The sun had disappeared from his line of sight only a few minutes earlier, hidden by the roof of Rue des Filles-du Calvaire, No. 6, but already Valjean felt the day’s warmth giving way to an evening chill that heralded autumn. He did not quite shiver, and yet the cold touched his cheeks, tickled his throat where it was not protected by his collar or cravat.
Cosette’s clear, sweet voice drew his attention away from his contemplation of the nearby rosebush and its faded bloom. He looked towards her to find her worried eyes fixed upon him. He immediately forced a smile and straightened from his slight slouch. “Yes, my dear?”
“I saw your expression at dinner when we began to speak of the Christmas season,” Cosette said slowly. She fidgeted with her teacup; his gaze was drawn to her hands and the tension in her wrists as she turned the cup around and around in quick, sharp movements. “I agree it is somewhat early to plan for the holiday, for it is only halfway through September, but…” She paused, a small frown tugging at the corners of her lips. “But Marius seemed so excited for our first Christmas together. I could not change the subject without hurting his feelings, and I did not wish to do so.”
“I,” Valjean said, and then found it was his turn to fidget with his cup and lift it to his lips. It took three sips before the tightness in his throat eased and he could continue. “My dear, I have no objections to anyone’s enthusiasm. It is only that…” He paused, trying to gather his thoughts so that he could speak clearly.
“I know you did not enjoy Marius’s birthday,” Cosette interjected, setting her cup upon the table and leaning towards him. “You tried to hide it, but you suffered through the party and the guests and the music.” She smiled faintly as he started to protest. “Did you think I would not notice you and Monsieur Javert hiding in the corner the entire time? But I will tell Marius that I want a quieter celebration for Christmas, and that perhaps we could have a small private dinner for his grandfather’s birthday…” She trailed off when Valjean shook his head.
“Cosette,” he said. Her name scratched at his throat. He was absurdly grateful that Marius and Monsieur Gillenormand had retreated to the study to discuss Marius taking up law, that Mademoiselle Gillenormand had retired to bed, and that he was alone with Cosette. “I had meant to speak with you, but it never seemed the right time. I will...that is, I have rented a cottage outside the city, in the north. I intend to shut up my rooms at the Rue de l'Homme Arme and spend the winter there.”
For the briefest of moments, Cosette looked at him in mute incomprehension. Then understanding flooded her expression and widened her eyes. “You’re leaving?” she said, and in her quiet, shocked whisper he heard the unvoiced accusation of, Again?
He repressed the wince, for some of the memories of the summer were still raw, half-healed scars that ached at moments like these when he recalled how close he had come to losing Cosette through his own misguided attempts to protect her. He hastily set his cup aside, ignoring the tea that splashed out and stained his shirt-cuff. Valjean reached out and caught hold of her fluttering hands; he felt the coldness of her skin, the tremor in her fingers as he pressed a kiss to her knuckles. “Only for the winter,” he assured her. “Three months, and then I will return for the spring.”
Some of the shock ebbed. Instead a half-puzzled curiosity replaced the sentiment. Her brow furrowed. “Is it because of the Christmas Eve party and Monsieur Gillenormand’s birthday? I promise, Father, I shall speak to Marius, convince him that we should have small family gatherings--”
“Cosette,” Valjean said gently.
Cosette closed her mouth and looked at him, her hands still trembling a little in his grasp. Or perhaps it was his own hands that shook; it was impossible to tell.
“You loved everything about Marius’s birthday,” he said. “You loved the planning of it and especially the party itself. I saw how happy you were, surrounded by your guests. I would not deprive you of that enjoyment.” He paused, searching for the right words. “And it is...not wholly because of Christmas that I decided to rent the cottage.”
“If it is not that, then…?”
Valjean’s throat tightened once more, but he had spilled his tea and besides, he found that he could not bear to let go of Cosette’s hands for even a moment to reach for the cup and see if anything remained. He coughed, trying to dispel the constricted feeling. “I know that I have told you very little of my past,” he said. “It is...difficult for me to speak of it. But I was raised in the country, in Faverolles. I find that I miss the country. I do not regret these years in Paris, of course I do not, but I…I do miss the countryside.” He smiled crookedly at her, trying to coax an answering smile. “I suppose I will always be a peasant at heart.”
