"So, you are caught, Gypsy

"So, you are caught, Gypsy."

Defiant green eyes glared at him. "I have a name." She spat, her hair loose around her darkly beautiful face.

"Yes." Frollo's smile was chilling. "Esmeralda."

Somehow, hearing her name on his lips sounded more of a curse than polite courtesy. Cold, grey eyes regarded her, made her feel less significant than a tiny ant on the balustrade. There was something in those chilling, granite-coloured orbs that was terrifying. Something she couldn't identify.

He pivoted away from her, spread his boney hands on the edge of the balcony, his attention seeming to wander the narrow streets of the city. "Perhaps we can come to an understanding, Gypsy." His voice was devoid of emotion.

Shifting uncomfortably, the sackcloth shift making her skin itch furiously, she strained against the manacles behind her back. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't make deals with the man who massacres my people just because he's too self-righteous to see beyond the fact that they are different."

He moved faster than she would have imagined being possible for a man of his age, his right hand lashing out, catching her across the cheek with enough force to snap her head round.

An ache throbbed through her cheek and she felt something tickling its way down her cheek, the metallic tang of blood seeping between her lips. Frollo smiled coolly, lifted his hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to the bloodied ring.

"You're crazy." She whispered, taking a step back from him. The emotion in his eyes intensified, the sheer, dark lust. He mimicked her step mockingly, his black robes swirling around him ominously.

"Only the fool offends the powerful." He said. One age-worn hand rose, his fingers brushing down her unmarred cheek, drawing a shudder from her. "And I, dear girl, am the most powerful man in the city."

Stiffening her back, Esmeralda stared at him. "You can't do anything to me. I want to go back to my cell. Now."

"I'm afraid that wasn't what I...had in mind." His smile was dark, barely more than a lifting of the corners of his mouth. "I have brought you here...Esmeralda, to give you a chance to perform a small duty, for your salvation."

Green eyes blinked at him in incomprehension. "What are you talking about?"

"Such an innocent witch." Sounding almost regretful, he brushed his knuckles up her cheek and ran a lock of her hair through his hand. She yelped in pain as he twisted his fist into her loose hair, pulled her face closer. "You do as I ask, without question, and I will release you."

Swallowing hard, she inhaled a shaky breath. "I know what you want." She hissed, tears pricking in her eyes as he tightened his grip. "I would rather go to Hell than do what you want, you hypocrite."

"Such a sinful mind." His fingers gripped her chin tightly, grey burning into terrified green. "I hold your salvation in my hand, Gypsy. All I ask is that you take it."

"And at what price?" She shook her head as much as she could, narrowing her eyes at him fiercely. "I will not be yours. Not my soul, not my body. Nothing."

A sneer of pure malevolence curved his narrow lips upwards. "What makes you think you can stop me, Esmeralda?" Quiet and calm as ever, his voice sent a fearful chill racing down her spine, one of his hands moving to grip her upper arm, the other to the rope belt at her waist.

"But you're a man of God!" She gasped, struggling to pull away from him. "You'll be damned if you do this, Frollo..." It was the only weapon she had left. If she denounced him, claimed he had touched her, she would be blamed.

She received another emotionless and terrifying smile as the rope fell from her waist. "God always forgives his faithful children." The silky-smooth voice said. "And damns those who whore themselves." His hand touched bare flesh, mouth close to her ear. "Like you."

"Please, don't do this..." She pleaded, tears brimming in her eyes, aware of the inescapable fate that was about to befall her. "Please..."

"I offered you salvation." He said, the remainin tatters of her clothing ripped away. "You refused us. Neither God, nor I will hear your pleas."

*

The stone of the floor was cold, damp against her skin. Falling to her knees, after a cruel shove sent her stumbling into the cell, Esmeralda lifted her face to her gaoler, a shiver of self-loathing running through her. The jailer gave a disgusted snort, slamed the cell door shut.

A single beam of light peeked through the tiny window at the top of the door, reflecting off the puddled surface of the floor.

The gypsy trembled, wrapping her arms across her chest. "I don't know...if you can hear me." She whispered, her voice tremulous. "Or if you're even there...I don't know if you would listen to a..." She paused, wiped tears from her eye.

A what? What was she? A whore like he said? One of the scum of the streets, the filth of Paris? Or simply a gypsy? A gypsy who's curse it was to look beautiful and dance as she had been taught?

Burying her face in her hands, she sobbed. "Forgive me." She pleaded to anyone who would listen to her. "Please forgive me..."