Alas, I am no graphics designer, but I do try my hand with the pen and thus, as a peace offering, I'll share with you a five chapter, complete piece of utterly book based fic. It begins as an alternate chapter four/book seven and goes off a mini tangent from there: Jehan gets the oppurtunity to give Dom Claude some advice on women. Booze, brothels and brotherly bonding result.
Warning: It contains two uses of strong language, implied dream erotica and the second half is rather earthy and debaunchery driven in nature. But if that doesn't offend you, please read on and enjoy. Your thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.
Jehan didn't knock. Jehan never knocked.
Knocking was something other people did who lacked the imagination to conceive of any other way to announce their presence. It was one of the many dull social conventions of life and, as such, Jehan would never want his presence to be heralded by a rapping when his witty tongue could do a much better job of it.
So naturally, when faced with the door to his brother's study in the cathedral of Notre-Dame, Jehan forwent the trial of knocking and proceeded straight to the entering. If Jehan had stopped to knock, had paused to consider how following this one social convention would have increased his slim chances to withdraw money from his austere elder brother, the day would have turned out quite differently.
However, “stopping and thinking” was not a notion Jehan Frollo Du Moulin was accustomed.
Slipping the door open, he peered into the room. It was dimly lit, there being only one window, the small amount of light falling across a large wooden chair and table in the centre of the room. In the chair was seated a man whose bald head could belong to no other then the archdeacon of Josas. From the door, Jehan could only see his back, but he seemed to be head bent, leaning over a manuscript laid out on the desk...
Jehan smirked: What else could his brother be doing with his Saturday afternoon other than reading?
He observed the motionless Dom Claude for a few moments more. Jehan knew that, when in thought or study, his dear brother was utterly oblivious to all that went on around him, including the present appearance of his curly haired, young visitor. To Jehan, this was an excellent opportunity to freely examine his brother's secretive retreat, the contents of which was so often the topic of Paris gossip. Requesting money could wait. After all, who was he to disturb his brother from so clearly fascinating a book?
Thus, for the first of many times that day, curiosity got the better of young Jehan.
Staying by the door, he gazed into the gloom at a multitude of objects: Compasses, vials, alembics, flasks, skeletons, scrawled over parchments, piled up manuscripts and glass jars that contained all manner of ingredients littered the room. The cell was in such a state of neglect it made Jehan's living quarters look tidy.
On the left side of the room was a furnace and, after a quick glance at Claude to ensure he was still absorbed in whatever he was doing, Jehan quietly made his way across to investigate.
On top of the furnace, various alchemists tools were heaped and scattered. Amongst these objects, Jehan's eye was caught by a glass mask presumably used to protect the wearer's face when handling dangerous chemicals. Holding the mask in one hand and trailing his index finger down the inside of it, Jehan drew a line in the thick dust that the mask, and the entire room, was covered in.
His brother had clearly not used the mask, the furnace or any of the science related objects in months. If he didn't know his brother, Jehan would have come to the conclusion that Frollo's devotion to the quest for knowledge had somewhat waned of late. But, this was his brother, whose devotion to any discipline never waned... Did it?
“So much for the hope that you'll be turning metal into gold any time soon...” Jehan, mumbled to himself. Pity, it would have been the optimum solution for his finance issues, a science lesson he would be all too eager to attend...
Using his shirt sleeve to rub off the coating of dust, Jehan was about to try the glass mask on when he heard a deep, breathy sigh from behind him.
Swiftly tucking the mask behind his back like a child caught with their hand in the biscuit tin, Jehan spun around expecting to find his brother, eyes penetrating, voice commanding, about to interrogate him on what Jehan thought he was doing in his private study!
Dom Claude was still seated in his chair, exactly how Jehan had last seen him, head bent over the parchment strewn desk. Actually, thought Jehan, his head was practically resting on the desk...
Dropping the glass mask carelessly onto a pile of books - in the case of the tower room, to put something in its place was to put it out of place - Jehan slowly approached his brother's desk. Creeping around to the other side to get a good view, Jehan could see that his dear brother was fast asleep, arms crossed on the desk with his bald head resting upon them, turned to the side.
“Friday night take it out of you, eh Claude?” Jehan asked his slumbering brother with a grin.
On this side of the room, Jehan noticed that there were slogans engraved on the walls in a mix of Hebrew, Greek and Latin. His brother really did have a strange sense of decoration, mused Jehan, walking, now somewhat less quietly, over to the walls to examine the markings further.
Looking at the Hebrew words was pointless, he had been taught, but he hadn't learnt. Thus, Jehan shifted his gaze across to a Latin message: Astra, castra, nomen, numen.
“Thy stars, my camp, thy name, my power,” he translated aloud, “That makes as much sense as the Hebrew...”
Moving onto another message: Sapere aude.
“Dare to know,” Jehan read, this one made sense, “Yes, dare to know, indeed...”
Below that message, there was a single word of Greek that Jehan recognised immediately, “Ah ha! A fine motto to live life by: Impurity!”
