heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
It's quite late by the time the Twelfth Night party finally, fully ends-- and the exhaustion of hosting (much as Marius left that burden to rest on Cosette's shoulders) makes it feel even later as they at last step out of the darkened tent to head back to their room, and to bed.

Marius waits just outside the tent, peering in to make sure Cosette is really following, arm already lifted to offer to her as soon as she appears.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
An ordinary Milliways afternoon, drifting on into evening: Marius is sitting in his room, only half attending to the book he has in his hand. His gaze drifts to the snow falling outside-- it's so very picturesque, the way snow in Paris can only be in the earliest hours of the morning, before the bustle of the day tramples it into slush and mud.

Though it can be difficult to tell the shades of difference between Marius's various states of dreamy distractibility-- especially these days, especially since his recovery-- he would confess, if asked, to a sort of restlessness lately, though he would also insist he has no idea why. (Certainly disrupted attempts at spying and ghostly visitations could not have anything to do with it, no, certainly not.)

He tosses his book aside and rises to get a better look out the window, and tells himself that in another minute, he will go find Cosette.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
He heard it said— overheard it said, rather, for he’s still far from adept at striking up conversations with strangers here— that today, on Halloween, just like in the old stories— today, the spirits of the dead may appear.

He almost laughed when he heard it, because of course they do, they are around every corner. But of course this must mean something different, the dead who do not frequent this place. And then a strange kind of certainty sneaks on him: were anyone to appear to him today, he feels entirely sure of who it would be.

And he is in that frame of mind as he sits in his room as the evening falls, and suddenly from behind him hears a voice that says, very soft, almost a whisper: “Ah, my boy.”

“Father,” he blurts out, but when he turns he sees it is— not.

She’s a woman near his own age, in a fine but old-fashioned gown. Her hair is black, piled on her head in a fashion to match her dress, with a few stray curls falling loose about her ears, her neck.

But her face— her face is his own face, painted over in soft, feminine lines. Those lips, his lips; that nose, his nose; those grey eyes, his own.

He says faintly, too stunned to be embarrassed by his mistake, “M—mother?”

She smiles, and draws closer. She reaches her hand out and brushes her fingers down his cheek. He’s ready to flinch away, ready for the touch to be ghostly cold, or not corporeal at all— but her fingers are as warm and alive as those of his friends. He is still sitting, and with her standing above him, though she is not tall, the way he is forced to look up at her makes him feel like a little boy.

“What a man you’ve become!” She brushes his black curls away from his forehead, and her expression softens at the criss-cross of faint scars there, like cracks in pale porcelain. “And how brave you’ve been.”

He feels his cheeks grow hot, and he looks away. “No. I am certainly not, I have not been. Not— not compared to my father, to my wife’s father…”

“Now, now— I say you have been. Will you not mind your mother?” She smiles a little as she says it, but it does not have the teasing sweetness that Cosette would use in such a moment. At the bottom of all her smiles is something quiet and melancholy. Marius spent so many years trying to imagine himself a father in whose image he could mold himself, he never imagined it was his mother in whom he would see that smile reflected.

“You ran away, too,” he says, feeling suddenly shy. He’d never quite thought of that before, that they had both been brought up in the same house, by the same man, and fled to marriages he didn’t quite approve of.

“I did,” she says. “I loved your father as I had never loved anyone. And I had never been so loved by anyone. I know my father loved me, after his own ideas of love and how to show it… but you know that as well as I do.”

“Will— will you tell me about— about how you met him?” He’s blushing brightly once again. “How you left?”

“Of course I will.”

She’s like him: not a naturally great or easy speaker, but one who warms to her topic as she goes on, and gains in confidence as she progresses. And her story— why, it is a love story, about two people who fumbled and prevaricated and were sure and unsure by turns, and it all sounds so very human and ordinary he forgets, from time to time, that this is not just anyone’s story, but their story. His father’s. And his mother’s.

He thinks, when she finishes, perhaps he should tell his own story, about him and Cosette— and everything else— but it seems clear she already knows it.

“These past five years, I have thought of nothing but how I might honor him,” Marius says instead. “How I might prove myself worthy to say I am his son.”

“But you needn’t prove that,” she says. “You are his son. For good and ill.” She laughs at his expression. “It is no blasphemy to say so! He was merely a man. He made mistakes— and great ones, too. And so have you, and so you shall again.”

Marius frowns down at his shoes. She says, “It is not given us to be perfect. We can only try. Now come, my son— come kiss me, for I must go.”

