Part one of my Combeferre fan-fiction!
"Revolution is upon us, no matter how hard you try to brush it off!" Combeferre shouted. He was speaking in a Cafe, trying to bring others to the cause. Cheers arose. Combeferre was surprised by the reaction. Usually he was met with subdued sighs, like they had all heard it before. This was refreshing. It made him feel as if his words mattered. Unfortunately, this was all Combeferre had planned. The crowd waited for more words from the determined young man. He was used to being cut short by people who had no interest in what he said. He blushed, searching his head for more words to say. He couldn't think of one thing to add.
"So...err...Come to our meeting tonight! Our brilliant leader, Enjolras, will tell you even more about our cause! We meet at the Cafe Mussian. I hope to see each and every one of you there!" Combeferre said with enthusiasm. He knew enough of public speaking to know that you should sound enthusiastic when you had nothing else to say. The applause took off, leaving Combeferre temporarily deaf. He couldn't help but smile. It was an amazing feeling knowing that he had inspired people to think about the way the people were being treated. He stepped down from the table he had been standing on, shaking hands. Suddenly he saw a young woman leaving the cafe. He knew exactly who it was. He walked past the throng until he made it to the door.
"Eponine!" He called. The girl kept walking. He sprinted toward the girl and reached out and touched her shoulder. The girl turned and slapped him. Combeferre stepped back in the shock from the blow. The girl was not Eponine. She looked much younger, no more than thirteen. She had the same matted dark brown hair as Eponine. And the same warm eyes, which now looked as if they were going to burn Combeferre if he looked into them.
"Pardon me, Mademoiselle. I thought you were someone else." Combeferre said.
"Obviously." The girl seethed.
"You reminded me of my friend Eponine." Combeferre explained.
"I had guessed that. You called 'Eponine' before you accosted me!" She fumed.
"I did not accost you! I simply touched your shoulder!" Combeferre corrected.
"Well, whatever you did, I'm not Eponine. I know her though. We're sisters."
"Eponine never said anything about having a sister." Combeferre said suspiciously.
"She wouldn't. She has her friends. Her friends who would protect her during any danger. She's forgotten all about her little sister. The one who she used to play with. She's forgotten all about Azelma by now." The girl, Azelma, sighed. Combeferre noticed a tear in her eye.
"I assume you're one of the friends who care so much for darling 'Ponine." Azelma said, this time with the fieriness she had possessed when they had first talked.
"I really don't know her that well. She mainly keeps to herself, talking only to Marius Pontmercy. I just thought I would tell her hello if she had come into the cafe. Why were you here?" Combeferre asked.
"Oh, because I wanted to hear about the cause that is 'Going to change France for our children'. I wanted to know about the 'Revolution that is coming, no matter how hard we try to brush it off'." She said, quoting his speech. Combeferre blushed slightly.
"You look quite young to be going off by yourself. You look no more than thirteen." Combeferre observed.
"I am sixteen! I will be seventeen in three months." She said through clenched teeth. Combeferre registered that she had been asked this question many times before.
"I am sorry, Mademoiselle. So, Eponine lives all over. Where do you live?" Combeferre asked. These were the people he and the others were campaigning for. He wanted to know every little detail to her life.
"I live with my mother and father. I'm the only one of my siblings left. Gavroche and Eponine live on the streets and my other two brothers live with a woman somewhere in Paris." Azelma explained, kicking a pebble with her worn boot.
"You say you don't have friends like 'Ponine's friends. What are your friends like?" Combeferre inquired.
"Don't have any friends, really. Just my dad's band of thugs and they'd be happy to jump on me if they were given the chance." Azelma said, her chin thrust in the air, looking defiant, as if daring Combeferre to feel sorry for her.
"And what stops them from doing so?" Combeferre asked. His stomach was slowly dropping. This was the life Eponine had escaped from. This was the life he hoped to rescue all of the surfs of France from.
"My father. But only when I've done something for him, like get him information about a house that is empty for a few months and he can steal from it. I'm always trying to get him new information. But, if I didn't do this, nothing would stop them. My parents would stand by and watch as their 'friends' pounced. Thankfully, I've never had to endure this." Azelma said. He could now see inside of the mind of this young girl, who was scared beyond her wits. They reached an intersection. It was obvious that they were headed in different directions.
"Au Revoir, Mademoiselle Azelma." He said, reaching for her hand. She hesitated then placed it in his own. He raised her soot-stained knuckle to his lips, the way a nobleman would when he parted ways with a grand lady. Azelma's eyes grew wide.
"Au Revoir, Mousier...?" She said, realizing she didn't know his name.
"Combeferre. My name is Combeferre." He said.
"Combeferre." She whispered, and with that, removed her hand from his and disappeared down the street, merging with all the others who were standing around there. Combeferre had never met anyone who charmed him the way Azelma had charmed him.
Combeferre knew that his gesture had made the girl's day. It had been a spur-of-the-moment decision to do that, kiss her hands. He just felt as if she needed to be treated as an Grand Lady, even if for just a few seconds. He turned into the Cafe Mussian's door. Enjolras was sitting on a bench, barking orders to find more guns.
