People Like Us

Chapter Five 

The Time & Place: Later that evening, 1495 Paris
Danisha's Parisian home. Claude Frollo returns from a most unusual journey; what he relates to Cherie Wood is so astounding! Read on...

"My dear Cherie, never in my life have I've seen such a city! The sheer size, the never-ending crush of people! My goodness, if Danisha does decide to move, I can safely say it will take, at least on my part, much adjustment..."

So said Claude Frollo later that evening as he settled before the fireplace. He had just returned to Paris, to his time frame, after a brief visit to 2005 New York City. Frollo confessed to missing his "New World" lady, so he indulged in a little transtemporal "day trip". Some day trip! Claude had hoped to spend the day with Danisha since she had, for a few fleeting hours, a much-needed respite from a horrendous schedule. What greeted the man from 15th Century Paris was a gargantuan, noisy, bustling 21st Century American city that put his medieval metropolis to shame. In fact, the Paris of his time is a mere village compared to New York City of 2005. 
Nonetheless, in spite of his own bewilderment, Claude Frollo did enjoy his visit with his postmodern lady, and she was more than happy to show this man all the sights. Since they had a few hours to spare, Danisha and Claude decided upon a stroll through Central Park, lunch at Tavern on the Green, then took an excursion to the site of one of Nisha's favorite childhood stories.
Come to think of it, that story soon became one of Nadine's favorites as well. Naturally Claude was quite anxious to share this with his daughter who at this time busily readied herself for an overnight stay at her father's pied a terre. "And that's what you shall see, my child," he said to Nadine who presently snuggled on the settee next to her father.

"Ooh, Papa. The Little Red Lighthouse! Mommy reads that to me all the time. Did you see the big bridge?"
"Yes, my dear Nadine, I did! And it's the most extraordinary structure I've ever seen – in fact, the whole of New York is the most extraordinary treat for the senses."

What brought Claude Frollo back to 15th Century Paris was the desire to reunite mother and daughter. Danisha, despite a crushing schedule of meetings, interviews, parties, and the entire media blitz, missed her child fiercely. It was decided that Claude take that time trip to fetch the little girl. Nadine would stay the night at Claude Frollo's Parisian home then accompany her father to 2005 New York City.

"Cherie, with Nadine and I away, that means you're free of your...umm...'babysitting' duties," Frollo mentioned with a smile.

The baby of the Wood sisters returned the smile and expressed that she wanted to remain in 15th Century Paris at least for another week or two. "That's the best thing about being on sabbatical – and being a trantemporalist: I can finish my research in record time..."
Her voice trailed off as she surveyed her sister's Parisian home with its odd amalgamation of 15th and 20th Century chic. Smiling again, she added, "Although I envy my sister! Here I am getting used to having none of our modern conveniences, yet Danisha is getting the star treatment. She's staying in one of the best hotels in NYC, eating in all the 'in' restaurants, going on TV and radio..."

Claude Frollo joined in, "Yes, she told me she had three interviews tomorrow. One's on this Today Show, then Live at Five. Then it's off to her future employers." He sighed as he added, "I truly hope she does not overdo. Your sister is notorious for working herself into a frazzle. Perhaps it may be wise to...Cherie, may I...?"

Cherie Wood nodded and listened intently as Frollo continued, "I will tell you this much: Danisha has confided that she may not take this job with the 'think tank'. She feels the move would be too much. On the other hand, the potential income from this book publication and all it entails promises to be astronomical! When she told me the possible profits from selling the rights alone..."
He reeled a bit as he finished, "Why, what she could earn in a year is far more than I'm worth...!" 
"Don't forget, Claude," said Cherie, "that this is all very new for Danisha; she told me how everything hit her at once."

She then gathered the last of Nadine's things and packed them in an overnight bag. The baby sister, a petite honey-hued lady with curly dark brown hair, voiced one more opinion concerning her big sister, then turned the topic.
"Which is why Leigh recommended that Danisha find another therapist in NYC. Nisha'll need someone to unload on just to help cope with all this change."

Cherie smiled as Nadine returned the drawing room ready for travel; then she said, "By the way, speaking of Leigh. Have you found any information concerning her ancestor?"

Claude Frollo's facial expression hardened as he replied. "I've sent Fern and Daniel to Lyon circa 1487, I've yet to hear the full details. They are to learn what they can about this Eustache and Ines Gaudet. From their initial reports, the Gaudet family originated in Marseilles..."
"Claude? Something wrong?" 
"Papa, why did you stop talking?"

Shaking his head, Frollo fell silent as a sudden thought flashed before him. He snapped his fingers, replying. "Cherie, since you are remaining in Paris, ask the Flamberts or Felise LaCourbe if they were at least acquainted with the Gaudets. Then again, I wonder if Évrard Ouimet crossed paths with these people." Cherie, nodding as she saw both Frollo and her niece to the door, said, "Don't worry, Claude. I'll see what I can dig up on my end."

