Title: God Help the Outcasts
Prompt: #59 "Fun"
Word Count: 3,851
Rating: T, because the 21st century considers it taboo for a teenager to enjoy a glass of wine.
Summary: Sora must lock the keyhole of a world drowning in its own darkness. [Crossover with Hunchback of Notre Dame; the Disney verse]
Author's Notes: So a while back I was having a conversation with aurons_fan, and I promised to write a fic along the lines of "Sora and Phoebus get in a fight over Esmeralda".
This came out instead (ROFL, Phoebus only has one line in the entire thing). I'm sorry, aurons_fan D: I hope you like it anyway. <3 There's some Esmeralda/Sora in there somewhere if you squint.
While this piece can stand alone, it's meant to be a prequel of sorts to an old drabble. The drabble can be read here. Please read! :)
“Send forth Thy light and thy truth: for they have led me and brought me to thy holy hill and Thy dwelling place.”
---Taken from Latin Mass
Morning swept swiftly over the city as its denizens stirred in their homes, and the sweet scents of bread and life rose from worn stone roads into the freshly awakened blue sky. Sunlight streamed into the streets as daybreak progressed, as if a large paintbrush had coated the buildings and carts with luminous, glittering oils.
The start of a new day was greeted with a low hum as the city woke, from footsteps of fathers as they left home to prepare for the day’s activities, from children as they jumped and chattered excitedly to one another, and from mothers as they cooked and scolded the young for their tomfoolery.
Across the river, voices whispered to each other from beyond the grave, and with cautious steps and darting eyes, a small group slipped from a single resting place and departed for the sunlight.
When the sun crept over a large, intricate cathedral whose towers soared high above any other building, light shone in almost tangible beams across the plaza below. And when bells from deep within the tops of the towers chimed and clanged, all of Paris was teeming with unrelenting energy, for today, this day, was the sixth of January.
He stood for what seemed like hours, almost unaware of the townsfolk bustling around him, staring straight up in awe at the majestic cathedral as light beamed down upon him. When he inquired to the baker as to what exactly it was, the older man scoffed at him, and he huffed his shoulders, glaring knowingly at him.
“Don’t be so disrespectful”, the baker said rudely. “That is Our Lady, and she won’t have anything to do with the likes of you, boy.” He turned away, muttering. “Foul gypsies.”
Sora was rather taken aback by the baker’s hostility, and he stepped forward to offer a few choice words of his own. Before he could speak, however, someone grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“Never mind the baker!” a voice cried enthusiastically from above him. Sora looked up to see a tall, gangly man clad in bright colors and a mask. He stood over the younger boy, slightly hunched, a grin spread across his face. “The baker, he is only amicable when there is money-” he curled his fingers into a fist dramatically, and then opened his hand wide again. “-to be placed in his greedy little paws.”
“Oh…” Sora said quietly. The mysterious jester took a wide step until he was in front of him, and he swept an arm in a large semicircle above his head, gesturing towards the cathedral.
“Did my ears deceive me, or did I hear you ask about Our Lady?” he asked, his eyes alight with friendliness and mischief. The sun had risen over the building by now, and the bells had since fallen silent. Sora squinted, nodding.
In a fluid, wildly histrionic leap, he was behind Sora again. “Ah, Notre Dame!” he exclaimed. “She is beautiful, no?” He placed his hands on Sora’s shoulders. “Not only is she the finest girl in France”, the jester leaned his head over Sora’s right shoulder and winked, “But she is a sanctuary. A sanctuary, for a man such as Clopin, should I ever need her... And she is a sanctuary, for a boy such as yourself.”
“What do you mean?” Sora asked. The man named Clopin pushed Sora’s shoulders slightly in sharp taps, urging him to walk forward, and closer to Notre Dame.
“Why, have you been in hiding for centuries, boy?” Clopin laughed merrily. “You need to come out in the sun and wander the streets more! It’s good for the legs!” Sora tensed when Clopin popped his calf in a gesture to emphasize his point.
