A small outbreak of the common cold flew by Paris as spring was waning. Amorette was lucky enough not to get sick, but her friends were not, so she used her free time to tend to the seedlings that were started to spring up from the rich soil and care for her animals. LeFou was very old and time was ticking for him, but he showed no signs of going anytime soon. Without a rooster, Amorette didn't expect any chicks, nor wanted them this year. Jacque was still healthy and happy, always by Amorette's side and there to make sure she was never alone.
Summer was coming quickly this year, making up for the freezing winter. People started to get better, and Amorette's farm was doing well, but that meant that Amorette was working from sunup to sundown. One Sunday, when her friends were enjoying a nice lunch with her, she had a craving for bread, but had none in the hut and could not buy some for the lunch, but after her friends had left, she had counted her money and put some aside to get herself a treat.
On Monday morning, after breakfast and morning chores, Amorette left her hut and went out to get some bread, leaving Jacque at guard like any other day. She had a lovely walk in the warm, breezy air into town and was close to Notre Dame when she reached the bakery; she even got to listen to the bells ring the mid-morning mass.
Amorette went inside and saw a tiny display of éclairs decorated with white-frosting flowers. The baker explained when he saw Amorette's shining baby-blue eyes that his cow had been giving a lot of milk recently, and so he could make the crème for the éclairs. Biting a bullet and deciding to buy herself a treat for working so hard on the farm, she bought one éclair and a few loaves of bread to last the week and suffice her appetite for a long time.
Walking down the street, Amorette saw a little gypsy girl with curly black hair tied back with pink and wearing a pink skirt, red tie, and white shirt, run up to her and bump into her, chasing a flat ball, but obviously still fun to play with. The little girl looked up at Amorette, afraid, but Amorette smiled and picked up the broken ball.
"Here you are, chéri." She said kindly to the girl.
The girl smiled with a missing tooth and took the ball back.
"Thank you." She replied.
Amorette only smiled and saw the girl's parakeet-green eyes look at Amorette's éclair, and Amorette noticed how thin and hungry the gypsy girl was.
Still smiling softly, Amorette broke off the unchewed end of her treat and held it out to the girl, "Go on. Have some."
The girl stared at it and slowly took it, as if expecting the stranger to change her mind, but Amorette was sure of her decision and the little gypsy girl took a tiny bite.
"Thank you." She said before hugging Amorette carefully as to not ruin any parts of the éclair.
"You're welcome." Amorette said kindly.
The two girls let go and Amorette journeyed on her way home, thinking of eating just a little more éclair – it was rather rich – and giving the last bit to Jacque. She had a nice little walk out of town, until she could see her farm and she saw something that stopped her heart for a short time.
Soldiers, and even Frollo himself, were outside Amorette's hut, trying to get in, but were unable to pass a growling Jacque, who was chained by the door and guarded it with his life.
Amorette ran as fast as she could and placed the last of her éclair in her bread-basket. She yelled and called out to them to get their attention, and as the men looked at her, she ran up to Jacque and held him in her arms on her knees.
"Jacque, arrêtez!" Amorette said firmly and petted the dog's head to try to calm him down, but he still shook and growled at the men from inside Amorette's tight hold. "I am sorry." Amorette said to the men. "He is very protective. What may I do for you?"
"We have word that you have been harboring gypsies here." Frollo said as he walked his black horse forward and glared down at the young lady. "Who owns this property?"
"I do." Amorette said as she sat on her knees a little straighter, still not trusting Jacque enough to let go.
"You own this property?" Frollo repeated, not willing to believe it.
"Yes, sir." Amorette said clearly. "When my family died, my father left this farm to me; we had no other family and my father did not trust any men enough to have me married and give them the farm, so it is mine."
"Is it true then that you have been harboring gypsies?" Frollo asked.
"Harboring?" Amorette repeated. "I have had friends over for lunch after church."
"So you admit to having gypsies on your property?" Frollo dared.
"Not now, but in the past, yes." Amorette said clearly.
"Are you aware, Mrs. Glasson, that that is against the law?"
"You mean your law." Amorette corrected.
On the outskirts of town, many people started to listen, seeing the soldiers and Frollo at the little Glasson farm. Their jaws dropped when they heard Amorette correct the judge, and Frollo glared at the girl.
