When Madame Simplice returned, she had a physician in tow. The addition to their group came as a surprise to Enjolras who had been drifting in and out of sleep since the monseigneur had left. He nearly leapt from his chair, adjusting his wrinkled vest and pants and making mumbled apologies.
"This is monsieur Arnaud," Madame Simplice announced brusquely. The doctor grimaced (what Enjolras could only assume was meant to be a smile) and nodded in greeting. He made a point not to hold out his hand, and kept both clasped firmly behind his back, clutching his medical bag. There was something about him that put Enjolras on edge, though he knew not what. He wrote it off to be his manners.
"Welcome, citizen," Enjolras began out of habit. Before he could properly introduce himself, Madame Simplice spoke again, pointedly cutting him off.
"Let us step out of the room for a moment and let the good doctor examine our dear Éponine." Though there was nothing but sweetness in her voice, the old woman gave Enjolras a meaningful look. It warned him to stay silent.
With an uncomfortable bow, Enjolras did as Madame Simplice said and followed her out of the sick chamber. As he closed the door behind him, he glanced at Arnaud and, much to his surprise, found the doctor's eyes already on him. Recognition flickered across his bespectacled face and a pit opened up in Enjolras' stomach. Did he know him?
"How do you know that man?" Enjolras demanded softly, the confusion in his voice belying the calmness in his face. She held up a finger to silence him and led them away from the door, stopping only when she was at the end of the hall. Turning to face the man, Madame Simplice answered him with patient condescension.
"He was a friend of my husband." Enjolras raised an eyebrow. "Monsieur Simplice was who helped to fund his physician's practice in the beginning, before Arnaud knew of my dear Bernard's political sympathies."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Madame Simplice huffed, "It means that he is a supporter of the crown."
Enjolras' heart beat frantically against his ribs and he glanced quickly back at the door to Éponine's chamber. His bag was safely tucked away in another room, but where were Éponine's old clothes? The doctor could find her cockade rosette.
The snake will not hesitate to report us. What would they do if that were to happen?
Enjolras limped as quickly as he could back down the hall, leaving Madame Simplice behind. His only focus was to keep Arnaud from discovering who they were. Enjolras nearly yanked the thin wooden door from its hinges as he burst into the room. The physician was kneeling behind the head of Éponine's bed, rummaging through a pile of what Enjolras saw were the girl's clothes. He straightened up when he heard the door open, but not before Enjolras could tell what he had been doing.
"What is your diagnosis?" the blond said through gritted teeth. Monsieur Arnaud laughed nervously, nearly petrified by the ferocious look in Enjolras' eyes.
"Your - sister, was it?" Enjolras nodded, his curls bouncing lazily. Monsieur Arnaud's eyes flicked between his flaxen curls and Éponine's dark waves with a sneer. "Of course, I can see the resemblance."
"What is your diagnosis?" Enjolras repeated, his ire barely restrained. Madame Simplice came to stand silently behind him, her hands on her hips.
"Your sister is suffering from an infection in the wound on her shoulder." The doctor paused, wiping his hands on a handkerchief with a sniff before pulling Éponine's revolutionary cockade from his pocket. "I suspect she sustained the injury with those imbeciles at the barricades. It is obvious that the ruffians also did a poor job of looking after her, as I found a piece of the bullet still lodged in her shoulder."
Enjolras clenched his jaw, physically biting his tongue to keep from blowing his own cover. He tasted blood when he swallowed. He recognized that there was nothing to be done about Éponine, the doctor held her rosette in his hand, but Enjolras could at least try to salvage his own situation so long as he kept quiet. Perhaps Éponine's gender would keep her safe from the loyalists' malice. Madame Simplice shot him a warning glare.
"What can be done for my niece?" the old woman asked, shuffling into the room and placing a wrinkled hand on Éponine's forearm. Enjolras noticed how Madame Simplice played up her age, and he saw the doctor's resolve falter, though only for the briefest of moments. The girl twitched in her sleep.
