Author's Note: I'm new to this website, so I'm afraid that I will most likely mess up the format. Please bear with me, and if you happen to see any changes that need to be made please be sure to correct me. As for this fan fiction, I always thought it was strange that in AWL for girls the main character couldn't marry Takakura. Although age could be an issue, the game allows Marlin, 32, to marry Jill. Therefore, I felt comfortable writing a fan fiction about an unrealized pairing within the Harvest Moon series.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters nor the universe of HM. Tanya is technically "Jill," and therefore, I have no rights to her, either.
Chapter 1: Starter Kit
When I first saw that bright red envelope, I had to wonder what kind of woman Tanya had become. I had never spoken to her although I remembered her as an extremely young child. Alexandra never wanted me to see her, but it was more of a matter of circumstances at the time. Aaron was leaving home, after all, and since he feared he would never see her again, he begged his estranged wife to bring his little girl. As a toddler, Tanya was remarkably beautiful.
I had been a young man then, merely sixteen. Although her father was only a couple years my senior, she was a happy three year old by that time. When she first arrived it was exactly seventeen years from that day when my friend and I made tracks down an uncertain path. Yes, we had our doubts, but the dream was securely imprinted on our thoughts. I wonder I would've gone along with his scheme if I'd known he'd die so young, just as our luck turned for the better?
She arrived like fresh breath of spring. Her smile was a ray of sunshine while her eyes were blooming violets. The once clouded sky became clear as she strolled through the fields, and I felt a growing warmth hearing her soothing voice. A strong longing to embrace her confused me with its absurd notions. I was thirteen years her senior, so I attributed my yearnings to feelings of my long spent youth.
"You look very much like your father, you know."
"I hope you mean more than my feet!" she laughed, nudging me in the side. "Seriously, what girl wears a size eleven!"
"Well, no... I wasn't talking about you feet," I reassured her though I secretly had to admit she had a point. "The way you look and talk is just like your father."
"Yeah... I never really knew my old man. Mum kept everything about him either a secret or a forbidden topic, and I've never seen a picture of him myself because Mum wouldn't let me have so much of a glance at him. Seeing in the man in the casket isn't the same as seeing my father."
"She's still mad at him..."
"Dang right! I don't hold a grudge against him for leaving so much as I blame Mum for staying behind. She could've gone with you and him on your grand adventure."
"Forget-Me-Not Valley's so far from town..."
"Exactly why it's so great! Did you know I've never once seen the stars? The city lights are too bright for you to see those pretty diamonds in the night sky. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star doesn't apply to a city girl growing up. Not that Mum ever sang, anyway..."
"But she had such a beautiful voice!" I slipped rather childishly.
Tanya waved it off. "That's what everyone says."
"Her singing voice was what made Aaron fall for her so blindly. He didn't even know her face, only that lovely voice of hers."
"She probably quit singing to spite her dreaming husband."
We walked to the farm in silence for a short time as I recalled the young woman nicknamed the "Bird of the Boarding House." She may have been born into a poor family, but the Goddess blesses the materially lacking with gracious talents such as hers. Alexandria was a gorgeous lass with softly curled strawberry blonde hair and darling violet eyes. Her smile was elegant with brilliant teeth that stood at perfect attention. As such, she spoke with tenderness and sang with comforting melodies while moving in delicate steps. One could watch her tirelessly.
Trying to picture her any other way difficult at best. We had grown up in the same building, and though she was half a decade older than me, I adored her. One had no choice but to cherish her fleeting visits. Some children went so far as to say she was a ghost given her creamy light skin and Victorian style dress. I, too, recognized the agelessness of her image, but I had to believe such a perfect woman existed.
"Hey, Takakura, why'd you decide to let me have a hand in this farm, anyway? I mean, you might have been my dad's friend an' all, but what convinced you that I'd be suited for this?"
"Your letter helped me realize that I can't run this farm alone."
"Aww, c'mon you can't be that old. Dad was only thirty-five, and you're younger than he was!"
"Who told you that?" I asked with a small smile.
"Some guy at the funeral. He was kind of sullen, but I saw him talking to you a lot that evening. His hairstyle was a little out there, and he had the most stern blue eyes."
"Oh, that's Marlin. Your dad and I used to be his drinking buddies for a long time."
"How old is he then?"
