Enjolras tossed and turned in his bed sheets for most of the night. His thoughts were traveling so quickly, he had vowed to do what was right by the people under his care. His political ambitions were helping his Patria. His family's reputation as well as their financial situation had been resolved by taking a wife. His wife was happy so long as he provided her with a child, and that was not for the lack of trying. He had kept Éponine off of the streets by sending her to his cousin.
Enjolras was so frustrated...he was only one man and he was trying his best. One night of pure and utter selfishness had resulted in a drastic change in opinion of what 'doing the right thing' had become. Éponine would need help raising the child, but he could not possibly take responsibility lest he destroy everything he had put into place. Éponine had made it clear that she didn't need his help, but just because she is stubborn did not mean that letting her do it alone was acceptable either. He finally succumbed to sleep in the early hours of the morning and slept for most of the next day. The journey had truly exhausted him and the last thing he wanted was to be tired and irritable the next time he tried to speak to Éponine.
He met with Georgette in the late afternoon.
"I take it your talk with Éponine did not go particularly well?" She asked him.
"I believe I upset her. In my defense the news was quite a surprise." He had noted her absence by Georgette's side. "Éponine is not working currently?"
"She has insisted on working for as long as is reasonable, but she is only in my company during the mornings. I do not want her over exerting herself. The rest of the day is hers and she spends most of it resting. Tell me Adrien, what do you plan to do?"
"I will speak with her again, but I do not know. I am trying to think of options...but there are not many. Georgette I must ask you something...you and Tristan, would you consider adopting the child?"
Georgette was shocked. "Have you considered Éponine at all?"
"She cannot possibly do this. In this world unless you come from privilege raising a child with two parents is difficult. How would she cope on her own? She has no family...who will care for the child while she works?" He stood up and began pacing the room. "Where will she work? Georgette I know you are her friend but she cannot remain here. You will need to replace her as your lady-in-waiting, and how will you keep her on here with free room and board? It is not fair on your other staff."
Georgette stood up then and her voice rose a little in anger. "And what do you suggest? I throw her out into the cold? We both know what will happen. She will end up working the street corners at night is that what you want?"
"I never meant for things to go this way..." Deflated; Enjolras sat down. He was the first to admit that he doesn't know how to communicate with a woman.
Enjolras took a deep breath and decided to try and talk to Éponine a second time. He knocked on her bedroom door and entered to find she had company. Fleur sat on the chair next to the bed while Esmé sat on the end of the bed.
Enjolras blushed. "Oh excuse me. I didn't realise you had company."
"No it's alright." Éponine protested when he turned to leave.
"We were just leaving to begin our evening rounds." Fleur said getting to her feet and nodded her head, indicating that Esmé do the same. Esmé clearly wanted to stay and Fleur almost had to pull her to her feet.
"Fleur, Esmé, this is...Adrien." Éponine introduced.
"You never told us he was so handsome." Esmé said aloud causing Enjolras to turn as red as the blazer he used to wear.
"Esmé, hush!" Fleur scolded before leading her out of the room. " 'Ponine we'll see you later."
When the two were alone Enjolras cleared his throat. "I apologise for my insensitivity yesterday evening."
"It's not as though you were expecting news this drastic."
"May I be honest with you?"
"Permission has never stopped you before."
He grinned at her quick tongue before sitting down in the chair next to the bed. "I do not know what to do. I cannot possible take responsibility for this."
Éponine drew her knees up to awkwardly hug her chest. "I am going to do this Enjolras. I love this child. We have created a new life. Do you know how special this is? I do not want people telling me that I cannot do this. I do not want you or anybody else telling me to allow someone else to take the baby from me. I will find a way. Somehow."
He shook his head. "Stop being so stubborn 'Ponine! My cousin has longed to have a baby, let Georgette and Tristan raise the child. It would never want for anything and you may still work. You will still have a say in its upbringing but without the financial burden."
Éponine shook her head this time. "I am not having this conversation again. I have made my decision." She let out a large sigh. "I wish that you had not married. We could be a real family."
Enjolras bowed his head. "There is little point in dwelling on the impossible. But for what it might be worth...I wish that things were different also."
Éponine thought carefully before she spoke her next words. "Men leave their marriages all of the time you know. They don't say anything they just leave. They move to another town without a word and their wives never see them again."
"Please do not ask me to choose. It is not right. Éloise does not deserve this."
"And what do I deserve Adrien?" Her voice was raised at him now. "You pull me in, tell me that you love me and then you throw me away. I am yours when it is convenient? I'm having your child and you are happy for me to be labeled a common whore?"
"I never wished this for you! There was a reason why I would never indulge in the pleasures of a woman's bed. I am a selfish man Éponine. I further my own causes. I have never had to factor a wife or a lover into my decisions and that was the way that I liked it. If I died then nobody would mourn."
"And how is that working for you? Are you happy in a loveless marriage? Are you changing the world with your job in the politician's office?"
"Would you be happier if I were in Paris planning another Revolution?"
"At least you would be doing something you are passionate about. I have never seen you like this before, you are uninspired and unhappy."
