Princely Love

by Flaulus

Chapter 3

On the other hand, Mr. Dawlish was pleased to entertain Craig and Seb, Jim's friends.

"Where's your other friend? John wasn't it?"

"He doesn't like the gay stuff." Craig laughed, "John's OK, but he's got some weird ideas."

"I take it you've been approached by members of the press to give your side of things. How did they go?"

"I was with my girlfriend one time. She was impressed when I just said: 'No comment'. She said it made me look like a real pro."

"A couple of those reporters were security men testing you. You were quite rude to one who wouldn't let go, so well done. I know, you're supposed to be polite to adults, but they should respect your age. His Highness might be going to your school next term. How do you think your fellow students will react to him and Jim?"

"Jim did get bullied a bit. Most didn't care, but they gossiped about it. How come Conrad's coming to an ordinary school?"

"I think when it comes to bullying, drugs and generally getting into trouble, all schools are ordinary, but some cover it up better than others. We can't shield Conrad from it all so, how can I put it? Yes. We think your school authorities will be on their best behaviour instead of taking a royal prince as a matter of course, and we're hoping you will support them from the student side."

"Yeah sure. Jim knows that."

"Ah! When I say we, I'm including the King, not Jim."


"Could you cope with another reject from Brookdales?"

"We can try. What's the story?" Seb asked.

"His name is James but luckily prefers Jamie. He's gay, maybe there was something between him and His … and Conrad, so he needs distractions if he comes here. The real problem is: his father is going bankrupt, and there's also an element of fraud. The father has pressured Jamie to ask Conrad's family for help but Jamie has refused. Apart from it being highly unlikely the family can afford Brookdales fees next term, as you can guess, relationships are strained. We know this because, because he's phoned Conrad a couple of times. Conrad wants to help so although he refuses to involve his family, there's no reason why he can't involve me. That's the situation so far."

"He could stay with me." Seb said, "Mum says I can have friends to stay and, er, I'm not sure if I'm gay or not. I've got a girlfriend, and it's great but, er, um, I think I've thought about Jim as well."

"I think the spectrum is LGBTQ, and you're a 'Q' which means questioning." Mr. Dawlish said, "I think Conrad would like it if he stayed somewhere else."

"Why are you so concerned about us kids?" Craig asked.

"We are taking the possibility Prince Conrad may succeed the throne seriously. He's happy with Jim, so he's less likely to go wild like his brother."

"You want our help, so you'll help us." Craig said.

"In a nutshell." Mr. Dawlish laughed.

That evening, Conrad was pleased to find Jim cheerful again, willing to shower together before eagerly heading for the bedroom. The next morning, he was happy to have breakfast with Conrad's family.

"You're forgotten today." The King laughed, "The attack on the American Embassy in Banzakistan is making the headlines. Conrad. Should we send troops to the peacekeeping force?"

"Could you explain what anyone would gain, please?"

"So you're a poofter pacifist worried a military adventure will spoil your makeup."

"No. Alexander the Great was supposed to be gay, and he was hardly a pacifist."

"So you've had time to read the papers and get ready for me. Good for you." King Constantine exclaimed, "Don't worry about our game and this one was partly for your benefit, James. Reporters will try to turn any comment into a story. We're not supposed to comment on politics, but it helps to be aware. Conrad turned his answer into a question, seeking information which is acceptable. Putting someone on the spot can make him lose his cool though and Conrad rightly suspected I'd throw his sexuality back at him. A little preparation makes a lot of difference.

Jim nodded, "I get it, but I don't know if I can handle it all."

"Don't worry. You could answer you're too young to understand politics."

"How about: are you supposed to ask me questions like that?" Jim asked.

"Excellent. Barty is quoted as saying he didn't see why he should risk his life for a bunch of foreigners living in the Stone Age. It was to friends, but he was overheard and now, it's on social media. If you've finished your breakfast, don't wait for me. Go and walk it off before your flight."

"There's something I've got to tell you." Conrad said when they were in the gardens, "Jamie was my first boyfriend. We didn't get beyond wanking each other if we had the chance, but there was something. He's phoned me a couple of times, and he was in tears. His dad's always had a nasty temper and now he's in trouble, his tempers are even worse."

"I didn't think you could help." Jim said.

"I can't involve my family, but it seems Mr. Dawlish has got Seb to help. How do you feel if my ex is hanging around?"

"I've wondered about Seb." Jim said, "He's never done or said anything though. You're worried I might be jealous. OK! If it's confession time, I met one guy at the local toilets and there's another guy at school that won't come near me since our single session."

