The Raven and the Rose.
Summary: When Eponine's protective nature demands that she treat Cosette with kindness rather than cruelty she unwitting 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: hello there everyone, I have been gone for a few week's due to the fact I work with children. With all the recent happenings I have been spending more time in work so that those who needed to could go on lock down. I am not needed in work any longer so I have now been put on lock down myself. That means I should not only should I be able to catch up on the chapters I missed but hopefully the story will be finished relatively soon as writing is what I am doing to prevent myself from going stir crazy.
I hope you are all doing ok, there is not much I can say or do other than wish everyone well, so I'm wishing really hard right now. Stay safe, look after yourselves and your loved ones.
Best wishes Millie xXx
Cosette was a dreamer, she always had been. While she was awake her head was full of hopes, wishes and fairy stories. When she slept these things made for the most beautiful of dreams, even when she was nothing more than a serving girl with cruel masters.
For Eponine dreams were a very different beast, perhaps it was because her imagination had never been as fanciful or far reaching as her Sister. Eponine was more of a realist than a dreamer she always had been. Her dreams tended to be memories of her past rather than the fantastical adventures Cosette would tell her about from her own dreams.
Eponine would dream of moonlight escapes and desperate flights through the streets of Paris. She dreamt of warm beds in quiet Convents and the frustrating lessons she would wake to after a night's sleep in that very same bed. She would relive meeting her Father and Josephine for the first time. She would recall the amazing moment when her fingers first brushed against the keys of a piano and the fateful moment when her fencing master put a sword in her hand for the first time.
While she slept Eponine revisited so many of the important moments in her life but only from her new life, her dreams never took her back to a time before she laid eyes upon her Father, she never went back to the Inn or the time when she was known as Eponine Thenardier but that changed the night she met Gavroche.
Explaining the nights events to her family had taken longer than it usually did. Her Father was extremely unhappy to hear about her encounter with the Patron-Minette and he didn't like the idea of her consorting with rebel's either. He agreed that Eponine couldn't have just left the boy to die but did she really have to stay and talk of revolution with him.
Josephine thought that the boy sounded charming and told Eponine her Father was just being overprotective again. This was a conversation the girls Papa and Aunt had quite often. Their Father wanted to wrap both Cosette and Eponine up in a blanket of safety and keep them children forever, that way he could always protect them, Josephine on the other hand feared that if he didn't loosen his grip on them sooner or later the girls would never have a chance to find their own place in the world.
Aunt Josephine and Papa agreed on so many things that on the rare occasion they disagreed it tended to lead to quite a heated discussion, Eponine usually found these discussions to be very entertaining but there was no time for one of their humour's disagreements that night. So, she pressed on with her story without giving anyone time to get worked up.
While hearing about her fighting against a gang and conversing with the leader of a rebellion had caused a great deal of discussion between the members of her family, hearing about Gavroche had plunged them all into silence.
"Oh, Eponine" Cosette cried throwing her arms around the girl. She knew her Sister well enough to know she would be feeling some amount of guilt over what had happened to the boy, even thought there was nothing she could have done to change things.
"Papa we have to do something for him" the tiny blond decreed, still not releasing her hold on the older girl.
Their Father agreed that of course something needed to be done for the child but he had to wonder what he would except from them. Eponine had said he was clearly happy despite the danger a life like his presented, not to mention that he himself had declared the many students of the rebellion to be his family, would he even want to add them to that number.
Both Cosette and Josephine were desperate to scoop the little boy up and bring him into the relative safety of their family but Eponine and her Father understood that if Gavroche chose to join them in some way, shape or form then it had to be wholly his decision or he would never be truly happy with them.
It was decided that Eponine would search out Gavroche after church the next day, her Father didn't like the idea of her going out alone but the women of his family convinced him that it would be the best course of action. They didn't want to scare Gavroche by all descending upon him at once and besides if Eponine could safely traverse the streets of Paris at night, doing the same during the day should be a simple task.
Eponine would talk with the boy, she would tell him of her family and how they wanted to be a part of his life and help him any way that he would allow, the rest would be up to him. He would decide if he wanted to involve himself with them and they would respect whatever choice he made.