"Marlin should be thirty-two this year, I believe."
"Well, if he can handle it, I'm sure you and I will be just fine on our own."
"You haven't seen the property yet..."
Just as I made that comment, we stepped alongside the grazing field. She let out a broad smile, put her hands securely on her hips, and declared, "Well, I've got my life cut out for me, don't I?"
Yes, she certainly did, and neither one of us knew what may lay ahead on this path. I felt the same excitement welling up in my chest as I did so long ago when Aaron stood at my side. I was a pioneer again, out on a new frontier, yet there was a lingering concern deep inside every thought. Will I have to see another die before me?
By morning, I set out to show Tanya the ropes to farming life. She happily surprised me by greeting me at my door with a cheerful impish grin; then laughing at my bewildered expression, "Not every city girl sleeps in," she teased. "That'll teach you for judging me right off as a citidiot."
"What time were you up and running then?"
"Four. I was eager, what can I say? Anyway, I tilled some soil waiting for your lazy butt to crawl out of bed."
"Did you use my hoe? That thing's heavy..."
"No kidding! So much for you being an old man!" she scoffed with another cackle. "Takakura, I think you an' I will get along just fine!"
"You're probably right."
Her enthusiasm was nearly boundless as I showed her the bare grazing field, the crop fields which she had tilled nicely, and the hen house. While I was explaining how to go about purchasing and raising chickens, two stray mutts slipped out from around the back of the coop, and her eyes lit up like a young child's. I felt a pang of fatherly generosity watching her wrestle with the pups for a bit, and although it may have been against my personal feelings towards dogs, I asked, "Would you like to pick one for yourself?"
She squealed, trying to decide which one to keep as her own. After a time, she picked the smaller pup with pointed ears, and she dubbed him Scraps, explaining that he looked like the dogs she used to play with at the city scrap yard.
"Your mother let you go there?" I asked discerningly.
"I never told her where I went to play," she answered quietly. "All she asked was that I get good grades and dress up for company. As long as I did that, she didn't care where I went or with whom." She became unusually sullen, holding the puppy and scratching the back of his head. She looked so fragile standing there while nuzzling her face in his fur.
"Well," I muttered uncomfortably, "I'll build a dog house for the little fella later."
"What about the other one?" she asked, pointing to the lonely bloodhound.
"He'll go to the market with me tomorrow. If no one takes him, I'll keep him myself. Now come on, I have more to show you today so keep up."
"Yes, sir!" she answered with a mocking salute and a laugh.
The two of us made the last of the rounds with Scraps tailing behind with his solemn friend in tow. I gave her the tomato seeds I'd purchased preparing for the spring, and we went back to the field to plant them. Tanya knew right where to plant them in the more fertile of the two plots, and she went about it so tenderly that I had no doubts she'd be a successful farmer in time. Aaron would certainly beam to see her take to it so honestly and with such skill. This might work out, after all, I thought pleasantly.
Guiding her back to my house I announced, "I have one last surprise for you in the barn."
"Really? I wanna see what you've been hiding, you tease."
"You really are like your father, girl," I remarked with a tired sigh.
"If I'd been around, do you think I'd be a daddy's girl?" she asked shyly.
"Heh, I don't have to think on that one; I know you'd be Aaron's precious treasure." I chuckled, "He would've been wrapped around your finger so tight you'd be spoiled absolutely rotten."
"That's intense," she agreed with a smirk. "I wouldn't have the heart to work him that hard."
"You wouldn't have to. Here now, this is sort of my gift to you..."
As I opened the door, she shrieked unexpectedly and cried, "Ah, it's a cow!" She practically tripped over herself to hug the animal exclaiming, "Wow, she's not as huge as I expected she would be! Ha ha!"
"So... you like cows, huh?" I asked, stupefied.
"Goddess, yes! I think they're the best kind of livestock because they're so gentle, not to mention useful..."
"You haven't seen a sheep yet, I take it? They're pretty cute, too."
"Sure I have... It's just... they're Mum's favorite... not mine."
Knowing Alexandra, I understood her daughter's reluctance to be anything like her. In the back of my mind, I sometimes thought about her while carting goods to the market, and often those thoughts centered around her acting as a singer mother. She was meant to perform on a stage, seducing the audience with dramatic notes and pleasing lyrics, yet she was at home keeping house. I had nothing against her being a homemaker, but it didn't fit Alexandra.
