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!”