Just a little something I wanted to write while re-watching the movie for the billionth time. It always bothered me, the fact that the film takes place in January in Paris, and it feels like summertime with the way the characters dress and such. Heck, when I was little I did think it took place in the summer haha. So I thought I'd play off of the winter aspect of it and see how that would affect Phoebus and Esmeralda's little dunk in the Seine. It would not be pleasant, I'm assuming. Anywho, that's enough ranting from me. :)
"Consider it my highest honor, sir."
Ash was drifting through the stuffy air, making it hard to breathe. Wrapped in a thick cloak and pressed between terrified villagers whom had formed a small crowd, Esmeralda felt sweat forming on her brow as she peered out from beneath her disguise. The swelter of the flames blazing through the miller's house was overwhelming to say the least, but the heat rising up within Esmeralda was not due to the close fire. It was that of panic.
There knelt the Captain of the Guard, restrained by one solider while another positioned a sword over the Captain's exposed neck. Esmeralda was still reeling in shock by what she had witnessed. The Captain – the one that had saved her in Notre Dame by claiming sanctuary on her behalf – had risked his life and sacrificed his career to save a family he didn't even know. And now, for his heroics, he was to be executed.
She shouldn't care. She was a gypsy; her kind had been hunted down by soldiers for decades – by the very people who were supposed to protect the citizens of this city. The soldiers had never aided her people; why should she help one now?
But the Captain…he was different. And for his inability to fall in place with the rest of the soldiers, he was to die.
She couldn't, wouldn't allow it.
The soldier standing over the Captain swung his sword upwards. At the same moment, Esmeralda stooped down and snatched up a stone. Tearing off her scarf to wrap the stone in it, she whipped it forward like a sling; the stone flew from her grasp, spinning through the air and striking Judge Frollo's horse in the backside.
Immediately the horse reared upwards, neighing wildly and bucking Frollo from its back. The commotion provided enough of a distraction for the Captain to yank himself out of the grip of the one solider before twisting around and punching the surprised man directly in the face. The soldier hadn't even hit the ground before the Captain punched the other holding the execution sword. Then, his movements impossibly quick, the Captain jumped forward and grabbed onto the saddle of Frollo's runaway horse. Swinging up onto it with expert speed, he urged the animal faster, racing away from the miller's smoldering house and towards the bridge extending over the Seine river.
The villagers surrounding Esmeralda began to cheer. A relieved smile stretched across Esmeralda's face as she watched the Captain – no, Phoebus – begin to cross the bridge.
"Get him! And don't hit my horse!"
Esmeralda's head snapped back towards the miller's house. There stood Frollo, looking furious and disheveled from being thrown to the ground. The dozen soldiers that had been accompanying Frollo and Phoebus did as commanded; raising their loaded bows, they began to release a rain of arrows upon Phoebus. For a moment it seemed that he was too far out of the arrows' range.
Then one struck him in the back of his left shoulder.
Esmeralda gasped as Phoebus recoiled in pain, falling from the horse and over the side of the bridge. The villagers cried out in dismay as the Captain tumbled through the air and into the murky waters of the Seine. A loud splash erupted from the river's surface as Phoebus fell into it; he disappeared beneath the rippling waves and did not resurface.
Forgetting about the necessity of blending in, Esmeralda pushed her way through the villagers and ran alongside a grove of trees lining the hill that sloped down into the river bank. High above, Frollo and his men leaned over the side of the bridge, relentlessly firing arrows into the Seine.
"Don't waste your arrows! Let the traitor rot in his watery grave."
Frollo's voice echoed down the side of the bridge to where Esmeralda crouched, hidden within the bridge's shadows.
"Find the girl!" Frollo shouted. "If you have to burn the city to the ground so be it."
Esmeralda gritted her teeth in fury. That such a man existed, who could somehow justify all of this death and destruction for his own selfish needs – it infuriated her. But as Frollo and the soldiers disappeared from sight, Esmeralda pushed the thoughts from her head. There were more important things at the moment. Scrambling down the muddy embankment, Esmeralda tore off her cloak and let it fall to the ground. She took a deep breath, steadying herself. Then she dove into the Seine.
The iciness of the dirty waters stole away her breath, and it took a moment for Esmeralda to force her limbs to move. She pushed herself deeper into the river, searching desperately. But all there was to see was drifting dirt and twisting plants. Hopelessness began to rise within her when – there!
