Chapter 38: Run

“Hi, Esther. He’s not being too much of a pain, is he?”

Esther cast a shy look at Mortimer, then back at Gunther. “No, he’s fine,” she said. “I’ll just magic him into an hour of being quiet if he gets annoying, but he’s not been too annoying yet.”

“Well now, that’s got to be a useful skill to have,” Gunther murmured, watching them as they both headed into the living room, their heads together, whispering. He raised an eyebrow at Ted, who grinned.

“Aye, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s crossed my mind, too. Are you okay with that? I can nip it in the bud, if not.”

“I’m fine with it. Esther’s a lovely girl. I just feel really old all of a sudden!”

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12 responses

  1. Oh God that last image. That last image! Even though we can’t see his face we just know that hes breaking into pieces in that position. Can damn near feel the emotions. That third to last image where you can see the expression on his face says a lot but there is just something the last one that seems so familiar. Everyone has been there at some point or another.
    And Gunther’s reaction with Valois, where he gets even more worried while watching Valois, is really spot on. There is something about watching a person who is usually so cool, calm and collected begin to panic that is so unsettling. I would hate to see what an actual breakdown for Valois would look like… who am I kidding, I would love to see that.
    Speaking of the third to last image, Valois’ eyes look darker and bigger than usual. I also noticed that even though Gunther is the one whose hurt, I’m more upset about Valois, the one who caused the hurt. I think its mostly cause, as a reader, you’ve already explained how lonely and sad he is walking the earth by himself for so long. I know what he did was wrong, but I understand why he did it.

    • He absolutely is breaking into pieces in that image, yes (I was almost crying when I got him into that pose). He’s in absolute despair, because this moment is a mirror of every other moment that this has happened to him. He commits himself fully to a lover, then admits a little of his truth to them, and they bolt. Is it any wonder that he leaves the telling of that truth for longer and longer, only admitting it when he finally feels secure enough in the relationship? Unfortunately, having never experienced fatherhood himself he has no understanding of the powerful bond between a parent and child so he was completely blindsided by Gunther’s (perfectly understandable) reaction.

      And Gunther, watching his usually unflappable lover getting so agitated and unsure of himself; that had to have been as scary as hell. Here he is, just a few days after committing to a submissive relationship, and his Master isn’t the calm, controlled, and reliable ‘rock’ that he thought he was. And you will see Valois break down completely at some point in this story, I promise ;)

      Valois has reserves of emotional strength far beyond those of a normal person. He’s had to develop those over the centuries that he’s existed. But this moment has completely thrown him, and its completely thrown Gunther as well. Valois will be scrabbling for a way to fix things, whereas Gunther is just lost and flailing without a lifejacket. Man overboard ;)

      • Would Gunther have the same reaction if he didn’t have Mort? Or even Natalie? Would the idea of living forever be appealing to him or would he not be able to mentally handle it at all?

        • If he had no children then he’d be shocked and upset that he wasn’t told, but no; he wouldn’t have that same visceral reaction. That was the howl of grief of a father who knew he’d have to lay his son in the cold earth one day, at least if not personally (because he knows he himself should by rights be long-dead by then, assuming Mort dies of old age) then at least he would have to watch – from however great a distance – as his little boy left his life. And then, yes, he would get a taste of what Valois has been living through the centuries. It’s something that he simply cannot bring hinself to face, and so he’s running away from it; like a child hiding his face in a cushion and hoping the boogeyman can’t see him. Poor lad :(

  2. Valois and Gunther are both in a world of hurt, and neither of them can lean on the other for support, which just makes it exponentially worse. I understand Gunther’s reaction; no parent should ever have to go through that. I still feel Valois’s pain more, though. He’s been alone for centuries, and he’s finally allowed himself to be vulnerable with Gunther in exchange for his love and submission. Valois has to be panicked that their relationship could fall apart over this and he’d be left alone again.

    *pulls Valois into a hugs and rocks him gently* Just give him some time, my dark prince. He’ll come back to you. You’ll see. *crosses fingers where he can’t see*

    • It’s a horrible situation for both of them, and one that completely blindsided Valois. He’d just got comfortable enough with Gunther to finally mention the immortality thing – thinking Gunther would be able to cope with it – and then Gunther did to him exactly what every other one of his lovers had done: he ran away. Valois is almost utterly defeated and stunned and panic-stricken in that final image. If I’d carried on writing, there would have been tears, as well.

      Gunther is just completely lost. He wants so desperately to cling to Valois because Valois is his safe place, but how can he cling to the person who’s hurt him so badly? And then, up rears his old impulsiveness and he just HAS to get out, to get away. The last thing he needs is distance between them, but it’s all that he wants right now. You know that he’s not thinking straight because he’s not considering how Mortimer would react if he did anything stupid like accidentally running his car off the road. He’s just blindly reacting, and yes he’s going to do something very foolish. (No dying, though, I promise!)

      *sigh* Poor boys :(

  3. “You know that he’s not thinking straight because he’s not considering how Mortimer would react if he did anything stupid like accidentally running his car off the road.”

    This is exactly what I think is going to happen.

    I feel bad for both of them and yes my heart broke a little for Valois in that last image but, the ends don’t justify the means and Valois has done some fucked up shit (excuse my French). He may not have experienced fatherhood but he knows how important Mort is to Gunther. Hell, he knew that Gunther’s children were the most precious things to the man! What’s going to happen if Gunther finds out about that little deal?!

