"Will we allow it?"
The roar was inconceivable, and Clopin shoved his way to the front of their iron prison. His eyes stayed trained on Notre Dame, watching the tower that Quasimodo and Esmeralda had disappeared into. His lips curled into a scowl as he addressed the Cathedral. This was just one more reason to hate it.
Lost in his thoughts, Clopin lagged behind the wave of gypsies that were clamoring through the collected weapons. When he reached it, he scanned the pile, tossing daggers and swords aside with indifference. Clopin was useless at swordplay. He needed something with a bit more class, anyway. Everyone had a swords, knives and...
For the first time in hours, Clopin grinned devilishly, bending at the hip to retrieve his new toy. Yes, indeed. This would do swimmingly.
The blade was freshly sharpened, which was unsurprising given the time of year, and the longer he looked at it the more Clopin was convinced that this was, in fact, a weapon worth using. He hefted the oak grip and swung it experimentally. It gave a low whistle as it cut through the air and his grin widened, taking on a mad edge. That noise was pleasant, given the circumstances. Yes indeed, it was.
He swung the scythe again, mimicking the age-old harvest-time motion. Clopin took a step and swung again. This time it clipped a nearby horse, and a stain of red mysteriously marred the blade. But that was fine. It looked better that way. Clopin swept it again, wickedly, in a wider arc, cackling aloud as it passed through a soldier, like a knife through butter.
"It will do." He announced to no one in particular, cleaving a horse's leg in twain as he ambled onward. A song came unbidden to his lips. A happy little tune for a happy little fight. Clopin swung again, humming along to a gross mockery of the Feast of Fool's delightful melody.
As the battle progressed, Clopin created a lovely circle around himself, littered with body parts and blood. His tongue was protruding from his mouth in concentration now, for he was trying to decide what the best swinging speed was. He had established a happy rhythm already, but it had proven too slow to stop a soldier from taking a sliver of his arm with him when he died. So Clopin was experimenting.
"Harvest time already?"
Clopin narrowed his eyes and stood up straight, still slashing at the approaching throng of guards absentmindedly. "Dweebus, oui?" He guessed, looking at the soldier who was offering him help. He looked worse for wear, with an unpleasant gash on the side of his face. No gold armor this time?... Really, now, how rude.
Without invitation he took to Clopin's back, fending off a few unlucky knaves. "I get those nicknames a lot." He explained tightly, though that could have been the effort it took to throw back three guardsmen.
Clopin grinned, shielding his face when he gutted a horse more messily than he had intended. "Nickname?" He barked. "I was serious!" He swung the scythe like an axe and neatly parted a man's head from his torso. "And these seeds were sown all wrong. It's best. To. Be. Rid of them!" He accentuated his words with deadly swipes, one of which drove Goldilocks to duck lest he join the victims.
"Phoebus." He introduced himself while throwing off another attack
"Clopin Trouillefou." He slammed the scythe's handle down viciously, cracking the skull of a stirring guardsman.
Phoebus regarded the brutal act with a closed expression, and in his moment of relinquished defense, Clopin hooked the scythe in the stomach of a soldier prepared to take advantage of it and pulled. He grinned savagely. "Losing interest already, mon capitaine?" He wiped some blood from his face, ignoring the imposing cloud of steel and instead eying Phoebus curiously.
The captain huffed and shook his head like a wet dog. "Hardly. I'm glad you're on my side this time."
"This time, Dweebus?"
Phoebus swung his sword valiantly. "Last time you almost hung me."
It was several moments before Clopin could reply– he was in the midst of trying to remove the scythe's blade from a particularly stubborn horse– but when he did, his smile was blazing. "That was a matter of protecting the Court, mon Capitaine. Nothing personal."
"Nothing personal?! You almost killed me!"
"Almost... such a lovely word."
"Now I know where she gets it from."
Clopin twisted his head to glance at Phoebus. "Who?" He asked sharply.
A small smile crept onto the Captain's face as he threw off another barrage. "Esmeralda."
His hands tightened around the scythe and Clopin fumed. He didn't like it when Esme dealt with the male race. Mostly because he knew how they worked and especially what they wanted. But of course, she would go and get chummy with the Captain of the guard. "I see." He murmured darkly, gaining a few scratches for his lapse in attention. "God forbid I ask your intentions with her?"
