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His Royal Highness

Chapter Text

Robert wanted to go out, which meant he kept looking at his watch, wondering why his security guard hadn’t turned up yet. John was rarely late, but it was an agreement Robert had. He could go out in public, pretend to be normal, blend in with the crowds, but he had to have a body guard with him at all times. Otherwise the risk was too great. The risk that he’d be recognised, or run into someone with a grudge against his public persona. No, having security was necessary and Robert knew that, even if he didn't like it one bit.

“You’re late,” Robert said as John came in.

“Sorry,” he said. “Where’re we off to then?”

“A club,” Robert said.

“The usual?”

“No, pick something different,” Robert said. “Whichever one you think is “secure””

“I’ll look at the preapproved list,” John said, getting his phone out. “Give me a minute.”

Aaron sighed. He’d lost both drinking mates for his night out. Adam had backed out because he had a last minute date with a girl he’d been after for a while, and Cain had said no because apparently he had a bad back. Which meant Aaron seemed to have ended up in a London bar drinking alone. Maybe he should call it a night and just head home to the flat. But then… if Adam’s date went well, he probably wouldn’t be alone in the flat and overhearing would be the worst option of them all.

He sighed and finished his beer, debating ordering another when someone caught his eye. Tall, blond and slowly looking him up and down. The light in the bar was pretty dim, but Aaron knew when he was being checked out as the man walked over. “Can I buy you a drink?”

“If you want,” Aaron said as if he was indifferent. The man smiled, almost a smirk and Aaron’s stomach jolted. He looked weirdly familiar, but Aaron couldn’t place the face. Maybe he was imagining it, wanting to see a connection because this man was very attractive, taller than him too which Aaron always liked. Being gay in a mostly straight world meant Aaron had become attuned to attention when it was directed at him, and this man was paying his just the right kind of attention. The kind that made him privately curse Adams good fortune and wish he had an empty flat at home. You know, just in case.

The barman brought their drinks over, almost squinting at the stranger. “Have you got a name?” Aaron said. “I don’t let just any stranger buy me a drink.”

“You don’t know my name?” he said.

“Right, arrogant much?” Aaron said, turning away. “Tell you what, thanks for the drink.”

“No!” he said, grabbing Aaron’s arm to stop him from leaving. “Sorry. It's Robert.”

“Right,” Aaron said. “Aaron.”

“Aaron,” Robert repeated, like he was trying the name on for size. He liked the way his name sounded in this Robert’s mouth. It sent a shiver down his spine. Aaron looked at him again, noticing for the first time that a man was hovering behind him, almost trying to blend in. Middle to late forties and had the look of a security guard. So… Robert was some kind of trust fund kid then, even if he looked a bit old for it. Probably never worked a day in his life. What was he doing at a random bar then? Even if it was London and you never knew who you’d bump into, this seemed a bit out of nowhere. But then… Aaron wasn’t looking for the love of his life. He was looking for a bit of fun, and Robert looked like he could be exactly that.

“What do you do then?”

“I’m a mechanic,” Aaron said. “My uncle owns a garage and… well it’s not a bad job. Doesn’t matter where you go, someone always needs a mechanic.” Robert nodded, almost thoughtfully. “Should I ask what you do?  Or is it not worth my time?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Not everyone goes for a night out with a body guard,” Aaron said, nodding at the man behind him.

“Ah. That,” Robert said. He shrugged uncomfortably and for the first time Aaron felt a softness towards him. Robert didn’t seem to be showing off, he felt genuinely uncomfortable having someone watching over him. “That’s John. The… company insists on it.”

“You’re valuable then?” Aaron asked, curious in spite of himself.

“I’m… expensive to replace at work,” Robert said. There was something he wasn’t telling Aaron, but Aaron was too caught up in the flirtation, the look in Robert’s eyes, the curl of his lips to really focus on it. “There’s pool tables at the back. Do you want a game?”

Aaron knew there were tables here, he came here often. Clearly Robert had been here before too. “Fine,” Aaron said. “But I’ll beat you.”

Robert “hm”ed like he didn’t think so and Aaron smiled.

The rooms at the back of the bar were more private. Aaron liked that and clearly from the way Robert relaxed when they weren’t in public, he did too. Aaron wasn’t a good enough man to pretend he wasn’t admiring the way Robert’s body stretched across the pool table, the way his large hands handled the cue. He knew where tonight was heading, but he was also savouring it. The tension felt delicious and he enjoyed the way Robert's eyes looked at him. Robert looked good. He might have only been wearing jeans and a blue shirt, but they fit him perfectly, as if they’d been made for him. Maybe they had, Aaron reminded himself.

“Damn!” Robert miscued, sending the white flying and Aaron grinned. The game was his, if he concentrated. Three balls potted later and Aaron had won the game.

“Two out of three,” Robert said instantly. He was competitive then.

“I told you I’d win,” Aaron said, not biting,

“Go on,” Robert said, drawing himself up to his full height, voice gone soft. He was definitely flirting with him and Aaron bit his lip, enjoying the push and pull of it.

“You buy another round of drinks and I’ll set the table up again,” Aaron said. Robert smirked, disappearing to the bar. John, his shadow following behind him. John looked at Aaron strangely. “What?”

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” he said as he left. Aaron had no idea what he meant by that statement, but didn’t spend too long worrying about it. He was enjoying how the evening was progressing, and he wasn’t about to spoil it with overthinking.

At the bar, Robert quickly got served. “You’re being dangerous,” John said.

“Two beers please,” Robert said, ignoring this. 

“He doesn’t recognise you,” John pushed.

“I know,” Robert said. “Do you know how rare that is?”

“Yes,” John said. “I also know it won’t last forever, at some point your face is going to click, and he’s going to know you.”

“Add it to the tab,” Robert said, grabbing the bottles and turning away. A few people did turn their heads to look at him and Robert ignored that as well as John.

“Robert!” John hissed, grabbing his arm. “This is risky.”

“This is fun,” Robert said. “Remember that? Fun?”

“You know nothing about him,” John pushed.

“That’s part of the fun,” Robert said. “I’ve got a pool match to win.”

Robert won the second match easily, bringing it down to a third. Aaron had the shot to win the tiebreaker but he missed it, Robert sucking his breath in with a “ooh!” sound. 

“Shit,” Aaron said. He’d left a sitter for Robert to win.

“Do I even bother to take the final shot?” Robert teased.

“I can’t just let you have it,” Aaron said. “Go on, put me out of my misery.” Robert sunk the shot and grinned.

“Told you I’d win,” Robert said, smiling at him. Aaron was leaning against the edge of the pool table and suddenly Robert was in front of him, almost between his thighs, his face swimming in Aaron’s vision. Robert kissed him, making Aaron’s heart stop for a second. It was gentle, undemanding, like Robert was silently asking him “is this okay?” Aaron recognised that kind of kiss, the tentative way of being scared that the bloke you fancied wasn’t out, wasn’t comfortable with affection like this. The repercussions that could happen if the guy overreacted. It told Aaron that he’d done this before, but Aaron wasn’t one to shy away.

“Is that all you’ve got?” Aaron teased, smiling at him and this time Robert kissed him deeply, breathlessly. Aaron’s fingers ended up in Robert’s hair, pulling him closer. He closed his eyes, feeling Robert’s body against him everywhere. He felt so good.

“I have a hotel room,” Robert breathed against his neck.

“You were confident,” Aaron said and Robert smiled.

“Or we can go back to yours?” Robert said. Aaron shook his head quickly.

“Flat mate,” Aaron said. “I can’t. I don’t want an audience.”

“Then… the hotel?” Robert said. Aaron nodded.

“Sounds like a plan.” Robert’s hand slid from Aaron’s shoulder, down to his hand and squeezed gently.

Aaron wondered if the car was privately paid for, as it seemed to just appear from nowhere, and the driver knew John, Robert’s bodyguard too. Aaron mentally raised his estimate of Robert’s wealth by a couple of notches. Then a couple more as they bypassed the hotel desk and Robert instantly led the way to the room.

“I should recognise you, shouldn’t I?” Aaron said, once the door to the hotel room closed, unfortunately including John too.

“Probably,” Robert said. “I’m quite pleased that you don’t though.”

“Why’s he here?” Aaron said, nodding at John. The man in question got out some paperwork, leaving it on the table. Aaron frowned. “What’s this?” Robert looked uncomfortable.

“It’s just the paperwork,” he said. “It… basically it says you can’t go to the press.”

Aaron looked at Robert in disbelief. “You want me to sign a contract before we…”

“Want to? No,” Robert said. “But I have lawyers who insist on it. It just says you’re not going to sell the story to the papers. That’s all.”

“It’s a nondisclosure agreement, I’m not thick,” Aaron said. “This is kind of a mood killer, Robert.”

“Yeah,” Robert said sadly. “I know. Do you want to leave?”

Aaron hesitated. He could. He should. This… this was going to be so much more trouble than a quick screw was worth. But… Aaron badly wanted to stay. “I should go,” Aaron said. “But I’m not going to.” He signed the piece of paper without reading it, which was quickly scooped up by John, with a nod of the head as he left. “We’re done with that crap?”

“What do you want from room service?” Robert said. “To make it up to you.”

“A few beers wouldn’t go amiss,” Aaron said and Robert smiled, picking up his phone to order them. Once he’d got off the phone with room service, Aaron put his hand underneath Robert’s chin, making him look directly at him. “Who are you?” The face did niggle something in Aaron’s memory, but he couldn’t place it.

“I’ll tell you in the morning, if you’re still here,” Robert said. He closed his eyes, leaning forward for a kiss and Aaron groaned into it. His lips felt so good and Aaron didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world. He forgot the bloody paperwork, the fact Robert was clearly rich, and the feeling that he should recognise him, but somehow didn’t. Instead he focused on the way Robert’s fingers unzipped his hoodie, creeping under Aaron’s T shirt and stroking his skin. The way Robert’s mouth started kissing down his neck. Robert was good, and being honest, it’d been a while since Aaron had been intimate with someone. He forgot everything other than the way Robert touched him and kissed him. God, this was good.

Chapter Text

Robert woke first, the light cracking through the curtains in the morning. Aaron lay on his side towards him, mouth open as he snored quietly. They’d had sex twice, and it’d been… well, fantastic if Robert was being honest. Aaron had felt incredible. And it’d been the first time Robert had ever slept with someone who didn’t know who he was. It had occurred to him that maybe Aaron was lying, but he wasn’t. Robert just knew, he could tell. In the middle of the night Aaron’s hands had found his hips, asking for round two, which Robert had been more than up for.

There was a soft knock on the door and John appeared. “Robert, you’ve got the memorial service soon…”

“I know,” Robert said reluctantly. “I’m having a shower, can you get me a suit?” John nodded, leaving. Robert kissed Aaron’s shoulder, then went to have a very quick shower. As much as he didn’t want to leave Aaron alone in bed, he couldn’t go to the memorial service smelling of sex either. Vic would berate him for that.

Twenty minutes later John reappeared with Robert’s suit, closing the door to leave them alone again. The door click made Aaron stir and he squinted.


“Morning,” Robert said, kissing him softly across the bed.

“Hi,” Aaron said. “Last night happened then?”

“Yeah, my memory isn’t quite that colourful,” Robert said. Aaron smiled, picking up his phone to text Adam that he was fine, given that he didn’t come home last night.

“Somewhere you need to be?” Robert asked, making a coffee using the hotel supplies.

“Thought I’d let my flatmate know I hadn’t been mugged on the way home,” Aaron said. “Adam. He’s a friend.”

“Do I need to be jealous?” Robert asked.

“No,” Aaron said. “He’s very, very straight.”

“Good to know,” Robert said. He brought two mugs back to bed and Aaron smiled. 


“I’m going to have to go soon,” Robert said.

“It’s Sunday,” Aaron said.

“I don’t get days off,” Robert said. Aaron frowned.

“Go on,” Aaron said. “Who are you? I know you’re Someone.” Aaron definitely pronounced someone with a capital letter.

“Yeah, I am,” Robert said. He sipped his coffee then started to get dressed, Aaron watching him appreciatively.

“Who are you?” Aaron asked. “Did you lie about your name?”

“No,” Robert said. “It’s definitely Robert.” He sighed, knowing that when he told Aaron who he really was, this? It was probably over. Robert buttoned up his white shirt, leaving a couple undone at the throat. “I’m going to a memorial service for my brother today,” he said.

“Right,” Aaron said. “I’m sorry.” Robert shrugged, like it didn’t matter even though it did. “Where is it?”

“Westminster Abbey.”

The penny dropped. “Fuck me.”


“You lied to me.”

“No I didn’t,” Robert said. “You just didn’t recognise me.”

“I thought you were a trust fund kid,” Aaron said. “You’re not. You’re a bloody prince?!”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “Sorry about that.”

Aaron’s mind was reeling. Now that he’d said it, the resemblance was obvious. He did look more attractive in real life than his photos splashed all over the papers, but Aaron should have clicked. He didn’t expect the prince of the bloody country to turn up in a random bar looking for men to sleep with. It was so out of place that Aaron hadn’t put the connection together. Aaron couldn’t believe it. How the hell had this happened to him? “Aaron, don’t overreact.”

“Don’t overreact?!” Aaron snapped.

“Look, I can’t change who I am,” Robert said. “Why does it have to be complicated?”

“You’re the heir to the throne,” Aaron said, voice faint.

“Only recently,” Robert said, shrugging his jacket on, referencing his brothers death. Aaron started gathering his clothes, feeling stranded, naked in bed. He threw his underwear and a T shirt on. He also tried to ignore the way Robert looked at him. That wasn’t helping right now. In the cold light of day, no alcohol, no dim lights of a bar, Robert was still attracted to him. Aaron pushed that aside to focus on another day. No bloody wonder he’d had to sign a NDA. God, the risk! Aaron wasn’t the kind of person to go talking to the press, but Robert didn’t know that. To all public appearances Robert was straight. Aaron’s head was spinning.

“Hey,” Robert said, his hand coming around Aaron’s face, making him look at him. “Stop panicking. Nothing has changed.”

“Apart from everything,” Aaron said. “What… how… I don’t even know what I should say.”

“Be you,” Robert said. “Underneath all the crap, I am normal, you know?”

“You’re not normal,” Aaron said. “That’s the problem.” Robert sighed and looked at the floor.

“This is why I liked that you didn’t recognise me,” Robert said heavily. “I can’t thrash it out now, I have to go.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you do,” Aaron said. “This is insane.”

“Can’t we just be two people who liked each other? Why does it have to get complicated?”

“You know why,” Aaron said.

“Robert?” John knocked and peered around the door. 

