Author's Note: Not a hundred percent sure that this is what you had in mind for your present, but Merry Christmas Rainbow Melody!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or any of its characters.
She was really nothing special. Just a girl, really... and a sickly one at that. Because of this, he never could explain just why it was that he ever thought about her.
Oh, she was beautiful enough, of course. What with her rich, black hair and those emerald eyes of hers... Had he been more poetic, like his brother, he might have been able to tell her just how much they rivaled that of a polished gem, but as it was, he had no way to say much of anything. He could only sit and wait.
He had no real way of knowing how long he sat there since there were no clocks in the room. According to the nurse, the reason behind it was simply for the benefit of the patient, and although he wanted to ask just why that was, he thought better of it and stayed quiet. That in itself was unusual for the likes of him, but there was just something about the room that made him not quite himself.
There was much more to it than it being in a hospital. After all, given his line of work, a man could not be shy about coming to places such as this... not if he wanted to make sure he could keep all of his fingers in tact. No, it was something different.
Maybe it was because of the missing clocks or the stark white walls... or it could have been the silence. Yes, that was it. The silence was almost deafening, and sitting there, he began to think he might just choke on it.
However, before he could give it any more thought, he looked up to see his brother standing over him. Their brown eyes met only for a brief moment, but in that time, the two had shared more than words ever could. And so they stayed quiet... at least until they were outside.
"So... is she doin' any better?" the first asked, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he kicked a pebble into the grass. The other only shrugged.
"I don't know."
"Well, did she say anything?" If she had, he sure had no knowledge of it. After all, from where he had been sitting, there would be no way for him to hear. As it was, he had no real way of knowing if she even had a voice. "Or isn't she allowed to?"
"Of course she's allowed," his brother snapped back. "She's sick, Joe, not a mental patient."
"But she still doesn't talk, right?" Although the other opened his mouth to argue, he soon shut it again. After all, there was nothing he could say against it that would not be a total lie.
"Just shut up."
The two brothers never failed to see the young woman on their days off, and while there was nothing for him to do there, Joe always waited patiently by the stairs. Every now and then, the nurse on duty would offer him a glass of water or ask about his work, but for the most part, he was left to his own idle thoughts.
However, one day, just as he was thinking of what fishing lure to buy once he got out of there, the nurse came to him. She seemed to be rather nervous when she found herself standing there before him, wringing her hands while her brown eyes darted this way and that, but before he could ask her what had happened, she spoke.
"Miss Dia says she wants to speak with you."
Although he was curious as to why she would bother to ask for him, he only nodded and stood up from his chair. He was led across the room and behind the pale blue curtain, and once there, he laid his eyes on her for the very first time.
As was said before, she was a very beautiful young woman, but at that moment, she only looked sick which, of course, she was. Even so, he had never seen a person who was this ill...
Her skin was deathly pale, almost grey in color, and her lips were thin while her eyes, though vivid, were sunk back deep in their hollow orbits. She looked as if she was a ghost of some sort, and to be honest, if she had not moved her delicate hand right then, he might have thought she was already dead. If not in one way, then another.
She gazed up at the awkward young man as he tightened the bandanna on his head and grinned, but then she waved him off. Or so he thought. However, when he turned to leave, she reached out for him, her thin fingers latching themselves on his leather vest. Her grip on him was very weak, but he stayed all the same.
"Gina... Kurt... go."
Although the nurse left them as soon as she was ordered to, his brother hesitated for a moment, but after she her gaze passed over him, he stood and took his leave as well.
He only blinked at first, but when she narrowed her eyes, he was quick to oblige her. However, since she gave know sign of what she wanted him to talk about, he started with the very first thing that came to mind.
"The fish aren't biting all that well," he began. She raised an eyebrow, but although her lips were drawn into a frown, she made no attempt to stop him. "I keep trying different bait, but nothing's working so far. Ray knows a lot more about that kind of thing than I do, though. I mean, he-"
"Ray?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper. He took no notice of her pained expression but only grinned the same as always.
"Yeah, he's a fisherman," he explained. "And a good one, too. He spends a lot of time at the lake, but I've seen him over by the ocean sometimes... Do you know about that dolphin at the docks? Well, he actually rides that thing out to this big rock that's out there. I tried to ride it the other day, but when I tried to get on, it flipped on its back!"
Joe continued to rattle on in this way for a time, but despite everything that had been said, he was not winded in the least. The more he talked, the more he seemed to think of to talk about. He was only hoping she found him entertaining because, right then at least, there was no way for him to tell one way or the other.
However, their one-sided conversation was soon cut short. The nurse had come, saying that the doctor was there, but although he stood to leave, he felt the young woman take a hold of the sleeve of his striped shirt.
"Don't worry," he assured her with a smile. "I'll be back again."
She nodded weakly, closing her eyes while she did so, and it was then that he was led out of the room and down the stairs. On the way, he passed the good doctor, and even though he had no real reason to, he thought he felt a chill in the air as he went by.
His brother was waiting at the door with his hand gripping the handle tightly. He only glared at him at first, but the other knew better than to take offense to it. After all, as brothers, they had done far worse to one another in the past. "Did she say anything to you, either?"
