A Humble Humiliation

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The morning proved to be even more uneventful than the previous, John ate his lumpy oatmeal without question and he didn't even see Sherlock at breakfast. He even made sure to do the orange juice rounds, and still the prince didn't show. So John just went back to his room and got dressed, trying his best to get ready for the day ahead. He knew that he had a very long day ahead of him, and it all started sometime around eight o'clock. John was the second match to go on today, so he barely expected anyone to be there to watch. But nevertheless he got dressed and ready, seeing that his armor had been polished and shined by the servants, which brought a smile to his face. The servant's quarters were empty of course, they all had morning duties and John was able to slack off a bit to get ready. But he knew he'd see them before his match and if not before, then after. John finally managed to tighten all of the straps on his armor and make sure everything looked presentable. If he wasn't going to look nice then what was the point of competing at all? Sarcasm, of course, although he could see that very same quote going through Sherlock's head at one point. John was just walking out the door when the way was blocked with Greg, looking very tired yet bandage free.
"Guess who's nose is fixed?" he said excitedly, pointing at his rather crooked nose. John forced a smile, but that was only a reminder of the injuries he might sustain throughout the day.
"Yay!" John said weakly, his legs starting to wobble once more.
"You're going out already?" Greg wondered, looking a bit sad to see him leave.
"Well ya, I've got an hour until I fight." John insisted. Greg nodded, smiling and holding out an arm like a gentlemen.
"Well then, it is my civic duty to walk you down myself." He decided. John just frowned at him, unimpressed with his makeshift hospitality.
"You're trying to get out of work, aren't you?" he wondered, and Greg tried to act as if that wasn't true.
"Why John, I'm offended, do you really take me as someone who would voluntarily skip out on my work?" he wondered.
"Yes." John agreed. Greg just smiled guilty, as if John had trapped him now.
"Ya, alright, I am, but I'm also being a supportive friend. Let's go!" he said excitedly, leading the way proudly, as if the lack of bandages around his face made him feel like a new man.
"Such a nice citizen, really caring about your kingdom." John teased, but Greg just shook his head, not looking too bothered by the fact that he was being selfish.
"Come on John, if you get to skip out on your duties why can't I? Besides, you don't do much around here anyway, it's my turn." Greg insisted.
"I help out here!" John defended, a little bit offended.
"What do you do, serve the wine and the orange juice and flirt with the prince?" Greg wondered. John scowled in disgust, shaking his head.
"I don't flirt with Sherlock, I don't even like Sherlock! Besides, flirting would be pointless because he's a man." John pointed out.
"Then where were you last night? Am I to assume you took a moonlight walk by yourself?" Greg wondered. John frowned, trying to think of a good excuse as to what he could've been doing yesterday, if not talking with Sherlock.
"I was simply..." John sighed, shaking his head in defeat. "I went to see him, but we just had a chat and then I left." He ended lamely.
"Yes of course you did. Youv'e been having a lot of chats lately." Greg agreed rather bitterly.
"Why is this a problem? What are you trying to imply?" John wondered.
"I don't know what I'm trying to say, but whatever you're doing with him, I don't like it. He's horrible John, honestly. Just because he's taken a liking to you doesn't mean he'll be any softer on the rest of us." Greg insisted.
"You don't think I know that? You think I actually like him? He tortured me Greg, humiliated me, degraded me, I know full well that he's horrible, and just because I went to talk about the tournament with him doesn't mean that I like him any better." John insisted.
"Well it certainly seems like he likes you." Greg decided.
"I don't care what he feels for me, whatever it is, it's not returned. I still hold true to the reason I entered this tournament in the first place, to bring him down." John assured.