When Eponine finally fell into her bed that night she was so exhausted that she didn't think she even had enough energy left to dream but she was very, very wrong.
As soon as her eyes closed, memories came tumbling back form the past and she found herself reliving one of the few bright moments from the life she lived before her Papa had saved her. It was an encounter that taught her a lot about both herself and others, most importantly it taught her just how much one act of kindness can mean.
She was a little girl who was lost and alone in the big wide world. Thenardier had abandoned her to validate her skills. He believed that she could get herself home from Paris but he wanted proof. The better she was at finding her way around the more valuable Eponine became and he needed to know just what she was worth.
Eponine had no doubt she knew her way home but she wasn't sure she would survive the journey; she was just a child after all and the world could be a dangerous place.
The weather was terrible that day, the road she was walking along had become more like a river of mud than anything else, even the carriages that passed her seemed to be struggling.
Eponine had called out to some of the passers-by, she had implored them to stop, begged them to help her but they had all ignored her and Eponine had stopped acknowledging them hours ago. She just kept tugging along and desperately hoped that she wouldn't be run over by the next carriage to trundle past.
The sun was beginning to set and Eponine's bones had begun to ache when everything changed. Yet another carriage had rolled by her and she didn't even bother to hope it would stop, none of the others had after all but shockingly this one did.
A boy a few years older than herself jumped down from the now stationary carriage, he ran towards her, the mud was so thick that his feet stuck with every step he took but he didn't give up, he struggled to her side.
Eponine could hear a man and a woman, his parents she assumed calling after the boy. The man was insisting that he stop being foolish and get back into the carriage while the woman only urged him to be careful.
"Come on" the boy said in lieu of a greeting. He took hold of Eponine's arm and pulled her towards the carriage.
The stubborn side of Eponine wanted to shake off his tight grip but she didn't have the strength left in her to do so. As the boy dragging her along Eponine's feet slithered through the mud behind him, when they reached his carriage the boy pushed her up the steps and practically threw her through the door.
The woman who waited within was quick to react, she removed her own shawl and placed it around Eponine's frozen shoulders, she then pulled a woollen blanket from who knew where to wrap the boy up. The lady was blond with a pretty face much like the boy, who must have been her Son, she encouraged the shivering girl to make herself comfortable on the plush velvet seat of the carriage.
Eponine looked down at her rain and mud-soaked dress, she knew that the instant she touched that lovely looking seat it would be ruined forever. She hated the thought of destroying something so beautiful but the boy didn't give her much choice, he sat himself down by the window, took Eponine by the hand again and pulled her down beside him.
"Charles" his Father gave the boy a clearly disapproving look, he didn't want Eponine in his carriage and everyone present knew it.
"Leave the boy alone" his Mother chastise her Husband "he is being a gentleman" she said smiling warmly at both Eponine and her son.
The boy's Mother spoke gently to Eponine finding out where she lived and promising to get her there before the sun rose.
A short while into their journey Eponine noticed that the boy's Father referred his as Charles while His Mother called him Louie. When she asked him why he had laughed and Eponine thought it was the nicest laugh she had ever heard.
"My full name is Charles-Louie Enjolras" he told her "Papa prefers Charles and Mama likes Louie, so they each use a different name for me" he explained.
Eponine couldn't remember the last time someone had told her something in such an open, honest manner. Her parents and their associates where always so closed off and Eponine was sure most of the things that they did tell her were lies. She felt like she owed Charles-Louie something in return for all he had done for her but she didn't have much to give, so she offered him a compliment and her own name.
"I think Charles-Louie is a pretty name" she said with a beaming smile. "My name is Eponine Thenardier, I don't have another name but my friends Cosette and Marius call me Ponine".
"I think Eponine is an even prettier name" Charles-Louie said complementing her right back with an equally bright smile.
That was the moment that Eponine woke up, Charles-Louie's warm smile was the last thing she saw before her eyes fluttered open and it stayed with her all morning as she got ready for church.
