Frollo reaches Esmeralda's cell. He stares deep through the bars, trying to make out her figure. In the moonlight he can only see so much and yet what he can make out still looks so captivating. Chained up against the wall, his breath hitches in his throat. He searches for the gypsy's eyes, wondering if she had noticed his slip up.
"What are you looking at?!", she spats out.
The Minister is immediate brought back from his trance and frowns. Ignoring her words he grabs a nearby torch and unlocks her cell. He coolly steps inside, locks the door behind him, and places his eyes firmly back on her.
"A witch.", he states.
"I'm not a witch! I'm only human, and with how mercilessly you've hunted down my people you should know by now that it's all just gypsy tricks. Sleight of hand, misdirection.", she replies honestly, but her jab does not go unnoticed.
Frollo's frown turns into a scowl.
"Gypsy, the only misdirection here is you from God's good grace. You've given into the Devil and used his power to drive me mad. Testing my faith and virtue.", he raises his voice with each passing word.
Esmeralda grins at that last point.
"Frollo, in life we are all tested by God. Are you just upset that you are failing?".
Her sassy quip was a mistake. Frollo takes two swift steps toward her. Shoving the torch into her face, gripping her chin, and forcing her to look at him. His face is contorted into a twisted smile. Esmeralda cannot help but look back with disgust.
"I will have not failed when you are burnt at the stake, you temptress. God has given me a challenge and I will see to it that it is finished promptly.", he scans her face, but she is more concerned with the smell of her hair singeing.
"Frollo please, stop with the torch.", she said weakly and with a cough.
"You do not give me orders, you gypsy witch. It seems you've lost your wit all too soon, and I was just starting to have fun, what a pity.", Frollo smiles and takes a step back to get a better look at her. Even with nothing but a dirty shift on, she still looks as delicious as she did at the festival.
Frollo was about to offer her redemption when she piped up.
"Frollo, I know there must be more to this. Our back and forth is getting us nowhere. I know I'm known for my never-ending wit but, I can also be level headed… I guess, before you burn me… I'd like to talk to you like a human...like two people, person to person.", Ugh, she was having a hard time keeping up the genuine facade. Internally laughing at a every soft word she said, and yet… she still found truth in it.
Frollo didn't know how to react at first, his jaw lowered slightly, his eyes searching for a flaw, yet she had none… He dragged his hand over his worn out face. Deciding to take this as a joke at first.
"You, a human? Impossible, stop this nonsense. Besides, I have an offer for you.", He said, rather coolly.
His mind still thinking about what a real conversation with the gypsy might offer, or if it might help persuade her to chose him, he decided to deem it all a farce. There is no way she is only a human. Esmeralda is intrigued that he has an offer for her, but she knows she could probably guess what he has in mind, and giving up now might mean that she won't be able to return to her plan to break him.
"Frollo, please… hear me out. I'd like to say I know you, or know at least what to expect of a man like you, but to see you burn down your own city like that. You cannot truly say that there isn't something wrong. I'm only a gypsy and you did that just to find me, it was only by chance that you found the Court of Miracles, that was not your original intention…", she begins to tear up, thinking of the Court of Miracles and her people. They will all be killed, including her.
Frollo's heart pains at the reminder of Paris burning at his will. He cannot deny that what she says is true. He didn't mean to find the Court of Miracles when he burnt down most of Paris, though of course he was delighted to have found it. His expression turns somber, yet he still persists.
"Are you sure that's not the devil talking, trying to get me to wallow in my mistakes?"
Frollo stands confused by his own words. An admission of wrongdoing? No, but he had good reason, did he not? Esmeralda has a similar reaction, it is hard for her not to gleam at the fact that she is getting through to him, she decides that she has enough leverage now.
"Claude, tell me, what have you been going through? What is on your mind? What drives you so? You say you have been going mad, but truly why?" Her eyes still watery, reflecting the warm light from the torch that had slowly begun to slouch in Frollo's grip. Hearing her say his given name was too much for him. A sound too sweet.
"B-because of you.", he admits softly. He wants to lower his gaze from her in shame but his eyes linger. Searching for something, a reaction... acceptance.
They both stand there quietly for a few moments. Esmeralda was expecting this answer, but for some reason, finally seeing some humanity from Frollo is relieving. However, from both of their perspectives it is so much simpler to believe that your enemy is truly a wretch from Hell, only evil, nothing more. Yet, they both are starting to realize that this is not the case.
Esmeralda can tell that Frollo feels like he is giving in too quickly, so she flashes him a genuine smile through her soft tears that have begun to flow during the silence. Frollo takes one look and slowly makes his way to the wall where he places the torch on a stand.
"What… would killing me do…? I mean, I would just hate for you to continue to be tormented… even… after my...", she stops there, not knowing if this was a step backward. She looks up at him uneasily and with tears still in her eyes. While she honestly does not want to feel bad for him, she cannot help but think about the continued, if not amplified suffering of her people if he never got over her, even after her death.
Frollo stares, stunned, his eyes widen. He had never thought about this.
"Am- am I to be damned in life as well? I… -that… Esmeralda.", he says her name to her for the first time. Before he has time to think about anything she speaks again.
"Ah, so you do know my name.", she smiles warmly through her tears.
Frollo can no longer take this torment. He swiftly reaches her and takes her into his arms softly. He buries his head into her neck and hair and begins to weep.
She feels uncomfortable chained up, but she doesn't feel as disgusted as she normally would with Frollo holding her. He actually smells quite nice, and as much as she'd like to disagree, human contact feels nice after so long.
"Claude, you don't love me do you?"
Frollo keeps his arms around her, but pulls back to look at her. Esmeralda blushes as she stares him in the face, knowing that he would turn her face back if she were to turn away. She is almost holding back a few chuckles too, countless men have fallen for her, whether love or lust, but the thought of Frollo being in love with her was actually laughable. Meanwhile he looked at her as if he was truly trying to calculate something.
"I do not know, probably not.", he finally says, "I've never fallen in love before and it's most likely much too late for that."
"Oh, but it's not too late to discover your manhood now is it, huh?", she chuckles.
Frollo finds himself both blushing and smiling because he knows she is right.
"You don't know that for a fact.", he rushes these words out of his mouth, but finds himself incapable of insulting her.
"Oh, so then what are these unholy thoughts you were speaking of?", this she says with snark, still in his arms, she can tell he is aroused, but he is handling it quite well.
"Well, umm.", he is lost for words and an even deeper shade of crimson. In part because he knows God is watching, and also because Esmeralda seems much more well versed than him, almost as if he is being mocked for his celibacy.
"You know Claude, it's endearing to see you being so natural with me." Esmeralda smiles and struggles against her chains to fit more snug in his warm velvet robes. Frollo is surprised by this, but goes along with it.
"I would unchain you, if I could trust you. I...Esmeralda what I want can truly never be.", he sinks into her.
"Then why don't we enjoy this fleeting moment? The door is locked isn't it. I'm not going anywhere."
"But I have the key and you could easily- this is losing its charm, come my dear.", Frollo unlocks Esmeralda chains.
Hello, thank you for reading. I would love feedback and will post a new chapter if you guys enjoyed it.