SHE'S ALIIIIVE. Hey, you guys. I have finally updated this story, for the first time in 2014. Sorry to keep you guys waiting so long. Apparently wildly flailing your hands at your computer in frustration doesn't actually make the story magically appear. Thank you for keeping with me and reading and leaving me so many beautiful messages. You guys are amazing. Enjoy!
Eponine's first thought upon wakening was "Cold." Her eyes still closed, she pushed her brows together, determining that the source of the coldness was localized to one side of her body, while the other was comfortably warm.
"What the…" Eponine grumbled as she opened her eyes, her voice still rough from sleep. She blinked at the sudden invasion of light in her eyes, scowling at the rays with half-asleep malice.
"Glowering at the sun beams won't make them go away, Eppy," came Cosette's bemused voice from the doorway.
"Will it make you go away?" She retorted, playfully glaring at the girl who leaned sinuously against the doorjamb.
Cosette stuck her tongue out before tossing a dress to Eponine, who snatched it deftly from the air with the practiced ease of a thief.
"Get dressed, slug-a-bed," Cosette teased, planting her hands on her trim waist. "We have a full day ahead of us and I won't have you lazing about."
Eponine groaned half-heartedly as Cosette left the room. She stretched, feeling pops in her joints before rising and slipping out of her borrowed shift. She was glad this gown buttoned in the front because her pride wouldn't allow her to call Cosette back in for something as stupid as a dress. She worked on the tiny pearl buttons, mumbling about the stupidity of having more buttons than stitches on a dress. She growled to herself when she realized she had missed one button at the bottom before ferociously unbuttoning and fastening them again, taking more care the second time that she didn't miss one. By the time she had won her battle against the tiny menaces, the sun was fully over the wall in the garden and her stomach was informing her that it was time to seek out nourishment.
She heard feminine laughter and followed it into the kitchen, where she found Cosette standing with one hip against the wall, giggling with the cook and a maid, both of whom seemed to have abandoned their sewing. A few tear tracks were still visible on the maid's face, but evidently whatever Cosette had said had distracted the young woman enough to stop her from crying.
"Good morning, mademoiselle," the cook greeted kindly, handing Eponine a bowl of porridge with cream. She returned the greeting before settling at the table with her food, stuffing her mouth to prevent having to talk until she was more awake and able to make any form of somewhat intelligent conversation. The maid set a glass of milk beside her before returning to her needlework.
Cosette kept up conversation with the pair of them, picking up a sock to darn in an effort to be helpful and keep her hands busy. They passed a pleasant half-hour in this manner, with Eponine interjecting commentary in the intervals between spoonfuls of porridge. A small part of her whispered that it wasn't as good as Mrs. De'Laroah's. Another small part of her added that it wasn't as good because she was used to being able to share her breakfast with Marius when she ate Mrs. De'Laroah's cooking. Eponine promptly told them both to shut the hell up.
"…right, Eppy?" Cosette said.
Eponine's head snapped up at her name and she blushed slightly when she found that she had no idea what Cosette was asking. After Eponine just looked at her blankly for several moments, Cosette rolled her eyes in a friendly manner.
"I said we'll have all sorts of grand adventures in England," Cosette explained.
"I suppose," Eponine answered honestly. "But I've never been outside of France, so I really don't know."
"It will be fun," Cosette declared firmly. Eponine caught the edge to the other girl's voice and realized that Cosette was trying to convince herself of that assertion as much as she was trying to convince everyone else in the room.
It's because of Marius, Eponine realized suddenly. She's trying to convince herself she'll be able to be happy without him.
Eponine tried to do the same.
After practically wearing a trench in his floorboards, Mrs. De'Laroah finally hammered on the floor with a broom handle and shouted at Marius to "cease that infernal pacing this instant and do something useful with yourself before I find something for you to do."
After vindictively walking a few more steps louder than was strictly necessary, Marius collapsed bonelessly into his chair, propping his chin in his hand as he looked out the window at the increasingly busy streets below. He half-heartedly kept a look out for a familiar head of long hair, but after a while he found himself drifting in thought instead of keeping track of any potential Eponines in the crowds below.
He had thought that she would have returned by now. He understood her anger, he truly did, but surely she would have to come back for the few possessions she still had here? And Marius was also almost certain that she would want to at least say goodbye to Mrs. De'Laroah at the very least.
Marius was quite used to Eponine's disappearing acts by now. She was very feline in nature. She had a tendency to seek out company only under her own terms before whisking herself away until she decided she wanted to be social again. He had learned very early on in his relationship with her that if she didn't want to be found, then she wouldn't be. Still, he at least wanted some way to know that she was alright.
