Hey, Kuruk here!

This is a oneshot in response to The Scarlet Sky's challenge on her forum. It's the story of what would happen if Mary would ever become barmaid for a day... I know, sounds interesting, right?

Well, hope you enjoy this story and the tidbits of fluffy Grary sneaked in! Couldn't help myself!!!

Disclaimer: Do I look like Natsume to you? No, I don't own Harvest Moon.

Barmaid for a Day

Being a librarian… well, it wasn't exactly the most exciting thing to do for a living.

Mary knew this all too well. She spent her days in her library tower, organizing books that would never be read by anyone but she and Gray. Sometimes Claire and Tim would drop by to check out a book for information on farming or medicine respectively, but… those were only four customers at most… and, well, being alone all day wasn't that great.

Sometimes Mary would wish that she had a more exciting job; one where everyone would come and see her everyday and make good conversation with her. A job where people would come and share ideas, confess their troubles to her in confidence and ask for her advice.

But she knew that it could never be. After all, the town needed its librarian; the wallflower that would be kept inside her prison by her choice alone. She was out of place everywhere else, outside of the walls of her library… she had her role to fulfill and others had theirs; it was best for her to just stick to her role and just exist peacefully and happily.

But still… Mary could never keep herself from wishing that she could be such a person; one that radiated charisma and attracted many to come and talk with her…

One day, Mary was writing her novel, all alone in her library when Gray came inside, a big smile on his face. "Hey you," Mary said, looking up from her paper with her warmest smile.

"Hi," Gray said simply, making his way over to her desk. He leaned in for a kiss but Mary blushed furiously and kind of pulled away, as did Gray at the last moment. They laughed nervously, then Gray extended his hand for a handshake and Mary opened her arms open for a hug. Gray sort of froze then finally hugged Mary.

They pulled apart after a few seconds the blush still on both their faces. Gray cleared his throat and Mary looked at him attentively. "Mary," he said, shuffling his feet a little timidly and adjusting his hat so that the brim shielded his eyes from hers, "I-I was wondering if you'd like to… go to the Inn with me for lunch?"

Mary gaped in surprise. Was this a date? She and Gray had never been on a date before; not a proper one anyway. Was she really ready to go out on a date with Gray? Her heart provided the answer immediately, overriding the thoughts that had blinked through her mind.

"Y-yes…" she murmured, blushing furiously and twiddling her thumbs in her lap a bit, "I-I'd love to Gray…" Gray seemed very relieved at her answer, and Mary tucked the pages into her desk drawer with care and locking the drawer with a key, "Let me lock up, though…"

Gray nodded. "Sure, I'll wait for you outside."

He left the shop, leaving Mary alone with her books once again. Taking deliberately slow, nervous steps, the librarian turned off all the lights then went inside and locked the library with her key which she tucked into her pocket. She turned around and came face to face with Gray, who grinned at her nervously.

Mary returned the nervous grin and started walking down the path to the Inn…

She loved Mineral Town in autumn… really; it was her favorite season of them all; neither too hot or too cold… Claire would become content with the yield of sweet potatoes and rake in a great income that she would use for Christmas presents, Gray would come happier and less angry since he couldn't complain about how hot the weather was… not only that but nature was truly in its prime… its colors would turn orange, yellow and red, there were leaves to jump in and the food… the food that people made was delicious… but the people themselves seemed more willing to open their doors to others…

Autumn in a small town was what Mary loved most about living here in Mineral Town… well, that and being around Gray…

The walk to the Inn was quiet and uneventful save for when they were halfway there and Gray slipped his hand around Mary's. It was nice, Mary decided.

Gray opened the door to the Inn for her like any proper gentleman would, and Mary thanked like any proper lady would… but she gasped when she saw what was inside…

Ann was sprawled on the floor; unmoving, Mary rushed over to the unmoving barmaid and fell to her knees beside her, shaking the unconscious girl briskly. Gray had run off to go get Tim, leaving Mary all alone with the unconscious Ann…

Tim was there in minutes followed by Elli and Gray. Mary got out of the way and let Gray put her arms around her in a comforting manner. Tim spent a few long, agonizing seconds inspecting Ann, and then he sighed, shook his head and rose. "She just passed out," Tim said seriously, Mary sighed in relief and Gray seemed to slump, "However… she has a high fever and needs some rest."

