Note: Because the more decent endings Mary gets, the happier I become.
Disclaimer: Don't own. Do want. Big difference, people.
If every snowflake is unique, then every raindrop, Mary decided, must be a drop of unbearable monotony. The clouds released them all the same, each leaving the same frenzied melody as they slammed themselves against the library roof in despair. Such sad weather. Pity no one would bother to visit her library on days like this.
Curling herself into a tiny ball, Mary tore her gaze away from the window and centered on the cup of cocoa in her hands instead. Cool now. Might as well have been chocolate milk. To be fair, though, if Gray were here, she'd probably not even notice. After all, this was his hour, wasn't it?—the afternoon slot they'd always shared.
Temporarily, she corrected herself. Not always. Temporarily.
She snuggled closer in her quilt blanket and shivered as the rain continued to sound from outside. Dreadful afternoon. Boring afternoon. As cold as it was, Mary would have much preferred snow—but no, it had to rain. At least yesterday everything was sunny and nice.
Lonely, yes, but nice.
"Does it bother you?" they'd asked her. "Doesn't it ever just eat at you, drive you insane? Don't you hate it?"
The librarian wondered how they'd respond if she admitted her greatest pain was boredom, not heartache?
Of course the news had initially been a shock—Gray dating—but on the other hand, Mary knew it wasn't particularly unusual. Boy meets girl. Girl-next-door steals lonely boy's heart. Love blooms. Library loses visitors. A classic romance formula, and, of course, every romance had its triangles, didn't it?
"I worry about you," her mother had said. "You don't eat as much anymore. Drink as much, either. Shouldn't you be with your girlfriends, enjoying yourself? You can't pine after him forever."
"I'm not pining!" Mary had exasperated, tossing her fork down. "I'm bored!"
But Anna would hear none of it, and so Mary had to overstuff herself to compensate.
Maybe they were partially right, she conceded as she fiddled with the blanket's fringe; maybe a fraction of her had found the blacksmith attractive. And how couldn't she; who else bothered to stop by her work? Yes, Mary admitted it: even she wasn't above hormones when a good-looking, shy, and literary individual of the opposite sex stopped by.
So with flirting and book discussions ruled out, how was one supposed to pass the time?
"We could egg his house," Karen suggested that first raw week. "Or her house. Your pick."
"Anything you want from the Inn's on me," Ann had winked.
"Want a manicure or a day at the spa?" Elli once offered.
"Sleep-over!" Popuri had squealed.
And after saying no to crime, then nibbling toast, getting her nails done, and waking up to the clucking of chickens, Mary had run out of options. She had a job. Her friends had jobs. They couldn't fool around with her forever.
Unfortunately, her job was terribly monotonous without Gray. After this first month, Mary was ready to turn legally insane.
"Do you know," Mary had complained to her father, "I have read every single book in that library a good five times? Organized the shelves in alphabetical, numerical, and then subject order? And let's not forget dusting. Oh, Papa, why am I hating my job all of a sudden?"
If he'd given her any good advice, Mary figured she wouldn't be nursing a cold cup of hot chocolate right now.
For a little while longer, the brunette let her eyes follow each drop of water once more, waiting for the inevitable splat against the ground that would ensue. Was she really so boring that this was what it had come to—staring at raindrops?
"I'm not boring," she murmured to herself. "I'm…unique. Creative. Imaginative."
And sitting around here doesn't prove that.
Her sapphire eyes stole towards the cluttered desk beside her, and, as the ideas began to multiply inside her head, she downed the cocoa and dove for the typewriter, her mind abuzz with activity.
"Poor Mary." Claire sighed and played with her spoon, scooping the soup up only to dip it back in the bowl again. "I can't help but feel awful about it, Gray. She's such a sweet girl—I love dating you, but it feels so fake, knowing she liked you all this time."
Her companion shrugged, his eyes avoiding hers purposefully. "I didn't think she'd take it so hard," the blacksmith admitted, desperate to change the subject. "But I'm sure she'll be fine. Eventually."
That first month had been hell, with all the women of Mineral Town his unofficially declared enemies. Everyone, of course, took Mary's side, since he was the big bad male with the stereotypical blonde girlfriend. Did anyone ever mention the little fact that he and the librarian had never been dating? Of course not. Did everyone mention how antisocial the librarian had become the year since he and Claire had gotten together? All the time.
"I can't really blame her for being crazy about you," the farmer giggled, leaning over to steal Gray's hat. "It's hard not to, with a cute smirk like that, and this big old hat of yours." She perched it on her head and made an exaggerated pose. "You like?"
"You look so stupid," Gray laughed. "But a cute stupid."
"What can I say? I multitask."
People had been shuffling in and out of the Inn for awhile now, and as Gray stole his hat back from his grinning girlfriend, it occurred to him that the balance had been disrupted. Everyone wasn't coming in and out; everyone was leaving. "What on earth could be going on out there?" he asked, curious despite himself. "Doug just left."
"Really?" The blonde whipped about then whistled. "Wow. Everything's, like, empty. Wonder why."