Eponine's preferences had not changed much over the years, she still liked her dressed simple and her accessories almost non-existent but that morning she made an effort to dress down for her meeting with Gavroche.
She wore a warm green dress with a brown belt and boots. Tiny vines of a slightly darker green were embordered into the material of her gown in such a way that they look as thought they could have grown there naturally. She added a simple white shawl and a silver cross pendant.
Eponine didn't want to overwhelm Gavroche when she met him but she still wanted to look appropriate for mass with her family. The Fauchelevent family didn't really care about keeping up appearances but the girls had learnt early on that the best way to avoid attracting too much attention was to blend in. Neither Eponine nor Cosette did particularly well at blending in but for their Father's sake they tried.
Eponine was running a brush through her hair when Josephine entered the room.
"There was a time when I had to do this for you" she said with a smile, she took the brush from Eponine and began to work the last of the tangles out of her thick tresses.
"You were the first person I ever remember brushing my hair for me" Eponine smiled back at Josephine. She was sure that Madame Thenardier must have taken care of her hair for her at some point but Eponine genuinely couldn't recall her doing so.
"I remember that first morning" Josephine reminisced as she continued to brush "there were so many tangles, Mother Superior had warned me I might have to cut it all off" she said running her fingers through the now untangled curls "but even then, with it in truly sorry state, I knew I had to at least try to save such lovely hair"
"I'm very glad you did" Eponine said, she had never heard that story before but she did remember the pain staking care Josephine had taken brushing through her hair that first day. "My hair was one of the few things I liked about myself back then" she admitted.
The fact that young Eponine would probably have struggled to forgive Josephine for cutting her hair went unspoken but both women knew it to be true.
"You were so scared back then" Josephine sighed sadly, Eponine looked affronted but her Aunt carried on as if she hadn't noticed.
"You hid it well" the older woman admitted "you tried so had to be brave, you did everything you could to keep Cosette safe and the last thing you wanted was for anyone to know than you were just as frightened as she was but your Father saw it and so did I" she explained softly.
"You were just a child Eponine" Josephine said rubbing the girl's upper arms in a comforting manner "you did as much as you could to protect Cosette but you were so young and afraid, that doesn't mean you were weak" she reasuered the young woman. "It means you were a vulnerable little girl, just like Cosette was"
Josephine knew that despite how tough Eponine had been as a child there were times that she felt like she hadn't been strong enough or hadn't done enough to look after Cosette, these thoughts hunted her even as she grew up and strove to protect more people than anyone would ever suspect.
Josephine hated to think that Eponine couldn't see herself as clearly as the rest of her family did but she also knew that the girls self-doubt ran so deep that all she could do was keep trying to show her niece just how incredible she truly was and just how deeply they all loved her.
"Now look at the exceptional young woman you have become" Josephine smiled at Eponine "it has been such a long time since I saw that scared little girl, you have buried her beneath your talents and your confidence. You are the strongest woman I know Eponine but last night, talking about your brother, I saw that little girl again. I know you feel like you failed him but you, my darling girl couldn't fail anyone if you tried".
"I wasn't there for him" Eponine sighed sadly.
"But you will be from now on" Josephine countered "and I know as much as you hate to admit it you are nervous about meeting him today, so I thought these might help" she said presenting Eponine with a set of hair ribbons.
There was nothing special about the ribbons themselves, they were just simple green ribbons but attached to each of them was one of her beloved paper roses.
"Josephine" Eponine gasped, reaching out a hand to touch the roses almost reverently "how did you do this?" she asked unable to hide her happiness at the unexpected gift.
Shortly after the family had moved into their new home Josephine had found Eponine's roses, when the girl had had explained where she had gotten them Josephine had almost cried over the sweetness of her encounter with Charles-Louie. While both Cosette and her Father knew about the roses and where they had come from only Josephine had deduced just how much they meant to Eponine.
"Very carefully" Josephine told her, the woman was clearly quite proud of her self.
Eponine couldn't think of anything to say to express her gratitude so she didn't say anything she just hugged her Aunt tight.
