"Not for me." Éponine rushed up the cobblestone road, trying to get as far away from the Rue Plumet as she could. She had screamed to frighten away her father's gang from robbing Cosette's home. A good deed, but what did it get her? Marius had admitted his love for the pretty blonde. Not her, never her.
"He was never mine to lose." She found her way to the ABC Cafe, she couldn't go home. Her father would do unspeakable things to her if she went home. All because she saved the girl that Marius loved. She wanted Marius to be happy. But she wanted him to be happy with her, not Cosette.
Éponine stumbled into the ABC Cafe, thankful that Marius was not there. Not yet at least.
"You alright Éponine?" Grantaire asked as he downed the rest of his ale and eyed the distraught girl.
Éponine nodded slowly, biting her lip as she walked towards one of the empty tables and sat down. She was trembling and shaking like a leaf. It wasn't fear it was anguish.
If Marius asked she would be his. But she knew that he would never ask. He didn't see her the way she saw him. A friend not a suitor.
"Éponine," Enjolras started as he switched tables and sat down with her. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing," She lied, feeling her bottom lip quiver. "It's nothing."
"You're trembling," Enjolras gently touched her hand. "What has happened to you?" He knew the things she frequently got into trouble with. He had seen her many times crawling into the ABC Cafe to hide away from her parents or whatever man she had been paid to be with that evening. She was a pitiful creature.
"I'm cold." She lied again, fighting the urge to cry. She stared at where his fingers gently stroked her hand. Such a calming action.
"You're skin is hot to the touch. I know as well as you do that there are no cool night in the summer time."
Éponine glanced up at Enjolras, laughing slightly. "You are determined to find something wrong."
"I have seen you come here upset before."
"Have you been watching me?" Éponine tried to joke, but it came out shaky and quiet.
"How could I not?" Enjolras replied smoothly, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Who has hurt you?"
"No one." She rasped, but the intense stare he was giving her made her answer. "Marius. He-"
"What has he done?" Enjolras questioned, unable to imagine his young friend ever laying a cruel finger on anyone.
"He has done nothing, that's just it." Éponine laughed, as tears streamed down her cheeks. "It is silly. He does not love me."
"A fool." Enjolras replied, starting to pull his hand away from her. She jerked quickly and held on to his hand. "Éponine." He said quietly, letting her hold to his hand.
"He is not a fool. I am nothing that would suit him. He loves a beautiful wealthy girl whose hair is like the golden sunshine. She is lithe and gentle. Her voice is soft like rain. She is everything I am not."
"Don't say that."
"I can only get the attention of filthy rat like men, Enjolras. I let them pay to use me as they please. I am nothing but ragged clothes, street life, dirty brown hair, and a raspy voice marred from years of ale cut with who knows what." Éponine frowned and let go of his hand, realising how firmly she had been holding his hand.
"Do you think I am a rat?" Enjolras questioned, letting a small smile play across his lips.
"No. Of course not."
"Then you do not attract only rats, Éponine."
"What do you mean?"
Enjolras shrugged his shoulders, "I have been noticing you more lately." He toyed with the book he had sat at the table. "I am not like the other men here."
"I've noticed." Éponine said quietly, she knew Enjolras was far more intellectual and proud and virtuous than then other boys. He was always busy studying or reading while the others were out searching for the comfort for the evening.
"You deserve a better life than you've been given." Enjolras stared at her, giving her a soft smile. "You are a bright young woman that does not deserve this hell you live in."
"I am not bright, Enjolras. I cannot even read my own name."
"You do not have to read to be bright. You can be intellectual without ever picking up a book. How many times have you been able to hold conversation with all of us here? You are street smart and born with wisdom. I see it in your eyes."
"You flatter me. I'm nothing more than a misfortunate prostitute, buying for the love of Marius."
"Éponine," Enjolras shook his head. "I do not see you the way you see yourself."
Éponine closed her eyes, "If you are trying sweet talk me into your bed it doesn't that much work."
"That is not why I am telling you this." Enjolras shook his head, reaching for her hands again. "I am telling you that there is a better life waiting for you if you are willing to take it."
"Please, don't." Éponine pushed his hands away. "You are a good man. You don't need to tell a lie to make me feel better."
"I'm not lying." Enjolras replied. "I have lived my life relatively alone. My books and their characters the only friends I needed. The boys here were like my children, they needed guidance and wisdom. But now, I see that the war is so near to us. It is no time to be alone."
"Why me? Why not one of the others? There are many beautiful women who hang around here. More suitable to you."
"But they are not you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As Shakespeare said in tempest, Mistress, you know yourself, down on your knees. And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man's love."
"Now you speak of love? Enjolras what have you been reading that has got you so desperate for a woman's love? I cannot give you love. I love Marius."
"Forget Marius." Enjolras snapped, holding her hands again.
"Enjolras. I care for you deeply, but how can I love you? We are far less suited than Marius and I. Perhaps you forsook your Jacobean self and have sipped wine or ale tonight."
"Never." Enjolras shook his head. "It is not at all like that. I just feel that I needed to tell you this. I am sorry if I have upset you anymore."
"Its fine," Éponine started to rise, "I have had far worse things said to me. You saying that you may love me is the kindest thing anyone has ever said."
"Where are you going?"
"It doesn't matter," Éponine said as she scurried from the ABC Cafe to try to understand what exactly had just happened.