Princely Love

by Flaulus

Chapter 9

Mrs Jacobs frowned upon students leaving school early, and she was aware of various tricks and excuses to skive off. Doing a TV interview was a new one, and all Seb had as proof was a flurry of emails. However, the car that picked him up was a smart limousine, Seb was a celebrity, and it could be considered part of his work experience program.

"We're recording your segment." Suzy, the director said, "We'll keep off the court case and anything about the prince. Is there anything else?"

"Can you avoid mentioning the prince?" Seb asked, "Isn't that why I'm here?"

"No. You're here as a young gay who's in the news, but is there any chance of letting the girls think they've got a chance?"

"I enjoy dancing with them. Is that any good?"

Suzy was relieved. Seb was relaxed and not intimidated by his surroundings, so she asked, "We have to be careful, we've got pictures of you swimming, and this show is watched by horny teenagers. Do you have any problems with being on display?"

"Jamie, that's my boyfriend, wants to know how you're going to persuade me to take my shirt off on screen."

"How do feel about modelling swimwear?"

"Jamie will like it." Seb grinned.

"OK, then. We'll do the interview first and see how that goes. You're down for a five-minute slot, so it won't be that long. Then we'll do your entrance. It seems like a weird way round, but you can sit down and get used to the audience before doing anything."

Seb was surprised at the cheers he got as he stepped on stage but once he sat down, Carol Wright the presenter said, "Thanks for joining us this morning. This isn't your first interview, is it?"

"No, the audience is friendlier than the reporters I deal with, though."

Once the cheers settled down, Carol asked, "How did you become the prince's spokesman? Surely you don't understand government policy, so how can you speak for him?"

"The media understands I don't know anything about the big stuff, so it's pointless asking me. I know about school stuff and how it affects Conrad. He's also chosen to live more openly, so he's more open to scrutiny. I think it's a bit of a game now, but all his friends try to deflect attention from him and Jim."

"Like this." Carol said as a picture came up behind them of Billy in his 'Even My Boyfriend Says I'm Not Gay' T-shirt.

"Yeah," Seb replied, "It's not politics is it?"

"There are a lot of suggestions that the prince's arrival influenced you to become gay. What would you say to that?"

"Schools are not the best place to come out as gay or anything different. I think Conrad forced the school to accept us more."

"We've got some questions from the audience. Are you ready to answer them?"


"This one is from Cheryl. Do you fancy the prince?"

"I've got a boyfriend and so has Conrad. I could get beaten up twice if I gave the wrong answer, but he's not bad looking, is he?"

"Stacey asks: wouldn't you like to have a girlfriend?"

"I did have one, and she was great because she understood I was figuring all this stuff out. We have dance classes, and I still like dancing with her. A lot of older gays say they want children, so who knows how it all works?"

"It sounds as if the girls are still in with a chance. Does that apply to the prince?"

"You'd have to ask him, but I'd guess so."

"Danielle asks if you're really as sexy as your pictures?"

"I suppose it depends on the pictures, and what I'm letting myself in for."

"How about this?" Carol asked as a picture of Seb standing waist deep in the river appeared. His shorts had pulled down a little, so his hips showed off his tapering waist and there was the hint of groin visible.

"I was wearing shorts, but they kept slipping down, and I didn't realize how much."

"Perhaps you'd like to try a different pair. How about this?"

Carol pulled out a Tarzan loincloth from under her chair to loud cheers and screams from the audience.

"As long as I don't have to swing from a rope."

"It's funny you should say that." Carol said as a rope dropped, "We'll give Seb a chance to change while we introduce one of the latest bands to hit the charts …"

The show was broadcast the following Saturday morning. It showed Seb confidently walking down a fight of stairs to shake Carol's hand and guided to the chairs. The interview was shown in full before the band provided a break, and as they finished, Seb swung down from a stand onto the stage to hold his arms up in a typical strongman pose as an assistant hurried on, offering him a dressing gown. He sat down waiting for the screams and yells to calm down.

"That was quite a performance."

"Thanks. We had a rope tied to a tree at the river, so I guess I've been practising."

"Thank you for being here to here today. You've been great fun."

"Thanks, Carol. It's been fun."

That afternoon the friends gathered at their clubhouse in the winery.

