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15 May 2013 @ 12:45 am
Chapter 32: Everything About Mothers  

Chapter 32: Everything About Mothers

'Maybe I should have thought about the rain first before saying I'd give out the pamphlets'.

Eponine shivered as she huddled in the meagre shelter of a carriage gate as she waited for a fiacre to pass by or for the needle-sharp rain to stop even for a few minutes. She stuffed her hands into the sleeves of her coat for warmth, wincing when one of her maimed fingers caught on her left cuff. "At least I gave out the last of the books before the rain started," she muttered as she looked up at the sky, wishing desperately for a gap in the clouds. She had started with her itinerary before eight in the morning, owing to the fact that she had quite a long list of places for her to leave the pamphlets at. Now it was past eleven, and by all rights the pale sun should have been lending a little warmth to the streets instead of hiding behind this sudden rainstorm.

She yawned a little; it was only at this hour that drowsiness was catching up with her. Till that moment the heady events of the previous day had been more than enough to sustain her despite having slept very little, but now the cool weather was making her languorous. As she pressed her back against the gate in a further effort to keep out of the rain, she caught sight of a man also taking shelter from the rain, but this time in a doorway. She blinked as she tried to ascertain his identity, only to feel her gut clench when she saw him bring out a billystick and pass it to his left hand. It was an old sign she knew all too well. She shook her head twice but all the same he crossed the street so that he was standing also in the shade of the carriage gate.

"What are you doing here, Montparnasse?" she asked in a low voice.

"I don't have a quarrel with you, Eponine. Just your neighbour," the dandy answered politely. "I don't see him about."

"He's at work. So was I," she answered. She watched him inspect his sodden hat. "You're here alone?"

"I have other business too."

"What sort?"

He didn't answer but he drew a much wrinkled paper out from his coat pocket. "A letter from your mother. Magnon had it all this while. There was a letter for Azelma too, but Magnon says she lost it."

"My mother?" Eponine repeated incredulously as she snatched the letter. The paper felt as if it was on the point of disintegrating in her gloved grip. "Why did Magnon have it? How did you get it from her?"

Montparnasse smiled cryptically. "Your mother must have entrusted it to Magnon. As for getting the letter, I do keep an eye on old friends."

Eponine bit her lip. "Why are you giving this to me?"

"Because your father will not," Montparnasse replied. "I heard now that Azelma is living with a poet?"

"It is her business," Eponine replied

"I heard she left because of that matter with Citizenness Allen. You should not have interfered."

"You would have done the same if it had been Gavroche in trouble," she pointed out. Even during their worst days in the streets, she knew that Montparnasse had made it a point to look out for her brother. 'Sometimes he can be a better person than I am,' she thought.

Montparnasse nodded slowly. "Azelma never told you why we parted ways?"

"She said she saw you with another girl," she said accusingly.

"That was true, but she was the one who always wanted to leave first. She said that I couldn't do enough for her. Then I knew she was going to try to find you, and not your father," the dandy replied, bitterness lacing his voice. "She said she saw you with fine folk, and she wanted to be there."

"I thought she was only interested in lancers," Eponine murmured. "Well, what happened?"

"We argued one night, and I left to see Babet. When I returned, she was gone. She didn't come back the next night, or the night after that. That was when I met another girl, out on the Boulevard. Then I heard from Deux-Millards that Azelma found your father, and that was the last I heard of her till I saw that she was living with you."

"Are you telling the truth, Parnasse?"

Montparnasse pocketed his billystick. "I am. You can even ask Babet and Gueulemer. Azelma told you a whole different story, didn't she?"

"She didn't say a few things," Eponine admitted. Inasmuch as she was not sure whether to believe Montparnasse's version of events, it did at least explain something of Azelma's behaviour. 'No wonder she was a little angry with me,' she thought. "You don't always do the right thing, Montparnasse. You're a good boy though. Thank you."

"And you're a clever girl," he replied. He handed her a five franc piece. "Take this too."

"I don't need your money."

"It's not for you, it's for Gavroche. For his birthday."

"Oh yes. He's nearly thirteen already, but he's still so small," she said with a giggle. "I'll tell him you greeted him."

"You stay out of the rain, Eponine. Be careful. Tell Citizen Enjolras that too. Good day to you."

"Good day Montparnasse." She watched him cross the street again, but this time he went down an alley and out from sight. 'I hope your other business is serving you better,' she thought, but she could not quite imagine Montparnasse doing any sort of honest work; he had a streak of the idler, he'd said so himself. 'And he'd never take it well if I told him to try something else,' she reminded herself as she unfolded the worn out missive. The thick lines were faded and blotted in some places, but it was still unmistakably her mother's hand.

