Sunrise Beyond A Barricade

Trembling

Enjolras and Éponine walked side by side down the Parisian streets after leaving the town square. Marius had to leave to see Cosette, so it was just the two of them. Éponine walked with a spring in her step but she noticed that Enjolras was his usual stoic self.

"Are you upset with me?" She asked timidly.

"Why would you ask that?" His brow furrowed.

"I single-handedly ruined everything you set out to do."

"You were looking out for me. I forgive you. It's just...not easy bearing the weight of all of those people..."

'Ponine reached up and placed a hand on his arm. "Giving your life for theirs wasn't going to bring them back. It's just a waste."

Enjolras nodded and she removed her hand.

As they walked back to his apartment the pair came across something neither of them wished for. Thenardier's gang were scoping their next target, the sun had just set. Éponine tried to turn to walk the other way but it was too late.

"Lookie look here, it's your little brat Éponine." Babet told his leader.

Thenadier swooped on her within a second. " 'Ponine there you are. You haven't been home in weeks my girl." He reached out to touch her arm and she recoiled away.

"I'm not going anywhere with you." She snarled.

Enjolras stepped in front of her.

Thenardier continued. "Oh so this is how it is. Who's this? Has he been keeping you as his pet? That's a nice new dress you little slut, you're paying him in his bed."

"I think it's best you move along." Enjolras stood his ground.

"Look he's not even denying it. Come home with us 'Ponine and you can give it away to Montparnasse for free." Brujon laughed.

"Pigs! I am nobody's pet. You're disgusting." She spat through her tears.

"Are we going to have trouble here?" Enjolras challenged.

Éponine gasped and grabbed his arm. "No...they'll kill you."

He ignored her. "Let us pass."

"It'll cost you. What's she worth to you?" Thenardier asked.

"Let us pass and I won't break your arm." Enjolras threatened this time.

Thenardier's men arched their backs up, ready for a fight.

"You just try it pretty boy." Montparnasse brandished his knife.

"A deal then. State your terms, when and where. I'll offer you a fair price. None of you will touch Éponine again."

Thenardier considered this for a moment before answering. "You've got one hour. Don't be late."


Éponine tried to dissuade Enjolras all the way home.

"Please Monsieur; you can't. My father is dangerous."

"You are not going back to that life. I will see to it."

"I am not a piece of property. You don't have to purchase me. They will not honour such an agreement anyway."

"Let me take care of this Éponine." His tone was stern. "I will ask Marius to wait with you in the house while I am gone."

Enjolras made his way to the agreed location one hour later despite Éponine's protests. He did not carry gold, only his pistol. Perhaps he was a little mad, he was vastly outnumbered. Thenardier had his thugs in tow, but stepped forward. Enjolras walked right up to him and withdrew his pistol, lightning fast, pointing straight to Thenardier's forehead.

"Oi oi oi what's this?" Thenardier protested.

"The price I offer you is your life. How valuable is your life Sir?"

The gang tried to step forward but Enjolras threatened again. "Not one more step or I pull the trigger."

"She must be pretty good huh? When she's not struggling." Montparnasse quipped.

Enjolras turned his attention to the other man for a moment, the one wearing the hat. He was the one who had attacked her. He could feel the anger bubbling just below the surface but he couldn't settle all of this in one night. He turned back to Thenardier.

"You and your men will stay away from Éponine, have I made myself clear?"

"Crystal." Thenardier choked back.

Enjolras was no fool and knew the moment he lowered his gun the rest of the men would be on him. So he dragged Thenardier a few paces back with him and then threw him forward into his men. They all stumbled to catch him and Enjolras ran off into the night. He heard Thenardier yell for his men to give chase so Enjolras fired off some bullets back down the alley, not caring who they hit. When he was sure he had lost them Enjolras made his way home, making sure he wasn't followed.

He opened the door to a relieved Éponine. Marius stood up in anticipation aswell.

"It is done." Was all Enjolras offered.


Once he had managed to convince Éponine that everything was fine she retired upstairs to bathe before bed. Marius stayed to talk to his friend. They had much to discuss.

"Tell me what is going on Enjolras."

"You'll have to be more specific."

"With Éponine. You have a woman you are not married to living under your roof. People are going to start talking."

"Let them talk. It is nobodies business."

"You just went and bought her from her Father. What am I supposed to think?"

"Marius there is nothing romantic between us. I am trying to give the girl a better life, nothing more."

"You might achieve that Enjolras but you'll ruin her reputation in the process."

"You would rather her begging on the streets? She is a smart woman with much potential."

"You cannot save the downtrodden so you settle to save her?"

"She does not need saving Marius, she is more than capable."

Marius sighed. "I know that. But if you are going to invest so much into this I need to be sure you are going to leave politics alone. It is unfair to her should you end up back in the noose. You will not be pardoned a second time."

"Éponine is not your concern Marius. Shouldn't you be concentrating on your Cosette?"

"Promise me you will not hurt her." Marius pressed.

"I fail to see what you are implying." Enjolras was stubborn. Of course he felt something for the girl, but whatever that was it was not going to blossom. Enjolras was insistent, his life was devoted elsewhere. He had no time for anything else except for Patria.

Marius stood up. "Very well then. I will see the both of you next week when Cosette and I wed?"

"We will see you then." Enjolras saw Marius to the door.


The next day Enjolras told Éponine of the invitation to the wedding and couldn't ignore her crestfallen look. She still loved Marius, that much was clear.

"We do not have to attend." He offered.

"I want to support my friend. I must learn to accept his feelings for her."

"Is there something else bothering you?"

Éponine flushed. "It's just...Marius's grandfather is wealthy, so is Cosette's father. This wedding will be quite the grand affair." She waved down at herself. "I'm hardly the type, what if I embarrass myself?"

"Stay close to me, I will look after you."

Ponine giggled. "They're not your type either."

Enjolras raised an eyebrow. "You would be surprised."

"Oh?"

"You have not met my parents."

"Well you have had the misfortune of meeting one of mine."

"Madame I have told you, I do not think any less of you for your Father's cruelty. It is not your fault of what you were born into."

"You will not be safe. They will keep coming after you." She lowered her head, refusing to meet his eye.

Enjolras tilted her chin with his hand, making her look up at him. "You let me worry about that."

Éponine felt the redness in her cheeks as he touched her. She wasn't sure what was happening between them. Enjolras certainly was charming but she was convinced that even he wasn't aware of the effect he was having.

She turned away to get away from his touch, afraid she would ruin things by letting him linger any further. "So what about your parents Monsieur?" Éponine sat down at the breakfast table.

"My parents come from money. They live in Strasbourg, thankfully. They are arrogant and do not grasp the way I choose to live. The less time I spend with them, the happier I am."

"Do you have any brothers or sisters?"

"I am an only child."

"They must miss you."

"I do not miss them. They are Bonapartists, we argue a lot. The last time I spoke with my Father he said he was ashamed of me, and yet I am indebted to them. They have paid for my tuition and my home here. Until I complete my studies and make an honest living they will always hold power over me."

"What do you want to do after your studies?

"I am pondering the idea of writing for the papers. I can keep a hand in current affairs and keep the public informed. It is not much to further my cause but it is something."

Marius had let himself in to deliver the wedding invitations personally. He spoke from the doorway.

"The last journalist who printed his opinion out of turn found himself in prison."

Enjolras turned and looked at Marius with an irritated look. "Then I will have to keep my pen in check."

Éponine rose from the table and crossed over to Marius.

"Thank you for the invitation Marius, but I'm not sure your future wife would approve of my being there."

"I don't understand."

Éponine went on to explain that Cosette had lived with her as a child, and that her parents had not been kind. If Éponine remembered; surely Cosette would aswell.

"I will speak with Cosette. I insist that you both be there."

Éponine smiled at him and tried to hide her fear. She was so anxious that she would make a fool of herself. How could she watch the man she loves marry somebody else?


