Never Meet Your Heroes

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    "You, um, Adler servant!" called a voice from down the hall. John turned in confusion, wondering who on earth could require his assistance now. To his surprise, however, it didn't seem to be a royal or a noble at all. In fact it was a boy dressed in purple clothes, similar to the servant's clothes John currently wore.
"Yes, hello?" John said in confusion, watching as the boy jogged up to him with a friendly smile. He was around John's age with sandy blonde hair and a permanent smile on his face, a curious feature for a servant to have. He stopped in front of John, catching his breath for a moment.
"Do you mind helping us with dinner? You're the first servant we could find and we don't know what your family prefers come dinner time, the wine and food selection and all of that." Greg admitted. John looked around nervously; honestly he couldn't even give the first names of the family, much less talk about their favorite wines.
"I'm new to this family actually, but I can do my best." John decided. He thought that helping with this dinner would give him a good look at both families, his masters and his targets.
"Alright then, follow me. I'm Greg by the way, Greg Lestrade." The boy said with a smile.
"John Watson." John muttered. Greg jogged all the way to the kitchens, following the hallways and staircases as if he were born on them, knowing exactly where to turn without even batting an eyelash. John had never really seen such a big castle, and it seemed almost impossible to remember every room and corridor available.
"You're new you said, what made you decide to become a servant?" Greg wondered, talking easily as he jogged along.
"Oh you know, just looking for work." John admitted, finding it increasingly difficult to talk while running and navigating.
"Well you seem like a decent fellow." Greg decided, as if that was the only proper way to end the conversation. John nodded, not knowing any sort of response to that considering they had just met not a minute ago. They soon arrived at a small door with steam pouring out from underneath it, as if there was very intense cooking going on in there. Greg opened the door carelessly and walked throughout the kitchens, skillfully avoiding the flailing elbows, maneuvering chefs and numerous pots and pans. John, on the other hand, managed to hit three cooks, knock over one bowl of what looked like parsley, and trip over a wet spot on the floor, making a huge mess and apologizing many times. The chefs all scowled at him, however, because they noticed his green clothes, the mark of an Adler servant. Maybe this Adler family wasn't too popular in the chef world, or any world to be honest. They were jerks; and John hoped everyone realized that. Finally they made it to who they were evidently searching for, a very professional looking cook with a tall chef's hat and a trimmed white beard. Obviously he was the one in charge here.
"Yes, Alder servant?" he asked with a thick accent. John nodded apprehensively, rather embarrassed to call himself that.
"Yes that's me." John agreed.
"What type of wine do they prefer?" the chef wondered, glaring at him judgmentally.
"I'm sorry, I'm very new to this job, but I'd say anything imported and anything expensive will do." John decided.
"That's not good enough!" the chef exclaimed, so loudly that John flinched. Obviously this was normal chef behavior, however, because no one else in the room seemed to notice.
"I'm sorry sir, honestly I am but I have no idea what they want." John admitted, blushing a little bit in shame. Greg sighed, looking upset that he had wasted his time on this pathetic man, even if he did seem to be a 'decent fellow'.
"Lestrade get me a useful servant, you boy, go join the others and set the table, and try not to mess up!" the chef instructed, hitting John with his tall hat as a signal to disperse. John sighed heavily, messaging the place where he had gotten hit twice in less than thirty minutes. Servants work really was work, wasn't it? But never the less he walked out the door of the kitchen into the dining room, a very quiet hall that was primarily filled with a large wooden table. There were many servants running around, placing golden plates and chalices at every place setting, setting the silverware nicely and folding the napkins into what looked like swans. When he walked in everyone sort of glared at him, immediately noticing the contrasting color to their neat purple uniforms. John got many judgmental glares from the entire squad, all narrowing their eyes quickly before getting back to work, as if they were under some sort of deadline. The dining hall itself was beautiful, with large stained glass windows stretching to the ceiling, sprinkling in colored light over the stone. It was magnificent and gorgeous, far more beautiful than anything John had witnessed in the halls of Baskervilles Kingdom.
"Well hurry up then, we don't want to be late for when they arrive!" instructed a kind looking woman with light brown hair, setting out desert forks above the plates.
"I'm sorry...what is it I should be doing?" John wondered, looking around at the bustling servants in confusion. John didn't know where everything was supposed to go much less where he got it from, so he just stood there as the whirlwind of experienced Lauriston servants flew around, doing everything so quickly John could only blink before they finished.
"Come on, don't just stand there!" Greg insisted, running up from behind John and pulling him into the servant's quarters on the other side of the hall. John was just able to close the door when he heard the first set of high heels enter the room. "That was close, what do you think you're doing, standing around?" Greg wondered, catching his breath and leaning against the stone wall with a smile.
"I don't really know what I'm doing to be honest. This is all very new to me." John admitted.
"Well I'm sure you'll get the hang of it, a servant's job is easy if you do everything perfectly." Greg said, as if that were so easy to achieve.
