There’s a moment of silence, similar to the respectful kind those in mourning offer to their dead, before Pierre walks into class late, and yes, he’s even got a lollipop in his mouth, and Esmeralda cannot wait for this.
He sits in the front row, directly in front of her (she got to class early and punted a freshman out of the seat for this prime audience zone), and shakes his hair out. They didn’t have time to do it up in pigtails like Esmeralda wanted. She takes her own private moment of silence for this. Professor Frollo doesn’t seem to have noticed yet: Esmeralda has no doubt in her heart that she’ll know firsthand when he does finally figure out that something is wrong.
“Detention for tardiness, Mr. Gringoire,” Frollo murmurs, his head bowed to the desk. They’re taking a short quiz, then Frollo will start lecturing. It’s a typical Friday. Pierre swirls his tongue around the lollipop, then pops it out of his mouth.
This is too good.
Esmeralda focuses on her quiz. Frollo’s her hardest professor this year. Maybe she can copy off the cute boy sitting next to Pierre - nope, the arm of his sweater is obscuring his answer sheet. Just as well. If she gets caught cheating again, Frollo will sentence her to death. She’s sure of it.
And she doesn’t want to get distracted by classwork today.
Frollo stands up and falters, and that’s Esmeralda’s first sign that he’s seen it: his eyes flicker down to Pierre for a moment, but he catches himself, and he clears his throat, and starts to talk. Pierre’s shoulders are starting to shake a little. Esmeralda is dying.
See, it’s a Friday, and they were bored -
Esmeralda and Pierre are used to sharing clothes by now. The day Pierre found the white panties with the ruffles - “good girl” are printed in some serif font on the buttocks - was the best of Esmeralda’s life, because now he’s perched in his chair with come-fuck-me-daddy eyes and Esme’s soft pink sweatshirt that reads “babygirl” and Esmeralda knows he’s got the panties on today and even though it wasn’t part of the dare, he’s wearing a fluffy black skirt and stockings - where did he find those? - and oh, if Frollo doesn’t find himself distracted by this, they know for sure he won’t fall to the whim of any man on planet Earth.
Esmeralda watches as the T.A. sweeps by Frollo to collect the tests; as he stacks the papers neatly and sits down to grade them. Esme looks at Frollo. He’s already started to lecture, and she can tell he hasn’t looked back at Pierre once, though she thinks he wants to.
The lecture is - if a bit stiff - uneventful for the first twenty minutes. The first time Esmeralda really sees Frollo start to crack is when Pierre sighs audibly and tugs at the collar of his sweatshirt. The lollipop has long since melted away: his other hand falls and starts to play restlessly with the edge of his skirt. There’s a hitch in Frollo’s voice; his eyes move to Pierre, then quickly away - then back to Pierre. Esmeralda has to give him credit, though: the man’s resilient. He gives himself a little shake and smoothly falls back into the lecture.
Pierre apparently decides to step up the game when he lets his legs slowly fall apart. Esmeralda has to actually stuff her fingers in her mouth to keep from giggling. Providence offered Pierre a seat at the front of the room, and now the panties are on full display: if Frollo ever decides to look back in this direction, this is sure to get a reaction. Pierre stealthily lifts up his skirt and takes a panty shot. He closes his legs. Esme’s disappointed, but maybe Pierre’s just testing the waters; playing with what he can get away with. He holds his phone in his lap and bends down to text swiftly:
Frollo snatches Pierre’s phone out of his hands. “I’ve told you not to text during my lectures. It is a blatant sign of disrespect and I will not tolerate it today. I will keep your phone for the - ”
Esme can see the moment when Frollo happens to glance at the screen. Of course it’s still open to the picture Pierre’s just taken: his legs spread and an unmistakeable black ruffle in the foreground - Frollo swallows and darts a quick look down at Pierre’s skirt.
The rest of Frollo’s speech comes out in a hoarse whisper. Are his pants tighter than usual? “I’ll - I will keep your phone for the rest of the lecture. You can retrieve it after your extended detention.”
