AUTHOR'S NOTE: No normal parental figure (which does not include Claude Frollo, who deserves a World's Worst Uncle mug) would name a child Quasimodo. In the Disney movie/stage show, they obviously say it means "half formed." While that is not quite true in real French, Quasi does mean "half" or "partial". But regardless, that is not an appropriate name for a child no matter if it is twenty-first century or the fifteenth. So know going into this fic that I am giving Quasimodo himself the name Adam (meaning "man" in Hebrew) because he has decent parents in this AU.
This is based exclusively on the 2014 La Jolla/2015 Paper Mill Playhouse stage musical produced by Disney, with Jeremy Stolle as Jehan Frollo, Samantha Massell as Florika, and Patrick Page as Claude Frollo.
The title is from "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan.
After Jehan is excommunicated, Florika lets him live with her.
He has nowhere else to go, and though it's not usual that a prostitute would take a customer into the women's living quarters above the whorehouse, he doesn't question her. She had always paid him extra attention when he had frequented the brothel as a patron before. Now when the Romani girl takes him to her own room, all she says is, "I like you, pretty boy, and I'd rather keep an eye on you here than watch you waste away on the streets or in jail."
He's sure she understands his gratitude when he kisses her.
The owner allows him to stay on the condition he earns his keep, and so he works throwing out the men who get too harsh with the whores. He gets black eyes and bloody knuckles often, but it's better than learning the endless catechisms and prayers he never had a head for at Notre Dame. Claude was the one who could memorize even the most difficult of Latin phrases, not his dull brother the monks glared at when Jehan stumbled through mass.
But this type of physical work now suits Jehan more than the intellectual life at the cathedral ever did. His new schedule is much more appealing, too, because he no longer has to rise before dawn to pray; now he stays up until morning breaks and sleeps until noon, drinking and spending all evening with scantily-clad women. Though he has to always be sober enough to drag some overly-harsh men off the prostitutes, handle a few fistfights in the course of a single evening, and throw the rowdy customers out the door, he gets to retire in the early mornings with Florika and Florika alone. The matron even gives them their own room, a reward of sorts for his assistance during working hours. Though their living quarters are about the same size as his room growing up at the cathedral, he is no longer sharing a cramped space with his judgmental brother. Now it is Florika by his side, and she is a much more appealing face to wake up to.
When they reach for each other as morning light streams through the window, he does occasionally feel a pang in his chest. The Bible does say men and women should only lay together when they are man and wife. But the church, his family, the only home he ever knew threw him out, so why should he care what the Scripture says? Yet sometimes when he and Florika hold each other in a mess of limbs so tightly woven he can't tell where he ends and she begins, he thinks that it was Father Dupin who cast him out, not the Holy Book itself. And the church did teach some lessons he still follows; yet whenever he thinks too much about religion, he just kisses Florika harder and tries to focus on the feel of her body beneath his instead.
Even a hundred years after the Black Death ravaged Europe, there is talk of people dying from the plague again. When he is alone with Florika, Jehan finds himself checking her skin for tell-tale boils, but miraculously the entire brothel is spared even with such a variety of customers. Jehan settles into his new life and spends every moment he can with Florika, and finally he feels content.
But then she starts throwing up. She's not vomiting blood as if she has the Black Death, and for that he even thanks the Lord. But she is clearly not well, and it goes on for a week before he asks the matron if he should fetch a doctor and all the older woman does is smile.
He is beyond terrified at the prospect of becoming a father. The only parent he had ever known was a type of surrogate in Father Dupin, and Claude had tried to be a parental figure for him. But away from the confides of the church, Jehan has no idea what to do. How can he raise a child in the real world? How can he raise a child in a brothel?
And for the first time, it starts to bother him when Florika keeps working even while pregnant. Suddenly it angers him that other men touch her while she is carrying his child. At least, he thinks it's his, even finds himself wanting to believe it is, but there's no way to know for certain. The only think he is sure of is that he will not leave her or the child. That, if anything, is something Claude would be proud of him for, right?
To Jehan's displeasure, Florika keeps working up until she has grown too large to perform comfortably. The customers start asking for the other stick-thin prostitutes anyway, and so the matron assigns Florika to overseeing the wine storeroom instead. Jehan sees less of her now, but at least she is away from the reach of the men of Paris, and he enjoys knowing no one else is touching her now but him.
