|The Hunchback of Notre Dame 3: Every Rose has its Thorn
"Ah, ha! En guard!" Zephyr shouted to his father. He and Phoebus were fencing outside in the training rink of the Palace of Justice. Belle walked in and said hello to Esmeralda, who was standing near the surrounding fence.
"Oh, hello Belle!" Esmeralda replied.
"Belle?" Zephyr said, hearing his mother. He looked up, away from his father, completely distracted.
"Ha!" Phoebus said as he pushed Zephyr to the ground with his foil.
"Hey! What'd you do that for dad?!" Zephyr demanded as he ripped his helmet off. Phoebus took his off as well.
"Zephyr! You were completely distracted! You can never, ever, take your eyes away from your opponent! What if this tip wasn't blunted?"
Zephyr sighed. Phoebus held out his hand to help his son up. "You all right?"
"Yeah, of course, I'm okay," Zephyr muttered, embarrassed. Esmeralda exchanged glances with Djali, who smirked. Both of them knew how he felt about Belle.
"I'm going to wash up," Zephyr announced and then disappeared. Phoebus walked over to Esmeralda and Belle.
"I think...you embarrassed him," Esmeralda told Phoebus.
"What? I was just teaching him, besides who's here for him to be embarrassed in front of?" Esmeralda eyed Belle, who was scratching Djali's head.
"Ohhhh," Phoebus whispered.
"So how much longer will Zephyr be training?" Belle asked as she stood up.
"Well, you saw him...probably as long as the sun's out," Phoebus answered.
"Phoebus!" Esmeralda scolded and then punched his arm.
"Owwww! That hurt!" Phoebus complained. Belle held her hand over her mouth and giggled.
"Oh I meant to ask you, Belle," said Esmeralda. "The Festival of Fools is drawing near and I was wondering if you'd like to dance with me? Like a partner?"
"Uh, I don't know, Esmeralda."
"Oh! Come on! It'll be fun! I thought you liked dancing?"
"Well not in front of the entire town!"
"Please!" Esmeralda pleaded.
Belle could not turn her down. "Ok, why not?"
"Great! Don't worry, I'll be right there with you."
Belle smiled. "Well, could you tell Zephyr goodbye for me and I'll see him tomorrow?"
"Of course," Esmeralda answered.
"Bye!" Belle said and then left.
"With such an arm, I think you should be training Zephyr instead of me!" Phoebus told Esmeralda and then kissed her.
As Belle walked around the narrow streets, she searched for some kind of inspiration for her next painting. She found herself at the blacksmith, who was making horseshoes. She examined them and then moved on. Nearby, was a cart full with a variety of fruits: bananas, apples, grapes, oranges and pears. As she picked up a pear to examine it, she felt a hand on her shoulder. This made Belle gasp and drop the pear. She spun around and there stood the man again. "Oh forgive me if I startled you, Mademoiselle. It was not my intention."
"Oh...th --- th --- that's all right," Belle stuttered. Behind her the pear refused to stay in place. She fumbled with it and finally got it to stay.
"Allow me to introduce myself! Carlos Fuentes at your service." He bowed and took Belle's hand and kissed it lightly. Belle smiled nervously. Why is this man being so nice to me all of the sudden? He hadn't even noticed me before, Belle thought. "Nice to meet your acquaintance, I'm Belle," Belle curtsied politely.
"What a beautiful name!" Fuentes complimented.
Belle smiled. "Um, thank you."
"Do you enjoy fruit?" Fuentes asked as he picked up a pear.
"Well, um, yes. Pears are my favorite."
Fuentes smiled and then threw the pear back into the pile. He placed his hand behind Belle's back and began walking. "Would you mind walking me back home? I'm afraid I don't know the streets very well since I have just moved here," he asked kindly. Behind them the entire cart of fruit spilt out into the street. The vender began shouting angrily.
"Paris, a lovely city, no?" Fuentes asked.
Belle smiled. "Yes it is," she agreed.
