A moment changes everything. It sometimes forewarns; that odd sensation, that pit of the stomach lurch, that cold shiver- intuition. But mostly it springs up, without a warning, without so much as an indication. It just happens, just like that. One minute you're dancing, laughing feeling on top of the world, the next you're brought to your feet humbled.

When she was younger her father often read her fairytales of Natasha the Princess, who always had her happy ending. Always won her Prince and left to live her happy ever after. But then she was young. She was innocent and protected from the reality. Then she was unaware, unknown and immature. Now, now she was older and knew that happy ever afters, didn't exist. They didn't. Not the kind that were in books anyway. And those who claimed they did, well they, they were living a lie. A sweet lie. Nonetheless a lie.

Compromise. Such a simple concept in theory but practically it is far from easy. Every relationship has its ups and downs-she would know. All of hers had always been of the latter kind resulting in heartbreak after heartbreak. But the one thing she learnt from them, the one thing she remained grateful for, the one thing that had humbled her, that one thing she promised herself to never let go of was: to never compromise herself. It had taken her a long time to come to this realisation, but she did finally get there. She was for the first time comfortable in her own skin. For the first time-truthfully- she no longer cared about what people thought. The way she dressed and carried herself defined her and she was no longer going to be made to feel ashamed of this fact.

Of course such realisation hadn't come easily. She paid a huge price and looking back, if she could go back again in time she would make completely different choices. Yet even in acknowledging that she knows this is merely the benefit of hindsight. There is no denying that everything she went through with Ivan she would love to lock away never to be heard, thought or spoken of again, but she knows and accepts that it had to happen. It had to happen so that the next time she was forced to compromise herself she would know when to walk away. With her head held high and this time a little less broken.

It had hurt when she realised that She and Ed could no longer go on the way they were. It had hurt because he was the first who hadn't made her cry. But even so they weren't going to last, they couldn't last as she was not going to compromise herself anymore. And it is with that in mind that she can sit and look back and smile that it happened. Ed challenged her, he made her look at the world from a broader perspective and for that reason she would always thank him. But that night at the ball, despite the fact that Ed had been 'good' for her, she knew, it wasn't going to work. What he saw as shallow and superficial was actually what made her who she was. Staying together would have only bought one resolution; bitterness and resentment, and neither of them deserved this. Neither of them. And so though he made her laugh and she made him smile they couldn't go on. They couldn't. It wasn't an easy choice but all her past had done one thing good and that was to give her strength. Strength to know when to put herself first. Was this selfish? No, she thought, no. Not when it came to her life, her future...her love.

Of all the stories and tales her father had told to her there one thing that never changed was that Princess Natasha's Prince, loved her for who she was. That he loved her in spite of all her flaws and probably because of them. Whether Princess Natasha in each tale was sporty, girly, nerdy or adventurous didn't matter, she didn't have to compromise herself. And this, this was the reason why she and Ed couldn't last.

Being with someone requires more than a physical or emotional spark. It requires that quintessential connection, she didn't need to be a romantic to figure that out. No she respected herself enough to appreciate the reality behind it; that when it was meant to happen it wouldn't be so hard. That odd sensation, the lurch in the pit of her stomach, that intuition would kick in. For now all she knew was that, she now appreciated who she was. She wasn't going to change for anyone and more-so nobody should have to change for her. She understood then, that there was no point in sitting and questioning the 'what could have beens' because ultimately when it comes to the reality, her past will mould her future anyway, but she- and she alone would decide on what shape that mould should take.