Leaving her family behind after church felt incredibly strange to Eponine. Usually the only time she was out alone was in the dark of the night when she was hiding behind Madame DeRaven's morning vail.
During those nights she travelled with the utmost confidence, it hadn't occurred to her that she might feel different doing so during the day but as she made her way to Gavroche's elephant she sincerely wished she had bought a family member with her.
She tightly clutched both her shawl and the small brown bag she had bought with her; she knew the streets well enough to know that if she didn't hold onto the tight, she might lose them all together.
Eponine was sure that some nerves were normal when tracking down your long-lost Brother but being nervous was not something she was used to, despite the life she lived and she was discovering it wasn't something she liked.
It seemed Josephine was right about her roses being useful to her, Eponine knew she shouldn't be surprised, when it came to people and what motivated them Josephine was rarely wrong.
The two women had attempted to use the ribbons to tie up Eponine's hair but the wight of the roses, as light as they may be, had meant that the ribbons wouldn't sit right. It had become clear that they weren't going to work as actual hair ribbons but Eponine didn't want to leave without them particularly after all the effort that Josephine had put into them, so she had ended up with a ribbon tied around each wrist.
Whenever she caught sight of one of the roses Eponine felt a rush of comfort not just from the efforts Josephine had put in to the gift she made of them but also from the boy who had originally given them to her.
Charles-Louie, was someone she had never forgotten but as the years past she had actively thought about him less and less. She couldn't help but wonder what it was that had bought his memory back to her in such a sudden and forceful manner. Perhaps it had been meeting Gavroche and thinking about how her life might have changed had she known he existed but it felt like there was more to it than that.
The kindness the boy had shown Eponine had made him somewhat of a hero to the girl, in the weeks that had followed their meeting, she had waited for him to come back, hoping that she would see him again. If Eponine was being honest the younger version of herself was probably a little bit in love with the beautiful boy who had saver her at her lowest moment.
She had often wondered if Charles-Louie had any idea just how important his act of kindness had been to her; she had sworn she would tell him if she ever saw him again but sadly that second meeting wasn't meant to be.
Eponine had been saved by her Father on a much larger scale than she had by Charles-Louis, while the boy had gotten her home safe the man had rescues her from there forever. Until she discovered Gavroche Eponine's only regrets had been not saying goodbye to Marius and not properly thanking Charles-Louie, now abandoning her Brother topped both of those. There was nothing she could about Marius or Charles-Louie but she hoped that starting today she could make amends to Gavroche.
Looking up at the huge plaster elephant that was in the process of slowly falling apart, Eponine wondered how she would go about even finding the boy let alone introducing herself.
As it turned out she needn't have worried as he found her and much like the night before she heard him long before she caught sight of him.
"You Eponine?" he called his question down from a hided spot within his pachyderm home.
"Yes, I am" Eponine smiled up in the direction the voice had seemed to come from "are you Gavroche?" she called back even though she knew he was, she had to pretend this was her very first meeting with him.
Gavroche suddenly appeared a short distance above Eponine making the usually alert young woman jump. "How did you find me?" he asked, ignoring her question all together.
"A friend said you wouldn't mind meeting me" she answered carefully.
"Which friend?" he asked as he continued his slow descent towards Eponine.
"The Raven Lady" she whispered up to him.
Apparently Gavroche liked that answer as he leapt off of the elephant's leg and into Eponine's arms. Eponine was immensely thankful that her reflexes were quick enough to enable her to catch him.
"Your really my Sister" Gavroche marvelled as he hugged her.
"yes, I am" she sighed as she returned his warm embrace.
Josephine was not meant to be quite so prominent in this chapter as she was in the end but she kind of took over the seine and I liked how it turned out so we got a big chunk of her in this chapter. I know there seems to be an almost fandom wide agreement that Enjolras's first name is Gabriel but I do have a reason for going with Charles-Louie which will become clear in a few chapters time. I do however agree that Gabriel is an amazingly accurate name for a character who is describes as angelically beautiful.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I would love to know what you think so far. Thanks again Millie xXx