Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunchback of Notre Dame, as it belongs to Victor Hugo and Disney
The next morning I dressed and ate in a frenzy of excitement. The festival was today! I could hear Quasi ringing the bells in the distance, and hoped that he'd work up the courage to attend the festival. For the past years that I've known him, I've tried to convince him every year, but it's never worked. He's too scared of Frollo to attempt to go out of the belltower. But, maybe, today would be different.
I wandered out of the house and towards the direction of the square. Gypsies were everywhere around the square, setting up brightly colored tents for the festival. I grinned at the sight of them everywhere. Everyone was smiling cheerfully, caught up in the excitement of the special day that comes only once a year.
I noticed Clopin was back at his caravan, entertaining the children with his puppets. Wait... One of them looked like Judge Frollo, and the other looked like Quasi!
I hurried over to the caravan just in time to hear Clopin start singing again.
"Now, hear is a riddle to guess if you can
Sing the bells of Notre Dame
Who is the monster and who is the man?
Sing the bells, bells,bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells of Notre Dame!"
I shivered at the power that he held in that simple last note. I could tell in that moment that this was no ordinary gypsy. I didn't know exactly who he was, but for all of his joking manner he held too much power to be like the ordinary gypsies that I see all the time.
The kids showered him with the gold that they were given by their parents, and skipped away beaming happily. Clopin quickly picked up the gold and sweeped it into a small purple bag that he had. He glanced up and saw me, and a bright smile broke across his features. He leaped out of the caravan and bowed to me. "My dear mademoiselle! We meet again!"
I smiled at him, in spite of myself. "Yes, monsieur, it appears that way." I hesitated. "Um, could you please tell me what story you were telling to the children? Because I saw Quasi... I mean..." I quickly gathered my thoughts, feeling a little bit uncomfortable under Clopin's intense dark-eyed stare. "The hunchback, who lives in the bell tower," I quickly amended. "I, uh, was, um, curious! About him..." I trailed off. Although I could lie fairly well to other people, there was something about Clopin that made it hard.
Clopin ignored my babbling. I couldn't blame him. "So, you know Quasimodo, eh?" he mused, glancing up at the belltower. "Hmm." He got a faraway look in his eyes before glancing sidelong at me. "Perhaps you should remind me to tell you sometime."
"But-" I tried to argue, but Clopin put a gloved finger over my mouth, silencing me.
"Hush!" he said cheerfully. "No need to re-tell a dark tale on such a joyful day! For it is the 6th of January, and the Festival of Fools!"
I took a step back from him, effectively removing the finger. Dark tale? What? I thought Quasi was adopted by Frollo when his mother abandoned him... "There's more to the story of how Quasi came under Frollo's care than his mother abandoning him, isn't there?" I asked quietly.
Clopin's eyes seemed to pierce me. He stroked his finely-trimmed goatee thoughtfully. "There isn't much that I'm able to hide from you, is there?" he remarked. Then suddenly, he grinned. "Or is there?" He let out a laugh, holding his sides, and I began to mentally question his sanity.
He shook his head, still chortling softly. "Come, ma cherie! Time to get ready for the Festival!" He grabbed my hand, and took off towards the main square where most of the festivities were set up. Once we were there, he bowed gaily to me and disappeared.
What was the point of that...? I thought, but shrugged it off. I began walking around, seeing everyone laughing and talking in their costumes.
Suddenly, everyone began singing.
"Come one! Come all!
Leave your looms and milking stools
Coop the hens and pen the mules!
Come one! Come all!
Close the churches and the schools
It's the day of breaking rules!
Come and join the feast...of..."
"FOOLS!" A familiar voice rang out, and I saw Clopin slide out from under someone's legs, laughing merrily. He was in jester's costume, and I laughed at the sight of him. He just looked so...ridiculous!
Clopin raced forward and grabbed a guy in a cloak's hand and started swinging him around.
"Once a year, we throw a party here in town!
Once a year, we turn all parties upside down!
Every man's a king and every king's a clown
Once again it's topsy turvy day
It's a day the devil in us gets released!
It's a day we mock the prig and shock the priest!
Everything is topsy turvy at the Feast of Fools!"