My dear Eponine,

Where are you? I hope Magnon can get this to you and Azelma. I heard that you are in Les Madelonttes, but that you might be out soon. If you can go back to that old house, you will find that I left a little money under your mattress, just under the floorboard. It is all I can give you.

I never wanted this horrible life for you and Azelma. I hate your father for making us thieves and having us live this way. I hate him for what has happened to both of you. I should have brought you both to some place better. Please do what you can for you and your sister. I want you to have a fine house, beautiful dresses like the ones you used to have, and gentlemen wanting you to marry them. Find someone who can take care of you, better than that tramp Montparnasse or that poor boy next door.

I don't think I shall ever get out of here; these cognes are being ridiculous. They do not believe it was your father's fault. Think of me some times, Eponine. Give Azelma a kiss from me. Please remember that I will always love you.

Your mother

Eponine quickly folded up the letter before it could get wet. "Maman, would you be happy with what I did?" she whispered, trying to picture how her mother must have appeared while she was writing this letter. However the only thing she could recall now was how her mother looked during their last day in the Gorbeau House, dressed in a garish tartan skirt and an oversized hat. Even then, she had still smiled when her daughters were around. It was the one image of her mother that Eponine wished she could commit to memory. 'If only I did see it more often'.

She wiped her face with her sleeve and frowned at the dark streaks that came away on the fabric. 'It's far from grand but at least we aren't thieves anymore,' she reminded herself as she pocketed the letter. She looked around and nearly laughed; the rain had stopped and the water that was dripping near her was coming from a nearby awning. She got to her feet and then began walking in the general direction of Prouvaire's apartment, hoping to find her sister already awake.

When she arrived, she found Azelma having a late breakfast in the front room; Prouvaire had gone off to meet some of the masons. The younger girl wiped croissant crumbs off her face as she threw a shawl over her chemise. "What are you doing here?"

"Came to show you this letter from Maman. Montparnasse gave it to me," Eponine said, handing over the worn out note.

Azelma read through the letter quickly and her brow furrowed. "She didn't write to me."

"Magnon lost the letter," Eponine said, feeling a little embarrassed.

The younger girl laughed before practically shoving the letter back at Eponine. "You can say what you want to say, Ponine. Maman and Papa always liked you better since you could do things for them."

"That's not true. They just wanted you to be safe, that's why they wouldn't send you out as often," Eponine retorted. Although Prouvaire's apartment was warm, she could feel a chill in her bones again as the memories of the Gorbeau tenement rose before her. In a way that had been far safer than running after fiacres or dodging the police, things which happened far too often in the days when she was their father's messenger. "I didn't want you to always go with me either," she added more softly.

"You always had everything better. Everything first," Azelma said impetuously, curling up in her chair. "The dresses went to you first. Papa always talked to you more. Montparnasse was yours first too."

"I tried to share."

"You couldn't always," Azelma retorted. "Now I don't have to share anything with you anymore. Anyway I already did what Maman said in her letter. I found someone who takes care of me, while you're still working every day."

Eponine stared at her sister for a moment, wondering if she had misheard her. She thought of mentioning what she'd heard from Montparnasse, but she decided against it; that was another question altogether. "And you do absolutely nothing to help Prouvaire?" she asked after a few moments.

Azelma shrugged. "I keep this place clean. I read his work and tell him when his flute playing is nice. He calls me his Dulcinea, you know?"

"He likes you, but do you like him?"

"What does it matter? He's rich. He likes me enough so I won't have to do anything. More like the Baronne Pontmercy than you are, for sure."

Eponine could already taste bile at the back of her throat. "It's not fair to him," she finally said. "And I don't care about being like Cosette anymore," she added more spitefully.

"Hah! You can say that-"

"Don't bring Enjolras into this."

A triumphant smirk spread over Azelma's face. "I wasn't about to mention him."

Eponine's jaw dropped as she realized what she had just blurted out. "You horrible-" she began just before a knock on the door cut her off.

"Azelma? Eponine?" Claudine called anxiously from outside.

Eponine lost no time in opening the door. "Claudine! How did you know I was here?" she asked.

"You weren't at home or at Ravigard's shop, so I figured you might be visiting your sister," Claudine replied. She looked weary, as if she'd walked a long way. "If I didn't find you here, I was going to see if you were at the Musain or at some Radicaux meeting."

