Author's Note: This is in response to one of the writing challenges on the Village Square Forums, and although it's not very long, I enjoyed writing it.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or its characters.

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The Wonderful Accident

"It was an accident..."

"One... two... three... four... five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten! Ready or not, here I come!"

She ran, her dark braids unraveling themselves like a pair of delicate wings, and flew as free as a bird. She was eight now, still far from becoming a woman, and yet he knew all too well how soon that time would come. Oh, much too soon...

He watched her fall on the cobblestones, cutting her knee. The blood trickled down her leg as she stood, but she didn't even seem to notice. And why should she? After all, she was not as old or brittle as he. She was young yet, and there would be many more scrapes and bruises to follow, most of which would disappear with time.

He stood there watching, simply watching, as the little girl played. His little girl, really, when it came right down to it. She was his everything now, and she knew it as well as he did. Of course, it hadn't always been that way... not at first.

At first, she was just a squalling infant, sick with colic, wrapped up tightly in a young mother's arms. She was so small, and yet to this day, he could still remember wondering just how a baby of that size had so much wind in her. Still, what had caused him to frown was not the child or her wailings but the face of her mother and her empty, gray eyes.

Unlike the day in which she left so long ago, the young woman had since cut her tawny hair. It was something that didn't surprise him all that much since she had always been a rather rebellious girl. However, she was much thinner, too, but before he could even ask her what else had happened during those four years, she thrust the babe into his arms. He could still remember to this day the words that had come from her dry, chapped lips as she held the child out to him.

"It was an accident..."

It... She said the word as if the little girl was a broken doll or a mongrel pup. Then again, maybe she thought the infant to be something worse. He honestly could not know what she meant to say, not even after all the years that had passed. He, on the other hand, felt the baby girl was a beautiful child even fussy as she was, and there was a chance she knew he felt this way. After all, as soon as he held her, she fell perfectly silent.

She gazed up at him then, her dark brown eyes shining, and offered him a toothless smile and a coo. It was her first smile, and though he didn't know it then, it would be the first of many that he would see and come to love.

And now... now she was growing up much too fast for his old eyes to keep up. He could no longer blink without her growing another foot, or so it seemed to him any way. Soon enough she would blossom into a young woman, and soon, much too soon, she would be in a wedding dress before having children of her own to raise. Yes, he could see it all so vividly in his mind...

"Grandpa, can you help me find Stu?"

Seeing her gaze up at him, those bright eyes of hers forever shining, the old man just smiled and pointed the way down the street where he had seen the little boy run off not too long before. She only offered him a wide grin as a thank you before tearing after the other child, and it was all he could do not to laugh at her antics.

Even so, it was only after she disappeared around the corner of the house that he let loose a chuckle, and even then the cheerful sound was only a hint of the happiness that swelled in his heart at that very moment. She was so very precious to him, so much so that he would not- and could not- trade for anything else in the world. Maybe even his own daughter... should the time come one day when the unwilling mother have want of her. Until then, though, the young woman's bitter words still rang in his thoughts.

"It was an accident..."

Yes, she was, and what a wonderful one at that.