Facing the Furnace

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When Sherlock woke up he didn't really want to be conscious. It would make his life a lot easier if he could just lie in bed for the rest of his life and not do anything, no fighting, no responsibilities, and most of all no humiliation. Of course if he made it seem like this whole thing was a tragic accident, like oh no, my sword slipped, that would make it look more believable. But knowing John he was going to make it as bad as he could possibly make it, there was some sort of vengeance that was buried deep in that servant's heart. Sherlock knew that there was something inside of him that felt for John as well, but he didn't know if he hated him or admired him. Last night in the garden, ugh, Sherlock rolled over in embarrassment, covering his face with his pillow as if that would make him forget all about it. He had been so emotional, so needy for some reason; something about John made Sherlock want to spill out all of his deepest darkest feelings. When John was around him Sherlock felt the need to be soft, gentle, intimate, he wanted to be closer to John but then again he didn't want to scare him away. It was a feeling like he'd never felt before, and it was so darn confusing that it felt like Sherlock's brain was going to explode. That stupid John Watson, why did he have to be so perfect at everything? Why couldn't it be some brute giant that he fought and lost against today, why did he need the dishonor of a servant taking him down in front of his father? And why didn't he really mind? The idea of John humiliating him in front of the entire kingdom, it didn't scare Sherlock nearly as much as it should've. A small, annoying voice inside of his head told him that this was a good thing, that John deserved the glory more than the Golden Prince, fool's gold at that. Sherlock was no golden prince, and today, everyone was going to find out the truth. The door opened loudly, and Sherlock pulled the blankets over his head in annoyance, knowing there was only one person who would use a dramatic entrance as an alarm clock.
"Time to get up brother mine, big day!" Mycroft exclaimed, pulling open the curtains so that sunlight flooded the previously gloomy room. Sherlock hissed at him, making a little fort of snuggle between his brother and himself, trying to pretend like he didn't have to wake up.
"It's not a big day." Sherlock snapped.
"It's the tournament Sherlock; it's a very big day." Mycroft insisted. Sherlock sighed heavily, but shook his head.
"I don't know what you're talking about, it's just another day. Now go away." Sherlock insisted. But soon he felt a hand on his blankets, trying to pull them off. Sherlock clawed at the fabric but his sheets slipped out of his hands, and soon he was lying once more on the mattress, exposed and freezing.
"Mycroft I swear to god!" Sherlock growled, rolling to the farthest end of the bed and curling into a little shirtless ball of goosebumps.
"I don't want any verbal fighting today Sherlock, only sword fighting." Mycroft insisted, probably feeling really proud of himself for making that one up on the spot.
"Then give me my sword, I'll make some verbal abuse feel really good." Sherlock decided.
"Oh like you could kill me." Mycroft laughed. "Now up, come on, Billy will be here any moment with your armor, freshly polished, I want you dressed and in the dining hall in twenty minutes!"
"Mycroft I'm tried!" Sherlock whined, trying to pull his blankets back over himself, but Mycroft just threw them away once more.
"I don't care, let's go!" Mycroft snapped, and with that he stormed out of the room. Sherlock groaned louder than ever before, but slowly he crawled out of bed, leaving the warmth of his cozy mattress for the cold, unforgiving air of his bedroom. He pulled on his clothes blindly, not really caring if his shirt was properly buttoned or if his pants were on backwards, nothing really mattered today. Today was the day where everything he had ever pretended to be caught up with him, and soon everyone would know that he couldn't fight. If he was lying and cheating about that, what's to say he's been lying and cheating on everything? If the stories about his heroism were false, then what was the truth? Sherlock groaned, why or why was he born a prince? John would be a much better fit, with his smile and his face and his hair. He was much more suited to be the Golden Prince considering his hair, skin, and personality were all practically golden. He was like a humanoid ray of sunlight, that boy deserved all of this glory and praise and power. Sherlock deserved to be nothing more than a rat caught in a trap, which was ironically what he was feeling like right about now. As promised, Billy arrived a little bit later with the armor, shining in the morning sunlight like some sort of beautiful straight jacket.
"Good morning your majesty." Billy said with a smile, handing Sherlock his armor.
"Why do you look so happy?" Sherlock snapped, snatching up the armor without a thank you.
"No reason sir. Big day, that's all." He admitted, turning away so Sherlock couldn't see him smile.
"Finally the day I get beaten to a pulp huh? You've been looking forward to this?" Sherlock wondered.
"No of course not, it's the ball. I've got a date." Billy admitted, smiling at Sherlock proudly. Sherlock looked at him with a bit of a judgmental glare, trying not to laugh.
"I'm sorry Billy, but you're a servant, you're not going to attend the ball." Sherlock insisted.
"Yes I am, all the servants are going, John invited us." He said with a large smile.
"John can't just...he didn't even win yet!" Sherlock exclaimed, throwing his armor down on the bed moodily.
"Well he seems rather certain that he will, and he said that if the servants can't attend then he's not showing up." Billy said, looking happier than ever.
