Author's Note: Okay, so how to explain how this happened. First of all, this is not in the same universes as my other ND stories on here, this is its own-standalone story set in a separate universe. The only parts of the Notre Dame Disney sequel that I enjoyed was the fact that Quasi got a love interest, but I thought that the villain could have been improved a bit and the bejeweled bell plot removed all together. This is a more 'kid-friendly' Disney version of Notre Dame, something I've not done before as my stories can tend to get kind of dark sometimes, but I've enjoyed writing it. I've made it rated T to be safe, as I intend to match the tone of the first movie. I will be posting two chapters a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It's already written so all that's left to do is polish it up on my end. The only thing I have kept the same from the Disney movie is Madellaine being Quasi's love interest, and of course, the 'goyles.
I hope you enjoy!
The sky plunged into an ominous darkness, awakening a few as they slept soundly in their beds. A distant bloodcurdling howl from a hound that hunted made the peoples' hairs on the backs of their necks stand up as they tossed uneasily in their sleep, certain they must be dreaming to imagine such a noise. The winter air was chilled as a soft wind traveled through the sleepy village of Paris, the tall dark oak trees that lined the edge of the provincial town swaying in the breeze.
On a good day, the town was a maze of narrow winding streets, as complex as the human heart. The streets were the veins, paved with dark red and brown cobblestones, and the people were the blood. The sound of the smiths, beating swords and breastplates into shape for the soldiers, the heavenly smell of the bread loaves and pastries that came from the baker's shop, was the consistent activity that let a traveler know that the city of Paris they had entered into was truly alive.
The bitter Parisian breeze carried with it fine drops, each one a promise of the rain to come. As newly chilled air moved the clouds, a figure let her eyes rest for a moment, feeling the ambiance of the street, hearing the sweet sound of nothing as the rest of the villagers lay asleep in their beds.
Brown leaves in various different hues, all breathtakingly beautiful to behold. All of them, these leaves floating gracefully on the breeze. Notre Dame, the illustrious structure, this grand cathedral that overlooked the sleepy little village looked vastly different from the outside.
It was the first thing the young circus performer now-turned thief thought of when she first laid eyes upon it, her sky-blue eyes wide and round with shock. It felt like years ago that she remembered seeing it. But in reality, it had really only been a few weeks.
But now, as she stared up at the grand church in all her splendor, up at the towering buttresses and massive pillars and parapets of stone that seemed to plunge in a never-ending battle to see which could reach the top of heaven first, it haunted her. The young blonde, whose name was Madellaine, eyed the gargoyles - monsters in stone. What a mercy it must be for a monster to be frozen like that, to have the rage and hatred erased, made still for all time.
They were faces that had never known love and feared it, struggled against light, and fled to darkness. That must be what it is to be a demon.
To extinguish such a thing isn't cruel but kind. In the air fragranced by the yew tree, she pondered if that was why they were cast onto the church, to show that extinguishing cruelty was a positive thing, that there could be no guilt in killing the monsters of their seemingly endless nightmares.
One gargoyle statue in particular stared down in the encroaching light as dawn's first rays threatened to peek over the edge of the horizon, eyes bulging as if the hatred behind them was about to burst forth and erupt. Madellaine stuck her tongue out at the cold beast. It could only inspire fear if she let it. Her companion, a young Romani gypsy woman older than her by a few years, clad in a dark blue cape, silently urged her forward.
"Hurry," whispered Esmeralda urgently, mumbling a curse under her breath as one of her bangles jangled loudly in the otherwise silent night.
The young blonde was jolted out of her thoughts as she felt the gypsy woman's hand on the small of her back, nudging her towards the front steps of the cathedral, a place that the circus performer admittedly thought she would never see again. Madellaine Barreau swallowed nervously past the lump currently forming in her throat, making it hard for her to breathe.
Up there, high in the dark bell towers, both the north and south towers, lived the elusive and somewhat mysterious bell ringer of Notre Dame herself. A man who, until recently, Madellaine thought she'd never meet. The villagers called him Devil. At that thought, she furrowed her brow into a frown and scowled, pulled the hood of her brown linen traveling robe over her face to conceal her features. She was technically a fugitive.
