Prince, 93

There’s Nothing Like A Litter of Puppies to Force You to Take A Break

Ao3 Link

“Kenneth is still insisting that he’s innocent,” said Boey, looking at the reams of paper Kieran had shown Franz’s people how to find. “No matter the evidence that gets put in front of him, he won’t stop repeating that he’s being framed.”

“Is he being framed?” Franz asked, because it wouldn’t be the first time.

“No,” said Frederick. “He has a network of spies and informants, he has years of documentation, he even has correspondence that Lord Orwell sent him. If he’s being framed it’s because he commissioned a self-portrait.”

“Shouldn’t you be in wizard school?” Franz asked him.

Frederick shook his head. “Ronaldo thinks I’m progressing too quickly and there’s a danger of overusing my powers and electrocuting everyone, so he told me to rest.”

“You’re not resting.”

“I’m resting from magic,” Frederick said.

“Yes, but you’re still working.”

“I know, I’m going to steal Lord Kenneth’s spy network. It’s not that good but it’s okay and it’s small enough that Lady Helena probably won’t bother snatching it up. But just in case she wants it I have to move quickly while I have all the documents and she doesn’t, because it’s quite possible that this is the literal only information in the world that I have that she doesn’t except for Silas’s dick size.”

For now, Franz thought, watching Frederick read. His eyes were zipping back and forth so fast but Franz had no doubt that if he quizzed Frederick later, he’d have taken more of the information in than Franz had. “The point was that you should take a real break,” Franz said. He could also have pointed out that he also knew Silas’s dick size thanks to their mutual aversion to shutting their doors, but that seemed beside the point.

Frederick nodded. “And the point of me saying all those words just now was that they’d turn into a shield to prevent you from suggesting I take a break. Silas can confirm that’s what words are for.”

“I could, but you have been working all day, Freddy.”

“Silas’s opinion doesn’t actually matter and you shouldn’t listen to him.”

The door opened and Jacob came in with Donny. “That was fast,” said Franz. It had taken Donny longer to get ready to go play outside than he’d actually stayed outside.

“Yes,” said Jacob. “There’s…”

“Fwanch!” Donny said, racing over to Franz, trailing snow everywhere. “Dwagen is have puppieses!”

Franz blinked. “What?”

“Yes, as to that,” Jacob said. “Dragon came to get us in rather a state of alarm and took us to a guardhouse and I’m guessing you weren’t aware of this, but he has a girlfriend and she’s in labour.”

Franz got up and headed for the door. “Let’s go,” he said. Dragon was having puppies and nobody had told him? What was the world actually coming to?

Jacob nodded. “I’m going to actually go somewhere else. The guards who work in Dragon’s girlfriend’s house are worried because it seems like Celestia has been in labour for a while now. I know somebody who can help. It’s Isaac, you’ve met him. He’s a dog expert.”

Franz had not known that, but he nodded, and as they stepped outside, Jacob darted off. “Where Hiccup going?”

Franz picked Donny up, wishing he’d grabbed his coat. Or some outdoor boots instead of the ones with heels. “He’s going to get Isaac.”

“Why his eye sick?”

“Isaac is Jacob’s boyfriend,” Franz told Donny, walking quickly in the trail of footprints Jacob had left on the way here. “Don’t you play dumb, you’re way too smart for that and Jacob never shuts up about him.”

Donny stuck out his tongue and so did Franz, and they walked coldly through the snow until they got to a guardhouse. Some guards were in there, and Franz saw Dragon’s tail around the back of a shelf. “Hi,” he said to the guards, who’d all stood up. “No need to freak out, I’m just here to see my dog.” He walked around the shelf, saw Dragon surrounded by several other dogs, one of whom was very obviously Celestia. There was another guard crouched near her, though he seemed unsure about getting too close. “What’s going on?”

“Well, I’ve never seen a dog give birth before, but I think she’s having trouble,” said the guard.

Franz nodded. “Okay, well. Make sure she’s comfortable. Someone will be here in a minute to help. It’ll be okay,” Franz said, putting an arm around Dragon. “Isaac’s going to help. How come you never told me you were going to be a dad? I hope you’ll at least let me name one of the puppies.”

Dragon just whinged at him, and looked back at Celestia. She was pretty enough, Franz supposed. Probably Dragon could have done better, but it would be rude to tell him that.

“Who that doggy?” Donny asked, sitting in Franz’s lap.

“That’s Celestia,” said Franz. “She’s Dragon’s girlfriend.”

Donny nodded. “Why Slessa is sick?”

“She’s not. She’s just trying to have the puppies and it’s hard.”

“Okay. The puppieses is inside her belly? Like I used to be inside Mommy’s belly?”

“Yeah, just like that,” Franz told him.

“I can have puppieses in my belly too?”

Hm. “Maybe when you’re older,” Franz told him.

“Why everyfing is when I’s old?” Donny pouted.

“That’s just how it goes,” Franz sighed.

