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I do not own Les Miserables, or any of its characters, if I did ... everyone would be less miserable.
Chapter Three: All of My Favorite Things
A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting
Her laptop had broken a week before. She was trying to save the money to buy a new one, but even with working extra shifts it was difficult. She was trying to support her sister and in doing so gave most of her spare money to the younger Thénardier girl. He had offered to buy her a new one, and he knew that he wasn't the only one who had done so, but she had refused every offer.
She loved her friends for their kindness, but she would not take their charity.
And so, she checked her school emails on her phone. And she hand wrote every assignment on notebook paper, and late in the evenings after work she would borrow Cosette's laptop, or one of the boys' and she would copy out her handwritten assignments. Staying up much later than she should have in order to finish everything.
He could tell that it was getting to her. He could see it in the heaviness in her dark eyes, in the bags under her eyes that she tried to hide with makeup. As the week progressed her smiles came slower, as if she couldn't find the energy to delight in anything unless it was truly spectacular.
But she tried so hard to hide it. And sometimes it worked. He knew that Marius bought it, the boy had never really seen Éponine, so of course he didn't notice that something had changed. The other boys could see it, though no one knew exactly what to do to make it better. Even Enjolras, who had never met a problem that he couldn't fix, didn't know what to do to help the girl.
"How are you?" he asked, dropping down onto his couch next to her when he got home from class that evening. She had used the emergency key he had never gotten around to taking from her to let herself into his apartment and borrow his laptop. He had left it there on purpose for her.
She groaned, dropping her head back onto the couch behind her before letting it roll slightly to the side so that her head was resting against his shoulder. He waited, smiling at how comfortable she was with him while he waited for an actual answer. After almost a minute he chuckled and shook his head, his chin bumping against the top of her head. "That bad?" he asked, laughter coloring his tone.
"I'm just so tired," Éponine whispered, turning closer to him so that she could bury her head in his shoulder. "I typed the same sentence like five times without realizing it. And then when I looked back at it I realized that the sentence didn't even make any sense." She lifted her head off of his shoulder to squint up at him, "Have you ever been so tired that you can't make sense to even yourself?"
Enjolras laughed and shook his head, dropping his hand on the top of her head so that he could gently push it back onto his shoulder. "Can't say that I have," he admitted to her. "Though, I also have never worked as hard as you have in the last week."
Éponine shook her head, laughing, "Please," she argued sarcastically. "You are one of the hardest working people I have ever met, Enj." Her head was still on his shoulder, when he took a deep breath he could he could smell her shampoo, or maybe it was her perfume, he couldn't be sure. Something floral, without being sickening.
He tried not to breathe too deeply.
It made it difficult to concentrate.
"In school perhaps," he agreed with her with a nod. "But I've never had a job in my entire life."
He could hear the reluctant smile on her lips when she interrupted him, "Spoiled brat," she joked.
"I am," he agreed with a laugh of his own. "I don't know how you do it. The job and school and taking care of your siblings. When do you sleep? When do you have fun?"
"I sleep whenever I can," she told him honestly as she started to sit up again, straightening so that her head was no longer resting against his shoulder. "And fun needs to be scheduled two and a half weeks in advance."
The sarcasm was a good sign, it had been so long since he had heard her particular brand of sarcasm. She was pulling the laptop off his living room table so that she could start typing again. "No," he told her, shaking his head as he reached out to grab the laptop. "You just admitted that you had typed the same sentence five times, it's time to take a break, scheduled or not."
She shook her head, still reaching for the laptop. "I don't have time," she argued.
"Then make it," he countered. She thought that she was stubborn, but she was about to see that he was worse. She was tired, she had been tired for going on a week now, and she wouldn't rest until all of her work was done. But she needed to. And if she wouldn't do it, then he would make her.
"It's due on Monday," she told him, already half-hearted. She didn't want to admit that he was right. "And I haven't really even started on typing it."
"And you will have tomorrow and Sunday to type it up," he argued. "But I'm calling the shots tonight and I say that it's time that you take a break. What do you want to do?" He could see it in her dark eyes, the resignation, she wasn't going to fight him any longer. But as he waited for her answer about what she wanted to do he realized that she was too tired to think of anything. "Maybe dinner?" he asked her, giving her a gentle suggestion. "I'll make it. And then we could -" he cut himself off, glancing around the apartment for something that they could do. His eyes landed on the television, "Watch a movie?"
"You cook?" Éponine asked, her eyebrows raised, she didn't believe it.
Enjolras chuckled, "I can pour cereal into a bowl," he admitted. "And once or twice I've boiled noodles. Do either of those sound good to you?"
She laughed, "That's all you can do?" she asked, disbelieving. When she turned to look at him her eyes were sparkling. "You're going to offer to make a girl dinner and the only thing you can do is pour cereal into a bowl and boil noodles?" She shook her head, suddenly filled with renewed energy, "And you think I need help," she whispered as she pushed herself up from the couch. She turned to him, holding out her hand expectantly, "Come on, Monsieur Enjolras," she commanded him.
"Where are we going?" he asked, slipping his hand into hers without any hesitation.
"I'm going to teach you how to cook something," she told him as she pulled him toward the front door. She dropped his hand briefly to grab her coat off of the row of hooks by the door and then once they were both wearing their coats she grabbed his hand again.
"Why?" he asked, bewildered, this was not what he had meant when he had told her to take a break.
"Because," she told him as they left the apartment. "One day you're going to meet a girl that you want to impress. And you're going to want to cook her dinner. And, since I'm your friend, I don't want it to be a complete disaster."
"So you're going to teach me to cook so that I can get laid?" Enjolras asked her, his brows furrowed. He didn't like the term, but it was the closest he could get to what he thought she meant.
Éponine rolled her eyes, "No, Grantaire," she told him sarcastically. "I'm going to teach you to cook so that you can impress a girl. What you do with her after that is all on you, my friend."
She taught him how to make some Moroccan dish. Couscous and chick peas and chicken. It was delicious and interesting and way more impressive than his cereal pouring skills and boiled noodles. It smelled delicious, the scent of it filling his apartment before it was finished cooking.
And she missed out on eating it.
While they were waiting for it to finish cooking she had moved to the couch in his living room. And when the kitchen timer went off he turned to her to see if she had any last minute instructions to find her fast asleep, her head thrown back against the back of the couch.
She would have wanted him to wake her up. But he wouldn't. She needed sleep more than she needed this couscous, more than she needed to stress about typing up her assignment. She needed sleep more than anything.
He quietly made a plate for himself before he put away the leftovers for later and then he moved to the couch to sit next to her, eating silently while watching the news with one eye, her with the other.
Once he had finished eating he got off the couch long enough to wash the dishes before he moved back to sit beside her. For a split second he thought about napping with her, but then his gaze landed on her notebook that was still sitting on his living room table.
She needed to sleep. But when she woke the next morning he knew that she would be unhappy about all the time wasted that she could have been using to type up her assignments.
