Sunrise Beyond A Barricade


Enjolras sat at his desk the next morning busying himself with his books. Éponine had not woken and it was close to midday. He grinned as he thought of the night before, he had experienced his first kiss and it had felt strange and wonderful all at the same time. He tried to ignore the butterflies and scolded himself for allowing himself to feel anything of the sort. In Enjolras' twenty-two years he had convinced himself that his life was not meant for anything apart from his work and his dedication to Patria. He was unsure how to proceed and decided not to decide anything. At least not yet.

When Éponine did stir she looked a little worse for wear.

"Good afternoon." He greeted her.

"...Why didn't you wake me?" She had dressed but still wandered sleepily over to his favourite chair.

"I thought you could use the sleep."

She curled up in the armchair. Enjolras studied her for a moment, he wondered how much of the night before that she remembered.

"It was a lovely ceremony wasn't it?" He opened with.

"Yes, what can I say...Cosette is very lucky."

"It was nice to see you making friends." A wry smile held on his features.

Éponine threw the pillow she was sitting on at his head in retaliation. "I thought Marius' cousin was quite lovely thank you."

"Of course he was. He was trying to woo you until such a time as he could get between your skirts."

Éponine wondered for a moment why Enjolras was so against her finding other male company. "Perhaps we could invite Dumont around to dinner?"

Enjolras simply scoffed so Éponine tried again.

"Thank you for getting me home safely."

"I said I would look after and those infernal skirts."

Éponine smiled. "It was such a lovely dress, its a miracle I did not have to sleep in it."

"So you managed to undress without too much trouble?" Enjolras wanted to test her memory.

Éponine paused. Despite the copious levels of wine she had consumed her memory was just fine. It was clear to her that Enjolras was either embarrassed by their kiss or wanted to simply pretend it had not happened.

"...It was difficult to untie at the back, I thought I had some help." She pressed him to see how much he would reveal.

"Yes I pulled them loose for you before I retired to bed. I did not hear any noise from my bedroom so I assumed you had made it safely to sleep." He had not lied...he had simply withheld information, and when Éponine made no mention of the kiss he figured that that was the end of it. Perhaps it was better that she not remember.

"I am going to spend the afternoon at the library." He rose from the desk.

Éponine suddenly looked a lot more lively. "I will walk with you, I need to go to the market and I could use the fresh air."

They pair walked to the market on the way to the University where they found Marius and Cosette; walking arm and arm. They looked very much in love.

"Here are the newlyweds. Not on your honeymoon yet." Enjolras asked.

Marius forced a smile. "Cosette's father passed last night. We are waiting to leave until after the funeral."

Éponine gasped. "I'm so sorry."

Cosette looked as though she hadn't slept all night. "He was old, it was his time. It was very peaceful."

"I didn't see either of you much last night." Marius observed.

"Éponine wasn't feeling well, I took her home early." Enjolras offered.

"It was lovely though." She added.

Marius turned to Éponine. "It appears you met my cousin Dumont."

Éponine stammered. "Oh we only spoke briefly."

"He was very taken with you." Marius replied. "He was asking me who you were and how he might find you all night."

" kind." Éponine blushed, she looked over at Enjolras who's expression was fixed into a frown.

Marius enjoyed watching Enjolras toying with the idea of Éponine courting another man. "I'm sure he would like to see you again, perhaps I can arrange it."

"I guess there's no harm." Éponine was smiling now. If Enjolras would not acknowledge what had happened between them perhaps she should venture out.

Enjolras cleared his throat. "I must get to the library, Éponine I will see you this evening."

Enjolras was hard at work in the University Library when Marius came in and sat at his desk.

"Marius I am busy." Enjolras murmured without looking up.

"This needs to be said. Éponine is like a sister to me." Marius would not let this go.

"What is your point?" Enjolras was frustrated now.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"No it is not. Either say what you have to say or let me get on with my work."

Marius sighed. "For a man who gave me such grief when I fell in love with Cosette you are blind to your own feelings."

"I am not in love with Éponine." Enjolras made his tone very clear.

"You cannot even entertain the idea of her courting somebody else, it was plain on your expression."

"I do not wish to see the girl hurt that is all."

"My cousin is an honourable man."

"Of course. Accept my apology. Now I assume the discussion is closed so I can continue my studies?" Enjolras' apology was not sincere.