“Go,” Aaron said.

“I want to see you again,” Robert said. Aaron didn’t reply as Robert went to the door.

“I’m handing you off to Peter, then I’m getting some sleep,” John said. “Go straight to the Abbey. I can’t deal with your sister or mother moaning at me for you being late.”

“Fine,” Robert said, leaving the room. Aaron was soon alone, thinking what the hell had just happened to him.

“I called you last night,” Vic said, as they hugged at the Abbey for the cameras. “You didn’t answer.”

“I was busy,” Robert said.

“What was her name?” Vic said.

“You’re right,” Robert said, referring to what he’d been doing. It was pointless lying, he was well known for going out and enjoying himself.

“You know, a psychologist might just put a connection between the death of your brother and going to screw whatever moves as a distraction.”

“Thank God I don’t see a psychologist then,” Robert said. “Leave it Vic.” To her credit, she did. They took their seats, Robert zoning out. He hated these kinds of events. Andy was dead, a memorial service a year after his death wasn’t going to bring him back. “It’s for mum,” Vic said, as if she was reading his mind. 

“I know,” Robert said. He did, and that's why he was behaving, why he left Aaron alone when he badly didn't want to. "I know it's for mum." As he said that, the trumpets started playing as their mother came in. She looked suitably sad for the occasion, though she did smile at both Vic and Robert. All of them knew the job right now. They could grieve on their own later.

Chapter Text

Aaron was left speechless after Robert’s disappearance to the abbey, staring at the closed hotel door. What the hell had just happened? Things like this happened in movies, they didn’t happen to real people. Certainly not nobodies like him. Aaron started to engage his brain again, thinking about the realities of waking up in a hotel after a one night stand. He called the front desk, asking about checkout time, and was left with a rather ominous “there is no check out time for your room.” Aaron didn’t delve further into that, choosing to ignore it, instead having a shower and getting dressed.

Before he left to go home, he had a thought. He quickly switched on the telly, finding the BBC. They usually got the royal crap didn’t they? He felt like a block of ice had slipped into his stomach at the thought of the word “royal.” Because this was insanity.

The BBC came on and the program was already focusing on Westminster Abbey, the rich and overly privileged arriving. There were lots of flowers littering the ground, and a large crowd of the public. More than half of them were wearing black. Aaron’s curiosity got the better of him and he perched on the edge of the bed, carrying on watching. The first person he truly recognised as she got out of the car (that Aaron recognised as a Rolls Royce he’d love to get his hands on) was Princess Victoria. She wore a knee length black dress and half a black veil over her face. Even being gay, Aaron could appreciate that she was drop dead gorgeous. It clearly ran in the family. What she wore probably cost more than Aaron would earn in a year. He cut off that thought as Robert arrived.

He’d added a black tie since he’d left the hotel, but otherwise looked exactly the same. Aaron felt idiotic for not recognising him. While he did look different in person rather than through a camera lens, not enough to make a significant difference. What kind of maniac didn’t recognise someone who literally lived in the palace?

Robert went up to his sister and hugged her before they went into the abbey. Aaron couldn’t help himself. He watched the whole service.

By the time Aaron got home, it was nearly two in the afternoon. Adam grinned at him from the sofa, pausing whatever he was playing on the playstation. “And I thought I got lucky eh?” he teased. “What time do you call this?”

“Half the tube’s closed because of the thing in Westminster,” Aaron said, kicking his shoes off. “Took ages to get here.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Adam said. “Who’s the lucky bloke?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Aaron said. “I’m not likely to ever see him again, so… drop it.” Wisely, Adam did.

Robert had his own apartment within the palace, to allow him some privacy in the middle of the circus. However, when he got home, instead he went to see his mother. Andy’s death had aged her. Rationally, Robert knew she was a little over sixty, but she really had started to look like it lately. “Robert!” she said, pleased to see him. As soon as the staff left them alone, Robert hugged her tightly. He’d been taller than her since he was fifteen, and now he had six inches on her. “I heard on the grapevine that you weren’t home last night.”

Robert rolled his eyes. “John or Vic?”

“I never reveal my sources,” Sarah said. “Were you careful?” Robert let her win this one.

“No camera’s, no press, no suspicion,” Robert said. “NDA signed, an approved hotel, everythings fine. We get a free pass this week anyway.”

“We won’t forever,” Sarah said. “Who is she?”

“Someone new,” Robert said smoothly.

“You really should settle down,” she said. “Find a nice girl, plenty would die to be with you.”

“Yeah, and we all see how well that worked out for Andy,” Robert said before he could stop himself. Sarah flinched. “Sorry.”

“Yeah,” she said. “So am I. Just take care of yourself, Robert. I worry.”

“I always do,” Robert said. “Try and sleep.” Sarah nodded, but they both knew she wouldn’t. He left and made his way to his own quarters. John was waiting for him there.

“Aaron,” Robert said. The person he hadn’t been able to get off his mind all day. That was unusual for him. Very. “Find him.”

“I suppose you didn’t get his number like a normal person?” John asked. “Of course not. Any other information?”

“He’s a mechanic,” Robert said. “He works with his uncle. I need to see him.” John nodded and Robert closed his eyes. He wouldn’t be able to explain why but he felt a need to see Aaron. It’d help him, God knows how, but he felt like it would. He couldn’t get Aaron out of his head.

It was Wednesday and Aaron had avoided all the news about the royals that he could. He’d half hoped that Robert would just appear in his life, but he hadn’t and Aaron felt stupid for wishing for it in the first place. It’d been a quick screw. Fantastic, satisfying, but nothing more. Robert wasn’t going to appear like a knight in shining armour. Aaron almost snorted at the mental picture that gave him. It’d been worse still when Adam reminded him that he didn’t have Robert’s phone number either. At the time Aaron had had other more important things on his mind, and contacting Robert again hadn’t even occurred to him.

“Oi, anyone in there?” Aaron looked at Cain. He hadn’t heard a word. “I’m going to have lunch with Moira. I’m leaving you in charge of the garage, all right?”

“Got it,” Aaron said briefly. The phone hadn’t rung all day, it’d been quiet. As Cain left, Aaron breathed a sigh of relief. He liked being on his own, it meant he could get on with work at his own pace.

“Hi.” Aaron jerked up from the engine he’d been looking at. He’d know that voice anywhere. “Do you know how many mechanics called Aaron there are in London?”

Aaron shook his head. Robert looked like he’d walked off a magazine cover, and here he was, covered in oil and grease, feeling woefully inadequate.

“I probably should search him,” John said from the doorway. Aaron hadn’t even noticed him standing there.

“Why?” Aaron said. “If I wanted to kill him, I’d just chuck that hammer at his head.” He looked at Robert. “Knowing your thick skull, it’d probably just bounce off anyway.” John laughed, making Robert glare at him, and he turned it into a hasty cough. He did however leave the two men alone.

“Risky, this,” Aaron said. “Meeting in a public place, broad daylight.”

“Yeah, I know,” Robert said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” It sounded like a line and Robert clearly knew it because he winced. “I mean it.”

“You’re straight,” Aaron said. He’d seen enough online to know that.

“Publicly,” Robert said. “For appearances. Come on, you know I’m not straight.” And it wasn’t Aaron’s business to question how Robert dealt with the publicity. Aaron shrugged.

“This can’t go anywhere,” Aaron said. “So why’re you here?”

“Because I want it to go somewhere,” Robert said. “If you don’t, say so and I’ll leave.” Aaron kept quiet. “Good.”

“I’m not an idiot though,” Aaron said. “I can work out that the year anniversary of your brothers death was the night you went out looking for easy sex.”

Robert didn’t deny it. “Yeah, that probably was the reason. It’s not the reason I’m back, looking for you.” Aaron didn’t say anything to that. Not much to say. “I’ll go,” Robert said into the awkward silence.

“No!” Aaron said instantly. "I don't want you to go, but... this is complicated."

"I know," Robert said. His hand slid around Aaron's waist and Aaron sighed, almost leaning into him. Robert's hands felt good, even through his overalls. "But... maybe it doesn't have to be."

Aaron sighed. "I'm not..." he failed to finish that sentence, Robert dipping his head to kiss him. It made Aaron's head swim, he felt incredible. Robert closed his eyes as he pulled back. 

"I have to go," Robert said. "Can I get your number?"

"You're lucky you're fit," Aaron said.

"And rich, and famous," Robert said.

"No," Aaron said. "Just fit." Robert smiled, he couldn't help it. With Aaron, he did actually believe that.

Chapter Text

Aaron text Robert relatively quickly. “Just checking if this is your actual phone number or if it's going through staff first.”

“It’s my real number,” Robert replied. Aaron grinned at the phone, he couldn’t help it.

“What’re we doing this weekend?” Aaron asked. “Have you got time?”

“Yeah, I’ve got time,” Robert replied. “I can send John to pick you up on Saturday night?”

Aaron thought about it, but at this point what did he have to lose? Robert found his work address, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to find his home address either. “Okay,” he replied.

“Can’t wait,” Robert said. “I’ll cook.” Aaron raised his eyebrows.

“You can cook?”

“I’m more than just a pretty face,” Robert replied and Aaron laughed out loud. He was looking forward to the weekend.

Robert had planned a night alone in one of the cottages he had access to. It had a lot of privacy which was his number one priority. He planned what to cook, but even so he felt nervous. He hoped Aaron would show. He didn’t do this, get nervous over dates, but he still was. For Gods sake, you’ve already slept with him. Calm down.

John had gone to pick Aaron up. Robert didn’t want to call any further attention if he didn’t have to by turning up himself. Robert checked the oven and the lasagne was coming along nicely. Just before Aaron arrived, he checked his reflection in the mirror. He looked good, even if Robert thought it himself. Blue shirt and jeans, hair done the way he liked. Yeah, he’d definitely do.

One single knock on the door and Aaron and John came in. John nodded at Robert once with a “I’ll see you tomorrow” and then he left. Aaron looked uncomfortable.

“Hi,” Robert said.

“I don’t like being picked up like an illegal drug drop,” Aaron said. Robert laughed.

“I know,” he said. “Needs must.” Aaron shrugged. He looked really uncomfortable and there was an awkwardness between them. “Make yourself at home.”

“Are we alone?” Aaron asked. He meant properly. No John, no guards, no one. 

“Yes,” Robert said. “It’s just us.” Aaron nodded. While the house wasn’t ridiculously luxurious, it was very well put together and almost exclusive looking. Aaron felt like he couldn’t touch anything, like put his dirty hands all over the back of the dove grey sofa. “A drink?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said, watching as Robert poured the red wine. “You got a beer?”

“Yeah,” Robert said, grabbing one out of the fridge, opening it and passing it to Aaron. Their fingers brushed and Robert looked at him.

“Cheers.” Aaron cleared his throat. “What’re we having?”

“Lasagne,” Robert said.

“Sounds good,” Aaron said. “How are you?”

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Robert said. He put his hand on Aaron’s waist and kissed him gently. It did make some of the awkwardness disappear between them. “You look good.” He did. The deep purple hoodie suited him and Robert’s fingers were itching to get underneath it, to touch his skin. But there was time for that later.

“Are you working tomorrow?” Robert asked.

“No,” Aaron said. “It’s Sunday. Why?”

“Wondering how long I’ve got you for,” Robert said. “Before real life gets in the way.”

“A while,” Aaron said.

“Perfect,” Robert said, sipping his wine. Something about the low tone made Aaron shiver. He was under no illusions, he knew they were going to end up in bed together, and he was looking forward to it.

Robert served their meal and Aaron was surprised, because it really was delicious. “I had no idea you could cook,” Aaron said.

“I’ve got hidden depths,” Robert said. “My mum taught me. She still likes to cook, even though neither of us get to do it that often.”

“Somehow I can’t imagine that,” Aaron said.

“I remember when we were little,” Robert said. “Mum kicked everyone out of the kitchen, and me, Vic and… Andy, we just created a mess as she cooked with us. Baking at first, but then me and Vic got into more extravagant things.”

“Do you think about Andy a lot?”

“I shouldn’t have been the heir,” Robert said. “He was. Andy drove me up the wall and he wasn’t my favourite person, but I still miss him. And he was the older brother, so he did take a little bit of the pressure off of me.”

“I remember when he died,” Aaron said. “Is it true, what they said in the news?”

“Pretty much,” Robert said. “He adored Katie, worshipped her. They were sweethearts, got married, the country and the world celebrated that. He seemed stupidly happy. She got pregnant, everyone was delighted. No one more than me, it pushing my place in succession down a notch or two.” Robert shook his head. “It was a dangerous pregnancy. After about two months she was on permanent bed rest. But even the best doctors couldn’t save the baby, and when she gave birth, prematurely, Katie bled out. They just… they couldn’t save her. Andy was devastated. Not that I blame him, losing his wife and his baby all in one go. He couldn’t cope. About a month later he slipped his bodyguards and drove his car off a cliff into a quarry. And here we are.”

Aaron reached for his hand. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “It was a shock to all of us. It was a lot.” Robert narrowed his eyes. “Have you been looking me up? To find out my family history?”

“I might have,” Aaron said. “Well, I need some background information, considering I didn’t even bloody recognise you at first.”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “I liked that. Who did you think I was?”

“Some rich lazy trust fund kid,” Aaron said.

“Thanks,” Robert said sarcastically. Aaron laughed.

“How did you know you were gay?” Aaron asked. “How long, I guess.”

“I’m not gay,” Robert said, pouring the wine. “I’m bi.” Aaron nodded, thinking about it.

“Same question.” Robert smiled.

“I went to an all boys boarding school,” Robert said. “I suppose it didn’t take long.”

“How…” Aaron tried again. “How do the press not know?”

“Well, at boarding school… they’re all upper class kids who don’t want it getting out any more than I do,” Robert said. “After that… I’m careful.”

“Picking up strangers at a bar isn’t careful,” Aaron said.

“It is when the bars already been vetted,” Robert said. “The CCTV doesn’t go online, it’s only for the bar, and they delete it every week. Plus you get searched before you go in, so I know no ones armed.”

Aaron shook his head. His life was so crazy. “Have you never been caught?”

“Once,” Robert said. The press knows I like to go out and have a good time. I get a certain amount of leeway, but yeah. One photographer did catch me with a guy about a year ago. Just after Andy died.”

“What happened?”

“I was lucky,” Robert said. “He was about sixty, the photographer,” he added at Aaron’s raised eyebrows. “He was just working out until his retirement. He didn’t want a big scoop, all the attention. He was quite happy to accept the money to delete the photos and enjoy early retirement. But I did get lucky.” Robert nodded at Aaron’s plate. “Eat up. We’ve got dessert yet.” Aaron smiled.

