Enjolras had declared that his wedding day would be a day off for all of the household staff so they were able to join in the celebrations. Therefore everybody who was not directly needed for the event was left to their own devices, including Éponine. He even went so far as to invite them to the ceremony, much to his mother's distain. However he was under the opinion that household staff should be treated less like slaves and more like people. It was a radical ideal that was rubbing off on more of his family, especially Georgette.
Éponine had little intention of attending the ceremony and when Georgette asked her about it that morning she was surprised to learn Éponine would not be there.
"But I had thought you and Adrien had a very happy working relationship? I'm sure he would like to see you there."
Éponine then realised she would have to go in order to keep up the charade that they were only good friends - he her ex-employer and nothing more and that it would arouse more suspicion should she not attend.
The wedding was in the afternoon and so she spent the morning feeling sorry for herself. Éponine helped Georgette dress and did her hair. She only offered murmurs of agreement in terms of conversation. This did not sit well with the overly-chatty Georgette.
Éponine then dressed herself. Then she changed her dress and changed it back again; deciding she preferred the first dress. She tied her hair up and then pulled it down. She carried on like this for over an hour. Once she was satisfied; if she could even be such a thing Éponine wandered around her room looking for things to occupy her time. She decided to pack her case up so that when it was time to leave she could leave with urgency. She folded her clothes and then unfolded them. Folding them a second time to make them fit more nicely.
Then she came across her book. It was her book that Enjolras had gifted her and even inscribed her a message in the cover. She had finished it once but like most things to do with this man once was never enough. Hugging the book to her chest she decided to venture outside and found herself a bench to sit on and enjoy the sunshine. With a sad smile she opened the leather cover and turned to page one.
Marius and Cosette arrived early that morning from Paris. He had been asked to fill the role of Enjolras' Best Man. He was happy to oblige of course but Marius was still put out by his friend's choice of bride. He also told himself that he would not pry. He found Enjolras in his room trying to straighten his tie.
"Pontmercy." He nodded in acknowledgement. "I'm glad you came."
"I wouldn't miss it. Although in all of your correspondence with me you failed to mention you were courting a lady until you asked me to come for the wedding." It appears Marius was incapable of not prying.
"That is because my courting of a lady is nobodies business." Came Enjolras' standard answer. "If you have something to say..."
"This all seems rather rushed is all."
"You are one to talk. You were married to Cosette within weeks of meeting her."
"What happened with Éponine?" He was persistent as always. "All of the heartache you put yourself through when she was set to marry my cousin was all for naught?"
"Sometimes things don't work out the way you expect them to." Enjolras pulled his tie off in frustration and began to tie it from scratch. "There really is nothing for you to gossip about. She is here by the way if you wish to see her."
"Éponine has come to see you marry another woman?"
"Not by design. She is in the employment of my cousin, who is here attending this happy occasion."
"I might see you later then." Marius left Enjolras to struggle with his tie alone and sought out Éponine in the estate grounds. After wandering for a while he found her reading on a park bench.
"Is this seat taken?" He asked with a smile.
Éponine knew that voice. She looked up from her book to find Marius standing above her. She put the book down and leapt to her feet, throwing her arms around him in a hug.
"Marius. It's so good to see you."
"Éponine. How are you?"
Éponine tried to smile at him, but Marius could see right through her facade. He knew her almost better than anybody. "I...I have had better days."
"What is going on? Enjolras won't let on."
"Oh Marius, this is such a mess." She went on to explain about what Enjolras had told her, and when she spoke his reasons aloud they sounded even more pathetic than they did in her head.
"I don't think Enjolras ever planned on marrying me at all. After all he never actually proposed to me and I just assumed it would happen one day. I assumed he was happy with me. He was only telling me what I wanted to hear. He doesn't want his family to know about our relationship either...the scandal is too great."
Marius frowned. "Enjolras was never one to care very much about what other people thought of him. Your accusations surprise me."
