Profitable Silence

Profit 07: Silent Lies

Cliff and Aja returned to the city, time passed, Popuri's crush on Zack faded away, time continued to pass, Karen announced that she was pregnant, Popuri's crush on Kai returned with the summer and Mary's baby was born. All in all, life went on, the storm had long since passed and panic had faded into a peaceful, almost comfortable, routine, with a few special events here and there to keep it interesting.

"He's so cute!" Clair contemplated the small child Mary held in her arms. Gray was near his wife, both of them constantly smiling.

"Do you want to hold him?" Mary asked.

Clair nodded energetically and extended her arms. The child was adorable, so small and cute that Clair almost cried. Before she became an emotional wreck, because unlike Mary, and soon Karen, she didn't have a child of her own, the farmer gave the baby back to his mother and excused herself.

"She wants to have a baby," Elli correctly concluded. Elli had recently gotten married and she wanted a child, Clair had been married for some time.

Mary nodded in agreement. "She just needs a little time to work things out, then maybe she'll be ready."

Gray and the Doctor exchanged confused looks. They had no idea what the two women were talking about. Both had assumed that Clair and Won didn't have any children simply because they decided not to have kids. The entire town knew of Clair's crush on Cliff that lasted long beyond her wedding vows to Won. They assumed she just didn't want any children in that situation; she only wanted the company of a husband. "You mean she's actually going to work things out?" The doctor asked.

Elli nodded and sighed. "I hope she does, a marriage without love can only last so long. I'm surprised they haven't divorced yet."

"But wasn't each other's company all that they wanted, not a family?" For a moment Gray thought he was falling behind in the gossip, but then again, the women of Mineral Town always seemed to hear the latest news first.

"That's how it started." Mary recalled. "Clair was lonely and Won just happened to be there. She's a dear friend but she can be a little impulsive sometimes." Had Clair been there she would have agreed with Mary.

"I wonder what her reaction would be to having a child?" With Elli's open question, a plan began to form.

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"I'm fine Elli, honestly." Clair wasn't sure what had gotten into Elli. She had told the nurse time and again that she felt perfectly fine.

Clair was in great shape and didn't tire easily. In fact, Clair was at Barley's farm when Elli had found her because he asked to borrow her hammer. When Clair went to deliver it, she watched the old man attempt to smash a boulder with it, just as Elli found her. "Let me give you a hand with that," Clair offered.

"If it's not too much trouble, I think I'm getting too old for this." Barley admitted.

With effortless ease, Clair lifted the heavy hammer above her head and with one strong hit, turned the boulder into pebbles. "Got any other boulders you want me to smash?"

"No, that was the only one. It mysteriously appeared right in the middle of the yard overnight for no reason. Thanks a lot for your help!" Either Barley really was getting old, or Clair possessed inhuman strength, probably the latter.

"No problem," Clair enjoyed helping the people of Mineral Town and giving them gifts on special occasions such as birthdays, or when ever she felt like it.

"You're strong, big sister!" May cheered.

Clair patted the little girl's head and smiled proudly. "If you take good care of yourself and help your grandpa around the farm, you'll grow up to be strong too."

"I will!" Seeing May reminded Clair of what had become obvious after meeting Mary and Gray's baby, she wanted a child of her own.

Elli approached. "Clair, I was looking for you. Maybe you're working too hard, you look a little pale. Why don't you come over to the clinic for an examination?"

Clair blinked in confusion. "But I feel fine..."

Barley laughed. "This young lady could very well be the long lost sister of Hercules for all we know." Elli's look told Barley that he wasn't helping and he tried to fix his mistake. "But you can never be too careful. Go on Clair, you should get a check up every now and then." That was how Clair ended up at the clinic.

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"I'm what?" Clair yelled so loudly that Jeff, who was in the waiting room, nearly had a heart attack. He wondered what in the world was happening in the examination room to make Clair yell like that. He would know soon enough, everything got around in that area; there were no secrets in Mineral Town.

