© Copyright September 1997
What, for Javert, was an idyllic summer came to an abrupt end one evening—he and Jewelle had their first disagreement. He had discovered over the course of three weeks that he liked being a husband. He took his duties very seriously, and he attempted to "get to know" Stephan, but the boy, while respectful, never made conversation easy. And for Javert, who was no great conversationist, trying to find topics to discuss was agony. He finally gave up, deciding that he would just have to come to know Stephan gradually. Nor did he attempt to join the boy and his uncle on any of their fishing expeditions, preferring to keep his inexperience to himself. Besides, it gave him more time to spend with Jewelle, and that was what he preferred to do anyway.
But now, when their guests had gone, he had found her packing a bag, and she told him she was going to spend a few days with Claudia and Gerald, Girard's brother and his wife because their daughter was having her baby any day now and she was needed to help out.
"I will not allow it," Javert said firmly, as stern as he'd ever been. "It is unacceptable."
"Don't be unreasonable, Javert," she said calmly, not seeming to take him as seriously as he thought she should. "They'll need me. Guy's family are all very close, and she is young. It's her first child."
"They will not need you. There are plenty of women in his family to help. Your place is here."
"It is only a few days, then I'll return home." She returned to folding some of her clothing and putting it into the bag.
"I will not allow you to take such a journey, Jewelle. You are my wife. You will remain here." The thought of her spending a night somewhere else made him indescribably angry. It did not ease him to see her continuing to pack either. "You have not taken up some career in midwifery, have you?"
She stopped and looked at him. "Javert, you are my husband. I will respect any decision you make, but I have an obligation here. Girard is away. I will need you to look after Stephan."
"No!" He felt the blood rushing to his face. "That is unacceptable. You belong with me. Here." He pointed to the floor. He saw the first fleeting signs of anger on her face, a slight flush to her cheeks, her eyes more intense and fixed on him.
"So it is all right for you to spend the night elsewhere, but not I? I do not belong to you, Javert. You are my husband, I am your wifenot your slave."
"I have never suggested such a thing. A man may be called away by the necessities of his duties as provider for a night or two occasionally. But a wife should remain at home. Especially a wife with a child."
Jewelle just looked at him angrily. "I thought you would be supportive of me. Guy always was."
Javert felt the sting of her words in a way that was utterly new to him. He could not acknowledge how much they hurt him, instead he let his anger boil over. "Do NOT compare me to your previous husband!" he roared at her. "I support you! Are you saying that I cannot?! You are not supposed to leave me, Jewelle! That is not my understanding of our marriage!" He felt the blood in his face, and she became a blurry vision in his eyes.
"I'm not leaving you!" Jewelle said a bit loudly, having flinched under his rage. "If you can't understand that. . ." She suddenly softened. "I understand why you are reacting this way. You are jealous of them, taking me away from you. That is very sweet of you, Javert, but no one can take me away from you for long."
For some reason, her words made him more angry than ever. "Jealous? I have never been jealous in my life!" That was true. He wasn't even sure what it felt like.
Jewelle came over to him. "And if you are worried about me, then accompany me there. There is an inn not far from where they live. You and Stephan can stay there."
"No! It is not right." Javert felt himself trembling. For a moment he regretted everything. These feelings made him so vulnerable. This pain was too terrible to bear. He wanted to weep now, and he hated that.
Jewelle touched his arm tentatively. "If you come with me to their house, I can't promise they'll have enough room, and you might have to spend the night sitting in a chair while I am busy helping with things. Then, we can all go to the inn if I'm not needed." She touched his still deeply frowning face. "I understand that you do not want to be separated from me. After your life, I can't blame you. And I don't want to be separated from you either. Come with me, then."
He felt his heart twisting painfully at the sight of her dark, gentle eyes so full of compassion. His anger fled, and he fully understood why he had been so affected. She was right. He could not bear to be apart from her. He took her hand, brought it to his lips, managing to keep the tears from falling. "Very well, I will come. You are right about me. I suppose I may have been jealous. I didn't know what it was like. It was not pleasant."
She threw her arms around him. "Oh, I love you, Javert. Besides, it will give me a chance to show you off to the rest of the family. I'm sure they'll all be there at one time or another."
"They were good to you?"
"Oh, very good to me. I had nothing, you know. Girard's family took me in as if I were their sister even before I married Guy. Thanks to you."
He almost smiled as he held her against him. "I never would have thought that one night could have led to this. I think now that you struck a chord in me even then. I would never have acknowledged it at the time. You have made me appreciate so many things in life. I feel lost without you, I think. It is a pain I have never felt before. It is terrible."
"Oh, I know!" She squeezed him. "But we'll be together, Javert. I promise. Now, let's pack a few things for you to take. We should leave as soon as possible."
He nodded, but gave her another hug, then kissed her tenderly on the head. "I love you, my angel." He felt her arms tighten around him a moment, and he said a silent prayer of thanks for her presence with him.