Frollo smiled as he boosted Nadine in the saddle. "Good! Oh yes, I've heard about Orry's stolen visits here. All I can say is – as Nisha puts it – More power to you and Clarice! Honestly, for Évrard to forbid the boy from seeing Nadine and all because of the pettiest of reasons." 
"Papa," Nadine spoke up, "does that mean Orry can come over any time he wants. And you don't mind?" 
"Of course, I don't mind, my dear little child."

Claude Frollo's mouth curved into that famous toothpaste smile as he thought of what Clarice Flambert told him months ago. Why not, she suggested, make the arrangements now? It's obvious the children are well-matched now, and in about ten to twelve years, who knows?

Frollo felt a tug at his sleeve as the voice called out to him. "May I see Orry before we leave? I want to give him something."

Both Frollo and Cherie looked at each other; the former asked the latter, "Did Clarice Flambert say that Orry is still on punishment?"
"Yes, Claude."
"And I take it that the boy's father has yet to discover these clandestine visits." 
"Yes, Claude."

He leaned over to his child, saying very gently, "Nadine, my sweet child, while I do not mind Orry visiting you, I do mind the boy disobeying his father. While I  feel it's quite unfair for Évrard to keep you and Orry apart, he is within his rights to punish his son as he sees fit. Orry is your friend, but you don't want to see such a good friend in trouble. Do you understand?"

The child looked up into her father's dark eyes; the little six year old understood completely. "That's all right, Papa. I don't want Orry to get in trouble." She pondered a bit then asked, "When we get to New York in my time, can I get Orry a present?" Both Cherie and Claude laughed at this request with Frollo finally replying, "Nadine, we've discussed this many times. Hmm....Why don't we talk about Orry Ouimet after you are tucked in bed? Besides, this night air isn't good for you."
Nadine Frollo, trying not to look exasperated, agreed, saying determinedly just she and her father rode off, "But I still want to get him a present." To this Aunt Cherie commented just as Felise LaCourbe could be seen exiting her home, "See, Claude? She's yours and Nisha's child all right. Determined and stubborn to the bone!"


Frollo and daughter hadn't been gone long before Felise arrived on Cherie's doorstep. Felise LaCourbe, by virtue of living across the street, had the advantage any time she wished to visit Cherie Wood. For this early evening, just before dusk, and immediately after Frollo and Nadine departed, Felise checked for a clear path to the house on the opposite side. 
Why the secrecy? It had to do, in part, with Cherie's scholarly research ; she was currently on sabbatical and working on a women's studies paper. The paper's topic? Lesbian poets of the early Renaissance. What a boon for Cherie to meet Felise LaCourbe, and, in turn, become better acquainted – much better acquainted.

Yes, Felise LaCourbe was homosexual although Cherie Wood was the only other person who knew, and Felise made Cherie swear not to tell a soul. The secrecy was necessary; being gay in the late 1400's was entirely different, even life threatening. At least Cherie, in her 21st Century world, would endure nothing more than a few snide remarks. On the other hand, in the late Middle Ages, if Felise LaCourbe's sexual orientation was every made public, the gifted poet could face a variety of punishments ranging from banishment to death by hanging or fire. "

Which is why I must keep everything – as you say – darling Cherie, 'undercover'. I can't afford to be 'outted'; it could mean my life."

Their meetings were always in secret, although Cherie reassured Felise that the frequent visits were nothing more than in the interest of scholarly and literary research. But neither woman could ever reveal the "other" reasons for these frequent meetings: That both Cherie and Felise had become lovers.

Yes, Cherie Wood was also lesbian although in her time period such activities were, albeit still frowned upon in some circles, hardly illegal or life threatening. However, Cherie had to remind herself that as long as she remained in 1495 Paris, utmost secrecy was the norm, and Felise reminded her of that every day. "Cherie, when your sister introduced us, I had no idea you were like me...I had to sneak and lie all these years, but in your country people like us enjoy a freedom unknown." No wonder Felise LaCourbe kept to herself ever since she arrived in Paris last winter. The only other person who knew Felise's true orientation was Jehan Frollo, and he solemnly promised never to reveal that secret. But unforeseen circumstances threatened a forced "outing", and nearly caused other, more dreadful secrets to be exposed. It all started when, just before the dawn, Felise made her usual, cloak-and-dagger exit from Cherie's home. What she witnessed...


He didn't mean to do it, but he had to see her one more time. And he hated getting up at such a ridiculous hour, but since Nadine said that it was the safest time for a secret visit, the boy gladly made the extra effort. Besides, he had to return a rather special item to Nadine Frollo. No telling what Évrard would say if he ever found that wondrous device in his son's possession.

Is anyone following me? No! Good!