Albeit a well-dressed one, wearing the brown traveling robe gifted to her by Sarousch before everything had gone utterly, horribly so wrong.
Though the night was dark, if you were fortunate enough to look upon the beautiful young blonde, her natural elegance and beauty would have quite literally stolen your breath away. There was a smudge of dirt on her cheeks, though it did nothing to take away from her looks. Madellaine had been gifted with her mother's beauty, inheriting her prominent cheekbones and jawline, and an elegant, almost swan-like neck. Very…distinctive features. A trait, which unfortunately, would not help her here right now.
The robe Madellaine wore was a long linen robe, a brown color the color of desert sand, probably of Arabic descent. Sarousch had claimed he'd won it off some Arabian Prince during a bet one night in a tavern following one of their shows in Germany. The fabric was draped in rich architectural pleats, the waistline high, which only emphasized her slim, elongated silhouette and quite petite figure. The sleeves of the garment were long and wide with turnbacks, and the robe gave off the appearance that whoever she was, was a queen or a wanderer in exile, maybe.
Which wasn't entirely too far off from the truth if you stop to think about it. Thus, why she wore her hood up to conceal her face. The young circus performer had her mother's eyes—a piercing sky blue, like a robin's egg, or the sky after a fresh summer rainfall, bright and quite inquisitive, shining. Though, these days, especially since her imprisonment, it felt as though a light had gone out. Now, all that was left of that once bright fire that had burned there was naught but ashes billowing in the wind, coming from the fire that still burned deep within her very soul, this fire ready to scorch anything in her path that prevented her from achieving her goal: freedom. And to her, that freedom meant reaching Notre Dame…to him.
To Quasimodo. Perhaps the only person left in this world who might believe her, that she had been telling the truth, if she could just convince him. She and Esmeralda were exposed and vulnerable if they stayed out in the open like this. It would not do to be discovered by Frollo's men, out after dark like this, let alone she knew she was in trouble the minute his boorish soldiers had discovered their latest prisoner set to burn at the stake had escaped.
Madellaine drew in a sharp breath that pained her lungs as she inhaled a breath of cold air and exhaled, her breath making a visible puff in front of her, as the sound of one of the bells, probably Emmanuel, rang in the night. That Devil, that monster, that demon, that hunchback, rang them. This 'monster', despite the so-called rumors that ran rampant through the streets of Paris, did not eat women, or take little boys prisoner in his tower if he caught them trespassing. Madellaine, over the course of a few weeks now, had heard the stories while venturing to the marketplace.
She'd heard talk from travelers passing through Paris on their way to Montfaucon, pilgrims mostly, who didn't know of what they spoke of.
They claimed that the hellish imp who lived high above the City of Lovers in his precious bell towers, isolated with Notre Dame herself, was reviled, deformed, and was nothing but a demon sent to plague the citizens of Paris for all their wrongdoings. They say that he was once a person before, perhaps before the events of the…fire several years ago, now. The villagers would tell anyone who would listen over a pint of ale and a hot meal how Notre Dame's own demon was a creature with scars and bruises all over his malformed accursed wretch of a body that looked like God had decided to abandon him before he was even fully all the way made. How red, trickling crimson blood of his victims ran down his sides.
Truly, the perfect picture of misery, reflected both on the outside and the inside as well. Beauty to the young blonde thief, however, was never that skin deep. If she could even call it that. The villagers said time heals. But the people also said that the monstrous bell ringer never healed, after the attempted siege on the cathedral by the city's own Judge Frollo. This bell ringer never healed or became better, as a matter of fact.
The rumors that swirled through the marketplace about this redheaded devil that lives in the bell towers swirled around in traveler's tired heads until it was just a jumble of thoughts, much as it had been for Madellaine.
Most that passed through Paris's city gates didn't know what to believe, which rumors were true, and which ones were falsehoods. But she knew.
Madellaine let out a tiny snort as she recalled why, just the other day, the baker and his wife claimed to have seen the demon wander the streets. How he was nothing but a predator, who only came out at night and stalked the streets of Paris, for that was when he felt the safest from ridicule. Free from the tormenting of the people, free to wander about aimlessly. How his eyes were better than any hawk's or falcon's, his teeth sharper than knives, how the creature had a tendency to move in the shadows until his victim was in his reach, and then the monster's massive strong arms would shoot out from behind wherever he lurked and pull you into his grasp, where he then would dart off with you into that black night, and the poor unfortunate soul whom he had kidnapped was never seen or heard of again.
