A/N: As promised, here are the outtakes, missing bits, and 'things that our narrators are best not knowing' from the fic "When Apollo Met Persephone". Many of these one-shots will hinge on an established Enjolras/Eponine relationship.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of Victor Hugo's characters or anything that was originally in the novel "Les Miserables". Nor do I own any of the historical personages who occasionally pop up in these misadventures.
Our first outtake: In which little Jacques confronts the fact that being the youngest kid in the house is only a temporary thing.
1: The Youngest At Home
The trouble starts one night at the Rue Guisarde, when Neville lugs another huge book up to the room he shares with his brothers, right when they are supposed to be asleep. "What have you got that paving stone for?" Gavroche asks as he shakes out his quilt.
Neville plops the book on the floor next to his bed and grabs the stub of a candle, which he lights from the lone candlestick in their room; he's been hoarding these stubs lately for surreptitious reading. "I think Ponine is going to have a baby," he says as he begins leafing through the pages.
Gavroche scoffs. "Why don't you ask one of the old ladies about that? They'd know."
"They talk too much, and anyway this is what the doctors read," Neville says as he lies down on his stomach to read. He shakes his raven hair out of his eyes before peering at the page, using his fingers to underline the words. "These pictures are funny...hmm, this book says that sometimes ladies who have babies get sick in the morning..." he thinks aloud.
By now Jacques pokes his head out from under the blankets, wondering what on earth is keeping his brothers awake. "What are you doing?"
"Reading now, hush! Go back to sleep!" Gavroche says, tossing a pillow at him.
Jacques scowls as he catches the pillow and jumps first on Gavroche's bed before hopping down to where Neville is still reading while patting their pet cat. "That's not for school. That book belongs to Combeferre."
"Not everything is about school," Neville says, inching over to make room for his little brother. His brow furrows as he looks back on the page. "Maybe Ponine is really going to have a baby. It's so obvious since she's been sick every morning since Saturday."
"What if it's just something bad she ate?" Jacques asks. It's not something new to them after all.
Neville shakes his head. "It can't happen every day. I don't think she's really sick, and this book says so too."
"Ponine can't have a baby. Where is she supposed to get one?" Jacques pouts.
"It just gets there, mome," Gavroche drawls.
"She's not getting fat the way that the other ladies did before," Jacques points out. He knows that two of his sister's friends have kids of their own; he still remembers the times before Armand and Georges were born, and he still remembers the mothers of these boys talking about how difficult it was to get so big. There is no way something like that is happening to Eponine right now.
Neville shakes his head as he points to one of the longer paragraphs. "I think that happens after a long time, like just before the baby actually comes."
Gavroche scratches his head as he looks at Jacques. "What's with that worried mask?"
Jacques shakes his head. "You two are being silly."
"We're not; this book says so," Neville retorts.
"Are too!" Jacques argues. Yet somehow it is possible that his brothers are in the right, but that does not mean it is a good thing. Why would Eponine want another child if she already has them to take care of? Who's going to tuck them in at night and help them with their homework if everyone is going to be busy with someone who's even littler than they are? Does that mean that Eponine and Enjolras will no longer have time for them anymore?
There is only one way to find out and Jacques decides he won't wait another minute to do it. He gets to his feet and marches to the door. "Now where are you going?" Neville asks.
"To ask Ponine!" Jacques answers. He runs out, thinking for a moment that Gavroche and Neville will chase him, like they sometimes like to do, but for some reason they are laughing much too hard to even follow him out of the room.
'You knew this was going to happen, but maybe just not this soon,' Eponine tells herself as she flops down on the settee in the front room. If not for the slight tiredness in her limbs and all this anxiety building in her chest, she would insist that she feels perfectly fine, or at least much better than she was faring this morning. She sighs as she mulls over this fact; knowing her luck, tomorrow is going to be a repeat performance of today's nausea and retching. At least now she can be sure as to the real cause behind this mysterious physical turn.
Her hand wanders to her midsection, just below her navel, and she wonders how long it will stay as flat as it is tonight. She may be young, but even so she is no fool. She's heard enough of the signs, seen them in her own friends, and anyway she is somehow aware of how her own body works. On some level she was always sure that this week of queasy mornings, dizziness, and aversions to things such as her own burnt coffee cannot be chalked up to any old illness. It's just as well that two of her closest friends have the medical knowhow to help her ascertain her condition.
'I s'pose it's only fitting that Claudine and Combeferre guessed that this baby will be born in the summer,' she thinks a little less wryly as she reaches for her mending basket. Summer has always been a time of change for her; thankfully for the past two years these changes have been more along the lines of new and even rather welcome beginnings. It's enough to bring a smile to her face as she starts darning a hole in a shirt.
At length she hears an all too familiar tread coming from the study. "What are you looking up now?" she asks Enjolras as he occupies on the other end of the settee. As usual he has done away with his coat and his cravat, but has kept his waistcoat on. It's almost maddening for Eponine to watch, and she is pretty sure that the warmth blooming in her cheeks is not just from their proximity.
As usual her husband seems oblivious to the effect he has on her. "Jail fever," he deadpans, indicating the folio he has with him. "It isn't only a sickness of the prisons; there have been more people becoming ill with it within the hospitals."
She nods, remembering now that he and their friends are investigating the conditions of the hospitals in the Latin Quartier district. "It's ironic, isn't it?" she asks as she puts her feet right in his lap.
Enjolras absent-mindedly squeezes her ankle."Sordid would be more of the word."
