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Summary: Cagalli is unlucky in love. A look into the sacrifices a leader makes for her country, and the sacrifices a girl makes to grow up. AthrunxCagalli, with mild YuunaxCagalli, KiraxCagalli, AhmedxCagalli. one-shot

Spoilers: From Seed all the way up to the preview for episode 14.

AN: After lurking on the Animesuki boards and reading the spoilers for upcoming episodes, this one just kinda came out of me. It's a little frustrating to see what's happening to Cagalli, and I really sympathize with her. She's in a no win situation, but isn't getting cut a lot of slack. So obviously, I had to give her some angst.

For the record, this isn't exactly a happily ever after.


By Neptune

Cagalli was unlucky in love.

The first boy who pursued her romantically had died before her eyes. Even with his last breath, he spoke of her. His mother willed her a stone that told her everything he'd never had the chance to. She still kept the green rock in the last drawer of her nightstand.

The next boy who'd entered her life, brave but broken, stirred up emotions in her that she'd had trouble identifying. So she'd stayed by him, protecting, comforting, hoping they'd figure out together what these feelings were. But then a photograph from her father showed her the truth, and defined for them the kind of love they would share. She still kept the photograph in the last drawer of her nightstand.

The third had crashed into her life unexpectedly (and he had crashed in, knife drawn, ready to kill), but had taken up the most permanent residence. She'd found him at the same time she'd lost her father; perhaps that was the reason she'd grown attached immediately. They'd fought together, developed a deep seeded trust, and when she returned to Earth, he returned with her.

She'd given him a room in her home that he frequently stayed in, to ensure her safety. They were chaperoned by a house staff that knew when to allow the Representative and her bodyguard some privacy so that security matters could be discussed.

Instead of an armed escort, she'd insisted that he accompany her on all trips. He was more than qualified to protect her, and having only one man around would be much more convenient than an entire squad.

As time passed, her reliance on him became a dependence that she knew couldn't be healthy. He stayed with her, though, changing his name, changing his life. Maybe he had come to depend on her, too, she thought, and for a while, things were good. She was told that this was love.

But, unfortunately, she was unlucky in love.

The boy she had grown so reliant on was being cut out of her life for reasons that were bigger than both of them. She had to carry on her father's ideals, and with that came certain obligations. The citizens of Orb needed to have confidence in their government. The newly appointed Representatives needed to present a strong front. Family ties were as strong as they came.

So at barely eighteen, while still in love with one boy, her marriage was planned to another. He was older, and not so much wise as well versed in the ways of the political world. He'd offered to guide her through these times of rebuilding. He'd touched her shoulder gently, stroked her hair softly, spoken to her sweetly.

Driven a wedge between her and Athrun effectively.

As the politics of their nation became more complicated, so did her personal life. Yuuna had become more persistent in pushing his political platform and his affections for her. She tried to be firm when it came to issues of government, but never knew how to reprimand his ardor. She was his fiancée, after all, and while she had stalled the wedding, she could only politely shy away from his attention.

Athrun understood, he told her, but she felt the gap between them growing acutely. He tried to hide from her how much the situation bothered him, would not acknowledge that there was a problem when she tried to bring it up. His stone-faced insistence convinced her to allow him to pretend, and she pretended along with him.

Even when they both knew that things were changing quickly, they continued as if nothing was different. She didn't acknowledge the fact that finding any time alone with him was growing increasingly difficult. There was always something else that needed her immediate attention, there was always someone watching, there was always Yuuna. Yet she clung to the belief that everything would work itself out eventually. She'd just never quite figured out the hows of it all. That had been the first of her many mistakes.

Her second had been ignoring the growing tensions between Naturals and Coordinators. After all they'd fought for, she'd naively believed that any animosity between the two groups would eventually dissolve. On the Minerva, however, she'd learned how wrong she was. They'd called her foolishly idealistic-- Chairman Dullindal diplomatically, Shinn Asuka aggressively. She hadn't really believed them until she'd seen the look on Athrun's face that screamed defeat and self-doubt. That's when the small bubble of security she'd created around herself and the things important to her burst. She couldn't pretend anymore. She wasn't sure where that left them.