Eventually the act of mooning about at his window listlessly was just too depressing to continue and he decided to keep himself busy by writing another note to Cosette. Halfway through he realized that he no longer had Eponine around to deliver it for him, which just sent a fresh stab of ache through his chest. He shook his head to clear it of Eponine and tried again to focus on his note, deciding that he would just deliver it himself. After all, it would mean a chance at seeing Cosette in person. He tried to push away thoughts of Eponine and work up the enthusiasm that the prospect of seeing Cosette should have instilled. Marius found it more challenging than expected.
Finally, he finished the note and blew on it to dry the ink, scanning it again to check for any mistakes. Finding none he smiled slightly in satisfaction, carefully folding the small piece of paper and tucking it into his pocket. He glanced once more out the window-to check the weather, he told himself-before making his way downstairs.
"Glad to see you out of your room. Thought you were deciding to become a hermit," Mrs. De'Laroah greeted without bothering to look up from her knitting in the parlor. Marius didn't dignify the statement with a response.
"No sign of her?" The housekeeper tried again in a softer tone.
"No," Marius replied shortly, and the one-word response was heavy enough with frustration and melancholy that Mrs. Da'Laroah didn't have to ask how he was taking it.
"I'm sure she'll turn up, dear. That girl just has her own ways. Give her some time to catch her breath and cool her head and she'll be back. I'll imagine you'll have quite a bit of groveling and apologizing to do, but she'll be back."
Marius smiled at that. There was no doubt Eponine would give him hell if-when, he corrected himself-she came back.
"I'm going out," he told his housekeeper, already putting his coat on.
"Alright, dear. Be careful. And be back by 6 for supper!"
By the third giant trunk of clothing, Eponine tried (to no avail) to suggest that Cosette simply donate her possessions and buy new ones in England. By the ninth, she very seriously considered the feasibility of setting Cosette's wardrobe on fire.
"Honestly, 'Sette, why do you have so many clothes? You can only wear one dress a day!" Eponine complained, flopping onto a pile of assorted muslin dresses.
"Well, my extensive wardrobe seems to be benefitting you, Eppy," Cosette retorted.
Eponine pulled a face and tossed a slipper at her friend's head. Cosette, not as spry as Eponine, failed to dodge the projectile in time, futilely swatting at the air before the shoe hit her in the face. Eponine shook with laughter at the disgruntled expression on Cosette's face. Her amusement increased when Cosette's attempt to return fire went wide, instead knocking over several figurines previously arranged neatly on the shelves on the wall.
After straightening the figurines, Cosette surveyed the room to calculate how many more trunks would be required. Despite Eponine's complaining, it would probably only be two more trunks until all of Cosette's possessions were packed away, save enough to get by with in the days until they got onto the ship. She tried to ignore the twinge of pain that thought brought with it.
"I'm going to go ask Papa to help me bring up two more trunks. I won't be long."
"I can't wait," Eponine returned dryly, rolling her eyes.
It ended up taking longer than Cosette anticipated because she couldn't seem to find her father. She checked his study first and upon finding it vacant went in search of him in other parts of the house. The maid said he had been in the garden earlier speaking to someone, so Cosette decided to try looking for him there.
"Papa?" She called once outside. "Are you out here?"
"Cosette, is that you?" The voice didn't belong to her father, but it was still familiar.
"Marius?" She gasped, finally seeing him through the gates.
"Hello, Cosette," he greeted warmly. Cosette hurried over to the gate, finding it locked and finding herself without the key. She admitted as much and he laughed.
"It's alright. It's enough to be able to see you," he said with a smile that Cosette returned.
"'Sette, what is taking you so long?" Came an incredibly petulant voice from the house. "You'd better not be trying to stick me with all the work!"
Marius froze when he heard the voice, turning to Cosette.
"Yes," Cosette replied. "She came here last night after your fight and asked to stay. There's no way I could have turned her away."
Marius breathed a sigh of relief. She was still mad at him, but at least now he knew she was safe.
"Thank you for looking after her, 'Sette," Marius said, his voice full of genuine gratitude.
"Of course. She's my friend."
"Could I see her?" Marius ventured hopefully. Cosette bit her lip, torn.
"I don't know if that would be for the best," she finally answered. "She's still so upset, Marius. And I don't want her to run away from here, too. I don't know where else she could go. At least not anywhere that would be safe for her. Seeing you here, knowing that you know she's here…I don't know how she'd take it."
"I understand," Marius said, disappointed but conceding to Cosette's logic.
"Cosette. Enough is enough! I'll bring them up myself!" Eponine's voice was closer now, on the first floor of the house. "Where are you? Are you in the garden?"
"I should go," Marius said. "Before she sees me."
"I agree. Goodbye, Marius." Cosette gave him a bittersweet smile.
"Goodbye, Cosette," Marius responded in kind before quickly hastening down the road to avoid being seen by Eponine.
It wasn't until he had gotten home and walked up to his room that he realized he had been so sidetracked by Eponine that he had completely forgotten to give Cosette his note.
Alright, that's it you guys! Sorry for any grammar/spelling mistakes. I've been up for about 19 hours and I need sleep to function. Please review.