For the most part, the simple-minded peasants claimed you didn't even have time to call out and all one could hear from the inside of the sanctity of their own homes was the crunching of bones as this monster of the cathedral, this demon who had been hidden under the villagers' midst for the last twenty-one years would feast upon their flesh, satisfied at last. How this monster was so violent, he would snap your neck if you so much as looked at him the wrong way. But Madellaine, however, knew the truth, for she had looked into this 'monster's eyes, and more than that.
She knew if the two of them were to run, to try to make for the city's gates, Frollo's men would catch her. But if they stayed, they were as good as dead, so Madellaine knew she only had two options. Up or down. Down meant escaping through the tunnels and catacombs of the Romani peoples' Court of Miracles, wading knee deep in sewage, a prospect that made the young woman crinkle her nose in disgust.
Up, however…meant sanctuary, and was technically faster than down. She let out a tiny sigh as the sound of bells sounded tenderly through the morning air as Notre Dame's bell ringer poured the bells' different sounds and melodies, their flood of sound into the square as he rang for Lauds.
"I—I don't think I can do this," Madellaine moaned, pivoting on her heel and made to turn away. "He—he wouldn't look at me, Esmeralda."
"Stop." The gypsy woman's voice was curt and harsh, though not unkind. Madellaine cringed at the coldness in the other woman's voice and blearily lifted her chin. "I did not help you escape from the Bastille for nothing, Barreau," she growled, a low warning growl escaping her throat.
"But I—" Madellaine bit her bottom lip and stuck it out in a slight pout. Seeing her companion was not going to change her mind, she sighed, reaching up a shaking hand to tuck a stray wisp of her short blonde hair behind her ear. She winced. She would be needing a trim and quite soon.
"But nothing, Madellaine," Esmeralda retorted. "He will speak to you."
Madellaine mutely nodded, afraid if she opened her mouth to argue, then she might get sick. She could feel the harsh cold metal of the manacles digging into her wrist, the chains rattling slightly in the night as she moved.
The young circus performer had seen darkness before, where everything was an eerie shade of gray almost, but tonight wasn't quite like that at all.
No. This was the darkness that robbed one of their best sense and replaces it with a paralyzing fear. In this darkness, she and Esmeralda stood on the front steps of Notre Dame herself, muscles cramped, not moving.
Moving made noise, and it was bad enough the pair of women still had to breathe. They had to plan out each step the entire walk from the Bastille to now. If anything, they were grateful they had the cover of darkness.
But she wanted to see tomorrow long enough to tell Quasi the truth.
So, she would wait here for as long as it took for the group of Frollo's men on their stallions to pass by, barking orders to each other in rapid-fire French to find the thief and the gypsy girl. They were sisters now, really.
Fugitives and on the run together. Not quite how I imagined this, but I suppose it could be worse, Madellaine thought, heaving the tiniest of sighs.
Every part of her brain, the bits that could still think rationally, were screaming at the young circus performer to turn on her heel of her boot right now and go back. He won't want to see you, the demons inside her mind taunted and tormented her. Not after the way he yelled at you.
Betrayer. Murderer. Evil, vile. Witch. Temptress. Unfaithful. Wretch.
The dark voice in her conscience was in full force, and Madellaine felt the hot stinging of fresh tears prick and gather at the corner of her eyes.
Madellaine only knew her eyes were still there because she could feel herself blink, still instinctively moisturizing her eyes she had no use for.
She couldn't hear anything either, and the eerie silence bothered her.
"I don't like this. It's too quiet. I would have expected something to happen by now. Something isn't right, and the sooner we get inside, the safer we'll be. Come," breathed Esmeralda next to her, careful to keep her voice low, though there was no mistaking the slight warble in her normally calm, collected voice, a fact which troubled the young blonde. The gypsy seemed like the type who wasn't easily unfazed, so they were in trouble.
