Father Claude Frollo could pinpoint the exact moment the final nail was driven into the metaphorical coffin of his own construction. He could have continued life cold and aloof as he had always been; Quasimodo's stern benefactor and respected priest if it hadn't been for that damned gypsy. The first nail in the coffin had been seeing her lithe form dance, wild and untameable. The last nail had been hearing her sing. He stood by the window, gazing down at the form of Esmeralda; the beautiful, dark woman who sang a pagan's bastardized hymn to the Virgin Mary.
High in the towers of Notre Dame; her voice drifted up to him and beckoned him to leave his sanctum and make his way stealthily along the hallways of the cathedral. He hid behind a pillar, leaning heavily against it for support; feeling his life-long resolve sudden shatter. Frollo turned to see Esmeralda seated on the stone edge of the sacramental pool, her legs bare as she 0new and conflicting emotions battled for control. The blasphemy of it was not lost on him; a life of indoctrination told him to be angry. It told him to rush forward and seize her arm, throwing her to the ground and punishing her for profaning such a holy place.
A newer, barely formed and shrunken part of his soul urged him to take her in his arms, bury his face in her heathen skin, and leave everything he had ever known behind. Knowing he was only one of many men who loved and lusted over Esmeralda did nothing to ease his suffering. Quasimodo loved her because she was his saviour, his angel, everything good in the world was epitomized in the dark skinned gypsy girl with eyes that flashed with fire and inexplicably saw past his twisted visage. Clopin cared for and protected her as a brother to his sister. Phoebus quested to conquer her on the battlefield of his bed; to defeat her body and soul. Frollo found himself simultaneously terrified and enlivened by the girl's presence. She was a grotesque antithesis of everything he had believed in his entire life. Nevertheless the pull he felt toward her was inexorable. So stunted was his comprehension of love; all he could do was seek to possess her. To lock her away from the eyes of all others where he and only he could… appreciate her.
When he turned back to the moonlit courtyard Esmeralda lay fast asleep, curled precariously on the edge of the fountain. As if he were trapped in a rapidly tightening snare, he drew near to her; unblinking as he gazed at her hungrily. Trembling hands traced her slumbering form; never quite touching the gypsy princess but instead merely disturbing the air milimetres from her skin. Boldly, he leaned in close. The heathen smelled of sweat and flowers. Of incense and of rain. A feeling he was unfamiliar with radiated outwards from the centre of his stomach, coursing throughout his veins. His shaking hands retracted and drew close to his chest as if to protect himself from the alien emotion. Esmeralda moaned softly in her sleep and shifted, part of her gown caught underneath her in such a way that the curve of her breasts was clearly visible for Frollo to see.
The priest turned and fled; certain that he would no longer be able to control himself were he to stay by her side. No sooner had Frollo reached the safety of his spartan living quarters than the girl sleeping in the grotto awakened. While Frollo paced his room several floors above, trying to get his thoughts in some semblance of order; the gypsy's eyelashes flickered against her cheeks as dark eyes opened. As Frollo's skull came repeatedly into contact with the solid oak door of his cell, Esmeralda's bare feet padded on the cold stones of Notre Dame's floor. She could head a dull thudding noise and she followed it through the hallways. The noise got louder as she silently made her way down the corridor. The noise was coming less frequently now. Once she had determined its origin, she pushed open the door to see Frollo upon his knees, head bowed in supplication and hands clutched together, white knuckled, in prayer. She tried to leave silently but the door hinges squeaked and the priest's head jerked up, eyes red and accusing. He grit his teeth, preparing to order her to leave immediately. As Esmeralda gazed back at him, one hand protectively across her chest, a line of dark blood beaded down Claude Frollo's forehead from a gash in his hairline.
"Oh!" Esmeralda exclaimed.
Without thinking she moved forward, pulling a kerchief from her skirt and dabbing the blood away. It was only when she felt Frollo's firm hand on her forearm that she realized what she had done.
There was a tense moment as she looked down at him, frozen and unable to think. She saw him bite his lip, as if contemplating his next move. The hand on her arm tightened, drawing her closer. Esmeralda didn't resist as the priest's other hand came to rest gently on her waist. He pulled her in closer, Esmeralda lowered her head and quite suddenly there was a kiss.
Dom Frollo's heart beat a fierce tattoo against his ribs; the gypsy girl was warm and soft in his arms. Her full lips gentle against his as he let himself drown in her. Suddenly her back was against the wall and her hands clutched at his shirt. Calloused fingers were touching her face as she felt herself giving in. Every muscle in his body was taut; Esmeralda wondered how one could go through life so painfully restrained all of the time. She knew he was the sort of person who allowed himself no outlet for his frustrations. He would continue to be wound tighter and tighter until one day there would be too much tension and he would snap. She let out a small gasp as a tentative and trembling hand pulled down her gown and closed over her breast. His mouth was on her throat and she let out another wordless cry.
