Hey there, all! My first Harvest Moon one-shot in quite some time. I'm not as well-versed with this fandom as with others, but hey. Freedom of speech and all that.
Before we get started, I'd like to give a honking loud thank you to The Scarlet Sky, who was kind enough to beta this for me. Thanks a bunch!
And now, here we go. Enjoy, all.
I hope this letter finds you safely, and that you're doing well. I just…I wanted to tell you something. Something I've wanted to say for a long time. Please don't be scared or anything; I just…wanted to tell you.
I wanted to tell you that…I love you.
I've loved for a long time…almost since you moved to Mineral Town. Almost two years ago, wasn't it? All that time, I've been in love with you.
I…I love everything about you. I love your smile, your laugh, your compassion. The way you're so friendly, and how you'll always go out of your way to help someone in need. Like…the time I was sick with a fever, and you came and watched the library for me all day? I appreciated that so much. You didn't have to do that for me, and you did anyway, and it was so nice of you…
I mean, I would understand completely if you…didn't feel the same. Of course I would understand! But…I just…I really wanted to let you know. Two years is a long time to hold something inside, isn't it?
Well…um, that's all, I suppose. Take care, Jack.
I turn around, startled. "J-Jack!" I smile and blush, unable to hide my pleasure. "It's very nice to see you!"
Jack is standing there, his hands in his pockets, his gaze halfway toward the ground and not quite looking at me. He gives me a rather uneasy smile. "Anna said you were up here." He looks around. "Mother's Hill is really nice in the wintertime."
"Yes, it is…" I nod. "I like to come up here at night and watch the moon. It's so pretty, especially in the winter, when there's snow all over the ground. It's beautiful."
Jack nods absently and walks up to me, sitting down beside me on the rock. "Yeah," he says, his voice a little distant.
I give him a slightly worried look. "Are you alright, Jack?"
"I…" Jack looks away. When he turns his face back to me, there's something hesitant—almost apologetic—in his eyes. "I got your letter."
My face goes red. "O-Oh…" I look down, remembering the letter I had spent hours writing. I had slipped it into his mailbox the previous evening, and then run, red-faced and embarrassed, praying that he wouldn't laugh at my efforts.
"I…" Jack's voice trails off, and I feel a faint prick of discomfort and worry, because Jack is not the hesitant type. He always seems to know exactly what he wants…
…So why is he looking at me like that?
"There's something I have to tell you."
My eyes widen just a little, and I remain silent, waiting for him to speak.
"I'm…kind of…going out with Karen."
My heart stops.
"Oh, Mary, I'm sorry," Jack says, his expression becoming desperate as he notices my obvious shock. "I'm so sorry, Mary; I didn't…I never meant to hurt you, I swear—you were always such a good friend to me—I would never do anything to hurt you, Mary; please believe that."
His hand lands on my shoulder, and I flinch, my eyes wide and horrified.
"I'm really sorry," he continues, his voice getting faster. "I didn't know—I wasn't trying to hurt you—but I—I'm sorry. I really hope—can we still be friends, Mary? Mary?"
I realize that I've been holding my breath this whole time, and—very slowly—I exhale. My eyes drift downward, looking at the ground but not really seeing.
So this…this is it. This is how it ends.
I see it now. I understand.
"Mary?" Jack repeats, his voice uncertain.
Karen is the one you really love.
"Are you okay?"
My mouth opens.
"O-Of course!" I say brightly.
Jack looks surprised at my sudden cheerfulness. I look up at him, and I know that I'm smiling, but I can feel that it's distorted and wavering.
"I mean, it's not your fault," I babble, waving a hand wildly. "After all, Karen's beautiful and talented, and really nice—it's no wonder that you like her. I always knew that this was a long shot—I probably shouldn't have even told you. I wasn't trying to bother you. I'm sorry."
Something horribly like pity enters Jack's eyes. "Mary!" he whispers.
"Really, I'm okay!" I assure him. "It isn't your fault."
I stand up, and Jack quickly stands up with me. "Mary…" he says again.
I look away, and I can feel tears stabbing at the corners of my eyes. "W-well, I should go," I say. "I have so much to do, after all; there are so many holidays in Winter, and so little time to prepare—the New Year's festival is in a couple of weeks, right? That one's always so much fun—oh, and May's birthday is coming up, too; I should get her a little something—"
Jack cuts me off by grabbing my upper arm. "Mary, stop."