“Man will try to burn you; he will try to destroy you with persecution”, he continued. Sora’s eyes wandered up to the top of the cathedral. “But Notre Dame, she will not.” Clopin wrapped a hand around Sora’s arm and led him to the entrance. “I say this to you as a brother, as one of your own… Should man ever try to strike you down, make haste towards Notre Dame, and she will protect you. But do not stay too long. After all… We would not do well inside stone walls, would we?”
Sora turned to ask for clarification, but Clopin was gone.
He wandered about Paris for several hours, taking in sights and sounds, and breathing in the scents of everyday life. Despite this being his first visit, Sora could tell that this particular day was different than the rest. The men were setting up some sort of carnival in the plaza directly in front of Notre Dame. Tents and booths littered the ground, and numerous barrels of wine were being hauled in and stacked in a far corner.
What was the King so worried about, anyway? This world seemed harmless enough… Why did Sora have to come alone?
He accepted a mug (a free drink in celebration, according to the giver) and continued walking, lost in thought. He remembered Mickey’s orders to him before he departed for this world rather clearly: Find the keyhole, and get out. Do not stay there longer than you have to.
When Sora asked why, Mickey had just shaken his head, sighing. “Sora, the world you’re going to is far different than the other worlds you have visited”, he had said. “The world isn’t consumed by darkness; it feeds off of darkness. As a result, so do the people there.”
Sora had a hard time believing that. Darkness is present in every heart, but so is light… Why would this world feed off of darkness, but not the light? Even if this little world was full of dark people, he believed there had to be someone out there with at least a little bit of light.
He sighed heavily. The King had even instructed him to avoid using the Keyblade unless absolutely necessary, which was advice Sora was certainly not used to hearing. The people here are superstitious, and quick to judge… Do not draw attention to yourself, or they’ll surely burn you without hesitation.
Sora leaned back to take a drink from the mug. A rush of a foul-tasting, bubbly liquid filled his mouth, and his whole body jerked as he promptly leaned over to spit it out. He wiped his mouth with an arm, and straightened when he heard laughter behind him.
“I never did enjoy beer, myself!” A friendly-sounding man shoved Sora to the corner of the street, where several other people- he wondered if, judging by their clothes, they were “gypsies”- had gathered and were dancing. The man laughed and slapped Sora on the back. “I always was a man who loved his wine!”
The man continued chattering to him, but Sora wasn’t listening. The rattle of a tambourine had startled him, and when he looked up he saw the light he knew this world possessed.
She was dancing, hips swaying, arms swinging gracefully around her body, until her hands met to hit the tambourine on every offbeat. Her dress was a cream and orchid colored with a large sash tied around the waist, and the fabric fluttered gently whenever she twirled. Her raven hair fell across her shoulders in glossy curls that caught the sunlight with every turn, every balletic step. Her skin, dark, smooth and exotic, shone brightly with perspiration from dancing, and when she turned to face Sora, his eyes met with hers… And she winked.
Sora was inclined to allow his balance to fail him, however the friendly-sounding man that spoke to him initially grabbed his arm roughly and led him to the enchantress. He stared up at her, awed.
“Well, hey”, the woman said, her bright green eyes focused on him. “I haven’t seen you around before… What’s your name?”
Sora wondered to himself if her eyes hadn’t set his face on fire. “It’s Sora”, he replied awkwardly.
“Sora… It’s nice to meet you.” The woman’s lips curled into a smile.
He grasped for words, something, anything, but a sharp whistle interrupted his thoughts. The others reacted instantaneously, snatching up their belongings and running.
“The gypsies are getting away!” Sora heard the clopping of hooves approaching from down the street. He frowned and stepped forward, certainly not about to leave without a fight, but he nearly fell backwards when someone grabbed his arm and dragged him away.
“Hurry! Don’t let them see you!” Sora looked up to see the woman smiling down at him. He bit his lip, swallowed his pride, and left without hesitation.
