First off, apologies for the late update.
A few real life things have distracted me. Nothing serious but just life's little niggles that have left me not really feeling like writing.
Secondly, the time has come to introduce one Marius Pontmercy to the story.
I visualise him as being none other than the Marius of Michael Ball.
I hope I have written him suitably soppy yet believable.
Thirdly, I am not including all of the characters that reside in the Pontmercy household since A) it would just make everything too 'busy' and B) readers who are stage version only won't know who they all are.
Please enjoy and stay with us :)
The Broken Man - Chapter 7.
"I have bought your soul for God"
She sensed something was dreadfully wrong the moment she had arrived.
Cosette had been walking towards the main gate of the asylum having been dropped off by a fiacre, her head filled with things to say to and share with Javert.
As was usual she had been eager to check on his health and ask him if the blankets had kept him warm enough throughout the night.
Once more she carried more ingredients in her basket to mix into a porridge for him to eat.
She had been greatly encouraged yesterday upon knowing that he had eaten. Deep within her Cosette felt a tremendous honour at the memory of Javert, weakened through his illness, allowing her to feed him.
She knew how painful it must have been for him to both require and allow this, yet she felt honoured that a man such as Javert had placed his trust in her for such an undignified task.
She had thought as she walked, suspecting that Javert would be stronger today. She hoped very much that he had followed her instructions to drink plenty and rest, get plenty of sleep and little by little regain his strength.
Today she would check how he was and see if perhaps his painful back would allow him to sit on the stool that had been provided, so that he could be mostly free from the chill of the ground.
Today Cosette felt she wanted nothing more than to simply talk with Javert, to keep him company, give encouragement to his recovery and aid his tired spirits.
Javert had on a previous occasion agreed to tell Cosette stories of her Papa, of the Valjean he had known over the years. She had been warned that these may not be pleasant stories but she was eager to hear them, to know of the Papa who had raised her before his encounter with the Bishop of Digne. It would, Cosette felt, add even more meaning and depth to what she knew of her Papa's redemption.
Her ulterior motive, she forced herself to admit, was that telling the tale would give Javert something to focus on, to think about other than his illness and incarceration.
The whimsical ideas skipping through Cosette's mind shuddered to a halt, blowing away like dust on the wind when a guard approached her as she entered the main gate.
It was as if he had been posted there deliberately to watch for her, stepping forward to intercept her as he saw her and calling out "Madame Pontmercy... Madame Pontmercy!".
Cosette's heart leapt within her as she heard his words, a dread rising from the pit of her stomach as she listened.
"There's been a problem with Monsieur Javert. Please Madame, come this way at once...".
The words had been spoken to Cosette gently yet factually, Monsieur Loiselet spoke tactfully yet truthfully as he reported to her the events of the long night just past.
The cheerful demeanour Cosette had set out with now lay crushed, her plans and hopes falling into disarray where she now sat, seated again at the desk of Monsieur Loiselet's orderly office.
Monsieur Loiselet shuffled some papers in his hands, the report filed by the guard commander describing the incident and offered it across the desk dropping it in front of Cosette.
"For your reading pleasure".
Cosette sat silently at the desk, all of a sudden feeling as if she were very small, as if she were the child summoned to the Mother Superiors' office to be chastised for a transgression.
The descriptions had been enough to unnerve her disposition as Monsieur Loiselet had read the report aloud.
"I've seen him suffer his madness many times before but what occurred last night was beyond anything I deemed him capable of", Monsieur Loiselet shook his head in dismay at the sheer scale of the disturbance, "Three men injured, one seriously".
Cosette's body stiffened where she sat, a dreadful cold washing over her as she listened, violence being something she found utterly distasteful.
"Will your men be alright?", she asked in the meakest of voices, dreading the answer and feeling herself to be partially responsible.
"One guard is badly concussed, one guard's nose was broken", Monsieur Loiselet reeled off the list of injuries, "Marcel, the guard most seriously injured, suffered a broken shoulder and will remain in the hospital for some time. Wether he returns at all will depend on how well the injury heals".
Cosette was numb, the details striking her a blow as if she herself had been punched.
She bit her lip, listening to the words and feeling grave concern for the wellbeing of the injured men.
"All good men Madame", Monsieur Loiselet tapped his fingers on his desk, "I am not saying we have not had incidents before, this is an asylum after all and these inmates are unpredictable. Three months ago Gerard, the man who occupies the cell next to Javert, headbutted a guard inspecting his chains. He broke the guards jaw. My men accept danger, it is a part of this job, but last nights incident went beyond what is acceptable. Javert was wild, completely out of control".
Cosette lifted her head with a terrible sadness in her eyes and looked to Monsieur Loiselet, this man she had known to be both firm and disciplined but also patient and fair.
"I am so terribly sorry for the harm caused to your men. If there is anything at all I can do to help them I most certainly will", genuine concern permeated Cosettes voice as she spoke before breaking off.
She looked down as if nervously unsure of wether to speak on, her feet shuffling with unease within her shoes.
"Monsieur Loiselet, if I may please ask...", her voice tiny as if she were out of her depth, "...may I please know how Javert is? Is he alright? Has he been hurt? May I please see him?".
Nervously Cosette fell silent, feeling almost rude at having changed the subject from the injured guards to enquiring of the health of the perpetrator.
Monsieur Loiselet sat back in his chair, breathing out a sigh.
This was not what he had expected to face when he had arrived today.
"You will be relieved to hear Madame Pontmercy that Javert is, with the exception of minor scrapes and bruises, physically uninjured", Monsieur Loiselet explained, "but he has been heavily restrained to prevent him harming himself and others".
Cosette cast her eyes down, the report having made clear the details of Javert's frenzied attempts at breaking his own neck with the collar and chain.
"He must have suffered such turmoil, he cannot have known what he was doing...", she said in a wavering voice, her heart aching and her mind completely unable to imagine the events which had occurred, "I only wish I had known, I would have been here and perhaps been able to calm him".
"He would have flattened you too along with my men", Monsieur Loiselet dismissed the suggestion as folly.
"You do not know that for sure", Cosette politely disagreed.
"What makes you so certain?", Monsieur Loiselet queried.
"He trusts me", Cosette simply stated, "I have seen past his defences, his pride and his supposed madness".
"Really?", asked Monsieur Loiselet dismissively, "and what did you find?".
Cosette took in a breath.
"I found a man who is so dreadfully alone and so terribly frightened, by both himself and his circumstances. This of course is something he would never admit to".
Monsieur Loiselet sat back in surprise at the answer.
He waited several moments, an eyebrow raised as he considered Cosette's answer.
"You still do not believe he is truly mad do you?", he asked.
Cosette shook her head, certain in her gut feeling.
"The man in the next cell, Gerard? I met him before I met Javert, when I delivered my blankets to those housed here", she began, "He recounted Bible verses over and over, said that if he did not then the Devil would spring forth upon France".
"He believes he's an Angel or something, on a mission", Monsieur Loiselet explained.
"Exactly, and the man in the first cell, believes that none of this is real and that it is all a rouse by the English?", Cosette continued her examples, "These men are closer to what I would define as madness".
Monsieur Loiselet stroked his chin, listening.
"And Javert?", he asked.
Cosette sighed, considering the observations and inevitable conclusions she had drawn in the time she had grown to know Javert.
"He is not mad, he is broken. There is a big difference", Cosette stated in firm belief of her words, "He was a man of great honour and dignity, firm in his beliefs, utmost in his rigidity and unwilling to accept any failures on his part. And then after decades of maintaining this severity of nature he broke and is haunted terribly by lingering memories of his attempt at taking his life".
Monsieur Loiselet listened, finding the words interesting to hear but refusing to accept any justification that may be made for the attack on his guards.
