For the prompt thing where you write how they first met: Ship: Enjonine (surprised? hah) Quote:"Oh the winter wind can blow me colder/Oh the summer's heat can parch me dry/But I'll not leave here for a fortune/I shall never leave here till I die" From the Billy Elliot musical (I realize that it might be difficult to fit in the entire quote, do whatever works for you) :)— norwegianalien
Uploaded here since this will now be a multi-parter, as per request of unicornesque
I don't own Hugo's characters.
Roots and Negotiations
Alexandre Enjolras always remembered his grandfather whenever he heard the ditties every year in the fields during planting season. To be more to the point, he recalled that night when he asked about who wrote the song about never leaving. "Oh it's as old as the land's bones, my boy," the grizzled owner of vineyards had replied. "No one remembers."
"Did they, do they actually mean it?" the boy had asked.
The older Enjolras had guffawed. "You'll understand when you get older, child. This land will have more of a hold on you than you realize." He then crouched to look the golden-haired boy in the eye. "It's a pull here, deep in your chest. You'll never be able to escape it."
So he'd waited for it. He'd wondered if it would come in a thunderclap, in a singular moment of realizing that he'd been meant to be in this town all along. Perhaps it would also come more quietly, like the ebb of the tide at the close of day, inexorably leaving its mark with nary a whisper. Perhaps he would feel it in the weight dragging on his feet the first time someone would ask if he wanted to see the world. Yet no matter how much Alexandre tried, he could not quite keep his mind anchored, or stop his questions whenever the talk turned to tales of Paris, London, or even just other cities in the Mediterranean. 'Keep your focus, boy!' his teachers screamed at him each time he was caught looking out the window or even just writing of elsewhere.
It was just as well that they did not know of the other longing, the fire in his blood whenever he became party to suffering. He kept it to himself, growing itchier in his own skin and graver in his heart till his seventeenth summer. It had only grown worse with each passing year. He could have sworn that something in him was turning to stone one evening as he was walking home after meeting with the foremen of the farm, one of the many things expected of him as a scion of the most powerful clan in the town. Suddenly he heard a lighter footstep breaking the cadence of his own heavy trudging. He turned around only to be met by a cheeky smirk. 'Good evening Grantaire," he greeted his neighbor as cordially as he could manage.
Grantaire grinned in the darkness. "You shouldn't be walking alone. The caravan is in town."
Enjolras raised an eyebrow at this patois for 'travelling merchants'. It was merely polite parlance for some of the most mistrusted strangers in these parts, something that was tossed around carelessly for gypsies, vagabonds, or simply those not given a home in town. "Where are they?"
"Towards the brook," Grantaire said, gesturing towards the west side of the Enjolras family's estate. "Not getting in the fence, mind you."
"Ah I see."
"I wouldn't go around alone, as I said. Unless..."
Enjolras' eyes narrowed. "Do not goad me. If you insist, go find the others."
"While you are cooped up in the marble palace," Grantaire said. "You're falling out of touch with the people, my friend."
"I rue the day," Enjolras snapped. He had meant to say that he rued the day that Grantaire had moved to Aix, but before he could finish this statement Grantaire was off, laughing and whooping as he leapt towards the brook. 'He's going to break his neck, and that will be my problem,' he thought as he walked more quickly after his friend.
Even in the growing dark it did not take Enjolras long to find him, or the caravan of which he spoke. The past few years had not been particularly kind to these wanderers, and so the once grand train of wagons had dwindled to half a dozen carts crammed with a hodgepodge of wares ranging from pseudo-antiques to outright grave robbery.
All the same it was still a place to acquire things and make a bargain, and so this little market was crowded. Enjolras nodded politely to the neighbours and acquaintances he saw perusing the makeshift stalls or haggling with the merchants.
"Trinkets! Trinkets for your young lady!" a huge man bellowed, holding up in his chunky hands several necklaces of glass paste.
"Teeth! Two for a price!" a thin shadow of a man called.
