The sanctuary took on a comforting glow with its red carpeting and rich woodwork. The brilliant sunshine streamed through the stained glass windows, creating playful pools of colorful light on the stark white walls and highly polished pews. His Grace's eyes fell the window facing him; somehow the depicted anchor so very much reminded him of his beloved. Yes, she was my anchor...I can't believe it...this is not fair...
Claude Frollo sat in the front pew, in the sanctuary, alone, his face set in a fixed expression of sorrow and pain. Ever since his arrival he insisted that he needed time alone. So, far from the crush of family and friends, Claude silently grieved. The tears coursed down his deeply etched face as he surveyed the communion table and pulpit adorned with numerous flowers. This was to be our day...This was to be a happy day...My Nisha, Nadine, and I together at last...
The medieval judge immediately broke down in tears. "It is not fair," he sobbed, "we had so much to live for..."
He felt a gentle touch to his shoulder, then raised his eyes to face
the elderly woman standing beside him. Her aged voice was warm and soothing;
she addressed him, "I know you're hurting right now...This was quite a
shock for all of us. No one knows when or why such things happen." Claude
Frollo raised his eyes to this woman, eighty-one years young as she put
it. Her eyes registered both wisdom and compassion. She slowly made her
way to the table with its silvery cross and the mound of floral tributes.
She pointed out the choir loft just behind the pulpit where she proudly
told Claude, "You know, seeing Danisha up there and listening to her lovely
voice every Sunday was a treat in itself. She was one sweet, plucky gal...Oh,
I'm sorry I forgot to introduce myself..."
Zerelda Boykins turned to face the Minister of Justice, took his hand, then asked if he would accompany her to the children's room. "Your daughter's there and I'm sure she'd very much want to show off the nursery to her father."
Claude managed a slight smile to this kind woman. Yes, he hadn't smiled since that dreadful New Year's Eve, only hours after he proposed to his beloved and she so happily accepted. No! This is all a horrible dream! It has to be!
It was so quick, so sudden. One moment we were celebrating the New
Year, and the next....O Mother of God, never would I have imagined...!
She said she was cold -- and very tired -- She hadn't been well since Christmas Day, all those fainting spells and the listlessness...Her mother and I thought Nisha was only stressed from the previous weeks' ordeal...If I had only put my foot down and forbid her from ever accompanying me...
No, I might have died without her help...I shouldn't blame myself, but...
Then, shortly after midnight, after I had returned Nadine to bed, Danisha complained of being cold and -- what she calls 'swimmy headed'. I held her all that time, and she simply slipped from this life to the next. The last thing I heard her say was "I love you, Claude."
"Papa, this lady is Joyce. She's my Sunday school teacher." Nadine,
clad in a black velvet dress, black tights and shoes, her hair neatly fashioned
into two ponytails, approached her father then began to make polite introductions.
She showed him the playroom -- a small colorful room crammed with toys,
books, art supplies, and something else...
"Mommy made the snowflakes on the windows.", she said, pointiing to the many hand crocheted snowflakes. Joyce, the teacher, proudly informed Claude Frollo that Nadine, "Is one of my best students. Oh, Mr. Frollo, she is so helpful to me...We have so many children, and I can't get around too swiftly." Joyce indicated the cane that lay nearby, then continued to heap praise on little five year old Nadine Frollo.
On the surface, Claude Frollo remained steadfastly gracious and calm. Never once did he allow himself to show any outward display of grief, but as Geraldine Wood later said to him, "They could see the depths of pain in your eyes." And that pit became even deeper as he led Nadine out of the nursery and through Fellowship Hall. The people began to arrive, and so many came to pay their last respects despite the bitterly cold temperatures, deep snow and icy streets. They all filed past one last time, just to glance upon her lovely yet still face. Some looked stunned; others bawled out loud. So many loved her...so many...
