For all the changes the Javert family had endured in the past five years, between marriages and births and quarrels, one thing was always constant: the house in the country was the only one large enough to host gatherings such as Easter. With all the guests, including four children under the age of four, Cosette and Sophie had their hands full. Of course everyone pitched in, but Cosette preferred the experienced hands of Madeline and Sarah to her daughters, whom she made sit by the fire with Valjean and their little ones or else out in the garden.
Preparations for Gavroche’s upcoming marriage were well underway as well, although the young man stubbornly insisted they could not have a wedding until the twins returned home. For now, he and Addy seemed content to carry on their relationship as it had always been; he pushed her on the garden swing or chased her down the hill like a boy or simply leaned against her while he flipped through a book.
Gustave, when he wasn’t helping his friend haul things back from town or chop wood for the still-chilly evenings, was very tender with his wife; they had been through a scare, and were still not sure what the outcome of it would be; all they could do was wait and hope.
Little Philippe was almost three and rambunctious, wanting to run and play outside with his uncle; he required constant attention so that he did not run off and hurt himself somehow. In contrast, little Kathleen was content to sit on her father’s lap by the fire, curled up against him like a kitten, as he stroked her hair. She played sometimes when her mother was not busy elsewhere, but she was like Valjean’s shadow.
It was two days before Easter and getting dark just before dinner. Most of the family (a reluctant Javert included, because his wife had put Jaq on his lap and told him to stay put) were in the main sitting room while the three eldest women were still preparing in the kitchen.
Gavroche sat on the floor so all the ladies and their babes would have chairs, his head resting in Addy’s lap and a book on his knee. Aimee and Celeste were sitting close together, whispering and giggling like girls, while Gus was busy admiring his niece in Jean’s arms as his eldest son dozed in his father-in-law’s. Overall, it was a peaceful scene, if a crowded one.