“You’re welcome. You’re my siblings now, no matter what happens, so I’m going to look after you both.” Eponine hugged Cecily to her gently, and pressed a quick kiss to the girl’s hair, though her eyes landed on the concerned look on Alayne’s features and…
Cecily smiled and nodded, looking up at Eponine. “We’ll take care of you, too,” she murmured, looking over at Enjolras.
Enjolras sighed and gently rested his hand on Alayne’s shoulder. “I’m fine, Alayne. Really. You don’t need to worry.”
“I trust you will.” Eponine chuckled softly. “First, you eat, though. You need to keep your strength up.”
When Enjolras touched Alayne’s shoulder, the woman smiled faintly and reached up to squeeze the boy’s hand, unsure if further touch would be welcomed. “I’m a mother, Enjolras, I always worry about my children,” she murmured, meeting his eyes. “And you look like you could sleep for a week, that’s why I’m concerned.”
Cecily nodded and ate quickly. ”Enj did eat, didn’t he?” she asked Eponine softly.
Enjolras sighed and squeezed her hand gently. ”I would if I could sleep. But I can’t. There’s nothing I can do about that.”
“Not enough.” Eponine murmured back casually. “Don’t worry. Mum’s going to be in the courthouse today too, and I’ll help you keep an eye on him.”
Alayne slowly reached out to touch his hair lightly, a gentle caress that only lasted a heartbeat or two. “I understand. I hope you’ll be able to rest better once this business is finally done with.”
Cecily sighed and nodded. ”Try and get him to eat more? Please?”
Enjolras nodded and sighed. ”I’ll try. I don’t know.”
“I’ll do my best. You know him best of all of us, you need to tell me if you see any danger signs, okay?” Eponine answered, wrapping one arm around her shoulders. “It will be all right. We’ll be together, and Lana will take care of things.”
“As long as you try, it’s good enough for me.” Alayne reassured, repeating the light touch since he didn’t pull away. “Let us know if you need anything, okay?”
Cecily nodded and leaned against Eponine. ”I think he’s getting sick. He’s sleeping even less than he usually does.”
Enjolras nodded and smiled at her slightly. ”I will. Thank you.”
“I’m guessing he’s a terrible patient and refuses to admit he’s sick till he passes out?” Eponine murmured wryly, cuddling Cecily against her. “Noted. I’ll try and make sure he drinks more fluids besides coffee while we’re in the courthouse today.”
“Good.” Alayne smiled back as Ben cleared his throat gently from the door. “Looks like it’s time to go.”
Lana was waiting for them outside, smiling at the children. “Good morning. Big day ahead today… we should be able to limit the children’s appearances on the stand to today only. Judge Hunter’s already inside, I’ve given him the information. We’re early, so I’ll give you a quick briefing.”
As they walked inside, a man’s voice called out—but not to Lana. “Julien, Cecily! How delightful. If you play along, we’ll have you two back where you belong before you know it.”
Ben’s eyes narrowed in loathing as he inclined his head coolly, moving between the speaker—a brown-haired man with a shiny, false smile and a nose that had clearly been broken before—and the children in an unmistakeably protective attitude. “Portsman.”
“Ah, Mr Taylor, what a surprise to find you here.” Portsman gritted out between clenched teeth. “What poor fool of a rookie did they set up against me this time?”
“That would be me.” Lana cut in with impeccable timing, stepping around Ben to fold her arms across her chest. “Good morning, James.”
Portsman’s face was a study in horrified shock as he realized who was speaking to him. “P-prosecutor Marshall!” he stammered out.
“Yes, me. I suggest you go and prepare yourself adequately.” Lana’s voice was so cold icicles practically started forming, and the gray and blue stares bored into the hapless Portsman until he retreated.
As soon as Portsman disappeared, Enjolras began to laugh, trying and failing to smother it with his sleeve. Cecily looked up at him, clearly a bit confused. When he calmed a bit, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and smiled. ”I broke his nose, Cess, remember?”