Prince, 29

There Are Some Things that Are Just Horribly Embarrassing, No Matter What

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“The bath will be ready in just a minute or so, sir,” Frederick said from the doorway.

Franz looked up from the poem he was trying to write Gabrielle. “Thank you, Frederick. I’ll be there in a second.”

Frederick nodded and disappeared back into the room where the bath was. Once he was gone, Boey looked up from his book and said, “You have to talk to him.”

“To Frederick?” Franz asked. “About what?” He was trying to think about what he’d forgotten about in all the quiet chaos of the last few weeks. Probably a lot of things.


Oh. Franz put his pen down slowly, looked up at Boey, trying to pretend he wasn’t horrified. “Is this about this morning?”

They’d been dallying a little in waking up and Frederick had come in to check on them. If he hadn’t already known that Franz was perfectly capable of swallowing Boey’s entire cock, he did now.

“Partly, but it’s also partly about the tent he was pitching in his pants through all of breakfast. And partly because he’d old enough to know about things that he doesn’t, and I suspect it’s because nobody’s told him. He doesn’t have any living relatives, remember.”

Franz sighed, nodded. “Fair enough. Can’t you do it?”

Boey shook his head. “I talk to him about espionage, politics, history, literature, math, writing and general comportment. You talk to him about how to fight with a sword and, well, how to play with a sword.”

Face warm, Franz glowered. “Seems like you’d be better at it.”

“No. You’re doing it.”

“Why?” Franz whinged. Dragon lifted up his head under the table.

“Because I don’t want to.” Boey rolled his eyes. “God, Franz. You had this talk once, it’s not that hard.”

“It was hard!” Franz had been woken up way too early one morning and taken out on a boat with his father and uncle, where he’d spent half the day contemplating jumping into the Shrike’s Lake and swimming back to Hawk’s Roost. Or just drowning, that would have been preferable as well.

“Yeah, but you survived. Now go get in the bath.”

Franz sighed, stood, and headed that way. Boey didn’t move. “You’re not going to have a bath with me?”

“No,” Boey shook his head, looking down at his book. “Frederick is going to have a bath with you.”

Franz frowned, then shook his head. “Wait, I have to do it now?”



“Just get it over with and it’ll be done.”

Franz sighed again, very dramatically this time. He’d been looking forward to not having to jump off a tower today.


“I’m going, I’m going.” Franz sighed, headed again for the bathing room, this time in a funereal march.

Frederick reappeared in the door just as Franz got there, sleeves rolled up. “My…oh.” He smiled at Franz. “The bath is ready, my prince.”

“Thank you, Frederick,” Franz said, passing by him and heading into the room. It was a good sized room with a tile floor. The back half was taken up by a raised bathtub reached with three steps, which was built into the room and fed with water from a chute on the wall. All Frederick had to do was go somewhere and get them to heat the water and it came pouring into the tub. It was all very impressive.

Franz started to pull his shirt off. “Frederick,” he called, affecting confidence as Frederick made to leave the room like he usually did, because Franz was an adult who could bathe himself just fine.

“Yes, sir?” Frederick sounded confused.

“Come get in the bath with me, will you?” he asked, smiling at the frown he got. “In the south it’s common for family members to bathe together, and you’re a member of my household now. I’m sure it’s preferable to the servants’ baths, isn’t it?”

“Um, yes, my prince,” Frederick said, returning to the room, red in the face. He started taking off his own shirt as well. “Do you…need something?”

“No, I just want to sit in the bath and talk,” Franz said, smiling at him. He knew if he told Frederick what he was planning, Frederick would run away. Or at least, he assumed Frederick would run away since that was what Franz would have done at his age, and he had been much less shy than Frederick.

“Okay…sir.” Frederick set his shirt in a basket, and started to undo his pants as well. He carefully folded everything all up before he moved on. Franz undressed with him, untying his loincloth as Frederick was folding up his pants, tossing it haphazardly into a basket.

“When did you start dressing like a southerner?” Franz asked, nodding at the loincloth Frederick was wearing. Last time Franz had seen him out of his pants he’d been wearing northern smallclothes.

