"No, no! you're doing it wrong," I sighed impatiently as I grabbed my Flute out of his hands once more, "Remind me again why I have to settle with your germs on this? I might destroy it after these lessons and buy another."
"Ah, I am sure you will not be able to afford to buy one around here, dear." Clopin smirked.
"There are other ways." I muttered, immediately regretting it as soon as the words fell off of my tongue.
"Well, my dearest Genevieve, I never had you down as a thief."
"There's a lot you don't know about me, let's keep it that way."
"You still have to reveal a secret to me each day though, that will not change." He stated.
"We'll see. Now, for the tenth time, it's like this," I said, bringing the Flute to my lips once more as I played a simple tune slowly, "I swear if you don't get it right this time I'm not teaching you anymore, this is wasting my time."
"But alas, what better things do you have to do than to spend your time with me?" He grinned, taking the Flute out of my hands before bringing it to his lips and playing the tune perfectly.
I narrowed my eyes, "You knew how to play it since I first showed you didn't you?"
He chuckled shortly, "Of course, but what better way to infuriate you than by testing your patience?"
"I hate you."
"So you keep saying, I find it hurts less each time those words leave your mouth."
I reached out and hit him across the head as hard as I could, feeling slightly satisfied as I heard him curse in French under his breath.
"Why must you insist on getting on my nerves? I mean I know that you have a huge ego but can you not take it somewhere else for heavens sake?" I seethed, glaring at him before standing up abruptly.
"And just where are you planning on going? This is far from over!" He exclaimed, rubbing the back of his head.
"In case you haven't noticed, it's gone one in the morning, meaning I don't want to be a zombie for the feast of fools so I can enjoy the privileged time I'll have without having to be in your company, but here," I said, tossing the Flute into his lap with a swift motion, "Knock yourself out."
"Wake up, Genevieve! It's Topsy Turvy day!" Esmeralda exclaimed, tearing the covers off of me before shaking my shoulders roughly.
"Just five more minutes." I muttered, pulling the pillow from underneath me and placing it over my head in order to block out the noise, it didn't prove to be of much use though as the weight suddenly shifted on my small bed before Djali jumped on top of me and began bleating loudly.
I sighed, rolling onto my side as he landed next to me before licking my face once, "Why couldn't you just let me have five more minutes?" I whined.
"Because we have been dreaming about celebrating this day for so long, and I would be a bad cousin if I let you miss even the smallest bit of it, so get up!" She demanded, chucking the covers on the floor beside my bed before walking out of the bedroom.
"Why is she such a pain, Djali?" I chuckled as I climbed out of bed slowly before grabbing everything I needed for the day and making my way out of the door hurriedly before entering the bathroom. I sighed happily to myself as I began to change, I could not express my feelings about finally being able to celebrate the festival of fools. I knew straight off the mark that it was going to be unlike anything I could have possibly imagined, I also knew that whatever happened, it would be something I would remember for the rest of my life. Nothing exciting ever really happened in our old town as it was very small and also very dismal, and just from being in our current one for the space of three days I'd been thrown into the deep end of excitement and had the opportunity to meet some great characters, people who had the ability to make me feel at ease when I felt at war with myself even though they couldn't see that themselves, but I couldn't have been more appreciative. I made my way out of the bathroom and walked the short distance into the bedroom, placing my previous clothing back in my backpack I then scooped Djali up off of my bed, into my arms, before carrying him out.
"Esmeralda!" I called out, spotting her across the hall conversing with Clopin as she uttered a few words to him before making her way over to Djali and I.
"I need to talk to you," I stated as she raised an eyebrow before motioning with her hand for me to continue, "You know I'm all for antics and fun, but please try and refrain from doing anything foolish up on stage later, alright?"
She let out a short laugh as I placed Djali down on the floor before pulling me into a tight embrace, "I never do anything foolish on purpose, don't worry about me Gen, I'll be fine."
I nodded as I pulled away from her, my eyes landing on Clopin who was making his way over to us, his hands behind his back once more. I eyed him suspiciously as Esmeralda spun around to see what was going on before shaking her head, muttering something under her breath that I didn't quite catch, and walking off and making her way over to Pierre.