Mary adjusted her glasses and let her hand rest on her chest that thumped wildly at the shock of the experience. "Oh thank goodness Ann is alright…" she murmured, then looked at Gray, "We should tell Doug that Ann won't be able to work today," the librarian looked around, a look on confusion on her face, "Where is Doug?"

Everyone looked around in search of the tall, serious man that always seemed to be behind the counter. What was strange was that he was nowhere to be found… Doug always stayed inside his Inn… always keeping a watchful eye over the source of his livelihood…

"Elli," Tim said calmly, yet urgently, "Please go find Doug and tell him that Ann needs to take the day off-,"

A low, moaning sound came from somewhere on the floor. All eyes flew to Ann, whose radiant blue eyes had opened to slits, her face flushed as crimson with feverish heat. "N-no," she groaned, trying to push herself up, Elli and Tim immediately pushed her back down gently, "Y-you can't… can't call Dad…"

Mary crouched down to face Ann, her face concerned and empathetic."Why Ann?" Mary asked her, holding the redhead's hand loosely, "If we don't call your dad then the inn will have to close… Why can't we call him and ask him to take care of the Inn by himself so that you can rest and get better?"

Ann shook her head weakly, her voice hoarse, lips chapped. "D-dad can't be… disturbed today… today is a special… day for him…"

Mary was confused but said nothing. Instead, she just nodded and respected the delirious barmaid's wishes. Tim seemed to grow graver still. "Today… well, Jeff told me during his check-up that Karen was planning a big bash… It would be… unfortunate if she came over and discovered that her reservation had been… overridden so easily…"

Mary swallowed. "Oh my…"

Gray stuck his hand in his pockets. "But who can take care of the bar?" he asked, "There's no one that mixes drinks or cooks like Doug…"

"I'll do it!" Mary blurted out before she could catch herself, all eyes looked at her in disbelief, "W-well… Ann needs help and if not then Karen will get angry and…" she let her voice trail off, because she saw that Gray was about to protest.

Before Gray could protest the door to the Inn slammed open… and Duke trudged in, a frown on his face. "I need a drink!" he announced to the room.

A few seconds passed and Duke grew a bit irritable until Mary finally ran behind the bar and started fiddling around with the bottles, looking around for a bottle of the wine Duke sold to Doug from his vineyard… and bought back when he cam to drink…

She finally found one, emblazoned boldly with the name 'Aja Winery' and she fetched a glass from underneath the counter, bumping her head on the hard wooden surface in the process. She rubbed it, wincing as she poured Duke a glass.

"About time!" Duke snapped, sitting at the bar and sipping his wine.

Gray crossed his arm and sighed in something that sounded like annoyance before trudging over to the bar, pulling out a stool and sitting at it. He fixed Mary with an irritated look before drifting off into apathy…

Tim nodded, satisfied that everything had been taken care of. He and Elli picked up Ann carefully and took her to the Clinic, nodding farewell to Mary and Gray before opening the door and closing it behind them.

Mary barely had time to rest because Duke had finished his drink and demanded another. Mary nodded and fetched him another, sating Duke's thirst… for the moment…

The door to the bar opened and Rick and Karen ran in, followed closely by Claire. Karen took her usual seat at the bar, fixed Mary with a surprised look, and then ordered a pint of beer for her… and another for Rick and Claire. Mary raced to get them, crying out when the beer sprayed out at her and hit her in the face, wetting her hair with the foul smelling liquid. Karen began to burst into hysterics along with Claire. Rick could hardly contain his laughter and Duke began to chuckle. Gray just shook his head.

Careful this time, Mary pointed the hose that dispensed beer towards the pint and let the beer flow. When she filled up both pints, she took them to Karen and Claire, then gave them each glasses. Mary wanted to run off to the bathroom to wash the beer off her, but Duke wanted more wine and after she had served him Karen had already downed her beer and wanted another. After the poor librarian had served them both, Rick politely asked for a more beer… and Mary complied, a film of sweat already forming on her brow.

"Here," she said tiredly, handing Rick the pint.

Then the door opened… and in trudged Saibara and Cliff and her father. She got drinks for them too all the while refilling Duke's and Karen's own drink, ignoring the murderous glances Gray was giving her and telling her suspicious and concerned father that she was just helping Ann out…

"What did you say!?" Karen shouted, clearly drunk.

"I said that I wasn't paying you anything!" Duke screamed back, face reddened by both the alcohol and the rage that was boiling within him.