"Well, that's reassuring." John muttered, looking around this new room. The first thing John noticed was that there were so many people in here it almost felt suffocating, all the servants holding pitchers of wine, bowls of rolls and butter should the royals run out, and spare napkins and silverware. Obviously the kitchen servants would be the ones serving the food, and it was their job to make sure everything went exactly as planned.
"They're here, I can hear them talking." hissed one of the women, the one that had talked to John earlier. She was pressing her ear to the door as if wanting to hear every word that came out of their royal mouths.
"What are they saying?" wondered another anxiously, looking as if she were just dying for new gossip.
"I can't tell, shush!" the first insisted, and suddenly everyone stopped moving and talking, a deadly silence falling over the room. John looked at Greg curiously, who just shrugged, as if this were a regular occurrence.
"They're talking about their children, boasting it seems. It's that Adler king, going on about his daughter." She whispered. "Probably a witch, if you ask me, did you see that smile?" Someone cleared their throat from afar and suddenly everyone turned to John, looking at him with nervous eyes.
"I'm not telling, I agree with you." John assured with a guilty smile. Suddenly the tension eased up and there were a lot more smiles cast in his direction.
"Alright, now it's the king, he's saying stuff about Sherlock, how brave and noble he is. Oh what a sham, have you seen that boy? He's as thin as a stick and so rude." She insisted. There was a murmur of agreement, and suddenly John was interested in the conversation.
"What do you mean rude? Isn't he the Golden Prince, the prize of the kingdom?" John wondered. There was a chorus of laughter, as if the servants knew so much more than everyone else.
"Oh you poor thing, you'll learn, just you wait." One of the women said, laughing again as if this were some great joke.
"Is he really mean?" John whispered to Greg, who just shrugged.
"He's kind of funny, sometimes. But it's no secret that his royal act is a sham. The servants know everyone for who they truly are, he and that Molly Hooper girl really shouldn't be considered royal at all." Greg insisted.
"Are they like...a thing?" John wondered a bit curiously.
"Watching out for your witch?" Greg laughed. But he shook his head, looking as if this were all some big mystery to even the servants. "Who knows with that boy? The girls all drool over him, he's like every woman's dream around here and yet I don't think I've ever seen him in the company of anyone but Molly."
"But he's powerful and stuff, right? Strong, brave, handsome, everything they say?" John wondered.
"I can't say really. I think he's fair at all of those things but he's no Golden Prince, that's for sure. The day Sherlock Holmes takes the throne is the day I quit for good." Greg decided.
"Oh but he is handsome, the stories don't over exaggerate that." one of the servant girls insisted with a smile.
"Oh is he ever, what a sculpted face." Another agreed. Greg just laughed, shaking his head in doubt.
"Don't listen to them John, they don't know what they're talking about. I think he looks kind of like an otter, or a pickle." Greg admitted. John couldn't help but laugh, wondering just when he would get his opportunity to lay eyes on the prince for himself. His opportunity came, however, a lot sooner than expected.
"More wine!" called a loud voice from the dining room.
"Here, give it to John, let him see!" said one of the women, and suddenly someone was thrusting the pitcher of wine into John's hands.
"I don't know what to do with..." but before he could finish his sentence he was pushed out the door and into the hall. Thankfully no one was looking at him, they were all very focused on their food but he still felt like he was in the spotlight just in the gleams of their golden crowns. John got a better grip on the pitcher, walking as politely as he could over to the table where he looked at everyone sitting there. The first person his eyes were drawn to, of course, was the boy that had to be Sherlock, sitting across from Irene with a crown perched in a mess of black curls. He was certainly not what John had imagined him, nothing even remotely close. He didn't have bulging muscles; his arms were scrawny, kind of looking like the green beans he was eating. He didn't have broad shoulders, or a handsome complexion or an aura of gold; in fact he was so underwhelming John might have laughed if he wasn't so scared.
"Sorry, who wanted the wine?" John wondered nervously, seeing that all of their cups were relatively full. Suddenly all of the people turned their heads, staring at him with so much judgment John almost dropped the pitcher.
"Oh excuse my servant; he's new to the job." King Adler said apologetically, a glare in his eyes that made John flinch.
"You can top off all of our chalices please." King Holmes said with a commanding smile, making John nod and scurry around to try to fill up all of the cups, pouring as much as he could without spilling the wine. Every chance he got he glanced at Sherlock, as if hoping he'd look away and he would suddenly have morphed into a macho man, the one that John had always pictured him as. Oh well, never meet your heroes I guess. By the time he had gotten over to Sherlock's chalice the wine pitcher was nearly empty, and he found it rather difficult to fill up his cup without leaning too far over him. John definitely didn't want to brush up against his shoulder, but he was able to get close enough to catch a whiff of his expensive cologne, a very odd scent. Sherlock cleared his throat in thanks, going back to cutting up some roasted potatoes. Finally when everyone's chalice was full John walked back to the servant's quarters, the door opening as soon as he approached and he was quickly pulled back inside.