"Did you keep the loincloth?" Jim asked, "I'd borrow it and let Conrad take some pics."

"Yeah! I asked, and they didn't mind." Seb replied, "How about you, Conrad, and Billy? You shouldn't have been involved."

"They were pretty innocent. It would have been odd if I hadn't been mentioned." Conrad replied.

"No probs." Billy replied, "It was good about supporting friends."

They were used to visitors staring at them but were surprised when a girl, about thirteen approached and asked for Seb's autograph. Seb managed to scribble something down but a couple of other girls and a boy gathered round. The boy asked Billy for his autograph, as well.

"Are you going to take your clothes off today?" the youngest girl asked.

"No. It's a bit cold for swimming."

"I don't want to swim with you." The girl giggled.

"Oh!" Seb gasped, worried about what she meant.

He was rescued by the boy who asked Billy, "Have you got a boyfriend?"

"Yes." Billy replied, "Meet Sven."

"Oh!" The boy said looking disappointed. A man and a woman entered. The boy turned white, hurried over to them, and they left.

"What was that all about?" Sven asked.

"No idea." Billy replied, "Where's the ball?"

As they trooped outside, they saw the boy standing in front of parents in tears. When he saw them, the father hurried over.

"It's all right, I'm not looking for trouble." He said, "It's the opposite. I want to thank you. I'm David Smith and my son is Paul. We've been worried about Paul, he's been very unhappy, reluctant to go out, and he seems to have lost his friends, but he refused to talk to us. When I saw him talking to you, I wondered, so I asked him. It still took a lot to admit it, but he's just told us he's gay."

"It must be a shock for you." Conrad said, "How are you coping?"

"Relieved there's something we can deal with. We'll get him treatment and then change schools, so he can make a fresh start." Mr. Smith saw Conrad frown. "What's wrong?"

"He doesn't need treatment." Conrad replied, "He needs to accept who he is. He may be gay, questioning or something else but if you push him, you'll only confuse him."

Mr. Smith nodded, "I understand. What do you suggest?"

"If you've got time, he can come and have a kick around with us. For once, he'll be able to relax."

"Thank you, and I'm sure you don't mean to turn vulnerable boys like they say, but Paul needs more stable friendships for now."

As Billy stepped angrily forward, Conrad said, "Let's go."

"Why didn't you tell him where to get off? He's going to hurt that kid."

"I know." Conrad said, "Dad says, if you try to force the issue, the other guy will just dig his heels in. You get more done if he thinks it's his idea, and there's something wrong."


"I don't know. A guy scared of coming-out comes over to us and asks you if you have a boyfriend. He then tells his Dad who comes over to us. He knows we're gay but doesn't recognize me or Seb."

"OK! I get it. So what was it about?"

"I don't know. Supposing we'd suggested a long private chat with Paul. Could Mr. Smith say we turned him? Supposing it became evidence in Jim's custody battle."

Billy nodded, "Paul did seem scared though. What did you make of him?"

"I don't know. He needs help, but I don't think we're the ones who should offer, and I don't think Jim and I can do anything without risking a whole shitload of trouble."

"It's getting near the end of term. Can't you get away, somewhere?" Billy asked.

"What do you say, Jim?" Conrad asked.

" I can't leave Dad to deal the family and where would we go?"

"Last year I went to St Moritz with Barty. He spent most of his time drunk, and I was supposed to hang with kids I didn't know, and who mainly talked about who they knew. It could have been Brookdales. I've got an idea though."

That evening he discussed it with Gerald and Jim, before making the preparations, and the following Monday told his friends.

"Jim and I are going to stay at Tolberg Lodge. It's a royal residence, so it has full security and everything. Mr. Poulson will visit between looking after the nursery. We might have to draw lots over who can stay overnight, but you'll all be welcome. Dad might arrang e for Jim and me to visit children's homes and youth centres, but it's up t o you if you tag along . If there's enough snow, we can do some skiing, but there's an ice rink in town. We'll be at Elbourg over Christmas and New Year, but t here' re a couple of bedrooms in the lake house."

" Your dad seems great but are you sure? " Seb a s ke d.

