Unwelcome News

For the first time, Marius Pontmercy had the pleasure of hosting Cosette and her family for Christmas at his estate just outside Paris. There was plenty of space for the entire Javert clan, even as large as it was becoming. Despite the change in location, however, everything else was ordinary.

Kathleen had resumed her post at her father’s side, though this time he had his youngest grandson to amuse him, a boy who had inherited both his father’s dark hair and cheeriness and his mother’s freckled fair skin and affectionate nature.

Gustave, likewise, kept his eldest daughter close, able to pretend for a few hours at a time that nothing had changed. Little Anne, though she had recovered, was still her immediate family’s shadow—if her grandparents, mother, or father went anywhere, she lurked close behind, looking anxious and pale. Though her health had miraculously retuned, her long illness had broken her spirit.

Everything was quiet and peaceful as it ought to have been at Christmastime; only two couples were missing: the younger Pontmercys, to no one’s great surprise, and the DeLornays.

The latter were in their upstairs suite, having a very uncharacteristic row. The young countess’ cheeks were pink and her eyes rimmed with a bit of red. Her flustered face clashed starkly with the crisp elegance of her appearance.

“I thought you would be happy!”

Turnabout Reunion

Rosalie and her sister had done their utmost to enjoy their last two years at home. Their mother and father certainly wanted them to. They were pampered and coddled as they had only dreamt of being before, as the youngest daughters in a family of five; anything they even admired, their father was wont to surprise them with later. His youngest girl ached for him, seeing how tightly he was trying to hold on—wishing she wanted to hold on as well. She adored her father and loved her mother, and she would be sad to leave them. Very sad. She smiled to watch Gavroche play and grow into a handsome young man, but felt detached, no longer a playmate. No logner much of a child, really. She was a wife.

Or she wanted to be. She told herself she was. When she lay in bed with her twin, she closed her eyes and thought of Breandon far away, tried to picture his handsome face, tried to hear his voice. Every day it became a little harder. Just how did this word sound coming from his lips in that beautiful accent? Was his face that long, or was her mind deceiving her?

By the time the twenty-fourth month of their waiting dawned, she was becoming desperate. She felt like she was losing him, her Brean, despite the many letters and little gifts she had stuffed away in semi-secret hiding places. She could not lose him. She must get him back soon. And even though she knew she would, it had been so long and so lonely without him…how strange; to go from kidnapped girl to beloved wife to practically a widow.

She knew Helene was suffering just as badly, and she also knew, despite her selfish desire to be in Breandon’s arms—and bed—once more, that her mother and father would be broken all over again when they lost their little girls, and this time, lost them for good. So she tried to be strong and brave and sweet.

But some days it was nearly impossible.