Pauper, 10

Princes and Paupers Have Many of the Same Problems and Switching Places Can Help Solve Them if it’s Done Carefully and with Forethought

Ao3 Link

Russ took a breath. It was time.

“Are you sure you can do this?” Sally asked, beside them in the cramped secret tunnel.

Russ smiled, not that Sally could see them. “Of course I can. It’s easy.”

“It’s just…”

Russ took Sally’s hand. “It’s easy,” they promised. It was a simple plan, and Russ was no simple whore. They could do this. “Don’t worry about me, you just do your part and it’ll all work out, okay?”

“I just…I don’t know if…”

“Hey,” Russ said. Sally couldn’t freak out now. None of them could. They pulled Sally towards them, hugged them in the tunnel’s low blue light. “It’s going to be okay, promise. Niall’s plan is good.”

“What if you get hurt?” Sally whispered.

“I won’t.” Russ might. But that wasn’t important compared to a whole kingdom. “I’ll be okay. And so will you. So just stay here and do your thing, and I’ll go in there and do my thing and we’ll meet up after.”

“Okay.” Sally held Russ tightly. “Can I come with you when you leave the castle?”

“If that’s what you want, sure,” Russ promised. They weren’t sure Sally would make a good whore, but there were other jobs. “Okay. We have to get moving.”

Sally nodded, letting Russ go. Russ stepped back, and headed up a few more paces in the passage, feeling for a stone and pressing it. The wall slid away, and Russ slipped into the dark room, checking to make sure their knife was in the back of their garter where they’d left it. They wished they had their lucky one, but it had been taken away when they’d been arrested.

The room felt weirdly full, as if it had more than just Nolan in it. The bed wasn’t far from the passage, and Russ crawled onto it, feeling around. They found a leg, a thigh, and moved higher. They pulled the blanket back and crawled on top of the bed’s occupant.

That was what woke Nolan up. “What the…”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Russ whispered.

“Niall? How did you get in here?”

“The door,” Russ told him. “Can I sleep with you, Uncle Nolan? Please, I’m too scared to sleep alone. Not after…”

If Nolan were smart, he’d say no, get a guard to take Russ back to Niall’s room. Niall and Russ were both pretty sure Nolan wasn’t smart.

“My door is guarded, and you were supposed to be kept in your room.” Nolan’s head moved to the other side of the room, to the secret passage. Oh, he knew about those. “How did you…”

No big deal. A small truth to cover some bigger lies was easy. Russ bowed their head. “I know I’m not supposed to know about the secret passages, but I heard some of the servants talking about them a few weeks ago, and I just…please, Uncle Nolan? I’m really lonely.”

Nolan sighed, put an arm around Russ. “Fine, but go to sleep, okay? You’ve had a hard day.”

Russ nodded, pressing themself against Nolan so that Nolan would be able to feel that they were only dressed in their socks and smallclothes. Carefully, Russ took the knife out from the garter and laid it on the bed a short reach away, then accidentally rested that hand on Nolan’s crotch.

For a moment the room was still, a funny taste on Russ’s tongue as they waited for a reaction, willing Nolan not to let go. Nolan didn’t move their hand away, instead sliding his own hand down to cup Russ’s butt. Russ smiled in the dark. “I’m sorry about all the things I said in the bedroom before. I didn’t mean them.”

“It’s okay,” said Nolan, after a pause. “You were upset.”

“I know, but I shouldn’t have been so unkind. You’ve had a hard day too, Uncle Nolan,” they whispered. “What are we doing to do without my father?”

“We’ll figure it out,” Nolan promised, as the sense of something else being in the room increased, just for a second. “You’ll be a great king. I’ll help you.”

“Do you promise?” Russ asked in a small voice. “Do you promise to help me?”

“Always,” Nolan said. “I promise I’ll always be there for you. I love you, Niall.”

Russ nodded. They were pretty sure Nolan meant that, just like he always had. “I love you too, Uncle Nolan.” They shifted, let the silence stretch for a minute. Then, when it felt like Nolan might be starting to fall asleep, they asked, “Uncle Nolan?”

“What is it, Niall?”

“Are you going to kill Russ?”

“He’ll be tried for his crimes,” Nolan said immediately. “He hurt you very badly, so yes, he’ll probably be executed.”

Russ suppressed a snort. Nolan said that so dispassionately, as if Russ genuinely meant nothing to him. “Can I commute his sentence? He didn’t do it on purpose.”

“You can,” said Nolan, slowly. “But you shouldn’t. As long as he’s around, people will wonder if he’s replaced you again. They’ll think they can use him against you somehow, or claim that he’s you.”

Like Nolan had been going to. “But you love him too, don’t you?”

“I…no, of course not.”

Russ tried their best to make a consternated Niall noise. “But you’ve been having sex with them for a long time, right?”

“That’s…” Nolan sighed, patting Russ’s ass. “That’s different. I don’t love Russ, he’s just a prostitute.”

Nolan had professed love to Russ multiple times over the years. “It’s because he looks like me, right?”