I watched as Clopin chased the man in the cloak around, harrassing him while singing the song. The guy looked kind of familiar...maybe I'd seen him around Paris?
Clopin and everyone continued singing as I made my way over to where everyone was dancing. A young man a couple years older than me seized my hand and dragged me with all the other dancers, and we started dancing together.
Everything is upsy-daisy!
Everyone is acting crazy
Dross is gold and weeds are a bouquet
That's the way on topsy turvy day!"
I was laughing, having the time of my life, when everyone switched partners, and my hand met one covered in a black glove. Clopin's masked face grinned down at me, and I realized that I had never seen him without his mask.
"Enjoying yourself?" he inquired casually as we danced.
I nodded, beaming. "Of course! Everything is absolutely amazing!"
He grinned cheekily. "Including me?"
I laughed. "That's debatable..." I teased.
Clopin gave me an exaggerated hurt face. "Ma cherie, I take offense in that comment!"
I grinned. "I know, I'm sorry."
"That's debatable..." Clopin teased as he stopped dancing and gave me a swift bow before disappearing. I was quickly grabbed by another partner and continued dancing.
Beat the drums and blow the trumpets!
Join the bums and thieves and strumpets!
Streaming in from Chatres to Calais!
Scurvy knaves are extra scurvy
On the sixth of 'Januervy'
All because it's topsy turvy day!"
I escaped from the dancers to join a large crowd. The crowd quickly began parting as a large, imposing grey carriage rattled by. It didn't take a scholar to guess who was in it.
Clopin's familiar voice rang out.
As soon as Judge Frollo sat down in his chair, Clopin appeared and began harrassing him.
"Hurry, hurry, here's your chance!
See the mystery and romance!"
Clopin leaped out of Frollo's little stage thing and into the middle of a lot of benches where people were hanging out.
"Come one! Come all!
See the finest girl in France!
Make an entrance to entrance!
Dance La Esmeralda...DANCE!"
Clopin threw down something, and disappeared in a cloud of pink smoke. Almost immediately, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen took his place. She had thick, flowing black hair, and beautiful bright green eyes. She was dressed in a red dress with a tiara on her hand. As she began her dance routine, I admired the way that she did it with a flowing motion.
I wish I could dance...I though wistfully. At least it would be a lot more interesting than reading the Bible all day. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful to the Archdeacon for taking me out of the orphanage, and to the fact that he was doing so much for me...but I wanted to be able to choose what I wanted out of life. Dancing was something that I wanted to learn.
I watched in amazement as the woman, who I assumed to be La Esmeralda, started teasing Frollo. She sat in his lap and leaned forward like she was going to kiss him, but knocked his hat down and leaped away at the last second. I burst into laughter with the rest of the crowd at the shocked look on Frollo's face.
Esmeralda soon concluded her dance, and everyone began throwing gold coins onto the stage, going wild. Clopin appeared on the stage again.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, the piece de resistence!
Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for
Here it is, you know exactly what's in store
Now's the time we laugh until our sides get sore
Now's the time we crown the King of Fools!
You all remember last year's king?" Clopin called to the crowd. The king from last year was carried in, wearing a jester's hat and burping unashamedly.
"So, make a face that's horrible and frightening!
Make a face that's gruesome as a gargoyle's wing!"
I thought I held a faint, "Hey!" of protest at that, but I wasn't completely sure.
"For the face that's ugliest will be the King of Fools! Why?" Clopin called, as he started helping people onto the stage.
"Topsy turvy!" The crowd roared back.
"Ugly folks, forget your shyness!" I saw out of the corner of my eye as Esmeralda helped the man in the cloak onto the stage, without the cloak, but I didn't pay any attention because I was concentrating on Clopin. Someone blocked my view, but I could still hear Clopin singing. "You could soon be called your Highness!"
"Put your foulest features on display!
Be the king of topsy turvy day!" Everyone around me sang.
Esmeralda started pulling masks off of the people, but they were all rejected by the crowd. As soon as they were rejected, a goat kicked them off stage and into a mud pile.
As soon as Esmeralda reached the last person, I watched as she tried to pull his mask off. It struck me as soon as she recoiled in shock from him, just who this was.
