|breathing in sin
Author: Notus Lethe PM
When Valjean becomes ill, Cosette takes it upon herself to provide for the family. Even if she has to do the unmentionable... R for sex, language based mostly in the movieverseRated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Romance - Javert & Cosette - Words: 3,837 - Reviews: 39 - Favs: 42 - Follows: 6 - Published: 07-02-03 - id: 1410789
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
While watching Les Mis on television, this occurred to me. I am not certain how it came to be but as Marius and Cosette were being so sweet and lovey and the man playing Javert made him so evil, I wondered what if they were to deny those personas. What if they were to cast aside their selves and embrace the stranger within?
breathing in sin
a les miserables story
Oh, my love
Please don't cry
I'll wash my bloody hands and
We'll start a new life
'my bloody valentine' -- good charlotte
Even as she stood there, it was idiotic. She had more intelligence than this, so much. She could read, she could write, she was practically smarter than most men in the entire city! Yet her clothes were still torn, still dirty, and the girls around were mirrors to her state. This may be Paris, the city where dreams were made, but she was still standing at the edge of the street, a whore. Just like her mother.
Oh how Papa had wanted to keep that a secret. The pain shone deeply in his eyes as he told her of her mother's origins, as she witnessed the hurt and sorrow of a man who wasn't even her blood. He had grown ill and she couldn't bear to make him part with his hard-earned savings. So she was here, selling the only thing she had.
The girls taunted her, mocked her and hit her whenever she got too close. They wanted to know what such a pretty little thing was doing out here in the real world, why didn't she go back to her castle in the sky, they teased. Vainly, she sought to ignore, grabbing at the men after they had passed the other women, trying to sell herself for twenty sous, at least the cost of bread. A franc was what the other women demanded at first glance, but anyone but the best women were silly to demand such a high price. No man paid a franc anymore. Several women kept coughing into their hands, trying to hide the consumption that ravaged their bodies or keep open their eyes gone blind from the clap. She would be a prize if anyone looked to thoroughly at her; there weren't many virgins on the street.
Someone English ran through their clutching hands, the cooing voices of the women cried out, sirens who had swallowed thorns. She sprang forward, grabbing onto the lapels of the dark- haired English man who looked ruffled and positively frightened. Her throat constricted and the words couldn't leave as he grew angry. Red coated his entire face, something fitting for an Englishman, and he raised a hand, swatting down on her neck. Some strange sound burst from the confines of her mouth and she tried to take several breaths, gasping like a choked wife. The women laughed.
Hours might have passed, but the night wore on forever in Paris. Gently, she cradled her sore throat and tested out her voice, finding it none too injured. Just a little bruised was all, nothing too terrible. It must be late, for no one had wandered through the clutches of the whores. Not that these women were the best, no those were down by the Seine. This was the seedy part of town, the place where those who had little money went. Down by the Seine, you might actually earn five francs off one man. Here, twenty sous was the asking price.
The voices started up again, the husky and the sweet, the sultry and the promising, all yearning to catch a late straggler in their game of seduction and money. But the man must have been in a hurry, for those sweet charming sounds turned angry, turned cold and harsh. The man ignored them all brilliantly. Finally, she stepped forward, hoping that maybe this time, maybe this time the man needed something raw, something earnest to soothe his passions.
She had always had a talent for words. "Do you wish something fresh m'sieur? Something not so soaked in disease and other man's flesh? I shall nae be able to boast of my chastity after you." Foolishness welled up inside her.
He was nearly gone, practically around the corner and she felt despair clutching at her heart when- he stopped. He nearly faded into the darkness with the color of his clothing but he was there, listening. She squashed the urge to throw her arms around him and thank him terribly for just stopping and hearing her words.
"A –" She became bold. "A franc is all I ask. You'll see then that I am still pure. What could be more satisfying?"
Overhearing her words, the others moved in like a murder of crows, practically circling and cawing out their hate. They shouted such hateful things, why did he want someone inexperienced? He could get much better over here for forty sous. Over here he could have his dick sucked like no one had ever known. And here was the sweet-
"A franc you say?" His voice was soft; a strange lilting to it that made her wish he wasn't some sick man out wanting the pure flesh of her. She wouldn't let tears come to her eyes for that voice, for the voice of a delicate man, a poet perhaps.
