Disclaimer - I still don't own Harvest Moon. And never will.
Author's note - Well, here at long, long last is the conclusion of Tales. Apologies for the wait, everyone. It wouldn't have taken me quite this long if my computer was working properly, but there you go. It's done now and I hope you all enjoy it. A final thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed; your support really helped me finish this monster of a story. Thanks again, it means a lot!
Cliff sighed in exasperation, knowing defeat when he saw it. "Fine, fine," he said, shaking his head pointedly. "I'll agree to calling it Star if it's a girl... but only if you let me decide on the name for a boy."
His wife's eyes glittered a mischevious, icy blue. "What do you mean?" she asked, mock innocently. "We can call it Star whether it's a girl or a boy."
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding..."
It was fair to say that Nami was enjoying the power she held as the pregnant woman in there relationship. She'd learned that Cliff was easily scared over important issues, such as names. In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was their first child they were expecting.
Nami shifted her blossoming weight awkwardly and, though she struggled enormously, managed to make room for Cliff on the arm of her chair. "Come and sit here a moment," she said to him, patting the worn out suede affectionately.
Their lounge was what Nami liked to refer to as an artistic mess. That was probably an overly optimistic description, but she didn't care. It was her's - their's, even - and that was what mattered most of all.
Nudging aside a dropped sketchpad with his foot, Cliff made his way through the assorted clutter to sit beside Nami.
She took his hand and laid it on her growing bump where the baby was kicking wildly. "Of course you can name a boy," she smiled, only for Cliff to let out an uncontrolled chuckle. "What? That's what you want, isn't it?"
"Yeah. It's just... you. I've obviously caught you in one of your rare good moods."
"Huh! There's nothing wrong with my moods!" Nami retorted indignantly - though they both knew this was a lie. While it was true that her mood swings were nowhere near as turbulent as they had been the last time, this pregnancy had hardly been a picnic, either. The last eight months had been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but they both felt they'd coped a lot better this time around.
Nami sighed then shook her head. "I suppose you've got some ideas for a boy's name - "
" - or else you just want to stop me from picking another obscure one?" she suggested, one eyebrow raised calculatingly.
Cliff was forced to admit that it was the latter. Nami was a very perceptive woman and her being pregnant had no effect on that particular aspect of her personality. If anything, Cliff mused, her current condition seemed to heighten it.
"I don't know," he said thoughtfully, "but don't you think a more traditional name would be nice?"
It only took Nami a second to mull this idea over, before she rejected it completely. Where was the fun in nice? Nothing about their lives was as mundane as nice anymore - which was actually a bit of a surprise for her. In all honesty, she'd half-expected moving into the farm with Cliff to become a dull cycle of monotony. Deep down... well, she'd half-expected it to be the ruining factor in their relationship.
If anything it brought more excitement into their lives than there had ever been before. Nami didn't know whether that was the challenge of marriage, or of parenthood, or of simply owning a badly behaved goat, but whatever it was, she'd found something every bit as unpredictable as travelling. And somehow she found she loved it far more.
From years of experience, Cliff had long since learned when Nami was scathing of one of his ideas. It wasn't as common an occurence as you might imagine, but it was often enough for him to know. He sighed, "Well, if not something traditional, then what?"
Nami shrugged. She didn't really know either. Something innate and unreachable screamed to her that she was carrying another daughter and, for that reason alone, boy's names had evaded her completely. There was no evidence whatsoever that she was indeed expecting a girl - they had resisted asking Doctor Hardy to confirm anything - so it did make sense, she supposed, to plan for a son, too.
They would have to be quick about it, though. It had taken her the best part of six months to think up Star, and they only had a few weeks left. "Um... Caspian?" she suggested, blurting out the very first name that crept into her head.
Cliff's doubtful, "Errrm..." as he wandered over to the front door was basically a no. "I've got to water the crops, but we'll discuss this later, okay?" he said, opening the door wide and allowing summer sunshine to stream inside.
She nodded, adding, "Leave it open," when he went to shut the door behind him. The air was strangely cool and effortlessly relaxing for the time of year. Nami loved how it gently caressed her face, but loved even more the haunting sight of dust specks floating in the thin shaft of light. As her pregnancy left her increasingly house-bound, she was forced to draw inspiration from the little sights in life.
