A/N: This is my first fanfiction, though I have been an avid reader for the past five or six years, so please let me know what you think – constructive criticism is very welcome! I'm not entirely sure where this story is going, but I'll try and update as often as possible (hopefully my inspiration will be available).

Summary: An AU story post 'Victor/Victrola' in which Blair and Nate never broke up, but she and Chuck did sleep together, and subsequently started having an affair.


"Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."

- John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV


"Remember Me As a Time of Day"

Prologue

-December 17th, 2008-

Everything was a mess.

As she stood unmoving in front of the Palace Hotel in the dead of winter, she couldn't help but reflect on all the times she had stood in this exact spot. It was as if her entire life had consisted of her being the knight in shining armor…and only in this moment, the moment right before she saved herself, did she acknowledge that fact. Before, she was the damsel in distress. If not in action, certainly symbolically. Blair knew that she could probably make Darth Vader cower under the weight of her scathing mouth, but before, that fact was a secret. Before, it didn't define her.

Before, when she was a little girl, standing in this spot was nothing more than what it appeared to everyone else. A two-foot square of sidewalk in front of her future wedding location. Back when this building meant nothing, back when it was just an expensive hunk of rock that housed her favorite crepes in the city.

Before.

Before, when her dreams were filled with visions of being the next Mrs. Archibald. It was curious to look back on now. She had been so sure that he was the one for her. He had swept her off her feet the very moment she had seen him. He was perfect. With his gorgeous eyes and oblivious smile, she had vowed (to anyone that would listen, and a few that didn't want to) that her and Nate would marry and live happily ever after. And here they were. Here she was. Over a decade after she had first laid eyes on her one and only, she was on the threshold of coming to the rescue of her one and only.

Because her eyes no longer swam with visions of happily ever after. Because she was on the brink her life, with her Prince Charming standing by her side, and yet all she wanted to do was run away. Because even her current state of sleeplessness and emptiness was more comforting than a thousand smiles from her dear Nathaniel. Because she was no longer a little girl, and this silly spot on a silly street meant something.

But most of all because this was no longer before. This was after.

This was after she accomplished everything she ever wanted. This was after she had the boyfriend, the family, the social status, and the future. This was after she willingly threw that all away in order to put her heart in the hands of a man who could barely stand up himself. This was after she became a liar and a cheater and a thief.

This moment was no longer filled with reflections of her wonderful outfit, or the upcoming event taking place in the building in front of her. This moment was now a waste of time.

This moment was no longer important, because the most important person in the world was broken, and she had to put him back together without shattering everyone else.

Deep breathe. Right foot. Left foot. Repeat. One step at a time.