Frollo finally finishes another day as the Judge of Paris and stops by the study in which his meetings with Esmeralda are held. He unlocks the door and enters. His eyes roam the room, reminiscing sweetly. He opens the draw in which he now keeps his teaching material and looks at Esmeralda's haphazard take on the French alphabet.
Maybe I shouldn't have challenged her with writing so quickly, but she was so eager to prove that she could do it just as well as I.
He lets out a soft, happy sigh and smiles. He looks up and out the window to see the sun setting.
I should eat something.
Frollo puts everything back in the drawer, exits the room and locks it. He finds a servant and asks for food to be delivered to his room. He then makes his way to his chambers.
God has been so generous to me of late. This first day with Esmeralda, this joy that it has brought me, it has stayed with me the entire day. I cannot wait to see her again.
Just then a servant comes in with his dinner and lights a fire for him. Frollo then sits and eats. Sitting there he thinks to himself again.
Oh, I think it would be nice if Esmeralda and I were to dine alone. I could offer her everything-
Frollo stops for a second, this thought isn't like him.
"No, she will not break me that easily. I will have her on my own terms or not at all."
How can I be sure that this is good? These feelings of elation that I have never known in this way. Could this be part of God's challenge that I am missing? Is this temptation in another form?
"Ugh…. If this be a mistake, I am already in too deep." he groans.
He sits there for a while, and staring into the fire he no longer sees Esmeralda there dancing, mocking him.
She's been genuine with me, is that what has been so different and confusing? That sin I once felt has been tamed. The banter, sour sarcasm, and battle of wit fed that sinful part of me. Now that she shows kindness to me I soften, quite literally. I think I understand the love that the boy and Phoebus feel for her.
He sighs again and stretches out against the chair. Frollo then picks up his plates and cup and brings them out for a servant to fetch. He comes back into his chambers and undresses. Taking off his chaperon hat first and hanging it up. Then he takes off his collar and heavy robe very carefully and places them on a larger hook. Being left with just a thin, long sleeve shirt and a pair of hose.
He then goes over to his desk to work on a few things.
Best to clear my head now, lest I will be up all night thinking of her.
When Esmeralda awakes it is quite in the Court.
It must be night time, how late is it?
She gets up and decides to go find Clopin. Walking up to his tent in the dimly lit Court she finds him asleep, drunk.
It must be past 2am then for sure.
She chuckles softly to herself and looks at Clopin for a few moments. Growing bored she looks over at the exit.
Is it even worth it to venture out now? But I'm not tired anymore and I've got nothing to distract me until morning. It would not hurt to tire myself a little bit with walk.
She knows it is freezing outside but there is something drawing her out of the Court that she just cannot say no to. She grabs her cloak and some booties and makes her way toward to exit.
Outside she is in awe of the wonderful night sky. The clouds move quickly in the cold breeze of the night and the moon shines brightly down on her.
How could I ever give up this life?
She absentmindedly walks around the Paris streets, looking into the windows of houses who still have candles lit and avoiding the gaze of any that look off-putting and she even tually finds herself outside of Notre Dame. It is mostly silent and she doesn't dare open the door for fear of disturbing the priests. For some reason she thought that their might be more going on here since sanctuary is the home for many during these months.
I guess I shouldn't wish for trouble or unrest. That was foolish of me.
Reminded again of how she wished something would happen she makes her way to the Palace of Justice.
Hmmm, I wonder if Frollo's staff know anything about our meetings. Would a posted guard attack me for just showing up. No way, they must know something… no one really seems to question him anyway from what I've seen.
Esmeralda is still a smart girl and keeps her distance in the beginning. She tries her best to see if she can figure out which window is the one that leads into their room.
Ugh, this is hopeless I don't know the place well enough.
After a few more minutes of searching she rounds the corners and spies a window to a lit room with someone peering out of it. Immediately she tries to keep from being spotted. Hiding along the side of a house but she can see that the figure has turned its head down to her.
"You there, what are you doing out at this time of night?" The figure calls down to her.