I look at him. "What?" I ask. My smile twists even further. "What's the matter?"
"Mary, I'm sorry," Jack says.
"I told you, it's okay," I respond. The words are hard to choke out, like ice in my throat.
"Do you want me to walk you home?" Jack asks quietly.
"N-no! Really, that's okay—you have your own things to do," I assure him a little wildly.
The last thing I want right now is for Jack to walk me home. Because, on the walk home, surely I'll fall apart, and I don't want to do that in front of him. I've put him through enough pain already; I don't want to hurt him anymore.
"Seriously, Mary, do you want me to go home with you?" Jack is determined. His eyes say that he is worried about me. "I can—it's getting pretty cold, and I heard that it might snow soon; it's pretty easy to get lost, and I don't want you getting—"
"No, that's alright," I insert.
Jack's hand reaches up and cups my cheek. "Mary, please let me—"
"I'm fine!" I scream, slapping his hand away.
There is a long, seemingly endless silence between us. Jack's eyes are as wide as dinner plates as they stare at me—there is hurt and sadness in them, but mostly pity. Pity for me.
And I can't stand it.
"R-really, I'm okay…" I look up at Jack with one last smile, and his face blurs in my vision as the tears start to swell. "I'll be fine."
Jack's mouth opens again, but I don't want to hear what he has to say. Not anymore.
"Goodbye," I mumble before he can speak.
And then I turn and run.
My heart is pounding; my legs are burning underneath me, threatening to give out at any moment; my breath comes in great gasps, and the oxygen scrambles to my lungs as I frantically take it in.
And still I run.
Just as Jack predicted, the snow begins to fall while I'm running. But I don't stop. I keep on going, going, going.
Because maybe if I run forever, then I can escape the pain. The hurt. The heartbreak.
"I'm…kind of…going out with Karen."
The pity in Jack's eyes. The apologies.
"Mary, I'm sorry."
The knowledge that my love has gone to waste.
"R-really, I'm okay…"
I feel my legs scratching against rocks and the sides of trees and God knows what else, and I feel blood inching from cuts that weren't there before and I hear clothing tear. And I ignore it all.
Because maybe, if I keep running, I can disappear.
Or maybe I already have.
I no longer know where I am.
I should have been back at town long ago—or at Gotz's house, at the very least. But it's so dark, and the snow is in my eyes, and all I can see are falling flakes and long stretches of white.
My breathing is more labored now, and my running has slowed, but I still try to push forward, to keep going, because I have to keep running, I have to get away—
And then I fall.
Out of pure exhaustion and with no strength left, my legs finally give out on me and the ground rushes up to meet me.
My face presses into the snow, cold and dead, and my body stops moving. I lie motionless, except for the tremors that come from my jagged breathing.
And the tears that stream from my eyes.
I don't make a sound. Not aloud, anyway. I cry and cry, but all the screaming is on the inside.
This is the end.
All that love…all those moments when I would watch you, when I would wait for you…all the smiles you flashed in my direction. Every single one…
I was just kidding myself the whole time.
But…do you think that I didn't know?
I knew. I knew, Jack. I saw you and her together, all the time…but I would always manage to justify it somehow. I would see you two talking at the Supermarket, and I would say that you're still kind of new and just trying to get to know everyone; I would notice you walking her home, and I would tell myself that she was drunk again, that you had been elected to make sure no harm came to her…
I would lie to myself, time and again, trying to protect you in my heart…trying to protect that flawless image of you that I held in my mind…trying to protect the love I had, and convince myself that I still had a chance, that it wasn't hopeless…
But…who was I kidding, really?
It was hopeless all along.
I never…really meant anything to you, did I…?
"Mary, is that you?"
Am I…am I dreaming? Am I so desperate for comfort that I'm reaching out for a hallucination?
No…I can feel him there, above me…
Gray's hand grazes my shoulder, and I flinch violently.
"Mary?" he asks.
I realize that I should have responded already, and my lips crack open. "Yes," I whisper. "It's me."
Shakily, I manage to push myself up into a seated position, and I squint at Gray. He is crouched beside me, his eyes fixed on me, filled with concern.
"What are you doing out here, Mary?" Gray asks. "Good God, it's turning into a blizzard! Anna said you were on Mother's Hill, so I came looking for you, but I didn't think the snow would be coming this soon…"
I stare at him uncomprehendingly. He notices.
