AN: What's this?! Me... writing a Les Mis fic that.. ISN'T ENJOLNINE?! I know, I know, it's all very surprising, but this just would not leave me alone. I was working on the next Enjolnine installment (for those reading this who also reads my 'What if' series, that stupidly long chapter is on its way!) and then I thought 'Hmm... I wonder if there are any Éponine /Jehan fics...' so I looked and... THERE WASN'T. So, me being me (and this was my exact reaction) said 'Challenge Accepted'
This fic is probably going to be quite... erratic in terms of updates. I.E. I'll write it whenever the muse hits me. Apart from that: ENJOY THE ONLY JEHAN/ÉPONINE FIC ON FANFICTION!
The petite gamine who often caught his eye was a spirited character to say the least. Yes, when trailing after Marius, she appeared lovesick and a little desperate, but all it took was a single joke made by one of the Amis and the Pontmercy's shadow would transform into someone much more capable of bodily harm.
That was what really captured Jehan's eye.
The young man that caught her eye annoyed her. She would stand in the Musain, Marius having left to talk to Enjolras or one of his other friends about the upcoming revolution, university, or another topic that would just confuse her completely, had she decided to listen in.
So instead, she took to watching her surroundings. Despite the decision she had made to ignore Marius' unawareness when it came to her affection, Éponine would like to think that she was good at reading people. From her usual spot in the corner of the Musain, she deduced that many of the men around her were passionate young people, who were willing to fight, and die if the need arose, for a noble cause.
When first meeting them, she found them all to be loud, flirtatious and somewhat childish. But, for the sake of Marius, she made it her goal to get to know these people.
In the coming months, she found them all to actually be normal, despite their first expressions; mostly starved of any proper female contact, they were unsure of how to act around her. Well, that's how it was at the start. Éponine quickly became a part of Les Amis de l'ABC, and even Enjolras came to appreciate her views, despite his inner bourgeois protesting that having a woman involved in such a dangerous plan was preposterous.
However, there was one man who stood out from the rest. Jean Prouvaire, though rarely known by the Amis as anything but 'Jehan', was quiet, consoled and even a little shy. Though devoted to the cause, his passions centred on that of poetry and, she'd heard, music. His very being emitted a tone of innocence, and his timid nature always seemed to win out in a heated debate.
And that was what really captured Éponine's eye.
They were two observant people, both committed to a noble cause, both of whom would be willing to die for their friends. What neither realised is that their separate passions, something of an escape from the revolution would be what brought them together:
The love for an art so expressive that it could make grown men cry;
And a love for a man so blind that even the most obvious of gestures was missed.
It was early one evening when the two's lives first collided. Jehan, as usual, was walking to the Musain precisely forty-three minutes prior to the scheduled meeting of Les Amis de l'ABC. There was so much inspiration to be offered by an early summer's eve, with the sun lazily drifting across the sky, leisurely waiting for the night to take over.
As he walked down the cobbled street towards the cafe, he smiled as a group of young children, undoubtedly living on the street judging by their clothes and skinny complexions, dashed past, laughing merrily as they chased each other towards the slums. Mostly certain that the other members of the group missed it, Jehan often noted that many of the children living in the poverty that littered Paris' streets were almost always joyous, never once taking even the smallest things for granted. He'd like to think that they were some of the most uncorrupted human beings to ever have lived.
Sighing contentedly, he pushed through the doors of the cafe, walking to his usual seat at the edge of the room. He thanked the waitress who brought him his usual cup of tea and a slightly warmed croissant, before gazing out of the window, happy to simply watch the city outside and wait for inspiration to hit him.
Usually, it would be a further thirty minutes before Enjolras arrived, and another fifteen after that until the other members fell through the doors, laughing or chatting, or, it had been known, both.
But not tonight.
After just twelve minutes (during which Jehan had counted eleven birds, thirteen couples and three stray dogs wandering past his window), the doors of the cafe opened once again, and a familiar figure stepped in.
Éponine was shivering, though the evening was warm and she had a shawl wrapped around her quivering shoulders. It was then when Jehan noticed that she didn't so much step into the cafe, but rather stumbled. Being the gentleman that he was so often teased about, he dashed forward, holding her elbow to keep her steady as she almost fell to the floor.
"Are you, er..." he muttered, the close intimacy between him and the girl suddenly making him a tad awkward, "... alright?"
"I'm perfectly fine." She snapped, her eyes cold and hard as she glared at him. He stood back, his hand lingering on her arm for a second longer before he pulled away completely.
"Well," he said shakily, "Alright then." And with that, he found his way back to his chair, and resumed his staring out the window, though his mind was now elsewhere.
He had never before so much as spoken to Éponine, let alone engage in any physical contact. He often saw Grantaire and Courfeyrac pulling her onto their laps, holding her hand and stroking her hair, always as a joke which infuriated her to no end, but he had always wondered at how they were comfortable with such acts of intimacy when Éponine was only a friend.
Now, here he was, alone in the cafe, where she was also alone, still standing in the spot where he had left her just moment earlier, and he had just made a rather pathetic attempt at trying to get to know her, even if it was getting to know how she was feeling at that exact moment in time.
Éponine also stood bewildered, unsure of why she had snapped at the man who was so hard to dislike. Yes, she had a hard exterior, her years living on the streets had ensured that, and, yes, after yet another drunken beating from her father, she had every right to be touchy.
But Jehan had approached her in kindness, enquiring as to whether or not she was alright. It was an innocent question, asked by an innocent person, who has apparently so unsure as to how he should talk to her.