Cosette did not smile back, though her frown no longer held the silent hurt and alarm of before. Instead there was only concern. “But must you visit the countryside during the winter? I cannot see how you could enjoy that. Father, if you had said something, we might have rented two cottages for the spring, enjoyed the countryside for a month or two while the flowers and fields bloomed!” Cosette clung a little to his hands as she wrinkled her nose and pursed her lips. “And I dislike the idea of you being alone. What if there is a storm and you are injured somehow. Are there other cottages nearby, if you need help?”
“No, the nearest cottage is two miles away,” Valjean admitted, “but--”
“But?” Cosette’s expression had firmed into a stubborn look Valjean knew well. Her grip tightened upon his as she said adamantly, “Father. If you go and live in that cottage all alone, with no one around for miles, I will spend the entire three months worrying.”
There was a sour taste on Valjean’s tongue. He pictured spending the winter in Paris, enduring the narrow and crowded streets, being drawn into the preparations for the celebrations and asked his opinion on what music should be played at the Christmas Eve party, what type of food should be prepared, what type of presents each member of the family might like….
His stomach twisted, his chest tightened. He felt for a moment as though Paris was a cage, its bars coming down around him. Still, he swallowed and forced out, “If you do not wish for me to go--”
“You would stay, I know,” Cosette said, and made a sound that might have been laughter, if it had not wobbled so. “I would never force you to do so, not when you conceal your misery at the thought so poorly. I simply….” She paused and pursed her lips once more. Her expression turned thoughtful. “Please tell me you will at least invite Monsieur Javert? I would have no objection if you had company.”
“Invite--” Valjean stared at her until a flush colored her cheeks. Still the stubborn slant of her mouth did not soften, and she stared back expectantly, awaiting his agreement. He hesitated. A half-dozen responses rose to his lips, but he swallowed them down. “I do not think Javert would enjoy winter in the countryside,” he said at last.
“Perhaps not, but when you tell him of your plans I think he will dislike even more the idea of you being alone,” Cosette said.
Valjean could not help a small wince at that, for he had not considered Javert’s likely reaction to his plans. He had not, in truth, thought of Javert’s reaction at all, too worried about Cosette and how she would take his leaving for the winter. Now he considered Javert and the tentative, awkward friendship they had built over the past months, and inwardly grimaced. No, Javert would not be pleased at what he would doubtlessly consider an idiotic notion of Valjean’s to leave Paris.
Then he imagined Javert’s reaction to being invited to spend the winter in a small cottage in the northern countryside with only Valjean for company. Doubtless Javert would refuse, with a remark on how he was not suited to the country life, but perhaps he would be pleased that Valjean had thought to offer.
“I will ask him, though I cannot promise anything more than that,” he said at last, patting Cosete's hands once more. He relaxed in his chair, attempted to banish his earlier unease with the warmth of Cosette’s pleased smile and her cheerful voice as she mused on perhaps purchasing him a thicker winter coat.
The following week, Valjean let Javert into his rooms at the Rue de l’Homme Arme at the usual time. Nervousness made his hands inclined to tremble, though with effort he kept them steady as he shut the door and took Javert’s hat.
It would have been better if he had sent a note to Javert and asked him to visit sooner, he thought ruefully as he set Javert’s hat aside in its usual place. In the days since he had spoken with Cosette, Valjean had worked himself into a state of nerves almost as intense as his previous anxiety over Cosette’s reaction.
His nervousness must have been somewhat apparent, for Javert paused in the middle of taking off his coat, leaving only one arm freed from its sleeve. He directed a long, searching look at Valjean. It was not an unfamiliar look, that narrowing of eyes and intense concentration; Javert had studied Valjean so constantly during the first few weeks after the fall of the barricade, as though he could understand Valjean if only he looked hard enough.
Such looks were less frequent now, for Javert and Valjean had reached some level of understanding, but not altogether absent. Still, it did not help Valjean’s nerves, having Javert stare at him so.
Valjean cleared his throat, attempted his usual welcoming smile, though it felt somewhat forced. “You have excellent timing,” he said. “Madame Caron is making us pot-au-feu tonight. It will be finished in a few minutes. Shall we sit?”
Javert’s eyes remained narrowed, his suspicious gaze almost a tangible pressure upon Valjean’s face, but for the moment he did not press. He finished taking off his coat instead, hanging it upon the peg beside the door and then sitting down at the table.
Now would come the usual opening conversation, Valjean knew, in which Valjean spoke of Cosette and Javert spoke around the matter of his forced retirement, and then they would find something else to discuss, whether it was a recent article in the newspaper or a book Valjean had been reading.
