Princely Love

by Flaulus

Chapter 11

During that day, the temperature rose a little and flurries of snow gave way to rain. As the sun set, the temperature dropped again, and wet roads became icy. Ethan, Dave and Timmy were visiting.

"I've phoned your parents, and you'll have to stay the night." Brian said, " Dave, your dad agrees Tolberg L ane is too dangerous for now, and your parents accept his opinion, Ethan. We're a bit short of beds though."

"Dave can sleep with me." Seb said, "Timmy and Ethan can have the room with single beds. That leaves the other rooms for the guards."

"OK, it suits me, and it's only for one night." Brian said, "I'm not sure whether I'm a security detail not supposed to intervene or a guardian in loc o -parentis, so a re you sure? Dave is a lot older than you ."

" Why did I get a double bed?" Seb asked, "Was it just the main guest room?"

"Probably. OK! Dave, I think I should be giving all sorts of warnings. Just be very careful, please."

Dave nodded. He liked the idea of a night with Seb, but it was him who was being pressured, not Seb. Staying at Tolberg as a guest was daunting enough for a local, but he was also going to share a bed with someone he was becoming fond of. He would be too nervous to do anything, let alone push things too far. Still, it was only for one night.

That night, warm moist air blew in from the valleys freezing in the higher levels and by morning the village was paralysed. Of the few who risked the treacherous paths, none got far before slipping or just discovering how bad it was. It had happened before but no-one knew when it would happen again so although contingency plans existed, it took time to implement them, and often, a thaw would set in during the day with the roads clear by evening. This time, the two blocks of air continued to meet, and the moisture turned into a thick fog.

The following morning, as they gathered for breakfast, Brian explained the situation.

"I've had a conference call with everyone's parents," he said. "Dave, you're old enough to do what you want, but you should stay with the rest."

"They'll probably need volunteers to help." Dave said.

"Conrad. His Majesty says it's your decision, but there are cottages along the lane, and many of the occupants are elderly. Will you allow the staff to look out for them?"

"Of course. We can all help, but there's only Hartnell here." Conrad replied, "He's too old to go out in this.

"How come you don't have loads of servants?" Ethan asked.

"In theory we can hold a state function here," Conrad replied, "But it's become more of a holiday place. Dad doesn't use it very often, so we don't need full time staff. Most of the staff have other jobs and work out a rota between themselves to do what's needed. Even if they're part-time, they're entitled to cottages along the lane, so they're handy. Instead of them trying to get here, they can look out for their neighbours. Hartnell, I wish you'd sit down while we talk, but do you have anything to add?"

"I agree it's too dangerous to go out unless you're prepared, Your Royal Highness. The locals understand the conditions, but you'll struggle to recognize landmarks in this fog. Did you bring crampons with you?"

Timmy and Dave shook their heads, but the others stared blankly.

"There's a supply here but for adult sized shoes. We'll probably be able to equip Mr. David but not the rest. Are you getting the idea?"

The boys nodded.

"I wish we could help though." Jim said.

"Look after yourselves as much as possible and be prepared for kitchen duties." Brian said, "If anyone's heating fails, can we bring them here?"

Conrad nodded, "Very well, Hartnell, I guess we're your staff for now."

"Yes, Your Royal Highness. We do have a couple of stable lads here. Normally the loft is adequate for their needs, and I understand they volunteer for night duty for their own personal reasons. May they come into the kitchen, to get warm food?"

"How long is it likely to last?" Conrad asked.

"The weather? It's difficult to say, apparently the two fronts causing the problem can achieve equilibrium and then it lasts for weeks. Other times, a thaw can set in almost immediately."

"Bring them into the house, Hartnell." Conrad instructed, "I think we should prepare the servants rooms to take in refugees. Please relax and join us, it'll help us to make guests welcome."

"I am your butler, Your Royal Highness. I'm proud of that position, and it's how I feel at home. With your permission, I will retire to my quarters and allow you youngsters to do things your way. I suggest Mr. Dave fetches the stable boys while you prepare hot drinks and some sandwiches."

