I rushed into the room just in time to see Quentin; eyes wide and hands out above
him in a frightened gesture, and Erik's startled, perplexed reaction. I sprang into
action; wrapping the towel back around Erik (it had slipped down in his shock) and
placing him in the chair in the corner, before rushing over to Quentin. "Quentin?
Quentin; look at me." I besought, trying to get him to tear his stunned, horrified eyes
away from the little boy in the corner. It worked; his eyes flickered over to me like a
child seeking solace from a nightmare. "Remember, Quentin. That's Erik. Erik who
likes to play army and navy with you! Erik who we rescued from his cruel mother!
Erik who usually wears a mask because his mother made for to cover his facial
deformity!" I smiled at him in an attempt to soothe his wild expression; accentuating
the last two words as to make him remember the scientific term of what he was
looking at. Quentin looked up at me, then to Erik, and then back to me, mouth finally
moving from its agape position. "But… h—how?" he stammered, disbelief overtaking
"I don't know. It is my belief that he was born with it, though." I replied in
that same, tranquil tone. The former police officer closed his eyes; shaking his head
and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Born with it. Alright. Wow. Just… mon dieu. I've never seen anything like
that." he muttered.
"It's alright. He caught you by surprise, and it is quite shocking." I assured,
patting his hand.
"I do hope you'll forgive me. I was just… mon dieu; everything actually makes
more sense now! With the… and…you were right before; his unearthly talents do
seem to reside to make up for his lack of looks." Quentin continued, half to himself.
"I'm glad this has been… enlightening… for you. I'm assuming now you see
why we need to be especially careful from now on?" I asked, looking him in the eyes.
"Absolutely. I again apologize for my reaction; but it was only… instinctive."
he grimaced, bowing his head.
"No need to apologize. Though I cannot say I reacted quite as strongly at my
first glimpse, I did indeed experience the jolting astonishment you had. Perhaps
even more, considering I had no one to tell me about it beforehand." I shot him a
"A lesser reaction when completely oblivious to what you were about to
view? Good God Éponine; you must have the endurance of a thousand armies! What
sorts of things have you seen in your life?" Quentin exclaimed, joking lightly. I played
along, though I was mostly just grateful he'd so easily accepted this… situation.
"Things I could not possibly describe in fear of tarnishing you innocent ears."
I winked, though I could've just as easily laughed at the pure truth of the statement.
Quentin laughed, then just looked at me, smiling for a moment. "He's lucky to have
found you." he whispered kindly.
It was a big compliment from my perspective as the new, inexperienced, positively
terrified-and-unsure mother; and I beamed in response, thanking him with my eyes.
Our conversation was interrupted by the tiniest of whimpers from the corner; and I
turned to see Erik staring at Quentin, eyes wider than I'd ever seen them. I
scrambled over to him and swept him into my arms, saying, "Erik? What's wrong?"
"He…he…he…he got… mauvaise mamán's face. The expression she'd get a few
minutes before she'd hit me. And I've…I've never been h—hit by a man before. Men
are… men are very b—big, mamán!" Erik sputtered, fading into a diminutive,
terrified, delusional whisper by the end. My heart shattered, and I pulled him close.
"There, there," I murmured, feeling silent tears soaking into my clothes, "Quentin
was just a bit surprised, like I was when I first saw your face. Look at him now, you
see? He would never hurt you."
"B—but… he had the expression! You didn't look like ma autre mamán when
you saw me!" Erik blubbered fearfully.
"Yes, but different people get different faces, cher. That doesn't change how
they feel about you. Just look, dear! Quentin is still your best friend!" I enthused,
trying to calm him jittery anxiety. To my respite, Erik peeked out at his older
playmate, and Quentin immediately began helping me in my soothing. "Hello Erik.
I'm very sorry I frightened you, you just surprised me when you came running out of
the bathroom!" he told the small boy, smiling warmly and shrugging. Erik was quiet
for a moment, scouring the former policeman's amiable expression with his
abnormal, soulful eyes. But then he quietly said, "So… you're not going to beat me?"
"Never. How could I even think of hurting my best playmate and most
vehement Captain?" Quentin grinned, walking over to kneel beside the chair Erik sat
"Even though my face is like a 'demon'?" Erik questioned him, eyes widening
hopefully. A lump formed in my throat at the thought of his terrible descriptions of
himself, and I instantly cut in. "Your face isn't that of a demon, it's just… different!