Esme didn’t just hear that. Pierre turns around as soon as Frollo stalks back to the chalkboard and oh my, he’s done some eyeliner today, too, how is her best friend real, and he whispers “don’t get excited - he says that every time he takes my phone away; it’s extra punishment - ”
“Not in that tone of voice - !”
Pierre winks at her and twists back to the front. Esmeralda raises her head just in time to catch a glimpse of - of something - that crosses Frollo’s face. Is that - ? She has to be mistaken. Jealousy? No, something more raw. Hurt.
She notices he’s still holding Pierre’s cell phone, and she smirks at him.
Frollo flushes and sets the phone on his desk with more force than necessary before turning back to the chalkboard. He’s already set up two different chemical formulas and has an expression on his face like he’s about to start calling on people. Esmeralda pleasantly looks away from him.
Christ, if she didn’t know better, she’d think Frollo was actually falling in love with her best friend. For a moment, she entertains the thought of Pierre’s secret partner actually being Professor Frollo, and she nearly laughs aloud. Pierre’s been sneaking around lately; getting more and more shifty with how he spends his time, but there’s just no way Pierre’s been dating the glacier. Not to mention that he’s a professor -
Oh, God, if this silly dare gets the law involved…
Esme glances down to where Pierre is idly pulling at the tops of his stockings.
This should be fine.
Frollo lectures for fifteen minutes more, occasionally pausing to violently call on people who dare to raise a hand; Esme can see toward the end of these fifteen minutes that he’s growing visibly more flustered, and, at first, she can’t figure out why. Pierre doesn’t seem to be doing anything out of the ordinary - perhaps both hands are in his lap rather than on his desk - but Esmeralda is watching a bead of sweat trail down Frollo’s forehead and she knows something must be going on.
She figures it out when Pierre lets out a soft “oh!” followed by a quiet moan.
He can’t actually be jacking it in class, can he? She’s heard legends, but he’s in the front row. Esmeralda can’t believe Pierre couldn’t come up with a better way to tease the man. There must be something more complicated at stake here. She tries to get a better view, but curses; of course securing a seat immediately behind the test subject wasn’t a tactically advantageous move.
Esme tears a piece of notebook paper and scribbles on it. She tosses it onto the open notebook of the boy sitting immediately next to Pierre. The cute one. What was his name? The note reads what’s my friend to your left doing?
The kid looks over and blanches; he seems to have been out of the loop for the whole forty-five-or-so minutes class has been in session.
He writes back i think he’s giving himself a foot massage
Esmeralda’s mouth falls open. If she leans a little, yes, she can see that Pierre’s knee is turned outward a bit, and it’s not hard to imagine Pierre with his foot pulled up on the seat, which means, of course, that his white panties are completely visible from the front of the room, and the quiet gasps coming out of his mouth are justified, especially considering the tight flats Esme dressed him in and the silky material of the stockings. Still -
Frollo’s eyes are focused on Pierre. If Esmeralda’s reading this right, he seems to have locked his eyes on the safest part of Pierre’s body, which is the text across his sweatshirt. His jaw is clenched and he’s still speaking, but his voice seems like it’s drying up - “Would anyone care to come to the front and solve this problem - ?”
Esmeralda’s watching for it, so she can see when Pierre drops his leg (amidst a flutter of black ruffles) and sits up straight. He raises his hand high.
Frollo’s eyes haven’t left him. They travel up his lovely body to his hand. Almost wearily, he says “You’d like to come, babygirl?”
- and freezes -
Everyone is silent, but now it’s the silence that rings through the air after a gunshot.
Frollo’s eyes go hard and black. “Class is dismissed early.”
There’s a flood of students bodily fighting to escape the classroom after that. Esmeralda is among them. She doesn’t stop to watch whatever happens between Frollo and Pierre, though she does hope those panties and that sweatshirt (the miracle worker set, she hurriedly christens them) aren’t ruined in the ensuing whatever.