John POV: The next day everything seemed to have gone back to normal, or at least as normal as it possibly could be. The Adler family had been returned to their rooms, guarded by two armed soldiers around the clock. They weren't allowed to leave their rooms, but they got served hot food, they could bathe and sleep in those large feather beds, it was a luxury dungeon. The rest of their associates, their servants and the few nobles that had made the trip, were still locked up on Victor's orders. Had it not been for the stubbornness of the queen, the royal family would still be rotting down there with the rest, but Victor knew that he had to comply to at least some of the now widowed queen's wishes. John respected the queen for not losing it when her husband had been killed, she had done the right things, handled the castle just as it should be handled without a ruler. But there was always that empty throne, waiting to be inherited by one of the sons, but who that would be was still undecided. But who was to be king didn't matter at all, at least in the lives of the servants. They carried on their usual duties, and as soon as the sun was up they were making their way down to the kitchens, ready to start the day in the most tedious way possible. They set the table, folded the napkins and provided all three forks for breakfast, arranging the golden plates as neatly as possible. Even though they knew the king wouldn't be dining they still set a place for him, it seemed wrong not to. As soon as the food was placed onto the table the servants rushed into their assigned room, sitting among the crates and overflow of room temperature food, pitchers of orange juice in most of their hands.
"So who do you think is going to get the throne?" asked one of the women, and everyone started to talk at once, expressing their opinions carelessly. The general consensus was Mycroft, of course. He was the older of the two brothers, and even though Sherlock was set to inherit the throne first, he had disgraced his name and probably lost that right. What use was a king when he couldn't fight or defend himself of his kingdom? Sherlock was nothing but a washed up celebrity, having been forgotten by the public, or at least looked down upon. John pitied him of course, and it hurt even more to know that he had been the one to put that burden upon the boy.
"The queen gets to decide, it's her choice." Greg insisted.
"John, who do you think?" someone asked, and the room silenced, all of the eyes looking at John hopefully, wanting more than anything to hear what he had to say.
"I have no idea." John admitted. "It's up in the air."
"Who would you prefer?" someone asked, and everyone else nodded enthusiastically, as if whatever John had to say immediately turned to gospel.
"Mycroft would be a better ruler, but I think Sherlock, if anything, would be entertaining." John admitted, and there was a chorus of laughter. John had to at least crack a smile, wondering what the kingdom would be like if it were under Sherlock's rule. Not good, most likely.
"What do you think his first law would be, everyone has to pretend to admire him?" guessed one of the women, cuing once more a chorus of disapproving laughter.
"Or possibly everyone has to forget about the tournament permanently." Another suggested.
"No one can smile in public." Greg muttered, everyone laughing once more. There was a silence, and John pressed his eye against the key hole of the door, trying to see just what was going on out there. There seemed to be two people sitting at the table, and he wondered just how long they had been there, or how quickly they might need a refill.
"Don't go out there; let someone else do it for a change." Greg muttered, pulling John away from the door and making him sit rather roughly onto a wooden crate.
"How come, I'm the only one paying attention anyway?" John wondered.
"Because that Victor idiot is going to think you're poisoning them all." Greg insisted. John nodded in agreement, putting his head down in shame. It was obvious that everyone should suspect him, but what they didn't know is that there was only one way he was allowed to do this. With the knife, the knife that he didn't even carry anymore. He only wanted to see the royal family, make sure they were all doing alright even though their father/husband had been slaughtered.
"I hate this, all of this." John decided.
"Well get used to it. Besides, you don't need to see Sherlock, not after that night you two had on the dance floor." Greg said with a laugh, jabbing John in the side teasingly.
"Now what was that about a dance floor?" someone wondered above them, looking down on Greg and John anxiously.
"Nothing." John said quickly.
"I'm still mad that night was ruined, especially before I could attend. I was still on duty when the king got killed." Someone piped in, and there was a chorus of agreement.
"I'm sorry murder got in the way of your party." Greg muttered.
"Who was the lucky lady that you took John?" someone wondered, a female obviously, or they would've heard the chatter in the men's quarters.
"Mary Morstan, you wouldn't know her." John shrugged.
"Oh I know her, she's pretty." Someone decided.
"Well she left him halfway through; he couldn't dance, so he switched partners." Greg teased, and John shook his head, glowing a bit scarlet.
"Who was she?" a woman wondered. John really hated to be the center of attention, especially now that they were being interrogated.
"Only John's most annoying girlfriend ever, and I'm sure you all know her." Greg said, laughing to himself as if this were all great fun.
"Come on Greg, tell us!" whined a girl in the front. Greg looked at John, as if asking for permission even though he knew he'd never get it.
"Only Sherlock Holmes himself." Greg admitted, and the room erupted into laughter. John groaned loudly, shaking his head and holding up a hand to silence them all.
"He's not my boyfriend." John insisted.
"So that means he's your girlfriend then?" someone wondered, and the servants laughed once more.
"Not that either, just...he was teaching me how to dance, so that I didn't mess up with someone I actually wanted to dance with." John admitted, trying to make this sound as heterosexual as possible.
"I saw them, I saw that look in the prince's eyes, I haven't seen love much before, but I saw it there." Someone decided. Some people laughed, some people awed, most just looked confused.
"Poor Sherlock, poor homosexual Sherlock." Someone laughed.
"I think I'm going to go refill orange juice." John decided, wanting only to leave this room. What does it matter that he might poison them all, it was still better than listening to this trash. Thankfully when John opened the door no one stopped him, and he knew that as soon as it was closed that everyone would crowd towards the door, trying their best to listen to the conversations. But they would all be disappointed, and to be honest John was a bit disappointed as well, to see that the only two people occupying the table was the queen and Mycroft, no Sherlock to be found.