The events that transpired on that ship started the downward spiral into her current situation.

Faced with the gravity of the situation, Athrun had done what he had to do. He'd grown discontent in the past months, she knew; sitting by and watching when he had the power to make a difference was contrary to his personality. When he requested it, she had arranged a transport to PLANT for him. She hadn't wanted him to leave, not then, not ever, really, but she wouldn't hold him back. She cared for him too much to selfishly stand in his way. She had to let him go.

So when he'd suddenly, surprisingly, turned away from the helicopter and grabbed her hand, he'd given her more than just a ring and a promise. He'd given her hope. Things were changing, but the world could find peace again. They could find peace again. Feeling at ease for the first time in a while, she'd kissed him soundly and wished him well. He boarded the transport and left to once again make a difference in the world he'd already served so much.

And with his taste still fresh on her mouth, she had lost her battle to maintain Orb's neutrality. The others had out maneuvered her, with Yuuna and his father leading the attack. Her fiancé alternated between coddling her in private, and undermining her in public. All she'd been able to do was stand and watch as her control slipped away. Her father wouldn't have been able to recognize her now. The person she had become was not the child he had raised. But then again, it was his shadow that she was having the hardest time escaping from. He'd left her a maternal mantle, and a country that feared being burned down once again. The Athha family couldn't ask its countrymen to suffer more.

The silver lining Athrun had presented her with disappeared as quickly as it came. Yuuna had explained in his sweet, condescending voice that she was no longer a child who could selfishly wish for an impossible life with a Coordinator boy. Her arranged marriage had been moved forward. This was what it meant to be a servant to the people. This was the legacy that had been given to her.

She'd signed a treaty that didn't follow her convictions with a shaky hand and an impassive face just days later. Then she'd been escorted to her empty home that was crowded with people. She walked passed them to her room; only Mana entered with her. Her childhood caretaker had removed her purple pantsuit, replacing it with an overly extravagent white dress that didn't suit her at all. Cagalli didn't struggle as she had in the past. After setting the traditional headdress on her charge's blonde head, the maid had steered her to the full length mirror sitting in front of the closet. It had been brought in earlier that day; Cagalli rarely had use for mirrors. "I know this is hard for you," Mana had told her, hugging her from behind. "You're doing a brave thing."

She'd stared blankly at the older woman's reflection in the mirror.

"I'll come and get you when it's time." Mana had then innocently patted her left hand. "Take a few minutes for yourself." When the woman withdrew her hand, Cagalli's eyes had been drawn to the small subtle flashing on her own ring finger.

The door had clicked closed, and she'd been left alone with her reflection and a promise that was about to be broken. Examining the purple stone set in a platinum band, she had decided that it was much more her taste than anything else in this new life she was starting. But it had no place in this new life she was starting. How could it?

She'd pulled on it gently, eventually coaxing it off her finger, telling herself that removing it had not hurt at all. Not one damn bit.

She'd studied the ring she held between her thumb and index finger, memorizing the way it captured the light, the way its cool metal felt against her skin. Moving to her nightstand and opening the bottom drawer, an old photograph and a green stone had greeted her. She'd leaned down, placing the band between the two. "I'm sorry," she'd whispered to one man in particular, as she stood up again. She'd pushed the drawer closed quickly, thinking it would alleviate the burning behind her eyes. It only made the stinging worse.

There was a knock on her door, and then Mana had entered the room again, asking her if she was ready.

No, she thought, staring hard at the closed drawer, but had answered "Yes" as she turned to the future that had been planned for her with a man she did not love.

It seemed fitting, since Cagalli was unlucky in love.

The End

AN2: Hopefully, things will turn out okay for Cagalli and Athrun in GSD. I know I can't wait for that final smack down that's gotta take place between Athrun and Yuuna where the Elvis clone gets put in his place. Until then, I'm gonna cross my fingers and keep reading fan fiction.

And remember, reviews are a girl's best friend.