Quasimodo, My Love:Part 1
The bases for this story, such as the main character, Quasimodo, were created by Victor Hugoin his book The Hunchback of Notre Dame, NOT me. Plus, some of the items in this story were kinda based on the Walt Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I have taken liberties with this story.
Main Characters: Me
Setting: Notre Dame Cathedral, France
I was a little girl when I first met the Hunchback of Notre Dame, though how little I knew of what he would come to mean to me I can not even describe.
I was attending services with my mother. I was about six years old, and in my child's mind I looked for a way to entertain myself. My eyes wavered across the room, to an eave in the wall. That was when I first saw him. At first I smiled at the thought of a playmate to distract me, but as I took a closer look, I gasped in alarm. He was hunched over, his back potruding at an obviously painful angle. He had a large wart covering his right eye, a horseshoe shaped-mouth, which was hanging open in speculation at the service, and a nose which seemed as though it had been shoved up from the bottom as far as it would go up. My eyes grew as wide as his, though mine were from, dare I say, horror, and his from wonder at the priest's sermon. Quickly I pulled at my mother's dress and asked her,"Momma, what's wrong with that boy?"
My mother, obviously annoyed at my interruption of her thoughts, looked to where I was pointing, and gasped in reply. She bent down to me(there was standing room only) and whispered,"That is bellringer, child;do not stare, and stay away from him." She then turned back to the service, and tried to act as if nothing had happened. / Unsatisfied with this answer, I decided to find out for myself. When I was certain that she was no longer interested in me, I quietly crept up to the eave in the wall. I turned around to be sure that my mother was not watching, and was relieved to see that a friend had offered her a seat on a pew, where they would sit gossiping the entire time. I gently poked my head around the corner, a turned to see his surprised face.
"Hello," I whispered.
He gaped back at me in, as I thought, surprise; but as I looked into his eyes...those pale blue, wondering eyes...I saw that it was not surprise as it was for me, no, it was fear. Purebred fear. His distorted face told me of all the fear that he now felt in his being. Shyly, I repeated my greeting, this time adding, "Don't be afraid. I won't hurt you."
This time he seemed to find a small voice in his throat."Will you tell anyone I'm here?" Even then, I noticed that though his body was deformed, his voice was far from it. A melody resounded from his throat, and I listened in awe.
Finding MY voice, I whispered back shyly,"No, I won't tell anyone. What's your name?"
Hanging his head in what looked like shame, he whispered,"Quasimodo."
I shuddered at the name. Half-formed. Funny how a name with so hideous a meaning could sound so beautiful. I wondered who would bestow such a name upon their own son. "What is your name?" His voice interrupted my thoughts.
"Oh. My name is Ashley. Would you like to play?"
He gasped. Puzzled, I asked him what was the matter."No one has ever asked me to "play" before," he replied, "How do you do it?"
This seemed strange to me, as I had never met a child who didn't know how to play before."Well, sing along with the hymns, or we could pay tag,or..."
"Excuse me, but what is "tag"?"
"Oh, that's a game where you run around and try to touch someone, then they try to touch you-"
"Touch me?" he interrupted, appalled,"Aren't you afraid to touch me?"
"Afraid? Why should I be?"
"Well...," he sounded as if he had never been asked this before,"I am a monster, you know."
"Hmmm...I don't think so."
"Wh-What do you mean? Of course I am, look at me"
"Well, you ARE a little scary looking, but monsters are big, and hairy and eat little children, and, and, steal chickens. You don't steal chickens, do you?"
He chuckled softly."No, I've never even left the cathedral before."
I opened my eyes wide."You mean you live hear? And you've never played outside, or, or been to the market?"
"How could I go outside? What would people say?"
I was confused. I had met ugly people before. The fish woman in the market was no sight for sore eyes, and the baker downtown had enough warts on his face to pass for a witch in a storybook, but ugly enough to not be allowed outside? True, at first he had frightened me a bit, but I could look at him now as though I had known him all my..."Oh," I suddenly realized, though I did not speak aloud. If people are frightened enough, they will do anything to keep what frightens them away from them. Even now I could not help but keep my eyes away from his face."That is not fair," I said.