"Nonetheless in the eyes of his family I worked for him in Paris and we parted ways happily. It would look odd for me not to go and be a part of his impending nuptials. I suppose the only good to come of this is that I will not be an embarrassment to him any longer now that he is marrying well within his social class." She tried not to cry but it was too hard.
Marius drew her back into a hug. "Oh 'Ponine. You are far too gracious. You can sit with Cosette and I during the ceremony. Enjolras will wake up one day and realise the mistake he is making. I guarantee it. Enjolras will not enjoy an arranged marriage. He was never one for being told what to do."
The ceremony took place in the banquet hall of the estate. Chairs lined the room with an aisle in the centre. Family members sat in one half while friends were in the other. Georgette and Tristan sat with her parents and Aunt Adèle and Uncle Christophe. There were many other members of the Enjolras family in attendance. Aunt's, uncles, cousins. The Guiraud family had also come; Éloise's uncles and cousins who were next in line to inherit her father's wealth should she fail to produce a male heir. Georgette looked across to the other side of the room to see Éponine seated next to a young lady with blonde hair. Once Marius had fulfilled his duty of handing the wedding bands over to Enjolras he took his seat in between Cosette and Éponine. He placed a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder.
Éloise was stunningly flawless as was to be expected. Her dress had more skirts than Éponine's entire wardrobe and there were beads of crystal sewn into the bodice. As Éponine watched she half expected and half hoped Enjolras would back out, but the minister spoke his blessings, there was an exchanging of rings, Enjolras and Éloise both said "I do" and they shared a short and polite kiss. That was that. Directly after the ceremony Éponine went straight to her room without speaking to anybody. She wanted to be alone.
Georgette managed to corner Marius at the reception and she politely introduced herself before launching into a line of questioning.
"Forgive me for being so forward but I saw you sitting with my lady-in-waiting, Éponine. Do you know her well?"
"I know Éponine from Paris, your cousin Adrien aswell. The three of us were very close."
"Éponine has been very quiet these past days and I worry there is something troubling her."
Marius was immediately very careful about what he would say next. "That is quite perceptive of you."
"Éponine does not only work for me but I also think of her as a friend. I would hope that if there was anything I could do to help her...but I cannot do anything if she will not let on there is anything wrong." Georgette pressed with the sweetest smile.
"I can neither confirm nor deny there is cause for concern. Alas...you are asking me to betray the trust of my two closest friends."
"You know something that I don't Monsieur?"
"You seem to be much more accepting of bringing down social class barriers, which is refreshing. However I fear that if I say anything else it will be subject to idle gossip-mongering. I would not want to bring about any shame on your family.." Marius paused for a moment before adding "...if you understand what I mean." He threw it out there in no uncertain terms hoping his subtext was clear. Éponine was going to need a friend once this occasion was over.
Georgette smiled. "I believe we understand each other quite well. You have my thanks Monsieur."
Georgette was certain she had taken Marius' meaning correctly. He had mentioned social class barriers and shame on her family. It was becoming clearer that Enjolras had been much more than Éponine's employer. It was no surprise now why the ceremony had been so difficult for her. Now that she knew, Georgette decided she would not speak to Éponine about it unless the need arose.
Éloise simply adored being the center of attention at her wedding reception, as any bride would of course. She would often look at her new husband with a soft smile and he would smile back. During their first dance she would look into his eyes and he would seem distracted. However he did play the part of the besotted groom well. Enjolras had committed himself to this charade and he was never one to back down from such a commitment.
The joy he had brought an old man was evident. Monsieur Guiraud was very pleased. His only daughter had been married off into a fine family and he could finally stop worrying about her wellbeing. Enjolras' parents were also happy. Their financial crisis was over, Christophe had an arrangement with Éloise's father and the Enjolras' received a substantial donation to maintain their Estate. It seemed that Adrien had made a lot of sacrifices so that others would be happy. Éloise had many a few glasses of champagne while he looked on, as he did not drink. When it was time to retire to their room he took a deep breath. They were man and wife now and he could not avoid the inevitable forever. He would be expected to consummate their marriage. He carried his wife upstairs and into their room and set her down upon the bed.