He settled a little deeper into the couch as he sat his laptop in his lap and balanced her notebook on the arm of his couch. Ready to type everything up for her.
He had only seen her hand writing once before. On a tiny slip of paper that he had tacked on his desk in his bedroom. A single word from a party game at Marius and Courf's apartment. Superman. It had been written neatly, as if she had taken special effort in making sure that it was legible.
This, in her notebook was nothing like that.
It was messy. It was chaotic. Hasty, and at times almost impossible to decipher.
And it was so familiar. So much like Éponine that it made his chest tighten. It drove him insane, but for her, he would stay up all night, working to make sense of her unreadable scrawl.
For her he would do almost anything.
His shoulders were tense when four hours later he saved her final paper and shut the lid on his laptop. He couldn't remember the last time his own course work had stressed him out as much as typing up Éponine's assignment had.
He didn't change anything, at least he didn't think he did, but he couldn't be certain, he had made the best out of her chicken scratch, often guessing at the words he couldn't read.
There was a weight on his right shoulder, heavier than his left. He hadn't realized until now that at some point during the night Éponine had shifted in her sleep, leaning against him, her head on his shoulder.
He turned toward her now, his chin resting against her forehead, his nose buried in her hair, and took a deep breath in. His shoulders relaxed as he breathed out. He breathed in again, trying to place the smell in her hair.
It was the same smell as earlier. Floral and sweet without being sickening. Soft.
Just like Éponine.
Lilac. That was the smell. Soft and sweet and full of hope. A flower that only bloomed after the harshest of winters. His mother always planted them in the garden back home. She liked to be reminded that often, out of heartache, came beauty.
Enjolras had never realized how true that was until he had met this woman.
She did not only smell of lilacs.
She was one.
There's nothing like the smell of crisp linens right off the line.
She woke up the next morning to sunlight on her face. For a moment she turned away from it, content to stay warm in her bed for another few minutes, but something stopped her.
The sunlight was coming from the wrong direction. The bed was too big. Cosette wasn't singing in the kitchen.
She tensed for a moment, she wasn't in her apartment at all.
She took a deep breath in and the smell of Enjolras filled her nostrils - warm and leathery. She was at his apartment. She remembered now, letting herself in the afternoon before to type up her papers on her laptop, but he had come home and forced her to take a break. They had cooked dinner together.
But she couldn't remember eating it. And she couldn't remember finishing her work. And she definitely did not remember climbing into his bed that night to fall asleep.
She opened her eyes, quickly looking around the room. But she was alone. There was no sign that Enjolras had been in there with her. She groaned as she climbed out of bed. Not only had she stolen his laptop for the night, but she had also stolen his bed. And she hadn't even finished her work so it had all been for nothing.
She would have to apologize to him, and then hope that he didn't need his computer for the day so that she could finish her homework.
When she walked out into the living room she felt even worse. He was laying on the couch, reading one of his law books. It was clear that he had slept on the couch the night before, too much of a gentleman to kick her out of his bed. He glanced up at the sound of the bedroom door opening and smiled at her, "Good morning," he told her, his blue eyes sparkling behind his glasses. "Are you feeling any better?" She didn't want to admit it, but she was. He had been right the night before when he told her that she needed to sleep.
He smiled as he sat up and moved toward the kitchen to pour her some coffee. "I knew you would," he told her as he walked back into the room. "Everything is always better after a good night's sleep."
Éponine smiled gratefully as she took the coffee mug from his hand and took a sip. "Except that I know have to type up all of my assignments today before I work tonight. I won't have time tomorrow because I work the whole day."
His eyes were still sparkling warmly as he watched her, "I think you'll find that you don't have as much to do as you think," he told her cryptically as he closed his law book and put it back on the table.
Éponine rolled her eyes as she moved to sit beside him on the couch and pulled his laptop onto her lap. "Unless elves broke into your apartment last night and typed up all of my assignments for me -" she started, her voice dropping off as the screen lit up in front of her. On the desk top were six saved word documents, each titled E and then a subject.
The assignments she was supposed to type up the night before. She didn't need to click on a single one of them to know that they were finished. She also knew for a fact that she hadn't typed a single one of them.
His hand was resting on the couch, in the space between the two of them. She dropped her hand from the keyboard and let it land on top of his. "Gabriel," she breathed, turning to look from the screen to the man sitting beside her. She shook her head slightly, "You didn't need to do this."
Enjolras shrugged his shoulders, his gaze didn't quite meet her eyes, the only sign that he was uncomfortable with the attention she was giving him. "It wasn't a big deal," he told her. "You wrote the papers, all I did was type them for you."
"But you typed all of them," Éponine argued, shaking her head. She didn't like that he was attempting to brush this off. She was trying to thank him.
He shrugged again and pulled his hand out from under hers. "It would have been a little easier, had your handwriting not been such a mess," he told her, his lips turning up at the corners. "Who taught you to write?" he teased. "A chimpanzee?"
She laughed and leaned closer to him, she would allow him to laugh at her. But she wanted to make sure that he understood how much this simple gesture meant to her. She pressed her lips against his cheek, "Thank you, Enj," she whispered as she pulled away. "For this. And so much more."
He smiled at her for a moment, before he nodded. "Well, what do you want to do with your day off?" he asked her.
She grinned at him and leaned back into the couch, "I don't know," she answered honestly. "I hadn't much planned on having a day off. Cosette is busy with her mother today. I warned all the boys to stay away from me." She shrugged her shoulders, "I guess I'll have to hang out with you. What were your plans for the day?"
"I planned on using the day to do my laundry," Enjolras told her, his tone apologetic. He didn't need to apologize. And besides, she owed him.
Éponine gasped, mocking him. "The great, spoiled Gabriel Enjolras does his own laundry?" she teased. "I don't believe it for a second. Do you even know what a washing machine is?"
"Of course I know what a washing machine is," Enjolras defended himself. "I know what a dryer is too. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, clothespins, a hamper." He was grinning as he rattled off laundry terms.
Éponine giggled and shook her head, "Enjolras," she announced, still teasing as she stood from the couch, gesturing toward him, "True man of the people." She was quiet for a moment, her laughter softening into a smile. "Well, go get your hamper, Monsieur Enjolras," she told him. "I think we can get a couple loads of laundry in before I have to go to work."
Enjolras shook his head, "I didn't mean that you needed to help me with my laundry," he told her, "you must have other things that you need to do today."
Éponine shook her head, "Actually, I don't," she told him. "You saw to that. And I quite like doing laundry. Let's go."
"You're folding those wrong," Enjolras told her.
She glanced over at him, an eyebrow arched. He was horrible at letting her help him with his laundry. He hadn't let her fold his boxers (she could admit that that was understandable). The next thing he had taken from her were his dress pants, then his jeans, and now it seemed like he was going to try to take his t-shirts away from her.
"Alright, Mr. Perfectionist," she told him, rolling her eyes. "Please show me how to fold your undershirts properly." She dug through the laundry basket on the floor and grabbed another white undershirt and threw it at him. "Are you worried about wrinkles?"