Within that sea of grieving humanity, Claude Frollo recognized several
faces -- those people who had touched his life all because he had the privilege
and pleasure to meet and fall in love with a woman five hundred years his
junior. There was of course Fern and Dwayne Grigsby, along with son Kyle
and daughter-in-law Michelle. There was Fern's brother Daniel "Iggy" McMullen,
his wife Cissy, and their two children. There were the Darceys -- Jacqueline
and her father Ronald; Jacqueline's husband Antoine Terrell and the twin
sons Mark and Marshall. There was Sam and Francine Terrell -- Tony's
brother and sister-in-law -- with their son Marcus, now fourteen.
In the corner of his eye Claude could see the entire Wood family -- parents and siblings,, uncles and aunts, cousins from near and far. He remembered Nisha's favorite cousin Nat -- It was during an impromptu visit to Nisha's time, during a snowstorm of all things, that Claude Frollo met Nat. He chatted with Wendell Parsons briefly and was quite surprised when Sunny Rathbord-Lingeman braved the elements to say good-bye. "Wendell told me what happened...So sad to lose someone and so close to the New Year! I understand you were to be married..." Sunny still insisted that she and Claude had met before but chalked up the faulty recollection to old age and failing faculties.
Claude Frollo glanced up to see two very attractive young ladies descend the stairs that led from the second floor choir room. Imagine his utter amazement when he learned that these were the late Arletta White's daughters, now nearly grown. Kenya, the oldest, was now seventeen and on her way to Julliard next fall. Thirteen year old Tamara had still the smooth dark espresso complexion and dimpled smile reminiscent of her mother's. Both girls immediately ran up to the man from 15th Century France, embraced him, and expressed their condolences. It pleased Claude to hear that Kenya was to sing a solo, "One of Nisha's favorites, although I don't think her mother will hold up...My mother sang the same hymn at Miss Gerry's mom's funeral."
He saw countless friends, former students, colleagues, business associates....
"Mr. Frollo?," called out a feminine voice from behind. He wheeled around
to gaze upon the face of Faye Brown-Garrison, the same young woman for
whom Claude Frollo had pulled strings. She was need of a job (Danisha told
him of Faye's special case), and the good judge himself made a few calls
-- including one in particular...
"Mr. Frollo. I'd like to thank you personally for all you've done for me...That phone call was so much fun. I can tell why Nisha really loved you so much. It's still a shock..Oh..." Faye nudged the two gentlemen standing to her left and made the introductions. "Mr. Frollo, you remember my husband, Grant, and my son, Nicholas..."
How wonderful, after all this time...Grant Garrison, was a mere lad fresh out of law school and all I had to do was tweak his ear. Now, he is a partner in his firm, one of the best attorneys in the city. Faye, a model wife and mother, active in her clubs and charities...Danisha and I had the privilege to run into the Garrisons several months ago...The son is an honor student...Charming family...
All these people...but someone is missing...
Where is Julian?
"Jehan Frollo! Wine at this hour?," called out a sharp voice. Hubert
d'Arcy entered the room and shot the younger Frollo a disapproving look,
but his tone softened as he addressed Jehan. "It's been such a terrible
shock to us all. Mother hasn't been out of her room since Phoebus passed
along the news. I wrote a long letter to Isabelle and Guillaume; I had
hoped that she and Nisha would perhaps meet someday."
Jehan nodded as Hubert described the dark cloud hovering over the d'Arcy household. "Jehan, I don't think it's ever been as sad in this house since Father passed...Poor Solange, once again enduring her father's unrequited vengeance against Claude Frollo...She says she's put it all behind her, but I believe she's been hardest hit by the news of Nisha's passing...Oh, the bell ringer, how is he...?"
Jehan sat up, put down his wine cup, and replied, "Quasimodo is taking it rather hard as well...Many of her Parisian friends -- Victor Jouet, Pierre Manette, all the children -- are understandably shocked and saddened...You know, she died in his arms, shortly after midnight. My brother and Danisha were to be married today, in her hometown...Oh,Nadine! My little niece... How painful for her to lose her mother so suddenly..."