"None of it's decided yet. You won't be welcome in our private quarters at Elbourg because my mother can be a bit awkward. I think she agrees with the Prime Minister on what I should do, but Dad will do his best to make you feel at home, especially if you like model railways ."

" You mean Dad could ask for time off work because he's staying at Elbourg?" Sven laughed.

"Day trips, sure."

"Can you imagine my parents visiting?" Billy asked, "Mum will be in tears all day and Dad will moan about the expense."

T he conversation rambled on and there was already a holiday atmosphere as the term wound dow n until the Poulsons received a Mrs Brown from Child Services that evening.

After the introductions, Mrs Brown said, "It's an assessment for your mother's custody hearing. Please don't worry. I understand James' sleeping arrangements are shall we say, unconventional for a fifteen-year old. If I can call you, Conrad, then you are a unique client, and this case has been expedited because of your involvement. Putting aside the legalities, the authorities are normally reluctant to interfere with genuine teenage romances, but we still need to ensure there's nothing destructive about it."

" Fair enough." Mr. Poulson replied, "How can we help?"

"I'm not too clear why a prince is staying here and not at Elbourg or Brookdales."

"Dad wants me to stay clear of Barty, sorry, Prince Bartholomew." Conrad said, " Jim and I are boyfriends, and I like the life. I don't have the same pressures."

"Jim, how do you feel about Conrad staying here?"

"I like it. I see a bit of his life, and I like it when we're in bed. We seem to be able to talk about anything."

"And you like the sex."

Jim grinned, "I don't get embarrassed talking about it any more."

"OK! There's a suggestion you're used as child labour. It doesn't make sense in Conrad's case, but do you work for anyone?"

"We do, but we don't have to." Jim replied, "Conrad doesn't need pocket money, he's got a bank account. I get pocket money, but Dad and Mr. Dawlish give us extra if we help out. It's outdoor exercise, and it suits us."

Mrs Brown saw Conrad nodding in agreement, saying, "It's all as much as I expected to hear. To be honest, I don't see that your mother has much of a case."

"It's to embarrass me." Conrad said, "I can't make political comments, but I can support causes. It wouldn't be good, if I was controlled and only agreed with one person's views. Jim's mother is getting support."

"I see." Mrs Brown said, " I think my biggest concern, is Jim is getting caught up in politics. How would you reply, Mr. Poulson?"

"It worries me, but he's got the same protection Conrad has."

"I accept that. I'll need to interview both boys separately and produce a detailed report, but there's no rush. With Christmas coming up, I've got enough genuinely vulnerable children to deal with, but I just needed to check in. My advice, use the time to find some sort of reconciliation."

"That went well." Gerald said after Mrs Brown had left but seeing Conrad's frown asked, "What's wrong."

"She was all right but how is she going to cope when she's accused of being under pressure to be on our side."

"We'll worry about it when it happens." Gerald said, "It's Jim's and my problem, not yours. Yes, you're part of the family, and you are involved, but it's up to Jim and me to face the court."

They sometimes picked Billy up on their way to school, Seb and Jamie still cycled in. Sometimes there were none, and sometimes just one to ask for Conrad's schedule, so it came as a surprise when both Seb and Jamie failed to turn up for school one day. Jim tried phoning Seb then Jamie but got no reply. Conrad asked his bodyguard to check.

"It's not really our job, sir." the bodyguard said.

"If something's wrong with my spokesman, how much of a threat is it to me?" Conrad retorted.

"Yes sir. I'll look into it." the guard replied.

Still, no-one was seriously concerned until the bikes were found in a ditch. There were tyre marks in the mud on the roadside and blood on the road. The school authorities suddenly found the entire school being searched. Mrs Jacobs was briefed, and she hurried to Conrad's class, apologizing to the teacher for interrupting.

"Sebastian Walker and James Hammerstein are now being treated as missing persons, possibly kidnap victims," she said. "It may still be a mistake, but I'd like you all to listen to Inspector Murry. It seems unfair, but you're to stay inside during breaks and not go anywhere without an escort. Inspector Murry."

"We don't know what happened. It's possibly nothing, or they witnessed an accident, and they're making statements somewhere. We take out insurance in case something happens and not because it will but I'd like you all to turn off your phones and leave them off, so the GPS doesn't work."