That's all." I told him, gently stroking his thin, malnourished cheek. He leaned into
my touch like a cat, grabbing my fingers and pressing them to his skin. The action
nearly sent my self-control over the edge completely; his mistreatment making this
tiny, insignificant little exploit that so many people in the world take for granted
seem like the most wonderful of privileges.
"Exactly! It's a special sort of face, Erik." Quentin added. I shot him a grateful
glance. Erik smiled shyly, bony hand drifting up to rest on his nonexistent nose.
"Really? Ugly is… special?" he asked us innocuously.
"Yes. I bet your face is the only one like it in the entire world!" Quentin said
truthfully. I bit back a laugh at the satiric reality of the statement. Erik's grin grew;
our positive perception of his unfortunate defect seemed to be working. "Then
entire… world? But; how big is the world?" Erik asked; his frequent, continual
curiosity returning. Quentin and I were silent for a moment, trying to find a way to
explain the utter vastness of the world to such a wandering, young mind. But then I
knew, and I said, "As big as the mind can reach. The more capacious the mind, the
better you can see and grasp the world around you."
His eyes widened to the near span of the mouth of a cave, and I smiled, holding out
his mask to him. His short-lived amazement at my statement disappeared as his
eyes fell upon it. "But mamán—why must I still wear my mask? Quentin was just
surprised… right? Or… does it bother him too?" he asked, withered face falling
slightly. I bit my lip, unsure as to what to tell him. Quentin took this opportunity to
cut in, saying, "Not one bit. Erik's right, Éponine. He shouldn't have to wear it unless
he goes out." I looked at him in surprise, but he shrugged, shooting me a little smile.
Erik looked so overjoyed, I was surprised when he didn't leap ten feet in the air in
his exultation. "Thank you, Quentin! I promise I will be a good boy and always wear
it outside!" Erik squealed, jumping up out of his chair and grabbing Quentin around
the waist (as he was still kneeling and the said area was within reach). Quentin
looked slightly surprised at the child's active show of affection, but after a moment
he wrapped his arms around the malformed boy. I felt my eyes welling up as I
watched them, both from the sweetness of the scene and from the sadness I felt
knowing that Erik received so much joy from not having to wear his mask. I hadn't
truly realized until that moment just how disheartening a figure the thing was for
As Erik detached himself from his understanding, accepting, elder friend; I said,
"Erik, dear? Why don't you go practice your reed pipes?" I wanted to properly thank
Quentin, and needed to distract Erik in order to politely do so.
"Okay, mamán! Shall I keep trying the violin song?" Erik asked, smiling
adorably in excitement.
"If you still remember the tune, why not?" I grinned back at him.
"I do, it goes like this! Lala lalalala lala la la la la!" he sang, and I could only
nod in agreement. I briefly wondered if I would ever cease to be speechless at the
sound of his cherubic little voice. He ran off to the room's dresser to get his
instruments, and I waited for a moment to be sure he was not paying attention
before turning to Quentin and saying, "You didn't have to agree, you know. I'm sure
we could've found a solution that was… comfortable for everybody."
"No, it's alright. It'll just take some getting used to. I don't mind, really."
Quentin responded, smiling genuinely at me. I let out a sigh, hardly believing my
luck at his unconditional acceptance. "Thank you so much, Quentin. I know it may be
a bit… well, you've seen him now. You know. But I just can't bear the taking away of
his humanity any more than life already has."
"I couldn't agree more. Unusual as it may be, no one deserves that. Especially
not such a happy, charming little boy." Quentin supplemented.
"Exactly! I cannot even express how relieved I am that you understand." I
told him, stating my grateful respite flat out.
"My understanding? That's nothing special. Any man with half a decent
conscience could give you that much. Your love for him, however…" Quentin trailed
off, face growing serious and nearly… awed. I felt a heat rising to my cheeks, though
the reason for the flush was unbeknownst to me. "Oh, I don't know. Love? I've
known him for so little time…" I stammered, eyes darting towards the floor.
"Oh, stop that. You needn't be so modest with me. You fierce concern and
solicitousness for the boy could not possibly stem from anything else." Quentin said.