Anchored to the river's floor by his armor, Phoebus lay unmoving. A trail of blood oozed from Phoebus' shoulder, floating up into the river's currents in scarlet clouds. Swimming to his side, Esmeralda knew it would be impossible to pull him up with his armor on. Realizing her only option, she quickly began to undo the armor's fastenings. It felt as though hours were passing rather than seconds as she worked; her fingers kept slipping on the clasps, the coldness of the river making it difficult for her.
Her lungs were beginning to burn for air. But she had to finish – Phoebus had already been underwater for far too long. Come on, come on. The golden plates drifted to the Siene's floor one after another, until finally Esmeralda let the final piece fall from her stiff hands. Esmeralda's hands grasped Phoebus' arms and she planted her feet on the river floor, using the momentum of pushing off to propel her and Phoebus through the swirling waters. Swimming frantically, Esmeralda's chest screamed for air and her arms for release from having to drag along such a heavy weight. But finally, with an explosion of water, Esmeralda pulled herself and Phoebus up through the river's surface. Gasping, Esmeralda tugged Phoebus' limp body towards the shore.
It took a great effort, but Esmeralda was able to heave Phoebus' body up the muddy riverbank and beneath the bridge where they were hidden from sight. She left him on his side, as the arrow was still protruding grotesquely from his shoulder. Pushing her dripping hair behind her shoulders, she leaning forward anxiously and studied Phoebus' face for any sign of life.
"Please don't be…don't…" she whispered. Holding out a shaking hand, she hovered it in front of his lips and waited. Moments passed, and hopelessness began to creep up within her.
There. It was slight, almost undetectable, but Esmeralda felt a faint puff of breath brush against her fingers. A sigh of relief escaped Esmeralda and she sat back on her heels, running a hand through her hair to try and relieve some of the built-up tension inside of her.
Esmeralda knew what she needed to do next, though the thought of it wasn't very welcoming. Grimacing, she braced one hand around the wounded shoulder, steadying both herself and Phoebus. Her other hand wrapped around the shaft of the arrow. Taking a deep breath, she gave the arrow a single, hard yank, freeing it from Phoebus' body.
Phoebus jerked violently and gave a horrible moan, but even the pain of taking out the arrow was not enough to fully wake him up. His eyelids flickered faintly, but after a moment he fell back into complete unconsciousness.
Blood began to seep out of the wound freely; Esmeralda tore a strip of cloth from her skirt and waded it up, pressing it against Phoebus' shoulder. She then tied the cloth in place with the scarf that had been dangling from her neck. As she finished the final knot on the less-than-impressive bandage, Phoebus began to shiver.
"Oh no," she muttered, only now realizing that she too was trembling. No wonder – it was January in Paris, and they had both just been dunked in the Seine.
Just then, Esmeralda heard the sound of soft clattering. Jerking around she caught sight of her goat Djali hurrying down the hillside, his hooves knocking aside peddles and twigs as he went.
"Djali!" she cried out in relief. The goat gave a small cry and raced to her side, burying his nose in the crook of her arm. Esmeralda smiled and gave the animal an affectionate pat before focusing her attention back on Phoebus. Djali also turned to Phoebus, and Esmeralda swore she saw the goat give the man something similar to a look of pity.
Then an idea sparked in Esmeralda. "Djali," she said. "I need you to get help. Phoebus is hurt – he needs to get somewhere safe. Can you find help?"
Djali nodded enthusiastically before trotting off in the direction he had come from. "Hurry!" Esmeralda called after him, anxiety creeping back into her. What if Djali didn't find someone in time? Phoebus would likely die of the cold if not of his wound if someone didn't some soon. She couldn't carry him by herself, but she could try to keep him warm.
Positioning herself so that she was seated on the ground and lying against one of the pillars of the bridge, Esmeralda drew Phoebus into her lap and settled him against her chest. The cloak she had abandoned before jumping into the river was within reach and she pulled it over her and Phoebus' bodies, grateful that it was still dry. Wrapping her arms around the wounded man, she drew him closer and laid her cheek against the top of his head, wishing she could somehow will any warmth she had left into his body.
She began to rub her hands up and down his arms, trying to create some warmth, when he suddenly stirred. "Phoebus?" she said anxiously.
Phoebus gave a weak groan, his eyes flickering open. Glazed over with pain and unable to focus, his eyes swirled about his surroundings, and she could see him trying to make sense of it all. Then his gaze fell up her. She gave him a small smile, but worry made it look more of a grimace than anything else.