Jewelle knew that Javert was miserable, though she doubted anyone else knew how much he hated being here with all of her deceased husband's family. He had suddenly found himself in a social situation where he was not an outcast, not an authority, but just a citizen like any other. And he did not know how to interact easily. She kept watch on him when she passed through the room where he and the other men stood around. Only once had he met her eyes and the look in his made her cringe. At least Danielle's labor was not going to be as prolonged as many a first time mother's was. The girl was already close.
But it was late in the night, and Jewelle had to force herself not to go to Javert and tell him to be patient a little while longer. Already he had spent an inordinately long time looking after the horse and carriage before entering to stand by the hearth with the other men present. Stephan had joined the other children in their bedroom, though he was older than any others present. Now when Danielle started screaming, if she did, the children would all probably wake.
She watched her husband, standing stiff and formal as ever, and sighed. It was not easy for him to make small talk.
"Let me take that, Jewelle," Claudia said and took the bowl of water she was carrying toward the bedroom where Danielle lay in labor.
"Merci." She let her take it, smiling until she heard Javert's voice say something in a dark and dangerous tone.
"This is intolerable. I will hear no more of it!"
Jewelle looked at Claudia and turned to go to her husband to soothe his ire if possible. But the smacking thud of flesh on flesh silenced the entire room before she could even turn around.
Girard's brother-in-law Michel was on the floor gingerly holding his jaw.
"Javert!" Jewelle said and grabbed him by the arm which was still poised to strike another blow. "What have you done?" The other men helped Michel to his feet.
"I will not hear such remarks from anyone, monsieur," Javert said, ignoring Jewelle. "It is unseemly and reprehensible."
"Now, monsieur," Gerald said, "he meant nothing by it." He looked at Jewelle. "It is merely man's talk."
"Perhaps, but I will have none of it." Javert looked down at Jewelle, started to say something, then changed his mind and took her hand gently off his arm. "I will be outside, Jewelle, if you need me."
She could see that nothing was going to dissuade him from leaving. "I'll come out to you when I can."
"Very well." He strode away from her, some of his thick white hair was still bound by a black ribbon, but some had come loose and fanned out from his head as he went out.
"I'm sorry, Michel," she said to the man who still held his jaw.
"Ah, your husband could have hit me harder. He is very protective of you, Jewelle. You should be glad."
"Oh, I am. He has been so isolated from. . .from casual relationships I don't think he quite knows how to fit in."
"I think that's an accurate description of him," Gerald said. "But Michel deserved it for being crude." He playfully mimed a punch to the other man's jaw.
"You are harsh, monsieur," Michel said.
"And you are a mannerless whelp."
Jewelle left them to their jibes and went back to help the other woman tend Danielle.
Javert stood on the porch, holding his aching hand and cursing himself for being a fool. Oh, he was still just as indignant, but he deeply regretted embarrassing Jewelle in front of her family. Yet he could not say he would not do the same thing again. Jewelle was everything to him, and he gladly would give his life defending her honor or her life. He took his duty as a husband and protector every bit as seriously as he had his duties as an inspector. Only now, it was more than a way of life, it was his heart and soul, two things he had kept buried in a vault so deep it had taken the desperation of suicide and the intervention of God to unlock them. And now that they were unleashed, his emotions were always there at the surface, ready to humiliate him with a flare of temper or touch of despair, or even the joy of love.
He turned slightly when he heard the door behind him open. He knew it was Jewelle; he recognized the sound of her step. She put her arms around him and hugged him from behind. Javert put his hands on hers and brought them to his lips.
"I am sorry, Jewelle." His voice was filled with regret.
"No, Javert, it is I who's sorry." She rested her cheek against his back. "I should have known that you need me more than they do."
He turned around to face her, looking down at her in the lamplight and cupping one side of her jaw in his hand. "I have never needed anyone before, Jewelle. All my life I relied on no one but myself. There was no one in my life, and now you are every part of it. I do not breathe without thinking of you. You might label me obsessed, and you would be right. I did not mean to embarrass you, I'm sorry."
She smiled gently and put her arms around his neck. "You are so much a man of honor, Javert. You cannot imagine how important that is to me. When I'm with you I feel so safe." She hugged him to her.
He returned the embrace with considerable intensity. "I promise to behave myself from now on. I will walk away before striking anyone else."
"Good. And I think you will not have too long to wait. Danielle will deliver soon."
He nodded, uncomfortable with the subject. "We'll do whatever you feel you need to, my angel."
"Am I not the most blessed woman in all of France?"
He looked down at her and smiled. "The most beautiful certainly."
She smiled sweetly at him. "I knew there was some reason I married you."
He kissed her softly. "I will try to make certain that you never regret it."
"I never will."
"Nor I." He held her close again and closed his eyes. "Nor I."
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