"Have you recruited more men? Or was it the same thing as last time?" Enjolras asked, looking up at Combeferre. Combeferre was Enjolras' second-in-command.
"No, actually they responded this time! My speech resulted in deafening cheers! Is this how it feels, Enjolras, to bring people to our cause? Because if so, I'd like to do it every day!" Combeferre replied. Enjolras grinned.
"It's a feeling like none other, my friend." Enjolras replied. Soon, Marius and Eponine entered the Cafe. Combeferre rushed toward the disheveled woman.
"You never told me you had a sister, Eponine." Combeferre said, with more accusation than he intended. Eponine got strangely pale.
"You met Azelma? When? Where? Is she alright?" She asked all at once, barely breathing.
"Yes I met Azelma today. At a cafe. She looked fine, just bitter." Combeferre said, softening a bit.
"I haven't seen her in ages. I've tried to rescue her from our parents many, many times. She refuses. I think she feels loyal to our parents." Eponine said, a rare tear going down her cheek.
"She seems to think you've abandoned her." Combeferre explained, gently.
"That is not true, Combeferre. She is stubborn. If you see her again, please tell her 'Ponine wants her to come and live with her." Eponine said, wiping the tears gently from her eyes.
"I shall, Mademoiselle." Combeferre smiled.
The meeting was over. Many men came to the meeting, a majority of them the men who listened to Combeferre talk that afternoon. Enjolras never seemed to run out of words to say on the subject. Combeferre seemed a mediocre speaker compared to the blonde man who was so passionate about his country. Combeferre was now walking home, alone. He lived in an apartment above a wine shop in the south side of Paris. He was meandering slowly, taking in the sights of Paris that one might miss if they were walking briskly. Suddenly, he heard a moan and a cry coming from an alleyway. He couldn't help but run down the dark passage. There was a group of men surrounding something. A older, sleazy looking man stood by.
"Do what you'd like. I don't care. She is nothing." The man spat.
"Please, Father...." A young, familiar sounding girl whimpered. "I didn't know they were back in town. I thought they'd be gone for quite awhile."
"Don't give me that. You wanted us to be caught, you know it." The man lashed. "Do whatever pleases you, she ain't my daughter anymore." A sickening laughter filled the air. The men lurched towards her. But suddenly a spry, young schoolboy made a barrier between the men and the girl, who he now realized was Azelma. The men laughed at this small gentleman.
"Leave her alone." He said with a commanding tone.
"Eh, who cares. She's nothing much. She's not even pretty. Come on, boys, let's go find some lovely ladies to hang around with. The men cleared. He was just a student, not worth a fight and she was not a girl worth fighting for.
"Know this: You are no longer welcome at my home. You are a disgrace. As much of a disgrace as Eponine." The man hissed in an ominous tone. He then left, almost vanishing in the night. Combeferre turned to the girl who was crying, crouched in the corner. He came closer but she seemed to shy away.
"Don't worry, Mademoiselle, it is just me..." Combeferre whispered.
"Mousier Combeferre?" She asked as she recognized him. She was confused. "How did you find me here?"
"I was passing by as I was heading home when I heard your screams. Are you hurt?"
"My leg. They tripped me then stepped on it. I think it might be broken, Mousier." Azelma said, cringing as he gently touched it.
"My friend, Joly, is a doctor. I'll have him examine it in the morning." Combeferre said.
"Morning? Where will I go tonight?" She cried, more tears forming in her large eyes. Combeferre realized now she didn't look thirteen. She looked older, as if she had seen all the world's cruelties.
"You may stay at my house for as long as you need." He said. taking her hand in his. Her eyes grew wide at the idea.
"Are you sure, Mousier? I can go elsewhere. I'm sure someone would take me in."
"I won't hear of it. You will stay with me." Combeferre said firmly. He then lifted Azelma up and carried her out of the alley. Her arms almost automatically went around his neck, as if she had a reflex telling her to put them there. She blushed but did not remove her limbs. Combeferre was secretly glad.
It pained him to feel how light she was. It was like carrying a feather. He made a mental note to buy her some bread, cheese, and meat. That was what she needed the most. They soon arrived at his residence. He opened the door, revealing a small, shabby room that featured a bed and scarce furnishings. Combeferre laid her on the bed.
"You can sleep there, Mademoiselle." He offered. She opened her mouth to protest but then soon shut it. She would be able to sleep in a feather bed for the first time. She watched as Combeferre made a small mat on the floor out of a blanket and a pillow.
"Is that where you are planning to sleep?" She asked.
"Yes." He replied.
"I feel bad putting you out of a bed, Mousier." She said.
"Don't feel bad. I've slept in much worse." Combeferre smiled. She smiled back, physically and emotionally drained from the events of the day. She slipped between the meager blankets and fell asleep immediately. Combeferre listened the sighs of her slumber, smiling slightly. He curled up into a ball on the floor of his own house and felt thankful to have a floor to call his own. It was a strange feeling, being thankful for a floor but after seeing what Azelma had come from, he had a feeling that she would be thankful for a floor too. For whatever reason, sleep did not come easily to Combeferre, despite the fact he felt exhausted. He could only think of Azelma and the life she had escaped from. And then he started thinking of the life he'd like to give her.
Hope you enjoyed!
Over and Out!