"Hello, Genevieve." He smiled, bowing slightly.
"What have you done?" I questioned, narrowing my eyes at him and his odd behaviour.
"What makes you think I have done anything? Can I not just be incredibly nice to you?"
"Oh let's just forget the niceties and get this over with, I burned your Flute as it wasn't working for me. I'd say I'm sorry but that would be half of a lie." He declared as my mouth fell open in shock. Anger immediately swelled up inside of me as I clenched and unclenched my fists before taking a step toward him as he automatically stepped back.
"You did what?! how dare you! Do you know how much I went through to get that?!" I screamed, taking another step towards him, "I swear Clopin you have just made the biggest-"
"Here!" He exclaimed in panic, removing his hands from behind has back in order to reveal a mesmerising blue wooden Flute engraved with a range of intricate patterns along it's body. I stared at it in awe briefly as I glanced between him, the Flute, and back again. He didn't say a word as he tossed it into my hands before spinning on his heel and running off rather hurriedly, declaring out loud that it was time for the festival of fools as the Gypsies cheered in unison, following his retreating figure out of the hall and into the sewer.
"Aren't you coming? Whoa, who's Flute is that?!" Sara gasped, taking it out of my hands and studying it carefully, turning it over a couple of times to examine each detail.
"Mine, I guess?" I questioned rather than confirmed as she handed it back to me.
"You guess?" She asked, bemused.
"Clopin burned my other one so I guess this is a way of making sure I don't take his head off. I wouldn't be surprised if it is stolen or if it falls apart in a couple of hours, anyway." I scoffed, stowing the Flute away in my pocket.
"I think I remember seeing this Flute once before on my travels around the town a short time back on one of the stalls as everyone gazed at it in longing as they passed, if it is the same one then it's very-"
"Hurry up, you two! The festival is about to begin!" Pierre shouted as he ran over to us, pushing us both apart in order to get in between us before entwining his left hand with my right and his right with Sara's left before pulling us along quickly.
Hundreds of people littered the town square as there was hardly any bare ground in sight, I had honestly never seen so many people in my lifetime. Sections were marked off where people could not stand as that would be where the range of events and performances would take place, but aside from those specific areas it was well and truly crowded. Many more decorations had been put up, looking more magnificent and beautiful than ever before as massive flags were hung from the lamp posts and tiny different colour flags connected all the houses and businesses together, almost as if they were showing unity in all of the community for this one day. A grin made its way across my face as I gazed around at not only the decorations, but also at the many faces in astonishment.
"Pierre, do you know where Esmeralda is?" I questioned rather loudly as it was hard to hear let alone speak over the buzz of the crowd.
He nodded as he pointed to a red tent a couple of meters from where we were standing, almost hidden away by the range of other brightly coloured tents among it. I thanked him before making my way through the crowds upon crowds of people in order to reach the less crowded tent area as I recognised Clopin's voice declaring loudly that it was time to celebrate the feast of fools before the starting multi-coloured confetti began to rain from the sky, causing the town folk to cheer loudly in delight. I breathed a sigh of relief as I finally made my way out of the now dancing crowd before making my way over to my destination. I stepped inside the extremely spacious tent, noticing Esmeralda's silhouette behind a red curtain held up by a wooden rod.
"Genevieve, is that you?" She called out as Djali made his way over to me, bleating happily.
"No, it's a monster." I replied sarcastically before laughing, noticing her shake her head disapprovingly at me from behind the curtain.
"I often ask myself how I got stuck with a cousin like you." She chuckled as she continued moving around and changing into what I assumed was her costume for the performance.
"Well [I]I[/I] often ask myself how-" I began but didn't finish my sentence as the next few moments happened so fast. A great force hit me from behind as I found myself thrown forward, straight into the stool that was placed in the middle of the tent just as Esmeralda's curtain was pulled off the rod completely as she screamed loudly, covering herself up with a gown as Djali dashed away from the chaos frantically. My head made contact with the side of the stool and I groaned out loud in pain, glancing at my surroundings as soon as my eyes focused, only to gasp out loud, completely ignoring Esmeralda's cries of what was happening as I gazed at the poorly disguised man now beside me.
