"The other servants will be here soon and I don't want to injure a horse. Now come here right now, or I'll make sure they drop your name from that tournament." Sherlock wanted. John growled at him, a legitimate scowl plastering his face as he walked carefully into the stall.
"Perfect, see? Step one." Sherlock said proudly. "Hold this." He added, stuffing the lunch basket in John's hands and going to get the reins. When Redbeard was all saddled up and ready to go Sherlock opened the gate and jumped into the saddle, getting situated with the lunch, the shield, and his sword sitting by his side. He sat on top of the horse proudly, his head just barely touching the ceiling from where he sat. John stared up at him with a kind of fear in his eyes, not wanting to step closer.
"Come on then, up you come." Sherlock insisted, offering a hand of assistance.
"My mom told me not to get on horses with strange men." John pointed out, taking a step back as if that cleared it all up.
"Good thing I'm not strange then." Sherlock said proudly, wiggling his gloved fingers at John impatiently.
"You're very strange." John defended, but obviously saw that his argument was weak.
"Come on John, it's not that bad, I'll go slow." Sherlock insisted. John sighed heavily, but slowly he grabbed Sherlock's hand, letting his leather clad fingers wrap around his own as he scrambled onto of the horse. Obviously it was his first time riding because he almost fell off as soon as he tried to get on, struggling to get his short leg over the horse. Sherlock turned as much as he could, pulling on John's arms when it seemed as though he were going to fall. Finally John was able to sit up straight, squished in the very back of the saddle.
"There we go." Sherlock said proudly, trying to ignore the obvious fact that they were pressed right up against each other.
"Alright, where are my handlebars then?" John wondered, as if he had been expecting some sort of seatbelt. Sherlock just laughed, easing Redbeard around so that he could face towards the open pasture. John shrieked, clenching his legs around the horse but still not knowing where to hold.
"You're to put your arms around me, that's how this works." Sherlock said simply. No matter how angry he tried to make that sentence it still sounded a bit...romantic. He knew that a lot of people offered rides on horses with women, he knew that Molly had been invited on many rides that only involved one horse, but of course that wasn't the reason Sherlock was doing it this way. John couldn't ride a horse by himself; he could barely ride one with a partner, so obviously this was very necessary. The poor kid was in dire need of some assistance.
"Around...around you?" John wondered nervously, looking up at Sherlock as if he were crazy.
"Yes John, around me, it's not that much to ask." Sherlock insisted, wishing John wouldn't make this so awkward.
"I think I'd rather just fall off." John muttered, maybe just to himself, but private mutterings really didn't work when you were so close together. Sherlock could pretty much feel every startled breath John took; he could feel the vibrations of his heart beating through his chest.
"Oh John don't be such a baby, come on." Sherlock growled, letting go of Redbeard's reins to reach behind him, grabbing both of John's hands and draping them around himself like some sort of fleshy scarf. He felt John quiver but never the less Sherlock had to admit...it felt rather correct. He had never had anyone hold him, not that he would be interested in any of that cuddling nonsense, but the feeling of John's arms wrapped around his neck, he could almost see the pleasure. Almost.
"Alright Redbeard, let's go!" Sherlock yelled, kicking the horse once and letting him take off down the pasture. John really didn't seem to mind being so close anymore, as soon as the horse started to move John let loose an ear splitting scream, tightening his grip around Sherlock's chest so much that it was almost hard to breathe.
"There we go." Sherlock said with a little laugh. It was kind of refreshing, not being the baby.
"Can you please slow down?" John wondered.
"Oh come on John, this is slow." Sherlock lied. He had to admit, Redbeard was going a bit fast, but John didn't have to know that. The landscape flew around them as they tore through the open fields, the grasses and the wildflowers being trampled by Redbeard's powerful feet.
"Are you alright?" Sherlock called, noticing that John's horrific screaming had simply turned to worried shivering. Sherlock fought the urge to lean back a little bit, let John's chin slide snuggly over his shoulder...
"I'm scared." John admitted in a small whisper. Sherlock just laughed, nodding in agreement.
"It takes some getting used to I'm afraid, but soon you'll be fine with it." Sherlock decided.
"We're not doing this again?" John asked worriedly.