Working in a brothel has given him quite the education on the female body, but nothing could have prepared him for when Florika's time comes.
No one shoves Jehan out of the room like they would if he was her husband in a traditional Catholic home in a respectable house on the right side of town. However, staying at her side during this is probably more unnerving than if he was pacing in the hall. But then ten hours turns into twenty, and the matron even sends the other women out during working hours while staying herself with Florika and Jehan. The matron's initial patience and assurances that these things take time turns into a constant worried expression and a firm tone when she instructs to Florika to continue pushing. As the labor continues into a total of a day and a half, Jehan finds himself begging God to keep Florika and the child alive.
Finally the matron pulls the infant out, and Jehan focuses on keeping Florika awake after she collapses. But the cries of the child are harsh and rough, not the high-pitched screams he had expected. And when he looks up, the matron is white as a sheet and staring at the infant in pure horror.
For a moment, a depth of fear he has never experienced fills him, and he is sure the child is dead. But then the newborn moves in the matron's hands – a boy, he has a son – and an intensity of relief he has never known either washes over him just as quickly. But the infant's back is oddly shaped, and it's probably just from the angle the matron is holding the child as she wraps him in a blanket, surely everything is fine–
The matron holds out the child, and for the first time in a year, Jehan crosses himself.
The infant is hideous. Not just red and wrinkled in the way all newborns are, but truly and utterly misshapen. The boy's face is twisted, the shoulders are too large, the back is hunched, and the legs look too short. Jehan can only clearly make out one eye, the child's other nearly hidden under a sagging brow even at a minute old.
He turns away from the child in relief at Florika's pale voice, grateful to look away, and immediately feels guilty. This is his son, or at least Florika's son who he promised himself he would help raise, and now he cannot bear to look at it? What kind of person is he?
"It's a boy," he says, taking her limp hand in his. Focus on the gender. Focus on that fact that he may or may not have a son of his own. Focus on the fact that the boy is alive. Don't focus what the child looks like.
"I wish to see him," she breathes, still weak from nearly two days of labor, and Jehan and the matron look at each other. Perhaps when Florika is stronger she can be shown the infant, but there is no way she's well enough to handle that sight in her condition now.
But then the child lets out another choked cry, and Florika reaches out her shaking arms. "Let me hold my son," she insists, and after a moment Jehan nods to the matron. Florika accepts the infant from the older woman, tears forming in her eyes as she pulls back the blanket to look at the child's face for the first time.
All color drains from her face. "How… how did this happen?"
"Only God knows," the matron answers, making the sign of the cross. Jehan feels guilty once more that he had done the same gesture upon seeing the child, as if Florika had birthed a real demon. It is still a child, even if it looks like a devil. And Jehan was the one raised in the church; surely because of that, he should be the one in this situation not to recoil. But it is the whore who never gone to mass who can bear to gaze into the infant's twisted face, not her lover.
"I can take him to the cathedral if you wish," the matron says. "They take orphan children."
Jehan imagines how his brother would react to seeing the child as Florika's eyes widen, and she holds the infant closer. "You are not taking my son," she snarls, and Jehan is taken aback by her ferocity so different from her usual amicable personality. "We won't let you," she adds, and the word we hangs in the air.
Jehan knows what it is like to be abandoned.
His father left before he or Claude could remember anything of him, but Jehan vividly remembers his mother choking to death on the blood she had coughed up. The brothers had been taken in by various family friends and neighbors, one family after the other over the next couple of years. Passed around like sour wine no one wanted to drink, an elderly acquaintance of their mother's finally had had enough of Jehan's wildness, and kicked the siblings out of her house. The thirteen-year-old Claude had kept the ten-year-old Jehan alive after that, the brothers sleeping under bridges and in doorways until the elder led a half-starved Jehan to Notre Dame and begged Father Dupin for sanctuary.
The brothers had found a home in the church, yes, but only because there was quite simply nowhere else to turn. This infant, ugly as he may be, had two living parents, and Jehan's conscience was not about to let him abandon a child the way he himself was.
"He is ours," Jehan says. "And he is staying right here."
The matron must have warned the prostitutes who actually visit ahead of time, because only one woman actually asks to look at the child, and she flinches like she has seen a corpse.
"What will you call him?" the blonde asks, very interested in smoothing invisible wrinkles from her skirt.
