling. And now I was chuckling at the thought of being soft!
But, was soft really such a bad thing? Was kind and gentle so wrong?
No… I smiled to myself. Just different, that's all.
In my musings, (and in somewhat of a sense of déjà vu, mind you) I didn't realize
what was right in my path, and I tripped over a crater in the road, scattering
everything I was holding all over the ground. I cussed angrily, then began reaching
out for the items I'd been holding. I was abruptly met with another set f hands,
gingerly placing the materials back into the toppled basket. "Are you alright,
Mademoiselle?" the owner of the hands asked me. I looked up to see a young man
standing before me, concern etched into his face as he held out his hand. Good Lord,
when did it become natural law that every time a lady falls a gentleman shalt appear
above to assist her?
"Yes, I'm fine, just a bit clumsy." I smiled sheepishly at him. He chuckled, eyes locked
on mine. "Aren't we all at some points?"
"I suppose so." I replied, taking his hand and standing up. I began to pick up
my reassembled basket, but he stopped me. "Please; allow me." he said smoothly,
shooting me a lopsided smile.
"Oh no, I can—"
"Nonsense, I insist!" he brushed me off, picking up the basket.
"Alright… thank you." I said, though in all honesty I was getting uneasy. I was
so used to cruel people who wanted no more than their own benefit; all of these
kind, benevolent people were frightening me. Real life was not like this. The real
world did not contain such a surplus of selfless beings. The real world's version of
kindness almost always came with a price.
"Where to?" the man asked.
"The local inn, actually. I've just arrived here." I explained, pointing in the
"Ah yes! I've been there. Though, I guess that could be expected after living
here half my life." He joked.
"Yes, I suppose that would be rather inevitable." I laughed in reply. We soon
arrived at the place of interest and entered, ignoring the questioning stares I
received from the innkeeper's wife. I realized the strange situation quickly, and
turned to my mysterious assistant, saying, "Well, here we are. Thank you once again
for all of you help, sir." I nodded to him.
"Why don't I assist you in getting these upstairs? With groceries and sewing
supplies, your hands would be more than full." He suggested kindly. The suspicious
side of my mind shot up a red flag, stories I was told in my past flashing through my
mind, but I knew that his intentions, pure or not, would not be ignored. Besides,
Quentin was up in the room, so even if the man before me looked even close to
sinister, nothing could happen then. I nodded, starting towards the stairs. It was
quiet for a moment as we climbed, but then the man suddenly said, "So where is it
you came to our fine town from?"
I tensed, guard up, but managed to lie, "Oh, we're in from Rouen." I thought I saw his
cheerful, almost childish expression falter a bit, but I couldn't be sure. "We?" he
"Yes; my son, my husband, and I." I replied casually, stopping at the door to
"Oh. That's… nice." He responded.
"Philippa? Who are you talking t…" Quentin suddenly appeared, opening the
door, but his smile disappeared when he saw the stranger next to me. he walked
over to stand beside me, saying, "Who is this?"
"Oh. This is… uh…" I stammered, realizing I hadn't asked my strange helper.
"I'm Claude. Your wife fell ad dropped her things in the street, and I offered
my assistance in carrying them." The man, Claude, explained, looking down towards
the floor. I looked up to see Quentin's face darken, and suddenly I felt his arm circle
my waist. I tried to keep my expression neutral, holding back my shock. "And… and
thanks again for that, Monsieur Claude." I said rather dismissively.
"My pleasure, Madame. Good day." the man mumbled in reply, beginning to
"Come Philippa dear, let's get back to our son." Quentin said, accentuating the
last word a bit louder than necessary. Now that we were facing away from the fast
retreating stranger, and there was no need for a poker face, my brow furrowed. I
ook ahold of his arm and pulled him into the room, closing the door behind us.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I exclaimed, bewildered.
"I should be asking you the same question." He shot back, eyebrows knit
"Wh—what?" I stammered, anger boiling up.
"You decide to bring strange men home when we're trying to keep a low
profile? Are you absolutely insane?" he exclaimed.
"He was a kind man on the street who wouldn't take no for an answer!" I
snapped, inconceivably bemused at why he was so irate.