He knew she was making fun of him, but it didn't matter. He shot her a look before he grabbed the undershirt and laid it out on the table in front of them. "First you fold the shirt in half, make sure to line up the sleeves. Then tuck the sleeves in toward the middle and fold the shirt up, collar to the bottom of the shirt."
"That's what I do!" Éponine argued, laying her own shirt flat on the table to show him. She folded the shirt in half, making sure to line up the sleeve and then she folded the sleeves in toward the middle. He stopped her when she began to fold the shirt in half.
"No!" he caught her, reaching out to grab her hand. "That's it! You fold it wrong. Right there. You fold it bottom of the shirt to the collar. They need to be folded collar to the bottom of the shirt."
"Are you kidding me?" Éponine asked, turning to look at him with a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "I'm folding it wrong because I fold the bottom down to the collar instead of the collar up to the bottom?"
If Enjolras picked up on her confusion and disbelief he didn't say anything. He leaned over her, smoothing the shirt out before he folded the collar of the shirt up toward the bottom. "That's just the way I like to fold them," he told her. "And I like them all folded the same."
He put both t-shirts in the laundry basket beside him that they were putting all the folded clothes in. For a moment they were both silent. "Go ahead," he told her, digging through the laundry basket for a pair of pants to fold. He lined up the seams of his jeans. "Make fun of me."
"I wouldn't dare," Éponine told him, her smile widening.
Enjolras rolled his eyes and shook his head, "You would," he told her.
She smiled, "No," she argued. "Not now that I know that you have your own washer and dryer inside your apartment. I will fold every piece of your clothing to your exact, strange specifications if you let me come over once a week and wash even one load of laundry here."
Enjolras chuckled and grabbed a shirt from the hamper, throwing it at her, "Well," he said slowly. "Someone's got to show you how to fold things properly."
The shirt had landed on her face. She could smell it when she took a breath in before she put it on the table to fold. It was the same smell she had noticed when she woke up that morning - fresh and clean, and something distinctly Enjolras that instantly made her feel comfortable.
They should bottle this smell, she decided as she folded the shirt the way Enjolras had shown her.
It was magic.
She's a strong cup of black coffee in a world that is drunk on the cheap wine of shallow love.
His favorite days are when she works during the day. When the Musain is a coffee shop instead of a bar. She's more relaxed during the day, more real.
And he doesn't have to worry about some drunk, usually Grantaire, taking things too far.
He likes to know that she will make it home to the apartment she shares with Cosette at a decent hour. He likes to imagine that she'll get to bed before midnight.
He likes the way she smells after her day shifts.
She smells like coffee.
It clings to her clothes. It sits in her hair. When he falls asleep on his couch and she wakes him up in the early evening by brushing a stray hair out of his face he can smell the coffee on her fingertips.
It's comforting. Smooth and rich. Warm. The smell of the roasted beans able to bridge the gap between his childhood and his present day in a way that nothing else could.
When he was a young boy, he had always woken up early so that he could rush down stairs to the kitchen to spend a few minutes with his father before the elder man rushed off to work. They would sit side-by-side at the kitchen island, waiting for his father's coffee to brew while they spoke in quiet whispers about Enjolras' school work.
It was a smell that he had always associated with his father. One that he no doubt always would.
Until he met Éponine, that is.
Now, every time he smells coffee, all he can think of are her dark brown eyes. The soft, wild mess of hair that she piled on top of her hair. The large mugs of black coffee that she brings to him with a wink every time he enters the cafe.
He drinks more coffee now then he did before.
And it is entirely her fault.
"You're going to get heartburn, you know," Éponine told him one morning when she approached his couch with two large mugs of black coffee. Enjolras glanced up from his law book, eyebrows lifting when he caught sight of the mugs; one was his usual Superman mug, the other was a new one - one he had never seen before. It was a white mug with a circle of painted flowers around the words eat a bag of dicks.
Enjolras choked on a sip of coffee as he glanced between the rude mug and Éponine. "I won't," he assured her. "As long as you refrain from bringing me two mugs of coffee at a time." He turned back to his book, "If you set it in front of me, I'm going to drink it, whether the mug is telling me to eat a bag of dicks or not."
Éponine snorted, "The second mug's not for you," she told him.
He glanced up at her again, his brows furrowed, "It's too early for your break," he muttered, glancing at the clock behind the counter.
"I didn't say it was for me either," she answered in a sing-song voice. There was something in her tone that had his gaze shifting quickly back to her face - she was nervous. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she wasn't meeting his gaze as she turned slightly, glancing over her shoulder toward the door.
She sighed when he didn't immediately follow her gaze and she glanced toward the door again, this time jerking her chin toward it in an exaggerated movement that had him glancing over her shoulder as well.
His jaw clenched when he saw him standing by the door. "He didn't say anything to you, did he?" he asked, his hands beginning to shake as he shut his book, anything to keep from imagining punching the man standing near the entrance of the shop.
She bit her lip, the first sign that she was going to lie to him.
"Ép," he interrupted before she could start, his voice sharp. "What did he say? Did he hurt you? Insult you? I need to know."
"No, Gabriel," she told him emphatically, shaking her head. "He wasn't rude. He didn't insult me or hurt me. He was quite polite, actually." Enjolras scoffed at that, his eyes narrowing into a glare as he continued to watch the man over her shoulder.
"He doesn't know the meaning of polite, Ép."
She sighed, dropping her arms as she moved around the table to sit next to him on the couch. "He just wants to talk, Enj," she told him softly as she reached out to lay her hand on top of his. Enjolras shook his head, he never just wanted to talk. "And I think you should let him," she added, giving his hand a gentle squeeze.
Enjolras turned, finally glancing back at Éponine instead of the older man standing sheepishly by the front door. Her dark eyes were warm and soft, comforting. He took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of coffee that always seemed to cling to her hair. "Why?" he finally asked her.
"Because he's your father," she told him with a shrug.
Enjolras shook his head, "No," he told her, she was answering the wrong why. "Why do you want me to talk to him?"
She watched him for a long moment before her gaze shifted to the man at the door, "Because he's your father," she told him again. She sat for a moment longer before she patted his hand and stood up from her seat, moving away from him back toward the counter.
"Look," she told him, turning around after a few steps. "Talk to him or don't, that's up to you. But that's his coffee. He paid for it. So he's probably going to sit near your couch to drink it. "
She turned again before he could say anything else and nodded toward his father before she went back to the bar. Enjolras kept his gaze on her, refusing to watch his father as he made his way across the cafe toward him. He didn't look at him as he reached out for his mug, pausing for a moment to read the inscription on it, and scoffing
a bit before he took a sip. "She's spirited," his father told him, the first words he had spoken to Enjolras since kicking him out of the house at his parent's party. He moved around the table to sit down next to Enjolras. "Your Éponine."
