|Cat and Mouse
Author: Lady Nailo PM
Mary and her thoughts on the town, the library, and Gray. [MaryGray]Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Words: 1,859 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 1 - Published: 03-15-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1269924
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Disclaimer: Natsume owns Harvest Moon and all related characters. I don't own anything here, except the wish to keep Gray under my bed for my own personal pleasure.
A/N: A moment in the mind of Mary, everyone's favorite librarian. Longer note at the bottom. Enjoy!
Cat and Mouse
I'm not shy, really. Just quiet, and a bit thoughtful. People think I'm shy just because I don't talk much, but really, I'm not that shy. Apprehensive, maybe. Yes, I think that's it. I used to be shy, when I lived in the city. It was years ago, but I still remember those shuddery thrills that would run through my young body when a stranger spoke to me, or even looked at me, and the urge to run away and hide somewhere dark and quiet. I suppose all little girls are shy sometimes…It makes me feel better to think that. Me, I'm just the smart one, the mousy girl with glasses and neatly braided hair and a plaid skirt who spends most of her time reading or studying things kept under glass. No one would blame me for being shy. They'd expect it.
Papa moved us here, to Mineral Town, when I was eleven, about nine years ago. I was secretly sad to go; the city has so many interesting things in it, and I didn't want to miss a moment of them. Maybe that's what started me reading, although I loved reading even before we left the city. It was a thrill knowing I could go anywhere, just by picking up a book and opening the pages. When I was young I wrote all the time, silly little stories about castles and knights and beautiful princesses…I would pretend to be the princess in all of them, waiting for her handsome prince to rescue her from this dragon or that evil witch. I liked being the princess; when I'd play with the neighborhood girls, they'd always make me be the ugly stepsister. Being beautiful in those stories was something I treasured, and I never thought I'd be beautiful outside of them. I still don't, sometimes.
Life in Mineral Town was a wonderful change, and I don't miss the city at all. In fact, when we go back to visit my grandmother in her tiny sixth floor apartment there, I miss everything here. Listening to birds other than pigeons and being able to stretch out in a field of wildflowers are things I cherish, and I miss them when I'm not here. I miss a lot of things, maybe most of all my library. That, above all things, is my most cherished possession, even if it technically belongs to the town. It's my library, and I love it. I wish, though, that other people loved the musty stacks as much as I do.
There are a few people who come regularly. Jack, the new boy on the ramshackle farmland west of town, comes almost every day, poking around the shelves as if he's looking for some new treat. He brings me fascinating things to study: wild mushrooms, medicinal grasses, even flowers sometimes. I started putting some of the flowers in a vase in my room; I don't think he knows, though. I'd die of embarrassment if he ever found out…Maybe it's just that he's a boy; no, I can't call him that - he's older than I am. A man, a young one, that's what he is. And he's giving me presents…not many men do that, if you can tell. I shouldn't get my hopes up, I know, but every time he walks in the door I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the feeling that I'm on the edge of a cliff and about to fall. It's silly, really, and I don't expect anything to come of it. I suppose all girls get like this when a man gives them flowers, though. Even quiet bookworms.
The doctor comes on Wednesdays, the day the clinic is closed. He's a polite man, and very intelligent: I once got him to tell me about some of his research into herbal healing - It was fascinating, truly. I suppose I can't blame myself for wanting to be like him, someone who used their intelligence to carve out a place in the world. I'd like to do that, but…well, I'm young yet. I have time.
The other man who comes to the library often is Saibara the blacksmith's grandson from the city, Gray. I…I don't know what to say about him. He, even more than Jack, makes me fluttery when I see him, or even think about him. He doesn't talk much, but when he does his voice sends shivers down my spine; deep, rich, soft…it's like velvet that's lighter than air. I pray he doesn't notice those shivers; my embarrassment would be even worse than with Jack's flowers. I couldn't bear that, shyness or not.