She stared up at the North Bell Tower, where she knew he was. Oh, but she didn't think she could do this! The last time Madellaine had laid eyes upon Notre Dame's bell ringer, he had been utterly furious with her!
"I—I can't," Madellaine breathed, reaching out a hand to steady herself, and she was surprised when Esmeralda's tanned hand reached up and settled itself on her shoulder and gave it a gentle but reaffirming little squeeze.
"You can and you will." This was not a question, but a demand. Esmeralda huffed in frustration and folded her arms across her chest, shrinking into her blue cape as much as she could for warmth against the bitter cold. "We didn't come all this way, escaping with our lives, for you to turn back now. If you go back, Frollo will catch you, and we'll die…"
Her voice trailed off and the gypsy fell silent. Esmeralda gave a curt nod and before Madellaine could so much as protest, opened the wide double oak doors of the main sanctuary that led into the nave and silently vanished.
Madellaine hesitated, still having to crane her neck up to look at the tower. She bit the inside of her check and felt her fingers begin to fidget.
If only she could get out of these chains. Madellaine sighed and lifted her wrists, wincing as the chains gave another loud clanking noise that would surely alert Frollo's men if she didn't bolt for the doors, and fast.
But…not making it meant not being there for Quasi, and that was something Madellaine would never willingly do. Abandoning him was not in her personality. No. She had to do this. Glancing quietly around out of the peripherals of her vision, Madellaine drew in a sharp breath, ensuring no one was watching her, and took one step forward towards the doors.
Madellaine paused as a vile pain spread throughout her chest like a deadly infection and her lungs beseeched her to stop walking for a second.
Her knees felt weak after running constantly for hours, and the young circus performer selfishly gulped in as much air as her lungs would allow.
Helpless and at her wit's end, she trudged towards the door, each step triggering a rush of pain in her chest, though she knew her pains were for an entirely different reason. Because she would have to see Quasi again.
Inhaling a deep breath of cold air, Madellaine exhaled a slightly shaking breath as she reached out with her bound hands towards the doorknob.
A pair of boot heels clacking on the cobblestones behind her reached her eardrum, and she froze, feeling the blood drain from her face.
Frollo, she thought, not even daring to turn around. She recognized his walk, knew the soft susurration of the Judge's footfalls. The only announcement of his arrival was a slight drop in the air temperature and the eerie descent of absolute silence. Without having to turn around, Madellaine knew the distinguished Judge Claude Frollo stood behind her.
"Hello, child." A man's voice from behind her rent the otherwise peaceful air, rendering the young woman frozen to her spot on the front step of the magnificent cathedral. Before Madellaine could so much as take another step towards freedom, towards her precious sanctuary, she felt a harsh tug on her shoulder as she was ripped off the front steps of Notre Dame violently and spun around to face the Judge, caught in his iron grip.
Madellaine felt the knife before she saw it. She looked into the eyes of the wielder, this man who had claimed to be a father figure to Quasimodo.
The eyes that were once filled with so much…determination and purpose was now replaced with bitterness and hatred and…something else that the young woman could not quite identify, and she didn't want to…
The knife Judge Claude Frollo held in his hands sat precariously against her skin, against the pale column of her throat, soft enough to not pierce her neck, but hard enough to enforce the much older man's intended message.
The harsh metal should have been cold against her bare skin, but her numb body could not feel a thing except for the excruciating pain of Quasi's betrayal. There was no way the Judge could have followed her here, unless…
"He told him," breathed Madellaine, feeling her heart sink to the pit of her stomach. Claude sneered, his lips curling upwards, which only confirmed the young blonde's suspicions that Quasimodo had cracked.
She had always believed the man who she might even be in love with now to be a tough nut to crack, but looking at the listlessness in Frollo's eyes, she knew now that was not the case. The man had a hold over him.
Her throat and heart held in a silver grasp, and all she could do was stare lifelessly at the gray eyes that held the blade and a terrifying coldness in a man that she had never seen before. Madellaine had never seen the Judge this up close and personal before, and now… Frollo was going to kill her.
Trembling, Madellaine tipped her chin up into the sharpened edge, tempting the distinguished judge to just end her anguish already, half hoping that he would, to save herself the embarrassment and heartbreak of looking into his eyes again one last time, and seeing the anguish and sorrow there.
