AN: A short story for Guy and Natalia that was based off of information gained from the Cicile/Fringe event. I hope you all like it!

Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of the Abyss. Namco does.


Coward.

It was the first word that popped into Natalia's mind as she watched the Albiore rise into the sky, her messenger and his package safely packed away on board in Noelle's capable hands. It was a terrible thing she had sent him to deliver, one that she knew would destroy both of their lives, but until that very moment, she had been unable to see any other way. Of course, she could have delivered it herself, but that would have caused a scene about their activities that were better left in the darkness. It would have required an explanation to both her Father and the Emperor, have required that she take back all the lies that had fallen from her lips for the past year, and would have just prolonged the moment she had been dreading for that entire time. No, better to end their affair quietly, in a way that only they would ever understand, then force him to go through all of that with a broken heart.

Shaking her head to rid herself of thought of him, Natalia waved away the concerned maid with a claim of dust in her eyes before turning to begin her walk home, her heart heavy with what life had forced her to do. For, even when the world was at peace, how could a Princess ever admit to loving a Count of her country's enemy?

It was a week before his reply reached her, delivered in such a way that she couldn't help but laugh, despite the extra cracks that grew within her heart at the sight of the shattered sword.

When she had first thought of her plan to break things off with him, she had spent weeks working with the finest sword crafters in Kimlasca, designing a blade that would represent her intentions to him, but that to everyone else would do nothing more then signify the anniversary of some insignificant event that had happened on their journey together. Indeed, when questioned by her father and the smiths, that had been the lie she had told, careful in her responses so that no specific incident or detail that they might or might not know about could come to mind. When no one had questioned her, she had continued on preparing the gift that would break their hearts.

It would seem that her preparations had been for naught, for, according to the messenger, the moment the Count unwrapped the sword, the look on his face had said all that everyone had ever needed to know. And although it went unspoken, Natalia knew from her messengers' silence that he had also been the one to break the sword, a private message to her that all could see: no matter what she said or did, he was not giving up.

It was another week before he showed up at the palace, exhausted from the near constant travel and still wearing the dirt of the road as he strolled into the throne room, interrupting the council meeting that had been taking place, the palace guards trailing helplessly at his heels. It was there, before her father and all of his advisors, the very ones she had been trying to protect him from, Count Gailardia Galan Gardios, better known to as just plain Guy, in rapid succession for the third time, kissed her and proposed.

And it was there, amongst the chaos of nobles calling for guards and her father demanding answers, that Natalia finally gave into her heart and said yes.