"You went cottaging?"

"No. I was busting to go. After I'd emptied, I just relaxed and got talking with this college student. He taught me stuff, but I was jail-bait, and he was terrified. We managed a couple of times before he freaked completely."

"So that's where your kinky tricks come from. Did he pay you or did you pay him for lessons?"

Conrad grinned as he massaged his arm where Jim had punched him.

"So are you OK with me helping Jamie?"

"Yeah! It's kinda sweet you're helping him."

Sweet! It gave Conrad an excuse to return the punch. No-one doubted there was a strong bond between the boys. Mostly, they behaved like typical teenagers and of course, many adults preferred to forget teenagers were interested in sex. Jim's father, Conrad's father and Mr. Dawlish took it for granted they slept together. Their friends saw them kiss and hold hands, but they were both a little shy around strangers. When Jim's friends were around, they spent time on their phones, played video games, swam and sometimes horsed around.

Jim had isolated himself by being so open about his sexuality, so those willing to be his friends were close friends rather than anything casual. Craig and Jim had lived close together and became friends long before sexuality was an issue. Sharing secrets had created a bond that had lasted.

Out in the country, they were away from political centres, away from nightclubs and other temptations so the press largely ignored them. The odd reporter tried watching them hoping for a scandal, but they were disappointed, and for Conrad, an amazing summer holiday continued.

One morning, Mr. Dawlish spoke to them.

"Everyone has assumed you're happy to go to Borsham College with Jim and his friends, Conrad. Just to be sure, is that your wish?"

"Yes, but are you willing to let me stay?"

"I enjoy your company. Your friends liven the place up. I've only asked because once we've finalized the arrangements, it'll be difficult to change them. We'll have to get you kitted out, but I'm not sure what's needed. I suppose the tailor will need time to make your uniforms, so we'd better get started."

Jim grinned, "We just go into the shop and buy it. How about Adam drives us in?"

"That may be better. I'll set up an account before you go."

"I don't know if the shop does them. I think they'll take his card though."

"We'll go today before anyone changes their mind." Conrad said.

The shop was typical of an establishment that had a near monopoly of its wares, it underpaid its staff who had long ago lost interest, and it had an owner who saw service as an expense. The boys were eyed suspiciously when they arrived and then ignored as they stood uncertainly.

"No, we don't have cheaper jackets," the shop assistant was saying to another customer, "Try a charity shop, you might find one there."

Jim was beginning to know Conrad's looks and grinned because Conrad hated people being put down.

"Excuse me." Conrad said to the harassed mother, "I wonder if we could help each other. I'm not used to shopping for myself so maybe you could help me, and I'll match anything I need with your son."

It was the boy, about thirteen, who looked at Jim.

"You're Jim Poulson." he exclaimed, "You're gay, and you helped that boy in hospital even though his dad hates you."

Conrad grinned as Jim nodded. It was unusual for him to eclipsed by another celebrity, but the boy was not finished as he looked at Conrad.

"If he's Jim Poulson then you're Prince Conrad. What are you doing here?"

"I'm starting at Borsham next term just like you." Conrad said, "My last school had its own shop, and the staff knew what they were doing."

The shop assistant was beginning to see her first meeting with a celebrity had gone badly wrong while the mother was torn between doing the best for her son, and being patronized by a wealthy stranger. However, even she could see the assistant was now more alert, and it had been her that had been patronizing.

"I'd be happy to help, but I don't want anything in exchange." she said in reply, "I'm sure Steve and I can manage."

"Please." Conrad said, "It's not fair to take up your time, then expect you to traipse around other shops."

"And we may have some old stock in the storeroom." The assistant added, trying to make amends.

"I am not going to pay for old stock." Conrad retorted, "Money might not be important to me, but courtesy is. Please, let's help each other."

The last sentence was directed to the mother who shrugged in defeat. Jim was impressed, and a little relieved for he was sure he would forget something important. The mother was more organized and had brought the list supplied by the school and added a few extra items. Piles of uniforms, sports gear, and among the extras, underwear and socks piled onto the counter. The mother worried about all the extra purchases but laughed as her son tried modelling a pair of speedos. Always ready to join in, Conrad tried as well and Jim had to admit, he looked hot.

"Thanks, Conrad." Steve said, hugging Conrad, "You've been great. Mum, I don't suppose we can afford a laptop now, can we?"

"I can help there as well if you don't mind a second-hand one." Conrad said, "I have to have the latest state-of-the-art computer for secure connections to the palace. Once it's wiped by security, you can have the old one. You might be billed for a new hard drive, but that's all."