Once Cliff was gone, her mind drifted back to the ever perplexing matter of names. Hmm, if not traditional, then... what!? Well, Carter would certainly be a fitting choice, one that definitely made sense, but, for some reason, Nami just couldn't see it. She shook her head emphatically, as if arguing with herself. No, not Carter.
Rock had once jokingly suggested Rock Junior during Nami's first pregnancy. This baffling choice was in spite of the fact that Nami and Cliff had long since discovered that their first child was, in fact, a girl. When Nami suggested to Rock that he should name his own child Rock Junior, he answered that Muffy refused to have another child. Apparently Dylan, now justly nicknamed the Whirlwind, was more than enough work on his own. Nami, who'd baby-sat on more than one occasion, was actually inclined to agree with that.
So definitely not Rock Junior, then. Which begged the question... Cliff Junior? Oh no; she wasn't even going to put that idea into Cliff's head.
Nami scanned the living room frantically, glancing from the mis-matched knitted rugs laid out across the floor to the wooden walls dotted so randomly with various paintings and sketches. She was searching for inspiration, for anything, to just leap out at her. Nothing did. Their lounge, a product of creativity itself, had proved rather useless. In her desperation, she even shot their ancient television a wondering look, but eventually decided against turning it on. Neither she nor Cliff had owned one before moving in together, and it was fair to say that neither particularly liked Robyn's old set. They didn't take farming seriously enough to benefit from watching the weather and Nami only ever laughed at the ridiculousness of the shopping channel. Even little Flora, at the tender age of four, was scarcely interested in the limited amount of children's programmes on offer.
Speaking of which... Nami pushed herself upright and headed towards the open door. She hadn't seen her daughter since much earlier that morning when Hazel had called by and the two girls ran off to the beach or the woods or whether it was they enjoyed playing these days. It was difficult to keep up with their silly phases.
Sure enough, when she emerged onto the farmyard, both Flora and Hazel had returned and were busy pestering Cliff as he stood near the tiny vegetable patch beside the house. He was currently attempting to water their newly planted apple tree - Nami's latest fascination - with a rusty watering can, but kept stopping everytime the girls asked him a question.
Nami strolled over to the trio with some difficulty and in spite of her instense discomfort. She couldn't help smiling when Flora whipped around eargerly at the sound of her mother's approaching footsteps.
Flora's youthful face cracked into grin that was almost identical to Nami's. The little girl was like her mirror-image, in fact. They looked so similar that Nami often struggled to believe it. Flora's hair was a deep, russet red and would surely be skimming her shoulders by winter. Her eyes were just as wide and pale and blue as her mother's. There was nothing of Cliff to be seen in her appearance; from him, she had inherited only his calm, patient nature, something that couldn't be seen, but had a far bigger impact than hair colour. It was probably the best thing she could have taken from her father and Nami was very proud of that.
She grinned at the two curious girls. "Hello, you two," she said. "Bothering my poor husband I see?"
There was a faint metallic clank and a swish of liquid as Cliff's watering can hit the floor; Nami rarely, if ever, referred to him like that. The others spared his embarrassment by merely glancing at him and then carrying on with their conversation.
"Your bump looks like it's gonna burst," Hazel remarked mildly, with all the innocence of a five year-old.
"It may as well," Nami answered darkly, already anticipating the pain to come. Hazel's sharp, brown eyes, the perfect blend of both her parents', widened hugely. She was Robyn and Cody's daughter; their only child so far and Flora's best friend since they were small. They could not have been more different in both looks and personality - Hazel, with her sleek black hair and coffee-coloured skin, was the more outgoing of the pair - but they had been inseperable for years now.
The girls exchanged a curious look and were no doubt about to ask an embarrassing pregnancy related question, when Nami stepped in and diverted their attention. "I don't suppose you two can think of a boy's name for the new baby?" she asked.
"It's a boy? A brother?" Flora replied quickly, her voice a strange mix of both disappointment and fascination.
Cliff shook his head and said patiently, "Not definitely. It could be either. We just want to plan for both."