Enjolras was fuming one moment and sulking the next. Éponine knew him better than he knew himself.
"It appears I have a lot to think about."
Enjolras had insisted on working while he was in Bordeaux and Georgette had arranged for a space in the library to be set up for him. Late one evening he succumbed to the heavy feeling behind his eyelids and slept head in his arms on the desk. He roused in the early hours of the morning and sleepily made his way upstairs to retire to his room. As he passed Éponine's room, he could hear movement. Enjolras paused for a moment, out of concern mostly and as he heard the unmistakable sounds of nausea he pushed open her bedroom door and slipped inside.
Éponine's head was in a very large bowl that sat by her bed. When she realised that she had company 'Ponine looked up in horror.
"Go away Monsieur. You do not need to witness this." Another wave came on and she continued retching.
Enjolras grinned and moved to her side. "Come now, I had a part in this I can at least comfort you." He sat on her bed and tried his best to soothe her until the sickness had passed. When she was certain it was over she excused herself to go and clean her teeth while Enjolras went and emptied the bowl. When she re-entered her room, she was surprised to find him waiting for her.
As she noticed the clean bowl, she smiled. "You did not have to do that for me Enjolras that was very kind of you."
"Are you ill like this often?"
"Often enough. But it is very violent and very brief. I keep hoping it will become more pleasant but I am told it will not."
Enjolras had undressed to his breeches as his bedclothes were in his room. Éponine eyed him curiously. "Not to sound overly presumptuous Monsieur but are you going to give me my bed back?"
"Shh. Come here 'Ponine. Rest with me. I mean to comfort you."
Sighing she climbed into her bed with him and he held her, stroking her hair. Their close proximity made her long for their bed in Paris, back when lying together actually meant something. Yet at the same time this felt entirely organic and natural. She wondered if he was thinking the same. His hand found its way to her middle and rested gently on the raised bump.
"It's only little." He mused.
His comment on their child was entirely unexpected and Éponine smiled widely. "It's still early. The doctor told me I am showing sooner than most as I am petite anyway."
"Are you eating properly?"
"Of course. All I seem to do at the moment is eat and rest. It would have been nice to keep this news to myself for longer but this entire household is full of gossip."
"Does the entire household know of the child's paternity as well?" Enjolras was curious.
"It doesn't take much to put together why you have come here."
"Hmm. It is late 'Ponine, close your eyes." Enjolras kissed her hair before trying to make himself comfortable while she lay on his bare chest.
As the sunlight streamed through her bedroom window Éponine's eyes fluttered open. Enjolras' arms were still wrapped around her. She stirred and shifted her weight to lie up near his face and she tucked herself into his side. She was not surprised to see him awake. Éponine studied the lines on his face for a moment and as he opened his lips to ask her what she was doing she softly captured them with her own. The kiss was soft at first, intended as a gesture of...well truthfully Éponine wasn't sure of her intentions. His readiness to share her bed as a means of comforting her only enhanced her love for this man.
She was anticipating his rejection but at least she would sleep at night knowing she had done all she could to entice him to stay. Unexpectedly, his hand wound itself into her hair, holding her head in place while he returned the kiss. Her hands sat at the back of his neck as she moved to sit on his lap. It was the most tender and loving moment either of them had ever experienced and they wanted it to last as long as possible. Their lips continued to dance and it didn't take long for him to unfasten his breeches. He lifted her hips and she gasped slightly as he entered her.
He broke their kiss for a moment to make sure he had not hurt her.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes..." She whispered. "This is perfect, please don't stop."
They continued to move together with her in his lap, his hands bracing her back in place and her hands entwined in his curls. Their lovemaking was slow and intimate. When he had brought them both to their ends, they stayed with their limbs curled around one another for what seemed like an eternity.
" 'Ponine I..." He went to speak but Éponine cut him off.
"No...don't say a word Enjolras. I do not want to hear the words leave your mouth. Please do not ruin this moment. Let me have this one perfect illusion that everything will be alright between us and that you do belong to me. I cannot bear the thought of giving you back, even though I know that I must." She was shaking her head and rambling.
"Hush...you infernal woman." He silenced her with his lips once again on hers. "I love you Éponine. I never thought it was possible for me to love a woman, share myself with a woman, and yet here I am, entirely at peace in your arms. At this particular moment in time I want nothing else."
"...Adrien..." Éponine could not believe her ears.
"I will find a way to make this work. I will find a way to come back to you." He pressed a hand gently against her middle. "To you both." He kissed her again but hesitated when he felt moisture on his cheeks. Enjolras pulled away and was confused to see tears running down her soft features. He placed his hand to wipe them away. "I don't understand..."
She laughed. "I love you so much Adrien Enjolras."
"And I love you Éponine Thenardier."
"Promise me just now will not be the last time you say those words to me."
"I will say them to you every day until you believe they are true."
Enjolras stayed in Bordeaux with Éponine for two months before he decided he would need to return home. She begged him not to leave but he had to travel to Strasbourg to put his affairs in order. Éponine was almost twenty weeks expecting when he hopped in his carriage to leave. He promised to return as soon as he could but still unsure as to when he could leave the wife who was waiting for him.