Jehan Frollo, overcome with emotion, could say no more. Hubert sat next to Jehan and comforted the grief-strickened man. How cruel is fate! A loving, giving soul such as her should not have...
Oh, poor Colette and Danisha...At least they are together again, in the next life...
"Joseph," said Claude finally, "I know she wanted this to be a dignified,
almost joyous service. There is one thing I want to do before..."
His Honor, by sheer fortitude trying to hold back the torrent of emotions ready to erupt, took something from his pocket and slipped it into the casket. "This was to go on her finger -- today." The ring was simple band of gold with the words "Nisha & Claude: pour toujours (forever)" engraved on the inside.
Joe, finally tugging at Claude's sleeve, guided the man into the sanctuary. At the appointed hour, the funeral director closed and sealed the coffin. The doors leading to the sanctuary were promptly locked. Claude Frollo joined the Wood family in that same front pew. Little Nadine snuggled next to her father -- she would pose so many questions as to "Where's Mommy?" and "When's she coming back?" Claude held his little girl and stroked her hair as he watched the massive hand-carved oaken door, which separated Fellowship Hall from the sanctuary, slowly lower, thus sealing the throng of mourners from the outside world.
Throughout the entire service Claude Frollo remained steadfast and never once broke down in absolute grief. Even during Kenya White's stirring rendition of "In the Garden" which drove Geraldine and countless other to tears, Claude shed not one. No, I have to remain strong for Nadine's sake...Can't have her father going to pieces...
In the end, after all, it was Nadine who urged her father, "Don't cry, Papa. Mommy is with Jesus now and she doesn't want us to be sad." Perhaps, thought Claude, that his little ray of sunshine was indeed becoming more like her mother ever since...
Yes, the same bright optimism, the warmth, the laughter, the ability to diffuse a difficult situation with a smile, kind words or deeds...
In the coming weeks, Claude Frollo cherished his daughter's company with a ferocious protectiveness. Also, in those next several weeks following his retirement, Claude shuttered himself within his private chateau, seeing no one other than Nadine and Quasimodo. On rare occasions he would see Hubert d'Arcy, even Phoebus, but never once did he see his brother. Over the weeks, his relationship with Jehan grew further strained as Claude blamed his wayward brother's weak-minded clumsiness as the ultimate cause of Danisha's death. And there was Quasimodo, who regarded Danisha as a sister. It was Phoebus who forwarded the news of Quasi's utter grief. It was also Phoebus who forwarded the many condolences from Nisha's numerous friends in medieval Paris.
...so many loved her...I loved her and was prepared to spend a lifetime with her...
"A love that transcends all time and space," was what I told her that summer...
Claude Frollo endured bone-chilling cold and ankle-deep snow drifts during the interment rites. He appeared somewhat calm and collected all during the reception that followed, even managed to smile and laugh when people attempted to cheer him. Yet, once behind closed doors...
"It all went off like clockwork but I still hated doing this..."
"I'm sorry but it had to be done. Besides, once all this has blown over then...Hey! Where'd you come from?"
"What did you guys do? I thought I told you NOT to go ahead with Plan B! Now everything's ruined!"
"We didn't get the message in time...We had no idea Fouinon got arrested..."
"Why didn't you wait for further instructions...Damn! I hope you guys got your running shoes, 'cause when Frollo gets wind of this scheme, then..."
"Then, smartass, we'll have to think of something to sort of, you know, ease back in..."
"OK, we'll bide our time, although I really hated to hear about...I heard it was a nice service although Claude's still shaken up."
"Yeah, which was why I didn't want this to happen! Now, where's..."
"Safe and sound, boss. Safe and sound."
"Let's hope so. You know, it's just like His Grace said after he iced
Rougelot: 'Will it ever truly be over'. I guess he was right."
"Master?," called out Quasimodo, who had come out to Chateau duPré
(the name was Nisha's suggestion, because of the huge meadow nearby) to
assist with the move. Claude had nearly forgotten that the rest of his
personal affects at the Palais had yet to be packed and shipped out to
the chateau. But with all that had happened, everyone, especially His Majesty,
understood that for the next few days, Frollo needed his time for mourning.