The two hands were two young men in their early twenties, and Conrad immediately saw they were in love. They brought with them a heady aroma of manure, which presented one problem, and the local deference to the royal family which presented another.

"OK!" Conrad said, "When the weather improves, you can fetch more changes of clothes, but for now, there's a stock of dressing gowns which will do in the house. You can change in the cloakroom by the rear door. On duty, we can do it Hartnell's way, off duty you can slob around with the rest of us."

The two hands grinned uncertainly, but since Conrad was handing them cups of cocoa and sandwiches, it was difficult to be formal. For most of the day, the boys only had to look through the window before shuddering and turning to computer games. It was dark in the early afternoon and conditions showed no signs of easing.

Their plight made the evening news.

"The surrounding hills and the mountains in the background create unique weather conditions. Some say the present combination of ice and fog are the worst in living memory yet only two miles further down the hill it is a bright frosty day. However, roadblocks have been set up and only emergency vehicles are being allowed through. Prince Conrad has chosen to stay at Tolberg Lodge and there are reports he has ordered it opened as a refuge. Visitors are urged not to travel unless accommodation is ready for them as guests already there are trapped and unable to leave."

"It seems worse when you see it on TV." Jim said.

"At least you've got what you wanted." Conrad chuckled, "Few visitors and plenty of time together. Merry Christmas."

They were sitting on a sofa holding hands, content with each other's company. Jim watched amused, the two stable hands sat on another sofa, gradually getting closer together and daring to touch each other. Ethan and Timmy were huddled over a games console while Seb and Dave were in the press room planning their film.

The weather was expected, most villagers were prepared for it, but it took time to switch from preparing for Christmas to dealing with a crisis. Snow chains were in the garage, yes, but which box? Where were they stored after last winter? Small problems could lead to big delays. By the afternoon most were ready for the ice, but what about the fog? However, as the fog cleared that night, it began to snow.

"OK! Gritters have been out, and there's a slight thaw." Brian said at breakfast, "I'll drive Timmy home and Ethan to the hotel where his parents are staying. Hartnell, you have something to say."

"Thank you sir. I would be reluctant to ask staff to come in because conditions are still treacherous and may worsen again. I could ask for volunteers to stay, but you young gentlemen seem to enjoy the freedom from too many adults around. The alternative is for you to do the work, but this is Tolberg, standards must be preserved."

"How long is this weather likely to last?" Conrad asked, "Are there any updates?"

"It's impossible to say, Your Royal Highness. It usually happens later in the season, and, I've never seen conditions as bad they were yesterday. A lot depends on what happens tonight."

"We've got Mrs Walker and Mr. Poulson arriving Christmas Eve. Do you think we could cope?"

"We have a few days." Hartnell replied, "I suggest we find out."

Teenagers are still children and can be incredibly irresponsible, but they're also becoming adults and anxious to seem grown up. They're also competitive and will take on a challenge, so looking after the place would be fun, at least for a time.

"Hans, Chris, what do you want to do?" Conrad asked.

"When conditions clear, we should send the horses down to the lower farm, sir." Hans replied, "We'll give the stables a good clean, ready for the spring. We could stay on in the servant's hall and double up as servants as well."

"What about your families and Christmas?"

"My parents were killed in a car crash, a couple of years ago, sir."


My parents are separated, and mother has remarried. She's OK, if I visit, and I lived with them until I got a job here, but I don't feel welcome. Dad's abroad somewhere. We live in a hostel, so we only get time together at Tolberg."

"I got used to doing chores while I stayed with the Poulsons." Conrad said, "Brian, if you and your team will take on transport, Hartnell organizes a roster then I reckon we can cope."

"I could stay and help." Ethan said.

"Thanks," Conrad replied, "Your parents could accuse us of kidnapping you. Timmy, I know your parents wouldn't argue, but we seem to be gay pairs, and it could cause gossip if you stayed."

"Are Dave and Seb a couple?" Timmy asked.

"No." Seb snapped, "It would be wrong, Jamie's only just died. I shouldn't be thinking about boyfriends."