"Adam," Jehan says as the infant starts to cry, his unnerving wails filling the room, and the other woman hastily leaves. Crestfallen, Florika pulls down the shoulders of her dress and brings their son to her chest, wincing when he latches on. Jehan suddenly feels as if he shouldn't be watching her feed the child, even though he has seen her naked countless times before. The church would say they should be married, but there is a reason he no longer resides at Notre Dame.
That's what he keeps telling himself, anyway.
"While you were working downstairs last night," Florika says, stroking Adam's hair, "the owner told me I could not keep the child here." She pauses. "She said he would frighten away customers."
It is not unusual for prostitutes' children to occasionally show up at the brothel to see their mothers or to even live upstairs, but Jehan can honestly see the matron's view on this particular matter. Men come to the establishment for relaxation and pleasure, not to see a child such as Adam on their way to spend an evening with whores.
"Are you saying she is firing you if we keep Adam?"
"Perhaps," Florika admits, adjusting her hold on the two-day-old infant in her arms. "She will most likely keep you on, though, if Adam does not make a single appearance."
"Do you think…" Jehan hesitates. "Do you ever think perhaps we should be wed?"
She looks up.
"His life is going to be difficult enough as it is," he continues, "but it would give people one less reason to judge him if we were married. I could find work somewhere else, and you could look after him in a place where fewer people might see him, for his own protection. If you wish."
She looks down at their son cradled against her chest, and doesn't reply for a long moment. "Do you want to marry for Adam's sake, or mine?"
"What if my reason is both?" he offers, and her dark eyes meet his.
"I assume there is only one priest we can go to in all of Paris."
"Is that a yes?" he asks, and when she nods, the corner of his mouth turns up. "Of course we would go to my brother. I hear he's archdeacon now." His smile fades. "And he deserves to meet his nephew," Jehan adds, but does not say even though Claude will throw up at the sight of Adam out loud.
Adam gives a strained cough in the way that Jehan has decided is just how his son's voice sounds and does not mean the child is actually choking. Jehan observes Florika as she gently pushes the blanket back from Adam's face, and now after two days Jehan can almost bear to look at their son for more than a brief moment. He tells himself he's going to have to get used to Adam then and there, or he should walk away right now.
So as Florika lays their child on her lap, Jehan sits on the edge of the rickety bed beside her. He holds out a finger to Adam, wondering if the infant will know what to do, but his son grasps his father's finger almost immediately. Jehan finds himself smiling at Adam.
This isn't how he ever dreamed his life would turn out, but Jehan is finding he isn't exactly unhappy either.
On a Wednesday a week later, Jehan finds a job at a blacksmith's, moves both his and Florika's few belongings into the two small rooms of a cheap flat they rent, and takes his fiancé and their son to Notre Dame.
They keep Adam's face mostly covered as they walk to the cathedral, but the brothel they had just left is well known. Even though Florika is wearing her most modest dress, people still stare. Jehan briefly wonders how many people still know him as the new archdeacon's disgraced brother, but he focuses on getting his family to the cathedral without incident. But the monk who greets them on the front steps of Notre Dame stops in his tracks upon seeing the other man, and the elder's eyes widen.
"I wish to see my brother, the archdeacon. Tell him it is urgent," Jehan replies as he stands before the cathedral he grew up in for the first time in a year.
"Very well," the monk says quietly, and turns on his heel, plain robes brushing the floor.
Adam begins to cry as they wait. As his parents stand on the steps, Florika desperately tries to quiet his alarming wails from distracting both the passerby on the street and occupants within the church. Eventually Claude arrives, his fine robes billowing as he strides towards his brother.
"Claude," the younger manages before the elder sweeps him into an embrace, Claude for once uncaring of what anyone thinks as the brothers hold each other tightly.
"I thought you were dead," the older says as they step apart.
"Afraid not. I came to ask a favor of you."
Claude notices Florika for the first time. "Why did you bring her here? She was the reason you were excommunicated in the first place."
"I brought her here so you could marry us, Claude," Jehan says, putting a protective arm around Florika. Adam begins to cry again, the blanket pulled up to shield his face, and Claude looks back at his brother.
"Ours," Florika replies as Adam chokes out another rough sob.
"Is the child ill?" Claude asks, reaching to pull the blanket back from Adam's face.