"There has to be more to it than that", Monsieur Loiselet insisted, "Throughout the months he has been held here he has often in his madness shouted, cried out words, threats, pleas... All directed at the same name time and time again. Sometimes he just howls the name on its own over and over... Baljon or Valjon, or something like that. It's like listening to a crying wolf howling in the night".
Cosette fell silent.
She had been fully aware that thoughts of her Papa, of Jean Valjean, plagued Javert.
Only the day previous had he repeatedly turned the tide of conversation to asking her what her Papa would have made of their situation.
Cosette only now realised just how directly linked to her Papa all Javert's anxieties were.
"Do you know the name?", Monsieur Loiselet enquired with interest.
Cosette sighed, once more she would attempt to tell the truth from an angle that answered the question without shedding light on who her Papa was.
"The name is Valjean", she corrected and steeled herself for what had to be said next despite the sour taste the words would leave, "he was a criminal, branded a dangerous man, one Javert dedicated many years to the pursuit of and encountered many times".
"I see... one that got away eh?",
Monsieur Loiselet guessed.
"He and Javert had...", Cosette searched her vocabulary for the right words, "...considerable history".
Monsieur Loiselet sighed, feeling a sympathy for this girls desire to help yet silently wondering wether her actions were causing a hinderance. It was interesting, he made a mental note, that she had dropped the title 'Inspector' and now referred to him informally as simply 'Javert'.
He filed the thought away in the back of his mind and returned to considerations of the present situation.
During the eighteen months he had been held at the asylum neither Monsieur Loiselet nor any of the guards had found Javert troublesome, defiant or disrespectful in any way.
He granted that despite his exterior being as unemotional as granite, it was clear Javert had not adapted well to his incarceration.
He knew where he was and understood where he was, this itself was unusual in an inmate.
He knew that during attacks of his madness Javert wailed and cried out, pulling desperately on his chains like a man who's mission was not yet fulfilled.
He also knew that during his calmer times Javert simply sat silent in his chains unmoving like a statue carved from stone and misery.
Other inmates often put up a fight, refusing to obey even the simplest instruction due to their lack of comprehension or the voices rampaging in their heads.
Javert had always been different.
On the occasions when Monsieur Loiselet had entered his cell to inspect his chains he had found Javert to be nothing but obedient in the most self disciplined of manors.
Silent, desolate and shattered, but utterly obedient toward his authority.
Cosette cleared her throat, quietly drawing Monsieur Loiselet from his thoughts.
"Monsieur...", she spoke with a voice that was gentle yet aware of the importance of that which she must ask, "...may I please see him?".
Monsieur Loiselet took a deep breath and looked at Cosette in consideration of the request before breathing out.
The request was unusual and therefore no procedure existed. Inmates rarely had visitors as friends and family either didn't exist or, more often, no longer wished to be associated with one condemned to such a place.
Monsieur Loiselet thought, weighing up wether allowing a visit would reward bad behaviour, or wether there was a chance it could bring calm.
The last thought circling his mind was that of wether a young lady should be permitted near such a man after the events which had occurred.
It was not right for a young lady to witness a man in Javert's current state, nor was it correct to subject her to the possible risk he may still pose.
"I cannot permit any harm to come to you Madame, last night he was wild, out of control", Monsieur Loiselet answered, "my priority is to minimise risk to guards, visitors and wether you believe it or not, the inmates. I cannot risk further agitating him".
"But you said he is restrained", Cosette protested, "I may not agree with that but I simply must see him, I must make sure he is alright, that he is not hurt and comfort him if necessary".
Cosette's eyes were pleading, desperate for the decision to fall in her favour.
Her mind was in constant motion with a surge of worries regarding Javert.
She knew from experience that his 'madness' rendered him helpless amid the surge of uncontrollable dark thoughts that overpowered him.
It was akin to a storm surge pushing inwards, overpowering and submerging everything before it prior to pulling out and leaving nothing but devastation.
Cosette found that her concern lay not in the madness that had occurred, but in the damage it had inevitably left behind.
She looked to Monsieur Loiselet, her eyes like those of a child pleading to be allowed something forbidden.
"I believe I can get through to him...", Cosette urged, "...please let me try?".
"Damn your persistence", Monsieur Loiselet breathed out and shook his head in defeat.
Cosette allowed herself a moment of hope, sensing the decision had been made.
"Alright you may see him. But be warned...", Monsieur Loiselet became serious, "...I have no idea of his current mental state, nor do I know how he may react to your presence".
"Thank you!", Cosette's voice faltered with relief upon the granting of her request.
The walk to Javert's lonely cell was filled with trepidation and with every step Cosette felt her apprehension grow tenfold.
She walked with Monsieur Loiselet by her side, her thoughts lost in considerations of what she could possibly say to Javert.
The bond they had formed was real yet still fragile, the trust they shared becoming deep yet still cautious.
This deep trust, Cosette considered fearfully, was something that was not to be taken for granted.
Depending on what she was about to find this trust could very well be smashed with an incorrect approach, an ill-chosen word or a failure to understand Javert's fragility.
Before Cosette knew it the walk to the cell door was over.
Cosette's heart thumped, her nerves rising within her as Monsieur Loiselet unlocked the heavy door and unfastened it's bolts.
Once the door was pushed open Cosette took a cautious step in.
She was unsure of what to expect, understanding as she did all that had occurred during the night.
As usual her eyes took a moment to adjust to the contrast of light entering through the tiny window and the darkness of the rest of the cell which the window forbade the light from touching.
Cosette's first realisation was that of a silence that was almost deafening in the absolute.
Her assumption had been that she would enter into the cell and be met by the ravings of a 'mad man' shaking to free himself from his chains.
Within moments Cosette's vision began to adjust and her dread rose upon surveying the scene.
Directly before her lay Javert's blankets, strewn haphazardly across the ground. The stool lay on it's side accompanied by torn pages of the newspaper she had left him having been stepped on during the struggle.
Two knocked over water cups gave further indication of the disturbance that had occurred.
Monsieur Loiselet stepped in slowly behind Cosette, observing as she took in the scene before her but remaining respectfully silent, waiting for the inevitable moment she would lay her eyes upon the man she had become so inexplicably attached to.
Suddenly a gasp escaped Cosette and she clasped her hands over her mouth, her eyes wide and her eyebrows raised in horror.
Her body jerked in sudden shock as she turned her head and saw him, as if a great sound from nowhere had startled her.
"Oh dear God!", she breathed out, lowering her hands from her mouth as she looked.
Slowly and cautiously she stepped nearer, her mouth still open in disbelief at the sight before her.
"Careful...", Monsieur Loiselet cautioned as he stepped in slowly, maintaining a discreet distance behind Cosette but not preventing her advance.
Cosette disregarded the warning, dismissing the words before her mind had even processed them.
Her eyes were focused on one sight only as she stepped nearer with the gentlest steps she could manage, trying her hardest to approach without startling him.
She moved in carefully, observing Javert's chained and cowed form before her.
The chains had held him firm throughout the night just as the guard commander had surmised hours earlier when he had first conceived and improvised this variation of the martingale.
Cosette had arrived this morning expecting to find Javert asleep or at least resting under his blankets.
She had hoped very much that he would be able to report that he had managed a decent nights sleep and that maybe, just maybe, he would be feeling slightly stronger.
Instead the sight before Cosette appalled her.
Javert remained on his knees, the right side of his limp body leant against the cold wall.
He was once again fastened by his collar to the short chain hanging from the wall but this time Cosette noticed the difference.
She stood next to him and gently lowered herself to quietly examine his bonds, noting that a rope was now also tied to the front of his collar and extending downwards, between his legs and secured tightly to his newly reapplied ankle shackles.
Cosette felt herself feeling increasingly reviled as she realised that this held Javert in a position knelt partly bent over on his knees, the collar chain preventing him leaning fully over and the rope preventing him rising.
Finally she looked to his back and noted his wrists shackled behind his back, a rope securing his ankle chain to his wrist chain preventing further struggles.
