Disclaimer: I don't own the Hunchback of Notre Dame and as such I'm not making any money by writing this. This is purely for fun.
Warnings: It's not Beta'd…so there might be a few mistakes here or there. Also; this will go along with the Disney version of HoND, not the book or the other movies. Why? Simply because it's easier to go with a movie than it is with a book. Plus, I actually like the Disney movie—it's cute and I likes it. And finally: this is a story completely made on a whim. As such it won't be regularly updated. Be warned!
Dedicated to the lovely LxIsxJustice, whose story became my muse for this one. *smiles* you've inspired me! *dramatic pose* thank you! ^_^
Chapter One: Little Baking Mouse
These were dark times. Very dark times, Eveline realized early on. She wasn't in immediate danger—but she saw it whenever she just happened to glance out a window or into the streets. As a bakers daughter her life was all planned out, safe and sound. She was neither a noble woman of great standing nor a better woman on the streets. She had a loving mother and father and younger brother, a family. Her father was the village baker, or one of them being that they lived in Paris and there was more than one, and did well off. All this added up to Eveline being safe—but, as mentioned, this didn't mean she didn't see and didn't realize.
These were dark times.
Looking out her parent's bread shop into the streets Eveline met the familiar sights. Customers milling in and out of the bakery. Shoppers going this way and that to get their daily shopping done. Soldiers marching past the door several times in their tall dark armor, chuckling to themselves about something or other. And then, around mid-day the gypsies show up. Singing, dancing, telling fortunes, even little puppet shoes for the children the gypsies stay around as long as they can. Than the soldiers will come and scare them off. The whole process continues into the next day, and the next, and the next…on and on again.
Sometimes a gypsy would be caught. In that case Eveline was ushered into the back of the bakery by one or both her parents. She didn't wish to know the outcome either way. These were dark times. Eveline realized that right away, a week into helping her mother in the front of the store while her brother and father worked in the back. And she knew who to blame it on as well.
He was the man that was on the war path. He hated gypsies, everyone knew it. He would often unjustly prosecute them. Frollo would send his soldiers out to raid houses regularly, even the bakery. It didn't matter if the people in question had interaction with gypsies or not—no one was safe. No one could do anything about it, it seemed. All the people could do was stay out of the way.
Out of the way often meant avoiding gypsies at all costs. For children it didn't seem to matter. They were innocent and often got away from their parents. They were allowed little "mistakes" such as these. They weren't charged or punished for interacting with the "enemy". The older generations weren't as lucky. They avoided the gypsies—or else. They were subjected to prosecution. They were responsible for their own actions. The soldier's often took joy in telling tale of citizens who "fraternized with the enemy". The older generation learned to avoid gypsies for their own safety if nothing else.
Eveline's mother, Marguerite, often warned her daughter against talking to gypsies. Their house and bakery had already been searched twice that month for selling bread to supposed gypsies. They had been paying customers at the time. The Fournier family was on a thin line, apparently. They could not afford another search by the soldiers. If they had to choose between themselves and the gypsies they'd choose themselves.
Still, as Eveline looked around her, she realized that these were dark times. She wished she could do something but she was just like everyone else. She was afraid. She wasn't a child any more if she were seen talking to a gypsy Eveline was afraid of what could happen to her family. Eveline, herself, had nothing against gypsies. Many of them were just trying to make a living just like her and her family. She wouldn't deny them that, just as they wouldn't do to her. Eveline refused to judge a whole society of people on the actions of a few.
But it didn't matter what she thought at all. Life wasn't fair and if Eveline had to choose between strangers and her family—obviously her family would win out. Simple as that. To stay out of Frollo's way or else. To stay out of his way they much not associate with gypsies or soldiers, for that matter. The soldiers often times were worse than the gypsies were supposed to be.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Eveline thought the saying went. It was too true. The soldiers of Paris had let their power allowed them by Frollo to go to their head. Not all the soldiers were bad, just like not all gypsies were thieves, but there were a few that Eveline avoided. Those that bullied those of lower rank then them, socially. It was best to just avoid them as much as she avoided the gypsies. Eveline preferred not to choose a side in this pointless war.
Indeed, Eveline lived in dark times and she wasn't brave or smart enough to know what to do about it.