And that was what infuriated her. His timidity, though somewhat reasonable considering her current appearance and actions, was totally uncalled for. They had known, if their relationship would allow use of the word, each other for almost two years, and, true, they had rarely spoken (in fact, Éponine couldn't recall a single incidence in which they had conversed at all), but they at least knew of each other, and surely that was enough to not be nervous in her presence.
Sighing, she made her way carefully over to his table, sitting down in the empty seat opposite him without invitation. He glanced away from the window, shock etched across his face; Éponine barely stopped herself from sneering.
Jehan opened his mouth to speak, about to ask if she was alright again, but he shut it, reconsidering.
"...Good evening mademoiselle." He said eventually, his voice soft and careful. Éponine groaned.
"Why must you be so infuriatingly timid?!" she questioned, her voice harsher than it needed to be, "I'm sure you have questions?" she waiting impatiently for an answer.
"Not... not as such, no," he said, slightly aghast at her irritation. He was quite confused as to what he had done to insult or annoy her, "Although, I can assure you that that fact is changing by the second..."
"Why would you approach me, if not to enquire as to why my current appearance is as it is? Or as to why I'm here earlier than usual? Or as to why I'm here alone?" Jehan could only shake his head, utterly baffled by her accusations; was it too hard to believe that he was simply trying to be nice?
"Well?!" Éponine questioned, her fingers tapping the table as if the act would somehow make the man answer faster; honestly, he was acting like a mouse faced with the challenge of crossing a bakery without fear of being chased by an angry baker!
"I... I was, er... I..." he stammered, not being able to string more than two words together. Éponine sighed dejectedly, leaning back in her chair, her shawl falling from her shoulders to the crooks of her elbows in the process of her doing so.
It was then that Jehan finally understood what she had meant when she questioned if he wished to enquire about her appearance; her arms, thin, much like the rest of her, from years on the streets, were littered with bruises, old and new, the worst appearing around her wrists in a pattern that looked suspiciously like fingers. On her upper arms, scars could be seen, varying in length, all the same width; they were also arranged in a kind of pattern, though this one was much more erratic than that of the bruises, which seemed to just clump together.
Jehan found himself staring, not out of the window anymore, but at the girl before him, finding more inspiration in her appearance than he ever had looking out of a window. He had a sudden urge to write furiously, to put all of his thoughts and feelings regarding a Mademoiselle Éponine Thénardier, into words on a page so as not to forget them ever again.
But he stopped himself. For he felt that simply starting to write in front of someone who was currently very annoyed at him was probably only sensible if he wished to get shouted at again.
"I only wanted to make sure that you were alright." He said, quietly, looking down at the table to avoid her eyes meeting his, sure that the previous coldness that had resided in them would probably give him more inspiration than he could currently deal with.
"Then why didn't you just ask, like a normal person?!" Éponine growled. The way he looked down, almost as if he was ashamed, only angered her further; now he couldn't even look her in the eye! What cowardice...
"I, erm... I didn't want to pry," he murmured, "Everyone has their business after all." She scoffed, getting up and leaving the table without so much as a 'good evening' as a farewell.
Jehan was fidgety that night. Everyone noticed, even Enjolras, who was normally so focused on keeping the meeting on track that he actually forgot that he was surrounded by people.
"Jehan, are you quite well?" Joly asked him, "You haven't stopped moving all night! Have you acquired some kind of... neurological tick?!" Jehan merely smiled wryly and shook his head, much too embarrassed to tell his friends of his previous encounter with Éponine.
Éponine meanwhile was furious. She, too, had noticed Jehan's discomfort, and noted that it started the second she had left him alone again. Enjolras had arrived after ten minutes of her leaving, and the two had exchanged a nod as they acknowledged each other, before Enjolras began setting up for the meeting and Jehan turned once again to stare out of the window.
The Amis had started to arrive a while after that, many of them settling down with a drink, waiting for the inevitable time when Enjolras told them to shut up so that he could make yet another speech about his beloved revolution. Though they all find him inspiring and he never once had repeated an idea in the same way, sometimes it would be nice to simply talk and relax without having to think of the upcoming revolution.
In all this time, Éponine had watched them all, but most notably Jehan, form her seat in the corner. And the timid little man had not stopped moving for a second.
Little did Éponine realise that the revolutionary that had so infuriated her was watching her as well. They were watching each other, their observations giving each of them the same answer.
For Éponine, her observations annoyed her to no end, and made her wonder what it was about the timidity of one person that had gotten her so worked up. He was nothing special after all; just another revolutionary. She was in a room surrounded by people who shared that title. So why him?
For Jehan, his observations gave him so much more inspiration than he could currently work with; the way her eyes lit up with anger, the way her face hardened whenever she looked to him when she thought he wasn't looking, the bruises and scars that she tried so desperately to hide as she laughed along with her friends. He was unsure if the laughs were real or forced, which just gave him further inspiration; she was a girl who so desperately tried to hide herself, whilst simultaneously giving so much more about her away.
Through all of this, however, they both came to the same conclusion:
They would most definitely be meeting again.
So, as first chapters go... not bad on my part :D It's about my regular length, I don't think there are too many typos in there... (XD) I know to many it's an odd pairing (I had a rather long discussion about it with a stranger on Tumblr) but I can see it! If you enjoyed this chapter, please chuck me a review (Even if you're only an ickle bit interested... I need to know that I'm not completely insane with this pairing :D) and I thank you very much for reading *bows out*
P.S. Enjolnine should be updated either tomorrow or Tuesday :)