I was silent. Love? Did I really love the little boy I'd just recently taken in as my son?
It wasn't that I didn't want to. I more than wanted to; I was desperately desiring that
deep, caring bond that only a loving family could provide. I'd been deprived of it all
my life, and couldn't possibly count all the times the center of my daydreams had
been of such a family. But… that was just the thing.
Having been denied the domestic love every child should receive— and not to
mention the romantic love I could only dream of while trailing around behind
Marius like a lost pup— I was left shying away from the thought of admitting to
myself that I loved something.
Damn it, it just wasn't fair! Why was my twisted past preventing me from telling my
son I loved him? Why were those distance memories still haunting me and leaving
me uncertain and doubtful? I didn't even know why I was asking myself these
imprudent, useless questions. I knew why.
I was scared to death.
In my life, everything I'd thought I'd loved had been torn away, destroyed, or even
betrayed me. All of these dreadful events had added up quick; pushing me so close
to the brink of trust that something so light as a feather could probably send me
sprawling over the edge. Now, my distorted mind had associated "love" with "loss"
and "pain". And if I openly admitted that I loved my sweet little son, would he be
ripped from my grasp, too?
Something like that is not so easily recovered from. Romantic heartbreaks can be
mended if carefully tended by the careful craftsmanship of the mind; but when her
heart is impaired by her own child's despair—the pain is worse than all others
I physically winced away from the thought; I couldn't bear the notion of losing
Erik—the boy I had vowed to always treat as though I myself had been the one to
give him life.
And as soon as that had crossed my mind, I knew I had my answer. I did love Erik;
the inevitable result of taking him on as my spawn.
"Éponine? Are you alright?" Quentin's worried question suddenly broke
through my train of thought. I nodded, smiling wearily at him. "I'm fine. I was just a
little… no, never mind."
"Never mind what?" Quentin asked, brow furrowing in confusion.
"It's nothing." I told him.
"If it were nothing, you wouldn't be trying to hide it."
"How did you know I was trying to hide it?"
"Well, your admitting it just now was helpful evidence." Quentin teased, and I
smacked him lightly on the arm. He laughed at me, then grew somber once more,
questioning me with his silent gaze. I sighed. "It's just… I'm not used to saying I love
people or things. Strange as that may sound; if you understood my past, you'd see
why. Certain events of my life have caused me to perceive the concept of 'love'
different than most." I explained, almost too ashamed to even look at the former
officer. Yet when I did, I found no mocking or pity in his eyes… just sadness. "What
exactly have you lived through, Éponine?" he inquired quietly, concern and grief
washing over his expression. I laughed weakly. "Quite a lot, to say the least. I'm just
not exactly keen on revisiting it all, if that's alright."
"More than so. Just know that if you ever want to talk about it to someone,
I'm here for you." he told me with a small smile. I mirrored the expression. "Thank
you, I'll keep that in mind." I said; glad to know that when I was ready, there would
be a pair of open ears waiting for me.
As a period of silence settled over us, I turned to watch Erik fuss over his reed pipes;
his progression of the violin jig's melody increasing a surprisingly immense amount
further—though it had barely been a day. His fingers flew with the speed of the
hummingbird they'd once caught; playing the zesty reel eagerly in its full, original
speed. The speed—might I add—that the street performer had played the tune at;
the same masterful street performer who had been playing for years. I could feel the
pride swelling in my chest; for though I'd just admitted to myself of my love for the
boy, the gratification that fluttered in my chest as he displayed his prodigious
abilities had been growing for a while. Wasn't it only natural that after he received
the title of 'my son', I was to feel such proudness?
Abruptly, Erik looked up, pulling the pipes from his thin lips. "Quentin?" he probed,
cocking his head and looking at the bigger man.
"Mmhmm?" Quentin replied absentmindedly, sifting through my grocery
"How does the story end?"
"The one we were reading before my bath! The one with the men who were
enemies who tried to get the annoying lady to fall in love with each other!" the
toddler struggled to explain, barely remembering the more specific details of the
rather intricate plot.
"I don't know, Erik. I haven't written that part yet." Quentin responded
casually. My eyebrows shot up. He'd… he'd written that?