He looked suprised. What a strange little boy this was! He had obviosly dealt with more than I had in his short life. He did not respond.
"It must be fun to live in the cathedral," I tried to say.
"Well, you must get to meet lots of children."
He shook his head. "You are the first child i have ever met."
"I'm not allowed to talk to other people," he answered quietly.
"But then, how is it that you are talking to-oh." I was suddenly very embarassed. I might have caused my new friend to be in trouble. I started to walk away.
I spun around, surprised. He had his hand reached out, as if to stop me. He had even taken a step out of his eave in the wall. His pale skin turned a deep red, and he stepped back to where he was, head down.
For a child, I had a deep sense of compassion for this poor, misshapen boy. I ran quietly back to him. I reached out and gently put myhand on his face, raising his chin up to be level with mine. A look of pure shock lite up his face. I smiled. "My mother won't start looking for me for another hour, and if I'm going to be stuck here I want to have something to do. Show me were you live."
He gasped quietly, and hesitated. I smiled at him again, and this time, he smiled shyly back. "Alright," he whispered.
- It was a long climb up the steps to his chambers. After what seemed like hours, we finally reached his home. I gasped in wonder. There were bells everywhere. In a small corner, ther lay a bed, and a desk with a Bible upon it. Bits of stained glass hung in patterns on a small working table in the center of the room, with a scrap of parchment beside them, covered with letters of the French Alphabet. He keep the place tidy; there were very few bits of trash or bird defecations on the floor, even thogh there were lots of birds flying around above our heads.
"It's amazing!" I cried, knowing that no one from the service could hear us. Even still, Quasimodo ran over to me and covered my mouth with his hands. He quickly revived himself,though, and dropped his hands quickly witha look of shame about his face. "I'm sorry," he quickly said,"but if my Master were to have heard you-" he looked at me with sheer terror in his eyes before covering his face with his large hands, weeping softly to himself.
I looked at him in complete shock. None of the town boys ever cried, especially not in front of a girl. (I knew this because, always the tomboy at my age, I mostly spent my days with the young lads of my village.) I ran over to him, realizing that nothing but fear could cause him to act this way. He had now bent down to his knees, and I gingerly bent down upon mine as well. I draped myself over his hunched back, laying my head upon where his shoulder blades should be. I stroked his coase, red hair, and closed my eyes, listening to the sound of his weeping. "There, there," I said to him, as my mother often said to me,"I'm here now."
Gradually, his sobs stopped, and he looked, at me, his eyes red-rimmed but still beautiful. I remember distinctly how beautiful his eyes were at that moment. His tears still wet on his face, he looked as though he had never known anyone like me before. I held his gaze for a minute, and then held out my hand to him to help him stand up. He stared at it, not sure what to do. Slowly, as if he expected me to jerk the hand away from him, he placed his hand into my own. I helped him up, but we did not dropped our hands. He held mine for a long time, I suppose as never having felt human touch before, taking his hands and feeling the lines on mine with his fingers. After a while, he regretfully pulled his hand away. I smiled at him, and he smiled back.
- My mother was not happy that i was not beside her when church service was demanded to know where I had been, and didn't I know how I frightened her when she had to come looking for me?
She seemed upset, so I simply told her that I had gone to play with the bellringer.
Mother stopped, then looked at me with disbelief, then with anger. "Do not EVER leave me in church again, Ashley. And more importantly, do not EVER play with that thing again. Do you understand?"
I was shocked. What was wrong with playing with a friend in church? I had done it many imes before with other children. And why had my mother called Quasimodo a "thing"? He was a boy, like any other, though. granted, he had a few undesireble features. When I inquired this, she spoke vehemently,"That "boy" is a disgusting monster, and if you touch him, or mmearly LOOK at him, you and your children will become as deformed as him."