 As was inevitable, they ended up in bed. Somehow when they were touching each other, things felt easier. They didn’t think about the massive gulf between their lives, how complicated things could get, just let their bodies take control.

At three in the morning, Aaron woke up. Roberts bed was supremely comfortable, but even so, Aaron found himself awake. He rolled over but found the bed empty. Squinting, he found Robert at the window, staring out into the darkness. Aaron got up and wrapped his arms around Robert’s waist, kissing between his shoulders. “You okay?”

“I’m thinking,” Robert said, though he leaned back into the warmth of Aaron’s body anyway.

“Don’t strain yourself,” Aaron said. Robert laughed.

“You feel good,” Robert said. “Too good.”

“What does that mean?” Aaron said.

Robert turned to face him. “I keep thinking I’ll get you out of my system, but… I just want more of you.”

“Selfishly, I’m pleased with that,” Aaron said. Robert smiled. 

“You’re going to be trouble, I can tell,” Robert said.

“I’m not the one who searched out the garage where I worked to ask for my number,” Aaron said. “Are you having second thoughts?”

“No,” Robert said. “My life is a mess though, it’s going to be complicated.”

“I know,” Aaron said. “I don’t pretend to know everything about this, but I’m not an idiot. I know your… job isn’t normal.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Robert said, sighing. “I’ve got a lot of appointments this week, but can we meet in the hotel?”

“Yes,” Aaron said instantly.

“I’ll message you when I’ve got time,” Robert said. “Please don’t…”

“Don’t what?” Aaron asked.

“Think I’m too much work and stop answering your phone,” Robert said. “I really like you, and I don’t want to lose you to the chaos that’s my life.”

“I’ll always pick up the phone,” Aaron said. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

“John’s taking you home,” Robert said in the morning. Aaron scoffed.

“I don’t need him,” he said. "I'm a big boy, I can get home by myself."

“I’ve got a dozen security,” Robert said. “Please, humour me. I want you safe.”

Aaron begrudgingly agreed, though his face told Robert he wasn’t happy. “Thank you,” Robert said. “I’ll text you.” Aaron nodded and kissed Robert gently, just a little peck really, before he followed John to the car.

It was quiet in the car, between the pair of them, Aaron uncomfortable, but tired enough to let someone else drive him through central London. “I bet you hate me,” Aaron said.

“No?” John said, frowning. “Why would I hate you?”

“I’m…” Aaron thought about how to phrase it. “A complication.”

John laughed. “I’ve followed Robert for more than ten years,” John said. “Ever since he was sixteen and started sneaking into nightclubs his mother wouldn't have approved of. His whole life is complicated. You’re the tip of the iceberg.”

Aaron smiled. “I’m sure you’d prefer it if Robert was seeing a woman.”

“Definitely not,” John said. His tone surprised Aaron.


“Women are…” he sighed. “Generally, with Robert’s position, women are far more difficult to manage. Plus you have the added worry of pregnancy scares, which I could really do without. Women talk to their friends, men… again, generally, the men Robert goes for tend to be either closeted or want their business kept private. I prefer it when Robert goes for men. It makes the management easier.”

While Aaron could see the sense of this, he didn’t like being described as a problem to be “managed.” He couldn’t imagine having to follow Robert around for so many years. Though his emotions were starting to get tangled, and he didn’t like being described as a problem.

“So,” Aaron said. “What’s the script now?” John didn’t understand. “How does it go after we’ve met up a few times?”

“I don’t know,” John said. “Robert’s previous girlfriends were all public. Upper class and he’d met through official functions. This? I have no idea how it goes.”

“What, you mean he’s never gone back to someone he met for a one night stand?” Aaron said. John didn’t answer, but the look on his face spoke volumes.

After Aaron left, Robert met up with Laura. She was the woman who arranged his diary, made sure he wasn’t double booked and everything went smoothly. Ever since he became a full time working royal, Laura had been in charge of his appointments, and she did her job very well.

“Tell me it’s not a busy week,” Robert said.

“Ask me another question,” Laura said and Robert sighed. “Who is she then? The woman you want to skive and meet up with?”

“You’re right,” Robert said. It was pointless to deny it. “Give me a night off this week. Pick one, I don’t care which one.”

“Fine,” Laura said, going through the paperwork. “You’re visiting a mental health charity on Wednesday, but that’s your only appointment, so, that nights free.”

“Perfect, I’ll take it,” Robert said quickly. “Is that one that’s being opened in Andy’s memory?”

“Yep,” she said. “You’re okay with that?”

“I’d prefer to do something more interesting, but yeah, it’s fine,” Robert said, already mentally planning his night with Aaron.

“Well, if you’re after more interesting…” Laura said. Robert nodded at her to go on. “The UK government are requesting a royal to go a tour of Ireland in the Autumn. Do you want to go?”

“Couldn’t they have picked somewhere hotter?” Robert said. “How long?”

“Three or four days,” Laura said. “Your name came up, but we can send Vic if you don’t want to take it.”

“I’ll talk to her about it,” Robert said. If his sister wanted to go to Ireland, he wasn’t about to take the opportunity from her. But if she didn’t, he could see himself being stuck with the duty. Oh well. Time for that later. “What’ve I got today?”

“A meeting with some of the bigwigs at the FA,” she said. “Given that you’re the nice shiny patron.”

“Cheers,” Robert said. “God, I’m tired.”

“You should spend your nights sleeping then, shouldn’t you?” Laura said, teasing him. “Do you like her?”

Robert thought about it for a second. “Yes,” he said very simply. “A lot.”

Something John said bothered Aaron. He knew he shouldn't, but when he got home he googled Robert's previous girlfriends. Only two came up in the image search. He didn't recognise either of them, names or faces. One had a French name, Coralie Laurent. She looked very chic and a few photos were obviously in Paris. She was very pretty. As Aaron kept searching, he found a few names that had been linked with Robert, rumours and such but no pictures. And certainly no men. Robert was right then, he had been careful. But that didn't stop Aaron being jealous of these two women. Beautiful, perfect fit for Robert. Aaron was hardly who everyone in the country would picture being a good match for Robert.

"Oi," Adam said, Aaron putting his phone away. "Out all night?"

“I’ve screwed up,” Aaron said.

“Okay,” Adam said. “What?”

“I’m sleeping with someone I really shouldn’t be,” Aaron said.

“Why, what’s wrong with him?” Adam asked. Aaron stayed silent, biting his bottom lip. “Go on, you can’t tell me half a story.”

“He’s famous,” Aaron said. “I really… It’s a massive mistake”

“Who is it?” Adam asked, curiosity getting the better of him. “Is he out?”

“No,” Aaron said. “And I can’t tell you who it is. I really can’t. I’ve signed something to say I can’t mention his name.” Aaron wouldn’t have told him anyway. Adam was a mate, a good one, but this? It felt too big.

“Bloody hell, who is it?” Adam asked eagerly.

“Who is it is not the problem,” Aaron said. It was a problem, just not the one he was thinking of right now. “It can’t go anywhere. He’s… in a different world to me and I’m just me. Sat here and I can’t stop thinking about him.”

“That’s the problem?” Aaron nodded.

“God yeah,” Aaron said. “He’s… complicated. I’ve seen him again, but… it feels like a disaster waiting to happen.”

“You don’t know that,” Adam said fairly. “He might like someone a bit downmarket for a change.” Aaron shoved his elbow into Adam’s side and he laughed.

“Go on, who is it?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Aaron said. Even if he hadn’t signed that contract, he wouldn’t have told him. Adam was a mate, but this could make front pages around the world. Whenever he thought of that possibility, it made his head spin.

Of course, Aaron agreed to meet at the hotel on Wednesday. When they met, they ended up in bed very quickly. Afterwards Aaron rolled over onto his back and winced.

“What’s wrong?” Aaron said.

“I’ve been bending over a car engine all day,” Aaron said. “My back just hurts a bit.”

“Roll over,” Robert said. Aaron went onto his front, Robert straddling his hips as he started to massage him.

“Oh, God, that’s good,” Aaron said, Robert’s wonderful hands warm on his back.

“You’re not a Londoner,” Robert said quietly. “Why’re you in the city?”

“How do you know I’m not a Londoner?” Aaron asked.

“I just do,” Robert said.

“I’m from Yorkshire,” Aaron said. “My mums still there, she owns a pub up there.”

“How did you find yourself here then?” Robert asked. He was curious about Aaron’s history, and though he could find out everything about him if he wanted to and asked his staff, he wanted Aaron to tell him himself.

“My mate Adam,” Aaron said. “His parents owned a farm up there, and they wanted to pass it on to him. Adam wanted to live a little first, he didn’t want to be tied in to five a.m. starts. He asked me if I wanted to go to London with him.”

“Why did you say yes?” Robert asked. Aaron sighed. “You don’t have to tell me.”

“No, it’s fine,” Aaron said. “There was a lot of history for me in the village. Being gay in such a small place, I didn’t like the attention. In London, no one cares. And then… Adam set the garage on fire.”


“He was going through a lot,” Aaron said. “It’s not my story, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, the insurance paid out quite a lot, and Cain leased a garage down here. I know he’s only here to keep an eye on us, but I don’t mind. I badly needed to get out of there. Plus it was a job automatically.”

“Why?” Robert asked again. “Why did you need to leave?”

“I had a boyfriend who died,” Aaron said. “Too many memories.”

“I’m sorry,” Robert said. “I wouldn’t have pushed.”

“It’s alright,” Aaron said. “I don’t… I don’t mind thinking of Jackson these days. He… oh, it doesn’t matter. I do miss him sometimes.” Robert felt a brief sting of jealousy but he didn’t mention it. A bit pointless to be jealous of a dead man.

“Does your back feel better?” Robert asked.

“Yes,” Aaron said honestly. Robert kissed the back of his neck and Aaron sighed into sleep. Robert got off him and pulled the duvet up so he’d stay warm and stroked his hair.

“God, I’m falling for you,” Robert said quietly. “You are trouble.”

Chapter Text

Aaron had never particularly enjoyed being touched when he was half asleep and just waking up. It left him feeling too vulnerable. But with Robert, somehow it felt different. Maybe it was because when they woke up, Aaron knew the time was limited and precious before Robert had to go back to his life and his reality. Aaron woke up with Robert’s hand drifting across his shoulder, then into his hair, fingers tangling in the curls.

“Morning,” Robert said, feeling Aaron wake up. He curled into Robert, all soft and warm and Aaron didn’t want to move from this hotel bed. “Don’t get comfy.”

“Why?” Aaron asked. Robert looked at his watch.

“I reckon John’s going to walk in in five minutes,” Robert said. “I’m late.”

“Then… get up?” Aaron suggested.

“It’s only a meeting with my mother,” Robert said. “She can wait. It’s not going to make a scene if I don’t show. Not in public anyway.”

“You don’t want to argue with your mum,” Aaron said.

“Oh well,” Robert said. And to be honest, Aaron didn’t want Robert to go, so he stopped arguing.

“You know,” Aaron said. “If we’re going to take advantage of your position…”

“Oh yeah, what do you want?” Robert said, amused.

“You’ve got guards everywhere,” Aaron said. “One of them could bring us a couple of coffees when we wake up.” Robert laughed.

“That’s what you want?” Robert said. He was used to people he got close to asking for favours, it almost always happened. And it was very… Aaron to ask for something so simple. He was very unmaterialistic, in a way that no one Robert had ever known before was. “I could probably arrange that.” Robert rolled on top of Aaron and kissed him deeply, Aaron’s arms coming around him and holding him tight.

As Robert had predicted, John knocked and came in. “Robert?” 

“I’m not going,” Robert said, carrying on. The bedsheets were covering anything too revealing anyway.

“Robert, I can’t tell your mother that you didn’t turn up because you refused to leave this hotel room,” John said.

Aaron pushed Robert's shoulder. “Go on. Go.”

Robert’s forehead hit Aaron’s shoulder. “I don’t want to.”

“Stop sounding like you’re fifteen,” Aaron said, pushing Robert off him. “Go on, I can’t be the reason you stop your job.”

“Easy for you to say when you get to stay in bed,” Robert said.

“Oh yeah?” Aaron said. “If you think my life’s so easy, you get stuck under a car for ten hours a day, see how easy it is then?” 

“Okay, that’s a point,” Robert admitted.

“I know you’d rather be here. I want you here, but I know that’s not how it works. See your mum,” Aaron said. “Although, I’d like a coffee,” Aaron added to John who smiled at him, a genuine small smile as he left. Aaron watched as Robert got dressed, having no intention of moving off the mattress.

“You smug git,” Robert said.

“Yeah,” Aaron said without shame. “A good night, good sex, a lay in, and I’m even getting coffee hand delivered.” Robert laughed. His clean white shirt from the wardrobe was left open a couple of buttons and Robert leaned over Aaron as John returned, kissing him deeply.

“Sod off,” Aaron said warmly. Robert smiled and left, being handed over to a driver. John stood there, putting a Costa coffee cup on the bedside table. “Aren’t you going with him?”

“No,” John said. “I’ve been on shift all night, I need some sleep.”

“Why guard him all night? I’m not going to kill him.”

“It’s not you I’m worried about,” John said. “There are a lot of people who’d enjoy hurting the establishment.”

“When did you stop being worried about me?” Aaron asked, choosing to ignore that “threatening the establishment” line. Because he couldn’t pull at that thread, he’d go crazy.

“I’m not sure,” John said. “I just… don’t worry about you. I get a good feeling from you.”

“That… is not reassuring,” Aaron said.

“Oh well,” John said. “Night.”

“Morning,” Aaron said as he left. The coffee was hot and delicious.

“Hi mum, can we make this quick?” Robert said in greeting. They had, ever since Andy’s death, made a point that they had a family meeting, just to check in with each other at least once a month, sometimes more. She didn’t want to lose another child, so she felt like she needed to check in with them more often. Vic was already there, stretched out on the sofa, eyebrow raised at Robert.

“You’re late,” Vic said.

“You’re lucky I turned up at all,” Robert said.

“Who’s the better offer then?” Sarah asked. “I’m not stupid, I know there’s someone.”

Robert glared at Vic. “Don’t look at me. You keep disappearing, she was bound to notice.”

“Just give me a name,” Sarah said. “I understand you keeping it quiet, but not from me. Unless there’s something wrong with her.”

“Would you believe me if I said she was shy?” Robert tried. Vic snorted. “She’s a commoner, and I don’t want to discuss it anymore, because I really want to go back to the hotel right now, and not be here.”

“Charming brotherly love, that,” Vic said, still glaring at him.

