A/N: wow, that's the most feedback I've ever got from a chapter. Thank-you so much. I've put my replies to the fic at the bottom.
"Why is the crown prince, my brother, captured here like a common criminal?"
The Queen's words rang through the minds of all those present in the room. Nobody moved. Robert let out a shaky laugh, of all the things to happen here he had not expected that Ed would get mistaken for the crown prince. Edmund felt his heart sink at Robert's laugh. It was time to reveal who he was; he couldn't get out of it. He could only hope that he wouldn't lose Robert. Right now though he needed to free them both.
"Now will you listen to me?" he asked softly. The guards who had frozen in horror now moved to release him hurriedly. His sister came over and placed her hand on his arm, clearly worried about him.
"I am all right sister, do not worry," he murmured. At this affection though Robert felt like a bucket of cold water had landed over him. This had gone too far to be a joke. Could it be true?
Edmund gestured for Robert to be released, his heart aching at the bewildered look on his lover's face. He was unsure how to progress. He knew he should take this discussion to his chambers and re-dress in princely attire so as to leave no doubt in the guards' minds that he was the prince and so regain his reputation. However the look on Rob's face made him hesitate. Reason won out in the end though; he was after all the crown prince.
When they arrived in his chambers a couple of attendants who'd been woken in the search for the prince helped him change in an adjoining chamber. When he re-entered the room where the deputy head of the royal guard, four guards, his sister and his lover were waiting he saw the latter's face close up at the sight of him now as the prince. Robert joined the others in a bow, his face showing no emotion. Edmund wanted to take him in his arms but he had to wait though until the situation had been dealt with.
"My sister, do please seat yourself down. I am sorry to have caused you this distress," he began with the formalities.
"Robert," he turned his eyes towards his lover, trying to convey all his sympathy through them. "I am very sorry you have been subjected to this." Although his words were formal he desperately hoped Robert would sense what he was really trying to say. Robert though was still overwhelmed. One minute he had been meeting his lover, a royal page, in the gardens and now he found his lover was actually a prince. As he watched the Prince, now formally dressed and speaking formally the distance between them seemed to grow. The chambers as well were more lavishly decorated than he could ever imagine there being. He began to feel very small.
"My lord Stephenson, good men of the royal guard we have before us a very strange case. Never before has a member of the royal family been arrested let alone for being in an area where he has every right to be."
"Your highness," Lord Stephenson knelt to speak. "I would like to apologise humbly for the events that have happened here tonight. I speak for myself and the entire royal guard when I say that we have always honoured and respected your royal house and your person. We would never knowingly have offended you and I humbly offer you my resignation."
"Please rise my lord." Edmund paused as the man stood up. "You and your guards were merely trying to carry out your duties and I do feel comforted in the fact that any intruders would be so successfully discovered and treason dealt with."
As Robert listened he could see all his hopes falling away in front of him. How foolish he had been. He had pictured a future for the two of them together. Marriage even, sharing their lives and now here his lover was, a prince, not the man he thought he was. That man had been taken from him. How could there be a future? He could feel his eyes welling up. Edmund noticed this too and moved to end the interview more quickly.
"However something needs to be changed. I will not justify or explain my whereabouts tonight, for it is my right to move freely but actions must be taken to protect this right. We will speak more of this at a later date when I have considered this further. My Lord Stephenson, guards, you are dismissed." When they had left Edmund turned to his sister.
"Maria?" He began. She got up and moved quickly towards him.
"Do not worry, I will go now. I shall speak with you tomorrow though." She placed a quick kiss on his cheek before departing leaving Edmund and Robert alone at last. There was a heavy silence that at last the prince broke.
"Rob, I am so so sorry." Robert lifted his head.
"Why did you do it?" Edmund sighed before replying.
"I've taken to wandering around the castle disguised as a peasant for years. It's the only way I can be by myself, be myself without having to be the prince. Then I met you and... and I fell in love with you. The me you saw Rob, that was the real me without all the formalities and barriers. Prince or page I'm the same man, I have the same interests, same opinions, same feelings and you mean so much to me. I was scared that if you found out..." he trailed off.
"But your highness,"
"Ed," he corrected, feeling a stab in his chest at the formal address he had never before heard from Robert.
"Your highness, you are my prince now. This does change things. How could you, forgive me but, how could you do that to me?" Edmund ached that Robert was now treating him as a prince.
"I had such hopes for us. Oh I feel so foolish now, but I kept picturing our future together and all the time you were keeping this from me. Were you ever going to tell me or were you just going to vanish one day? Have there been more, am I just another conquest you'll soon forget about. I thought we had a future..." He was openly crying now and when Edmund impulsively embraced him in his arms he impulsively leaned into the touch.
"Robert, love, I am so sorry. But I too kept picturing the future, what might be possible. Even now Rob, I don't want this to end."It was different though, the feel of the Prince's sumptuous clothes against him, he even had a sword at his belt.
"But does this have any future now?"
"That's up to you Robert."
Sorry, bit of a cliff hanger but I can't help myself sometimes. I'd like to thank everyone who has put this on story alert, their favourite story list and especially those who've reviewed. It really encourages me to write and I love knowing what people are thinking of it.
BetterLateThanNever: Sorry about the cliff hanger, I find myself doing subconsciously and I just did it again, oops. I'll try not to next time! Glad you're enjoying it.
atarram: Thank-you, I'll try to.
Midnightwrighter: Again, I know! Thank-you for reviewing again.
Aday4evr: Thank-you. Actually when the plot idea came to me the two men's names came with the chrachters, if that makes sense (not sure it does). I always struggle on surnames though and secondary chrachters. Glad I've got most of them sorted now. Thank-you for the encouragement on the writing style as well, I'm very grateful.
Midnight41: I know, hopefully this is then the part where it is good! Thanks for your comment.