What REALLY Happened


We now jump to the present time. It is the day before the Feast of Fools, and Claude Frollo's 14th FSM has just arrived. She has a surprise for him. (Please read F'Freak's FoF tale)

"WHAT REALLY HAPPENED: The True Story Behind the Plot to Destroy Judge Claude Frollo".

Claude beamed with pride as he read the title of my now-completed exposé detailing the conspiracy against the man I love. I brought several copies of newly-bound books, and I wanted Claude, Jehan, Quasimodo, the d'Arcys, and His Majesty to receive the first copies, before the books went on sale the day after the Festival. I also told Claude that the proceeds would go towards that new school for orphans, which was established by Fern and Dwayne.

"I am truly impressed", Claude smilingly said as he leafed through the book. "It seems everything is in order." He then took me into his arms and kissed me passionately, deeply. "I knew that you, Nisha, would set the record straight, and tell the world the truth."
Claude removed his hat, sat at his desk, then began reading a few passages. "Hmm", he began, as I perched on the desk, "I see you have included key items from Jules' confession, as well as that of that gypsy witch."
I knew Claude was referring to Jules' deathbed confession, as dictated to Jehan Frollo, the day Jehan found Jules, broken and bleeding, near Chateau d'Arcy. And there was Esmeralda's final confession, skillfully extracted by Claude Frollo himself. It was she who finally told Claude everything: the affair with Jean-Michel du Champs, Claude's bitter rival; the plot to destroy Claude; the gypsy alliance; and, to Claude's delight, the truth about Clopin. He never 'died' in that fire, nor from his gunshot wounds, but he was alive and well, plotting yet another scheme to dispose of Claude Frollo.

I leaned over and caressed Claude's face; my hand gently stroked his velvet-clad shoulder. "I tried to cover all the bases; you know, I wanted to include everything, and not just from my own perspective." I then told him that I even had a tough time translating parts of the confessions. "Not that they were difficult to read, language-wise. It's just that I found some parts rather disturbing. Honestly. Claude. I almost ditched the whole project; I really didn't want to relive all that again."

Claude then beckoned me onto his lap. There he cradled me, like a child. I welcomed his warm embrace, tender kisses, and comforting words.
"My dearest, I was aware that re-living that awful nightmare might have given you pause. But I'm glad, and extremely proud, of what you have accomplished. And yes", he said, pausing momentarily to kiss me, "you were right in your predictions. From what I have already scanned, every citizen will be...'totally blown away'." Claude chuckled good-humoredly at that last statement, then kissed me again.

I then focused on something else; I picked up the book, and flipped to the back pages. "Claude, I added a wrap-up. Sort of 'what happened since, and where are they now'." I felt a tear trickle down my cheek as I silently read the first few lines describing the fate of Jules, Solange, and others. Claude wiped away my tears, cuddled me close, and told me that things have a way of "working out for the best, my love."

"I know that, Claude, but..." I sighed, then asked him, "Honey, have you ever heard of 'selective amnesia'? You know, someone purposely forgets certain things...because some memories are just too painful."
Claude replied, "I may not be familiar with the term, but I do believe you are referring to Jules' return to Paris that summer --- The same summer I spent with you, in your own time."
"That's right, sugarbritches. And when you returned to Paris, you had no idea that that young lieutenant was Jules. Even he didn't remember you."


{Dear Readers, Is this getting too weird for you? Please read on. Hopefully, you 'll get the big picture.}

During that summer, when Claude spent six wonderful weeks with me, in the 20th Century, a young man returned to Paris. He was sixteen, very tall, with a mass of dark hair, and bright blue eyes. His handsome face was concealed by a fine dark beard, his voice was deep. Yet this young man was secretive about his past when he applied for a position within the Guard.
This young man was Jules de Chateaupers, and he had blocked out nearly all his past.

When he arrived at the Palace of Justice, he gave the Captain a false name, and revealed that he had no family. "My name is...is Charles Renault. I've spent time in southern England", was all he told the Captain. Jules had no idea why he was back in Paris; he had no inkling of what the job entailed. And he never inquired about his sister, Renée. As far as he was concerned, or at least what his memory would permit to recall, there was no sister.