The physician looked between Éponine's dirty face and broken teeth, and Madame Simplice's obviously expensive gown pointedly. He arched an eyebrow in disbelief, but made no comment. There was a challenge in the matron's pale eyes.
"Give her this, twice daily," Arnaud replied with a yawn. He handed Enjolras a small box of vials, "and be sure to clean the wound often. There should be no risk of future infection, as I have cleaned up behind the ragamuffins, but you needs must reign in the current one."
The doctor placed the tricolor on Éponine's pillow, flashing his grimacing smile at the sleeping girl. He then began to collect his medical supplies, humming softly to himself. Enjolras, who had remained silent, could hold his tongue no longer.
"Will she recover?" he demanded. A slow, slimy smile spread across the physician's pock-marked face. Enjolras stared him down, blue eyes burning.
"If your… sister," the man paused, threatening understanding hidden just below the surface of his dingy brown eyes, "it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks."
"How likely is her recovery?" Enjolras hissed.
"Quite, unless the rebels who treated her were even bigger idiots -"
Enjolras brought a firm hand down upon the doctor, gripping his bony shoulder as a falcon would hold its prey in a talon. Monsieur Arnaud let out a feeble cry in pain and fear. The leader's statuesque features were contorted with rage and it was the doctor's turn to bite his tongue, though only to hold back his whimpering.
"Collect your things," Enjolras ordered. He shoved the man away roughly, eyes flashing. "You have one minute."
The toad left without another word, not even so much as a squeamish whine, as though he were afraid that any noise may set off the blond. Enjolras knew that he had made a mistake, but he also knew that standing up for his friends, for his cause, was ultimately what needed to be done. They were dead and it was his fault; defending their honor was the least he could do.
Madame Simplice let out a characteristic tut before turning her back on the chamber and scuttling to the door. "You will pay for that, you know," she warned. Enjolras nodded wearily, and the woman followed Monsieur Arnaud out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.
"What day is it?"
Enjolras looked up from his newspaper slowly, almost uncertainly. He had thought many times over the past few days that he had heard Éponine wake up, that she had asked him similar questions, but it had all been in his mind. There had also been moments when he could've sworn that he heard Combeferre call his name, or Bahorel's raucous laughter from just behind the door. Enjolras needn't check to see if that was all a hallucination; he couldn't.
"I said: what day is it?" Éponine rasped, struggling to hold Enjolras' gaze. Even after nearly four days of sleep and nearly a week of constant pain, the gamine managed to smirk sarcastically at Enjolras' dumbfounded expression.
"The tenth," he said. His answer sounded more like a question however, and Enjolras repeated it once more, though with conviction. "The tenth of June, 1832."
Éponine managed to roll her eyes. "Thank God I haven't slept the year away," she joked, earning a small smile from her otherwise motionless companion. "Have you heard anything?" The hope in her voice was pitiful and Enjolras nearly flinched away from it.
"No," he said, shaking his head firmly. The light flickered from Éponine's dark eyes and he couldn't help but feel a twinge of frustration – at what? At her naivety, perhaps. Or maybe it was toward himself, and how he felt his own hope leaving with hers. Admitting it aloud made it real.
"Oh," was her only reply. She made to sit up in bed, but only made it a few inches before falling back to the thin mattress with a grunt of pain. Enjolras rushed to her side, kneeling gingerly by the bed and his usual scowl on his face.
"Don't be stupid, Éponine," the blond scolded. He fumbled about on the nightstand for one of Arnaud's vials. "Drink this and stay still. You could reopen the wound."
Éponine knocked the horrible liquid back and crinkled her nose. "You sure are one to lecture me about being gentle on injuries," she retorted, glancing pointedly at his thigh. He avoided her eyes and stood up, moving back toward what had been his chair for the past four days and trying to ignore the pain radiating from the gash in his leg.
"What you need is rest, and what I need is silence. I need to figure out what we do from here."