"It was necessary...", Monsieur Loiselet said from where he stood some distance behind Cosette as he watched her shake her head in disapproval.
She moved herself to stand before Javert and looked to Monsieur Loiselet.
"Why?", she simply asked, "Why?".
"I'm afraid it was as I said necessary", Monsieur Loiselet replied softly yet factually to the young lady stood before him.
Cosette's expression was changing rapidly, from one of initial horror to one of absolute heartbreak for this man she had come to respect who now knelt broken before her.
"He must be released from this", Cosette pleaded, "He is terribly ill and he suffers greatly from pain in his back".
"I cannot do that", Monsieur Loiselet shook his head, "He has to learn that he cannot just attack my guards at will, that there are consequences".
Cosette's eyes began to moisten at the powerlessness she began to feel.
"Monsieur Loiselet this is not a prison", she reminded him and began to lower herself before Javert.
A hand stopped her as Monsieur Loiselet stepped forward, grasping her shoulder and causing her to start suddenly.
"Forgive my impertinence Madame but before you get too close and dirty your clothing...".
Discreetly Monsieur Loiselet whispered into Cosette's ear then nodded downward bringing Cosette's attention to the now cold wetness of Javert's ragged trousers.
"That is how much he lost control last night", Monsieur Loiselet explained, "once his fight left him he collapsed in his chains, so far gone his - forgive my course language - his body couldn't even stop him pissing himself once he fainted".
Cosette's lip quivered as she stared down at Javert before her, uncertainty abounding within her as to what she should do or say.
This was new.
She had tended him while sick, and comforted him when distressed but she had never before seen a man so truly broken.
The sight before her did not match that of the tall and ferocious man described in her Papa's writings.
She took a deep breath, fighting hard to hold back the stream of tears she felt could so easily be released at the pity she felt.
Again, and non judgementally, she lowered herself before him desperately hoping for a movement yet feeling almost rude at disturbing him and bringing him back into the clutches of both sickness and pain.
Javert's head hung from his collar in a manner almost lifeless, his bedraggled hair hanging loose.
If he was awake it did not show.
Cosette gently reached out, her hand shaking as she did so and pushed his hair once again behind his ear.
Deep concern building within her Cosette brought herself to her knees, lowering her face to try and glimpse Javert's own face from the position in which his body hung bowed before her.
"Javert?", she called gently and placed the most gentle of touches to his cold shoulder.
Gently she squeezed with a reassuring human touch that spoke of kindness not violence.
"Javert?", she said again quietly, "It's Cosette...".
She paused momentarily, unsure of what to say.
"I'm here Javert", she slowly moved her hand from his shoulder and reached for his face.
Gently she brushed the back of her fingers down his cheek, hoping the touch of another person might rouse one as readily alert as Javert.
"You're safe", she whispered, "I won't let anybody harm you".
It was very faint.
A sound so quiet Cosette almost missed it.
A near silent change in breath.
She looked closer.
His mouth moved but no sound came, just a slight movement.
"Javert?", Cosette once more placed her hand to his shoulder, grasping him with a touch that was both firm and gentle, the reassuring touch of an ally who would not desert him.
Once more he stirred, as if the very act of waking back to reality was itself a painful struggle.
"Water and a cloth please!", Cosette urged turning quickly to Monsieur Loiselet, "Please!".
Sensing Javert was in no state to cause further disturbance Monsieur Loiselet complied, nodding his head before abruptly leaving the cell.
Cosette continued to gently squeeze Javert's shoulder, feeling the cold underneath the rags that adorned his body until Monsieur Loiselet returned moments later with the requested cloth and a small bowl filled with water.
"Thank you", she responded as a matter of courtesy as she took hold of both the items and placed them before her.
Briskly she picked up the cloth, dabbing it in the cool water.
Monsieur Loiselet stepped back, returning to stand by the door at a distance.
Carefully Cosette looked to Javert and raised the damp cloth to Javert's face as his head hung facing down before her.
He was cold to the touch this morning but Cosette hoped that the sensation of cool water touching his face might give encouragement to rouse him.
His hair having been moved aside, Cosette dabbed the cloth gently onto his forehead, allowing the water to trickle slightly down his face before dabbing it away again.
"Please wake Javert...", she quietly urged as she again dabbed the cloth in the water before this time dabbing it slowly down his cheek, again allowing the water to trickle slightly.
Once more a change in breath broke Javert's silence. A sharp breath of air breathed in of the sort one would make upon experiencing sudden pain.
"Javert?", Cosette spoke quietly but concerned.
The breath was expelled just as sharply as it had been inhaled.
She placed her left hand on the shoulder directly opposite her, gripping him as if she were attempting to prevent him drifting away while her right hand continued to dab his face with the cool water.
His body remained limp as he hung powerless, Cosette urging him to wake by the grip from her hand and wishing she could transfer a little of her own strength into him via this touch.
The pained breath came again and Cosette looked carefully to his downward facing face.
Her heart leapt as she observed his barely open eyes.
His eyelids were open as barely more than slits, his face hanging downwards toward the ground.
"Javert?", Cosette called gently, "Javert can you hear me?".
His eyes looked to the ground, unfocused and puffy, the whites of his eyes seeming pink and bloodshot.
Cosette observed closer as she once more dabbed his face, noticing the dried lines that trailed down his face from his eyes to his beard.
Her own eyes once more welled up and her lip wobbled as she recognised the lines for what they were - the trails left by a great many tears that had been shed during the night, Javert's restrained wrists unable the wipe them from his face of stone.
Another breath, one that was more of a pained whimper sounded as his strained muscles awoke with him.
In response Cosette began to feel a sensation of panic grow within her and her stomach knotted unsure of what she should do.
"Please Javert", she pleaded as she dropped the cloth onto the ground and took hold of him by both shoulders, "Please tell me you can hear me, please, anything".
Cosette felt Javert as his body tensed under her touch as if trying to move but failing through lack of strength, restraint or a combination of the two.
"Cos...", he whispered, his eyes barely remaining open
"Yes it's me", she reassured him, "it's Cosette, I am here, I promise I am here".
Again he breathed out in a whimper followed by a sound from his voice that made no word but only sounded of pain.
"I will not leave you", she assured him, her pulse racing in anxiety at the sound of pain coming from him.
With a shudder Javert suddenly coughed harshly, the cough continuing for some moments and prompting Cosette to lean forward and rub his convulsing back, desperate to sooth the cough that only served to increase the pain he suffered in this position.
Placing her arms around him as best she could she rubbed and patted his back before the cough quietened then subsided once more, Javert again falling limp in his restraints and gasping in a great inhalation of air as he recovered his breath only to have the pull of the collar choke it from him.
His entire body shuddered with every breath as if breathing itself were a tremendous effort.
Suddenly he gagged, the collar pulling hard against his tired throat and windpipe, his weight resting uneasily within it now he had awoken and the cough having disturbed it.
Struggling for breath he attempted to pull himself weakly up but the rope holding him down equally tightly defeated his every action, it's length pulled tight from Javert's collar to his ankle shackles.
Cosette moved, recognising both his distress and confusion and again taking hold of his shoulders in an attempt to take some of the burden of Javert's weight off his collar so that he might breathe easier.
His weakened body was an almost dead weight and he struggled not to gag in an attempt to take the weight from his neck chain, the rope defeating every attempt.
"Enough", Cosette shook her head in decision.
As Javert choked Cosette's fingers moved to his collar, reaching for where the rope had been bound to it.
The binding was tight where it had been tied securely by the guard commander in the early hours but after much trying Cosette's fingers eventually moved it loose.
The seconds felt like an eternity but the rope eventually came loose, dropping to the floor.
The releasing of the rope allowed Javert to fall limp against the wall once more, now free to hang by his collar chain in such a way that did not choke him any longer.