Eponine smiles at his seemingly relaxed attitude; perhaps it will make it easier for her to break the news. She quickly catches his hand, only to end up biting her lip when he looks at her. She pauses, reminding herself that she has to tell him now, or risk a more awkward explanation tomorrow morning when she is ill all over again. "Antoine, I have something to tell you..."
It is at that precise moment that the front room door flies open to the sound of light, harried footsteps. "Ponine! Gavroche and Neville are being silly and saying you're going to have a baby!" Jacques yells breathlessly as he scrambles onto the settee. "It's not true, right?"
It takes a second for Eponine to realize that her ears are not tricking her; her brother has essentially confronted her with the very fact she should have told her husband first. She swallows hard, now completely at a loss as to what to say, especially since Enjolras is staring at her as if she has suddenly announced that the sky is falling. It's all she can do now not to scold Jacques for barging in at the worst moment possible, but suddenly she sees him looking down as if he is trying to hide his pouting. "Jacques?" she asks worriedly.
Jacques looks up sharply at her and Enjolras. "You don't like me, Neville, and Gavroche anymore."
"That isn't true," Enjolras points out.
"It is! You and Ponine will always be with the baby and you won't take care of us after that!" Jacques cries as he jumps off the seat and runs out of the room. In a few moments the sound of a door slamming upstairs rents the air.
Eponine sighs as she slumps against the settee. "I'm so sorry. This wasn't how it was supposed to go," she whispers.
Enjolras takes a deep breath as he clasps both of her hands. His expression is incredulous, as if he is still trying to take this all in. "Are you though?"
She nods and kisses his cheek. "Yes. You're going to be a father. A good one, I'm so sure of it," she whispers as she runs her fingers through his hair. She needs him, desperately; the truth is that there are some things about being a mother that frighten her almost to the point of bringing back her nightmares and she needs his reassurance that they will get through this. She knows he needs her; he's never imagined being a parent in his own right, and this is something he will have to learn or even struggle through. However this is a moment when her brother needs her more, so she squeezes Enjolras' hands by way of apology before hurrying out of the room to search for Jacques.
She knows better than to find him in his room; he's not one to let Gavroche and Neville see him cry. Instead she finds him in her bed, curled up and sobbing into the pillows. She sighs, knowing that this is at least one step up from having to extricate him from a closet or some impossible space. "Jacques, it's not going to be such a bad thing," she whispers as she sits next to him.
Jacques sniffles as he looks up at her. "But why?"
"Exactly what sort of why?"
"Why do you two have to have a kid?"
Eponine sighs as she tries to come up with an explanation that her brother can actually understand, and will be enough to soothe his pain as well as his curiosity. For a fleeting moment she wishes that someone else could explain this to him, but she pinches her wrist to banish the thought. She's a mother now, and part of that means having to face up to questions like this. "It happens, and I s'pose it's also because we want to," she says.
Jacques wipes his face with his sleeve. "Babies are noisy. Why do you want one?"
This time Eponine shrugs, knowing better than to attempt to explain this very grown up side of the matter to her little brother. "You'll see when you're older."
"That's what everyone always says," Jacques pouts.
"I'm right this time and you know it," Eponine says. She scoots closer to him to give him a hug and holds on tight; it will not be long till he will become too big for her to do this. "I'm always going to be your older sister, even if I'm someone else's maman. That means I'll always be there to take care of you. Antoine also promised he'd take care of you boys too, and he never says anything he doesn't mean," she says, hoping with every fiber of her being that he will believe this reminder.
Jacques looks down before nodding slowly. "I didn't want to make you sad, Ponine," he finally says in a very small voice.
She smiles as she ruffling his hair. "You didn't really make me sad, petit. I s'pose if I was still as little as you I wouldn't be all that happy too," she confides. It's all she can do not to roll her eyes at the memories that come to mind; she really was a little bit of a spoiled child back when her family was still at Montfermeil. Thankfully only Azelma and Cosette can really remind her of those days, and it's a good thing that the three of them have an unspoken accord not to dwell too much on these things."
Jacques just gives her a quizzical look as he wipes the last of the tearstains off his face. "Is the baby going to be a girl like you or a boy like Enjolras?"
"I don't know," Eponine replies wistfully. "It won't be some time till we find out."
"I hope it's a boy, and then there will be someone else to play with me," Jacques says, finally smiling a little before holding back a yawn.
The very image of Jacques chasing after a toddler is enough to make Eponine giggle. "Oh that won't happen for a very long time, and you'll be so much bigger by then!" she teases. She hears the bedroom door open and she motions for Enjolras to sit with them. "I s'pose I should have talked with you about this before dinner," she tells him ruefully.
"Either way, you would have needed to have this conversation with him," Enjolras replies, glancing at Jacques. He reaches in his fob for his watch and shakes his head. "It's already late, petit. It's time for you to go to bed."
"I'm not sleepy," Jacques protests even as he holds back another yawn. "Can I tell Gavroche and Neville?" he asks after a moment.
"Not tonight. Wait till breakfast," Enjolras says firmly before he scoops Jacques up and swings him onto his shoulders. He looks at Eponine for a long moment. "Five minutes."
She nods, knowing that these two need to have their own talk about this new situation. "Good luck, Antoine," she whispers in his ear. The bemused smirk he gives her is enough to have her laughing as he leaves the room with her brother in tow, more so when she hears Jacques begin to pester him with questions. 'At least he's got someone to teach him how to be a big brother,' she muses more hopefully before turning her thoughts towards how to continue yet another important discussion.