The Other Option

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"You're bloody kidding me!" Sherlock exclaimed, smacking the bed post with his hand in anger.
"It's amazing how you can change personalities the moment someone leaves." Molly decided, looking at Sherlock in interest.
"This is horrible, he likes her, I know that look, that speech. It's the I care about my kingdom more than you but I don't want to tell you speech." Sherlock snapped. "This is a disaster."
"And now you have to go eat with the princess." Molly groaned.
"I HATE HER!" Sherlock screamed, kicking his bed and clutching his foot in pain.
"Fake an illness." Billy suggested, maybe just to remind them that he was still here.
"An excellent idea Billy!" Sherlock exclaimed proudly.
"Oh no, you're not doing that Sherlock, you're not going to fake your way out of this." Molly insisted.
"And just why not?" Sherlock wondered, turning his head at Molly accusingly. It was annoying how she never flinched at his glares, everyone else in the kingdom would be in tears if he had looked at them like that, but no, Molly just frowned in disappointment.
"You want me spending a private moonlight dinner in the gardens with that witch?" Sherlock wondered.
"I didn't say you had to kiss her or even pretend to be into her, but you're going. You can't disobey a direct order from the king." Molly insisted. Sherlock groaned, but they all know that Molly had officially convinced him. She was right of course; Sherlock couldn't disobey his father, no matter how much he may want to. The king was the king, and it didn't matter if he was the prince of not, he was still under the king's control. So Sherlock dressed into his official attire, his purple shirt with the crest on it and a long purple cape. Billy brushed his hair while Sherlock scowled into the mirror, wincing every time that stupid servant pulled the hairbrush through a knot. Of course brushing his hair was a skill Sherlock could do in ten seconds by himself, but it was kind of fun to make Billy do it, and Sherlock liked the feeling of someone else brushing his hair, it was kind of relaxing.
"So what are you going to tell her?" Molly wondered.
"Whatever she asks. God knows I'm not asking her any questions." Sherlock laughed.
"Don't be honest with her questions." Billy suggested.
"An excellent point." Molly agreed. "Don't let her know how you really are."
"Ouch Billy!" Sherlock snapped.
"Sorry sir." Billy muttered, brushing through a curl as gently as he could. Sherlock sighed heavily, staring at his reflection in the mirror and wondering what a girl like Irene could possibly see in him. Obviously she could have any prince she wanted, but why would such a beast focus their attention on someone so insignificant as Sherlock? The answer was obvious; actually, no one knew how insignificant he really was. She was under the impression that she would marry the Golden Prince, and for the rest of his life Sherlock had to pretend for her sake that he really was golden. This was so tedious, why couldn't he just be naturally perfect? That would make his royal life so much easier. When finally Sherlock was dressed and ready he was really considering just drinking poison, that experience might be a lot less painful than the one he would have to face when he went down to the gardens. But nevertheless, with some sad goodbyes Sherlock walked out the door and made his way down to the gardens, where he could see the soft glows of candles from the top of the stairs. He walked down the cobblestone path into the Lauriston gardens, passing by multiple bushes and tall shrubs, making the dinner extremely private, other than the servants that would most likely be waiting on them. When Sherlock finally stumbled upon a table with chairs and food, Irene was already there, sitting in a chair and talking rather agressivley to one of the servants. Sherlock's heart dropped even more when he saw who it was she was talking to...John. Of course it was John, why wouldn't it be John? God, this was just too painful. But even though his soul ached, Sherlock forced a smile, his cape flowing behind him as he walked towards his seat.
"Irene you look..." Sherlock actually couldn't' see what Irene was wearing from where she sat.
"Beautiful?" Irene guessed, the overconfident egocentric lying little...
"Yes sorry. That was the word I was looking for." Sherlock agreed weakly. "Beautiful." John just smiled at him and Sherlock smiled right back very antagonizingly, as if daring the servant to say anything.
"You look very good yourself." Irene agreed. Sherlock smiled, taking his seat and looking over at the food provided for them. If he had to go through this social torment he should at least have a good feast to show for it. Thankfully there were a lot of good things littering the table, palters of turkey, potatoes, roasted carrots and a large loaf of freshly baked bread.
"You look lovely tonight my lord." John said, sounding as though he were trying to contain his laughter as he poured wine into Sherlock's chalice.
"You look as if you spent two days in the...oh wait..." Sherlock muttered. John just smiled at him again, moving over to Irene's side of the table to pour her wine as well.
"Do you have a problem with my servant?" Irene wonder, looking at John who pulled the most innocent injured puppy look he could manage. Sherlock just laughed, shaking his head gently.