Once they had reached safety in an empty alleyway, the woman turned to Sora. “You… You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No… I just got here this morning”, he said quietly.
“I thought so”, she said, smirking. “You have a pretty confused look on your face.” He tried to protest, but the woman continued. “Don’t worry; you’ll be safe with us… My name is Esmeralda.”
Sora felt himself smile. “Thanks, but… Why are the guards attacking us?”
Esmeralda’s mouth twisted into a frown. “Because of the Judge, Frollo.”
“Frollo?” Sora pictured a large, horrendously overweight man who would probably tumble down a hill like a ball should he ever fall over.
She nodded. “Frollo is supposed to be maintaining peace in this city, but instead he’s been persecuting our people… He has hunted us down and killed us, just for being gypsies!” Sora could hear the anger building up from deep within Esmeralda’s throat as she spoke.
“Well, that’s…” Sora groped for words, his mouth suddenly dry. “That’s… that’s stupid!”
Esmeralda looked at him with an odd expression. “Stupid? What do you mean?”
They stood next to each other, as two people sharing the same space, breathing the same air, and experiencing similar sensations and feelings. Yet time and culture stood as a stone wall, dividing them, depriving them of understanding.
He felt his face grow hot. “You know… It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I see…” Her smile was infectious. ‘You really aren’t from around here, are you? Do you know what today is?”
“Today…” Esmeralda tapped the bottom of his chin lightly. Sora stared up at her with a mixture of embarrassment and wonder.
“Today is an opportunity.”
The misty January morning shifted into afternoon as the crowd gathered in the plaza for the Feast of Fools. Music resonated through the houses and stone roads, and wine and beer spilled across the ground as the people of Paris began partaking in impetuous celebration.
Sora found he had a penchant for red wine, after having adjusted to its initial, rather bitter flavor. He stood to the side of a large stage, watching the boisterous crowd shove each other and shout in Clopin’s direction as he leapt about, singing along with the music.
He was supposed to be looking for the Keyhole, but he found himself completely distracted from his mission. Something was drawing him closer to the stage (Esmeralda perhaps, but he wouldn’t dare admit it to himself), and in moments he was standing at the edge of the gathering, contemplating if he should push his way through the cluster of people.
A cloaked figure suddenly rammed into Sora hard, knocking the cup out of his hands. Wine spilled all over his arms and front, and the rest splashed on the ground and his feet. Sora turned towards the figure, annoyance spreading across his face.
The figure- a male, and rather short; he wasn’t much taller than Sora- whirled around clumsily, his foot landing on the hem of his cloak and pulling the hood down. He quickly regained his balance and thrust the hood back over his face, waving a hand at Sora.
“I am sorry! Please, please forgive me!” The man clutched at his hood desperately, as if he was trying to smother himself with the fabric. He shrank away awkwardly, seemingly expecting to be struck. Sora immediately felt his annoyance dissolve, and he leaned forward, trying to get a better look at the man.
“Relax, it was just an accident”, Sora said, stepping closer. The man quickly turned away and ran into the crowd.
The festival was gaining feverish momentum when an armed carriage entered the plaza. Sora watched a man with a contemptible disposition seat himself in an ornate chair. His face was similar to the trunk of an old gnarled tree, with features twisted by hatred and scorn. Corruption withered the man’s entire body, and an unquenchable desire for control set in his slightly curled fingers. His cap sat over his eyes, which were narrowed into angry slits as he observed the festivities around him. When he met with Sora’s eyes briefly, he felt his heart sink, and a deep chill shook his entire body.
Sora immediately identified the man with a callous sneer spread across his face as Judge Frollo. He shuddered, and hastily averted his gaze, choosing to watch Esmeralda dance instead.
The music reached a tremendous crescendo as Clopin and Esmeralda began pulling men onto the stage. Each man was adorned in tattered clothes and vibrant masks, and the already disorderly crowd grew even more rowdy in response to their presence on the stage. Sora noticed Esmeralda had led the small man from earlier onto the stage, and that his cloak had been removed.