Marius stands and takes the hand she is offering. She leans close to kiss his cheek, and he closes his eyes and takes in the scent of her old-fashioned perfume. He realizes it is a smell he knows, a smell that would drift through sometimes in his grandfather’s house, out of a forgotten bedroom, off of a seldom-used chair. It had become so plain so quickly, through icy silence or his grandfather’s shouting, that he was not to speak of his mother, not to ask about her. And so he stopped. But she had been there all along.

When he opens his eyes, she is gone.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
Immediately upon returning to Milliways, Marius goes in search of Enjolras.

...admittedly, his urgency is hobbled somewhat by the fact that he can't quite recall where Enjolras's room is, and furthermore convinces himself that even if he did know, it would surely be rude to intrude upon him. He does not doubt that Enjolras is keenly interested in what he has to say, but now that he's safely in Milliways, he's starting to feel more than a bit foolish about the whole thing. Perhaps it was all ridiculous and reckless, perhaps he should have left well enough alone.

But he does have to tell Enjolras. He goes to the library first. It seems a place as likely as anywhere.

OOM: Paris

Jul. 2nd, 2016 12:22 am
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
After a fashion, Marius is well-suited to this kind of work: he has spent the better part of four years hoping that no one looks at him. Of course, he never got very good at going entirely unnoticed, and he's not particularly confident in his ability to do it now that it matters. So he follows Enjolras's instructions closely, tries to avoid any undue risk.

And he thinks about what Cosette asked him. If doing this work brings him comfort. At first, he would say for certain it does not-- his hands shake at the knowledge that though a living man pressed this letter into his hand, here in Paris that man is dead. And then he begins to think that perhaps-- perhaps-- as he walks the streets and feels purposeful in a way he has not since he knows not when-- maybe it does.

But there's a shape in the corner of his eye as he passes through Montmartre to deliver Enjolras's messages. He grows more and more certain of it, until he is forced to leave the rest of the letters with one of Enjolras's friends, no longer confident that he can pass them along safely. From there, he sticks to the messages that are purely personal-- notes to friends, the affairs Joly and Lesgle asked him to look to.

And that is how he realizes it: as he contemplates the problem, as he wonders whether he was foolish to think, given Javert's knowledge of his strange and otherworldly revolutionary connections, that he could possibly get away with passing along such knowledge or engaging in an such activities. The thought that perhaps it cannot be done (as it so often the case!) makes him realize how much he wishes to do it.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
The seasons in Milliways seem to have caught up with the seasons back in Paris, a fact that seems to be comforting and disorienting on alternating days.

Today it happens to strike Marius as a rather nice thing. So, with a book tucked under one arm and a cup of tea carefully balanced in his other hand, he is making a beeline for a rather cozy-looking table near a window, with a view of the blossoming trees.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
So, back to Paris, where Marius is almost inclined to pretend that their adventure to Milliways never happened. But of course, such a thing is not so easily forgotten-- and there is a little stack of messages in his desk that he must deliver very soon.

First, he must talk to his wife.

It feels like weeks that he mulls over what to say and when and how, but in truth it is only a day or two after they have returned to Paris, in their bedroom one evening, that he says, "You know, all-- all my friends spoke so highly of you."
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
Having seen Valjean settled in for the night, Marius and Cosette make their way back to her room. Marius clasps her hand tightly in his-- the most affection he can permit himself in a public corridor, even an apparently empty one.

He wishes he could feel happy and relieved, like all is resolved: Valjean forgiving and forgiven, Cosette seeming entirely willing to forget the things Marius kept from her-- but try as he might to bury his head in the sand, to drift away in reverie and let problems outside his own head pass him by, in his soul, he has never been able to leave a loose thread untied.

But first... as soon as they reach her room, he pulls Cosette into a tight embrace.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
Marius has found the quietest, most secluded corner of the bar that he possibly can. And even so, he looks distinctly ill-at-ease as he waits for Joly and Lesgle: back ramrod straight, hands clasped tightly in his lap.

It would be safe to say that Marius has still not gotten used to Milliways.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
Marius is trying to explore, but it's still all very intimidating. He peeked into the bar and immediately retreated. But the grounds: that seems nice and safe. Trees. Grass. It's all relatively ordinary, if rather colder than Paris was. But that's what pockets are for! Cosette needs time alone with her father, to make up for that he took from them, and he fully intends to provide it.
heartbeneathastone: Self Portrait by William Sidney Mount, 1832 (Default)
Marius is attempting to resist the overwhelming impulse to cling to Cosette's skirts like a little boy in this strange place. But he's not a little boy, Cosette has her father to think of-- and apparently, they are not the only people here that he knows.

So Marius is exploring. Though he hasn't gotten very far, because he makes his way down each corridor very slowly, as if afraid the ground will give way beneath his feet at any moment; rounds each corner with as much caution as if he expects some monstrosity to appear at every turn.

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