Billy raised his hand and when Inspector Murry nodded, asked, "What about the press? Seb was our spokesman, and they'll know there's something wrong."

"The interest is in His Royal Highness. Let's leave it for now and get back to what you need to do."

"Sorry. Seb was on TV last week." Billy persisted, "If he's missing, everybody knows him, and he'll be recognized."

"OK, Billy." Conrad said, "I'll phone Mrs Brampton, and inform the palace. I'll put you on, and you can draft a statement with her. Then you can take it down. Don't try to do a Seb, but just hand it to them."

Billy nodded, listening to the survival tricks Inspector Murry was explaining. A little later he wished he had remained quiet and was not about to talk to a load of strangers.

Thanks to Mrs Brampton, Adrian Chapman had arrived.

"Hi, Billy. The rumour is Seb and Jamie Hammerstein have been kidnapped. Don't worry, we've got reporters at the police station, but do you have any background or reaction?"

Billy felt a little easier so replied, "We don't know what's happened, but you know Seb. He'd want to talk about his TV appearance at school today. Something stopped him getting here."

"OK! We can use that as a quote. Keep us informed, will you?"

Richard Courtney was furious as he hurried toward the prime minister's office. What had the fool done now?

"Why wasn't I told you intended kidnapping them?" Bruce Ferguson snapped as soon as he saw Richard.

Richard thought quickly, Ferguson was genuinely annoyed.

"I assumed you had sanctioned something." Richard replied, "Good Afternoon, Prime Minister."

"Humph. If it wasn't us, who was it? Hammerstein?"

"No. At least, I doubt it. I'd say he was too busy preparing to flee. Having an unwilling boy in tow is going to make him stand out more." Richard replied.

James Hammerstein Senior was just as angry. The stupid brat had got himself kidnapped to be a lever against his father. Well, he was well shot of the little fairy. He can dump his lush of a wife as well and find someone to give him a kid to be proud of. His secretary was beautiful, only twenty so a good child bearing age, and she wanted the good life.

Although no-one would admit it, everyone thought the boys had been kidnapped. Jamie was the only valuable one, or at least, had a rich father, so everyone was waiting for a ransom demand, but it never came.

On that first day, Seb's classmates became increasingly restless. Teachers happily reported it to Mr. Davington who was seen as the expert on royal discipline. He spoke to the senior bodyguard.

"We need regular updates." he said, "OK! I know it's not about the prince's safety, but I don't want him doing something stupid."

"I'll contact the local station to see if they'll cooperate." Inspector Murry replied, "They probably will if I say I'm trying to keep the palace, the prince and his friends away."

"I'm taking them the lesson after next. Feel free to come in and tell us what you know."

M r. Davington noticed the tension as soon as he entered the classroom, and was relieved when the security officer followed. The class settled down to listen.

"The boys' bikes were found beside a park, and it's more like a country lane than town road for a hundred metres or so. It's useful because mud tends to spill out of the park onto the road, and we've got tyre tracks. There is CCTV coverage at each end of the road but none in the middle. However, there are no other turnings, so we've got a good idea of the traffic passing along it. One van is of particular interest because it arrived before the boys cycled along there, but didn't leave until after. There are houses along most of the road, so we have to eliminate deliveries and other legitimate reasons for stopping. We think the number plates are genuine because the number is linked to a house in the local area. So far as the blood is concerned, we think it could belong to James Hammerstein. The samples were contaminated and accurate DNA testing may take a day or so. "

"Are you going to search the house?" Billy asked.

"I'm not. It's down to the local police, but I don't think there's enough for a warrant. Besides, the boys could have been dropped off somewhere or transferred to another vehicle. We're trying to track the van and work out any stopping points. "

" Is there anything we can do?" Conrad asked.

"Keep to business as usual." Inspector Murry replied, "The van is heading North for now. Let's see where it's going."

T he class seemed happier though Inspector Murry had not been entirely honest . The van was already known as being registered to one Reginald Tomeyer. He was of interest because of his connection to anti-gay groups. One particularly relevant organization claimed to run camp s that cured gays, but the length of the cure was closely tied to the parents bank balance. On e member of the group raised alarm bells when he said, "Youngsters need to experience the pleasures of normal sex as a first step to their cure. He disappeared not long after, apparently going abroad to work, but he was never heard of again. Some of Hammerstein's friends had to be paying for it, but it did not bode well for Seb: something the class need not know yet.