In the coming weeks, Claude Frollo would act as mentor to the new Minister
of Justice, a man who Frollo himself suggested as a competent replacement.
But for now, Claude welcome this quiet time, and Quasimodo's presence, since the bell ringer had volunteered to stay up with Nadine, "In case she should wake up crying and all. After all, she's lost her mother..."
"Dear boy," Claude said at last, his eyes never reverting from the photograph
clutched in his hand, "how is Nadine? I trust she went off to sleep without
"I sent her off went an armload of stories. We talked about Nisha but I don't think Nadine quite understands..."
Claude interrupted, "No, Quasimodo, she knows -- in her little five-year old mind, she knows..."
The bell ringer sighed then asked, "Do you want me to get your anything?
More wine? Something to eat?"
"No, dear boy...Why don't you return to the cathedral -- You have bells to ring at dawn. I shall be fine...Nadine shall be fine..."
Rather reluctantly, the bell ringer said his good-byes then left his master all alone.
Claude continued to stare at the photograph: the same image Fern showed
him those many years ago. There she was perched on a desk, decked out in
a smart black suit and purple shell. Those spiked-heeled shoes; that wide
, winning smile. The neatly coifed hair; the confidence and polish of a
queen. The deep honeyed skin; the liquid brown eyes.
He peered into the far corner of the room and conjured her image. He could see her sitting at her table, either reading a favorite book or writing in her journal. She wore that deep violet silk shantung dress he liked so well. He could still hear her rich soothing voice and hearty laughter. He could still breathe in the intoxicating fragrance --- Shalimar, the very scent she wore that day we met...
The bedchamber, the entire chateau for that matter, suddenly took on an odd coldness -- Then there was that inexplicable feeling deep within him. That same gut reaction when Marcel Rougelot nearly ravished a seven year old Danisha. Why am I feeling this way? She is dead! Unless...NO!
Through the depths of his very being, for the first time in three days, all the grief, all the sorrow came roaring out. Claude Frollo fell to his knees, sobbing and calling out her name over and over. From deep within, he offered a prayer: O Lord, Turn back Thy clock and give me yesterday!
"Papa? I can't sleep," called out the tiny voice. Claude lifted his eyes to behold his little pride and joy. For a moment, he forgot his personal sadness and became the gentle father. "There, there, my sweet Nadine. Why aren't you in bed? My dear, you'll catch your death..."
He scooped her in his arms, kissing her hair and calming her fears. As he carried her to the bed, he nearly forgot how much his little girl has suffered. Claude Frollo now had the challenging task of rearing his daughter alone. Poor child, to lose her mother....
"Yes, my dear?"
"Do you miss Mommy?"
"Nadine, I'll always miss your mother. I loved her, and was ready to spend the rest of my life with her, and with you."
Nadine snuggled under the heavy velvet blankets then cozied up to her father. "Me and Quasi cried. He said Mommy was his friend." Claude said no more as he cuddled his child; then, just before she drifted off to sleep, he asked her, "Nadine, would you like to go to Chateau d'Arcy and visit with Jehan-Henri tomorrow? Then, perhaps, we can have a....umm...snowball fight."
The child's face lit up then said, "Ooh, Papa! I like snowball fights. Mommy said you and her played in the snow with the kids. That was a long time ago..."
Claude smiled as he conjured so many wonderful memories of his postmodern lady, a woman who opened a whole new world to him. She uncovered that fun loving side and so much more...
Yes, my Danisha, you have done more for me than words can ever describe.
And for that, my love, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I make
this solemn vow to you: I shall put my daughter first, as I promised you
that evening of Nadine's Christmas performance. I love you, Nisha, and
I shall never forget you...
OK, now that I've so dramatically, and tearfully, ended
this "Frollo-loves-Danisha" series, I'd like to thank you for visiting my site and enjoying the fan fiction. There is (and will be) more, so Stay Tuned
Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak