On the first day Éponine ignores her, because it's busy and she's tired and there is never really a chance for introductions. She's just there, making lattes with everyone else, not as quickly as some of them but not the slowest, either. She has graceful hands, and Éponine doesn't see the swirls in her coffee, but she wants to. They're probably beautiful.
The second day is slower, a Tuesday, and it's just the two of them until Marcie comes in at four. Éponine is there first – she always is – so keeps one eye on the window and watches as she pulls up and gets out of her car. She's wearing a blue-grey dress and her hijab is the same color as her red boots. When she sees Éponine, she smiles, and it makes Éponine blush. They say hello, and then they don't talk after that.
On the third day Éponine sees the swirls in her coffee. They are as graceful as her hands, and as lovely as her deep brown eyes. She's wearing orange today, with a blue cardigan. Marcie is there, too, and she talks enough that Éponine doesn't have to, which is lucky, because she isn't sure she could have made a sound.
On the fourth day they talk. Their shifts are different, only overlapping for thirty minutes, which makes it easier somehow. She hadn't had a nametag, before, but she has one now. Her name is Cosette.
"How long have you worked here?" Her voice is sweet and Éponine hangs on every note.
"Do you go to school here?"
Her throat has gone dry and she has to swallow twice before she can speak again. "Yes."
Éponine only realizes later that she never asked any questions about Cosette, and she hates herself for it.
The fifth day is cold, unreasonably so. Éponine is wearing a thick sweater and boots. She doesn't know what Cosette is wearing, because she never comes in. It bothers her more than she is willing to admit, and she spends the entire day looking out the window, hoping to see her. She doesn't.
On the sixth day she tells herself not to get her hopes up, but when she gets to work Cosette is already there, alone.
"Hi," says Cosette, "how are you?"
"I'm just dandy," says Éponine.
"…aside from the fact that you're here so early, instead of asleep?"
Éponine puts a hand over her heart in mock dismay. "I'm sorry, are you suggesting I don't love my job?"
"Not at all. Where do we keep the straws? Someone forgot to stock them last night."
"Under the counter, but don't worry about it. I'll get them."
When Éponine leaves, she turns back to salute Cosette, before bowing out dramatically. It makes Cosette laugh, and she doesn't quite stop blushing until she gets home.
The seventh day is her day off, but she almost goes in anyway.
She's late, the eighth day, and the pouring rain doesn't help. Her hair is already flattened from the short walk from her car and everything she is wearing is dripping. "I'll be back," she mutters to Cosette, and stomps off to the restroom to dry as best she can with paper towels.
When she comes back out there's a coffee on the counter, even though there are no customers.
"It's for you," says Cosette. "I don't really know what you like, but. You looked like you needed it."
Éponine doesn't know what to say, so she says nothing. Instead she just smiles, and takes a sip. It's a mocha, heavy on cream and low on actual coffee, and it's disgusting. She drinks the whole cup anyway, and Cosette is right, she does feel warmer afterwards, although maybe it's only because Cosette is so close and her hijab compliments her eyes perfectly and she's wearing a soft flannel shirt and dark jeans tucked into red boots, the same ones from before, and her lips are slightly chapped and her cheeks slightly flushed and there's a single dark curl poking out just above her ear.
"Thank you," says Éponine, even though it's been ten minutes.
"You're welcome," says Cosette, and smiles.
On the ninth day Éponine is the one making coffee for Cosette, because she's there first and wants to return the favor. It's an espresso, and based on the drink Éponine received yesterday she expects Cosette to hate it, but instead she lights up with what must be genuine joy. "You make very good coffee," she says when she's finished, and even though it should be a given considering her job, it's a compliment of the highest order coming from Cosette.
She learns that Cosette goes to school here too, and that they are in the same year. She wonders how they never came across each other until she learns that Cosette is a music major.
"Sing something for me?" she asks, and she makes it a challenge to mask how desperately she wants to hear that lovely voice.
"Not now," says Cosette. "But I will, sometime. I promise. I just don't like to sing in public."
Éponine teases her about the irony, and it's several minutes before she realizes that Cosette has implied they will be together, sometime, not in public. She promised, and Éponine is breathless.
They eat lunch together, walking across the street to a café Éponine has always loved. She learns that Cosette has always loved it too, and somehow that makes everything better. They share a sandwich, and Éponine pays. It's the least she can do in return for the warmth in her chest whenever Cosette smiles at her. She feels like she's drowning, and finds that she does not mind.
When she leaves, Cosette says a warm goodbye, and kisses her lightly on the cheek.
Perhaps she has already drowned.
On the tenth day, Cosette is wearing a blue-grey dress and her hijab is the same color as her red boots. When she sees Éponine, she smiles, and it makes Éponine blush. Éponine watches her graceful hands and tries not to stare too much at the rest of her.
It's the end of the day when she blurts out, "I really like you."
Cosette looks up at her, surprised. "What?"
"I, uh. I really like you. I'd ask you to go get coffee with me, but that would seem redundant."
A corner of Cosette's mouth twitches up, and the surprise in her eyes is replaced with what Éponine really, really hopes is happiness. "It would, yes."
Éponine laughs, and the sound is all nervous energy. "Would you, maybe, would you like to go get dinner with me? After work?"
"I'd love to," says Cosette, and reaches forward to take her hand.
It's the first night, and Éponine thinks she is falling in love.