"Oh." Erik sighed disappointedly. But Quentin made a quick and smooth
recovery. "But perhaps you'd like to help me finish it, Erik? I want to be sure the
ending is one of the best parts of the book, and I know you are very good at coming
up with ideas."
"Oh, oui! Yes please, Quentin!" Erik enthused. He ran over to the former
policeman, but then stopped in his tracks. "But Quentin… I cannot write as well as
you can! Mamán is still teaching me!"
"It's alright! How about you tell me what your idea is, and I write it down for
you?" Quentin suggested. Erik's face brightened instantly. "Okay! Hmm… his little,
distorted face scrunched up in concentration. As a few silent minutes went by, his
innate expression to one of anger; obviously irritated he could not think of anything.
Quentin caught sight of it at the same time I did, and cut in yet again to play
peacemaker. "Erik; you can take your time. You don't have to come up with an idea
"But I want to finish the story!" Erik protested.
"Yes, but the best… ideas come to those who wait! Why don't you go play, and
tell me if you come up with anything." Quentin told him, patting his head. Erik huffed,
but nodded and shuffled back to his pipes. Once he'd begun playing once more, I
turned back to Quentin. "You write?" I asked, smiling, eyebrows raised. An evident
blush crept onto the lawman's cheeks. "Oh. Yes, I do greatly enjoy it."
"And now it is your turn to spare me your modesty. From what I heard
standing in the doorway, you can string together a plot with the wit and ingenuity of
the most intelligible student. You are very gifted and well-learned." I
complimented him with a smile. He smiled back; though his usually so sparkling and
boundless grin was shy and hesitant. I had to bite back a laugh. "Thank you, Éponine.
And please forgive my timorousness; this is… well, this is the first time I've ever
shown anyone my writing."
"Really? Well it's certainly worth showing. You've… you've got a real talent
here, Quentin." I told him, looking him in the eyes with an expression of utter
earnestness. His widened slightly—a childlike, surprised innocence residing in
them—and he answered, "You really think so? I've always been… well, afraid! Afraid
that my pieces wouldn't be good enough. That other people would have better
structured, developed, or attention-capturing fictions than I. So that really means a
lot." he finished with a crooked smile.
"My pleasure, it is well deserved on your part. And as for your worries, let me
ask you this; is this what you truly love to do? Do you genuinely find joy and
pleasure in writing?" I inquired gently.
"I… well, I don't know…"
"Clear you mind of all mortal concerns before you answer."
"Well then, all tangible worries aside, yes. I find great contentment,
gratification, and solace in the words I conceive." he nodded to me.
"Then why should you let petty concerns stop you? The thing I've learned
about writing is that there are no specific procedures or guiding principles. Some
like to think there are, but at the end of the day there is simply an artist with a
dream; a dream which he depicts through the words that run so freely, passionately,
and limitlessly from his mouth onto the paper beneath him." I reassured him
encouragingly. He was quiet for a moment; staring at me with his piercing green
eyes wide. It was the first time I'd ever really noticed his eyes—and they were the
color of a lush summer field; mirroring its warmth as well. They held the same sort
of astute and prudent, yet still kind and temperate, depth I saw in Erik's golden gaze,
and—as with the tiny boy—I felt as if these soulful orbs could see right through me.
I began to twitch the tiniest bit from his tenacious observation, inwardly wishing
he'd say something to break the discomfiture I was feeling beneath the weight of his
stare. And, as if reading my thoughts, he finally said, "You…you're absolutely right.
Not to mention the fact that it seems I am not the only expressive, poetic visionary
"Me? Oh, I just say what I am feeling. I cannot gather my thoughts and
arrange them into a clever, intriguing conspiracy as you obviously can."
"But did you not just say that a writer is simply a person letting their
sentiments pour onto paper?" Quentin challenged, cocking an eyebrow good-
"Indeed. But I am going to elaborate on that; that is what it takes to create a
writer, but it certainly helps the reader if those notions are in a methodical, flowing,
and well-written narrative. And you've got it all, Monsieur." I winked with a chuckle.
"Well, I'm simply saying that you certainly have what it takes to be an
authoress, should you so choose to do so." Quentin returned with a laugh.
"Why, thank you sir! I know a lot of things, I d—" I began cheerily before
It had just slipped out. It was just an instinctive, distant memory; a fast-fading piece
of my past.
