Of Broaches and Breakups

Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon.

I didn't understand at all. Cliff had left the town – left me – and yet, I was cheerful like there wasn't a tomorrow to be cheerful in. Of course, he had left, last winter, but I still haven't been myself since.

It was the broach, wasn't it? The one Gray gave me. I stopped for a moment, flipping the pancakes on their side.

It was morning in Mineral Town, and that meant breakfast at the Inn. It was my duty to prepare it, and today was a Thursday in summer and that meant pancakes with syrup. Normally, it would be served with a fruit smoothie, but the blender broke last fall. The pancakes looked ready, so I gave them a prod with my spatula. They were done, so I put them on a plate, and loaded in the next batch.

I went back to my thoughts. Gray had given me the broach last week, on my birthday. It was a beautiful broach, even if Saibara would disagree. It was butterfly shaped, the orange-gold wings stamped with a spiral insignia. I wonder how Gray knew I liked butterflies?

The third and final batch of pancakes cooking, my thoughts drifted to Cliff. Cliff was, well, a drifter. The shy man wandered from town to town, staying at inns for several seasons, and then moving on. He had been somewhat of an enigma at first. He kept to himself, and spent most of his time at the church, confessing for some sin.

My first formal introduction to him was at the church. He was lost in thought, and looked lonely. I had recognized him from the Inn, and introduced myself. He mumbled a greeting and went back to whatever he had been thinking about.

Soon after that, I made a point of visiting him. We grew friendly. He opened up a little, and told me bits and pieces of his past. Soon, he started bringing me presents on a near daily basis.

Late fall, the town decided we were dating, and well, we sorta went along with it.

The last really romantic moment we had was at the Moon Viewing festival. It was our first kiss. Cliff started asking me a question, but quickly stopped.

I can't help but wonder if he was proposing.

Then, on the last winter 8th, Cliff left. He said he had no job and had no more money to pay my father, the innkeeper. He left on a ferry to the mainland, and no one has heard from him since.

Last winter 20th, Mary, the local librarian married the local farmer, a man named Jack.

Gray, an apprentice blacksmith who stayed at the Inn, was broken. He had loved Mary, and she never returned his feelings. He retreated deeper into the social shell he had created, and he hadn't uttered a single word since.

Or at least, until my birthday last week. He said three words when he gave me the butterfly-broach, and they changed everything: "I love you."

I was freaked and didn't say anything. I mean, I barely even knew the guy. Then, I started to piece things together. About Spring 3rd, I started noticing Gray in places he had never been in: the supermarket, the beach, the goddess pond. The thing was, he wasn't there unless I was there.

When Gray gave me the broach, I realized: Gray had been stalking me. He saw me, listened to me, and learned about me.

I finished setting the tables for the morning meal, and went into a recollection of my history with dating.

First guy: Carter the priest, who hadn't been a priest at the time. We were 11 at the time, and broke up pretty quickly.

Second guy: Doctor Trent. We started dating when I was 14. We liked each other, but decided friendship was a better bet.

Third Guy: The Gourmet. Okay, so I wasn't really dating him. I thought he was cute when I was 17, so I made him a chocolate cake. He ate the cake, and I asked if he wanted to go steady. He responded by politely telling me I was in no position to date someone as perfect as he was.

The little shit.

Fourth guy: Cliff – my first love and my first heartbreak.

I smelled something burning. Oh no! I checked my pancakes, and one of them was burnt, so I tossed it.

Funny. In the kitchen I'm a control freak. If something is burnt, it's inedible. Around the Inn, I'm a neat bug. If one nook isn't in the correct cranny, I have to make sure it gets 5 extra squirts of cleaning detergent daily, for the next two weeks.

My father's a bit of a nervous wreck himself. Sure, he lets on that everything is "A-OK," but he's really insecure. Like Gray.

All the time, he wants me in a relationship, and when I am, I'm spending too much time with my boyfriend. Normally, I feel peeved, but today I think I've finally figured out the reason behind his attitude: he's lonely. He's never gotten over mom's death.

9:00 AM. Gray and Kai would come down any time now.

"Hey, Ann! Wassup?" Speak of the devil, they're here.

"Nothing much," I say. Kai helped himself to a stack of pancakes, and left a tip on the table. Gray mimicked his action. Kai and Gray each sat at separate tables; Kai near the counter, and Gray in the far corner of the lobby.

Partway through their meal, I decided to confront Gray. I inched over to his table nervously, and when I was finally within earshot I said: "Hey."

Gray jumped up, caught off-guard, and rocketed around to face me. "Hey…" He stopped eating and looked away, head hung.

"Gray… Did you mean what you said?" He paused for a moment, before finally replying in nothing more than a whisper. "Yeah. I did."

"I… don't feel the same way"-

Gray looked broken and, before I could finish said: "Gotcha."

-"but I am willing to give friendship a chance." Gray swallowed mid-chew, elated at the thought. Then, I leaned over, and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek.

Now… if I could just do something about that faulty blender…

Author's Note: This ending wasn't what I wanted to end with, but it worked better than I expected. Please review!

P.S. If I wrote another Gray x Ann fic, would you read it? Put that in your review, please!