Jour et Nuit Étreinte

Chapter 6

Joly, of course, was there within minutes with barely a word of greeting for Enjolras before shoving him out the room so he could look at Éponine, he had a bag with him that Enjolras was sure was full of medical equipment. Pontmercy didn't take much longer either and was yelling a Enjolras desperately to tell him what was going on before he was even fully through the door - it was odd for Pontmercy to shout. Courfeyrac had also come with him unsurprising since they lived together.

"Pontmercy, mon ami, I don't know!" Enjolras finally raised his voice at his friend and placed a hand on his friends' shoulder when he spoke again it was softer. "I don't know what happened - I just found her on my way to the university in a pool of blood. I have no clue how she got there or what happened to her to put her in this state. She hasn't woken up and her pulse is faint - that's all I know."

Pontmercy stared up at him before pulling away and throwing himself down in a chair and Enjolras sighed - this wasn't what he had been expecting when he got up this morning. He was meant to go to his lectures, spend a few hours in the university library, come home and gather revolution stuff before heading out to the café to meet the Les Amis as he did every evening.

He ran a hand through his hair and decided to make coffee just for something to do and because he'd barely started the one he'd had when he found Éponine.

"Do you think 'Roche would know what happened?" Pontmercy muttered as Enjolras placed a mug in front of him. "Thanks"

"It's plausible but -" Enjolras began but was cut off as Joly excited his room. "Coffee on the side for you."

"How is she?" Marius had shot to his feet as soon as the door opened.

Joly didn't speak and walked to the counter where the last mug sat and took a sip of it. He looked concerned, tired and mildly horrified; odd considering the happy, jolly person he usually was.

"Well? Joly, please!"

Joly looked up from the mug and met Pontmercy's gaze before his eyes flickered to the other two. All three boys' attention was focused solely on him and he cleared her throat.

"She's taken a severe beating," he said heavily though no one reacted that atmosphere became heavier. "I believe she may have a cracked rip; she took a sharp blow to the temple but it was shallow and won't take too long to heal - head wounds bleed a lot even if they're not severe - but it seems to have been something blunt that had been throw or she walked into; there's a large amount of splinters in her skin that I've tried to remove; her lip's split and …"

Joly trailed off and took a sip of his coffee, no one seemed to notice that he was getting Éponine's blood all over the mug.

"And?" Courfeyrac prompted him. "What else, Joly?"

Joly frowned but then looked up, his silver-blue eyes like stone or ice.

"She's been whipped," he said after a long pause.

There was silence except for Pontmercy falling back into his chair muttering a quiet "merde". Enjolras' jaw clenched and he felt something flare up inside him - anger was the closest thing he could identify it to - and Courfeyrac's constant excitement seemed to have been extinguished so that a hard look could take its place.

"I'm not finished," Joly told them, walking closer and leaning on the back of the sofa. "This can't be a one-time thing - she's covered in old bruises, there are scars littering her body, I dread to think what might be hidden under all the dirt she's covered in. On the note of dirt, she's going to need that washed off in case the welts on her back get infected" - he turned to Enjolras - "but I've put her in one of your tops for now, I hope you don't mind, she just couldn't wear that dirty and blood-soaked dress."

"It's fine," Enjolras quickly agreed, shaking his head and pulling a face that suggested clearly that he couldn't even understand why Joly would think it wouldn't be. "The washing will be a problem though - I really don't believe she would appreciate any of us doing it."

Joly nodded thoughtfully.

"I suppose I could ask Musichetta," he pondered. "What do you think, Pontmercy?"

"I think 'Ponine would be fine with it," Pontmercy spoke quietly, "or at the very least she'd understand we didn't really have many options."

Joly went to rub a hand over his eyes before Enjolras grabbed his wrist about a centimetre from his face and it suddenly seemed to click on him that his hands were stained were strained red from examining and bandaging Éponine.