"I've been waiting for this all night." She giggled as he sat down next to her. Éloise began to straddle him and he stiffened in discomfort. He hadn't meant to but it happened nonetheless.
"Adrien...darling...kiss me." She began to kiss his neck and began to untie his shirt.
Enjolras had decided to go along with it, that was until she worked her way down his chest and found his scars from that night on the barricade. When she traced her fingers over the raised skin he could only think about Éponine. Only Éponine had seen these scars. Only Éponine had nursed him back to health when he was on the brink of death. He couldn't make love to another woman while she slept a few hallways away. He realised Éloise had had a lot of wine and hoped he could use that to his advantage.
He pulled her off of his lap and when she protested he told her, "Sweetheart there's no need to rush this. Let us fully enjoy the night."
He asked her to lie down and he began to rub down from her neck and all the way down her back. He massaged her for a quarter of an hour and it did the trick. Éloise was asleep on the pillows. He tucked her into the covers and hoped she would be out cold for the rest of the night. It was nearing midnight and he realised he didn't have a lot of time. He re-dressed himself and slipped out the door closing it behind him.
He found Éponine's room without much difficulty and he was very careful as he slipped silently across to her bed. She was sound asleep. He gently placed one hand over her mouth and when her eyes shot open in fear he held his other hand to his lips, shushing her.
" 'Ponine...shh...it's me...shh...it's alright."
When he removed his hand she frantically asked "What are you..." but he cut her off.
"Come with me." He pulled her by the hand. He noticed the bedclothes she was wearing and whispered to her to get dressed.
Confused, she threw on a day dress and a pair of shoes and he led her through the dark hallways of the Manor. They made it outside and all the way away from the house. They walked for almost half an hour until they were at the edge of the grounds. They were surrounded by trees, no-one would find them here in the middle of the night.
"What do you want?" Even in the dark she could see the way he was looking at her. It was that look of pure lust and love all mixed into one. He placed a hand behind her head and pulled her lips to his. She didn't struggle, instead she melted into him and kissed him back just as eagerly. She broke away from him for just a moment. "Enjolras..."
"I couldn't make love to her. It doesn't feel right. Please 'Ponine. If I am to be slave to a loveless union let me have one last night to feel human again. One night to keep my heart where it belongs...here with you."
"...You will be the death of me." She whispered into his lips as she kissed them. When had Enjolras become a poet? For a moment Éponine didn't care that she was kissing a married man.
He pulled her dress over her head in one swift motion and she frantically pulled his shirt from his pants. They fell into the soft grass and he kissed her over and over. His hands traced over every line and curve of her body. Her hands found his scars and her lips traced them tenderly. It was such an intimate act...their scars from that day is what brought them together. A constant reminder of how far they had come. A reminder to Enjolras that he was so very human.
When he entered her she felt like home. The first time they made love it was rough and frantic. It had been over a year since they had been together. The second time they made love it was slow and sensual. He couldn't stop looking at her, taking in her beauty in the moonlight, it was as if he was trying to burn the image into his brain in case it was the last time. Afterwards he took her into his arms and they lay there intertwined for the rest of the night. He wondered if they should speak, he wanted to tell her many things about the way he felt about her but after pondering for a moment, Enjolras realised that they would only end up arguing. He decided instead to lie there with her in silence, instead simply breathing her in.
Enjolras woke sometime the next morning. The sun was up and he cursed as he realised they had both fallen asleep. He gently roused Éponine before frantically pulling on his clothes.
"The sun is up, the household will be awake. We need to get back before we are missed."
Éponine threw her dress over her head and tried to straighten Enjolras' shirt before pulling leaves from his hair.
"Enjolras...do you regret last night?"