I could tell thet my mother did not truly believe this, but I thought it not wise to tell her that I had touched, even held his hand, and was not harmed in the least.
That night, I was sent to bed without any supper for running off in church. Hungrily, I crawled up on my bed to gaze out my at the starry sky. I smiled at the stars, thinking of all the events of the day. I saw that one star shone brighter than all of the others. I knew it as the wishing star from my fairytale stories. I thought about what I wanted to wish for tonight, breezing past the usually ideas of wishing for a pony or to become the richest girl in Paris, knowing that I should wish for something importan. I took a deep breath, and whispered,"I wish that Quasimodo and I could be friends forever."
I knew I would find a way, no matter what my mother said. I knew I would.
-Let's skip forward a few years. At this point I was eight years old, and Quasimodo and I had been friends for about two years. He was much more comfortable around me, except I noticed that whenever I went to see him after he had met with his Master, Minister Claude Frollo, he seemed more tense and sad, and didn't sit as close to me as usual.
The way that I had continued to be friends with him was this: After that first Sunday, my mother started watching me a bit more closely, at least for a little while. Quasimodo would look for me from his hideaway eave, and I would signal to him that my mother was watching me too much for me to go play. Soon, though, her trust regained, and she believed that I had forgotten all about the Bellringer of Notre Dame. It was quite the opposite, though. On weekdays, I would go to the great church, and act as if I had come to give the monks flowers, or give some of my mother's cooking to them to give to the poor. He would wait for me in the eave, and I would sneek over to him, and we would o up to his home. Afterwards I would leave the church after about an hour's play, then go to vist my friends in the village, which is what I told my mother that I had been doing when I got home.
It was quite peculiar, the way I visited Quasimodo. He obviosly enjoyed my company, though I was instructed by him to NEVER VISIT HIM BEFORE LUNCHTIME. When I asked him why, he would look away and say that he couldn't explain, then change the subject.
I soon found out the answer to my long asked question. Once, when my curiosity had gotten the better of me, I went into the cathedral about half an hour before lunchtime.I walked into the church, and then saw Minister Claude Frollo making his way to Quasimodo's eave in the way. I lowered my head and curtsied as he walked by. He patted my head as he passed me, and I shuddered. Frollo was only forty or so, but he looked like an old man. With hair as gray as ashes, and a crooked old face with nose that appeared to have been broken,His bony old hand sent shivers down my spine, anI watched him move to our special eave, look about him, and then yank a boy out of stone by the arm he pulled him down a hallway, and then I could see no mor. My first thought was,"Who has hidden in our special hideout?" Then, with a sickening feeling in my stomach, I realizied that the only one who would hide in our special hideout was one of US. And Frollo was his master, so it made perfect sense. I hurried down the hall, hiding behind a statue that guarded the entrance to a large room. It was filled with statues of Saints, and the sun shone brightly through a stained glass window above, yet it seemed shady inside for some reason. My fears were confirmed; Frollo had dragged Quasimodo into the large room, and was now beginning to yell at him Quasimodo cowered on the floor. I was shocked to hear Frollo say such words and speak them in a tone of voice which I had never heard spoken befor in the House of God. I dare not repeat them now.
I watched with horror as I saw Frollo raise his hand, and with a resounding *smack!*, he struck his open hand across Quasimodo's face, the kicked him with a deaf thud. I cringed at the sounds, and I heard him say, in a voice so full of malice and hate,"Hold thy tounge, ugly wretch. Damn the filthy gypsy blood that courses through your twisted and deformed veins."
The predator glided out of the room, and I quickly hid myself in the shadow of Saint Peter. He passed by me, never turning back.
I stared at my friend, crumpled on the floor like a beaten rug, and I ran to him. I draped myself over his back, as I had done before so long ago. I cried for him, as I felt no tears on his precious face. He started, suprised, but when he saw that it was me, he smiled softly. I thought it strange that he did not cry, for I was weeping like a small babe. He reached up, hesitantly, and patted my hair. "Funny," I thought, "that he is comforting me, him just being beaten most cruelly." It was strange, that I, who had gone to comfort him, was now being comforted.