"Eveline, dear." Marguerite's voice called from in the back of the bakery. Said daughter barely had time to turn around before the ample woman appeared from the back.
Marguerite had been a beauty in her days and in some ways still was. Appearing in a brown dress with white apron dusted with flower and bread crumbs simply didn't do the woman justice. In her day she had been quite the eligible woman, and had given it up to marry for love. With her large doe eyes and curly hair it had been no wonder how she was beautiful. Of course, her hour glass figure that many women would die for didn't hurt either.
"Oh there you are." The woman continued on as soon as she saw her daughter. "I want you to take these to the grocers. I'm going to trade some bread for fruit with the grocer's wife. The usual, you understand."
Silently Eveline took the basket her mother prepared for her task and grabbed her shawl on the way out the door. She knew what she had to do. It was practically every day that Eveline was asked to run to the market for something or other. No one else could do it. Marguerite had to man the store in the front. Remy, Eveline's brother, worked in the back baking and cooking. Their father, Jacques, mixed between the two. Most of the time he was in the back with Remy, but a few times he happened to be out front with the customers to give his wife a hand. That left Eveline to run errands.
Eveline didn't mind though. As much as she loved the smell of baking bread it could get over powering at times and it was nice to get away. And if she kept her shawl tight around her, covering her hair, she wouldn't be that noticed by anyone. A few who knew her would call out, sure—but if, say, a soldier passed by he wouldn't look twice at the poor bakers daughter with the basket.
She preferred it that way.
As was custom, Eveline slipped her worn out shawl over her loosely braided hair as she stepped into the sun of the afternoon day. It provided some shade for her without a bonnet and wasn't too heavy to make her hot on the already warm day. The faded dark blue color matched with her dark blue dress. Dark so when she walked about all day the dirt and grime of the street wouldn't easily show up like it would on a lighter color. It was the same reason why her black shoes were dark and more boots than the fine slippers that the ladies of nobility wore.
Settling into her slow walk, Eveline happily looked around her. She tried to ignore the soldiers that seemed to be at every corner, ever searching for gypsies. She also tried to ignore the gypsies eyeing the soldiers from their hidden places, scouts for other gypsies hidden throughout the city. Instead Eveline jumped into the throng of moving bodies of the market place and heading left, where the grocers were located. Maids and mothers were busily going about their business, enjoying the sunny day as much as Eveline was. Children giggled and ran this way and that, getting away from parents and nannies alike to have fun.
Eveline chuckled as a group of said children ran past her, their giggling laughter filling the air. It was moments like these that almost made her forget. Forget the fact that they were living in dark times. Children were the future, Eveline realized. With their growing up and shaping would decide how the future would turn out; as grim as this present or bright with a hope filled future. It was completely up to them. That was probably why children were protected and given leeway like they were.
Following the playing children Eveline's eyes followed them as they all gathered around small gypsy wagon. Looking around to make sure there weren't any soldiers that might catch her, Eveline couldn't help herself as she hid in the shadows. She knew she shouldn't. She should pass on by to go about her business without even a second glance at the gypsy wagon that held the children's attention…but sometimes one just couldn't help one's self.
Not five seconds after the last child was assembled the large hole in the side of the wagon was suddenly opened with a flourish. Inside sat a strange gypsy man. He wore the most colorful of jester costumes that made Eveline wince at just the thought of trying to keep clean. But considering how bright the gold yellow, purple, and blue was the dark haired gypsy didn't seem to have any trouble. He wore a large purple hat that obviously had seen better days and a mask over his face. This didn't discourage the children though. They cheered when he appeared and Eveline soon figured out why.
The gypsy entertained the children with puppets and funny stories. With a little puppet that looked remarkably like himself the gypsy threw his voice so his puppet could speak. Soon little childish laughter filled the small square. Even Eveline had to hide her quiet laughter behind a hand lest she draw attention to herself. She only caught half of his act really, but what she had heard was actually quite amusing—with double meanings. The children might not quite understand completely now, but in his own way the puppet master was protesting the treatment of himself and his people.
Unfortunately the act was cut short soon after it began. A whistle from above alerted the gypsy man that soldiers were heading his way. He quickly ended his act on a good note, causing more laughs, with the promise of more later. The children swarmed around him, giving him little shinning coins that he quickly swiped up into a hat. Eveline noticed that he looked to be in a hurry. The soldiers must be close then.