"You claim your law is God's law, but didn't God say to love one another and 'treat others the way we want to be treated'?" Amorette asked loudly. "And wasn't it Jesus that had meals with sinners? Why is it God can love sinners, but you can't?"
"SILENCE!" Frollo yelled.
"I am simply trying to understand you, sir." Amorette said calmly, but her eyes were fierce. "I do not understand how a 'man of God' can be so cruel to his own brothers and sisters."
"Those gypsies are not our brothers and sisters, but demons from hell!" Frollo roared. "And if you are going to conspire with devils, than you are breaking the law and will be punished! Arrest her!"
Before the soldiers could attack, Amorette opened the hut's door, threw Jacque in, and crawled in before slamming the door closed. She quickly stood up and used a broom to lock the door in place. Amorette's luck was out.
Amorette picked up a sack and stuffed the loaves of bread, her money pouch, a spare dress and a cloak in her the sack, leaving almost half of it empty.
"Get in, Jacque!" She ordered as the men hammered on the door and air-tight windows.
Jacque jumped in the sack, trembling in a mixture of fury and fear, and Amorette put it on her shoulders and grabbed a kitchen-knife. She climbed up the little ladder up to her and Napoleon's old room and placed a chair on one of the beds. She quickly stood on it and used the knife to cut herself a hole in the straw ceiling. Amorette prided the little hole open and climbed up on the roof.
She looked around and saw the soldiers, one with a flamed-torch. With hardly any time to react, Amorette jumped and the man sat the house on fire at the same time. Amorette crashed behind the horses and quickly got up and ran with Jacque still on her back.
"GET HER!" She heard Frollo yell.
Amorette ran for her life straight into Paris and tried to think. Her life in Paris was over; she had all of her gold and some food, so she would run away to another country, one where she would be safe. She didn't care where. She'd decided if she manages to escape.
Amorette ran with horses chasing her and she saw in front of her a man on his roof, repairing a hole. Seeing the ladder, Amorette ran for it and climbed up it to escape the horses just in time, and for good measure, she kicked the ladder down.
"Sorry!" She called after the man as she ran and jumped across roofs to escape the soldiers.
Amorette ran and jumped and took some time to look back; a few soldiers had gotten off their horses and picked up the ladder to go after her; Amorette should have set the ladder on the roof instead of knocking it over. She ran even harder and could feel her heart pounding against her chest. She knew if she had to stop she would be sick. Her feet felt as if they had caught fire, but she looked down and saw them only blurs.
Amorette slid to a halt as she reached the end of houses. She looked down and saw a man carrying a huge barrel of water out of his house. Amorette whistled and the man stopped and looked around for the source of the sound. She took the opportunity and jumped perfectly so she splashed into the barrel unharmed.
"Hey!" The man yelled as he looked at his wet side and Amorette toppled the barrel to get out.
"Sorry!" She called as she wiggled out and ran.
Up ahead, Notre Dame stood in the middle of Paris. If she could reach there and claim sanctuary, she could rest and find a way out of town! Amorette ran closer and closer, until Frollo and his horse, Snowball, ran in front of her and blocked her way. Amorette quickly ran to her left, but it was soon blocked by solders and horses. She turned around quickly, but that side was blocked, too. Amorette and little Jacque were suddenly closed in with Frollo and his minions.
Frollo grinned evilly at the girl and pointed a bone-thin finger at her. "Arrest the girl!" He ordered.
Amorette looked around and breathed heavily, her head spinning, the horses were closing in around her while Frollo sat back and watched. One guard grabbed her by the wrist and she acted on instinct. With strength and speed that could come only from great fear, Amorette grabbed the handle of the soldier's sword from his scabbard and slice his gloved hand.
The man roared in pain and let go to tend to his bleeding hand and Amorette used her new weapon to cut cheeks to hurt them and stop them from pursuing her. Amorette dodged between horses' legs and ran to the right, towards the graveyard.
Frollo was engulfed in rage and ordered his men to find Amorette, who was crouched in the graveyard behind and an old gargoyle. Amorette closed her eyes and tried to catch her breath, Jacque trembling in the pack and the bloody sword in her hand. Amorette heard a soft "pst" and opened her eyes and turned around to look at one of the tombstones that appeared more like a tiny house with a cross on the front, but it had a grave with carvings of little kings on the side. The covered was lifted slightly and Amorette could hear a familiar voice hiss to her from the crack.