"Well, we have to get back somehow." Sherlock insisted, as if that were obvious. They were quiet until they reached the trees, where finally Redbeard had to slow to a walk, making his way down the beaten trail of trampled weeds and hardened mud. This was a much more scenic route, one Sherlock was sure John had never seen. It led to the stream, where Sherlock decided was the best clearing for some sword training. It was beautiful there, nice for eating lunch and trying to decapitate one another. Finally the bubbling of a stream could be made out through the soft clip clop of Redbeard's hooves and the songs of the birds hidden in the trees. They entered through a clearing, the trees breaking to lead to a nice grassy shore, breaking off to rock and then to water. The stream was rolling around on the rocks nice and gently, the perfect background noise for blood and violence.
"This is where you want to train?" John wondered.
"No, this is where I'm going to tie you in a sack and drown you." Sherlock said with a laugh. He felt John jump a little bit, kind of ashamed that he had taken such a morbid joke seriously. "Yes, this is where I would like to train. No one will find us here." Sherlock slid gently off of the horse, leaving John looking stranded in the saddle as Redbeard shifted weight from foot to foot.
"Why are you so obsessed with making this whole thing secret?" John wondered. Sherlock just shook his head in disappointment, thinking that he had already explained his reasoning to John last night.
"I told you John, no one can know I need training at all. In their eyes I'm an able bodied man, excited about violence." Sherlock shrugged, holding out a hand for John to take. Thankfully John had no qualms about getting off of the horse, and he gladly took Sherlock's hand and jumped not so gracefully down.
"You don't have to enjoy violence to be good at it." John insisted.
"Says the one who won the servant's bracket." Sherlock teased, leading Redbeard over to a tree and tying the reins to a branch, not that he would go anywhere. The horse just whinnied softly, letting his head fall into the grass and beginning to munch away. Sherlock grabbed the lunch and the shield from the saddle, walking over to John and setting the two on the rocks near the river.
"Well, how about lunch first, then the violence?" he suggested. John just sighed, looking like he suspected another motive for this whole kindness thing. But nevertheless he nodded, walking over to where Sherlock was waiting for him, sitting on a rock and pulling out the food he had packed for their little picnic. Sherlock watched as John reluctantly sat on a flat rock near Sherlock, looking at the water with blank eyes, as if his thoughts were moving faster than the water.
"You seem suspicious of my John, why?" Sherlock wondered, opening the wicker basket and pulling out the food he had packed for them. It wasn't much, a loaf of bread, some cheese, meat, and apples, but it was enough to get them through whatever training John had in mind. John looked back at Sherlock, shrugging.
"I don't know, I just thought we hated each other, that's all." He admitted. Sherlock laughed quietly, throwing John an apple without giving him much notice. Thankfully he caught it, but he looked rather betrayed.
"Yes of course I hated you, there's still plenty of hate spiraling through me as I look at you now. But I need you to accomplish a goal of mine." Sherlock admitted.
"I'm not complaining of course. If you like me then that's perfectly fine, it's a pleasure to be noticed by the Golden Prince." John admitted.
"Please don't call me that when you know what I am." Sherlock insisted bitterly. John kept quiet, dropping his head and examining the ground. Sherlock ripped the loaf of bread in half, handing one half to John and keeping the rest for himself.
"I don't think you're all around a fraud." John decided. Sherlock smiled at him cautiously, as if daring him to say anything more.
"And how is that?" Sherlock wondered. John thought for a moment, as if he really didn't think he would get this far.
"Well, you're fairly determined, not to mention ruthless. Your head is in the right place, I suppose, when you have a goal." John decided. Sherlock nodded in agreement, eating a piece of bread while he listened.
"Go on." Sherlock decided, waving his hand to make John talk. John thought for another moment, probably not having anything more that would make Sherlock a good prince.
"I'm sure with training you'll get better at sword fighting." He offered weakly.
"According to the people I'm the best swordsman around." Sherlock pointed out.
"They really can't believe that, after so many years? They've seen you fight countless times; do they all just assume that your opponents make dumb mistakes?" John asked, staring on his lunch. Sherlock sighed, thinking of the doubt that has obviously been spread through the castle. There were always controversies when he won, but most of the competitors didn't stick around long enough to show any signs of being bribed. After a while it all just died away, the people liked having a prince to be proud of more than digging up royal controversies.
