The Princess and the Pauper

Our story could be related to The Princess and the Pauper in so many ways, especially in one aspect. She could never, ever love the poor chicken boy.

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Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon.

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I suppose I never should have done it, should've I?

Fallen for you, that is.

It was stupid.

I was stupid.

Stupid to think that you could ever love me.

Why?

Because you're the princess.

And me?

I'm just the lowly pauper.

-

It was Spring, Friday the 21st when you first talked to me.

Sure, I'd seen you around town plenty of times before, but I'd never had the guts to talk to you.

You were just so beautiful, and from the moment I saw you, I could just tell.

You were undeniably out of my league.

So you can imagine my surprise when you came up to me and struck up a conversation.

Goddess, your voice was just so beautiful, just like you.

I think it was that moment that I fell irrevocably in love with you.

-

I know, it was stupid.

Just hearing your voice made me think I was in love with you.

But I wasn't lying.

I honestly think that the moment I fell in love with you was the moment that you talked to me.

Not many people bother to take notice of me, let alone strike up a conversation with me.

After all, I'm just the poor, quiet boy who takes care of the chickens.

So yes, I did fall in love with you from the moment you talked to me.

I knew that you weren't like the others.

You were special.

-

"So you run the poultry farm?"

"Ah… Well, not… Not ex… Not exactly."

"What do you mean?"

There was your gorgeous voice.

"My p-parents run it. Ran it."

"…Ran?"

"He… They… Ah… They…"

"Hey, it's okay if you don't feel like talking about it. I understand."

"Ah… I… I…"

Goddess, I was so nervous, I couldn't even get a single sentence out.

"Hey… There's no need to be nervous you know. I'm not gonna bite your head off or something. Just relax, I'm not gonna leave."

I couldn't believe it.

People normally just left when I went into nervous, awkward mode, but you…

You stayed.

And I knew from that moment you weren't just different.

Goddess, you were an angel.

-

You changed me, you know?

You gave me the confidence to do things I would never have dared to do, and the patience to not do things I would always have done.

Like the time I finally, finally spoke up.

-

"Hey, look, its chicken boy!"

They were at it again.

Kai and Gray, they loved tormenting me.

In fact, sometimes I think they lived for it.

I guess it was the fact that I took care of chickens and wasn't as attractive as them that really gave them something to use against me.

But what I hated was that it was all true.

"What's with the goggles, girly?"

Normally, I'd always be humiliated alone.

But this time, you were with me.

And you know what you did?

You squeezed my hand, and said, "Don't let them do this."

"Huh?"

"Never let anybody talk to you like you are below them."

Never let anybody talk to you like you are below them.

I guess it was those words that really got to me.

And you know what I did?

I finally, finally stood up for myself.

"Heh. You know what? I've had enough."

"Ooh, the girl's angry!"

"Maybe I do take care of chickens, and maybe I do wear glasses, and maybe I'm ugly and look girly, but you know what? At least I care for something, unlike you two. You two could never care for anything, not even yourselves. And so what if I wear glasses? At least I can see what's right in front of me, unlike you two, who are too blind to see anything. And so what if I'm ugly? At least I have a heart, which I know for a fact, neither of you have."

And with that, I grabbed your hand, and together, we walked away.

-

You were the one who gave me the courage to do that, you know?

You did it.

From then on, Gray and Kai never made fun of me again.

And you know how I said you gave me the patience to do things I would always have done otherwise?

That was the time I didn't shout at Popuri.

-

You and I were walking past the beach, when I caught sight of Kai and Popuri kissing.

"Popuri?!"

"Rick! What are you doing here?!"

"I…! You…!"

Goddess, I was so angry, I was going to shout at her.

But then you tugged my hand and gave me a meaningful look, telling me to cool down.

"Don't judge her, Rick. She's happy, can't you see that?"

"What?"

"Can't you see how happy she is when she's with Kai? It's like… How I'm always happy when I'm with you."

"I…Ah…."

I finally got it.

I could finally understand how Popuri felt when she was with Kai.

I could finally get how she felt about him.

It was how I felt about you.

"It's alright. I'll see you at home, Pop."

"…I… Huh?"

"Love you."

"Ah… Love you too…"

And together, we walked off.
-

My relationship with Popuri improved tremendously after that.

