A/N: AU Fic. Because I felt like it. For fading_sun_sock because she wins at fanfiction. And life in general. Beta'd by oldwillowbrook. ((She also wins at life)).
You tried to pretend it was the icy December wind that sent a shiver through you, bumps expanding across the tanned skin of your arm. The presence of the Prince beside you, surely, had nothing to do with it. And it certainly wasn't because of the fleeting moment when your hand brushed his as you steered him away from the mud puddle at his feet, soaking your own with the murky water. After all, it wouldn't do for a Prince to arrive with the hem of his elaborate clothing dirtied. Better the lowly servant, who wasn't affected by the man's presence at all, wasn't drawn in by the grateful smile that was given for the gesture. No matter that the wind had stopped blowing, and you were dressed quite warmly. You quickly brushed all thoughts of his skin off, pushed all notions of reaching for that hand again from your mind. What shivers, really?
No, no. It was definitely the wind.
You tried to pretend that the gleam, which forced you to squint as you watched him spar with the fireflies as the sun was setting, was merely the reflection of the waning sunlight off his sword. Because, honestly, how could your mind have constructed that blinding halo of light? It didn't glow behind the swift slices of his sword through the air, the graceful movements of his slender legs as he danced across the grass, and the intense, knowing look in his dark eyes as he glanced up at you. It was the sun, you assured yourself as you averted your eyes from the glow, effectively ignoring his steady gaze. You were only a servant, after all. Who were you to make eye contact with the Prince? You continued to avoid the shine; no matter that the sun had set completely over an hour ago. A quick glance up, and you could see that sly smile spread across his face. And it was bright, wasn't it?
No, no. It was definitely the sun.
You tried to pretend that the flush of heat consuming your body was due to the fire at the festival. The flame danced with the crowds of people, crackled with their laughter, burned with their excitement. It was a village celebration, of course, so none but the lower classes attended, but when you were dancing amongst the crowd of friends and family, the music streaming through your veins, class wasn't even an issue. Not really, anyways. So when he appeared next to you, hood drawn to cast a shadow over your face, you almost expected it. But the faint spark of surprise that tugged on your stomach didn't cause the heat. No, and neither did the fiery trails left behind by his fingers as they explored your face, arms, chest. The brush of his lips along your jaw and the heated whispers of your name -- had you even ever told him that?, you wonder distractedly -- couldn't have caused the burn that overtook you. No matter that the fire had died hours ago, reduced to smoldering ashes that had grown further away as the two of you retreated from the crowd. The warmth faded when you parted, but before...
No, no. It was definitely the fire.
You tried to pretend the salty streams carving a path down your cheeks was the rain. You stood outside as it fell from the heavens, piercing and cold and strangely welcome. The heaviness weighing you down had to have been your clothes, drenched by now. Nothing at all to do with the way he had been averting his eyes lately, avoiding your presence entirely. He no longer sought you out in the evening, stopped grasping your hand when no one was looking, quit those heated stares you had so desperately tried to ignore. But all that didn't bother you at all, not really. You felt fine now, just after he faced you, nervous and regretful, and declared that this -- whatever this was -- could not go on. Always the gentleman, he apologized, although he really didn't need to. It wasn't your place to question his decisions. And anyways, what was there to end? There was no meaning behind the touches, the looks, the brief intimacies (which you thought nothing of, of course). So you merely shrugged and hurried off into the rain with burning eyes and an odd, tight feeling in your chest. Your hair hung limply over your eyes and your cheeks were soaked with the saline liquid. You shuddered -- from the cold, of course, not the sobs that you weren't repressing. No matter that the sky had already cleared a while ago, leaving you standing alone in a ray of sun bursting through the dark clouds, like a spotlight. Your trembling hand reached up to wipe at a swollen eye. Were those tears?
No, no. It was definitely the rain.
You tried to pretend the emotion making your heart race was caused by anything but him, anything but love. Anger, maybe. Perhaps fear or disgust.
But, really, who were you kidding?
It was definitely him.