“Leave me alone,” Robert said. “I’ll tell you when I’m ready. I’m taking all the precautions, John barely leaves me for a moments peace, okay?”

Robert called Vic the next day. “Hi, you got a minute?”

“Yeah,” she said. “What’s up?”

“Do you want to go to Ireland?” Robert asked. “For work?”

“Er… no, not really,” she said after a moment. “Why?”

“One of us has to go,” Robert said. “I can take it, it’s fine.”

“When is it?”

“September,” Robert said. “Why?”

“You could make it your first official outing with your new girl,” Vic said. Robert stayed silent. “I know there’s someone hanging around.”

“Yeah, there is someone, but… that won’t happen.”

“Why?” Vic asked. “What’s wrong with her?”

“It’s… too difficult to explain on the phone. Anyway, September’s ages away. We might not even be together by then.”

“She’s not the type to go to the press is she?”

“No,” Robert said surely. “Definitely not.”

“The journalists are going to pick up on the fact you have someone,” Vic said. “Sooner or later, they’re going to realise you’ve stopped going to clubs and bars, and they’re going to ask why.”

“Later it is then,” Robert said. “Leave it Vic. I know what I’m doing.” He didn’t. Not by a long shot did he have a clue what he was playing at, but he didn’t want her to worry on top of everything else. “What’re you doing?”

“Dress shopping,” she said. “We’ve got that banquet with the French ministers on Saturday.”

Shit. Robert had forgotten that and he’d made arrangements with Aaron. Damn it. “You have to go, Robert," she said to his silence.

“I know,” he said.

“You had plans, didn’t you?” Vic said.

“Yep,” Robert said.

“You could bring her,” Vic suggested.

“Yeah, right,” Robert said sarcastically. “Lets just throw the sharks at… her.” He hesitated just a fraction of a second, making sure not to let a “him” slip.” He’d planned a nice dinner for Aaron in a restaurant. He’d organised it perfectly, they had their own private room. Aaron would hate something too luxurious, so it was a relatively homely restaurant with good food and better beer, and John had already checked the CCTV situation and that no journalists or paparazzi could get to them. He should have known it was too good to be true. “I’ve got to go,” Robert said. He hung up, then called Aaron.

“Hi,” he said warmly.

“I’ve got to cancel Saturday,” Robert said. “I’m sorry.”

“Right,” Aaron said. “Why?”

“I forgot about a banquet I have to be at,” he said. “I’d much rather be with you, but I can’t.”

“Yeah, right,” he said sarcastically.

“No, I would,” he said. “You’re far better company than those stuffy arses. The only one there I can bear is Vic.”


“My sister,” Robert said.

“Oh, of course,” Aaron said. He’d temporarily forgotten Robert’s sister. “We could move it to Friday night instead?”

“I can’t,” Robert said with regret. "I'm already busy."

“Oh,” Aaron said.

“I want to see you before the banquet. I’ll have… maybe twenty minutes but I want to see you.”

“Okay,” Aaron said. “I want to see you too.”

“Good,” Robert said.

Aaron had text Robert, letting him know that Adam had left the flat. Thank God, because Aaron really didn’t fancy going to the hotel just for a glimpse of Robert which would be far too brief.

When he did arrive, Robert looked breathtaking, so much so that Aaron’s mouth hung open for a few seconds. “You look… wow,” Aaron said. Robert didn’t say anything, just put his hands on Aaron’s waist and kissed him. Aaron kissed along his jaw before whispering in his ear “God, I want to fuck you right now.”

Robert laughed. “I’m going to hold you to that one,” he said and Aaron smiled.

“You really have to go?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Aaron said. “I’m not thick, I know that you have obligations.” Robert closed his eyes, forehead resting against Aaron’s as his fingers started to push Aaron’s hoodie up, stroking his bare skin.

“Uhuh,” Aaron said. “You’re not turning me on, then leaving.”

“Spoil sport,” Robert said without heat. “You don’t know how much I want you.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Aaron said. “Call me after the banquet thing.”

“It’ll end late.”

“Call anyway,” Aaron said. “I’d…” he wanted to hear Robert’s voice, but didn’t quite know how to say it. Voicing his feelings had never been easy for him. “Please.”

“All right,” Robert said.

“Robert, we’ve got to go,” John said, knocking on the door once and looking at the pair of them. Aaron hadn’t even known John was here, but of course Robert wouldn’t be here alone. “The cars waiting.”

“Okay,” Robert said. He kissed Aaron once more before leaving, filled with regret.

True to his word, Robert did call Aaron after the banquet. Robert was well on his way to drunk and Aaron was very dozy so it was hardly a thrilling conversation, but Aaron was pleased nonetheless.

“It’s late,” Peter said. “What do you want?”

“Hang on, Jenn’s not here yet,” John said. They waited and within five minutes, Jenn came into the small room, one of the hidden nooks in the palace that security tended to use for meetings.

“What do you want?” Jenn asked. While John was in charge of all things related to Robert’s security, Jenn and Peter were the ones who also looked after Robert when John wasn’t on shift. He trusted both of them implicitly.

“We need a plan,” John said.

“For what?”

“This Aaron,” John said. “He isn’t going anywhere.”

“You don’t know that,” Jenn said. “It’s only been a few weeks.”

“When’s the last time Robert kept going back to someone?” John said. “It’s not like this is routine for him, you both know that.” John sighed. “You’ve been guarding him, do you think this ones different?”

“Yeah, I do,” Jenn said. “He is. I don’t know why, he doesn’t look like much to me, but he clearly does to Robert.”

“What do you suggest?” Pete asked.

“We need to be prepared,” John said. “The longer this carries on, the more likely it is the media are going to catch on, or get photos, or… something. They will find out eventually, and we need to be prepared for when they do.”

“You’re right,” Peter said. “Aaron is different to the others. Could we get rid of him?”

“No,” John said. “That wouldn’t solve the long term problem would it? If it wasn’t Aaron, it’d be someone else. All of us getting sacked won’t help.”

“What do we do?”

John felt old. It was going to be bad, he knew that. “Prepare for a media storm like you’ve never seen before.”

Chapter Text

Aaron looked in the mirror one more time, just to check he looked good. He was going on a date with Robert, a proper one and he didn’t know where they were going. Robert had just told him “casual’s fine.” But then Aaron didn’t know if his definition of casual even came in the same country as Roberts.

“Getting serious then?” Adam said from the sofa.

“No,” Aaron said. “But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Are you going to tell me who he is yet?” Adam asked.

“No,” Aaron said. “I will when it’s all over.”

“It might not be over,” Adam said fairly.

“Come on,” Aaron said. “What’s he going to want with me hanging around him permanently?” He sighed.  “Anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know,” Aaron said. “His driver’s picking me up. It’s a surprise apparently.”

“Aaron, just be careful,” Adam said. “Don’t let him use you.” Aaron frowned, but it seemed like a strange warning.

“I’ve got to go,” Aaron said, grabbing his phone.


Aaron didn’t know where he was being driven to, but it looked like a tourist trap in central London. Not exactly where he’d picture Robert when he didn’t want attention. But Aaron just closed his eyes in the backseat of the car and waited. He trusted by now that he’d be… well, delivered to Robert for lack of a better description. Aaron didn’t like being treated like this, but he understood why it was necessary.

What surprised him was the driver stopping him outside The Shard. Aaron looked at him questioningly, but the driver just nodded and Aaron got out of the car, seeing John who he made a beeline for. “Where is he?”

“Upstairs,” John said, walking through the entrance, Aaron following. “He’s had to pull some strings.”

“What, closing the entire building to the public?” Aaron said in disbelief. One look at John’s face and Aaron realised that’s exactly what he’d done. “He’s crazy.”

“He’s used to getting what he wants,” John said. They bypassed the eerily empty ticket desks and headed to the lift. Aaron had been here once before, when he’d just arrived in London and was doing all the touristy things with Adam. Back then it’d been manic with people. Now there was no one in the place other than Robert’s security, it felt very empty.

“Top floor,” John said.

“You’re staying here?” Aaron asked.

“Robert wanted to be alone,” John said. “It’s not my company he wants. It’s safe, we’ve triple checked the building. Aaron pressed the button in the lift, and on the journey up he marvelled at how strange his life had become. How had he done this? Managed to close off one of London’s landmarks, just so he could have a date with the Prince of the country? God, it made his head spin. It didn’t make any rational sense how he’d ended up like this.

The lift dinged, opening up on the viewing floor and Robert was waiting there. If Aaron didn’t know better he’d say Robert looked nervous. “You’ve closed off the entire building?” Aaron asked, Robert kissing him hello.

“Well, I didn’t have many alternatives,” Robert said. “I want some time with you that’s not sneaking around or in that hotel room. As much as I like that hotel room.” Aaron rolled his eyes, but good natured.

“You do realise your life is insane, don’t you?” Aaron said.

“Yeah, but,” Robert said. “My diary is full of appointments for other people. Charities, things I have to do. Occasionally I want to use my position for my own benefit.” Robert hesitated. “Or is this your way of telling me you hate the surprise and don’t like the view?”

“Rob, come on,” Aaron said. “This is amazing, but…” Robert’s face dropped at the but “I still don’t know what you want with me. You could have anyone, why’d you keep coming back to me?”

“Because I want you,” Robert said. “I can’t explain it, but I just can’t stop thinking about you. I haven’t felt like this about anyone in ages. If you want out, just say.”

“I don’t, of course I don’t,” Aaron said. “But this? It’s a lot.”

“I know,” Robert said. He turned to the bar area, also closed but with a cooler there. He grabbed Aaron a beer and Aaron smiled. For the first time he started to relax and he looked at the view. London at night, from this high up looked so pretty, the lights twinkling. Particularly having Robert to himself, that he appreciated too. “Calming down now?” Robert asked, his hands around Aaron’s waist.

“Just a bit,” Aaron said.

“What do you like about being a royal?” Aaron asked. He was curious, because right now they’d only discussed the negative aspects of it. But here, alone on the top floor of The Shard, Aaron could see that there must be some advantages.

“The travel’s pretty good,” Robert said. “I do enjoy that. The lack of money worries, financial security.”

“Yeah, but other than that,” Aaron said. “I’m trying to get to know you better.”

“The horses,” Robert said, surprising him. “The stables, I mean.”

“You like horses?”

“You know about my dad?” Robert asked.

“Er, vaguely,” Aaron said. The Queen, Robert’s mother, had married a commoner, and worse, a farmer. She’d been the first one in the monarchy to ever pull it off successfully, but Jack had never exactly been popular with the public. Jack had died when the kids were teenagers of a heart problem.

“He was a farmer. He always missed it,” Robert said. “Something must have passed on to me, because I do like the stables. The horses… yeah. That’s a perk I like.”

“Do you miss him?” Aaron asked. “Your dad.”

“No,” Robert said. “It sounds bad to say, but… no. Him and my mum… I don’t ever remember them getting on. A few years before he died, they were living separately. We didn’t get to see him very often. Even without the… obligations, I preferred living with mum at the time. Me and Vic got the choice. Andy didn’t, because he was the heir, he had to stay with mum. Ironic really, since he always got on better with dad. Not that it matters now, they’re both gone.”

“Do you get on with Vic?” Robert mentioned her quite often, she seemed to be on his mind a lot.”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “She’s my baby sister, you know? I’m protective of her. Probably too much.” Robert sighed as they fell into silence.

“You know what,” Aaron said, looking out over the city. “This is a pretty impressive date.” Robert smiled.

They ended up at the hotel as they usually did. Aaron woke up with a start at three in the morning, Robert’s arm draped over his waist. He didn’t know what had woken him, but his heart was racing. Had he had a nightmare? He felt hot and he shifted so Robert’s arm wasn’t over him, getting out of bed. He opened the window for some fresh air, wondering why he felt so unsettled.

Robert muttered in his sleep and Aaron looked at him, but he didn’t wake. God, he loved him. The thought made Aaron freeze. No, don’t go that way. It’s been… Aaron counted backwards in his head. Six weeks. Six weeks of meeting up in hotel rooms, trying to grab any spare moment together that they could. Six weeks was not enough to fall completely in love with someone. And he was a Prince on top of all of that. It couldn’t be happening. You cannot be in love with him, Aaron told himself silently. No, it couldn’t be happening. But another little voice inside him said “but what if you are?”

Aaron couldn’t be here. He quickly got dressed, wanting to make his escape, trying to fend off the panic. This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t fall in love with Robert, he was leagues above him. This… no. He was about to leave and he looked at Robert. He felt the urge to thread his fingers through his hair, but he didn’t. Aaron didn’t want to wake him up. Instead he left the hotel, quickly going home.


Chapter Text

Robert woke up to a cold bed. He put his hand over the sheets, frowning. No note, and no text on his phone. He felt a sense of foreboding. This wasn’t good, but he couldn’t explain why. Robert quickly dressed before leaving the hotel room, almost literally bumping into John. He didn’t waste time with preamble.

“When did he leave?” Robert asked.

“About half three in the morning,” John said, Robert's heart sinking. “He went home.”

“He told you that?” Robert asked.

“No,” John said. “But I’m not an idiot. I had some of my guys follow his taxi, because I knew you’d ask in the morning. Plus having him kidnapped wouldn’t help anything.”

“Didn’t you try and stop him?” Robert asked. John just glared at him. Robert sighed.

“Get me a car, I’m going over there.”

“You’re crazy,” John said. “It’s the middle of rush hour in London, it’ll take ages.”

“John?” Robert said. “Get me a car.”

Aaron had barely slept and he knew he looked terrible, the dark circles under his eyes almost glowing. He couldn’t stop thinking of Robert. He shouldn’t have run out of there, but he was panicking. It was too serious too quickly. Robert was too unobtainable. But it’s too late, a voice said in Aaron’s head, one he pushed aside.

Adam was making himself some toast, wearing only his boxers and looking like he’d got more sleep than Aaron had. “You want some toast?”

“No,” Aaron said.

“Oh dear,” Adam said, voice all sing song. “You’ve had an argument with your rich and famous boyfriend?”

“Not exactly.”

Adam’s voice lost the teasing tone to it. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Aaron said. “I just know it can’t go anywhere and… it hurts. To know that.”

“Mate,” Adam said. “It might be better to get shot of him.”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “But I’ve fallen for him and I really shouldn’t have.” Aaron shrugged. There was a knock on the door and Aaron sighed, moving to get it.

Aaron felt like he’d been electrocuted. Robert stood there, on his doorstep, one guard accompanying him. “What the hell are you doing here?” Aaron said.

Adam had turned around, looking at the door, mouth gaping open in shock. “I wanted to talk to you," Robert said.

