She was just a bit delusional tonight, she thought as the colors of the Christmas lights all meshed together in front of her. Which was perfectly in order, of course. Not only had she worked an extra few hours decorating the clinic because a certain doctor wouldn't help— but she had spent the past week up late tending to a groaning ten-year-old with the flu. Still, it was the holidays, and she had every intention of remaining cheerful.

But why were they always so stressful? She could remember even back when she was a child she'd always be the one to worry over what to get for who, and where to go for what. How to cook this, how to set up that. And now that she was ensuring that the Christmas spirit remain within the clinic so that tired patients would feel that warm and (if possible) joyful feeling, it seemed like she was competing with Santa himself.

Elli's eyes shifted back into focus as the bell on the door tinkled in the background. She glanced upward to catch a pasty-looking doctor enter the room, firmly shutting the door behind him. After turning the lock and flipping the sign from Open to Closed, he turned what seemed a bit too briskly toward her.

"Freezing!" he exclaimed, searching the room for some source of warmth.

"Well what were you doing out there?" the nurse replied, still a bit miffed at him for refusing to help with the lights. "Everyone knew a storm was coming in tonight."

He didn't reply, but helped himself to a cup of hot cocoa Elli had, for some reason, still took the liberty of making for him.

After a couple of long sips he looked up again. "Well, I think you should stay in for the night," he remarked, looking her in the eye. He knew she'd give in if he kept focused long enough. She always cracked under pressure.

"I don't think—" she began, knowing it was hardly worth it to protest, but that she had to try anyway, "Well, what if Stu needs—?"

"—he'll be fine," Tim interrupted, using his licensed professional tone-of-voice. "And besides, Ellen is fully capable of pouring the kid some medicine."

"Well, still," Elli pouted, "doesn't mean he'll take it."

The doctor laughed, knowing he'd won the debate, and took another sip of cocoa. "The room's all ready for you upstairs."

And with that, he threw aside his coat and climbed toward his room in victory. Elli exhaled loud enough for him to hear her feigned discontent. What else could she do? She knew it was better to spend the night in the clinic, and that of course, she wanted to very much, but it was still required of her to not give in so easily. That was just her way.

She let the fluorescent colors blend again for a few moments before she decided she would call it a night. There was no way she was going to get any more work done in this state, she figured.

Sleepily, Elli got up from the spot where her warmth still lingered and crossed the room to unplug the lights on the tree. She could see the blur of white outside the window, and hoped they wouldn't be snowed in when they woke up in the morning. She knew she had tons to do still that week— buy gifts, bake cakes and other desserts, care for Stu and Ellen, write reports. There was always something to work on, and she knew she wouldn't have a moment to truly enjoy herself until the New Year.

Finally, after making sure everything was secure and all of the lights were out, Elli shuffled up the stairs one at a time. She still had a bit of cheerful defiance left in her, despite the lack of energy.

But alas— as she reached the top step, she noticed a couple of marshmallows carelessly left behind by the licensed professional, and sighed. Men. She bent over to grab them, only to come back up to meet the grinning culprit face-to-face.

"Now how did I know you couldn't resist that?" he smirked. She smiled in spite of herself.

"Bet you've figured by now I'm a bit crazy," she said, tossing the marshmallows at his ruffled hair.

"Then I guess I'm a bit crazy, too," he replied, nodding upward. She glanced toward the ceiling and gasped. There, entwined within the mistletoe she had spent what seemed forever in hanging correctly, was a tuft of blue.

"Happy holidays," he said as she leapt to kiss him.

She was beginning to think she wouldn't mind if they were snowed in tomorrow after all.


Author's Note: Well, sorry that was a bit abrupt, but I hope you liked it anyway. I've never tried a one-shot before, nor a holiday-themed story, so I figured now was a good time to try. Of course this is the Elli x Doctor pairing (from Back to Nature/Friends of Mineral Town), which happens to be a favorite of mine. If you are somehow confused as to the "tuft of blue", that is a reference to the blue feather. Hopefully you have played the game and know what that is. Other than that, thank you for reading and happy holidays! )

Disclaimer: No matter how much I sing and dance, I don't own the leg of a single Harvest Moon character. They are courtesy of Natsume and Marvelous, Inc.