Fantine half rises in her bed, looking around in desperation. She sees Javert, wicked and monstrous. She sees Monsieur le maire, who Javert said was not Monsieur le maire, who Javert said was Jean Valjean, a thief and convict. Monsieur le maire, who Javert is seizing. Who said Cosette isn’t there in Montreuil-sur-mer after all, and he has to go find her, but he can’t because Javert won’t let him. She sees Sister Simplice, shocked and silent, unable to do anything to stop this.
It can’t be, it’s too awful, it has to stop, she can’t make it stop but surely God will, surely God will hear her cries and save Cosette, but God ignored her cries for so long before sending Monsieur le maire to her, and now she can’t seem to cry or make any sound at all, or even to draw breath—
And then it’s over and she’s falling, and she lands in a bed.
She opens her eyes. It’s not the bed she’s lain in for the past two months in Montreuil-sur-mer, under the care of Sister Simplice and Sister Perpétue. It’s in a different room. There’s nobody there but Fantine, but the room is very well-kept. Is she safe, then? She feels very safe, as if someone trustworthy has promised her everything would be all right. Has Monsieur le maire saved her Cosette, and brought them both to a house with a garden?
Her breath comes easily. She’d almost forgotten what it was like, to breathe like this. Her mouth feels different, and she realizes her teeth have grown back! How could this be? She sits up sharply. It’s no trouble, it’s not the tiring exercise sitting up has been for the last few weeks. She runs a hand over her head, but her hair hasn’t grown back. Only her teeth.
There’s a strange black thing on the table next to her bed, a thing with buttons of some kind. Fantine presses them idly, and nearly jumps out of the bed when it starts talking.
It explains where she is.
When it finishes, Fantine sits there for a moment, stunned.
This must be heaven. She must have died, and her sins must have been forgiven. Sister Simplice said they surely would be. And if she’s in heaven—the dead have powers, everyone knows it. She can watch over Cosette, and protect her from harm. It’s not as good as living with Cosette in a house and watching her play in a garden, and learn to read, and take her first communion. But from heaven, surely Fantine can see all of this, and perhaps whisper in her daughter’s ear at night, to give her sweet dreams.
Fantine gets out of bed, feeling marvelously strong. She’s in a thin nightdress, but there’s a cupboard with three pretty dresses on the other side of the room. She wears the prettiest, cream and deep blue, with a matching bonnet with ribbons to cover her shorn head, before going downstairs.