Marius was firm. "The discussion is not closed. For once in your life be honest with yourself."

Enjolras sighed. "What I am to tell you, you will keep it to yourself?"

Marius nodded.

"Éponine kissed me last night."

"And you still claim there is nothing going on?"

"She had had lots of champagne. She does not remember."

"Well how do you feel?"

"What can I say...I have not been able to stop thinking about it. I am only human."

"That should be all you need to know."

"I am not the type of man...I am dedicated to my work, I do not know how to be with a woman."

"You've been with her for the last few weeks. You're obviously doing something right. The rest just comes naturally." Marius put his hand on Enjolras' shoulder. "You are my friend and I want you to be happy."

"I do not want to push this, if it is meant to happen then it will happen in due time." Enjolras was nothing but stubborn. "You will not say anything to her?"

"You have my word."

When Enjolras arrived home that evening he found Éponine dancing around the kitchen preparing dinner with a new spring in her step. When she heard him enter she turned to him with a smile. "Did you enjoy the library Monsieur?"

"Yes, it was rather enlightening." On the walk home Enjolras had resolved to come clean to her about their kiss the night before, but before he could Éponine was bursting with her own news.

"I was walking home from the market and I bumped into Monsieur Dumont."

Enjolras stiffened. "Paris is a small city."

"He was so charming, he is going to take me out to dinner. Can you imagine a man is actually going to court me?"

Enjolras' smile faded. "And when is this delightful evening to take place?" He swallowed the jealousy that was building in his chest.

Marius was right, his feelings were obvious to everybody but himself.

"Tomorrow evening." Éponine studied his face carefully trying to determine his feelings but Enjolras was very good at keeping them hidden. It was then that he had decided to let things fall where they may. Perhaps she would fall in love with Dumont and she would be happy. He resolved not to stand in her way.

The next evening was a success. Dumont swept Éponine off of her feet. He was handsome and charming and came from a wealthy family. He was a financial adviser to Paris' upper class residents. His social circles consisted of wealthy bankers and their wives, whom took Éponine under their wing. She was quickly learning how to speak and how to dress, in Enjolras' opinions these upper-class snobs were turning Éponine into a pampered princess.

She had her first taste of the higher classes during an evening out with her new circle. The ladies spent hours preparing themselves, squeezing into corset's that were too tight, curling their hair and powdering their noses. Some of the ladies eyed Éponine very skeptically, it was plain that she had not been in a dressing room of this calibre before. She was also far too bony to have eaten well her whole life. When they rejoined with the men, it was like they were hardly there at all. They sat on the furniture idling while their male counterparts sat around a felt table smoking cigars and gambling. When the men began to make jokes about the revolution Éponine tried to speak her mind. The bankers were pleased about all of the civil unrest in Paris, it meant the high society were nervous and were more eagerly investing their money so it would be safe. She tried to remind them that a lot of people had died and if more money was donated down the social ladder these things would not happen. She was cut short by the looks of astonishment on the women's faces at the very idea that this newcomer would disagree with her new suitor's friends, let alone tell them off. It was the first and last time Éponine would voice her opinion around them.

Dumont was handsome enough to hold her interest though. He was a Pontmercy and the embodiment of wealth and was initially unsettled with the idea of being his trophy, but that feeling quickly went away after being wooed with flowers and expensive gifts. However unbeknownst to Éponine she was only falling in love with the idea of him. Ignoring Enjolras' words in her head Dumont was also rather interested in what was beneath her bodice and one evening after too much champagne and only a week of courting he had tried to further their relationship. Éponine had politely declined him...stating that it was inappropriate, especially as they were not wed. She was also very reluctant as Montparnasse's actions had deeper ramifications than she had first believed.

Time flowed quickly, Enjolras spent all of his time focused on his studies and saw less and less of Éponine. He felt that if he distanced himself from her then he would not sabotage her happiness. Eight weeks passed and Graduation was fast approaching. Éponine arrived home one evening bursting with excitement.

" will never believe...the ladies are gossiping that Dumont is going to ask for my hand."

Enjolras looked up from where his nose was buried in his book. "I thought tradition calls for Monsieur Pontmercy to ask your Father's permission before taking a wife." He mused of course, sounding rather uninterested.

After she had spoken out of turn at their Poker gathering, Éponine had to make quick decisions about the identity she wished to assume around these people.