"Well, I would like to marry her with your blessing."
The news couldn't have arrived at a worse time. Before Clopin could enact all the nasty, terrible thoughts in his head, a sword whistled seemingly out of the ether and tore a jagged gash down the length of his face. Clopin howled, staggering back and leaving Phoebus to catch the perpetrator as the wound bled. It screamed with pain, but after a life like his, he was able to straighten up after a few agonizing moments. "I can't see." Clopin admitted. "Not out of that eye. If I could I would kill you."
Phoebus grunted under the wave of soldiers. "Is it just blood, or..." Clopin could see him with his fine eye, looking over the wound appraisingly.
"Just..." He hissed when it gave another awful twinge. "Just blood I think." He covered the wound with his hand, and kept swinging the scythe with his free one.
"I'm sorry. I was afraid... if I died... or you died... That–"
"That you wouldn't get a fool's blessing?" Clopin grumbled angrily. "Men like you don't marry women like her." He accused viciously.
Phoebus' expression became defensive. "I love her!"
Forgetting the battle, Clopin turned on him, and only his quick reflexes saved Phoebus from losing his pretty blond head. "No you don't!" He snarled. "You lust maybe, like that judge does." He took a tremendous swipe at Phoebus. "You might want pleasure," He swung again. "Or children." He swung for a third time. "Or a servant." Clopin watched with satisfaction as Phoebus backed away. "But you don't love her. Men like you don't know how to– get out of the way!"
Gouts of molten lead were pouring from the tower of Notre Dame, and even from a distance the heat seared them. Clopin's hand wrapped firmly around Phoebus' arm and he dragged the deadweight away from danger, hacking his way through bodies with one purpose: to escape the fire that was licking the cathedral, fueled by dozens of unlucky bodies. Eventually he dropped the captain's arm and continued to slash away at soldiers who had started to lose their will to fight.
"What was that for?" Phoebus muttered, pulling himself to his feet.
Clopin stopped in his massacre and smiled, stretching the gash on his face and making it throb angrily. "If Esmeralda did happen to like you at all, I certainly wouldn't want to incur her wrath." He eyed the oncoming forces without a hint of fear. "Besides, you need someone to get you to Notre Dame."
Phoebus' eyes widened comically and he stared up at the cathedral. "But how?" He wondered aloud. "It's impossible."
"Improbable, yes. But you have me to get you through, and Frollo has already made his way in."
The mention of Frollo seemed to send a steel rod into Phoebus' back and he straightened instantaneously, nodding as he tightened his grip on his sword. "Then I can't wait."
Clopin grinned. Maybe this Gadje brat wasn't completely hopeless. "I'll take you to her." He assured Phoebus pleasantly. "Call your horse."
"What? I'll be a target!"
"Not if I can help it."
"You've only noticed that now?"
Phoebus shot him a glare to which Clopin replied with a simpering grin, and without further ado, he called for Achilles, who came trotting with nary an injury, minus several superficial scratches. The horse allowed Phoebus onto his back and from there Clopin bounded to the front of their unlikely train. It wasn't so bad if you thought of it as practice for the Feast of Fools. He could almost imagine the sights and smells. "Follow me!" He called over the roar of swords and shouting. "And don't let your pony kick me!" He took the first step and so they proceeded.
As they marched, Clopin realized that Phoebus had been right; being on horseback did make him a target. More than once he barely caught a guardsman before he gutted the blond idiot, who seemed incapable of a low profile even when he tried. But still, their progress towards Notre Dame was noticeable, and soon enough Clopin broke into a quick trot, still hacking at any that got in their path. Several times the tip of the scythe went further than he'd expected and almost brained Phoebus' horse, who in turn would scream and shy away from him. Eventually his feet hit hot metal, and Clopin hissed, speeding up and running in great leaps, hoping to keep his legs in one piece. "Get in there!" He hollered at Phoebus, who was already leaping off Achilles. "I'll take care of your horse. You take care of Esmeralda." He lashed out and his hand curled around the other's wrist in a vice grip. "I swear to God, mon Capitaine, if she has so much as a scratch I will hunt you down and kill you."