Cosette watched him before leaning in and gently assisting him in sitting up straighter, pushing him up slowly by his shoulders until he was able to lean his weight, slackening the chain and allowing the wall to hold him up.
His strength sapped, Javert leant his head against the wall where he remained knelt side on against it.
Javert's eyes closed slowly in exhaustion before slowly forcing themselves open as much as they could.
Cosette noted some healing to his bruised eye and that it joined the other eye in opening.
"Javert?", Cosette again called, "Can you hear me? Do you know where you are?".
His half open eyes looked downwards, his pupils focused on nothing while a tremble remained clearly visible through his body.
Once more his mouth moved, his voice gruff and broken, holding it's distinctive tone but the words were unclear as they passed his dry lips.
"Am...", he paused to allow a slow breath, "Is... this...".
Cosette moved her face nearer to his as she knelt, unsure wether Javert was weak, delirious or both.
"Javert relax, take a deep breath", she urged him, wishing that she could place a reassuring hand on his own were they not shackled behind his back.
"Sshhh...", she soothed, placing her hand instead on his upper arm and watching as he attempted to comply with the words she had spoken.
Javert breathed in slowly, then out, then another slow breath in, then again out, his eyes all the time remaining unfocused and cloudy.
Finally his body shuffled, his discomfort clear to see but his restraints preventing much movement.
A sound of chains rattled as he weakly made an attempt to move his arms, a second attempt trying harder after the failure of the first.
Cosette increased her grasp on his arm, hoping to gain the focus of his attention.
"Don't struggle", she pleaded, "they chained your wrists again, this time behind your back".
Javert audibly breathed out, the breath sounding to Cosette as indistinguishable from defeat and despair.
His eyes finally looked up, tracing the direction of the voice and the source of the person holding his arm.
His pupils altered as they tried hard to focus, the image of Cosette becoming slowly clearer to Javert's vision.
He spoke once more, his mouth moving but his voice too broken to force out words.
"I can't understand you", Cosette felt a terrible sadness as she spoke, knowing Javert was trying his hardest to communicate something and watching as his bloodshot eyes became moist.
She leant forward placing her ear next to his mouth.
"Please", she urged him, "try again".
For a moment Javert waited, allowing his body to wait for the strength to attempt another breath.
"Cosette...", he finally said in a whisper filled with a terrible desperation.
"Yes", Cosette replied thankful that he had finally communicated, "I am here Javert".
"...Is this death? ...Damnation?", he finally spoke his deepest fears in a broken whisper, "...Am I.. Am I in Hell?".
Cosette pulled back, shocked at the absurdity of the question but seeing now just how broken and confused Javert's madness had this time left him.
He again leant his head against the wall, one solitary tear slowly escaping his left eye and leaving a moist trail as it moved slowly down his exhausted face.
He had never before cried openly in front of her.
"No Javert... no", Cosette replied gently in answer as she raised herself higher on her knees.
She cupped one hand over his cheek and wiped the tear away with her thumb, all the while noting how soulless and dim his eyes now appeared as if a fire once burning within them had been extinguished.
Javert would, Cosette considered, normally recoil from such human touch and this caused within Cosette a feeling of dread.
It was if physical contact either no longer bothered him or he no longer cared.
Cosette suspected that she knew which it was.
"Javert listen to me. Focus...", she urged.
She removed her hand from his face and clicked her fingers before his eyes, fighting for his drifting attention to remain entirely on her.
"Javert you are alive, you are in the asylum, in Paris, do you remember?", she recounted, "Last night you suffered an attack of the thoughts that haunt you, you lost control... Do you remember any of it?".
Javert remained still, his eyes struggling to remain focused on the blur that was Cosette.
His memories were a whirl, patchy and consisting of images that made little sense.
"Toulon...", he recalled in his whisper, "...a riot".
He stopped, a portion of his mind telling him that this made no sense, that this could not be because Toulon was so long ago in his past.
More memories followed, blurred.
A fight, no, more of a brawl.
He was outnumbered.
A national guardsman had been strangling him.
But... A national guardsman would not be at Toulon?
The guardsman had spoken words as he throttled him.
"Valjean!", Javert's eyes widened in sudden alarm, "Valjean was here! He was here!".
Cosette once more took Javert by the shoulders firmly, understanding that she had to remain in control if he were to break free of his muddled thoughts.
"No Javert, think! Remember!", Cosette spoke louder as if forcing herself to be heard over his minds disjointed rambling, "Valjean is dead, remember! Jean Valjean was my Papa and he is dead. Please Javert, please fight this".
A focus slowly and with great effort returned to Javert's eyes and he looked directly at Cosette, his eyes fixed firmly upon her face as he sorted vague and distorted thoughts.
"He said I used you", Javert recalled, "He was right... I have become weak...useless...".
Cosette squeezed his shoulders with her hands.
She wanted to shake him, to wake him from his deeply groggy state.
It was clear to Cosette that Javert had suffered a deeply traumatic attack of his 'madness' during the night, worse than the usual avalanche of dark thoughts she had witnessed him endure on previous occasions.
"Sedative...", she wondered to herself under her breath.
Javert looked to her silently, listening in exhaustion.
"Javert were you asleep when these thoughts started?".
Slowly he nodded, aware in his confused memories that he had been resting the day previous.
"I...", he paused to allow his slow thought process to catch up, "...I do not recall waking... dreams, waking... all a blur".
"The sedative", Cosette looked down momentarily and cursed, "You must have been too drugged to wake from your nightmares. Oh goodness, you must have woken into a waking nightmare".
Javert said nothing and remained watching Cosette for some time from where he leant.
"Then this is real", he finally spoke, his head lowering with a desolate exhalation of breath and a rustle of his neck chain as he accepted that this circumstance was real and would not be woken from.
Once more his arms shuffled, his frustration clear at having his wrists chained behind his back out of use.
"Cosette...", he looked up as his usual demeanour of seriousness returned to his face with a slight clearing of his mind.
"Yes?", Cosette answered, encouraged evermore by Javert's slowly returning coherence.
"I pride myself on standing strong...", speaking was still a considerable effort despite summoning the dregs of his strength, "...I have had to all my life".
"I know", Cosette acknowledged, "...I know".
His hunters eyes focused sharp, alert, urgent as they locked onto Cosette's own as if grasping.
"Tell me", he urged, "tell me, how much more do they think I can endure?".
Cosette looked away momentarily, closing her eyes as if shielding herself from Javert's words.
Hearing his once powerful voice ask this, the man clearly pushed to his breaking point made Cosette feel terribly uncomfortable.
Her pride would not allow her to willingly admit it, not even to herself, but for the first time since vowing to aid Javert Cosette felt truly out of her depth.
Every time she strove to help him he made definite progress.
Yet it seemed that every time he made progress something inevitably knocked him back.
Sickness, 'madness', and the asylum treating his condition by simply chaining him like a dog out of control all conspired to beat him down.
It seemed to Cosette that everything she tried was doomed to meet with a dead end.
She was she felt beginning to lose hope just as much as Javert had.
Once more she looked to him, curiously eyeing his collar and slowly moving a hand toward it.
Javert did not recoil and remained still as his eyes cautiously observed her.
Gently she touched it, adjusting it slightly to reveal bruising hidden beneath it.
Cosette's heart broke a little more as she looked at the dark marks discolouring his neck.
"They said you tried to break your neck", she said very quietly, unable to add anything further to her sentence.
The bruises spoke clearly for themselves as a statement of the out of control desperation Javert had hit during the night.
Javert looked away briefly, perhaps in shame, Cosette could not tell from his expression.
"In the same circumstances, and after all this time, would you not consider the same?", Javert responded with a voice both grave and bleak, "to break the neck assures a quick death. I have seen such in my time".
Cosette stifled her tears as best she could, Javert's words ringing through her mind like thunder.
"Please stop...", she spoke, her voice crumbling into terrible sadness.