    I think somewhere deep down he knew this would happen, he’d have to be blind not to know that Gunther’s first and immediate reaction would be to reject immortality. But he wanted Gunther, so he did it anyway. Now, to use another cliche, he’s reaping what he’s sown.

    A part of me cannot feel bad about this. A part of me has become too wary of Valois. A part of me wants to tell Gunther to run as fast and as far away as he can because this will end in tragedy. They can’t have the kind of relationship that Valois wants without both men being open and honest.

    And because I love them together so much, a greater part of me wants them to work it out. Mort might understand – he’s a cool kid. Valois cannot have what he desires – a real, committed relationship with someone who is 100% on-board – without letting go of some of his control. Not in relation to the Dom/sub thing, but the mind-fucking, the games within games within games. At some point he’s going to have to let that go. Until them, he’s going to keep losing people he loves.

    I just…no one should have to bury their child. That damn scene has struck a cord and I just…

    I am not a Valois fan right now.

    • (No apology needed re: the language thing!)

      I agree that Valois is incredibly selfish, and – if you think about it – the fact that he has lived for so long means he’s had even more time than usual to reinforce that selfishness. Most of us may experience rejection a few times in our lives but nowhere near as many as Valois has, simply because we don’t live long enough for it to happen that many times. He quite literally doesn’t think sometimes, but in this case he did indeed suspect that Gunther might reject immortality; after all he’s been inside Gunther’s head for long enough to understand how impulsive he can sometimes be. Gunther’s like a skittish horse: needs love and care and attention but might bolt at any minute. Valois knows that, and that’s why he’s withheld so much information. He did it out of fear that Gunther will leave, and look what’s happened! It’s a lose/lose for him, because the longer he goes without admitting things, the worse it will be when those things come to eventual light. It’s the little lie that requires you to tell bigger and bigger lies to cover up, until you finally slip up and all hell breaks loose. (Side note: One of the best sayings about that is a very apt one – Liars need to have very good memories.)

      Of course he knows how important Mortimer is to Gunther, but we’re back again to that not-thinking thing (which I could honestly slap him for, but then he wouldn’t be as interesting a character if he wasn’t so deeply-flawed!). He thought that Gunther was so in love with him that he’d be able to cope with the news (hence the eventual admission) but he simply had no regard for the fact of the parent/child bond. There is a minor mitigating circumstance for him, in that his own childhood was a terrible one (he loved his mother and she tried to show that she loved him in return, but… other circumstances which I can’t get too detailed about for fear of spoiling the plot meant that he never really got the parental love, that loving bond that every child deserves) but it doesn’t excuse what he’s done.

      I wanted to reinforce in the reader’s mind the love Gunther had for Mort, which is why I inserted that scene at Ted’s house. Seeing the affection right there, seconds before reading the whammy of Valois’s confession gave the effect I’d been aiming for: a visceral reaction to what Valois had forced Gunther into without his knowledge. *grabs the knife; twists a bit more* ;)

      Right now I feel for both of them. Gunther, because he’s so distressed, and Valois because he’s panicking that he’s thrown it all away. Neither of them is thinking straight right now.

      From an author’s point of view I’m also glad that Valois is getting a balance of love and disgust from readers, because that means he’s engaging the reader. There was a time when I found it hard to cope with a character that I adored being hated by readers (the author always wants to protest, “But! But! I know WHY he’s like that, but I can’t tell you yet!” – lol!) but now I’ve learned to see it another way: that I’ve written them so well they’ve got under the reader’s skin and affected them deeply enough to the point of dislike (whether temporary or more permanent).

  4. My heart is breaking for both Gunther and Valois right now. The pain Gunther is feeling, the realization that Valois has lied and manipulated him and made choices for him without his consent, knowledge, or input in mind is just so sad. That he now has to face the fact that he will never grow old and die while he watches his son do those very things–devastating.
    In regards to Valois, I am just picturing all of the people that he has lost and/or watched walk out of his life, and now for him to experience Gunther doing that very same thing–I feel dreadful for him. Yes. Even after all of the conniving and selfish things he has done in order to bind Gunther to him. Do I want them to work it out? Maybe. But it will be a very long and bumpy road if they do try to move past this moment. *sigh*
    Reading on…

    • I won’t lie: I was in tears for both of them by the time I’d finished this chapter. Gunther for the devastated realisation of what his life will now be, and Valois for the despair of watching the man he loves so desperately walking out on him as so many have done before.

  5. Poor Valois and Gunther. I sort of had an inkling Valois making Gunther immortal without asking him was going to be something Gunther didn’t enjoy. That conversation they were just having before, when Gunther was talking about not wanting to be without Valois, I feel like that would have been the time Valois should have brought up the proposition of immortality, rather than just making Gunther immortal behind his back. However, life doesn’t always work out perfectly, LOL, and I wondered if Valois was so sure about it because Gunther likes to be submissive, so the act of Valois choosing things for him should be something he treasured. Sadly, Valois was mistaken about this particular event, seeing as Gunther did not appreciate not being asked or given a choice in the matter.

    • Yep, that was never going to end well. And the reason Valois didn’t ask was all down to his past history. He’s asked countless lovers before if they would forsake mortality for him, and they’ve all said no, with one exception: the prince. And, even then, when he realised what was expected of him he couldn’t cope with it. Valois was too powerful for even a royal prince to deny once he’d said yes, and–such was the prince’s desperation at the time–it seemed there was only one way out for him, before they made the final promise. Now that the prince is a ghost, though, he understands how lonely and desperate Valois was, so he stays with him, summoned by the ring whenever Valois needs him.

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