Enjolras felt his lips pull up at the corners as he continued to watch Éponine. She was watching them just as closely, trying not to get caught as she continued to take customers' orders and work behind the counters. "She's not mine," he told his father, his jaw clenching for a moment around the words. "But you are right about one thing - she has spirit."
His father was quiet for a moment, Enjolras could feel his gaze, heavy on the side of his face as he watched him. "I suppose that she chooses everyone's mug on purpose?" he asked.
Enjolras smirked as he finally turned away from the girl at the counter, his gaze landing on the mug in his father's hand. "She does," he agreed, his gaze tracking the mug as his father lifted it to his lips to take another sip. "I've never seen that one before, though," he told his father. "I guess she was waiting for a special kind of asshole."
His father nodded, leaning forward slightly to put the mug on the table next to Enjolras' mug. "I deserve that," he told his son. He nodded toward the mug, his lips tugging up at the corners, "And I suppose I deserve that as well."
Enjolras shook his head, you deserve a hell of a lot more than that. The words were on the tip of his tongue, begging for freedom. But something stopped him. He remembered back at his apartment, after the party when Éponine had told him that his father had yelled at him because he cared, when she told him that while she was growing up she would have killed for her parents to yell at her like that. "What do you want, Dad?" he asked, his brows furrowed as he lifted his gaze to his father's face. "I know you didn't come all the way here for a cup of coffee and an insulting mug."
His father nodded, "You're right," he told him. "I came here for you."
"You could have called."
"Would you have answered?"
Enjolras smirked, "Probably not."
His father sighed, "I have already apologized to your Éponine for my behavior at the party," he told Enjolras. He held his hand up when Enjolras opened his mouth, about to protest his father's use of the word your again. "She was very gracious and kind - much kinder than my behavior that night warranted."
Enjolras nodded, his brows furrowing, "She's very forgiving," he told his father, unbidden his mind drifted to Marius. "Too kind for her own good, really."
He missed the way his father smiled, the older man's gaze drifting between Enjolras and Éponine. "And now, as she pointed out at the counter, I owe you an apology."
Enjolras' gaze quickly darted up to his father's face. "What exactly do you intend to apologize for?" he asked his father. He knew that he would forgive his father, he had already let go of the anger, but he wasn't going to make it easy for the man. "For throwing a fit when I told you that I was considering a different type of law than you had planned for me? For insulting my - for insulting a girl who has done nothing but support me since the day we met? For kicking me out of your house?" He shook his head, "There were so many high points for you that night."
His father's lips pressed together in a tight line, "I deserve that," he told Enjolras, his voice soft. "And I owe you an apology for all of it." He sighed, "Gabriel, your mother and I want nothing for you but to know that you are healthy, happy, and provided for." He shook his head, a bitter laugh escaping his lips. "I could give a damn about what type of law you want to practice."
His father sighed and nodded, "I forgot that that night," he told him. "And I am sorry for that as well."
"Éponine said that was why you yelled," Enjolras told his father, making a point that Éponine was more intelligent than his father had given the girl credit for.
"She's very perceptive," he father agreed with a nod. He was quiet for a moment, watching his son. "We are so proud of you Gabriel," he told him. "Your mother and I. And nothing you do could ever change that. You could drop out of the law program today and we would still be proud of you. Still wish nothing for you but your happiness."
Enjolras chuckled, low and dark, "But please don't drop out?" he asked, guessing at the words waiting on the tip of his father's tongue.
His father chuckled, it was warmer than Enjolras had heard in a long time. "Only because the world would be missing out on a hell of a human rights lawyer if you did."
Enjolras watched him for a moment, unsure of whether he could buy his father's change of attitude - or how long it might last. "You're not dying are you?" he asked him, watching his father carefully.
His father laughed and shook his head, "No," he assured his son. "I'm not dying."
"And mom is alright?" he asked.
"Your mother is fine," his father assured him. "She would love to see you. You should come by the house this weekend - stay for a couple days. Your mother would be delighted. And we could talk. You could tell me about school, study, we could talk about who you're going to do your internship with -"
"Dad -" Enjolras interrupted, shaking his head. He had given up on his anger, he was prepared to forgive his father. But he wasn't sure if he was ready to go home again just yet, to spend an entire weekend with his parents. It was too much, too soon.
"Think about it," his father urged him. "Bring Éponine. We would love to get to know her more too."
This time when Enjolras shook his head he did it with a laugh, "You've got the wrong idea, Dad, Ép's not my -"
"She's important to you," his father interrupted him. "Even I can see that. She cares about you, you care about her, I think she knows my own son better than I do, and I think her opinion matters to you more than my own does." He shook his head, "I might be old son, but I'm not that old. It wasn't so long ago that your mother and I were very much like you and your Éponine."
Unless his mother had been hopelessly in love with one of his father's friends Enjolras doubted that.
"Whether she's your girlfriend, or not, we would love to know her," his father told him. He watched him for a moment, realizing that he wasn't going to get an answer from Enjolras now, one way or another. And he knew better than to press. "Think about it, son," he told him. "That's all I can ask."
Enjolras nodded. "I will," he told his dad. The older man paused for a moment before he nodded as well and stood up from the couch. "Thank you," Enjolras said softly, stopping his father for a brief moment. "For the apologies."
"They were a long time coming," his father assured him. He stood quietly for a moment, looking down at his son. "Is there anything you would like to apologize for?" His voice was warm, and lighter than Enjolras had heard in a long time. It was almost as if he was joking.
"No," Enjolras told him with a smirk, "you deserved that punch."
His father nodded, "Take care of yourself, Gabriel," he ordered his son as he moved away from the couch.
Enjolras waited, watching as his father moved across the cafe, pausing for a moment to catch Éponine's gaze at the counter and smiling warmly at her before he headed toward the door. "Dad!" Enjolras called out as his father reached for the door. His father turned, eyebrows lifted, waiting for whatever Enjolras had to say. "When does Mom do dinner on Friday nights?"
His father smiled, "Seven."
"Seven," Enjolras agreed with a nod. He hadn't committed to anything, though deep down he knew that he would be visiting his parents that weekend.
"How are you?" Éponine asked tentatively a few hours later as she dropped a mug of coffee into his hand.
Enjolras smiled up at her, she was worried that he would be angry at her, he could tell by the worry in her eyes and the way she bit her lip. For a moment he thought about playing with her, teasing her. But instead he smiled, "I'm good," he told her.
She smiled, breathing out a sigh of relief. "That's good," she told him softly.
He nodded, "It is," he agreed. He glanced over her shoulder toward the counter, "I need you to do something for me though," he told her.
"Anything," she promised.
He smirked, she was going to regret that. "I need you to ask people to cover your shifts this weekend," he told her.
Her brows furrowed, "Why?"
"I'm going to visit my parents," he told her. "And since you're the one who orchestrated this reunion, I think you owe it to me to come with me."
Sometimes, when she was alone, she would smell old books.