"Es…meralda…" he breathed, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion.
"Yes, it's me."
His eyes closed for a moment as he waited out what looked like a sudden jolt of pain. "How…Frollo…."
"He's gone. You're safe; you're with me." Esmeralda's hands tightened around Phoebus as she spoke, to her own surprise.
Phoebus gave a sudden exceptionally violent shiver, and his breath shook as he spoke next. "I…I'm…" but he seemed unable to finish.
"Shh, it's alright," Esmeralda pressed her forehead to the top of Phoebus' head, breathing into his damp hair. "Help is coming."
Phoebus' head jerked in a way that Esmeralda assumed was a nod, but it could have just been his body trying to ward off the cold. "Th…nk…you…" he whispered, his voice fading as the words fell from his pale lips. Then his eyes closed and his body grew limp as he fell back into unconsciousness.
Esmeralda pulled the cloak tighter over the two of them and buried her face further into Phoebus' hair. Her shivering had subsided for the most part, but Phoebus' continued. Raising her gaze, she looked out over the Seine's surface, watching as the waves rippled along.
"Please hurry, Djali…" Esmeralda whispered.
Esmeralda's head snapped up, an intense wave of relief washing through her. "Here!" she answered to the familiar voice. Djali suddenly appeared around the pillar of the bridge – looking rather proud of himself – followed by a tall, large man wearing a crimson shirt and a purple bandana.
"Pitivo!" Esmeralda exclaimed. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here."
"Esmeralda!" the gypsy said, staring at her and the man in her arms in shock. "What – what's going on? Djali was absolutely frantic when I stumbled upon him. The miller's house…people are saying a soldier saved the family. Of all the crazy stories –"
"It's true, Pitivo. This is him," Esmeralda said, nodding down at Phoebus. "He saved the family, and was nearly executed for it."
Pitivo raised his eyebrows, staring down at Phoebus. "I doubt Frollo just let him walk away. I'm assuming he had some assistance?" he said, giving Esmeralda a knowing look.
Esmeralda sighed. "I tried to help, but look at all the good it's done him. He's wounded, badly, and he'll die of the cold if we don't get him somewhere safe soon."
Pitivo crouched down beside Esmeralda and Phoebus and gently lifted the cloak to get a better look at the blood-soaked bandage. Pitivo grimaced, but gave Esmeralda a reassuring pat. "You did all that you could, Esmeralda," he said. Then he sighed and shook his head. "Alright. But if you tell anyone that I helped a solider, I'll…I'll not share Tsura's cabbage stew with you for a month. And we both know that my wife's cooking is the best in the entire Court of Miracles."
Despite her anxiety, Esmeralda couldn't help but chuckle at that. "I promise I won't tell a soul."
"Especially Clopin," Pitivo added. "He'd never let me live it down."
Esmeralda shook her head, smiling. Then she shifted, trying to get Phoebus' weight off of her so that Pitivo could lift him up. With Pitivo's help they were able to get Phoebus draped facedown across Pitivo's shoulders. Pitivo held one of Phoebus' arms and legs each, steadying the Captain against his back as he stood.
"He's freezing," Pitivo muttered, and Esmeralda was certain that she could detect a hint of concern in her friend's voice.
Esmeralda moved to cover Phoebus with her cloak, but Pitvio shook his head and stepped back so that Phoebus was out of Esmeralda's reach. "No, Esmeralda," he said. "You are just as wet and cold as he. Not to mention Frollo's hunt for you has only intensified since this entire incident took place."
"But now Phoebus is an enemy of Frollo's too!" Esmeralda protested. "He shouldn't be so exposed!"
"It's all that we can do for now," Pitivo said, speaking as though one does to an upset child. "He has my body warmth; he will not die of the cold just yet. You will take the cloak."
Esmeralda opened her mouth to argue, but the look on Pitivo's face made her pause. Huffing in frustration, she swung the cloak over her shoulders and pulled up the hood. Djali nudged his nose against her leg and she bent down momentarily to pat his head.
"So," said Pitivo, shifting Phoebus' body slightly. "Where are we going?"
"Someplace safe," Esmeralda said. "Someplace no one will think to look for him." The sound of distant bells ringing echoed across the Seine. A sudden light sparked in Esmeralda's eyes as she turned towards the music. "Notre Dame. We'll go to Notre Dame."