Author's note: Sorry for taking so many months! My muse fell asleep and wouldn't wake up. -_- But now that I am motivated again, hopefully I will be able to finish this up soon! (: And to Galatea1685, thank you for your review and for your patience. (:

Dead silence.

Clopin's own heartbeat thrummed painfully in his ears as the seconds slowly ticked past until his mother finally spoke. "I—I believe I am going quite deaf in my old age," she stammered. "I believe that I heard Esmeralda say that…"

"No, your hearing is just fine," he snapped, frustration finally reaching its breaking point. "Your daughter had a torrid love affair with the same politician who oppressed, enslaved, and murdered our people. Traitor." Snarling, Clopin stomped the floor so forcefully that the sole of his overused shoe snapped in half. "And I'm done trying to cover for her!"

"Esmeralda?" Gudule whispered painfully.

"Forget it," Es growled, folding her arms and turning her back. "I've explained myself over and over to you, but you never listen. I'm tired of arguing with you."

Gudule's eyes grew huge as they slowly drifted back and forth between her two children. Then, without warning, she threw back her head and commenced to bawl.

"So much for a happy family reunion," Clopin grumbled, scuffing his broken shoes along the dirty floor. The gypsy king was sufficiently absorbed in his own sulking that he completely missed the approach of a prison guard until the man spoke. "Well, well, well." Leering, he lifted Esmeralda's chin to get a better look at her face. "I do believe I recognize you from last week's riot."

"Leave me alone," Es snarled, jerking her chin back out of the man's grasp.

"Dom Frollo's wife, hmm?" he pressed. "Well, you certainly don't seem too sorry over his death." With the tip of his sword, the guard flicked open her bathrobe, exposing the delicate lace. "Too busy landing another fish, I suppose?"

"Stop it!" Es snapped, taking a step back and defensively hugging the bathrobe around herself. "And he's my only one, ever!" Retreating again as the guard advanced, the back of her heel hit the wall.

Protective instinct completely snuffing his former anger, Clopin jumped to his feet. "Leave my sister alone!" he shouted.

"Riiiiiiiiight," the guard drawled. "And how exactly do you plan to stop me?"

"Uhhhhhhhh…" Clopin yanked his manacles, but they remained tightly chained to the wall. Same as Esmeralda's hands. "I'll…I'll sing 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' really loud until you go away. THE ITSY BISTY SPIDER CLIMED UP THE WATER SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUT! DOWN CAME THE RAAAAAAAAIN—"

Rolling his eyes, the guard slipped out of his expensive coat to physically wrestle Clopin into silence. The King was pretty good in a fight…when he wasn't chained to a wall, that is. In about 30 seconds, Clopin found his hat stuffed down his throat, soaking up his saliva to make his mouth uncomfortably dry. Valiantly he struggled to continue "Itsy Bitsy Spider", but with little success.

A loud crash from the other end of the room made the jailor turn around. "Who's there? And what did you just knock over?"

Then, to Clopin's shock, the guard's coat slowly lifted itself into to the air. Turning itself to face them, the coat shook itself out—not like being shaken by a pair of human hands, but like a man pulling it down over his torso. Deliberately, the cuff of the left sleeve lifted up to the right forearm to flick off a speck of dirt. Fleur squeaked and passed out in the floor.

"Wh—wh—how?" the guard spluttered. "You!" he shouted in Clopin's face. "Is this some magic trick of yours, puppet guy?"

"Mmph umph urrk!" Clopin managed to vocalize through his hat in his mouth.

"Yeah, that's what they all say." Face narrowing, the guard yanked the hat out of Clopin's mouth. "Now, for real, what have you done with my coat?"

"I'm not doing it!" Clopin gasped frantically. "I don't know how it's happening!"

Unconvinced, the guard spun around on his heel. "You!" he barked at Gudule. "Batty old gypsy woman! What hex did you put on my coat?"

"I didn't do it!" Gudule wailed, eyes wide. "I'm not smart enough to do anything like that!"

"Somebody tell me what's going on!" Anxiety lent an edge to the jailor's voice. Desperate, he addressed the coat directly. "What is it that you want?"

Silently, the left cuff pointed with an invisible hand, indicating the four prisoners in turn.

"I—I don't trust you." Stammering, the guard grabbed a club from the floor. Though heavy, he swung it easily—the jailor had much experience using the club to threaten prisoners.

However, he was not so fast as his coat. The garment jumped away from the club before hovering right beside the chimney of the fireplace which provided the only light in the dark dungeon. Very deliberately, the right sleeve swept right across the lip of the fireplace, leaving a long black smear across its cuff.

"What the—hey! Hey! Stop!" the jailor shrieked as the sleeve sank tantalizingly close to the licking flames. "It took me six months to pay for that thing! Okay, okay, I'm letting the prisoners go!" Fumbling the keys in his haste and swearing under his breath, he hastily unlocked all four sets of irons. "Everybody out! Out!"

Es, Gudule, and Fleur (who had recovered from her faint) scrambled for the door, but Clopin hung behind for a few seconds out of sheer curiosity. Stifling a giggle, he watched the guard gingerly prodding his now-limp coat with the end of the club, hesitant to touch it.

To the king's delight, Poke #3 caused a small waterfall of coins to spill from a pocket in the coat. Quick as a cat, Clopin jumped forward to clap a hand over them.

"Th—that's my money," the jailor stammered weakly, without moving.

"Well, it's mine now," Clopin declared. "I'm going to replace my hat after you destroyed my old one by crumpling it up to gag me."

"O—o—ok," the jailor squeaked.

And maybe I'll even replace my shoes. Clopin whistled happily as he skipped out into the sunshine, coins in hand.

A/N: Please feel free to leave feedback, I love hearing from you 3 And if there's anything that I've written that doesn't make sense, please let me know and I'll be happy to fix it