"Not exactly…" Jehan begins as Claude lays eyes on his nephew for the first time.
The archdeacon recoils violently, making the sign of the cross. Florika moves away from the elder Frollo, cradling a whimpering Adam to her chest as a pale Claude whispers, "Kyrie eleison." He looks to his younger brother in disgust. "You would marry the mother of that… monster? Making a whore your wife is one thing, but I cannot believe-"
"Believe it, then," Jehan says automatically, taking a step towards the archdeacon and starting to put himself between his family and Claude. "And Adam is not a monster. Didn't the Lord say to show kindness to the less fortunate?" Jehan adds, jaw clenching as he stares down his elder brother.
"Yes, He did," Claude says after a moment, and looks at Florika. "Very well. Follow me." As they walk into the cathedral, the archdeacon glances at Adam. "Would you care for me to baptize him today as well?"
"No. Not yet, anyway," Jehan replies. "I do not wish for him to be baptized until he understands what it means." At his brother's words, Claude meets Jehan's eyes, and then the elder's gaze flickers away.
Another monk Jehan does not recognize holds Adam as Claude marries his brother and the former prostitute in his office. Florika clearly does not understand the Latin that flows so easily from her brother-in-law's lips, but there is something almost comforting to Jehan in hearing the prayers again. For better or for worse, they had been a constant in his youth, and he guesses he will always remember them after so many years learning the prayers.
As the monk is handing Adam back to Florika afterwards, Claude looks at Jehan. "I have business to get back to."
The desk between them feels like an ocean just as wide as the year they have already been apart. "I am sure you do." Jehan almost turns away, but stops himself. "Thank you for doing this."
Claude doesn't reply.
"We just rented a place in the Gorbeau House. You can visit us there if you wish."
The archdeacon pauses. "Perhaps."
"Maybe we can actually see each other now and again."
"Come to the cathedral for mass," Claude says in a rare moment of sincerity, his formal mask dropping away. "Bring the girl and your child. It will do you all good."
"Perhaps," Jehan says with a half-smile, and Claude manages a faint one in return before his younger brother walks out of the office with his wife and son without another word.
The blacksmith's is a far cry from the brothel, but it makes Jehan believe he is starting to live an honest life. Before Adam's birth, he hadn't cared about being a moral person, but his son deserves to grow up in a normal home with normal parents who don't work at a whorehouse.
Adjusting to a normal schedule beginning at dawn and ending with the sunset is a process, but Jehan forces himself to get used to it. Making horseshoes and axes is much more steady work than a brothel, and it pays better. Though now he comes home with burns on his skin and smoke from the fires in his lungs, Florika cleans his wounds just like she did back when he had bloody noses and bloody knuckles from fistfights.
When he makes his way home from his long shifts, he is content to listen to his wife relate her day. Some evenings all she tells him are simple anecdotes of a now month-old Adam holding his head up by himself. But other days, it is stories of a baker in the marketplace refusing to sell Florika anything because of the child in her arms. More than once Jehan holds her as she cries while telling him of an old woman, the only neighbor willing to talk to her, who calls their son Quasi as if he is half a person, and her husband quietly burns with rage.
But one night, he sits with Florika at the rickety table in their flat, eating the thin soup she has prepared when he asks, "What do you think about sending Adam to school? When he is old enough, of course."
Her eyes widen, looking almost panicked. "School?"
"Claude has enough money to sponsor him at one of those grammar schools, or even a university later on."
Florika sets down her glass of cheap mead. "Absolutely not."
He raises an eyebrow. "Why not?"
"They would treat him mercilessly, Jehan. People cannot bear to look at him now, even while he is still so small and not able to understand what they are saying. Imagine how it will affect him when he is older."
"What about teaching him here? He could at least learn something in the safety of the apartment."
Jehan doesn't understand why Florika is just as alarmed by his second suggestion. "No."
"Why ever not?"
"You are gone all day. There would not be enough time for him to get a proper education."
"What about the hours you spend with him all day? Why not you teach him then?"
Her chair scrapes the floor as she gets to her feet, going to the cradle in the corner of the room. "It is not possible."
"Florika, I don't understand what the issue is–"
She whirls to face him. "Did it never dawn on you that not everyone was taught to read like you were?"
Silence fills the apartment.
"I…" he begins, and stops. "Forgive me."
