Hey preceptormyth 101 here. So I made this chapter cause I just re-watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disney Movie, and read the original. It's a great movie in my opinion. Watching it, I got struck with inspiration and decided kinda mix the two ideas in some ways. Like Phoebus character who in the book was actually a womanizer but I will keep his good nature. Anyway, hope you enjoy this one and this will probably be the only chapter for a while since I'll be working on my other fics. So good luck and have fun reading.
Disclaimer: I don't own a Hunchback or a hunched back. I just got my own story. Oh, and, by the way, I also don't own the movie nor the play nor the idea. If I did...Quasi would get Esmeralda. Poor Quasi...
Quasimodo and Cirque De Nuit
Chapter 01: Two Years Time
There was something magical in Paris. It was not the gypsies that roamed the streets, nor was it the festival that came every year, nor was it the giant cathedral that solemnly and majestically loomed over the populace. It was the bells. Every person in the entire area knew the bells. From the smallest boys to the oldest elder knew the sound, the ringing, the thundering from the giant, metal instruments. Every morning it would ring, waking the people up for a new day. Every noon it would ring, signaling for a break and mass in the day. And every night it would ring, signaling the day to end.
The people of Notre Dame have lived with this bell all their lives. It would be a daily reminder of what they have become proud of, outcasts and clergy alike. The bell was one thing that every soldier, every gypsy, every boy, girl, man, and women had in common. Perhaps it was the most understated wonder of the city.
People woke up due to the sun shining in their homes and faces, the day already mostly gone, and not to the bells. They wiped the sleep off their eyes, trying to figure out how they had slept in so late. It was completely out of schedule. It was not how it was suppose to be. No man or woman had been awake until now.
The townsfolk gathered in front of Notre Dame. Waiting, waiting for the bells to ring their noon ring, the softest of songs. The bells would not sing.
The bells were silent for their ringer was not there to ring.
It's been two years since Quasimodo had disappeared. Two long, uneventful years. The Feast of Fools that happened every year lacked the luster that once was there when the bells could be heard, and today wouldn't be different. The pigeons that had once perched on the cathedral's walls were gone. The men and women who had once admired the resonance of the bells were now quiet.
No one knew where Quasimodo went. No one had heard from him, had seen him, had even glimpsed him. Yet, they remember him and miss him. Every child at night would ask where was the bell and all the parent could tell them was: "Gone. Gone with the toller." And the child would ask when was he coming back? No one knew.
They had tried to replace Quasimodo. Yet, no one could ring the bell. Every time a person would try to climb to the bells, the whole church seemed to have come alive. The gargoyles seem to become animate and attack the intruders. Rocks and wood would fall upon the people from the rafters. It seemed that without Quasimodo to calm the spirits that apparently haunted Notre Dame, no one could ring the bells.
Without those bells, Esmeralda, wearing a white night gown, didn't get up on time...again. Of course, she had gone to bed at the wrong time and had gotten up even at a worse. Yet, without the bells, that's how it was. Her lover, Phoebus, the captain of the guards, slept on the other side of the bed, snoring softly. He was so cute when he sleeps, his broad back slowly rising every once in a while.
"Phoebus, darling, time to wake up," Esmeralda said groggily, wiping her eyes. Djali was still sleeping in his little bed that he was curled up in. Wooden shavings decorated the floor around him.
"Just a few more minutes, Angelina," Phoebus, half-asleep, muttered sleepily, making a shooing motion with his hand.
Esmeralda's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Who's Angelina?" she asked, her arms crossed over her impressive bosom.
Phoebus didn't answer, still heavily sleeping.
Esmeralda smirked sadly and shook her head, slightly annoyed that Phoebus always did this. First it had been Joanne, then Geneva, and now Angelina? Who were these girls?
Sighing, Esmeralda over the two years felt more and more alienated from Phoebus who seemed to have less and less time for her. First it had been overnight guard duties, now it seemed like Phoebus came back late every night, sometimes without even a good reason.
Getting out of bed, Esmeralda grabbed her gypsy outfit and grabbed Djali as he slept, cradling him in her arms. She needed to get out, to think things through. Somewhere high would be nice.
She hadn't been in the cathedral in forever. Ever since Quasimodo disappeared, she had no reason to come back. Nothing had changed. The ceiling still felt high and unforgiving, the people were still overly solemn, and the statue of God was still erect, his eyes seemingly watching all the movement in the church. Yet, it felt so different, so unforgiving. Good thing she had left Djali with the children outside the cathedral. He would probably go stir-crazy.