"Quasimodo?" I whispered, standing up quickly as I rubbed the side of my head.
"Genevieve, you know him? Oh never mind, you're not hurt are you?" Esmeralda questioned, moving closer to him.
"G-Genevieve? I didn't mean to, I-I'm so sorry!" He panicked, attempting to conceal himself.
"Here, let's see," She pushed, pulling the top of his cloak off as he protested, "There? See, no harm done. Just try to be a little more careful." She smiled as I glanced between the two of them in complete shock.
"I-I will. I-I'm sorry again, B-Bye, Genevieve." He said hurriedly as he quickly made his way to the entrance of the tent.
"By the way, great mask." Esmeralda compliment as my eyes widened at her extremely inaccurate words. Quasimodo stopped and stared at her for a moment before shaking his head and exiting hurriedly.
"Esmeralda, he's-" I couldn't finish my sentence as she began to push me out of the tent.
"Quick! I only have a few minutes to get changed so you need to go." She demanded as she continued to push me along.
"But you do not understand! He-"
"You can tell me later, wish me luck Gen!" She said before giving me one last push out of the tent and running back inside.
I sighed as I shook my head, scanning around nearby for any sign of Quasimodo. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I couldn't spot him anywhere, keeping a look out as I made my way through the crowd once more in order to find Sara and Pierre. I prayed to god that Quasimodo would be okay, all I wanted to do was just go and search for him, which was extremely strange for me as I did not care very much for others, unless it were Esmeralda and Djali. I don't mean that I loathed everyone else, it was just that I had boundaries, I could deal with friendship and the small amount of caring that goes into those relationships, but that was it. Although when it came down to Quasimodo, and I knew how much of a monster he had for a master, I just knew in my heart of hearts that I needed to care for him as I am sure no-one else had much. I watched as lines of people began to dance along in the spaced areas as one, just before a rather strange and dark looking carriage came into view, and to my surprise, had the blonde guard, well, captain as I could then tell, from the previous day following behind it on his pure white horse accompanied by a few other guards. The carriage came to a halt as one of the guards removed himself from his horse in order to open the door as a tall grey haired man, dressed in clothing that conveyed his authority withdrew from it, a cold sneer plastered on his face. I narrowed my eyes as I realised that he could only be one person, the one person who everyone in this town feared. Frollo. He made his way over to his own separate booth, equipped with it's own high chair as I noticed Clopin make his way over to him, whisper something and nudge him in the arm before running away. I couldn't help but scoff at Frollo's displeased look as he wiped his arm in disgust. I followed Clopin's movements as I noticed him make his way over to someone, and it only took a second for me to click that it was Quasimodo, before he pulled him over to the stage nearest to us.
"See the finest girl in France, make an entrance to entrance, dance la Esmeralda, dance!" Clopin exclaimed, shaking his fist before in a blink of an eye and a cloud of red smoke he disappeared and she appeared on the stage.
Dressed in a long yet slightly low front cut red dress that was complete with two light purple sleeves and a purple waist section that dipped downwards slightly, as well as the golden tiara encrusted with a large red stone in the centre that was placed upon her head; all in all, Esmeralda looked absolutely breathtaking. My cousin danced her way across the stage, tambourine in hand as the crowd began to cheer loudly, the majority being the men, something I rolled my eyes at. Dropping the tambourine, she pulled out a thin purple scarf that was clad in stars before jumping across the rectangular section of the stage over to Frollo, getting up on the wooden piece in front of his chair before wrapping the scarf around his neck, his facial expression utterly bewildered as she smiled mischievously before pushing his hat down roughly then prancing away. I smirked myself, glad in a way that she didn't take my advice about not pulling anything foolish as I, for one, was extremely amused. She began to dance once more, cart wheeling as she went before grabbing a guards spear, thrusting the head into the ground before throwing herself around it in an almost elegant way, causing the crowd to go completely wild as they began to chuck coins as she landed on the floor softly, nodding her head as she finished her routine. I began to clap and whistle as I noticed Clopin running up on to the stage once more.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen: the pièce de résistance! It is time to crown the king of fools!" He announced as Esmeralda stood up, collecting a couple of coins as she went.
