I was watching 'Blair Waldorf must Pie!' and listening to Nolita Fairytale, and I loved the juxtaposition in the end with Blair's last and present thanksgivings combining, two versions of perfect, the fake and the real. And I might have mistaken kind for con, and this fic was born.


He meets Blair first.

Sometimes when he's feeling particularly masochistic, he wonders what would have happened in if he had met her first.

But he meets Blair, and it seals his fate.

His mom introduces them with that high pitch happy voice that means that he's getting a new gift or surprise. "This is Blair Waldorf," she says with a large smile, two hands on the small girl's shoulders. "I hope you'll make her feel comfortable Nathaniel."

The little girl sticks out a small hand, intent on making her introduction her own. "Nice to meet you Nathaniel," she trills out.

"Nate," he corrects, shaking her hand.

He thinks she looks pretty, like a princess. She even has a large bow on her head, like a crown. He tells her later on, when they are sitting on the floor of his bedroom playing with race cars. "You look like Princess Belle," he says looking at her bright yellow dress.

Her nose wrinkles a little bit, as she picks up his red car. "Thank you." Her face smoothes out, "You look like Prince Charming. Daddy says that Princess and Princes always end up together. Does that mean you're my prince Charming?"

"Okay." He doesn't really see himself as a Beast, but he nods along because he's six and fairytales still exist.


He asks her out when they are thirteen because his mom and dad think it's a good idea.

"Blair will be a good first girlfriend," her mother comments over dinner the night before, and his father agrees, so he asks her out.

She smiles brightly when he suggests that they should have dinner and see a movie, alone, without Serena or Chuck.

His dad sends him with a towncar and a bright smile. "Do me proud, son," he claps Nate on the shoulder and winks.

They go to a nice restaurant that his mom suggests, and she's wearing an outfit that her mom picked out. Still, he feels grown up when the waiter comes around and asks him, "And what will you be having tonight, Mr. Archibald?"

Blair looks at him expectantly when he's done ordering. And it gets awkward when he looks at her unsurely, wondering why she's not speaking up, and telling the waiter what she wants. Eventually she rolls her eyes and orders a small salad.

"I thought you would order for me," she huffs out when the waiter is out of earshot.

"But I didn't know what you wanted," he defends.

She looks off put, like maybe the fairytale isn't exactly what she imagined. But she brightens up moments later, and asks him about his day.

And it's the first time he disappoints her. But it's not that last.


He likes Serena like everyone else does.

She's so sweet and fun and kind. And she's easy to be with.

(And oh so different from Blair.)

They're friends, at first, because she's Blair's best friend. And because she's always around Blair, just like he always is. It's just natural. She's a part of Blair's perfect fairytale, just like he is.

He doesn't know when he starts to like her, but he knows the day that he does, is the day he stops being a part of Blair's perfect fairytale.


He still dates Blair, even when his attention is dragged away to her blonde best friend.

She's still Belle and he's still Prince Charming. They're part of a screwed fairytale that just doesn't make sense anymore. But everyone knows that fairytales don't end with anything but Happily Ever After.


"I love you," she admits to him one sunny day with a bright smile.

The whole thing is perfect. She's wearing a pretty dress, holding his hand, smiling up at him like he's the only guy in the world that matters. The sun is setting behind him, and he knows that this is his cue. This is where he's supposed to tell her he loves her too, and kiss her.

"I love you too," he says robotically.

She smiles up at him and blinks once, twice, waiting for him to seal the moment with a kiss.

He leans forward, pecks her slightly on the cheek, then he tugs her along. And they both know that fairytales shouldn't be this dull.


"Here," she holds out a green sweater with a flourish.

"Erm, thanks." It's Thanksgiving and he wasn't under the impression they were exchanging gifts. And now that she got him a present, and she finds out he doesn't have one in return other than the cranberry sauce his mom brought, she's going to be furious with him, and that's the last thing he wants to deal with.

She stares at him expectantly, "Well aren't you going to wear it."

"Oh," he starts, "uh, sure."

She watches him closely as he slips into the green sweater.

He shifts uncomfortably under her gaze. "Good fit," he says awkwardly when her gaze doesn't shift, even when he's wearing the sweater.

She huffs, and grabs his arm, "Look," she insists, pulling back the sleeve ever so slightly to reveal a heart shaped pin.

"Uh," he stammers.

"It's a heart pin," she explains. "Daddy gave it to me when I was five for Thanksgiving to give to my Prince when I grew up. I sewed it onto this sweater, for you. So that you would always have my heart on your sleeve."