Flora started to pout. "But Mommy said - "
" - she was just guessing," Cliff explained, exasperated. "Don't you want a little brother, Flora?"
Her face contorted into a definite 'no' and Nami was forcibly reminded of another one of Flora's traits: the ability to sulk like hell whenever the situation called for it. It was a trait she had inherited from Nami, clearly, but one that didn't often surface from beneath a calm demeanor.
Before Flora could duck away, Nami reached out and ruffled her hair. "Look," she said softly, "whether I have a boy or a girl, you'll still have a little brother or sister who needs someone to look out for them. You can do that, right?"
There was a pause as Flora considered this. Finally, a small smile crept onto her face. "Yeah," she agreed happily. "I think I can do that."
"Good girl," Nami told her encouragingly, catching Cliff's eye and grinning as she did so. After a brief moment, he turned back to his crops and she turned back to the girls. "Sooo... anyone got any good ideas for names?"
"Aaron," said Hazel promptly. Flora blinked at her - surprised, but also determined not to be outdone.
"Erm - Tom? Tommy?" their daughter suppiled hesitantly.
Soon, it descended into something of a competition with both girls firing out names, each more ridiculous than the next.
Nami couldn't help laughing at that one. "I actually like the sound of Panther," she teased, enjoying the effect it had on her husband. Once again he was forced to pick up his dropped watering can,
"You've got to be kidding?"
Nami would have loved to joke with him some more, but she wasn't that good an actress. "Yes, yes, I'm only joking." She shook her head at the two girls. "How on earth did you come up with that, Hazel?" she questioned.
Hazel only shrugged, "Well, it's just different, I suppose..." She was right there, thought Nami. Different. Hmm, maybe there was something to be said for a really unique name, after all. Star was hardly a traditional choice and she didn't want anything traditional, did she?
No, she wanted something special, something meaningful. Meaningful for her and for Cliff, for the whole family. Now Star, that was a name that truly meant something to her. When she thought of stars, she saw wishes. Hopes. Dreams. She remembered clear summer nights beneath a blanket of twinkling, sparkling diamonds. She remembered one night in particular, the very first time she recognised Cliff as friend, a stranger no longer.
The name Flora was equally important to her. It evoked memories of friendship, however brief and fleeting. And thoughts of promise, too. Most of all it reminded her never to let anything so precious slip through her fingers again.
Nami's eyes wandered restlessly around the farmyard and the Valley which lay beyond. She drank everything in determinedly, as though it could crumble to pieces at any moment...
Suddenly, she heard distant voices growing closer by the minute. Very familiar voices, actually. Nami glanced towards the farm entrance and back again. "Did I forget to mention that Rock and Muffy were coming over today?" she asked meekly.
"You may have done," Cliff said wryly. Finished with the crops at last, he put down the watering can and tiredly wiped the sweat from his brow.
With identical squeals of joy, Flora and Hazel tore off to greet their "bestest boy friend - but not like that - in the whole world", Dylan. Cliff and Nami, though, lingered behind for a moment.
"Y'know," he began, moving slowly towards her. "Why don't we just wait? Let's wait until the baby's born before we name it. Fitting a name to somone we don't even know yet seems to be causing more problems than it should."
Nami blinked at her husband. How did he do it? How did he manage to be so, so rational? And not to mention completely right. It was almost inhuman, she decided. Yes, definitely.
After sighing resignedly, she cupped Cliff's face with her hands and pulled him towards her. Their kiss was slightly awkward due to her huge bump, but it was passionate as ever.
"I'll take that as a 'yes', then?" Cliff breathed when they eventually pulled apart.
"Yes," Nami assured him, and they wandered off to greet Muffy and Rock without another word.
Something told her that this wouldn't be the end of the discussions should she give birth to a baby boy. Even when the child was born, they were both bound to spot different traits in him. It was just the way they were. Well... perhaps Panther wasn't such a bad idea after all...
In the end, it didn't matter. Their baby was born a week early on the 26th of Summer.
Their little Star.
A/N - Wow... it's finally over. I can't believe it. I'm really going to miss this fic, as relieved as I am to have finally finished it. Well, I hope you've all enjoyed reading it as much as I've loved writing it. Thanks to my reviewers; I've really valued your opinions. Thanks!!!