The castle of Camelot was quiet. It was late autumn and it was cold. Chilly corridors had some dry leaves on their floors; the marble cracked on the walls.
The once and future king was in his chambers, but he didn't feel like home. The room was ice cold: the fire hadn't been lit in three weeks and two days. There weren't any dirty clothes on the floor nor any boots that hadn't been polished. There weren't anything out of place, everything was lined up, organized, perfect.
The Prince stood in the middle of his room, staring out from his window. The view had changed. Leaves had gotten gold and brown, they had died and then fallen to the ground. Now they were rotting.
Food had been left to his table, where it had been, hot, as it just had been brought to him from the kitchens. He hadn't touched it. He didn't want to see the steam, he didn't want to feel the heat on his tongue. He would eat, maybe few hours from now, when the food wouldn't be even warm.
The prince didn't talk to anyone. The passing servants in his room were like some disturbing noises on the background, but too small to catch his attention. They were silent and they obeyed saying nothing. They touched him as they dressed him, but Arthur couldn't feel the touch. It was just careless fingers,of someone completely unknown, on his skin: they could rip it up and tore him to scratches but they couldn't truly hurt him.
Because the fingers could break the flesh but couldn't really get under his skin.
He stood there hours and hours. Ate, slept, signed contracts. Sat with his father, listening to the messengers telling news he didn't care about.
When he walked through the corridors, he walked without looking anyone to the eyes. And when he passed a servant girl his heart used to hold dear, he couldn't see her. He didn't want to. There was just air where she stood.
One face among the other servants, nothing more. Something he shouldn't think about or remember. He shouldn't know their names; he shouldn't know how their red neckerchiefs scented like apples or how their cheek got a small laugh line when they smiled. He shouldn't care how their laugh sounded like when it was so loud and so real that it seemed to bounce back from the walls, he shouldn't know how it felt to fear for their lives as they stumbled with his armour. He shouldn't care when one servant was gone and was replaced; he shouldn't even know their name.
Even their name.
He shouldn't know how they left the wine glass always upside down for the night, as they knew he would want to have a glass of wine first thing on the morning. He shouldn't know what colours they liked or what they thought about the King's actions. He shouldn't know what it felt ripping your own clothes and use it to tie someone else's bleeding hand.
He shouldn't know what it felt like to care about someone so insignificant. He shouldn't know what it felt like to see someone like that die. He shouldn't know how bad it hurt.
The Prince's breaths turned to thin smoke. The icy room surrounded like a suffocating blanket. Numbing space, where nothing could intrude, no one could touch. He avoided rooms with fire or sleeping with pulling the blanket on. The blanket was there where it had been left three weeks and two days ago; he didn't want to feel the textile under his fingers. He wanted to freeze.
He had ordered not to put the fire up. No candles.
Not a one servant disobeyed him, not one asked him why. Not a one blamed him for his stupidity. No one dared to call him with his name. No one dared to call him names. No one dared to leave clothes on the floor, armours unpolished, stabled unmucked. No one dared to be late. No one dared to look at him in the eyes.
He had ordered that everyone who would disobey him, would be put to death. And they all believed him. Not a one servant said something like Arthur, that's just ridiculous! How much a prat can you be to order something like that?
So he stood there, alone, the cold air surrounding him. He didn't want any warmth, nothing that would even resemble it. He hated the fire; he hated candles. He hated blankets, everything that could make his chest sparkle with something warm. He hated the way those things could make him feel again.
Feel some warmth, feel hurt.
Feel protective, feel worried.
Feel joy. Anxiousness.
Feel like caring someone about so much that it seemed weird. Caring about someone whose name he shouldn't even know.
No. He didn't want to feel the heat of the fire, he didn't want to sleep with a blanket. He wanted the cold to surround him, to stop remembering how someone so insignificant had made the fire to meet its match.
Because nothing had ever made him feel so warm laughing that the one who had. Whose name he shouldn't remember. Whose name he wouldn't say aloud, whose name he couldn't form on his mind.
The cold chamber kept him in a safe place where everything that reminded him of the one who was missing, was gone. He had hoped that the cold room would be more proper to that thing, but he knew it wasn't.
The old room with fire cracking happily on the background, dirty clothes on the floor, unpolished armour all over and, the door that hadn't felt the touch of someone knocking when they entered. The flying objects, the sparkling laugh that bounced from the walls. The neckerchief that smelt like apples. That small laugh line which formed always when smiled. The disobeying comments, the bickering about the King's actions. The cold had made the whole memory freeze out from the room which was now like a stranger, it didn't feel like home.
It wasn't the same room.
The freshly brought food lost its steam on the table. Nothing was out of its place, not even a one boot.
The once and future king stared out from his window quietly. He didn't talk to the passing servant. He wouldn't ask their name ever again, he wouldn't let them under his skin.
Because he shouldn't care.
But even if the room was ice cold around him, it just numbed the hurt. The walls had the vaque memory of that laugh, mixed to his own long time ago.
He could freeze, but inside he had once melted. The fire...
And even if he would forbid warmth from himself forever, the silent burn inside would never go out.