The symbolism of it all is stifling.

"Wow," he chokes out, "I love it. Like I love you."

"I'm glad," she stands on her tiptoes and peeks him on the lips. "Love you too."

"But um," he coughs, yanking on the collar of the choking sweater, looking over Blair's shoulder to their parents laughing and talking over hors d'oeuvres. "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?"

"It feels fine to me," she looks at him with a furrowed brows.

"It's really hot," he explains, removing the sweater. "I'm just going to take this off for now and keep it somewhere safe."

He misses her look of disappointment.


He sleeps with Serena at the Sheppard wedding, and it's so easy and hard at the same time.

He needs a change, something different from the boring monotony he has with Blair. And Serena is there, and willing, and drunk. And she's smiling at him with her blonde hair flowing down her shoulders like an ever-present glow surrounding her. She's laughing and effortless, and he can't believe she's kissing him back.

"I think I always loved you," he admits into the curve of her collarbone.

She doesn't say anything, but she kisses him softly, and presses her forehead into his. And he thinks that maybe she loves him back.

But not enough for her to stay in the morning.


He tells Blair the day afterwards, because he's tired of the fairytale.

She looks so broken, so shattered. But she doesn't say anything; she just walks out of his room.

She calls him the next day after they both find out that Serena goes away to boarding school.

"I'm willing to work past this, if you promise me that you're over her," she breathes into the phone. She sounds different, colder, older. She sounds like her mom.

He feels like his father when he acquiesces, "Okay."


They don't work past it. They don't even talk about it.

They go back to some semblance of perfection. He's Nate Archibald, St. Jude's Golden Boy, and she's Blair Waldorf, Constance's Queen. She rules the school, and he stands besides her, a placeholder more than anything.

His father leans on him heavily to suck up to Blair, to get into Dartmouth, to be a Van der Bilt and an Archibald.

He breaks up with her in a fit of rebellion, or she breaks up with him because she just can't take it anymore. It doesn't matter, because they fall apart right before his father goes to jail for embezzlement. And he feels so lonely because he doesn't have anyone.

So he goes back to Blair and begs for her forgiveness right before Cotillion.

She looks at him unsurely, and brushes him off, because "It was a hard decision, Nate, but it was the right one."

Later when he sees her, she looks different, acts different, smiles differently. And he doesn't know where this girl was his whole life. But he likes her, so he tries to win her back, to make it work.

In the end, she accepts him because he's Prince Charming, and fairytales work themselves out in the end.


But not everyone in fairytales gets a happily ever afters.

Because he's not stupid this time, and he sees the looks between his best friend and his girlfriend. The longing, the sadness. The same way he used to look at Serena. And he thinks that maybe it would be easier if they just all admitted they were wrong about fairytales.


She gets into Yale (of course) and he gets into Yale and Columbia.

He pretends for a moment that he has a choice, like his Grandfather would allow him to be his own person without the Van der Bilt shadow hanging over his shoulder, like Blair wouldn't throw a fit if she found out he was even considering Columbia because there's a plan.

He chooses Yale (of course), because there never really was a choice.


They go off to Yale, and it's not surprising.

What is, however, is that Chuck goes to Harvard, because he decides he needs to learn something about business before he takes over Bass Industries. And they find out through the grapevine that Serena is going to Brown, undecided about her future, but sure that it includes college.

Their plan is working out, while everyone is still making plans for themselves.


They break up again in their Junior year, because they stop pretending their lives are perfect, for a moment.

Blair moves abroad for a year, and he transfers to Columbia for a year.

He doesn't even know Serena is in town, until he runs into her at the Sheppard's divorce party.

He smiles brightly at her, and tells her it's great to see her. She smiles brightly back at him when she finds out Blair and him broke up.

They come full circle, because he kisses her at the end of the night as he hoists her onto the bar top.

Later when she's lying beside him in bed, her golden hair splayed out around her head like a crown, he thinks that if his life is still a fairytale and he's still Prince Charming, then she's Cinderella, the girl he took forever to find, the one he doesn't ever want to let go.

And she stays in the morning.


Blair sends him a letter from France.

It's happy and nice. She talks about living with her mom and Cyrus, and spending weekends with Roman and her father. She gushes about her internship, and how amazing the experience.

She doesn't say she misses him, and he understands when he gets to the last line.

Would you believe it if I told you that I actually met up with Chuck a few weeks ago when I moved here? Turns out he's here on business. We've been spending a lot of time together. It's been nice.