“And how is your daughter?”
Despite himself, Valjean smiled as he sat down. “She is well,” he said, and then promptly ran out of words. His normal exuberance when it came to speaking of his visits with Cosette had vanished, buried and lost beneath his anxiety. He cleared his throat, wished he had thought to pour himself some water before he had answered Javert’s knock. “They are already planning a birthday party for Monsieur Gillenormand and speaking of Christmas.”
Something flickered across Javert’s face. Mute surprise, perhaps. “Already? But it is not yet October.”
Valjean spread his hands and shrugged. His mouth was dry. He wetted his lips, said, “Monsieur Gillenormand is enthusiastic about showing Cosette off to society. I cannot fault him for it.” He frowned a little. It had not been what he’d meant to say. He’d intended to state his plans and extend the invitation, and yet the words caught in his throat and came out transformed into entirely different ones.
“No,” Javert agreed, but the word was said slowly, his eyes intent and searching. “Have they drawn you into the preparations, then?”
“No,” Valjean said, and cleared his throat again. This time he managed to get the words out, though they tripped over themselves in the utterance. “No, I-- that is, I will not be Paris for the winter.” Javert's expression went dangerously blank, and Valjean found himself hastily explaining his plans, and then concluding with Cosette's concerns.
When he finished, there was a long stretch of uncomfortable silence. Then Javert gave a minute shake of his head. There was a hint of disapproval in his expression, but he did not seem to have mistaken Valjean leaving Paris as an echo of the disastrous summer, for which Valjean found himself grateful.
"Of course she is worried," Javert said at last with a purse of his lips. His arms were folded against his chest; his fingers drummed out a staccato beat upon his sleeves. "You will be in the wilderness, alone."
"Well," Valjean said slowly. He had relaxed a little at Javert's lack of ire, but now he found himself tensing once more in anticipation of the other man's refusal. "Not necessarily. The cottage is small, but it has room enough for two."
Javert snorted. "And who would leave the comforts of Paris to stay in some hut--" He stopped abruptly, as though someone had seized him by the throat. His expression went blank again, and yet there was something open and painfully surprised in his eyes that made Valjean flush hot.
"You do not have to," Valjean said, dropping his gaze to study the tabletop. There was a whorl in the wood that looked almost like a keyhole. He traced it with a fingertip. "You are right, it will not have the comforts of Paris. We would have to chop our own wood and walk at least two miles to see another person, and a good five miles to the nearest town--"
"I will do it," Javert said. When Valjean raised his head to stare, Javert looked almost as surprised as Valjean felt. He ducked his head, his eyes concealed beneath his eyebrows and his mouth half-hidden by his cravat and collar as he muttered, "Someone must be with you to ensure you do not freeze to death, after all."
Valjean watched Javert attempt to disappear further behind his cravat, and found a strange warmth filling his chest, so sudden and overwhelming that he had to take a deep breath before he could speak. "Well," he said, mock-grave, "I know Cosette would be most appreciative."
Javert's eyebrows raised at that. Then, understanding Valjean was attempting to jest, he laughed. Javert's laughter was a hoarse, disused sound that nevertheless made Valjean smile. "So, tell me about your cottage."
"As I have said, it is somewhat small, though it will fit us both easily." Valjean paused, imagining Javert in the cottage, and amended, "Well, it will fit us both. You will have to watch your head in the doorways."
Javert's mouth twitched. "I will keep that in mind," he said dryly.
Javert surveyed the cottage with an unreadable expression even as the carriage disappeared from view. "It is somewhat larger than I expected," he said at last.
"What, did you think it truly was a hut and I was simply being kind in my description?" Valjean asked. He shook his head, found himself smiling, though old memories turned the smile bittersweet. "I know the difference between a hut and a cottage. I lived in a hut with Fauchelevent for years at the convent."
When Javert did not respond, Valjean turned to find Javert lifting his trunk off the ground, apparently too focused on balancing both his trunk and his valise to answer. Valjean allowed himself a private smile at the sight of Javert in the new steel-gray coat Cosette had convinced him to accept as an early Christmas present. It suited him, and was doubtless better protection against the chilly air than his old coat had been.
