Author's Note: This fic is a response to JenValjean24601's Halloween challenge. It will comprise four or five chapters. Whether or not there will be slash remains to be seen.

Author's Note 2: I can't stress this enough. The bits in italics are from the book itself.

The story was inspired by this passage describing Valjean's night of anguish following Cosette's wedding:

Volume V - Book Sixth.--The Sleepless Night -- Chapter IV. The Immortal Liver

"He remained there until daylight, in the same attitude, bent double over that bed, prostrate beneath the enormity of fate, crushed, perchance, alas! with clenched fists, with arms outspread at right angles, like a man crucified who has been un-nailed, and flung face down on the earth. There he remained for twelve hours, the twelve long hours of a long winter's night, ice-cold, without once raising his head, and without uttering a word. He was as motionless as a corpse, while his thoughts wallowed on the earth and soared, now like the hydra, now like the eagle. Any one to behold him thus motionless would have pronounced him dead; all at once he shuddered convulsively, and his mouth, glued to Cosette's garments, kissed them; then it could be seen that he was alive.

Who could see? Since Jean Valjean was alone, and there was no one there.

The One who is in the shadows."

The portress was once again not to be found.

Valjean entertained briefly the thought of knocking on her door, then tried the half-shuttered window of her lodge with the stiff tips of wind-chilled fingers. The window gave, and Valjean reached in to retrieve his key from the long, rusty nail protruding above the number 7-2B.

Had Valjean any thoughts to spare to his surroundings, he might have remarked that there was a bottle of cheap brandy with about a finger of the abominable dreck left gracing the table inside and that another, smaller bottle could be seen glinting under the table, overturned and bleeding a trickle of dark, putrid-looking liquid from its neck onto the floorboards. And then perhaps he would have thought that the portress was at it again, just like last week, and was probably dead asleep on her cot, and that it was really rather careless of her to leave the booth window unlocked in a way that enabled any old passer-by to retrieve the key to any apartment of his choosing within the back court and west wing of the building, and that perhaps it was time to sit down with the silly old woman and have a serious talk about it.

But that night, Valjean was far too preoccupied to pay more than incidental attention to his surroundings. The calamity of the day behind him had deadened his responsiveness to the possibility of danger before him, in the same way that a very intensely foul odor robs one of the ability to smell odors less offensive.

He passed through the dark and gloomy courtyard, shuffling his feet along the gravel trail. Somewhere, a dog was barking itself hoarse; then a male voice came forth with some choice words for the over-excited hound. There was a crash, and the bark reduced itself to a pitiful whine.

At the door, Valjean fumbled in the basket for the matches and lit the candle, singing his fingers in the process without noticing it.

The apartment had been stripped bare. All the cupboard doors were thrown open; bits of twine and large clumps of torn parcel paper littered the corners; there were scuff-marks and faint dust squares on the floor where the lighter articles furniture had been moved and removed. As Valjean passed the dish cabinet, he heard something crunch underfoot. He looked down and saw that his shoe had ground into fine white powder a shard belonging to a late article from Toussaint's collection of porcelain bric-a-brac - a pink shepherdess and a blue boy shepherd embracing coyly against a yellow haystack. The bucolic children did not survive being unsettled from their cozy spot between the creamer and the sugar bowl.

Mechanically, Valjean closed the delicate glazed doors of the cabinet and headed upstairs. In defiance of habit, hygiene and common sense, he ascended without removing his hobnailed street-shoes. The bare walls echoed as the stairs groaned resentfully under his feet, but Valjean's apartment had no adjourning neighbors, so there was no one around fit to remark the noise -Valjean himself remained in state of a profound stupor.

For a few minutes, Valjean ambled through the apartment like a disoriented ghost. Both Toussaint's garret and Cosette's bedrooms were chilled and empty of all belongings, with the exception of a small feminine article of clothing of indeterminable purpose which lay balled up under Toussaint's folding bed, overlooked and abandoned by its mistress. Cosette's room felt unusually large and uncomfortably cold without any of the knick-knacks, laces and gaily colored chintz curtains adorning its heavy furniture and walls, and Valjean retreated from it almost immediately.

In his own bedroom, Valjean set the candle on his desk and picked up the portmanteau lying on the low round night table, retrieving the key from his pocket already on approach. The lock clicked, and Valjean spread the contents of the little valise on his bed: a pair of tiny shoes and a set of mourning clothes made for a little girl of about six years of age, all of it smelling strongly of camphor.

With trembling hands, he arranged the tiny garments on the bedspread, as if laying them out to dress little Cosette for yet another cold and exhausting day of travel: knitted petticoat, woolen stockings, woolen gown, thick bodice with a missing button, apron, scarf and bonnet, all of it impossibly tiny. Only her doll is gone, he thought, her Katherine, and the louis d'or I gave her for Noel.

And she, he thought with a sinking heart, she is also gone. My Cosette is gone.

Then his venerable, white head fell forward on the bed, that stoical old heart broke, his face was engulfed, so to speak, in Cosette's garments, and if any one had passed up the stairs at that moment, he would have heard frightful sobs.