Life's gotten in the way of my finishing this little story, but, rest assured, I know what will happen; and I've begun to put pen to paper to write the next chapters.
Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to write to me. Thanks for your kind words and camaraderie.
If you have issues with sex, or are judgmental about which Notre Dame de Paris characters (yes, the book) you consider appropriate for others to play with, well, probably better to keep moving.
Libellule007: Thank you for your review of this chapter. To answer your question about expected length, I had an original idea for this story, and if it continues to go more or less as planned (which stories and characters sometimes refuse to do), I can foresee only a few more chapters. I'd like to round the story off with an ending that makes sense and that manages to keep the tension going at the same level throughout.
I do enjoy writing about the characters of Frollo and (my version of) Esmeralda, however. So I may continue this general direction with another story, possibly introducing Gringoire, since he's also a fun, interesting character. I like characters that play interestingly with other characters. They don't necessarily have to "behave", just be interesting. ;)
In the past, my work life interfered in my finishing this story, but hopefully now I'll be able to tie it up more quickly. Not that I'm rushing anything.
Claude Frollo opened his eyes. The room was pierced by a shaft of light that angled down on the gypsy girl. Specks of dust floated around her floating hair. She was lying on her side, her head on his chest, her half-nude body against him. The things they did, the things she had done to him, came back in a rush of images and sounds. Frollo knew all this had sealed his seat in the lowest circle of Hell—reserved for those who betray God—but his only concern was that Esmeralda didn't wake up just yet. He wanted to watch her sleep, to revel a while longer in the conviction that she must now love him.
As he observed her, the room grew very warm; he felt dizzying happiness. Esmeralda's eyes darted, quick as her dance, under her shaded eyelids. The room was still and, except for Frollo's heavy breath, silent.
Finally, Esmeralda moved. Her eyes opened; her lips crawled into a slow, mischievous smile. Frollo wanted those lips on him again. He gazed into her eyes for as long as he could endure it. Then he burrowed his hand into her hair and pulled her head toward him. She resisted. He pulled harder.
"Kiss me," he said.
She eyed him for a few moments, then rose herself on all fours and crawled up his body, straddling him between her legs, her loose skirts billowing around her hips. She lowered her breasts close to his lips, making him gasp, then bent her head so he could gaze into her eyes, now just inches away. Her close, dark eyes were too much for Frollo; he trembled, thankful he was lying down, and pulled her head closer to kiss her. When their mouths met, he moaned. The gypsy chuckled and wiggled her hips.
"You're ready again, priest," she said.
"'Claude'!" Frollo said, pressing himself against her in agony.
"I like calling you 'priest'," said Esmeralda.
She reached down and guided him inside her. Frollo's eyes and head rolled back; he never wanted to be anywhere else from this moment forward. Esmeralda stared into his eyes, began to undulate around him. Frollo, overwhelmed, could only mewl in pleasure and grasp at her hair. Their faces were so close that all he could see was the shiny blackness of her eyes; he could feel her breath coming in little gasps against his lips. He was surrounded by a miasma of pleasure so driving and intense it was almost painful. As he climaxed, totally lost in her, he stared with fear and awe into the depths of her dark eyes.
"You don't feel like a priest inside me," Esmeralda said afterward, as she disengaged their bodies and lay down next to him.
Frollo, drunken, gasping, winced inwardly at the implication of her words--that she'd had other men as a basis for comparison. But his dismay at being physically separated from her overthrew his jealousy, and he reached out to touch her. She propped her head up on her hands and smiled elfishly. When their eyes met, Frollo again felt his heart turn over. He felt tears starting to well up behind his eyes, and he struggled, blinking, to remain composed. Esmeralda saw his struggle, observed it closely, but made no comment, nor changed her calm, smiling expression. Frollo gazed into the dark eyes that now had an erotic connotation they hadn't had just hours before.
"I love you so much," he said, and his voice shook. "I couldn't endure being in this cold place without you. Better yet, we should run away together, build a new life."
Esmeralda started, but her smile remained. "Run away?" She said. "Where would we go?"