"Pregnant," the Doctor repeated. "That is to say you are with child, expecting a baby, going to give birth in about-"

"I know what pregnant means and I know how long it takes to give birth." Clair interrupted his explanation. "I'm just... surprised." She shrugged, it wasn't impossible, it's not like she lived in the vacation house twenty-four seven, in fact she was at the farm house more often lately. She stood there waiting for her brain to process the information after the initial shock wore off. Then she screamed and startled not only Jeff once again, but also Elli and the Doctor.

"Are you alright?" Elli was stating to have second thoughts about tricking Clair into thinking she was pregnant, but the doubts quickly faded away when she realized that Clair had screamed in happiness, not horror.

"I'm fine, I'm fine! Great, actually, absolutely wonderful! Thanks a lot, I'm glad I came for an examination! You know what I want? I want chocolate, I'm going to go buy some chocolate!"

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As Clair happily skipped home, with her rucksack full of chocolate and a half eaten bar in her hand, she was in pure bliss. Who cares that she lost Cliff and he married Aja. Who cares that her child's father wasn't the man of her dreams. The point was, that she would have her own child to take care of, love and protect, and that made her happy. She had someone to dedicate her life to.

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Profit 08: Troublesome Silence

"I'm feeling a little guilty about lying to Clair." Elli confessed the next morning.

It seemed that Karen was not quite agreeing with the nurse's worry. "You worry too much."

Mary had come by to bring her baby for a check up and Karen went to pick up her dad's medicine. Jeff suffered from the incurable, yet treatable, constant belief of being sick, even if he wasn't. This condition could be treated with regular vitamins so that he would at least feel that he's doing something to get well. It was all in his imagination really.

"She will eventually figure out that it's not true." Mary pointed out. It was only a matter of time.

"By then it might even become true. We're helping them make the best out of their marriage." Karen felt confident that they were doing the right thing and that some day, Clair would thank them, and perhaps even Won would thank them.

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Clair had not yet informed Won of the news. She had planned to make a big dinner like the ones they had during festival days, except this time instead of monotonously wishing each other a happy whatever and eating quietly, there would actually be real happiness involved.

Clair was focused on the child; she had to leave her heartbreak behind if she was going to take care of a baby. Thinking that it was for the baby, she tried to stay in the best mood possible. She would still work at the farm without pushing herself. It wasn't hard since she was used to it, but she already had a plan to start stocking up on flour and hire the Harvest Sprites to take care of the farm when her condition started to show.

Maybe she just needed a little push towards healing, or just something to focus on to get her mind off the heartbreak and frustration that filled her life until recently.

That night, Clair told Won the news. She was so happy thinking about her child that she forgot her heartbreak, she forgot her marriage troubles and she failed to notice that her husband was choking on the curry rice, which she had forgotten was Cliff's, not Won's, favorite.

A child by no means would fix the situation, but sometimes couples like to believe it would. Clair was once again looking forward to the possibility of having a happy family of her own, something that a few days ago she had thought would never happen.

Won had to fend for himself and fight the curry reaper with apple juice, which he really did like. When he was finally able to breathe again, many thoughts filled his mind, now that he could think of something other than survival.

Babies came with many expenses and that was not good. On the other hand, Clair would most likely spoil the child and shower him or her with gifts, because the farmer loved giving gifts, so maybe it wouldn't be too expensive for Won. He never thought about children, he never liked them much. With their puny little allowances, kids were not good customers. But the fact still stood that he was going to be a father, whether he wanted to or not, so he made an effort to look on the bright side... Yes, he would look on the bright side, as soon as he found out what it was.

"Aren't you happy?" It was rather obvious what Clair wanted to hear.

Won didn't have the guts to tell her otherwise, or maybe it was survival instinct. "Yes! Very happy, so happy I'm speechless!"

"What do you think it is? A boy or a girl?" Cheerful as she was, Clair was in a talkative mood.

"I don't know," Won replied honestly. His mind was racing and he simply didn't know what to do.

"I think it's a girl." Clair patted her abdomen, which in reality contained nothing but her meal.

"If you say so..." It was as good a guess as any... Which were most expensive, girls or boys? If Won had to take a guess, he would say girls. He mentally kicked himself and continued replying to all of Clair's chatter with little enthusiasm, yet she did not notice. In her eyes, he was just as joyful as she was.

