Disclaimer: I own neither the movie, the short or the song.
AN: First off, this is my first 5/7 fic, and I hope you like it.
I had a line from "Heaven's Light" (from the Hunchback of Notre Dame) in my head as I was walking to class today, and I had to put it to a story. It just... worked. That said, this isn't a songfic, per se. I'm just including what inspired it. Also a quote that made me think:
"Go back to 1? So he can lock us up while this creature awakens? Never." ~ 7
For reference, this takes place... roughly a year before 9 woke up.
I dare to dream that she
Might even care for me
And as I ring these bells tonight
This cold dark tower seems so bright
I'm sure it must be heaven's light...
7 had a door for one reason only—to slam it in 1's face on days like today. She didn't need the barrier to escape from him—she was faster, stronger, more agile than he was—but there was no denying the satisfaction she felt at the muffled crash of wood against his ugly face.
She was the only one who could get away with such defiance. Not because 8 wouldn't be called to discipline her—his footsteps could already be heard through the door—but because she'd beaten the brute in enough fights to make him think twice before touching her.
No, 1 had thought of a new way to punish her. 8 came to the door and stood there. Just stood there, blocking the only route from her chamber. There had been more when she first claimed this space as her own—nooks and crannies and little passageways that led almost anywhere, but they had disappeared, boarded up while she had been out scouting.
That was fine. They were wood and nails. 1 had tried this before, and every time she'd just pulled up the boards and cut through the ones she couldn't wedge out of place. Life was remarkably easy when she had the right tools—
Her spear was gone. All her weapons were gone. All her things—her books, her tools, the few trinkets she'd kept for herself—vanished. The coward had taken them all.
That did it.
She tore across the room, ready to show 8 exactly how she felt about his assignment—
The door didn't budge. She kicked it, punched it, threw all her weight against it, until finally it jiggled slightly aside, revealing what looked like the corner of a brick. 8 had barricaded her door.
She rushed to the other side, tearing at the boarded up crannies with her bare hands.
Absolutely no progress.
She was trapped.
"Have you seen 7?" 2 asked, rubbing the leather patch on the back of his head. "I wanted her to help me with a project."
1 glared at the old mentor's lie, but he didn't hide the truth. He knew better than to hide from 2.
"She's being confined," he growled self-righteously. "Her rebellious nature is a danger to herself and us all."
"Come now," 2 said gently. "I really need her help with this. Surely it won't hurt to let her out for a few minutes."
"And allow her to escape?" 1 demanded. "Let her run wild and lead the Beasts back here? She'll doom us all."
Escape wasn't a word for disciplined children. It was a word for prisoners.
"Be reasonable," the old inventor protested.
"She will be allowed to leave when she learns to follow our rules." 1 pushed past 2, almost knocking the old stitchpunk to the ground as he left.
5 waited until 1 was out of sight and earshot before he emerged from his hiding place. "Thank you," he mumbled, looking hopelessly at the empty space where 1 had been.
"I'm afraid I didn't do much good," 2 admitted, laying a hand on his student's shoulder.
"No, it's okay," 5 said. "Maybe we can try talking sense into him later. We'll work everything out. You'll see." He didn't like keeping secrets from 2. He didn't like doing things without his approval. But if things went badly—he knew they would—he didn't want 2 to get in trouble for it. He said goodbye to his mentor and wandered back into his room.
He hadn't wanted to believe it. He'd let himself imagine that 7 was just out scouting longer than usual, or that she was mad at him for something and just avoiding him. Something.
But he knew better.
She'd been gone for weeks. He'd asked 1 for permission to go out looking for her—if something had happened to her, he'd never forgive himself—but their leader had bristled at the suggestion.
"Mind your own business," he'd said. It wasn't the sort of thing that you say when someone might be dead or dying. It was the sort of thing you said when you had secrets to keep.
He went to 7's room, only to find a brick wedged in front of her door and 8 playing with a magnet a few steps away.
He'd have to find another way to reach her.
7 smoldered in silence. She considered screaming and cursing until her voice box gave out, but no. She wouldn't give 1 the satisfaction. She wouldn't beg for her freedom. Wouldn't save him the next time the Beast breathed down his scrawny neck—
No. She couldn't think that way. It was the kind of thing he would do, and she wouldn't sink to his level. So she resigned herself to sit.
There was no telling how long she'd been locked in this prison. Her room had no windows to measure the days, and she had no need for meals or regular cycles of sleep like humans did—the twins had mentioned a scenario like this to her before, in The Count of Monte Cristo. At least that book's hero had been given a spoon to dig himself to freedom. She didn't even have that luxury.
Nothing at all. Just her bed and her thoughts to keep her company.
And, apparently, voices. Was she going insane?
"Hey, 7," the voice whispered. It was low and muffled, but it sounded suspiciously familiar.
Knock knock knock.
There was no way she had imagined that—the boards in the corner shook slightly as something hit them from the other side.
"Are you in there?" it whispered through a crack. There was no mistaking him this time.
"5?" she asked, racing to the boards. "Is that you?"
"Shhh! 8's still outside. Don't let him hear you."
"Sorry," she lowered her voice. "What are you doing?"
"Um…" She knew he couldn't blush, but the awkwardness bled into his voice. "I came to… um… rescue you."
She laid her hand on the boards that separated them.
"Don't," she said quietly. "1's going to find out you were involved. He'll make you pay for it."
There was a soft whisper of metal brushing leather. "I'm not going to leave you in here," he said, an unfamiliar steadiness in his voice. "I can handle 1." He laughed a little, embarrassed again. "I'll grovel until he gets over it. I'll be fine." He cleared his voice box, his voice steady again. "Now stand back a bit."
She did as she was told. There was a muffled clang—again—again—again—and the nail before her began to jump back from the board that held it. She seized the nail and pulled with all her might, and at last it came free.
