This Burning Desire
Author's note: Frollo is such a deep character... he is one of my favorite literary characters ever.
This Burning DesireLike fire
This fire in my skin…
This burning desire is turning me to sin…
He didn’t know what led him there in the first place. Down, deep into the reaches of the Palace, where the foul odor of cess and vomit permeated the air. Frollo grasped the hem of his robe and lifted it above his ankles, so as not to step into anything unsavory that might spoil the expensive cloth. The jailer beckoned him further down the hall and was moving with insulting leisure. Briefly, he considered having the man whipped for his insolence, but reluctantly discarded the idea when he realized it wasn’t worth it.
The jailer finally led him to wooden cell door and pulled out a ring of a dozen or so keys. In no particular hurry, the jailer sorted through them, one by one, and finally landed on the desired key, which he plunged into the lock of the cell and twisted sharply. Painstakingly slowly, there was the sound of a bolt shooting from a lock, and the door opened, revealing utter darkness.
“Anything else, sir?” the jailer yawned.
“Yes,” Frollo replied, pulling a candle from the sleeve of his robe with his free hand. “I require your immediate removal from my sight. I have business to attend to.”
The jailer snorted, but one dark look from the judge sent his massive bulk flying down the hall without a glance back. Satisfied that he could proceed undisturbed, Frollo lit the candle and placed the palm of his hand against the wooden door. He paused, listening for the sounds of any movement behind the door. There was nothing, no rustling of chains, no breathing, no movement. Yet he knew she was there – the gypsy witch – Esmeralda… the very thought of her all alone in the darkness of the cell was like a knife twisting sharply in his chest. The very thought of her chained, helpless, the fire in her eyes dimmed in captivity made him weak in the knees.
“Make me strong,” he breathed a quick prayer, and pushed the door all the way open. Dim light from the hall torches spilled in, and he could just make out her outline. She lie stretched out on the floor not facing him. Her wrists and ankles had been chained to the wall, with barely enough excess for her to stand. Her questionably modest ensemble had been burned, earlier, and had been replaced by a simple white dress that still managed to cling to her voluptuous figure. Yet, even in the dungeons of the Palace of Justice, a degree of modesty was required.
Her dark thick hair, black as a raven’s wing, now tumbled over her shoulders and down her back, as it no longer had any restraints. Frollo’s fingers ached to run through that hair, to grasp it, to wrap it around his fingers, to hold it up and breathe the scent of sun and life – which clung to her like perfume. A witch’s craft all on its own, that.
His head reeling, Frollo battled with himself for composure, which finally he regained. Bracing himself, he cleared his throat and lifted his chin, gazing at her down his aquiline nose.
“Esmeralda,” her name rolled so easily off his tongue! “I am here to gather your confession. As the dark hour of your life’s end draws near…” he would have continued, but he was interrupted.
She rolled over on her side, then, turning at last to face him. Blue green eyes that sparkled like twin faceted gems glared at him with a blazing anger that he was certain could rival the wrath of God Himself. He took a hesitant step back, unsure of what she might do, but she simply remained there, making no further movement but to prop herself up on her elbow.
“You are wasting your time,” she hissed at him, her voice was dry and hoarse. “Your soldiers have already tried everything to extract a confession from me. I have nothing to confess, therefore, leave me in peace!”
Frollo’s thin lips drew back in a grimace, and the disdain was once more rising in his chest, extinguishing easily the climbing desire. “Peace? There will be no peace for you after this night, gypsy. If I leave you here, then it is not the flames of tomorrow’s pyre that you should fear.”
“I can talk to God on my own,” Esmeralda snarled, her eyes bright with tears that she fought to hold back. “He and I have had a nice long discussion or two, and he never mentioned you, so as far as I’m concerned…”
She was silenced by the back of his hand connecting soundly with her jaw. Whimpering, she lowered her head back to the ground, not having the strength for anymore retorts.
“You may burn with or without your tongue,” Frollo hissed, flexing his bony fingers as if the blow had not pained him at all. “It is up to you, really, it makes no difference to me.”
“You can’t save me,” she muttered darkly, spitting out blood onto the stones. His ring had ripped open her chapped bottom lip. “If my immortal soul is in your hands, no offense, your honor, but I’d rather burn in hell.”
“Suit yourself,” Frollo said disgustedly. “You have until tomorrow to make your final decision.” He picked up his robes again and turned to go, angrily, he considered again why he had decided to come do this. God had compelled him, naturally. To what? Save a poor lost soul from the damning flames of justice? There was no redemption for her kind! What had he been thinking?
Before he could get very far, he felt a tug at the hem of his robe, nearly tripping him. Furiously, he whirled around, the tip of his chaperon coming dangerously close to falling over his eyes.
He was about to brush her away, like a troublesome dog in the street. Yet he stopped suddenly, by some unseen force, something that compelled him to notice the delicate, slender dark hand the clutched at his robes. The arm that followed, not weak, but still soft. In fact, it was something he had never bothered to notice about her, even in the Notre Dame Cathedral that eve on the Feast of Fools. He had felt it, then, but disregarded it completely when he got caught up in his threats. Her raven locks, her sun kissed skin, her pale plump lips and her wide blue green eyes. She was still soft, underneath that exterior. A heathen gypsy, yes, but still a woman nonetheless.