"I will be at one later tonight," Eponine said. "I'm meeting Enjolras, Bossuet, and some other friends at Place de Tivoli."

"What about Gavroche and Jacques?"

"He said he'd fetch them at the schoolhouse today," Eponine replied. 'I would love to see the look on Jacques' face when he sees Enjolras,' she thought amusedly. She wasn't sure why her youngest brother had taken such a liking to her friend, but she couldn't complain if it meant that little Jacques would be less jittery.

Claudine's eyebrows shot up with curiosity. "Ah good. Then we can go to the Marais together," she said, indicating a packet of papers she'd brought. She frowned as she caught sight of Azelma, who looked dumbfounded. "Azelma, get dressed. We're going out today."

"To do what?" Azelma asked petulantly.

"To visit the Pontmercys."

"It's something useful," Eponine added. Azelma glared at her before finding a dress that had been hastily thrown on a chair, and then disappearing into the next room.

"I know I came at a bad time, but you two are the first people I could get hold of all day," Claudine explained as she took a seat. "Musichetta and Joly have had a row again, Paulette and her friends are rushing to finish a whole trousseau, and Leonor is off with Feuilly helping Jeanne out with some trouble in the marketplace."

Eponine nodded slowly, remembering what had been discussed the previous evening at the meeting. "I was at Picpus last night for a meeting. I thought I'd see you there."

Claudine's lip twisted, as if she was about to say something. "I had something to see to."

"Is it something serious? Maybe Combeferre can help?"

"I wish."

"Oh." Eponine looked at her curiously. "Is it about him then?"

"We had a bit of an argument. Nothing to worry about, really," Claudine said. "Why aren't you at work today, Eponine?"

"It's a bit of work, well it's giving out the pamphlets for the Radicaux party," Eponine explained with a grin. "I had to go to maybe fifteen different places. So many people to talk to."

"You liked it?" Claudine asked.

"Mostly. You would have done better though; I almost didn't know what to say."

"You'll get better with it," Claudine remarked, finding a scrap of paper on which to make a quick note to Prouvaire about Azelma's whereabouts. "Do you remember what we were talking about in the Musain, about the wages and welfare of women in factories?"

"Not really," Eponine admitted. She hadn't been paying much attention that evening to anything other than Azelma's antics. "What now then?"

"We have to make a sort of project, an organization of workers if you will. It will be a little like the time asking for the right to vote, but something more permanent," Claudine said more enthusiastically.

"Why will it have to be permanent?"

"To keep on speaking to the legislators. We know that Jeanne is going to be elected and Enjolras as well, and perhaps some other promising characters. They are our friends but they will need reminding now and then about the concerns of women," Claudine replied. "As a group it will also be easier to keep in touch and help out workers too."

"Why are we visiting Cosette then? Azelma whined as she emerged from the next room, trying to tie a wide ribbon around her waist. "She doesn't work!"

"Because she might want to help," Eponine said, motioning for Azelma to turn around so she could help tie the ribbon behind her back. She made sure to tie two knots into the sash, knowing that her sister would have a difficult time undoing it later. She saw Claudine raise her eyebrows disapprovingly at this but she merely shrugged. 'Somehow she has to learn she can't always win,' she thought as she followed her sister and her friend out the door.

When the trio finally arrived at the Rue des Filles du Calvaire, they arrived in time to see a rather aged doctor exiting the house. "Was someone taken ill?" Claudine asked Nicolette worriedly.

"No one, Citizenness," Nicolette said, sounding a little embarrassed. "Only that Citizenness Pontmercy was feeling a little poorly-"

"Nicolette, I'll explain it!" Cosette called from the drawing room. She was sitting up on a sofa near the fireplace, smiling as if she had been entrusted with some great secret. "I havebeen feeling a little odd, but I'm not ill," she said as her friends sat down."It's nothing to worry about," she added, seeing Claudine's worried expression.

'First Claudine, now Cosette,' Eponine thought, feeling rather put out at this sudden secrecy. "Are you sure you'll be fine?"

Cosette nodded as she sat up straighter. "So you're here to talk about laws for women's workplaces?" she asked, gesturing to the papers Claudine had.

"How did you know?" Eponine asked.

"Because it's the thing that the Radicaux candidate here, Blanchard, hasn't been mentioning," Cosette confided. "I'm glad you're here too; I have a sort of project that I hope you can help me with."

"Oh?"