T he case had passed from a sergeant who suspected it was just a case of boys playing truant, to an inspector when the identity of the boys became known, then to a chief-superintendent when Conrad's involvement became known. T hanks to Conrad, the van was being watched by a satellite, and the information was being fed to Chief Superintendent Stuart Lockerby. It was luck the satellite happened to be in the right place, but Intelligence was obtaining every scrap of camera foo tage. CS Lockerby suspected obtaining was a euphemism for hacking, but considering the levels it was coming from, he would be unwise to pry.

A s they left school, Adrian Chapman asked Billy if there was any news.

"Could you stick to the police statements, please?" Billy asked, " What would Seb say: a ll his friends are worried about him and Jamie?"

"That'll do. We've been asked to play it down for now, and we all like Seb. Let me know if there's anything we can do."

For Jim and Conrad, it was a night of cuddling and comforting each other. The following morning the press ran the story that Seb was missing, and the police were following various lines of investigation. Most TV reports showed clips of him on 'Teen World' plus some of his cheekier comments outside the school. There was even a hint, the police still thought it was a schoolboy prank of some sort. At school, Inspector Brian Murry knew he would have to give some sort of briefing.

"The investigating police think they know where he is," he began. "They're gathering information to justify a search warrant and planning an operation. They have to be careful because if they've got the right people, but the wrong location then the gang would be tipped off."

The class accepted it, waiting for Conrad to speak.

"OK! We can't ask questions, but what do you think? Will they be all right?" Conrad asked.

"Let's just say there could be a lot of innocent children at risk. We might need your help, sir, and it is part of the planning, so I am addressing His Royal Highness, not a student."

"Yes of course. Anything I can do."

There was not much else to say. Inspector Murry did not mention a farm was under scrutiny usually reserved for suspected terrorism. Neither did he mention that a satellite was now in position and had spotted some twenty or so teenagers being assembled for PE. Even Inspector Murry was surprised at satellite surveillance, but Bruce MacPherson's faction was highly nationalistic. It threatened treaties and the stability of the region, so Prince Conrad had gained considerable support for opposing him. But there was still no sign of Seb or Jamie.

The satellite images shocked the observers because the teenagers were all naked, of both sexes and seemed to be paired together in some way. They were in a compound surrounding farm buildings, but the farmland was marsh and moorland, good for sheep but not much else. If a prisoner escaped the compound, he could try running along the two-mile track in which case he would be spotted. Alternatively, he could try cross-country, in which case he risked getting stuck in the mud, or falling into a ditch, and unless he was warmly dressed, he risked hypothermia from the cold wind that always seemed to blow. He would have no idea where to head for and risked becoming hopelessly lost. The final problem was something not even the latest satellite could spot. Each boy and girl were paired by a chain between their ankles.

Inspector Murry headed for the police station to see CS Lockerby.

"For some reason, the Home Secretary refuses to downgrade it from national security to criminal activity." CS Lockerby said, "It is criminal and bigger than we thought, but His Royal Highness is not under threat, so it should be downgraded. The kids are kept naked, filmed 24/7 and video goes out via the dark web. The gang takes money from parents to cure their kids, and makes more by selling porn. We've managed to access their internet and …" CS Lockerby said, "Let's just say, we've uncovered something big."

"Richard Courtney would have Sebastian Walker killed if it helped his political aims," Inspector Brian Murry said, "But is he going to take the political credit for unearthing a major child porn ring?"

"And be the hero for saving Walker. Or are we talking damage limitation because suspicion would fall on his little group?" CS Lockerby said, "There's probably an element of both. OK! He and I are on the same side for once, so I'm going to milk it for all it's worth. The only villain we've identified so far is Tomeyer, and he has links to child prostitution. We've no idea how it ties in with the rest, but it just gets bigger. Without the extra help we've got from national security agencies, we wouldn't have had any idea."

The phone rang and CS Lockerby picked it up. As he listened, so he frowned seeming even more sombre.