"So you just let him walk you home? Confide in him your location?" he yelled
"What else do you expect me to do? Forgive me, Monsieur, but isn't this the
very same thing you did when we first met?" I shouted back at him. My inquiry
struck right where I'd meant it to; he opened his mouth to rebut but found he
couldn't. I snatched the bags from his hands with a glare, stomping towards the
center of the room furiously. Why is it he'd gotten so worked up? Why couldn't he
see that acting so guarded aroused suspicion?
… Why had the second he'd seen me with another man had he begun his acting the
part of a very overprotective husband? As I slammed the contents of the basket onto
the table, I heard a whimper from the window. I paled instantly and looked up to see
Erik staring at me wide-eyed, eyes glittering. Without a word I got up and scooped
him into my arms, and subsequently he buried his face into my shoulder. "I don't
like shouts." He whispered into my shirt.
"I'm sorry, ma petite. I seem to have forgotten how sensitive you—your ears
are." I replied softly, correcting myself. He looked up at me, eyes a flood of emotions.
"Are you angry with Quentin?" he asked, voice rising.
"No." I lied, forcing a smile.
"Then why did you yell?" he pressed, voice quavering slightly. Damn. Sharp
little thing had caught me in the act. "I… well… I…was a bit angry with Quentin, but
now I'm not." I replied quickly.
But why? Why were you mad?" he whimpered.
"I… I didn't like how he… didn't say thank you. But now I know that he just
wanted me to be safe." I managed quickly. Quentin obviously took that as the perfect
moment to step in, and did so, saying, "Yes, now that we've had a moment to cool
down, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten so paranoid. I trust you, please know that... I
just... worry for your welfare, being a supposed criminal on the run."
The sincerity of the apologetic explanation surprised me, but I tried not to show it.
Instead I said, "I understand, and thank you." He nodded with a small smile, then I
turned to Erik. "There. All better." I told him, grinning. Erik's face lit up, childish
mind immediately forgetting the last few tense moments. "Hurray!" he cried out as
he quite literally jumped out of my arms. I winced as he hit the ground, though he
landed with the agility of an alley cat. "Mamán! Let me show you Frédéric
's house!" he exclaimed, waving me over to the other, hidden side of the bed.
"House?" I wondered aloud, looking to the freshly forgiven Quentin, silently
praying he'd answer my 'let-s pretend this never happened' gesture. He did, and all
as a giant smile lit up his face. "Yes. Come on, Éponine; you've got to see this." He
said, following Erik's lead. I walked over to where they stood, and as the 'house'
came into view, Erik let forth the sweetest little, "ta-DAH!" you'd ever hear; though I
barely could as I got my first glance at the four-year-old's masterpiece. It truly was a
house; he'd stacked books and other solid items from the surrounding room to form
tiny, masterful rooms, and then taken some of the remaining things from my pack to
make little chairs, tables, beds, and even a little chest, which he displayed to actually
open and close. Overall, it looked like something you'd buy right out of the local
toyshop, just a bit disheveled considering the random things it was made of. I
realized my mouth was hanging open, but I didn't even bother closing it, considering
it would probably just fall right open again. Quentin saw my astounded expression
and smiled, saying, "I know. I couldn't believe it. I sit down with one of your books to
read while I waited, and before long I hear, 'Excuse me, Quentin? Could I see that
book?' and put it down to see… that!" he gestured to the makeshift dollhouse. I'd
begun subconsciously shaking y head, knowing somewhere in my foggy mind that I
should not be as surprised as I was.
"Do you… do you like it, mamán?" Erik asked, practically bouncing in
anticipation as he looked up at me. And with the first sound of his expectant tone, I
was brought back to earth. "Yes. Erik, it's amazing! Where did you learn to make
things like this?" I exclaimed, getting down on my knees so that my smile was level
with him. His eyes shone of confusion. "What do you mean? You can learn houses?"
"Yes you can. And most people have to wait until they're big to learn." I told
him, reaching up and adjusting his grubby mask, which lay slightly askew on his face
after his hard laboring.
"Why do they wait? Houses are easy and much fun!" he enthused, throwing
his bony hands in the air.
"Well… because real houses are bigger, so the things you use to build them
are bigger, and therefore you have to be bigger." I smiled at him.
"But I am big! I am big and strong! I am Captain Erik!" he punched a tiny fist
in the air.