"John you did not speak to them?" Greg asked, as if that were the most daring thing anyone has ever done.
"Well, I...ya, I spoke to them." John admitted, looking around at the amazed faces of the servants.
"I haven't spoken a word to any of the royals individually, much less two whole families! You've got guts kid." One of the women said proudly. John smiled modestly, severely doubting that.
"No I think I'm just oblivious." He admitted, and there was a chorus of laughter. John couldn't help cracking a small embarrassed smile, handing the now empty pitcher to one of the women a taking a seat on the floor with a sigh. Maybe being a servant wasn't going to be too bad.
"So what did you think of Prince Sherlock?" one of the women asked, the one who was pressing her ear up to the door. John still didn't know any of their names but he guessed that in time he would figure it all out. They didn't seem like bad people, in fact they were rather fun.
"I almost laughed; he really does look like a pickle." John decided, and the whole room burst into silent laughter.
"I think he's beautiful, you really need to take time to appreciate him, but it hits you when you least expect it." one of the maids insisted in a dreamy voice.
"Do you think he likes your princess?" Greg wondered.
"I can't really tell, I'd be shocked though, no matter how convincing a show Irene will put on I'm sure anyone can see through her mask in no time." John decided.
"Is she really that horrible?" one of the women wondered, looking genuinely worried about Sherlock's safety. John shrugged, remembering all the times her family and their allies had beaten him and threatened his family.
"I haven't been working here long, so I really can't say." John admitted.
"Why'd they bring you if you hadn't been working here that long?" a girl in the back wondered.
"Practical experience maybe? So that you people could whip me into shape for when I go back home." John shrugged. Home was a pile of ashes right now, but they didn't need to know that. There was a murmur of agreement and everyone was silent, the only noise was the wine pitcher being filled up in the back.
"Ooh, did you hear about the tournament?" one of the women asked excitedly, jumping up and down so that her curly hair bounced. Greg sat up in interest; as if they were finally talking about something he was interested in.
"Really, they were talking about that?" Greg wondered excitedly.
"They're posting flyers tonight; it's open to anyone who dares enter and can pay the fee, using their weapon of choice." The woman agreed. Greg jumped to his feet in triumph, looking as if his life had been made.
"Oh that's brilliant! We servants have been saving up just enough to enter one of us into the tournament; we're going to duel to see who gets to be entered. Oh this is fantastic." Greg decided, spinning in a little circle of happiness.
"What makes you think you're going to win?" one of the woman wondered, and Greg smiled confidently.
"I've been fighting longer than our Golden Prince has, I can take any of those knights." Greg decided.
"Who won it last year?" John wondered. There was an annoyed sigh from the crowd, as if they really didn't like the answer to the question.
"Sherlock." The woman admitted, not sounding happy about it.
"And the year before?" John wondered.
"Sherlock again." Greg sighed.
"And before that?" John asked, seeing a bit of a theme here. The women all looked a bit furious, as if Sherlock's winning was the most embarrassing thing for the kingdom.
"Let's put it this way, every year that prince has entered the tournament, he's won. It doesn't make any sense, these knights that are fully trained, powerful warriors fall to this weak little kid." Greg groaned.
"He cheats, he has to." Someone piped up. There was another mutter of agreement from the crowd, and John looked around in confusion.
"How can someone cheat in a tournament? I mean, you're good or you're not it's not like you can make them quit." John pointed out.
"He pays them off, I'm sure of it." someone insisted.
"Definitely, all that gold that boy has, he gives a meaningful sum to anyone he has to compete against and suddenly their sword has been knocked out of their hand, or they get knocked out by a mere tap of that kid's bony elbow. It's horrible." Greg agreed. "It's not fair."
"But it's not the money that matters, it's the glory!" John debated, looking around for anyone who would agree with him. Then again, he was in a room of servants, they would all take money over glory any day.
"I won't take any bribes, I'll tell you that much." Greg assured.
"What if you don't get picked to go in?" one of the women pointed out, and John just laughed at the sad look on Greg's face.
"I guess I need to train a little bit more. God knows Sherlock hasn't picked up his sword in about ten years." Greg decided with a laugh.
"Not since he defeated knights when he was four." John added, and the room burst into even more laughter. John couldn't help smiling at himself for that little joke, these people found him hilarious. And he knew that one way or another, he was going to have to betray them. They may hate their prince but they don't want him dead, and who knows, what if the monarchy dies and they get fired? John might be putting their jobs, their lives in danger just by being in this castle. He felt awful about it, he really did, but the more they talked about this Sherlock the less guilt he felt for having to kill him. John and the servants waited in the wings until finally the fading clicking of high heels told them that the royals were done eating and gave the servants the opportunity to swoop in and clean up. They had made quite a mess, with crumbs of bread flaking the table and spilt wine soaking into a white napkin (where Irene had sat, no surprise there) it took a while for John to finally get released. Of course he probably wasn't supposed to be here at all, he should probably be helping the royal scum get ready for bed since they probably couldn't figure out how to do it themselves.

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