Disclaimer: I do not own any of Les Misérables, or the characters, no matter how much I wish I do. This means I cannot sell this work and get money. What a shame…
A/N: When you review me, if you want to flame me, "u suck!" is ok, but I'd really prefer you say "u suck, cuz you can't write proper sentences and have no description in your stories" would be much better. If you're saying you like my work, I don't need a reason.Paris, France, 1815
Babet wandered the streets of Paris. The fire had burnt everything. The children, Aurore and Jean, ten and eight years old, respectively. Dead. The dog, Louis The Sixteenth, or Beheaded for short. Dead. The house, his home since childhood. Gone. And, his beautiful wife, Marie. Dead. There was nothing to live for anymore. He was twenty-eight years old, and he had nothing. Nothing at all….
He saw the bridge then. It was early, about six in the morning, and there were less people out. He had seen a woman jump off before. "Disgusting," he had muttered to himself. "Life can't be that bad, can it?" Well, he had his answer. It could be. That bridge looked mighty friendly at the moment. He headed towards it, thoughts of being with his family in his mind, hope spreading throughout his body. "I'm coming, Marie…."
Jacques Feuilly watched the young man head towards the bridge. He had seen countless people with that same look on their faces, and they had all jumped off. He was tired of seeing people die. Life was better than the ultimate sin, wasn't it? Wasn't there something to live for? His eyes narrowed in disgust and pity. He was not, not, going to let this man take his own life.
The little boy slid out from his hiding place and got to his feet. Then he began to run towards the man, a boy with a mission.
Babet had just reached the bridge when a child's voice said, "Would you like a fan, M'sieur?"
He jumped and whirled around. A little boy was standing there. He couldn't have been more than eight. "What did you say?"
The boy smiled slightly. "Maybe the M'sieur has a lady friend to get a fan for. Or a child, perhaps?"
Babet noticed the fans hanging around the child's waist, on a dirty string. They were cotton, with twigs as spokes, but when he opened one, there was painted a beautiful picture. He opened another, and another. A different, but still lovely, picture was on all of them. They were incredibly well made, these fans. They seemed strong. He sighed and closed all the fans. "I used to have a lady….and a daughter. I would have bought one for both of them if I could." He knelt down to the boy's level. "Where do you get the materials?"
Jacques hung his head. "Steal 'em, mostly. Sometimes, after I've bought food and suchlike, I'll buy some paints or a brush or somethin'." His eyes lit up. "One time I bought a piece of silk, like the nobles 'ave, and made a fan with that. Oh, how I wished to keep that one! But I had to sell it. I got lots of money from that one, and now I always 'ave some silk fans." He pointed to two on the end of the string. "I wish I could see a lady's fan, up close, to see what the pictures are. But the ladies never come down here. Mostly it's the whores who buy my fans. S'not much, but it's enough, and if I need help, there's always God to ask."
Babet looked at the boy. Despite his life on the streets, the child was so innocent. "Tell me, child."
Jacques grinned up at him, with a front tooth missing. A new one was growing in. "My name's Jacques, M'sieur. Jacques Feuilly."
Babet smiled back. "An' mine's Babet. Tell me, child," he said again, "What's out there, that's worth living for?"
Jacques' grin faded, and the little face became serious. "Don't you know, M'sieur Babet? It's the fact that there's always another day, another destiny to live. An' there's always someone watching over you," he glanced at the sky, "E'en if you choose the bridge." He nodded to the bridge. "Are you sure you don't want a fan, M'sieur?" He opened one, of a scene with two children, a boy and a girl, sitting in their parents' laps in front of a fire. A dog lay sprawled in front of them. The scene was through a window, with wrought-iron bars, and snow in the corners. He recognized it all. It was his family. The boy continued. "I painted this from a family on winter night. You look somethin' familiar, an' I think this might be your family. Remembering ain't a bad thing, M'sieur. Most of the time, it's better." He looked at the man, tears sparkling in both their eyes. "'Ere, you can 'ave it for free. Please? For me?"
Babet dug into his pocket. "No, I must pay. You saved my life, little Jacques." He handed him a Napoleon. "Take it all. You need it."
Tears spilled over the little boy's cheeks, and he suddenly flung his arms around the man's waist. "Thank you, M'sieur Babet! Thank you!" Then he ran off, smiling through his tears.
Babet watched the little child run off, his own cheeks wet. "No, little Jacques. Thank you."
It must have been about the time the whore had tried to steal his fan that he lost the hope Jacques had gave him. He had killed her. But then, Montparnasse, an obnoxious 15-year-old boy he knew had taken the fan, and thrown it in the river. He had beaten Montparnasse within an inch of his life, and then cried. When he walked out of the alley he had been in, there was a man selling fans. He turned away. What had he become?
Eponine walked down the river. The thirteen-year-old had noticed Montparnasse seemed rather beat up recently, and she hadn't seen Babet's fan hanging off his waist recently. The two incidents seemed connected. She scanned the riverbank, looking for trinkets to sell. A flash of dirty white caught her eye. She leaned down and picked it up. It was a fan.
The barricades were empty, save for the bodies of the dead. Babet wandered the one on the Rue de Chanverie, looking for a place to sleep for the night, not wanting to go to his hovel of a garret. Then he saw a body. Two actually, right next to each other. One was Eponine. The other was Jacques Feuilly. He would have recognized him anywhere. There were still fans hanging off his waist, but these were even more beautiful. He kneeled in between Feuilly and Eponine, and asked him, "May I take your fans?" Something inside him said, in a child's voice, Please take them, M'sieur Babet. They're yours. Then a young woman's voice said Babet, look in the pocket of my coat. He took the fans, and then looked in Eponine's pocket. Inside, there was a fan. It was his fan; the one Montparnasse had thrown in the river. It was slightly water-stained, but the picture was still clear. He hung that one on his waist, where it had hung for thirteen years. He picked up the fans, went back to his room, and prayed. The hope was surging through him again, strong as fire, only this time, nothing could put it out.