"You were taken in by some of the most powerful, well-learned men in France, and taught things most of the world will never know. The only way your life would have been better is if the king himself adopted you. You were given opportunities I never had."
"And I left the church."
"But they gave you an education before that. You had choices in life. I did not. Do you think I wanted to be a whore?"
"I cannot teach our son anything, simple as that. I want him to learn to read and write, but I am not about to send him to a school where they will be nothing but cruel to him." Her hands curl into fists as she grabs her cloak. "Watch Adam for me. It will do you both good to actually spend time together."
The door slams behind her.
Adam wakes at the sound and begins to cry in that tortured way of his, and his father goes to the cradle. Jehan tries everything he can think of to soothe his son, but after half an hour Adam hasn't stop screaming. Pacing, limited as the movement is in the small apartment, is the only thing that lowers the volume of his wails even a few decibels, so Jehan throws on his own cloak, wraps another blanket around Adam, and leaves the Gorbeau House.
In the crisp autumn air, Adam quiets in his father's arms, and as he walks Jehan wonders what he will do in winter if walking through the city is the only thing that calms Adam. But it works for now, and Jehan is grateful that his son is finally asleep again. Somehow he ends up wandering near the Île de la Cité, and he walks towards the bridge connecting the island bearing Notre Dame with more purpose. When he asks to see the archdeacon, he is shown to Claude's office only to find his brother looking somewhat stunned.
"Your wife was just here," Claude says almost wearily in lieu of a greeting. "She asked that I come to your apartment once a week to teach your son to read once he is old enough, and she refused to leave my office until I agreed." The archdeacon runs a hand over his thinning hair. "That's why you came by, is it not?"
"More or less," Jehan says with a shrug, Adam gurgling in his arms. "Would you mind also giving Florika some pointers at the same time? I am too busy at the blacksmith's to devote the attention she deserves."
Claude nods. "Very well. I suspected that she was illiterate herself during our conversation." He picks up a paper from the desk and holds them out to his younger sibling. "Should you have the time to teach her yourself," Claude says as Jehan takes the hand copied French translation of a verse from the book of St. John, "start with this."
"I thought the church did not approve of the common people reading the Bible themselves."
"It is just one verse."
Knowing not to push his luck, Jehan nods. "Thank you."
"I will send a message to the nuns who run the orphanage," Claude adds, "and see how young Adam can be before I begin instructing him. But be warned, with him being so… physically different, it might affect his–"
"It won't," Jehan insists. "If it does, we will deal with it then. But don't say he will be anything but brilliant until we know for certain." He gives his brother a wry smile. "And he is a Frollo. Perhaps he has the brains Mother gave you."
Adam coughs, and though Claude flinches ever so slightly at the rough sound, his brother doesn't move. "You know we cannot pay you," Jehan admits after a moment.
"I understand." His older brother clears his throat. "He is family, after all."
"He is." Jehan offers his sibling a faint smile. "Thank you for agreeing to this."
"Florika would not let me do anything but agree," Claude sighs, and Jehan doesn't try to hide his grin.
But just when Jehan feels like he might be able to manage everything life has thrown at him, he comes home from work a week later to find Florika pacing.
"Finally," she breathes the instant he opens the door, whirling to face him when he walks inside. "I need to tell you something."
He raises an eyebrow. "Are you with child again?"
She shakes her head, fiddling with her hair and the bodice of her dress as if she doesn't know what to do with her hands. He can see tension lining every muscle in her body, Florika chewing on her lip as she purposefully strides across the room to him. Always the level-headed one between them, she never been this anxious in all the time he's known her, and nerves coil in his own gut at the sight. Something must seriously be wrong if she is this worried. He glances at Adam laying peacefully in the cradle, but their son seems the same as he has always been.
"Jehan, I do not think Adam can hear."
He blinks. "What? Of course he can hear."
A desperate glimmer of tears form in her eyes. "I know what I saw. I have been testing him all day, and…" Jehan sees her hands shaking as she stands before him. "He is deaf."
When he crosses their flat to the cradle, Adam smiles in his odd way at the sight of his father as Jehan asks, "How did you make this discovery?"
"Our neighbors were fighting again, as you know they often do, and Louis slammed their door so hard it almost shook the walls," Florika explained. "It startled me, but Adam did not react. Then I said his name when he was turning away from me, and he did not appear to have heard me. Only when he was looking straight at me and saw my mouth moving did he respond like he always does. If he can see your lips when you are talking, he appears to know something is happening he should respond to. Otherwise, nothing."