"May I ask, how close were you to Mr. Jamie." Hartnell asked.

"We were both gay." Seb replied, "There wasn't much more. He tried, but it always seemed as if he was slumming it, and Mum was always glad when he went out. The kidnapping was a shock, but I think Mum and me are glad he won't be coming back. I'm also sad for him. It doesn't make much sense."

"And may I ask your feelings for David?"

"I don't know. We're doing a lot of stuff together, and it's nice. Er, last night was good, and I felt warm and safe after."

"It would be in order for you to cry for Mr. Jamie and to feel the loss. David is considerably older than you and must accept you are coming to terms with your feelings. He should also understand your relationship may not last beyond the holiday. However, there is no right way of grieving, and if David is willing to offer the solace you need, then accept his offer."

Seb nodded, "Thanks, Mr. Hartnell."

"Just Hartnell, if you please. I should have retired last year, and my wife has been gone for ten years. It suits me living in a royal house, and it is a life I understand though my duties are somewhat lighter nowadays. It is for you to find the life that suits you, not the life others think you should want."

Seb nodded, "I can't imagine you in an old folks home playing bingo."

"Neither can I, Mr. Sebastian. Your Royal Highness, although I enjoy cooking, it is not for the butler to do the washing up. Perhaps you and Mr. Jim could lead by example."

For a couple of days conditions remained bad but manageable. It snowed a lot, but melted rather than compacted into ice. Horseboxes took the horses away, Brian arranged shopping trips, but it remained essential trips only so Ethan was disappointed he could not visit. On the second day, the King phoned Brian.

"How are they doing?" he asked.

"They're great kids, but getting a little stir crazy." Brian replied, "They can't get into town, and I'm uneasy about them skiing without a fully qualified guide, and Dave admits he's not experienced enough. The locals say the fog can come down without any warning, and I don't want them getting lost."

"No, that would be embarrassing for you. Use your own judgement but get them doing something, otherwise they'll wreck the place. Use their sexuality if you like and suggest a naked snowball fight or anything else erotic."

"I'm already going against all my training, sir. It's not how I should treat the prince."

"No, but don't worry. Having him isolated like this is the best thing that could have happened, so it's good for security if he doesn't get bored and decide to leave. I detect a bit of hero worship for you when he speaks to me, so set him challenges to impress you."

"Again, training says I shouldn't be so closely involved. Normally I'd be reassigned."

"Normally, I'd agree, but I want him safe, so do what it takes. You applied for Christmas leave, but I'd like you to stay on. Speak to Conrad about inviting your wife and daughter to stay. I'm sure he's found some waifs and strays to take in, so he'll hardly be in a position to refuse."

After the conversation ended, Brian found the boys playing some board game, and something was wrong. Whatever they were doing, they hardly ever squabbled but just then every little problem seemed to start a major argument. Suddenly, Seb sent the board flying and stomped out of the room, leaving the others startled and uncertain.

"OK! It's probably post-traumatic stress related from his kidnapping, but you're all feeling co o ped up." Brian said, "Hans and Chris have done a good job of clearing the stable yard, so I wan t you all out the re, in just shorts and trainers. Dave, I can't order you to take part, but if you do, you could persuade Seb."

"I'm not going out with nothing …" Conrad trailed off, "Are Hans and Chris going to join in?"

"I don't think they'd refuse if you told them to." Brian said.

"Maybe we should do it naked then. What do you say, Jim?"

Jim saw Conrad wink, and nodded. Like Conrad, he saw them all as adults, and adults would never agree, so he was somewhat taken aback when Brian said, "You'll have to wear trainers but nude exercise is healthy."

For Hans and Chris, conventions were already disintegrating. From spending their time in the stables, they were now part of the household, sitting around with the prince . Eager to lose the aroma of horse manure they showered then wandered with just towels wrapped around them. Towels slip, so their prince had already seen their more personal assets. Both young men were keen to impress the other, so they both nodded.