A small stream of blood trickled from the feeble cut she could not feel, and Claude did not flinch or remove his eyes from hers, a cruel smile stretched up across gaunt features that made him look quite deranged.
Madellaine's frozen heart shifted at the sight of the judge's merciless gaze, her legs almost failing beneath her, but she refused to show her fear.
His steadfast grip on the polished jeweled weapon shifted, causing more crimson liquid to flow from the raw wound he had inflicted upon the girl.
"At last," he breathed, and Madellaine visibly cringed at the coldness that lingered in Frollo's tone. "You thought you had outwitted me, my dear. But as you know, I am quite a…patient man…and he led me here."
Madellaine swallowed nervously, cringing as the simple act caused her to feel the tip of the man's dagger, still holding her throat hostage with no signs of letting up until she either begged for him to kill her or surrendered.
Of which, she would do neither. Madellaine jutted her chin out slightly defiantly and dared to meet the judge's inquisitive gaze, who had cocked his head to the side and was regarding the circus performer as though she were an exotic animal behind bars in a zoo, a specimen to gawk at, really.
She scowled, knitting her brows together in one last defiant glower.
"Where's Quasi?" she demanded hotly, stomping her foot, a release of frustration. "What have you done with your son? Judge?" she added.
In Claude Frollo's arrogant triumph, the man smirked. Just a small pouting of the lips, a narrowing of the eyes and a tilting of his head.
It was so subtle, it was even more infuriating for young Madellaine, who caught a glimpse of it after making the foolish mistake of asking after him. Madellaine swallowed hard and blinked back briny tears as she watched, eyes wide with dawning horror as the judge snapped his spindly fingers, and a pair of his soldiers came forward, one of them was Phoebus.
"No…." she whispered, her voice croaking, her tears threatening to spill over as she recognized the Sun God drag a struggling figure over in the snow. Notre Dame's bell ringer was grotesque in appearance even on a good day, but now…already, his good eye was swollen shut, his form slack.
His ginger hair was matted and tangled with congealed blood, and his already pale face was drained of color, rendering a pallid look upon his features. As Phoebus reluctantly dragged their friend into view, she did not recognize poor Quasi. The pair of men were too far away, and his gait was all wrong. He walked like a scarecrow more than a man, and all lopsided at that. As the Sun God dropped the beaten bell ringer at Claude's feet, he cast an apologetic glance towards both Madellaine and Quasi. "I'm sorry."
Madellaine felt a million retorts bristle within her chest as her head whiplashed sharply upwards to regard the Captain of the Cathedral Guard.
"You're sorry?" she shouted, rushing to Quasi's side, the only indication of life still left within was the steadily slow rising and falling of his chest.
His good eye was swollen shut; he wouldn't be seeing out of that for a while if they lived through this. His slightly deformed face still bore traces of congealed blood, his own, and his green tunic was an utter, crimson mess. Then he tried to say her name, his cracked lips failing at the first syllable, but he didn't need to. Stifling a choked sob at the back of her throat, she cradled his head in her hands and forced him to look at her.
If this was to be the last time she would look upon his face, the girl wanted to make it count. She leaned down and whispered something into the shell of his ear, keeping her voice low enough so that only he heard. Madellaine turned back to Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers, seemingly have forgotten that for a moment, their fates rested in the hands of the judge. She felt the knife before she saw it, this knife of betrayal in their friend, just like Caesar of Rome had been stabbed by his friend Brutus on the Ides of March during the meeting of the Senate at the Theater of Pompey.
"You—you horse's ass!" Madellaine bellowed, having only eyes for Phoebus, who was looking just as beaten and whipped as the bell ringer, if not more. She wondered what Frollo had done to coerce Phoebus into this. But she didn't care. Not anymore. The damage was already done.
"How dare you? How dare you beat him within an inch of his life? Have you no regard for your own honor, Captain Phoebus? You were his brother! Now you're nothing to us but a mere slither of worthlessness!" she screamed, clutching onto Quasi's unconscious form as she knelt at the Judge's feet near the steps of Notre Dame. "I trusted you, Phoebus! I liked you! You were our friend! And this is how you repay us? Get out of my sight, Captain! You vile disgusting cockroach! You—you little snitch, you festering dribble of cow dung! I hate you. I HATE YOU!" she screamed, tears pouring down her cheeks. "I never want to see you ever again. GET OUT!" she yelled.
