Éponine breathed heavily as she dressed the next morning. She was nervous to say the least. It would be the first time since the revolution that either Enjolras or her had left his apartment. It had been at least a week. As much as she disliked being cooped up his home had been a safe haven for her. The last thing she needed was stumbling upon her father or one of his thugs. Enjolras made good on his promise, he could walk with his cane. They moved slowly through the Parisian streets, and she helped support his weight. The streets were quiet. The revolution had certainly shook Paris to the core. When they reached the Police Station the couple paused for a moment.
"Are you ready?" Enjolras asked her softly. They had walked in silence up until now.
Éponine nodded and they proceeded inside. They continued to walk slowly through the hall but Éponine felt Enjolras halt slightly. She turned and looked at him in confusion and then saw what had startled him. He had been right...there were papers on the wall offering a reward for information on the Revolutionary leader. The accompanying sketch was rather crude but it did the job.
He did not wish to complicate matters further. "If it does not bother you Mademoiselle, I will wait for you here."
"I'll be back in a minute." She answered. Enjolras set himself up leaning against the wall with his head down.
Éponine approached the desk timidly and was met by the new Police Inspector with his head down in his papers. She turned and glanced back at Enjolras who gave her an encouraging nod.
After a few moments she cleared her throat and spoke up. "Excuse me sir."
"I have a crime to report."
"Out with it then." The inspector was gruff, and did not at all seem inviting.
Éponine began to stutter. "It was an assault sir."
He stared at the girl, her skin was still slightly discoloured from the heavy bruising; a pale yellow.
"When did this happen?"
"Almost a week ago sir."
"And you are only coming forward now?"
"I was afraid sir."
"What was the nature of the assault?"
Éponine froze...barely able to form the words out loud. "The man beat me sir...until I could not protest...he forced himself on me."
"The hospital report?"
"The doctor who treated you should have filed a report."
"I did not go to the hospital."
"Then what would you like me to do Madame?"
"He needs to be charged Sir."
"Without any proof? If this happened a week ago how do you expect me to find the man?"
"But I know him. His name is Montparnasse."
"You knew the man?" The Inspector had his eyebrows raised.
"Yes but...I certainly did not consent"
"I am a very busy man. Thanks to this botched revolution I have a lot of mess to clean up; so unless there was anything else?"
Éponine's face dropped in despair. She knew the law would not get her anywhere. "Why are you looking for the leader of the schoolboys Sir? Surely he perished with the rest of them?"
Now the Inspector was interested. "His body was not recovered. If he is alive he needs to be brought to justice."
"I don't understand his crime?"
"Treason. Not to mention all of the National Guard that were killed in the quarrel."
"What about all of the boys that died? Who will pay for them?" Her heart pulled as she thought of Marius, and of Gavroche.
"They were traitors too...signed their own death warrants they did."
"Has there not been enough bloodshed...enough heartache? By asking for information are you not reminding the people of what happened? Of all of their loved ones who have died?"
"If this boy..." The Inspector looked down and consulted his papers for a moment, "Enjolras...wanted to stage a protest at a state funeral of his "beloved" General do you not think he would have realised it would not be forgotten in a hurry?"
Éponine turned cold for a moment. The Inspector was right, Enjolras must have known the effect his barricade would have on those who lived to see tomorrow. The ones who have to live knowing their sons or brothers or lovers died for nothing. Suddenly this man that she was trying so hard to get to know had turned into cold marble. She turned around to walk back down the hall and the Inspector returned to his papers. When she reached Enjolras she did not say a word but simply took his arm to lead him out. As they made to leave the Inspector looked up from his desk again and caught a glimpse of the man with the golden curls being led by the girl.
"Well?" Enjolras asked her as they left the foyer.
"I told you Monsieur, the Police have no time for a girl like me."
"They will not pursue this man?"
"They think I asked for it to happen...because I knew him."
"What of the beating he gave you?"
"That did not seem to matter. Please I would just like to forget about all of this."
'Ponine turned and glanced back down the hall. She saw the Inspector had left his desk and was now leaning down and consulting with one of his officers. He was staring straight at them. Éponine realised he had recognised Enjolras so she pulled him outside, trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
"What's your hurry?"
"Don't argue come with me quickly." She helped him hobble down a side alley and into a crevice. She pushed him in and squeezed in opposite. He opened his mouth to protest but she hushed him with two fingers on his lips. There was not a lot of room and his hands found their way to rest on her hips. Éponine's breathing was heavy with panic and excitement. Enjolras' eyes couldn't help but notice the rise and fall of her chest with each breath she took. If there was ever a moment for Enjolras to realise the fairer sex this was it. Just for a moment he caught himself wondering how it might feel to...no...he pushed the thought from his mind as quickly as it had entered. They stood, their faces inches from one another, bodies pressed together until they heard the handful of guardsmen move on. Éponine slipped out as fast as she could feeling very embarrassed. She had noticed the way his brow had furrowed as he looked at her, the single bead of moisture run down to his neck. She had never intended to put them in such a position.
