by M. Grantaire
Grantaire & Feuilly make a bet, & the author attempts an unlikely pairing. Les Miserables.
|***I don’t own the characters. Any of them. I’m just borrowing a little of Victor Hugo’s brilliance. This is my first attempt at a fic with Eponine or Feuilly as main characters…I just wondered what she could be if someone took her under their wing and made an attempt with her. Hmmm. Comments are much appreciated!
Eponine looked warily around her as she hurried down the streets of Paris, toward the Café Musain. It was late, and dangerous for her to be out, but she had a mission. She had heard a rumor on the streets that the ABC Friends would be celebrating something tonight, and when students celebrated, it meant large amounts of drinking. Perhaps she could catch monsieur Marius when he was intoxicated, and wring a confession of love from him. Or at least get a kiss.
She stopped outside the door, and raked her fingers through her lank black hair, trying to bring it into some semblance of order, and stuffed her hat in the pocket of her coat. What else could she do to make herself prettier? She bit her lips to make them rosy. The night was chilly; her cheeks would already be flushed.
Standing on her toes, she tried to peer in the windows, looking for Marius. She thought she got a glimpse of him. Taking a deep breath, Eponine pushed the café door open and entered the mess of noise and heat. She spotted Marius in the corner, and began to make her way over.
Suddenly, a looming figure appeared in front of her.
“What are you doing in here, gamin?” the tall man asked, glaring at her. She gulped. It was the one who was always drunk, the horribly ugly one.
“I…I’m ‘ere to see monsieur Marius,” she replied, standing up straighter. His look became one of disgust, and he grabbed her roughly by the arm.
“Get out of here, you,” he growled, escorting her toward the door.
“Grantaire! Let her be.” a soft voice came from the corner, and the big brute turned. Eponine wrenched her arm out of his grasp and tried to see where the voice was coming from. A smaller, dark-haired man had stood and was coming toward them.
“Why should I leave her alone? She doesn’t belong here,” Grantaire snapped.
“She’s doing no one harm,” the smaller one replied calmly. Eponine watched him, eyes wide. Why was this stranger sticking up for her? She wasn’t used to such kindness; a plan to sneak in the back had already begun forming in her mind. She’d never had a thought that anyone would help her.
“She smells. And she’s only here to beg.”
“I am not!” Eponine cried out indignantly, “I’m ‘ere to see monsieur Marius. I told you that. And I don’t smell!”
The dark-haired man chuckled and held out his hand.
“What’s your name, my girl?” he asked kindly.
“Eponine,” she said, eyeing his hand warily.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, mademoiselle Eponine. I am called Feuilly. Now, what is your business with Marius? Surely you’re not here to discuss politics.”
“I…no. I donno much about politics. I jus’…wanted to see ‘im, that’s all,” she stammered.
“She’s in love with him,” Grantaire spat, glowering at her, “a gutter snipe in love with a rich man. Only cares about his money. Dear god, you little beast! You’ll truly be in the gutter all your life!”
Eponine was so shocked, she took a few steps back, her lip quivering. She felt as if she had been slapped. What had she done to this man to make him hate her so?
“Grantaire!” Feuilly looked shocked as well. He looked at the girl, who was acting like she didn’t know whether to bust into tears or just bolt.
“He doesn’t mean it, Eponine. He’s just frustrated. You forget that I started life out as an orphan and a beggar, Grantaire.”
“But you’ve made something of yourself. Enjolras has the utmost respect for you.”
“I had the luck to discover my skill at painting. Perhaps Eponine has a skill that will take her to greatness,” Feuilly said, smiling encouragingly at the girl. She cracked a small smile.
“Doubtful,” Grantaire snorted, “And even if she does, how will she discover it? Especially if she takes all her time being heartsick over Pontmercy?”
“Perhaps she needs a little help.”
“Oh, stop it! Don’t get her hopes up. She can stay, I don’t care. Let her harass Pontmercy. Just keep her away from me,” Grantaire threw up his hands in frustration and returned to his pint. Eponine threw Feuilly a grateful smile and rushed off to find Marius.
“What the hell are you thinking?” Grantaire growled at Feuilly, who was thoughtfully stroking his chin as he stared after Eponine.
“Well,” Feuilly replied, taking his seat and smiling a little, “I’ve been thinking that I could use an assistant to help with my painting. To wash brushes, you know, and find new customers. Perhaps I could take Eponine on and she could make a little money. She would meet people too, and perhaps someone would take her on as a maid or a governess.”
“Are you serious?” Grantaire laughed bitterly and took a swig of ale.
“Yes. I think she can truly make something of herself.”
“Always the teacher of justice, Feuilly. But you won’t make a damn thing out of that one.”
“We’ll see, Grantaire,” Feuilly said.
“Tell you what,” Grantaire said, now more amused than annoyed, “We’ll make a bet. Five francs says that you’ll never make anything of the gamin. And I’ll quit drinking for a month too!”
“You’re on,” Feuilly replied, standing and scanning the room for Eponine. He spotted her in the corner, languishing over Marius, and strode away, leaving Grantaire to shake his head in disbelief and order another pint.