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The Marriage Plan

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All his life, Prince Ferdinand has known he will have to make a political marriage.

That’s life when you’re a Prince in Tarvania. Yes, you could go all republican and run off and marry a pretty farmer and have eighteen morganatic children, but despite their snobbiness Ferdinand loves his family and doesn’t actually want to break his mother’s heart. Plus, the paparazzi would just come storm the farm, and without royal resources to cow the tabloids, who knows what stories they’d run? He and his farmer would never have a moment’s peace.

Besides, as much as Ferdinand sometimes wistfully imagines that he could live the simple life quite happily, the truth is that he loves the urban social whirl and the glitz and glam of royal circles. The royals in those circles are usually pretty disappointing, which is why having to make a political marriage is going to suck someday, but the rest of his aristocratic and creative friends are delightful.

He’s just going to have to play up a playboy reputation as long as possible, and then eventually find a princess who’s either Also Gay and happy to be mutual beards, or possibly Asexual and Would Quite Like to Be Quiet Friends. He’s got the whole thing planned out.

And then he meets Alexei.

Alexei is six foot five, taller in heels, and kisses like a dream.

“Where have you been all my life?” Ferdinand asks muzzily, coming up for air.

“Well,” Alexei says, with an accent that shouldn’t perhaps be as alluring as it is, “mostly I’ve been in America. Undercover. Who wants to be recognized all the time?”

Ferdinand, who has some vague memory that Alexei might be a poet, but is not quite sure if this means Lord Byron or Lin-Manuel Miranda, nods sagely. “It’s a curse. Kiss me again.”

Alexei laughs, and obliges.

Much later, in bed, Alexei says, “You’re much gayer than I thought you’d be.”

“Well,” Ferdinand says, “it wouldn’t really be fair to the princess if I was publicly gay.”

Alexei’s brow is very cute when it furrows. “What princess?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Ferdinand says, and laughs. It seems funny, here in the strong lee of Alexei’s arm. “I haven’t found the right one yet.” He shares his long-term marriage plan with Alexei. Perhaps he’s being indiscreet, but he’s had just enough schnapps tonight to feel like it’s a good idea.

Alexei is quiet for a long minute after he finishes. Then he says, “Didn’t your Parliament just pass an equal marriage act? Why not just marry a prince?”

“Tell me when you find one,” Ferdinand says, mournfully. “I’ve looked everywhere. Olympics and weddings are the best places to look, but all I ever find is straight royals hooking up in broom-closets. I must have inherited all the gay genes on the continent.”

“Well,” Alexei says, “I’m fairly sure you haven’t. What about Max?”

Ferdinand shakes his head. “Married. Also from a country that hates our guts.” Then, belatedly, “And how do you know about Max, anyway?” This poet is remarkably well-informed. He didn’t think Max was publicly out.

“Well,” Alexei says again.

“No way,” Ferdinand says. “Are you just making, like, a royal tour?”

Alexei ignores that, probably for the best. “And then there’s me, of course.”

“What,” Ferdinand says.

“I know my mother only recently reclaimed our ancestral throne,” Alexei says waspishly, “but I thought you’d realized who I was. Who did you think I was?”

Ferdinand squints at him. “A handsomer Lin-Manuel Miranda?”

“…Actually I’ll take that as a compliment,” Alexei says, “but it’s Grand Duke Alexei, as it happens.”

“The Black Sheep,” Ferdinand says, in a thrilled breath. “I do remember hearing something about how you ran away to America.”

“So there,” Alexei says. “At least three gay princes. Probably more, I haven’t made a study of it.”

Ferdinand is hardly listening to him. “Marry me.”

“What,” Alexei says. It’s his turn, apparently.

And it doesn’t happen that easily. It takes Ferdinand a good five years to convince him, and requires them to actually fall in love along the way, which is a lot of extra work when they could have started out with a political marriage and fallen in love later. But Ferdinand was never a great romantic, until Alexei taught him to be; he learns along the way, and the second time he proposes, he does it on bended knee at the Olympics, and Alexei rolls his eyes and kisses him, and Ferdinand is entirely aware that he is the luckiest man in the world, and loves every moment.

- fin -