Éponine sighed, her hands dropping to the hem of her dress, tugging on it in an attempt to make it longer. All she managed to do was pull the top down a bit. She frowned, her teeth scraping against her bottom lip as she pulled at the top of the dress, pulling the v-neck back up to its original place. This was the second time she had been at Enjolras' parents' house, and it was the second time that she was uncomfortable there.
It would have been better, easier, if she was wearing one of her own dresses, she decided. But she had let Cosette pack her bags for the weekend, trusting her friend's choice in clothes better than her own. Cosette was from this world after all, she knew better than Éponine what his parents would expect.
But this dress? Éponine was not a fan of this dress. It was yellow, bright and sunny and it looked great against Éponine's skin and hair. The straps were thin, spaghetti straps. The front of the dress was a v-neck and it tied in the back, revealing a thin strip of bare skin in the middle of her back. The hem landed on her thighs, halfway between her knee and the top of her leg.
When Cosette had pulled the dress out of her own closet, Éponine had raised her eyebrows at it, automatically unsure of the dress. But Cosette had promised her that it would be fine, that the dress was the perfect combination of sweet and flirty, classy and playful. "It's perfect," the blonde had promised her enthusiastically. "They'll love it, and you. And Enjolras won't be able to keep his eyes off of you."
She had added the last part with a wink.
"Cosette," Éponine had sighed, shaking her head. "It's not like that between me and Enj."
"It's not like that yet," Cosette promised her, though her tone didn't sound like she believed her to begin with. "But once he sees you in this dress? He's not going to be able to resist you."
"It's not -"
"Like that?" Cosette asked, teasing. "Nina, he's bringing you to meet his parents."
"He's bringing me for moral support," Éponine argued. She didn't even bother to correct Cosette at this point on the nickname. Her kindhearted friend was never going to learn.
"He's bringing you because they want to get to know the girl he spends all of his time with."
"He's bringing me because for some reason I calm him down."
"He's bringing you because you're his rock."
"He's bringing me so that he doesn't punch his dad again."
"He's bringing you so that you guys can spend some time alone."
There was no changing her mind on this either, Éponine realized with a sigh. "Whatever you say, Cosette."
"If he kisses you, you have to call me right away," Cosette told her.
Éponine had laughed, shaking her head, "He's not going to kiss me," she assured her friend. "I promise."
"He's done it before," Cosette told her, teasing her in a sing-song voice. "And I bet he's thought about doing it since."
Now that she was here, at his parents' house, hiding in the library after dinner, Éponine wished her friend hadn't said anything. She was going to be nervous enough all weekend, the last thing she needed was to think about kissing Enjolras.
She squealed, jumping a bit, as his hands landed on her shoulders. He chuckled, warm and deep as his hands slipped over her shoulders and down her arms, rubbing her skin. "Breathe," he whispered from behind her. His hands dropped from her arms and she she immediately missed their warmth, "You looked like you were having a panic attack."
She turned, watching as he walked away from her, further into the library, "Maybe I was," she told him.
He chuckled again, "Why?" he asked.
She skipped a bit so that she was in front of him, then she turned, walking backwards so that she could face him. "Why would I?" she asked him, her eyebrows lifting. "Look where we are, Enj!" She turned, her arms outstretched, gesturing at the books around them as she spun in a circle, stopping only when she was facing him again.
"We're in a library."
She couldn't understand how he didn't understand how difficult this was for her to wrap her head around. They really did come from different worlds. "We're in your library," she corrected him.
"Technically it belongs to my parents -"
"Technically that is something only rich kids say," Éponine teased him. She turned again, looking at the books that surround them. "You don't get it," she told him, shaking her head. "This is amazing." She moved closer to one of the shelves, reaching her hand out so that her fingers could brush against the books as she walked. "When I grew up I used to dream of places like this. I used to take newspapers and fold them in half, stapling them and using tape to bind them together. I built a library for myself in my room, pretending all those newspaper books were real, pretending that I had something like ... this."
She glanced up at Enjolras, watching him under her eyelashes. His forehead was creased, his blue eyes heavy with a sympathy that she didn't want. She turned away from him again, her fingers still running across the books as she walked. She paused for a moment, as her fingers traced over the binding of a particularly old book and with gentle hands she pulled it from the shelf, opening it to the middle so that she could press her face against the pages, inhaling the smell. Vanilla and almonds and something almost fruity that she couldn't name.
"Did you just smell that book?" Enjolras asked her, laughing. "Should I leave you two alone for a moment?"
Éponine smiled sheepishly as she glanced up at him, lifting the book too so that she could smell it again. "Yes," she told him, putting the book back on the shelf. "I love the smell of old books."
Enjolras' eyebrows lifted, disappearing into his hairline for a moment. "You love the smell of decomposing wood?" he asked, his voice a deadpan. He shook his head, "I don't get it."
Éponine watched him for a moment, waiting for him to tell her that he was kidding, the of course he knew what she was talking about, but he never did. "You mean to tell me, Monsieur Law student, that you spend all this time in libraries, studying, and you never smell the books?"
"Why would I?" Enjolras asked, shaking his head slightly. "I read them. I don't need to smell them."
Éponine rolled her eyes, shaking her head as she reached out for his hand, "You have no sense of imagination or romance," she told him as she began to tug him through the library. There was a fireplace at the back, with a fire already lit, as if his parents had known that someone would use the library that evening.
He didn't stop her from pulling him along. And he didn't pull his hand out of hers. "I don't know what not smelling books has to do with imagination or romance."
"Come on," Éponine told him, not answering his question as she tugged him toward the fireplace. She stopped in front of it and turned to face him, placing her hands on his shoulders before she pushed him down until he was sitting on the floor. "Sit here," she ordered. "I'm going to go get some books for you to smell. You'll see."
"I'll see what?" Enjolras asked, chuckling as she started to walk away.
"I can't describe it," she told him. "You'll just have to smell it for yourself."
"Can't I at least sit on the couch?" Enjolras asked, gesturing at the piece of furniture behind him. "Or is part of the romance of smelling books about sitting on the floor in front of a fire?"
Éponine smiled as she moved down the aisles, pulling books out at random, smelling them first to make sure they were good examples, before she added them to the growing stack in her arms. "Now you're beginning to get it!"
"Alright," she told him, dropping down to a seat in front of him with arms full of books five minutes later. "Close your eyes."
Enjolras watched her for a moment, his eyes narrowed in suspicion before he sighed and closed his eyes.
"Thank you for humoring me," Éponine told him, smiling around the words as she opened the first book and lifted it toward his face. Her smile widened as she watched him inhale, smelling the book. She waited a moment, watching him inhale again. "Do you smell it?" she asked, her voice a whisper.
"The rotting wood?" he asked, his eyes still closed as his lips turned up at the corners.
"No," Éponine corrected him as she closed the first book and opened another one, lifting this one up to his nose for him to smell as well. "The life this book has had. The joy its brought to unknowable numbers of people. The love and the heart." She took the book away from him, pausing for a moment to smell it herself before she picked up another book and lifted it to his face. She leaned closer to him, leaning over the book so that she could inhale its scent at the same time he did. "Molasses and wood, vanilla, paper, and -"
"Magic," Enjolras interrupted her.