"Yes I suppose there's suspicion, but nothing too serious. Nothing enough for the entire town to doubt my skill." Sherlock decided.
"What skill?" John muttered, just loud enough for Sherlock to hear yet soft enough for John to have the false impression that it was unheard.
"You're really pushing your boundaries, as nothing but a servant." Sherlock decided.
"Can we not go thirty seconds without bringing up my unfortunate title?" John wondered.
"As long as you stop talking about mine." Sherlock agreed. John just shook his head in doubt, as if wondering if Sherlock were serious or not.
"Poor prince Sherlock, must be so difficult." John teased. Sherlock clenched his fists, trying to ignore John's pathetic obliviousness. Servants, they think they had it so bad, so what if they had to do all the housework? They think being waited on was enough to make up for the crushing weight of the palace's expectations on your shoulders.
"John don't talk about things you don't understand." Sherlock snapped. John blinked for a moment, looking at Sherlock as if trying to tell if he had heard correctly.
"I'm sorry Sherlock, but what don't I understand about the royal life?" John wondered, leaning forward as if prepared for a really enlightening speech.
"Don't even get me started John, you think you have it so bad, you have no idea." Sherlock insisted.
"Oh I'm sorry, I forgot how much work you had to do." John muttered.
"I forgot how many responsibilities you had. I forgot that the entire kingdom's reputation was based on how you pour orange juice." Sherlock snapped right back.
"Sherlock do you even know how to tie your shoes?" John wondered with a laugh.
"Do you even know how to stand up straight?" Sherlock asked, his eyes flashing dangerously.
"Sherlock, your life is literally the easiest thing; all you do is mope around all day." John insisted.
"I don't get to choose my life John; I have no control over any of it! You get to pick who you marry, you get to pick your career, you can do whatever you want, the least stressful jobs you can get! I have to rule my entire kingdom!" Sherlock growled, feeling a scream of anger coming up his throat, begging to be released. But Sherlock controlled himself the best he could, and kept his face in a quiet scowl.
"All I do is get bossed around by you royals, bringing your food, cleaning your castle, washing your clothes, polishing your armor, all while trying to find time to eat and sleep!" John pointed out. Sherlock gaped at him, enraged beyond comprehension. How dare he mock a royal, how dare he even question the miserable state of Sherlock's life? Who did John think he was? So of course, Sherlock did the only thing that felt logical to him. He grabbed his uneaten apple and threw it as hard as he could at John. It might've hurt if it actually hit its target, but alas the apple sailed to the left of John's head and splashed into the river. John froze, just about to start on his bread, as if he weren't really able to comprehend what had just happened.
"Did you just...throw an apple at me?" he wondered.
"Yes, I did!" Sherlock said with a scowl. John looked up at him with these soft, innocent eyes. Eyes Sherlock wanted to gouge out with a spoon.
"You're reverting to childish violence when you can't get your way? When you can't prove you're right?" John wondered. Sherlock got up from his rock so suddenly that the wicker basket fell to the ground, but right now Sherlock was fuming with anger.
"Don't talk to your prince like that!" Sherlock exclaimed, reaching for his sword handle threateningly. John seemed speechless, seeming as though he didn't know what he did wrong. What an oblivious child, how dare he treat royalty with such disrespect?
"Don't threaten me!" John shot back, getting to his feet as well. Sherlock unsheathed his sword with a metallic scrape, but as soon as he had the weapon in his hands John lunged at him. Sherlock didn't know how to react and before he could do anything with his sword John was on top of him. John grabbed Sherlock around the stomach, throwing the prince off balance so that they both tumbled into the river. This should've been a soft landing, but with a tremendous splash Sherlock sank right below the surface, his head submerging and his back hitting painfully off of the rocks on the river bottom. Sherlock tried to swim to the surface but John was still writhing on top of him, either trying to protect himself or save Sherlock, hopefully the later. Sherlock's armor filled with water, weighing down the chainmail until he could barely find the strength to try to pull his head from the shallow river. He was almost certain he was going to drown, when he opened his eyes he could only see the murkiness of the filthy water, he couldn't move, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't do anything except claw uselessly at the rocks on the bottom, moss and grime sinking underneath his fingernails. Sherlock was about to just get it over with, just open his mouth and let his lungs fill with water, drowning himself and hopefully ensuring that he be free of any royal responsibilities for the rest of his short life. But as soon as the thought came into his mind John rolled off of him and Sherlock felt arms burrow underneath his chest and neck, pulling with all of their might. Sherlock felt himself being pulled out of the water but all he could see was bright light, blinking out the river water that was still clinging to his eyelashes.