"Why were you lying in the snow, anyway?" he asks. A hard edge enters his voice. "Do you have any idea how worried Anna and Basil are? And I was really worried, too; I hadn't seen you all day! What if you'd gotten…?"
His voice trails off as he notices my lack of response. He pauses, and when he speaks again, his words are gentler.
"Sorry," he says, a little gruff. "I was just…worried. Did you get lost?"
Lost. A perfect word to describe the way I am now. But he means it a different way, and that way is a simpler explanation. So I take it.
"Yes," I say softly. "I got lost." I take a shuddering breath. "I was on my way home…and I couldn't see, and then I fell…"
Gray nods. "It's getting pretty bad out here," he says. He looks around, eyes narrowed. "I think Gotz's house is over there…yeah, there's a house; it's gotta be his. We can probably hole up there until this storm blows over."
I nod slowly, because I know it's what he expects. But, really, I don't want to go anywhere safe. I want to stay right where I am and cry.
Gray's hand slips into mine, and he pulls me to my feet. I wobble a little as I stand, and he looks down and finally notices the cuts on my legs.
"Oh, God, Mary, you're hurt! You okay?"
I nod. "Y-Yes…I'm fine…"
Gray bites his lip. "We'd better get to Gotz's. Now." He takes my arm and puts it around his shoulder, and helps me walk through the snow. I lean into him and let him lead me through the snow, but he's only a temporary life jacket. A brief buoy, keeping me afloat for only a short time.
Because it's only a matter of time before I fall again.
We make it to Gotz's house, but when we force the door open and stumble inside, the lights are off and no one is home.
"That's weird," Gray says, looking around. "I guess he was doing a job. I hope he's somewhere safe." He looks at me, and concern reappears on his face. "Come on, Mary, we've got to get you warmed up. Come on…"
My whole body is shaking and my teeth are chattering, and not just with the pain this time; I've been so wrapped up in my heartache that I haven't noticed just how cold I am. Gray helps me over to the bed, sits me down, and tucks me under the blanket.
"Okay, there's firewood in here…I'm going to make a fire so I can see better, and then I'll see if I can treat your cuts, all right?"
I manage a nod, and Gray immediately turns and begins to build a fire. I huddle under the blanket, focusing on warming myself instead of on the aching whole in my heart.
A few minutes later, Gray comes back. "Okay," he says to me, reaching for the blanket. "Let's have a look at those cuts."
"R-Really, Gray, it's n-not a b-big deal," I stammer, my teeth clacking together loudly.
"You've got blood all over you, Mary."
Gray fixes me with a deathly serious gaze, and I look away awkwardly. "O-Okay…" I reply uncertainly.
Gray nods, and I push the blanket aside. He moves my dress a little, and I can't help but blush as he washes the dried blood from my legs and wraps rags around the cuts.
"Thank you," I whisper when he finishes.
"Sure." Gray shrugs, then looks out the window. "I guess we're stuck in here until the snowstorm blows over. It looks like it's going to be until morning at the least. I hope we don't get snowed in or something…"
As Gray speaks, I realize something. And I try to say it, but just thinking about it makes my heart ache, so how can I say it?
How can I say his name, after what happened?
"Mary?" Gray looks at me. "You okay?"
I take a shuddering breath. "J…Jack." A jagged hole rips its way through my chest, and I take in another breath, slowly and evenly. "He was…on Mother's Hill, too. We were…talking. He's still out there."
Gray's eyes widen. "Crap. That's not good. Why didn't he go with you?"
I can't help but flinch at that, and I reply hastily, hoping that Gray doesn't notice. "He—he said he was staying on the mountain a little longer. I left first."
Gray bites his lip. "Well…hopefully he got to the Lake Mine before the storm got going. If he got there, he'll be okay." He doesn't finish his sentence, and the unspoken words—what will happen if he didn't make it—linger heavily in the air.
"What if…" I started. "What if he…"
"Jack's smart; he had to have known the snowstorm was coming. I imagine he got to the mine okay." Gray smiles encouragingly and pats my shoulder. "Don't worry."
I attempt to smile back, but my effort is weak and hopeless, and I quickly abandon it. I look up at the ceiling, feeling my heart throb with pain as Jack's face reappears in my mind—his eyes wide and filled with unwanted pity for me.
