Enjolras soon found that happiness was short lived. He sat his final exams with a clear head and a new vigor for life he hadn't felt before and was confident of good grades. Éponine kept a low profile around town after her failed engagement to Dumont but she was happy by Enjolras' side. She found herself sharing his bed more often until they couldn't spend a night apart. They were in complete bliss. Being with Enjolras had made Éponine start to believe that she could really make something of herself. She was more than somebody's trophy.
He continued to teach her in his spare time, which he had a lot of now he had taken his final exams. Éponine loved to read and it hadn't taken her long. Enjolras was impressed, she could now read as well as anyone who had grown up with a full education. Their happy life was soon interrupted by a knock on the door late one evening.
It was raining outside. Éponine opened the door to find a well-dressed older gentleman standing on the doorstep.
"May I help you?" She was a little surprised.
"Good evening Madame. I am looking for Monsieur Enjolras, is he here?"
Before she had a chance to respond Enjolras appeared behind her. "Thank you Éponine, I'll take it from here."
She turned and looked at him, his face was fixed into an odd expression, not of anger, but a little surprised. She excused herself from the hallway.
He stared at the older gentleman. "What are you doing here?"
"Adrien; that's hardly any way to greet me after all of this time." He responded.
Enjolras was blunt. "What do you want?"
"I want to speak with you, you have not been returning my letters."
"Your letters asked me to visit you because you have a proposition for me. I am not interested in any propositions therefore I was un-interested in visiting."
"Adrien; there's no need for that. I have my carriage outside please; come for a ride and hear what I have to say."
"Very well then." He pulled his coat from the rack.
Éponine chose that moment to retire upstairs allowing her to walk through the hallway to the staircase. Enjolras halted her for a moment.
"Éponine, I will be out for a while." He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Lock the door behind me and I will see you in the morning." He tried to be discreet in front of his guest.
Éponine sensed something was wrong and wished him a goodnight. Once the two of them had left she locked the door as instructed and curled up in his armchair in the study. She wanted to be awake when he returned.
Enjolras sat in the carriage with his arms folded. Once they were in transit the other gentleman spoke. "After all of this time I expected a warmer welcome from you."
"Forgive my mood Father; you caught me off-guard."
"News travels fast...it wasn't enough that your mother and I were worried sick when we heard about the June Revolution, but to hear that you were sentenced to be hung for treason?"
Enjolras reached up to his neck for a moment, he still had scars where the rope had burned. "Well I was pardoned. Who told you?"
"We still have friends here and you are still our son."
"You didn't travel all this way to scold me."
"Adrien you are not a radical. You come from an upper-class family it is time you started to act the part. You have completed your studies?"
"I am expecting my exam results before the end of the week."
"A job offer has come your way. A new political party is forming and they need new advisors. I am well respected with these people and I have friends in high places. They are willing to take you on because you are my son."
"A Bonapartist group?" Adrien raised his eyebrow. He was still a Republican through and through.
"Look son, if you want to make a difference to how this country is run, this is how to do it; not by organising rallies in the street."
Enjolras didn't buy it. "I am fresh out of university, they would not employ me without good reason."
Enjolras Snr smiled at his son's intuition. "Your employer would be a Monsieur Guiraud, he is..."
"...only one of the wealthiest men in France." Adrien interrupted.
"You have heard of him. Well it shames me to say but your mother and I have come into a bit of financial hardship. Guiraud has a daughter about your age and he is rather eager for grandchildren."
"I beg your pardon?" Enjolras thought perhaps he had missed something.
"She is about as stubborn as you are and shows no signs of settling down anytime soon. Guiraud is getting old, and with only a daughter he has no heir to pass on his estate. He needs a Grandson. You must admit Adrien, you yourself have never shown much interest in finding a wife."
"That does not mean I wish to copulate with a woman I have never met in order to procreate." There wasn't much that shocked Enjolras, but this proposition certainly succeeded.
"The arrangement is simple, you are guaranteed a place in Parliament once you wed Mademoiselle Guiraud; and our family gains financial security."
Enjolras shook his head. "Absolutely not. It is not my concern that you cannot manage your finances."
"We are selling your apartment here in Paris." His father was relentless.
"You have completed your study Adrien, you are no longer our responsibility. You have two choices, move back home to Strasbourg to live on our Estate with your new wife and job or stay here in Paris to make your own way in the world."
"You are essentially blackmailing me."
"I am sorry that you see it that way, If you stay in Paris you do so without any assistance from us."
"Did Mother put you up to this?" Adrien was angry now.
"Your Mother does not wish for you to get yourself killed by staying here."
Enjolras sighed as he understood what this was really about. His family was ashamed of his radical lifestyle choices. "I...need time to consider."
"Do not think too long. You must be out of the apartment before the end of the month." The carriage drew to a halt outside of the apartment. "The girl who answered the door. Who was she?"
Enjolras tried to sound convincing. "She is my housekeeper."
"Is she just?" His father was not convinced.
"I said so didn't I?"
"Men don't look at their housekeepers the way you looked at her. When you come to Strasbourg it is important that you sever all ties with your life here. It will be a clean slate for you and you wouldn't want any..." Enjolras Snr chose his next word carefully. "...mistakes to jeopardise your future."
Adrien wanted to say that Éponine is not a mistake, but his father would never understand. All that mattered to them was keeping their empire; and people didn't matter unless they were wealthy. This was why he hated his background. Adrien exited the carriage and bid his father farewell. It was still pouring with rain and it was long past bedtime. He was angry and confused. He felt backed into a corner. This proposition was quite possibly the best move he could make for his future career, but at what cost? His happiness? Marrying Éponine was out of the question. He could choose her, but what life would they have? They would be homeless, pennyless and struggling; an honest living. Perhaps if he did go back to the Enjolras Estate he could still find work for her.
