Jour et Nuit Étreinte

Chapter 5

On to the fact now that Éponine went to work eventually but came home with no money.

It was past midnight when she left the café, the boys unwilling to let her walk home alone especially tonight after everything that happened but as always she'd managed to convince them though she felt their eyes on her as she left the café. She took a roundabout route to her normal area, just in case they watched the way she walked from the café, and saw a man already standing there - she let her eyes flicker closed before she walked towards his with confidence, more of a wiggle in her hips that she usually would walk with.

Her step faltered a little as she got closer and saw the man who was smiling at her appreciatively. He wasn't what she'd call a regular but he did appear from time to time, she only remembered him because he was violent and had a sick sense of pleasure. He paid more though. She swallowed her disgust for this man and smirked back at him as she closed the final gap between them - hatred for both herself and him beginning to rise in her veins.

He grabbed her arms and she gasped quietly as his fingers clamped tightly over a bruise still left over from Gavaroche's beating.

"You're late, whore," he snarled, spitting on her face and before she knew it she was on the floor her cheek stinging.

"I didn't realised we had made an appointment," she gasped sarcastically not being able to help it, that received a kick in the stomach.

She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain but was a little glad from the distraction of the pain in her heart from Azelma's death. It was clear that this customer no longer wanted sex but just to beat the person who was meant to give it to him. She was used to beatings, they were nothing to her and tonight she was actually welcome one.

When he was satisfied he caused her enough pain he left without a word, leaving her curled up in a ball on the street with no money and no way she could perform any services that night.

Hence why she went to work but made no money.

She could taste blood in her mouth and a sharp pain in her rib cage. She debated staying there until the next day so she brought money home with her but she would get another beating either way - if she did go home now if would be for not bringing any money home, if she didn't if would be for being gone all night and day. She wasn't getting of it this time.

She pushed herself into a sitting position against the wall a breathed steadily, feeling a sharp pain when she did so. It took her a few minutes to push herself up into a standing position and an hour to walk the 20 minute walk home. The apartment was in darkness when she arrived but she knew that meant little - they never had enough money. She slowly climbed the stairs and entered theirs to find her father awake and drinking. She cursed under her breath.

"Well, how much did you make?" he asked, seemingly not noticing, or caring, about the blood that was trailing down her head - she pressed a hand to it.

"Nothing," she mumbled.

"Don't mumble, 'Ponine," he snarled at her and she repeated it louder ("I didn't make any money"), watching as his face turned red and he stood up.

He was a thin man who wasn't strangely tall but with such a horrid expression on his face and being taller than her, he was imposing and terrifying to Éponine.

"Well what use are you then?" he yelled grabbing the nearest thing a throwing it at her.

She managed to dodge but wasn't expecting the next one which hit her right in the temple - she screamed out in surprise. Before she knew it he was in front of her grabbing her hair and yelling into her face. When he was done, he threw her to the floor though being drunk he missed and sent her flying into the table which shattered under her weight - it was an old table - and leaving her bleeding and lying in splinters. She raised her head to see Gavaroche leave their room and gestured desperately for him to go back inside just as her father began yelling at her from breaking their only table.

It only got worse from there. He didn't let her move from off pile of wood but instead pressed his foot on her back so she couldn't while he removed his belt. She bit her lip as it hit her back, the crack echoing around the apartment.

"Perhaps" - smack - "this" - smack - "will" - smack - "teach" - smack - "you," he told her, digging welts in her back with his belt, the fabric of her dress doing nothing to protect her against the harsh force of his make-shift whip.

He kept going, longer than he ever had before, and before long she was sobbing. She could feel the blood pooling on her back and darkening her dress but eventually she passed out, welcoming the blackness in an escape from the pain.

She woke up as her back hit something harshly but she didn't open her eyes and it took all her self-control not to scream out in complete agony.