I don't think he knows that I watch him sometimes, when he sits down in one of the big armchairs Papa and the mayor bought for the reading area. He just looks so…so graceful, lounging there with his long legs outstretched, and his hat lying atop a nearby table, letting his copper hair fall down over his ears. Something like a cat, waiting lazily for the hunt to begin. You can see his muscles through his shirt, and the still warm glow of the blacksmith's forge staining his cheeks pink. He…he's very handsome, I think. Sometimes, though, I wish he'd smile more.
The library is the only place where I see Gray smile, really. He loves reading; I wouldn't be surprised if he's read half the books in the library by now. I try to recommend books he'd like, so I can see those rare smiles. He likes fantasy stories, and science fiction, and classics about war and politics, though he'll read practically anything I set in front of him. We're kindred spirits, I suppose: He told me once he likes the escape the books give him, so he can forget about his life and live through the heroes, saving the princesses and the planets and the Republics all at once. Maybe that's what prompted me to write a book for him. More of a short story, really, about a young man who leaves his home to find his purpose in life. I won't lie and say I didn't base his guide on myself, though she is a beautiful nymph-like creature, and I'm just the plain librarian. I still wonder if he knew it was him I wrote it for…Perhaps it was a coincidence that he brought me a bouquet of wildflowers the day after he read it, claiming them as a congratulatory present for finishing my first real novella. Those flowers are still sitting on my shelf, in the nicest vase I could find. A coincidence, maybe, but maybe not, as well.
The thing that excites me is after that, he started bringing me other presents. Just little things, like flowers from Mother's Hill or a strangely marked rock, but it makes me happy to know he found them with the purpose of giving them to me. It's all I can do to breathe when I'm staring up into his pretty gray eyes, stuttering out a 'thank you' for a present that I, the ugly stepsister, don't feel I deserve. I wonder sometimes if that pinkish blush on his cheeks is really from the forge, like he says it is, or if the beaded bracelets he leaves for me are really just mistakes, merely for practice and to show me how his work is coming along. I'm wearing one right now, hidden underneath my right sleeve, made of beautiful amber-brown beads shot with gold. He said they reminded him of my eyes…I couldn't protest that the dull brown eyes I possess look nothing like the shining things around my wrist, not when he was standing there, looking down at me. Maybe I just want to think he, the graceful gray-eyed panther-prince, thinks I'm pretty.
Whatever the case, I'm not getting my hopes up more than they should be. The way I see it, life is too short to spend it waiting for a prince to find me. Sometimes, the princess has to get herself caught to find the right Prince Charming. So maybe I will ask Gray to come to my house for Starry Night dinner. Maybe I'll go and sit with him while he reads, in hopes of hearing his velvet voice reading favorite sentences to me. Maybe I won't be shy, or apprehensive, or quiet about how I like him more than a good friend should. Because if I'm a mouse at heart, then I'm sure he's a cat. And this mouse desperately wants to be caught.
Cat and Mouse is the first non-chapter short story I've written in a long time. I had no plans on writing a Mary/Gray story, but Muse popped into my head and demanded I write, 2AM or not. I did, and this is the result. It's a big step away from the angsty stuff I've been writing lately, which is a relief for me (and many readers, probably). Sadness can only take you so far. So, we have a happy little story about Mary and what really makes her her.
Gray/Mary is one of my favorite ships in Harvest Moon: BTN, which partly prompted me to write this. Mary gains a lot of her personality beyond game terms from myself, sadly enough. I think I can just relate with her more than the other HM girls, her being the quiet, bookish type. Gray is a mixture of every stoic male I know, and a few made up ones as well, though I tried to stay as true to the game character as I could.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. Reviews are welcome, as always :)
ExtraSpecialBunnyThanks to the Reviewers: Nika, LuvYaLotz, Alezia, anime26angel, and YoshikiSquall. I can't thank you enough for getting me off my lazy butt and starting to write the next one; it's all thanks to you that it's getting written at all. Thanks! :)