"Hurry. Get in."
Amorette looked around the graveyard and found it empty, but guards were coming to search; it was now or never. Amorette ran and lifted the lid and slipped inside the grave, but was surprised to find a shadowed man there at the top of a set of stairs. He gently grabbed her free hand and said,
Amorette nodded, speechless, and allowed him to slowly walk her down the stairs. The stairs led the pair to great walls that domed to form a ceiling and were covered in skeletons. Below was ankle-deep sewage and rats scurried along food. A lit-torch hung on the wall and the man grabbed it. Amorette's jaw-dropped at seeing her friend, Gaston.
"Gaston." Amorette gasped quietly. "What…what is this place?"
"The old catacombs." Gaston answered as he went in first the ankle-deep sewage and allowed Amorette to step in.
She took it and tried to lift her dress out of the mess, but it did no good with her hand full of sword and so she let her dress fall as she walked with Gaston across the catacomb.
"But, where are we going?" Amorette asked as she looked around.
"The Court of Miracles." Gaston answered with a smile. "You are invited to live there from now on, if you wish?"
"Live in the Court of Miracles?" Amorette repeated. "But… why?"
Gaston stopped and looked at his friend. "Why not?" He asked with a smile.
Amorette stared, surprised that he remembered exactly what she said that day, and smiled and Gaston continued to lead the way. The floor slopped up and the two walked on stone, no longer sewage. They walked on for a while and Amorette saw the tunnel open dramatically and reveal what looked like the inside of a castle.
The Court of Miracles was truly a wonderful place. The ceiling was decorated in cloths and hammocks in which some people slept in. Cloths also hung from wooden rods on the floor and made little huts and homes. Doors and tunnel and staircases led off and Amorette guests they led to other gypsies' courters. Little fires for cooking and such were spread all over the place very carefully and gypsies sat outside their homes, drinking tea, counting gold, talking pleasantly, or watching the children and animals play.
As soon as Gaston and Amorette walked in, everyone looked up at them. The gypsies gasped and some left to tell others and others whispered to each other in theory as to why a non-gypsy was in the Court of Miracles. Amorette could feel herself turning red. Pallavi, Gaston's wife, ran up to them and hugged her husband.
"Gaston! What happened?"
"Frollo tried to arrest Amorette, but she managed to run to the graveyard." Gaston answered as he hugged his wife back.
Pallavi let go of Gaston and looked at Amorette. "You escaped?" She asked and glanced down at the bloody sword in Amorette's hand.
"My grandfather was a guard years ago." Amorette explained and held up the sword. "He taught my father and my father taught me when my brother showed no interest. It's not much, but it was enough to help me steal this and escape."
"Thank God, we prayed that when the day came you would be safe."
"Thank you, Pallavi." Amorette replied with a smile.
Pallavi took her free hand and said, "Come, let us get you settled in. You must be hungry and tired."
Amorette was not really hungry, but her legs ached and her eyelids felt heavy; she wanted to relax a little. Pallavi and Gaston led Amorette down the stairs and across the court to their own little courters Gaston opened a curtain for the ladies and Amorette found herself in a little room with a short table, a big bed mostly made up of loads of blankets and giant pieces of fabric, and the floor covered with rugs. Gaston sat Amorette down and looked at the sword in her hand. It was still dripping on blood, so she took off her sack to let poor little Jacque out and get her cloak.
"Come on out, Jacque." Amorette cooed softly. "It is alright."
Jacque slowly walked out of the sack and onto the herb-scented rugs and sniffed around for any sense of danger. Amorette got out her cloak and used it to wipe the sword clean. It was a good weapon and she laid it on the floor next to her.
Amorette pulled out a loaf of bread next from her sack and said, "I'm not really all that hungry, but you may have some of my bread."
Gaston smiled and said, "We shall wait until this evening then to eat."
Amorette nodded and put the bread in her sack and had it lean against her crossed-legs.
"So, I hope this means you will stay with us." Pallavi hinted as she sat next to her husband and Amorette.
"Gaston!" A voice called from outside before Amorette could answer. "Pallavi!"
Gaston looked at the entrance of his home and called back, "Oui, come in, Clopin!"