This time it was Javert who looked to Cosette, his pained eyes watching as the tears began to fall down her cheeks.
"I have upset you...", he cast his eyes down in shame.
His arms once again tugged at the shackles behind his back, their chains preventing him from actively making the first humane gesture of his adult life as he felt the need to reach out and wipe the tears from Cosette's face.
He tugged once more at the chain before surrendering to their cold grasp on his wrists.
Neither said anything for some moments, the silence being penetrated by Cosette's sniffling as she stifled her sobs.
Javert's chains clinked as he attempted to shuffle forward on his scuffed knees, feeling unease at Cosette's tears and cursing his broken self for speaking aloud such morbid thoughts.
"Javert...", a voice called in warning clearly and firmly from the doorway.
Monsieur Loiselet had remained, observing from the doorway yet keeping a respectful distance to allow Cosette to speak to Javert unhindered.
"Do not upset the lady", the voice reminded, the authority within its tone indicating that this was an order not a request.
Javert closed his eyes briefly, gritting his teeth behind his closed lips and recalling the beating he had received the last time he had upset Cosette.
He exhaled defeatedly, yielding to authority, his attempt at shuffling just a little had failed as he realised that his legs refused to comply.
Being knelt in his forced position all night on this stone cold floor had he realised deadened his legs.
Sagging into his collar chain he observed Cosette.
"Do not cry", he urged, "you are free. You can leave at any time.".
Aching, he flexed his fingers, the prickling of pins and needles bristling through his hands caused by the rope that secured his wrist shackles close to his ankle shackles.
The act of waking and movement had applied pressure against the rope which pulled constantly on the wrist shackles.
He coughed once more, wincing at the pain both the cough and his position caused to jolt through his back.
"Oh dear God when will this end?", he cried out in frustration, an indecipherable agonised groan following his words as his back muscles spasmed and he pulled at his restraints.
"Something must be done", Cosette moved forward, easing Javert once more to rest his weight against the stone wall.
Momentarily Javert held his breath and gritted his teeth as another surge of pain engulfed his frail back, his body tensed and his restrained hands balled into fists.
"Shhh... It's alright", Cosette once more held his shoulder, "if you need to cry out then do, there is no shame".
His eyes screwed tightly shut and his teeth bared as his back tormented him, the pain surging through his spine as if it were on fire.
"Let it all be damned, I can take no more!", he shouted in a guttural tone consisting of both growl and snarl.
He fell forward, attempting to obey his back which demanded that his body curl up to relieve the pain.
The neck chain refused to allow such a thing and Cosette moved quickly forward, catching hold of him.
For moments she silently held him as he leant into her, the gesture relieving somewhat the pressure from his tormented back.
His face lay buried into her shoulder, Cosette placing her arms around him and embracing him as much as her small built form could.
His voice moaning lowly and constantly in pain was audible to her ear and her tears continued to roll down her face as she shared the pain and despair of her Papa's old nemesis.
"Cosette...", he spoke after a long moan, the word whispered into her ear close by as his body was embraced.
Quiet footsteps slowly approached, clearly those of Monsieur Loiselet.
Cosette embraced Javert closer upon hearing her name, his body and rags colder than usual and his misery increased tenfold.
He was sickened, exhausted, and now utterly broken in both body and mind and his rags, damp with his own involuntary piss served to make him only colder.
The gravity of the situation hit Cosette as she considered this incredibly unlikely situation.
She, the daughter of Jean Valjean, sitting in an asylum for the insane cradling her Papa's tormented great foe Inspector Javert.
It scarcely seemed believable.
"Cosette...", he whispered after one more surge of pain, a surge she felt through the shudder of his entire body.
"Please...", Javert urged.
"Anything", Cosette replied in full honesty, willing to do or try anything to relieve his pain and discomfort.
Another guttural growl of pain came from his distinctive voice.
"Please help me...", he paused breathless, his greying hair falling forwards and his eyes staring transfixed into a distance of nothing in sheer pain "Please help me...or kill me".
His body shook once more, wracked by the surge of his cough but also of something else - the subtle shudders of a man fighting to suppress his tears.
Cosette held him tight, feeling her own heart pounding within her as it reacted in horror to Javert's pleading.
"They can make it appear an accident...or failed escape...", he gasped a breath as he was held, "...no one would investigate a death here...".
Slowly Cosette pulled back speechless, her hands remaining on Javert's shoulders steadying him until his side slumped once more against the wall.
He looked downward, closing his eyes as if unable to bring himself to look to Cosette.
Wiping away her own tears Cosette took a deep breath, her own shock at the desperate request almost overcoming her.
She looked up to Monsieur Loiselet desperate for some form of intervention but no response came.
Again she looked to Javert, his gaze focused forlorn on the ground.
Cosette was truly on her own, her thoughts desperate and her morals imploring her to find a solution.
Allowing Javert to die was out of the question.
It was impossible she knew for herself to partake in, or to step back and allow another to cause the death of anyone.
Her morals, her beliefs, her absolute faith all forbade such acts.
With a gentle pat to Javert's shoulder Cosette rose to her feet and paced to the other side of the cell.
She paused, aware that Monsieur Loiselet was keenly observing her and looked up at the small window high up above Javert outside of which lie the outside world he had not seen in almost two years.
"Oh good Lord please grant me a solution", she begged quietly under her breath as she observed the clear sky through the window bars.
"What would Papa do?", she asked herself, turning her back to Monsieur Loiselet to enable herself to be as alone as she could with her thoughts.
Her Papa, she thought, would move the Earth itself if someone were in need.
He had shown Javert mercy in the past and had taught Cosette the value of such acts from a young age.
After a moment she thought again of her Papa, his mercy and the lengths he had once gone to to help a tormented soul - The tormented soul of a child at an inn in Montfermeil.
The acts of the past and her newfound obligation to Javert began to converge in her mind, mingling together into that which was becoming an idea.
She turned, casting her eyes over Javert's tattered form before settling them firmly on Monsieur Loiselet.
With a deep breath Cosette steeled herself and strode towards Monsieur Loiselet with a confidence inspired by thoughts of her Papa.
"Monsieur Loiselet", she began, "I must ask, under what circumstances is it possible for an inmate to leave this place?".
Monsieur Loiselet frowned, surprised at such a question.
"Well... Death usually. They can't just walk out", he answered.
"And there is no other way?", Cosette asked.
Monsieur Loiselet paused before answering, looking to Cosette with suspicion.
"There have been one or two occasions over the years, rare occasions, where an inmates family has reclaimed a person...", he hesitated, "but it is very rare, these people are sick, dangerous. People do not want the responsibility.".
"I will take Javert", Cosette stood up straight, forcing herself to her full height and ensuring she held Monsieur Loiselet's gaze intently.
"Madame!", Monsieur Loiselet exclaimed, "You cannot just walk in and take him, he is dangerous!".
"No he is not", Cosette shook her head in full confidence of her answer.
"He cannot be allowed to walk the streets! He was brought here suicidal! If you take him from here he will be dead within a week!", Monsieur Loiselet's voice was rising, his arms wide in gesticulation, "We do not keep these people here for fun! Yes he is under lock and key but we keep him safe!".
"He is dying a little with each passing day!", Cosette too raised her voice, "I have signed to take responsibility for him and that is just what I intend to do".
Monsieur Loiselet shook his head, trying to calm his temper before a lady.
"You have a say in his conditions", he explained, "not a say in wether he is freed!".
"Three thousand Francs...", Cosette simply stated.
There was silence as the dispute halted abruptly, paused by the dropping of a financial incentive.
"Pardon?", Monsieur Loiselet asked after several moments.
Cosette turned to face Javert and nodded in his direction.
"Three thousand Francs for his freedom, to do with as you wish", she reiterated, "Personally I would favour splitting it between your injured men as reparations".