Her eyes opened and she found him staring at her, his eyes light and warm as they moved, tracing their way over her face. "Magic," he repeated.
She nodded, refusing to drop his gaze, "You get it now," she whispered.
He nodded too, "I get it now," he agreed.
She held his gaze for a moment longer before she couldn't bear it any longer. Then she turned, biting her lip as she felt her cheeks warm with a blush she had not given permission to rise to the surface. She lowered the book, placing it on the floor between them and turning back to her stack. "It's the best smell in the world," she told him as she lifted a third book, this one was new. "A close second is the smell of new books."
Enjolras chuckled, humoring her again as he leaned forward an inhaled above the new book. "And what do new books smell like?" he asked, his warm gaze still locked on her face.
"Hope," she told him without a moment's pause. "Possibility and potential. Old books are friends waiting for you to come visit. New books are adventures, waiting for you to take a risk."
Enjolras' lips turned up at the corners. "And you're a poet."
Éponine shook her head, "No," she told him, glancing around the library, looking for anything to pay attention to instead of his gaze. "I just spend a lot of time in libraries."
Enjolras cocked his head to the side, watching her for a moment, "Your favorite place?" he asked.
She nodded, "I have always imagined that paradise would be a kind of library."
He chuckled, his hand dropping down on top of hers on the floor between them, warming her skin more than the nearby fire had. "We'll you're welcome in this one whenever you want."
The smell of rain and starry nights.
Enjolras watched her as he drove, keeping one eye on the road and the other on the girl in the passenger seat. She was nervous, anxious. Her right hand fell to her lap, playing with the hem of her green dress as her left lifted to her mouth so that she could chew on her thumb nail as she gazed out the window.
He sighed, reaching out to grab her hand and pull it away from her mouth. He could have let go once her hand was in her lap, but he held on. If he let go she would only start chewing her nails again, he told himself. "We don't have to go if you don't want to," he told her, turning his gaze back on the road in front of him.
Éponine scoffed, her dark eyes finally leaving the window so that her gaze could land on his face. "Of course we have to go," she whispered. "We're their friends. He wants us all there to celebrate when she says yes." She turned, gazing out the window again, her jaw clenching. "We can't be the only two who don't show up."
Enjolras felt his brows furrow as he turned to look at her, he wondered if perhaps there was a part of her, despite her love of Cosette, who hoped that the blonde would tell Marius no when he asked her to marry him. His own jaw clenched involuntarily at the thought, he liked to think that Éponine was beginning to get over her feelings for Marius, but on days like this it was harder to fool himself.
"Of course we can," he told her, focusing on the conversation at hand. "I could say that I had to study for the bar." Éponine's head turned toward him, her brows arched as she silently judged him. He chuckled, shaking his head, "It's close to true, actually," he defended himself, still laughing. "It's April. I take the exam in June. We are getting dangerously close to crunch time."
Éponine's lips turned up at the corners, a soft, unwanted smile. "Crunch time?" she asked, mocking him. "Enj, you've been studying like crazy since the night I met you. You could take the Bar tonight and you'd do well. You need to relax."
"I'll do that in July," Enjolras told her with a nod and a smile. Éponine was quiet for a moment and he watched her out of the corner of his eye. "Just consider it, Ép," he told her, his voice soft. "I can turn around right now and we'll be back to my apartment by eight."
"What would my excuse be?" Éponine asked, humoring him. "Yours is that you are studying for your exam. What would my excuse be? He already knows that I'm not working tonight. All of my friends are going to be at this party except for you. What would I do while you study?"
Enjolras shrugged his shoulders, "Watch me?" he asked.
"How riveting," Éponine teased, laughing. For the first time since she had gotten into his car that afternoon her smile actually reached her eyes. Her laughter was not forced or fake. For the first time that day she might have actually been happy. Enjolras would count that as a victory.
"You could be washing your hair?" he asked.
She shrugged, pulling her hand out his grasp so that she could reach up to run her fingers through her dark curls, "It really is a mess," she agreed sarcastically.
Enjolras laughed, nodding as he played along. "I don't know how you could even leave your apartment today," he told her. "With the way you look."
She shrugged her shoulders, "I've got no one I need to impress."
He gasped, "Are you saying that you don't need to impress me, Éponine Thénardier? I'm hurt, appalled really. I thought that you and I had something special."
Éponine smiled at him, opening her mouth to joke in return, but stopped, her eyes widening as the car stuttered, slowing down underneath them even as Enjolras pressed his foot against the accelerator.
"What's happening?" she asked, turning to look at him he reached out to turn on the hazards, using what was left of the car's forward momentum to steer it toward the side of the road so that they wouldn't get rear ended.
"Stay in the car," Enjolras ordered her, quickly glancing over his shoulder to make sure there wasn't a car speeding down the road before he climbed out, moving around toward the hood of his car so that he could look at the engine to determine what was wrong with it.
"I think it's the spark plugs," he heard her murmur a few minutes later. She hadn't listened to him.
"It's not the spark plugs," he told her, leaning over the engine. He turned slightly, watching her, "I told you to stay in the car."
Éponine rolled her eyes, leaning over the engine as well, "Because you know so much about cars?" she asked him. She nodded, "It's the spark plugs."
"Because you know anything about cars?" Enjolras asked, repeating her dig sarcastically.
Éponine's dark eyes narrowed into a glare for a moment as she lifted her gaze to his face. "My father definitely didn't run a chop shop when I was a child," she told him, her voice bitter and sarcastic. "I may have picked up a skill or two." She pushed herself away from the car, "But I'll go sit safely in the car because I'm a girl, right?"
"Ép," Enjolras sighed. "That wasn't what I -" he stopped, that had been exactly what he meant and they both knew it. He couldn't and wouldn't lie to her.
She watched him for a moment, her arms crossed over her chest, eyebrows arched. "I thought so," she murmured before she turned and started to walk down the road, heading in the direction they had been driving.
"Éponine!" Enjolras called after her. "Where the hell are you going?"
"We're five miles out of town!" Éponine yelled over her shoulder, not bothering to slow down or to turn to face him. "There's got to be a tow shop. I'm gonna get someone to come get your car."
"You can't go alone!" Enjolras called after her.
"Because I'm a girl?" she yelled back.
"No," Enjolras told her as he slammed the hood closed. He paused for just a moment to lock the car before he quickly jogged after her. "Because if you're off by yourself then that means I'm by myself."
Éponine snorted, she didn't believe him for a moment. "Just go back to the car, Enj!" she ordered him without even looking over her shoulder. "Fix it, why don't you? Since you know so much about cars."
"Éponine, stop!" Enjolras ordered her, his voice hard and sharp as he finally caught up with her. He reached out for her arm, his hand wrapping completely around her forearm.
She flinched under his touch, but she stopped. "Let go of me," she ordered him as she turned, her gaze locked on his hand.