"Got it?" he whispered through the crack.
"It's out," she whispered back.
Three times he pounded on the nails from behind, and three times she was able to pull them free of the wood. By the time the last nail emerged, the board lowered quietly, held by nothing but 5's deft hands.
"Good to see you again," he whispered through the broadest grin she'd ever seen on his face. "Hurry, in here." She jumped swiftly into the tiny crevice, and he climbed out, replacing the nails in the wood and closing the board behind him. "So they don't find us," he explained.
The hole was small, but it led to a wide hollow between layers of stone. Their only illumination was the stub of a small candle, and the light didn't reach far enough to tell much about it.
"Sorry it took so long," he said as they climbed through the hollow. "I had a hard time finding your room. Lots of places to look."
"It's all right," she said gently. "Thank you."
"I was worried about you," he admitted, stealing a glance at her that lasted far longer than a stolen glance ever should. Remembering himself, he turned away.
"I knew you got out before," he said, quickly changing the subject. "It was just a matter of finding a tunnel that led to you. Simple, really. And it's not too long either—there's the light, see?" In the distance a ray of silvery light announced the tunnel's end in what had once been the building's bell tower. He extinguished the candle, giving them the privacy of semi-darkness as they approached the tunnel's end.
"I'll need to get my things from 1," she said. "I'm not going into the Emptiness unarmed."
5 stopped abruptly, and she crashed into him in the dark. "The Emptiness?" he asked incredulously. "Why are you going there?"
"I can't exactly go back to my room," she pointed out.
"Then you can stay in mine." He was glad it was dark. He was glad she couldn't see how his eyes widened at the very thought. He felt about ready to faint.
"Then 1 will know for sure that you're involved. He'll lock you up like he did me."
"Then we won't let him know. We'll keep it a secret." Without thinking he took her hand in his. "You can go exploring whenever you want to, and come back and stay safe with me, and you won't have to answer to 1 unless you want to. I promise."
"He'll lock us both up," she said.
"I won't let him."
It worked for a while. 7's spear was replaced with one of the sharper tools from 5's workshop until she could find another. She slept while 5 worked, and when they slept at the same time he made himself comfortable on the floor while she stayed in the roller skate that formed his bed. She'd protested the arrangement, but he told her to think nothing of it. On those nights he got the best sleep of his short life, knowing she was just within arm's reach. More often than not she explored the Emptiness, bringing back bits and pieces for him and 2, and occasionally a few scraps to smuggle to the twins.
The time they spent together was euphoric.
He should have known it was too good to last.
Something happened. The twins found something they shouldn't have, and 1 was furious. He tore their finding to shreds and 8 followed suit, crumbling their tiny corner of Sanctuary while they looked on with silent fear.
The next day they were gone.
7 said she didn't know anything about it, that the twins had been juggling the idea of leaving for ages, that they'd just been waiting for things to quiet down in the Emptiness before venturing out to find more books themselves. She said she didn't know where they went, and 5 had no choice but to believe her.
She was his secret, after all. She was his treasure to protect, and that meant he had to trust her. Because if he didn't, he wouldn't be able to keep her safe. If he didn't, she might go away.
And he couldn't let that happen.
7 put down her spear and stretched her weary joints. The day had been long, but she'd managed to map out another stretch of the Emptiness. 5 was nowhere to be seen—probably on watch, or working on something with 2, but she was tired. It couldn't hurt to nap while she waited for him to return.
"You are a curse," a cold voice said, throwing aside the curtain-door with his staff. She seized her spear and crouched defensively. She would not be locked up. Not again.
"Your corruption has already killed 3 and 4, and now you work to murder 5," 1 declared, judgment in his stare.
"They're fine," she growled. "No thanks to you."
"A momentary miracle," he said, waving the fact away like an unpleasant insect. "It's only a matter of time before the Beasts catch them."
"They'd rather take that chance than live under your tyranny," 7 snapped, but doubt sliced through her mind. She hadn't seen them for hours. What if something happened? What if a Beast found them in the library? They were quiet and good at hiding, but they'd never stand a chance in a fight."
"And you'd subject 5 to your lifestyle?" he said it like it was a curse. "You'd leave him out in the open for the Beasts to find?" Her hands tightened on the spear. The twins were good at hiding. They could manage on their own. But 5—how long could he survive in her care? "Do you think you can stay in one place long enough to protect anyone?"
Every word burned her.
"They are safe because they are with me."
"Not for long." She clutched the spear hard enough to dent the metal. 1's eyes narrowed at her declaration.
"I'm going to kill the Beasts," she said. "All of them. The others won't stay when they don't need you anymore."
1 gave a demeaning 'hmpf'. "I'll be waiting."
And he vanished as suddenly as he had come, leaving 7 alone in 5's room.
He'd known. And there was no telling how long he'd known. Since 5 rescued her from his prison? It was possible. Time made no difference. He knew that she'd taken the twins, and he knew 5 was still hiding her, and if she knew 1, he would make 5 suffer for it.
She should have kept her mouth shut.
She had to leave. She should have done it weeks ago, and she should never have come back. She'd do it for real this time, as soon as she got a chance to explain things to 5—
No, she realized. She couldn't. He'd persuade her to stay. He'd coax her back into the warmth of his room and the comfort of his hugs, and all the while 1 would be bearing down on him and the Beasts would be prowling outside.
No. Better to leave now. Better to do the job she was made for, and come back when everything was finished and hope he forgive her then. And if she failed—better that he not remember to mourn her.
She escaped the prison Sanctuary for the last time, glad she couldn't cry.
5 returned from watch that night and waited for 7 to return.
I knew I'd never know
That warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might
No face as hideous as my face
Was ever meant for heaven's light