Abruptly, Phoebus' handsome visage flashed in Esmeralda's mind and she broke the kiss, pushing Frollo off and backing into the corner, tugging her clothing back into place; her face a mask of shame. Confused and hurt, Dom Claude's hands were clenched in fists by his sides.
"Get out!" he snarled angrily. "Get out now you heathen bitch!"
Esmeralda stumbled backwards out the half opened door and fled down the hallway leaving the priest a thoroughly broken man. As he heard her footsteps die away he turned, whole body shaking. There was a final dull thud as his fist made contact with the stone wall. The screw had made it's final turn and the thread had snapped leaving Frollo frayed and swaying in the wind.
Dom Claude awoke before the dawn; his sleep had been fitful and his dreams full of demons. Exhaustion made his movements lethargic and clumsy as he donned his robes. He had begun to think of them more as shackles than a symbol of his position as a respected member of the church. He had Esmeralda to thank for that. Ostensibly he had planned to capture the gypsy girl and show her the way of the One True God; what had instead happened is that Frollo found himself questioning everything he had taken for granted since he was a young boy. The only thing more painful, he thought; than being in love is to lose one's faith and here he was doing both.
After straightening his sparsely furnished room, he stormed downstairs, ignoring the growling of his stomach and going about his morning routine of lighting the various candles and starting the day. As the sun rose, he climbed the steps to the tower to awaken Quasimodo. Pushing back the tattered curtain that served as a door, he saw his charge asleep on the uneven wooden floor. The poor fool had relegated himself to the cold floor while the gypsy girl slept in relative comfort upon the pallet of blankets in the corner.
The priest inhaled deeply, clenching his fists and wincing slightly as the injured tendons in his hand tightened painfully. Perhaps today he would let Quasimodo awaken on his own. He turned on his heel and stalked from the room.
About halfway down he heard the shuffling sound of footsteps behind him. He turned to see Quasimodo struggling after him.
"Good morning, master." the creature said. "Did I oversleep? I didn't think I did-"
"No Quasimodo, you did not. Go about your business and I shall see you for morning mass."
He started back toward the stairs but the hunchback spoke up again.
"Master? What has happened to your hand?"
Forgetting himself, the deformed man clumsily lumbered forward and made as if to take his master's hand in his own. Frollo drew back quickly and hid the injured limb behind his back.
"It is none of your concern, Quasimodo." Frollo replied sharply. "Go awaken the gypsy wench and find her some food."
Quasimodo watched his master disappear into the shadows of the stairwell; uncomprehending of his saviour's peculiar behaviour. The hunchback limped back to awaken the sleeping girl who currently occupied his bed.
That was another point of contention for Frollo; the way in which the gypsy girl had so completely enamoured his charge Quasimodo and become the focus of the hunchback's attention. The deformed boy had been little more than a newborn when Claude had discovered him on the steps of the cathedral. He had given the boy food, shelter, an education and little else. Quasimodo had lived his whole life without being coddled or embraced. When he thought about it, Frollo often wondered if it might have been kinder just to drown the creature… The world was a cruel place and did not accept people who were different. Dom Claude tried to justify his treatment of the hunchback to himself by insisting that it would have been an injustice to send the boy into the world unprepared for it's cruelty. His conscience reared it's ugly head and told him that it was wrong. Wrong to treat anything like he had treated Quasimodo. Wrong to make any child be acutely aware of his differences; to teach him that solidarity
The priest leaned against the wall, the cool stone soothing against his bruised forehead. Cool and smooth, like the gypsy girl's hand as she had momentarily touched his skin. In his solipsism, Frollo found himself discovering many reprehensible things about himself.
Claude Frollo crawled weakly towards the lifeless form of Esmeralda. Quasimodo had, in his righteous fury and grief, dashed his benefactor's head against the wall and then thrown Frollo bodily down several flights of stone steps. Now here he lay, ribs and various other bones shattered; it seemed a fitting end to one who's hands were covered in the blood of an innocent.
Through darkening vision, he could see Esmeralda's body cradled in Quasimodo's arms. The kohl around her eyes was smudged from crying as the rope had been tied around her pretty throat. He smile bitterly. She had denied him for the last time. There seemed to be a magnet in the back of his skull and it's mate was in the ground. The heaviness pulled at him as his eyes looked straight upward. The sky was a brilliant clear azure and a few birds flew overhead, the scene above him spun and wheeled dizzyingly and he shut his eyes against it. The darkness blocked out the sight of a wildly gyrating panorama but the feeling of vertiginous movement remained.
The sound of a grieving Quasimodo and a hushed, whispering crowd grew faint as the darkness became more and more pronounced. Without a sound, Frollo succumbed to the inescapable claws of Death.