"I want to do something for gamins, by giving them someplace safe to go. It won't be like an orphanage since some of them would not want to stay. It's a house where they can get meals, maybe clothes, and if some of them like they can even some lessons."

'It's better than going into people's houses to give them clothes,' Eponine mused. She saw Azelma looking bored while Claudine was listening with interest. "Where would you put it?" Claudine asked after a moment.

"I was thinking perhaps of the Faubourg du Temple," Cosette replied. She got to her feet at the sound of someone opening the front door. "That's Marius now."

In a moment Marius was in the drawing room, his face pale with worry. "Cosette, I heard you were taken ill. You shouldn't be down here," he whispered concernedly.

Cosette silenced him with a finger on his lips. "Excuse us for a moment," she said to her guests before practically dragging Marius to another corner of the drawing room. She whispered something in his ear and clasped his hands before kissing his cheek.

Marius' eyes widened and his jaw dropped as he stared at his wife. His voice was choked with disbelief when he could speak. "When?"

"Early in July, so the doctor said," Cosette replied before Marius interrupted her with a kiss. She laughed and buried her face in Marius' shoulder for a moment. "I'm sorry for not telling you right away, but I had to tell Marius first. I hope you understand," she said apologetically to her friends.

It immediately dawned on Eponine what Cosette was referring to. "Congratulations, both of you," she said after an awkward moment. She could almost imagine Cosette holding a child, certainly with dark hair but perhaps less unruly than Marius' curls. The image was so perfect, it was almost ridiculous.

"So does this mean you will have a christening, a nice dress for the baby and a celebration after?" Azelma chimed in after Claudine congratulated the pair.

"Yes, but that is such a long time from now," Cosette said. She shook her head as she sat down. "I still cannot believe it entirely myself..."

"Maybe we ought to visit some other day," Claudine suggested politely as she stood up.

"No, no, stay. If you can, for dinner. There is much I wanted to ask you about before-" Cosette began before realizing that Marius was looking at her quizzically. "I have a project in mind and I intended to explain it to you and Papa later, over dinner."

"A project, now? Cosette, it might be too much for you and the child," Marius protested.

"Marius, I'm not any less strong than yesterday," Cosette chided, her tone still affectionate. "I insist that you stay, even for a while. We have a lot to talk about.'

Azelma didn't bother to stifle a yawn. "Have you got tea?" she asked.

"I'll ask Nicolette to get it. And some biscuits; the ones with sugar," Cosette said despite the withering looks that Eponine and Claudine were giving Azelma.

"No, you sit still. I'll tell Nicolette," Marius insisted.

"Thank you," Cosette replied as she returned to the sofa. "He sometimes worries far too much," she giggled as soon as Marius was out of the drawing room.

"It seems as if one of your biggest problems in the next few months might be an overprotective husband," Claudine pointed out.

"Perhaps but he can never refuse me," the young Baronne said happily. "So tell me about what you were reading about women's workplaces."

Eponine was only too glad to let Claudine take over the discussion and explain to Cosette and Azelma the contents of various articles she had collected from the Moniteur and other broadsheets. The stories were all about accidents, low wages, filthy conditions and other horrors that needed to be addressed. 'If the candidates won't listen now, will they listen after they are elected?' she wanted to ask. It seemed as if there were already too many promises for all the candidates to keep, and adding this question would only further complicate matters. Yet she couldn't help but stay with this discussion anyway; many of the stories were those of girls her age or Azelma's. 'You're lucky to be working with Citizen Ravigard,' she realized, only remembering now to partake some of the tea that Nicolette had brought in.

It was already past five in the afternoon when they heard what sounded like voices in the anteroom. Azelma looked up from an article she was reading. "Sounds like the Baron has office work," she remarked.

Before any of the women could comment, the drawing room door opened and Grantaire peered in. "May I warm myself in here?" he asked.

"Certainly," Cosette said, almost surprised at the question. "How have you been?"

"I have been to Marathon and Athens several times and back," Grantaire groaned as he took a seat at the far side of the room. He rubbed his shins. "Courfeyrac was supposed to be Pheiddippides today but he has a visit from his parents."

Eponine cringed at the mention of Courfeyrac's parents. "What happened? Was Paulette there?"

"Unlike Pheiddippides who died while giving his message, Courfeyrac will live to tell the tale," Grantaire said. "He will be forced to renounce that particle of his though."

For a moment none of the girls dared to remark at this bit of dire news about their friend being disowned. "Sit closer to the fire, Grantaire," Cosette offered uneasily after a while.