“Oh, um…” Frederick was red in the face and looked like he wished he could die. So at least he was in the right frame of mind for what was about to happen. “A few weeks ago. I was curious and I liked it when I tried it. I hope it doesn’t bother you, my prince, I know I’m not…”

“I hardly have the monopoly on undergarments, Frederick,” Franz assured him, trying to smile in a nice way that made this conversation less weird. “As long as the parts of your clothes that I can often see are the right shade of green, I don’t care what you wear under them. That said, I’m glad you like it. I find smallclothes too tight, don’t you?” He’d only worn them a few times, but it hadn’t been good.

“Yes, my prince. I-I do, now that I’ve stopped wearing them,” Frederick admitted, playing with the end of his loincloth and not doing much else.

Franz patted him on the shoulder. He definitely had less baby fat on him than he had when Franz had hired him. “No need to be shy. I daresay whatever you’re hiding in there is something I’ve seen a good number of in my life.”

Frederick gave a nervous chuckle. “Sorry, sir.”

“No need to be sorry. Here. Maybe it’s easier if I’m not standing here right in front of you,” Franz said, and he turned to head into the bathtub.

By the time he’d sat down in the steaming water—Frederick understood how hot he wanted it, which was itself valuable—Frederick had undone his loincloth and was folding it up carefully, giving Franz a moment to look at him and realize that, of course, Boey was right that Frederick was at an age where his body was probably doing things he didn’t know about, and maybe had been for a while. He also had a scar at the top of his left thigh, jagged and faded.

Looking away so that Frederick wouldn’t think he was creepy, Franz waited for him to get in the water and smiled. “See, not so bad.”

Giving a bit of a chuckle, Frederick nodded as he got himself settled in the water, reaching for the soap. “Yes, sir. I’m…not normally shy. I mean, I bathe with people almost all the time. I just, uh…”

“Getting naked with a new person is always tricky the first time,” Franz said, smiling at Frederick’s nod. “I know. It can be awkward.”

“Yeah.” Frederick nodded, soaping up an arm.

“You know you can bathe with us whenever you want,” Franz added, to stall. “Boey and I don’t mind. In the south, people bathe together all the time, you wouldn’t be intruding or overstepping or anything like that.”

“I….” Frederick worried at his lip a bit.

“You don’t have to. But you’re welcome to, okay?”


Franz nodded, and was quiet for a second. Time to do it. “I’m going to make it worse, the awkwardness.”

“Excuse me?” Frederick asked, looking up from his arm. “Worse?”

“Just this once,” Franz promised. “Bear in mind that once this is over, it’ll be so much more normal every other time.”

“My prince?”

“Let’s talk about getting naked with people, Frederick, and about what your body does when you do.”

Frederick’s eyes went wide, and he backed up a little. “Um. Do…we have to?”

“Yes,” Franz said, nodding. “How old are you, twelve?”

“I’ll be thirteen next month,” Frederick said, looking away. “Um. I’m okay. I…know about things. I heard from other servants, and from…” he shrugged. “Somewhere. I don’t need you to…”

“Frederick, this isn’t my idea of a fun time either,” Franz said, gut twisting a little. He told himself that he couldn’t be as mortified as Frederick, if nothing else. “But everyone needs to have this chat with an adult at some point. And I’m betting you never did with Dominic, did you?”

A little sullen, Frederick shook his head. “Okay.” He had a resigned look on his face and was contemplating his reflection in the water.

“You don’t have to talk much, if that makes it easier,” Franz said. Then he paused, took a deep breath, and tried to decide what to say first. He’d never done this before and he hadn’t listened much when his father had done it with him. “Okay. I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are some things changing with your body the last little while,” Franz began. “Things getting bigger, hair growing in weird places, things smelling funny?” At Frederick’s short nod, Franz went on. “That’s all normal, it means you aren’t a little kid in anymore. Your body is getting ready to be an adult, which is to say that it’s getting ready to have children. Not that growing hair under your arms is a requirement for having children. It’s um, to do with your brain making your body hotter, and…hold on, I’m not explaining this well.”

Franz took another breath. This was why Boey should have done this. Frederick sat there, quietly, watching him without looking at him. “Okay,” Franz said, a moment later. “Your body maturing means that certain changes are happening. I probably don’t need to tell you that one of chose changes was what was happening to you during breakfast.” Frederick closed his eyes. “Do you get hard a lot?”

Frederick gave a slow nod, obviously wishing he were somewhere else.

Franz wished he were somewhere else too. “Do you ever play with it?”