And he felt something in him that he had never felt before, a burning in between his legs that left his thoughts muddled beyond comprehension.
“Don’t leave,” She pleaded, her voice barely a whisper. “Don’t leave me just yet.”
The candle fell to the ground.
Its meager light was immediately extinguished, and cast them both into darkness once more. The only light came from the hall, and even then, it was still barely enough to make out what was in front of him.
“I don’t like the dark,” she confessed. “I never have. Don’t ask me why I mentioned it, I don’t know.”
“One would think it would be better suited for your purposes,” he snapped, reaching down for the fallen candle. Unable to find it, he muttered something under his breath and reached up to straighten his hat.
“I am not a witch!” she sounded exasperated. “For the last time, I have no interest in that area and I never will. It’s all just ridiculous to me.” She reached forward; he could hear the strain of her chains, and grasped the candle off the floor, holding it up. “Is this what you’re looking for?”
“Yes,” he spoke through clenched teeth. He reached forward to take it from her and she snatched her hand back. Her other hand shot forward and grasped him by the wrist, pulling him roughly forward. He stumbled, and fell forward on his knees. She caught him, pressing against his chest so that he was on his back against the floor, and ground her elbow roughly into his throat.
“Release me,” she was so close to him that he could feel her breath against his skin. “Or give me the satisfaction of killing you before my own time comes.”
How dare her! Frollo was enraged. Mostly at himself for allowing such a thing to happen, to allow himself to be lured in by her witch’s spell! To make him feel drawn to her, just so she could get close enough…
His thoughts halted right there. She was quite effectively cutting off his air supply, and from the corners of his eyes, he could see dizzying black flecks appearing. Not a good sign, from what he could tell.
Summoning up all his strength, he braced his hands against her stomach, and used both arms and legs to shove her off. He kept a hold of her arm and twisted it behind her, reminiscently of the night at Notre Dame, and pinned her to the ground, discarding momentarily priestly dignity for the sake of survival.
“Such a clever witch,” he growled. She struggled beneath his weight, but it was about as effective as if she hadn’t been moving at all. “What do you think this would gain you? They would not respond well to my death, you would suffer greatly for it.”
“Something worse than burning at the stake, you mean?” she asked dryly. Frollo’s lips thinned and he slipped his hand against the back of her neck. He grasped her dark soft hair, tangling his fingers through it and yanking it hard enough to bring her head brutally back.
“Perhaps we can come to an alternate arrangement,” his voice had reached dangerous lows. A gleam appeared in his eyes as it always did when he was thinking. Esmeralda’s eyes widened at the tone, but didn’t comment. She was surprised when he then stood, brushing off his robes. He reached down and picked up his hat, dusting it off, as well, and placing it firmly back on his head. Esmeralda slowly rose back to her sitting position, and glared holes into the back of his head.
“I hate you,” she spat. “And I hope you burn with me when you finally make it to hell.”
“I’ve no intention of making it there,” he informed her coldly, tossing a glare over his shoulder. “But mark my words, gypsy, you have until tomorrow to make your choice. I shall only ask you once more.”
“My answer will be the same,” she said. “I want nothing to do with you, or your salvation.”
He considered just leaving. That was perhaps the best thing to do – no more of this – he was tired, he would need his rest, a nice fire and a glass of tea before his head hit the pillow would be just the thing he needed. But she … this blaspheming witch, this wretched heathen, would go to the flames defiantly, would waltz through the gates of hell and not regret a thing, would not even think twice!
It was his duty to ensure that his message came across as very clear. She didn’t get it, not entirely. She didn’t understand that tomorrow there would be no pompous idiot knight prancing around in gold armor to come to her rescue. Phoebus lie in the cell just down the hall, manacled as securely as she, and there would be no redemption for him, either. No one to pull him from hell’s ever-reaching flames.
He reached out; his hand touched the rough wood of the door. If anyone was going to teach this gypsy, it would have to be him. God would grant him the strength to do so.
He shut the door.
Esmeralda’s eyes widened a touch further, and then narrowed again dangerously as she tried to figure out exactly what he was doing. He pulled his chaperon from his head, turned it around in his fingers once, and then dropped it to the ground.
“What are you doing?” she asked, curiosity overcoming her.
He did not reply, he simply dropped his mantel to the ground, and then turned to face her. There was a new expression on his fine aristocratic features. Something she hadn’t seen before, but now scared her. With the lightning movements of a serpent, he grasped her neck and drew her to her feet before throwing her against the wall. His fingers bracing her head kept it from slamming into the stone, but that didn’t cease the numbing effect that the impact had on her legs.
Frollo couldn’t control his movements any longer. He struggled, but he was too caught up in what he was doing to realize what had happened. He had given in to the temptation, had become entangled in the very trap the devil had set up for him.
But he was going to go through with it, he had to, now. God forgive him for it, but he had to go through with it!
His heart leapt guiltily as he kissed her lips and drank heartily from the goblet of sin.