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The next day, Won told Zack about the news. "Clair is having a child..."

Of course Zack already knew, but he made it a point to act surprised. "That's great! Congratulations!" He was genuinely happy for them.

"That is not a good thing," Won sadly clarified.

"Why not? You don't like kids? Well this is your child so you'll like it, I mean him or her."

Won shook his head and got everything set up for business that day. Time slowly passed in silence and sometime in the middle of the afternoon, Won finally broke the silence. "I really have no idea..."

"I see..." Won didn't finish, but Zack got the message, Won was at a loss for what to do to receive the supposedly coming child. "You're totally confused and lost. Well I have no experience in this, so I might not be of much help, but try to be happy about it, okay?" It was the only advice Zack could offer and it wasn't working.

"Easier said than done, it was all convenient and profitable and we had an agreement." Won was unsure about what kind of agreement they had as it wasn't even verbal, let alone written, but it existed. Something along the lines of mutual, silent profitability and children were not included.

"What are you talking about?" Zack asked, though he knew, everyone knew. Won was meant to keep Clair company and Clair would cut his living expenses by providing a free roof over his head and food.

"I don't think I'll be getting any customers today. I'm going for a walk." It was very strange for Won to make such a choice, but Zack did not attempt to stop him.

Zack simply assumed that Won needed time to assimilate the situation, and if the thought of Clair's baby occupied his mind more than the shop, then it was probably a good sign. At least that's what the shipper thought. He knew there was no such baby, the entire town knew except for Clair and Won.

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Profit 09: Silent Doubts

"Zack! Zack wait!"

Zack stopped, frozen in place. He took a deep breath and seemed to regain the ability to move. Slowly and gently, Zack put down the wooden crate filled with supplies that would be resold in the super market. Calmly and naturally, he hopped from his boat to the dock and casually walked towards Won.

For a moment Won considered walking towards Zack and asking him for a ride back to Mineral Town. Then, a mental picture appeared in his mind, it was the image of an angry Zack. Won could see that Zack was just about to explode like a time bomb and it was not healthy to stick around to witness it.

Won stepped back. "I... ah..." 'I stowed away on your boat two weeks ago because I knew you wouldn't let me leave, but I changed my mind and want to go back to Mineral Town,' did not sound like an appropriate thing to say.

With nothing but a deadly glare as a warning, Zack started running. Won's survival instinct kicked in and he knew he better move, but he remained rooted to the spot. He closed his eyes and cringed, waiting for his inevitable fate.

"I'm angry at you! Angry and disappointed!" Zack yelled at the top of his lungs.

Won blinked. "That's it?" It was probably not the best thing to say.

"Doesn't that count?!" It was like insult on injury for Zack.

"No, I mean yes! What I mean is... You're not going to try to beat me to a bloody pulp? "

Now it was Zack's turn to blink in surprise and confusion. "You're so insensitive." He spoke with a completely serious expression and a hint of hurt. His words included both him and Clair.

"It wouldn't be the first time I hear that," Won admitted, yet ironically he hasn't heard it from Clair. She didn't really complain about his attitude.

"I'm not going to fight with you, assuming that you want a ride back to Mineral Town." Zack always delivered the goods from Mineral Town to the large city port east of Mineral Beach. He sold produce from the farms and bought products to supply the super market.

"I'm going, that's why I called you." It had been two weeks since Won disappeared and now he reappeared, just like that.

Zack nodded in silence and went back to the boat. The ride progressed quietly most of the way, until Mineral Town could be seen on the horizon; then Zack ended the silence. "Why you did you leave?"

'I was unsure if staying would be profitable,' Won almost said. He held back the thoughts and they never became words. "I needed to think." That sounded neutral enough to be spoken.

"About profits?" Won did not reply. Zack did not understand that silence was best, peaceful silence. The ship approached the dock and came to a full stop. Zack anchored at Mineral Beach and both men got off the boat. "That's not why Clair was upset."

"What do you mean?" Won inquired.

"Ask her yourself." It was the last thing Zack voiced that night, before going inside his house.