"Thank you." He smiled at her. Enjolras held out his arm for her to take once more. "I think thats enough excitement for one morning. Come, lets stop by the dressmakers on our way home."
Éponine had tried to protest when Enjolras offered to buy her some new clothes but in the end he would have none of it. That night when she was dressing his wounds he entered into a peculiar line of questioning.
"Forgive me for being a little too personal but if I may..."
Éponine looked up at him with a curious smile. He took that as permission to continue.
"What was it that made you fall in love with Marius?"
Her smile dropped for a moment and then she willed it back as she thought of him. "He was my friend. But it was more than that...he saw me. To him...I wasn't just this street urchin...he talked to me like I was a real person."
"You are a real person." Enjolras saw everything in the world on a physical level.
"Not a lot of people think so." She pressed her lips into a hard line as she considered how best to say her next words. "You claimed to care about the people your revolution was trying to help. Those of us on the lowest rung of the social ladder. But you have no understanding...people like me...Gavroche...we had to beg, borrow and steal just to survive for one more day. Enjolras you've come from a family of privilege...you've had a college education, you've never starved before in your life." She studied his face as he processed her words; he did not look angry, although somewhat perplexed. Éponine decided to apologise anyway. "Forgive me...I spoke out of turn."
Enjolras seemed to dance over her outburst and steered the conversation backwards. "So even though Pontmercy did not return your feelings...it was enough?"
Trying not to balk at his bluntness she replied. "It was better than feeling nothing at all." Éponine wanted to steer the conversation around to him. "So why is there no woman in your life Monsieur?"
Enjolras was surprised for a moment and then gave his usual steely response. "There are so many more important things to be spending my time on. Love is futile...it does not get you anywhere. It is nothing but a distraction."
Éponine couldn't disagree more. Love is what had driven her. But she kept this opinion to herself, instead changing the subject. "What are you going to do about the Police Inspector?"
Enjolras inhaled deeply for a moment as though giving deep consideration to his answer. "I'm going to turn myself in."
"It is the right thing to do...there is no reason I should go unpunished...at least my trial will bring attention to the cause."
"But you'll be executed."
"I will be a martyr." He did not expect her to understand.
"You will be a fool. Couldn't you do more if you were alive?"
"I would be hunted. That is no way to live."
"Is there no way for you to be pardoned?"
"The crown does not care about the law, they care about what people think."
"It is still wrong."
"Young Éponine, you have so much to learn about the ways of this world."
She was angry now. "There will be no-one to teach me if you throw yourself to the gallows."
"I will be asking for a firing squad...I do not care to hang there suffocating. Until the execution method is refined and somebody invents a knot that will snap the neck...bullets are much more humane."
She wished he was trying to have a misguided stab at humour but he was deadly serious. Éponine responded by shoving the fastener of his bandage into his ribs and rising to her feet; ignoring Enjolras' cries of discomfort.
"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed. I'm sure you'll manage to climb the stairs by yourself."
The next morning she joined Enjolras at the breakfast table and he immediately addressed their argument. "I know you don't agree with my decision but I do want to show my appreciation for what you have done for me."
"I don't follow." She replied, seating herself opposite him.
"I considered what you said last night. It is true I do not fully understand your social circumstance. But I do not wish for you to end up back on the streets when I'm gone. It would be a shame...you show...promise. I have a cousin who lives in Bordeaux; I understand she needs a new maid. I will write to her. It will give you board and with the money you can save and pay for tuition."
"That is kind; but I do not need your charity."
"It is hardly charity. It is offering you a way to live."
"You could accompany me to Bordeaux." Éponine was not giving up on him.
"My work would remain incomplete." He was stubborn.
"Then I will have to decline your kind offer."
"Are you blackmailing me Madame?" Enjolras was impressed. The girl burned with a fire he would never understand.
Éponine's tone remained polite. "Not at all, I cannot support something I do not agree with."
"You would rather return to the streets?"
"No need to worry about me Monsieur. I've managed to get by my whole life." She sighed. "When are you planning on doing this?"
"As soon as my affairs are in order."
"But..." She tried to protest but Enjolras interrupted her.
"Éponine; I appreciate your concern but my mind is made. Now are we to spend my last few days arguing or shall we focus our time on happier things?"No more than four days passed and Enjolras still refused to tell Éponine when he planned on leaving for the Police Station. He knew she would try and stop him and he couldn't have that. His wounds had healed and he could walk unaided. On the morning in question he rose early, wrote her a letter and placed it on her nightstand. He went back into his study and took everything in for the last time. His books, his desk, this room was where the Revolution was born. When he was satisfied Enjolras pulled his coat on and retreated into the brisk morning air.