"That's no mask!" a man muttered in the crowd.
"That's his face!"
"It's the bell ringer from Notre Dame!" a man near me shouted.
"Quasi..." I whispered, as I saw his face fall, and he looked around nervously. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Frollo stand up and stare at Quasi in shock and anger. I desperately cast my gaze around for Clopin and finally found him. He glanced at me, and I quickly mouthed, Do something! He gave a quick nod and leaped onto the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, don't panic. We asked for the ugliest face in Paris, and here he is! Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame!" Clopin called, trying to keep things festive. It worked. The bi-polar people of France were ecstatic and quickly Quasi was crowned king, and borne away by the crowd.
Everyone continued singing.
"Once a year we throw a party here in town!
Hail to the king!
Once a year we turn all Paris upside down!
Oh, what a king!
Once a year the ugliest will wear a crown!"
As they passed under a booth, Clopin called up, "Girls, give a kiss!" Two girls kissed Quasi on the cheek, and he blushed.
"Once a year, on Topsy Turvy Day!
We've never had a king like this
And it's a day we do the things that we deplore
On the other three-hundred and sixty-four!"
Clopin and the crowd continued singing, and I watched in happiness as Quasi was given a robe and a staff. I saw a tear of happiness go down his cheek. I was near tears myself, to see him so happy like this. Finally, just maybe he would be accepted by the citizens of Paris!
"Topsy turvy day!" the crowd finished, and Clopin disappeared off of the stand. Quasi remained, and the crowd called out his name, giving him flowers. I beamed as I watched my little-brother-figure revel in the affections of the crowd. Though...he was older than me...So brother-figure.
I heard behind me a guard snicker, "You think he's ugly now? Watch this!" A tomato was thrown and hit Quasi in the face. I stiffened in shock, and everyone in the crowd went silent.
"Hail to the king!" another guard yelled out, and more tomatoes were thrown. Soon everyone started throwing food at him. He tried to get away, but a man started swinging a rope, tied as a lasso.
"Where ya going, hunchback? The fun's just starting!" he yelled, and used the rope to keep Quasi on the wheel. More ropes were thrown to trap Quasi.
"Stop it! Stop it!" I screamed to the crowd, but no one heard me. No one wanted to hear me. I began to push my way desperately through the crowd towards the stage, wishing that Clopin would turn up and stop this. He didn't, though, and it went on.
I reached the stage, and started up the stairs. I could hear light footsteps behind me, and the whole crowd went silent. I realized that Esmeralda, dressed in a normal gypsy dress, was beside me as I knelt down next to Quasi.
"Quasi? Are you alright?" I asked, my voice quavering. I immediately began to berate myself. What a stupid thing for me to ask! Of course he wasn't!
Quasi flinched away from me as I reached out a hand to him, and my heart wrenched. "Don't be afraid," I whispered. "It's me, Emmie."
Esmeralda gently untied her wrap and gently wiped his face. "I'm sorry. This wasn't supposed to happen," she murmured to him.
"You two! Gypsy girls! Get down from there at once!" Frollo yelled from behind us. He thought I was a gypsy? I had dark hair, but that was pretty much the extent of the similarities. We both stood up and turned around, and I could see the shock in Frollo's face as he recognized me.
"Yes, your Honor. Just as soon as I free this poor creature," Esmeralda called to him. This sight of him glaring at the both of us was enough to quell my tongue for the moment, though.
"I forbid it!" Judge Frollo yelled back, quivering with anger. He set his sights on me. "You! You're a respectable girl, a ward of a respectable figure! Stop with this foolish nonsense and leave, immediately!" he yelled.
I turned my back on him, too scared to give him defying words, but yet too stubborn to leave Quasi like this. Esmeralda leaned down and grabbed a dagger that she had strapped to her leg, and cut Quasi's bonds. I reached out my hand, helping Quasi stand up.
"How dare you both defy me!" Frollo snarled.
"You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!" Esmeralda called to him in anger.
"Silence!" Frollo screamed.
"Justice!" Esmeralda retaliated, holding her dagger up in defiance.