"Strip off at the door, and do everything at the run." Brian snapped, "Once in the yard, running on the spot will do until I get there."

Hans grimaced, "I'm not sure this in my contract of employment."

He stripped anyway, running out with the others while Brian contented himself with changing into sweats. The winter sun was warm providing they stayed out of the long shadows cast by the surrounding buildings, but even so, they'd still get cold if they just stood around. Brian was content to start a few exercises which involved them swinging their arms, running or jumping and, to everyone's relief, Seb and Dave joined them.

Brian was straight, but he could appreciate beauty. Hans and Chris were muscular from hard work. Hans had fair hair with a fine crop on his chest, and a trail leading down to his pubes. Chris was darker and smooth while Dave seemed a little chubby compared to them, but Brian could still understand any girl being attracted to him. He smiled to himself: he had to change his thinking for it was any boy who could be attracted to him.

Jim and Conrad loved sport and did manual work at the weekends. They were both slim, smooth except for their pubic hair, and more hair appearing on their legs. Seb was just as muscular as he worked out in a gym, but he lacked the degree of coordination organized sport needed.

Although, Jim was probably the best endowed, Brian could not help watching Seb's cock. It had twitched and swollen a little as he appraised the others, but every time he glanced at Dave, it swelled a bit more. Jim noticed first, faltered, blushed a little and could not prevent a nervous gasp. The others turned to look at what had distracted Jim.

"You sure seem to be enjoying yourself." Conrad chuckled.

Seb blushed deeply and tried covering himself with his hands.

"Don't worry, Seb." Brian said, "It only happens if you're among guys you trust, and you're feeling good about yourself."

He was not sure it was true, but Seb seemed reassured.

"Sorry about it, though." Seb said as he moved his hands away.

"There's no need to be sorry." Brian said, "It's just nature's way of saying life has to go on."

He had judged Seb's mood right, as Seb smiled while edging closer to Dave. Maybe it was Brian's imagination, but others were beginning to react. Even though there had hardly been time to break into a sweat, it was enough exercise. The chatter was cheerful, and the body language was relaxed as they hurried indoors where Hartnell was ready with mugs of cocoa.

"Sorry about the dress code." Conrad said a little cheekily.

"It is appropriate for young gentlemen exercising, though I would prefer dressing gowns as minimum attire in the communal rooms, and I am more concerned about protecting the furniture than modesty." Hartnell replied.

As the boys headed for their bedrooms Brian said, "Aren't you shocked by the lodge being turned into a gay youth camp?"

"I had the honour of serving His Royal Highness's grandfather, his father, and now Prince Conrad. I did wonder whether a paternity test might be appropriate for Prince Bartholomew, but I admire the family's better traits. They are practical, down-to-earth and tend to be good judges of character. Hans and Chris are good workers, and I was aware of their relationship, as was the stable foreman. Let's just say, it's the first time they've slept in the house when guests are staying, and you don't suppose resting after exercise means sleeping do you?"

"No. I guess my upbringing slips through occasionally."

"Don't feel bad about it." Hartnell replied, "The boys adore you. I assume you prefer they remain here as it provides physical protection for both His Royal Highness and for Master Sebastian, as well as preventing more unfortunate news stories. Why did he freeze out Master Ethan?"

"I didn't realize he had." Brian said.

"I suggest you have a quiet word with Master Sebastian. His friends know he likes to be informed of items on social media, and he does speak to a media representative. It may be something or nothing, but the prince's friends do look out for him."

"I know, but it seems odd."

"I'm sure his old classmates at Brookdales would unite to protect one of their own caught smoking, but they would not see much outside their own insular and privileged world. It seems his new friends see someone willing to give them a go, so they respond and what boy could resist being part of an intelligence network."

"So you're saying they've picked up on something we've missed."

" Possibly. Master Ethan may have placed a picture of his bedroom on Facebook and forgot to ask permission . You should ask Master Sebastian."

Not so much later, the King phoned Brian for his daily report, and Brian dutifully recounted his conversation with Hartnell.