As Jehan spoke the word aloud (far louder then anyone would have considered wise in his situation) he heard his elder brother let out another long, deep sigh. Only this time the sigh came mixed with a soft string of unintelligible syllables.
At this unexpected utterance, Jehan glanced over his shoulder to look again at his sleeping brother. Frollo didn't exactly look peaceful; his brows were dragged together in such a way that would have given the impression of consternation... if it weren't for the satisfied, almost-smile that was flirting around his lips.
Jehan turned back to the wall to read another one of his cryptic messages. Again, he selected another singular Greek word to read: “Fate.”
Once again, Jehan's reading had earned another sigh and another slurred, sleepy mumbling from Dom Claude. Only this time it had been distinct enough to grab Jehan's interest: His brother surely didn't just utter the name Jehan thought he had heard?
Not believing his ears, Jehan trotted back to the centre of the room to kneel beside Claude, bringing his face level to his brother's. It did not go beyond Jehan's notice that, although the brows remained knitted, his brother's lips were now unmistakably in the rare gesture of his smile.
Jehan waited silently. Dom Claude did the same.
A minute passed and still Frollo was content to slumber on in silence. Already, Jehan was restless of waiting for something that he was growing ever certain he'd imagined. He was about to stand up and go back to looking through Claude's cluttered possessions, when a thought flitted through his mind.
Jehan positioned his head next to Frollo's, his mouth next to his brother's ear, and mischievously whispered the Greek “Impurity”, once again projecting the word through his brother's subconscious.
Frollo stirred in his slumber, sighed deeply and spoke softly, “... Esmeralda... Dance... Dance for me, Esmeralda... Only for me...”
Jehan clapped his hand over his mouth to stop himself letting out a torrent of laughter at his brother's unwilling, sleep induced confession. The thought of his brother, his virtuous, learned, saint of an older brother, dreaming of a woman! Oh, Jehan didn't think the day could get any better. Well, perhaps it could...
Jehan leaned in again to feed his virginal-in-body-but-not-in-spirit brother more words, this time of a far saucier nature then Greek, to see their results. However, halfway to Dom Claude's ear, an unsuppressed laugh spilled out of the curly haired youth, causing Frollo to groggily awaken from his dream filled sleep. Luckily for Jehan, Frollo's transition from dreams back to cold reality gave the younger brother enough time to dash out of the room, unnoticed by the sleepy priest.
Safely in the corridor, Jehan let his sides split with laughter, ignoring a reproachful look from a passing monk. Only when his empty stomach growled for attention, did Jehan remember the purpose of visiting his dear brother in the first place: The noble quest for free monetary donations. Without which his purse, stomach and bed would stay empty; Jehan cringed at the thought. Yes, the happiness of his near future depended on drawing some money out of the archdeacon - he couldn't leave Notre-Dame and his brother just yet.
A grin slid onto Jehan's rosy face. Of course, with the knowledge gained from the first visit, the second was going to be far more entertaining...
Facing the door, this time, Jehan knocked.
Claude Frollo, sitting upright on his chair, massaged his brow with his fingers: Why did he always have to awake from his dreams just before the sweetest part?
Breaking this thought, came a rapping from the cell door. Dom Claude remained motionless. At his silence, the noise paused... Then continued to become less of a knocking and more of a hammering. At every thud, the lines on Frollo's forehead deepened: Who on God's Earth would have the audacity to want to see him after he had given explicit instructions that he was not to be disturbed?
The sound of a voice answered his question, “Brother, there's no use hiding, I know you're in there!”
Frollo sighed in consternation, his expression leaving behind any trace of sleep to exude its normal severity, “Jehan, what are you doing here?”
Taking this response as an admittance, Jehan entered his brother's cell, unknowingly to Dom Claude, for the second time that day.
“Why, brother Claude, what other reason then to seek the pleasure of your company and the wise words that you are sure to disembark on me?” the younger brother replied, attempting to give out an impression of complete innocence.
Unfortunately for Jehan, it was an act Dom Claude had seen through long ago.
“Jehan, I am greatly displeased with you. I hear complaints about your behaviour every day.”
Jehan had been in his brother's presence for less then ten seconds and already he was receiving what was bound to become a lengthy moral lecture. This did not bode well for the contents of his purse. Moreover, to bring “dream women” up in conversation would certainly destroy his chance for a free top up in coins. No, as tempting as it was to immediately query his brother's not so holy dreams, business had to come first, pleasure later...
“Complaints? What complaints, dear brother?”
“That you have been fighting with the other students; that you are far behind in all your subjects; that you spend all your time drinking and none of it studying,” as Claude rattled off the accusations against his brother, standing up from the chair to pace, his demeanour became increasingly more grim with each passing word, “All these come to me on a daily basis from the rector of the University.”
No, Jehan reflected, his chances for extracting money out of the archdeacon did not look favourable. Still, he wasn't going to give up yet...
“Ah, all of them complete exaggerations. Brother, you of all people know how academics like to twist simple events with flowery language,” it was what Jehan was presently attempting.