It was several minutes before Jacob came back, during which time Donny unsuccessfully argued that he was older than he’d ever been. “Hi, I brought the expert.”

“He’s just a kid,” someone said.

There was no time for this. Or maybe there was, Franz had no idea. “If Jacob says he’s an expert, he’s an expert. Let him in.”

“I’ve helped a lot of dogs give birth. Hi.” Isaac had appeared beside them, crouching a short distance from the dogs. “What’s her name?”

“Celestia,” said Jacob, before Franz could. “And this is Dragon, Heartboy, Spill and Runner.” It hadn’t occurred to Franz to ask what the other dogs’ names were. They were Dragon’s friends, that had been rude of him.

Isaac held out his hand to let the dogs sniff him. “Hi, guys. I’m going to help her, promise.” After a second, Dragon licked his face. “Right. She’s going to be okay.”

Having said that, Isaac looked down at Celestia. “You okay there?” He touched her. “Yeah. The little guys are stuck, aren’t they? I’m going to help you out, okay? Let’s see what’s gone wrong.”

Donny tried to ask something but Franz shushed him.

Isaac was clearly being careful, and Franz looked up at Jacob. “Thanks for bringing him.”

Jacob nodded. “Of course. In my family, we believe in always calling on the expertise of experts. Which reminds me, I need to ask you later about your time-off policy. I have a naval engagement next week that I expect to take all day. ”

“This isn’t serious,” Isaac said. “But it’s a good thing you came and got me. The first puppy is stuck.”

Oh, shit. “Is that normal?”

“No, but it’s fixable,” Isaac said. He had such a reassuring voice. Franz hadn’t noticed that when they’d met before, probably because his fiancé had almost been almost assassinated. “Just in case, bring me some towels and hot water.”

Jacob hurried off, and Isaac put his hand between Celestia’s legs. “I know, I know,” he said. “But he’s stuck and if you could get him out yourself, you would have already.”

Franz watched carefully, leaning on Dragon. A hand fell on his shoulder and he looked up to see Boey, wondering when he’d gotten here. “Frederick and Silas are over there too,” he said. “We figured it was best for them not to crowd her.”

Franz nodded. “Yeah, probably. There are already a lot of people here,” he said, gesturing to the dogs.

“There you go,” Isaac said under his breath, and just like that he pulled a puppy out of Celestia. He put it down in front of her.

“Fwanch!” Donny whispered loudly. “Is puppy!”

“Yeah, I know,” Franz told him, looking over Donny’s shoulder. Isaac was still really focused, so Franz guessed Celestia wasn’t done. “There are going to be more puppies.”

Donny nodded, bouncing on Franz’s knee. “Whys is there bwood?”

“Because blood lives in the same place as puppies.”

“Oh. Yucky.”


A few minutes later, Isaac sat back, and Dragon went over to him. “She’s going to be okay,” Isaac promised. He got up and Dragon lay down beside Celestia and the puppies, the other dogs taking up positions around them. Dragon had a whole pack here and he’d never told Franz, what the hell?

“I can hold the puppieses?” Donny asked, as Isaac cleaned up and hugged Jacob.

“No, not yet,” Franz said. They were all in front of Celestia, nursing. “They’re hungry and very small. You can hold them in a little while when they’re bigger.”

“When theys is bigger?”

“Yeah, when they’re bigger.”

Donny sighed very dramatically, but he nodded.

Holding him, Franz stood, hugging Isaac as soon as he was free. “Thank you,” he said. “I didn’t even realize Dragon was having puppies. I don’t know why he didn’t tell me.”

Isaac smiled at him. “He probably just didn’t want to worry you. You’re going to make sure they’re taken care of, right?”

“Of course, they’re family.” Franz was sure the guards would take care of them, but so would Franz. Little ones could never have too many uncles, after all. They’d be the most spoiled puppies in the kingdom.

“Okay. I’d like to come visit them sometimes if that’s okay.”

“Of course that’s okay. Whenever you want, I’ll write you a note to get you out of class, and say you’re doing an important service for the kingdom, which you will be.” Franz considered supporting Dragon to be of critical importance to two nations. He took a look at the guards, none of whom seemed bothered. “I mean I’m not responsible for Celestia, she’s one of the castle’s guard dogs. But I don’t see it being a problem.”

“Not at all,” one of the guards said. “You want to stick around for a while? We can at least feed you after you helped us out.”

“I appreciate that,” said Isaac, shaking his head. “But no, I should probably go back to class.”

“Why no?” Donny asked, eyes wide.

“Well, because I have to…” Isaac looked around as if hoping someone would answer for him, but Franz knew full well the look of someone who’d been outsmarted by Donny. “Sure, I can stick around for a bit.”

He was going to be sticking around for longer than a bit. Franz would invite him for supper—his friend Peter had been over the other day with Kieran, so why not Isaac too? Anyone who’d helped Dragon out was a friend of Franz’s, and this way, he thought, all of them could have a little break. They had six birthdays to celebrate, after all.

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