The wind chose that moment to nip at his cheeks and sting his eyes. Valjean turned his face away, blinking. "Come, let me show you inside," he said. He hefted the first of his trunks into his arms with a quiet grunt, for packing enough clothes and books to last three months had proved a greater undertaking than he had anticipated, and Cosette had only added to the weight by insisting that he take his and Javert's Christmas presents with them to be opened on Christmas Eve.
"Ah, good," he said, pleased, as he opened the door with his foot and peered into the main room. The room was mostly unchanged from when he had first visited: the small table with two chairs in the corner, the cupboard that should now be filled with food, the fireplace, and the original bed. The bed now had a nearly identical companion. "They did deliver the second bed in time."
Javert entered, studying the room with the same unreadable expression as before. "We shall have to cut more firewood," he said immediately, frowning at the small pile of wood beside the fireplace. "The driver said there was a storm expected next week."
"It seems somewhat early for snow, but the man did seem certain of the storm," Valjean said. He set down the trunk and then straightened with a bitten-back grunt as his back protested the movement. He pressed his hand to the spot, rubbing at the stiffness there. He caught Javert's concerned glance and immediately smiled in reassurance, dropping his hand back to his side. "It is nothing. My back did not enjoy the hours in the carriage."
"Ah," Javert said, though he did not seem particularly reassured. He set down both his trunk and the valise and gestured towards the fireplace. "Get a fire going. I shall fetch the other trunk."
Valjean opened his mouth to say he could get the trunk, but Javert was already gone. Valjean frowned after him, concern swiftly replacing surprise. Javert had been quieter than usual on the trip, almost surly when Valjean had tried draw him into conversation about the landscape. Surely he was not regretting his decision to accompany Valjean, when they had not so much as spent a night in the cottage....
Before he could pursue that thought, Javert returned. When Javert raised an eyebrow, Valjean realized he had made no move towards the fireplace. He moved to do so, flushing a little and saying, "Chopping wood can wait until the morning, I think. Let us get the fire going and have some tea and something to eat. You must be hungry."
Javert muttered something that might have been agreement, and then nothing more.
Silence fell upon the cottage. It was an uncomfortable quiet, and Valjean frowned as he fumbled with his tinderbox. Unease tightened his chest. For the first time he wondered what precisely he and Javert would do for three months with only each other for company. They had very few shared interests, and they did not discuss the past except in the occasional allusion. They especially did not discuss Javert’s time with the police, for even if there was a potential for humorous cases, Javert missed his work too much to enjoy recounting them. They did not even enjoy the same books! There would be the weekly letter from Cosette and Marius, of course, but that would only occupy them for an evening or two.
And if it was already this awkward on the first day, Valjean wondered, what would it be like in another month? A few sparks finally landed upon the straw in the fireplace, but he found no satisfaction in the gathering warmth as first the straw and then the wood began to burn.
He turned, forcing a smile and pushing away his unease. "I believe there should be a kettle and some tea leaves in the cupboard, and some fresh bread and cheese, if the good man who rented me the cottage followed my instructions," he said.
He attempted a tone of cheerfulness, but was uncertain if he succeeded; Javert's reserved expression offered him no clues. He clapped his hands together, trying to dispel the silence that wanted to thicken around them once more. "Let us eat."
Four days later, Valjean stared in dismay out the cottage's window.
The storm must have begun during the night, the snow falling with silent surety until it blanketed everything. Even the sky was such a pale blue that it too seemed almost white. He could just make out the shed, but even the small building was nearly lost to sight.
He glanced over his shoulder, towards where Javert sat finishing his breakfast, oblivious yet to the storm. Valjean's gaze lingered on the wood beside the fireplace, and he felt his frown deepen. The supply would only last them a day or two at most, and there was no way to know how long the storm would continue. The carriage driver's warnings of the storm had been dire but strangely void of details such as what day the storm was expected and how long it would last.
"It seems the storm came early," he said at last. He tugged his collar a little closer to his chin and wondered if he should fetch a scarf, for the wind was beginning to grow louder, making the window-pane rattle. "I would have brought all the firewood here if I had thought-- but the sky seemed clear last night."
Javert directed a questioning look towards Valjean, an expression which twisted into one of almost comical surprise as he took in the snow outside. Then his expression tightened. "You are not going outside in that," he said flatly.
Valjean hesitated, choosing his words carefully. The past few days had been strange, with Javert's mood mercurial and the atmosphere of the cottage strained more often than not. One moment Javert would be almost smiling as Valjean recounted one of Cosette's misadventures at the convent, and the next he would be halfway into his coat and muttering that he needed a walk, no, he did not want any company, and then disappearing for an hour or two.