“Wow… What a great mask”, he commented absently. He heard the townsfolk around him murmur in agreement.
Clopin’s voice thundered across the plaza. “Mesdames, Messieurs, bon après-midi!”
The crowd roared in response. He plucked his hat off his head and swept his arm across his front, bowing deeply.
“I hope you are all ready to crown this year’s King of Fools!” Clopin clapped a hand on the back of the nearest masked man. “The rules are simple, my friends! Whoever bears the most hideous, the most vile face in all of Paris will be crowned our next King!”
Esmeralda quickly set into motion the judging of ugly faces. Each mask was pulled off and flung behind her in a theatrical display, and the man beneath the mask would quickly try to distort his face with his hands.
The first man placed his fingers in the corners of his mouth and stretched it to the sides as far as he could, while sticking his tongue out and crossing his eyes. He was met with loud boos and jeers, and as a result the rejected fool was kicked off the stage, only to land face-first in a large puddle.
Each contestant was judged and rejected as such, and they quickly piled up on top of one another as the crowd replied with uproarious laughter. Esmeralda eventually reached the short man, who clearly looked uncomfortable with standing in front of everyone. Sora stood on his toes, eager to see the face behind the atrocious mask.
All of Paris gasped collectively as Esmeralda pulled on his face, only to discover with horror that the man was not wearing a mask. Several folks stood silently, struck with consternation. Repulsed whispers rippled throughout the crowd.
“That’s not a mask…”
“It’s his face!”
A voice from behind Sora was thick with disdain. “It’s the bell ringer… The hunchback of Notre Dame!”
The disfigured man fell to his knees, his hunched body heaving with terrified gasps as he drew his arms over his head to hide his face. The crowd stood silently gaping at him, lost in astonishment and disgust.
“Mesdames, Messieurs, please do not panic!” Clopin’s words echoed in the silence. “Don’t you see? We have found the ugliest face in Paris!” He quickly pulled the deformed man to the front and placed a crown on his head. “All hail Quasimodo, our new King of Fools!”
Roars of elated celebration swept across the crowd as they pulled Quasimodo into their arms and carried him to the center of the plaza. The King of Fools was set on a platform- Sora later discovered that criminals were also burned there- and Paris quickly erupted into cheers when he straightened, gazing at his subjects below him. A smile crossed his twisted lips, and he took a deep breath, seeming to truly appreciate the attention.
Sora smiled inwardly at the group’s positive change in demeanor in regards to Quasimodo. Having met the King’s warnings about people feeding off of darkness in the world with disbelief, it was assuring for him to see these “dark” people (He no longer believed the word “dark” even applied anymore) accepting a man so drastically different. With the exception of Frollo, Sora couldn’t recall feeling the chill of darkness within Paris and its people at all.
“What do you say we have a little fun?” He couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from, but the tone was enough for his chest to tighten, and for his hair to stand on end.
Quasimodo’s mouth was wide open in an ecstatic grin, and his arms were raised over his head. The entire city suddenly sunk into darkness as blood- no, it was a tomato- splattered across the King’s face, dribbling from his lips and down his neck and spilling in a disgusting heap at his feet. He gasped in surprise and took a shaky step, only to land on the destroyed tomato and slip, crashing to his stomach.
The crowd laughed hysterically, and more joined in, throwing everything they could find at Quasimodo. Others tied him down with tremendous effort, for he possessed an immense amount of strength despite his awkward and compact frame. He screamed for his master as the ropes held him down, and Paris spread its filth and slime and laughed at him mercilessly.
It was barbaric. Disgust and anger bubbled in Sora’s throat, and he decided he had to stop this darkness, this madness. He pushed through the crowd furiously, his voice quickly growing hoarse as he screamed for them to move. But they shoved back at him, their laughter escalating.
“Come off of it, boy! We’re only having a little fun!”