I never shouted at her anymore, and she became much less rebellious because of that.

I finally understood why she always wanted to be with Kai.

It was like how I always wanted to be with you.

I could finally understand, because of you.

I finally knew what love was.

-

It was the 21st of Winter when Mums illness suddenly took a turn for the worse.

I'd woken up to a normal morning, for it all to turn horribly, horribly wrong.

I'd gone to wake Mum up, but found her in bed, face paler than ever, shaking.

"Mum? Mum?!"

"R… Ri… Rick…"

"MUM?! Hang on, Mum! I'm taking you to the clinic! Hang in there! Hang in there, Mum!"

Goddess, I was so, so scared.

I'd never felt this frightened before in my life.

That one hour that we were waiting for the results was the scariest hour of my life.

"I'm going to lose her. I'm going to lose my Mum, and it's all my fault!"

"Don't say that, Rick. It's going to be okay. She's going to be okay. She has to be."

I clutched your hand, holding on for dear life.

I couldn't lose Mum.

Losing her would be losing a part of me.

No.

I couldn't lose her.

"I can't lose her, Claire. I can't. I can't."

"Don't worry, you won't."

"But what if I do? What if I lose her? I can't!"

"Relax, Rick. It's going to be okay. You're not going to lose her."

"No, Claire! You don't understand! If I lose her, I'll just die! I can't lose her!"

You were the one thing that kept me sane throughout the whole waiting period.

You were what kept me sane.

When Doctor came out, I was already in tears.

I couldn't lose Mum.

I couldn't lose her.

"How is she, Doctor?"

"She's…"

"Well?!"

"Rick, calm down. Let Doctor finish what he's saying."

"She's going to be alright."

"Oh, thank God."

Thank God.

I wasn't going to lose her.

You buried your face in my chest and burst into tears.

It'd been a tough time for you too, but I hadn't seen it.

You'd hidden it from me, to protect me when I needed it most.

You were my sanity.

-

You were the only, only thing that kept me sane for that one hour.

Goddess, if I hadn't had you, I think I'd have gone crazy.

But then, the bill came.

-

"One million dollars?!"

I couldn't afford that.

My family couldn't afford that.

Even if we sold our farm, sold every single thing we had, we still wouldn't be able to afford it.

"That's too expensive for us!" Popuri cried, looking like she would break into tears anytime.

"We'll never be able to pay that off…" I whispered, nearly in tears too.

"What are we going to do?" Popuri asked, starting to cry.

I didn't have an answer.

-

I didn't know what to do.

I couldn't do anything, even if I wanted to.

My family, we weren't rich, or even average.

We were downright poor.

And there was absolutely no way we would be able to pay off one million dollars.

Ever.

-

So I did the only thing I could think of.

I went to the Clinic to try to negotiate.

"Ah, Doctor?"

"Yes, Rick? Can I help you?"

"About the bill for my Mum…"

"Ah, yes. That was awfully kind of Claire to pay."

"…What?"

"Yes. All of one million."

"Claire paid it?"

"Yes. Every last cent."
-

I couldn't believe it.

I knew your farm was successful, and I knew I could probably have asked you for help.

But I couldn't.

I couldn't lose face by asking you to give me money.

But you'd already done it for me.

You'd lost it for me.

-

"Claire?"

"Yeah, Rick?"

"Ah… Did you… Pay my Mum's hospital fees?"

"Ah. Yes. How did you find out?"

"Doctor."

"Ah…"

"How did you know we couldn't afford it?"

"Well, face it, Rick. It's not like a poultry farm is going to make a million dollars so easily."

"You shouldn't have paid."

"But you wouldn't have been able to pay it off."

"Listen. I was just helping out. Take it as I was footing the bill, okay?"

"…Thank you."

-

How could I take it as you were simply 'footing the bill'?

It was one million dollars.

One million.

It was then that it became clear to us.

You were the princess, and I…

I was the poor pauper.

-

It'd been two seasons since Mum's scare.

She'd gotten much better, and the fees weren't a matter anymore.

In other words, everything had gone back to normal.

Except for one thing.

…I'd gotten a blue feather.

I was going to ask you to marry me.

-

I was so excited.

I couldn't believe that I was going to get to spend the rest of my life with you.

