Cosette caught a glimpse of the boy in the cap who's been leaving flowers by her windowsill one late evening.
Not the dark curly-haired Marius, who sent her perfume-scented letters and dropped them by her doorstep in the bright light of the day, who is sweet and kind and a bit naive, but a boy who came by in the nighttime and left roses and daisies and small, dark scribbled notes to her about her hair and how it would shimmer in the rain.
He came by in the evenings and late at night. The flowers were always there when Cosette wakes in the morning. And once she saw a brown newsboy's cap and a snugly fitting vest over a thin frame that ducked out of her view down the street.
She liked Marius a lot, more than she'd liked any boy, but she wished she could know what this one looked like, and why he was so furtive in sending her missives, and maybe meet him face to face.
Eponine sat with her head propped up between her hands and listened to Marius weave poetry about the new love of his life and smiled and nodded and encouraged his descriptions, and if he turned to her and wondered at the enthusiasm with which she agreed with how Cosette's hair shone golden in the sun and volunteered that her eyes shined like starlight, Marius didn't dwell on the subject, and Eponine didn't mention it.
Eponine was the one who helped him find her, after all, the quiet shy girl who walked across the courtyard and never lingered anywhere too long. He had no reason to suspect Eponine would betray him.
Eponine didn't know why she's doing it herself. It was fun, clandestinely vying for Marius's crush. Maybe she lacked excitement in her life. Maybe it was entertaining to keep a secret.
One night Cosette snuck by her father's sleeping form in the armchair by the fireplace and waited in the alley between her house and the next and when the boy in the cap turned the corner she swept out before him, in her white dress and her hair falling in ringlets around her and the boy's eyes when he saw her were wide like he'd been caught in a crime. Cosette started to explain herself to him, but he covered his face with his cap, his long hair falling out as he did so, and turned on his heel and fled, dark hair flowing behind him as he ran.
She didn't get the flowers anymore.
Eponine wondered as she wandered out that night under a sky full of stars along the streets of Paris and thought about the little girl that had hung around her parents' inn when she had been a child. She had had golden hair that was matted with dirt and grime and always cried and hugged her form close to corners and table legs. Her eyes had been big, and blue like pigeon's eggs.