Jehan was quiet for a long moment. "Claude suggested that Adam's… appearance might also be an indication of his mental state being different, which I of course denied at the time, but–"
"Do not even dare imply what you are about to say," Florika cuts in, eyes suddenly blazing. "You might have been raised in a place of luxury among the rich–"
"It really was not as opulent as you imagine. Monks are not known for their extravagance–"
"But I was not," Florika continues. "True, I was not amongst the deaf in my youth. But I knew a blind woman, and she was the smartest person I have ever met. Until Adam is older and we can discover a way to communicate with him, I refuse to say what his intelligence level is this early."
Silence fills the flat, and he swallows, hard. "Forgive me. I jumped to conclusions," he says in a low voice, and with a large dose of self-revulsion thinks What kind of father am I to make assumptions about something as important as my own son's mental state?
"We are both scared and unsure," she offers. He slips one hand into hers and reaches into the cradle with his other, Adam instantly grasping his father's finger. A crooked but pure smile spreads across the infant's face, and Jehan wonders how he could have ever recoiled from Adam the day his son was born.
"We will figure this out together," Florika murmurs, and Jehan weaves his fingers of the hand holding hers through Florika's as Adam gurgles.
Ten years later, Jehan returns from the blacksmith's to find books spread across the kitchen table.
Claude sits in one chair and Adam in another at the table; nearby, Florika sews one of her son's tunics, yet another garment she willingly alters to accommodate the curve of Adam's back. Claude speaks aloud, making sure his nephew is watching his lips move as the archdeacon's hands form shapes and draw images in the air. "Who was the saint who helped the Holy Family in Egypt?"
"Saint…" Adam answers, voice as rough as it has always been, and pauses. Ten years has taught them all that he can hear a little, even if it is only at a loud volume, but he can speak verbally as well as with his hands in the signing Claude had invented. Adam's brow furrows for a moment as his fingers still for a moment. "Aphrodisius?"
"Good," his uncle says, fingers going to his mouth before lowering his right hand onto the open palm of his left to form the word. But just as Jehan sits down at the table, Claude says, "I believe that is enough for today."
"I can keep going," Adam says quickly, eyes bright as his fingers fly through the signs. "I am not yet tired."
"Listen to your uncle," Jehan says evenly, though he is as pleased as always to see how eager Adam is to learn.
"We shall continue tomorrow," Claude replies audibly and visually, and Adam's face falls. But then Jehan's brother pulls a book from beneath a pile of parchment and hands it to the boy. "This is for you."
The nine-year-old lights up like a candle. "Thank you, uncle!"
"Memorize the prayers as best you can."
Wide-eyed, Adam begins flipping through the book as Florika sets aside her sewing. "Care to stay for dinner, Claude?" the archdeacon's sister-in-law asks.
"Thank you," Claude replies as she passes the table, and Florika glances down at the books and papers to scan a few lines of text. "I always liked Deborah," Florika muses as she goes to uncover the cooling loaf of bread. "She never hesitated in doing what needed to be done."
"With the Lord's help, of course," Claude adds as he gathers the books from the table.
"Of course," Florika replies as her brother-in-law and Adam clear the wooden surface, and Jehan gets up to help his wife bring dinner to the table. Though hints of wrinkles are just beginning to form around her eyes, she is just as beautiful to him as the day they met.
After Claude prays, the Frollos begin the meal. But as the sky grows dark outside the window, the fire and candles keep the room bright inside, and Jehan privately muses on how drastically things have changed in the past decade. As a bright-eyed Adam pesters the quietly bemused Claude with questions and Florika smiles at her husband across the table, Jehan knows he never would have imagined this life for himself when he had been excommunicated.
But he knows even if the king offered him all of the riches in France, Jehan wouldn't trade any of this for the world.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I realize that in the original novel and the La Jolla/Paper Mill musical, Quasimodo became deaf from ringing the bells his entire life, and was not born with a hearing impairment.
But I did not want to erase his deafness entirely like the 1996 movie did; I adored that the stage musical returned it to the character, because it is canonically a part of him, and it's not like there's that many other examples of deaf representation in theatre. So let's say in this fic, as you read above, that he was born with the disability.