Standard Start-of-Fic Disclaimer: I do not own Jane and the Dragon, or any of the characters of places herein. I receive no compensation for writing works of fanfiction except possibly some nice reviews.
Author's Note: This fic is my submission to the first JatD fic exchange, run by The Lightning Flash. This fic is written as a gift to ElfMaidenOfLight. The challenge was to write a "Jane x Gunther one-shot / two-shot with heavy allusions to Gunther's father." This fic will be a two-shot with prologue for a total of three chapters. ElfMaidenOfLight, I hope you enjoy it! For that matter, I hope everyone else enjoys it too! :o) Until this fic is finished my other JatD fic, "Crashing Into You", will be on hold – but this fic will be finished within a week so don't anybody panic, lol! (j/k – I'm not that full of myself to think that anyone would panic anyway! ;-)
"I think I misheard you."
"You heard me perfectly, Gunther."
"No. I cannot have."
"Why is this so hard for you to understand?"
"I just… I do not… father, why now?"
Magnus sighed theatrically and leaned back in his chair, causing it to creak in protest. He clasped his hands across his enormous stomach, giving his son, who was seated across the table from him, a look of pure condescension.
"Gunther, you are not a child anymore. You will be eighteen years old come spring. Surely I do not have to spell it out for you that men have certain… needs."
Gunther felt a flush mounting in his cheeks, and hated himself for it. Of all the pathetic displays of weakness – blushing like a little girl at his father's matter-of-fact words! At court he was a knight of the realm, finally achieving the respect and esteem he had craved all his life. Here in Magnus's townhouse, on the other hand, he still felt like… well, like a child. An awkward, stammering, blushing child.
He felt so small here.
And his father's casual revelation, a moment ago, that he was planning to take a new wife wasn't helping any.
A stepmother, he thought dazedly. I am going to have a STEPMOTHER.
He was having difficulty coming to terms with the notion.
"But –" and here was what he really couldn't make any sense of whatsoever – "but father, why now? I mean, I have… you have… seemed fine until now."
Magnus snorted contemptuously. "Good Lord, boy, please tell me that no son of mine is actually that naïve," he scoffed, causing Gunther to grit his teeth, humiliated. "I have had the same urges as any other man, it just so happens that I have grown weary of ploughing the occasional dockside whore. I find that lately I crave something a little more… dignified than that. Something legitimate. Not to mention… you have chosen your path in life, Gunther, as a knight of the king's court, and while I do approve of it – there is great potential there for wealth and power someday if you keep a keep an eye open for opportunities and seize them when they arise – there comes a time in a man's life when he begins to wonder what his legacy will be. Who will take over my business someday? The fact is, I would like to have more children, Gunther. I am not so old that that is an impossibility. Daughters to marry off advantageously, to form valuable alliances; sons to groom in my trade, to someday follow in my footsteps. Yes, I have decided. It is high time I settle down again."
At least I am living at the castle now, Gunther thought. At least this will not affect my day-to-day life. All right, so there was that much to be thankful for. But still… it was a lot to take in. Then something else occurred to him.
"More children. Then… you –" Gunther was almost choking on his words as he attempted to assimilate the barrage of information Magnus had just slammed him with – "will want somebody… young?"
"Yes, by God!" Magnus fairly bellowed – though apparently in good humor, and slapping the tabletop for emphasis. "I am entitled to a young and comely wife, would not you agree? I am the wealthiest bachelor in Kippernium, after all – why, the common consensus is that I am richer than the king! Just you wait, men with daughters as young as twelve will queue up around the block when they hear the news that Magnus Breech is looking for a wife!" Then, noting the expression of pure horror on Gunther's face, he grinned and added, "not that I am interested in one quite so young. No, I have the wealth and the power; what I need is an alliance with a family of noble blood. That will ensure than any future offspring will be better equipped even than you, Gunther. Your younger siblings will have it all; power, wealth, and lineage. In fact, I already have my eye on someone, boy – someone only a little younger than yourself, in fact – and someone I dare say you know quite well."
And that was when Gunther's day really went to hell.