Sunrise Beyond A Barricade

Denial

When Enjolras returned to Strasbourg his mind was set. He would formally resign from his position and pack his things. It would be easier not to tell his parents the details of his departure, only that he would be leaving immediately. As for Éloise...well he had no plan of what he was going to say, he would wait to confront her and let the words fall as they may.

However he returned to find things completely changed.

The household was in mourning as Monsieur Guiraud had passed away suddenly. Éloise was inconsolable. He presented himself to the sunroom on his arrival and Éloise threw herself into his embrace.

"Where have you been Adrien? I cannot believe it, my father is gone. Whatever am I to do?"

"There there." He patted her on the back. His posture was stiff and uncomfortable.

"Adrien!" Adèle scolded.

Rolling his eyes Enjolras added a kiss to the top of his wife's head.

Adèle came and lead Éloise away to the hallway. She was absolutely grief-stricken.

"Come come, my dear. Why don't you retire to your room and lie down? I will send Adrien up to you momentarily."

Adèle waited until a maid escorted Éloise away before turning on her son.

"Where on Earth have you been?"

"Not now, Mother."

"No, Adrien you have been gone for weeks, without a word to anybody."

"Georgette and Tristan were in need of aid." Was all he would offer.

"Georgette is your cousin, Éloise is your wife. You were needed here."

"I had no way of knowing her father would die. It is unfortunate but it has happened. All I can offer now is my comfort, therefore if you have finished lecturing me I will go and attend to my wife." Enjolras turned quickly leaving the sunroom.

He was so frustrated with his mother he could barely stand the sight of her. All he wanted to do was leave the estate, sweep up Éponine and take her back to Paris. He did not survive the barricade to live a life like this.


When he reached their room Éloise was still distraught on their bed, however seeing Enjolras almost immediately brightened her spirits.

"Adrien I am so happy you are home." She sauntered over to him and in little time at all her attention was fixed on his belt buckle.

"I was under the impression you were grieving." He asked her trying to halt her fingers.

"Yes but I can think of a way you can make the pain less severe."

"I am weary. The road is long." He tried to distract her.

"We are never going to conceive if you will not make love to me."

"But that hardly matters now. With your father gone his inheritance will pass to your uncle. There is no need for this charade to continue."

"Adrien...your words sting, although they are expected they are not entirely true."

"What have you done?"

"When it was clear my father was nearing the end, I told him that I was with child. His estate will be frozen until I give birth."

"Éloise..."

"Do you really want to make a liar out of me Adrien?"

"You do not need my help to do that." He removed her hands from his waist. "Now if you will excuse me I have matters to attend to at work."


As hard as he tried Enjolras could not bring himself to leave Éloise while she was grieving for her father. He wrote to Georgette and told her that their work would need to wait, that he could not leave Strasbourg in the near future. Six weeks had passed before he snapped. He resigned from his position in Parliament and went straight home to pack his things. It only took a minute for his wife to be on his heels.

"I have just been informed that you have resigned from your job. Adrien are you mad?"

"I am not mad, I am leaving for Bordeaux again this evening. The work I am involved in requires me for weeks at a time. It does not make sense to continue my employment here."

"You are leaving again?"

"That is what I said. I am not certain when I will return."

"Well I insist on accompanying you this time."

"Absolutely not."

"I will not sit here wishing away my days hoping that you will return."

"Then find a new hobby. Go and knit something. The weather is turning, the snow will be here soon." It was mid November and winter in Strasbourg was harsh.

They were disrupted by a knock on the door.

"Forgive the interruption Monsieur, Madame." The maid curtseyed.

"What is it Margueriette?"

"It is Madame and Monsieur Roux. They have just arrived from Bordeaux. They are asking for you."

"My cousin is here?" He clarified.

"Oui Monsieur. I was sent to fetch you immediately."


Adrien and Éloise hurried down to the sunroom to find both of his parents, Georgette, Tristan and a heavily pregnant Éponine. He tried to keep his facial expressions in check.

"Georgette? Tristan?"

Tristan spoke first. "We received your letter, that you were required here and I am afraid our work just cannot wait any longer."

"We decided to come to you." Georgette added.

"And the girl?" Enjolras tried so hard to stay composed. Éponine was staring at him.

"You remember Éponine? She has been left widowed and with child. Her husband was killed in a riding accident. Tristan and I have been unsuccessful in having our own child, therefore we have decided it would be best if we were to raise the child as our own."

"The child needs two parents." How Georgette had convinced her husband to play along with this charade; Tristan would never know.

"We couldn't possibly leave Éponine in Bordeaux, and I wished for her to come and see our family doctor." Georgette was very convincing. "Aunt Adèle has been ever so kind to put all of us up here for as long as is needed. It does not snow in Bordeaux and I have longed for a white Christmas."