"Hartnell has his own ways," the king said, "If he accepts naked youths in his domain and is treating a couple of stable hands so well, then you can be sure he knows something. When I was a boy, he knew when father was about to visit before I did. Father often caught his immediate staff out but never Hartnell. If Hartnell told me the Angel Host was about to descend, I'd believe him, but I wouldn't ask how he knew. Well, I'd try, but all I'd get would be: 'It is my job to know, Your Majesty'. I suppose we hoped our enemies would take a Christmas break, but you'd better be careful. It's one of the reasons, I expect you to keep Conrad there. You've got more security than you realize. "

" Yes sir. I'll ask Hartnell about Dave's family."

"Don't bother. H e's already briefed me. Dave will be the first in his family to go to university. Now, at the interview he'll be compared with the student whose father is a graduate running his own electronics firm. A little royal patronage will even up the field and in return, his mother would claw your eyes out if you betrayed us. I know you're way outside your brief, but like it or not, you are the responsible adult for a group of horny, gay boys. There're no protocols for this situation, but I've told your superiors you have my full support. Just keep them safe. "

"Yes sir." It was all Brian could say.

"I'll see your next assignment is easier, how do you feel about proving aliens exist?"

Brian insisted on an afternoon exercise session, surprised at how keen everyone was, but he guessed it had less to do with playing around outside and more to disappearing to their rooms with mugs of cocoa to rest.

"Have you ever thought of pairing off with Chris and Hans?" Conrad asked as they lay together, "You've said you like Hans, and I could pair with Chris. It could be fun, and they might teach us some new tricks."

"The bed's big enough for the four of us." Jim replied, "I have wondered what it would be like, but do you remember what I said about going with an older guy? He was terrified. Wait until they're more used to us."

Conrad lay back, contented. He was scared Jim would be shocked at the idea, but Jim was the practical one and would choose the right time to suggest it. In the meantime, he wondered what Jim would think of handcuffing him to the bed.

Hans and Chris also lay, content to cuddle.

"Why do they let us stay?" Hans asked, "The stable's empty, so we're not needed."

"Just enjoy it while you can." Chris replied.

"Oh, I'm enjoying it." Hans exclaimed, "That bodyguard is a policeman, so why doesn't he stop Seb and Dave? There's something else going on."

"According to Mr. Hartnell, gays outnumber the straights so Prince Conrad feels more at home and wants to stay."

"OK, but I feel like I'm treated like a kid, with that exercise thing."

"And we're sent to bed to rest like kids. Are you going to complain or shall we sixty-nine?"

Seb's mouth was full of Dave's cock feeling his fingers push into his arse. They were not interested in talking.

Hartnell, Brian and the other guards sat in the kitchen talking.

"Is this really protecting them?" Corey asked, "Dave is probably having sex with Seb under our noses. We shouldn't condone it."

"Dave is the vulnerable one." Brian said, "If Seb made a complaint, we would have to act, and Dave would lose everything."

"OK, so what about Hans and Chris? Why are they staying?"

As Brian hesitated, uncertain how to answer, Hartnell interjected, "Originally the idea was for them to act as servants who would be sympathetic to the prince's activities. I suspect their purpose is now to ensure we enjoy a very gay Christmas."

"Perhaps their parents will have something to say when they arrive." Corey persisted.

"I doubt it." Hartnell replied, "Mrs Walker is more relieved Sebastian is recovering from his kidnapping, and Mr. Poulson knows his son shares a bed. In one way, life is far more respectable than you might expect because no-one is sneaking around bedrooms in the middle of the night."

Brief periods of exercise kept the boys cheerful, board games stayed argument free and friendly, while computer games provided more solo activities. Dave managed to fetch some equipment when the paths were at their least treacherous, so he and Seb worked on his project. Hans and Chris tried to keep paths around the lodge clear while Hartnell was delighted to have two apprentice chefs help him. Maybe it was learning about the wine cellar, and the odd tasting of wines ready for decanting or pouring but for Conrad and Jim, it was a shared interest.