"And you have a date then, do you?" Sherlock said with a judgmental laugh.
"Yes I have. Do you?" Billy wondered.
"No, of course not. I suppose I'll have to attend it with Irene, but I'll ditch her as soon as possible." Sherlock admitted, brushing out his hair in the big mirror.
"I don't see what's so bad about here, if I were in your position I would be glad to have a lady like that." Billy pointed out.
"She's a horrible person, she really is." Sherlock insisted.
"Well you're a bundle of rainbows so I can see why it doesn't work out." Billy muttered, mostly to himself. Of course Sherlock heard, he wasn't deaf, but he just laughed, he couldn't agree more.
"Well then, our personalities just clash then, being so similar. I always like to be the most miserable person in the room." Sherlock insisted, brushing every single curl until they were beautiful and shiny. He loved it when his hair looked good.
"Who's Molly going with?" Billy wondered.
"Oh who knows, poor girl has men running after her every second." Sherlock admitted.
"Why don't you go with her so that you don't have to go with Irene?" Billy suggested.
"Don't be silly Billy; I don't want to hear any of more of this rubbish." Sherlock snapped.
"Why not? She's a beautiful lady as well, and obviously you get along fine, what's the problem with marrying her?" Billy wondered.
"She's my best friend, that will just feel wrong. I'm starting to think you have your opinions on every girl that happens to walk into my life." Sherlock snapped.
"One of the few joys of being your servant sir." Billy admitted. Sherlock groaned, throwing his brush back down on the dresser angrily.
"Well I've had enough of your opinion; I need to go eat breakfast." Sherlock insisted.
"Alright then, I'll have your armor waiting when you get back. Big day today Sherlock, big day!" Billy said excitedly. Sherlock just groaned, pushing Billy by his shoulder so that he fell onto the pile of armor on the bed.
"It's not a big day, shut up." Sherlock snapped, leaving the room to avoid hearing Billy's groans of pain. Sherlock marched himself down to the dining hall, holding his head high while he still could, while people still trembled at the sight of him. He was the prince, he was golden, he was perfect. Those statements sounded wrong even in Sherlock's own head. When he walked into the dining hall he saw some unusual faces seated around the table. His parents and his brother were there of course, as well as the entire Adler family and, to his disgust, John. Now usually Sherlock was the one to invite John to the table, and seeing John sitting next to the king, talking with a wide smile on his face, well Sherlock had to admit he was a little bit confused. But when John finally looked up at him and they made eye contact, suddenly the events from the garden came rushing back, and Sherlock felt the need to run and hide. He had been gushing his emotions, he had been crying, reaching for John's hand, oh how could that servant ever look at him the same again?
"Sherlock, finally." The king said with a smile. Sherlock noticed that there was an empty seat beside him, presumably where Sherlock was to sit.
"Sorry father, I was brushing my hair." Sherlock said with a small bow, a sentence that sounded a lot manlier in his head. John chuckled a little bit, obviously something that he was trying to keep hidden but failed. Soon the entire table was laughing to themselves, and Sherlock's cheeks went scarlet.
"Sit, please Sherlock, your food will get cold." Queen Holmes insisted, gesturing at the seat between her and her husband. Sherlock nodded, walking very stiffly over at his parents, both of which were probably hoping for a good battle today. They probably thought that their son was going to make them proud once again, but oh how wrong they were. Sherlock sat down in his chair, glancing at the crowd that was sitting around. John smiled at him but Sherlock just brushed it off, deciding that the less emotion he showed towards John today might just make up for the torrent of emotion that had spilled out last night.
"Why the um...company?" Sherlock wondered.
"Well it's a big day; I decided that everyone should eat together." The king decided.
"That's unusual for the tournament." Sherlock insisted. "You never did this last year."
"I have high hopes for this year, it's been so exciting as it was, with the Adlers in our kingdom and a servant making his way to the finals, well, anything could happen." King Holmes said with a smile, and John smiled back. Everyone was eating their food nicely, with their napkins on their laps and their forks and knives nicely in their hands. John, however, had constructed something of a sandwich. He had taken two pieces of toast and smashed eggs, bacon, and sausage between them, eating it with his hands and spraying crumbs all over the table. Sherlock couldn't help but smile, but he made sure to look down when he did, so that no one could see it. John really was something, what that something was, well, Sherlock wasn't sure.
"So, as I was saying about the ball, I'm expected to attend I'm sure?" John wondered, looking at the king with interest, crumbs from his destructive sandwich clinging to the corner of his mouth.
"Yes, of course, you are one of our finalists." The king agreed.
"And I'm a servant, so I don't think it's fair that the servants can't attend while I'm attending. I think they should all go." John insisted. The king sighed heavily, glancing at his wife, who was pretending not to hear this rather controversial conversation.
"Do they have formal attire?" he wondered.
"We're servants, not savages." John insisted with a bit of laugh. The king thought again, obviously trying to think of reasons to not let the servants attend.