"Guns! Pistols of the Grand Army here!"
"How would you like these rare herbs, all the way from India?"
"Gowns! The finest right here!"
"Wine! The best vintage of Spain, going once, going twice-"
On hearing this, Enjolras immediately turned in time to see Grantaire handing over several coins to a fellow who had a hooked nose and a visage almost akin to a hungry rat. "That vintage does not exist," he snapped, gesturing to the bottle. "What kind of trick is this?"
Grantaire surveyed the bottle, which turned out to be filled with a sort of dark ink poorly masked by a paper label and laughed. "A fine centrepiece then!"
"You should be ashamed of yourself," Enjolras said to the conman. "Swindling of this sort-"
"It isn't swindling, it's an honest mistake. I grabbed my display piece; of course I leave my actual wine in a safe place," the conman wheedled. He snapped his fingers towards the cart behind him. "Eponine! Stop that singing there!"
"I'm practicing for the show tonight!" a raspy though distinctly feminine voice retorted. Yet in a few moments a girl emerged from the cart, shaking out the skirt of her green dress. She pulled a ribbon out of her sleeve and used it to tie back her dark hair before giving the conman a surly look. "What do the gentlemen want?"
"Show them the wine," the conman said. He wiped his nose with his sleeve before gripping the girl's arm and shaking her slightly. "Make it quick; you can see they've come a long way."
"And where will you be going?"
"Down to the growers. You mind your business, girl!"
The young woman named Eponine deftly pried her arm loose and nodded. Nevertheless she rolled her eyes as she watched the conman stalk off. As soon as he was gone, she gestured with her thumb to the back of the cart. "Right this way, lads."
"My apologies if I caused you or your father any trouble," Enjolras said, seeing the livid marks now forming on the waif's arm.
"He's not my father," she said with a shrug. "Only a friend."
"You do have actual wine, don't you?" Grantaire asked.
Eponine looked about and bit her lip. "You're a fine sort aren't you? I s'pose I shouldn't stiff you."
"Mademoiselle, you need not trouble yourself," Enjolras said, even as he gave Grantaire a vehement side glance. The last thing he wanted was for this woman to be involved n impending mischief; it was clear that she had already enough on her hands to begin with. "We'll find our purchases elsewhere."
"Nothing as good as this!" she exclaimed before disappearing into the cart. She emerged after a few moments holding up a still corked bottle with a gold label. "We finished another one of these just yesterday. I am sure that this one is also as fine," she said in a throaty whisper as she pushed the bottle into Enjolras' hands.
He would have dropped the bottle in shock but he remembered his manners and kept his grip on it. "Are you sure?"
"It's worth what your friend just paid for," Eponine replied. Her brown eyes were mirthful as she looked him over. "You're a smart one. I like you Monsieur-"
"Enjolras," he said. "Just call me Enjolras." Since when did his lips know how to form those words?
Eponine mouthed his name silently. "You're from here?"
"Always has been, has never known anything else," Grantaire chimed in. "The name is Grantaire too by the way."
Eponine nodded. "I like that too. I would have thought swells like you would have done the grand tour."
"Eventually. Later this year in fact," Enjolras said. His parents had promised him as much, but there was already that unspoken oath to return, to see those places once and never dream of them in fact. "Where do you come from?"
"Nowhere and everywhere. I wouldn't remember," Eponine said. She looked about and pushed Enjolras and Grantaire away. "Go before he comes back, or it will be hell to pay!"
Grantaire bowed to Eponine. "Thank you for your assistance, Mademoiselle," he said before grabbing Enjolras' arm to drag him away from the place. "Well she's a saucy one!"
"You were the one who insisted on the wine," Enjolras scowled, shoving the bottle at Grantaire.
"I didn't see you stop her either," Grantaire guffawed. "You'd better come and see her again before the caravan goes."
"Perhaps," Enjolras said, feeling for the first time the lightness in his feet and the sudden pull away from the earth.