"Ah, Mr. Watson." Mycroft said rather formally, as if John deserved some sort of greeting.
"It feels wrong to let our champion be our servant." Mrs. Holmes decided with a frown. John smiled weakly, topping off both of their chalices with orange juice nevertheless. He couldn't help but notice the empty chair that sat at the head of the table, waiting in vain for its usual occupant.
"So why again are you wandering the halls instead of being locked up with the rest of the Adler servants?" Mycroft wondered, looking at his chalice rather suspiciously, as if suspecting it to get up and drown him.
"I guess I'm just special." John decided with a shrug, the only thing he could really think to explain himself with.
"Obviously you're special; I've never known Sherlock to defend someone, much less a servant. You've done something to that boy, something I feel like I need to thank you for. He's become more caring, a bit more human." the queen decided, and John smiled weakly.
"I'm sure that's not my doing. If anything I feel like I've accidently ruined his life." John decided.
"Well, that too, but he surely needed that. A little bit of a smack back into reality." Mycroft decided.
"My Sherlock is a special boy, even if no one else can see it. I think he still has his old potential, the potential to make everyone proud." The queen decided. John nodded, really not knowing how to respond. Usually he'd make some sort of joke, but he wasn't just talking to Greg or to the servants, this was to the queen to Sherlock's mother. She was going to have a much lower humor tolerance than any of John's regular friends.
"I'm happy that he has found a friend in you, as inappropriate as your friendship might prove to be." Mycroft decided.
"How is it inappropriate? People can be friends with whoever they want to be; just because he's a prince and I'm a servant doesn't mean it's wrong." John said quickly, feeling a bit offended by Mycroft's accusations.
"Mycroft doesn't mean that surely." The queen insisted, giving her son a rather threatening look.
"No, of course not. I think the more friends Sherlock has the better, and if you truly are his friend, well, that would make two." Mycroft said with a small, disapproving laugh.
"Don't talk like you're so popular." The queen snapped, and John couldn't help but laugh. Mycroft scowled, and the queen smiled guiltily. It was a good thing, to see the queen smile; it reminded John that she still had strength to carry on, almost as if her husband's death had been nothing but a bump in the road. She still had the rest of her family, and evidently that was all she needed to have a smile.
"Well then, I guess I'll just..." John started.
"John." said a voice behind him, coming into the room. John sighed heavily; knowing there would only be one person in this whole kingdom that would sound surprised to see him.
"Hello Sherlock." John said with a smile as he turned, seeing Sherlock's face go kind of white. John could only wonder what kind of night he had to finally look so scared. John could only hope that Victor hadn't managed to convince him that John was his killer.
"Oh Sherlock there you are, we were wondering if you were going to come down at all." Queen Holmes said with a smile, nodding at the seat next to Mycroft for Sherlock to sit in.
"I was wondering just how long Victor was expected to stay." Sherlock muttered, giving John a rather frightful look before sitting next to his brother very stiffly.
"Well as long as it takes I suppose. Why, don't you like him very much?" the queen wondered.
"No, no of course not. He's a real pest; he makes me rather...uncomfortable." Sherlock admitted. John hoped that Greg had heard that, it was just more proof in John's theory that Victor had more of an interest in Sherlock than he wanted to let on. Then again, he was also starting to feel like he was intruding on this family conversation, and he was very much tempted to leave. So John walked over and filled Sherlock's chalice with orange juice, noticing the prince quiver when he got too close. John sighed heavily; he really didn't want Sherlock scared of him, especially when he was the only one vouching for John's freedom.
"John has Victor interviewed you yet?" Mycroft wondered, looking at John curiously. John paused, feeling very much in the spotlight with all of these royal eyes on him.
"Yes, he has." John agreed.
"Does he make you uncomfortable as well?" the queen asked.
"Just a little bit. He looks at me as if he knows everything; his eyes seem to be scanning my very soul." John admitted.
"Not that they'd find anything of course?" Mycroft added, as if he were worried of John's true intentions. John blinked for a moment, the orange juice container shaking slightly in his hands. This felt like more of an interrogation than Victor's little meeting had, and this was in front of all of the people John had been sent to kill.
"Nothing, of course not. I respect the Holmes family as much as my own; I would do nothing to hurt any of you." John assured.
"There's that trust my boy sees in you. You're a good man John; we'd be blind not to see it." The queen decided, and John couldn't help but smile thankfully.
"Your trust is very reassuring ma'am, thank you." John said with a smile. They all went back to their food, Sherlock staring at his plate but not doing anything to take any food or eat anything. Obviously they were all waiting for John to leave, so he bowed himself out of the room and scurried back to the servants, all of which were waiting very impatiently for his arrival.
"You've got to be kidding me John, how do all the royals love you so much? God you win one tournament and suddenly you're adopted family." Greg muttered, sounding a little bit bitter if not a bit jealous.
"I don't know, I'm just...maybe a likeable person?" John shrugged.
"Sherlock is so lame, look at him trying to eat that toast, he can barely butter it for himself." one of the servants said with a laugh, peering through the keyhole once more.
"The queen made it sound like Sherlock was still in the running for the throne, what's that all about?" Greg wondered.
"She didn't say anything like that, where are you getting that from?" John wondered, setting down the nearly empty container of orange juice and having a seat once more on his crate.
"Well she was talking about his potential to make everyone proud; it's a bit odd isn't it? If that king were alive Sherlock might've been banished from the kingdom! But nope, that woman's way to soft, and she'll make the wrong decision, mark my words. If Sherlock Holmes sits on the throne of Lauriston our entire kingdom will fall." Greg decided.
"At least you have faith in him." John mumbled, thinking back to Sherlock with pity. He thought that maybe that sad prince could do some good for the kingdom, maybe just a little.
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...