Cosette did not want to wake up. She rolled over slowly, careful not to twist all of the blankets, and put a hand out to find Marius. Her fingers brushed against his face, and she felt him flinch a little as he awoke to her touch. Eyes still closed, she smiled slightly and traced the familiar contours of his brow… nose… lip…

Her eyes flew open, and Cosette sat up. She had almost been asleep when Marius had returned last night from another visit to his father's grave, so she had not seen him in two days. Hoping that somehow her senses had lied, she inhaled deeply and turned to face her husband.

Marius was blinking groggily, his pale brow creased and his adorable dark hair still tousled from sleep. None of this was what had surprised Cosette. The source of the young baroness's consternation was a thin layer of blackish fuzz lining his upper lip. Cosette scowled.

"What?" asked Marius, clearly concerned at waking to such an unhappy vision. Cosette merely pointed at his mouth and arched a delicate eyebrow. Extracting one hand from the blankets, Marius touched his own lips and started, his mouth dropping open. "Cosette!" he cried happily, leaping from the bed and bounding to the full-length mirror in the corner. Cosette watched irritably from amongst the pillows as he bent forward, squinting in the half-light of morning to see the new growth. "Cosette," he said again, "do you know what this means? I'm fully a man now! I won't look like a schoolboy forever! I won't be mistaken for your younger brother anymore!"

"That only happened once," Cosette said coldly, "and it was an old beggar man. He had an eye patch and his good eye was half-blind."

Marius turned away from the mirror and went back to his wife. "What's wrong, dear?"

She frowned. "I don't like it, Marius. It looks like you've forgotten to wash your face."


"And when it grows out," she continued, "you'll look like a stuffy portrait. Oh, Marius, don't keep it! Come along, we'll go to the barber's—or we can get you your own little shaving-knife thing. Here, let's go." And she climbed off of the bed and went to her wardrobe.

Marius sighed dramatically. "But I like it, Cosette. I like it. My friends always used to tease me about being smooth-faced. Courfeyrac in particular. They thought I looked like a child, like a schoolboy."

"You were a schoolboy, Marius."

"A student at the University!"

"A boy. In school."

"A man," Marius said flatly. He turned on his heel and marched out of the room, still wearing his nightshirt.

Cosette shook her head slightly and continued dressing. The next time she saw Marius, she knew his upper lip would be clean. In this house, she always won.

The baroness put on her slippers and went downstairs.