What will I do when I see him again? What will I say?
What will he say to me?
When is he planning to propose to Karen?
I jump. "What? I'm sorry, Gray, I didn't—"
"Mary," Gray interrupts. His eyes scrutinize my face, reading me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine…I don't feel so cold anymore, and my legs are feeling better." I give him a brief, fleeting smile. "Thanks to you."
"That's not what I mean." Gray looks at me harder, more carefully, and I glance away from his powerful gaze. "What's bothering you?"
"Wh-What?" My eyes widen, and I shake my head. "What are you talking about?"
"Something has you upset. What is it?"
"No, Gray! There's nothing—"
"Don't lie to me!" Gray's voice rises. "I can tell something's wrong!"
I cringe back and let out a cry of alarm as Gray's hands lock around my upper arms and pull me closer. "G-Gray—!" I exclaim.
"Mary, please talk to me," Gray begs. "Did someone hurt you?"
"I told you, there's nothing!"
Gray stops. I see something click in his eyes, and I don't like it.
"You were with Jack earlier," he realizes.
"He did something to hurt you, didn't he?" Gray's voice turns murderous towards the end, and a shiver of fear runs down my spine.
"No, he—" I protest.
"What did he do?" Gray's eyes narrow. "Tell me what he did, Mary. I'll make him pay."
I gasp at the look on his face. It's so…protective. Like Gray would go to the ends of the earth for me, to make me feel better.
Why? Would he really…?
"It's…not his fault," I manage to whisper after a long pause. "Please don't blame him. It wasn't his fault…it was mine."
"What do you mean?"
"I…" I grapple with the words. "I told Jack…I told him that I…I lo…" My voice trails off on the last word, and I look away, ashamed, unable to say the most important part.
Comprehension starts to dawn on Gray's face. "He turned you down," he says, very softly.
Tears start to well in my eyes, and I nod.
"I'm so sorry, Mary."
"He wants to marry Karen," I choke out.
I give him a broken smile. "It's okay," I say, my voice wavering. "K-Karen is really beautiful, and nice—I can see why…he'd rather have her."
Gray puts his hand on my shoulder. "Mary…"
"After all, he's such a great guy, and he deserves so much better than me…" My voice is strangled, and my vision blurs and slants as the tears cling to my eyelashes. "I just…want him to be happy…and if I'm…if I'm not what he…what he wants…then…"
I clap a hand over my mouth, trying desperately to hold in the sobs as the first tears begin to slide down my cheeks.
I want Jack to be happy. Of all the things in the world, the thing I want most is his happiness. Even if his happiness is with Karen, and not with me…it's all I want.
So, then…why do I feel this way?
Why can't I stop crying?
Why does this hurt so much?
I just…don't understand…
I let out a gasp as Gray's arms suddenly wrap around me and pull me into his chest.
"G-Gray?" I whisper, stunned.
Gray's arms tighten around me, ever so slightly, and he leans down, his lips brushing my ear.
"I'm here, Mary," he says gently.
Slowly, my face crumples in pain, and my hands reach up to grab desperately at the back of Gray's shirt, clinging as if for dear life.
Because right now, I just need someone here. Someone to hold me, to pick me up when I'm falling apart. Someone here.
And so I cry. On and on into the night, with tears falling thick and fast from my eyes and sobs wracking my body.
Gray doesn't speak anymore. He simply holds me, his hand rubbing circles on my back. He simply holds me, and for that, I am grateful.
All that time, I was acting strong, putting aside my own feelings for Jack's. Watching him from afar, telling myself that I didn't need my own happiness as long as I could see his. Ignoring the signs that threatened my "perfect" state of mind.
I was ignoring myself, all this time, and seeing only Jack. And I never once stopped to take a look at the damage it was doing to my heart.
But now, I am seeing myself again. Now, I am crying and letting it all out.
I am letting someone hold me. Someone who cares about me.
Someone who has picked me up in my broken state, who has reached out for my hand and comforted me when I needed a friend the most.
…Thank you, Gray.
Inspirations for this story are a couple of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX stories by Huajun Chen: namely,
Inspirations for this story are a couple of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX stories by Huajun Chen: namely,Unrequited Sentiments and Torn.
Also, I may or may not have been under the influence of sugary substances when writing this story. The aforementioned sugary substances may or may not have been ice cream.
Until next time, folks!