She cried. She cried because it was cold, and her thin, torn, soiled shift wasn't enough. She cried because her side ached from where M'sieur's heavy boots had caught her earlier. She cried because she was hungry, and no one would ever offer her a warm meal. Mostly, though, she cried because no one would come to ask why she was crying, and then kiss away her tears and comfort her.
The sobs wracked her thin frame, twisting her body and making her head spin, and her breath caught horribly in her chest and she choked and gasped, and it hurt. She wrapped her arms about herself and shook, feeling her thin strands of hair falling in wiggly scraggles around her face.
She didn't hear the faint rustle of Éponine's nightdress until the other girl was sitting in front of her, head cocked like an inquisitive bird.
How she envied Éponine! Éponine had a mother who loved her; Éponine would probably always be loved. She'd never live in dirt, all alone, never knowing if the next day someone was going to hit her too hard and break her, never have to content herself with imagining happiness because she'd always have happiness. So she didn't stop her tears; instead, let them continue to pour down her face.
She might've died when Éponine put out a small white hand and stroked her cheek, fingers trailing over her dirty, wet skin.
"Don't cry. Last night I dreamed I died. Don't cry, Cosette."
Then she stood, and turned, and went back up the stairs, without a backward glance at the stunned girl behind her. Cosette looked after her for a few perfectly silent moments, tensed and still, then curled up under the table and slept, but she was no longer crying.
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