Prince, 59

Wedding Planning Isn’t As Boring As It’s Made out to Be

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“You know,” said Franz, holding Gabrielle’s hand as they walked to the meeting room. “Normal people don’t have to have meetings to talk about their weddings.”

“We’re not normal people,” Gabrielle told him. She shook her head. “Stop pretending we are.”

“I suppose.” Franz looked at the frosted windows. He had to admit, snow was pretty. “Does the High Presbyter have to come to the wedding?”


“Fine, fine.” Franz sighed. “It occurs to me that I’ve sort of missed several steps in the courting you that I was doing.”

“You did,” Gabrielle admitted with a chuckle. “But it had its intended effect. It made me like you.”

“Oh, that’s good to hear.” Franz smiled as they neared the door of the room. “Still, there’s one part of it I’d like to make sure to do.”


Franz nodded, stopping, pulling her to face him. He got down on one knee, reached into his pocket. He showed her the silver ring he’d had made. “Gabrielle ven Sancte. I’d like to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?”

Gabrielle laughed, hand in front of her mouth for a moment. She looked genuinely happy, Franz thought, and she held out her hand for the ring. “You know what? I’d like that too. Yes, I’ll marry you, Franz.”

“Excellent,” Franz said, slipping the ring onto her left hand, then stood up. Gabrielle kissed the ring and held it out, and Franz kissed it as well. “Because it would have been a bit awkward to go in there if you’d said no.”

“Just a little,” Gabrielle agreed, kissing Franz before stepping back and pushing open the door. They went into together, where the king and queen and their ruling council were waiting.

“Good news everyone,” said Franz, as he took his seat. “Gabrielle and I have decided to get married.”

“Oh, have you?” asked Georgina, smiling at them. “Gabrielle, you didn’t tell me things were getting so serious.”

“Oh, I was just so excited that I wanted to keep him all to myself,” Gabrielle explained.

“Well, this works really nicely,” Georgina said, gesturing to the table. “Because we were just talking about how we ought to have a wedding some time in the next few months.”

“Excellent,” Franz said. “Since Gavin isn’t here, I propose that we reserve the date before he hears about it.”

“Works for me.” Gabrielle nodded. “Meeting adjourned.”

“Alas,” said Kenneth Wrathwate, who Franz had briefly, mercifully, forgotten existed. He’d gained weight. “It is not that simple, your Highness.”

Gabrielle sighed. “Alas.”

“There is the matter, most critically, if I may be so bold, of how the wedding will be paid for,” Lord Kenneth went on, as if Gabrielle hadn’t just made fun of him.

“I admit I’m not a treasurer,” Franz said, leaning on the arm of his chair. He felt giddy suddenly, so much so that he’d ignore Lord Kenneth’s multiple parenthetical clauses, just to be nice. “But perhaps we could try paying for it with coin? Gold, maybe, if only because copper would get heavy.”

Lord Kenneth gave Franz a look that suggested he did know Franz was making fun of him. “What I mean, your Highness,” he said, slowly. “Is that we must discuss who is going to pay for it. It will be very expensive.”

“The crown will pay for the wedding, Kenneth,” Gerard assured him. “There is no need to worry.”

“Yes, your Highness. May I propose that House ven Sancte pay instead of the crown? A subtle but important distinction.”

“I believe Lord Wrathwate is concerned about the image of using the nation’s taxes to pay for a party for two people,” Helena said, adjusting the sleeve of her dress.

“I believe,” said Franz, “that Lord Wrathwate is concerned about the image of using the nation’s taxes to pay for a party for a southerner.”

Kenneth Wrathwate shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “I do not mean to offend, Prince Franz. But royal weddings in the past have sparked discussion about the best use of tax money, and where you are not the most popular figure in the capital due to some unfortunate rumours about you pertaining to scripture, I merely worry that protests might occur.”

“There were a number of complaints about the king and queen’s wedding, if I’ve learned my history correctly,” Dominic said smoothly. “About using the money collected from taxes on people struggling to pay for a lavish feast for people who don’t struggle.”

“The sum of money required to pay for this wedding is insubstantial compared to the total sum of the crown’s wealth,” Georgina said, shaking her head. “This is foolish. House ven Sancte’s money also comes from taxation in part.”

“In part, but not entirely. And it’s understandable that parents will pay for their daughter’s wedding,” Lord Kenneth insisted. “Nobody would object to that.”

Franz glanced at Gabrielle, who already looked bored. “I’ll pay for the wedding,” he said, amused at the surprise on Lord Kenneth’s face. “I may not have the resources I once did, but I’ve sufficient means to cover the cost of my own wedding. That way nobody has to worry about funds being misappropriated on someone from the wrong side of the border.” It was important, Franz felt, to keep mentioning that part, because nobody else would.

“Well…” Lord Kenneth tried and failed to come up with a reason why that was a bad idea, and gave up. “I can think of no reason to object to that, your Highness.”

Franz smiled at him, though Gerard looked less than amused. “Paying for a child’s wedding is the responsibility of the parent. We’ll discuss this further another time,” he promised, to Franz specifically. That was going to be a fun dinner.

“Since we’re talking about southerners,” said Mia Hardhold, sighing deeply, “there is a serious issue to be tackled as well. It is traditional, even when the groom isn’t Kyainese, to invite the southern monarch to the wedding. They usually come.”

“Lady Hardhold is right,” Dominic agreed. “On the diplomatic front, of course, it’s rude not to send an invitation.”

“Not to mention that this marriage is the crux of a trade deal that we’re all very happy about,” Elenora Suntower added. “But with someone who’s dead.”

“And whose successor is upholding the deal,” said Dominic.

“While simultaneously plotting to kill my fiancé.” Gabrielle shook her head. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Hans is my uncle and one of my only living relatives. Even if he weren’t the king regent, not inviting him would be rude.” Franz was quite sure he didn’t want Hans at the wedding. But he may not have a choice about it.

“I care a lot less about being rude than I do about both of us being alive at the end of the day,” Gabrielle disagreed. “Come on, we already know that at least one person who will likely be there wants one or both of us dead, why would we willfully invite another?”

“Thank about it,” Franz said. “All the people who want us dead in one place? Ideal scenario, they’ll all miss, hit each other and all our problems will be solved.” He didn’t like talking about Hans this way. But he was also realistic. Hans had made himself regent with the help of the Sorcerer King and hadn’t even sent Franz a letter to tell him everything was okay.

“Franz is right,” Gerard said. “We have to invite him, assuming he’s still regent at the time of the wedding. Even if we are suspicious of him, we don’t want to let on that we are and not inviting him does that.”

It was interesting, thought Franz, that Gerard thought there was a possibility Hans wouldn’t be regent by the wedding. “And like I said, if he is up to something, I’d rather have him where I can see him.”

He didn’t look at Dominic while he said it. Silas was out talking to the priest at St. Hubert’s right now.

“All right, all right,” Gabrielle said, giving in. “Fine. I suppose there’s going to be decent security at this thing?”

“Better than decent, but the details of that are still being worked out,” Mia Hardhold said. “Your safety will be assured, though.”

Gabrielle smiled. “Good to hear. What’s the next thing on the agenda? If anyone says decorating I’m going to flip the table over.”

The next thing turned out to be a continuation of the guest list, which Franz thought was stupid because they were going to invite every noble in the kingdom. But he sat through it, paid as much attention as he could. His wedding was going to be the event of the year. He didn’t want to be surprised when it came time for him to say his vows.

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