"Not really," Joe replied with a smile. "But... I think she wants to."
And so, one day a week, the two would go and see her. However, more and more often, she would ask for the older of the two brothers until, at last, she refused to have any other visitors.
Joe never had a real answer as to why, though. After all, the only thing he ever really did was talk, and while he enjoyed doing so, he had to wonder just what it was she liked about listening to him. Was it his voice when he spoke and got himself excited over the simplest of things, or was it what he had to say that interested her so much? He could not even begin to imagine it was the latter of the two... but then again, there was no reason for it to be the first, either.
She never said a word to him as she lay there in her bed, nor did her expression ever seem to change from its passive mask. There were times when her eyes seemed to speak to him, but he had trouble understanding their language at first. However, as time went on, he learned just what she meant with even a single glance. Whether it was to open the window or explain himself in greater detail, he knew just what she wanted.
Unfortunately, their visits were kept rather short, or so it felt to the young man who came to see her. He always left with the promise to return, and that seemed to satisfy her if nothing else.
However, she never did the same for him.
It was on a warm spring day that he came to the hospital only to find the young woman had gone. She left no word for him, of course, being as it was not in her nature to do so, but while he did his best to take it all in stride, he could not help but wonder.
Just where was she? Did something go wrong? Was she going to be okay? Should he be worried? Was he worried? Would she want him to be worried?
When the winter season had come at last, Joe had seemed to have forgotten about the sickly young woman. She would flit through his mind every now and again, of course, but he tried not to dwell on her for very long.
It was during these times that he would think back on these eyes of hers and ask himself just how it was he found so much happiness in seeing them. They were certainly beautiful enough... but there was so much more to them than that if only he could find the words to describe them. Then again, perhaps it was the way in which they needed no words to speak that the thought of them so fondly.
Just as his mind began to wander, though, there would inevitably be work to do and other thoughts to have, and he would have no time to think of her. Work had always kept him busy, but it was only now that it brought him a sense of peace of mind.
However, it was while he was in the workshop that there came a knock at the carpenter's door. The sound was very slight, one that could not be easily heard over the rhythmic sound of hammers and the cry of the buzz saw. Joe heard it, though, and before the master craftsman and even his brother had a chance to put down their tools or brush the sawdust off their jeans, he was at the door.
And standing there... was Dia.
She was much different than he remembered. Her cheeks, which had been so hollow and ashen, had become full and rosy while her hair was no only richer in color but had much more bounce as well. What he noticed more than anything, as always, were her eyes.
They had been her most striking feature even in the beginning, but seeing them in that moment... he was all but bewitched by their intensity. He had never seen such a brilliant color. The emerald glow of her eyes seemed to come from within her, making him both uneasy and enraptured. That was until she opened her mouth which he only just realized was now full and draw up like a little red bow.
"Well, aren't you going to say anything?"
He said nothing at first, being too interested in her voice as he had never heard it so clearly before. The only few times in which she had spoken, it had been in nothing more above a faint whisper, but he felt that what he heard in that moment suited her much better. Still...
It was forceful to say the least.
"Where were you?" She never flinched, but he could tell by the firm set of her jaw that she was unsure of whether or not she should give him an answer. However, before she could offer him a reply, Kurt joined them in the doorway.
"Are you feeling better then?" The young woman only glared back at him, but although he looked away, he continued to try and find some answers for himself. "You never said where you were going."
"Oh, like you ever had anything to say to me," she snapped back. "How many times did you come to see me, and you never said a damn word!"
Her eyes were filled with tears then, but she was too stubborn to let let them fall. She looked so much stronger than the weak girl laying in the hospital bed the year before, but even though her health had indeed returned, Joe had a feeling that there was still more to her than angry words and tears.
"I was told not to," the other explained. "They said it might upset you."
"Oh really?" she muttered darkly. "Then let me tell you the same thing I told that doctor and his old woman... How the hell does me being alone all the time make me feel any better? That idiot was the only person other than Gina to ever talk to me while I was in there."
It was Joe she was pointing to, but as soon as she realized it, she blushed. "You're still okay, though, aren't you?" he asked with a grin. "You look a lot better."
"Yes," she agreed, her chest swelling with pride just in saying so. "I had to go to the city to do it, but thank you." Without another word to him, she linked her arm with his before turning her back on his brother. "If you'll excuse us then, we'll be going now."
With that, she dragged the young man along wither her as she made her way down the narrow dirt road. He could hear her muttering to herself while they walked together, but he was more than content to listen to her. After all, he had no way of imagining how difficult it must be to be in silence for so long...
"Do you have to go back?" She hesitated for a moment but then shook her head. "That's good. I know you didn't really like being there."
""That's true," she sighed. "The problem is I have no family here, so I'll be staying at the inn for the now. It's less... refined than I'm used to, but I suppose it's quiet enough for the time being."
"But you don't have to stay here any more, right?" Dia stopped, but he could help but notice how she still holding onto the sleeve of his shirt just as she used to. However, it was also at that moment that she kissed him.
"You really are such a simpleton."