"Dumont does not know about my family. I referred to my family name using an alias instead. He knows nothing of the Thenardier's; I told him my parents had passed away a long time ago."

"You are lying to your future husband?" Enjolras was smirking now. He found the entire situation most amusing.

"What choice did I have? It's thanks to you Enjolras that I am no longer that girl on the street. You have given me the clothes, the education. You once told me that I could be whomever I wanted to be."

"If he finds out?"

"If he cares about me enough to want to marry me my history should not matter."

"It should not, but it does. Have I taught you nothing of social class? Scandal of this level would ruin his reputation. To discover that your wife is nothing more of a commoner, an ex-thief no less. I do not see it boding well."

"My family does not make me who I am." Éponine was firm.

"Not in my eyes, but on the social ladder it does matter. These are the ways of the world Éponine, they are the ways I am fighting so hard to change. Dumont will find out, I guarantee it. Word of your impending nuptials will spread on the street and your father will be in for a slice of the pie."

"My father has no claim to me anymore, you told me you had dealt with that." Her tone was that of a master addressing a servant; an ungrateful madame.

Enjolras' back stiffened. After everything he had done for her. "Your father is not an honourable man 'Ponine. Honestly, I taught you better than this."

"You cannot just be happy for me can you?" She was frustrated now. Enjolras was supposed to be her friend and he was knocking her down with every sentence.

Placing his book down, his temper finally snapped.

"I am happy for you. I am happy that I took you into my home so you could become a spoilt little rich girl. He will take a lot more than your virtue away from you, I can tell you that much." Enjolras could accept that she was not interested in him romantically. What he was the most upset about was that her new social circle was changing who she was. The Éponine he had scraped off of the street was a far cry away from the one he had lived with for the last two months. It also bothered him that this was the most passionate he had been about anything for the last few weeks. He stood up from his chair.

"At least when you do wed Dumont you will be taken away from here and I will be left to work with little distraction." He tried to bite his tongue but the words had already left his mouth. "Éponine, I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. That's how you feel. Your work is all you care about. I was unaware I was such a burden to you." His words had stung. She excused herself with the idea to avoid Enjolras for the next few days. She couldn't understand why he was being so temperamental. She could almost put it down to jealousy, but Enjolras had not shown any romantic feelings towards her at all. He was the one who had rejected her after she had kissed him.

As she turned away she felt a hand grasp hers. She turned to see Enjolras trying to halt her. She looked up at him, to study his face. His features showed a mixture of disappointment and confusion. Was he disappointed with himself or with her? Neither of them spoke but his eyes locked onto hers. His eyes pleaded for forgiveness. After a moment Éponine gently pulled her hand away and left him standing alone in his study.

Dumont proposed a few days later and overjoyed; Éponine said yes. She spent less time at home, rising after Enjolras had gone to the library and home after he was sleeping. His final exams were approaching rapidly so he spent as much time at the University as he could. He walked home briskly just after dusk one evening when he was approached by Montparnasse.

He grabbed Enjolras roughly and shoved him up against an alley wall.

"Hello pretty boy." Montparnasse held his knife up to Enjolras' neck.

"Get off me." This creature had attacked Éponine in one of the worst ways possible and they were finally alone. Enjolras felt a sense of duty to do something about it, but he also knew that Montparnasse had no qualms about slitting his throat.

"I don't think so. Éponine's been spending a lot of time away from home...did you have a lovers tiff?"

"You've been spying on us? Why are you so fixated on the girl? She will never care for you, not after what you did to her."

Montparnasse ignored him for the most part. "I am paid well to keep an eye on things. Who is the well-dressed gentleman she spends her time with?"

Enjolras pursed his lips into a straight line, defiant not to say anything. That was until the blade of the knife was pushed harder into his skin to draw blood.

"Answer the question!" He threatened.

Enjolras considered for a moment but his head was still clouded by their fight. He concluded that Éponine was Dumont's concern now. "They are to be wed."

Montparnasse lowered his knife. "Now that interesting." He let Enjolras away from the wall.

"What do you plan to do about it?" Enjolras knew he had said too much.

"Nothing for you to worry about Blondie. Now run along, would be a shame for anything to happen to you in the dark." Montparnasse was gone as quickly as he had appeared.

Enjolras swallowed, trying to catch his breath. His stubbornness had finally gotten the better of him, the worst part was he hardly felt guilty.
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