"Yes, indeed you are. But you'll have to wait until… until you're big like
Quentin to build a real house." I laughed, pointing to the example. Erik turned back
to his little house then, babbling to himself, "One day, when I am Quentin big, I will
build one of the biggest houses in all of Paris… and I will put billions of violins and
flutes and harps inside!" I chuckled at his adorable ramblings, patting his head.
That's when Quentin leaned in, whispering, "And I also heard him singing as he was
completing this miniature masterpiece; you're right. He has the voice of a tiny angel.
It's absolutely mesmerizing. Even though he's so young; it's hauntingly beautiful."
"I know. It amazes me how skilled it the artistic area he is. Voice of an angel,
hands of a craftsman, mind of a scholar…" I breathed, watching him. So incredible…
and yet he was completely human.
With that, I remembered the fruits, and I said, "Erik, are you hungry?" He snapped to
attention immediately, hands flying to his stomach. "Oui!" 'Did I even have to ask?' I
smiled to myself. "Well then, come here! I have some new foods for you to try." I
watched his eyes expand two sizes more, and he scurried over to the table, standing
on his tiptoes to peer over the edge. "What is it? What is it?" he wondered anxiously.
"They're called chestnuts… cherries… apples… and… pears!" I explained,
naming them as I fished one of each out of the bag. Erik held out his hands eagerly,
and I placed the apple in them. He eyed it for a moment, then his eyes lit up in
understanding. "Oh! I know this! Old mamán used to bring them home sometimes!
But she'd… she'd not… let me eat it." He finished, head hanging low.
"Well you may eat as many as you like now." I told him assuredly, putting my
hand beneath his chin and lifting it up to look at me. He smiled shyly. "Really?"
"Really." I nodded with a smile, gesturing to the fruit. He looked down at it,
barely hesitating before sinking his teeth into it, bursting excitement returning
immediately after being assured. The juice dribbled down his chin, one of the few
places left uncovered by his mask. And after that first bite, it was as if a ravaged
animal had been released. He devoured the apple as if he'd never eat again, finishing
it in no more than four minutes. Then he looking up at me pleadingly, and I bit back
a laugh as I handed him a pear. He consumed it as quickly as the first, and I found I
could hardly pull it away before he ate the core as well. I handed him a chestnut next,
which he began gnawing on, expression darkening when he found nothing edible on
the rough surface. I held out my hand silently, and he crossly placed the little nut in
it. I deshelled it for him, the handed it back, gasping when he swallowing it whole.
He eagerly held out his hands for more, but I hesitated a moment, biting my lip. He
let out a huff when I did so, displeased with the fact that he'd had to wait for the next
delicious morsel, and before I knew it he had swung and climbed with the side of the
table, shoving his hand into the bag and pulling out another cherry. "Erik!" I
chastised him, picking him up and placing him back on the floor as he, to my horror,
popped the cherry, stem and all, into his mouth.
"But you must admit that vault was impressive." Quentin commented
amusedly from the sidelines.
"Don't you encourage him!" I said, turning around and waggling a finger at
him. He held up his hands submissively, chuckling to himself. I turned back to Erik,
who was beaming immensely, clapping his hands. "Délicieux! So, so, so good!" he
squealed, running up to me and holding his arms up. I picked him up, balancing him
on my hip. "Perhaps, but Erik; you cannot eat so much at one time."
"My favorite was the cherries! They were sweet and watery and even better
than that other food you gave me… honey!" he continued, obviously not hearing me.
"I'm glad you liked them, but Erik, if you eat too much food at once, you may
not feel good later."
"And the colors! I didn't know that food could be such pretty colors!"
