Sunrise Beyond A Barricade

Unconditional

The Doctor finished his thorough examination but not before noticing Éponine's ring-less finger. "Well it is certain, you are expecting a child." He told her and then hesitated for a moment. "Forgive me but...you are not married?"

Éponine wasn't surprised by the question but wanted to make it clear she was not some common whore. "The father lives in another town for his employment. The circumstances are not simple."

"Oh of course...forgive me, I was not intending to pry, only to remind you that there are options for a girl in your state."

Éponine was shocked the doctor would openly speak of such things. "The very idea is unspeakable. I would rather throw myself off of a bridge before I would murder a child."

"If you change your mind, you will need to take the necessary measures within the next six weeks." The doctor packed up his medical kit and Éponine lay there in silence. "I will let you get your rest miss."


Georgette was struggling with the idea that her lady-in-waiting was pregnant out of wedlock. She was also concerned about the paternity of the child. There were strong suspicions that Éponine had conceived at the wedding, however that only made Georgette think the worst, and she didn't want to accuse Éponine of infidelity only to upset her further. Georgette had wandered back to her room and interrupted Fleur and Esmé who were busy with their morning rituals. Both girl immediately bowed at attention.

"Forgive us Madame, we were not expecting you." Fleur said hurriedly. "We can come back."

Georgette shook her head. "Not at all, I was just coming to fetch something."

"Éponine slacking off this morning is she?" Esmé said with her tongue in cheek.

Fleur scolded the younger maid. "Esmé, don't be so rude."

Georgette laughed. "No not at all. Éponine is feeling a little under the weather this morning, and I am not entirely helpless."

Esmé stammered. "Oh no...I wasn't meaning..." She would hate to imply Georgette was not capable of anything.

"Actually girls while you are here I have something to ask. When Éponine was working with you did she ever mention a gentleman caller?"

Fleur and Esmé looked at one another, not sure on how to proceed.

Esmé began; "There was the one writing her all those grand love letters."

"But it never went anywhere." Fleur interjected. "Poor Éponine was heartbroken. He said he would come to collect her one day and they would run away to be together. It was all so romantic...but after a few months the letters stopped."

Georgette wondered. "You never caught his name?"

"Julien, Madame." Esmé revealed.

"Are you sure?"

The maid's nodded in unison.

"Thank you girls. You may continue with your work."

The two girls bowed slightly before turning their attention back to the bedding.


As Georgette wandered back up the hallways she pondered. She knew Julien was her cousin's middle name, as her own father's name was Julien. Julien and Christophe Enjolras were brothers. Adrien had been in part named after his uncle. If their illicit relationship had continued after Éponine left Paris it was plausible that he was the father of the child, but she could still not believe that he was capable of having an affair.

Taking a deep breath, Georgette opened the door to Éponine's room and sat in the chair next to the bed.

Éponine rolled over onto her back but insisted on looking at the ceiling rather than at Georgette.

"Are you going to throw me to the wolves?" Éponine wanted to know her fate. Women like her were often banished from their place of employment for the shame their condition brings.

"What good would that do? Éponine please talk to me, not as an employer...as a friend."

Éponine didn't feel like talking and stayed silent.

Georgette tried again. "I know about you and Adrien." She said softly.

Éponine's face confirmed everything Georgette had suspected. "How much do you know?" She whispered.

"I spoke to a few people, pieced things together. I saw the way you looked at him, and the way he looked at you." Georgette's voice was gentle, trying to slowly gain more information.

"You must think I'm awful...but it wasn't just some dalliance. We loved each other...and then he cast me aside...and now..." Éponine placed a hand on her middle; where their baby now grew.

"Perhaps you should start from the start. The more I know...the more I can do to help you." Georgette placed a hand on Éponine's arm.

Éponine was surprised. "You're not judging me? Someone like me being with someone like him?"

"My cousin was never one to follow social conventions. Tell me how this happened?"

Éponine went on to tell their love story, not omitting a single detail, from that night on the barricade to his arranged marriage.

"...I never meant to hurt his wife, but we, it just happened. It was our goodbye, that was all it was supposed to be. He was going to focus on his marriage and his career. The problem being that he can't have his career without his marriage...and he clearly cares more about his career than he does about me." She took a deep breath. "Oh I'm sorry, I don't mean to be all emotional I just..."