Feeling the need to climb higher, Esmeralda, subconsciously confident that she wouldn't be denied from the top of the cathedral since she had been there many times before, found herself walking toward the stairs questioning all the while: 'Where was Quasimodo? What was he doing? How was he?' Questions no one in the city had answers to, not even Clopin the jokester.
Without Quasimodo, she didn't really have someone to talk to. No one to laugh, chat, or even gossip with. And no, Phoebus would likely want to roll in the hay *hint, hint, wink, wink* before have a heart-to-heart talk with her.
Two years they had put off the wedding, waiting for Quasimodo to return. At first, being with the guard captain had been like a dream. He was, by all definitions a knight in shining armor, dashing, romantic, and altogether a hunk. Yet, even that armor has some chinks. He was rude sometimes, obnoxious, insensitive, flirtatious with other women, and, from rumors, a cheat. However, she did not believe the last two. Sure he was mean sometimes, but he wasn't a cheat...was he?
Quasimodo wasn't. Quasimodo stood true to her to the very end, risking his life and the wrath of the entire guard corp. to save her.
Many would say that he was ugly and a monster, but his heart was made of gold. Loyal, bravery, even cutely shy, were the some of the very many good qualities of the toller. If he was a monster, then the rest of the world was a fool.
Yet, every day she asked herself why had she chosen Phoebus over Quasimodo, and every day she got the same answer. She was shallow. As much as she hated to admit it, even she could not look past all of Quasimodo's flaws. Hunched over like a beast, the toller had a slight limp to his step and a half-closed eye that only worsened his appearance. In addition, having a hunchback for a partner was a bad omen among the superstitious gypsies. Her children would suffer, the couple's relationship would falter, and the rest of their lives would be left in misery. Or so it went.
They say God cursed babies at birth thus having them grow into monsters, beasts. She didn't believe it, but living as a gypsy for so long has affected many of her beliefs and made her see what many gypsies believe as an abomination.
She was a fool. She was a complete fool. Quasimodo was not a monster. He was a man. A man who deserved the same love that every woman should give her man. A good man.
The gypsy dancer hadn't noticed but she had already reached the balcony of the cathedral, the sun still high in the sky. It was the same place that Quasimodo had held her and where they had defeated the judge Claude Frollo.
Leaning against the railing, Esmeralda sighed sadly, glancing down at all the city. It was lonely up here. The people looked so small and so far away. It was like she was in her own world, estranged from the rest of the earth. No one wanted to stay cooped up here forever.
Hearing a slight fluttering sound, Esmeralda glanced at the three gargoyles on the right, the female one holding a book. Curious, she reached out with her hand and plucked the book from the middle gargoyle, discovering that prior to belief Quasimodo was literate.
The book was worn and old, scratches were all across it. Yet, for all its defects just like its master, it was still in good condition, like someone had made sure to keep it well preserved. By the looks of it, it was a journal, and, hopefully, it may even have some clues to where Quasimodo had gone.
The book's pages were flipped open to a random spot in the book. Reading, Esmeralda slowly pronounced the surprisingly neat writing, "7th of January. Today I rung the bell, big Marie. She sounded quiet happy after being silent for a couple of days...My master, Judge Frollo, was furious with me today because I went to the Festival of Fools yesterday. Being crowned king, though, wasn't such a bad experience. For once, I thought I had belong somewhere and people looked up at me, not down. It made me feel warm...a feeling that I haven't felt in a longtime. Standing up in this cathedral can be lonely, cold as winter's chill, but Hugo, Victor, and Laverne do their best to keep me company. I met a girl...a wondrous girl, whose eyes were like emeralds and was like a dancing angel that graced the world with her presence..." The pages went on of the first day she and Quasimodo met. Yet, at the end, in a separate line it said, "I clasped both Phoebus and Esmeralda's hands together. Perhaps, that was my biggest mistake I have ever made."
Not understanding the significance of the line, Esmeralda turned more pages until she found a spot that had been bookmarked by a pencil tipped with coal. By the looks of it, this was his last entrance. "8th of October. Today I rung the triplets. They sounded so sweet together especially after I just cleaned them. The man, Justinian, came again. He's been visiting me for almost two weeks now, refusing all my attempts to get rid of him. Funny, after I was proclaimed 'hero' of the city, people stopped treating me as a monster and more as a pet. Sometimes being called a pet was even worse than being a monster. No one takes me seriously, not the gypsies, not the guards, and not even my friends. It was ironic that the only person I didn't want to see was the only one who took me seriously. Esmeralda stopped visiting me, spending all her time with Phoebus. Yet, when she rarely come, it was always about Phoebus. He's a good man and I understand that, but I wished that we could talk about something else. Something that perhaps we had in common...Who am I kidding? No matter what people think, I cannot compete with Phoebus. Not in charm, not in humor, and especially not in looks. I have no chance against him..."
