Disclaimer: I do not own "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", or the film "Hugo". This was just for fun.
Hugo looked out the window of the Méliès family apartment. It was no longer winter, but the rain had a chilled quality that came with early spring. Sighing, he turned his attention to the clock on the wall: the one that he had recently given a tune up. The clock read 11:20pm.
Sighing a second time, he gave his attention back to their game, "Isabelle...are you done your turn yet?"
"Not quite…patience- these things take time Hugo."
"That's for sure," Hugo rubbed the side of his head to ease a pulsing pain, which he believed was caused by lack of sleep.
They continued their squabbling about turn length until Mama Jeanne told them to quiet down, "Remember please, Georges is upstairs with a fever. He's getting better, but he still needs his sleep."
"Yes, we're nearly done, Mama Jeanne."
"No we're not. Your turn's taken ages...and I've got to go." He stood up and tugged the sweater from the back of his chair around his shoulders, shivering slightly.
"Go? Go where?" Isabelle exclaimed.
"At this time if night? Where could possibly need to go?" Mama Jeanne asked incredulously.
"I don't want to wake Papa Georges when I go tend the clocks in the morning. I've got to wake up early, and I don't want to disturb him."
"But Hugo, surely you can leave in the morning- the station clocks will be fine." Even as she said this, Hugo shook his head and said, "It's still my job to look after the clocks until they find a replacement." He then headed for the door and pulled it open.
Both Mama Jeanne and Isabelle started after him, but he ran out a few feet into the rain and called back, "don't worry-I'll be home by lunch tomorrow-probably even before Isabelle wakes up." He smirked and ran through the downpour. Isabelle made like she was to go after him, but Mama Jeanne placed a hand on her shoulder and shook her head.
"He'll be fine." though the worry was evident in her voice. Isabelle just frowned into the night, then gently closed the door.
Finally, I've made it...
Hugo thought to himself as he nudged a grate I the wall open, and made his way up the stairs to his old bedroom. A few things were covered with dust, but the bed was relatively dust-free, from recent use. Hugo swiped a damp sleeve across his forehead and pulled his soaked sweater off, hanging it on a rung at the end of the bed. He hadn't told his new family, but for the past week or so, Hugo had been feeling poorly. He sighed as he eased himself down, and pulled the thin covers up to his chin. Earlier in the week he had a minor case of the sniffles, but thought nothing of it, just an inconvenience. But Georges got ill a few days later, and took to his bed. Although he was getting better, Hugo blamed himself for Georges getting ill. While Méliès had been getting better, Hugo was getting continually worse; taking breaks to lie down, when he came each day to wind the clocks. Snuggling further into the sheets for warmth, Hugo shivered, his headache getting worse. He hadn't wanted to sleep in the station apartment, but he did not want to wake Méliès when he believed that the man's illness was his fault.
It'll be fine-I'll be better by morning.
His teeth clattered together as he shuddered and sighed further into his mess of blankets. By the time the clock stroked midnight, Hugo was lost in a deep, fevered sleep.
Isabelle tapped her foot on the floor impatiently, "Mama Jeanne, may I go to the station and check on him?"
"Not until after you've finished your brunch darling," Mama Jeanne replied.
Papa Georges added, "He's probably already on his way back here." Spreading more jam on his already thickly layered toast, Georges took a large bite.
"But Papa Georges- Hugo didn't seem well. And he's been taking longer and longer with the clocks the last few days."
"He has been eating less- he's already scrawny as could be. Left half his plate at dinner last night." Mama Jeanne nodded her agreement.
"Well then go, if you're so worried about the lad," Papa Georges said gruffly, but he was becoming worried for Hugo as well.
"Thank you Papa Georges-we'll be right home." she ran to give him a light hug, and then dashed out the door, already wearing a heavy coat and scarf.
When Isabelle arrived at the station, the first thing she noticed was that the big clock that hung down from the center of the ceiling was off by an hour-it said that she arrived at 10am, when she'd left her house at half past. As she moved through the station, she heard people complaining about the time, and how every clock said something different. She frowned while she pried open a small grate and made her way to Hugo's old apartment.
She pushed open the door and called out, "Hugo? Are you in here?"
