Author's Notes: ~ Quotes from Divergent by Veronica Roth, pgs. 7, 112, 237, 264, 266.
"...tell him to research the simulation serum."
Her mother was the bravest woman Natalie had ever known. Brave enough to lead a dying faction. Brave enough to tell her only daughter about things she should never know about.
"They're introducing a new serum. God help our initiates who use it."
Brave enough to pull Natalie aside on her Choosing Day against every rule Natalie had ever heard, smooth back her daughter's hair, and tell her, "Your father doesn't know. I saw your test results."
Natalie stiffened. Divergent. The word meant rebel, dangerous, targeted. She did not need to attend her mother's secret meetings to understand that.
"Choose another faction, Natalie. Choose somewhere safer." She held Natalie tight—"Be brave, Natalie. I love you."—then let her go.
"I was only safe because my mother...told me to leave my faction..."
The agony of Choosing Day was that while Natalie tested Divergent—Dauntless, Amity, Abnegation, Erudite; funny, no Candor—she had never wanted anything different than the faction where she was born. But she knew months ago when she saw the fear in her mother's eyes that something was going on higher up that overcame the bravery of certain Dauntless and that they were unable to oppose without ending up at the bottom of the chasm.
Her mother would not oppose it. Natalie did not know if her mother was brave enough to fight it, except...
She caught her breath at the very idea. She was sending her daughter out with knowledge to fight it from without. Natalie could escape the heavy weight of the other Dauntless leaders. She could be free to learn without being destroyed. But as what?
She looked upon the black coals, dark earth, clear water, grey stones. Everyone but her mother believed she would choose Dauntless, let her blood sizzle on the burning coals in the bowl that held her choice. It was the pain in her mother's face—brave enough to lose her child—that gave her the strength to choose.
Grey stones for Abnegation, leaders working for the good of all the factions of Chicago. It seemed fitting.
Selflessness and bravery aren't that different.
Bravery was all well and good when faced with the loss of your family, faction, and everything you had ever wanted, but bravery did not console you at the end of the day. It just made the night another fear to overcome.
Andrew Prior was the only consolation she found at first. He was a regular initiate and she was a faction transfer, but he welcomed her with a quiet selflessness that made her feel comfortable in her own skin again.
"The key is to look outside of yourself," he would tell her when she struggled hardest. He did not mind that she hid Dauntless tattoos under her new grey clothes.
She tried to remember he did not see her when she held out her hand to shake before she realized that was one more habit she would have to break. He saw a need outside himself.
She offers him her hand. "Hello. My name is Natalie.."
She poured herself into the factionless, identifying with them more than she ought. She was Abnegation now, and the eagle under her arm and the phoenix on her back meant nothing anymore.
Look outside of yourself. She looked to Andrew, to her work, to any thread of knowledge she could glean about who had offered the Dauntless the serum in exchange for human sacrifice.
She married Andrew Prior, gave birth to their sweet little boy and later her precious girl. She bore with silent stillness the news of those first reports from Jeanine Matthews that Abnegation were no longer selfless at all. The first attacks were small, harmless, tests for later use. She saw the simulation serum implemented for all testing. She saw it implemented in Dauntless training.
She stopped believing in 'faction before blood.'
She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself.
She could not do to her daughter what her mother did to her. She was selfish enough to shelter Beatrice and selfless enough to watch the growing Dauntless flame within her while letting it alone. Abnegation came easily to her first son, Caleb, but he was sharp. He listened to his father's words and turned toward Natalie with eyes that seemed to understand too much.
He would not choose to remain Abnegation.
Natalie's mother had believed that any faction was safer than Dauntless. Natalie was learning she was wrong.
But Beatrice, sweet Beatrice, always trying so hard and unable to make her heart turn selfless as she wanted—Natalie would watch those eyes stray to the passing trains, to the shouts of the young Dauntless and know in her heart it was only a matter of time.
She heard of the problem with the testing and knew who had been sent home. But she was braver than her mother, more selfless than her mother. She did not pull Beatrice aside on her Choosing Day. She let her choose her own weapons for the battle up ahead.
"But I wanted you to make the choice on your own."
Andrew wept as no man ever should have to, and Natalie held him and consoled him for the loss of his entire life—his children. He had never told them how much more than the city they meant to him. He had never told them that his greatest fear since Marcus and Tobias was that he would suffer the same.
Look outside of yourself. She was not needed anymore, she realized. An acceptable loss in the bigger picture. Not for who she was, but for what she could do.
She became Andrew's comfort, his strength, his support. She pulled in all of the contacts she had built up over the years of being an Abnegation leader's wife, and kept tabs on her children as much as possible. She counted the days and watched the trains.
She had let Beatrice choose, but she had not let her go.
"...it was always my intention to save you."
She was brave. Brave enough to lead a dying faction. Brave enough to tell her only daughter about things she should never know about.
"We can't be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can't be controlled. And it means that no matter what they do, we will always cause trouble for them."
She was brave enough to know that one of them would have to die, and selfless enough to know it would not be her daughter. Brave enough to let her daughter go.
"Be brave, Beatrice. I love you."