"Way ahead of you." Gray abandoned his soup and stomped his way through the front door, squinting at the sunlight. Claire grabbed his arm and, linked together, they started the road in some strange parody of the Wizard of Oz, the farmer fighting to catch up to his stride.
"Ah! They're that way!" Claire shouted, pointing her finger. "Over there!"
Sure enough, there they were—everyone from Doug, to Popuri, to Won—in a long line leading to—
Claire gasped as well, her boyfriend paving the way through the throng of villagers. They grumbled, jostling about, until finally Gray managed to squeeze through the tiny doorway that had once been meant for he and Mary alone. And there she was, the little librarian, sitting happy-as-you-please behind her desk next a large pile of books. "Oh, goodness, Gray!" Mary exclaimed, grinning. "I'm so glad you came."
A wave of relief washed over him; thank the Goddess she wasn't as ticked off at him as everyone else had been. "Hey, um…Mary, what's going on, anyway?" Gray grunted, gesturing towards the crowded door. "Is this some kind of event—?"
"Oh, one moment, Gray. Yes, Cliff?" Mary said sweetly, waving the blacksmith away as the traveler came up to the front of the line. He wrung his hands, eyes shining, while a very miffed Gray stood to the side.
"I just wanted to say…the book's incredible, and I'm honored to get an autograph," Cliff muttered sheepishly. "I never knew you were so talented, really."
The librarian blushed, grinning ear to ear as she handed him his signed novel. "I'm so happy you liked it! You're very kind, Cliff. Thank you."
They hugged, Cliff left, and Gray stared at his almost-ex in astonishment. "What the hell was that?"
"You didn't know I got published?" Surprise clouded her features, then Mary let out a gentle laugh, patting her dwindling stack of books. "Oh, well, I suppose you know now. I've written my first novel, and it's such a thrill, Gray, you can't imagine. Would you like to see it?"
He weighed it in his hands hesitantly, raising an eyebrow as he read the title. "Guns and Roses? Isn't that a band?"
"It's an adventure story!" Mary babbled on, unperturbed. "There's romance, action, suspense, forbidden love—and to think I made it to three hundred ninety-eight pages! I've never been more proud of anything in my life."
"Hurry up!" Duke snapped, waiting in line. "I want my copy, you line-cutter!"
"Oh, pooh," Mary groaned, rolling her eyes. "I suppose I'll have to be cut short. But here, I saved you a copy—one for you and Claire. You'll read it, won't you?"
Gray shrugged. Why not?
"So she's fine?"
"She's not mad?"
"And she actually gave us a free copy?"
Claire gave her beau a double-take. "Are you serious?"
Both held the copy of Mary's rather large novel in hand, eyeing the cover nervously. "I think Mary's actually happy," Gray admitted, still glancing at the book in fear. Or maybe she lied and this is really a scathing expose on me and Claire with easily seen-through alibis.
"Wow, that takes a load off my mind," the blonde sighed with a grin. "Wow. You just have no idea. I absolutely hate feeling guilty."
"No one enjoys feeling guilty, Claire."
She stuck out her tongue. "Oh, you can't prove that, Gray."
Rolling his eyes, Gray peeked inside the book, then shut it once more. It could be angsty unrequited love with suicide. Or a murder mystery in which a blacksmith gets stabbed to death by a quill, or killed by a typewriter chucked at his head. Or—
"Are you going to read the book or not?"
He swallowed. "Uh. Yeah."
The book stayed closed.
"Oh, you big baby," Claire clucked disapprovingly as she opened it herself. She studied it for a moment longer, then a smile lit up her face as she chuckled to herself.
Immediately on the defensive, Gray bristled. "What?"
"What's so funny?"
The blacksmith lunged for the book and pulled it from a snickering Claire's hands. Flipping to her page, he blinked a few times, then set it in his lap. "Uh." A pause. "Wow."
There, in black ink, said the following sentiment:
"Dedicated to Gray Smith and Claire Harvest: the two people who motivated me to finally sit down and write all my ideas. This book would not be possible without you. May you be blessed with much love and much happiness."
"Well? What have you to say for yourself?" Claire accused.
Gray hung his head, his hat covering his shame. "…That I'm a paranoid and stupid blacksmith."
As the seasons turn, winter becomes spring, and spring becomes the future. Books are published, feathers are exchanged, and book tours are scheduled. Every day the sun comes up, and with it comes the burning ambition of thousands of people, some caught in love triangles and some not. Mary humbly stares at her recent paycheck, and silently promises herself to kiss the ground her publicist walks upon, while meanwhile Gray and Claire talk about expanding their house for an already expanding family.
A triangle makes up three cornerstones. Take one away, and that doesn't mean it crumbles. Sometimes, it builds something beautiful all its own. It doesn't need to be love; it doesn't need to be regret. Even the losers in love can have a happily ever after.
And with a sequel on the way, Mary has no intention of letting this be the end.
End Note: Why yes, I'm feeling a wee bit rusty with the HM silliness, thanks for asking. xD Seriously, though; Gray can get with Claire and Mary can still be awesome. I know I'm not the best role model for that, but eh. What can I say? I like it when librarians are happy. Hope you all liked it anyway. Or not. I can't decide for you, you know.