She heard no reply, but a faint rasping. She moved quickly across the room and found her young friend still bed, but not sleeping peacefully. The sheets were twisted around his legs, and as his breathing quickened, he let out a soft moan.
"Hugo!" she gasped, and laid her hand on Hugo's forehead. His harsh breathing stilled momentarily, and he slowly opened his eyes. "Isabelle? What are you doing here?" he rasped.
"Coming to check on you, silly, its already half past eleven and I... we were worried." she ran her thumb over his forehead one more time, and removed her hand.
Hugo's eyes widened, "Half past eleven! The clocks need to be..." He pulled the covers back and swung his legs over the side if the bed, and before Isabelle could stop him, Hugo tried to stand. When he did, however, he could not hold his weight, and would have crumpled to the ground, if Isabelle had not caught him, and eased him gently back onto bed.
"But Isabelle-I've-" Hugo whined as she pulled the covers back over his shivering body.
"No buts Hugo! I'm going to get the inspector to help me carry you home." she was about to leave when Hugo grabbed her sleeve.
"Please, don't go. Help me up, and we can wind...just the main clock in the-"
"No Hugo! You're quite clearly sick, and you need rest." she reluctantly pulled away, knowing that she needed to get him help quickly. But hesitated, and went back to give his hand a quick squeeze.
"I'll be right back." then she turned and ran down the hall.
The inspector was easy to find. They bundled him up in the Inspectors jacket and the sheets from the bed, and then carried him back to the Méliès home. Isabelle ran ahead and alerted Mama Jeanne and Papa Georges of the situation. Both were shocked, but moved rapidly to prepare Hugo's bed for him.
After getting him settled, the Inspector set his hand on Isabelle's shoulders, and gave a light squeeze, whispering, "He'll be just fine. He's strong, that one."
Hugo slept the rest of the day, and Isabelle did not leave his side until Mama Jeanne forced her to get some sleep. Although still slightly sick, Georges joined his wife in keeping vigil over the boy through the night. At one point, Hugo was tossing and turning so badly from a nightmare that he would have fallen off the bed, had it not been for Papa Georges' gentle hands guiding his head back to the pillow. In the early hours of the morning, Isabelle snuck back into the room to find her Mama and Papa dozing in chairs on either side of the bed. Hugo seemed to be sleeping better, but his cheeks still had a rosy hue.
Suddenly Hugo started to twist in his sheets, and gave out a fevered moan. As Isabelle tried to calm him, the others woke.
"What's the matter?" Georges' voice was thick with sleep.
"I think he's having a nightmare, help me wake him!" but she didn't have to.
Hugo gasped awake a second later, panting and struggling to breath, "There was...fire...is...he okay?"
Isabelle could only frown, sadness evident in her face. Hugo's eyes filled with tears as he spoke, "Please, tell me...he's okay!"
Isabelle didn't know what to say, but pulled him into a gentle hug, and with the help of her mama and papa, eventually coaxed him back to sleep, "Everything will be just fine, Hugo," she whispered into his ear.
Isabelle and her godparents spent the next two days tending to the young boy. He got better slowly, but by the third day became restless.
"Hugo-why did you go to the station that night, knowing how poorly you felt?" Isabelle took the opportunity to clasp his hand, something she'd been finding more excuses to do lately.
"No one else knows how to tend to them, and everyone in the station relies in those clocks...I couldn't let everyone down," Hugo paused, "Please can I return to the station-just to wind the major clocks-they'll be in such disrepair by the time I've returned."
"No…at least, not by yourself." Hugo was as confused as mama and papa, until Isabelle elaborated that he could instruct them what to do.
This worked well, except for Hugo pushed himself too much climbing stairs, or when he strained himself trying to wind one if the bigger clocks instead of giving instruction to someone else. It took them much longer than it normally would have for Hugo on his own, but he realized that the station tunnels were a much less lonely place when they were filled with the laughter of his family.
A month later, Hugo was instructing the new clock tender for the station. The man kept grumbling to himself that a child knew more about clocks than he. Hugo just smiled and continued his directions, knowing that he no longer had to stay hidden in the walls. He had a family waiting for him only a short walk away.