Children Shouldn't Live Like This – Chapter 1

There was a sickening crunch as the fragile body, already bruised and broken, hit the ebony table with sufficient force to snap two of its four legs. Amidst the ringing in his ears, the burning sensation that seemed to be radiating from his skin and the loud shouting coming from the other side of the room, eight-year-old Gavroche tasted copper in his mouth and realized that he had bitten himself.

He was then distracted from the taste by another glancing blow to the side of his face, sending him flying like a helpless ragdoll across the floor.

"You useless TWIT!"

Stubbornly willing himself to not show weakness, Gavroche bit down on his lower lip, trembling involuntarily, trying not to cry despite his desire to plead for mercy. Dark spots were gradually arising in his vision.

"All you had to do was to send a message to one of the gang, and you still couldn't do that right!"

A fire burning within his throat, Gavroche ignored the pain and argued back.

"You din't write the address properly!"

"DON'T YOU DARE BLAME ME, BRAT!"

Gavroche closed his eyes as he waited for his father's hand to descend yet again, and was completely taken aback by what came next. In a fit of blind rage, Thenardier picked up an empty beer bottle, one of the many that graced the kitchen counter, and swung it at Gavroche. The boy's self-control finally broke, a pained yell escaping his mouth as the bottle met its mark, shattering into pieces upon his forehead, leaving behind a violent cut below his fringe. Gavroche rolled onto his back and covered his forehead with both palms, tears finally slipping out from under his eyelids as crimson blood leaked from between his fingers.

"I'll teach you to disobey me, you-"

"Papa, no! You'll kill him!"

Gavroche could hardly see behind the shower of tears and rapidly flowing blood that compromised his vision, but the familiar voice rang beautifully in his ears, a voice that came from the only person who had a heart in the accursed family.

Eponine.

"Step aside, girl!"

"Put down the bottles, Papa! You're drunk, and Gavroche is hurt!"

"SEE IF I CARE. THAT USELESS BRAT-"

A second bottle flew in Gavroche's direction, narrowly missing him and shattering against the wall.

"-CAN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING RIGHT! I DON'T KNOW HOW YOUR MOTHER BIRTHED SUCH AN ABOMINATION!"

Despite the iron will against painful words that Gavroche had been forced to use to protect himself with from a very young age, the last word in his father's sentence cut intensely into his heart. His sobbing became more rapid and pronounced as all remaining shreds of dignity that he had demanded of himself fell to the ground, forgotten.

"I'm…I'm s-sorry, p-papa! I din't mean to!"

"I'll teach you to make a mistake like that again, boy! STEP ASIDE, EPONINE!"

Gavroche glanced up in horror as his father landed a stinging slap against his daughter's cheek, Eponine audibly wincing in pain. He wanted to yell out, to scream, to holler out for his sister to step aside and protect herself from their father's rage, but the pounding in his ears had grown so loud that he found himself incapable of even saying another word or moving another muscle. Trying to stay conscious, Gavroche leant against the wall and tried to control his breathing, which, despite being a simple task, was piercing into him with every breath.

"What the hell's going on here?!"

Both Eponine and her father glanced at the source of the voice, Madame Thenardier, who had finally woken from her slumber upon the loud noises coming from the floor below. Seeing the faint handprint on Eponine's cheek and her husband's angry expression, she shouted as she approached the pair, cuffing Monsieur Thenardier on his head.

"DON'T YOU DARE LAY A HAND ON MY DAUGHTER, YOU BASTARD!"

"It's all because of the boy! HE DIDN'T DELIVER THE MESSAGE!"

Madame Thenardier then caught sight of her son huddled in a corner, sobbing pathetically.

"Punish the boy if you have to, but don't hurt our daughter, you TWAT!"

"Fine, FINE! You crazy hag!"

As her father stepped aside from her and walked towards her little brother, Eponine's eyes widened dramatically as she turned to her mother, pleading for mercy on Gavroche's behalf.

"Maman, please! Gavroche is badly hurt already, ask Papa to let him off!"

"Eponine, dear, your brother deserves every beating your Papa gives him." Her mother's sickeningly-sweet tone of voice disgusted her. "He has ruined our plans so many times already, I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth keeping him around."

Upon hearing his mother's words, fresh tears of melancholy fell from Gavroche's eyes as he wiped old ones away.

"You hear that, brat? That's what your mother and I think of you. I actually had faith that you'd grow up to become a valuable part of the Thenardier clan, but so far you've been entirely WORTHLESS!"

Gavroche screamed in pain as his father picked him up by his dirty blond hair, lifting him onto his feet. Eponine's desperate pleas fell on deaf ears.

"YOU'VE OUTSTAYED YOUR WELCOME HERE IN THIS HOUSE, KID!"

With a violent kick, the front door flew open, letting in the cold, winter air that bit into Gavroche's bones. The ground was covered with a thick layer of freshly fallen snow. Gavroche then realized what his father was about to do.

"No…Papa, PLEASE! I won't make that mistake again! PAPA!"

"Throw him out and SHUT THE DOOR! THE SNOW IS GETTING IN!"

"Papa, don't do it!"

Gavroche found himself airborne as his father swung him out of the house and into the street. The door slammed. Landing painfully on the blanket of snow, Gavroche scrambled to find his footing. Glancing back at the house where his nightmares remained, he felt his tears freezing in the cold Parisian winter.

For the few years of his life he had longed for this. He had longed to be freed from the hellhole that was the Thenardier's residence. He had desired no less than the ability to walk away from the pain and the verbal abuse that was hurled at him day after the day, from the two people he had, despite their uncountable shortcomings, still regarded grudgingly as parents.

He finally had that now.

But why did it hurt so much? Hadn't he wanted this for so long already?

Why did it hurt to be…alone?

Despite himself, Gavroche found himself gasping as he stumbled back towards the closed door, ignoring the pain that threatened to tear apart his tiny, undernourished body, and knocking desperately on the door.

"Maman! Papa! Je suis désolé! JE SUIS DÈSOLÈ!"

From behind the wooden door, Gavroche could hear his older sister pleading his case, but to no avail.

"I won't mess up again, Papa! I WON'T MESS UP AGAIN!"

The sound of another glass bottle shattering against the wooden door startled the boy, but Gavroche continued knocking. The biting of the cruel winter wind was starting to hurt.

"It's cold, Maman, Papa! Please! Let me in!"

The tears didn't stop.

"Je suis désolé! Laissez-moi entrer, maman, papa!"

Suddenly, the door flew upon. Any hopes that Gavroche had of being reprieved were dashed at the murderous expression on Monsieur Thenardier's face. Too heartbroken and tired to harness any energy to duck, Gavroche felt, for the umpteenth time that night, a fist thrust into his torso, this time audibly breaking a few of his ribs as it slammed into him with a force that mirrored what he had felt months ago when he had accidentally fallen from the second-storey window of a building. Airborne yet again, Gavroche landed on his back at the foot of the steps leading up to the house, his vision rapidly darkening.

"And STAY OUT!"

The door slammed shut yet again, this time with vicious finality.

The pain from his innumerous injuries gradually faded as Gavroche fell into the heavy pit of darkness that was unconciousness.

The snow continued to fall.


Author's Note – My first fic in this fandom! I'll stay true as much as possible to the movieverse and the novel, but I won't hesistate to change a few details if I find it necessary to wrap up the story nicely. The story will last for a few chapters, at this point we see Gavroche at age eight, and as we progress we'll gradually see him grow in both age and character. Think of this as a…re-dramatization of sorts.

Reviews greatly appreciated. I hope I managed to pull of this scene effectively.