He shook his head. "I will remove myself soon enough; I'm only waiting for Enjolras and Citizen Tholomyes to conclude their business in your husband's study."

Azelma looked as if she was about to say something but it was Claudine's turn to give her a reproving look. Eponine nodded to Cosette and then crossed the room to Grantaire's seat. "Why aren't you with them?" she asked.

"Lawyers' quibbling," Grantaire replied. "Are you waiting for him too?"

"I may as well speak to him if he's not busy," Eponine said carefully. 'Has he been following Enjolras around all day?' she wondered. It didn't make sense to her why he would linger in the drawing room while their friends were at work. She dared to sneak a glance at Grantaire's scuffed shoes. "Your soles will let in the water," she remarked.

"I can get better ones for two or three louis," he said as he cracked his knuckles. There was something more languorous about his manner as he spoke. "You've taken the shine off yours as well."

"I've been giving out pamphlets," Eponine informed him. "It's for the campaign."

"I'd rather polish Enjolras' boots."

"Why would you?" she asked. She bit her lip on seeing the melancholy look that crossed Grantaire's face. 'They say that he'd do anything for Enjolras, and maybe they do really mean that,' she thought, remembering some of the whispers she'd heard in the Musain about Grantaire's blatant fascination with this particular young attorney.

He chuckled as he met her gaze. "He is a fine statue on Olympus and in the Assembly. Apollo is an ancestor to Saint-Just; they are both known to be cold, both beloved and yet all too capable of scorning. You can see it too for yourself. You're no Creusa or Daphne. You do not need to be forcibly swept up and concealed in a cave, and you do not need to be pursued and seek refuge in being transformed into an unfeeling tree."

She paused, since the names Creusa and Daphne were unfamiliar to her. "I do not understand."

"Enjolras is a magnet; he attracts and yet he can repel. Leaders are made of that strange metal." Grantaire fell silent at the sound of footsteps in the general direction of the anteroom. "But perhaps, perhaps he has a bit of Sabinus in him, more than he knows," he added, speaking more to himself than to Eponine.

'Maybe, but not for me,' Eponine thought. She could hear something like a conversation starting up in the anteroom; Tholomyes' hearty voice nearly drowned out Marius' more halting one. She couldn't help but grin on hearing Enjolras' laconic reply to one of Tholomyes' drawn out assertions. As quietly as she could, she slipped over to the door and opened it. She saw that Marius had his back to the drawing room, talking intently to Tholomyes. Enjolras was standing off to the side, arms folded as he listened intently to them. He glanced in her direction and his eyes widened for a moment, as if he was surprised to see her standing there.

Before Enjolras could say anything, Eponine quickly stepped out and closed the door behind her, startling both Marius and Tholomyes. "Eponine, is Grantaire there?" Marius asked, gesturing to the drawing room.

"He is. I s'pose he'll leave when all the rest of us do," she replied. She looked at Enjolras again, knowing he was already waiting for her to tell him of how her work had turned out. "I finished it all. Every last pamphlet is where it should be."

The young man smiled with relief. "No difficulties?"

"There was one gentleman who claimed I was knocking too early when it was already past nine in the morning," she said, grimacing slightly at the memory of being harangued in the middle of a busy street. "Some people at the other shops and even a schoolmaster asked about the meeting tonight; they want to attend and listen to what the Radicaux has to say about changing the penalties for prisoners."

"That is better than I expected. Thank you for telling them," Enjolras said gratefully.

"They'll be waiting for you and the other candidates later, I hope," she added. "How are my brothers?"

"Gavroche has to work on his spelling; I read a composition of his and found some errors," Enjolras said. "Jacques wanted to come along to the meeting. He wouldn't let me leave till I promised that you and I would return tonight safely," he added more seriously.

Eponine sighed with dismay. "You shouldn't have told him that. Now he'll stay up waiting, or he'll fall asleep near the door."

Tholomyes rubbed his spectacles. "Young men, if you concern yourself with these domestic matters, you will be tyrannized," he warned.

"It would also be tyranny to let a friend go unassisted," Enjolras answered.

Marius smiled uneasily as he knocked on the drawing room door. "I was only going to tell Grantaire that we're through with work," he said to Cosette when she opened the door.

"You'll have to tear him away from his discussion with Claudine," Cosette said.

Marius chuckled before clasping his wife's hand. "Cosette, may I introduce my colleague from Toulouse, Citizen Felix Tholomyes. Citizen Tholomyes, I would like you to meet my wife, Citizenness Euphrasie Pontmercy," he said.