"Are you planning to commit a crime, if you are I suggest you cease those thoughts before I inform my guards of your presence." Esmeralda recognizes the voice immediately and cannot help but laugh.
"Oh, you mock me then! Well, we'll see if you are still laughing when you are placed in the stocks for an entire day!" The figure then goes to leave the window and presumably go tell a servant to alert a guard of her presence but she pipes up.
"Ey Frollo, don't you think your yelling should be enough to alert a guard on a quiet night like this? I was almost worried for a second that I might get caught coming around here, but it turns out that I've wasted my stealth on your palace!" she hollers back at him with great gusto.
The figure, who, at this point is obviously Frollo, returns to the window. He is confused for a second, at the audacity of the peasant. When she removes her hood to reveal her hair and face Frollo throws his head back and curses.
"I thought you had given up your devious ways but I guess you are still up to no good." he calls back at her.
"That's rich coming from the Judge who is still up this late and has work early in the morning." she retorts as she starts chuckling.
"Eh- What? You can hardly call my being up late being up to no good-" Esmeralda bursts out laughing, "And besides, you have no business telling me what I should and should not do. I am very capable man-" Esmeralda's laugh explodes further as he takes her even more seriously than she had anticipated he would.
"Why are you laughing at me?!" Frollo demands angrily.
"Haha, why do you," she giggles and breathes in sharply, "fall for my antics so easily." She hardly gets that out without laughing for a second between every word.
Frollo is taken back for a second.
I have so much to learn about her if I am ever going to anticipate any of her moves.
"I-" he starts, but she he cuts him off and at this point has regained her composure.
"Wait, also, there was something else I wanted to say, something that upset me just now." She says this sternly, which is quite unlike her demeanor from two seconds prior.
Frollo outwardly flinches slightly. Immediately the words rush out of his mouth.
"Oh, what upset you? Do tell."
She looks up at him, making sure that their eyes meet. She has had fun, but she has almost had it with the cold and she can't keep it up for much longer.
Just one more, and I'll be done I swear.
"Frollo, could you light a candle for me please? I can barely see your face with the fire roaring in the background."
His face hardens, upset that he is being given orders by a gypsy, but he does what she says nonetheless as he is concerned.
He returns with a lit candle holder in hand.
"Move it to the left slightly." She calls up, "No, your left. Right there, good."
Frollo's patience is wearing thin, "Out with it, it can't be that serious."
With Frollo's face in the light of the candle she can see the features of his face much better.
She takes a breath in and then out.
"Oh, but it is that serious." Her voice gets deadly serious to match, "I mean Claude come on! Could you really not recognize the sweet voice of your lover just now? Did I really have to take off my hood for you to know it was me?"
And the look on his face was absolutely, positively, money back guarantee priceless.
Frollo's jaw drops, "Es-Esmeralda…" He just stares at her for a moment as she struggles to contain every ounce of herself from hardest she has ever laughed in her life.
Frollo then looks around quickly and get visibly worried.
Ugh, this is awful! What if someone heard that, just then? And let alone our entire ridiculous exchange. I would look like an utter fool. God, please forgive me.
"Ahem, Esmeralda if you do not mind we need to continue this conversation in private-"
It is at that moment that Esmeralda cannot contain it anymore and she howls with laughter.
"Oh Frollo you are just too much. You are giving me too much of yourself so soon. Oh I love this." She is almost rolling around on the ground completely in tears.
Frollo just wilts at that moment. Realizing that she was just joking and that he has put his respect on the line for that. He makes eye contact with her beautiful laughing form, forcefully blows out the candle and leaves.
Esmeralda's laugh dies down in that instant. Learning the her fun has caused him pain.
"I'm...I'm sorry!" she calls out, but he can't hear her.
Regret pours from her mind and down onto the rest of her body. Bringing her back to reality and back to the pain the last few days have been.
Why did I do that? Am I that spiteful, looking to hurt someone because I have been hurt?
She looks back up at his empty window with tears forming in her eyes.