"But I've never had any foods that taste so—oh. Oh…" he finished with a
groan, and that's when the quaking started. I couldn't hold back a hissed swear; this
was exactly what I knew would happen. Eating so much at once when he wasn't
used to such rich foods, not to mention those stems…
It all came back up. He turned out and let out a terrible retch, splattering all of the,
as he'd said, colorful foods back onto the floor. I heard my curse repeated by Quentin,
though when I turned to him apologetically, his eyes were wide and concerned, not
angry. "It's alright," I assured him, "He's just very malnourished and not exactly used
to such beneficial sustenance yet." He let out an exhale of relief, responding, "Oh,
good. Well, not good at all, actually. I can't believe he's sitting here vomiting up
healthful foods because he's never before been fed them." He finished darkly, jaw
tightening. I nodded sadly in reply, then turned back to the trembling child in my
arms. He was sobbing now, unsure of what had just happened to him, and I began
rubbing his back immediately, bringing him over to the bed. I gingerly lowered him
onto the soft mattress, grabbing the extra blanket off the foot of the bed and gently
wiping the excess stomach contents off the corners of his mouth. He continued to
cry, too startled and frightened to stop, and he curled into a ball, wincingly similar to
the only method of defense he had known against his demon of a mother. I sighed
sorrowfully as I watched him, aching to do something more. So, I sat down on the
edge of the bed, taking him into my arms and resting him against my chest. He
curled up against me, tears soaking into my shirt, and I set to smoothing his scarce
amount of hair, whispering, "Shh… it's alright, Erik, honey. Hush now; I know it's
scary, but you're safe. You're okay. Shh… yes… you're safe and just fine." As I
continued attempting to calm him, I looked and saw Quentin bent over the little
boy's watery mess, wiping it up with a rag. I smiled gratefully at him and mouthed,
"You're a saint." To which he smirked lightheartedly. Then I turned back to Erik,
patting his back and leaning him forward to wipe the tears from his eyes. When I
found that I couldn't reach them, I looked anxiously to Quentin, who was at that
moment standing up and… gesturing towards the door. I held back an exhale of
relief, nodding eagerly to him. He nodded back and turned towards the exit,
obviously just as anxious to get rid of the odorous cloth as I was to let Erik take his
mask off. As soon as the door had shut behind him, I tentatively pulled it off of the
little boy's face, wiping his wet cheeks with my thumb. "There you are. Better?" I
asked him, smiling softly. He nodded, sniffling, as he turned his wide-eyed gaze on
me. "I thought so." I whispered in response.
"Wh—what happened t—to me?" Erik whimpered, leaning his corpse-like
face closer to me again.
"You had a bit too much to eat." I answered simply, drying his unrealistically
sunken cheeks with the rough, dirty fabric of the mask.
"B—but it… tasted so good! Why… why…"
"Even delicious things can make us sick sometimes."
The toddler turned and looked down at his hands, which he folded and placed in his
lap. "I don't think I like cherries anymore." He said quietly. I laughed softly.
"Nonsense. They are still among the most sweet of fruit, you just cannot eat the stem
along with the berry." I explained.
"Stem?" He questioned curiously.
"Yes, that piece on the top. That's how it grows, but humans are not supposed
to eat it." I told him matter-o-factly.
I then proceeded to tell Erik all about the process of farming and growing food; in
more simplified terms, of course. With the uncovering of this new knowledge, he
soon forgot about what had happened only minutes before, as he often seemed to.
By the time Quentin returned, he was already off again, blithely building a garden
for Frédéric's not-so-humble abode. The former policeman strode over to me,
watching Erik happily scurry along. "All better, I'm assuming?" he inquired. I nodded.
"Yes. He was just a bit shaken." I said, handing him a pear. He looked at it for a
moment with an amused twinkle in his eyes, then turned back to me. "Are you sure
this is safe?" I shoved him lightly, retorting, "Oh, just eat it already. If you're half as
starving as I am you'll need all you can get." He laughed, then bit into his meal, and
after I saw him thoroughly content, I fished an apple out of the bag. "I'll go out again
tomorrow to get a few more things like cheese and bread, but I figured this was
good enough to tide us over for the time being." I said before taking a bite. It had
been a while since I'd had a nice, fresh apple, having lived in the middle of Paris for
so long, and I could instantly see why Erik had burst into a wild rage. It was juicier
and crunchier than ever, crisp and perfect with the freshness of the country.
"Correction; I will be going into town to pick up the other things we need.
You've done enough; it's time I started fulfilling my end of the bargain!" Quentin cut
in, pointing at me good-naturedly.
"Oh no you don't. why cant you see that you've already done more than your
end of the bargain, just by dropping everything you had back in Paris and helping us
escape? I still can hardly believe anyone would have the courage to…" I began, but
then I realized that this was not the time for a rambling tangent and stopped.