"Get out of this building and never come near it again," her father's voice reached her, his face close to hers she knew from the stench that reached her as he spoke - he'd been smoking as well as drinking -, "if I ever seen your useless self again, it'll be too soon and I will make sure I never do again."

She blacked out again after that

It was still dark when she woke again and despite her aching and protesting body she pushed herself upright, using the wall as support. She guessed it was around 3 o'clock since it would begin to get light sometime between 4 and 5 with that logic she knew she had to move before Gavaroche or her father found her. She stumbled down the stairs this time and managed to get far away from the apartment before she collapsed out of sheer exhaustion. She had no idea where she was but by the cleanliness of it and the amount of greenery it wasn't the underbelly anymore. She debated moving further, into somewhere where she wasn't in such plain view, but could barely bring herself to lift a finger.

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

Where Éponine had collapsed was indeed part of the richer area of Paris and this is where our quiet leader plays his part in our story, which we've already said was large. Somehow of all the areas where Éponine could have ended up, she collapsed in an area which was on a certain gods walk to university.

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

We haven't really said much about Enjolras' life. He was the only child of wealthy parents and was training to be a lawyer, now being 24, he was nearly complete. He shared an apartment with Combeferre and the two of them managed to exist in harmony. Enjolras was a hard person to live with - you did not interrupt him while he was writing a paper, you did not throw loud parties (though Combeferre wasn't really that type of person) or do anything too loud, you didn't move things to less efficient places and you never touched his books. Oh and you rarely entered his room unless you have a specific point warranting his attention straight away.

Enjolras and Combeferre usually walked to the university together but on that day, oddly enough, Combeferre had a day off so Enjolras walked alone. Not that he minded - Enjolras quite liked being alone. He had the paper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other and was quite happy not having to make conversation. It was a surprise he didn't walk right pass Éponine with his nose buried in the paper but at the same time it would be hard to miss the pool of blood surrounding her.

His coffee dropped from his hand as he noticed her but he barely had time to notice that as he dropped to her side, picking up her head and shoulders to rest on his knee. He fumbled for a pulse.

"Éponine. ÉPONINE. ÉPONINE!" his voice grew more distressed with each saying of her name, his marble was cracking at the sight of a bleeding girl in his arms, there was a pulse but it was terrifyingly faint.

He shook her gently, hoping for some reaction but when he received none he simply gathered her in his arms and picked her up. He stumbled slightly having expected her to be heavier than she was but regained his balance and walked quickly glad he wasn't far from his apartment. A lot of men perhaps would have cried in this situation or completely panicked but remember this is Apollo we're on about.

He burst into his apartment, Éponine still bundled in his arms, and started barking orders at Combeferre, who had jumped to his feet at Enjolras' entrance - remember Enjolras didn't appreciate commotion so it was strange for him to be the cause of it. First to get Joly, then Marius and then go inform the university of his absence - his professor would understand if he missed a lecture in this circumstance.

He laid Éponine down on his bed - the sofa was slightly broken from when one of the Les Amis had jumped on it and entering Combeferre room could result in injury it was such as mess - finding the red sheets now slightly ironic. He sat down on the edge, pressing his lips together and rubbing his jaw with the palm of his hand, unsure what he was supposed to now. Enjolras, I should tell you, isn't good at being in a situation he doesn't know how to deal with or doesn't have control over. This was practically his worst nightmare. Éponine's people were the people he was fighting for - what would it say if he couldn't save her? Another voice whispered in his head - how could you live with yourself if you don't save her?

He pressed his hands against the frame of the bed thinking of how Éponine had been less than 12 hours ago. She hadn't been happy but she had been there, safe with Pontmercy, nothing to worry about as far as Enjolras was aware except the everyday things that everyone in her station struggled for - food, warmth, clean drink, money. He couldn't help wondering if Éponine's state now had anything to do with her sister's death though it seemed unlike Éponine to pick a fight or put herself in harm's way for no reason but then he had never spoken to her.

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