Author's Note: Maybe this is total crack (I seem to be in that kind of mood today), but I'm going to have a little bit of fun. I just needed something fresh. I also need some practice in writing both one-shots and in third-person point of view since I consider them both to be weaknesses of mine.

Tomorrow it's back to my long-fics, so please enjoy this for tonight (or is it tomorrow already?)!

Disclaimer: I still don't own HM or its characters because I wouldn't get any sleep if I did.


Small Blessings

"Damn woman trying to fix me up on some Goddess forsaken date..." a young man muttered crossly as he lit the cigarette clenched between his teeth. Of course, he didn't really mean anything by his scathing remark since he thought of the plump shopkeeper as an aunt of sorts. She was only doing what came naturally, for she and her daughter were about the only people he could even consider as the family he had left. Still, regardless of how he felt towards her, he wasn't too keen on her latest attempts to set him up with the farmer girl down the way, and it was staring to grate on his last nerve. He hadn't even spoken to the girl enough to have done anything more than introduce himself. Not that he minded any...

He drew in a rather deep puff from his cancer stick. The smoke which spilled out from his mouth made lazy curls in front of the direct gaze of his peculiar violet eyes. A scowl crossed his lips as the embers began to die out, and he snarled in disgust. He patted the chest pocket of his black, button-down shirt only to find it was empty. Irritably, he did a once over of his jean pockets as well, coming up with nothing yet again.

In a bitter attempt to vent his annoyance and underlying anger, he threw the butt of the filter onto the pathway and ground it in with the heel of his boot. However, soon after he had done so, he overhead someone's disapproving tut-tutting. Just as he was about to bite that someone's head, he pulled the hat over his eyes, and his silver bangs purposely obscured his view. It was her.

The young woman was sitting on the church's front stoop like usual, but whenever he happened to stray into the forest, he never seemed to notice her at first. She had an unnerving ability to... materialize out of seemingly no where, normally when he did something she didn't approve of. It wasn't as though she was too plain or something of that nature, for in truth, he thought she was everything a woman should be. Not only did her soft, light red hair brush her narrow shoulders in a delicate manner, but it also framed her innocent features perfectly. Though he would never admit to it, he occasionally lost himself in the deep, blue pools that were her eyes as well.

Maybe that's why he tried so earnestly to shield his gaze from meeting her own.

"Vaughn, I don't believe the Goddess would appreciate you littering, let alone so close to her sanctuary," the young woman chided him. "Besides, that habit of yours cannot be good for your health by any means." Although he would've had a snide comment for anyone else who chose to scold him, the animal trader grit his teeth and bit his tongue. He couldn't explain how or why she had such a powerful effect on him, yet it remained a mere fact that he did his best to be civil in her presence.

"You're probably right," he agreed gruffly, bending down to pick up the snuffed remains and place it in his pocket to be thrown away later. She smiled tenderly at me as though she fancied herself as his mother of sorts, keeping her son in line. He sneered to himself at that thought. He knew damn well that he hadn't wanted that sort of affection from anyone since ages ago, and he didn't need it now, either.

"Would you care to join me?" she asked, patting the empty space beside her. The young man was about to decline her until he noticed the bowl nestled on her lap in the folds of her white apron.

"Hey, Sister," he addressed her sternly. It wasn't out of disrespect as it was her true title, for she had explained to him once how she had chosen to devote herself to the Harvest Goddess completely. He vaguely wondered why she make that drastic of a decision at her tender, young age. "What do you have there?"

She smiled up at him knowingly and replied, "Porridge. It's your favorite, isn't it?"

Despite his efforts not to, Vaughn couldn't help but lick his chapped lips at the mere thought of partaking a little bit of it for himself. However, he hesitated to sit next to the nun since he wasn't exactly sure of her intentions. Even a woman who behaved like a saint could have something else entirely forming in her own mind, and his favorite meal might just be the most well thought out bait. Although he couldn't prevent himself from not trusting her entirely, she was skilled at playing innocent, and he soon set aside his nature to doubt people, especially women.

"I'll share," she offered. He sighed in defeat as he plopped down next to her. She simply continued to smile up at him, but she said nothing more. Gingerly, she handed him the steading bowl filled with a thick, white substance, and after her gaze pleaded with him to have his fill, he did so with slow and deliberate bites. He nearly moaned in satisfied pleasure to taste it and enjoy its heavenly texture.

She giggled and noted, "Am I to assume you're quite pleased? After all, you're purring like a kitten." When he looked at her in serious dismay, she corrected herself. "What I mean to say is you look as though you could be." He studied her further for a brief time before returning to the humble dish. He only realized she hadn't had any once it was already gone and the bowl had been rendered empty.

