A Les Misérables Fanfic
The sky overhead was a dark gray, offering no view of the setting sun. There was the slightest amount of rain falling, more like mist than actual rain. The small building stood meekly beneath the dark clouds, offering little defense against the threat of rain. Inside, in a small flat, a little girl sat looking out the window, watching the darkening sky with mild interest. She wore a rag-like dress, a doll hanging loosely from one hand. Her blue eyes were not full of bright cheerfulness, like most her age. There was a pain in her eyes, a constant presence in her gaze, a scar from some earlier wound. Her eyes spoke of a wisdom beyond her years, a wisdom gained from years of suffering, hours of her childhood lost to pain.
A little ways behind her, a door from another room opened, making Cosette jump, and a man walked in. The girl turned to look at him, smiling shyly at the sight of him. "Hello." She said softly, unsure of how to address him.
The man was not tall, but rather of a strong build. His hair was pure white, as was his beard. He had the appearance of being able to deal serious damage with his great arms, but his eyes held a tenderness and a love that surpassed anyone the girl had ever met. It was not a love born of innocence, as most are, but rather of experience that he had taught him to love. He looked at the girl with a smile. "Hello, Cosette. Sorry, I didn't realize I'd startle you." His face held a tender smile, a kindness that Cosette was unused to, but didn't question too much. Children do not question the gifts given to them.
She said shyly, "That's okay." Cosette was unsure of how to speak to this man, this stranger who had taken her away from the Thernardiers. It hadn't been two weeks since he had come to the Waterloo Inn, a stranger who had been kind to her like no one else had ever been. He had covered up her mistakes, paid her more attention then Azelma or Eponine, and eventually paid the Thernardiers to let him take her away. She remembered how the stranger had taken her little hand gently in his giant hand and led her through the forest. She remembered how Thernardier had chased after them and tried to take Cosette back. She had hid behind the stranger, waiting with bated breath, terrified for her new freedom to be taken from her. But with a few words, the stranger had sent Thernardier on his way.
The man said with a smile, "I was just going out to get some things we need. If you need anything, just ask the madame who lives upstairs."
Cosette watched him reached for the doorknob, then blurted out, "Can I come with you?" She hadn't been outside since they had come to this house.
The man seemed surprised for a moment, then nodded, a somewhat forced smile on his face. "Very well. Just stay near me and don't wander off too far." He opened the door, and she followed him out gratefully.
He led her through the streets toward the market, and she stayed to his side like glue. The shadow the strong man fell over her protectively, completely swallowing her much smaller shadow. She felt safe by his side, a feeling she was unused to. At the Thernardier's inn, she had never had anyone to protect her.
It was nearly nightfall, so most of the shops were closed. A few more hopeful shopkeepers still stayed open, waiting to draw in some of the stragglers. Cosette's companion stopped in front of one such shop, pausing for a moment before entering, Cosette right behind him.
The inside was humble but welcoming. A large, smiling woman waited to greet them. "Good day, Monsieur, and good day to you too, little Mademoiselle." She said with a big smile, her voice cheerful. "Take a look around, see what you like. Take your time, I'm in no hurry." At a nod from the man, Cosette left his side to walk around the shop, looking critically over the objects it offered. There were several colorful dresses and other pretty things. The critical mind of Cosette could find no practical use for any of it, although the colors and the style appealed to her. One simple dress had been all she had ever needed. The dresses before her now stirred memories of some of the things Azelma and Eponine owned, the pretty dresses they wore every day while Cosette was forced to make do with her rags.
An much fainter memory stirred too. Memories of a tall woman with pretty hair and a kind voice, who gave Cosette nice things to wear and sang to her. Cosette wondered at the memories, but then shrugged them away. What did it matter that a woman had once been kind to her? She wasn't here now.
She heard the man come to stand behind her. "Pick what you want." He told her kindly.
Cosette froze in surprise. "You mean I can have one?" She asked, her voice shrill with surprise. For as long as she could remember, she'd never owned anything this nice.
The man smiled. "You can have more than one, if you want." The little girl was stunned. No one had ever given her so nice a gift. She hesitated, picking only two, more modest dresses, but the man stubbornly insisted that she pick one more. Cosette allowed herself to pick a particularly pretty blue dress, sure that the man would refuse, but he just smiled and said she had good taste. As he paid the shopkeeper, Cosette watched him closely. He seemed weary somehow, like life had worn him down, and yet the kindness lingered in his eyes and in his smile. She likened him in her mind to the woman in her memories. They both treated her with kindness, something she hadn't had in a long time. Is it possible? She asked herself. Can this possibly last?
They went to a few more stores, buying necesities like clothes for the man, food, and other things needed around the house. Cosette gave him some surprisingly helpful tips on what food lasted longest, on what could be best used to keep the house clean, and other such practical things. He in turn seemed to be well versed in how to survive on the essentials, buying no more than they needed, with the exception of an occasional luxury granted to the girl. She felt her admiration for him growing.
At they started back towards home once their shopping was done, Cosette heard soft footsteps behind them. She turned to see a skinny dog following them, wagging its tail hopefully, obviously attracted by the smell of the food they were carrying. Cosette remembered briefly the dog that the Thernardiers had kept, and reached out, offering her hand to the dog. It snapped its head back, surprised by her sudden movement, snarling. Cosette gasped, snatching her hand back, drawing closer to the man. He had stopped, and Cosette watched as he reached into one of the bags. His hand returned with a good chunk of bread, which he tossed to the cur. "Come Cosette, lets leave it to its meal." He said softly.
She looked up at him, confronted by this startling act of kindness. The coldness of her heart, which she had created as a defense against the Thernardiers, melted away as she looked into the face of the kind man. He had protected her from the dog, he had given her pretty dresses, and he gave bread to dogs that snarled at him. Cosette felt a tenderness for him she had never known before. She trusted him completely; he was not a stranger, he was her father.
Cosette reached up and grabbed the hand of the man. "Okay, Father." she said with a quiet confidence. She wasn't sure. but as her father turned to look the way he was walking, she thought she saw tears building in his eyes, his smile widening.
I know that many people dislike Cosette because she stole Marius from Eponine. While I am an Eponine fan, I see no reason to hate Cosette for loving Marius (and I say this as a proud Raoul hater. But that's different; Raoul has no personality, and he's an idiot. And he tried to kill Erik. I could go on like this for ages, but I suspect you came here to read about Les Mis, so I will stop now.) Anway, I think people start to dislike Cosette when she gets older, but feel bad for her as a kid. I wanted to write about her when she was a kid, because admittedly, she was pretty cool as a kid.
Also, thank you to TWSythar for helping me with accuracy. If there is anything that you notice that is innacurate, or something about the writing or spelling that you'd like to point out, then please do. Critique is greatly appreciated.
Cosette and Jean Valeajn (unamed man) (c) Victor Hugo and people who made the musical
Shopkeeper and dog (c) Me