A/N: About Enjolras' own fortunetelling. This may be a companion to "Of Apples and Scrying" but it may very well be read as a standalone
A Look of Destiny
Some of the more established residents of Aix-en-Provence during the reign of Buonaparte would certainly remember that once among them was a little boy, who in those days, did not appear to have much to lie ahead of him other than surviving his babyhood. "It's just as well that he's born an Enjolras; that alone should get him someplace," a matron was heard to say one autumn afternoon as she watched this puny yellow haired youngster traipsing past the parlor in his family's grand manor. "Otherwise what can one do with such a timid child like that?"
"I almost pity the Monsieur and Madame; first losing two fine babies and then just barely keeping this one," another neighbor remarked. "That serious look around him is rather unnatural."
It was just as well that little Antoine was far too young to be aware of these unkind observations. For the moment the six year old was more concerned with locating a book he'd let by the wayside earlier that day. "How hard can it be to find Herodotus?" he was heard to say as he darted under a table and then emerged on the other side. He ran to a large oak cabinet and stood on tiptoe in an attempt to reach the handle, only to end up wobbling and falling to the floor. He sniffed petulantly as he got to his feet and scampered off, farther and farther away from the rising chatter of guests gathering in the manor's sitting rooms.
It was not that this child disdained company; in fact he would have been happy to give up his flight at the first sight of a friendly relation or neighbor. What worried him greatly was the fussing-a mix of patronizing looks, knowing whispers and pinching all directed at him, an only son in a grand house. 'I wish Papa would have something to say to it,' he thought as he raced up a back stairway that wound past the grand rooms on the second storey and on to the top of the house.
Antoine stopped before the rotting wooden door that opened out onto the labyrinth of rooms that comprised the manor's garret. It was rare that anyone ventured up here, and on those particular occasions he was always told to keep away, on pain of being trod underfoot. 'It doesn't take much to squash a little wriggler like you,' one of his older cousins had sneered one day not too long ago. "Well no one is stomping about," Antoine whispered as he pulled on the rusty door handle.
He jumped back at the creaking that filled his ears, only to find himself looking right into a cavernous chamber filled with odds and ends of broken furniture, some of which was covered in moth-eaten draperies. Antoine sniffled, already feeling the dust tickling his nostrils, but he merely wiped his face before taking a step into the room. As he tiptoed past a shattered bureau he heard a softer squeak in the shadows, almost like that of a latch being tested. 'Is there another door up here?' he wondered, but no, he could not see such a passage behind all the debris. He stopped in his tracks as the squeak started up again. "Good day! Is anyone there?" he called, cupping his hands to his mouth.
It was then that he caught sight of a patch of sunlight thrown onto the dingy walls, almost as if someone had opened a window. "It's only a mirror," Antoine whispered as he finally noticed a large, heavy brass frame surrounding a shining disc of glass. However before he could take another step forward he now saw, standing between him and the mirror, a hunched figure wrapped in a tattered travelling cloak.
This stranger laughed and looked back, revealing a woman's wizened face half hidden in the folds of a kerchief. "You don't need to ask who I am, Antoine. I've been here a while," she greeted.
The boy felt his feet suddenly rooted to the floor. "How did you know my name?"
"I have been waiting here a while," she repeated. "It's better up here than those ninnies downstairs. They're too noisy for you, aren't they?"
Antoine cracked a smile as he took a step forward. "Who let you up here? Most people don't find this room, even by the back stairs."
"Ah, you think you are clever!" the crone wheezed. She stared at him, as if trying to examine his face. "You have a look of destiny about you, child. Won't you want to see what you'll turn out to be?"
"They say I won't be much."
"No one knows anything." The hag gestured to the mirror. "Take a look, Antoine. It's all there."
"Where?" Antoine asked. Looking back at him was nothing but his own reflection as well as that of the old woman, though her face was mostly muffled by the shadows. "Why it's only a mirror!"
"Look," the crone demanded again even as her spindly hands came to rest on his skinny shoulders. "Don't you see all the blood and fire? You have many battles to fight."
"All the men are going off to do that because of that man Buonaparte," Antoine muttered. "That's what they said yesterday."
"That was another time, child. Not for you," the crone said adamantly as her grip tightened on his collarbones. "You'll be a leader among men, what they will look to when the time of kings has passed. Your name will pass from ear to ear, and be written in books for years to come."
"I'd rather write a book," Antoine insisted.
The crone bobbed her head, as if she had not heard what he had said. "Only, Antoine, you must be true and wise as you are brave. If not, the sun will sink too early for you-and many others." She laughed mirthlessly when the boy shuddered. "Am I scaring you?"
Antoine sniffled again. "You aren't saying very nice things."
"What do you want to hear? Something as small as who you'll love and marry?" The crone clucked her tongue. "It will not be as simple for you, even if you should notice her."
Antoine shook himself free of the woman's grip and looked her in the face. All words died in his throat as he took in the sight of the milky film that covered even the whites of her eyes. "You're blind!"
"No more blind than you are!" the woman cackled in a voice that now seemed to echo all the way to the rafters. It was enough for Antoine to finally tear himself away and dash pell-mell down the stairs. His foot caught on a step, sending him hurtling hard onto a landing. He looked back to see if the old woman would come after him, only to hear the thud of the door slamming above his head.
It was then that he heard running footsteps from the second storey. "Antoine! What are you doing here?" his cousin Henri asked frantically. "You're hurt!"
Antoine nearly flung himself at the older boy. "There's an old woman upstairs, saying terrible things!"
"Upstairs?" Henri asked as he wiped Antoine's face. "There's nothing but a locked up garret. It's not safe for you to be up there!"
"But the old woman-" Antoine protested.
"Let me take a look at it," Henri said calmly as he set down the small boy on the landing and hurried up the stairs. He returned moments later, with a baffled expression on his face. "There's nothing there but the wall and the mortar."
"Don't go looking for her, or that place, petit."
Antoine nodded quickly as he got to his feet, knowing even so that he would never set foot in that attic room again.