The very moment the words fell from his lips, Tony knew that he had made a mistake.
“I’m sorry,” Natasha said, her voice so sweet it made the hairs on the back of Tony’s neck stand up. “What was it that you just called me?”
“Uh, it was definitely something complimentary,” Tony said, his life quite literally flashing before his eyes and completely ruining any chance he had of coming up with a clever comeback.
“Actually, he called you a peasant,” Clint shouted– from where, Tony didn’t even know, since Barton wasn’t even in the room. (Hawkeye? Nah. It was more accurate to say he had the hearing of a fucking rabbit, but then that superhero name probably wouldn’t roll off the tongue quite so well.)
“A peasant,” Natasha echoed. “That’s right.”
“Well, I didn’t call you that exactly,” Tony said, trying not to let his nerves show. “What I said was—”
“You said that laundry is for peasants,” Natasha repeated, arching her brow. “And that as a prince, you should not have to do it.”
Tony gulped at that, already knowing there was no way out— and when Natasha smiled, the sudden brightness of it made Tony’s sense of dread become about a hundred times worse.
He’d definitely made a mistake.
“Well then, your highness,” Natasha said, actually bending at the waist and lowering into a curtsy. “I suppose you’re right. The newest Prince of Asgard shouldn’t have to lower himself to such things.”
As she straightened and walked out of the room with a bounce in her step, Tony could hear Clint snickering from wherever he was hiding– and Tony had a terrible feeling that he was going to very much regret his simple attempt to get out of his rostered laundry duty.
When Tony walked into the tower’s kitchen the next morning, he was surprised to find that the coffee pot was missing. It wasn’t entirely suspicious– after all, he was hardly the only Avenger who drank coffee by the bucketload. But it was more than a little irritating, since Tony needed that caffeine.
Ah, well. He’d just have to go and find it.
Tony was still a little bleary-eyed as he made his way out of the kitchen. He hadn’t slept well, he never did when Loki was away– and Loki had left with Thor earlier in the week to visit Asgard. And to make matters worse, Tony was pretty sure he’d been woken up by the sound of bagpipes, though that might have just been a bad dream. It wouldn’t even have been the worst of the night.
Ugh. It wasn’t fair. He and Loki had only been married for just over two weeks, and they had only just arrived back home from their honeymoon– but Loki had duties to attend to, and he’d had gone to help Thor finish off the last few touches on the newly rebuilt Bifröst. Tony would have gone with them, but after the honeymoon he really did have a lot of work stacked up that he needed to finish. Loki would be back soon enough, and in the meantime, Tony just had to deal with restless sleep, a few less smiles, and a rather large bill on his international phone calls.
Tony was so preoccupied with his thoughts that, when he walked past the dining table, he nearly missed the absolutely epic spread of food– and it was truly epic even by the Avengers’ usual standard. But seeing Steve standing beside it, wearing his absolutely best tuxedo, was enough to make Tony pause even in his sleep deprived state.
“Good morning, Prince Tony,” Steve said brightly. “Might I interest you in some breakfast?”
Tony blinked. “Am I still dreaming?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Steve replied. He stepped forward to pull out a chair, and then shoved Tony’s shoulders until he was sitting in it. “Now, sire, you have some broth to start, followed by bread and cold meats. There is also a selection of cheese and biscuits, some cereal and yoghurt if you wish, and fresh fruit.”
“I don’t normally eat breakfast,” Tony muttered, still feeling a little dazed.
“Oh no, your majesty, you must eat,” Steve insisted. “How will you have the energy for your day otherwise?”
“Whatever,” Tony groaned. It was far too early in the morning for this. “I don’t know what you’re doing and to be honest, I don’t really care. Just, please, tell me you know where the coffee pot is?”
“Coffee, at this hour?” Steve gasped. “Of course not! The proper thing for a royal to have at the beginning of the day is a hot chocolate!”
Tony stared at the mug of steaming brown liquid Steve placed in front of him, horror growing in his chest as he suddenly managed to make the connection.
“This is because of what I said to Nat yesterday, isn’t it?” Tony groaned, rubbing his hands over his face. “I knew she was up to something.”
“You wished to be treated as royalty, Tony,” Steve said, his expression a picture of innocence. “We are only doing as you asked.”
“That’s really not necessary,” Tony tried, sure he would be able to talk his way out of this—
But when Bruce walked out of the elevator with a stack of honest to god newspapers that he insisted Tony needed to read, Tony had the terrible feeling that it was only going to get worse.
When JARVIS told him that he had thirty-seven appointments scheduled over the course of the day, Tony was sure the AI must have been joking. But, when JARVIS brought up Tony’s schedule– there they were, clear as crystal.
“Can’t you cancel some of them?” Tony whined, frantically swiping at the actual pages of meetings. “C’mon J, surely if I’m a prince then I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do?”
“Oh, Tony,” Natasha said from where she was sprawled over the couch, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. “Meetings and paperwork take up most of a royal’s life. I thought you’d know that. Didn’t you watch The Crown?”
