Love of a Father

Lightning flashed across the Paris sky, illuminating the dark, stone walls of the cloister of Notre Dame. Thunder echoed off the walls. The wind howled across the stone, sounding like a haunted scream. The only sound that rivalled that of the storm was the soulful wailing of a child.

Now, this child was unlike any other. His name was Quasimodo and he resembled his name, incomplete. He was born with one eye (the other was deformed), he had no neck to speak of, his chest was as round as a barrel, and his legs were bowed. His deformities produced nothing but horror in those that saw him, even inspiring some to violence. He caused horror and disgust in all but one single person: his adopted father, the young priest Claude Frollo.

The young chaplain served at the late mass. He often lost himself in the serenity and peace that he found there. It was one of the few places, besides his books, that he found true peace. After losing his parents to the plague, he tried to lose himself in his work.

After the mass was said and the worshippers left, he walked back to his rooms lost in thought. He heard the cries of the child long before he reached the room that he shared with his adopted son. He found the child cowering in a corner, shielding himself with his tiny hands. His cries grew louder with each crack of thunder and burst of lightening.

Frollo felt his heart melt watching Quasimodo. The child was obviously terrified. He sat next to the child and gathered him into his arms. He rubbed the young boys red hair and said "What are you scared of?"

The boy pointed outside to the rain storm and buried his face into his adopted father's cassock during a clap of thunder, hiding himself from the noise. Frollo only held him tighter and murmured soothing words into his hair. "I'm right here my son, I'll always be right here. There's nothing to be afraid of".

He stood up and carried the child to the window that looked to the outside. A large display of lightening flashed across the sky and he pointed to the outside. "Look at how the lightening lights up the sky. You can see everything around you."

The child did as his father said and noticed the way the lightening made the trees look like shadows. Maybe it wasn't as scary as he thought. A few seconds later, the sky thundered again. He squealed and buried his face in his father's neck.

He laughed to himself and said "I know the thunder is scary, but it is only a noise. It can't hurt you. It's like the loud bells in the cathedral tower. They may be very loud, but they are beautiful. A thunderstorm is the Lord's way of healing and feeding the earth. See how the rain looks like diamonds falling from the sky? Rain is as precious as diamonds to the plants. Without the rain, the trees and flowers can't grow and we could not enjoy them"

"Without a storm, we couldn't find the plants we need to heal others. Don't you like the flowers and plants?" Quasimodo thought of the times when he and his father would go for walks outside to find flowers and herbs. Without the storm he couldn't enjoy the walks and helping find them. Maybe the rain wasn't so bad. Now, the thunder was. It was loud and hurt his ears.

"Do you know why it is always so loud when the king comes to the cathedral?" Frollo asked him. He shook his head 'no'. He remembered the loud noises of the trumpets that always marked the entrance of the king the few times when he came to the cathedral.

"It is loud because it announces the arrival of something. The thunder is so loud because it tells the earth that it is time to grow and live".

Quasimodo thought about that briefly and decided that it made more sense to him. He still didn't like the noise though.

"Be brave my boy. Hold on to me if you feel afraid. Nothing will happen to you. I won't let it."

He sat down with Quasimodo and rocked him in his arms until the child fell asleep. The child's fears were soothed by his touch. He stroked the poor deformed boy's cheek. This reminded him that Quasimodo was still a child, young and vulnerable. His outward appearance could not negate that fact. He wondered if he ever had anyone to cuddle him and soothe his fears.

He thought of his other child, his brother Jehan. He wondered if the Miller's wife that he left him in the care of was holding him the same way. He prayed that Jehan would be shown the love and compassion that he showed this poor soul.

After saying a prayer for the two tiny souls, he fell asleep. They were found the next morning by the other priests who noticed that the young Chaplain was late for Matins. They found Frollo with Quasimodo's head still buried in his father's neck, both fast asleep.