The Raven and the Rose.
Summary: When Eponine's protective nature demands that she treat Cosette with kindness rather than cruelty she unwittingly changes the course of not only Cosette's life but her own as well. In the care of Jean Valjean Eponine grows to become a protector of the poor and a beacon of rebellion, she is both the Raven and the Rose but can she play these two rolls and live to tell the tale.
Authors note: I have never written a Les Misérables story before but this one has been stuck in my head for literally years. The idea's you will find in here are the result of a conversation I had with Nan after watching the film together. We talked about how one small change might have led to another and another until you were left with a totally different story than the one you started with. My Nan passed away just over two years ago and I always planned to write a story for her as she was so encouraging of my writing but I haven't felt like I was able to do so before now, so here it is in honour of Nan my first Les Misérables story.
Warning: there will be mentions of violence and drunken behaviour in this story I will only include these as and when necessary and I have no intentions of glorifying them. I don't think it ever exceeds the rating of T but I wanted to give you all a heads up before we started.
A promise made
As a child Eponine Thenardier was happy with her lot in life, she loved the Inn that she called home and she truly adored her parents who owned it. Her Mother and Father never left her wanting for anything and even the guests of the tavern were kind enough to leave small trinkets for her when they moved on.
It would be years before she would come to see the Thenardier's for who they really were and come to realize that those gifts had not been left for her willingly. Eponine was a bright child but love and devotion can blind even the most observant among us.
If Cosette had not come into their care Eponine might have remained blind to the evils of her parents but even at a young age she understood that anyone who mistreated a child could not be as good as they pretended to be.
Her parent's poor treatment of Cosette was bad enough but their almost feverish insistence that Eponine adopt the same attitude was even worse. The Thenardier's hated it when their darling girl would sully herself by treating their serving girl like she was her equal. They took to punishing her to for doing so, first by locking her in her room for a time, then when that failed, they started to give her beatings. They were never as hard on her as they were on poor Cosette but those punishments were enough for Eponine to see just how rotten her parents truly were.
The Thenardier's couldn't understand why Eponine continued to befriend Cosette despite their punishments. They never would have understood even if she had explained herself to them, because Eponine had something that they didn't, a sense of honour.
What Eponine refused to tell her parents was that on the day Cosette had arrived she had made a promise to Cosette's Mother, Fantine. They had given the woman many assurances while not meaning one of them but Eponine had sworn to watch over the little girl and once Eponine gave her word she never went back on it. No matter how hard her promise was to fulfil or how many people told her to forget it, Eponine would persevere.
She had seen Fantine twice that day but she had only spoken to her once. In the morning when Cosette and her Mother had arrived Eponine was on her way to visit her friend Marius who lived with his Grandfather in the nearby manor. He was a sweet boy that her Mother had encouraged her to befriend when he first came to town. She would later learn her parents intended to use her friendship with Marius as a cover to rob his Grandfather, that was the first of their plans she had actively foiled and she had paid dearly for it too.
Being a young boy of the nobility Marius was taught many lessons that he would pass on to Eponine when she visited him to play. His Grandfather didn't really approve but as Eponine was Marius's only friend he endured her visits for the boy's sake.
Eponine was on her way up to the big house when a pretty lady and her daughter entered the inn. As she returned the Lady was leaving but the girl was no longer with her.
"Excuse me Mademoiselle" Eponine called out "did you forget your little girl?".
The woman gave a small, sad smile before answering "No I didn't forget her" she assured Eponine "I must travel to find work, Cosette is going to stay here with you and your parents" she explained.
"Is she going to be my Sister?" Eponine asked with an enthusiasm that only a child could muster.
The lady, Fantine sat down on the steps of the inn to talk to the young girl. "I would like that very much" she said "it would ease my heart to know Cosette had a Sister to watch over her and I think she would like it too". Fantine's smile was a little brighter as she explained "a Sister can be a friend and protector like no other" she whispered as if she was imparting a great secret to Eponine.
"Then Cosette will be my Sister" Eponine announced, she liked the idea of having another friend beside Marius and while she wasn't sure she thought she could do a good job of taking care of the smaller girl. "I promise we will be the very best of friends and I will look after her" she swore as solemnly as one so young could.
"I believe you will" Fantine breathed a sigh of relief, leaving Cosette was the most difficult thing she had ever done but knowing she was leaving her Daughter with a friend like Eponine by her side made it a little easier.
When she left that day Fantine had no way of knowing what the fates had in store for her or Cosette. She couldn't have known she would never see her beloved Daughter again nor could she have guessed just how fiercely Eponine would protect the girl she came to see as her little Sister.
Eponine was five when Cosette arrived while Cosette was only four years old. Their relationship may have begun with Eponine being Cosette's protector and providing her with comfort when she missed her Mama but it quickly developed into a deep and true sisterhood. There was nothing that either girl would not do for the other and their closeness could rival that of any biological siblings.
This friendship would be tested many times over the years but none could come between the girls not even Cosette's saviour though he came closer than any other before him.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I would love to know what you think so far.
Thanks again Millie xXx