She was watching him through the small hole in the thin wall separating the dusty, rotten rooms in the Gorbeau House. Her once beautiful brown hair fell in a tangled mess down her back, tied back with a small black string. Her bony shoulders were poking out of her ragged chemise. She could have been beautiful, but after years of living off of barely anything, her once dainty and delicate structure became emaciated and frail. Her once pale, smooth skin became tanned and freckled from long days of walking the streets during the summer. Her eyes were still the same though, dark brown and boring compared to all the pretty girls' blue eyes. Yet, if one tried hard and saw through the dirt and the grime, they would find an almost pretty face smiling up at them. That was one other thing that never changed about the girl. No matter how awful her conditions, she could always find something to smile about.
He was a student struggling to make a living. He had dark hair that cascaded down his face in beautiful curls. He was not rich, but he was not dirt poor. He spent his days studying and working in a book shop doing translations. When he was not learning or working, he was with his friends at the Café Musain.
The young girl looking through the wall watched as the handsome young man paced back and forth across his small room pouring over some piece of paper. She strained her eyes to try and see what he was so busy reading. Whatever it was, it was very dear to him, because as soon as his eyes got to the bottom of his paper he kissed it quickly and read it again. Oh how she wished he was kissing her instead of that delicate piece of paper, but he did not know she existed. He went on reading and kissing this paper for what seemed like hours. How could one piece of paper be so wonderful? the girl thought.
Suddenly a voice interrupted her daydreams of his precious lips on hers. "Eponine! Get your nose out of that hole in the wall and help me with supper!"
"Oh, shut up Azelma," the Eponine called from her spot in front of the wall. Azelma was three years younger than Eponine, but she acted as if she was the one in charge because when you're older sister is busy obsessing over a boy who doesn't even know she exists, you sort of have to take charge.
"Are you busy watching that schoolboy again?" Azelma asked, rolling her eyes.
"He has a name 'Zelma," young girl in love replied. "Marius Pontmercy..." she sighed.
"Well stop staring at Monsieur Marius, and eat your supper, which I had to make. All. By. Myself."
Eponine rolled her eyes and walked over to their small wooden table. She smiled as she saw her dinner, potatoes and half a loaf of bread. "Where did you come up with the money to buy all of this?" Eponine asked as she began to eat.
Azelma blushed and looked down at her plate as she mumbled, "I stole it from a man in the streets..."
Eponine nodded and continued eating. Money had been very tight for the girls ever since their mother died of a fever and their father left. They resorted to begging in the streets most of the time, but Eponine knew this would not last very long. She dreaded the day that the landlady realizes that the money for rent has fallen short and kicks them out. Being two teenage girls, wandering the streets at night is a very scary experience in itself.
Eponine finished her meal in silence and quickly back to her position at the wall. Marius was no longer in his room. He must have gone to the Cafe Musain with his friends... He's so brave talking about the Revolution, Eponine thought. The letter he was reading was laying on his bed. Eponine squinted her eyes and tried to make out the loopy and perfect handwriting.
"'Zelma, I'll be right back. I see a dropped wallet on the road," Eponine called as she rushed to put on her threadbare brown cap and squeezed her feet into her two sizes too small boots. She rushed out of the door without waiting for a reply and quickly looked both ways down the hallway to make sure no one was coming. She slowly crept up to Marius's door and snuck in. Wow... his place is so clean, she thought as she rushed over to his bed and snatched the letter. Heart racing, she began to read the letter:
My dearest Marius,
I hope you are well. I missed seeing you today, but I know that you must be busy planning the Revolution with your friends. I went on a walk with my father today to try and keep myself from missing you too much. I asked him when he thought I would be old enough to stop living with him and find a young man to marry and live with instead. Father was not happy about this question. He said that one man in my life is enough, and that he was happy to be that man. It's a good thing he doesn't know about you and me, yet. I'm writing to tell you that I love you with my whole heart, and I hope that you will join my in the garden behind my house a week from today. Je t'aime, my love.
Eponine felt a fat, pearly tear form and slowly drip down her face. He was in love. He was in love with some other girl. Some other girl who was most likely beautiful, sweet, and most definitely not someone who had to beg for money to buy food. Heartbroken, she gently set the letter back down on his bed and began to creep back to the door. Suddenly she froze as she heard footsteps approaching the door. Oh my God, if Marius finds me here and realizes that I've read his letter, he will be so angry with me.
"Eponine! You scared me!" Marius said as he walked into his apartment, carrying his hat. "What are you doing in here?"
"I... Uh... I was wondering if maybe you had a mirror anywhere?" she lied quickly. Oh, how she hated lying to him. It made her feel so guilty. "Well, I am meeting someone for dinner and... Our mirror broke yesterday, and I was hoping to make myself look presentable... for him, you see?"
"Oh!" Marius said, surprised. He had never really thought of Eponine as the type of girl interested in impressing boys. "Who are you meeting?"
"I'm sure you don't know him," she replied quickly, biting her lip.
"Oh... well this is what I use as my mirror," he said, handing her a plate sized piece of glass. "You can keep it if you want. I don't use it very often."
"No I can't take this... What if you need it sometime?" she said, forcing the glass back into his hand.
"Really, it's fine Eponine. I don't use it. I found it here when I moved in," Marius persisted as he handed the mirror back to her. Whoa. he thought as her small body crushed into his and her weak, twig-like arms flew around him.
"Thank you so much Monsieur Marius," Eponine squealed as she let go of him. She did not want to let go, but the hug was an accident in the first place. And, he was in love with some other girl after all.
"Marius. Call me Marius, Eponine," he smiled.
A huge smile spread across her face as she spun around and ran back to her apartment.
"If he asked, I'd be his."