Flagging down a lingering child Eveline quickly gestured him over. "Can you do me a favor, young man?" Eveline bent down so she could be eye level with the small child, smiling kindly at him. "Could you give this to that man?" She asked, gesturing over at the gypsy with a gold coin. "And if you do that for me, then I'll give you this coin to keep." She held up an extra.
"Oui!" The child called excitedly, snatching up the two coins without as much as a second thought. The older woman chuckled at the childish antics, adjusting her shawl over her head as the child ran back to the man. It didn't take long for the young boy to capture the man's attention considering the precious metal the child held.
Acting as if she hadn't just watched a child's show, Eveline once again adjusted her shawl before moving on. She trusted the child enough to give the man the coin, and for that she could leave. After all, soldiers were on their way and it wouldn't do to have them see her "interacting" with a gypsy. Her mother would be quite vexed with her. Head evened and out looking for the grocers Eveline didn't notice the child she had given the coin to talk with the gypsy man after giving him the coin. She didn't see the man gesture with a free hand, obviously questioning the small boy. Nor did she see the boy eventually point out her retreating back to the man. And she certainly didn't see those dark eyes zero in on her back, narrow slightly with a smirk.
Turning the corner Eveline turned left, where the market was. All thoughts of the puppets and the gypsy were gone from her mind. Instead she listed the things she needed to trade the grocer's wife for—while also wondering if she should do some other errands now instead of returning to the market for it later. Considering she didn't know all of what her mother could possibly want her to get Eveline was leaning more toward just returning with a list later on that day. There was a slim possibility that she could get what she knew her mother would need now though. That way she wouldn't have to carry as heavy a load back later.
Deep in her thoughts Eveline failed to notice that her passed crossed with a patrolling pair of soldiers. Looking straight ahead without actually seeing anything Eveline would have passed by them without a second thought. Unfortunately for the young female they noticed her. One soldier, a blonde, noticed her first then elbowed his friend to catch his attention. The brunette soldier looked confused for a moment before following the blonde's gestures to Eveline, than he smiled slightly.
"Bonjour!" The blonde called out to Eveline, effectively catching her attention from her musings.
"Morning." Eveline politely replied back, bowing her head to show respect—but kept on her path. She just realized that she wasn't in an overly crowded place and she was afraid. She didn't know what these strange men thought of her or would do with their thought. It was best to acknowledge them then move on with her day. Or better yet, move on to a more populated area.
"Aw look at that, mon ami, you scared her off." The brunette soldier chuckled, watching as his friend hurried after the girl. He quickly realized that whatever was going to happen would be quite humorous indeed and hastened to follow them.
"Naw, she's just shy." The blonde joked, looming over the girl that appeared to be ignoring him. Her dull blue eyes staring straight ahead of her. "She's like a little mouse, quiet and pretty."
"I still say you scared this "little mouse". She doesn't even acknowledge you." The brunette chuckled, the whiskers at his face twitching as his smile broadened.
"Non, I think it's your face fur that's scaring the poor mouse." The blonde happily replied before turning back to Eveline. He grinned at her, his straight white teeth flashing against his sun tanned skin. "Where are you off too, little mouse?"
Eveline didn't say anything, just stared right ahead of her. If she ignored them, maybe they would leave her alone. Her hopes were dashed seconds later when the soldier somehow was able to corner her against a wall. A soldier on either side of her ruined any chance Eveline had of escaping the predicament she suddenly found herself. Of course, she should have known better. Soldiers were practically trained to not take "no" as an answer. Now she was in a situation where she didn't know how she would get out of. Her slightly panicked blue eyes glanced around her, searching for anything (anyone!) that could possibly help her.
The two soldiers laughed at Eveline's feeble attempt to escape, sneaking glances at each other over the shorter girls head. The blonde soldier smirked down at the girl, leaning forward so he could be closer to her face. He didn't seem to notice that Eveline leaned away from him, her face scrunching up as if she smelled something bad. The blonde was just about so whisper something into Eveline's ear when a sharp ear-piercing whistle distracted the trio.