I thought I was the luckiest man on Earth, because I was going to get to marry you.

Angelic, perfect, rich you.

-

We were at the poultry farm, alone.

I'd cooked a simple dinner for you, and we were sitting at the dining table, chatting.

I was getting ready to pop the question, and I was so confident that you would say yes.

"You look beautiful tonight."

"Thank you."

"Do you feel alright?"

"Yeah, I feel great. I like your house. It's warm and cozy."

"Yeah? Well, I like your house better. In fact, I like it so much that sometimes I wish I could live there."

"Really?"

"Yeah. So what if I lived with you, in your house? Forever?"

"…What?"

With that, I took out the blue feather and placed it in your hand.

"Claire… Will you marry me?"

"Oh my God."
-

You were going to say yes.

I was so happy, Goddess, I couldn't believe it.

We were going to get married.

-

"Well? What do you say?" I asked, hopeful grin stuck on my face.

"I…"

"I love you, Claire, and I want to be with you forever. I promise that I'll make you happy."

"Rick… That's why I can't marry you."

…What?

"You… Can't marry me? …Why?"

"Because you can never make me happy."

"Why not?!"

"…Rick… It's not you, it's me."

"What's not me?!"

"Can't you see, Rick? You… You run a chicken farm."

"And you run a farm! What's the problem?!"

"Rick… My farm is successful… Your farm…"

You didn't need to say it for me to know.

My farm was a failure.

"I'm sorry, Rick. I can't marry you. My answer is no."

I never knew that the word 'no' could break my heart into a million pieces so easily.

"Just give me a chance, Claire! Please!"

I was begging.

I couldn't lose you.

"Rick, can't you see? You're just…"

"Just what?! Say it! I dare you to say it!"

"…I'm sorry, Rick."

"See! You can't say it! Give me a chance, Claire! I love you! I'll make you happy, I promise!"

"Haven't I told you?! You can't!"

…Silence.

"I'm sorry, Rick. I have to go."

"No! If you want to go then you have to say what I am! What am I?!"

"…You…"

I thought you wouldn't be able to say it.

I honestly thought you wouldn't be able to say it.

…I'd thought you'd stay.

"You're just the poor chicken boy."

And with that, you walked away.

But this time, you were walking away alone.

-

I'd honestly thought you were going to stay.

I didn't think you could leave.

I'd thought we were in love.

But the truth was, I was the only one in love.

You?

You could never love me.

I was just the poor chicken boy.

-

We never talked after that.

One season after the incident, you…

You got engaged.

…To someone rich, stable, and with a great job.

…To Doctor.

-

Goddess, when I heard you were going to marry Doctor, I thought I was going to die.

But why shouldn't I have expected this?

He was rich, smart, interesting…

He was a doctor.

…He was everything I'm not.

-

You got married a week later.

I wasn't invited.

After your wedding, everything went back to normal.

Except me.

I could never be normal again, ever.

-

It's been 3 years.

You're doing great on your farm, and you and Doctor have a healthy baby boy.

You're happy.

Me?

I… I'm so far from being happy.

How can I be?

I've lost everything.

My relationship with Popuri is in shambles.

I can't control my temper anymore, and I don't have the courage to speak up for myself, or anyone else.

Mums illness is getting worse everyday, and I think her time will come soon.

The farm…

The farm is in pieces.

It's hard to make even 20 dollars a day, let alone enough for us to live on.

With Mums hospital fees to pay, we're up to our eyes in debt, and we can't pay it off.

Popuri's marrying Kai next week, and I keep shouting at her that she's stupid.

All my chickens are either sick, unhappy or dying.

And Dad?

…He's probably dead by now.

I don't know.

I don't care either.

What's the point?

I've lost everything.

I've lost my sanity.

I have nothing.

...Absolutely nothing.

...I don't know why I couldn't have seen it earlier.

Couldn't see why you could never love me.

You're the princess.

And me?

I'll always be just the poor chicken boy.

-

A/N: Thank you for reading! :D I know, it's veryveryvery long. I didn't think it was that great, but PLEASE! Review and tell me what you think! :D And if you've read all my stories so far, they're all about one of the bachelors and Claire, so this is sort of my last 'installation' of that, if you will (: Anyway. Please review, but please don't flame! Thank you again!(: