"…Now the love in my life is so near;
Find me now, find me here…"
~Cosette, Rue Plumet
The Untold Story
Disclaimer: I do not own Les Miserables.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The day had started off rather typical for me. Every morning I followed him to the Lark's home and sat in front of the wrought-iron gate, too afraid—too alone for the majority of my life—to push it open with my dirtied, calloused hands and peek in. Too afraid to tell him how I felt…and too afraid to see what couldn't be.
His fluency in English was what took him away from me. After the day I had led him to his precious love's house on Rue Plumet, he had been confronted by the Lark's father (only I know that he's really her guardian, sent by her deceased mother to take her away from the cruelties of slavery that my parents had bound her in years ago) and asked for a tutor. Of course, he had easily agreed—and I was pushed on the sidelines again by his fawning phrases, his head too full of air to think of anything and anyone but Cosette.
I was left alone.
That morning, as I sat in the cool spring sun outside the gate, the house on Rue Plumet was quiet, save for the girlish giggle escaping the dining room from the "sweet" angel seated at the table. "Why, Monsieur Marius, how would you define that word in, say...English?"
I rolled my eyes; she was repulsive and uncouth, her mouth needing a good washing. Just the other day I had learned that the poor girl had grown up in a convent after her guardian took her away, and that holiness that defined her as an innocent, godly spirit was actually aching inside for something more seductive. My darling Marius—at least he was exposed to the world.
"In English? My dear, I'm supposed to be teaching you French grammar."
"When I am married, when will I ever use grammar? I will be a housewife for sure."
Marius's voice became hushed and, dare I say it, strained. "Don't say that, Cosette."
"How would you know? You think you know me so well, but sometimes it's…" Cosette sighed. "I don't know anymore, Marius. There are days when you kiss me on the lips; others, just a peck on the cheek. What are you thinking about? What are you to me besides a tutor? Or are you nothing else at all?"
"Cosette…" He started to speak, but he didn't finish. I heard the scraping of a chair's legs against wood; I looked at the window and saw Marius staring out of it, his face crinkled in thought. Cosette came up behind him, her own face wrinkled in confusion and irritation. Did her heart ever beat as fast as mine, a little fluttering sensation in her chest when he smiled at her? Did she ever melt in her spot like I did the moment he stepped foot in a room?
Eyes full of sorrow, I jumped up from my spot and bolted, not daring to look back or hear any more of their brawl. I pulled the men's coat around me tighter; it wasn't the first, and it certainly wasn't the last.
As I tromped down the streets fuming, I didn't realize I was angry until I came upon a street corner and kicked it hard with the toe of my shoe. I wanted to scream in frustration, but I kept it locked inside me. I didn't want Cosette to win again this time.
"Doesn't he understand?" I uttered to myself, my eyes filling with tears as I crossed my arms at my chest. "Will he ever look at me?" I sniffled miserably, rubbing my red nose. "Really look at me?"
The pain that had been building up the past few weeks started to spatter on the sidewalk in the form of my tears. "I love him," I confessed, something I had been doing every day. I crossed over to the brick wall and leaned against it, closing my eyes as the teardrops burned and tainted my cheeks. "I love him." Taking a deep breath, I put a hand against my forehead to block out the dreary morning sun hidden behind new packs of gray clouds.
I hastily wiped away my tears. Too many times he had snuck up on me like that, and every time it ended just the same. "Monsieur Marius." I attempted enthusiasm, but instead my voice cracked miserably. "Why did you follow me?"
He took a cautious step forward, a frown creasing his lips. "I saw you run away. I was worried. How long have you been sitting out there?"
Weeks, I told myself. My heart pounded pathetically in the bottom of my chest, heavy with the torture that had started from the day we met. I boldly stepped toward him and touched his face. "Don't frown like that. It makes your eyes wrinkle, too, and then no one can see them." I kept my hand there a second too long. By that point, I could feel the trembling sensation in my fingers from the sadness that I felt. I let my hand drop.
"'Ponine," he said, using the nickname he so cleverly invented and rubbing my arms with his hands, which didn't help with my convulsing body. "You're shaking."
Shockingly, my throat hurled out a nervous laugh. "I know!" I exclaimed. "And it's not even a bit cold outside."
I watched with desperate eyes as he shrugged his coat off, my body feeling warmer already. "Here," he said, placing it around my shoulders. "It's too stuffy for my taste."
Looking away from his kind eyes, I fingered the wooly material. "But I have a coat, Monsieur Marius," I replied. "It's just old with a few holes in it."