"You all remember last years king?!" He continued as the crowd cheered in acknowledgement at the man who was dressed in a rather ridiculous king of fools costume got carried through the hoards of people in this own chair.
Clopin began pulling numerous people who were dressed in costumes up on the stage to compete for the title of this years king, however I noticed something rather peculiar out of the corner of my eye; Esmeralda had just outstretched her hand to Quasimodo in order to pull him on the stage, and he accepted it. I cursed under my breath as I looked for an opening somewhere within the crowd in order for me to push my way through and somehow disrupt the crowning in order for it not to be revealed that it was infact his real face, as I could tell how these people would react. Esmeralda led him over to stand next to the other contestants as I began to inwardly panic. Considering I couldn't find an opening I created one myself, pushing roughly through the crowd and ignoring their protests, but as there were so many people my movements weren't all that quick. I began to push frantically as I noticed Esmeralda pulling off the heads of people's costumes as they pulled stupid faces before the crowd would boo and Djali would push them off the stage. I'd finally managed to push myself to the front row, but I was a minute too late as Esmeralda grabbed Quasimodo's face, attempting to pull the "mask" off, but when it didn't budge, she gasped loudly.
"That's no mask!" A man in the crowd shouted, pointing at Quasimodo.
Murmurs began to flutter amongst the crowd as a woman nearby shouted, "It's his face!" and another one joined in with the disgusting words of, "He's hideous!"
The man stood next to me's eyes widened in realisation as he exclaimed, "It's the bell ringer from Notre Dame!"
"Stop! Just all of you be quiet!" I shouted, my voice getting drowned out as the murmurs and gasps grew louder. My gaze landed on Quasimodo who buried his face in his hands.
"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 cheered, placing a crown on his head as I scoffed in displeasure at his horrible choice of wording, although slightly grateful as it did turn the panic into cheers of joy. Confetti began to fall from above once more as a couple of crowd members jumped up on the stage and hoisted Quasimodo up and carried him off of it whilst Clopin flipped over their heads, landing in front as the crowd separated in order to create a path. I smiled as I pushed through the crowd and followed after them, happy that Quasimodo seemed genuinely happy as the old king got chucked out of the chair and was replaced with Quasimodo as he continued to be carried along. Two girls leaned down and kissed him on each cheek as he waved at Frollo, who did not look pleased in the slightest. Quasimodo got taken to a platform in the middle of the square where Clopin placed a royal robe around his shoulders and handed him a sceptre whilst the crowd began to dance in circles around him, as I noticed him shed a tear of happiness when I finally managed to get to the front. Flowers were thrown as the people screamed his name adoringly only moments before all hell started to break lose. It started with one of the guards throwing a tomato at his face as the crowd gasped as one, then another one got thrown, then another and then they all came pelting forward at once.
"Stop!" I screamed, pushing a man next to me hard enough for him to drop the tomato he was about to throw.
"Stay out of this, Gypsy! You don't belong here, just like he doesn't!" He spat, turning his attention back to the stage before hysterically laughing as Quasimodo fell onto his back after sliding on a half squashed tomato on the floor. As he stood up once more a man swung a noose of rope and threw it around his neck, pulling him down onto the floor as other people took this as their cue to join in by tossing rope as his other body parts, and no matter how much he tried to break free and pull out of their grasp, they still over powered him. They tied him down onto a wheel as I screamed in protest when they began to spin him around, Quasimodo cried out helplessly for Frollo to help him but he did no such thing. I shoved people out of my way on each side of me so I had a little bit of space as I attempted to scramble upon the stage in order to free him, although I didn't get very far as I felt myself being pulled backwards as I began to claw my fingers into the wood of the platform, determined to push them off as I began to kick out in all directions.