“Jehan, I know they would not complain to me unless it was grounded in absolute fact,” Frollo replied sternly.
Against the wall of his brother's furrowed brow, Jehan knew playing innocent was useless. Time for a change in tactics...
“All right brother, I admit that of late I've been giving in,”Jehan chose his next words carefully, “a little too often to temptation. But don't you see? That's exactly why I'm here. To listen to your lecturing, your words of wisdom, learning and morality. I've seen the error of my ways and I want to change.”
“You wish to reform?” Dom Claude had heard this one before and he knew exactly what was going to follow it.
“Yes, you understand exactly,” Jehan beamed at his brother, uncomprehending just how well Claude truly did understand.
“But, you see, to properly start reforming my ways, to become the straight laced, studious young man that I wish to be, I'm going to need... a little something...”
“And what exactly might this something be?”
Jehan looked full into Frollo's stern, penetrating gaze. He knew his brother had a soft spot for him somewhere and Jehan tried desperately to entreat it with his next words, “Just a little money from my loving, elder brother Claude!”
Frollo's solemn gaze never faltered.
“And what, pray tell, would you do with it?”
When he and his brother conversed, it was always a matter of time before Jehan wormed in a request for a non returnable loan. Actually, Claude had the distinct impression that Jehan only ever visited him with the aim of leaving with fuller pockets...
“To buy new books. The first step to becoming an excellent student, I'm sure you'd agree.”
“And what is wrong with your old books?”
“Why nothing, brother, except that they are lost and, like all other books, they don't know their way home,” Jehan smirked, amused at his own wit. Claude remained stoic.
“Then I shall send you new books.”
“Ah, but brother, if only it was new books I needed,” Dom Claude folded his arms across his chest as Jehan continued to try and wriggle his way into his brother's pockets, “just look at the sorry state of my boots!”
“And how exactly would new boots aid you in becoming a better student?”
“To be respectable, one must look respectable,” Jehan supplied instantly.
Arms still firmly crossed, Frollo considered this for a moment, scrutinizing the hopeful, fresh face of his foolish younger brother.
“Well then, I shall send you both new boots and new books but,” Claude was careful to emphasize the two following words with finality, “no money.”
“Just a few pennies,”Jehan begged, dropping to his knees in front of Claude, “Just so I can buy myself some much needed food,” his stomach picking the perfect moment to release an empty gurgle. Self respect be damned so long as tonight he could afford the company of Isabeau!
Frollo looked down at the pitiable, kneeling form of Jehan and let out an exasperated sigh.
“Jehan, I have explained our financial situation to you many times and yet you either haven't listened, haven't understood or haven't remembered.”
Actually, Jehan had done all three, he was simply ignoring it.
“Just a penny then! Just one measly penny so I can buy myself a crust of bread, a lump of cheese, a piece of fruit!” Jehan pleaded, edging towards Frollo on his knees, his hands clasped together before him in a mock begging gesture.
Claude stared gloomily at the grovelling Jehan, his silence giving the younger brother momentary hope.
“Jehan,” Claude began slowly, “if I gave you one penny, you wouldn't leave until I gave you the whole purse.”
“Please, brother, just one-”
“Perhaps, this will teach you to spend your allowance more wisely next time,” Dom Claude interrupted, before his brother could finish yet another pleading. Jehan lowered his hands and sat back on his heels - the situation was fast resembling a lost cause. Time for one last trick...
“Brother, do you truly hate me so much that you would have me begging on the streets of Paris like a dog, rather than spare a measly penny for your poor, starving, little brother?” As he spoke the words, Jehan looked up into the stern features of Dom Claude's face with wide eyes, attempting to appeal to the merciful side that was reserved for Jehan alone.
“Then, brother,” Jehan implored desperately, “lend me a coin!”
Alas, that day, it seemed even Jehan was to be denied access to the archdeacon's mercy.
Getting to his feet, Jehan glared at the inflexible priest, resembling a spoilt child who had been denied chocolate for the first time. Dom Claude simply watched in cold silence.
Frustrated and standing, Jehan asked once again what he already knew, “You will not give me any money?”
The blond youth let an irritated sound of disappointment course through his throat. Quite frankly, he mused, his brother was far easier to converse with when he was asleep. Thinking back to Dom Claude's sleepy utterances brought a smirk to Jehan's lips. A smirk that turned into a grin when he looked up into the archdeacon's permanent holier-than-thou expression.
Well, if dear Claude was not going to provide him the means to amuse himself, then Claude would just have to provide the amusement itself.
“No? Then... dear brother, I only have one final question...”
Taking a moment to compose his face into one of innocent curiosity, Jehan looked Dom Claude straight in the eyes, before continuing to his query.
“Who exactly is Esmeralda?”
Due to the constraints of LJ post lengths, I can't post the remaining four chapters in this post. So instead, if your inclined to read on, you can find the rest of the story at good old FFnet here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4937966/1/Br