To everyone who's following this story: thank you so much for your patience! I've had a lot going on in my life, and have less time now for writing fanfiction. I don't know if I will finish all of my stories-in-progress, but this one will be finished eventually.

The room was so dark Eponine could not tell if she had opened her eyes. She thought she heard the door opening, heard the floorboards creaking under slow, quiet footsteps. A hand gripped her shoulder. "Thought you could run out on your old man, did you?" hissed a voice close by her ear. Eponine opened her mouth to scream, but no noise came out. She felt the edge of a knife pressed against her throat. "If you make one sound," her father whispered, "it'll be your last."

" 'Ponine? 'Ponine, wake up."

In an instant, Eponine's eyes were open. She saw Marius looking down at her, shielding a candle with his hand. "Are you all right?" he asked.

Eponine looked around the room. The little candle did not give much light, but as far as she could tell, there was no one there other than Marius. She was about to answer him, but instead she began to cough, and once she started it would not stop. Marius helped her sit up. When the fit ended, he brought a glass of water to her lips. "Thank you," Eponine whispered.

"You're sure you're all right?" Marius asked. Eponine gripped his shirt and buried her face in his chest. She was trembling, whether from tears or cold or fear Marius could not tell. He hugged her, pressing her head to his heart. "I'm right here," he whispered, "You're all right, 'Ponine. No one's going to hurt you." Without thinking of it, he began to rock slowly back and forth until Eponine's quick, shallow breaths grew slow and even. "Go back to sleep, love," he whispered, "You're safe now."

When Eponine woke again, the candle had burnt out and a pale gray light crept into the room. She heard voices. At first they seemed to be right beside the bed, but when she turned her head she saw no one.

"I'm sorry, Monsieur," she heard Marius say, "I have not seen your daughter." She raised her head a little and saw him standing in the doorway, his back to the room. She could not see the person he addressed, but she recognized the voice in an instant.

"Ah, my poor daughter! Who knows what may have become of her? Wicked child, to run off and break her father's heart with worry! Please, Monsieur, could you lend me a little change to hire a carriage? I don't have a chance of finding her on foot––if I were a younger man, maybe, but in this miserable cold…"

Marius dug into his pocket and dropped a few coins into Thénardier's palm. "You are too kind, my young neighbor!" said Thénardier, "Many thanks, Monsieur."

Marius stepped back into the room and shut the door.

"He knows I'm here," said Eponine. "He'll come back for me; I know it."

Marius started toward the bed, but instead of sitting down beside Eponine he paced back and forth between bed and desk. "We've got to get away from here," he said, "I have some friends who live in a tenement in the Latin Quarter. We can stay with them. Do you think you could travel a bit?"

"I could try."

"Good. You don't have to get up yet. I have to pack some things first. Just rest for now, dear."

Eponine smiled as he tucked the covers closer around her. "You called me 'dear' again."

"Yes I did, my dear," said Marius. "I'm afraid you'll have to get used to it." He started to lean in toward her, but stopped short and drew back. He stroked her hair gently. His hand lingered a moment on her forehead, and his own wrinkled in concern. "I'll wake you when it's time to go," he said.

It seemed Eponine had only just dozed off when Marius woke her, apologetically. He had her coat draped over his arm, and her boots in his hand. She sat up, feeling dizzy, and quickly put her coat on. Marius knelt at her feet, ready to guide them into her boots. "I can put on my own shoes," said Eponine, bending down to tie the broken laces. When she sat up again, her head was spinning so badly she felt as though she might just fall back onto the bed. She pressed a hand to her head.

"What's the matter?" Marius asked.

"Nothing," Eponine muttered.

She let him help her to her feet. He pulled the blanket off the bed and wrapped it around her shoulders like a cloak. "There's a carriage downstairs waiting for us," he said. "You'll have to walk a bit. I'm sorry."

"It's all right," said Eponine. She had to grip the railing tightly going down the stairs, and held fast to Marius's arm the whole way, but she managed to stay on her feet. Outside the snow was falling thick and fast. Marius lifted Eponine into the carriage and climbed in beside her.

"Where to, Monsieur?" the driver asked.

"Forty-nine Rue Lamont, please," said Marius. Eponine nestled against him, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Hold on, love," he whispered to her, "We'll be there soon."