He's not a jealous, he thinks as he wraps up her letter with a smile, and pulls out a photo of Chuck and Blair standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe. They look good together. He looks older, more composed than the seventeen year old boy that boozed and slept his way through half of Manhattan. She looks happier than she ever was with him.

"What did the letter from Blair say?" Serena asks from the kitchen, cutting up strawberries.

"That she's happy," he says simply.


They hang on together for a year. But when the year's over, he moves back to Yale, leaving Serena behind with a kiss and promise to be back.

His heart aches on the ride home, because knows that maybe he'll be back one day, but it won't be soon enough.

Blair's back too, with a sort of sadness in her eyes when she looks at him, because they don't believe in fairytales anymore, but they believe in the inevitable.

His mother invites them both to a dinner that his Grandfather orchestrates, and she forces the Van der Bilt ring onto Blair's finger, and they both grimace at each other, because they don't know how to fight fate anymore.

"Do you want to try again?" She asks her when he drops her off at her apartment again. He feels like the line is practically force-fed to him.

"Okay," he says softly kissing her on the cheek, before she steps through the door without a good night and closes the door softly in his face.


He proposes to her after graduation.

His mother bursts into tears as he sinks down on one knee in front of their friends and family with the Van der Bilt ring in one hand and an important question on the tip of his tongue.

She cries as she says yes, and he's the only one who knows that they aren't happy tears.

His heart breaks for the both of them.


They get married at his Grandfather's estate.

Everything is planned perfectly. Everything is perfect.

He tries to see her before, but Serena comes out of the door with a sad smile (because she's still the maid of honor, despite everything) and says that it's tradition for the Bride and groom to not see each other before the wedding.

They talk through the door, however, because he feels like he's making a big mistake, but he doesn't know how to stop.

"We'll try," she says firmly. She was always the stronger one of the two of them. "We will make this work."

"Okay," he agrees softly.

When she walks down the aisle, she's wearing a beautiful strapless white dress, and a tiara, and she really does look like the princess that he thought she was when they were younger. But he's not her Prince Charming, not anymore, because she's not looking at him as she walks down the aisle.

It's a slap in the face to their agreement earlier, but he chooses to ignore the fact that she loves his best man, as long as she ignores the fact that he loves her maid of honor.

She says "I do," while looking at Chuck.

And he says "I do," while looking at Serena.


He expects her to settle into a pattern of society parties and women's clubs.

But instead she decides to go to law school.

He pretends not to look so surprised when she announces it to him after their marriage, because he's her husband and these things shouldn't come as a surprise to him.

(They pass on a honeymoon. Later, he assures, because he doesn't really feel like celebrating their wedding.

She's upset at the missed opportunity to travel, but she doesn't disagree.)

They move to New York, back to the Upper East Side, where he takes over the Spectator, and she starts going to Columbia and spend their weekends going to UES parties and being a part of society. It feels like High School all over again, she's poised to become a UES queen with him by her side, not exactly sure where he belongs.

(The difference is, this time, he knows his future, just not where Blair belongs in it.)

They move into the Waldorf penthouse, because Cyrus and Eleanor move to Paris. She drops hints in the beginning about a buying a new place, because it's a fresh start.

But he ignores them.


On their three-month anniversary, he sleeps with an intern at his office.

He feels horrible afterwards; there is a sick feeling in his stomach as he sits back in his couch as the intern shuffles around his office picking up her clothes with a practiced ease. He shows her out with a simple, "Let's not mention this again."

He goes home with a Tiffany's box he picked up weeks ago, and bouquet of pink peonies, and he's early for the first time in months.

She smiles up at him as he enters, kissing him softly when she sees the Tiffany's box. And he reminds himself as he watches her delight at her new bracelet that she is his wife, and that means something.

"I love you," he says softly, trying to convince himself.

She looks at him softly, sadly, "I love you too."


He finds out she's back in town when he's celebrating his one-year anniversary with Blair.

He makes excuses to Blair about long hours at work, excuses she buys easily, because it's habit to rarely see each other. He catches a cab to Brooklyn and walks into her step-father's gallery like he knows the place well.

Her pictures over the wall, pictures from places he knows, and from places he doesn't. There are pictures of her, and pictures of him, and a few of Chuck and Blair. And he wonders when she had the time to take all these pictures of them.