"We do not know how long the storm will last. Our pile will only last another day or so. I should fetch the rest of the wood now before the snow drifts get any higher," Valjean said at last.
"I am not saying that we do not need the wood. I am saying that I can fetch it," Javert said, still frowning.
Valjean blinked in surprise. "I am already in my coat," he pointed out. "I will not even be out of sight of the cottage. You shall see, I will be warming my hands at the fireplace before you have finished eating."
"Valjean," Javert said. His tone sharpened.
Valjean knew that voice. It was the one Javert had used in the intervening weeks after Valjean's foolishness, when Valjean had been slowly recovering his strength and Javert had alternated between worry and wrath as he'd assisted Cosette in nursing Valjean back to health.
"I will be just a moment," Valjean said hastily. Then he opened the door and all but fled into the storm.
He felt foolish as he did so, for walking out mid-argument would only make Javert angrier, but he had not wished to stay and argue, not when they could not end the disagreement with one of Javert's long walks. Still, Valjean did regret not grabbing that scarf, for the wind threw snow into his eyes and half-blinded him.
He trudged slowly through the snow. The drifts came up almost to his knees. If the snow kept falling at this rate, even the cottage would be half-buried by the following morning, he thought, and bent his head against the wind and snow and struggled on.
He was halfway back to the cottage, his arms filled with as many as pieces of firewood as he could carry, when the snow gave way beneath his foot and he stumbled. The drift seemed intent on swallowing him, and had reached halfway up his thigh before he steadied himself. His trousers were damp and cold, the chill seeping through and making his bones ache.
By the time he had gathered up the scattered firewood and gotten to the cottage door, his teeth were chattering. He hoped Javert would not scold him too badly, for he did not think he could speak well enough to defend himself.
Before he could grope for the doorknob, the door opened and Javert frowned out at him. His gaze swept over Valjean, taking in his damp clothes and his shivering, and his expression tightened. Then he had one firm hand upon Valjean's elbow and was steering him inside and towards the fireplace.
"You are soaked through. Did you fall?"
"Yes," Valjean tried to say, but his teeth would not stop chattering. He settled for a nod even as Javert took the wood from him and piled it up with the rest. He had started to fumble with his gloves when Javert huffed out an exasperated sound.
"Stop that," Javert said. The harshness in his voice belied the startling gentleness of his hands as he removed Valjean's gloves for him and dropped the gloves to the floor. "Sit down, let us see if you have managed to lose any fingers or toes."
"I was not out in the snow that long," Valjean said even as he obeyed. His teeth chattering had lessened enough that the sentence came out coherent. The heat warmed him slowly, driving some of the chill away. His fingers were pink and wore the beginnings of the wrinkling they had when he stayed too long in the bath. He attempted to clench them and winced at the pain.
Javert ignored Valjean's words, though the frowning crease in his forehead deepened at Valjean's grimace. He knelt and pried Valjean's wet shoes and socks from his feet. As Valjean experimentally wiggled his toes and winced again, Javert looked up at him.
His eyes were half-hidden under his lowered eyebrows, but there was something alien in the familiar contours, an uncertainty that almost softened the severe lines of his face.
Javert's name was on the tip of his tongue but some quiet instinct kept Valjean silent and still as that uncertainty strengthened in Javert's face. He stayed silent even as Javert breathed out a soft exhale, almost like a sigh, and muttered, "I wish you were not so careless with yourself." There was a strange note in his voice; Javert didn't sound angry or even exasperated, but something else, something Valjean did not recognize.
Before Valjean could answer him, Javert cupped Valjean's hands in his and raised them to his lips. His breath was warm as it tickled Valjean's chilled fingers.
A strange shiver went through Valjean that was not from the cold, his breath hitching in his chest. He found himself half-hypnotized by the movements of Javert's mouth as Javert took in a deep breath and blew again upon Valjean's fingers. A nameless hunger settled into his belly.
Javert exhaled a third time. This time Valjean's breath caught in his throat and then escaped as a soft, unfamiliar sound. Javert went motionless, his entire body tensing like a hound that has caught a scent. Then he raised his face once more to look at Valjean.
Valjean did not know what was in his own expression, only that some of the shivering feeling must still be reflected in his face, for surprise and then anticipation swept all other sentiment from Javert's. Javert's eyes darkened, and Valjean thought he recognized the glint there, the one Javert had worn before he'd hastily escaped to take a walk.