Snapping to attention the two soldiers and Eveline looked down the road where the sound had originated. The tall puppeteer grinned mischievously down the road at the group. Balancing on one bell tipped purple shoe he twirled in place, letting out another high pitched whistle. "Bonjour, mon ami!" The gypsy called out, his dark eyes glaring at the soldier's from behind his strange half-face mask. Suddenly his hand shot out from behind his back, a small replica puppet settled perfectly around where his hand was supposed to be.
"What's that?" A high pitched voice supposedly came from the puppet. It turned its body slightly to look down the street. "Well would you look at that." It laughed, "A couple of ugly pigs…and a girl!"
"Now Puppet." The gypsy hit the piece of cloth with a stick he produced from somewhere on his person. "They're not pigs…they're worse. They're Frollo's men."
"Gypsy!" With a cry the two soldiers fell for the bait. Completely forgetting Eveline the two charged after the strange man. The puppeteer didn't even hesitate in running off, down a side alley with the guards hot on his heels. Eveline could swear she could hear his laughter still sounding from off in the distance. She didn't stick around to make sure though. Eveline knew a gift when she saw one, and be it not from her that she let it pass up. As soon as the two soldiers rounded the corner Eveline broke out into a run of her own—far away from where she currently was. She didn't want for them to return and find her where they supposedly left her.
Hurrying on her way Eveline clutched her basket of bread close to her as she turned alley way after alley way, trying to put distance between herself and where she had been. She wasn't even thinking about heading closer to her original destination—just that she had to get away. Fortunately for her she soon ran out of steam so she didn't become that lost. Turning one more corner Eveline leaned against the wall, breathing heavily, with hand over her heart.
"Are you okay, Mademoiselle?"
Jumping a foot in the air at the sudden voice so close to her person, Eveline quickly covered her mouth to stifle her scream. Snapping a look to the side dulled blue eyes widened as they connected with darker, blacker than black colored orbs surrounded by a half-mask colored gold and purple. Standing all too close to Eveline than what the girl found comfortable was the puppeteer. In purple, gold, blue, black, and tanned skin he grinned down at Eveline, eyes dancing.
"I-I-I'm fine." Eveline stuttered out, stumbling away from him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." The puppeteer's voice became high pitched as his hand moved forward, the small replica puppet on his hand.
"I believe…" The man spoke to the puppet, "That she was talking to me."
"Why? I helped her!"
"No, I did." The man argued, "I had the men chase me."
"No I did."
"You don't have legs."
"Dang." The puppet slumped in defeat causing Eveline to let out a little giggle at its antics. It was immature to behave this way…but, strangely, coming from this man Eveline didn't think it was so bad.
The strange man grinned at hearing her small laugh, his white teeth contrasting with his darker colored skin. He continued to argue with his small puppet, relishing in her attention and almost silent giggles. It was rare for him to have an audience above the age of eight years. A rare and greatly treasured event to be sure. It let him know that his talent wasn't only for little children, that anyone could find the joy and laughter of watching him.
"It's amazing how you do that." Eveline smiled, pointing at the gypsy's mouth as if to prove her point. "You don't move your mouth at all—yet he talks."
"Of course I talk!" The puppet exclaimed, his small arms waving around. "It's not my fault I'm always stuck with him. I was born this way."
Eveline giggled, hiding behind her hand, "I'm sorry, monsieur, I meant no offense."
"Puppet! There you go again, insinuating things." The gypsy once again somehow produced a long stick to whack the puppet on the head with. "And with that we will take our leave of you, my lady. Now that you are safe and smiling my job is done." The gypsy bowed, reaching out to kiss Eveline's hand.
"You're job? It was my job!" Puppet exclaimed as the gypsy bent over Eveline's hand.
Arguing with his puppet the gypsy walked away without another word. Eveline didn't even have time to thank him again for saving her. It was like he had just disappeared. One moment Eveline was watching him leave and the next he was gone without even a sound. Thinking it such fun, and not to mention mysterious, Eveline smiled in the direction he had disappeared and went on her way.
If she had but looked up, Eveline would have seen the strange gypsy man on the roof of a home; smirking down at her as she found her bearings and went on her way. The puppet at his side looked between them before disappearing all together behind the man's back.