"Nate," she sounds breathless when she finally sees him. She's gorgeous as always, designer gold dress, blonde hair blown out, and effortless smile, only slightly tinged with sadness as she looked at him. But she was older, a bit more poised, more put together than she used to be.

"I heard about your show," he gestures around him, a weak excuse to see her.

"I'm so glad you came." She admits taking a few steps towards him.

He takes her out for dinner afterwards, and the only place open is a Chinese restaurant two blocks away. She laughs as he tries to order and butchers the names of their dishes. They trade dishes half way through, because he really should have gone with the Sweet and Sour Pork, and she loves his Moo Goo Gai Pan. They crack open fortune cookies, exchanging the pieces of paper with laughs. That is until he gets on that says that he's going to find something he's been missing all along, and the game is no longer very fun.

He offers to walk her back to her apartment, a small loft a few blocks away. She asks him about married life, and he brushes off questions about Blair. He asks her about living in Brooklyn, and she brushes off questions about what did she did after he left.

Eventually they stand outside of her door just talking, laughing, and it's 2 am, and he needs to get home.

"I'm really glad you came," she repeats, as he pulls away from her.

"Can I see you again?" He turns around and asks.

She nods with a soft smile and bright eyes, and he's never been happier.


Falling back into Serena again is easy and complicated at the same time.

He goes to work, and then to her apartment, and then sneaks back to his place in the morning to get a change of clothes. Eventually he takes a bag to her place under the guise of a business trip, and cuts out going home at all.

Blair doesn't ask where he's going or whom he's seeing. But she texts him whenever there's event they are supposed to attend. That is the extent of their conversation.

He's a married man having an affair with his wife's ex-best friend, and even though he knows that Blair doesn't care anymore, it still eats away at him.

Serena doesn't mention it, she avoids asking him questions about his whereabouts and he's doesn't mention Blair.

It's the day that he catches the Times on her counter with his picture plastered across the front page. He's standing with Blair outside the Met Gala, his arm wrapped around her waist, a smile on his face.

Serena looks up from her coffee at him sadly. "I can't do this anymore," she says brokenly.

And for the first time he feels awful for her. The woman he's sleeping with because he loves, and because he is so unhappy living the life his parents planned for him.

"Serena," he pleads with her, walking towards her, though he's not sure what he's pleading for. Forgiveness, understanding, compassion.

"No Nate," she pushes away from him, "This isn't some game anymore. I love you, and I want to be with you. But I can't watch you go back to Blair. It's not fair."

"You know I love you," he says weakly.

"I know," she closes her eyes, "but I can't do this anymore."

"Okay," he says, because he owes her that much. A clean break. And just like that it's over.


He goes home, and it's been a month since he's been home at all, and he knows Blair's not expecting him.

He walks through the door; intent on crashing on the couch, when he notices his spot is taken by a coat. A pinstrip coat that isn't his coat.

He expects to feel sick at the thought of another man with Blair in his own house. But he recognizes the coat, and he knows that he'd be a hypocrite for expecting her to stay at home waiting for him while he strayed outside their marriage.

He waits in the kitchen until morning with a bottle of scotch and a pounding headache.

When it's past seven, he hears the murmur of voices, soft and caring. He's never heard Blair sound so affectionate. The voices die down as the elevator chimes, and he stands up and walks into the living room.

She's standing in front of the elevator with a soft smile in a sheer white robe and tousled hair, and he almost feels bad that he never got to see her like this.

Maybe things would be different.

"Blair," he says softly. She jumps in fright and turns around to face him. "It's over."

And for the first time it's her saying, "Okay," but it's laced with relief and happiness.


The divorce is amicable.

They split their assets with a lawyer from her firm. She gets the apartment in Paris and her family's penthouse in Manhattan, but he keeps their house in the Hamptons.

They sign the papers and it's over. There's no trial separation, no catfights, or vase throwing. The papers say they are separating because of irreconcilable differences, and he supposes it's a better way of saying that they didn't even want to be married in the first place.

"Here you go, Archibald," she says with a playful smile, handing over his family ring. She looks happy, happier than when he gave her the ring. "It never really looked good on my finger anyway."

"Thanks," his hand curls around the ring.

"I know there's a certain blonde in Brooklyn," she says slowly, "that deserves that ring more than I ever did."

"I'm not sure she'll want it anymore," he admits, looking at the ground.

"Hey," Blair says softly, "She wants you, she always has. You just have to show her that you want her too."

He smiles ruefully, because he can't believe he's talking about moving on and getting married again when the ink on his divorce papers are barely dry. "I did love you," he attempts.