"Forty sous, for you. Twenty." Desperation soaked into her next words, nearly scraped from the bottom of her throat. "Ten!"
And then he said nothing. The others cackled, hissing evil words at her for lowering herself so easily. Regret swam through her mind, and tears were nearly present, but she swallowed them. If he would do it for ten sous, then so be it. That could provide some food for Papa. And anything was better than nothing. The time began to swell, extending forever so that the coldest days of the winter might sweep her up and swallow her, forever imprisoning her in her vulgarity.
"Stupid bitch. You scared 'im off you did."
Defeat washed throughout her body, and she knew that it would be long before dawn.
"Come then, fresh one, follow me." For one frozen moment, she wondered if it was her delirium running through her head. Could this man possibly-? But he was still there, a tall figure in darkness near the corner, waiting for her. She almost skipped to him, but refrained. However, a bounce stayed in her step.
Paris was not her native home, and as the man wound through the streets as a serpent, her roads became mixed. The buildings all looked the same, and if she tried, she highly doubted that she would be able to find her way back without sunlight. She stayed as near to him as she dared, hand brushing his flowing cloak ever so often to ensure that he wasn't some spirit risen from the river to guide her back with him. That happened, she had heard, that others would be taken back to river and drowned. Not that she believed those silly superstitions that the unlearned women talked of. A chill ran down her spine, but she didn't stop following his quick steps. This part of the city was far better than the area she had been selling in, far better, but not the best.
He stepped into a hotel with such fierce purpose that she knew him to be a man that never forgot what he was doing. He would be one of those men who were never sick for illnesses were too afeared of him. As men leered at her tattered dress, her torn sleeves, and her dirty face, she did reach out and grab his cloak, clearly declaring her companion. In hindsight, that was not the best thing to do; these men were all potential customers, even the ones who sported bands around their fingers. The man opened the door to his room with a loud sigh, lashing her about as he flung his ankle-length coat behind him with a practiced move and closed the door just as soundly, just as purposefully. Quickly, she dropped her hold as he pulled his cloak off his shoulders and set it across a chair, also tearing off his hat. All of his moves were peculiar in their single-mindedness, their compulsion to fulfill that task.
"Undress." It was so curt and clipped that she had forgotten his lush lulling voice in the street. Complying with tears pricking at her eyes, she fumbled with the clasps and finally pushed the dress off. She'd been stupid to dress in her full underclothes; she should've just worn the overdress. She was pushing the sleeves of her underclothes off, still fumbling with the corset in the back. "Stop, that's enough."
It was chilly in the room and standing there in considerably less clothing than before, she was beginning to get cold. Couldn't they finish this and send her back on her way?
"When did you last eat?" The question startled her so that she jumped, back pressing against the door. Her mouth felt funny, and her brain couldn't understand the question.
"Eat, girl. When did you last eat?" He was not looking at her; instead picking up the few things scattered around his room, mostly papers. She rubbed her arms and watched him. He had very dark hair, nearly black, but the light shone reddish-brown at parts, that was pulled back, captured, at the base of his neck. He probably hated that hair, with its unruly curls she could see despite his attempt to train them. If he hadn't wanted his hair to be so chaotic, he should've kept it short. Having it nearly to the middle of his back wasn't helpful. Without his black coat, he was more easily defined. His back was strong and broad, his shoulders tough and she could see that he must work religiously to get that strong. But his face remained a mystery, and she hoped that the voice from the street might return, that soft voice that made her think of quiet meadows and poetry.
"A week ago. But I'm not hungry m'sieur. I only want-"
"Nonsense. If you haven't eaten in a week, you are surely hungry." Now, he was gone from her sight, perhaps near the stove because he returned with a steaming bowl and spoon. Her stomach leapt at the thought of food, but her heart knew she needed to get her franc to buy bread. Something must go to Papa...
The bowl was in front of her on the table and hands were now on her shoulders, surprisingly warm hands against her very cold skin, pushing her down onto the chair and scooting her in. Her hands trembled from the restraint to not eat.