"Ép -" He cut himself off when something wet landed on his forehead. He glanced up, his eyes narrowing into a glare as his gaze landed on the darkening sky above them. A moment later another drop landed on his shoulder. And then another and another and another.
Éponine squealed, her anger dissipating as the rain increased. Enjolras' hand slid from her forearm to her hand, his fingers interlaced with hers as he pulled her quickly, running back to the car and tugging her along with him. She would still be angry with him when they got to the car, but for now the sound of her laughter and the feel of her hand in his was enough.
It was enough.
"I'm sorry," Éponine whispered a few hours later. They were laying on the roof of his car, their legs hanging down over the windshield, side by side as they looked up at the stars. The storm had been a long one, violent, and at moments terrifying. But as quickly as it had come, it disappeared. The sky had cleared, the rain had stopped, and the stars came out.
Enjolras turned his head to gaze at the brunette beside him. Her hair was still wet, it fell around her face in curls and tangles. Her make up had disappeared - the rain causing it to run so much that she had finally cleaned it off in his car during the storm. Her dress was still wet, but now she was wrapped up in his suit jacket to shield her from the occasional breeze.
She was beautiful.
"What are you sorry about?" he asked her, his voice rougher than he intended.
She didn't turn to look at him, she kept her gaze locked on the stars above them. "I picked a fight with you and you didn't deserve it," she told him. "And I'm sorry."
"You mean that I didn't deserve you yelling at me, storming off, and implying that I'm a sexist asshole?" Enjolras asked, his lips tugging up at the corners as he waited for her answer. "Quelle surprise."
Her lips tugged up in a smile of her own and her gaze finally met his, shifting to the side so that she could smirk at him without turning her head. "I suppose not," she mused, "though it was the spark plugs, you'll see tomorrow when they tow it to a garage."
Enjolras chuckled, "I have no doubt," he teased. It was quiet for a moment before he sighed, "So why did you pick the fight, Ép?" After a full minute of silence he smiled, "Can I guess?"
Her hand lifted off the roof of the car, waving her general approval of his question. Go ahead.
He sighed, "I don't care that he knew you weren't working tonight. I don't care that he wanted all of their friends there for the party. You shouldn't have come tonight. It was too much to ask. And too hard on you." He turned his head, watching her as his brows furrowed, "You spend so much time taking care of him. You need to take care of you, Éponine."
Éponine smiled, laughing a bit as she turned toward him, rolling onto her side so that she could face him fully. "That's why I have you."
He laughed too, reaching out for her and tugging her into his side. She giggled as she rolled closer to him and he wrapped his arms around her. "Then next time I tell you to stay home, do us both a favor," he told her, burying his face in her hair and inhaling. "And listen to me."
He wasn't sure if it was her shampoo, or the wet grass on the side of the road. But everything around them felt so fresh, so clean. It didn't matter that he had lost an entire night of studying, that his car was broken down on the side of the road, that his suit was ruined, that they had spent part of the night fighting - none of it mattered.
This was a night he would never forget.
She loves the smell of coffee, roses, and new beginnings
"Here," Enjolras told her, his voice and hand warm as he pressed a disposable coffee cup into her hand, his fingers lingered for just a moment longer than necessary, brushing against her palm before he pulled away.
Éponine smiled, cursing quietly to herself as she felt a blush begin to burn its way across her cheeks. She turned away from him slightly and lifted the coffee to her lips in an attempt to hide the blush. It was good, a little stronger than she would have made it, perhaps, but good. There was a slight kick, an aftertaste that had her eyebrows lifting in surprise.
"I had them put some cinnamon in it," Enjolras told her, as if he had been watching her face and waiting for a reaction. "I don't like it all the time, but it's a nice change of pace occasionally." He lifted his own cup to his lips and took a sip. "My mother makes it like this."
Éponine nodded as she took another sip, smiling at the cinnamon. He was right, it was a nice change. "How is she?" she asked as they continued to walk down the road. They had finally made it to the small town that had been their destination the night before a little more than twenty minutes ago. When they arrived Enjolras had left her alone for a few minutes to get them coffee. And now they were strolling down the main street on their way to the garage so that he could see about getting his car towed.
"She's good," he told her with a nod and a smile. "I talked to her yesterday. She asked about you."
"About me?" She laughed in surprise and if she was being honest, delight. His mother had no reason to ask about her, but she was pleased that she did. Pleased that she had made such an impression on the woman that she thought about her. Pleased that she meant so much to the son that the mother would care.
Enjolras nodded, "I think she wants you to visit more than she wants me," he told her with a shrug. "They'll be throwing a party for Bastille day, they do it every year, you know."
"I actually don't," Éponine told him with another laugh.
He rolled his eyes playfully, "Well they do. And she's already ordered me to invite you. The whole group will be there, they come every year. But she wanted to make sure that I knew she would be terribly disappointed if you weren't there as well."
"Terribly disappointed?" Éponine asked, picking up on the tone he had used. "Were those her words?"
Enjolras nodded. "Direct quote," he told her, his lips tugging up at the corners. "And you wouldn't want to disappoint an old woman, would you?"
"I'd hardly call your mother old," Éponine argued as she took another sip of her coffee. "But you're right, I wouldn't want to disappoint her." She was silent for a moment, before she nodded, "Tell her I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Enjolras chuckled and nodded as he took a sip of his own coffee. For a moment it was quiet between the two friends as they continued walking down the street toward the garage. And then Enjolras interrupted the silence with a laugh, one filled with surprise and delight that had Éponine's chest tightening in a way she didn't understand.
He reached down, wrapping her hand in his and tugging her off the main street to a smaller one, walking in the opposite direction of the tow shop. "I love Saturdays in small towns," he murmured to her, shaking his head as he pulled her along.
"What?" Éponine asked. She was confused, but didn't fight against him as he pulled her along. To be honest, she didn't much mind the feel of his hand wrapped around her own. "Where are we going?"
"They've got a farmer's market."
Her brows furrowed in confusion as she turned her gaze on the man in front of her. "And you like those?" she asked.
"Of course," she told him. "But I'm me and you're ... you."
"Well, it would be strange if we were both you," he countered with a laugh. He shook his head, "I'm not sure I know what you're getting at, Ép."
She laughed, "Nothing," she told him as she shook her head too. "I just mean that I love farmer's markets. But you, I haven't seen a Saturday since we met where you weren't holed up in your apartment studying and counting the days until your exam. I would have thought that you'd be in a hurry to get home. This would be a waste of time."
Enjolras shook his head, "Fresh air, sunshine, you, the energy and people. It couldn't be a waste of time. Besides, we have an hour to kill before they get here."
"Before who gets here?" Éponine asked. "The tow truck? You never called them."
"I didn't," he agreed with a nod as he pulled her onto the small side street. It had been blocked off to traffic, but there was plenty of people milling about, stopping at various stalls to buy anything from fruits and vegetables to meats, to homemade crafts. "But I did call my car service. They agree with you and they think it's the spark plugs. They'll be out in an hour to replace them."