“I have a phone,” Aaron said, shaking his head. “God, the risk… If you’re seen…”

“I know,” Robert said. “I didn’t care. Have you got a minute?”

“Adam,” Aaron said. “Shut your mouth and disappear.” To his credit, he did.

Robert breathed out with relief when they were alone. “I woke up and you weren’t there,” he said simply.

“I know,” Aaron said, shrugging. “I just…” Aaron didn’t know how to say it.

“Do you want me to go?”

“No,” Aaron said, because he didn’t. As soon as he said that, Robert moved closer to him, hands on Aaron’s hips so they were facing each other and Aaron couldn’t turn away.

“I er… I got overwhelmed,” Aaron said. Did that describe it? “You… it’s just… so much and I can’t help how I’m feeling for you.” It was hard to get the words out, but it was at least honest. Robert’s eyes lost some of their panic and he sighed.

“I don’t want to lose you,” Robert said. “I’m not… I’m me, you know? I have a really privileged position, but underneath, I’m just me.”

“I know,” Aaron said. “I shouldn’t run, but… I’m scared, you know?”

“Yeah, I do,” Robert said. “Listen, I’ve got a week off work coming up. Come with me to Balmoral.”

Aaron blinked. “Just like that?”

“It’s private,” Robert said. “It’ll be just us, and there’s miles and miles of private land, so we don’t have to worry about the press, the photographers, anything. Plus… I’d like a week with just you.”

Aaron smiled. It was tempting, oh so tempting, but… he was still the prince of the country. “We won’t get caught?”

“No,” Robert said. Aaron nodded.

“I’ll try and get cover at the garage,” he said. “If I can, then… yeah.”

Robert beamed. He kissed Aaron quickly but thoroughly before leaving. Aaron wasn’t stupid, he knew this visit had been a risk. Adam appeared out of his room and Aaron winced.

“So,” Adam said. “When you said he was rich and famous, you left out the bit about him being the future KING of the bloody country!”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I know.”

“Aaron, what are you doing?!” Adam said. “It can’t last, you know that.”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I’m not stupid, I know. But…” he thought to himself. “It’s too late. I’m already in over my head. I can’t leave him.”

“You’re crazy.”

“Please, don’t say anything,” Aaron said.

“I’m not a grass,” Adam said, scowling. “Who do you think I am?”

“Sorry,” Aaron said. “I know you’re a mate.”

“Of course I am,” Adam said. “You’re just… playing with fire.”

“Yeah, I am,” Aaron said. Because he knew that all too well.

As it happened, Cain was more than happy for Aaron to take some holiday, and his uncle didn’t question why it was so last minute either. However the downside of their week of bliss meant Robert had a very heavy week with royal appointments and engagements, so Aaron didn’t have any time to see him. Aaron did keep a closer eye on google though, to get pictures of his public appearances. Sue him, he loved how Robert looked in a suit. He also realised that on Wednesday Robert had a haircut. It had been getting a bit overgrown, not that Aaron minded as he enjoyed running his fingers through it. But he did look good.

It was the day that Robert and Vic had a joint appearance at a grief group, to deal with loss, and life after the death of a loved one. It was the usual way charity visits went, but Robert was glad he had Vic with him. In the car on the way back to the palace, Aaron called him. Robert couldn’t ignore the call so he answered it, ignoring Vics frown.

“Hey,” he said quietly.

“Hi, have you got a minute to talk?”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “God, it’s good to hear your voice.”

“Are we still on for tomorrow?”

“Absolutely,” Robert said. “I’m not sure what time yet, but yes. I can’t wait to see you.”

“Same here,” Aaron said. “I see you’ve got a haircut.”

“I have to look presentable, don’t I?” Robert said and Aaron laughed.

“It looks good on you. I miss you.”

“So do I,” Robert said. “I’m with someone at the moment, I’ll call you back later.”

“Okay,” Aaron said. “Bye.”


“It’s getting serious isn’t it?” Vic said as Robert tucked his phone in his pocket.

“Yeah,” Robert said. “I er… I don’t remember feeling like this about anyone.”

“So,” she said. “When can I meet her?”

“Not yet,” Robert said as they fell silent.

“I’m going out with Nick tomorrow,” Vic said Robert sighed. He didn’t like Nick. He was Vic’s on off boyfriend and he didn’t like him. Not good enough for her by a long shot. “I’d like to meet her.”

“I’m not saying never,” Robert said. “But just… not now. There’s… issues.”

“Such as?”

Robert sighed. “I can’t.”

“I’ll keep nagging you,” Vic said. “Does she make you happy?”


“At least that’s something.”

Aaron had a holdall with his things for the holiday with Robert. He was equally nervous and excited about the coming week, it could be really enjoyable. On the other hand it could be completely overwhelming.

He was in the back of a car being led to a helipad, where presumably he’d meet Robert. Aaron didn’t know if he’d ever get used to being handled like this, like stolen goods, but needs must. Also, he’d never been in a helicopter and he was looking forward to it. 

The car drew to a stop half an hour later, Aaron looking at the helicopter already there. It was a very private area, and other than the pilot and a few security guards, there was no one there. Oh, apart from Robert who was already sitting in the helicopter. He smiled at Aaron and kissed him briefly as he sat down. There was too much noise to be heard properly, but Robert gripped Aaron’s hand tightly. They were both happy the other was here. And as the helicopter took off, both men were happy to be leaving London and the city behind.

Chapter Text

The helicopter dropped them off on the front lawn of the castle, Aaron wincing until the noise of the chopper became very distant. But the joy in being alone, truly alone was bubbling under the surface. Robert turned to Aaron and kissed him gently. “I get you all to myself,” he said quietly. Aaron grinned. “Come on, lets get inside.” Robert led the way to the ornate front door. Aaron knew the building would be grand but he hadn’t allowed himself to think any further beyond that. The first thing that surprised Aaron was the door wasn’t locked.

“We have security guards and we’re the most protected family in the country,” Robert said. “We don’t need locks.”

“How far away are they?” Aaron asked. He’d rarely spent this much time with Robert without John lurking in the corner.

“About half a mile,” Robert said. “We’re safe. There is CCTV but only on the outside of the building.”

“You’ve got to know I’m not used to this,” Aaron said as they walked through the rooms, one after the other. Grand, ornate rooms that Aaron felt incredibly out of place in as Robert led the way. “This building… it’s overwhelming.”

“You haven’t even seen all the chandeliers yet,” Robert teased. Aaron rolled his eyes. They walked through the hall, and Aaron almost felt like he should take his shoes off, like he was messing up the pristine red carpet.

“Relax,” Robert said.

“That’s hard to do.” 

Robert dropped his holdall and rolled back a section of the red plush rug. It revealed a dark brown wooden floor with quite a few scuff marks. “Vic, Andy and me… we rollerbladed up this hall when we were kids. Vic was determined she was going to be a professional at one point.” Robert smiled at the memory, fingers tracing the marks. “You can make a mess, you don’t have to be careful.”

Aaron looked at the portraits on the wall and shrugged. “This… is a lot to get used to.”

“I know.” Robert’s hands slid around Aaron’s waist and kissed him deeply until he relaxed. “Come on.” Robert moved a tapestry, pulling it back to reveal a wooden door. This one was locked and Robert quickly used a key, going up the stone stairs behind it. Aaron followed quickly. When the stairs stopped, they emerged onto a very comfy living room that looked far more modern. “This is my section of the castle. I’m the only one with the key. Vic’s got a wing over the other side.”

“And… Andy?”

“Yeah, he had one too. I’ve… I don’t think anyone’s touched that since he died. No one wants to.” Aaron nodded. He pushed open a door to find a small but well equipped kitchen, and another door to find the bedroom. It was a king size bed with floor to ceiling windows with a massive view over the Scottish landscape.

“Calming down yet?” Robert asked.

“A bit,” Aaron said. He looked out across the view, the moon was full and lit up the landscape. It was isolated, but even by moonlight it was very pretty. Robert came behind him and put his hands around Aaron’s waist, pressing a kiss against his neck briefly. “Are you okay?”

“Thinking about your charmed life,” Aaron said.

“I never said it didn’t have its perks,” Robert said. “Are you glad you’re here?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “Actually I am.” Robert smiled, his hands slipping down Aaron’s waist to his belt. “Oh, like that is it?” Aaron said, smiling as he arched back into Robert’s body.

“If you want to,” Robert said.

“Yeah,” Aaron said. He always enjoyed Robert’s hands on him. Robert started touching him through his jeans. Aaron groaned. Robert kissed his neck again, then pulled back, the look between them felt magnetising. Neither man could look away, and Robert kissed Aaron deeply, pushing him back to the bed. Aaron grinned, knowing exactly where this was heading. He wrapped his legs around Robert’s waist, fingers in his hair and pushing him closer.

“You’re going to kill me,” Robert said lowly. There were still far too many layers of clothing between them and fingers started scrabbling at clothes. Aaron moaned as Robert started sucking his nipples. He was really sensitive there and Robert knew it. Aaron was thoroughly enjoying Robert getting more familiar with his body, and the sex was only getting better. He could forget, with Robert touching him, why this relationship was a bad idea, instead focusing on how much of a good idea it felt in the moment.

Aaron didn’t remember getting naked, but soon they both were, Robert looming on top of him. His fingers were gripping Aaron’s waist hard enough to almost bruise and still Aaron felt like he couldn’t get close enough. His entire body was crying out for more.

“You good?” Robert asked.

“You’ve no idea.” Robert quickly put a condom on and pushed inside of Aaron. Aaron moaned. “Don’t move for a second…”

Robert stroked Aaron’s hair, trying to hold still as Aaron got used to the fullness, the stretch, the sensation. He nodded, breathing heavily and Robert slowly moved. He wasn’t quite hitting Aaron’s prostate and he twitched, trying to get the stimulation. Next time, Robert moved perfectly and Aaron whined. God. “Yes, there!”

“I know how you like it,” Robert said. It should be illegal to be that smug. “Trust me.” Aaron did, groaning as Robert thrust inside him. It felt incredible. “Open your eyes.”

Aaron wasn’t even aware he’d closed them and he looked at Robert looming above him. His blond hair had gone almost brown with sweat, he looked incredibly hot and Aaron was close already.

“Fuck. I’m gonna come,” Aaron said, struggling to hold back. Then Robert started stroking him off, and he couldn’t hold back anymore. His fingernails cut into Robert’s shoulders as he rode through the high, shaking through his climax. Robert was clearly close too, thrusting erratically and moaning as he came. He collapsed on top of Aaron and Aaron didn’t care at all. They were a sticky, sweaty mess and Aaron had never felt better.

In the morning, Robert moved to turn the lamp on and he turned over in bed to look at Aaron’s face. His eyelashes were flickering slightly, a sure sign that he was on his way to waking up. Robert reached under the sheets and put his hand on Aaron’s naked hip. “Hmm?”


“Yes,” Aaron said, though he hadn’t opened his eyes. Robert kissed him gently.

“That was a welcome home I didn’t expect,” Robert said.

“You must have suspected something like that would happen,” Aaron said, which made Robert laugh. “Do you consider this place home then?”

“I mean… I don’t know,” Robert said, thinking about it. “We move about so often that no one place really feels like home. But this’ll do.”

“So how many people have you brought here?” Aaron asked. 

“None,” Robert said. “You’re the first one.”

“Really?” Aaron said, surprised.

“Yeah,” Robert said. “You’re definitely the first.” Aaron’s eyes went soft, in the way that Robert adored, and he kissed him gently. It was only interrupted by Aaron’s stomach rumbling. “I’ll make breakfast, you have a shower,” Robert said. “Bacon sandwiches sound good?”

“Perfect,” Aaron said. “Thanks.”

Half an hour later Aaron emerged into the kitchen, wearing Robert’s very cosy dressing gown that he was trying to ignore the royal emblem printed on it. Robert was wearing jogging bottoms and nothing else, plating up their breakfasts. It smelt heavenly.

They didn’t really speak much until on their second helping of bacon sandwiches. “Good?”

“Very,” Aaron said. “I’m really glad I’m here, but… this is a whole different world.”

“I’m me,” Robert said. “Yeah, I have a title and money, but… I don’t think you’re with me for either of those.”

“You know I’m not,” Aaron said. “When it does come out… me and you… I’m going to need help. I can’t… I’m not ready for all the press and it’s going to be huge. I can’t deal with it, so… please help me with it.”

“Yeah,” Robert said quietly, gripping his hand across the breakfast table. “It will be okay. In the end.”

“I just don’t see us breaking up soon,” Aaron said. “Do you?”

“No,” Robert said. “I’m going to tell Vic soon.” Aaron was surprised. “She knows there’s someone important to me, and… quite honestly I don’t like lying to her.” Aaron nodded.

“Will she… like me?” Aaron asked. “Or I spose… the idea of me?”

“I don’t know,” Robert said. “I’ll find out soon. Next week, when we’re not on holiday.”

“Speaking of,” Aaron said. “What’re we doing this week?”

“Nothing,” Robert said with pleasure. “There is an indoor pool though.”

“In Scotland?”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “I wanted one.” Aaron scoffed. “Being the heir to the throne…” Robert started. “It’s a glass house, with a lot of drawbacks. A lot of people looking in. But I do enjoy the perks, and I have to live like this. So I’m going to make the most of it.”

“Fair enough.” Aaron grinned.

The woman unscrewed the long lens from her camera and had a look at the back of it. The quality of the images wasn’t the best, but she wasn’t nearly done yet. She should really try a different camera set up, see if that got her anywhere. Her stomach rumbled and she ignored it. Pull this off and she’d never have to worry about working again. Her phone buzzed and she looked at it. Unfortunately it was her boss. She answered it.


“You’ve had three weeks and turned up zero results. I don’t have an endless budget.”

“I know,” she said. “I’m not coming back to London.”

He hesitated. “What’ve you got?”

“I can’t tell you,” she said. “It’s worth the wait, trust me.”

“Get back to the office or your fired,” the boss said.

She thought about it for a moment. “Fine, I’m fired.” She’d be able to sell these pictures for millions, as long as no one else beat her to it.

“It’s big?”

“It’s big,” she confirmed.

“One week,” the boss said. “Then I want results.”

“Great,” she said. “I won’t let you down.” She hung up, then opened her flask. She needed some coffee, and scrolled back through the photos. Who was the guy? He was completely unrecognisable, but one thing was sure from the images. The heir to the throne was having an affair with a man. That would be on every front page in the world. She just hoped no one released photos before she did.