According to Jules' confession, he seldom had contact with Claude Frollo; yet, Claude was enraged by "this idiot's ineptness, even though he seemed a likeable fellow".
In mid-August, when Claude returned to medieval Paris, Jules began to have memory flashes. Yet, for some reason, the young man refused to believe that his ultimate superior, the Minister of Justice, ever showed him a kindness.
I couldn't believe this when I read Jules' confession--That he'd purposely forgotten the man who rescued him and his sister from a horrible homelife.

It was late September, when Claude finally dismissed his young officier on grounds of incompetence. Claude told me that he never knew that this young man was Jules. "He had changed so much. If he had made himself known, I would not have come down on him so hard. My love, I now wished that I'd paid more attention to this young man; perhaps, I could have taken him under my wing, and guided him in the proper direction."

We still don't know what made Jules pull such an awful prank: Stealing Claude's horse and clothes while Claude went for a late afternoon swim. (see Back to the Frollo) But we do know that Jules' memory was finally jarred the instant Snowball bucked, and kicked Jules repeatedly. The trauma of that incident must have brought Jules back to the present, for when Jehan found him, Jules kept saying over and over that he wanted to see Claude, Phoebus, and Renée. He finally confessed everything to Jehan Frollo, who, in turn, relayed it all to Claude.

And what about Phoebus? Claude was right. Phoebus never learned of the plot against Claude Frollo, let alone his new bride's involvement. Let's just say that the ex-Captain of the Guard was absolutely stunned when I told him that it was Esmeralda who played a crucial role in Jean-Michel's scheme.
"If I had known that", Phoebus told me the day I had it out with Esme, "I wouldn't have married Esmeralda."
Phoebus told me that he and Esmeralda married shortly after the Court of Miracles burned. She lied to her future husband, stating that the fire was "accidental", and that Clopin had died. She and Phoebus lived in a modest cottage not far from Orléans; Phoebus still had that construction job to complete.
In March, when the school was completed, Phoebus then accepted the job as caretaker of the d'Arcy estate. He had no idea that his cousin, Renée, lived with the d'Arcys. Of course, by that time, the entire family was in Genoa; Phoebus never knew of his young cousins, nor the fact that it was Jules who set that fire.
"I knew very little of my family, what with being away at war for all those years", he told me. "I tried to keep in touch with Alphonse, he was my father's second cousin, but maintaining a regular correspondence was, well, difficult at best." Then, of course, Alphonse and Adele died tragically -- Phoebus never knew this until after the entire, awful truth came out. It was Claude Frollo who informed his ex-Captain of his cousins' demise.

Anyway, Esmeralda, tired ot playing the dutiful wife, finally left Phoebus in mid-September, two weeks before Jules played that terrible prank on Claude Frollo. Her departure came within two days of the d'Arcys return to France. Once everything came out, it was clear that Esmeralda could not possibly stay on the estate, unless she was willing to risk another encounter with Solange Marchand.
Phoebus said he searched the entire estate, and "every village between here and Chateau d'Arcy. I never found her, that is, until after Jules' death, and...Well, you know the rest."


Claude Frollo and I were right again; Esmeralda harbored a dreadful secret. After that little altercation between Esmeralda and myself, Claude had the gypsy dancer arrested. Later, using his patented techniques for making people talk, Esmeralda poured out the whole story. She even revealed that Clopin never 'died', but was in hiding, plotting yet another overthrow of the Minister of Justice.
Claude would later release Esmeralda, only to use her as bait in the final capture of Jean-Michel's and Malus' co-conspirators. And he was extremely successful, gathering information from a carefully constructed network of spies. The Gypsy King , and those who blindly followed Jean-Michel du Champs' ill-fated scheme, were promptly captured, tried, and executed for their crimes.
Claude only had this to say of Clopin's final moments. "He vowed he'd walk again, and he did walk again --- Straight to his own death."

