Prince, 99

Not Everyone Wants A Drunken Party Right Before Their Big Day

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“So, how many orgies are you planning to pop into tonight?”

“Oh, all of them,” Franz said. “How many are ongoing at any given time in Three Hills? One for each hill, I should hope.”

“Sounds about right. Well, you’d better be careful not to bump into me, the whole point is that we’re supposed to be apart.”

Franz grinned. “I’ll make an effort to run the other way if I see you. How many orgies are you planning to attend for your bride party?”

“What?” Gabrielle asked, twirling a wineglass. “Women don’t do that, we just sit around and do our hair.”

“Bullshit. I heard Olivia’s bride party bought out half the city from oil.”

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “Yes, because rumours about rich people being decadent and excessive are always true.”

“I mean,” said Franz, downing his wine. “We are spending a province’s worth of tax money on our wedding.”

“Well, yes. But that’s not a rumour.” Gabrielle sighed. “Any word about Dahlia’s retinue?”

“They’re supposed to get here in the morning,” Franz muttered. They’d been supposed to get here yesterday, but they’d been delayed. It was just weather, it was just what happened when people travelled at the end of winter. It was still annoying. He’d wanted to see his sister before the wedding. Now he was going to see her at the wedding, when he’d be just a little busy.

“They’ll get here,” Gabrielle promised. “You know that. From everything you’ve told me of your sister, she’ll pick up the carriage herself and move it if there’s a problem.”

That did sound like Dahlia, Franz had to admit. “I know. I’m just worried.”

“I know you are. But we can also be rich and decadent and postpone the wedding for one day if we have to.”

Everyone seemed pretty attached to them getting married on the first of Remin, probably because it would be an easy date to remember in the future. “Hopefully that won’t be necessary,” Franz said.

There was a knock at the door, and Boey poked his head in. “Franz? We’re ready for you.”

“Right.” Franz stood up, giving Gabrielle a kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow if my debauchery hasn’t killed me.”

“Same,” said Gabrielle with a smile. She kissed Franz back. “Listen, do me a favour. I genuinely don’t care what you do, it’s your groom party. But…”

“If I have sex with Gavin the wedding will be off,” Franz said, nodding once. “I know.”

“Oh no, the wedding won’t be off. I’ll marry you tomorrow and then divorce you the next day.”

She was probably joking, but she wasn’t joking about the Gavin thing. “Okay. I promise I won’t have sex with Gavin, and not just because you asked me not to. I actually don’t want to, fascinating a concept as that is.”

“I knew I liked you for a reason.” Gabrielle patted Franz’s chest. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Franz nodded, and he kissed her again before leaving with Boey to walk to his apartments. “Who all is there?” he asked.

“Hector, Matthew, Kieran. He brought Peter.” Boey took a breath. “Gavin and Owen. Ignatius and Gus, Frederick and Silas. Jacob said he might join us once Donny’s asleep.”

“I can’t decide if it’s distressing that so many of my friends are people who work for me,” Franz muttered.

“It’s a good thing, you’re beloved by your staff. What other king can say that his servants are his family?” Boey asked. His voice was quiet tonight.

“I’m not king yet,” Franz said.

Boey took his hand. “That doesn’t matter and you know it.”

“I guess.”

“Dahlia will get here,” Boey promised him. “They’re not that far outside the capital.”

“Yeah, I know.” Franz sighed. “I’m not trying to be one of those people who’s all sad the day before getting married. I’m really excited about tomorrow, and about everything that comes after.”

“I know,” Boey said. He lifted Franz’s hand and kissed it. “Franz, you’re talking to me. You don’t need to convince me of anything.”

He never had, no. Boey just understood him. “I know.” Franz sighed. “I’m excited about most things. I’m worried about you.”

“I’m fine,” Boey promised. “I’m happy for you and nothing is going to change between us and you already know both of those things.”

“Boey, you’re talking to me.”

Boey laughed, just once, then exhaled. “Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit sad. You’re my best friend and I’ve wanted to marry you since I was little. But this is how it works, Franz. Princes marry princesses.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” Franz said. He hugged Boey. “I know you know that, but I need to say it. I still love you and I always will.”

“I know.” Boey’s voice cracked a little. “I love you too, and I always will. And this is why we’ve already had a million conversations about how this is going to work, and we know everyone is on the same page about it. So it’s fine.”

“So it’s fine,” Franz repeated. It was fine. “Okay. Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. Come on, there’s a groom party full of people waiting for you.”

“Right.” Franz sighed, and they approached their apartment. “Boey, no offence, I know you put all this together, but I don’t really want to do the groom party thing. I’ve never really been a drunken orgies kind of person and I don’t really think there’s any point in pretending I am for one night. If the point of a groom party is that we do the things I want before the wedding, I’d kind of rather just stay in with you.”

“I know.” Boey smiled, leading Franz to the door. “Did you really think I organized an orgy for you? I told everyone we’re just getting together for a quiet evening. There’s only like two bottles of wine in the room.”

“Oh.” Well, now Franz felt silly. But he also felt cared for, so he smiled. “Okay, well, maybe there could be a little bit more drinking than that.”

“Yeah, yeah. Come on, your friends are waiting to congratulate you.”

Franz nodded, but before Boey opened the door, he hugged him one more time. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Boey promised. “Let’s go.”

They went, and had a nice night with friends. The whole night, he kept glancing at Boey, and catching Boey looking back, and he knew they were both thinking the same thing.

And I always will.

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