How could I be so stupid? Pushing away the one thing that has brought me happiness since Phoebus-
She can't finish that thought as she is too busy bursting into tears. In a self destructive state after the breakup she has been more reckless than she ever has.
In a fit of tears she barely hear the movement in her direction. But when she does she gets up and starts to run. She doesn't get very far before she trips and her wrist is grabbed.
"Let go of me, let me be. I've done nothing!" She screams.
"But you have! You have done something, you have hurt me!" the man yells back at her.
"Fr-Frollo?" She looks up at him, "No, let me go, I'm so sorry, I'll leave."
Seeing her in tears he feels bad, but he presses her.
"Where did your laugh go, I thought you were having so much fun?" He says with snark.
"No I- I said I was sorry. Please, I don't mean to mess this up." She chatters out in the cold.
Frollo helps her up and starts to walk her back toward the Palace.
"I heard you, but why are you crying?" his voice softens.
She breathes in deeply and regains some of her composure.
"Since Phoebus left me I've felt worse than I have ever felt." Frollo looks down at her, surprised to learn that Phoebus has actually left her this soon. Esmeralda looks forward and continues.
"I've felt starvation, physical pain, nipping cold and intolerable heat. Not to mention I was almost burned at the stake." She shoots him a smile but he just looks away in shame. She continues. "I'd say I've had a pretty tough life. But… no pain compares to this pain. This pain I feel now in his absence, his eternal absence." She breathes in sharply, trying to hold back tears again.
Meanwhile they have reached one of the back entrances to the Palace and Frollo uses a key to get the lock open. The go inside and Esmeralda is immediately relieved by a fireplace that is in the room. She runs over to it and bathes in the warmth. Frollo takes in this sight.
Now this is the Esmeralda I enjoy seeing in my fireplace.
He sits next to her.
"But, erm, it is not as if he is dead, you will still be able to see him-"
"I don't want to see him. He is no longer the Phoebus I knew before. Being friends while you are in love is a joke." She jabs.
"Well I am not laughing." He tries to lighten the mood.
Esmeralda looks up at him softly, realizing what her words mean to him.
"It's different between us, it's just… different." She tries to explain this to herself.
"No, I know. I doubt Phoebus would ever make jokes at your expense." He jabs back with a smile.
"I'm really sor-" he cuts her off.
"I know. I can only hope that no one heard any of that exchange. Only so many people can know of our arrangement. I can't let that information fall into the wrong hands."
They both sit there in silence for a moment. Esmeralda realizes just how bad her great jokes really were and how they could jeopardize the both of them.
"You know, the truly surprising thing was that you referred to yourself as my lover. Along with your amazing acting it was quite convincing considering that I would never have guessed you would ever use that word in accordance to us." he says slyly.
Esmeralda grins and looks up at him. His face softens and he reaches over to her slowly. She follows his fingers with her eyes and then looks back up at him. He then wipes the remainder of her tears away and she leans into his touch.
"Thank you." she breathes.
She then looks back up at him again. Neither of them know what to say next. Frollo yawns which makes Esmeralda yawn.
"Hey, don't give your sleep to me, I just took a long nap."
"I am not quite sure that is how that works, my dear." and Esmeralda grins.
She pulls in closer next to him and he lets out a soft sound. She then rests her head against his shoulder and puts an arm around him.
"This is so nice." she breathes.
"It is." he responds.
"You smell nice too" she leans her face into his shoulder, breathes in and hums out.
"Is this another joke my dear? Because if it is I have doubts that I could ever forgive you." Frollo tries to stay strong but has already been brought back to the happy place he was in earlier when he was teaching her and his guard is down.
"It isn't, I really do enjoy this. I've been starved for affection recently. Just feeling you next to me is enough to make me feel better. I don't feel alone right now, with you"
"I doubt that you could ever feel alone, my dear. You have so many friends who enjoy your company-" she cuts him off by turning to him and giving him a dirty look.
"Hmph" she breathes out. "I am capable of feeling very lonely Claude, just as you do." She glares at him.