The wedding was beautiful. Éponine wore a pale blue gown and Enjolras a suit and tie. With the hundreds of guests in attendance it was simple for them both to stay in the background. Enjolras was keeping a watchful eye on his friend. He knew this was hard for her. His concern grew as he watched her drink glass after glass of champagne. Enjolras didn't drink, which meant he felt a much higher responsibility to look after her. He was speaking to one of the other guests with his back turned just for a moment. Enjolras looked around for Éponine and found her entertaining one of Marius' male cousins. Entertaining was putting it nicely, she had her hand running up and down his arm and this cretin was staring down Éponine's cleavage. She was giggling and carrying-on but looked as though she was enjoying herself. Enjolras felt the fire building in his chest. He excused himself from his current conversation and went over to the pair.

"Pardon Mademoiselle. May I borrow you for a dance?"

Éponine looked at her new male acquaintance who gave Enjolras an odd look but nodded his approval. She giggled and ran her hand all the way down the length of his arm and told him "I'll be right back." She gave him a little wave.

Enjolras pulled her as far away as he could. " 'Ponine what are you doing?" He drew her onto the ballroom floor.

"Monsieur?" Éponine was only trying not to fall over her feet as they began to dance.

"Who is your friend?"

"That is one of Marius' cousins. Monsieur Dumont."

"Well Monsieur Dumont looks ready to devour you whole."

"Pardon?" Éponine was blushing now.

"I'm taking you home before you do something you regret."

"That is hardly your concern Adrien." It was the first time he had been addressed by his first name since his execution and it stunned Enjolras to the core.

"What did you call me?"

"I called you by your name...it's a beautiful name you should use it more often." The words danced out of her mouth, carried by the latest glass of champagne.

Enjolras did not appreciate being called by the name his parents gave him, he never used it. His posture stiffened with his annoyance. "My name is Enjolras, and I will not allow this Dumont to have his way with you."

"Somebody shows an interest in me Adrien; and you're intent to ruin it." Éponine knew how to get under his skin. She was doing it on purpose.

Enjolras was flustered now. "He is not showing an interest in anything apart from what's beneath your bodice."

He cut their dance short and began to escort her from the room. "We will send our apologies to the happy couple for leaving early through the post. I do not think Marius needs to see you in this state."

He helped her down the stairs and by the time they made it down to the street Éponine was stumbling. Enjolras sighed and scooped her up into his arms.

"Curse this dress." Her large skirts were making this difficult.

By the time he got them back to his apartment Éponine could not suppress her giggles. He carried her all the way up the stairs to her room and dropped her unceremoniously onto the bed.

"I will see you in the morning."

"I cannot sleep in this gown...there are so many ties...please help me take it off."

Enjolras hesitated. "Surely you can manage."

"Please..." She stumbled to her feet and turned her back to him.

He took a deep breath and began to fumble with the many fastenings on her gown.

"Monsieur why does nobody love me?"

"Éponine you've had too much wine." He tried to be gentle.

"I just want somebody to look at me the way he looks at Cosette."

"That's not going to happen when you are still in love with Pontmercy."

"Marius doesn't want me..." She began sobbing.

"Marius is a fool..." He said more to himself than to the girl trembling in his arms. Enjolras had managed to work his way down most of her ties by now and he slipped the dress off of her shoulders.

Éponine turned to face him. She was inches from his face and she had whispered into his lips. "Would you kiss me Adrien?"

" 'Ponine..." He stammered. His emotions were swirling in all different directions. For the first time in his life Enjolras did not know what he wanted. He had had a strange feeling stirring within him since he had rescued Éponine from the street, up until now he had ignored it. He knew that doing anything with the girl while she was in this state was wrong. Before he could comprehend anything else Éponine's lips were on his and he could taste the strong aroma of the champagne dancing on her breath. Her lips were soft and inviting. She was teasing him now, short soft kisses. His lips did not move, he was certainly not participating, only observing with nothing more than curiosity. It wasn't until she managed to slip her tongue into his mouth that he was brought back to reality. Something new had been awakened within Enjolras, his tongue was disobeying his head and he was startled to find himself returning the kiss with just as much eagerness. He broke away from the girl abruptly and kept her at arm's length.

"You should be able to remove your dress now. Go to sleep, your head will be clearer in the morning."

Enjolras turned and left her room as fast as he could, refusing the girl in this state would only upset her further, but he could not give her what she wanted, what she needed. It was better to walk away from her now lest he cause her any further heartbreak.
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