And yet, even though I hadn't even finished the blasted sentence, my mental dam
burst; a flash-back flooding through. One of my more shameful days tailing Marius.
I'd flirted and bragged and stolen his books; just for the thrill of him chasing me to
reclaim them. That day, I'd thought that perhaps… just maybe… he returned my
feelings! But I was nothing but a young, silly girl whose head was filled to the brim
with the amorous ideas of the romance novels she was named for back then.
Not to mention that was the very day he'd first met Cosette.
Quentin had begun to look at me strangely, so I forced my smile to return as I
shoved the reminiscence to the back of my mind. The dull, lamenting ache had
begun to pulse as it usually did; but this time I likened it to a reopened scab—still
painful and throbbing, but so recurring of a past injury that I could hardly feel it
anymore. Was this the numbness of oblivion? Had my pain truly become that
"—o. Do." I finished; praying he did not question my stuttering pause. And, to
my relief, he simply continued, "Indeed you do. Perhaps we could write something
together, one of these days." he grinned at me. I returned the gesture. "I'd like that
very much." I told him. My eyes flashed over to Erik, who was still fiddling with his
instruments, (now trying to match the notes of the pipes to that of the harp) and the
reason behind us barreling out of the bathroom in the first place popped into my
head. "By the way, Quentin; are there any places in town fit for teaching a toddler to
swim? He was having such fun in his bath alone; I couldn't even imagine how greatly
he'd enjoy the sea." I inquired. Quentin's brow furrowed in thought, and before long
he snapped his fingers, smiling at me. "Ah yes! There is a tiny cove that my brother
and I found in our time here. The locals are the only ones who know about it, and
they only go there on the week-ends when the week's work is finished." he
explained; eyes glowing as if reliving the memories.
"Is it safe? For such a young boy with no past swimming experience?" I
questioned, chewing on my lip nervously.
"Yes. It is very shallow, and the rock formations adjacent to it prevent the
waves from getting too rough. If I dare say it; I believe it is one of the best and safest
places to teach a child to swim in all of France!"
"But how many times have you had to find such a place?"
"Alright, point taken. But it really is precisely what we need. Not to mention
the fact that there's a little beach overlooking the water; though the entire cove is
absconded from view."
I couldn't hold back a sigh of respite. Then I could just sit and watch as the other two
frolicked in the water. It wasn't that I didn't want to join them, it was just that…
I'd never formally learned how to swim.
I knew how to keep myself afloat, and how to reach the surface after going under,
but I'd never been taught the specific, explicit forms that so many people used.
And unfortunately, Quentin seemed to have put two and two together. "You don't
know how to swim, do you Éponine?"
"I know how to keep myself above the surface, but apart from that, no." I
responded, cheeks burning.
"Well, at least that's more than most working-classmen know. You shouldn't
worry; you can touch the floor up until you get a quite a ways from shore. You'll
have no trouble." Quentin assured me. The statement soothed me slightly; for now
at least I knew I'd be able to wade if Erik was unwilling to go without me. "That's
good to know; I'm just not all that fond of getting wet." I told him, shrugging.
"Really? Not even on a blisteringly hot day, where no other form of solace is
beneficial?" Quentin teased, cocking an eyebrow.
"Not even then. I suppose my time being cold and wet unwillingly in my life
has left me rather sour on the subject." I replied in sardonic jest. He took a moment
to search my expression for any signs of true bitterness, then found it safe to laugh.
"Oh, you're no fun."
"Well, one of us has to be the bad cop—no pun intended. There cannot be
three unsupervised children running about!" I said sassily. Quentin burst out in
roaring laughter. He went for several minutes chortling, and finally I realized that he
was not going to calm down any time soon; and this time was as good as any to duck
out of the conversation. "Now; if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some more
water—as I want to bathe now." I announced, turning to the door. This only added
to Quentin's amusement. "What happened to, 'I'm not fond of being wet?" he
asked, raising an eyebrow at me.
"Damn it; I suppose I walked into that one." I shook my head, chuckling at my
"Mamán! No, no, no! That is not a nice word!" Erik gasped, chastising me from
the corner. I bit back a laugh of mixed emotion—pride, entertainment, and indignity
the trailblazers. "Oops! I'm sorry, cher. I shouldn't have said that." I apologized.