"Anyway; point it that you helped us so much, I'm more than happy to let you sit
back and relax a bit. Besides; the town seamstress is teaching me how sew; I need to
go back tomorrow." I added, making that my final argument. Quentin shook his head,
smiling. "You are just so stubborn. It would be easier to convince a rock to let me
help." He joked.
"Good." I smirked sassily in response. He simply shook his head with a low
chuckle in reply, then went and pulled the half finished shirt out of my newly
acquired basket. "And what is this?" he asked, raising an eyebrow as he smiled
teasingly. I went over and snatched it from his grasp, blushing furiously. "Stop it!
That's a shirt I'm making for—ouch! Damn it!" I hissed, pulling my hand away from
the seized fabric and seeing a bright, red, bead of blood forming on my forefinger tip.
"Augh… I forgot that I left the needle stuck in it." I grumbled through grit teeth,
glancing around for something clean to serve as a bandage. Suddenly I felt Quentin's
hand on mine, and turned to find him looking me in the eyes. "Here, let me." he said
gently, stretching my palm out before him. He reached into his pocket, pulling out a
crisp, white handkerchief and swiftly wrapping it around the tiny puncture wound.
After he'd tied it securely, he patted it gently, then slowly pulled his hand away.
"Thank you." I said softly, smiling warmly at him. He mirrored the gesture, silent
gaze remaining locked on me for a little longer than I was comfortable with. I broke
the stare, turning to the window. I was surprised with the complete darkness I was
met with, the only light coming from the streetlights reflecting from below. "Oh my!
What time is it?" I exclaimed, surprised. Quentin whipped out his pocketwatch,
answering, "A little past nine. We should probably be getting a certain little boy to
bed, don't you think?"
"And a certain mother, too. I'm exhausted." I laughed, turning around. And
that's when our newest dilemma hit me; right as my gaze fell upon the single,
solitary bed. "Oh…" I murmured subconsciously to myself, biting my lip in my usual
"What?" Quentin questioned, hearing my nearly inaudible utterance. I
blushed and turned to Erik, saying, "Come on, cher! Time to sleep!"
"No mamán! I want to keep playing!" he whined, gazing up at me
pleadingly with his burning yellow eyes.
"Sorry, Erik. There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow." I finished,
scooping him up and plopping him into the bed. He sighed, surprisingly sinking into
it. "Oh mamán… it's so soft…" he whispered, letting himself fall back into it.
"I know. You see; this is what a real bed feels like you. You will never have to
sleep on the floor again, I promise." I vowed, grimacing at the thought of his past. He
was now lying fully on his back, but as I pulled the extra blanket over him, his tired
eyes snapped back open. "But mamán; where are you going to sleep? You cannot
sleep on the floor!" he exclaimed, eyes reflecting his considerate worry.
"Well…" I began, unsure of what to say.
"Here! Here, mamán!" Erik bounced happily, patting the area next to him. I
giggled in spite of myself. "Alright, Erik. I will sleep next to you." I turned to go get
changed into a clean dress to sleep in, but Erik stopped me once more. "Wait, and
Quentin too, right?"
"Uh…" I started, heat rising to my cheeks.
"It's alright, I can sleep in the chair…" Quentin cut in awkwardly.
"Nonsense! There's plenty of room!" Erik continued cheerily, and I made an
instinctive mental note of his picking up 'nonsense' from the day's speech. But then I
continued chewing my lip, coming back to the matter at hand. The poor, naïve
child… he could not possibly know how embarrassing he was making the situation
once again… but how could I deny him without having to unavoidably explain why?
"Of… of course there is." I forced a smile. Quentin's eyebrows shot up, but I
simply shrugged and shook my head, silently instructing him not to continue his
questioning. He nodded back, though I thought I saw a blush staining his cheeks.