"Good, that's what I want to hear. That kid needs to learn that not everything goes your way when you're rich." Greg decided. John couldn't help but think to their conversation last night, how miserable Sherlock had been even though nothing appeared to be wrong. The poor kid probably had so many problems that he didn't dare vocalize, or maybe they were just problems that no one took seriously. Everyone probably had the same mindset as Greg; he's rich, what could possibly be wrong? They made their way through the sea of tents, all of the people mingling around and trying to find their tent, the world settled into a hazy morning fog. The atmosphere radiated grogginess, everyone looking as if they'd much rather be snuggled up in their warm beds rather than be out here in the cold dewy grass. But John didn't want to be relaxing; there was a tugging in his stomach, something that felt a little bit like excitement. The roar of the crowd, the high of victory, all of it had been exhilarating, it had been exciting. John craved to feel that way again, and he knew that the only way to do that would be to win today's match and prove himself worthy all over again. Finally these people would see him as more than just a servant; they'd see him as a champion. When Greg pulled open the flap on the tent they found that it was empty, to no surprise of course. All of the servants were working; John's fan base had responsibilities as well. Speaking of his fan base, John wondered how long it would take Sherlock to show up at his tent like a lost puppy. He had taken a liking to following John around and talking to him for no particular reason, and after he had expressed his determination about John's victory, well it was kind of a shock that he didn't show up. John couldn't help but wonder where he was, if not down here and if not at breakfast...Mary wouldn't have killed him, would she? A shiver of fear went down John's spine at the thought of Sherlock lying bloodied in his bed, his red bath robe stained even more scarlet. John shook his head, no, of course Sherlock was alright. He was probably just sleeping, or reading, or pacing dramatically around the castle and yelling at everyone who passed. Of course he was fine.
"Alright you better start getting ready." Greg insisted, walking over to where John sat nervously in his chair. He jumped to his feet, letting Greg make sure all of his armor was properly tightened and strapped. John did a couple of stretches, making sure his arms were loose and his wrist was ready to swing a sword.
"Do just what you did last time, be original, be unpredictable. Just get that man down." Greg insisted with a laugh, patting John on the back in confidence. "You're going to be great." He assured.
"I hope so, for all of our sakes." John muttered nervously, taking a deep breath and drinking a little bit of water before walking out of the tent, marching up to the arena and listening to the roar of the crowd and the metallic clangs of the swords hitting each other. He had to admit, he was starting to get nervous. But no, this was going to be fine, this was going to be fun. He would win this one for the servants, for himself, he would win this one for Sherlock, or, more accurately, to better his chances of beating that prince once and for all. There was no one in the wings waiting to cheer him on; Greg was probably in the stands, waiting to see his friend bash some knight's head. All of the other servants were working, and John honestly didn't expect much of a crowd in the stands either. It was only some servant fighting, who cared about that? He had no idea who he was fighting, some knight probably, but it really didn't matter. Whoever it was, john was going to beat them, it was as simple as that. There was one face, however, that John was rather anxious to see in the crowd, a face that he would bet wouldn't be there. If Sherlock were here he would've confronted John much earlier, so he couldn't possibly be watching the match. It was a shame, actually, that Sherlock wasn't going to watch John fight. He wouldn't know what to expect, he wouldn't know what he had coming. There were some trumpets and some cheering, and John heard his name get called very faintly above the roar of the crowd. He walked out into the arena, his boots scuffing up the nearly untouched dirt as he walked into the circle. John was shocked, astounded even, to see how many people there were in the stands. The stands were just as packed as the previous day, and it was only eight or so in the morning. How many people had come out to watch him fight, how many people actually cared? But that question was answered when the crowd saw him walking out, and suddenly their cheering got, if possible, even louder. John couldn't help but smile, waving to the citizens who went berserk at being noticed by him. Did he actually have supporters, did he have fans? John could definitely see what Sherlock liked about being famous; he could definitely see the satisfaction it brought when the crowd loved you. John stepped up to his competitor, a larger man as expected, in all of this armor with a very long, thick sword. John didn't even see him move yet he knew he was going to be slow, the sword alone probably weighed more than John, it would be difficult to swing it around quickly. John smiled at him, not trying to taunt him or anything, just to be friendly. Nevertheless he heard a growl from under the man's helmet, and his leather gloves tightened around the hilt of his massive sword.
"Alright then." John muttered, deciding that there would be no hand shaking right now. John cast a glance to the thrones, seeing that the king, queen, and Mycroft were all present. But it was the fourth seat the surprised him the most, it was occupied with none other than Sherlock himself, shaking his rightful place on his throne. John smiled weakly at him, but Sherlock only glared, as if he didn't want anyone to know they had any sort of connection. Whatever, that was his fault. John pushed his helmet onto his head, closing the visor and nodding at the starter.
