Chapter 62: You are cordially invited

Valois smoothed down Gunther’s lapels as he pinned on his buttonhole. A moment later he picked up another buttonhole and held it out to Gunther. “Will you do the honours for me, mon cœur?

Feeling rather emotional by now, Gunther just smiled and nodded, pinning on Valois’s buttonhole and settling it neatly. Then he just gazed at Valois for the longest time.

The moment was broken by the doorbell ringing, which Mort went to answer. When Natalie bowled into the house like a whirlwind, she found Gunther and Valois sharing a tender kiss in the living room.

“Here, none of that until we’re all chucking confetti at you!” She giggled, making hearts around her eyes with her fingers. “Oh my god, just look at you both. Damn it, there’s no way I’m going to have enough tissues for this.”

Read the chapter here, then please return to this post if you have feedback.

12 responses

  1. I don’t think it was appropriate, but this chapter just felt very tragic to me.

    Don’t get me wrong, the wedding was beautiful, and in the moment their love is very true and amazing…

    I just… Knowing how they got there and that it’s all going to fall apart… It kind of shadowed the moment – even as beautiful as it was.
    It’s a juxtaposition that I don’t think was intentional but I just can’t shake it.

    Maybe it’s just some secret inner pragmatist trying to speak some sense to me – but all of this just seems to good to be true right now.

    What’s up with Mort? I have a sense that the ability to use magic doesn’t particularly “rub off” so why does he seem to know more than he should right now? I can forgive Valois forgetting himself for a moment (and allowing the boy to sneak up on them) because it was a very emotional moment for him – but at the wedding I would bet money that he knew more about the choir than he aught. I think there’s more to Mort and Gunther than Valois has admitted… I don’t think just being his mate would allow him access to the Veil as a simple mortal, I don’t think his daughter would have granted Valois permission to make him immortal if she was just another mortal, and I honestly think Valois may have grown too accustomed to his experience and forgotten the possibility that there might be one thing or two he does not know…

    • It’s entirely unintentional, but I understand why you feel that way (and, in a way, I love that you do; it shows how much the story affects you as a reader, and that you appreciate the tragedy that you know is coming). There is a poignant overshadowing (even foreshadowing) to any happiness those two boys have.

      Addressing your thoughts about Gunther: there isn’t anything special or unusual about him, that much I can tell you. The reason he can get into the Veil is purely because he was always destined to be with Valois. Likewise, the Veil always knew that Gunther would become immortal through Valois’s actions. If, say, anything had happened to Gunther before he met Valois, he would have had some kind of inexplicable ‘miraculous escape’ from it. That would be the Veil, keeping watch over him, keeping him safe until Valois could find him.

      Now, as to Mort… you’re not wrong to assume there is something about him, and also that Valois is completely unaware of it. All I’ll say is: remember who Mort’s mother was ;)

      The only person who knows everything is Elsanine.

  2. Beautiful! Any reason why they picked the 19th of August? Also, can Valois speak any other languages than French and English?

    • Thank you! There’s no story-related reason for that specific date, only a personal one for me: August 19th was my beloved late grandad’s birthday :)

      Yes, Valois is fluent in several languages, mainly based around places where he’s lived in his long existence. I dragged out that OC meme I did on Tumblr just to check, and this was his answer: “French, English, Latin, Italian, some Spanish, enough German to get by, and a smattering of Portuguese.”

  3. What a lovely chapter. It was all so beautiful and I loved it. Especially that music. You have no clue how much I needed to hear something so incredibly beautiful. Where did you find it?

    • Thank you! The music is Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre, who is an incredibly-gifted modern composer. I first encountered him when I was browsing YouTube and spotted something about a ‘virtual choir’. His intention was to create a full choral recording where every chorister was just someone sitting at home and sending in their contribution. Lux Aurumque was the first attempt at this, bringing together 185 people to sing (video here). The version I posted in the story is a studio choir version, from Whitacre’s album Light & Gold. He’s since put together several other virtual choirs, all of which can be found on YouTube:

      Sleep (2,052 people)
      Water Night (3,746 people)
      Fly To Paradise (5,905 people)

  4. Such a touching moment with Mort wanting to call Valois stepdad.

    At long last, they’ve tied the knot! *cheers* Love that Valois helped Gunther maintain his dignity and sense of propriety in front of his business associates. They both looked so handsome in their suits, and I love that you made Valois taller.

    The fae choir was a really nice touch (as was the music) and allowed Elsanine to be at the wedding inconspicuously. Pretty clever!