Frederick swallowed. “S-sometimes. I try not to, but…”

“You should,” Franz told him. “It’s fun and it doesn’t hurt anyone. When you do, it feels good, and if you do it right, it eventually feels really good. Has that happened?” Another nod. “That’s an orgasm. Everyone likes those. Does anything ever come out? A fluid?”

Franz wanted to die for even asking that question, so he could imagine how Frederick felt when he nodded mutely.

“That’s called semen. It’s the seeds that babies grow out of, if you put them in a woman. Not that you have to do that. You can put it in a man, or let someone put it in you, or do stuff that ends up with it on the skin, or on the ground or in someone’s mouth or…”

“I get it!” Frederick said, voice ringing out a little.

“Right.” Franz wished the bathwater weren’t so hot. He was going to pass out. “Sorry. The point is that you’ll start making more of that as you get older, and that’s normal too. Between that and how fun playing with yourself is, it creates a bit of a laundry dilemma, but that’s for you to deal with like the rest of us had to. I’m going to say some words now that neither of us want me to say out loud in this conversation, so just listen and I’ll never say them to you again. If you decide to have sex with women when you’re older, you’ll put your penis inside her vagina, and if you shoot your semen in there it might fertilize a small egg, which is how it turns into baby. There’s more too it than that, but since I don’t assume you plan to do that tomorrow, maybe I’ll save the details for next time we both want to be embarrassed to death, yeah?”

“Yeah…” Frederick said, strained.

Franz nodded, reminding himself that he would need to read up on the details, preferably before he got married to Gabrielle. They had never seemed that important when he’d had Boey. “The main thing you need to get is that what’s happening to you is normal. Lots of things are normal. Dreams about sex. Dreams not about sex that you still end up hard over, having an orgasm in your sleep. Getting hard at weird times, wanting to touch yourself a lot, not wanting to do stuff like that at all, some people don’t. Thinking about people you know in a sexual way, thinking about people you don’t know in a sexual way, even if you don’t actually want to do anything with them. Liking boys, or girls, or both or neither or something else, all normal, all of it. Even that.” Franz pointed to where Frederick was obviously hiding behind his hand. “Normal. Don’t worry about it. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it. Don’t do anything that would hurt yourself or someone else. And you’ll be fine.”

Franz sighed. “Oh, wash everywhere, especially under your arms, with soap, or you’ll smell bad and nobody likes that. Peel back your foreskin and wash there too. And remember that you’re getting there, but you’re still a kid. I’m not telling you this so you can go out and have sex tonight. I mean you can if you really want to, I’m sure you can find a brothel on the shadier side that will let you in, but really I’d wait at least a few years. You can have a lot of fun without putting your dick in someone. Hands are good, use those. But I’m not your dad, I’m not going to stop you from doing what feels good. Just…be careful, and don’t feel like you have to grow up all at once. And if you’re going to a brothel, go to a nice one. There are diseases and they’re not fun to get.”

When Franz fell quiet, Frederick let out a breath. “Is…that all?”

Franz thought about it. “If you do have someone you want to do something with, make it nice. Don’t just drag some maid into a broom closet. Most people like kissing, do that first. Be nice to them. Be nice to people generally.” Franz thought about it. “Okay, that’s it. You can ask me questions. I know you don’t want to, especially right now probably, but I know a lot about this, like you saw this morning, which, sorry, by the way. So you can always ask me or Boey about anything you want to know. We both did this too when we were your age, so you know. We know what we’re about. Especially if you want to do things with other boys, we’re particular experts in that, but I think we both know the basic theory when it comes to ladies.”

Frederick looked like he’d fallen off a roof or had some blood vessels burst in his face, but he nodded. “Th-thank you.”

“Thank you for listening,” Franz told him. “And I’m sorry for springing that on you. You wouldn’t have come if I’d told you why.”

Frederick shook his head. “No,” he admitted. “But…thank you. F-for caring enough to tell me all that. Even if it was…”


Frederick nodded now. “I never thought I’d…have a family.”

Franz couldn’t help but smile at him. “You do now, Frederick. That cemented it. It’s something passed down by generations, father to son, brother to brother, that sort of thing. Some day you can embarrass the hell out of some poor kid by telling him how his body works. Not that it’s much easier from this end, to be honest.” Franz felt like he’d run a marathon. “No offence, but I wasn’t any more excited to sit here and talk about your penis than you were.”