Esmeralda began to read the second paragraph, "This evening, after I rung the bell for mass, Justinian snuck up on me. I didn't know how since I know the cathedral better than anyone, but it was like his entire presence had disappeared for a moment. Instead of his usual sing-song blabber, he told me that he had known my mother and father. At first I was suspicious, but he told me that he was a gypsy as well and had come to find me. From what he said, he described us as brothers since we both were raised from the same mother's milk. When he had heard of my mother's and father's death years after they had died, he swore an oath to track me down and bring me home...Home..."
Finishing the paragraph, Esmeralda shifted her gaze to the second to last one. "He told me about his life and the stories of my parents that he had heard. He told me that I was welcome to join his troupe and travel the world. When I had asked him about my looks, he simply laughed at me. At first I was hurt, but I found out that he had only laughed because he had thought it was something 'serious'. 'Serious'? The way I looked was very 'serious'. Anyhow, he told me that no one in the gypsy caravan would judge me, due to the variety of people there. He even promised me that I was one of the least wondrous looking people, and, in comparison, I would seem normal. Normal...that sounded nice. Quasimodo the normal. Normal Quasimodo. Plain Quasimodo...He let me think about it for a while, silently if childishly playing with my wooden figurines of the town. I had to ask myself what was left in this town. I had no more reason to be here. The bells would need a new ringer, but I could easily be replaced. It wasn't hard to be a toller. Wake up, ring the bells, and clean them and the church then ring the bells again. My friends didn't need me anymore, the people didn't need me anymore, Notre Dame didn't need me anymore, and I didn't wanted to stay cooped up here forever. I was born a gypsy, and gypsies hate stone walls.
Holding her breath, Esmeralda read, "Tonight I'm leaving. I took the bare necessities so that the other toller would have plenty supplies to work with when I leave, but I'll carry my memories with me. I was so excited that I was shaking. I would finally have a home. A home of my choosing. I was finally becoming free. I wanted to tell Esmeralda so much that I was leaving, but I didn't have the courage to tell her. I never did. I never had the courage to tell her so many things. I wrote a letter for her, but I will burn it soon. It's under the new figurine I made of her. The old one I'm bringing with me. Oh no, Justinian said we must go now before it gets too late. We have a long road to travel. This is my last entrance to this journal. Thank you, journal, for staying with me for so long. I said my goodbyes to the birds and Victor, Hugo, and Laverne. They were crying, but they knew I would have to leave the roost someday. Today was a good day to fly just like the fledgling leaving the nest on the same day I finally have the courage to leave mine. Justinian calls for me again. I'm sorry for rushing this last message. There is so much I want to write, but I don't have the time anymore. I'm leaving this for the gargoyles to remember me by. Goodbye my friends. And thank you for everything. I'm going to where I belong. I'm finally going on my own adventure."
Groaning, Esmeralda shook her head. Oh, Quasimodo...he didn't understand how much he meant to them. Due to all the preparations for the wedding, the gypsy and guard captain never had the time to check on Quasimodo who, hailed as a hero, locked himself in the tower, still afraid of the outside world. Now he was gone. And perhaps the biggest amount of blame should go to her.
Esmeralda was about to place the book back next to the three gargoyles, but, somehow, the gargoyles were no longer there. Deciding to keep it safe or at least till it's owner would hopefully come back to reclaim it, she tucked it into her dress, patting it to make sure it was secured in her clothing. Wanting to see what was in the letter, she went upstairs to the room where Quasimodo had made the entire town.
After climbing the ladder, the dancer immediately saw her identical figurine with the letter under it in the middle of the toy town square alongside Quasimodo's. Slowly grabbing the letter, Esmeralda gulped, her hands suddenly feeling very sweaty. She didn't know why, but it felt like whatever was in the letter was something of extreme importance. Her throat felt dry and there was a lump within her throat accompanied by a sinking feeling in her stomach.
