The Peephole

A short, cute, Les Miserables one-shot by Shekiah. Shekiah would like you to know that she does not own Les Mis or the characters, but she does own this idea. Thank you very much, and that is all.

Marius lay back on his bed, scribbling rather quickly in a journal rested on his knee. A taper on his desk nearby had burned almost to the end of the wick, and he was trying to take advantage of his last few minutes of available light. This particular entry was a short note about his less than fruitful expedition to the Luxembourg midmorning. Ursula had chosen not to come that day, and Marius was growing increasingly frustrated with the matter.

"Monsieur Marius?" a voice at the door broke his reverie.

"Yes?" Marius put down the book in disappointment, knowing that he was sure to run out of light before he could finish.

"It's me, Eponine."

"Oh. Come on in."

Marius was less than thrilled to learn that he had abandoned his journalistic venture on behalf of his next-door-neighbor, who was beginning to become rather a nuisance anyway. It seemed as though she spent more time in his flat now than her own. Although flattered to know that his company was preferential to that of her parents or sister, he was beginning to wonder if she was perhaps getting the wrong idea about their friendship in general.

"Good evening, Monsieur Marius," Eponine greeted him airily, taking a seat on the end of his bed as she was now in the habit of doing.

"Same to you, 'Ponine," Marius replied vaguely, suppressing a yawn. He had long since given up asking her to address him by less formal means. Although he was undoubtedly poor, Eponine considered him as living in opulence compared with her family. And this automatically made him worthy of the utmost respect. But as for privacy, apparently not.

"You know, I was walking outside tonight, and I saw for the first time the way the snow mounds seem to have kind of a silvery glow when they're right on the banks of the Seine. Have you ever noticed that?" Eponine observed with an innocent like that of a child.

"Come to think of it, you're right," Marius agreed. Although Eponine had seemingly lived in the general area her entire life, she still had the tendency to point out things like this. It was lighthearted in a way, but surprisingly saddening.

"And the shop windows!" she exclaimed suddenly. "On very cold nights, when the light hits the frost outside, it looks like real gold!"

Marius nodded, giving her a pitiable look in the darkness. He would never dare insult her pride like that where she could see, but he could hardly help it. Her whole situation was just so unfortunate, yet the way she made light of it was inspiring to the point of awe. Marius felt a twinge of guilt.

He looked up at the peephole in the corner of the room, where the thin plaster of the walls met that of the ceiling. Of course he couldn't make it out now, but he had used it plenty of times before to look in on the Thenardier family going about their business. They really did seem a miserable lot. The father was a conniving sort who seemed to have a tendency to use his daughters as spies. The mother wasn't much better.

Suddenly Marius felt a very intense surge of remorse. He had just finished labeling Thenardiers, but here he was spying on the entire family without their knowledge. He was sure that he had already learned much more than Eponine would have wanted him to know. He was determined to alleviate this feeling, and that would regrettably mean bringing the illustrious peephole to her attention.

"So, Eponine-" Marius started, but he was immediately cut off.

"Oh, you're talking to me! I can tell it's important by the way your voice sounds. Well, keep on, now I really need to know!"

Her interruption was almost enough to break his intense resolve to do what was right and bring the hole to her attention, but he had already made his decision. He sighed.

"You know where the wall that divides our flats meets the ceiling, in the corner near the door?" he inquired, gesturing at first before realizing that she couldn't see him in the dark any better than he could her.

"Well, yes, what about it?" she inquired brightly. He hesitated a moment, knowing this to be his last chance to keep the information to himself. However he again chose to continue.

"It doesn't exactly meet perfectly, if you know what I mean. There's a little gap there, about the size that one could toss a pebble through," he stated, wondering what her expression was.

"Oh," she exclaimed, laughing. "Is that all? The old peephole! It's been there forever. You know, if you put a chair under it, you can be just tall enough to see everything that's going on in the other flat."

Marius began to get a rather uncomfortable sensation.

Eponine stood now, continuing to laugh a little. "Everything. Who comes, who goes…"

She got up and wandered merrily out the door, humming to herself. He could just hear her voice as she wandered off down the hallway.

"Who's writing love letters, who's getting dressed…"

Finally it faded away completely.

For a few minutes, Marius continued to sit in the same position, rather dumbfounded and feeling more than a little outdone.

'You know,' he thought to himself as he put away the pen and journal, 'I really ought to pick up some plaster repair on the way home from work tomorrow.'