“It’s okay if it is,” Russ whispered, giving Nolan’s crotch a gentle squeeze, noting that it had gotten harder. “I…I thought a lot about what happened to me in the brothel. How those disgusting people touched me, and used me, and I…I realized that the reason why I was imagining you doing it was because I wouldn’t have hated it if you had been doing it, Uncle Nolan. I wish…I wish it had been you touching me instead of…”

“Shh…” Nolan said, holding Russ more tightly and kissing their forehead. “It’s okay, Niall.”

“Can we please have sex, Uncle Nolan?” Russ asked, making it sound like they were about to cry. “Please? I was using my fingers in my room and it wasn’t enough, and I know you want to, and I need to feel it with…with someone who loves me, so I can forget about all those other horrible people.”

“It’s not a good idea…”

“But nobody would ever have to know,” Russ insisted. “There are the secret passages and I can go back to my room in the morning before anyone knows we were together and we can…it can be a secret, just between us.”

If Nolan had any brains at all this would be where he’d put a stop to this. Surely even he couldn’t be this stupid. The room beyond the bed was so quiet.

But Russ knew better than anyone that nobody was as stupid as someone whose fantasies were being made true. “Okay,” he said. “If that’s what you want, Niall.”

Russ smiled, and let Nolan roll them over so they were on their back and Nolan was on top of them. Nolan pulled down their smallclothes, and when he reached to touch Russ’s cock, they moved his hand down and put it between their legs so he’d feel the oil there. Predictably, Nolan changed tactics and slid a finger inside Russ while Russ pulled Nolan’s smallclothes down.

Nolan had always sucked at foreplay, and even though Russ normally liked it a lot, tonight wasn’t the night for that. When he pulled his fingers out after a minute and moved to reach the bedside table, Russ, a bit worried he’d noticed the knife on the bed, bent themself downwards and took his cock in their mouth, making sure to drool on it. “Oh,” said Nolan. “You really did learn a few things down there, didn’t you?”

Russ took Nolan’s cock out of their mouth. “Yeah,” they said. “I want to practice all of them with you, Uncle Nolan.”

“I think we can do that.”

“Can you fuck me now, though?”

“If that’s what you want,” Nolan said, as if he wasn’t already getting down and into position.

Russ let Nolan do that, spreading their legs and counting the six seconds it always took Nolan to get ready. It was four this time—he must be really excited to do this with a willing Niall—before he was pressed against Russ’s entrance. And then he pressed in, as always with hardly any regard for Russ, but that was fine. If Russ had actually been Niall, it might have hurt, but Niall was down the hall.

“That feels so good, Uncle Nolan,” Russ said, letting their voice rise above a whisper now. “Oh, that’s so much better.”

“You like that?” Nolan asked, sliding inside, thrusting. “That feels good, Niall?”

“It feels so good, Uncle Nolan,” Russ said, and Nolan shuddered. Did he not notice how heavy the air in the room was? Of course not, because he wasn’t feeling Russ’s nerves. Nolan only ever felt what he paid for. “So good. I already love it.”

“Good.” Nolan started thrusting properly now, in and out. Russ wrapped their legs around him, kissing his neck. “You feel so good, Niall. So perfect.”

“B-better than Russ?”

“You’re so much better than Russ, don’t worry about him, he’s nobody,” Nolan assured them, kissing Russ’s face all over. “He was only ever a replacement for you.”

Charming, not that Russ hadn’t known that. “And now you have me,” Russ said. They had to get their lines out, even as their throat wanted to close. It was important. “You’ll always have me. We can, we can do this all the time, right? Every day?”

“Every day,” Nolan agreed. “Whenever you want.” He was moving faster now, unable to hold back. “All the time.”

“That’s what I want,” Russ lied. “That’s what I want, Uncle Nolan. I want you.”

“Me too,” Nolan moaned. He was loud now. “Me too, Niall. You’re all I want, all I’ve ever wanted in the world.”

Russ rolled their eyes. This was too stupid to be working. And now for the final blow. “Is that why you killed my father?”

Nolan paused, hovering over Russ. The air was so heavy. “I…I didn’t…”

Russ kissed him on the lips. “It’s okay, Uncle Nolan. We don’t have to keep secrets anymore. My father was keeping us apart. He wouldn’t let you have me. He always told me I shouldn’t let you touch me. But now that he’s gone we can be together, right?”

“He…Nicol told you that?”

“He said you were a pervert who’d try to hurt me,” Russ confirmed, quite sure that King Nicol had been just as oblivious as his son. “And that I should avoid you if I could. But I couldn’t, because I love you. So…I’m glad you killed him. I’m glad he’s dead.”

“I am too,” Nolan said. “I’m glad I killed him too, Niall. I should have done it sooner. I should have poisoned him years ago.”

“I wish you had,” said Russ, feeling sick, feeling so much pressure in their head.

“Me too. Me too, I…”

The door—both doors, the regular one and the hidden one—opened then, and guards piled into the room, light slashing through from the hallway and the passageway, multiple lantern lights searing Russ’s vision. Russ reached out and grabbed their knife. “What’s going on?” Nolan demanded.

“Nolan hee-Minda, you’re under arrest,” said Imir the guard captain, several of her people flanking her. “On the orders of the king.”

