AN: For some reason, all of my writings about this pair have made Natalia out to be the bad guy. Not that I have anything against her, quite the opposite in fact. I really do like Natalia, despite all of her character flaws. However, after spending her entire life believing that she was in love with Asch, if Natalia was to fall in love with Guy, I think that she might have some problems accepting that because of her past. She would still love him, but I can't help but believe that it would take her longer to accept that fact then it would take Guy. Anyway, I really hope that you all like this! By the way, this is my one hundredth fanfiction! Thank you all for all of support you have given me over the last two years. Without all of you, these stories would never have existed.
Disclaimer: I do not own Tales of the Abyss. Namco does.
Throughout her life, there had been many times when Natalia had found reason to lie.
Although she preferred the truth over anything else, for not only was it easier to keep track of, in the end it tended to be much less painful, her time as a princess had taught her the importance of a well-placed fib in politics. When trying to gain the support she needed amongst the nobles to pass a law that she knew would help the people, it had proven to be the gentle words of an untruth that had succeeded over the harsh realities that surrounded them to get her what she needed. It had also allowed her to figure out where her true friends and those who really cared about Kimlasca stood. Whenever she had told a blatant lie, one that would do more harm than good, it had been those that had called her out on it that had earned her trust and respect over those that had just smiled and agreed, for it was the former that proved that they were not too afraid of losing their power to do what was right. These were the people she could count on to help her rule the country properly, and so they were the ones she kept closest to her.
So, while Natalia preferred the truth over everything else, sometimes, lies did have their uses.
However, there had been exactly four times in her life that she had chosen a lie over the truth, and it was those four lies that became the greatest mistakes of her life.
The first lie was that he was nothing more than a very good friend.
He had accepted that lie quite easily, just shrugging it off as if she had only commented on the weather or the current bandit trouble they had just recently heard of. He had smiled, and in his smile he had reassured her that her response to his confession hadn't hurt him a bit. He was every bit the good friend that she had told him that he was to her, and surprisingly, that was what made it hurt even more. She knew well that her heart was against what her head had forced her to say, and even though she was the most gullible member of their group, even she could see the carefully hidden pain that was in his eyes. With every encouraging word that he spoke and each carefully offered helping hand, the pain that they both felt just seemed to grow. So, it was with the realization that she was the cause of his pain that she told her second lie.
She told him that she didn't need him.
The words, although spoken in a harsh tone when he had only been trying to help, had long been swirling within her mind. Hadn't she been told, over and over again by the healers that she had studied under, that a cleanly broken bone was all the easier to heal? That the pieces, after only a little bit of pain, just slipped back together and almost disappeared? If the romantic novels she had been in love with since she had been young had taught her anything, feelings worked much the same way, and while it would hurt her much more, perhaps it would be for his best. Her words would work their way into his mind, and, after a bit of contemplation, he would push away the pain that hid behind his smile and move on, perhaps to find another who could be his own. Her own heart would remain broken, for after losing two loves there was no way it would be able to heal enough for a third, but it was something she was willing to endure, for it was for him. With that in mind, with hissed words that had been too low for the others to hear, she had told him to stop, to let her stand or fall on her own. She had spat that she didn't his help, and that he should just stop offering it, for it did nothing but insult her.
Once again, he had just let that infuriating smile cross his lips as he bowed, the pain within it even greater than before, and had left her to her own. Respecting her wishes, he had stopped offering to help her over logs and with her chores, letting her struggle with her pride and figure it out for herself. And as she struggled with her own success, she refused to go to him, instead asking for help from one of the others when it became far too clear that she needed it. But even with all of that, he still didn't leave. Each morning, as they walked through the plains and forests that lined the path to their destination, he would always take his place next to her, would defend her in battle, and was always the first to ask if she was okay when the fights were won. Even though he no longer offered his help, he still wore his heart on his sleeve for her and remained by her side, no matter how much it hurt him. It was because of this that she was prompted to tell her third lie.
She told him that she didn't want him.
In her mind, it was their proximity that was hurting him the most, for if he was near, it was a constant reminder that they could never be. At first, she had tried to do it without words, to give him the physical signs that she no longer wanted him near her to spare them both the pain that was sure to follow. But when he still continued walked close enough for their hands to almost touch-kept apart only by the single fear that he couldn't seem to completely shake- when he still continued to watch out for her in battle, and when she would awaken in the middle of the night to find him standing close to her during his guard shift, as if he was guarding her instead of the group as a whole, she knew that she couldn't avoid it any longer. It had gone on long enough, and she was the one who had to stop it.