Phoebus looked at him long enough for Clopin to curl his lip in a snarl and look away. He could see the blond nod out of the corner of his eye. "I mean, it, Gadje." He swung himself onto Achilles, adjusting himself to the saddle. How long had it been since he'd ridden a horse? "One scratch..." He held up his index finger and ran it along his throat. The meaning wasn't lost, and Phoebus disappeared into the cathedral, leaving Clopin to swing his scythe around Achilles' head, battering away guardsmen from the door and evacuating his position as flames began to lick at Notre Dame. He spared a glance at the tower, but he couldn't see anything with one eye blind and the other busy watching more closely for soldiers. So Clopin gave a tremendous sigh, trusted Phoebus to keep his word, and lunged back into the fray. The sun was rising slowly, the resistance of the soldiers was faltering steadily.
He swiped again and felt the scythe cut through another leg, or arm, or neck smoothly. It was almost over.
The smoke had cleared slowly. For the last few minutes Clopin had been watching its progress with a keen eye, trying to blot out the sudden spasms of pain that were shooting through his face. Until now, adrenaline had been blocking most of the wound's severity, but as his excitement vanished, he realized unhappily that it was going to be a nuisance. He felt along the edge of it, but yanked his hand away when it burned. "This will be a problem." He told Achilles, who eyed him plaintively, flicking his available ear back and forth(The other had met the unfortunate end of his scythe). "Ah, but what's battle without some scars, oui?" Clopin watched from a distance as the door of Notre Dame swung open, one hand straying to Achilles head and scratching it absentmindedly.
Would you look at that.
His face broke into a relieved grin and Clopin cheered with the crowd, swinging back onto Phoebus' horse and urging him onward through the throng of battle-worn Parisians. "Let's go meet notre capitaine and the lucky bride-to-be, hmm?" Achilles nickered in what Clopin guessed was the affirmative and sped up. The sea of civilians parted as they got closer to the cathedral, but he reined the horse in to allow a stream of celebrating individuals pass with Quasimodo upon their shoulders. He watched contemplatively as they circled the blood-slick square, then urged Achilles towards the entrance of Notre Dame.
Esmeralda looked sickly, but content, as Clopin jumped off Achilles. He winced when the blisters he'd gained from running over the hot lead rebelled against the contact. "I'm impressed, Dweebus." He announced merrily, drawing their attention as he leaned on the scythe, whose grip had been stained a lovely deep cherry by the end of the fighting. "She's no worse for wear, and you're still alive!" He snapped his fingers in mock frustration. "Damn. There goes my plan."
"Clopin! What happened?" He caught the flying bunch of Esmeralda with some difficulty, and swung her around to keep from toppling over. Clopin craned his neck to avoid any hair getting on his wound. "Are you okay?"
He held her at arm's length and smiled, though the effect was a bit marred by blood. "I'm fine. It's only a scratch." Clopin walked her back to Phoebus, who was displaying concern over Achille's missing ear. "Ah... sorry." He apologized without conviction. "You're lucky that's all that happened to him."
"All that happened? His ear's gone!"
"Ah, it makes him look tough."
For a moment it seemed as though he was going to argue back, but instead he shook his head and contented himself with patting the horse's snout. "Quasimodo's sure happy." Phoebus observed conversationally as the crowd went by again, bouncing him around like a ragdoll. "How long will it last?" Esmeralda slipped back under his arm after assuring herself that Clopin wouldn't bleed to death.
"Oh... a week." Trouillefou said dismissively, dabbing at his wound gently with a finger.
"Clopin, that's awful of you to say!" Esmeralda exclaimed. "Quasimodo saved me! He saved Notre Dame! That has to count for something."
"Ah, you're right, ange. Two weeks." Before she could retort, Clopin pressed on. "So you're going to have to catch him when he falls, oui?" He addressed Phoebus. "Between them both you're going to have your hands full." He said pleasantly, tossing the scythe from hand to hand. The blade glinted in the sun, a slightly pink hue that Clopin enjoyed enough to halt it in midair to observe the color change.
Esmeralda smiled impishly. "So he told you, did he?" She glanced up at Phoebus, who busied himself staring elsewhere.
