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Prince Andrei's sneeze


rekztul

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“Given the prevalence of the flu this year, it is essential that we all practice good hygiene by coughing and sneezing into tissues or into our sleeves,” Prince Alexis repeated (again). He mimicked this, raising his arm until his elbow was firmly pressed underneath his nose.

“Thank you for that necessary public safety announcement, Prince Alexis,” Eloise James intoned. “And now,” she said with a cheeky smirk, “Let me ask you one more question.”

“Uh, sure!”

“Don’t you think that sneezing like this is unmanly? Recent studies have shown that over half of women in Thessalorno cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, but only one in five men do?”

“Of course not! There’s nothing unmanly about being considerate.”

“Almost every man I know sneezes like an earthquake. Do you sneeze loudly?” Ms. James continued, cocking her head.

“Uhhh,” Prince Alexis paused. “Let’s just say that I always comport myself in a way that is respectful towards those around me.”

“Annd – we’re done” the director called out.

“Thank you for coming out Prince Alexis. This segment should be at the end of the 10pm news.” Ms. Jones said standing up.

“No problem. Happy to help.” Prince Alexis said, remaining seated. As the crew began to shuffle around, Prince Alexis sighed and closed his eyes. It had been a long week of meetings, policy briefs, and making public health announcements. A certain body part began to calm down. His assistant came to get him, and they were off. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

“Dinner’s almost ready!” his fiancé yelled.

“Thank you! I’ll be there in a min!” Andrei called out. He put down the policy briefings he was skimming and looked out of the window of his study. The setting sun was squinting above the hills, its final rays lighting up the palace gardens.

His nose tingled. He always had been a photic sneezer. He sniffed. Still there.

Closing his laptop, he looked out the window. Deciding to get rid of the itch, he stepped out onto the verandah. The chilly early spring air made him shiver. Walking to the edge of the veranda, he looked out over the gardens. HHEECHOOO HEECHOOOO, he held on tight as he sneezed over the wrought-iron railing. Rubbing a balled-up fist against his nose, and he went inside for James’s delicious vegetable stew.

“What took you so long?” James harrumphed, already sitting at the dining table. Both bowls were already full, with fresh bread and butter on the side.

Andrei quickly sat down. “Sorry. I just went outside to look at the gardens. My nose is itchy.”

“It is, is it?” James said with faux concern.

HHHECCHOOO ARGCHOOOO Andrei sneezed, first down into his lap, before turning to the side. “Whew, okay, now I’m done.”

“I see. And didn’t you just have an interview this afternoon on proper hygiene. And look at you now?”

“Come on,” Andrei groaned. “It’s just you and me here.”

“Yeah, I’m just fucking with you.” James said. He took a sip of sparkling water and belched to prove his point. “How did it go anyway?”

“Fine, I think. It’s pretty basic stuff. She did ask me a stupid question about how loud I sneeze.”

“What did you say?”

“You don’t want to watch my interview tonight?” Andrei said with mock hurt.

“No.”

“Me neither. I pretty much just said that I was a polite human being.”

“Why not just tell the truth?”

“Because it was a homophobic question. You know I get all of these questions about how manly I am. I’d rather provide more fodder for right-wing tabloids than constantly try to prove how manly I am. It’s ridiculous. For 99.9% of people, a sneeze is just a sneeze.” Andrei ranted, surprising himself.

“Shall I open a bottle of merlot, then?

“Lovely!”  

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Andrei and James woke up late the next morning to a knock on the door leading to their chambers. Andrei groused to himself, slipped on a shirt and sweatpants, and padded to open the door. Looking through the peep-hole, it was Walter, his family’s long-term butler.

“Hello?”

“I’m sorry to bother, Prince Andrei, but Her Majesty, the Queen, thought you should see something,” he said sheepishly.

“Okay?”

“I’ve also taken the liberty of bringing you and James some fruit, eggs, and toast for breakfast.”

“Oh, thank you.” That couldn’t be a good sign. He could count on one hand – in his uber boring life – how often Walter brought him food without asking. It was whenever Andrei had messed up somehow. It was when (1) Andrei was caught drinking underage in college; (2) Andrei threw up when giving a speech on his ancestor, Leopold the Great’s, 17th century man-of-war; and (3) Andrei was caught making out with another guy, effectively outing him to the world.

“Shall I push the cart in?”

“No, I can do it,” Andrei replied, half concerned, half curious.

Pulling the cart in, Andrei lifted up the cover, to find fresh eggs, coffee, toast, fruit, and jam, and a copy of the morning’s Thessalorno Gazette. Flipping it over, it was a blown up side-by-side of him covering his nose and mouth from the previous day’s interview with a picture of him mid-sneeze, from the balcony last night? It read, “PRINCE SPRITZ-A-LOT: COVERING YOUR MOUTH IS FOR PLEBIANS.”

Walking in, “What up? James asked through a yawn.

Andrei held up the front page.

“Fucking hell, that’s weird.”

Andrei skimmed it, half embarrassed, half aroused. “In a tour of the place grounds an anonymous woman said that she was taking a picture of the palace, when she happened to see Prince Andrei come out. She decided to take a picture of His Majesty, when he “roared” out two sneezes over the balcony. ‘I can’t say I wasn’t surprised. That wasn't advertised as part of the tour’ the woman said, ‘but, hey, a guy’s gotta sneeze.’” Andrei lolled. Going down, however, he saw a quote by rabble-rouser Foster Giodino, “While I am happy to see that Prince Andrei can act like a man for once in his life, this is also why the people say that Prince Andrei must to step aside for his brother, Prince Leo. He’s a hypocrite and a phony.”

James guffawed, “Look at this,” holding up his phone. On the Thessalorno Gazette’s website, the (unnaturally) crystal clear photo showed Andrei’s usually chiseled scrunched and bunched. His eyes were closed, his eyebrows furrowed, his teeth showing, and given the angle, his already large nose displayed two seemingly massive nostrils. Thanks to the bright sunlight, the photo even captured the mist of spray spouting out of Andrei’s nose and mouth. “You’re disgusting!”

“This is ridiculous. I don’t even want to respond to this.”

“Well, how will you reply to this,” James said, walking up to him, eyes squinting and nose widening. EccChooooo, James bent down, misting Andrei’s feet.

“Go to your room!” Andrei replied sternly, but hungrily.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

“I want to see a draft statement. Email it to my secretary and me. I know it’s stupid, but better to head any mini-scandal off sooner rather than later” (3:21pm). His mother had now texted.

“Ugghh,” Andrei put down his novel and grabbed his laptop.

“So you’re gonna do it?” James asked.

“Yeah, why not. It’s five minutes of my life.” 

He scribbled something off and emailed it.

His mother’s secretary took out the begrudging tone, and sent it back. His mother said to tweet it from his official account. The sterile note read:

“I humbly ask for your forgiveness. We must all work together to prevent the spread of colds and the flu, and I am ashamed to say that my personal hygiene last night was lacking. In the future, I will be sure to be more considerate to my fellow islanders. Sincerely, Andrei.”

Andrei brought his fist in front of his face, HHEECHOOOO HHEECHOOO

“Very hygienic,” James deadpanned.

“I try,” 

 “Now let me have the computer.” James said.

“Why?”

“You’ll see.”

James wiped the keyboard with his sleeve and quickly typed away, “And, yes, I do sneeze loudly.”

Peering over James’s shoulder, Andrei rolled his eyes. “Why not?”

“That’s the spirit.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

I found this to be so amusing, what a great idea. The Prince has to talk about sneezing and own up to his unhygienic ones. Nice dialogue!

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  • 2 months later...

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