Chapter 69: Moments

“Why are you telling me this?” Gunther whimpered. “Why now all of a sudden?”

“Because it is like a rat, nibbling and gnawing away at a tiny part of you. You can ignore it, but it is still there, taking little bites out of you every now and then. The rat needs to be brought into the light, so it can be seen and… exterminated.”

Something in the way that Valois said that last word made Gunther shudder. And then he finally put two and two together, and in a dismayed whisper, he said, “Oh god. Mort knew, didn’t he? He told you!”

“A little boy hears screaming and plates smashing late at night, and the next morning he sees his daddy with a cut on his face while they eat breakfast from paper plates,” Valois murmured, and Gunther uttered a low, anguished moan as he buried his face deep into the pillow and sobbed.

“I thought he didn’t know!” he choked, his voice muffled. “I hid it from him!”

Mon cœur, children see more than the adults around them give them credit for. Theirs are the silent eyes that observe and absorb.” Valois stopped massaging and now settled himself down on Gunther’s back, both hands sliding under his arms, palms cupping his shoulders as he held him tightly. Covering him. Comforting him.

“You did what you could to shield him from it,” he murmured. “It was not your fault that he knew.”

“I should have done more,” Gunther wept. “Oh god, he’s been carrying that around with him for years.”

Valois’s embrace tightened. “It was not. your. fault.

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4 responses

  1. Interesting. For some reason I thought chapter 69 would be chalk full of sex… for some reason ;) Anyways, I’m glad they both got the opportunity to talk about Cornelia. Get things off their chest.

    • Disclaimer: Chapter number has no bearing on chapter contents ;)

      They did indeed talk about Cornelia, and the seed that Valois is very dangerous, hates her, and cannot be trusted to think clearly with regard to her has now been sown deep in Gunther’s brain. Hmm…

  2. Valois really is a masseuse with magical hands. Valois (and you) handled the subject of domestic abuse with due care. He was so loving in talking with Gunther and allaying his fears. Love your response to TheG’s comment about the seed being sown. Valois did that so well. Was it intentional, I wonder?

    I adore the box of memories with the crystal cubes. Makes me wonder what might be in mine. Hmm… How precious would it be for Mort to see how much his father loved him, right from the day he was born. For anyone, really?

    • I think we could all do with those magical hands at some points in our lives! Valois knew that – when he broached that particular subject – Gunther would immediately tense up, so the massage was the perfect solution to that. He could instantly soothe that tension, and he was already pinning Gunther down by straddling his hips, but it was the work of a moment to cover him completely, which we know is something that comforts Gunther.

      As to the sowing of the seed, it was an admission that – in hindsight – Valois possibly shouldn’t have made. But the knowledge that Cornelia had hurt his boy enraged him so much (his thickening French accent was the clue) that his usual caution dropped and he let slip that he hated her. He couched it in terms that made it clear he was protective of Gunther, but nonetheless it’s sitting there now, slowly germinating ;)

      The memory box actually came from a dream that I had about being able to step into old photographs. I thought it was so enchanting that I changed it to be suitable for the story, and included it.

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