"If you do not eat, I will turn you into the Inspector. I know him personally." Fear welled up through her chest. The Inspector hated whores, he hated most everyone and if word got out... she'd go to prison for at least a year and Papa would die. Giving in, she picked up the spoon and nearly had it in her mouth.
"But this is part of my... job. You're paying me to do this as well as the other things." His head bobbed and her ravenous stomach could stay the spoon no longer. Seconds too soon the bowl was empty and the warmth had spread throughout her body like a mother's love. He gave her no more, and she knew that if she tried to eat anything else, her stomach would heave. You couldn't try to ingest too much if you weren't used to it.
Moments passed, the wind chilling her skin even more through the thin underclothes. He was sitting at the other end of the tiny table, face in hands and strands of his hair curling around his face. She felt like a spy on his private moment, as if she shouldn't be there watching him. Slowly, nearly afraid that she'd startle him into attacking her, she crept closer and laid her hands over his, pulling them down and into her lap.
His face was not what she had expected. It was much older, at least ten, probably twenty, years more than her measly nineteen with strong features that looked strange with his wide generous lips, but at home with the sharp conclaves of his cheekbones. Lines framed his eyes and mouth yet they looked fitting, as if he had never been without them even as a child. His eyes were wide and full of the dark grey that was his eye color, a harsh cold shade that reflected the winter so perfectly that it was rather frightening how frigid his eyes seemed while he had been nothing but warm to her. So strange. Their purpose was to detach him, of course, for whatever job he had, those eyes were there to make him forget what he had to do.
Those cold eyes looked up and locked onto hers. It was unnerving, being underneath that intense stare. "What is your name?"
Her true name seemed to tumble off her lips but she restrained, heeding the one good piece of advice from those women on the streets. "Lark." She didn't know if she could, should really, what with the situation but- "And yours?"
"Phillipe," he said softly, implementing that voice she remembered and not the one that was so fear invoking. A giddiness spread through her body, as if she had been let in on some deep secret that no one knew about. He had been earnest, she could tell, and she had nearly been for Lark had been the name that people affectionately referred to her as.
She pulled his hands, leading him to the frumpy mattress that was his bed. It would be better if they stopped getting so personal, if she could just do this and pretend that it had never happened. He willingly followed and that felt strange, as if he shouldn't be so easily bending to the will of a much shorter, much more petite little girl. She pushed him onto the mattress, watching him catch himself so easily, leaning against the wall with a practiced air that she knew he was too controlled, too exact in his movements, and it occurred to her that this little escapade might be as new to him as it was to her. The buttons of his uniform were vaguely familiar as she opened them, unveiling the white underclothes that he wore too, so common when it was winter, and he was lax, compliant, as she undid his trousers as well. It was odd, sitting there in undergarments with a man who could be her father, waiting for the cue that it was alright to continue, that this would really happen and she would just give up something that she'd been taught was so sacred. It was silly, really, silly and stupid. He was watching her with those cool grey eyes, no hunger looming in them like men should have.
It would all be so much easier if he were an animal.
Nervousness prevented her fingers from easily untying her corset or daring to reveal any more skin than the little bit of neck she had exposed on either of their persons. "I feel as though you are hiding something. This... isn't really you, is it?"
"No, but will you say this is who you are?" How could someone she barely met know her? It was chilling, his perception and she knew that hers of him was as equally accurate. Tonight, they were neither of who they really were. Maybe if this were some different lifetime, some past or future that would happen again, perhaps then they could be honest. Perhaps then they could face the truth that this felt eerily right.
"Then let us do this, each with our masks in place." He knew her, staring up into her innocent green eyes, he knew what she was and who she was and that was so strange for him.
"I am a poet, dear Lark." Finally, her fingers felt free to move and she untied the ribbons lacing up her back, throwing the corset somewhere off in the room. She removed his shirt, watching him limply allow his arms to move as she revealed a chest that was as muscled as his back, spattered with hair blacker than the light in his hair, than the shift in his eyes. Her hands tore out whatever was keeping his hair confined; liking it much better mussed in his face. That wasn't who he was, and tonight, neither were themselves.