Tholomyes seemed to hesitate at the sight of Cosette. "A pleasure to meet you, Citizenness Pontmercy," he said, managing a bow. "Your husband is a very astute attorney. I can expect great things from him in his future practice."

Cosette smiled radiantly. "He is a brilliant and compassionate man."

"Of course. And a very lucky one as well," Tholomyes said, quickly averting his gaze.

"He's right," Marius said before turning at the sound of a step on the stairway. "Father! You're awake!"

"I was looking for some tea," Jean Valjean replied. He was far less stooped and there was more color in his face despite the winter weather. "Good day to all of you," he said by way of greeting to the rest of the group. "I hope all is well with the campaign?" he asked Enjolras.

"It is. We have had few troubles so far," Enjolras replied cordially.

Marius cleared his throat before proceeding to make another round of introductions. "Citizen Tholomyes is from Toulouse, but he studied law here in Paris," the young man concluded.

Jean Valjean was silent as he regarded Tholomyes. "A name I cannot forget," he muttered at length.

"Rather, a testament to a sharp memory," Tholomyes said with an amiable smile. "I do not believe we have met before however."

"We have not," Jean Valjean replied. "However I have heard your name before, from a woman I was unable to succour years ago."

"What was her name?"

"Fantine."

Tholomyes paled for a moment. "We met, long ago. How did you know her?"

"She came into my care during an unhappy time," Jean Valjean replied. His eyes were dark with an unaccustomed fury as he regarded Tholomyes. No one dared to speak; in fact beyond the ajar door of the drawing room, Claudine, Azelma, and Grantaire had already ceased their discussion.

The attorney swallowed hard. "What happened?"

"She had to leave her daughter with another family in order to work, and she died without their ever being reunited. She gave up more than she should ever have to," the elderly man continued.

"She shouldn't have left her child-"

"She should have had recourse to you first."

For a moment it was as if all of them had been plunged into a grave; in fact Eponine was hardly aware that she still drew breath. Tholomyes bowed his head beneath Jean Valjean's gaze. Enjolras' brow was furrowed as he regarded Tholomyes. Marius' countenance was livid; in fact it was only Cosette's hand that stayed him from rushing at his guest. As for Cosette herself, she had paled considerably but she showed no sign of shock or faltering.

Tholomyes at last dared to raise his eyes to Cosette. "You look like her. Unmistakably."

At that moment Eponine felt Enjolras' hand on her shoulder. "We have to go," he said to her in an undertone. He nodded as Azelma, Claudine, and Grantaire exited the drawing room rather hastily. "Citizen Tholomyes, the rest of us must take our leave. I believe you have much to discuss with Citizenness Pontmercy and her family," he said more loudly.

Tholomyes paused before nodding. "Yes, I think that would be best," he murmured. "I'll see you soon." After a hasty round of goodbyes, the Pontmercys along with Tholomyes and Jean Valjean withdrew into the drawing room while the rest of the young people silently hurried out into the now dark street.

It was Azelma who finally dared to speak first. "I wonder what the Baron will think of Cosette now that he knows who her real father is."

"He's known the truth for some time now," Eponine retorted.

"Even so, why will it change things between them?" Claudine pointed out as she adjusted her bonnet. "What a frightful way for poor Cosette to learn the truth."

"Zeus confronted with Aletheia," Grantaire declared. "The mother lost to memory, the daughter still known to all-"

"Enough of that, Capital R," Enjolras warned from where he walked at the head of the group.

Eponine gave him a curious look as she quickened her steps to catch up with him. "You knew," she said to him.

"Not everything," Enjolras admitted awkwardly. "Citizen Valjean told me much of the story, but he did not mention any particular names. It was not necessary then."

'No one ever thought that Cosette's real father would ever be in Paris,' Eponine noted. She bit her lip as she remembered her own mother's harsh voice yelling at Cosette, heaping accusation upon accusation regarding the other girl's mother. She shut her eyes, trying to remember those days in Montfermeil, those sporadic letters accompanied by a few francs, and little Cosette holding a broom that was even longer than she was tall. 'Sometimes she would sit at the door, looking as if she was waiting...'

"Eponine?" she heard Enjolras' voice ask from seemingly far away.

She opened her eyes and met his concerned gaze "Only remembering," she whispered. She frowned at the taste of blood on her lips and hastily wiped it away with the back of her hand while watching as the lamps were being lit along the length of the Rue des Filles du Calvaire.