"You know your child has passed you in mental maturity when he'd the one
correcting you." Quentin added; obviously fighting back another fit of laughter. I
whipped around, pointing a finger at him. "Oh, don't you even start." I dared him. He
put his hands up in a sign of surrender, but his shoulders shook with silent,
suppressed chuckles. I rolled my eyes with a smile before walking out the door.
I collected more water as well as a few more towels and soaps; not fearing what
they would supplement on the final bill, as we wouldn't be paying it anyway. I went
back up to the room and checked once with Quentin and Erik to be sure they didn't
need anything, then entered the bathroom and shutting the door. I stripped off my
clothing and lowered myself into the clean, fresh water; exhaling deeply as I felt its
cool, cleansing touch on my bare skin. I had been without the lavish luxury of a good,
thorough bath for what seemed like ages now—and I'd nearly forgotten what bliss
the nippy submersion brought. As soon as I'd taken a few moments to savor the
serene relaxation the first immersion brought; I set to work scrubbing away the first
and sweat I'd reluctantly collected. The soap was more sweet-smelling then
anything I'd ever smelled before; an enchanting mix of honey and roses. It was an
indulgence much like the ones I'd known as a little girl; back then when we'd bathed
every week and subsequently rubbed ourselves with deliciously scented oils. I
blocked out the memories the aroma brought—for though those reminisces were of
a happier time in my life, they would've inevitably lead to thoughts of the
Thernadiér downfall before long. So, instead I focused all of my attentions on the
soothing water enveloping me like a blanket, and the rich, wondrous smell of the
soap that I was massaging into my skin like a madwoman.
After a while of this tranquil soak, I decided that I'd washed enough; and—as little
as I may have wanted to—I had to get out to check on the boys. I hoisted myself up
out of the tub, grabbing a towel and wringing out my sopping wet hair before
wrapping it around my body. And as I turned slightly to tuck the ends around me, I
caught sight of the mirror. A girl with pale skin and dark, wide, doe-like eyes stared
back at me; her chocolate hair cascading down her shoulders like silken curtains.
She was thin but not underfed— her ribs barely showed anymore; and though her
skin was as white as cream, there was still the tiniest tint of color in her cheeks. Her
lips were no longer the thin, cracked things they'd once been; but were fuller, red,
and petal-shaped—shining glossily from the water they were covered in. Her warm,
brown eyes bored into me, reflecting the same shock I'm sure I now wore all over
my face. They day before, I'd still been covered in a fine layer of grime—nearly
unrecognizable—and before that I'd rarely look in a mirror, feeling it was a waste of
valuable time. Perhaps that was why—though I'd looked like this for twenty years—
I'd never fully gotten used to how different I looked in this body; why I was having a
hard time comprehending that this woman staring back at me was me.
And I looked… almost pretty.
I tore my gaze away from my reflection, blushing furiously. When did you become so
vain, 'Ponine? Stop this foolishness. I scolded myself, picking my dress up off the floor.
I quickly rubbed myself the rest of the way dry, then slipped it on and unlocked the
door. I couldn't help noticing the difference in scent; for my nose had gotten used to
the intoxicating odor of the soap, and now the change in aromatic atmosphere was
evident. I couldn't imagine what the sudden burst of floral fragrance smelled like to
Erik and Quentin. It must have been rather overwhelming to their senses!
I stepped out into the main room, and abruptly Erik's playing stopped. I looked over
to see him looking at me inquisitively, and I smiled at him; knowing he must be
confused for how dissimilar I looked. I'd done little more then wash my face in all
the time I'd known him; so this sudden renovation must've bemused him. "Erik,
dearest?" I uttered gently, walking towards him.
"Mamán?" Erik whispered, reaching out to timidly touch my cheek.
"Hello, darling." I cooed, putting my hand on top of his. In the past, I would've
laughed at my maudlin tone; but now…now it seemed… right.
"You look so…" Erik began, but then trailed off; tiny eyes scouring my form.
"Clean? As do you, Erik." I finished for him. The little boy smiled shyly. "I bet
when Oliver dreams of his mamán he wishes for her to be as beautiful as you."