Monsieur Loiselet fell silent, momentarily dumbfounded by the audacity of that which he had just heard.
"I...", Monsieur Loiselet spoke with an expression of confusion, "...I don't understand. Why would you do this?".
Cosette sighed, allowing her stance to soften slightly as she turned back to Monsieur Loiselet.
"Monsieur Javert is very important to me, to my family, to my life as I know it", she explained honestly, "I am honour bound to take care of him as best I can. I do believe he is damaged yes, but not mad. I will see to it that he gets rest, comfort and all the help my family can offer".
Monsieur Loiselet watched Cosette with an eyebrow raised in interest.
"If I may be so bold, you are a strange one Madame", Monsieur Loiselet admitted, "it is rare for anyone to care what happens to those here, let alone step forward to claim one into the midst of their own family".
"It is mercy Monsieur", Cosette answered with simplicity.
"How do you know he will not murder you in your bed?", Monsieur Loiselet asked.
The question reminded Cosette of something she had read in her Papa's writings, something the Bishop of Digne had said when posed with a similar question regarding the scruffy convict who had arrived dishevelled on his doorstep one night.
Cosette looked to Monsieur Loiselet, shrugged and answered simply, "How do you know I will not murder him?".
Monsieur Loiselet breathed out, this most unusual past few hours having given him an ever increasing headache.
"This is most irregular", he sighed in indecision, "most irregular indeed".
The fact that this was not a no gave Cosette encouragement.
She stepped forward again, eyes pleading and her goal in sight.
"But this is not a prison", she reminded, "and Javert is not serving a sentence, he is a free man in the eyes of the law".
"You oversimplify matters", Monsieur Loiselet moved away, stepping slowly nearer to Javert.
"Monsieur Loiselet look at him", Cosette implored and gestured a hand towards Javert as he knelt slumped against the wall, his head hanging from his collar and his breathing almost tiresome, "he is sick, he is cold... I have never seen a man in the pit of such despair".
Observing Javert, Monsieur Loiselet stepped toward him recalling the man who had been brought here from the hospital almost two years previously.
The fiacre had arrived back having been summoned to the hospital that morning and two guards of the asylum had climbed out struggling to place their shoulders under the arms of the heavily drugged man they had been requested to collect.
The man had long loose hair showing signs of greying with age and impressive whiskers aside his face.
Once carried to the cell he had been unconsciously dressed in the ragged clothing he wore even now, the holes not yet having worn into them.
Bandaging around his upper body indicated the now healing ribs that had cracked, it was surmised, as he had hit the water during his suicide attempt.
Once chained he was left alone, his unyielding dignity initially refusing to be cowed as he sat for the first few weeks with his head upright and chin defiantly raised, refusing to be overcome by his circumstance and appearing as if nothing were wrong.
But the madness eventually came again, causing his first outburst and rants.
His chains were fought more frequently and with ever increasing desperation as the depth of his situation began to truly dawn upon him.
Rage, snarls, growls and cries of "Valjean!" were often heard during the night as the tormented thoughts slowly became his lonesome companion in his isolation.
Monsieur Loiselet considered the changes he had witnessed in Javert and how he had arrived troubled yet retaining an air of proud rigidity.
This contrasted with the sight of the sickened man now knelt before him, a man who's own troubled thoughts had assaulted him like a tormentor and who now appeared far older than when he had arrived all those months ago.
"I must admit that with his health as it is I cannot see him lasting another six months here. Given the damp and cold, I believe his chest infection will before long turn to pneumonia and he will die", Monsieur Loiselet spoke with a great reluctance to his voice before turning back to Cosette, "If freed from here he requires a warm bed, better food and most importantly someone willing to shoulder the burden of making him well again... In both body and mind".
"I can provide this!", Cosette nodded her head encouragingly, a hopeful expression beginning to show upon her face, "Monsieur Loiselet, he is a good man. I beg of you to allow him his freedom so that he may regain his life, his dignity... His self".
Monsieur Loiselet walked slowly toward Javert, stopping directly in front of him before bending down level to observe him in consideration.
Javert remained knelt in his restrained position, his head once more hanging from his collar and his tired eyes closed. It was apparent that he had faded back into whatever state passed as a pained and exhausted sleep.
"Very well", Monsieur Loiselet stood, the sight of Javert's exhausted form clearly having made up his mind, "Very well, take him".
A gasp escaped Cosette as a smile erupted upon her face before she clamped her hand over her mouth to conceal it.
"Oh Monsieur Loiselet!", she exclaimed.
"We lost two inmates to the cold last winter. Granted one was old so it was not unexpected but I would prefer to avoid another... Besides, I cannot put my finger on it precisely, but there is a certain dignity to Javert and an honest determination in your desire to aid him that makes me begin to consider that there may indeed be a slim hope for him yet", Monsieur Loiselet explained before pausing, "and if his health does not recover... I feel it is only proper that he be allowed to die with some measure of dignity in a place more befitting that here. He was a policeman after all, that entitles him to a measure of respect".
Cosette stepped nearer, a heartwarming tear escaping her eye and running down her face as she listened to Monsieur Loiselet's words.
"Such kindness! May your deeds be blessed, but know this, Javert will not die... I will not let him die".
Slowly Monsieur Loiselet moved to beside Javert and reached forward to place his hands upon the rope that fastened his wrist shackles to his ankle shackles.
Silently he unfastened the rope, immediately easing the pressure from Javert's strained shoulders.
Cosette watched as he then took a key from a small bunch secured to his belt.
Moments later the shackles securing Javert's wrists behind his back dropped to the floor with a clang and his arms fell limp to his sides.
Feeling compelled to help Cosette rushed forward, disbelief still lingering within her at the sight of Javert being released from his bonds.
Despite the disbelief, a feeling of hope now slowly grew within her.
Finally Monsieur Loiselet placed the last key into the padlock of Javert's metal collar.
It clinked as the key turned, Monsieur Loiselet pulling the padlock free before slowly easing the imposing collar open.
An involuntary moan escaped Javert as his bruised neck was finally freed and he slumped powerlessly forwards, both Cosette and Monsieur Loiselet reaching out to take his now unsupported weight.
Holding Javert as best they could, Cosette and Monsieur Loiselet gently eased him slowly and gently to the ground until he lay still on his side unaware of the bargain that had been struck and the freedom that awaited him.
Monsieur Loiselet stood, looking down upon Cosette as she again knelt next to Javert, her warm hand placed reassuringly upon his shoulder.
"Come, you must have preparations to make. I will see to it that he is fed and that he is at least doused with clean water before he is freed".
Cosette rose to her feet, glancing once more with concern to Javert as he lay oblivious before returning her gaze to Monsieur Loiselet.
"I will go then. There is much to prepare...", she nodded, "but... Please will you watch over him?"
"I will", Monsieur Loiselet agreed.
A feeling of both accomplishment and concern dwelt within Cosette as she began to take her steps toward the cell door.
There was indeed much to prepare.
She would return home and ensure a peaceful room be arranged for Javert, that he would have adequate comfort to rest.
Nicolette would need to be instructed to prepare something for Javert to eat. Nothing too grand as it would be too much and he would not be strong enough to remain awake for long.
She would excuse herself from dinner tonight and watch over Javert.
Marius was himself busy with paperwork regarding a new business venture and...
Cosette's thoughts crashed to a halt.
She had not consulted Marius.
There were times when Marius Pontmercy thought himself whimsical, lost in thought and giddy with affection.
It was certain to Marius that as long as he were staring into the eyes of his beloved Cosette he was oblivious all else.
With the recent passing of his uncle Gillenormand Marius had found himself unable to ignore the feeling of emptiness his loss had left within the house.
The counterbalance to his feeling of loss was adoration for Cosette.
He could not he imagined envision a day without watching her, listening to her or embracing her and despite their having been married over a year now his heart still positively fluttered every time she entered the room.