Inhaling deeply, she began to read it,
"Dear Esmeralda, (the my between dear and her name was crossed out)
If you're reading this then you must have found out that I'm gone. I'm sorry I have to say goodbye to you in this manner, but I was afraid to face you. I'm sorry for leaving and being ungrateful for all the warmth and fun you have given me, but I needed to find out. I needed to know about who I am, who my parents were. For far too long, I've been too frightened to leave this tower. For too long, I've been too frightened to tell you my true feelings face-to-face. I lacked even the courage to mention it to you. But with this note I can. I love you, Esmeralda. I loved you from the moment you showed me the tiniest bit of kindness that no one would ever afford me, the monster. However, when I saw you kiss Phoebus my heart crumbled. I knew you did not return my feelings, but I am happy for you and Phoebus. Truly, I am. You two are a wonderful couple. Yet, my heart will always shudder when I see the two of you together. My body would turn numb every time I see you kiss one another. I keep telling myself that it wouldn't have worked out between you and me. You're a beautiful woman, and I'm...I'm a monster. Yet, even as a monster, I love you more than anything on this world. I love you more than the stars and birds in the night sky. I love you so much that I would give up everything for you and climb down to face the mobs of Paris to save you from the fires of injustice over a thousand times. I love you enough to have you haunting my every dream, creating a paradise in my mind only to wake up to find that it was all a fantasy, a wonderful fantasy. I'm taking this trip not only to learn about who I am but also to try and forget about the love I have for you. Me being around you and Phoebus would only make things worse. My feelings would only ruin our friendship, something I hold sacred for it's my first with a person. Someday I hope you will forgive me for this, and, before I try to get over you,...I love you Esmeralda.
With all my heart,
She didn't know why, but tears suddenly trailed down her dark cheeks. There was no reason to cry, but she just needed to. Quasimodo loved her and she had never known. She didn't know what was worse that he left because he loved her or that she was that horrible of a friend not to see his love.
It took a long time for Esmeralda, unsteady on her feet from the new revelations, to come down from the cathedral. It took her even longer to put on her red dress that she wore every year for her performance at the Feast of Fools even with the assistance of Djali.
"Dear Esmeralda, are you alright?" Clopin asked softly, respecting her privacy by waiting outside. She could hear the gypsy tap his heels every once in a while, showing his slight impatience. "Do you need any help?"
"No, thanks, Clopin. I'll be out in a minute," Esmeralda answered, sniffling. Her emerald eyes were still tinged with red from her earlier crying.
The jester told her joyfully, "Take your time, my dear. We have plenty due to the new opening act." His silhouette did a small jig that reminded Esmeralda of a boy at Christmas.
"Opening act?" she asked, finishing her outfit with the circlet on her luscious, raven hair.
"Cirque De Nuit is in town!" Clopin explained gleefully, twirling on one foot. By his obvious tone and smile that Esmeralda could imagine on the male gypsy's face, he was very excited.
"What's a newt?" puppet Clopin, his silhouette popping out form Clopin's clothing, curiously asked with his high-pitched voice, causing Clopin to cease his spinning.
"It's Nuit, you newt!" Clopin roared indignantly, smacking the puppet with his cap.
The puppet sighed, staring at the ground crestfallenly. "Sorry...but what is it?"
Clopin sighed. "Do they teach you nothing in school?" The jokester pretended not to hear from his puppet that Clopin had been cheap to send him there. "Any who, Cirque De Nuit is a wonderful circus that has traveled all across the kingdoms! Full of gypsies and wonders that astound the greatest of magicians. Even myself," Clopin added the last sentence, slightly sniffling. His puppet handed him a handkerchief from which Clopin blew his nose loudly into.
"'Circus of the Night'?" Esmeralda translated, the name sounding oddly familiar to her. "You mean the same circus that celebrates the Carnival of Nights?"
Clopin nodded vigorously, crossing his arms over his chest. "The very same! And...ooh! Here they come now!" Hearing, people cheering, Clopin ran outside with his little puppet who was barely holding onto the jester's hand.
Making the last adjustments to her looks in the mirror, Esmeralda gathered herself to prepare for today, trying to enjoy the festival. However, it wasn't the same without Quasimodo. He had seen the festival with a contagious childlike wonder that made the festival seem so magical. Now that he was gone, it just didn't seem as fun anymore. "Come on, Djali," Esmeralda beckoned to her goat who followed her out of the tent.
Upon the stage that Esmeralda would dance on later was a white box, wrapped with a red bow. People gathered around, staring at it and waiting for something to happen. Was this Cirque De Nuit? A box?!
Then in a huge explosion of fireworks of black and white that even impressed the other gypsies, the box disappeared, replaced by a medium-sized gypsy male. He wore a flamboyant wide-brimmed hat with a large feather strapped to the side of the hat. Cape flowing behind him, the man bowed to the audience in his leather horse-riding clothes and pointed shiny shoes. Fitting to his circus name, his entire outfit was black, contrasting with the man's tan skin and brown eyes, yet fitting with his long black hair tied behind his head.