Chapter Text

One pleasure that Aaron did not expect from their week away was the joy of watching Robert swim naked. It inevitably ended in sex, or at least some fun, but Aaron still enjoyed being able to watch Robert’s body like that. Never before had Aaron had such uninterrupted time with Robert like this, and he loved it. Rather than getting Robert out of his system, it was doing the reverse. He was becoming more and more obsessed with him. In love? Perhaps, but Aaron wouldn’t voice that. Things were good and he’d very much enjoyed their time together. Even though it was the last day of their holiday break.

“Is it all going to be the same when we get back to London?” Aaron asked over breakfast on their last day in Scotland. It felt a little bittersweet, to be going back to the madness.

“I know what you mean,” Robert said. “I hope so. We’re in this together. Right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Aaron said. “You’re the heir, I’m the hanger on.”

“Don’t say that, it’s not true,” Robert said, grabbing his hand across the table. “Not to me.”

“I’m nervous,” Aaron said, enjoying Robert’s thumb across his knuckles. “About us… if it comes out.”

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be bad. Really bad. But I think we can get through it. Together.”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “Maybe we can.”

The day slipped by too quickly, interrupted by a nosy phone call from Chas. To be fair, Aaron hadn’t spoken to her for a while, but he wasn’t pleased about his break with Robert being interrupted. Time was precious. 

“Adam tells me you’re with your new boyfriend,” Chas said down the phone. Aaron felt a thrill of fear. She couldn’t find out who Robert was.

“What else did he tell you?”

“Nothing,” she said. “That’s all I could get out of him. Is he keeping secrets for you?”

“He’s my best mate,” Aaron said. “And yes, I have gone away with a guy. So what?”

“Who is he?”

“None of your business,” Aaron said. 

“Is it serious?”

“I don’t know,” Aaron said, wanting to keep her out. Nothing good could come of Chas sticking her nose in. “It’s fine. Look, I’ll call you when I get home.”

“I miss you,” Chas said.

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I do too.” It was true, he did. But whenever he did go home, he found Chas very oppressive and full on. She was better held at a distance, but he did miss her sometimes. “I’ve got to go.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too. Bye.”

“Should I get jealous?” Robert teased.

“My mum,” Aaron said. “Worried about me for disappearing. I probably should have told her where I was going.”

“Does she know about me?” Robert asked, pulling Aaron close on the sofa.

“She knows there’s someone,” Aaron said. “I couldn’t trust her with this. She’d blab.” Robert nodded.

“I’m going to miss this,” Robert said. “Getting you all to myself before…”

“Life,” Aaron said. “It’s weird. I know you’re a prince, but… it doesn’t feel like that when we’re together. It’s like you let me see the real you.”

“I do,” Robert said. “It’s not often someone gets under my skin the way you do. Only a few people can do that.”

“Who else?”

“Vic,” Robert said warmly. “Not many others. I don’t know… I’ve never met anyone like you before.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Probably,” Robert said. “I think I’m in love with you. I shouldn’t be, it’ll bring down a world of trouble on both of us, but…”

“I love you too,” Aaron said. And right now, it felt so easy to say, so right. “It terrifies me because of everything else, but… I just do.” Robert moved up the sofa and kissed him deeply. For now, this would do.

“I’ve got a helicopter waiting for me,” Robert said the next morning, kissing Aaron’s chest before getting out of bed. “We have to go.”

“Oh yeah,” Aaron said. “What glamorous location is it? Paris? Milan?”

“Caernarfon.” Aaron squinted up at Robert, reluctant to move from bed. “Well, for me, you’re going back to London.”

“That sounds Welsh.”

“No flies on you,” Robert said, throwing his shirt on as he watched Aaron appreciatively, spread out on the bed in a way which was enticing Robert to get back into it. He resisted the impulse though. “You really don’t watch the news, do you?”


“I’ve got a ceremony up there,” Robert said. It was something about the offhand way he said that that got Aaron’s attention.

“What kind of ceremony?” Robert hesitated. “Just tell me. I can't be arsed to grab my phone and google it.”

“I’m being invested as the Prince of Wales,” Robert said, shrugging. “Heir and all that. You know, since my brother killed himself. We’ve had the grieving period so I guess now they’re stuck with me.”

“Oh,” Aaron said, thinking quickly. “Your life is insane.” Robert nodded. “So… this thing. It’s er… big?”

“Pretty big,” Robert said. “For the record… I’d much rather be in bed with you.” Aaron smiled into a kiss that Robert made slow and sweet.

“Go,” Aaron said. “I’ll be a good boy and head back to London.”

“I’ll call you later tonight,” Robert said. “You can have a lay in, don’t get up.”

“You trust me here without you?” Aaron asked, surprised. 

“Shouldn’t I?” Robert said with half a smirk. “I’ll leave you John. He gets irritated when he’s out of London for too long.”

“Great,” Aaron said dully. “Go.” Robert went with one last kiss.

Adam was waiting for Aaron at the flat when he got home. “How did it go?”

“Really well,” Aaron said. “I had a good time.”

“I don’t think you should be doing this,” Adam said. “It’s going to all end in tears.”

“I know,” Aaron said. “I can’t stop it. Even if I could, I don’t want to. He makes me feel… I’ve not felt like this in years. He’s not… in real life, he’s not the prince, he’s not pompous or… he’s different.”

“Please be careful,” Adam said. “Chas called me looking for you.”

“Yeah, I know,” Aaron said. “Thanks. For not outing me and Robert.”

“Mates, eh?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said, hugging him. “Thanks.”

“Vic, have you got a minute?” They were both in Wales for the upcoming celebrations.

“Just,” she said. She was putting on a pair of earrings in the mirror and was clearly dressed up to go out. But she caught Robert’s eye in the mirror and stopped fussing around with her hair. “What is it?”

“Who’re you going out with?”

“Nick,” she said. “Don’t.”

“I wasn’t going to,” Robert said. He didn’t like this Nick, and he thought he wasn’t good enough for her. But he also noticed that Vic was wearing the earrings Jack had bought for her birthday just before he died. Robert changed his opinion of how much Vic liked this Nick. 

“What is it?” Vic asked.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Go out, I’ll be fine.”

“Rob?” Vic said. “I can’t go out and enjoy myself now can I? Just spit it out.”

“I er…” Rob shook his head. “I don’t really know how to start.”

“Are you finally going to tell me what’s wrong with your girl?” Vic said. “You’re much more secretive than you usually are.”

“Yeah, sort of,” Robert said. He felt incredibly nervous and he didn’t know why. Vic wasn’t about to kick off. Was she? Robert got out his phone and found the picture of Aaron he wanted. Vic's eyes went wide when she saw it.

“Oh! You… oh. Right. Okay.”

“Yeah,” Robert said. 

Vic’s mouth moved a few times without saying anything, handing the phone back to Robert. “What’re you going to do?”

“Because… that’s the reaction I wanted,” Robert said.

“Rob… you know this is bigger than just… you falling for someone.”

“I know,” Robert said. “I can’t help it.”

“What’s he like?”

Robert smiled. “I’m in love with him,” Robert said. “I don’t think the rest matters.”

“Has he got money?”

“No,” Robert said. “I met him in a bar. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him since.”

“Come here,” she said, pulling Robert into a hug. Robert appreciated it and held her tightly.

“I’m happy for you, but…”

“I know,” Robert said. "I know the but."

“When the press find out, they are going to tear the pair of you apart,” she carried on. “And he will get it worse. Because you… well, they can’t get rid of you can they, and you have some sympathy because of Andy. Him?”

“You’re not telling me anything new,” Robert said. “It’s going to be a nightmare. We both know that.” Robert sighed. “If I was a better man I’d leave him. I wouldn’t put him through it.”

“But you love him, don’t you,” Vic said quietly.

“Yeah,” Robert said. “Course I do. I don’t know if I love him enough to let him go, or if I’m too selfish.”

“I’d love to tell you that it doesn’t matter as long as he loves you, but…” Vic said. “We both know it doesn’t work like that.”

“Yeah,” Robert said. “I know. It is going to come out. Someone, somewhere is going to get pictures of us together. And then…”

“It’ll be global news, I know. Does mum know?”

“Not yet,” Robert said. “But I’m going to tell her. I’m not having one of the staff tell her instead.”

“She’ll be fine,” Vic said.

Aaron had managed a couple of days work in the garage. Robert was still in Wales, going through the pomp and ceremony before the actual investment as the Prince of Wales. Officially. Robert had called him several times, but Aaron missed him acutely. It wasn't the same, having him at the end of the phone rather than with him all the time.

What he wasn’t expecting was John to turn up when Aaron was elbow deep in an engine. Aaron frowned at him. “Are we alone?” John asked.

“Give me a minute,” Aaron said, grabbing a rag and telling Cain to take a lunch break. Cain saw John and debated asking. 

“Is there a problem?”

“No,” Aaron said. “Personal.”

“You’re going to tell me what you’re up to one of these days,” Cain said. Aaron rolled his eyes but Cain left. John waited until his footsteps disappeared. “What is it? Is Robert okay?”

“He’s fine,” John said. “I wanted a word with you without him butting in.” Aaron felt very anxious. This couldn’t be good. “When you first started seeing Robert, myself and the entire security team put a file together. It’s standard practice. If you had any skeletons in your closet, we needed to know first.”

“Right,” Aaron said hollowly. While this didn’t surprise him, he still didn’t like it. “Does Robert know?”

“That we gathered information on you?” John said. “Of course. But he hasn’t read it, and he hasn’t even asked for the file.”

“Would you tell me if he had?” Aaron asked. “You work for him.”

“Technically I work for the Queen, not Robert,” John said. “Anyway, he’s never asked for the file. I’m only bringing it up now because… I feel things are getting serious between you two.”

“What is it?” Aaron asked through gritted teeth. Even though he had a suspicion.

“Gordon Livesy.” Aaron clenched his fist. He was right then. “It’s not going to come out. I’ve had a lawyer look at it and you were a minor, under eighteen. No newspaper can publish your name, linked with his crime.” Aaron felt hot and like he was going red which he hated. “It will never get out.”

“But you know,” Aaron said. “Don’t you?”

“Yes,” John said. “I’m not going to tell Robert, I don’t need to, to do my job well and keep him safe. He will not find out from me, and I’ve made sure the world won’t find out from anyone. Whatever happens.”

“What about…” Aaron swallowed. “I don’t have a squeaky clean record.”

“We’ve tarted it up a bit,” John admitted. “Nothing too heinous will come out. You’re safe. Well, as safe as you can be.”

“No one will know?” Aaron asked again. He hadn’t even considered that Gordon and what he did could become public gossip. Aaron had done a really good job of pushing that aside and not thinking about it. He didn’t like opening the door to his history.

“No one,” John said. “And I’ll never mention it again.” Aaron sighed, struggling to contain his emotions. “I’ll leave you to it.”

“John?” Aaron called as he left. “Thank you.”

“I’m sorry,” John said. “That it needed to be done. Robert won’t hear a word from me.”

Chapter Text

Aaron felt unnerved from John’s visit. He HAD thought about it. His… history coming out, the press, the attention. But every time his mind went there, he managed to push it aside and not focus on it. But John’s intervention… while he was grateful, it now brought it right to the front of his mind. Aaron sat on the bonnet of the car and got his phone out, calling Robert. He knew Robert was busy in Wales, being officially invested as the heir, but he still wanted to hear his voice.

“Hang on.” Aaron could hear a hubbub of noise in the background when Robert answered, feeling guilty for interrupting, but not enough to hang up. Soon it quietened down, Robert clearly moving somewhere private. “Hi,” Robert said, the background noise muted. Aaron sighed, hearing his voice. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I’m good. I just… miss you.”

“I’ve got the ceremony tomorrow, I’ll be back in London the day after,” Robert said. “It won’t be long.” Aaron nodded. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I’m fine. I’ve been replacing a clutch.” Aaron carried on describing his day at work, knowing Robert didn’t care, but also knowing he’d humour him.

“You’re going to tell me what’s wrong when I see you,” Robert said.

“Maybe I will,” Aaron said. “How’re you?”

“Good,” Robert said. “I’m in the middle of the last banquet before the ceremony, so…”

“I called you out of that to talk about a knackered car?” Aaron asked.

“I’d rather talk to you anyway,” Robert said, sounding like he meant it.

“Have you had your hair cut before the pomp and ceremony?” Aaron asked, wanting to picture it.”

“Just a trim,” Robert said. “Still enough for you to grab.” Aaron laughed.

“I’ll see you the day after tomorrow,” Aaron said. “Hotel?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Robert said. “Love you.”

“Love you too.” It was still new enough that it felt novel and special to say it. Aaron hung up and sighed. He did feel better for speaking to Robert. But then he always did.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” the editor said, staring at his star photographer. “You’ve been off the grid for a month on my payroll.”

“Yeah, but I bring gifts,” she said, sitting opposite him.

“This better be good.”

“It is,” she said. She got out her A4 manila envelope and spilled the photos onto the desk. The editor picked one up, looked and raised his eyebrow, thinking quickly.

“That looks like the Prince screwing a random bloke,” he said. “Am I right?”

“Yep,” she said. “For weeks.”

“Not just a one off?”

“Nope,” she said. He quickly moved through the dozens of pictures, seeing that she was right. Different clothes, different locations…

“That looks like Balmoral,” he said, pointing at the picture of two men embracing at the window.

“That’s because it is.”

“He took his boyfriend to Balmoral?”

“Yes, for a week,” she said. “Oh, I need my legal fees paid for trespass to get those ones.” The editor waved that aside. It barely mattered. These photos were priceless. Arguably they could both retire on them. 

One photo had the stranger in profile, a mug of tea in his hand. It was the clearest view of his face. Middle twenties, fairly attractive but completely unrecognisable. “Who is he?”

“I’m a photographer, not an investigative journalist,” she said. “That’s your job.”


“His name’s Aaron,” she said. “I don’t know any more.”

“It’s a start,” he said. “You know we can’t publish all of these. That one?” He picked up the picture of the two men on the table. It looked like something from an x rated website. “The little old ladies will be clutching their pearls.”

“Well, that’s your responsibility,” she said. 

“He will be king one day, we can’t put him and his lover naked on the front page,” he said. “A bit disrespectful.”

“I never knew you had such a respect for the monarchy,” she said.

“I don’t,” he replied. “I’ve got a respect for not getting sued."

“When will you publish?”

“When I’ve found out about the guy,” the editor said. “How much for the photos?”

“Four million,” she said. "I've got several hundred more."


“Three?” she said, going for a punt. “Plus legal fees.”


Aaron would be lying if he said he wasn’t watching the ceremony live on TV. He wanted to see Robert. He didn’t care about the pomp and circumstance, but Robert did scrub up well. He looked good. Better than good actually. Aaron was also ignoring the fact that Robert being officially invested as the Prince of Wales was the headline news story of the day. It suddenly hit him how big this was. The heir to the throne? God. How did this happen to him?

