Jour et Nuit Étreinte

Chapter 3

Marius offered to walk her home as he often did but she refused as she always did - she didn't want Marius knowing her situation and it was completely out of his way. He fought her on it a little as he always did but eventually let her get her way when she pointed out that she knows the streets better than anyone and she was one of them, plus a little white lie that they'd never hurt her because of that.

As soon as she got into the apartment, she made a bee line for her father dropping her earnings for the night into his hand - good enough to avoid a beating - and hurried toward her room. Marius hadn't been lying when he said Azelma was ill, she had been for a few weeks and was only getting worse because they couldn't afford the medicine to make her better. It was killing Éponine to watch her sister get iller and iller, paler and paler, slipping away from her because there was nothing Éponine, in all her love for her siblings, could do against an unseasonably cold winter and a sweep of illness across the underbelly of Paris.

She walked into the room she shared with her siblings to find Azelma asleep - unsurprising considering the time and how exhausted her body was with fighting her illness. Éponine sighed as she leant down to kiss her sister forehead. She's sweaty, her skins sallow and her lips moving, mumbling as she dreamed. Éponine could literally see her little sister leaving her (it was soon, she could feel that Azelma had very little time left), leaving her for the world in the heavens that they're meant to believe in, where she'll be happy. For this reason, Éponine half wants her sister to die already, though it sounds so unbelievable harsh, because their lives weren't happy and Éponine wanted her siblings happy. Perhaps if Azelma died she would find that happiness or at the very least escape the life they have now with an abusive father, a brother who always disappeared and a mother who used to be loving but had just stopped caring one day.

Thinking now of Gavaroche, Éponine turned to look at her brother's bed, surprised and suspicious she noted that it seemed as if he was in it. Pulling the covers back slightly, for it was usual for Gavaroche to sleep with his head under the covers, she saw a lock of dark blond hair and smiled softly as she watched him breathing softly and calmly. She pressed a kiss to his head and he squirmed - Gavaroche did not like being kissed whether he was awake or asleep.

Satisfied now that her siblings were home and safe, she turned to change into her nightgown and eventually clambered into bed next to her sister, Azelma rolling into her side meaning Éponine could feel just how hot she really was.

******* <3 ********

The next morning was mayhem, Éponine woke up to the sound of her mother, Gwendoline Thérnardier, yelling loudly at them all the wake up and make themselves useful instead of being 'lazy pigs who are good for nothing and only sit around and eat the little food we have.' Her father, Vincent, was already, to Éponine's joy, out of the apartment, coning the rich people who dared enter their area of town or causing more havoc with the Patron-Minette. She scrambled quickly out of bed, throwing on her clothing and sparing Azelma a glance before she rushed out of the apartment - Gavaroche would be long gone by now.

'Make yourself useful' in the Thérnardier house meant one thing: 'go make us some money or pay the price.' It had been a long time since Éponine hadn't followed this order and she would never ignore it again - she knew what the consequences were. Sadly, her day job was the same as her night job but with different men, men who didn't have as much to hide. She didn't have as many regulars for the day because a lot of the time it was just men who couldn't contain themselves during the working day.

"Éponine!" a voice called and her whole body tensed - she was barely five minutes for the apartment so it was surprising to see her father walking towards her with the Patron-Minette barely a step behind. His eyes scanned her as he came closer. "Excellent, yore working, that means you won't give me any complaints."

Éponine bit the inside of her lip so she didn't retort - she never argued with her father any more, she would always loose drastically. Inside, she could feel her stomach sinking, maybe she hadn't escaped Montparnasse after all and she was right. Montparnasse had paid her father a large sum of money to have Éponine whenever and where ever he wanted - he was her first client and in a way he felt like she owed him for any money she earned, for it was him who 'taught her the ropes' of this life. Éponine knew it was true: he had taught her about men and what makes them tick; how to make use of her own body in the best way; but most of all she'd learnt how to tune out of her job but still look like she was into it for the customers ego. Montparnasse never wanted anything with her expect to satisfy his own desires - this time was no different.

During the day though, Éponine rarely sought out customers by singing but instead pickpocketed around the richer parts of town - staying away from the university of course where the majority of Les Amis attended, pickpocketing them would be disastrous. Her parents didn't know that she changed occupations but as long as she brought home money she doubted they really cared what she did to get it. So once Montparnasse was finished with her, she moved to the job she was far less ashamed and disgusted of.

She met Marius later that day apparently he had seen the most beautiful creature in the world that day and was completely taken with her - we know Éponine can understand that - though he had yet to speak a word to her and had no clue of her name. She was sitting on a bench in Luxembourg Gardens with a man he assumed was her father when he had seen her. She had chestnut hair and blue eyes, and, according to Marius, the most beautiful smile he had even seen. She was an angel, he said, and he must find out her name. Éponine simply smiled her way through their lunch, listening to Marius ramble about this girl. It was nice, she decided, to see him so elated.

"So are you coming to speech?" he asked her as he paid the bill and Éponine felt her heart jump, speeches in her mind just meant Enjolras.

She opened her mouth to reply with an affirmative, she would rarely willingly miss an opportunity to watch Enjolras hypnotise everyone with his words even if she couldn't understand half of them (she would tell him that if he wanted to speak to her people, he'd have to learn the way the spoke, but of course that'd mean speaking to him), when Gavaroche came speeding round the corner and straight past them.

"Was that -?" Marius began to question pointing after the fast moving young boy as Éponine stared worriedly.

"Yes," she nodded knowing what he was going to ask, she pushed herself up to kiss his cheek. "I should go find out what's happenin', say sorry to Monsieur Enjolras for me."

She was already walking backwards at this point but turned as she heard Marius agree and began to run calling out Gavaroche's name as she did so. She caught up with him, or he stopped to allow her to, beneath the large elephant she knew he hid in frequently. He had it all decked out and not one official was aware of its use.

"Gavaroche!" she panted. "What's going on?"

He just grinned mysteriously, with a hint of innocence he always seemed to have, at her and offered her his hand. Éponine raised her eyebrows for a second, Gavaroche never offered for her to take his hand probably because she'd often drag him away from endeavours if he did, but looking closely she saw what he had was an apple. She sighed and smiled - at least Gavaroche would never go hungry.

"Le' me guess, you almost got caught stealin' so you sprinted out as fast as you could?"

"Yup," Gavaroche grinned, biting into his apple, "everything's fine, you don't need to worry 'bout me, 'Ponine."

This was almost Gavaroche's catchphrase - 'you don't need to worry about me' - he said it so often and it was usually to Éponine for no one else in their family worried about other people. Sometimes though it was to the Les Amis boys for Gavaroche hung around with them to though not as often as Éponine who was practically an unofficial member.

Éponine opened her mouth to reply but Gavaroche had already disappeared into the elephant. When she was younger, she would have followed him but she could no longer fit in and Gavaroche knew that.

"Stay out of Papa's way tonight, okay, he's been out with the Patron-Minette," she called the warning up and received a call of agreement in return.

Seeing a police officer walking round the square, she quickly left: Gavaroche would never forgive her if she got his hideout discovered.

Wanting to pass time before she went home, she debated going to Enjolras speech after all but she'd seen him today when she was pickpocketing - what was he doing so far away from the university at that time of day she wasn't sure - he may not have recognised her. She hadn't met his eyes and he had been looking over her shoulder but she didn't want to take the risk - she'd give him a few days to forget any ideas that it had been her.

Her father was always worse when he was with the Patron-Minette for he would always come home drunk so Éponine decided to do some work - the more money the less likely a beating was.

However when she got home, she realised that on this occasion she should have come back a lot sooner.

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