"Well, who would watch over the food? Serve the drinks?" he wondered.
"We can take breaks of course, but these servants have never had a formal party, they want to be treated like equals, at least for a night." John insisted.
"I'll tell you what, Mr. Watson. If you win today, you can invite as many of the servants as you'd like. If you can prove to me that servants are more than just servants, they can all come. But if my son wins, they stay home." Mr. Holmes decided, and the table nodded, as if that were fair. John smiled happily and Sherlock internally groaned, King Holmes had just sealed the deal without knowing it.
"A gamble huh? I like it, you've got yourself a deal Mr. Holmes." John said with a smile, holding out a hand for the king to shake. The king shook it very awkwardly, not really knowing what else to do, and John looked very pleased with himself, going back to his breakfast sandwich. Sherlock watched him for as long as he felt it was appropriate, but as soon as John's eyes flicked up to meet his, he dropped his gaze, focusing on not eating any of his breakfast.
"Aren't you hungry dear?" the queen wondered, scooping some more eggs onto her plate and noticing that her son sat there with an empty plate.
"Nervous, that's all." Sherlock admitted.
"Well, after your victory today you can eat as much as you want at the ball!" the king said proudly. John hastily turned his laugh into a cough, and Sherlock's spirits sank even lower.
"Yes, of course you're right father." He agreed, not meeting John's gaze for the rest of the meal. 

    As the match loomed closer, the crowd got louder. Sherlock could hear their roars from the folds of his tent, their stamping feet and their bells. The air of excitement could be felt through the air like some sort of disease, making Sherlock want to cough and spit it out of his lungs. He couldn't afford to be excited right now, he couldn't even bother to hold out any hope. He knew that this was the end, and he was going to hold his head up high for as long as he could manage without breaking down into defeated tears. If he really was this Golden Prince then John was his melting point, and he was going to face the furnace with all the confidence he was rumored to have. He was going to be the Golden Prince right up until he wasn't. Finally the straps on his armor were tightened; Billy scampering around the prince to make sure everything looked nice. He was wearing his cape as some sort of ceremonial garment, something that would be shed after he said his hellos to the crowd. The tent was swarming with people, all of these classy rich folk that only wanted to stay for the food. They didn't care about the prince's victory, as long as his tent had the social status they desired. Molly appeared out of nowhere with a large smile on her face dispute her long dress and high heels.
"There he is, our champion!" she exclaimed. Sherlock groaned when he saw that Irene was behind her, did those two suddenly become friends?
"Yay..." Sherlock groaned. Billy tugged a bit too hard on Sherlock's hair with the hairbrush, causing Sherlock to smack him with a leather glove.
"I've had enough of this warrior businesses, I want it to be over!" Sherlock insisted, shifting his chest plate a bit more so that he could breathe.
"You should watch what you say." Irene muttered, because as soon as Sherlock was finished with his exclamation a trumpet blared off in the distance, announcing that the finalists were to report to the arena. Sherlock groaned, kicking Billy away as he tried to drape Sherlock's cape more elegantly around his shoulders.
"Well then, good luck." Irene said with a smile. Molly gave Sherlock one last hug, and Billy tried to get a farewell in but was unable to, because Sherlock swept out of the tent moodily before he could open his mouth. He walked up to the arena, past the crowd of people lining up to wish him good luck. Sherlock smiled at them, waved and nodded, skirting away from the people who were trying to reach out and touch his arm or something creepy like that. People were weird. When he got to the entrance he saw that he was alone, none of his friends had come to send him off considering that they were all in the stands, watching with their hands over their eyes as he got beaten to an embarrassing pulp. Sherlock could only hope that John went a little bit easy on him, he didn't want to end up with his sword stuck in the wooden walls like the other man, or possibly throwing up into the dirt after getting knocked in the stomach with John's elbow. That servant was seriously messed up, his fighting style was so childish, so playful, it was as if he didn't even know how to fight. Sherlock sighed heavily, realizing that he also didn't know how to fight. How was he supposed to defend himself from someone who barely even used a sword? How was he to defend himself from someone who did use a sword? John's fighting style may be unique, but at least he had one. Sherlock's fighting style was gold and empty promises, and it seemed to work pretty well until he actually stepped into the arena with a man who wanted nothing except glory. John was going to be the death of him. Finally his name was called, announced as the Golden Prince of Lauriston, the eight time returning champion. There was a reasonable cheer for him, the people were excited to see their prince of course, but he knew that it would be nothing compared to John's. They loved John more than their own prince, which was actually a bit hurtful. He was nothing but a servant with a sense of humor, what was he against royalty? Sherlock got to the middle of the arena, standing facing his family on the thrones, standing tall and proud, his cape flowing gently in the soft morning breeze.
"And your underdog, from the servant's quarters of the Adler kingdom, I present to you John Watson!" the announcer said loudly, and suddenly the stadium burst into cheers. John entered from the other door, running out into the arena and doing some loops as he went, waving his helmet in the air for them to cheer even louder. What a complete moron.     

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