Amorette perked up at hearing the name and watched the man walk in, pushing his way against the little curtain. He was a thin man with a goatee and a golden hoop hooked to his left ear, his long hair shadowing it. His jet-black hair went to the base of his neck and he wore purple clothes and shoes and a pair of black gloves, leaving only his face uncovered as he also wore a purple hat with a yellow feather.
Amorette had seen the man before, but not like this. She had watched him perform on the streets from time to time and had seen him lead the Festival of Fools every January. She had heard his name and seen him in a more colorful outfit with a little puppet in his hand, but not like this: unmasked and less colorful, and so serious. Amorette's friends had often mentioned him, but never thoroughly.
"Clopin Troillefou." Amorette whispered to herself in such a low voice that no one heard her.
Jacque growled lowly to the king of the gypsies, but Amorette hushed him and picked him up to pet his head soothingly.
Clopin, however, was unmoved and had a deranged smile to his eyes, as well as the seriousness that looked ready to promise death at any moment. Amorette was not afraid of him, but respected him, and could understand why so many people did, too.
"Amorette Glasson." Clopin hissed to the girl, more to himself than her as he studied her with his beetle-black eyes. "Oui, I've heard about you."
"As I you." Amorette replied.
Before Clopin could retaliate, the same little girl Amorette shared an éclair with came in and walked past Clopin's legs to look at the new comer. Her bright eyes shinned like gems and she smiled widely.
"Bonjour, Madam!" She said happily.
Amorette smiled and held out her arms. "Bonjour, chéri!"
The little girl ran up to Amorette and landed on her lap, the two hugging each other in greeting.
Esmeralda looked up at her new friend and said, "Thank you for the éclair."
Amorette smiled and smoothed out her curly black hair. "You're welcome."
"Are you going to live with us from now on?" Esmeralda asked excitedly.
"Well, I'm not sure." Amorette answered honestly. "I thought I might…"
"YAY!" Esmeralda cheered and threw her hands up above her head.
Amorette looked up at Clopin with a shrug and an apologetic smile. The king of the gypsies was doing some quick thinking. Nothing like this has really happened before, but she did save and care for many of his people, including Esmeralda.
Clopin bent down a little and put his hands on his hips. "Congratulations, chéri," He said, saying "chéri" with a sneer. "You're an outlaw."
Amorette gave a sly smile back and said in return, "Thank you, ma roi."
Clopin smiled, surprising Amorette that he was pleased by the comeback, and turned, pushed the curtain out of his way and left without another word.
Gaston looked at Amorette and gave a warm smile. "Well, he wasn't wrong. You being an outlaw now, I mean."
"I'll get settled tomorrow and figure out how I am going to help around here." Amorette promised.
Esmeralda looked up at her and asked, "What are you going to do?"
Amorette looked down at the little girl and answered truthfully, "I'm not sure, but won't it be exciting to find out?"
~ one year later ~
Two soldiers, partners, crept into the ankle-deep sewage as quietly as they could in fear of getting caught. The first held a torch and was on his guard, but the second walked pasted him and was prideful about their discovery.
"Is this the Court of Miracles?" The first asked, shivering at the sight of skeletons decorating the walls; it was almost like they were watching the new-comers.
"We'll be rich!" The second said excitedly. "Frollo will treat us like kings! Come on, it can't be that far."
"Be careful." The first one said wisely. "If we were close to the Court of Miracles, wouldn't we run into something by now, like a guard or a booby-trap, or…" The flame in his hand went out. "… or an ambush."
A few torches were lit, but they were at the hands of hidden gypsies who jumped on the guards from walls and piles of bones. They were quickly restrained and pushed down to their knees with their mouths covered by cloth as a hooded figure walked in front of them with her black gloved-hands on her hips. The men awed at the enemy before them.
"Well, well, well." She said cockily. "What have we here?"
"Spies, here to deliver us to Frollo!" One man said as he ripped off a skeleton mask.
Amorrette lifted her hood and revealed long, wild black hair. The traitor wore a black cloak underneath male clothing, such as brown pants and shirt, brown boots, a black belt holding a stolen sword, and a white undershirt. She had a single gold hoop as an earring and her cloak was held by her neck by a golden crest.