"Then I shall be a singer with a voice too beautiful." He helped this time, lifting up her own thick linen undershirt. Her breasts were loose, as women's were, and although the first time any one other than she had seen them, it was not awkward. He merely cupped her breasts, as if testing weights, looking thoughtful but not ravishing, not sickening. Her breath quickened. "What do you like, poet?"
"I grow tired of being in control," he whispered, and it defied the rules of their game because he was being too honest. His voice rang weary, and she knew that he wished only for someone to relieve him of his burden. And so the veracity of her next words were meant for him, as payment.
"As I do of being controlled. Shall we switch then?" She pulled down her linen pants, feeling the coolness of the room greet her nakedness. Naked was one's purest form, and she couldn't recall the last time she was naked that hadn't been to bathe. For all the strength in his body, he was malleable in her hands, leaning flat on the bed as she straddled his thighs. Her hands were nearly divesting him of his last piece of clothing.
"You shouldn't-" but he couldn't continue, dark grey eyes had never stopped watching hers, had never let emotion leak into that controlled environment.
"Let us just play pretend, poet. Let us forget the life outside." He said nothing, but made no move to stop her as she stripped him clean. The moment was now. Both lacked any sort of clothing and all their time wasting had led up to this.
She settled onto him. This time, there would be no fighting the tears that ran down her face, no fighting the small gasps of breath that weren't entirely from her motions. He wasn't still, but looked bewildered. Each time she moved sharply, another wall in those hard grey eyes seemed to fall, crumbled beneath her naïve body like she was the driving instrument. And yet neither could blink. As they watched each other fall, each other become more the person that was tucked so far away in that dark corner that no one had bothered to look for, they couldn't look away. Their eyes locked, a shattering of all those hardships and oppressions that made each struggle to turn away. This was only business, and yet neither could deny that something more was happening. She arched silently, head rising, mouth opening, something coming out, but her eyes did not blink and he followed her shortly, face contorting but never letting her go, never letting them break off from each other.
She was the one to do it, since he was stuck too much in his ways to let anyone win a fight, and her face pressed against his heaving chest. Her hands snuck forward and curled around his neck as his pressed into her hair, cradling the back of her head. For once, the coldness had been driven away. He held her to him as if she was a fragile thing, and for once, she did not mind.
"I'll tell no one what I saw," she said quietly, listening to the slowing beat of his heart. It was lulling and she would sleep soon.
"And what did you see?" His voice was equally placid, gone soft as he stroked her long brown hair.
"The deepest part of you."
He did not say anything for the longest time. "Then I shall tell no one either."
Morning fluttered into her face, and she sleepily opened her eyes. He was not in bed, but there were voices. She closed her eyes and opened her ears as wide as she could, trying to hear the conversation he was having with a man at the door.
"Yea m'sieur, don't be 'specting no troubles from us, no m'sieur. We be quiet 'bout last night."
"Twenty francs, say not a word, do you hear me?"
Horror leapt into her throat. The Inspector? But the Inspector was an evil cruel man that liked to hurt people and make them suffer. That couldn't have been the man last night. It couldn't have been.
Minutes later, she feigned waking, sitting up in the small bed and watching him move about in his black uniform. He was oblivious for a while, letting her see that perhaps all those rumors were not true. He certainly didn't look like some evil cruel man and the way he moved, as if he were so tired of what he was doing, and collecting all those debt papers, it had to be his job. Last night he had claimed to be a poet; is that who he really was somewhere? Just as she was singer, and they all had denied so much of themselves. Finally, he noticed her awake and froze, as if caught without any clothes on. But the hardness did not flood back into his eyes, and he came forward, kneeling next to her.
"This is a ten-franc note. Never do this again. If you need money, leave a note at the police station with your name." He was firm and she nodded, dearly wishing that they didn't have to have real names and go back to the world filled of pretends. He straightened his hat on his head and opened the door.
She gave a small nod as she left, voice less than a whisper. "Adieu, Inspector Javert."
"Adieu, Mademoiselle Cosette."