"I loved you too, Nate Archibald. Always have, always will." It's an old line, but it sounds truer than it ever has before. "Now go get your girl."


He doesn't go back to her immediately.

He needs to sort out his life. Get his affairs in order. He moves into a small loft in the Upper West Side. He slowly tells his family about the divorce, and doesn't stay on the line long enough to hear their disappointment. They release a joint statement to the papers when the divorce is final, because they are past the days of sending tips to Gossip Girl.

Then he packs his bags and books a flight ticket.

It's a coward's move, but he stopped playing the role of Prince Charming a long time ago.

He calls her on the way to the airport and it goes to voicemail.

"Hey, Serena," he starts, "Look you don't have any reason to give me the time of the day, but I wanted to you to know that I broke it off with Blair. And it's not just because I love you. But because I can't pretend to be someone I'm not anymore. I know who I am, and what I want. And what I want is to be with you. And if it's what you want, I'm going to JFK to fly to Spain for a few weeks. I want you to join me. Hope to see you there."

He ends the call, feeling horrible about his chances, but optimistic nonetheless.

He passes through airport security and sits into front of the gate, his leg bouncing up and down in nervousness.

When she shows up, it's the third call for boarding, and the flight attendant at the door is eyeing him warily. He knows they only keep the door open because he's first class and Nate Archibald (he feels like Chuck Bass for the first time in his life).

She's breathless and beautiful, blonde hair flowing around her like a golden crown. "I didn't think you'd see be here," she exhales.

"I didn't think you were going to show up," he admits.

"I wasn't," she looks down at the ground, "But I love you." She looks up at him. "Does that make sense?"

He grabs her hand in his, "It does," he assures her.


They only stay in Spain for a few days.

She wakes up one morning and decides they need a change of scenery. They fly to Tokyo, and then to Germany, then India. They fly from place to place; the only record of them is flight ticket stubs and photos on her camera.

She runs through six SD cards before they decide it's time to go home. Most of her photos include him. He's the center, in the background, everywhere. He's a part of her life now, and he plans on never leaving it again.


The next time they see each other, there's a different ring on her finger.

He feels the familiar pang of guilt at her presence. He'd been wrong for her, even in the end. He'd tried to fool her into thinking he was right for her their entire lives, and when it fell apart, he couldn't even stand by her side.

Someone else was by her side though, and he stands beside her tonight, arm wrapped around her waist, a genuine smile on his face. Something Nate doesn't think he's ever seen.

She spots him and leans towards her companion. She whispers something in his ear and he nods slightly, kissing her cheek, before she pulls away from him and walks towards him.

"Nate Archibald," she announces as she walks towards him. There's a light carefree way she carries herself now, and he can't help but smile at it.

"Blair Waldorf," he mimics. "Or is it Bass, yet?" It's not mocking, though, he's genuinely curious.

"Not yet," she admits twisting the ring on her finger. "We're going to do it right this time."

"Of course," he agrees, thinking back to their own wedding at his grandfather's estate.

"You'll come?" She asks. "He wanted to ask you to be his best man, but I don't think he feels comfortable under the circumstances."

"Because he's marrying my ex-wife." There's a hint of bitterness in his voice.

Blair Waldorf isn't one to back down though, "Just as you're marrying my best friend." She parrots back. "I saw the pictures from Thailand."

He smiles, shaking his head. "Of course." He gestures down at her hand. "Congratulations, the ring is beautiful."

"Thank you," she says with a gracious smile. "I hope you'll consider the invite. We both want you there."

"We'll be there," he promises. He pauses for a moment, "Do you remember what I said when we were little?"

She shakes her head, her brow furrowing.

"I said you looked like Princess Belle."

"And I said you looked like Prince Charming," she says, her eyes lighting up with recognition.

"But Belle doesn't end up with Prince Charming," he begins.

"She ends up with the Beast," she says ruefully, turning around to shoot a look at Chuck, who was watching them intently. "Who knew I'd be so predictable?"

"Well the Beast was always a cover," Nate admits, "he always was a prince underneath it all."

She looks at him impressed. "Nathaniel Archibald being introspective, I never thought I'd see the day."

He shakes his head and laughs.

"You know that I was wrong too, Prince Charming doesn't end up with Belle," she starts, "He ends up with Cinderella." She looks over his shoulder at Serena who is standing a few feet away laughing with her mother. "You ended up with right one, Archibald."

"So did you, Waldorf."

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