“On…” Nolan looked at her, and then down at Russ, who smiled and held the knife to his throat. “How dare you?” he whispered. “How dare you?”

Niall stepped out from behind Imir. “The charges are treason and regicide,” he said quietly. He looked so strong. “Attempted murder of the crown prince. And rape.”

“I didn’t…” Nolan’s cock was still buried inside Russ. “I didn’t do any of that!”

“We just got your confession,” Russ said. “And before you say the word of a whore isn’t worth anything, we can ask Sally or your own guards what they heard.”

It had been a simple plan. Russ was no simple whore, but Nolan was a simple idiot. That was all, in the end, Nolan had ever really been.

“You can’t…”

“Take him away,” Niall ordered, and immediately two people hauled Nolan off the bed—and out of Russ. And they took him out of the room, Nolan shouting at them.

“Niall!” Nolan called from the hallway. “You can’t do this! You need me! You’re weak, you won’t be able to rule without me! You need my help! I love you, Niall!”

Niall closed his eyes, standing there holding Doggy’s hand. The two of them and Buck had gone to convince the castle guards to come arrest Nolan, and to remind the nobility of whose side they were on. Niall was going to be coronated king at dawn instead of in three days, and everything needed to be ready.

All the heaviness, all the stillness in the room had vanished. Russ practically floated off the bed and was immediately hugged by Sally. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Russ promised, brushing his hair out of his eyes. “Are you?”

Sally nodded, holding Russ tight for a second until Russ disentangled him, walked over to Niall. “Your Majesty.”

Niall’s mouth moved as if he wanted to smile, but he didn’t. “I’m sorry that you had to do that,” he said instead. “You were just supposed to talk to him…”

Russ shook their head. “I didn’t have to do anything. I wanted to help and this was the best way for me to do that. This was my fault.”

“It wasn’t. It was Nolan’s fault.” He sounded so empty when he said that. “It was all his fault, all of it.”

“He didn’t make us switch places,” Russ said, taking Niall’s other hand. “He didn’t make me not tell you who I was. He didn’t make me not come rescue you sooner. He didn’t…”

“Shut up,” Niall said, taking a breath. To Imir, he said, “Russ and their friends are allowed to go free. They haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t want them hurt. And we should…we should pay them. For the work they did tonight, especially Russ.”

“Of course, your Majesty,” said Imir, bowing. “I’ll see it done.”

Niall nodded, looking at the floor. “Hey,” said Doggy, rubbing his back. “It’s over. You did it. You’re going to be the king now and he can’t hurt you.”

“Yeah,” said Niall, shuffling his feet. “Yeah. Can…Can I have a minute to talk with Russ, please?”

“Of course, your Majesty,” said Imir, and she began directing everyone out of the room. Sally hesitated, but he went out into the hallway with a long look at Russ, Buck’s hand on his back. The door shut, leaving them alone in the room.

Niall hugged Russ, holding them so tight. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

Russ hugged back. “I really am sorry for all this. For your father and everything.”

“Thank you,” Niall said again, sniffing. “I…Doggy’s wrong. It’s not really over. There’ll be a trial, and everyone’s going to find out what happened, and Nolan is going to try to pretend he didn’t do anything. The nobles aren’t going to want me to be king. Nolan was right. I’m not going to be good at it. I’m not good at anything. If there’s anything I learned this week it’s that I don’t know anything about anything, and I…”

“Hey,” Russ said, holding his hands. “Hey, don’t do that. If there’s anything I learned this week, it’s that what you do is so hard. Everything is so complicated for you and you’ve had to grow up doing it with Nolan breathing down your pants. I don’t think you even realize how much you can do, Niall.”

“But I can’t…I can’t do it by myself,” Niall whispered, looking at both their feet.

“You’re not by yourself. You have all kinds of people…”

“Who only pretend to like me because they have to. I don’t have any friends. I don’t have anyone who really cares about me or wants me to succeed or…”

Russ kissed Niall before he could spiral any further downwards. Niall looked at him, shocked. “What the fuck?”

Russ grinned. “I don’t think you knew that word last week.”

“Sh-shut up,” Niall said, looking away. He looked…proud, maybe. “The king can say whatever he wants.”

“Yeah, he can,” Russ said. They sighed. “You really will be okay. And you’re not alone. You have us, and you have me. I don’t know how to read or do politics or count money or anything, but you’ll always have me, if you want.”

Now Niall smiled, looking almost light for the first time all night. “Thank you. I just…I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be making this all about me. You probably want to go home.”

Russ did, but… “You really don’t think you’re okay to be king yet?”

“I…” Niall shook his head. “I don’t have a choice.”

“What if you did?”


Russ grinned widely, squeezing Niall’s hands in his. “Hey,” he said. “I have a great idea…”

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2 thoughts on “Pauper, 10

  1. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a GREAT idea, but I’ll concede that at this point it probably won’t end in tears. Which is better than the last time those words came up in this story.


    1. Yeah, at least this time everyone is on the same page and nobody is conveniently leaving out parts of their backstory to the person they’re about to suggest life-altering plans to, haha. Hopefully it goes okay!



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