"I'm even capable of feeling lonely enough to do this." with that she climbs into his lap facing him.
She stares him deeply in the eyes before hugging him tightly.
Frollo is stunned and elated and confused, he just sits there, unmoving.
"Hug me back!" she shouts from her buried position in his chest.
"Esmeralda…" he says softly, returning her hug.
She breathes out slowly and moves her head up to his neck where she nuzzles into him further. He flinches and breathes in sharply. She traces the muscles of his back with her fingers.
"Claude, I'm surprised to find you so well defined. I like it." She smiles.
Frollo blushes heavily, having never been complimented in that way before, and definitely not by someone who's words cut through him so deeply as Esmeralda's do.
"Th-thank you." he breathes.
She pulls back from him for a second and looks at him again. The look on Frollo's face is hard to discern, but she finds it incredibly endearing.
"Are you waiting for a kiss?" she says softly with a smile.
Frollo honestly can't tell if she is serious or not and he thinks a good bit before he answers her. Not wanting to embarrass himself again.
She must be really lonely and upset to come crawling to me so soon. To look for my affections. I am quite sure there are plenty of younger, more handsome men she could spend the night with, but she chooses me. I still do not understand her.
"No I am not, but I would be more than happy to provide you with one if you would like." He smirks.
"Eww," she laughs, "you are flirting with me."
"And you with I, if I am not mistaken." he retorts.
She runs her hands along his chest, "Yeah, but it's different when I do it."
"And is it different because it is funny to you and therefore okay? Is it different because you know I will accept all of your advances?" He says this semi-seriously and it scares her.
Am I already abusing my power again for my own amusement? Ugh, this really isn't like me.
"No I really mean- ugh, I'm not just messing around for fun or for your reaction I guess. I'm really happy, right here, in your lap. I promise you I will not regret this tomorrow."
The way she said lap so blankly made him a little hazy. Her words him like a ton of bricks.
"How can I believe you? After all that you have put me through tonight?" he says softly.
Esmeralda makes a sad face, "I don't know, but please, you have to believe me. You…" she blushes and trails off.
She looks back up at him bashfully and then straightens herself and clears her throat.
"You make me happy, for the time being. Who knows if things will change?" she says matter-of-factly.
"I sure hope things only get better. I can only hope I can make you happy like this all the time. A face as lovely as your should never cry." he places his knuckles against her cheek and her hand comes up to reach his. She pushes his hand harder against her warm flesh. She looks up into his eyes again.
Why do I feel so comfortable with him?
He looks down back at her.
I have made up my mind. Praise God that I did not kill her, praise God that I was wrong about her. She is human and she keeps my heart in her hand.
Esmeralda could see the expression in his face change.
"I'm glad that I'll be able to come to you now for support. I really need this."
"As do I." his breath is haggard and his heart is racing.
This is too much, this is just too much. This cannot be real.
He moves his hand from her cheek to the back of her head. He pulls her head to his chest.
"Do you hear that?" he inquires.
She giggles, "Yes, it's very nice. Humanizing."
"Do I have anything else I need to prove to you at this point? As you can tell my pride is completely gone."
"Claude, I wasn't expecting this transformation from you so soon, but I'm not complaining." she chuckles.
"Well Esmeralda, I was not expecting to have you in my lap so soon either but I'm not complaining." he grins like a fool.
"Oh shut it." she retorts with a smile.
"Make me." he demands.
"Fine, I've got something that will really make you shut your mouth."
And with that she rushes her lips up to his, wrapping her hands around the back of his neck pulling him into her. She stop half an inch before meeting his lips. He inhales sharply and becomes breathless, waiting.
She quickly moves her lips up to his ear and runs her tongue along the outer lobe before whispering, "Gotcha."
Hey guys, I'm back again. This chapter was much harder to write. I had much less direction and had no idea where I wanted this to go. I'm not going to lie, realistically, I think things are moving way too fast, but I'm not a professional so don't knock me for that. I hope you enjoyed, leave a comment if you did. It keeps me going.