Georgette hushed her. "Éponine it's alright. Adrien clearly needs to sort out his priorities. If I may say something, this child is a gift. Tristan and I, we have longed to have one of our own and it just hasn't happened yet. My cousin is a good man. I wasn't at all surprised when I heard of his involvement in the Paris revolution last year. He tried to do a good thing for those less fortunate."

"I know that his cause is good." Éponine reasoned with herself. "I was one of those he was fighting for, even though he didn't know it at the time. And as much as I want Adrien to have an ordinary job and a little house and to come home to me each night I know that is not who he is. That is not the man I fell in love with."

"And he is married...Aunt Adèle would have a fit if she found out about any of this."

"When I was waiting on you at the dinner table I was taking a good look at his parents, and its not his father I'm intimidated by."

"Yes...Adèle is certainly very headstrong. She would skin her son alive if she found out he impregnated a woman out of wedlock, especially when it's not his wife."

"Georgette, thank you for being so good about all of this. Your family's reputation is in jeopardy because of me."

"I could care less about reputation...you love him, love is hard to find in this world."

Éponine was grateful. With a tired smile she placed a hand on her middle. "If it's all the same to you, I would appreciate it if the whole household does not find out about my condition just yet. I have a few weeks until it becomes obvious."


Enjolras rolled off of his wife with a sigh of exhaustion. He felt like a prized bull more than anything these days, his only purpose to impregnate the woman who was now curled up in his side. He would return home from work, eat his dinner and then retire up to his room. Éloise would be waiting for him and they would make love almost every night. It was not the same as it had been with Éponine. This had turned into more of a task than anything else and it had become very tiresome. Éloise was fast getting discouraged and Enjolras realised for the first time that she was human.

"Is everything alright?" He asked, his tone laced with interest more than concern.

"I just don't understand why we haven't conceived."

"I'm sure it will happen, you will get your inheritance."

Éloise rose up on one elbow. "You think that is why I'm doing this?"

"Isn't it?" He raised an eyebrow.

"I have had money my entire life. I have had countless men try to bed me...but not one of them loved me. If we have a child I will finally have someone that will love me unconditionally. Isn't that what everybody wants?" Her tone left no room for misunderstanding. She wanted Enjolras to love her.

"Éloise...it's too soon for such terms of endearment. Please don't ask me to placate you to spare your feelings." He couldn't. He would never use that word again.

"You at least care about me...I am your wife."

"I would be upset should any ill befall you. I am starting to enjoy your company. One day we are going to be parents therefore I am beginning to care about what happens to you."

"Adrien you flatter me..." She said sarcastically.

"You and I are two entirely different people. It is going to take time to develop a real relationship."

"Do you resent me?"

"Why would you ask such a thing?"

"I made you give up your...infatuation with the servant girl."

"Our relationship would never have worked. My parents would never have allowed it. I should have realised that my time in Paris would eventually end and I would need to move back here. You have simply molded me back into the path I was born into. Our parents agreed on our union without consulting us if I am going to resent anybody it will be my father. However, such feelings are a waste of energy. It is by far healthier simply to move on with life and continue moving forward." Enjolras believed this as he had no other choice in the matter.


A few weeks later Enjolras received a letter in the post. He recognised the handwriting on the envelope as Georgette's as well as the return address in Bordeaux. He took it into his office at work so that he could read it undisturbed.

Adrien

It is with great concern that I write you this letter. You must come to Bordeaux at once. Come by way of horse and rider and come alone. It is urgent that I speak with you, Tristan needs your assistance on a very private political matter. This may take some time to work through so I request that you take a leave of absence from your position in Strasbourg. You will be well compensated.

We await your arrival eagerly.

Your Cousin

Georgette Roux

Enjolras couldn't be sure but he was fairly certain the letter was a rouse. His Cousin-in-Law did not have a political bone in his body. He was needed in Bordeaux urgently and that could only mean that his tryst with Éponine may have been discovered. He still did not know why he was being summoned...he only hoped she was not ill or injured, as he could think of no other reason for the urgency. He hurried home to pack only to be subjected to a line of inquisition from his wife. He even showed her the letter to try and assure her it was business related.

"I do not understand why I cannot accompany you. I will not be in the way..."

Enjolras did not have the time nor the patience to deal with Éloise. "You are my wife, you will do as you are told." He commanded firmly. "I will be back when I can be." He kissed her briefly on the cheek before leaving swiftly for the stables.