"Welcome, welcome one and all! The populace are going to have quite a ball!" the man said singsong-like, grinning, much to the amusement of the crowd. "Justinian, this one is named. Cirque de Nuit is this one's game." Then he pointed toward a couple of carts that had been sitting in the square. "Before the party start, stand! This one commands!"
More explosions thundered through the square. A band that had at least a score of members replaced the carts and began to play. Music filled the air with its joyous tone and upbeat tempo.
Still entranced by Justinian, the crowd did not notice as many performers of the circus began to set up their stalls and stages, already preparing for the later acts that was to follow the first. It was impressive to see their discipline and efficiency.
With a flourish of his hat, Justinian laughed joyfully. "This is a magnificent event! None that deserves repent! Tonight the town shall celebrate! The Feast of Fools will only elevate."
Esmeralda stared at Justinian, trying to remember why he sounded so familiar. His words and acting sounded so similar to someone she remembered. But who?
With an overly exasperated sigh, Justinian, with a mournful face, looked to the ground. "But without the bells to ring, how can any of us ever sing? What shall we do? Go home and cry and shoo?" The crowd, depressed due to the bell's clamor disappearance, look to one another, unsure on how to answer.
"Shall the little tykes go to bed? Shall they sleep with no music in their heads?" Justinian asked, a baby suddenly appearing in his hands. The little girl, being gently cradled by the gypsy, looked like she was about to cry, but the gypsy held a finger to his lips. "Hush, no...no we shall not. For the bells shall not rot."
"Ring them shall be who? Is it you? Or you? Or even you?" He pointed with one hand to different men who all stepped back and shook their heads. None could blame them. The cathedral, although holy, was seen as a haunted church, filled with ghosts and evil spirits.
Justinian shook his head and kissed the baby on her forehead before giving it to a woman in the audience who must've been the mother. Still shaking melancholy, Justinian stared at the ground disheartened. "Yet who shall ring the bells? Who shall do it well?"
None had an answer. The unspoken truth was that no one could ring it. No one with them at least.
Raising his head as if he came upon a brilliant idea, Justinian suggested excitedly, "How about one who has done so before. How about one who you all know afore." He surveyed the crowd expectantly, waiting for an answer.
Silence made a home in the square, stopping all mutters and whispers. No one wanted to say it.
"Quasimodo is gone! He has left the tower," Esmeralda finally yelled over the quiet crowd. And it had been all her fault. If only she had spent more time with him. If only she had really known how he felt about her, then maybe he would not have left. People stared at her, making a clear path between her and Justinian who stared at her.
"She is right! No one can ring the bells without Quasimodo!" Clopin yelled from the pole that he hung on.
After whispering amongst themselves about rumors of the toller, the crowd looked to Justinian, waiting for an answer.
Justinian smiled. "Then listen to this one's opening act. It will have quite an impact. Silence is golden. Words need be stolen. Listen, oh so, well. Listen for the bells."
Everyone went silent. Esmeralda waited, trying to hear any sort of ringing. Yet, nothing. Noth-wait...she heard something. A soft chiming from a single bell. No...it was getting louder and louder. She, like all those in the square, looked to Notre Dame. The bells. They were ringing. A symphony of rumbles and twinkling came from the cathedral, bathing the people in the joy that they had once lost. The bells were ringing. At first stunned with shock, the people were suddenly cheering, hugging and kissing one another in excitement, overjoyed by the return of the clamor. The bells were ringing! They were ringing!
Justinian pointed to the cathedral and exclaimed, "Hear the bells and hear them well. Remember the man who is still quite swell. Welcome the man that the people will see. Welcome back Quasimodo is he. Welcome to Cirque De Nuit, this one's tools! Welcome to the Feast of Fools!"
Hey so that's the end and I hope you all enjoyed it. It took a lot of effort to make the Justinian character especially with all the rhymes. Obviously the grammar is going to be tricky with him to wish me luck. Also I may have given Clopin a lil OOCness but that's cause he doesn't have a lot of lines in the movie that doesn't involve singing so it's a little harder to write him. I hope you all had fun and look forward to the next chapter...that'll hopefully come eventually. Anyway this is preceptormyth101 signing out. Thanks for reading and R&R! Also reviews are nice so I can get a good idea on how I'm doing and what I should do next. Thank people :).