Hey. It's me Kuruk with another oneshot!
Well, I was on The Village Square forum and we were discussing how it is that with Claire, Gray always seems to fall for her looks in some of today's fics. But with Mary, in the game at least, Gray falls for her kindness in the black heart rival event scene. Using that as a springboard, I wrote this little angsty oneshot here.
Disclaimer: Don't own ze Harvest Moon... :'(
Hope you enjoy!
Does anything last forever?
When I look around myself I know that nothing does. Trees wither away, buildings start to wear away without maintenance... even the tools my grandfather and I dedicate our lives to making and refining don't. Even the greatest ore decays over time, makes the tool brittle...
But still, that day I thought that maybe something could. Because I would be there and I was in love with her, and so many people around me had gotten married, stayed married for years... I knew that Claire and I could do it. We certainly loved each other... didn't we?
I was, I don't know... happy when I took those vows, when I looked into Claire's deep blue eyes as Carter performed the ceremony, the whole town gathered there at the Church to watch us get married. The promise of our new life together was intoxicating-- I thought Claire and I would be deliriously happy like something out of a romance novel.
Was it wrong to think that maybe I deserved my happily ever after?
Even then, I knew the answer somewhere in the back of my mind. How could I deserve a happily ever when I deprived someone of their's?
Her memory, or rather, the memory of what I'd let happen to her... what I'd done to her... haunted me daily, haunted my marriage like a ghost.
Before... before Claire came to town, I mean... Mary and I were together. Not in the sense you may think, but we both knew that we were together. We didn't need kisses or flirting or hugs or anything like that.
We had meaningful conversations about novels while sipping drinks Mary had made for us, we had blushes when our eyes met, a certain familiarity when we spoke to each other, electricity and butterflies when we touched. We had the festivals we attended together and the cookies and cake we baked each other on Thanksgiving...
There was no doubt that we were together.
The truth was that Mary loved me much more than I loved her. She was always a woman that could see beyond appearance and facades and look at someone's soul. I don't know... I was never really able to see past certain things in Mary. I loved her alright... but not enough.
When Claire bought the old farm, everything changed.
The first time I met her what struck me was her beauty. Shiny, lustrous cascades of silky blonde hair. Perfect curves, wholesome legs, deep turquoise eyes that flashed with cheer no matter what. The women of Mineral Town were pretty, but Claire was gorgeous. She was like a supermodel off the cover of some fashion magazine, a woman you expected to see starring as the beautiful heroine in a blockbuster movie.
I had never seen a more beautiful woman.
All I could do was stare at her when she walked into the shop, when she walked up to the counter I was manning and gave me the most radiant, beautiful smile I had ever seen.
"Hello," she'd said in a cheerful, upbeat voice, "I'm Claire, the new farmer down at the old farm."
It took a while of her turquoise eyes looking at me expectantly for me to realize that she wanted me to introduce myself in exchange. "Err... I'm Gray... the assistant blacksmith here at my grandpa's shop..." I said, hiding my blush with the brim of my hat, hoping that I wouldn't notice.
If she did, she didn't point it out. "Nice to meet you Gray," she replied, "If I have any tool to upgrade, this is where I should bring them, right?"
I snorted, I couldn't help myself. "This place isn't called 'Blacksmith Saibara' for nothing..." I said sarcastically.
By the time I'd noticed what I'd said it was way too late. I was such an idiot!
"Gray!" my grandfather roared from across the room, "How dare you insult a customer-,"
And then Claire started to laugh.
It was a magical sound. A beautiful sound. Like a melody sang by the Harvest Goddess herself. All I could do was stare at her in shock as she laughed.
"You're funny, Gray," Claire said in between giggles, eyes watering, "I guess I deserved that. It was a pretty dumb question."
I think my jaw hit the floor. "Y-yeah..." I said dumbly.
Claire gave me another radiant smile. "I have to go meet everyone else here in town. You know, familiarize myself with the businesses around here, being new and all. Can't run a successful farm without knowing where everything you need is."
I heard grandpa grunt his approval. "Rightly said, young lady," he said gruffly. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was impressed... I wish I could make him sound like that.
Claire smiled at him and then turned her sight back to me, something shining in those eyes that I'd never seen a woman give me before. Never.
"So I'll see you around, Gray?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes," I replied instantly, "We definitely will."
The smile she gave me was the most radiant and beautiful yet. She turned gracefully and left the shop, her stride confident and triumphant. I could only stare, a blush heating my cheeks...
It wasn't until later that I noticed that when Claire had visited, I had forgotten all about Mary.
I felt guilty about that... but not guilty enough to stop seeing Claire.
We did see each other again. A lot more.
We took walks together, ate lunch together. Sometimes Claire would take me to the mines and show me where all the ores she gave me were. On my days off I'd help her out on the farm... though we didn't get any work done those days.
Everything about Mary had suddenly lost its appeal. Her hair, black like coal seemed dull in comparison to Claire's lustrous blonde hair. Mary's eyes, dark behind her glasses, were uninviting abysses in comparison to Claire's beautiful sky-colored eyes. Mary's intellect paled in comparison to Claire's humor. Claire never hesitated in showing affection. She would kiss me shamelessly and hug me tight. Mary would simply blush at me.
Back then, there was no question of who I was in love with.
A few seasons passed and I found myself at the Supermarket, anxiously buying a blue feather from Jeff. It was time. Definitely time.
When Jeff handed me the blue feather I pocketed it and started to walk out, anxiously planning out about what I was going to say to Claire and how and where I would propose when the door swung open and none other than Mary walked in.