Then, in a more serious mood, I asked him about Esmeralda. "She is nowhere to be found. It seems that miserable witch has vanished into thin air. None of my spies has seen her....Oh well, no matter. She has served her purpose. Let her wander all of Europe for all I care!"

Esmeralda never returned to Paris. That is, until...


We now jump back to the Palace of Justice. It is the evening before the Feast of Fools. (See FoF fanfic)

"Claude?", I asked as he refilled my winecup. We were enjoying a pleasant evening meal, and discussed my exposé. "I'm sorry that the d'Arcys won't be able to attend the Festival. Anything wrong?"
Claude replied, "Oh no, my dear. Everyone is fine. Marie-Louise feels it's a bit too cold to travel, and Solange..."

Now I was worried. I hadn't seen Solange since Christmas, not since Claude and I paid a surprise holiday visit. She and Thierry had stayed on in Genoa, returning to France two months after the d'Arcys' return. Solange seemed in fine spirits, yet somehow I could tell that all was not quite well. Thierry told me that she still had nightmares of that fateful afternoon journey through the catacombs.

Claude looked at me with smiling eyes. "Nisha, why so glum? Solange is much better, my dear. Her activities have been curtailed, for she has..." Claude's mouth curved into that famous, toothpaste smile. "She is expecting!", Claude cheerfully declared.

I couldn't believe my ears. "Solange? A baby?", I tried to be cool about it all, but my astonished expression betrayed me. Then I returned Claude's smile as I said, "I guess things really do work out for the best."
Claude acknowledged this, and then told me that he was personally overseeing the d'Arcys formal adoption of Renée. "They're finally adopting Renée? That is wonderful news, Claude!"
I then added, "She is so talented. I hope André and Marie-Louise nurture that talent. Renée has a bright future." I couldn't say anymore, since it was Renée who helped design, and assemble, our costumes for our special presentation at the Festival . This was to be a surprise, and I didn't want to spoil it for Claude.

We continued to converse, discussing the Festival. I then remembered --- Quasimodo! "Sugarbritches? What about Quasi? Now that he's tasted freedom, and most people seldom give him a hard time..."

Claude stopped me with a kiss. "Quasimodo is now a grown man; I'm confident that he will be able to cope with the outside world. I shouldn't have sheltered him so, but it was for his own good. You do understand, darling."
I told him I understood completely. "Baby, Quasi didn't know what to expect that day. Then the crowd tormented him...Esmeralda 'befriended' him, only to use the poor kid. Then that damned du Champs dude terrorized Quasi so."

Again, Claude shushed me with a kiss. "Darling, please. Let's speak no more of this, at least for the rest of the evening." He then expressed that, for once, everything will finally return to normal. I could only respond, "I truly hope so, honey, for everybody's sake."

Claude Frollo smiled broadly, taking my hand into his, and said, "Nisha, my sweet Nisha. Don't ever lose that one quality that I find more endearing above all others. And that is your optimism, the ability to believe that there is a little sunshine amongst the dark clouds. I do believe that it was that quality, along with your love for me, that spurred you to take the risks, and rescue me. And for that, darling, I thank you. I truly lean on you."

He kissed my hand, letting his tongue graze each fingertip, and then told me that, "Life will go on, although some lives have been altered by past events, for better or worse."

Then Claude Frollo suddenly changed the subject, because he asked me, catching me off-guard, "Now. What is this about 'special' entertainment?"

I knew he was trying to get me to reveal my secret contribution to the Festival of Fools. No way was I about to tell him, so I just played it off.

"Hmm? I don't know what you're talking about." Please, don't pry anymore, Claude...This is supposed to be a surprise!

"The Festival of Fools? I heard something about...Hmm...'different' entertainment." He then sighed wearily, then went off on a tangent, denouncing the Feast of Fools.

"Whatever they have planned, I can assure you I won't enjoy a moment! You know how I hate these drunken debaucheries!"

I"ll let him gripe on....He really hates the Festival...but not this one...Not this year...Now...I need to change the subject...really get him in a good mood...


"Yes, dearest?"

"I love you. It's why I wrote this piece, out of love for you."

"And I love you, too, my darling Danisha."


©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM#14, 1998

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