"Let go of me!" I screamed as I continued to scramble, locking eyes with Quasimodo as he continued to spin around, "You're all animals!"
I felt the grip on me loosen completely as I heard the beginning of some commotion and raised voices behind me that I wasn't interested in, until once I moved forward again, finally in reaching distance of Quasimodo, I was pulled off the stage completely.
"Get your hands off me!" I screamed as I began to thrash around in whoever held me's arms in order to break free, "I hate you all!"
"Genevieve, calm down!" Clopin insisted as he held onto me tightly but I paid him no attention.
"You're just as bad! You called him ugly, how could you be so cruel?! Can't you see he hasn't got a friend in the world!" I yelled as I struggled to get out of his grip as he carried me through the crowd. Everyone stared at me with complete dismay as we passed, but I didn't care in the slightest, I glared at them all with such hatred as we reached a clear space at the back of the crowd. I stopped fighting for a moment as my eyes flickered onto the stage, noticing everyone fall silent as my cousin, now free of her costume, made her way on to the platform and over to Quasimodo. I swear I felt my heart swell with pride as she bent down before beginning to wipe off some of the stains on his face.
"Put me down this instant!" I demanded in defeat, completely out of energy to fight my way out any more.
He muttered under his breath before obliging, putting me down before wrapping his arm around my shoulders, almost in a way of ensuring I wouldn't run off and try and climb upon the stage once more.
"You know if I wasn't too tired I'd have cut your arm off by now, right?" I stated.
"I know." He replied shortly.
I placed my head on his shoulder hesitantly as I began to calm down, "Don't get used to this either, I still hate you. I think that you are a horrible human being and I can't express how much I loathe you."
Before he had a chance to reply though, Frollo's voice echoed loudly throughout the square.
"You, Gypsy girl! get down at once!"
"Yes, your honour. Just as soon I free this poor creature." She insisted.
"I forbid it!" He spat coldly as Esmeralda narrowed her eyes, removing a small dagger from pocket and cutting the rope that bound Quasimodo.
I bit my lip, watching the scene in front of me play out with wide eyes as Frollo spoke up once more, "How dare you defy me!"
"You mistreat this boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice but you are cruel to those most in need of your help-"
"Silence!" Frollo ordered.
"Justice!" Esmeralda yelled as the crowd gasped once more.
"Captain Phoebus, arrest her!" He exclaimed to the familiar blonde as he clicked his fingers at the surrounding guards before pointing them in opposite directions to seize Esmeralda. I quickly moved my head from Clopin's shoulder as I took a step forward, not getting far though as Clopin's hand locked around my wrist, pulling me back.
"Don't do it, you'll get yourself locked up and it will be for nothing. She will be fine."
"How can you be so sure?" I questioned suspiciously, shaking my wrist from his grasp.
"That's the thing, I don't trust you." I retorted as he rolled his eyes.
"You will learn to trust me one day. Just know that I have your cousin's best interests at heart." He replied as we both watched Esmeralda mutter something, before pulling a handkerchief out of her pocket and pretending to cry into it, before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
I stood there, completely gob-smacked for a moment, before regaining my composure, "Oh, really? And why is that? Because you are a saint, am I correct?"
"I have never once said I am a saint, in fact I am far from it-"
"Tell me something I don't know." I cut him off as he glared before continuing, "I would never let any of my people be unprepared when it comes to danger, so listen up and listen good Genevieve, we have to go."
"Esmeralda-" I began, glancing across the stage and the surrounding areas once more for any sign of her, it was then that I noticed the guards had also dispersed in pursuit of her.
"-Will be fine, trust me, don't trust me, I really don't care but we all have to leave now. I assure you she will be fine."
I narrowed my eyes at him for a moment before replying, "If anything happens to her I swear to god I will hurt you."
He rolled his eyes once more before taking a hold of my wrist again and pulling me through a couple of the back rows of people in order to locate Pierre and Sara, before the four of us hurriedly pushed our way through the remaining crowd and ran through the town without so much as a glance back.