This chapter is brand new!
“I used to dream I’d meet a prince.. but God Almighty have you seen what’s happened since?”
Cosette sat with her head against the window of the carriage watching Fantasy Land’s scenery change as she rode the long distance from the docks to Cinderella and Charming’s castle.
Her eyes started to close, she was so tired. She’d had hardly any sleep since Marius had left for his visit. He’d been out of her sight less than 48 hours and he’d run up a bar tab that had blown out their credit cards. She would never have found out had she not tried to use her card the day after to buy new clothes and had it refused at the till. Never had she been so embarrassed. She’d insisted it must be a mistake. Made the poor assistant call the manager, Made the manager call the credit card company. And no. It hadn’t been a mistake.
So she did what she always did when she was upset or in trouble, she went to see Eponine. But Eponine hadn’t been home so her husband Javert had been met with furious demands for the arrest of just about everyone. He’d tried to be diplomatic and tell her that “because she said so” would not convince any judge to give him an arrest warrant but that approach was unsuccessful.
Never had he been so relieved to see his wife.
“Darling!” he cried a little too enthusiastically “look Cosette has come to see you!”
“I can see that” Eponine eyed her husband with a slightly suspicious look.
“Well, I am sure you two don’t need me around whilst you chat so I’ll be off” he hurried out of the room.
“Off where exactly?” Eponine called after him.
“What?” he stuck his head back round the door “I have Important Things to do…”
“Right. You’d best go do them then. These Important Things”
“Yes..yes indeed yes. Well erm.. good to see you Cosette” and he quickly disappeared into his study.
Eponine had listened quietly whilst Cosette recounted the sorry tale. After the fiasco with the card, Cosette had gone through their finances with a fine tooth-comb. The way Valjean always did with his. His head for figures must have rubbed off on her. She had discovered exactly how far in debt they were and it was scary.
“I don’t know what to do” she finally admitted as Eponine handed her a third cup of tea. Javert had sneaked out of his study and stood by the door listening. Even he was shocked at the figures Cosette had quoted. He wondered briefly if gross stupidity would be enough cause for arrest.
“I don’t know what to say” Eponine looked at her husband for help. She knew all about having nothing. Telling Cosette that wouldn’t solve her problems though.
“You are going to have to sit him down and show him your finances” Javert told her firmly.
“But he won’t listen..”
“You have to make him listen. You could lose your house”
“He never listens though..”
“I’ll tell him then. Where is he?”
“He’s gone to Fantasy Land to visit friends” Cosette sighed “He’s due home in a couple of days”
“Do you know these friends?”
“Then you go to Fantasy Land, you find Marius and you tell him what a complete prat he’s been. If he won’t listen, phone me and I’ll tell him” Javert jabbed his finger on the table for emphasis.
“He’s right Cosette” Eponine set her cup down.
“I am?” Javert had a mock shocked expression on his face.
“Don’t get used to it” Eponine warned.
Cosette sighed. Why can’t Marius and I be like that?
A bump in the road jolted her back to reality.
“Ten miles to the City” the driver called from the front of the carriage “There’s a rest place coming up, you want me to stop?”
“Yes please, if you don’t mind” Cosette called back. She could do with stretching her legs, maybe call Cinderella and tell her she was nearly there. The two women had only ever spoken briefly on the phone, Cosette hoped she wouldn’t mind too much at her turning up at the castle. Maybe there was an inn or a hotel they could stay at. She hated imposing on people. Especially those she didn’t know very well.
The driver made a sharp turn into the coach park and brought the horses to a stop with a “Woah there”
He climbed down from the driving seat and opened the door so that Cosette could get out.
“How long will we be stopping for” she asked
“’bout fifteen minutes love? Let the horses get some water”
“Yes of course” she absently patted one of them, then went in search of something to eat and some fresh air.
The sudden noise of Cinderella’s phone ringing broke the uncomfortable silence that hung in her living room. It also gave her the opportunity to escape outside if only for five minutes to take the call. Thank God Belle had offered to have the kids over for a play date with Emily May, the tension between the adults had been making them miserable.
“Cosette! Where abouts are you?” she knew the tone of her voice was far too bright. She sounded false and she didn’t care.
“At a rest place about ten miles outside of the city.. I should be with you in about an hour…”
“Good! I’m looking forward to finally meeting you, Marius has told me all about you”
I bet he has thought Cosette dryly. Suddenly she wasn’t sure this had been such a good idea. Maybe she should have stayed home and waited for him to get back, then confronted him. Having the kind of conversation they needed to have in someone else’s home didn’t seem right. She stared at the phone, she could hear Cinderella talking but she had no idea what she was saying.
“Cosette? Cosette? Are you still there? Hello…?”
“Sorry… yes I’m still here.. I er I think the signal just dropped for a moment.. I have to go.. the driver wants to leave.. I’ll see you soon.. bye” with that she hurriedly put the phone down.
Cinderella put the phone down on the kitchen table. Charming was hovering by the doorway.
“What did she say? Marius is convinced it’s all bad news”
“I wouldn’t exactly say it was good….”
“It wasn’t what she said..more what she didn’t say…”
“What do mean?” whispered Charming not wanting Marius to know he was talking about him.
“All she said was she’d be about an hour and then apparently the signal dropped”
“Maybe it did…”
“Maybe she’s changed her mind about coming here..”
“She can’t!! If she doesn’t turn up…”
“Marius!” Cinderella cut Charming off before he could put his foot in his mouth again “Cosette will be about an hour.. do you want to go to the coach station and meet her?”
Marius look terrified.
“Of course you do” grinned Charming as he hustled his friend towards the stairs “You’ve even got time for a shower before we leave.. off you go!”
“I hope this bloody works” sighed Charming.