The mother frowned, "Why are you doing so much for us? It's not just that snooty shop assistant, is it?"

"It's how it started, but I'm enjoying myself." Conrad said, "OK, I need help, but I'm getting myself organized, I'm not relying on a secretary, or the school office to do it, and it feels good. I guess I've got to go to a stationer now. How about you go and get yourself a cup of tea while we go and do some more shopping. Steve, this time I don't want to be recognized. OK!"

Steve grinned, "I recognized Jim, not you."

"OK! Jim why don't you get a drink as well? Let's see if I can shop without being a prince."

"I don't understand." Steve's mother said as they sat at a table, "He's such a nice boy, but why does he want to be so ordinary."

"It's not being ordinary, it's being able to cope or something. I was excited when we flew in a helicopter, but that was ordinary to him. He was excited when he got on a bus and bought the tickets without anyone noticing. Now, he's being responsible for getting himself ready for school, and that's exciting when he hasn't done it before."

"Put like that, I agree. It's a fight to get maintenance from Steve's father and sometimes it seems more trouble than it's worth, so it's been a great help."

Steve and Conrad arrived not long after, both sporting brand new back-packs.

"The girl at the till said how nice it was for my cousin to buy my school stuff." Steve said excitedly. Conrad grinned.

"And you remembered to pay." Jim laughed, "You didn't leave it to a secretary or something. You're making progress."

"Can you imagine if I had forgotten, and I got accused of shoplifting?" Conrad exclaimed, "Shopping is scary."

On their way home, Conrad said, "That was a good start for school. Steve's a bit nervous, and I guess I am too. It's going to be so different. Supposing it does go wrong?"

"I can't cope with the press, and you can't cope with school. We're doomed, aren't we?"

Conrad grinned and took Jim's hand. Their relationship was not going to be easy to maintain, but they would both do their best. For now, they had time to go swimming before relaxing in their bedroom, and Conrad had the rest of the summer to look forward to.

It was Conrad who was withdrawn and worried as the new term approached. Jim understood why. Brookdales was used to catering for famous children; his new school was not. In exchange for some privacy during term time, the press was invited to a gathering the day before. The board of governors, Mrs Jacobs, the head teacher and even the town mayor were there to greet the prince. Gerald Poulson was invited, as was Mr. Dawlish to represent Conrad's father. At Conrad's insistence, Craig and Seb, together with their families were also invited.

Mr. Gilbertson, the Chairman of the Board, was clearly nervous. He was a solicitor, used to speaking in court, but he would have preferred Conrad to go to some other school. The press was waiting for Conrad's reply.

"I was surprised to discover, calling out 'Whoa' doesn't help in stopping a bike. It also seems shops can get annoyed if I try to leave without paying. No, I wasn't shoplifting, but I've been getting used to a new life and one I'm enjoying. It's one where I'm far more responsible for my own affairs, so I guess I'm going to make a lot more mistakes.

"I think it's a new experience for the governors and staff to hold a press conference with a new student, so it's a learning experience for them as well. Unfortunately, I won't be able to put them in detention if they make a mistake.

"Members of the press already know Jim and would love to know just how close we are. I already have other friends who go to this school, and I must warn the press; if you start speculating about them in the same way, their girlfriends will claw your eyes out."

King Constantine looked up from the phone where a security man had streamed the speech, to look at his press secretary who was desperately trying to hide her disapproval."

"He's left himself open to all sorts of interpretations, hasn't he? The king said, "I liked it though. It was warm, friendly and included everyone."

"I'm concerned his comments mentioned his friends' girlfriends but not his own, sir. It's going to add to the speculation about his sexuality."

"Barty's comment about Banzakistan is doing far more damage. America is complaining he criticized their foreign policy, and the Banzakistan ambassador has filed a protest. All we can do is point out it was said in private and does not reflect my opinion or the government's. Let's see what response Conrad's little speech gets."

The following day, Adam drove them to school picking up Seb and Craig along the way. Some students were looking out for Conrad, but expected a smart limousine not an old, second-hand car just big enough to take five people. They found some of Jim's other classmate who greeted them warily.

"Conrad doesn't bite." Seb laughed then added, "Maybe Jim once or twice."

The classmates were startled, but they were used to Seb, and a few chuckled uncertainly.

"It's Jim who bites." Conrad contributed, "I've got a couple of Hickeys to prove it."

"So you are gay then." One asked.

"Not if anyone has a phone recording this." Conrad replied, "I'm allowed to be gay unless I become first in line but then, I'd have to switch sides."

"You can't just change like that, can you?"