"Oui. I'm glad you won't be all alone, little Esme." Clopin paused in playing with the scythe and looked between them. "You asked for my blessing, Phoebus, and you have it. I wish you both the best in whatever you do." He smiled through the pain of his wound, which continued to weep blood. "It's a poor gypsy's blessing, and I wish I could give you more." Clopin hesitated, looked at the blue sky, then added in a rare, tentative tone, "I don't imagine I'm the sort of 'king' you would want a blessing from."
There was a silence that spanned for almost a minute, and they stared at each other interchangeably. At last, Phoebus cleared his throat and scratched the bad of his head. "The only blessing King Louis would give me now is one before he lopped off my head!"
"Ah, I could do that too, you know!" Clopin's jovial mood returned as he hefted the scythe mockingly.
Esmeralda chose that moment to re-enter the conversation. "You're planning something, and I want to know what." She pointed at Clopin. "You've got that look."
He looked up with faint surprise. "Why, I'm going to Spain!" He exclaimed. "I've had enough of France, Esme!"
Clopin stared upwards to avoid her horror struck expression. Her words were harder to ignore.
"Why? Why would you want to go there? What's wrong with France?" Her lip wobbled dramatically, reminding him of a much younger Esmeralda.
"I was born there, and I always wanted to go back, at least for a while." Clopin explained gently. He held out his arms and she obediently ran in for an embrace. "I couldn't go while I was taking care of you, and now you have Dweebus." ("Phoebus" The blond grumbled.) "You're going to get married, Esme! Isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted you to be there." She mumbled unhappily.
"I'll bring you back a gift?"
"Bring..." She looked up with something akin to hope. "You mean you're coming back?!"
Clopin laughed aloud at her shock. "Mon Dieu, I don't want to live there! Too much sun for me!" He patted her cheek. "Go marry your capitaine and be happy for a while. You'll see me again before you start missing me. I don't think getting there should take more than a few weeks, if I don't get lost."
Esmeralda furrowed her brow. "What about the Court of Miracles?"
He chuckled again. "You know that being king of the gypsies meant very little, Esmeralda. They can last on their own. Besides, without Frollo who am I to outsmart now? Your new fiancee wouldn't be a challenge at all!" He stood up straight and was caught of guard when Phoebus spoke again.
"You should at least do something with your face, I think." He paused for a moment, as if considering options in his mind. "And I'll let you take Achilles. He's not going to have much to do, and it's been a while since he had any real time on the road. Just don't cut off any more of his ears."
Clopin pursed his lips unhappily, but nodded. "Thank you." He said genuinely. "I'll bring him back in one piece." They all fell silent and watched Quasimodo's parade continue joyously around the square.
It was three days before Clopin left, two of which were spent in agony following the cauterization of the wound on his face. Even as he mounted Achilles to start the journey, he had to wipe tears out of his good eye - the other had been blinded after all. He smiled bemusedly as he reined the horse towards the road leading out of Paris. Yes... he certainly had had enough of France.
For a moment he hesitated, wondering if leaving now was preferable to holding true to his word and saying goodbye to Esmeralda. The seconds ticked by until, at last, Clopin shook his head and urged Achilles into a faster pace. It would be easier to forgo the sentimentality. He adjusted the scythe until it laid across his lap. A weapon for the road wouldn't go astray, though he had a knife to boot as well. Better say than sorry. Besides, people could see a scythe better than they could see a little dagger. It would hopefully be a ward against trouble over the next few weeks.
Then again, when had trouble ever skirted around Clopin Trouillefou?
A/N: Odd place to end it, right?
Originally I was going to bring him back, but that made the ending feel crazily rushed, so I'm contemplating possibly making a few chapters worth of fantastic stories that Clopin could tell Esme, Phoebus and Quasi on his return. After all, Spain wasn't exactly a refuge for gypsies... around 1480(not long before Hunchback) the Inquisition began. :3 If I do follow through with my idea for the continuation of this lovely story, I'll give a more detailed definition of the Spanish Inquisition.
Needless to say, Clopin picked a very poor time to visit.
Mon Capitaine: My Captain
Gadje: A rather unfriendly term for one why isn't of gypsy heritage
Notre Capitaine: Our Captain