A/n-This is part of a HUGE fic-of-doom I started years and years ago, and that I'm pretty sure is awful. I have always had a soft spot for Azelma, and i'm starting to really like writing her. Anyway, I liked this first little scene, and maybe, if I am convinced I can go somewhere with the premise, and what I've already written doesn't suck, I might post more of it. In the meantime, i hope you like this.
It had not always been this way. We weren't always so poor. I can remember a time where we lived in a really big house. Eponine and I spent our childhood in this house. There were always people everywhere. When I was little I didn't understand who these people where, but one day Eponine explained it to me, it was an inn, a place where people spent the night when they were traveling. I was always very grateful to Eponine, she always seemed to know everything.
Then the other girl came. She was smaller than Eponine and me, and had blue eyes. I had no idea who she was. Eponine told me, "Perhaps she's our sister. That's how you came along." I don't know how Eponine remembered this, because she is only a year older than I am. At the time, being only three or four, I was content to believe that this new girl was our sister. We played with her, and took her around Montfermail. We were very nice to her, at the start, sharing our toys with her and introducing her to the other village children. But one day Mother told us that we couldn't play with her any more. We didn't ask why, because we knew we wouldn't get an answer. Later that day I asked Eponine, who knew everything.
"It's because she's a pauper child." Eponine said " That's what I heard Mother say."
"What's a pauper child?" I asked her.
" Someone whose mother abandoned them."
" So, what does that have to do with anything? We don't care if she doesn't have a Mama, she's our sister now, so she does have a Mama."
" She's not our sister, silly, and our Mama isn't her mama." Eponine sounded quite exasperated with me.
" So, it isn't right. Mama says that we're young ladies, so we shouldn't play with servants."
"But she isn't a servant."
"Well, maybe she is."
I realized that Eponine had been right. Cosette, as we learned her name was, was our servant. Mother had somehow begrudged the fact that she had to take care of this girl, and made her work. Cosette worked hard, and when she didn't, Mama would beat her. Mama never told us to do much of anything, besides little chores like making our beds, and she never beat us. I used to wonder why Cosette was worked so hard, but whenever I asked Eponine, I would get the same answer. "She's a pauper child." I got the impression Eponine didn't know any more than I did about it, but it never occurred to me to ask Mama, and I would have never asked my father anything. He ignored us mostly.
As the years past, the distance between Cosette and Eponine and I grew and grew. We no longer said, "hello, Cosette," as she was working and she no longer slept in our bedroom. We were about five then. Cosette's clothes became ragged and threadbare, and ours got prettier. Cosette did not eat at the table with us any longer; rather she ate alone with the cat and the dog. After a while, Eponine and I stopped caring about Cosette. We followed our parents' example of ignoring her.
When I was about five, Mother had another baby. Eponine and I were so sure it was going to be a girl that we began to name her. Eponine wanted to call her Carlotta, and I was set on Louise. I heard Mama discussing with father what they were going to name her. Mama wanted to name her Gulnare. When I told Eponine this, she laughed, saying that they had almost named me Gulnare. I had never liked my name, but it was certainly better than Gulnare.
Luckily, the baby was a boy, and escaped that dreadful name. He was small and sickly when he was born and the doctor didn't think he would last long.
"Just as well," said Mama " I don't care much for boys."
Eponine and I went into our parents' room late one night when he was sleeping and peered into his cradle.
"What did they name him?" I asked. Eponine shrugged and began playing with his fingers. "They didn't name him yet? He's been here a whole day."
" He's going to die soon. See how sick he is?" Eponine said, " It's a shame. He's pretty. I've never seen a baby this small, have you?"
" They should name him." I repeated. Eponine played with his fingers until he began to cry. He had quite the set of lungs, and Eponine dashed out of the room, before she could be scolded for setting him off. I should have followed her, but for some reason I stayed in the hallway, waiting for Mama to come and comfort him, but Mama didn't come. Instead, I saw Cosette, who the villagers had come to call the Lark, come up stairs. She snuck into my parents' room, shaking out of fear and cold, and picked up the little boy-baby, putting him over her shoulder and patting his back. The boy immediately stopped crying. Overwhelmed with curiosity, I went up to Cosette. When she saw me, she started.
"Can I hold him?" I asked her.
"I…. don't know. You might drop him." She said. Cosette barely spoke, but when she did her voice was low and quiet.
"So might you drop him." I said, holding out my arms. "He's my brother. I want to hold him."
Cosette gingerly gave the baby to me. I held him in my arms. He felt so warm against my chest. So warm and safe. I rocked him back and forth a little, like I did with my dolls. He began to make little sounds in his throat. I don't want him to die, I thought, I want him to get better.
"He isn't going to die, Cosette." I said. She looked at me peculiarly. "I'm not going to ever let him die. I'll take care of him. He'll be my baby, if Mama doesn't want him. Do you know they haven't even named him yet?"
"No?" asked Cosette. She too was touching him, stroking his exposed foot as I held him.
"No. They think he's going to die."
" I hope he doesn't die." Said Cosette carefully.
"Me too." Cosette and I held the baby for about ten minutes, until Mama began calling Cosette. She began to shake again. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me she had forgotten to sweep the stairs. I put the baby back in his cradle, and Cosette dashed down the stairs. I remained watching him for another couple of minutes.
"I'm not going to let you die." I said.
The baby didn't die. In fact, after a few weeks where he seemed to be half alive, half dead, he regained his health. The doctor said that whatever disease the baby had had, he had gotten over it. I almost danced for joy. That night, mother reluctantly named him.
Memory is a funny thing. Or at least mine is. To this day I can't remember what name that boy had been given at birth. Mother never referred to him by name, and father never referred to him. Eponine barely noticed him, and Cosette, to my knowledge, had never gone to see him again. Sometimes I ask Eponine what his name was. She'll only say 'If you can't remember that, you're slower than anyone ever imagined." But I think that's to cover than she doesn't remember either. If anyone remembers his real name, it's he, and he is not telling. He calls himself Gavroche, and that's good enough for me.