"What?" Éponine sputtered, her eyebrows lifting as she turned to face the blonde beside her.
"What?" he asked, a shade too innocent.
"Did I hear you correctly?" she asked.
He nodded, "Yes, the believe you were right about the spark plugs."
"Not about that," Éponine told him, shaking her head. "Of course I was right about that. I meant about the car service?"
Enjolras nodded, "My father insisted on it when I first started driving. I can call them from anywhere at anytime. They'll come fix my car, tow it for free if they need to. They'll even arrange a rental if necessary. I've only used it a few times, but it's quite helpful."
"Then why didn't you call them last night?" Éponine asked, trying to understand why, if he could call them at anytime he had waited until this morning to call them. "We could have made it to the restaurant, to Marius' party. We would have been late, but -"
"But then you would have been wet and uncomfortable and pretending to be happy when Cosette showed you her ring. All while your heart was breaking," Enjolras interrupted her, shooting her a pointed look out of the corner of his eye. "I wanted to give you some time - to adjust, to breathe, to mourn if you needed to."
He paused, quiet for a long moment as he watched her, his own brows furrowed, his blue eyes heavy with worry. "Was I wrong?" he asked her quietly.
Yes, the word was on the tip of her tongue, but she didn't say it. She couldn't because he wasn't wrong. They had been on their way to a party where she would have had to watch the man she loved ask her best friend to marry him. There was no doubt in her mind that Cosette would say yes. And while she would be happy for her beautiful friend, Enjolras was right, her heart would have broken at the same time.
She moved closer to him and pulled her hand free from his grasp, only for a moment before she threaded her arm through his, wrapping around it as she dropped her head onto his shoulder. "No," she told him, whisper soft as they began walking again. "Underhanded and sneaky, perhaps, but not wrong."
He nodded, as if he had expected the answer. "This way, when Cosette calls you to tell you the news, you can actually be happy for her. But you didn't have to be there to watch it. And Marius can hardly blame you for the fact that my car broke down. And -"
She cut him off when she stood on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his cheek. It was smooth and warmed by the sun. She let her lips linger for a moment.
"What was that for?" he asked when she pulled away.
"Thank you," she told him sincerely. "For that. For taking care of me when I refuse to take care of myself. For knowing what I needed when all I could see was what he wanted."
Enjolras gave her a slow smile as he leaned closer to her and pressed his own lips against the top of her head, "That's what friends do, Nina," he teased.
Her phone rang, saving her from having to roll her eyes at him as she turned to pull it out of her purse. "Speak of the devil," she murmured as Cosette's name appeared on the screen. She turned her phone slightly so that Enjolras could see who was calling as well.
"Took them long enough," Enjolras muttered, his mood darkening.
"Hush," Éponine ordered him. "They were celebrating."
"And you're too forgiving," he argued. "We could have been dead on the side of the road."
"Well, then, waiting until this morning wouldn't have changed that would it?" she asked, teasing him.
Enjolras shook his head, "I'm going to go over there," he told her, pointing away from her. "I'm not going to stand here and listen to this."
Éponine's chest tightened again as she watched him walk away. For a moment she toyed with the idea of ignoring Cosette's phone call and following after him, but her friend wasn't to blame for her feelings, hurt or otherwise. She paused for a moment, and then with a smile on her face accepted the call.
"Good morning, Lark!"
"Nina! Are you alright? I meant to call you last night, Marius said that you and Enjolras were supposed to be here too. But I couldn't find my phone and there were so many people and Marius was sure that Enjolras had just gotten lost, you know how men are with directions, and I couldn't find my phone. And it didn't occur to me until I woke up this morning that something could be wrong. Please forgive me! Are you alright?"
Éponine laughed and shook her head, "Did you breathe at all during that?" she asked her friend, her voice warm. "Yes, I'm alright. Everything is fine. We experienced a bit of car trouble and spent the night in Enjolras' car. But I'm fine. And I would have been angry at you if you had interrupted your party to call last night anyway."
She paused for a moment, steeling herself. "Are you happy, Lark?" she asked, her voice soft.
Cosette's intake of breath was all she needed to hear to know that her friend was pleased, but she smiled when Cosette answered.
"Oh Nina. Yes. It was beautiful. The ring, the flowers, when he got down on one knee. He told me that you told him to do that. Thank you! And to have all of our friends there, well almost all of them. I couldn't have asked for much more. It was beautiful." She paused, "I'm very happy."
Éponine nodded, waiting for the sharp pain in her chest, the heartbreak. It didn't come. A slight twinge maybe, discomfort. But as she glanced up and caught sight of Enjolras coming back down the street toward her, a bouquet of wildflowers in his hands - the pain never came. "I assume you said yes," she mused, her lips tugging up in the corners as she met Enjolras' gaze.
"Screamed it, actually," Cosette told her. "Nina? I have to ask you something."
"The answer's yes, Cosette," Éponine promised her. "Whatever the question."
"Will you be my maid of honor?"
Éponine laughed, "As if I'd let anyone else," she promised her friend. Enjolras was closer now. She winked at him. "I've got to go, Lark," she told her friend. "But I'll see you at home later tonight and you can show me that beautiful ring I helped pick out and tell me all about last night, alright?"
"Alright," Cosette agreed easily enough. "I love you, Nina."
"I love you too. And Lark? Congratulations. I am so happy for you."
Enjolras was quiet for a moment as he watched her hang up the call and slip her phone back into her purse. "Are you alright?" he asked her, his voice soft and cautious.
Éponine took her time, thinking about her answer before she gave voice to the words. "Yes," she finally told him, glancing up at him and smiling. She was pleased to say that the smile wasn't bitter or forced. The pain still hadn't come. "Much better than either of us imagined, I expect."
"Not heartbroken?" he asked, a single eyebrow arched.
"Bruised perhaps," she told him honestly with a shrug. "But not broken."
His eyes brightened as a smile spread across his lips, "Then these are for you," he told her, handing her the flowers. "To celebrate."
"To celebrate what?" she asked with a laugh as she lifted the bouquet to her nose and inhaled.
"Your independence," he told her with a shrug. "Your freedom. Your new beginning. " He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him. "I am so happy for you, Éponine," he told her quietly, repeating her last words to Cosette.
She nodded, turning her head to grin up at him. "Took me long enough," she told him.
He chuckled and glanced up at the bright blue sky above them, "So damn long."
He is the first sip of coffee in the morning,
the smell between the pages of an old book,
the first warm day of spring
the smell of rain in the air.
He is all of my favorite things.
Brief Author's Note here:
Ah! It feels like forever since I've been here. And I think it actually has been.
I've been doing a lot of writing for stories that aren't on here yet and that I'm not ready to publish.
But I did want to stop by and update this story when I had the chance.
Only two more chapters left for Éponine and Enjolras. Who's been paying attention? Which senses are left?
I hope that you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know with a review!
Until next time,