"No of course not, your servant has been nothing but kind to me in the short time we've known each other." Sherlock assured. John smiled a small smile, something so weak and adorable Sherlock almost felt pity for him, almost.
"I could always call for another if you two have problems." Irene offered.
"No your servant is fine, he dare not interrupt dinner." Sherlock assured, giving John a glare of warning before grabbing himself a slice of bread and smearing butter onto it. He wasn't all that hungry, in fact Irene's very presence was enough to nauseate him, but since he seemed to have nothing better to do to amuse himself, he decided that he might as well give his hands something to do other than long to punch someone.
"I love the gardens, do you spend a lot of time here?" Irene wondered. Sherlock sighed heavily, but forced a smile on his face.
"Not usually." He admitted.
"Do you bring your other suitors for dinner? Or possibly Molly Hooper?" she wondered. Sherlock couldn't help but laugh, looking at Irene as if wondering if she were serious.
"Certainly not Molly Hooper, you have no need to feel threatened by her." Sherlock assured. Irene nodded, pursing her lips and looking at him in suspicion.
"Why not?" she wondered. Sherlock raised his eye brows in confusion, looking over at John to see if he were hearing this.
"I'm sorry?" he wondered, leaning forward as if to hear her better.
"I asked why you're not attracted to Molly. Obviously she's a beautiful woman, your best friend as I've been told. If you're not interested in me, and you're not interested in Molly, then who is it you're interested in?" Irene wondered.
"Who said I wasn't interested in you?" Sherlock asked quickly, although this was probably the best thing that would happen all night. Irene was become self-aware.
"You did Sherlock, though not directly. Your heart is wandering I can see, you long for someone else but if not Molly I can't decide who." Irene muttered, staring at Sherlock quizzically.
"I don't, long, for anyone. I like to consider myself a free spirit." Sherlock admitted.
"Then why are you getting messed up with suitors?" Irene wondered.
"My father's idea I suspect. I am the heir apparent, and upon his death I am to have a queen." Sherlock admitted.
"Do you want a queen?" Irene wondered. Sherlock looked down at his plate in shame, it kind of startled him how quickly Irene could pick apart the inner workings of his mind.
"No, not particularly." He admitted.
"Then who do you want?" Irene asked. Sherlock looked back up at her in confusion; obviously he had just answered her question.
"No one, obviously." He said with an innocent enough laugh. Irene just smiled at him, her eyes sparkling with knowingness.
"Sherlock, there is another option." she pointed out. Sherlock wanted to laugh; he wanted to assure her that there was no other option, because for the life of him he couldn't think what that might be. But instead of laughing, or looking at Irene in confusion, his eyes snapped right to John, standing aside the table with the pitcher of wine shaking in his hands. But why to John, why did Sherlock think that a servant could hold the answer to Irene's mysterious accusation? Was she suggesting that he run away, become a servant in another village? Sherlock's stomach churned at the thought of that, not at the horror, but at the temptation. Maybe she was right; maybe there was another option than getting a queen. The worst part was, John was looking right back.
"I think I must go." Sherlock decided, getting to his feet roughly. Obviously this meal was going nowhere; now that Irene realized that Sherlock had no interest in her there was no reason to sit around a pretend.
"No Sherlock, I'll leave, you can stay, finish your dinner." Irene assured, getting to her feet as well.
"I don't want to force you to go to the castle alone, I font want anyone to get the wrong idea." Sherlock insisted.
"What might the wrong idea be then?" Irene wondered.
"That I made you leave." Sherlock pointed out. Irene just smiled at him, her diamond necklace glittering in the candlelight.
"But that's the correct assumption, is it not?" Irene wondered. Sherlock sighed heavily, but nodded.
"Stick around for the tournament, stay here just for a time. I'm a very good pretender; I'll make sure my father believes we still have a connection." Sherlock assured.
"You're not as good of a pretender as you think you are." Irene decided, and with that she turned and made her way back down the garden path, her high heels clicking dully on the cobblestone. Sherlock sighed heavily, standing and staring at the table lamely.
"I'm not really sure who showed up who, but in the end I think you both kind of won." John decided. Sherlock looked up in surprise; to be honest he had forgotten the servant was even there.
"Would you like to torment me about my lack of dating experience?" Sherlock wondered. John just laughed, shaking his head in reassurance.
"No I think I'm trying to complement you on finally getting rid of her. It's obvious that she's fallen for you, but it's equally obvious you don't share the same feelings." John assured. Sherlock sighed heavily, collapsing into a chair and hanging his tired head in his hands, staring at his empty dinner plate and wishing that there really was another option at this moment.

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