"Sherlock, Sherlock oh my god, oh my...I haven't killed you...?" John asked desperately, trying to drag Sherlock to shore but he was simply too heavy. With the chainmail and the chest plate added to all of the water weight, Sherlock was now an immovable object. The current swept through the two, trying to pull them away from each other, trying to pull John's feet from the bottom.
"Sherlock say something, please, anything!" John exclaimed. Sherlock coughed heavily, wanting to roll out of John's arms, to get as far away from his attacker as he could, but he knew the minute John let go was the minute he rolled back into the water, letting the current sweep him across the riverbed until he drowned. John held on as tight as he could to Sherlock, holding him like a mother would hold a baby, that was if that baby was somewhere around six foot tall in body armor.
"You..." Sherlock coughed again, shaking violently as his lungs tried to clear themselves of excess liquid. "YOU IDIOT!" Sherlock exclaimed, slapping John across the face with a wet hand.
"How was I supposed to know you couldn't swim?" John wondered.
"You were on top of me, how was I supposed to swim if I couldn't even move?" Sherlock growled.
"I didn't mean to, I swear, I swear!" John insisted, sounding like a guilty child trying to talk his way out of punishment. Oh, he had no idea what was coming to him.
"Get me out of this river!" Sherlock insisted, flapping his legs uselessly and spitting river water out of his mouth, not really caring where it landed. There was more than anger in his heart now, there was loathing. John had tried to kill him, he was sure of it, that filthy servant trying to show Sherlock who was superior.
"I can't move you; your armor is too heavy!" John insisted, trying to reposition Sherlock in his arms so that he would be easier to drag. As soon as John's arms moved, however, Sherlock felt the pull of the river and flung his arms around John's neck like a child, clinging to him for dear life.
"DON'T LET GO OF ME!" he exclaimed desperately, his voice shaking in fear.
"I'm sorry, just let me think!" John insisted. There was a brief pause in which there was nothing but the sound of the water, Sherlock was silent and so was John as their minds both raced.
"Alright, try to stand, we'll walk across together." John decided.
"My legs are being pulled away, how am I supposed to stand?" Sherlock growled, feeling his boots fill with water, his knees bending at an awkward angle to keep his legs from being pulled away by the current.
"Well, try, at least." John insisted. Sherlock groaned loudly, this was obviously way too much psychical labor for him, but he tried to push his legs to the bottom of the river. This was very strenuous on the both of them, John had to make sure Sherlock didn't capsize and Sherlock was putting all of his weight on the poor servant's back, trying to pull himself into a standing position. Finally Sherlock was able to push his feet to the bottom of the riverbed, kicking rocks and weeds along the mud to make space. The two of them found themselves in a very awkward position indeed, Sherlock's arms were still wrapped around John's shoulders, John's arms were wrapped around Sherlock's chest, both of them dripping wet with their chests pressed right up against each other. Sherlock was crouched a little bit, trying to regain his balance, so he was just eye level with the side of John's head, his deep breaths shaking the water droplets clinging to John's neck. For a moment Sherlock felt this kind of temptation, a pull in his chest that he had never felt before, some sort of strong urge to be close to John, to be even closer than he was now, to press his lips against John's skin just to feel just what it was like to love someone... Thankfully Sherlock's ludicrous fantasies were interrupted when he erupted into a fit of more coughing, spotting whatever came up back into the river where it belonged.
"To the shore then?" John wondered, moving his arms so that he wasn't so intimate. Sherlock nodded, moving himself in the position of the shore and using John as a crutch to move through the current. It was a lot easier than it had been now that Sherlock was walking, and they reached the shore without too much concern.
YOU ARE READING
Sherlock is the youngest son of a powerful family dynasty, with all the pressure of being the perfect prince sitting on his shoulders. However, he builds his good reputation on lies and tricks, and he dreads the day when his failures will come into...