How could I blame him? I'm sure I looked exactly the same. After all of my effort
over the years, I was to have a man in my bed. I nearly laughed at the ironic
innocence of the statement as I stepped into the washroom, slipping out of my
current outfit and slipping into the next. Most women weren't so lucky. Suddenly, I
caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and nearly winced at the sight of the dusty,
pale girl before me, vowing to bathe the following day. I next took hold of the pin in
my hair and pulled it out, letting the russet waves tumble down my shoulders. I
sighed in respite, forgetting how lovely it was to just have my hair loose. It was
constantly kept in a tight, no-nonsense bun, so that it stayed out of my face while I
worked. Some nights I was so tired, I didn't even take the time to let it out. But now I
did, and I brushed through it tenderly, relishing in the soft, gentle touch of it resting
on my shoulders and down my back. As soon as I'd finished readying myself, I exited
the bathroom, reluctantly putting the borrowed brush back on the table. As I looked
back to the other people in the room before me, I blushed as I realized all four eyes
were boring into me. "What?" I asked, looking down at the floor, embarrassed.
"Oh mamán…" Erik breathed, smiling gleefully at me.
"Wow Éponine." Quentin added.
"What?" I exclaimed, more assertively this time, staring directly at Quentin.
He looked down as soon as he caught my curious gaze, then muttered, "Oh. Your…
your hair. It's just… I've never see you with it down. You looked different."
"Oh. Well…I'll take that as a compliment, then." I winked at him. I went and
sat on the edge of the bed, and immediately Erik sat up, scrambling forward and
running his tiny fingers through the freed locks. "Oh mamán… it's so pretty! So long
and soft…" he respired, and I turned to face him. "Thank you, cher. If you'd like, I'll
let you brush it for me in the morning." I told him. His face lit up with a jubilant
smile. "Oh, yes please!"
"Alright. But for now, it's time to rest." I chuckled, gently leaning him back
down. He yawned, stretching out his skinny arms. "Okay. I am… tired." He replied
sleepily. "But wait; will you sing for me?" he requested. I nodded, then began, "Sur
mon cœur, Je vous promets devous voir à travers. Quand la douleurarrive, Je serai
justelà pour tenirà. Avecdes rires etpar la prière, Je promets que jeserai là,
Toujours à vos côtés… A tout momentde la journée, Il n'y arien à expliquer…Je suis
toujours àvos côtés…" And by the time I finished the lullaby, he was fast asleep, a
smile on his barely visible lips. "Huh. Guess I'm the only one without a good singing
voice around here." I heard Quentin tease, an I looked up to see him shirtless,
standing above the bed. The warm light hit his toned muscles perfectly, and they
looked even more defined than when I'd seen them the other night. I looked away,
blushing once more, saying, "Sorry, do you mind?"
"What?" he wondered aloud, confused.
"The uh… shirt?" I suggested, smiling embarrassingly.
"Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry. Force of habit." He exclaimed with a blush, grabbing his
tunic off of the chair and putting it on again. I bit back a nervous laugh, then climbed
into the bed, blowing out the remaining candle. I felt him sink into the bed beside
me, and I felt another wave of heated color make its way to my cheeks. What was
wrong with me? Why was I blushing like a ditzy schoolgirl?
"You know Éponine, you didn't have to agree to this." I abruptly heard him
softly say. I turned to face him, ignoring my embarrassment and discomfort. "No, it's
alright, I don't mind. Erik's right; it wouldn't be fair for you to have to sleep in a
chair or on the floor." I told him, turning up my lips in what I hoped was a semblance
of a smile. He returned it, saying, "Well, I appreciate that. Good night."
And soon after that I was deep in sleep, so of course I didn't feel when Quentin
reached over and tucked a stray curl behind my ear, gazing at my latent,
expressionless face all the while.
Author's Note: Hello lovely, marvelous readers! I'm very happy, because it didn't take me as long as it usually did to update this, and this was my longest. Chapter. Yet! Whoo! *dance party*
Well, as you can see, they're settling into this town. Now, they won't be staying long, mind you, but for the first time in a while (or, in a lifetime, in Erik's case) they're sleeping in a real bed. And together, might I add… oh, aren't I devious? XD
The song 'Ponine sings is the French translation of this stunning song called "Always" by this incredible composer Scott Alan… go look it up. Immediately. You will cry.
And, on a more commercial note, I am very lamentable to report that I've only gotten two reviews on my newest Les Mis story, Passion for Patria. I saw that the link didn't work in my last A/N, but I couldn't help being a bit disappointed anyway with the lack of response. Maybe go look on my page for it? Please?
As always, you reviews make my (and Erik's!) day, so send 'em in! Much obliged! :D