"I'm going to…" he let the sentence trail off showing his hands to them and went to the bathroom without a word.

There was a moments silence before Enjolras stood as well.

"I'm going to go and seek out Gavaroche," he told them reaching for his jacket, "see if he knows anything-"

"Or tell you anything," Combeferre said walking through the door and glancing at Enjolras. "Aren't you going to change?"

Enjolras looked down at himself. His white shirt was red where Éponine had rested against him - his middle and his shoulder - but his black trousers looked normal and he'd already cleaned his hands and arms. He threw his jacket on and buttoned it up so the blood was no longer visible.

"No, no time," he muttered, opening the door, "besides it may make Gavaroche more susceptible to what I want to know."

It may seem a bit harsh that Enjolras was thinking that way when Gavaroche was only eleven but first off all we must remember that Gavaroche is much wiser than his age and second that he's seen beatings and blood before. He knew of death.

The door banged loudly behind him but Enjolras paid it no heed, his mind completely focused on where Gavaroche could be in all of Paris. He knew the lad better than he knew Éponine but where to find him was still a bit difficult. It turned out though he didn't have to since Gavaroche found him.

"Where's my sister?" the young voice asked from behind him and he turned to Gavaroche leaning against a wall. "I can't find her."

Enjolras looked at him and wondered how he was meant to break it to the kid that his sister - the only one he had left - was unconscious. He hadn't even had a chance to find out how he was dealing with Azelma for none of the Les Amis had seen him in that time between it happening and now.

"I know she's not okay," Gavaroche continued sounding surprising calm and mature, "so I need to find her."

"She's safe," Enjolras squatted and gestured Gavaroche closer to him, "but I need you tell me some things about what happened to her."

"Why don't you ask her?"

"She's asleep and I really don't know when she is going to wake up. Gavaroche, you have to tell me who did what to her. I can help you."

"No you can't," Gavaroche replied to Enjolras surprise. "No one can."

"'Roche, I can't help her if I don't know what happened," Enjolras lied ever so slightly. "You have to help me or she could die."

He unzipped his jacket and showed Gavaroche his top and the boy paled. Enjolras was over-exaggerating a bit, or at least he hoped he was, but he did finally seem to be getting through the Gavaroche. The young boy sighed.

"Not here, they could over hear."

Enjolras lead the way to a park near his apartment building the opposite direction to the way Éponine always walked away from the café and sat Gavaroche on a bench.

Slowly, piece by piece, Gavaroche told him what had happened. Not just that night but in the lives. Éponine's and his own life story: the abuse of their father; the lack of mothering; the extent they went to to get money; the Patron-Minette; and why Éponine never allowed any of them to walk her home.

"So how does Éponine contribute to the family?" Enjolras asked, knowing his was going to hate the answer.

"Pickpocketing, delivering messages for Papa," Gavaroche paused for a second and Enjolras raised his eyebrows - what was he holding back? "She's a prostitute."

Yes, he definitely regretted asking that question. His teeth came together in an audible snap and his eye blazed in fury at what Éponine had to do. Taking a deep breathe, he put his hand on Gavaroche's shoulder. He was going to get the information and then react and deal with it later otherwise he was sure his marble exterior would crack.

"What happened last night, Gavaroche?"

"I don't know!" he exclaimed in response. "When I entered the living area, she was already in a pile of broken wood bleeding, Papa standing over her. The screams came later after she'd sent me away…"

"Wait, your father did this to her?" Enjolras focused on that point. "Was it regular?" - silence - "Gavaroche, does your father abuse you and your siblings? … Answer me. This is very serious, Gavaroche."

Slowly, very slowly, Gavaroche's head moved up and down, averting his eyes away from Enjolras' face. Enjolras rocked back on his heels, for he had been crouched into front of the bench he had seated Gavaroche on. What was he meant to do with that information?

"Can I see her?"

Enjolras looked back at Gavaroche and nodded, "of course."

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