    • I love Mort, bless his little heart. I toyed with the stepdad idea when I posted the ‘official’ wedding pics on Tumblr ages ago, but when it came to writing this chapter I knew I wanted to put it in the story, and this was the perfect moment. Gunther was already feeling emotional, so having the two people he cares for most moving together into a more familial unit like that really got to him. His life feels so happy and perfect right now, mainly because he’s mentally locked away things he doesn’t want to think about – such as the fact that he’ll live forever and he had no say in that – because he knows they’ll spoil the moment. He’d had such a shitty time of it before Valois came along, that I think he’s reasoned to himself he deserves some happiness for a few years before he’s forced (by time itself) to face the fact that his own son is getting older, but he himself isn’t.

      Hehe! Well, Valois did say that Elsanine would try to be present during the ceremony, but of course he knew he would! I had to shoot the fae choir images in a different save, because I was already juggling 23 people in the wedding save, and I need to add two more (Elsanine and Arcturus) to that save for the reception and evening celebrations. That one’s going to be fun – talk about spinning plates! XD

      Apologies for the delay in replying (as well as the delay between chapters). My working hours right now are leaving me pretty tired, and not much time during the day in which to write or – more importantly – the time to open my game and spend the requisite time needed to get all the images.

  5. You know, I started reading the story from the beginning and, as hot as all the sexy scenes between Gunther and Valois are, I find it very annoying that Valois has done pretty questionable and horrible shit and everything is working for him. He sold Gunther’s daughter to the Underworld so he can have Him forever and takes the advantage that everyone else sans Cornelia are unaware of that.
    On positive note, I also like that Mortimer is very accepting of Gunther’s choices, which is refreshing to see for a young kid, but also he took unrealistically well that his father is divorcing his mother to be with a hot French guy. Also while I still don’t know who is Esther and how is she as a person, I couldn’t help but feeling bad that he’s not hooking up with Bella, but that’s just me.
    I also find a bit boring that the wedding went smoothly as it was. I was kind of expecting something to interrupt it for the sake of drama, like Cornelia trying to prevent it or even Gunther having some cold feet. The point is that Valois to me is coming across as a Creator’s Pet because all his bad actions are either handwaved or justified by him being the main character. As much as I like him, I can’t help but seeing him as a Mary Sue (him and Natalie).
    My feedback here is that it’s a very good premise and I like the fact that it’s taking a new twist on Gunther’s story, while also maintaining the gothic style in the narrative, but be careful to not transform all of your original characters into Mary Sues. They should have consequences for their actions or complications because of their traits, not having their problems magically solved by plot convenience. I hope that’s what is coming next, because I’ll gladly wait for the continuation. Congrats.

    • Thank you for your comment, E-joy. I apologise that it’s taken me a while to answer it, but I’ve been very busy IRL and I also wanted to devote a little more time than I usually do in answering, since you raised some points of concern.

      First of all: your point that you find it annoying that Valois has done very questionable things and everything is working out nicely for him, despite that.

      In response to this: remember that Valois is narrating this story to you. You are the person sitting in his home, and – as we have seen on several occasions – Valois is both a liar and an unreliable narrator. Therefore don’t take everything you’re reading as gospel, because it might be an untruth or a distortion of the truth. A case in point: at the very beginning Valois tells the reader (you) that he left home as soon as he could, to escape his father. Later in the story, we learn that he was not escaping his father at all; he was running away from the fact that he murdered the (admittedly evil) man his dead father had sent to tutor him in magic. Just as Valois misleads the other people in the story, so he may be misleading the reader.

      As a secondary response to this: remember, too, how powerful Valois is. He can make Cornelia go insane. He can make an entire town look at a photograph of a deserted seedy motel (both in the newspapers and on the internet) and see Gunther walking out of it, when in fact Gunther was never there. Valois’s magical power is so great that he CAN make everything work for him… for now. He will eventually come up against something that he can’t do anything about, and that is when things will begin to unravel for him. Trust me: it’s not all going to go his way.

      Secondly: your point of Mortimer taking unrealistically well the fact that his father is divorcing his mother to be with a hot French guy.

      In response to this: remember that Cornelia has not been a nice or loving mother to Mortimer at all. It was always to his dad that Mort clung, because Gunther understood what it was like to be the ‘weirdo freak’ at school. Granted, I couldn’t really show much of this without diverging off into scenes about Mortimer’s childhood that would have served nothing but to distract from the main thread of the story, but I tried to put enough hints in there to show to the reader that Mortimer cared about his mum, because she was an important part of his life, and at his age he needed constancy and stability. However, when he came back from the boarding school that he hated (and to which his mother had sent him; another reason for him – in his emotional and moody teenaged years – to start hating his mum) it was his dad who was there for him, not his mum.

      Gunther also raised Mortimer to be very open-minded, so – while finding out that his dad now had a boyfriend was a bit of a surprise – he wasn’t at all fazed by it. Poor Mort had been through so many unpleasant experiences in his life up until then (listening to his parents constantly arguing, being sent away by his mother, bullied at prep school, coming home to find his house had caught fire and his mother was in a secure unit) he was desperate for normality. ‘Normality’, at that point, meant ‘Dad’ and – if Dad had a new partner – then as long as Mort didn’t lose his father’s love, he was willing to accept that.