Eggs and lettuce slid down Quasimodo’s face as he sobbed, and yet no one except for Sora seemed to notice his tears of anguish. He shoved and fought past people fiercely, but the crowd tossed him around with a force to match the ocean’s waves, and with each attempt he was nearly thrown off his feet.
The cruelty halted with a loud gasp, and the people lowered their arms poised to throw more vegetables. Sora stopped and gazed up at the platform.
Esmeralda had climbed up on the platform and silently knelt next to Quasimodo as he cried. She wrapped an arm around him carefully, and Sora could see her lips moving, whispering words of comforts to man. With a quick flick of her wrist, she produced a knife and sliced the bindings, freeing him from his humiliation.
“Gypsy girl!” Frollo stood from his seat, extending a long, gnarled finger at Esmeralda. “Get down from there this instant!”
She didn’t answer. Instead, she took Quasimodo’s hand and helped him to his feet.
Frollo’s voice was searing with rage. “You will not help him, and you will get down from there, or so help you God-”
“That’s right!” Esmeralda yelled suddenly, causing the crowd to jump in surprise. “I would think, if your God exists, He would rather help the outcasts-”, she placed a hand over her heart, and then gestured to Quasimodo, “-than men like you!”
Frollo snarled. “Blasphemy! Arrest her!”
Sora climbed up onto the platform and placed himself in front of Esmeralda. “Get out of here!” he yelled to her. “I’ll hold them off!”
“Are you crazy?” She was already backing away, a scarf in hand.
“I don’t know… Probably!” He extended his hand, and the Keyblade materialized in his hand with a pop. He crouched into a defensive stance, all too eager to fight.
“Witchcraft!” Frollo shouted, shock spreading across his face. “That boy is a demon!”
Sora hesitated, glancing around at the terrified eyes burning into him. One woman screamed, and in a chain reaction the crowd backed away from the platform, from him. He swallowed, his heart pounding in his chest.
No, no. He wouldn’t let their fear of him stop him from protecting the only bit of light Paris had.
Esmeralda had already disappeared (More “witchcraft”, according to Frollo), and Sora watched a crowd of soldiers on horses approach him. He hopped off the platform and swung the Keyblade in their direction. More people screamed, and the horses reared in fright, sending soldiers flying.
“You idiots! Get him!”
Four horsemen were left, and they charged at Sora, swords raised. He knew his chances of defeating the four of them alone were slim, so he elected to escape and took off running, ignoring the crowd as they clambered out of his way and jeered at him when he passed.
Sora quickly tried to duck into a shop, but the owner screamed at him, swung at him: In the name of the Lord, begone from my home, you demon! He stepped out of the shop, only to begin running again, as the soldiers had spotted him.
He suddenly had no place to go. The horsemen were gaining speed, and he tore through the streets, looking for somewhere, anywhere. He had to find a place where he could hide, where he would not be judged, where he could not be harmed. He needed a resting place, a refuge… A sanctuary.
His eyes widened. “Sanctuary!”
Sora skidded while abruptly changing directions, and dashed towards Notre Dame. The clop of hooves drew dangerously close, and he looked up to see the soldier looming over him, sword poised to strike. Sora just needed to survive a few more seconds…
He hadn’t noticed the soldier’s cloak before, and he could smell death emanating from the pale horse, its breath hot on his neck. His foot landed on the first step.
With a burst of pain in his head, Sora sunk into darkness: the darkness from which the city would feed.
She shook her head in disbelief, the candlelight caught in her locks of raven hair. “They’re going to burn him.”
A blond man rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “I would imagine so. Frollo is convinced he’s some sort of demon.”
“That…” Esmeralda bit her lip, anger flashing in her eyes. “No… That… That’s stupid!”
Several hours later, she stood in the bell tower, the hunchback gently clasping her hand in his.
“Quasimodo… Let’s help God help the outcasts.”
“Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against an unholy people, rescue me from the wicked and deceitful man.”
---Taken from Latin Mass