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Won returned to the farm house. Luckily, he had remembered to take his keys even if he left in a hurry. He stood at the door for a moment and finally opened it. He wondered about what Clair would say when she saw him, but he never expected for the first word out of her mouth to be "ouch!"

"Are you alright?" Won walked across the house to the kitchen, making sure not to step on the sleeping puppy that was right in the middle of his path. The last time he accidentally stepped on that mutt's tail it was quite hard to get its little teeth off his ankle, but putting up with an upset, angry Clair was worse.

"Yeah, I'm fine; I just burned myself a little. No big deal." It was obvious that Clair was surprised to see Won just walk in like that, she was always careful in the kitchen. Or maybe there was more to it than the surprise.

"What are you making?" Won asked.

"Apple pie," Clair replied. It felt odd to have such a conversation with Won. It was casual, spontaneous and it had nothing to do with profits, sales, seeds or apples being sold. There were apples, but the only apples mentioned were the ones in the pie.

"I like apple pie," Won commented. Silence settled for a moment and Clair's expression changed. As much as she somehow liked the small talk, there were other things that needed to be said. "You're unhappy." It wouldn't be the first time he noticed something like this, despite Clair's frequent forced smiles. One did not have to be too observant to see she was upset.

"I have bad news." Clair spoke softly. She motioned for Won to follow her to the living room while she left the pie to bake in the oven.

As Won joined Clair sitting on the couch, he wondered if the bad news included a divorce. They weren't exactly a happy couple, even if they didn't really fight. In the past, Clair had often chosen to live at the vacation house, though lately that was starting to change. Then Won disappeared for weeks. Maybe she just gave up.

"It was a false alarm, there was a mistake on the tests and I'm not having a baby." Clair's voice was trembling and her eyes were watery.

Won was somewhat relieved but also puzzled. Sure Clair was upset because of how things tuned out. But even then it was odd that she hasn't mentioned his two week disappearance. "Business trip," Won half lied about it, just to clarify that he wasn't planning to leave and never return, though in reality the though had been quite present in his mind.

"I thought as much. You can go." Clair smiled, sad yet relieved, as if a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

"What do you mean?" Won honestly wasn't sure.

"You can go... leave, go on business trips or whatever it is you want to do. You don't need to stay here, I would prefer if you didn't. You can take the vacation house, it's yours. I don't care about paper work so our marriage can stay as it is. It's easier this way if I live at the farm house, since I need to be here to take care of things and everything."

"You're kicking me out?" There was no reply to Won's question. "Alright, I'll go, but I don't need the vacation house since I'm not staying in Mineral Town." He was actually surprised at himself that he refused the house. Even if he didn't stay, he could have sold it.


"Right..." He left.

Once Won was out of the house, Karen and Popuri crawled out from under the bed. "This is supposed to help me, how?" Clair asked bitterly.

"He was supposed to stay and apologize," Karen tried to explain.

"The thought of losing you should have been enough to make him stop taking you for granted," Popuri added.

Clair sighted, with all the drama she had been through, she didn't feel like crying anymore. She only felt numb.

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Profit 10: Silent Matchmaker

"Who's idea was this?" Won asked while contemplating the farm, it looked bigger than ever today.

"It was Mineral Town's idea. I'm sure everyone had a say in it." In such a small town, that was how things worked. After Won left when Claire asked him to, the farmer didn't expect to see him back at Mineral Town ever again, let alone the next morning.

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There he was, at her door at six am sharp, wanting to sell apples. She was tempted to slam the door shut, but he saw it coming and quickly stated his business. "I have a special offer for you. Three delicious apples! These are no ordinary apples, they're..." Won drew a blank, he had completely forgotten his apples' names and for his life he wasn't able to remember them. Even if the names were sometimes hard to remember, he had never blanked out like that before. "Special, they're special! Three apples for..." Was Clair getting impatient? Why hasn't she moved her hand from the door knob as if being prepared to close it any second? "For the very special trade-price of one slice of apple pie." It was as ridiculous as it sounded and it was not a good deal.

Clair paused, she observed Won then laughed. "Does that translate to I'm sorry I was such a jerk, please forgive me?"