"Not for a moment." He touched her face with his hand for a moment before he began pulling her back to the house.
Tristan was at the breakfast table conversing with Adèle while he waited for Georgette to make an appearance, they would leave for Bordeaux within the hour. Éloise entered the room looking a little bit out of sorts, she walked up to her mother-in-law.
"Has anyone seen Adrien this morning?"
"I wouldn't worry dear. He often rises early to walk around the grounds. You know what he is like." Adèle reassured her. Éloise would have been fine with that explanation if it wasn't for Georgette arriving a moment later and asking Tristan if he had seen Éponine this morning.
"She wasn't in her room." Georgette sounded worried.
Éloise was more than a little shocked but she tried to sound composed. "Éponine?" She had recognised the name from the letters she had found.
"My lady-in-waiting." Georgette clarified.
"I'm sure she will show up." Tristan told his wife as Georgette took a seat at the table.
Éloise excused herself and briskly made her way outside. It didn't take a genius to put things together.
Enjolras and Éponine were in view of the house. He grabbed her hand for a moment, halting her and she looked up at him.
"I'm not sure I can do this." She told him. "We leave this morning...it is almost unbearable knowing there is a chance that I won't see you again."
" 'Ponine, I want you to promise me something."
"Enjolras?" She didn't want to hear what he was going to say.
"Be happy. Every day. Even though we are apart. Can you do that for me?"
"Adrien..." She shook her head. Her heart was breaking all over again, knowing this time that she had lost him entirely.
"If you find someone who cares about you...I don't want to deny you anything while you hope that circumstances might re-unite us. You deserve happiness." He meant it; he loved her too much to string her along. It was more humane to cut her loose.
Before Éponine had a chance to respond Éloise came running up to them.
"Adrien! Here you are..."
Enjolras looked at her with pure annoyance.
Éloise looked Éponine up and down for a moment, taking in the woman who would threaten her marriage. She thought Éponine was very plain and tried not to smirk. "I don't believe we've met."
Adrien hesitated before answering. "Éloise...this is Éponine."
Éloise smiled sweetly. "You met Adrien back in Paris? You've come an awfully long way to attend our happy occasion."
"Not at all. I work for Lady Georgette. It was a pleasure to accompany her. If you'll both excuse me we are leaving for Bordeaux late this morning and I need to make sure everything is in order." She looked at Enjolras. "It was lovely to see you again Monsieur." She bowed her head slightly as a courtesy before walking away in the direction of the house.
Enjolras turned to his wife who was looking at him almost accusatory. "Do not look at me like that, this is not what you think."
She put her hands on her hips. "I wake up the morning after our wedding to find you missing. You were out here with her? I wasn't even aware she was here."
"And there was no need for you to be. Éponine is my cousin's ladies maid. I did not know she would be here until they arrived. We were only engaged in conversation...nothing else."
"I should certainly hope not."
"I owed the girl an explanation. Even you can understand that." He put his arm around her middle and drew her closer. "You are my wife, there is nothing to feel jealous about." He kissed her tenderly on the lips.
"We did not consummate our marriage last night." She was still not convinced.
"You had consumed too much champagne. There will be plenty of time." He promised before kissing her again.
Enjolras acted every part the doting husband. He had done the unthinkable and if he was honest with himself he felt a little bit guilty...however at the time it had felt perfect. The hard truth was that he had made a commitment to Éloise and he would now have to honour it.
Éponine was in good spirits on the journey home, much to Georgette's relief. She had said goodbye to Marius and Cosette, promising to write but offered Enjolras no more than a wistful look over her shoulder as she climbed into the carriage. In her mind, their night together was goodbye, especially considering he began to tell her that it was time to move on. Her newfound resolve was thrown into discord however, when a little over six weeks after the wedding the doctor was summoned to the Roux Estate. Éponine was having acute bouts of morning sickness. She did not cherish the thought of being a single mother in this cold world.