"I have heard of many wonderful things about this place and so I have decided to give it try."
Belle nodded. Soon they came upon a store that sold canvases, art supplies and chisels. "What a grand store! How unfortunate that in such a grand city there are no shops or buildings for paintings. I enjoy art very much. I am a sculptor." Fuentes said as they began to walk again. A grin spread across his face when he saw Belle's eyes light up.
"Really? I love art too! I paint!"
"Really? Why I'm not surprised: you seem like a very sophisticated young lady. What do you paint?"
"Well, I usually paint roses; actually it's all I've been painting."
"You don't say!" Fuentes said, trying to act surprised. "Why! I love roses too, they are my favorite flower! Would it be possible to see one of your pieces?" Fuentes said as they stopped outside the old house. Belle smiled, she loved that this man was interested in the same things she was; she believed every word he said, for why would he lie? "Of course! We could meet here tomorrow. I'll bring one of my paintings with me."
Fuentes was disappointed: he had hoped Belle would invite him to the tower but he didn't want be obvious, so he agreed. "Until tomorrow Cherie!" he said and handed a rose from behind his back.
Belle smiled and took the red rose from him. "Goodbye Monsieur Fuentes!" Belle waved. As Fuentes walked away, a creepy grin stretched across his face.
"Well, he seems like a nice man," Madellaine said, after Belle had told her about meeting Fuentes. They had just finished supper and they were clearing the table. Above in the rafters, Quasi was ringing the bells. The sun was quickly descending below the clouds and the moon was now visible.
"Yes! And he says he's a sculptor! I wonder what he sculpts?" Belle said.
"Really?" Quasi said has he leapt down from the rafters.
"Yes! And tomorrow he wants to see one of my paintings! Isn't that wonderful?!"
"Well..." Madellaine began and then exchanged glances with Quasi.
"You said you just met him today?" Quasi asked.
Belle nodded. "Why, what's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, it's just that, well we don't know Monsieur Fuentes, perhaps we should meet him as well...before you show him your paintings," Madellaine said.
Belle frowned. "Why? What's the difference if I show him my paintings before or after you meet him?"
Quasi sighed. "We just think...it's a little odd that he came up to you and ask to see your work." "What?" Belle asked in an upset tone. "He didn't just come up to me and ask to see my art! He asked me to help him find his way home! He just moved here and he doesn't know the streets of Paris that well. We got into a conversation and it just so happens he likes art as well!"
"Belle, please..." Madellaine started.
"No! You just can't believe that someone who likes art would be interested in my work!"
"Belle!" Quasi shouted after her as she rushed out of the tower and onto the roof. Belle rested her elbows on the railing as she looked up into the endless array of stars. From behind her the door creaked open but Belle paid no attention. Quasi appeared and took a deep breath before approaching her. "Belle...you know that's not true --- we think you have wonderful talent. It's just that you are our daughter, our child...our only child. And we would never want anything bad to happen to you." Quasi paused but Belle kept her back turned. "Come inside, it's cold out here."
"I'm fine," Belle muttered.
Quasi paused but began again: "Belle...we don't know who this Fuentes is! We're just looking out for your welfare: we love you very much. You mean the world to your mother and I."
But Belle stood still, making no reply. Quasi slowly walked up to her. He placed his hand on hers and said: "You see those stars?" He looked up into the night sky. "There are so many of them...but, rarely, is there a shooting star. I heard of shooting stars when I was very little...but no matter how long I waited, no matter how hard I looked, I never saw one. Then, one day, I was about to give up looking, but...I saw one. I was in awe, it was so beautiful," Quasi continued. Then, he took Belle's chin gently in his hand and looked in her eyes. "You...you are my shooting star, Belle. I thought I would never see you...ever." And without saying anything, Belle hugged her father tightly.
Knock! Knock! Quasi and Madellaine were standing on the rotted steps of the enormous house the next day. "Are you sure this is the house?" Madellaine asked as she examined its dull appearance.