So, she told him that she no longer wanted him near her, that, ever since he had told her of his feelings for her, it had become just too awkward for then to even be friends. And for a third time, he had smiled that smile that just made her want to slap him and had complied with her wishes. No longer did he wait for her to catch up when her wandering mind had allowed her to fall behind the others, instead staying close to the front of their pack to put as much distance between them a possible. In battle, he would rush forward to meet the incoming attacks, the blade of his sword flashing as he hurled himself away from her and towards the danger she had previously kept him from. After the fights were over, he went to Tear for healing instead of her, his cuts and bruises disappearing under her expert hand. And when the time came for her to fall in the arms of slumber, he would take up his post on the other side of camp, his form a simple shadow through the flickering flames of the fire that kept away the darkness.
But still, even after all of that, still the pain remained in his smile and eyes, leaking through into his laugh to become a cause of concern to the others. Tear would constantly cast healing spells on him when she could, Anise would rush before him to obliterate the obstacles that stood before them before he could, and even Luke tried his best to make the travels as easy as he could for his friend. Only Jade seemed able to realize that the pain he felt was not physical, and somehow, it was only that calculating mind that seemed able to connect the pain that coursed through the younger man to his new indifference towards the resident princess. It was only Jade that was able to put together the pieces of the puzzle, and for that she hated him just a little bit more. But the dislike she felt for the Colonel came nowhere close for the despise she felt for herself, for she was more than well aware of the fact that she was the cause of the pain they both were feeling. It was this that forced her to tell her fourth and the greatest lie of her life.
She told herself that she didn't care.
Why should she love him? Why should she care so much about someone so pathetic that he couldn't even hold her hand? Why should her heart beat so quickly when he was near, and why should her rejection of him have caused him so much pain? He had been nothing more than a servant for as long as she could remember, and despite the revelation that he was closer to her in status then she had first thought, that did not change the fact that almost sixteen years' worth of memories continued to hold him below her. He had no right falling in love with her, and she had no cause to return the feelings. Not only that, but he was an enemy, a citizen of the country her own had spent centuries fighting. From the moment they had laid eyes upon each other, there had been no way that they could have been together. Everything about them kept them apart. There was nothing that they could do to make it otherwise.
But if that was so, why did it hurt her so much to be away from him, to see him hurt and her unable to do anything but hurt him more to cure the previous pain? Why did she not care about status before, and why did her heart give a flip when she had realized that, according to the tradition of royalty marrying royalty, there was a slight chance of them being together? Why, before she had forced herself to think through her newest lie, had she never once before thought about his nationality?
Why, if any of that was true, was she still in love with him?
It was because none of it mattered. Because she was more than willing to wait for his fear to fade, and was willing to live with what remained of it for the rest of their lives. Because she didn't care about status, that which he had been born into and that she had been given, nor did she care about the years of war between their people. Her heart beat when he was near because, for the longest time now, it had been his to do with what he would, and if his reactions to her lies had been anything to go off of, he had given his own to her long ago without her even realizing it.
It had been this realization, this earth-shattering fact that she needed no proof to know it to be truth, that had her pulling him aside one night after two months of lies to tell him the truth.
She told him that she loved him.
In comparison to everything else she had told him, her words had been feeble and weak, a pittance of the apology that he deserved. But continue on she had, spilling her mind and heart to him in an attempt to make him understand why she had lied so much to him, why she had caused him so much unneeded pain when the truth would have hurt so much less. She tried to make him understand that she was scared, that she was unsure of the feelings in her heart that had taken control of her the moment they could, and that she had finally given free rein to. She continued to speak until her voice grew hoarse and her words fell silent, and even then she tried to make him understand that she was finally telling the truth, that nothing she had uttered right then and there was a lie.
The stony face he maintained throughout her speech told her everything she needed to know.
Turning away from him, her heart heavy with the fact that her mistakes had taken a toll that was far too high to fix, it was with a slight shock of surprise that shaking arms wrapped around her, keeping her from moving back towards camp. For the longest time, neither of them spoke, instead just standing there until the tremors that had raced down his spine at their contact had quieted, leaving him panting slightly as he hugged her. Releasing her just enough so that she could twist in his arms, it was with a smile that Natalia found herself looking into a pair of cool blue eyes that, for the first time in a long time, were free of the pain that she herself had caused. Opening her mouth to begin apologizing for everything once again, it was with a muffled gasp that she found a pair of lips blocking her words, silently telling her everything she needed to hear.
His kiss told her that she was forgiven and that she was very much so loved.
Although she knew that lies did have their place, it was from that moment forward that Natalia promised to never again lie to the man she loved, for, if anything, Guy, after giving everything he could for her, after accepting her words as truth and giving her the space she had once believed that she desired, deserved at least that much and so much more.