"To the mountains, to another city, to another country altogether, it hardly matters," said Frollo. "I was never meant to live the life of a priest. I was made for you, to watch you dance and hear you sing." He glanced around the room, as if addressing the outside world. "I am well-educated; I could get a teaching post, perhaps. My family had some wealth and standing." His eyes locked onto hers again, and his face softened. "You will never want for anything."
Esmeralda shifted on the couch. She looked toward the back wall, examined the scrawls there for a long while, considered his words.
"So you want to marry me, is that it?" she said.
Frollo rushed forward, threw his arms around her, and buried his face into her hair.
"Yes, marry me, my nymph, my exquis---"
Esmeralda snorted and shrugged off his mouth. "Where is the ring, sir?" she said playfully. "You can't ask for a woman's hand without a ring! I expect this to be done with all due respect."
Frollo bit her shoulder, then jumped up, rummaged among his garments. With a cry of satisfaction, he drew his hand out of a deep pocket. In his palm, Esmeralda saw the little velvet pouch.
"See now, ma sirène," Frollo said. "I will have your ring made with any gem you select." He lifted the velvet bag and delicately untied it with his other hand. Then he shook the contents-- flashes of colored light, clinking sounds--onto the couch. Esmeralda, gasping, her eyes shining as brightly as the chunky jewels themselves, gazed at the pile of winking colors between them. She ran her hand lightly over each shape, then plucked out a hefty, square-shaped gem of incandescent green.
"Ah, my fairy," said Frollo. "You've found your namesake."
The emerald, heavy and sparkling in the gypsy's hand, cast a verdant, acidic light on everything around it. The color was perfect, the gem barely marbled with jardin. It was a potent quasar of green, brilliant as the all-seeing eye of a Hindu god.
"It's so beautiful," said Esmeralda, turning it to catch the light.
To her delight, Frollo proudly showed her the other gems, which included a Burmese ruby the color of Esmeralda's lips and tongue, he said, and almost as mesmerizing; a velvety Kashmir sapphire the color of the ocean where it's so deep only the mermaids can swim; and a crystalline aquamarine, large and innocent as an egg in a bird's nest.
"And what of the gold for the ring?" said Esmeralda. "Where will that come from?"
"From Rheingold, my Rhinemaiden," said Frollo, deliriously happy, feeling a power and satisfaction he never thought possible, as he watched the woman he worshipped playing with the jewels for the ring he would give her in marriage. Marriage!
"For my bride's ring," he said, "I will have Odin deliver the gold to me himself."
Esmeralda looked up from the jewels and grinned. "How fanciful you are!"
"Fanciful?" said Frollo. "Do you doubt I can summon the king of the gods?"
She laughed, then scooped the gems into her cupped palms and shook them a little, watched them dance. "They're all so beautiful! It's so difficult to choose just one!"
The jewels cast reflections into the gypsy's eyes and across her golden skin. Fingers of colored light--green, red, cobalt blue--caressed her lips, shadowed her eyelids, buried themselves in her hair. Frollo envied them.
"Their beauty pales before yours," he said.
Esmeralda's mosaic eyes slid toward him. "Are they valuable?"
"Yes, the finest it's possible to obtain," Frollo said. "Burma produces the most superlative rubies, rarest of the rare, as Kashmir does sapphires. The emerald and aquamarine are of equal quality, and they come from very far away." He gently pushed a serpent-like strand of black hair from the gypsy's shoulder. Then, unable to keep physically away from her for long, he leaned over and rubbed his lips against her skin.
"And just how did you "obtain" them?" said Esmeralda.
Frollo chuckled onto her neck. "You are full of questions, my sparrow. I acquired them over the years, one here, another there. I come into contact with some rather powerful people."
Esmeralda, temporarily satisfied, dropped her eyes to re-examine the sparkling jewels still dancing in her palms. She loved the icy little clinking sounds they made when they rolled into each other, their seductive colors, the perfection of their facets.
Frollo noticed her admiration.
"You are my jewel, Esmeralda," he said.