Author's Note: I don't own the rights to Natsume or the Harvest Moon franchise. But boy, if I did…

"Oh, thank you…I'm in your debt." She tucked the winter flower inside her apron and smiled up at me. "…Is there anything else you'd like?"

I smiled tightly down at my brunette friend and shook my head. She nodded brightly and turned back to her stove, humming a soft tune that I didn't recognize. Well, it had been the same flower, the same answer, the same tucking-it-into-the-apron-and-asking-me-if-I'd-like-anything-else. It was the same exact scene it had been since summer, when I'd realized I had a bit of a crush on the farmer girl down the road.

Only this time…well, this time…it could be different.

My gaze kept sliding from her back to the stairs just inches from where I stood. I fidgeted, tapping my feet and biting my lip while thinking of what to say. I forgot something? No, it's her own room, what would I leave in there? Um…maybe I just won't tell her! Yeah…yeah, I'll sneak up, and hopefully she won't notice me leaving. Okay, I just gotta get on my tiptoes and quietly walk out of the--


I winced in defeat and tentatively glanced over my shoulder at her. There she still was, singing and drying a dish with a soggy cloth, apparently oblivious. I let out a slight breath of relief and spirited up the stairs as fast and as stealthily as my feet would allow.

When I reached the landed, I quickly checked back downstairs and, finding her still at the sink, swiftly walked further into the room where I would be hidden from view. Another sigh escaped me, and then I was overcome with nerves. This is it, I gulped as I strolled to her dresser. This is really it. If she catches me now…it's alllll over.

Paranoia swept over me like a freaking tidal wave.

I mean, I'd done this so many times before. Ever since I'd accidentally found her diary way back in summer, with the first tiny red heart, I'd been checking back constantly, watching the number of hearts grow with my affection of her. Though I'd been spending innumerable hours with her the past couple of weeks, three crimson hearts still remained, and I was starting to think that maybe…maybe she didn't feel the same way about me anymore. But…but I think…no. I know I love her, and it would tear my heart in half to know she didn't love me back, after all this time. Not to mention, if we ever did get married, I could stop slinking around like this all the time. And that would be a plus.

Droplets of sweat beaded down my cheeks as I fervently checked over my shoulder once more. I turned my tensed back towards her dresser, pulling open the drawer. My fingers danced against the papers and trinkets that I had come to know and recognize. Her grocery list. Her mother's old ivory brush. A tube of lipstick. Some hard candy. A poem she wrote. And—ah, there it is!

I sent another nervous glance towards the door of her room. I could hear her bustling downstairs, the wooden floorboards squeaking and sending me jumping with apprehension. I gripped the diary between my hands and paused in anticipation. It's been two weeks. Did the flowers do any good? Did she like the tomato soup I brought her? Did I say the right things to her this morning? Unable to wait any longer, I flicked past previous pages… (One heart, two, several dots, hey, the third heart...has she written nothing for two whole weeks?!)

And then, the new page flipped over and I gasped.

Four bright, cherry red hearts popped out at me from the page.

A dark black exclamation point sealed the message of the diary entry.

And that one sheet of paper made the most important decision of my life for me.

Unconsciously, my right hand moved to my pocket, where I fingered the electric blue feather I'd received only last week. She'd been on my mind ever since I'd gotten the gift, and now…now I knew what I was going to do with it. I deftly slipped the diary back under a stack of cards and silently closed her dresser drawer.

Several nameless emotions began to churn in my stomach…perhaps excitement, perhaps trepidation, perhaps just the boundless love that I felt now for the shy bandana-wearing girl that had captured my heart and split it into four different pieces in the pages of her diary. Confidently, I stepped down the stairs, cradling the blue feather in my palm, and already dreaming of what tomorrow would bring.

Boy, was I glad she had to do the dishes that day!