Enjolras' face had turned pale. They were all treading on incredibly thin ice by bringing their scandal to his home. "This will simply not do. Georgette I apologise, I know you mean well, and you have travelled far but I have sent invitation for my friends to join us for Christmas. I am afraid the household will be very crowded."

Madame Enjolras was quick to intervene. "Adrien do not be so foolish. It is not as though we do not have the room. It is a wonderful thing that your cousin is doing for...those who are less fortunate." Adèle smiled sweetly while trying not to look down her nose at Éponine.

"Everybody has been extremely kind, we will try our best not to be in your way Monsieur." Éponine spoke,tired of feeling as though she was not even in the room.


Éponine was settled into her room quickly, right next to Georgette and Tristan. However the guest rooms were well on the other side of the manor to the regular bedrooms. She had no idea how she was even going to get the chance to see Enjolras, let alone speak with him.

It was not long before she had a visitor, albeit an unexpected one. Éloise knocked before letting her self into Éponine's room, promptly closing the door behind her.

"What can I do for you Madame?" Éponine was quick to address her. If nothing, she could not be accused of being impolite.

"I feel as though we do not know each other at all, and that just will not do. Especially if you are to be staying a while." Her pleasantries were obviously forced. Éloise wanted to get down to business.

"I am not here to burden anybody, I am simply doing as I am told. Madame Georgette and Monsieur Tristan have been very kind to me. I could not refuse them."

"And what of my husband, were you able to refuse him?"

"I beg your pardon? I am not sure what you are implying but I will not stand for it."

"You are heavily with child. To have conceived would put you right around our first meeting. When you were here for my wedding."

"Madame!" Éponine tried to sound as shocked as possible.

"I am no fool and I am sick of being treated as one. I caught the two of you red-handed returning from God-only-knows where."

Éponine steeled her temper under control. "My relationship with your husband ended a lifetime ago when he decided to leave Paris. I met a wonderful man named Thomas whilst under the employment of the Roux's. He worked with the horses. We were wed soon after we returned from here in the summer. I am recently widowed Madame and I would thank you to leave the subject well alone. The grief is still too great to bear."

"You wear no wedding band." Éloise pressed.

"We do not all come from such privilege. We thought the money better to be spent on other things. Now if you will excuse me I need to rest. Be kind enough to close the door on your way out." Éponine turned her back to Éloise and walked towards the bed, promptly ending the discussion. When she heard the door close she breathed a sigh of relief. However she did wonder how far blatant denial would get her.

Georgette also came to speak with Éponine who was quick to tell her that she had already been outright accused.

"Did she believe your story?"

"I do not think so. We must be careful of what we say, and to whom. I do not doubt she will be watching for anything out of the ordinary. Have you spoken to Adrien yet?"

"Only briefly. He is as concerned as you are that we will all be found out. Forgive me Éponine but I had to do something, bringing you here seemed like the best option. There was every chance you would have this baby before he was able to return to Bordeaux. Our story is solid. You are widowed, which means you get to keep your respect."

"For now." Éponine was not as confident as the others as to how much longer they could hold their lies together.


Her first night in the Enjolras Estate, Éponine awoke in the night to the sound of her door being pushed ajar slowly and the faint light of a candlestick entered. Enjolras' features were soft and vulnerable, his curls of gold framed his face perfectly as always.

He placed the candle down before sitting on the bed. Éponine opened her lips to speak but he hushed them with his own. His hands found their way into her hair as he gently caressed her lips over and over and over again.

"I've missed you." He whispered when he finally pulled away. Hearing him say those words made her heart swell to bursting.

"Stay." She whispered back.

"I cannot."

Deep down she knew that he was correct and tears pricked at her eyelashes. "Adrien, your wife suspects..."

"Do not fear Éloise. I will put her in her place. Now I must go. I'm afraid these stolen moments are all we may have. I love you, dearest 'Ponine. Do not forget." He kissed her one last time in haste before leaving the comfort of the bed.

"I love you too Monsieur." She whispered, and then he was gone.


The first chance he had to speak with Éponine properly came the next day, as Georgette walked with her around the grounds.

"We need to get our stories corroborated."

"Éloise has already confronted me."

"There is no proof. Denial is going to be the best tool. Éponine is a pregnant widower. Georgette plans to raise the child as her own and wishes there to be the best medical care."

Éponine tired of this conversation already. "I thought you were going to leave her. As soon as you could."

"Éponine..."

"Pack your bags and come straight home to me, that's what you said."

"I am trying to find a way out of this, you know that." His hollow promises had finally worn thin.

"It's been weeks Adrien. You are running out of them, and fast. This child will be born before you find the courage to walk out." Her voice was raised.

Georgette placed a hand comfortingly around her friend. " 'Ponine don't upset yourself."

"I must leave for work, Georgette, calm her down for me, would you?"


Éloise was not the only one with suspicions. Christophe pulled his son aside one evening after dinner and took him outside.

"I am assuming you do not wish to engage in idle chit-chat?" Enjolras asked his father.