Everything about Cosette was bright, as if sunshine and cheer were a part of the ingredients she had been created from.
There was, Marius had surmised, nothing he would not do for her and nothing he would not give her, until today when Cosette had arrived home from the asylum highly upset and clearly set on a mission.
Marius had not wished to upset Cosette any further but once she had returned home and taken herself straight upstairs he had followed, finding it odd that she had not sought him out in the drawing room to greet him with a kiss and her usual small talk.
Concerned that something was amiss and with a growing sense of apprehension for his love he had made his way up the stairs to find Cosette stood outside the room that had prior to their wedding been intended for Jean Valjean.
As he approached he realised she was hastily talking with Nicolette.
An instruction to "begin preparations" was all Marius had managed to overhear as he stepped with curiosity toward his wife.
Nicolette had nodded and then hurried away to carry out the instructions she had clearly been given.
"Cosette my dearest?", Marius had called gently as he approached, "Is there something wrong?".
It was at this point that Cosette bit her lip, events having moved so fast on this day that she had not yet given thought to how she was going to begin to broach this subject to Marius.
Stepping nearer Marius reached out, taking Cosette's small hand in his own and raising it gently to his lips from where he placed as soft kiss upon her fingers.
"What troubles you my sweet?", he asked, "Is it the asylum, did something happen? Did the Inspector upset you? My love I know you mean well but I knew this was a bad idea".
With a squeeze of Marius' hand Cosette opened the door to the room originally intended for her Papa and led Marius inside.
"Come...", she implored, nodding into the room for Marius to follow, "...There is something of great importance that I must explain privately".
The explanation had not taken long.
Cosette had spoken the words, explained the facts as she knew them and now stood silently in the room awaiting the inevitable reaction.
Marius in turn paced the room, striding to the window that overlooked the garden and shaking his head in disbelief before striding back to where Cosette stood next to the bed.
He placed a hand on the top of the velvet armchair placed next to the bed as Cosette's words replayed through his mind and trying his hardest to fathom wether this was some kind of a joke.
"My love I know you care deeply for all and that is one of your sweetest and most endearing qualities", he began with a most earnest voice, "but this... This is beyond charity. My sweet, this is foolish! The man is disturbed!"
Cosette remained where she stood at the opposite side of the bed.
"Marius please listen to me. Javert is sick, he is in pain and he is alone", Cosette spoke with urgency, "he has nobody, nobody at all".
Shaking his head in disbelief Marius looked once more to the window before turning back to his wife.
"I know you mean well Cosette, I really do but you seem to forget just who this man is and what he was to your father!".
"I know perfectly well what he was", Cosette replied with simplicity and honestly, refusing to allow deeds of the past to cloud her vision of the future.
Marius sighed and stepped towards the window, placing his hands on its cill and looking out into the world below.
"Your father loathed that man", Marius said without turning back, watching as people passed by in the street going about their daily lives.
"Papa hated no one", Cosette replied.
She took a step forward, considering wether she should approach Marius but then deciding to keep a respectful distance as he considered.
Arguing was a rarity that went almost unheard of between the young couple and Cosette felt unsure of what to do.
"If anything, Papa valued forgiveness above all else. He did spare Javert, remember?".
Without him even realising Marius' fingers were curling up into the palm of his hands as he thought back.
"Yes...", he recalled with a tone uncharacteristically dark within his voice, "Yes, the policeman got away from the barricade alive... Such a shame nobody else did".
Cosette fell silent, Marius too ceasing to speak any further.
The silence that permeated the room held within its air a tension that felt like a glass that could shatter at any moment.
Cosette observed her husband as he remained looking unfocused into nothing out of the window with his back to her.
"Marius forgive me...", Cosette spoke quietly, "I did not mean to revive unpleasant memories with my words".
"No...", Marius turned around slowly as his expression softened, leaning against the window cill and facing Cosette, "No, what's past is past my sweet. We should not argue like this".
Cosette sat herself on the edge of the bed, eager to avoid any further arguing or ill feeling.
"I do want to help him Marius. My dear you would not even recognise him now", Cosette looked down, her heart sinking with the memory of Javert.
Marius stepped softly across the room, moving to the side of the bed where Cosette sat.
Gently he sat down beside her, taking her hands warmly in his own.
"But Javert of all people? Is there nowhere he can be sent instead to convalesce?", Marius pondered, "Somewhere he can be taken care of properly?".
For the briefest of moments Cosette considered the idea.
It was not an impossible idea.
There were after all places where people sick or injured could be sent to convalesce but, Cosette considered, such a place would be run by people unknown to and untrusted by Javert.
Trust was, Cosette had learned, key to overcoming the stony exterior and engaging with Javert and it was not something he gave easily especially when vulnerable.
Javert's trust was something one had to earn.
Even if a place of convalescence was run by the most well meaning of people, if they could not gain his trust then he would not permit their assistance.
Sending him away would she concluded also be a betrayal, discarding him as if he were unwanted as society itself had done to him on several occasions.
"No", she shook her head in rejection slowly as she looked deep into Marius' eyes, "I have formed a friendship with him in recent days, an unlikely friendship I admit, but I have come to know him, to respect him. Only the good Lord knows why but he trusts me. He is a good man".
Marius looked down at the small hands held within his, caressing one of them with his thumb.
"Oh Cosette my love", he sighed, "Your goodness really knows no bounds does it?".
Cosette smiled a little in response as she enjoyed her beloveds soft touch.
"We truly owe him everything Marius. If it were not for Javert we would not be sat here now, and you would be... well...", she found herself unable to even contemplate finishing the sentence.
"I don't know...", Marius listened.
"You know it's true", Cosette urged, "Yes Papa carried you to safety and at great personal risk but Javert was supposed to stop him, to arrest him and take him away yet he didn't. By letting Papa pass with you Javert saved your life just as much as Papa did. Perhaps this is one of the mysterious ways our Lord works?".
"It seems absurd to think of it in this way", Marius gave a slight shrug.
"I know, I know", Cosette agreed with her hands still enveloped by those of Marius, "but it is true and nothing can change that".
Another silence settled as Marius' thoughts considered the options.
"But what of his mental state? You have mentioned before that he suffers attacks of panic, anxiety, flashbacks?", Marius recalled.
Cosette reluctantly nodded in response to these true facts.
"And because of this he is chained like an animal", she explained, "Marius, it is inhumane! Javert needs to be treated humanely, with respect, with dignity and to be given the chance to heal, to overcome all that haunts him."
"And what do we do when he suffers an attack here? Surely they keep him chained for a reason?", Marius questioned, "We can't have a man in the house who screams and cries out during the night?".
"Really? Then what about the one I lie next to each night?", Cosette stopped the moment she had said this.
Her eyes dropped to the floor, ashamed at her unthinking words.
Marius too became silent, his mouth momentarily dropping open upon hearing his wife's response.
For some moments nobody spoke or made even the slightest movement until Marius' stunned hands awkwardly released their grip on Cosette's
"What do you mean?", Marius voice asked so quietly it could have almost gone unheard.
There was another moment of silence before Cosette slowly looked back up and allowed her eyes to look upon Marius' shocked face, his expression one of surprise as Cosette's sudden revelation.
"Marius I'm so sorry, I never should have said that", Cosette's voice was filled with regret.
"No, tell me... Please...", Marius urged, once more taking Cosette's hands desperately into his own, "Tell me what you mean by that?".
Cosette breathed out slowly and looked into the face of Marius.
The young man looked suddenly to be a mixture of both sorrow and nervousness as he awaited the answer to his question.
"Please...?", Marius urged in little more than a whisper.
Cosette let out a sigh as she prepared to speak, considering how to arrange her words.
"You say we cannot have a man in the house who screams and cries out in the night?", she repeated Marius's statement.
Marius nodded in recognition at the statement he had just made.