"This is where Belle said it was," Quasi answered. As Quasi was about to knock again, the door flung open. There stood Fuentes with a huge smile on his face, but it quickly faded when he saw Quasi and Madellaine instead of Belle. He was shocked by Quasi's appearance but made no comment.
"I don't want any!" he said firmly and slammed the door.
Madellaine frowned angrily and Quasi stood, puzzled. Madellaine knocked on the door loudly and Fuentes opened it. "I'm Madellaine and this is Quasimodo. We're Belle's parents! You met her yesterday?"
Fuentes' face went pale and his mouth dropped open. "Oh! I am so sorry! I did not know! Come in! Come in!" he said, now in a very different tone. His face cringed as the two had their backs turned to him; he was not at all happy about this. "Please! Have a seat." Quasi and Madellaine were amazed by the comfortable surroundings.
"Well, would you like something to eat? Drink?" he offered kindly.
"Ummm, no thank you, Monsieur Fuentes. We'd just like to talk to you," Madellaine replied.
"Oh! Of course." Fuentes took a bottle of wine from a bar nearby. He poured himself a drink as he sat down across from them.
"So...what is it you would like to discuss?"
"Well, our daughter was saying how you wanted to see one of her paintings? She also said you were a sculptor?" Madellaine explained.
"Why yes! Oh what wonderful parents you are! You look out for your daughter! I'm very glad you came down to speak with me. And, yes, it is true I asked to see her work. She tells me she paints roses and I a very fond of them."
"Oh, well that's fine. Belle also mentioned you're a sculptor?" Quasi asked.
"Of course! Yes! Not exactly a well known one but I do fancy the hobby."
"Hobby? Do you have any we could see? Quasimodo and I love art as well," Madellaine asked politely.
"I ---" Fuentes clenched his teeth. "Well...I...don't exactly have them at the moment! You see...there was a, uh, problem! My sculptures are in a storage area for now. I was worried they would be damaged during the process of traveling here."
Quasi and Madellaine exchanged glances. "Oh," Madellaine replied. That seemed like a perfectly logical explanation.
"If you don't mind me asking...where is it that you moved from?" asked Quasi.
"I moved here from Spain. And oh, it was a sad day, but I figured I needed a change of scenery and I have heard so many good things about Paris!"
"Well it is a very nice place to live," Madellaine agreed.
"Oh yes! It's so very nice to come upon strangers, such as your child, who are willing to help you find your way around. She is very bright and so kind! You are wonderful parents!"
"Why thank you Monsieur Fuentes," Madellaine said.
Quasi smiled. "She means the world to us and we just thought it would be best to meet you..." "Oh! I understand perfectly, Quasimodo! If I had a daughter, I too would want to know her friends! It's only what's best for her."
"Yes. That's exactly how we feel, I'm glad you understand," Madellaine said.
"Well, it was very nice meeting you, Monsieur Fuentes," Quasi said as he held out his hand. Fuentes hesitated but he took Quasi's hand anyway. Madellaine smiled and Fuentes took her hand. "Enchanted!" he said and then kissed her hand.
"Good night my friends! We must meet again!" Fuentes said as he saw them out the door.
"Good night," Madellaine and Quasi replied and left.
"Good bye!" Fuentes said cheerfully. Once they were gone, Fuentes slammed the door and grunted angrily. "This...is just perfect," he said to himself sarcastically.
"Well? How did it go?" Belle asked that afternoon when her parents returned from their visit. "He's a very nice person," Madellaine answered. Quasi nodded in agreement.
"See! What did I tell you!" Belle said happily. "So is it all right if he sees my paintings now?"
"Tell ya what, why don't we invite Monsieur Fuentes for dinner? And then he can see all of your paintings at once!" Quasi suggested.
"That's a great idea! When?" Belle replied.
Madellaine giggled and wrapped her arms around Quasi. "When your father figures out what to make!" Everyone started laughing.
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