"We can't stay here, you know," Éponine said matter-of-factly. She tried once again to sit up and, luckily for her pride, succeeded. "I'm sure someone in the National Guard could count." Her voice softened, "I'm on no one's list, but someone's probably looking for you, chief."
Enjolras nodded in his pacing, only barely aware of what Éponine was saying. He needn't have been listening anyway. What she was saying was what he had been thinking since Arnaud had left. He couldn't bring himself to go beyond those thoughts, however; Enjolras couldn't take the idea of leaving seriously.
"No one will come looking for me here," he countered. "They will check the obvious places: my flat, the Musain, my friends' homes." Enjolras paused, memories of time spent in Courfeyrac's little room, at Joly and Bossuet's. He shook his head, "These men are stupid, lazy. They will lose interest when they lose the trail."
"Unless they find it again." Madame Simplice stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips and a frown creasing her already wrinkled features. She waited there for another heartbeat longer before coming quickly into the room to fuss over Éponine. She continued nonchalantly while going about her work, "The kind doctor has been lurking about for the past two days. I fear that our time may be running out."
Éponine smirked while the woman tried to make sense of the girl's tangled hair. "Guess it was smart of me to decide to wake up today, huh? Musta planed it." Madame Simplice shushed her sternly, earning a giggle from her patient.
"You need to leave," the woman insisted, turning her hard gaze to Enjolras. The blond stopped his pacing and slowly moved to face Madame Simplice. His eyes were tired, his shoulders drooping; Éponine's grin fell away.
"And go where?" he asked softly. "My home is not safe, my family cut my off, my friends…" His words caught in his throat. Luckily, Madame Simplice wasn't cruel enough to make him finish the thought.
She offered up names of close friends, of other churches that the monseigneur had mentioned. She even suggested the two come to her own house – not the one in Paris, but the rather large mansion she and her husband had built in the last year of his life on the fringe of the city. Enjolras shook his head to each one, coming up with one excuse or the other.
"They'll be expecting that," was one. "Those people will already be on their list if they are republicans," was another. His final objection was to the danger it would put the woman in for her to help them any further. After a few minutes of this, Éponine decided to chime in.
"I can help!" Two pairs of blue eyes fixed themselves on Éponine and she tried not to squirm under their weight. She stuck her chin out and repeated herself. "We could hide out for a bit – like I used to, ya know? – and then, when they dogs can't find the scent anymore, we skip town."
Enjolras shook his head and turned back to Madame Simplice, much to Éponine's annoyance. She glared at the man as he spoke but he managed to ignore her anyway.
"How soon could you arrange for us to stay with one of your contacts?"
"I already have."
Éponine couldn't stop the chill that went up her spine at the sound of the heavy oaken doors of the church falling back into place. The nervous knot in her stomach tightened and she clenched her fists at her sides.
"We need to move." Enjolras' voice cut across the girl's racing thoughts and he set off without waiting to see if she were following. His boots made a hollow clicking sound against the stone steps that echoed in the darkness.
As though pulled by a string, Éponine trailed along behind him, awkwardly holding up the front of the dress Madame Simplice had given her. The old woman had insisted that they dress like respectable young people. "To go undetected by the bourgeois, you must look as though you belong with them." Éponine couldn't help but admit that she was right, but she certainly could've lived without the dress. It was restricting and alien – two offenses she could not overlook, even if it made her feel beautiful.
The pair walked on in silence. Enjolras, in Madame Simplice's husband's old clothes, looked as though he belonged, but Éponine knew that it was obvious to everyone they passed that she was an imposter. Clothes can't hide everything.
Enjolras slowed his steps, falling in beside Éponine. His eyes darted about nervously but he managed to keep his face as cool as stone.
"We need to look as though we are comfortable," he explained quietly, looking at anything but Éponine, "We needn't give anyone a reason to stop us."
"Speak for yourself," Éponine replied with a smirk, "I don't think that comfort is possible in a dress like this." Her attempt at lightening the mood went unappreciated and her marble companion simply frowned at her.