"I never said anything to you before... I didn't wish to upset you or embarrass you", Cosette began to explain, "but it is not unusual for you to do just that my love".
Marius listened in silence.
"I hear the names you cry out in your sleep, as you dream... I know each one well these days... Courfeyrac... Combeferre... Feuilly... Joly... Grantaire... But more often than not you come back to Enjolras and then Gavroche... More poignantly you cry silent tears for... Eponine".
Marius remained sat, his face glancing down to the floor.
He rubbed his eyes, attempting to hide the fact that they were fast moistening and his face reddening with emotion.
With a gentle movement Cosette shuffled closer next to him and placed and arm around his lower back.
"There is no shame in crying for your friends. Your physical wounds have healed but I know you Marius, I know you will hurt and grieve for a long time to come".
A sniffle was stifled by Marius as he said nothing for some time.
"I had no idea my sleep betrayed me...", Marius shuffled, his hand reaching into a pocket and retrieving a handkerchief, "But I do dream of them, of my friends, of the barricade, and by God Cosette it is vivid".
Cosette gently urged Marius closer, the two leaning against one another as they sat on the disused bed.
Marius dabbed his damp eyes with the handkerchief as Cosette moved her free hand to Marius' knee, gently squeezing to reassure him of her presence and love.
"I will always be here Marius, to comfort, to listen, to help you. I do not care if it is day or night, I will always hold you when you seek solace", Cosette reassured, watching as Marius placed his hand atop of hers.
"I am so lucky to have you", Marius looked up into his wife's eyes, his own tears beginning to subside as his love replaced the ever present grief.
"And I you", Cosette smiled lovingly as Marius's arm wrapped itself around her own back allowing the couple to lean lovingly against each other side by side, "But Marius, please consider... Javert has nobody. Nobody at all".
Silence broke once more into the conversation and yet the couple did not move, remaining as they were sat warmly side by side.
A sigh finally escaped Marius and Cosette looked to him, her eyes becoming saddened.
"His pain is as deep as yours Marius, only he has nobody to turn to. Nobody holds him, listens to him or reassures him. Nobody cares".
"Yet I am not mad", Marius countered quietly, determined to keep the conversation civil.
"That is because you can live. You have me, we have our love, you have your life, your freedom", Cosette implored, "Javert has nothing... Can you not see the man must be shown mercy? We must repay this man to whom we owe so much".
Marius sighed in deep consideration, his feelings becoming ever more mixed towards the notion of allowing a man such as Javert into his house.
"Marius, he has committed no crime. Every moment he sits locked in that accursed cell is a betrayal", Cosette became quiet before looking once more to Marius, "The damp, the cold, his illness... If he stays there much longer I fear he will die there".
Marius closed his eyes momentarily, the decision weighing heavily upon him.
Initially the very thought of allowing Javert into the home of both he and his wife had seemed objectionable if not even deplorable.
The man had been the life long nemesis of Jean Valjean, the man he revered like a saint and fully credited with saving his life and giving him Cosette.
Valjean had raised Cosette to be the woman he loved and the very concept of accepting Javert into their midst had initially felt like a betrayal of Valjean, as if allowing a wolf to prowl amongst innocent lambs.
Cosette's words, spoken with the honesty he trusted implicitly and her non judgemental desire to help those less fortunate had chipped away at his initial inclination to refuse her request.
She would not lie or exaggerate the mans conditions and the thought that Javert may die if not assisted strangely unsettled Marius.
Having been on opposing sides at the barricade he still felt a natural distaste toward the man, but could he willingly and knowingly leave a man to die in such squalid conditions?
Another thought burst into Marius' mind as he considered.
If he refused and news were to come of Javert's death in the asylum, what would it do to Cosette?
Would she think less of her husband and question his humanity?
Would he in turn question his own humanity?
Was it possible that a little mercy was truly beyond him?
And if so, when did this occur?
And if as he feared news eventually came of Javert's death, what also would it do to himself?
Marius frowned, his morals fighting that which he considered to be his better judgement.
He ran a hand across his chin in troubled thought and got to his feet, stepping aimlessly toward the wall before turning back to face Cosette.
"I cannot knowingly, willingly or with good conscience condemn my fellow man to death", Marius finally declared.
Cosette looked up, her expression one of disbelief and a barely suppressed smile.
"Have Javert brought here", he announced abruptly, "See to it that he receives all the care he requires".
Cosette leapt to her feet as she heard the words, a joyous smile erupting upon her face.
Her small feet carried her towards Marius and she flung her arms around him in the warmest of embraces.
Marius returned the gesture, wrapping his arms around his wife, holding her close and feeling the beating of her heart as it pounded with relief with the easing of her tension.
"Oh Marius, do you really mean it?", Cosette breathed out in relief, "Such kindness, I think I might cry!".
Marius pulled back slightly, holding Cosette warmly before him with a hand atop of each arm.
True to her word tears had formed within Cosette's eyes, tears of happiness as she smiled at her husband.
"Marius, may God bless you my dear sweet husband!", Cosette exclaimed raising her eyes Heavenward as she looked into Marius' eyes with deepest affection, "I think you have truly just saved a life!".
"There is a condition...", Marius expression changed to one of seriousness.
Cosette paused herself, still listening as she were held softly by Marius' hands.
"If he harms you, or so much as raises a finger to you or to anybody at all, he is out. Back to the asylum, to the streets, to jail, I do not care", Marius' words conveyed steadfast his inflexibility on this one condition before his voice softened again, "But for now my love, we will give him a chance to recuperate in safety and to prove our... your... faith in him".
Cosette stepped forward briskly and placed a delighted kiss upon Marius' lips.
"Oh Marius, he is in so much pain he can barely stand let alone raise a hand to anybody. I shall see to it immediately"
Cosette broke from Marius' warm grasp and looked around the room eagerly, surveying it as thoughts of preparation rushed through her mind like a sudden whirlwind.
"This room has sat for too long", Cosette decided, "the windows must be opened and the room aired, the bed has sat for some time so will need fresh sheets. I will have Nicolette prepare everything... And water. He must have a jug of water and a glass on the bedside table. Soup! I think I shall have Nicolette prepare a simple soup. He has not eaten decent food for so long and I do not think that with his illness he will manage much more. And extra blankets, incase he is cold..."
"Cosette...", Marius remained stood as he was, "...Please. Do not fuss. I shall have Nicolette make the necessary preparations. You go and see to Javert".
Cosette turned back to face Marius, her thoughts of preparation slowing to a more controlled pace.
"Very well", she smiled and began to walk towards the door making sure that her hand brushed gently against Marius' own as she passed.
She stopped in the doorway and slowly looked back, "This time tomorrow, Javert will be free".
"Tear those ragged clothes off him...".
He was neither asleep nor awake but drifting somewhere in a limbo between the two where he lay and yet he felt the touch of hands moving him, rolling him onto his aching back as his ears took in the sound of tearing and his skin felt the dirty rags being pulled from his body.
Something was happening yet exhaustion prevented him from carrying out the simple act of forcing his eyes open.
His fogged mind acknowledged the sudden sensation as splashes of cold water made contact with his skin and sopping wet cloths were dabbed and wiped over his face and body.
Thoughts failed to materialise and he lay still, his mind so far from lucid that he were unable to even fathom his lack of modesty as he lay stripped, the dirt of his almost two year ordeal being washed from him.
His eyes remained closed throughout and his breathing steady.
The washing of his body had stopped and now the sensation of touches moved to his face and the long beard he had reluctantly grown during his incarceration.
Touches he barely registered worked away, snipping until a firm pair of hands held his head still and an object, a razor blade, was eased across his face by other hands.
After some time the touches, touches Javert was not even sure were real or dreamt, left him.
Faint words about "dressing him when dry" were heard before the familiar sound came of the cell door closing.
He made no thought to considering the words or the meaning of their actions, instead drifting back into sleep.