He shook his head pitifully. "And made of cotton." Daringly, I let myself glance in his direction. "Éponine, the summer's coming. But after that, there will be fall, then winter. Will you be all right?"
I scoffed. "All right?" I spat. "Monsieur, don't pretend like I haven't been around. Lamarque is dead, and your friends of the ABC are planning a rebellion. My question is, will you fight?"
No matter his answer, I interrupted him. "Will you leave her?" I didn't notice that I was silently crying again. "Will you leave me?" Sniffing, I wiped them away and shook my head. "The odds won't be with you." My voice had softened as reality slapped me in the face. "You'll die. I won't let you go without me."
The expression on his face was that of complete bewilderment. Reluctantly, he put a hand on my shoulder. "And I won't let you go with me."
I shoved him, furious. Who was he to tell me what to do? So much I wanted to crush him, saying that he didn't matter to me. But he didn't even know how much of a place he had in my life! "No!" I yelled. "You won't even know I'm there. Y-you'll go a-and fight, I'll hide in the shadows." Reaching out to hold my cold hand in his, I swallowed the lump in my throat. "But if someone tries to hurt you, I'll be there. And you won't even know I'm dead until you're with her again."
Marius seemed horrified. "Éponine," he whispered, his face crumbling, "what are you talking about?"
"I don't mean to be presumptuous," I murmured, taking a daring step forward. We were barely touching; I glanced down and wiggled my bare toes, putting one foot on the top of his polished shoe. "But I can't help but fall in love with you."
Gazing into his eyes at that moment, my heart was again panged by how absurd that sounded, how uninterested he was in me. But with the uprising around the corner and our time together so short, I couldn't let him torture me anymore. "I always have."
He didn't respond, just stared into my teary eyes. "Look down," I beckoned, cocking my head to the ground. "My feet are practically bare, and you have leather shoes. Mine are dirty, and yours are warm and clean. We're from two different worlds, Marius. You never showed interest in me." I took a step back, but kept holding on to his hands, giving them a squeeze. I smiled slightly. "My parents are con artists. I would tell myself, 'Doesn't that make me a criminal, too?' But the only crime I wanted to commit was to steal you away for her, because I love you. You have books, books which I long to read. You were kind to me when everyone else looked at me like a piece of dirt. You—"
The kiss was so passionate and unexpected, I jumped back in surprise, ending it way too soon. Why'd he do that? Did he think I was her? Panicking, I started to pant, putting a warning hand in front of me when he tried to explain. "You don't love me," I stated, more to myself than him. "Never in a million years will you love me… Y-you…" I tried not to think about how pathetic I must have looked when I turned around and started to sob; I didn't want him to look at me. "I'm sorry if I talked too much about love. Maybe you thought I was Cosette."
"Éponine" came Marius's voice from behind me, his hand firmly on my shoulder now and turning me around. "Éponine, listen to me. Maybe we're not the same people with the same lives." He tilted my chin up so my eyes met his. I tried to shove away the pleasure I felt when he touched me like that. "But I can't change that. You're not like your parents. You run from the police, but you're running from what you might become in the future." His face was so close to mine, I could feel his breath on my ear. "I love you, Éponine."
My knees felt weak as I fell into his arms, letting him pull me into a hug. He spun me around and off my aching feet. It wasn't until then that I realized how much he understood me, and how much I knew of him. I was stupid, pushing away the memories and thinking that I would just forget about him. Boldly, I pulled his lips to mine to make up for the last one.
There was a wet patter on my head, and we glanced up to see the rain falling from the gloomy clouds. He put me back down on my feet. "I should get going," he said, suddenly shy. A deep blush decorated his cheeks.
I grinned brightly at him, letting the glowing sensation erupt all around me. I nodded the slightest bit. "All right." I let the words flow out with the breath I didn't realize I was holding in. All I could do was stare at him, finally forgetting the tortuous few months and the upcoming rebellion that may be the downfall of our lives.
The corner of his mouth went up in a half kind of smile, perfectly handsome in my eyes. He rubbed the back of his head, smoothing out the black hair I had unknowingly ruffled when I let it fall between my fingers before. "Stop by later," he said, giving me a small wave before turning around and disappearing into the rain.
Even after he was gone, I still stood there, letting the rain soak my skin, maybe to clean my sinful soul. He was a wealthier man, but he was, in an unanticipated turn of events, mine. Smiling, I touched my lips where his had been. I barely noticed the springtime warmth blow away the dreading, nipping cold.
I fell into the wall behind me, replaying the kiss in my head. "And did you know, Monsieur Marius...I do believe I am a little in love with you."