She tried again, gesturing to the bag Madame Simplice had packed their clothes in, "Would you rather I carry that, m'sieur?" Enjolras shook his head wordlessly and Éponine stuck out her tongue at him, displeased at his stubbornness.
Silence resumed and Éponine found herself thinking of Marius. The way his goofy smile was both childish and handsome, how he never seemed to know the right thing to say but how he would try anyway. He was so different from the man beside her, and she smiled in spite of herself. Enjolras' grip on her elbow threw her back into the present, and she realized that they were there.
"Wait," Enjolras breathed, his grip tightening on her arm. He narrowed his eyes and Éponine tried to follow his gaze, her own falling on the scene across the street. A group of National Guardsmen were mingling on the stoop of their safe house. Some were smoking, others laughing; Éponine shivered in the summer heat.
"Someone ratted us out," she hissed back, gripping Enjolras' forearm and pulling him along behind her. "Follow me, I know where we can go."
"What are you doing?" Enjolras demanded, pacing in the shadows beneath the decaying monument. Éponine was rummaging in the darkness and his patience was wearing thin. Before he could repeat his question for perhaps the millionth time, the gamine popped up beside him, grinning wide.
"After you," she said, nodding at a ladder that was now leading into the gloom of the underside of Napoleon's Elephant.
Enjolras frowned and glared between the elephant and the yawning expanse of moonlit street. He felt a heavy droplet of rain land on the top of his head, and Éponine urged him to hurry up. Deciding to take his chances with the elephant rather than the National Guard, Enjolras sighed and clambered up the rickety rungs. The inside of the monument was suffocating.
"Oi, move your legs!" Éponine whispered, pushing past her companion and through the hole and into the shelter. She felt around a bit and pulled a box of matches and a candle from beneath a tarp. When it was lit, Enjolras inhaled sharply at the sight of at least a dozen rats scurrying away, most down the ladder and into the rain. "And stay out!" she called after them laughingly, setting the candle down in a makeshift holder.
"What is this place?" Enjolras asked incredulously. The girl looked up at him, brown eyes suddenly full of sorrow.
"This is – was," she corrected with a sad smile, "Gavroche's home. He was always the smart one in the family."
"I – " he began. Éponine shook her head. The words died on his lips and Enjolras heaved a heavy sigh. "I am rather tired."
Éponine agreed, and nodded to the little pallet beside him. The look of panic in his marble face made Éponine giggle, and Enjolras scowled at her.
"Come on, rich boy," she chided, crawling past him toward the little bed. She gave no thought to the pain in her shoulder or the dirt accumulating on the front of her fancy new dress as she drew the netting aside and flopped down on the straw. Éponine patted the space beside her, "Blow the candle out and hurry under this canopy, else the rats'll gobble you up."
Enjolras did as she said and slid under the mesh. Stretching out beside the girl, he tried his hardest to get comfortable, while still maintaining distance between them. Both were proving to be difficult tasks, especially when he heard Éponine sobbing in the darkness beside him.
"Éponine, are you alright?"
In reply, the gamine rolled over and curled into Enjolras' chest, shaking her head violently. Shock paralyzed him momentarily, but the sound of Éponine's quiet sobs was enough to rouse him into action. As though it were not the first time he held a woman, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, Enjolras wrapped his arms about her slight frame and held her against him, running his hand awkwardly, soothingly up and down her arm. They stayed like that for hours until the pitter patter of rain against the elephant lulled them both to sleep.
A/N: Hey guys, sorry this took so long (like, embarrassingly long). Life caught up with me, which is what usually happens. Anyway, I won't bore you with an explanation of what happened, but I would like to beg your forgiveness. In an attempt at making it up to you, I put in a little adorableness at the end? At least, I tried. I'm sorry this is such an awful chapter.
Any constructive criticism, pointing out of errors, etc., is more than welcome. I didn't have a beta this time. Enjoy, and have a great day.