"What is the matter?" His voice sounded as though he had swallowed coarse wool.
"Why, you were horribly beaten, and I thought you to be dead until this moment."
He laugh, hoarse and soft, into my ear."I've had much worse beatings than that, and the only outcomes of it will be that I shall have no lunch today, and maybe a bruise tommorow."
I still continued to weep, though, so he fixed himself into a sitting position and held me tightly in his arms. His words of near two years ago resounded in my ears once more:" I'm sorry, but if my Master were to have heard you-"
Suddenly I felt myself being lifted, and I realized that he was carrying me. He quickly move up a flight of stairs with me, as though weighed nothing at all. We arrived in his chambers. He set me down gently upon his small bed, and I felt like a small child.I hurridly wiped the tears from my face, repeating over and over again,"I'm sorry,I'm sorry..."
He smiled at me.
"You must think me very silly, carrying on like that."
At this, he laughed, which I thought very peculiar."I would never think you silly, Ashley. I am glad that you cared for me."
I looked at. This was indeed the single strangest boy I had ever met."why were you heere today, Ashley?" said he.
I blushed a deep red. "I-I wanted t-to see why you didn't want me here abefore lunchtime."
Quasimodo's entire face changed. He looked at me with anger, and , startled, I jumped off his bed and backed away from him.
"Do you think it is merely because i grow tired of you that I do not want you here? You are the only friend that I posess, and I would do anything to spend all day with you, but my Master, he-," my friend stopped, breathing hard. He realized that he had frightened me, and hung his head, avoiding my gaze.
I soon rememberd that I had brought along food to give to the monks today, and he had no lunch. I carefully took the food out of my basket and placed it at his work table. I took his hand, and guided him over to the meal. He looked up and smiled at me. I smiled back.
-Once more, let us go forward a few years. Actually, quite a few years. Twelve, to be exact.
"Oh, Ashley, won't the festival be fun?" My friend Charlotte was always the fun-loving one, and when a party was approaching, she was always talking about it.
"W-what? Oh yes, the Feast of Fools. I'm sure it will be, Charlotte." Of course, I was exaggerting to please her. I always disliked the Feast of Fools. Drunken people electing a fake pope, and dancing around making fools of themselves just didn't appeal to me the way it did to Charlotte. Plus, I never had much fun when Quasimodo wasn't around.
"What it is, Ashley? You never enjoy the Feast; you stay for half an hour, then go for prayer at Notre Dame. There is such a thing as being too holy, my friend."
It was true. I wouldn't go at all, but Quasi always insisted that I go and enjoy myself. After wards, I would join him back at the cathedral and tell him all about it, year after year. The festival was to be in two days time, and this year, a notorius playright of Paris was to put on a show for us all, then we were to go on with the election of the King of Fools, a title so hartily sought after.
"You know, it's high time you start to live a little! NO man will want to marry a pious, little Saint! You should at least-"
*DING DONG* *DING DONG*
"Sorry, Charlotte, I have to run, I-promised the monks that I would help with poor today!"
"But Ashley, wait!" Charlotte's voice was lost in the distant ringing of bells.
-"I don't see why I need to go every year, Quasi." I was trying to talk some sense into my hunchbacked friend."I mean, Frollo must attend the festival all day, so we have more time to spend with each other."
"No, no, I don't want you to miss out on the fun."
Yes, fun. I knew the real reason that he wanted me to go. He wanted to hear about the festival and find out all that he was missing. Even now I could see the longing in his eyes to go. I decided to change the subject.
"Hey, what's this," I looked across his work table to see a bit of parchment with a picture drawn on it. It was a girl, with medium-length brown hair, plain clothes, and hand-me-down spectacles. I smiled when I realized that it was me.