"Ah... I'm sorry about that, Sister," he apologized quietly, pulling the brim of his hat back over his eyes in subtle embarrassment.

"Please, Vaughn, you needn't be so formal with me. You're more than welcome to call me Alisa," she informed him kindly while fussing with the hem of her dress. It wasn't overly flamboyant, but he couldn't deny it was inarguably feminine and very flattering for her small frame. Though he did so discretely, the young man toyed with the frayed edge of her blue sash that lay next to him. He frowned to see the peaceful, yet oddly heart-breaking, hue which it had been dyed.

There was no way he could erase the memory of what it symbolized. A part of a sacred tradition in the farming communities in which he conducted his animal trading business dictated that a feather with that distinct color was to be given in the marriage proposal. He had seen one once, not too long ago, being shown in such a manner, but it was not a moment for him to share in. It should've been me, he thought bitterly, narrowing his eyes with a reserved, yet dangerous, angry brewing beneath the surface.

A soothing, pale hand rested on his dark glove, and he glanced over to see Alisa's concerned expression. Her features were solemn and understanding. She knew what had angered him although she wasn't able to comprehend how his raw feelings had resurfaced. Little did she realize it had been her clothing that had triggered the painful remembrance of that dark and snowy evening the season before. He had stumbled across the daughter of the mine company's owen and that... bastard. What could that damn farmer wanna-be have that he didn't that would persuade her to marry him of all people?

Maybe some emotion... he thought spitefully as he recalled his cousin's remark that he wasn't 'human' simply because he couldn't figure out how to smile. It wasn't his fault the expression was so foreign. There wasn't anyone to show him how to go about it as a child, and he firmly believed that was the cause of his inability to form a single, toothy grin.

"Do you still dwell on it?" the young devout questioned with both her melodic voice and all seeing orbs of the blasted blue as the engagement feather. It should've been given from him, not some jack ass that lived out of a fucking inn, to her. He didn't reply, out of the knowledge he'd say something that wasn't so... appropriate in the company of a holy woman in a sacred setting.

"Perhaps this may be of little comfort to you, but would you care to pray with me?" Alisa requested, holding his large hands in her slender fingers. He baulked slightly, but she didn't let go. Instead she closed her eyes peacefully, and he mimicked her as best he could although his brow was still furrowed in concentration and his ever present scowl remained. "Harvest Goddess, today we pray for your blessing upon this troubled heart. May you guide your son," he flinched yet she continued unfazed by his reaction, "on the path of healing and forgiveness. Amen."

He nodded in closing, saying the final word only in his head. He reluctantly watched her pull away from him and stand before lifting himself up as well. He could see her usually warm and nurturing gaze was strangely distant. When she realized Vaughn was staring at her intently, she brushed away the tears that had misted over her beautiful eyes. "Forgive me," she apologized with a soft smile, "I have a terrible habit of crying while I pray."

"It's alright," he assured her weakly, offering her his white bandanna to dry her cheeks. She accepted it, but as she went to return it to him, he held up his hand and refused to take it from her. "You keep it," he told her, pulling the brim of his hat over his eyes once more. He didn't need, or want, her to see the crimson that brushed across his cheeks. She smiled in her all-knowing way and held the cloth over her chest as she breathlessly whispered her thanks.

"Will I see you next week?" she asked, hope filling her large, blue eyes. He nodded solemnly, and she nearly twirled with joy. Alisa cheered while she slipped inside the church doors, "I'll certainly look forward to enjoying your company then!" She waved the handkerchief at him, and he felt a rare half smile play on his lips, realizing he was the one to make the young woman so giddy.

Vaughn merely shook his head in disbelief as he headed back into town. Her blissful behavior in his presence had to be a fluke of some kind, or maybe it was even an act. However, he couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps the Goddess was already working through him and placing her wonderful graces upon him. He wasn't one to believe in that sort of thing, yet his moments spent with the cheerful sister may have stirred some foreign emotion he thought had been killed off once and for all.

Even so, he thought wistfully, every little bit of kindness is a small blessing in and of itself...


Final Author's Note: Oh man, that was the cheesiest ending for this one-shot! X3

Um, I hope I got Alisa's character alright since I haven't played the game yet, and I haven't seen any videos with her online. Therefore, I made a composite of Lumina and Elli to figure out her personality for this story.

But, yes, I'm in love with idea of VaughnxAlisa, and I do believe I am the first to bring together this pairing as well! Huzz-ah! XD Although I was miffed at first that Alisa wasn't a marriage candidate, I kind of like the thought of her being unavailable due to her religious beliefs. Doesn't that make this love completely one-sided?

Look for more one-shots concerning these two from me in the future!