Won mentally kicked himself for messing up a possible sale. He wasn't sure what was wrong with him. Oh well, he hasn't slept at all during the previous night and he could use a slice of pie in the morning to make himself wake up and be ready for a day of hard work. Clair was a pretty good cook.

Before Won could actually reply, Clair gave in and stepped back into the house. "Come in, I haven't had breakfast yet anyway."

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The next day, a mysterious letter was found in the mailbox suggesting that married couples switched jobs for one day every now and then. Clair wasn't sure who wrote it, but she had reasons to suspect the involvement of the entire town, or at least the young women who had been closely following her story. Perhaps it was Popuri and Karen's way to fix the events that occurred on Won's return.

The farm work didn't look too easy, but Won couldn't waste the chance to make the kind of profits Clair made, even if it was only for one day. "Selling apples and seeds is not easy, but you have to be persistent, don't worry and challenge."

"I'll try my best." Clair headed off to Zack's house where Won's merchandise was kept. Maybe a change in the routine would be good for her.

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As the day rolled by, Clair realized that Won's job wasn't as hard as he claimed. Or maybe people just liked her best and would buy things even if they didn't truly need them. Clair felt guilty, but it wasn't like she could stop them, denying the sales would be worse in their eyes.

During the course of the day, Clair had seen everyone from Mineral Town when she went to their homes to sell apples at a decent price, though they still insisted on paying the exaggerated prices Won usually charged. Clair asked everyone about the letter and they all denied it. What intrigued her the most was that the townspeople showed no signs of hiding the truth. Then who wrote that letter?

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Won's day did not go as smoothly as Clair's. She had left him with a note listing instructions and things to do, and a box full of tools. He picked up the apples that fell from the tree and decided to keep them for when he returned to his normal job, Clair probably wouldn't mind. It was a wise choice to avoid the bee hive. He had considered the possibility of disturbing the bees with his inexperience in collecting honey and that could prove disastrous.

The list included brushing the animals, which wasn't too hard yet time consuming, and talking to the animals. Won felt like a complete idiot doing it, but he had seen Clair talk to her livestock during the holidays when he stayed home, and he didn't know anything about farming so he assumed it was somehow necessary.

"Hello cow..." The cow glared. Won consulted the notes and realized that he was supposed to call the animals by their names. He had no idea how Clair could recognize them, but he certainly couldn't. "Sorry cow but I'm a rookie at this. Be a good cow and produce lots of milk, okay?" The cow still looked slightly annoyed because she wasn't called by her name, but she made no big deal out of it.

After collecting the milk, it was already mid day and Won had only managed to snag three apples, brush the cows, sheep and horse, and milk the cows. He also needed to obtain some wool from the sheep. He started on one but soon gave up, it was a waste. He was trying to be careful not to hurt the sheep, because Clair would surely have his head if he did, but that caused him to cut tiny peaces of wool little by little and it just wasn't working. He decided that it was best to let Clair handle that the next day; he doubted he could make any profits that way, and it would be terribly mean to waste Clair's possible profits.

Taking care of the chickens proved to be very time consuming. Won decided to skip out on picking up each chicken at least once, as the list said, and instead focused on making mayonnaise and placing it into the shipping box. Luckily the mayonnaise maker wasn't too hard to use and it had instructions.

It was the first day of Fall and the chores listed included getting rid of the dried up vegetation, getting the soil ready to plant new seeds, planting them and watering. Won remembered those days when he left at five am and saw the dried up farm, then when he returned from work that evening, the withered plants were gone and Clair was finishing watering everything.

How did she manage to do all that, plus taking care of the animals and having time for a trip into town to buy supplies, Won did not know. What he did know, was that Clair's farming tools were rather heavy. He didn't understand how she ran around with a full rucksack which often contained several tools, and was still able to easily jump over fences.

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That evening, when Clair was walking home, Zack was on his way back from getting the farm products and told her of what he had just seen. Clearly, Won was not a very good farmer, though Clair was somewhat amused being reminded of her days as a rookie farmer.