Tony ignored her, and continued to go through the list of meetings and appointments and fundraisers that he would only be able to attend for five minutes before rushing off to the next one. He was starting to panic– it was clear that Natasha had done her research, for most of these were actual things, real people and charities who were expecting him and who would actually benefit from his presence, and he didn’t want to let them down—
But he didn’t know if this was even possible to do in a single twenty-four-hour day—
Then Tony heard Natasha’s soft chuckle, and he grit his teeth with stubborn pride.
He would get through this, of course he would. Damn Natasha and the others and their joke. He would show them.
You know, Tony could handle the meetings. They weren’t quite so bad after all, little more than he’d had to deal with back when he was CEO of Stark Industries.
Yes, okay, Bruce showing up in the morning to tug him out of bed and ‘help him dress’ was a little weird, but thankfully he disappeared the moment Tony threatened to lock him out of his lab– so Tony could deal with that, too.
The parties that Natasha held ‘in Tony’s honour’ in the tower every single night for a full week were tiring, but sometimes enjoyable.
Being woken up at 8am every morning to the sound of bagpipes blasting over the speakers – yeah, thanks JARVIS, you traitor – wasn’t Tony’s favourite thing in the world, but having his sleeping schedule forcibly fixed might even end up being good for him.
And the intricate circlet of entwined yellow and rose gold that Pepper presented him with was actually pretty cool, if Tony did say so himself– though it took up residence on top of his dresser rather than on his head most of the time. (He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t intending on wearing it to the next Met Gala, however.)
And yeah, all the parties and the paperwork and the meetings did mean that Tony wasn’t getting anywhere near as much downtime in the workshop as he was used to, and that was starting to drive him insane– but hey, at least he was getting things done. He hadn’t been this productive in months, and Stark Industries was loving all of his charity work.
So you know, he could deal with all of that stuff. He was weathering this ridiculous charade they all seemed to be acting out, and he would have been able to weather it for much longer still—
Clint followed him into the bathroom one evening, moving quietly enough that Tony didn’t even realise until he turned around to sit on the toilet, his jeans already half way down his legs.
Honestly, that would have been enough to make anyone snap.
“What the hell, Barton?” Tony yelped as he straightened back up, his fingers fumbling as he struggled to redo his fly as quickly as possible. “This isn’t a peep show—”
“If you’re royalty now, then someone has to watch you shit,” Clint said, his bland tone accompanied by a nonchalant shrug. “Supposedly it’s an honour, but I’m still pretty sure I drew the short straw.”
Tony stared for a moment– then he shoved past Clint and threw the door back open with enough force that it slammed against the wall. “JARVIS,” he growled. “Get everyone together. Now.”
The team was already assembled by the time Tony made it to the living room – even Clint, the fucker – and they all bowed as he entered.
“Will you stop?” Tony snapped, pinning them with his most deadly glare. “For the love of god, just leave me alone—”
“You can’t say things like that, Tony,” Natasha said, her expression the very picture of seriousness. “What would you have us do? We cannot treat you as less than you are, but nor can we defy you—”
“What does it matter if you defy me?” Tony asked harshly.
Clint frowned. “Wouldn’t that be treason?”
“For fuck’s sake!” Tony snarled. “I can’t take this anymore! I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry that I tried to use my new status as a prince to get out of doing chores, but will you please just stop?”
There was a moment where the room was silent, every face blank– well, every face bar Clint’s, since he was quite clearly trying not to laugh, but he didn’t really count. Then—
“That’s all we needed to hear,” Steve said simply. “Thank you for apologising.”
“Well,” Natasha added. “That and a promise not to do it again.”
“I promise,” Tony said immediately.
“Good,” said Natasha, her expression finally going back to normal. “Now, then. There’s a new roster of chores on the fridge– I suggest you learn it.”
And even though the others grinned far too smugly as they passed him on their way back out of the room, Tony couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.
It was over.
No more bagpipes, no more people helping him dress– and finally, finally the coffee pot would be put back in its proper place, and Steve would let him drink something other than hot chocolate at breakfast time.
Everything would go back to normal.
(Tony was totally going to keep the circlet, though. After all, he was a prince.)
The morning after Loki and Thor arrived back at the tower, everyone pitched in to make a massive breakfast. Of course, it needed to be massive due to the huge amount of food that Asgardians are capable of consuming.
The plethora of food, however, meant that there was a lot of cleaning to be done afterward. So, as per the rules agreed upon by the whole team, the chores were divided up– and, of course—
“Since we did the cooking, I think it’s only fair that Loki and Thor help to clean up,” Steve said. “Thor, you clear the table. Loki, if you could get started on the dishes—”
“I will not,” Loki interrupted, wrinkling his nose. “Washing dishes is a job for a kitchen maid.”
Tony winced at that– and when he saw that deadly spark in Natasha’s eye, he immediately glanced back down to his empty plate.
Maybe Tony loved his husband with all his heart, and yeah, he’d be willing to take a bullet for him– but he certainly knew better than to try and protect him now.
Tony had learned his lesson, and in this? Loki was on his own.