My lips parted in a silent 'o'. I looked at my adopted child in a shocked contentment;
suddenly self-conscious and red as a beet. "Oh… th—thank you, Erik." I stammered,
forcing a bashful smile. Erik returned the gesture; his perfect rows of white baby
teeth gleaming in the warm light of the room. "You're welcome, mamán. Your cheeks
feel very soft; and… oh—what is that smell?"
"The soap I used in my bath. It's a bit different than yours. It's made of
flowers and… honey? Yes, I think it's honey." I clarified.
"Soap made of honey? Mm…" Erik inhaled before pressing his face directly on
my shoulder. I felt his shriveled nose holes through the fabric of my dress; and yet I
only pulled him closer. "May I use some of the honey-soap next time?" he
precipitously piped up; murmuring into the cloth.
"Of course you may. I know how much you love honey!" I ensured him
cheerfully. He thanked me with mirrored eagerness, then reached down to pick up
his reed pipes—losing interest in my newfound alteration as only a toddler could.
"Mamán! Would you like to hear the rest of the violin song?" he queried keenly.
"Of course dear. You've learned the whole thing so soon?" I asked him,
though no surprise came.
"Oui!" Erik exclaimed; crossing his arms with a look proud enough to
challenge a smug adult. I swiftly picked him up, spinning his around once before
hugging his close. "That's incredible! Mamán is so proud of you!" I praised him
through his shrieking giggles. He beamed at me, then began playing without another
word. I put him down on the chair in the corner, clapping to the beat and tapping my
foot in sync. Quentin laughed once from behind before joining me in my
Erik made it through the song once with not one slip-up or fault, then effortlessly
began again at least two times faster—all without missing a beat. Quentin let forth of
whistle of amazement, and Erik—with his lips still firmly pressed to his precious
instrument—looked up at him with a delighted sparkle in his cat-like eyes. Then
they flew to me; seeming to desperately plead for approval. I shot him a smile as
wide as I could stretch it, nodding vigorously. His brilliant eyes reflected adorable
grins of their own, then snapped back to the delicate implement in his hands. I
watched him in amazed gratification for but a moment more before I was suddenly
jerked back to the center of the room. And before I could even gasp in astonishment,
I looked up to see Quentin smiling down at me, spinning us around. "What are you
doing?" I shouted, though it was enveloped in a laugh.
"Dancing. Don't tell me you've never danced before!" Quentin teased.
"Not with a partner!" I replied as he let go of one of my arms and spun me
outward before snapping me back into his arms again.
"It's easy! Just let the music move you!" Quentin told me.
"What's that supposed to mean? I'm pretty sure it's you moving and whipping
me around!" I indicted flippantly.
"Well, I'll help you; but you just have to feel the rhythm!" Quentin conveyed
Erik had finished another round of the song, and repeated once more even faster.
And as he sped up, Quentin's light, springy, lively jig accelerated as well. I couldn't
help it; I let out a half yelp, half laugh. "Quentin! Quentin; what are you—" I shrieked.
"Come on, Éponine; just dance!" Quentin chuckled before taking me in his
arms and dipping me down towards the ground. I looked over at Erik, who—even
though looked to be sideways from my parallel-to-the-floor line of sight—was
nodding enthusiastically (and still simultaneously playing as easy as breathing!). So
I smiled, shaking my head, and let Quentin and the sprightly tune Erik was so
masterfully playing dance me around the room.
A floor below, the miserly innkeeper's wife listened with her jaw clenched in
irritation as she attempted to keep herself from throwing out some of their best
paying customers; and her sons smiled secretly to themselves as they swept the
floors to the joyous beat of a tiny boy's glorious music.
Author's Note: Bonjour, good readers! I'm doing better about updating, eh? Anyway, I wanted to share with you the inspiration behind Erik's "violin song"; as my incessant 'lalalala's' are probably not very informative. XD
Now; I know links don't usually work on here, so if you go on YouTube and type into the search box, "Amazing irish violin player" and click on the first result—a video by a user named 'igyurry'—that is the tune I envision in my head, but in a sort of flute form.
And as for the chapter; well, it seems Quentin has accepted Erik's unfortunate deformities, 'Ponine's admitted she loves our widdle future Phantom, and everyone is all laughing and merry and (quite literally) dancing for joy. But something wicked this way comes, dear readers. It can't always be so fluffily full of butterflies and rainbows!
Penny for your thoughts? Or… R&R for your thoughts? :) ~DonJuana