"Oh! Don't look at that, I-I'm not finished yet." Embarrassed, he smiled shyly and pulled away the parchment.
I smiled at my friend. I now hardly noticed his deformities, having seen what he was really like firsthand, and being around him so often. He caught sight of me staring at him, and quickly turned away, ashamed. I shook my head. Couldn't he tell how much I lov-I mean, cared for him? He meant so much to me as my friend, and I stared at him because I was in such an awe that someone so wonderful would bother to give me the time of day. I touched his face, pulling his chin up to be level with mine. He looked up at me sadly. Sighing, I said,"Quasi, you know I don't-
I was interrupted by seven bongs of the old town clock. With a look of panic on his face, he took my hand and led me quickly to the stairway. "Frollo's coming. Quick, there's a funeral procession today. Take these stairs and blend in with the mourners." With that, he shut the door to the stairwell.
Well that wouldn't be too hard. I was feeling miserable enough to at least look like a mourner. I couldn't explain it, but lately, whenever I left Quasimodo to go home, I felt eminscelly depressed. We almost always had a good time before I left, except for the rare times when Frollo had been extremely cruel to him and he needed comforting, but I still could not help but feel sad every time he shut that door. Of course, I was only friends with Quasimodo. He and I could never look at each other that way; we were best friends. Mind though, I cared for him greatly, and the crack about how much I loved him...that was just a mistake...wasn't it?
-The day of the feast had come. The play was extremely boring; but thankfully, it was only an hour long. The time to elect the King of Fools had come.
Perhaps I had better explain how this is done. A list of fools, both men and women, climbed up onto a stage in the square, try to make the most ghastly face, and whoever does that becomes the King of Fools and is paraded through the streets of Paris like a regular idiot.
I do not enjoy the Feast of Fools.
Anyway, Charlotte and I walked to the square with the crowd, Charlotte yammering all along the way. Soon, everyone was lined up for the contest. A tall gypsy man stood center stage, apparently hosting the contest. He wore a pointed, purple hat, brightly colored clothes, and a mask over his brown eyes. He was quite handsome, though he was clearly older than me by at least ten years. His eyes crossed over to me as he looked across at the crowd, and he winked at me. I blushed shyly, and Charlotte gushed over how handsome he was and how she hoped that he noticed her in the crowd. With her talking of things like love and marriage, I could not help thinking about his dark skin and hair.
Another gypsy was on the stage, this one a woman. She had hair as dark as the man, and skin the color of chocolate candies. Even with her tattered clothes and dirty hair, she was obviously beautiful. Even with her loveliness, I sensed something bad about her. Her aura signaled an evil that wanted to harm me, to harm someone I loved with her charms and nature. I eyed her suspiciously.
The gypsies began to bring people onto the stage for the election. After about ten people had climbed onto the stage, wearing masks that would be torn off before viewing their ghastly faces, I saw the man scan his eyes over the crowd, and speaking in his gorgeous accent, he said'"What? This is all who want to become king? No, that will not do, that will not do at all..." He began to pace back and forth, all the time looking in the crowd for possible kings. His eyes passed over me, then stopped, and looked again. A sly smile spread over his face, and he cocked an eyebrow. He raised his hand and pointed at me.
Suddenly, my world turned upside down as all eyes turned to look at me.
"Of course! You would be the perfect king! Or, well, in this case, QUEEN of Fools!"
The sky turned red, and the crowd all moved toward me, pulling me up onto the stage, while I heard Charlotte repeating, over and over again,"Come on, Ashley, you never have any fun, any fun, any fun..."
The gypsy man grabbed my hands, and as I said no, again and again, he only pulled me up faster. He smiled at me.
"Come...Ashley...join all of us Fools...we get so...lonely...," he said, fingering my hair. And, even now, I could not help losing myself in his deep, brown eyes.