He yelled in frustration and punched his fist into the wall; scraping his knuckle it began bleeding. He didn't care, the rain would wash the blood away. He let himself inside to find Éponine awake and waiting for him. She looked concerned at his demeanour. He was visibly unsettled. Before she could ask him to explain he went to her and crushed his lips to hers. His hands flew behind her hips, pulling her to him. All he wanted was for his mind to switch off for the night. He would think about things tomorrow. He backed them against the wall and planted feverish kisses along her jaw. Adrien didn't want to wait, he was so frustrated all he cared about was a release. Unbuckling his pants he lifted her up and took her right there against the wall. It was rough and frantic, but still passionate. Éponine wasn't sure what had gotten into him, she clung onto him and with one hand she thread her fingers through his damp tendrils of golden hair. It was over quickly and he let her down to the floor.
Enjolras didn't speak and Éponine reached up to him again, she pressed her hand to his cheek and he placed his hand overtop, holding the caress in place. He led her upstairs and to his bed. Enjolras spent the night holding Éponine, his arms wrapped tightly around her. He breathed in her hair, her skin, every part of her. This girl had captured his heart and now he didn't want to let her go.
When they woke in the morning Éponine was surprised to find Enjolras' arms were still encasing her. She turned in his arms to face him and he stirred.
"Good morning." She smiled at him.
"Good morning." He sat up and stretched. His head was no clearer this morning than it was last night. He had no idea what to do. "I trust you slept well." He tried to act as normal as possible.
"I did." She sat up aswell. "Enjolras is everything alright? You were not yourself last night."
"Everything is fine." His tone was not convincing.
"Who was your well-dressed gentleman caller?"
"The man you saw was Monsieur Christophe Enjolras. My father."
"Your father? I did not see the resemblance."
"I am told I look like my mother and act like my father. Although if I had it my way I would not be attributed to either of them."
"You were not pleased to see him?"
"There is nothing to concern yourself with, his visit was for business and not for social pleasantries." He stopped for a breath. "Forgive me I did not intend to sound so rude. Éponine may I ask you something?"
"Are you happy living here with me?"
"Happier than I can put into words. Do you not want me here any longer?"
"It may not be my decision. My parents are selling the apartment." Enjolras rose from his bed to walk to the bathroom.
Éponine was hot on his heels. "What are you going to do?"
"I will travel home to Strasbourg and find work. I will buy a house myself and I will send for you."
Éponine went a bit pale. "I will end up on the street, my Father's street gang are still out there, with Montparnasse dead, I cannot imagine they are too pleased."
"You cannot stay here. I will send you to my cousin, she was happy to take you once before. Her most esteemed chamber-maid has just retired to give birth, I will make sure you are treated well."
"A maid...I have no experience..." She stammered in protest.
"It cannot be that difficult, do as you are asked and follow instructions. Be polite and dignified every time you open your mouth. After living with me you have had ample practice."
"Bordeaux is far away from here?"
"It takes five days by coach from Paris, it is even further away from Strasbourg. The distance will be hard 'Ponine. I will write to you, but it may be some time before we see one another again."
Éponine took a moment to absorb what he was telling her...he was leaving her. Her Adrien was leaving her. "So you have thought about this in great detail then?"
"I don't follow?"
Éponine looked at the ground. "I cannot help but think this would all be easier if..."
Enjolras didn't have time for her hesitation. "Spit it out."
"If you and I were wed, I would be expected to be by your side. You do not have to marry me for any other reason...but the circumstance we find ourselves in..." Éponine would not be walked over or discarded. She would not be used.
Enjolras' face softened. How could he explain that he was expected to marry another woman. "Éponine...when I marry you it will be because society allows me to be with the woman I love without the social stigma." Sometimes a lie was kinder than the truth.
Her heart caught in her chest. "...You love me Monsieur?" She wrapped her arms around his middle, slipping in under his arms for a hug.
Enjolras had not caught his words fast enough. "It appears so." He kissed her on the forehead. The fact that he loved her was not a lie...only the idea that they would one day marry.
"I love you too." She whispered into his chest. He had used the words "when I marry you" She tried so hard to not entertain the thought before it was real, but Éponine knew then that she had found the man she wanted to be with.
A week later Enjolras put Éponine in a horse-drawn coach along with a bag packed with her belongings. He kissed her one last time and promised to write as soon as he reached Strasbourg. It would take Éponine five days to reach Bordeaux. As she settled back in the plush seat she stared out the window as the buildings of Paris travelled past her. She was heartbroken at leaving but trusted that Enjolras would find a way for them to be together. Before she left the apartment she chose one book from his study and as she opened the bound leather cover her heart skipped a beat to see a message had been inscribed for her inside the front sleeve.
Like all good stories this is not the end
This is only the beginning
Enjolras reached his family's estate in Strasbourg four days after leaving Paris. The long coach ride gave him ample time to think. He had no desire to marry Mademoiselle Guiraud but had to concede that he may not have a choice. Enjolras hoped he could secure his job in Parliament on his own merits, but even he was not that naiive. He had not told Éponine anything about the situation he was now in, not wishing to hurt her. He conceded that the girl had made him soft. Six months ago he would have done anything to further his career...even wed for circumstance. If he wanted to succeed he had to re-focus. However as hard as he steeled himself to focus on Patria the more his thoughts turned to her...how soft her skin felt, how beautiful she looked as she lay naked in his bedsheets. Time away from her would dull the emotions, he had to forget. He would encase his heart in marble once again; this time nothing would penetrate it.