Chapter 1: My Story
You all know the story of Quasimodo. When his parents arrived in Paris that winter night, they were betrayed and Judge Claude Frollo arrested his father and killed his mother on the steps of the cathedral, nearly killing him as well before the archdeacon stopped him.
Before I almost ran out of hiding to save my baby brother.
When the small boat pulled up along the shore, my father helped me out, then my mother, preparing to pay for safe passage into Paris. It was then the guards began pouring out of one of the alleys. "Asperity run!" my father pushed me away into the darkness and I ran, my feet going numb from the cold. I think I stepped on a rock and cut my bare foot, but I couldn't feel it. It was too cold.
Far away I heard a horse scream and I ran faster. I tripped a lot. I was only five and I was being chased like a murderer. At least I thought.
When I turned a corner, I saw the cathedral and I ran towards it, tears rolling down my dark face, trying to get in. that's when I heard my mum on the other side. I ran as fast as I could to get to the front side but when I reached the corner, I saw the bundle of my brother being held above the well. I wanted to run towards the evil looking man in black robes to take my brother away but someone yelled to stop. I hid in the shadows and saw the archdeacon holding the dead body of my mother. The tears flowed faster now and I ran again, away. My family was gone. I had nowhere to go. I wandered all night long, finally collapsing at the gates of the cemetery.
That's where Clopin found me. He picked me up and took me down to the court of miracles. He was eight. His mother bandaged my foot and fed me a little of the food they had. They asked me where I was from and where my family was. I told them I came from England, that my father had been captured, and my mother was dead. That the evil looking man in the black robes had killed her. I didn't know what had happened to my brother.
After a few days, Cornelius' family took me. It was smaller than Clopin's and had more room. That's when I met Esmeralda. She was three. We became like sisters and along with Clopin and Cornelius (no one really liked him very much), we caused mayhem around the Court of Miracles. Eight years later, as Esmeralda and I began to learn to fortune tell and dance and perform with Clopin the streets for money (we learned to dance in general at four), a commotion broke out at the mouth of the Court where Cornelius was staggering in with a man slumped on his shoulders. We crept closer for a better look and then I recognized the man being carried.
"Father!" I ran towards him.
At the sound of my voice, he looked up and faintly smiled as he let go of Cornelius and knelt down to pull me into a hug. "Father! You're alive!" I started to cry. "What happened? I was frightened, I thought you were dead."
"Just a moment child." He rocked back onto his heals and sat down, grunting, yet still holding on to me and stroking my thick, black hair. His blue eyes were sparkling with energy, yet his body wouldn't move. "I escaped last night from the prison. Cornelius found me and brought me here. It has taken me these past eight years to escape that hell."
He grew stronger each day and soon became a very respected gypsy of the Court. The day I turned sixteen, he gave me the earrings and bracelets my mother had worn. She had taken them off the night we traveled into Paris to keep from making noise. My father had kept them safe all these years and now they were mine.
Esmeralda and I became beautiful young women and brought in more money than most. My father did not approve of my dancing with Clopin, only because he favored Cornelius more as he was the one that brought him to the Court. No matter that Clopin had taken me in. my father was a very prideful man.
Many nights, after everyone was asleep, I would creep out of the caravan I lived in with my father and join Clopin on his watch. Sometimes I cried for my mother, other times for my brother, and sometimes we just talked. He became like an older brother to me, more so than Cornelius.
Six years after that, I was dancing along with Esmeralda later than usual when a troop of drunkards came through. They tossed us the remainder of their money and left, except for one. When Esmeralda and I left, he grabbed me by one arm and covered my mouth. He tried to rape me but someone saved me. I didn't see who it was, but I didn't stick around to find out. I was too frightened. I ran for the cathedral. I thought that maybe someone would come after me and I ran up the stairs to the bell towers. It was childish and ridiculous, but I hid among the bells and fell asleep among the rafters.
At dawn the next day, the bells started ringing, jolting me out of my sleep. I fell off, but somehow was awake enough to grab them before I fell too far. I silently dropped down to the floor and meant to just leave. Rainbow lights dancing across the floor caught my attention and when I looked up, I saw a tiny town on a table. I gazed at it in awe at the incredible craftsmanship and lightly ran my fingers over the buildings.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
I jumped at the new voice. I hadn't even realized the bells had stopped ringing.
"Who are you?" a shadow moved just beyond my sight.
"I'm Asperity. I'm sorry I didn't know anyone lived up here. I just… I got scared last night and ran up here. I don't know why. I'm sorry."
"You're a gypsy. A witch. A monster."
"I am not!" I stomped my foot. What is it with these people and their stereotypes? "Who told you that we were? Have you ever met one?"
"No. I haven't met anyone, other than my master, Judge Frollo."
I stopped pacing at that. His master? "Come into the light." I beckoned the man (judging by the voice) to come out of the shadows with a wave of my hand.
He hesitantly stepped forward. He had a hunchback and one eye was swollen. His head was topped with a mop of red hair and he had thick arms. I gasped in recognition.
"My name is Quasimodo."
He had my mother's eyes. I had rocked him to sleep many-a-night while my parents were out looking for food. My mother had been devastated that he had come out like this, but we all came to love him even more. My mother had died trying to protect him. And Judge Claude Frollo, the evil looking man in black robes had taught him to know his own kind, and himself, as monsters. That is what Quasimodo means.
"No. No, you were called Athelstan. Mother named you. She died trying to protect you."
"My master told me that my mother died and that he was the only one that would care for me."
"I would have… but I thought that he drowned you… You are my brother." I sat on my knees in front of him. "You are my baby brother." I smiled through my tears and hugged him.
He slowly hugged me back and I felt something in him change, as if he realized that I was right and that I was his older sister. Oh how I missed him.
"Don't tell anyone."
"Why not? Father will be thrilled!"
"I don't want to leave here. This is where I live. I'm… happy here."
My face fell but I agreed, although I caught his hesitation. "I'll come visit you as much as I can." I kissed his cheek gently and then ran out. "Good bye for now, Athelstan." I was in a state of euphoria when I arrived back at the court of miracles and before I could go to my father, Clopin was there, pulling me into a bone crushing hug.
"Why did you run off? I searched everywhere for you all night long! Your father is worried and Esmeralda is fretting."
"I'm sorry. Were you the one that saved me last night? Thank you. I thought someone was going to come after me so I ran."
I told my father and Esmeralda that I had lost my way in the dark and spent the night in the cathedral. Clopin never told a soul that I had almost been raped. I was thankful for that. And I never told anyone that I had found my baby brother, but I visited him often.
Twenty three years after that fateful winter night, a week before the Festival of Fools, Clopin and I were dancing in the square where he held his puppet shows. One of my earrings fell out and rolled away. I went to retrieve it when suddenly Judge Claude Frollo appeared, thundering through on his black horse and nearly trample me. Clopin tackled me and we rolled away, saving my mother's earring as well as our lives. It left bruises, and a lasting impression on me since he had landed on top of me, covering my head until the rest of Frollo's guard had passed. I never realized how strong he was. I thought he hardly ever ate. It was then I realized that I was beginning to love him, or that I did love him as more than just a friend; more than just a brother.
It wasn't until the next week that, dressed in my green and yellow striped corset overtop my white petticoat with my red gypsy's belt over my blue-green skirt, while I was dancing with Esmeralda, Djoli, Jacque, and Francis, when a certain blond haired man found us and two rude guards tried to take the money we had earned.
It was the start of a very bad day.