The masked Fools grew closer, but I soon realized that they wore no masks, that their frightening features were but real, and they reached with their long arms toward me, trying to enclose me in their grasp. I looked to my right, and there...there was the lovely gypsy witch that The man squeezed me tighter, and I started to scream, only to be answered by cruel laughter.
I heard a familiar cry, and I looked up to see a face so beautiful and heroic that I nearly cried. It was my hunchback, my beautiful, wonderful hunchback, coming to rescue me from the awful monsters that were attacking me. He swung on a rope tied to a stone gargoyle above. My archangel reached the stage, and as he swung down, the Demon Fools backed away. Quasimodo reached me, and untangled me from the gypsy's arms. He held me in his strong arms, swinging me away from the darkness, out of the burning red sky. We went into the clouds, and I looked up at him. He looked down at me, smiling. I smiled back.
Something was different this time, though. When I smiled, I wasn't satisfied with just the smile as I had been before, and neither was he. I held his smooth cheek, and looked into his blue eyes. I drew closer, slowly shutting my eyes...
But before our smiles could embrace, I saw her. The gypsy vixen was behind him, resting on his back. She looked at me and smiled, an evil, devil's smile, and she pulled my angel away from me. She pulled him away, and he looked back at me with the pain of separation in his eyes, crying out to me, and I cried back as he went farther, and farther, away...
*********************************************************************************************************************** I awoke with a start. The sound of my cries had moved me to awaken, and I was grateful that my mother was a light sleeper, and did not hear me. I wiped the perspiration from my forehead, I sat back on my bed to think of the events which had just occurred in my sleep. Gypsies, Fools, Charlotte, Kings, ropes, clouds, Notre Dame, smiles, holding, Quasimodo, seperation, a Kiss...
A kiss. What a strange dream. I felt so confused. How could I dream about kissing Quasimodo? Unless...
No. I did not love Quasi in that way. I couldn't love him in that way. My friend, my love... two different words in meaning, in life, in sound. I sighed a heavy sigh. When could I have ever felt anything but friendship towards Quasimodo?
Then I remembered.
When I was nine years old, not long after the first "Frollo incident," I had come to the cathedral crying. My mother had gotten mad at me for braking a vase that had been given to her by her mother, and had yelled at me for quite a long time. I had decided that she no longer loved me, if she ever had, and I decided to run away. I would go to live with Quasimodo, and I would hide under bells when Frollo came. It was raining, and by the time I had reached the church, I was soaked. He saw me crying in the sanctuary, and he came to me and brought me to his room. He brought me a blanket, and started a small fire in the corner of the room in a metal bowl. He never said anything, just looked at me to make sure I was okay, all the time with a worried look on his face. I cried some more, and then finally, when at last all my tears had been shed, I let out a shuddering sigh, and dried my eyes on his blanket.
"What happened?" He spoke with the voice of an angel.
I explained my situation, claiming that my mother never loved me, and had good reason not to, that I was worthless and would never deserve nor aquire true love from anyone, nor anything.
He stared at me the entire time, a look of sheer compassion on his face. Not once did he interrupt, nor did he tell me that I was wrong or being overly dramatic. When I had finished ranting, I found a tear left inside, and I closed my eyes as it rolled down my cheek.
At this moment, he stood up, and walked over to me. He gently brushed my tear away with his strong yet delicate hands, and he pulled up my chin to be level with his own, and said,"I will always love you, no matter what."
His ugliness melted away forever at that moment. I no longer saw him as disfigured, but as a compassionate friend who would care for me forever.
The memory brought me to tears, and I saw the truth. Though he had meant love, as in friendship, I would never see it as just that again. His gentleness, his happy smiles, his strength against such great oppression, all fled back to me in warm waves of undying love. I did love Quasimodo.
Quasimodo, my love.
A bright light shone on my bed from my window behind. I looked back, to see the same star that I had wished on so long ago. Feeling as though I was a child again, I turned back, sighed deeply, and wished a similar wish to the one I had made as a child.
"I wish to have Quasimodo to love forever."