To that, Phoebus had nothing to say, he merely averted his friends' gaze. She didn't give a damn if Frollo had blackmailed Phoebus or not. What he had done was inexcusable, and she hoped he suffered for it. The bruise underneath his eye that had begun as a purple stain above his brow had sunk into the socket itself, and so now, it had the appearance of a black eye. Madellaine wondered if a fellow soldier of his had done it.
Judge Claude Frollo cleared his throat, a look of severe annoyance that almost bordered on boredom on his gaunt face. "Be quiet, heathen witch."
Madellaine bristled, still having a thousand things to say to Captain Phoebus. If she would get the chance, she vowed to give him a piece of her mind if she saw this Sun God again. What would Esmeralda think? She swallowed. There was no sign at all of Esmeralda, for which Madellaine was grateful. If there was at least a slight chance that she could save her friends, then she would be willing to sacrifice her life for them.
For Quasi. "I…" Madellaine's voice cracked and broke as she looked at his face, brushing back locks of his red hair, that one stubborn lock of fiery red coarse hair had a habit of hanging limp in front of his one good eye.
"You fool no one, you harlot," Judge Frollo sneered, clasping his slender fingers together, the garish glint of his ruby ring catching in the light. Before she could open her mouth to speak, he drew back his hand and slapped her. The slap was as loud as a clap and stung her pale face.
It had been an open-handed smack and it had left a red welt in its wake. Just below her right eye was a small bleeding cut where his ruby ring had caught her. She clutched at her face, eyes watering like mad. Claude Frollo's lips curled upwards into that cold smirk of his that was a habit by now anytime he made an arrest and smiled wickedly at them both.
"Take the traitor back to the Bastille, and my son back to his bell towers. Make sure he cannot leave them. There will a little…bonfire in the square tomorrow evening. I'd hate for my son to miss this witch burning. The accursed wretch needs to be taught a lesson," he sighed, snapping his fingers, motioning a pair of guards forward, who violently separated young Madellaine from the still-unconscious bell ringer, who had stirred briefly.
"No!" sobbed Madellaine, though her cries fell upon deaf ears. Phoebus looked like he wanted to say something but thought better of it.
"She is an unholy demon sent to plague my son's thoughts with wicked thoughts of lust and temptation. The girl has evaded capture and is guilty of thievery on at least ten counts, ever since that wretched circus came to town. This witch is also guilty of harboring a gypsy fugitive from facing the justice to answer for her own crimes. She is therefore guilty of the treasonous betrayal of her fellow Parisians and is sentenced to death by immolation at twilight on the morrow. And when I find Esmeralda, she is guilty of the same sentence and will therefore share this witch's fate. Burn. Get her out of my sight," growled Judge Claude Frollo angrily. "NOW!"
Madellaine could only watch, frustrated as she dug the heels of her boots into the snow-covered cobblestones, fighting with what little strength and energy she had left to make her way back to Quasi, who had been lifted to his feet by none other than the treacherous worm, Phoebus, an arm slung over his shoulder, and was being escorted back to his tower. Now she would never get to tell him how she felt, what happened…
There had been hope before. Just a tiny flicker against the wind.
But now, there was nothing left. She allowed the guards to drag her back to the Bastille, feeling her shoulders slump in defeat as they violently yanked her forward, causing her to stumble every few feet by the chains of the manacles to which her wrists were bound, digging into her soft skin.
Madellaine walked, unaware of the time that passed, just staring into the dark abyss. No thoughts came to her except that her fate was now sealed.
And she might even be in love with him now. That's the worst part of all this, she thought, as the guards dragged her back to the Bastille. That whatever good he saw in her was going to disappear tomorrow evening. At her pyre.
But the young woman held her head high as the guards marched her past the crowd that had roused from their sleep at the chaos. She shivered as the Bastille's towering form came into her line of sight and one of the guards leaned forward and whispered it into her ear.
"Welcome home, thief."