Now I was unhappy to discover I was right.
"That's okay," I assured her, "cattle are my favorite, too."
"Good to hear," she said, her smile returning full force. "Since you love cows, too. What do think of the name Lilac?
"Thank the Goddess it wasn't 'Bessi,'" I moaned with genuine relief. At least this cow wouldn't have to suffer that indignity.
"As if I'm that unimaginative," Tanya scoffed, rolling her big violet eyes. "Besides, lilacs are my favorite flowers, so I thought since cows and lilacs are what I like best, they belong together. Just like you and me."
"What?" I gasped, somewhat startled. She was my friend's daughter, thirteen years my junior, and suddenly she was pairing us up? That was... ridiculous! Shouldn't she be interested in some "strapping young man" with an accent of some sort, no hair on his chest, and two well working legs? What was the phrase? "Tall, dark, and handsome?" Yeah, that was it! I certainly wasn't it. After all, I was a crusty, old man, right? I had a limp... these giant bushy eyebrows and a monkey face... Wait... Did I really have a monkey's face?!
"You okay, Taka?"
Now she's giving me a nickname? "Huh? Oh, yeah... what was it you were saying?"
"Like you and Dad. This is our farm now, and we're partner's in this, so I'm taking my old man's place. Respectively, of course."
"Of course... Hey, you haven't met anyone formally. Let me show you around town. I'm not much of a people person, but the folks here are kind enough. Your dad was rather popular around here, so I'm sure you'll make quick friends."
I was certainly on the ball, too, when I said she's "make quick friends." Tanya was just that sort of person, like her father before her. Her laugh could be unnerving with its sharpness, but at least she was being honest with herself. I dwelled on this as we sat at the bar together. That cackle seemed to grow for every swig she took of her Stone Oil which was one undeniable difference of quality from her father. Both he and myself were casual drinkers going through only a couple of Cherry Pinks before heading home. She whipped through three of the strongest concoctions the house, and she wasn't bombed from it all.
"Wow, Tanya, you sure plow right through these suckers!" Muffy cheered, handing her another.
"Yeah," agreed the bartender. "Isn't it time to stop?"
"It's not every day I can drink my fill!" she shot back. "Taka here has been mighty good to me today, so I do feel kinda bad for relying on him to pay for my drinks, too."
"Oh, Takakura won't mind, I'm sure," the barmaid piped. "He's a good guy though he doesn't talk much."
"Yes, we've both known him since coming down here. He and Aaron were among the first people to settle here."
"Who was the first?"
"Lady Romana had a mansion built on the hill there," Muffy replied with glee. "That place has to have a hundred rooms!"
"Muffy... I don't think that's-"
"Griffin, I know that. I'm only saying it has the most rooms anywhere around here. Anyway, she even paid to have the road paved when more people showed up. She was also the first person to have electricity in the valley."
"Before even Romana came to live here," I added, "the farm was here, though."
"Vesta's place?" she asked curiously.
"No, our property was the first," I corrected her gently.
"Hey, you and Aaron never named the place, did you?"
"We didn't think about it, I guess. Why does it matter? Everyone here knows what I'm talking about."
"Muffy does have a point, though. If you go to the city market without a name for your business, people there won't know you from the next guy. You ought to get a name for your ranch."
I sat quietly for a moment. Aaron and I had discussed naming the business a season or so before he passed away. However, we never really got anywhere with it. I had suggest we name it Alexandra Farm, but he waved it off kindly. "That'll never do."
"Why not?" I asked stubbornly. After all, he couldn't keep himself from talking about her, missing her... loving her. She had been his first everything, and now she was gone. What was wrong with honoring her under his new pleasure?
"Because she's not a part of this, and you and I are in this together. It might mean something to me, but she has nothing to do with you."
Back then, I wished I could reply with honesty, but-
"Name it 'Remember.'" Tanya decided rather suddenly. "We'll call it Remember Farm since it does act as Dad's memorial, right?"
"That's a nice thought," Griffin said with a soft, sad smile.
"Sure is," Muffy replied in a strangely solemn manner.
I nodded, saying to my empty glass, "I guess that'll be it then... Remember Farm... Aaron, your father, he would love a name like that..."