Everyone thought it was a matter of time before the roads cleared and everything returned to normal, but that night, it began to snow. It snowed until the early hours when the higher clouds rolled on and lower cold ones rolled down the mountains, settling in the valley. Super-cold droplets froze on anything they touched so that by dawn, everything was covered in a thickening layer of ice. Five miles away, it was an unseasonably warm, sunny day. In the valley, it was twilight at midday, and the temperature refused to climb above freezing.

"Our parents are arriving the day after tomorrow." Jim said, "Is it going clear in time?"

"I doubt it, Master Jim." Hartnell replied, "Snow is forecast over the whole region for tomorrow. The colder layers of air blowing in will trap this fog for days."

"They were saying how warm it was down the hill." Jim said hopefully.

"Cold air can be clear allowing the sun to shine and feel warm. Higher clouds are now coming in and will hide the sun. Hans, Chris, it's time to earn your keep. See if you can reach the cottages in the lane. Brian, Dave can make a team with one of your men. Master Jim, Prince Conrad, we will need to prepare a pot of hot stew. It'll need to be kept on the go all the time, ready for arrivals. Master Sebastian, you need to be able to find blankets, first aid kits and warm clothes. First, I'm afraid you'll all need to find modest clothes."

"You're making it sound scary." Seb said, "What's going on?"

At that moment, the lights went out leaving them in the eerie twilight seeping in from the outside.

"Ice and snow have damaged the power lines somewhere." Dave explained, "The whole village is probably out, but if the emergency generator works we'll have power, and have to help our neighbours."

"Providing His Royal Highness agrees." Hartnell added, "This is a royal residence, and any activity requires the consent of a member of the royal family."

"I've decided things before, but Dad could have stopped me." Conrad said, "If the phone lines go down we could be cut off. Can we cope, Hartnell?"

"We can, Your Royal Highness." Hartnell replied, "A helicopter will be on stand-by to fly you out should there be a break in the weather."

"No. You've given us jobs, so we're all needed. Am I like the Captain, and the last to leave the ship?"

"I believe the honour could be mine, Your Royal Highness, but I will concede if things get that bad."

"Dave. Phone your Dad. See what sort of ring around we can organize." Conrad ordered, "I don't suppose the oldies think about phones and texts, do they?"

"It is already being done, Your Royal Highness. My age puts me in the high risk category, and I have already been contacted."

"Oh!" Conrad gasped, deflated, "There's not much I can do, is there?"

"Leave the detail to the adults, Your Royal Highness. Basil Hathaway tries to coordinate the neighbourhood watch. He is somewhat pompous and self-important, but he does get things done. I would phone him, and ask for regular reports. However, shall we organize ourselves first, Your Royal Highness?"

"OK! You're in charge." Conrad said.

"No. You are because nothing can happen without your consent, but you are also learning the art of delegation."

The stew was already heating up by the time Hans and Chris returned, grateful for the cocoa Hartnell always had ready.

"We got lost in the driveway." Hans said, "We couldn't see where the edges were, and it's flat pasture either side. Once out of sight of the buildings, we couldn't see anything. We used GPS to get back and even then, we only just saw a corner of the building."

Just then, Conrad's phone rang.

"Hi, Dad," he said as he answered.

"Good Morning, Conrad." The King replied, "Are you all right?"

"We're fine. We're trapped inside, but we can manage."

"Ah! I've had a report from the air force's meteorological office. More snow is on its way and Tolberg is considered impassable. It's going to take specialized troops to get you out."

"I'm staying, Dad."

"You don't understand, Tolberg should be evacuated."

"There're ten of us in Tolberg and another twenty or so cottages at the high end of the lane. How are you going to evacuate us all?"

"The government has declared a state of emergency. This storm is unprecedented and is getting worse. We need to get you out."

That's fast." Conrad said.

"Other areas were hit earlier. Like I say, it's bad. If I order you out, you're going to disobey me, aren't you?"

"I've promised to help. If the power stays off, we need transport to get people here before they freeze."