"The kids have all been sent inside, but they've brought a body through a side door. It's Jamie Hammerstein and it's being carried along a trail through the moor. We've got our grounds, and the SWAT teams are moving in."

"Oh!" Inspector Murry exclaimed, "He was the money pot. There's not much hope for Walker then. He was a decent kid. So was Jamie, but Seb had so much life in him."

"I thought they were all queers." CS Lockerby retorted, "No, I don't like them, and I'll not pretend I do, but I'd bring back hanging for the scum who hurt kids."

"Seb was the campiest of them all, but he didn't take shit from anyone."

"Don't put him in the past tense yet, Inspector."

"No, of course not, it's just a bit personal."

It takes time to brief squads and to plan a coordinated operation. Helicopters were to allow teams to abseil into the farmyard while cars stormed the lane from the road. There was a cottage on the corner of the lane, owned by the farm, and the surveillance team had detected a micro-wave link to the farm. The cottage seemed derelict, the garden overgrown, and shutters at the windows, but two men had been spotted wandering around, behind the overgrown hedges and a car was parked out of sight of the road and the lane. It was another target and needed its own team. If it could be done in time, another team would intercept the men carrying Jamie's body, before it was buried or dumped in a bog.

Inspector Murry used the time to brief the palace and the school.

"How certain is it poor Jamie is dead?" Mrs Jacobs asked.

"I can't say it's a hundred per cent certain until we have the body, but it's unlikely to be a mistake. It's Sebastian we're worried about, because he's more of a liability than an asset."

Inspector Murry's phone rang, and excusing himself, he took the call.

"We've traced a paper trail. The farm is run by an organization called Fightsin. They received a substantial payment from Sebastian Walker's father who in turn received a gift from some way-out religious group. This group is extreme anti-gay and raises money to save folk from hell. I say it's anti-gay, but wants to chemically castrate men regularly having sex outside marriage. There's already a bit of a file on them, and here's the thing. One of the founders is on the board of Fightsin."

"So this religious group supports Fightsin."

"We don't think so. So far as we can tell, it believes in divine guidance, so if a lost soul comes their way, they'll try to save it. Needless to say, their accounting is almost non-existent. This one guy uses it to send kids to the farm, so Fightsin get hefty payments."

"Do you have any idea why Mr. Walker agreed to all this?" Inspector Murry asked.

"One possibility is he was promised a very brainwashed, docile and compliant son. The other possibility is simple greed. There's still a sizeable chunk of money in his account."

"So Sebastian Walker was the asset and Jamie Hammerstein the liability." Inspector Murry said, "Now that is a turn up. Could someone have paid to have Jamie killed?"

"Give us a chance. We've been looking for grounds to raid a farm. We stumbled on this and thought you'd like to know."

"Yes, thank you." Inspector Murry said, "I've got to brief the prince at some stage, but I'll wait for the raid."

Despite the rush and lack of intelligence the raid was a complete success. Some twenty teenagers were discovered, all traumatized, and all showing signs of physical and sexual abuse. Three more teenagers including Seb were found locked in cages so small they could barely move, covered in thick blankets that blotted out the light and muffled sound. It would take time to get statements from any of the youngsters but Seb was the most recent capture, and he was already a confident speaker.

As soon as Inspector Brian Murry entered the classroom the entire class froze, waiting.

"Seb is alive and physically, well. He's been subjected to a highly traumatic ordeal designed to break his spirit, and this is where I'm hoping Prince Conrad can help because we need to get him into witness protection. Normally the police would take him somewhere secure only we know about. However, a place where his friends and family could look after him, might be more beneficial."

"Tolberg Lodge. It's a royal lodge, so it has top security." Conrad said.

Seb spent the night in hospital. He was sedated but still endured nightmares leaving him covered in sweat and waking up trembling. The following day, the doctors spoke to Seb's mother.

"We could keep him in for observation but this is an unusual case. Physically he's fine, and I'm not happy dosing a teenager up with tranquillizers unless it's absolutely necessary. He's got to grieve for his friend Jamie and again, I wouldn't normally prescribe drugs. I say it's unusual because he's got a chance to stay somewhere where he can get plenty of fresh air and exercise and feel safe. I would advise counselling, and of course, if he doesn't settle down, we can think again."

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