A single horse eliminates any company...although he would be exhausted by the journey's end. He would have to change his horse out frequently to ensure it would last the distance, and Enjolras himself would get little rest, if any.

When he finally arrived in Bordeaux Enjolras had lost count of the days. It had been well over a week of riding and he was in desperate need of sleep. He was greeted at the Roux Estate by a stablehand and Brigitte who rushed out to meet him.

"You must be Monsieur Enjolras. Such a pleasure to meet you." She curtseyed. "I am Brigitte, the head Housekeeper here. Let me show you inside, Lady Georgette is very eager to speak with you."

Enjolras followed Brigitte and had to take two steps for every one of hers. She certainly didn't waste any time.

Georgette was reading in the library when Brigitte escorted Enjolras to her. Georgette stood and greeted her cousin eagerly in an embrace.

"Adrien, I wasn't sure you would come. I am so happy to see you."

"Georgette...forgive me but I am in much need of rest. The road was very long. Before I can sleep...tell me, why such urgency?"

"...The letter was clear..." Georgette did not want to get into this tonight. Not while he was sleep deprived.

"...As clear as mud. Your husband has no interest in Politics."

"You are weary. We can speak tomorrow."

"Georgette!" His patience was worn-thin.

"It's Éponine...Something's happened...and if you do nothing else with your time on this earth you will fix this, do you understand? Georgette's tone had changed into one very serious. "You've really made a mess of things Adrien."

"How do you know about Éponine and I?"

"None of that is important right now, but I strongly suggest you wait until you've rested before speaking with her. A clear head would be better..."

"...I will speak to her now." He cut her off. Enjolras was anxious and concerned now. He could not sleep if he tried.

Georgette sighed. "Very well I will show you to her room."

As the pair walked down the halls towards Éponine's room they passed the doctor who was on his way out. Georgette turned to her cousin one more. "Now...she doesn't know you've come. She doesn't even know that I sent for you."

"Why all of this secrecy?"

"I think it's best you just go in. She will be in bed resting."


It was Éponine's eleventh week of pregnancy. The doctor had come again and everything was developing how it should be. He had asked her if she was sure about going ahead with the birth, as a decision had to be made before it was too late. Éponine was very firm with the doctor, telling her she was going to bear the child and she didn't care that people would think she was an unwed whore. Her statement had certainly put the doctor in his place. She was showing now and she tried to avoid speaking of her situation with the other household staff and they were all polite enough not to ask. Although she was sure they would all be gossiping about it when she was not in earshot. She was lying on her back when the door was pushed ajar. Éponine was in no mood for company but when she tilted her head and found him standing there...she was speechless.

"Éponine..." He was perplexed...she did not look particularly unwell, but he could not see her middle as it was hidden by the bedcovers. He slowly approached the bed. "Are you ill? Why is the doctor here, what is wrong?"

"Enjolras...why have you come?" She couldn't face anymore heartache, she had suffered enough to last a lifetime.

"Georgette sent for me. She wrote and said that it was urgent."

"You will not be happy with this news." Éponine had never thought of what she might say to him about their child, she had assumed she would never have the opportunity.

"You must tell me regardless." He took hold of her hand gently.

With a small sigh she simply pushed the covers aside to reveal the noticeable change in her body.

Enjolras dropped her hand, he had not expected that. He stared at her as though he was having trouble processing the information.

After a moment's silence Éponine spoke up. "Enjolras please say something."

"You are certain it is mine?" It was the first thought that came into his mind, but perhaps it would have been more tactful to keep it from spilling from his lips initially.

Éponine let out a small sob. "You dare to ask me that? There has been nobody else. I did not move on as quickly as you did...I couldn't."

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to upset you." His lack of experience in interacting with the fairer sex had never been more obvious. "Everything will be alright, the doctor can still deal with this quietly?"

His regimental approach to life had already found a solution to the problem in front of him.

"Get out!" She spat. "I am having this child with or without your help and I will not be bullied otherwise." Éponine was breathing heavily now and clearly visibly upset. Her love for the baby was already unconditional.

He tried to approach her again, offer some sort of comfort but she shrieked at him a second time to leave, claiming that he had already done enough.

Still taken aback in shock Enjolras exited her room and followed Georgette to his own sleeping quarters. She bade him good night and only offered him a sympathetic smile before walking back down the hallway. He would not sleep much this night.
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