Mary ran over to the two patrons, a look of pure terror on her face when Karen stood up on wobbly legs and began poking Duke in the chest. "You owe my dad money and I'm here to collect!" she announced.

Duke got up too, towering over Karen. Mary had a horrible feeling that this was going to get violent very soon… "And what are you going to do about it, girl!?" he challenged, spittle spraying from his mouth.

Karen stared him down; Mary tried to muster the courage to calm them down. "I'm going to win the money off you in a drinking match!"

Mary almost collapsed in relief, but was soon summoned to her feet when both Duke and Karen demanded that she ready shots of tequila for them to down for their contest. Mary did so, occasionally being too late and provoking drunken snaps from both the contestants… after what seemed like hours, Duke finally collapsed, leaving Karen victorious.

"Ha!" Karen hiccupped through her drunken stupor, "Now I wants my money!" she hiccupped again and fell back onto the floor where she promptly started snoring loudly… Mary wanted to join her badly…

Claire volunteered to take Karen home and Duke would be escorted home by Basil who had been heading home already. Mary settled in behind the bar, avoided Gray's 'I-told-you-so' smirks and approached Rick, who looked very sad at the moment. "A-are… you okay, Rick?" Mary asked tiredly, hoping that Rick would deny talking to her…

She had no such luck…

Rick sighed sadly. "It's just that Karen is always getting drunk and… well… how am I supposed to have a serious relationship with her if she's getting drunk all the time?" Mary wished she could melt into nothingness; giving advice on relationships was not what she wanted to do at the moment, "I don't know what to do…"

Rick looked absolutely miserable… so Mary naturally opened her mouth to try and help him before she knew what she was saying… She blabbed on about how in a romance novel she'd read the man with the same problem had tried speaking to his girlfriend, who had at first gotten mad at him but had been forced to agree when the man had given her a passionate kiss.

The poor chicken farmer looked confused when she finished, and Mary immediately hated herself for doing such a thing… who was she to give advice to someone about relationships when she hadn't even gone out on a date with her… friend… yet?

Mary jumped when the door slammed open and Duke walked back in, looking as drunk as ever. Manna came in after him, followed by her father, Basil, who was trying to calm the couple down. Manna was screaming at Duke to get out of the bar and go home, but he was ignoring her and making his way to a very frightened Mary…

"Give me a damn drink!" he slurred, pounding his fist down on the counter despite Manna's yells of protest.

Before Mary could reply Manna screamed, "Don't you dare give him anything, Mary!"

Duke wheeled around. "Who the hell are you to tell me what not to drink, woman!?"

Manna stood on her tiptoes so that their faces were only inches apart. "I am your wife and I deserve respect! Get back home now!"

They began to have a screaming match as Rick began to cry. Saibara had come over to Gray and had begun yelling at him about how he had screwed up an upgrade… and her father was trying to calm down Duke and Manna…

Mary changed her mind.. She didn't want a job like this…

But she had taken it, and she would be damned if she didn't end it. Relinquishing her inhibitions, Mary stood atop the counter. "Go home! Now! All of you! Go home NOW!"

The patrons looked at the usually timid librarian in stupefaction, their problems suddenly taking a backseat to avoiding the librarian's wrath. They all vacated faster than ever, and Mary stepped down from the counter and lay down behind the counter, breathing hard.

Gray was the only one he had stayed behind, and he was in more shock than anyone. In all the years he had known Mary he had never seen her be so… assertive… It was kind of… attractive?

Gray waved the thought off and stepped behind the counter. "I'll help you clean up-," he said, blushing for no particular reason when he saw the state Mary was in.

The librarian was lying on the floor, snoring loudly. Gray chuckled and picked up the sleeping librarian bridal style and carried her back home. When he was in her room, he set her down on the bed and smiled down at her…

Then, blushing little, he kissed the adorable librarian's cheek. "Good night… Mary…" he muttered, satisfied by their first date.

Sure, it hadn't been a date in the traditional sense of the word… but…

He saw a side that he liked a lot in his girlfriend….

And that was a side that Gray wanted to see more often. He flicked off the lights all al was dark, leaving Mary alone in the tranquil darkness… the one that she loved so much.


Hope you guys liked it! Please comment by reviewing as you know that I love hearing your input!

Yay! Grary forever!!!

Heheheh... Hopeless Grary lover...