A laugh, and Frederick lathered up some soap under his arms. Franz did the same, grateful that they seemed to be mostly okay. “Um…can I actually ask a question?”

“Of course.” Franz hadn’t expected that.

“Is…” He was nervous. He was about to ask about something perfectly normal, Franz could tell. “I sometimes think about taking my clothes off outside, and I get hard. Is…”

“Yes,” Franz assured him. “Normal. Maybe don’t actually do it unless you’re sure it’s safe and there aren’t people around. But it’s a normal thing to fantasize about.”

Frederick let out a sigh of relief. “Okay. Is…am I small? Like, smaller than normal?”

“No.” Frederick was maybe a little behind in development, but not strangely so.

“Only a lot of boys my age are bigger than me, I mean.”

“People grow at different speeds. We all get to the same place eventually, Frederick. And you have grown recently; actually, we need to get the tailor back in here. Though I know that’s not what you meant.” He smiled as Frederick coloured. “It looks like a perfectly good size to me.”

“Okay.” Frederick rubbed his nose. At least he wasn’t hiding behind his hand anymore. “This morning.’

“Sorry about that, we didn’t hear you knock.”

Frederick nodded. “Does…it taste good?”

Franz raised an eyebrow. He never would have been brave enough to ask that question. He chose to put it up to the welcoming environment he’d fostered. “It’s an acquired taste. I like it.”

“Okay. Sorry, I know I only said one question, but…”

“It’s fine,” Franz said, rinsing soap off. “Go ahead.”

“Is it true you can have s-sex in the butt?”

Franz nearly laughed at the earnestness, at the mild disbelief, paired with the innocent phrasing. “Yes. Heard some older boys and thought they were joking, did you?”

Frederick looked away, nodding. “Does it…”

“Yes. It feels good, especially if you’re good at it. Sex is like anything else, you get better at it the more you practice.” This was getting a lot easier, which Franz hadn’t expected. He had no problem talking about sex normally, so now that they were outside of the formal “discussion about sex” it as a lot easier. Maybe he should have set it up as a question and answer thing from the start.

“How…” Frederick swallowed. “How do you know if you like someone?”

Franz smiled. He had a feeling that Frederick had circled around this one for a bit. “If you’re asking that, it’s probably because you do.”

“Oh…” That earned a sigh. “There’s…a girl. Who works in the castle stables. Her name’s Abby.”

“Does Abby know your name?” Franz asked. In his head, Franz had made a picture of Frederick as his very competent page and spy who spent a lot of time knowing things about people that they didn’t want known, and who was helping him fool a very dangerous man. It was very easy to forget that he was also a stumbling twelve-year-old boy. The reminder was kind of hilarious.

“I…talk to her sometimes,” he hedged. “She’s a spy for Lady Quate, I’m pretty sure. That’s why I watch her a lot. Um. That’s why I told myself I was watching her a lot. She’s, um. Pretty.”

“Watch less,” Franz advised. “And talk more. Try not to look afraid. Smile. Listen when she talks. And remember that you’re a spy too. Don’t say anything you shouldn’t say just because she’s pretty.”

“I won’t,” Frederick promised, nodding. “Sorry, you probably don’t need me to waste your time with that.”

“It’s not a waste if it makes you happy,” Franz told him, leaning back on the side of the tub. “I told you, I wanted to sit and talk. Bath time is boy time as far as I’m concerned. We can work later with our clothes on.”

That got an honest grin out of Frederick. “Okay. Maybe I will join you sometimes, if that’s okay?”

“Of course, you’re always welcome.” Franz didn’t figure Boey would have a problem with that.

“I won’t be, um, in your and Boey’s way?”

“If we plan to have sex, we’ll wait until you leave, Frederick, don’t worry.” Franz knew that servants had seen him and Boey before, but not because he’d gone out of his way to make sure they did.

“I would appreciate that,” Frederick laughed. “When, um. When we’re done…can you teach me how to shave?”

Franz nodded. Another thing that he hadn’t realized nobody had done for Frederick. Not that he really needed it at the moment, but that was fine. “Sure thing. Another important family tradition.”

That earned him another chuckle, but Franz was serious. Frederick was one of his now, family in every sense that mattered.

And Franz looked out for his family.

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