A/N- Hello, hello! This is my angstiest story yet, full of romance, heartache, and – best of all – blood! Yay! So it's PG-13 for a reason. I know this isn't much of a chapter, but bear with me.
Disclaimer- I don't own many of the characters, and I don't own a bit of the dialogue later on. Most of it is Hugo, you know.
Charmer of the Shadows
For what must have been the hundredth time, Sophie ran her fingers down the side of her dress, then glumly held it against her body. It had been a long time since she had been able to work… The clothes she liked to call her "work suit" had been set aside for this oversized dress the landlady had loaned her in an uncharacteristic moment of generosity. After all, in her line of business, it was very difficult to get paid in a condition such as hers. She put her hand against her bulging belly, noting how the skin seemed to swell from her own bony frame into this smooth mound. Sophie felt a slight movement and pressed her palm against it. The child was particularly restless. This was unusual…
She gasped. Could it be time? Hiding her work suit under the filthy straw mattress, Sophie threw open the door and called for the landlady. Several of her neighbours swore loudly at being disturbed at so late an hour, and Sophie could not help but smile wryly. If they were protesting at the noise now, what would they do in an hour or so while she was in labour?
The portly landlady appeared at the top of the stairs, still wearing her night-gown and breathing heavily. "What now, girl?" she panted.
Sophie gestured to her stomach. "The child wants to be born tonight."
"Don't disturb my paying tenants."
"I swear I'll pay when I return to my work!"
The landlady paused. "I don't want you to take that up again either."
Sophie winced but answered innocently, "What do you mean, Madame?"
"Mademoiselle," the woman began, "I am not so deaf as you might think, nor am I thick. I saw you coming here with a different customer every night. I know that you haven't any idea which of these fathered your child-"
"But I do know, Madame," Sophie interrupted. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickling all over again at the thought of the dark, mysterious man who had come to her that night. His burning dark eyes and beautiful black hair made her shiver even now.
"What was his name?" the old woman frowned.
Sighing, Sophie shook her head. "That, I don't know."
"You're certain that the child is coming?"
"Then… I must ask you to leave," the landlady said slowly.
"Your noise will bother my paying tenants, and the cries of a child will follow. Your rent will double if you don't go."
Sophie continued to plead with the woman, but she would not be swayed. The girl had lived in this building for over a year, and had grown quite attached to it despite her dirty room and ripped straw mattress. It was all she could afford, and what other landlady would have promised to let her stay when she could not work, provided she repaid every sou the moment the child was born. But the old woman was without pity. Weeping, the girl collected her few belongings and went out into the streets of Paris.
Another spasm of pain wracked her thin body, and she realised that she had to get out of the public view. Where could she go? What place in this city would be suitable for childbirth?
The only place Sophie could think of – the only place where she could be alone – was underneath the city.
The boy was born in the sewers of Paris.