"I wish to speak to you about the girl."

"You will have to be more specific, Father, there are many girls in this world."

"The girl in the company of your cousin. She is the one who greeted me at your apartment in Paris. Your...housekeeper was it?"

"Her name is Éponine."

"Were you in love with her?"

"Father, do not be so personal. I have never been in love with anybody."

"You are married, son."

"I do not love Éloise, I tolerate her. You know that."

"This girl is with child."

"How observant of you."

"Adrien..."

"She is widowed. The poor girl must be going through enough emotions, lest be the subject of cruel gossip. I am not oblivious to the whispers of the estate walls."

"Then you know what people are thinking. God-forbid your mother catches wind of this."

"I care for Éponine as a dear friend. Nothing more. She lives on the other side of France, how could I have fathered her child? Honestly."

"I am told she was here for your wedding, in your cousin's entourage."

"Was she? I was rather pre-occupied on my wedding day to take notice of Georgette's ladies maids."

"If there is anything to admit to, for god sakes, do it now son, before this goes too far."

"I have no desire to continue this discussion. I would appreciate it if you do not continue to fan the flames of idiocy."

Enjolras was furious. Their story was solid. He could not believe that other people would not take the information offered to them as the truth. People were determined to find scandal where there was none to be had.


It did not take long for Éloise to truly hate her husband. She knew that he would never love her the way he did Éponine. Her focus now was falling pregnant in time to still claim her inheritance. During hours that she knew Enjolras would be working she smuggled men into their bedroom. She thought she would have been more surprised when Adrien caught her one afternoon.

He had gone to their room to fetch something and caught them in the throes of passion between the bedsheets. Enjolras threw the man out before grabbing Éloise to stand in front of him. She wrapped the sheets around her naked body.

"Are you angry?" She managed to whimper in a small voice.

Enjolras remained calm. "No."

"You are having a bastard child with another woman! Why can't I do the same?"

"Be very careful with your accusations, Éloise. I do not understand why you are so fixated on something that is entirely untrue." Denial was all he had left.

"Stop treating me like a fool. Why else would they have come here?"

"I'll make you a deal Éloise. You stop making unfounded accusations about me being the father of that child and I won't throw you out of the Estate for being a whore."

"I am only trying to fulfill a promise that you and I made to my father."

"Use whichever words you please to, you are only trying to secure your inheritance."

"Our marriage was over a long time ago." She threw at him.

"It never truly started to begin with." His words stung, but they were the truth.

After a deep breath Éloise managed to get the words out. "So what happens now Adrien?"

"Divorce is still illegal. Bills to re-introduce the idea keep failing. I was thinking about moving back to Paris."

"When?"

"The new year. I will wait for all of the festivities to pass before I break the news to everyone. This is your home now so I will not force you to leave. Once I am back in Paris I have no intent to return here so it does not bother me what you decide."

"And until then?" She thought it best to go along with his wishes, for now.

"Until then I think it would be best to act as though nothing is wrong. There will be less grief to deal with. My poor mother will not cope with this news and frankly I do not wish to have to pick up the pieces. A clean break will be best for everybody when I leave. Now I have to get back to work, so if you'll excuse me." He turned on his heel and swiftly left the room; a new spring in his step.


He had something to do before returning to work. Enjolras found Éponine with Georgette taking their afternoon walk.

"Éloise and I have decided to formally separate."

"Forgive me cousin, but your words are falling on deaf ears." Georgette said; he could hardly blame them.

"I have told her I am leaving. Moving back to Paris early next year." He looked at the mother of his child. "I cannot move you until you have given birth. But my marriage, if you can call it that is over."

"Why tell her now?" Éponine was curious.

"I caught her in bed with another man. She is trying to fall pregnant. However I do not want to increase suspicion regarding you and I. So I have told Éloise that as far as everyone else is concerned we shall keep up appearances until I leave."

This still did not sit well with Éponine. "I do not understand why we do not just come clean. It would be far easier than all of these lies."

Enjolras scoffed. "Would it? 'Ponine you and I have committed adultery. Worse you are pregnant because of it. My Father suspects it, my Wife suspects it. Divorce is still illegal due to our idiotic monarchy. Do you really wish to spend the next three months here being looked down upon, gossiped about and disowned by my parents?"

"That scenario is hardly different from what is happening now. Your Mother looks at me like a piece of discarded trash, your Father looks at me as though I am a street-whore. If it was not for Georgette and Tristan I would have nobody speaking to me."

Enjolras' expression softened. "I know this is hard. You will have more company to keep when Marius and Cosette arrive next week for Christmas."

"I will enjoy that."

"As soon as the child is born you will go back to Bordeaux, I will follow a short time later and bring you both back to Paris. Nobody needs not know that you are not legally my wife."

"And this will all be over." She smiled. "We will be a family."

"I certainly hope so." Enjolras longed to reassure her with a kiss or an embrace, and looked forward to when this charade would end.

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