Once the ceremony was over, Aaron was surprised by a phone call from his mum. “What’ve you got messed up in?!” she screeched down the phone.

“What?” Aaron said, trying not to panic.

“Someone was asking questions about you,” Chas said. “What are you doing, where are you living. A journalist.” Aaron went cold.

“You didn’t tell them anything did you?”

“I told him to take a running jump,” Chas said. “I think Zak might have threatened him with a shotgun.” Aaron groaned. That wouldn’t help. “What are you involved in?”

“Nothing illegal,” Aaron said. “I’m fine, it’s nothing you’re worrying about.”

“But you’re not going to tell me what it is are you?” Chas said.

“I can’t,” Aaron said. “I’m fine, that’s what matters. I have to go.”

Robert walked out of the cathedral and took his uniform jacket off. He was exhausted. Smiling, acting correctly, knowing it was being broadcast around the world? It was exhausting. He’d left John in London to keep an eye on Aaron, as he was the security guard he trusted the most. Aaron wouldn’t like to have dozens of people around him, but John? There was mutual respect there, and Aaron never complained about John’s presence.

So, right now Robert turned to his guard, Steven. “I need to get to London.”

“You’re going back tomorrow.”

“No, tonight,” Robert said. He wasn’t arguing, because he needed to see Aaron, badly. He’d done his duty, now it was time for him. “Organise it. Now.”

“Yes sir.”

Aaron was surprised when he got a short text from Robert. “Hotel. Now.” He couldn’t be back already. Was he? Aaron threw a hoodie and some jeans on and used the tube, at the same time wondering if he’d get to use it again. Once the news came out about him and Robert (and the journalists were sniffing around for a reason. It was only a matter of time) he would never be able to be anonymous in London ever again. 

It seemed like no time at all until he was in the hotel room, Robert sitting on the end of the bed. Aaron felt like he could breathe again, wrapping his arms around him tightly. “You’re not meant to be here until tomorrow.”

“Are you complaining?” Robert said quietly into his neck.

“No.” God, he smelt good, familiar and Aaron ached for him.

“What’s wrong?” Robert asked, pulling back. His eyes seemed bluer than normal, or maybe Aaron had just missed him more than he thought.

“My mum called,” Aaron said. “A journalists been asking her questions.”

“Did she say anything?”

“No,” Aaron said. “But it means someone knows about us.”

“I know,” Robert said. “I chickened out of telling my mum.” he sighed. “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”

“Because now we’re on a time crunch?” Aaron said.

“Yeah, it seems like it,” Robert said. “I’m sorry for how bad it’s going to be. I hadn’t planned this, you know. I just… really liked you when I saw you.”

“I know,” Aaron said. “We can’t do anything about it now and I’m… so happy to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”

“So have I,” Robert said. He kissed Aaron deeply. “We’ll deal with it tomorrow.” For now, this was enough. Losing himself in Robert’s mouth and body. He really had missed him.

In the middle of the night, Robert turned to Aaron. He was fast asleep, face relaxed. Robert had been the subject of the press his entire life. He was used to it always intruding in some way. Aaron hadn't. This was going to hit him hard. Robert stroked Aaron's hair and he settled into the pillows. "I'm sorry for this. I'm too selfish to let you go."

"That's nice," Aaron murmured to the stroking of his hair, definitely not fully awake. "Don't stop." Robert didn't.

Chapter Text

Robert was woken several hours earlier than he’d have liked by John throwing a newspaper on the bed in the hotel room. “What?!” Robert said more than half asleep.

“You’ve got a bad day ahead of you.” His arm was draped over Aaron’s waist, Aaron waking up too as Robert grabbed the paper. The picture on the front page was him and Aaron. At Balmoral? Probably. Aaron was standing, looking out of the window with a cup of tea in his hand. What made it newsworthy was the fact that Robert stood behind him, hands around Aaron’s waist and kissing into his neck. It was unquestionably him, there was no mistaking who it was. Aaron had a soft smile on his face too. Under different circumstances Robert would have probably liked the picture, but the fact that someone had been spying on them both made him angry.

Robert flicked open the paper to find dozens of other photos. They’d been followed for a while then. “What’s going on?” Aaron moaned, half awake. Robert didn’t answer, in favour of seeing the damage. God, there were so many. Thank God they were mostly clothed in all of them. Probably the most explicit was Robert shirtless on top of Aaron on a table. Robert wasn’t an idiot, he guessed they had photos of them that were far too explicit to publish. Thankfully. At least the British press had some standards then.

“Shit,” Aaron said, picking up the paper. “Oh shit.”

“Yeah, exactly.” Robert tried to engage his sluggish sleepy brain, and he kept coming back to… “what the hell do we do?”

John shrugged. “It was always going to come out.”

“That’s not helpful,” Robert snapped. “Get out.”

“It’s not his fault,” Aaron said, pouring over the photos in the paper.

“Laura’s trying to call you,” John said, before he left the hotel room.

“Who’s she?” Aaron asked.

“She’s in charge of my schedule,” Robert said. “She’s probably going to attempt to fix the mess.” Robert got up and hastily threw some clothes on, thinking quickly. “We’re going to have to smuggle you inside the palace.”

“Smuggle me?” Aaron said, finally tearing his eyes away from the damning photos.

“The photographers… once they wake up, you’re going to be hounded.”

“Actually they’re already here,” John shouted through the hotel door.

“Perfect.” Robert sighed. “I’m calling Laura.”

“Finally!” she snapped, picking up after only one ring. “Where’ve you been?!”

“Sleeping,” Robert said.

“With the toy boy?”

“I don’t like that description, but yes,” Robert said. “What do I do?”

“Depends what you want out of this,” she said. “Is he someone you want us to bury and forget about? Or is he more permanent?”

“I don’t know if he’s permanent yet,” Robert said, uncomfortably aware Aaron was listening to every word. “But… we’re together and I’m keeping it that way if I can.” Robert gave up having a private conversation and he put it on speaker. He’d only have to repeat every word to Aaron anyway.

“So, we have to spin it to the press that he’s your boyfriend and this is a gross invasion of privacy.”

“Which it is,” Robert said firmly. “There’s um… probably more explicit photos that haven’t been printed.”

“I took the liberty of buying them myself,” Laura said. “I’ve absolutely blown through your annual budget for them, but…”

“I don't care about that,” Robert said. “So the ones that’ve been printed… that’s the worst of them?”

“Unless you had more than one photographer stalking you,” Laura said. “I’ve dealt with the paper. They didn’t want to sell them to me, but I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.”

“Good,” Robert said. “What do I do here?”

“Call your mother?” Laura suggested. “Don’t leave the hotel. If we’re spinning it that this is normal and a good relationship that you want to be left alone, leaving at 5 in the morning isn’t going to help.”

“I’m glad I got woken up for this then,” Robert said. “I won’t sleep. Call me when you’ve organised a car to get us out of here.”

“Okay,” she said. Robert hung up and rubbed his hands over his face. Aaron had closed the paper and flipped it over so only the back sports pages were showing. “Do you want to get out of here?” Robert asked. “Leave me to face the music? There'll be a back door you can escape through.”

“No,” Aaron said. “We’re in this together. Right?”

Robert felt something inside relax. “Yeah,” he said. “Hope so.” Aaron kissed him lightly and Robert forced a smile. “Thanks.”

The crowd of photographers outside the hotel only got worse as the morning dragged on. It was well known the royals used this particular hotel, and Robert was silently cursing himself for using somewhere so obvious. Several news channels kept flicking to a live feed of the front of the hotel. Robert knew it’d be big, but he thought that was a bit much. Him and Aaron didn’t say much, just waited for time to pass, it being a respectable time to be able to leave the hotel.

At around seven in the morning, both of their phones started ringing. Clearly the world was waking up. Aaron got a call from Chas, then a little later from Adam. He pretty much ignored both of them, just staying on the phone long enough to make sure they knew he was okay. Robert got a call from Vic, who was all concern, Laura three more times with details about the car to pick them up, and at around nine, Sarah called him. The shame that Robert felt curling up his spine was a little unfair, but he couldn’t help it. He should have told her the truth and he felt guilty for hiding it. But there was something so… special about Aaron and he wanted to keep him all to himself.

John knocked and came in. He looked like he’d had a bad night too. “I’ve just had your mother on the phone,” he said. “She’s not pleased.”

“No, I know,” Robert said. “What else did she want?”

“She wanted to know if Aaron was a flight of fancy, or if he’s sticking around,” John said. “And if he is, she wants him to have his own security detail.”

“I’m not having security,” Aaron said. “I don’t want people snooping around after me.”

“I didn’t know I was that bad,” John said lightly.

“Have you got a team for Aaron?” Robert asked. “I want you safe. Okay?”

Aaron rolled his eyes.

“I can have a team in place by the end of the day,” John said.

“Do it.”

“You’re ignoring me,” Aaron said. “I’m right here.”

“I want you safe,” Robert repeated. Aaron sighed.

“Your cars ready,” John said. “We’ve got four times the normal amount of security, but the press know you’re both here.”

“Hold my hand and don’t let go,” Robert told Aaron who nodded. He’d been very quiet since seeing the photos. Robert didn’t know how to handle this, he’d never been here before either.

The flashes were worse than even Robert expected. Aaron’s eyes were ringing with a constant white haze as he got in the car. He didn’t let go of Robert’s hand once, and he also managed not to look around at the gathered journalists. Even so he knew there must be more than two hundred of them. When they were in the car, the driver smoothly pulled away and soon Aaron could breathe again.

“You’re not talking much,” Robert said.

“I don’t know what to say,” Aaron said. “We both knew it’d get out eventually. And I’m not the one who’s been outed. I want to make sure you’re okay.” Robert did feel a little overwhelmed, but he also felt he could handle it as long as he had Aaron by his side. “The pictures could have been worse. I remember how many times we’ve screwed.” Robert let out a small smile.

“I hope my family don’t scare you off too much.”

Aaron shrugged. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. That it’s out.”

“We knew it was coming though,” Robert said. “My sister will be fine.”


“Yeah,” Robert said. “I like Vic. My mother… I don’t think she’s going to be thrilled. Probably that I didn’t tell her first.”

“You should have,” Aaron said, but gently. Robert nodded. It was true, and he wasn’t looking forward to seeing his mother either.

They arrived at the palace, but even though there were another batch of photographers, the cars windows were blacked out so they couldn’t be seen. Aaron suddenly got hit with a wave of nerves. Not only was he going to meet Robert’s family, but they were the Royal family. God. This was massive. How had this happened to him?

The car pulled up around the back and there was security waiting there. A lot of anonymous serious faces that Aaron didn’t recognise. They showed them in quickly to the back of the palace, and Aaron was underwhelmed to be honest. No grandeur, nothing, just a very serviceable hallway.

“Finally!” Both men turned around to see Victoria and Aaron swallowed, again struck by the fact that Robert’s family were royals. Robert never felt like a prince, or the heir to the throne to Aaron, but Victoria? She was a stranger who definitely felt like a princess. Not to mention her security guard who looked very stern faced. “I need to search him,” he said to Aaron.

“Oh for God’s sake,” Robert said.

“My job’s to make sure Victoria’s safe,” he said. “May I?” Aaron consented to a brief search, then getting the nod of approval from the security guard.

“Mum wants you,” Vic said to Robert. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Don’t worry, Aaron will be fine with me,” she said brightly, looking Aaron over. 

“I have to go,” Robert said. “Don’t let her wind you up.” Robert kissed Aaron’s cheek, whispering quietly “I’ll be as quick as I can. You’ll be fine.” Aaron doubted that. His only impression of Victoria was a petite pretty princess he saw on the news bulletins. Not as a real person.

“You couldn’t have been more careful about getting caught?” Vic said to Robert.

“I thought I was,” Robert said. “I want to see the ones they didn’t publish. Laura’s bought the explicit ones.”

“Bloody hell, Rob,” she said. “You don’t do things by halves do you?” She shook her head. “Go. Don’t put mum off.” Robert squeezed Aaron’s hand once more before leaving through the palace.

“Er… hi,” Aaron said blankly.

“Please call me Vic,” she said. “No one calls me Victoria.”

“Okay,” he said, smiling a little at her as she waved at him to follow her. “This wasn’t how we planned on it coming out.”

“How did you plan on revealing it to the public?” Vic asked curiously.

“I don’t know,” Aaron said. The corridors felt maze like and they got more grand until they got to what was clearly Vic’s rooms. 

“Do you want a drink?”

“It’s too early for whisky isn’t it?” Aaron said. Vic laughed. “I don’t exactly enjoy my private life being broadcast all over the country.”

“The world,” Vic said and Aaron felt cold. She wasn’t wrong, but he’d been successfully ignoring it. “How did you meet Robert?”

“In a bar,” Aaron said. “Believe it or not, I didn’t actually recognise him at first.” Vic scoffed. “I knew he was wealthy, I could tell, but I guessed he was a trust fund kid. I didn’t go after him because of who he was.” Vic looked sceptical. “If I’d have known, I’d have probably gone for someone far less complicated.” She did smile at that.

“Yeah,” she said. “Having grown up with him, Robert is not easy.”

“Tell me about it,” Aaron said. Vic got a wistful look on her face, almost looking back. Aaron guessed correctly that when she’d mentioned growing up, she was thinking about Andy. “I’m sorry,” he said. “About Andy. That must be hard.”

“Yeah,” she said. “It is. Dad gone, Andy gone. I worry about Robert more than I should.”

“I think…” Aaron started. “I think he’s more… sensitive than he’d let people see.” Vic nodded. The awkwardness started to set into the silence. “I don’t want Robert because of who he is. The position, the… you know, all this. I want him for him. That’s it. I don’t want the fame, the notoriety. Honestly, it terrifies me how this is all going to work out.”

“But you want him.”

“Yeah…” Aaron said. “Sorry.”

"Don't be," Vic said. "Robert would never go for the easy option."

Before Robert met his mother, he found Laura. “Photo’s,” he said shortly. She nodded and showed him into her office. She had two SD cards and an A4 envelope. “I’m keeping the SD cards.”


“I’m getting them destroyed professionally,” she said. “There are no online copies, I’ve made sure of it. Those printed ones are the only ones that exist.”

“You look tired,” Robert said, taking the envelope.

“I’ve been working all night to make sure you don’t end up on porn websites,” she said. “Yes, I’m tired.”

“You’re sure there’s no more copies?”

“Yes,” she said. “And I’m having legal look at it and make it completely watertight too.”