"I hope I don't have to find out."

Boys talk about sex, Seb had introduced some weirder ideas on the subject, and Conrad had followed it up. It was a good icebreaker, the second came when Conrad was asked about his favourite football team.

"Football's too much like religion. I should stay neutral, but Jim's taking me to the local games, and I might try for the school team, but it depends on the coach."

"How do you mean?" A boy asked.

"Even adults can be too scared to argue with me. If I'm no good, I want the coach to say so."

"I wouldn't worry about that." Craig said, "You're good."

"Yeah, but they were only kick-arounds, but let's see how it all goes." Conrad replied, "I'd like to get settled in first though."

A boy who knew he was big for his age, elbowed Conrad out of the way.

"You want to come slumming, then you'll do things my way." he sneered.

"I don't think so." Conrad replied, "I don't like stupidity."

The boy turned to stand face to face Conrad, before attempting to punch Conrad in the stomach. Just as quickly, Conrad grabbed his wrist pulling it sideways. At the same time he brought his knee up stopping centimetres from the boy's balls. Everyone gasped, watching, enthralled.

"A stomach punch or a headbutt are the obvious moves." Conrad said as he stepped back, "The trouble is, you thought I was an easy target and left yourself open. Do you want to try it again?"

"Later." The boy, Billy Taverner, snarled glancing at a teacher coming their way. The teacher thought he had seen a fight but with no-one hurt, it could have been some demonstration, and he was unwilling to be the first to deal Conrad, so he veered away.

It was all normal schoolboy stuff; Conrad had talked about football, sex and had stood up to a bully. The group had forgotten he was a prince as they trooped into the first class, registration, and the first teacher to deal with Conrad.

"We like new students to say something about themselves." he began, "I'm not sure it's necessary in Conrad's case."

"I didn't think we were supposed to mention who he is." A girl called out.

"May I answer?" Conrad asked and relieved, the teacher nodded, so Conrad continued, "I am a prince, I'm also Jim's boyfriend, I'm on a pool team, I used to go to Brookdales, so I'm all sorts of things. I tell strangers Dad works for the government. I do say he's king if they ask for details but again, it's only part of who I am, so you're wrong, Mr. Davington. I do need to say a little about myself. You're wrong too, er…"

"Yvonne." Someone called out.

"Thank you, Yvonne. It's OK to mention I'm a prince as long as you remember everything else."

"How about mentioning we've got two fags in class now." Billy Taverner called out, "What happens in the changing rooms? They should change with the girls."

"I wouldn't worry, Billy." Seb replied, "Conrad gets to see all sorts of hotties. You'll be way down the list."

Mr. Davington saw the anger in Billy's face and wondered how Seb could risk upsetting him, but he was distracted by another question.

"Do girls have any chance with you?" Yvonne asked.

"Yes, but, it becomes like breeding horses with everyone studying our pedigrees and form. It'll get easier when Bartholomew has children, and I drop down the line of succession."

Mr. Davington was just as intrigued, but they should be starting a maths lesson. He called for attention, and the class started. The rest of the day was quiet except during a break when Steve sidled over nervous of interrupting the older boys. Conrad turned to him and smiled, "Hi! Did you want something?"

Steve grinned back as he replied, "Yeah, and you've done it. They didn't believe I knew you. Thanks for the laptop. It's great."

"Good. It's been delivered. Say hi to your mum for me."

Steve nodded still grinning as he headed back to his amazed classmates.

The rest of the week settled down, and Conrad seemed to be a normal student, though at registration on Friday morning, Mr. Davington said, "It seems we have a James Hammerstein starting on Monday. Conrad, I understand you know him."

"I didn't know it had been settled. Jim already knows we were boyfriends at Brookdales. His father has been in the news because of the collapse of that big firm. There's a bit of family stuff, and I've been trying to help him, so there was talk of him coming here. I thought it had fallen through when he didn't start with me."

"Yeah." Seb said, "Mum's had a couple of phone calls about it. Sorry Conrad, but this time, you're on the outside, and I know all the secret stuff."

"Your prince commands you to tell all." Conrad replied, "I don't care if Dad has you beheaded for betraying palace secrets."

"Yeah, right. It's too late for you to start playing a royal now. Is it OK if I phone Mrs Brampton. She's some sort of palace secretary and handles Conrad's business."

"You may as well." Conrad said.

"Sorry. I was asking Mr. Davington." Seb replied.

Mr. Davington nodded, and Seb took out his phone and when someone answered, said, "Hello, Mrs Brampton. It's just been announced Jamie's starting on Monday. Conrad and I are wondering what's going on."