The captured men tried to speak, but their mouths were covered and their voices were muffled.
"You may have been clever enough to hind the court," Amorette spat. "But you were not clever enough to stay alive. Take them to the court to be hanged!"
The soldiers' eyes grew small as they were picked up and the gypsies carried them down the tunnel and into the court. They were stood underneath trap-doors and nooses were brought around their necks. The men left Amorette alone with the spies and she spoke to the crowd.
"We have a double-header tonight! Frollo's spies have infiltrated out home, and will now fully understand what our people go through!"
The crowd cheered in agreement and booed and spat at the soldiers.
Amorette brought her gloved hands to the lever holding the spies up and grinned wickedly.
Amorette glanced to her left and saw Clopin do a triple-flip up onto the platform. She rolled her eyes and let go of the lever, while the spies breathed heavily behind the cloths choking them into silence. The king looked at the spies with a blank expression; it was anyone's guess as to what he was going to pull off.
Slowly, Clopin grinned just like Amorette and asked quietly, "Any last words?"
The two solders tried to speak, but all that could be heard was muffled noises.
Amorette popped her fingers and spat, "That's what they all say."
Clopin shrugged and whipped to the other side of the stand, now dressed robes much like Frollo's. Amorette had a reflex to kill him right there, but remain poised like a tiger by the lever.
"Now that we've seen all the evidence…"
The little puppet the king used for his shows appeared at his hand and squeaked, "Wait, I object!"
"Quiet!" And Clopin threw his hat on top of the doll.
Amorette rolled his eyes. "Man I kill these salauds now, ma roi?" She asked sarcastically.
Clopin looked at the spies one last time before grinning widely, showing white teeth and sharp cheekbone. He looked to the crowd and lifted a thumb, slowly turning it so it pointed down.
Amorette nodded. The crowd cheered. The second-in-command grabbed the lever again, and pulled with all her might.
The trapdoor fell and two necks were broken. The cheers increased and the bodies dangled lifelessly. The few children awake stared and were taught a lesson while their parents celebrated maliciously. Some spat in the direction of the dead bodies. Hell received two new souls that night.
Amorette jumped down to some men and ordered them to take the bodies up and throw them on the street once everyone had dispersed, to show what happens when you mess with the underbelly of Paris. The crowd parted like the Red Sea and parents soothed children for bed. Amorette looked at her king and smiled. He was sitting on the steps, and for a moment, he looked like an old man. She noticed this more and more as their time together increased. It was a side of Clopin he couldn't afford to show, not now anyways.
She sat next to him and stretched her legs out and leaned against her elbows. "Worried, ma roi?"
Clpoin raised an eyebrow at Amorette and asked with a smile, "Of what?"
"Two found our hideout tonight. Sure, we killed them and purged the world of two minions, but how did they find this place?"
"Did you hear anything?" Clopin asked and stretched his back out on the stairs, trying to pop his stiffened joints.
Amorette shook her head. "They only speculated if they had found the right place, they didn't even make it to the court before we ambushed them. And the new strategy is working well." She added with a prideful grin and placed her hands behind her neck, her elbows pointed out.
"Did you take my advice?" The king asked his knight.
Amorette rolled her eyes and said, "I'm sorry, but I don't think we need to perform a musical number for our prisoners."
"If you're going to do something, chéri, do it with style!" Clopin said boldly with a flick of his black hair.
"Please, just having me involved alone makes the whole event fabulous enough!" Amorette laughed.
Clopin laughed as well and looked out to watch his people. His smile faded and, once again, he looked twice his age. Amorette decided that it was because his eyes held bags under them, his hair stood on end like scared cat, and his back was hunched and his limbs were stiff like boards. Though Amorette had grown tougher and stronger, she always had concerns for her king and was always looking out for him and his people.
She sighed and stood up with a slap of her knees. "Well, I managed to steal some heavy wine the other week. Care for some, ma roi?"
Clopin looked at the woman standing next to him. She had changed, but not completely; she had simply let a stronger side of her shine through her pale skin and now she was a fierce knight, Clopin's second-in-command. The king of the gypsies couldn't refuse the drink and stood up with a tired exhale of breath.
"Oui, chéri. Merci."
Clopin and Amorette slipped away to the woman's isolated tent and it only took one goblet each for them to collapse in exhaustion.