The pieces fell into place, the puzzle solved in one burst of wondering realization. "Javert," Valjean said, and did not recognize his own voice.
Javert's eyes remained fixed upon Valjean's face even as he raised one of Valjean's hands to his mouth once more. His lips were cool and rough against Valjean's palm, the kiss gentle, and yet Valjean's blood roared in his ears.
Valjean ached to touch Javert as Javert had him. He reached out with his free hand, pressed it to Javert's cheek. He swept his thumb along Javert's whiskers, felt Javert's breath stutter against his palm. He stroked his thumb over the permanent crease between Javert's eyes, watched how Javert's eyes fluttered shut.
"Javert," he whispered hoarsely, wanting Javert's gaze upon him again.
Javert opened his eyes. There was a heat in his eyes that warmed Valjean even more surely than the fireplace, one that dried out Valjean's mouth and made him ache for things he did not know he had wanted, things that he had no name for.
Javert swallowed. His tongue flickered out to wet his lips. "I want," he said, and then stopped, as though he too could not put a name to his desires.
"Yes," Valjean said, not knowing what Javert wanted but wanting it too. He stroked his thumb across Javert's forehead once more.
Javert sighed, a half-relieved sound, and rested his head upon Valjean's knee for a moment. Then his hands left Valjean's and moved to Valjean's trousers.
For a few seconds, Valjean did not understand, and then he did, flushing hot at the very thought of it. Then he had no thoughts at all, for Javert had drawn Valjean's prick from his trousers and begun to mouth eagerly at the tip of it.
Valjean stared down at Javert's bowed head as Javert took more of him into his mouth. The pressure of his mouth and tongue, the sight of those half-lidded eyes, it all seemed unreal. White spots filled Valjean's vision; he found he had spread his legs wide. With some effort, he kept himself from thrusting wantonly into Javert's mouth. He kept his hands clenched upon his knees, for otherwise he did not know what he would do with his hands, except perhaps clutch too tightly at Javert's shoulders.
"Javert," he gasped, for it was all too much. He could already feel his pleasure building to a crest, his hips arching against his will into Javert's mouth. He fumbled, gave in to the tempation to smooth a shaking hand over Javert's shoulder. "Javert, I--" His voice cracked.
Javert paused and sighed a little, an anticipatory, pleased puff of air that swept over Valjean's prick, and ran his fingertips lightly along Valjean's inner thighs.
Valjean spent, suddenly and helplessly, both hands clutching at Javert's shoulders. His breath caught in his chest like a sob as he slumped against the back of the chair and tried not to be embarrassed that he had come so quickly.
Time seemed to move oddly for some time after that. It could have been seconds or minutes later that Valjean felt Javert's hand upon his cheek and heard Javert mutter, "I might have at least gotten your wet clothes off you first. Let us get you out of those wet clothes and into bed."
Valjean opened his eyes to find Javert had gotten to his feet and was now bent over the chair. He was not smiling, but one corner of his mouth creased and seemed on the verge of curling upwards. Valjean's gaze dropped lower and he flushed a little, no longer quite so embarrassed; apparently Javert had spent just as quickly.
An unfamiliar feeling tightened Valjean's chest then. He thought it amazement that he could affect Javert so, mixed with tender affection. He reached up and caught Javert's hand in his. It was his turn to kiss Javert's hand, pressing his mouth to those sharp knuckles and listening for the hitch in Javert's breathing.
Over Javert's shoulder, Valjean could see the snow still falling outside the window. It was cold even in the cottage, but Valjean felt completely warm. Was this what unreserved contentment felt like, he wondered. It was a strange feeling, to feel as though he would overflow with happiness. In Paris, Cosette was doubtlessly enjoying breakfast with Marius and making the final plans on Monsieur Gillenormand's birthday. Perhaps the storm had reached the city and she was glancing out the window and thinking of him and Javert.
Here, Javert stood watching him, his expression content, his mouth still red and swollen and silently asking for a kiss. Valjean kissed Javert's knuckles again. Then he brushed a first, exploratory kiss against Javert's mouth and said, his voice only wobbling a little, "Then let us go to bed."
“The summer has his joys,
And winters his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys
They shorten tedious nights.”
- “Now Winter Nights Enlarge” by Thomas Campion