"There may be a problem. Parliament authorizes your rescue but are you allowed to divert those troops? Well done, Conrad. We'll sort something out, if only to avoid a news story. That would be unfortunate, wouldn't it?"

As the king hung up, Conrad turned to Seb, quickly repeating the conversation, before asking, "How would you handle it?"

Seb picked up his phone, dialled and put it on speaker.

"Hi, Adrian. Can I pitch a hypothetical story?"

"Go on." Adrian Chapman replied.

"Parliament wants to rescue Conrad, but Conrad wants to rescue villagers caught by the power cut. If he tries to divert the troops rescuing him, he's going against Parliament."

"It's no secret you're at Tolberg. How bad is it?"

"Very. I could try to get stuff together later."

"OK! Would you say the prince is in command?"

"Yes. Most of the stuff is decided on by experts with local knowledge, but he is trying to get things moving."

"Good enough. It'll be a great feel-good story so do I have the go-ahead?"

Seb looked at Conrad who nodded, so Seb replied, "Yes."

"Supposing you had said no?" Dave asked after the call.

"He would have dug around and found other sources." Seb explained, "I've offered to feed him stuff, so he'll get something. I'd like to try a quick interview outside. Can we get just far enough away, so the house is foggy?"

"Who do you want to interview?" Conrad asked.

"Dave. He's local and understands the conditions."

About halfway along the lane, there was a steep incline, known as the Devil's Slide. It was always the first part of the lane to become impassable, isolating the upper part of the lane from the village. The cottages they were worried about were on the high part of the lane. Seb managed a quick unedited interview with Dave and sent a copy to Adrian.

Later, when they gathered in the kitchen for lunch, Hartnell had the news on.

"It is feared twelve people have already lost their lives, and rescue workers are desperately trying to reach others still unaccounted for. Nearly a quarter of a million homes are without power. With the weather forecast still so bleak, it will be a miserable Christmas for many. Among those affected is Prince Conrad. Tolberg, where he is staying, is in one of the worst hit areas. We have in the studio, Adrian Chapman from our sister newspaper the Daily Courier with the story. Adrian!"

"Good Afternoon, Judy. If he was anyone else, Prince Conrad would be written off as a rebellious teenager. Contingency plans for disasters always involve rescuing members of the Royal Family and are approved by parliament. An Arctic trained and equipped squad are on their way to the Prince to get him to safety. However, it seems the Prince is more interested in his neighbours and intends to divert his rescuers to saving them, but there is concern his demand is outside the authority of a constitutional monarchy. The problem is, rebellious teenagers can be terribly stubborn, so can the authorities refuse him?"

"Will it become a constitutional crisis?" Sarah asked.

"I have received a report from Sebastian Walker, and the conditions are truly appalling. Prince Conrad is not demanding resources be taken from other rescue work and merely wants to re-allocate troops already deployed there. I'd say it was a technicality to say he is exceeding his role, and after all, it is a rescue mission."

"Thank you, Adrian. We'll have a copy of his report in tonight's edition. Thousands of travellers are stranded at airports as flights are grounded …"

"I didn't realize it was so bad." Brian said.

"None of us did." Hartnell said, "The last two years were exceptionally mild, so what with it coming so early in the season, we just weren't ready. We are dependent on an emergency generator, and we have no more back up. I believe we should consider evacuating. I'm not sure you should trust that reporter, Master Sebastian. He seemed to make the Prince seem bad."

"No, he didn't." Seb exclaimed, "He needed a bit of controversy, so he suggested Conrad was just being a stubborn kid causing problems. Who's going to disagree with Conrad, though?"

A little later, Jim and Conrad were alone together.

"If we do take in the neighbours, I want you to play host." Conrad said.

"OK!" Jim replied uncertainly.

"We're a couple, so we should welcome them together. I know everyone will be worried about other things, but I don't want you to be just another guest."

"Yeah, thanks. You know it's you and Seb who get noticed, don't you?"

"Yes, I do, and I'm sorry. It's you I love though. I didn't think we'd be in the news again, so soon. Do we have to be modestly dressed in our bedroom?"

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