"I'm going to pound your tiny skull into the ground." the man across from John growled. John just blinked, shrugging passively.
"Ya, alright." John agreed.
"I'm going to kill you." He warned. John couldn't care less. He just wanted to get this over with; he wanted to prove to just one more person that small was mighty.
"That's against the rules." John pointed out in a careless tone. He could tell the man was starting to become confused, if not angry, which was exactly how John wanted him to be. Obviously he was all brawn and no brains, which was typical amongst these airhead knights. John raised his small sword, smiling through his helmet even though no one could see his joy. The other man raised his sword, a feat the seemed very impressive in itself, and finally the bell rang. The man started by swinging down at John's head, to which the servant just jumped out of the way, letting the massive sword being the man's body weight swinging towards the ground. He stumbled forward but John just laughed, swinging his sword but not having any intentions on using it. The man growled loudly, snarling like a dog as he swung madly at John's midsection. John just deflected the blow, getting close and pushing the man's forehead back, making him stumble backwards in confusion.
"What was that about killing me?" John wondered, a smile still plastered on his face. This was all a game, a fun game, and it was all about making these massive brutes look like massive idiots for as long as he could.
"You little rat, come here!" he exclaimed, swinging and missing again. John was having a lot of fun, making the man come closer and steadily backing towards the wooden wall, closer and closer to the fans, who were completely silent.
"Yep, come here, come on, there you go, good knight." John said in a soft voice, egging this man on more and more. Obviously his competitor was getting angry, John could almost see steam coming out of his helmet, his rage tangible as he walked closer and closer. Obviously he thought he had John beat, obviously he thought that John was just an idiot, backing himself into a wall. He had no idea that John had a plan. He swung at John's head, to which John deflected, swung at his feet, to which John jumped, and finally he stabbed as hard as he could at John's chest. This was exactly what John was looking for, and as soon as the man stabbed at him, John jumped out of the way. The crunch of the wood was just what he was waiting to hear, and when he looked back at the man he saw that his sword had gone straight through the wooden wall. John laughed shamelessly, as did the rest of the crowd, but it seemed like the man couldn't do anything to get the blade out. He tugged and tugged, all useless attempts to get his sword dislodged from the wood.
"Is that all, or should I make some sort of threat?" John called up to the starter, who was laughing along with the crowd and too busy to ring the bell for the end of the match. John just shrugged, grabbing the man's helmet and pulling it off of his head. The man let go of his sword and swiped at John's helmet, to which the servant ducked and kicked him in the stomach, making the man gasp for breath even through his chest plate. His ugly face was now visible, sweat clinging to a large bushy unibrow on his head, his teeth yellow and crooked.
"You idiot, you pathetic servant how dare you humiliate a knight!" he exclaimed, running after John with a bit of a limp as he tried to cradle his large stomach as well as chase John around the enclosure. John laughed hysterically, running around and dodging the man's swings until finally he lunged. John ducked out of the way, curling into a little ball at the man's feet. The knight tripped over him, obviously not expecting such a low blow, quite literally. He fell onto his face, right into the dirt, with a loud moan, and John just stepped on his back victoriously, holding his sword high to the crowd with a smile on his face. The bell was finally rung, and the cheers from the crowd mixed in with the laughter. John ripped off his helmet, getting off of the knight and smiling victoriously up to where the royals sat. He saw the king and queen all clapping politely; Mycroft was looking mildly impressed and kind of bored, tapping his hands against the arms of his chair rather than actually clapping. Sherlock was smiling down at John proudly, clapping more than any of his family, maybe more than some of the people in the crowd. It was obviously the he was impressed, and John couldn't help but beam back at him. Mycroft muttered something to his brother and Sherlock immediately scowled, stopping his clapping immediately and going back to looking miserable. John felt a sort of hatred for Mycroft, but that didn't really matter, because the knight he had previously been humiliating was getting to his feet, spitting dust out of his mouth and scowling.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" he exclaimed. John frowned, and with that he sprinted out of the arena, sword and helmet wobbling in his hands as he escaped that massive man's rage. 

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