Frollo pointed a pale finger at us. "Mark my words, gypsy! You will pay for this insolence." His eyes narrowed at me. "Don't think I haven't forgotten you, girl! You will not get away with your treacherous acts!" I felt a surge of anger fly through me. Treacherous? HE'S the one commiting treacherous acts!
"Then it appears we've crowned the wrong fool," Esmeralda said sweetly. "The only fool I see here is YOU!" She tossed the crown, and it landed at Frollo's feet.
I couldn't help it. A small laugh escaped me, and it seemed to echo louder than the gasps of the people. My heart went cold at the look of ballistic anger on Frollo's face. "Captain Phoebus!" he yelled. "Arrest them!"
Captain Phoebus, I guessed, looked grim as he motioned to the guards to close in on us. Esmeralda, however, seemed unconcerned as she began counting the guards. "Let's see...One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine... Ten of you and two of us." She started pulling a purple hanky from the top of her dress. "Oh! What's a poor girl to do?" When she blew her nose in the hanky, pink smoke surrounded us, and I felt myself being pushed by light hands. I was caught by someone, and picked up bridal style, and I could feel them racing away. I couldn't see anything at the moment because the smoke was still lingering in my eyes, and also I had my eyes closed because I was too scared to look. I didn't want to open my eyes to see an enemy.
After what seemed like a long time, but was only about a minute, I felt my captor set me down, leaning me against a wall. "Emmie?" a familiar voice asked, and I opened my eyes to see Clopin. He was out of the jester costume and into a light blue outfit, with a purple shawl thrown over his shoulders. He still had a matching blue hat with the yellow feather. I noticed with a small flicker of surprise that he didn't have his mask on. He looked...so different without it. More serious, and more imposing.
"Wha-what happened?" I asked, my voice quavering.
"We had to get you out of there. You could have been captured by Frollo, or killed." His eyes pierced me. "What do you think you were doing?" he asked quietly, the most serious I've ever seen him before, except when he was interrogating me after I tried to save him from the guards.
I swallowed. "I had to help Quasi. I didn't think that anyone else would. You see...other than the Archdeacon, and Sofia, he's the closest thing to a family I have. I had to help him. It was partly my fault...I convinced him to come to the festival."
He sighed, and covered his face with one hand. "Remind me to work on this saving people thing that you have."
I felt a spark of anger at that comment. "Why? What's wrong with that? What's wrong with wanting to help other people, especially when people like the guards aren't willing to help?"
Clopin moved so fast, that one moment, he was holding his head in one hand, then next his arms were on either side of my head, bracing himself against the wall. He leaned in towards me, his eyes fixed on my face with frustration. "What's wrong with it is that you don't know how to defend yourself. You could easily get hurt. You shouldn't be tangled up in all of this."
Angry, I ducked under his arm and started walking to the entrance of the alley. "Thanks for getting me out of there, monsieur. Excuse me, but I believe I'll go home," I said flatly, forgetting for second that I was a fugitive now.
I heard soldier's voices yelling somewhere close by, and I stopped, afraid. Clopin leaped forward and grabbed me, pinning me to his chest as he ducked into a doorway of an abandoned house. He pressed me into the door, trying to avoid being seen by the guards as they came to the alley entrance. I blushed at how close he was, and at the fact that I could feel every aspect of his muscular chest. My face was pressed into his shoulder, and I turned my head to the side so I could breathe. His scent was very overwhelming...
"Should we check this alley?" a soldier asked.
Another soldier deliberated as he glanced in. "No. I don't see anyone. Let's move on. We were informed that the gypsy girl took refuge in Notre Dame, but we still need to find the ward. Let's go!" There was a clanking of armor as they moved off.
Clopin stepped away from the door a little bit, still keeping his arm around my waist. "You're a wanted fugitive by Frollo," he whispered to me. "You won't be able to go home. But there is a place where you can go, other than Notre Dame?"
"The Court of Miracles."
Hey everyone, here's the next chapter. Please review and tell me how you like it :) Also, yes, I did the cliché thing where the OC goes up and helps Quasi, but if Emmie didn't, then it wouldn't fit her character. So please forgive me for that :)
Ma cherie: My dear