      A side-note on this point: My dad had three consecutive new partners/wives after he and my mum divorced when I was a child. I liked all of them and got along well with them. I accepted all of them as people. Granted, those partners were all women so I didn’t also have the “OMG my dad is bisexual?!” curveball that’s in this story, but I’m just mentioning this personal point to show that a child or young person can accept new partner in their parents’ lives, and very quickly after a divorce. Not every stepmother is a wicked one, and not every new partner is hated by the child as “someone who took away my mum/dad” or “someone who split up Mum and Dad”.

      Thirdly: your point about Mortimer hooking up with Esther instead of Bella.

      In response to this: I originally began writing this story because I wanted to read a story about Gunther and nobody had written one that focused on him. Every single other story I could find to do with the Goth family stuck religiously to canon in some way or other, and almost all of them were about Mortimer and Bella. To be brutally honest: I was fed up with seeing Mort with Bella all the time. There was nothing new in the idea: he marries Bella, Bella goes missing, etc etc etc. I wanted to shake things up and give him someone new to be with. Looking back now, if I started the story again, Gunther would have had a different wife, too; he wouldn’t be with Cornelia.

      Fourthly: your point about the wedding being boring because no drama happened.

      In response to this: I don’t write drama for the sake of it. Real life simply doesn’t work that way, and – if anything – this story is largely tranche de vie. Life is only one continuous drama in soap operas that need cliffhangers at the end of every episode. The reason why Cornelia didn’t try to prevent the wedding from happening was because she is – quite literally now – insane, locked up in a secure unit and heavily sedated. She is not such a powerful witch that she could magic her way out of that. And the reason why Gunther didn’t get cold feet was because he desperately wanted to marry Valois. He was only nervous because he was going to be romantic with his male partner in front of people he’d known for years, including his bosses!

      Fifthly: your point about Valois being a Creator’s Pet because his actions are “handwaved or justified” by him being the main character, as well as him and Natalie being Mary Sues. I’ll answer this in two sections, since the Mary Sue point carries further into your final concern.

      In response to this: Valois is not the main character. Gunther is. The story is being narrated by Valois, but make no mistake, it’s about Gunther. As to Valois’s bad actions being handwaved or justified, that’s only happening because of the point I just clarified: Valois himself is narrating. He is handwaving and justifying his own actions. And, as already remarked, he is both a liar and an unreliable narrator.

      Your point here had a secondary part: that of you warning me not to transform all of my original characters into Mary Sues.

      The definition of ‘Mary Sue’ (and, in Valois’s case ‘Marty Stu’) is accepted as: “a young or low-rank person who saves the day through unrealistic abilities.” [source]

      First of all, Valois is not low-ranking. He is the most powerful witch the world has ever seen. Secondly, he isn’t saving the day for anyone, because as readers we all know he has one HUGE secret (the baby) that he’s terrified will come out, because if it does come out, it’s all over for him. His abilities are not unrealistic, because he was born as the most powerful witch the world has ever seen (thanks to his father) and he has spent the subsequent 1000+ years furthering his studies and increasing his skills.

      I’m struggling to understand why you think Natalie is a Mary Sue, since she’s not saving the day for anyone, except by being a good friend to Gunther. Yes, there is a little bit of author insertion in her – but only in her plotline, not in her personality (Natalie is about as far removed from me in that sense as it’s possible to get!). Some of the things that have happened in her marriage are things that happened in my marriage, so that was simply me writing from experience. But she is by no means a Mary Sue. She is not perfect and she’s not unrealistic. She’s just a normal woman in a normal job, who happens to have a great sense of humour and a somewhat shitty love life XD

      Lastly, your final point: wherein you warned me that characters should have consequences for their actions, or complications because of their traits, and not have their problems “magically solved” by plot convenience.

      In response to this: I am a professional editor, so please understand that when I say “I know”… I actually DO know. There is a reason behind everything I’ve written here thus far, and hopefully my clarifications in this long comment – especially those about the unreliable narrator – have helped with that. There will be ENORMOUS consequences and complications for Valois because of his actions, but if they happened right now, the story would be over before I’d finished it. The consequences will come toward the end.

      I’m perfectly aware that this flies in the face of established ‘rules’ about adding conflict throughout a story. If this were a professionally published novel, I would have added much more subtle conflict along the way. However, I’m writing this purely for fun, because I decided one day that I wanted to read a story about Gunther Goth and there were none available online to read. It took off a lot more than I ever thought it would, so if I were ever to go back and revise it, I would strip it down to its bare bones and do a complete rewrite. And, since I’m aware of those ‘rules’ in fiction (because I’m an editor) I’m simply going to finish with that old saying: “you have to know the rules before you can break them”.

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