“Good. Thanks.” Robert was gripping the envelope hard as he left the office. When he was alone, Robert opened it and flicked through them. He couldn’t focus on them, but he’d seen enough. A lot of bare flesh and in the act photos. Thank God those hadn’t been published, he’d never live it down. The embarrassment. Maybe they’d decided not to because he was the heir? Respectability? Robert didn’t know but he was grateful.

Anyway, closing the envelope, he went and found his mother. She looked tired and not happy. “Hi,” Robert said.

“Have you got anything to tell me?” she said.

“I’m sorry the press got in first,” Robert said. “I wanted to tell you, but… I just kept putting it off.”

“I wish you had,” she said. “Is it… a phase? Is it a one off?” Robert flinched. “I just need to know.”

“No, it’s not a one off,” Robert said. “I’ve known for a while.”

“That you’re gay?”

“I’m not gay,” Robert snapped. He was comfortable in himself and his sexuality, but even so, being outed on a national scale was never going to be comfortable.

“I’ve seen the photos,” Sarah said. “All of the photos.” Robert flushed red.

“I’m not gay,” he said again, a bit calmer. “I’m bisexual. I like men. I like women. And I love him.”


“Yeah,” Robert said. “I’m not an idiot, I know it’s inconvenient, but… I can’t help it.”

“What’s he like?” Sarah asked.

“Honest,” Robert said. “Blunt. He’s a good man.”

“Are you happy?”

“Yes,” Robert said. “Not right at this second, because knowing millions of people are discussing my private life… well. But with him, yeah I am.”

“Where is he?”

“With Vic,” Robert said. “I’m sure she wants to interrogate him.”

“I wish you’d told me first.”

“Yeah, so do I,” Robert said. Sarah hugged him tightly, and for a moment, Robert let himself be held by his mum. After the terrible morning he’d had, he needed it.

Chapter Text


As soon as he’d finished talking to his mother, Robert left and accosted John. “I want you to head Aaron’s security team.”

“No,” John said. “I can’t do that.”

“Please,” Robert said. “He likes you, he respects you, and you’re the best. I want him safe.”

“I can’t,” John repeated. “Quite frankly, Aaron’s a bit under my pay rate. I’m paid to protect the heir to the throne. Not your boyfriend.”

Robert sighed. “I don’t care,” he said. “Aaron’s going to be a nightmare, getting strangers to follow his every move. Please.”

John hesitated. “If you end up with a bullet in your head because someone inexperienced is heading your security, I’m going to take no responsibility. It’ll be your own stupid fault.”

“Thank you,” Robert said, breathing out.

“Is he worth it?”

“To me, yes,” Robert said. “Now I’ve got to get him out of Vic’s clutches.”

“Well, if she doesn’t scare him off, nothing will,” John said. He patted Robert on the shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.”

“I hope so.”

Robert walked into Vic’s apartments, seeing Aaron clutching his mug of tea. “You’re not telling him stories are you?” Robert asked.

“Why would I do that?” Vic said with an innocent smile. “You never introduce me to anyone you’re dating.”

“Mm,” Robert growled. “Vic, let him go,” Robert said, grabbing Aaron’s arm. “I’ll talk to you later.” Aaron let Robert lead him towards Robert’s rooms. When he opened the door, Aaron felt more relaxed. It felt familiar, like his rooms at Balmoral. Robert put down the envelope on the table, hands shaking.

“What is it?”

“These are the ones that weren’t published,” Robert said. “I’ve only had a brief look, but...” Aaron emptied the envelope and looked at them. He went pale. Thank God they hadn’t been published, he’d never get over the embarrassment.

“Are...” Aaron swallowed. “Are you sure they won’t be published?”

“As much as I can be,” Robert said. “My legal teams pretty good, so…”

“I can’t cope if they are,” Aaron said. “I can’t, I just can’t.” Robert put his arms around Aaron and pulled him close, holding his body tightly.

“It’ll be okay.” Both of them knew he couldn’t promise that.

It had felt like the longest day in history, and it was only eleven in the morning. America was starting to wake up, and not only was Robert’s boyfriend the headline in the UK, for some reason it was breaking news over there too. Laura kept calling him with updates and information about the statement the palace was going to release at midday. Robert was happy with it, under the circumstances. Basically saying that Robert’s private life and sexuality should be respected and the palace makes no comment on his romantic life. Robert didn’t believe for a second it’d change anything, but they had to say something.

“What?” Aaron snapped, answering the phone. He mouthed the word “mum” to Robert who nodded. Was it too early for whisky? Probably. “I’m fine,” Aaron said.

“You’re sleeping with the heir to the throne?!” Chas said shrilly down the phone.

“I didn’t know,” Aaron said, biting his bottom lip. “When I first met him, I didn’t recognise him.” Chas snorted. “I’m fine by the way. The entire country is discussing me and my boyfriend and…” he tailed off.

“I want you to come home,” Chas said.

“That’s not an option,” Aaron said. “I can’t.” He could, but leaving Robert alone to deal with this mess was not an option he wanted to contemplate.

“What about…” Chas hesitated. “I don’t want to upset you, but… Gordon. The press… None of the family will talk, obviously, but…”

“It’s been taken care of,” Aaron said.

“Oh,” Chas said. “Are you sure?”

Aaron looked at John, realising that he did actually trust him. “Yes.”

“Good,” she said. “I love you, Aaron. But God, you make life difficult for yourself.” Aaron smiled. 

“Yeah, I guess that says it all,” he said. “I’m really busy today. I’ve got to go.”

“Okay,” Chas said. “Call every now and then to let me know you’re okay.”

“Yeah, I will,” Aaron said. “Bye.”

“Is your mum okay?” Robert asked.

“Under the circumstances, yes,” Aaron said.

“Oh, John’s going to be looking after you,” Robert said. “I’m getting new security.”

“Nicole,” John said to Robert. “She’s heading up your new team.”

“That was quick,” Robert said.

“She’d already been vetted,” John said. “I trust her. She’s getting her new comms, and then she’ll be with us.”

“Why do I get John?” Aaron asked Robert.

“Because he’s the best,” Robert said.

“Shouldn’t that be you, then?” Aaron asked. "You're important, I'm a nobody."

“You're not a nobody. John’s not as… intrusive as some security can be,” Robert said. “You have to have someone, so…”

“Thanks.” Aaron squeezed Robert’s hand tightly. He appreciated it.

The day dragged on. Twentyfour hour news coverage kept discussing them and Aaron tried and failed not to keep putting the channel on the telly in Robert’s bedroom. Robert kept getting phone calls, even with Laura screening a lot of them. Requests for interviews were coming in by the hundred. “Anyone would think we were doing something illegal,” Robert muttered.

“Not too many years ago, it would have been,” Aaron said. Robert shook his head. There was a knock on the door and a woman came in. Five foot tall, slender with dark hair. She looked in her mid to late thirties. “I’m Nicole,” she said. “The head of your new security.”

“John told me you were coming,” Robert said. “Nice to meet you.”

“Anything critical I need to know?” she said.

“Such as?”

“Any dirty secrets you want hidden?” she said. “I don’t know you, so I just need to know what to protect, how to do my job. Any drug habits, anything illegal?”

“You’re charming, you are,” Robert said.

“I think,” Aaron said. “He means that I’m his only dirty little secret.”

“Don’t call yourself that.”

“The press are,” Aaron said. Robert sighed.

The day dragged on and on. By the end of it, Laura had arranged an interview. It was with a paper who was pro royalty, and a journalist who had written positive pieces about Robert’s life previously. It was probably the best they could get, but there was no way either of them could escape this without an interview. Robert left it very ambiguous as to whether Aaron would be coming to that interview or not.

At the end of the day, both of them spooned together in bed. It had been stressful, intense, and uncomfortable, being outed to the public. But they were both here together. Robert was the little spoon and Aaron kissed into his neck, his hand on Robert’s thigh, the other in his hair. It was for comfort, and having Aaron here after such a horrible day made it all worth it. 

“I have a headache,” Robert said. Aaron’s fingers started running through his hair, gently massaging his scalp.

“Too much stress.”

“I love you,” Robert whispered.

“I love you too,” Aaron said. “Sorry I’m causing you issues.”

“You’re not,” Robert said. “The world is.” Aaron kissed the back of his neck again, and they went to sleep, wrapped in each others arms.

Chapter Text

Aaron slept surprisingly well, waking up to Robert’s hands skimming his body lightly. “You awake?”

“Mm,” Aaron murmured, enjoying this immensely.

“You up for it?”

“Yeah,” Aaron said, a smile in his voice. Robert kissed him and they had a very enjoyable morning quickie. It wasn’t until about half an hour later when Aaron grabbed his phone that the reality of the last twenty four hours sunk in. Aaron found that he and Robert were still on the front page of all the papers, just with a new set of pictures. Most of them being pictures of their escape from the hotel in front of the worlds press. Then it dawned on him that he’d just had a screw in Buckingham palace.

“You’re panicking,” Robert noticed.

“I didn’t say anything,” Aaron said.

“You didn’t need to,” Robert said. “I’ve got a string of messages from Laura. She wants us to go out together in public tonight.”

Aaron snorted. “No thanks.”

“Great,” Robert said.

“It’s not you,” Aaron said, his hand stroking Robert’s thigh. “It’s everyone else.”

Robert ignored that. “She says in order to have the world accept that we’re in a normal relationship, we have to act normal, not keep hiding. The more we hide, the more it looks like we have something to hide.” Aaron could see the logic but it didn’t mean he liked it. “I’ve got to go to the opera tonight. Charity thing. Come with me?”

“That’s about the last place I’d want to go,” Aaron said.

“Same,” Robert said. “I don’t get to pick and choose. Having you there, a nice well fitted suit… it’d make the night much more bearable. And there’s no press inside the theatre either. So…” Aaron looked at Robert’s face. He really wanted Aaron to come, he could tell. 

“Fine,” Aaron said. “I’m going to hate every minute of it though.”

“Deal,” Robert said with a grin. “Thank you.”

Aaron (after a quick argument with Robert) decided to go to work. He’d already dropped Cain in it enough and wanted to see his uncle. John assured him that no press were on the private property of the garage, but he had to take John with him anyway. There was a hubbub of press on the street, having clearly found out where Aaron worked, but inside it was just the same as it always was. Gloomy, familiar, Cain’s dour face looking at him.

“Look what the cat dragged in.”

“Hi,” Aaron said. “John, my security.”

“Oh, look who’s moving up in the world,” Cain said sarcastically.

“Cain, come on.”

“How long have you been sleeping with him then?” Cain asked. "The Prince."

“A few months,” Aaron said.

Cain nodded, going into the back office to put the kettle on, leaving John outside. Aaron followed. “Your mum keeps calling me, wanting me to tell her how you’re doing.”

“I’m fine,” Aaron said. “Promise.”

“Is he worth it?” Cain said. “All this? I almost knocked a photographer out on the way into work this morning.”

“You didn’t did you?” Aaron said, worried.

“No. You didn’t answer me,” Cain said. “Is he worth it?”

“Yes,” Aaron said. “I love him. I wish I didn’t, because of the nightmare he brings with it, but… yeah. Sorry.”

“Take care of yourself though, yeah?” Cain said. “You don’t want all of the… stuff to get out, right?”

Aaron knew he meant Gordon. “It’s been taken care of.” 

“By the muscle?” Cain said. “Do you trust him?”

“Actually, I do,” Aaron said. “I don’t know why.” Cain nodded.

“Get to work then,” Cain said with a wink. Aaron smiled. It was nice to have some normality.

It was a short day, but Aaron enjoyed himself. Working on cars was predictable, and he did it well. He was only distantly aware of the photographers camped outside, and he could focus on his work. At the end of the day, John shooed him back into a car and Aaron didn’t know where he was being driven to. “Where are we going?”

“Robert’s asked for a suit for you this evening,” John said. “We’re getting one fitted for you. Even with the oil stains on your hands.” Aaron groaned. He’d done a good job of putting that to the back of his mind all day. The bloody opera. One thing that hadn’t gone from his mind was what Cain said about Gordon.

“You’re sure my history won’t come out to the press?” Aaron asked John.

“Yes,” he said. “I still think you should tell Robert.”

“Why?” Aaron said. “If it’s not going to come out, why do I need to?”

“He loves you,” John said. “The people who love you will want to know.”

“I can’t tell him,” Aaron said. “Not with everything else going on. You can’t either.”

“I won’t,” John said. “He can ask for your file at any point. It’d be better coming from you.”

“He’s not going to ask for my file,” Aaron said. “That was back when he had no idea who I was. He’ll never ask to read it now.”

“Tell him.” Aaron ignored that. He looked at John. In his late forties. Did he have a family?

“Have you got kids?” Aaron asked.

“Three,” John said. “Three girls.”

“Do you see them?”

“They’re grown now, adults with their own lives.” John cleared his throat. “Well, two of them are. Lizzie, she died.”

“I’m sorry,” Aaron said genuinely. “How old was she?”

“Nineteen,” John said. “She was my eldest and it’s sad, seeing the other two grow older than she is. Frozen in time.” John sighed as the car stopped. “Come on. Lets get your suit together.” Aaron didn’t push any more.

Wow. Robert had had a stressful day, drafting statements, making sure that his and Aaron’s privacy was respected as much as possible, leaving him with a banging headache. But seeing Aaron dressed in his perfectly fitted suit… that made the worry melt away. He looked incredible, so much so it caused a lump in Robert's throat.

“Can we get this over with then,” Aaron grumbled. Robert grinned, moving closer to him and kissing his neck.

“You look amazing,” Robert whispered. Aaron looked pleased. “Thanks. For coming with me. The photographers are going to be well behaved.”

“Wonderful,” Aaron said sarcastically.

As it turned out, the photographers actually were well behaved. There was still a white flash that went on for a couple of minutes as they arrived, but otherwise they were left alone. Aaron wondered how many strings Robert had to pull for that to happen. The opera was boring as hell. But, seeing Robert dressed up, a private box in the theatre, complimentary drinks, Robert’s wandering hands that couldn’t be seen by everyone else… it almost made it worth the occasional mobile phone pointed in their direction.

Afterwards, slightly tipsy, Aaron didn’t know where they were being driven. “Where’re we going?”

“I’ve managed to get a private house sorted,” Robert said. “No more hotels, we can stay there when we don’t want to be seen. I’ve had enough of photos.” Under normal circumstances, Aaron might argue that Robert had arranged a house for them without so much as asking, but they were far past normal circumstances, and that sounded about perfect right now. He nuzzled into Robert in the back of the car. This felt… strangely normal and good. Maybe this could work. Him and Robert? Maybe.