By the time Clair arrived at the farm, Won was no longer battling it out against dried plants with a scythe as Zack said, instead he was passed out on the ground looking very blue. Good thing Clair has a few Bodigizers and Turbojolts, which was enough to give Won just enough energy to drag himself inside the house.

Despite the fact that the day had felt a bit odd and awkward, Clair decided that it wasn't bad. Tomorrow she would have a busy day at the farm to get things running for the season, but she didn't really mind. She only wished she knew where that letter came from.

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Profit 11: Silent Love

Clair's Point of View

Yesterday I found out that Ann and Harris are dating. Because of our past rivalry for Cliff, we never became too close, but overall she's a nice girl. It's too bad that even after Cliff left we didn't really become close. Maybe it was too late, or maybe she thought that if I haven't interfered, then maybe she could have gotten him to stay where I couldn't. Who knows what she was thinking, who knows what anyone is thinking. We all know what goes on in everyone's life, but each mind is a whole new world.

With time I've realized that farming is easier than I thought, or maybe I just got better at it. I thought I was good at interpreting people. I can always tell what each person likes for a gift and I'm rarely wrong. Yet, when it comes to certain people, specific situations and some occasions, I don't know. I suppose some people are harder to read than others and some situations are easier to interpret than others.

Harris was heartbroken too. I should have thought of how he felt seeing Aja with Cliff. Though we're not extremely close, we're friends, not close friends, but friends. He never showed it, his heartbreak, but it was there and I didn't see it until I was looking for it.

I finally remembered what I had heard about Harris and Aja and searched for any signs of sadness, then I found a well hidden look of empty sorrow in his eyes. He didn't chase after Aja and I had not chased after Cliff. Harris and I are similar in that sense.

For me it seems that life lets me move a step forward only when it intends to knock me back two. I shouldn't complain; I have a great farm, wonderful friends, a home, good health and a husband, even if he has been so quiet lately I barely notice his presence. He seems to be lost in thought a lot; it makes me wonder if he's debating if he should stay or leave.

Of course I'm not the only one with problems. Love troubles seem to reign supreme in Mineral Town, I'm surprised I didn't notice it before. While Ann is doing well now that she has found someone, Popuri sunk into a state of depression when Kai arrived, even thought it isn't summer. She was happy to see him until he introduced his fiance.

"I liked the way things were. I liked that time didn't seem to move in this town." Popuri had told Karen and me, with tears in her eyes. "He never really liked it. This was just a getaway for Kai, but if he moved away from his family, then he wouldn't need a getaway. I was sad when my friends started getting married, I didn't say anything because I didn't want to sound selfish, but I didn't want things to change. Then I was happy because things didn't change as much as I feared. We still had our girls' nights out at Mineral Beach and our slumber parties at Clair's vacation house. I was calm and happy again. My crushes came and went with the seasons and I was okay with that, but now... Now I'm all alone. Everyone will move on and I'll be by myself, left behind."

As much as Karen and I tried to console Popuri and assure her that we would not abandon her, her heartbreak was too much. She had decided that she wanted to move forward, she wanted to walk into the next stage of her life and Zack was there for her.

Time continued to pass even if we didn't feel it. I still remember the look on Zack's face when he was walking Popuri home one evening. Rick was out watering some corn he planted. Karen was there too, with Lillia who seemed to be enjoying the evening breeze. I gave into the gossipy temptations of Mineral Town and watched from the window of my vacation house, Won was actually there too.

We watched quietly as Lillia spoke. From what I could hear she mentioned something about thinking of Zack as another son and how happy she was that he was taking good care of Popuri. Zack was shocked. It was true that Lillia was much older than him, in fact he's closer in age to her daughter, but it still shocked him. It was a misunderstanding that he didn't have the heart to clear out, for Lillia's sake, but most of all of Popuri's sake.

The seasons moved on and I noticed just how dedicated Zack could be. It seemed that he had started getting used to the idea of Lillia as a mother in law and it started becoming as if his past little boy crush never happened. Popuri occupied his every thought.