Our eyes met from across the room. I blushed and averted my eyes in shame, hoping that she wouldn't find out now. I wasn't ready to tell her, wasn't ready to put up with her crying and her begging. I didn't want this. She wasn't going to spoil my proposal.
Mary walked up to me, a timid smile on her lips. "W-why hello, Gray," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Hey," I replied, eager to leave.
"A-are you running s-some e-errand for your g-grandfather?" she asked, her hands playing the hem of her frock.
"Yes," I lied smoothly.
All at once I felt all eyes on us, especially Karen's, a hateful glare. "Oh," Mary said, "Well... I haven't seen you around the library lately..."
"I've been busy," I lied again, ignoring everyone's stares.
Mary nodded understandingly, then blushed scarlet. "I-I've... missed y-,"
"I've really got to go, Mary," I said, pushing past her.
Mary's glasses fell to the floor and she immediately bent down to pick them up, a blush of embarrassment on her face. When she got up and put the cracked spectacles back on, she was staring directly at the empty space where the blue feather had been just moments before.
I think I was the only one that heard the breath hitch in her throat. I was the only one who saw her look at me in supplication, begging her intuition to be wrong.
I looked away and shoved the blue feather down deeper into my pocket... but I knew she'd caught that little flash of blue that had been sticking out.
I honestly expected her to cry, to fall to her knees and beg me to reconsider. Thats she loved me and that I was making a mistake.
She surprised me. Even though her hands made fists and her eyes had the faintest hint of watering, she smiled at me uncertainly and nodded to me. "I-I-I hope that y-you and C-Claire w-will be very h-h-happy together, Gray..." she said, the sincerity in her voice so real that it stabbed me harder than the crying or the begging could've done.
All I could do under her gaze was nod choppily and run out of the shop in embarrassment.
Despite it all, I proposed to Claire that night. She'd squealed in excitement and jumped into my arms. We were married that Sunday.
At the ceremony, as Claire walked down the aisle in a beautiful white dress that made her look like the radiant angel I always saw her as... and yet as she walked toward me I couldn't help the fact that my gaze skirted to the crowd.
There was Mary. Her hair in a perfect bun, in a modest dress that I had never seen her wear before... Her eyes were red and puffy, obviously from crying, but there was a smile on her face. One of joy and happiness... and resignation and such sorrow that I had to snap my eyes away from her and force myself to look back at Claire, my radiant angel, my wife...
For the first few months, we were happy. We lived together in happily wedded bliss for those months... but then things happened. Claire and I couldn't hold a conversation. She wanted to talk about farming and movie stars and fashion and I wanted to talk about the new novels, philosophy, my problems...
It only took a few weeks for me to notice that Claire and I weren't meant to be together. Claire noticed it too. All there was between us was a deep physical attraction. That's what it always was, wasn't it? The first time I saw her I was struck be her beauty... not like with Mary, who had surprised me with her kindness, her inner beauty...
The divorce was a mutual wish. People were scandalized that we did so, but we needed to get away from each other, be apart.
I realized my mistake much too late. I realized I was still in love with Mary, maybe I always had been, when Claire's radiance had blinded me from her. I knew what I needed to do.
I was inside her library later that same day, feeling hopelessly nervous... and rightly so.
Mary wasn't alone.
There was Kai, leaning on the desk, a flirtatious smile on his face. Mary was blushing and laughing, looking much happier than I'd ever seen her before. Ever.
Mary saw me first. Her face twisted in surprise. "Gray!" she exclaimed, "What a surprise! Please, come in."
I nodded and walked up to the desk, ignoring the look Kai was giving me. "Can I talk to you...?" I looked towards Kai, "Alone?"
Mary seemed to consider it for a few moments, but she nodded towards a protective-looking Kai, who nodded back at her, touched her hand with his own intimately, then left the library.
"Yes Gray?" she asked, the concern in her voice making me feel even worse about everything.
"I-I-I..." I stuttered, feeling like an idiot, "I'm sorry-,"
"It's alright," Mary said kindly, "I forgave you a long time ago, Gray."
"O-oh..." I murmured.
She nodded. "Yes. I was hoping that one day you would come by so that we could talk. I've always wanted to stay your friend, Gray. I miss the times we used to have together, talking about our favorite novels and drinking hot cocoa together," she laughed, a normal sound, yet one that made my heart beat faster, "Kai hasn't really read as much as you have. He is now though. He insisted on reading all my favorites first," she blushed, no doubt thinking of Kai. My heart broke, "I'm sure Kai wouldn't mind it if you dropped by to share in our discussions."
I noticed then, that I had lost her. That I had given her up, been an idiot so long ago for someone that really couldn't compare. Looking at Mary then, radiant in her joy, I realized how beautiful she truly was... and that I didn't deserve her. I nodded to myself. I knew what I had to do.
"Gray?" Mary asked, looking at me curiously.
I smiled, just like she had at me that day at the Supermarket so long ago. "Yes," I replied happily as I could, "I definitely will."
Mary smiled and I smiled back. It was the least I could do, be her friend. She deserved better and she got Kai... and if she wants to be my friend then that's what she'll get. I'm not saying I owe it to her... because she wouldn't want that and I don't need to do it... that wouldn't make it genuine.
I want to. Because I love Mary, and she loves Kai. And now I want her to be happy.
This, maybe it's penance enough... so that I can be Mary's friend without being guilty.
A/N: Yeah. First in a while of my fics that doesn't have a happy ending... I did like it, in the way you like a sad lesson-teaching experience.
Hope you liked it!