"He's being released tonight, is he?" He listened to the reply, "I get it. I take it, Mum knows. Is it a secret any longer?"

Another pause. "OK, Thanks. Goodbye."

The class was too intrigued to even think of heading for their next lesson, and Seb loved an audience.

"OK! Jamie's been in hospital with suspected kidney and spleen damage. He's lucky because the bleeding seems to have stopped. There's an injunction stopping his dad from seeing him, and he's been kept in hospital while all the paperwork is sorted. Conrad's got his own security, but Jamie has to rely on the courts, and he's broke. Now he's coming to stay with me. Mum will get a foster allowance, and I guess Conrad will help too. What's he like, Conrad?"

"Confusing." Conrad chuckled, "You probably saw on the news how his dad attacked that reporter, and I don't think he was gentler with his family. If snobbery was a sport, his parents would be Olympic gold winners, a lot of it has rubbed off on him, and he probably thinks coming here is a social disaster . Here's where it gets confusing. He got beaten up because he tried to protect younger kids from being bullied. Brookdalians shouldn't mix with the local village kids, but one was in tears because his dog had been run over. We were out on a run, but Jamie stopped to look after the boy, and got a detention for dropping out of a school activity without permission."

"So he thinks he's better than us." Billy Taverner called out, "What is it with rich kids wanting to lord it over us."

"Give it a rest, Billy." Yvonne said, "The only person who wanted to lord it over us was you, and you can't do it any more because Conrad knows that self-defence stuff."

"But we're still going to have a couple of poofters staring at us in the changing rooms."

"Three poofters." Jim said.

"Four." Seb announced to a startled class.

"Five." Another boy called out and this time everyone turned and stared in astonishment. The boy, Sven Harkness, blushed because normally he stayed in the background and did not seem to have any friends.

"I guess you lot like looking at naked boys." Yvonne said, "I'm curious. Do you like the same bits as us girls?"

"Can we compare notes sometime?" Seb asked. "Hang on, it would be objectifying boys and that's sexist isn't it, Mr. Davington?"

Mr. Davington had been concerned the conversation was turning nasty, but Yvonne had guessed right. It had not occurred to the boys that if Jim and his friends liked what they saw, then so would the girls. Instead of generating indignant rage at being eyed up, then gay boys appreciating them might not be so bad.

"School policy expects you to show respect to others." Mr. Davington replied, "I don't know if we have any lesbians in class as well, but what you all see in the changing rooms should be confidential. Speaking in general terms is all right, but nothing to identify a particular student."

He glanced at Billy Taverner. The boy was flushed and uneasy, but he was distracted by a tap on the door. It was another teacher wondering where his class was. Mr. Davington stepped out into the corridor to explain.

"I don't envy you." The other teacher said, "This isn't the sort of disruption we were warned about. Prince Conrad is quiet enough in my class, but I stick to science."

"So far as I can tell, Conrad got the better of Billy Taverner, and now Billy's finding himself more isolated. The rest of the class could have taken sides but judging by the level of conversation, they're sorting it for themselves, and it's Yvonne and Seb who are taking the lead. I'll leave you to it."

Back in the class, Billy was still the most unhappy while Conrad quickly put his phone away.

"Sorry about that, sir." Conrad said, "I was arranging a meeting place, so we could meet off school premises. We've got Craig coming as the token straight, but he's been swimming with us all summer."

"Fair enough. I'm impressed with all of you. Discussions like this can get very heated."

"I'm waiting to see how heated it gets when Conrad's snooty ex gets to meet his lower class current." Seb said.

Later in the day, Mr. Davington spoke to the head teacher, Mrs Jacobs.

"I didn't expect the Prince's arrival to stir up gay issues." Mrs Jacobs said, "We have to be inclusive and can't sideline minorities, so is there any complaint of our handling of it."

"So far as I can tell, Billy Taverner was the biggest problem and Conrad has dealt with it. It's made boys more comfortable about coming out but assuming lesbians are just as common, it's surprising no girls have."

"Unless there's bullying in the girl's changing room. Your class is settled so that's good. How is the prince doing?"

"Academically he's fine, socially he seems to have fitted in well. Sebastian Walker has a way of putting him down. It's not nasty, but Conrad accepts it, and the others realize he isn't aloof or uptight. James Poulson is quiet, but I think his life has changed more than any of them."

"As long as you can handle it, carry on as you are. I must admit, I'm uncomfortable referring to him as just Conrad."

"It's when he talks about his dad, I have problems. It jolts me when I realize who he is.

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