Eventually, Stu and May became teenagers. Eventually Mary and Gray's baby became a child, eventually Karen and Rick's baby became a child as well. Eventually Ann and Harris got married and a little later, eventually, Popuri and Zack got married too. Eventually Cliff and Aja returned for a visit with the cutest little boy, the image of his father. Somehow, I found it in my heart to be happy for them.

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"You've been coming to see me a lot lately, and you've brought me very nice flower offerings." I heard the Harvest Goddess' voice and froze, not because of her, but because of who she was talking to.

"I heard you know a lot of things," Won spoke. He looked a little surprised. I was surprised too when the Harvest Goddess actually stayed to talk to me for a few minutes for the first time, instead of thanking me for the offering and leaving. My guess is that it's the same for Won. I hid in the little hut next to the hot spring and listened. I'm pretty sure the Harvest Goddess knew I was there but Won didn't.

The Harvest Goddess looked towards my hiding place for a brief moment and smiled. Then she looked back at Won as to not give away my location. "Yes, but I've already tried to help. I thought having the two of you switch jobs for a day was a creative way to help you bond, since the dreams weren't helping." She was the one who wrote that letter! I never would have guessed.

"That was your plan? What dreams? You mean the nightmares? You were responsible for that?" Won never mentioned any nightmares to me.

"I was just trying to make you realize you don't want to lose Clair, but not all the dreams were bad. Some were happy, except I don't think you ever believed they could come true so that must have made them sad. The good dreams won't come true unless you try to make things better. If you try, then maybe things will improve."

"That doesn't answer my question," I had not heard Won state his question. I supposed he thought the goddess must already know.

"If you want to know what's best for Clair, then you should ask Clair; that is if you haven't figured it out yet. She's a nice girl and not too hard to please if you show you care." With those words of advice, the Harvest Goddess was gone and I was in shock, but it was a happy kind of shock.

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"You've been smiling a lot."

"I'm happy; Mineral Town is filled with happiness now." I knew that a few things would still go amiss every now and then, but it all worked out. It was alright, I've learned to appreciate life and be thankful for what I have. "Aren't you happy? Not even a little? Smile for me." It was the first time I saw him smile a real smile without having to sell something to achieve it. It was a caring smile, something I wished to see more often, I got my wish eventually.

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"How long has it been?"

"Hmm?" I was a bit tired and had half fallen asleep watching TV, with my head resting on my husband's shoulder. I'm not sure when we started getting along better or when the tension and bittersweet feelings melted into a peace akin to happiness. Maybe it was happiness.

"Since we got married?"

"Five years tomorrow." And the star in my calendar reminded me of that every day this season, as the anniversary approached. I had an odd feeling, I can't quite describe it, but I felt as if something was to come, a turning point in my life.

Slowly, Won took my left hand, removed the golden band from my ring finger and placed it on the coffee table. For a slit second my heart stopped, then it started beating again faster than ever. For a short moment I thought this meant he was leaving and I didn't want that. Then he placed another ring on my finger, a golden ring with the words 'I love you' engraved and the biggest diamond I've ever laid eyes on. "It's midnight Clair, happy anniversary."

I'm not sure if what shocked me more was the way he did this, the diamond or the words engraved on the ring. I have some experience in mining and I can tell when a jewel is real, oh it was real alright, real and extremely rare, any woman's dream ring. Actually, somehow, the situation surprised me more than the ring, and the words even more so. I knew Won had eventually come to truly care about me, but to give me this gift at precisely midnight with such a message was something I didn't expect.

Everything is falling into place at last. He didn't expect me to reply to his message with a mutual feeling, I could tell he was a bit surprised when I did, and we shared the happy moment.

xoxox xox xoxox

This ring on my finger is a ring given to me the right way, with love, not just because it's a formality. I still kept my old ring, a thin band of gold to remind me of how this all started. During work I wear my new ring on a chain around my neck so I won't expose it to the farm work. Then, after I'm done with work, it goes on my finger again.

It's funny how life can take so many twists and turns. It was very funny when Elli smacked her husband upside the head and apologized to me and Won for what he had said, while Doctor helplessly insisted that it was true this time. "It's alright, Elli. I already knew I'm having a baby. I just wanted official confirmation."


Disclaimer, I don't own Harvest Moon.