Horrible thoughts raced through Orry Ouimet's mind as he swiftly made his way through the back alleys that led to the courtyard. Orry made this trip so many times that he knew exactly what to watch and listen for. His attendant, the hated Imbert, could be close behind; that big dog which lived next door might suddenly bark, thus alerting the neighbors.
Whew! No dog, no Imbert. Good, I'm safe and no one knows I'm gone – yet.
Not even Tante Clarice was aware of Orry's early morning "walks". But Évrard's beloved cousin never told a soul, not even her husband Anseau. Orry and Nadine shared a special bond that someday could blossom into something else. Both Clarice Flambert and Claude Frollo held onto the hope that Nadine and Orry would, within the span of a decade, become husband and wife. Let them be, said Clarice to a still seething Évrard Ouimet, who still kept his son on the most nonsensical punishment. Why make two children apart and make them suffer all because Évrard Ouimet didn't get the girl in the end? It didn't make sense. Whatever the case, Orry wouldn't let his father's broken heart or need for revenge stand in the way of a special friendship. Orry and Nadine loved and cherished each other as expected of childhood friends. Both had pledged total loyalty to each other; no one, not even a parent's petty snit could tear them apart.

Armed with that sense of loyalty and allegiance for his friend, Orry, within a few steps of the courtyard gate, suddenly felt hands upon him. A blindfold was placed over his eyes; a gag immediately tightened around his mouth. The poor boy couldn't react in time as he felt himself being stuffed into a rough muslin bag. What is happening? Who are these persons doing this to him? Where are they taking him?

Without a sound coming from his assailants, Orry felt himself thrown into the back of a wagon. Someone had settled beside him, trying to keep the boy still. Orry could only comply but he listened intently to the person threatening him with bodily harm if he ever made a sound.

"Keep quiet, you little fool!"

That voice sounded very familiar – It's her! That awful woman!


Felise LaCourbe saw it all, but could do nothing to stop the crime. She was silenced by the perpetrator himself. "Say one thing to either Évrard Ouimet or the Minister of Justice, and I'll spread the word that you, Felise, maintain this unholy, unnatural lifestyle...I'm sure Judge Ouimet and the Church would be extremely interested...And don't forget Évrard. It would break his heart if he ever discovered..."

Felise had no choice but to clam up, however there was one other person – make that two other persons – in whom she could confide. Cherie Wood was the first. "And that, Cherie, is why I can't say anything. Once Imbert reveals my true identity and circumstances, then all is lost. Although I hate to think of what Imbert might do to Orry, it's Évrard who would be hurt the most..."
"And, how," asked Cherie, "other than have his son kidnapped, would Imbert hurt Évrard Ouimet?"

Felise replied, "I can't reveal much, but..."

She arose from her chair, went over to the upright piano and depressed several keys. The sound was strange, foreign, but oh-so soothing "Your New World is a paradise to produce devices such as these. My brother was amazed with this piano..."

"Brother, Felise?"

"Raimon Cauant is my brother...His real name is Renaud Gaudet...Oh, Cherie, I don't mean to burden you with this but...Could you send for Jehan Frollo? He's the only man who could corroborate my story, but I don't want to see him caught in the middle like this. Imbert is a dangerous, horrible man who would stop at noting to cover up his crimes. Kidnapping Orry is the latest in a string of..."

She caught her breath, saying finally, "Imbert l'Estrange was the telling factor in Rixende Ouimet's death...What he did to me was more than the poor woman could stand...I'll tell you everything once Jehan arrives..."


"Mamá, I saw it!" 
"Saw what, dear?" 
"That man took Orry Ouimet. I saw him and a woman put Orry in a bag, then they tossed him in a wagon and rode off!"

The woman grabbed her daughter by the shoulders, looked her squarely in the eyes and asked, "Are sure you saw this? When? Where?"

The child replied, "Just this morning, when me and Djalito were going to see Nadine Frollo. You know, Mamá, I always visit Nadine like that, in secret."

Katerina caught her breath as she continued, "They took Orry, Mamá, in that alley that runs back of Nadine's courtyard. Orry was almost inside when they grabbed him."
The child's mother, la Esmeralda, pondered all that Trina revealed, but what to do with such information? Surely they couldn't go to Judge Ouimet; the current Minister of Justice was just as bad as Frollo where the Gypsies were concerned. Who'd believe them anyway? Most Parisian regarded the Gypsies as notorious child stealers, and that any time a child is kidnapped the Romani are almost always the prime suspects.

"Trina," Esme said finally, "we need to ask Clopin about this. If I know the people who took that kid then they'll spread the word that we're responsible." She looked down at her daughter with loving eyes then said, "Come on, to the Court of Miracles."


To Chapter Six!

Copyright©2001 by FrolloFreak® (AKA FanFiction Diva)

Fanfic Collection #2
cwfr home
email @ yahoo OR MSNTV