"You mean more to me than anything in the world. You're the most beautiful, amazing person I've ever met and I think about you every minute of the day. I know you probably don't feel the same about me, but I just have to tell you- I love you! I will love you until the day I die! So please, Mary, accept my feelings for you!"
It was the perfect love confession. The sort Mary had dreamed of having recited to her since her childhood. It was spoken with such honesty and earnest and just a hint of shyness, and had it been in any other situation it would have been enough to make her go weak at the knees and melt her heart.
Why did those beautiful words have to come from the mouth of another woman?
Now, Mary didn't consider herself close-minded or prejudiced in the slightest. She was just a woman of traditional values, and to be told something so romantic, so beautiful, by someone of the same gender... well, it came as quite a shock. She had always held a strong belief that love was meant to be something between a man and woman. That was the way it was in real life, and that was the way romanticized in fairytales and novels. That was the way it was in her novels. She had never even considered g... ga... homosexuality.
When Mary was a little girl she dreamed that a prince on a white horse would come and sweep her away from her dusty little town and with him she would have many grand, romantic adventures. When she grew older and realised that a prince on a white horse was probably very unlikely, she settled for the idea of staying in Mineral Town and marrying a decent man. She would run the library and make a modest penny from her books, and he would work too. They would have two children, maybe three, and take one long holiday every year.
She had it all planned out. But then, as usual, something had to come along and tear her plans to shreds.
That something- or rather, someone- was Claire. Claire, the sparky farmer girl who had blasted into Mineral Town not two years ago, causing havoc wherever she set foot. Claire, the girl who swore like a trooper, but knew the balcony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet' by heart. Claire, who, from the moment she popped up in Mary's life, had been a constant source of both kindness and calamity.
She had proved to be a fiercely loyal friend over the time Mary had known her (if a little ditzy and crude), and Mary thought that was all she was. But then she had to go and say something so sudden and out-of-the-blue and utterly ridiculous and completely Claire-like just to prove her wrong.
The shock was all too much to register, and all Mary could manage was a feeble "excuse me?"
"I love you, Mary!" Claire repeated earnestly. "I just can't hide it any more! I love you!"
"C-Claire, please stop shouting," Mary begged, covering her ears.
"Oh, sorry." Claire's booming voice immediately shrank down to a tiny whisper. "I got a bit carried away."
"Now," Mary said, taking a deep breath. "A-Are you quite certain of what you're saying?"
"Oh, c'mon, Mary!" Claire sighed exasperatedly. "Don't get all haughty and start treating me like a kid. I think I'm old enough to work things out for myself, don't you think? I've been thinking about it for a long time, so I get it. It's not women, it's just it's just you."
"Oh my..." Mary murmured, feeling her face heat up uncomfortably. "But I'm... I'm not..."
"I know," Claire interrupted, quieter this time. She looked down at her scruffy trainers. "You like Gray."
Mary's eyebrows shot up. "I-I didn't say-"
"But you do like him?" Claire interrupted. Mary resisted the urge to sigh. Claire was always interrupting people, cheerfully and obliviously.
"Yes, I do," Mary admitted shyly, feeling a pang of guilt in her chest at the crestfallen look on her friend's face. She reached out and patted her shoulder awkwardly. "I-I'm sorry." It wasn't that she didn't love Claire. She did. Just not in that way.
Claire smiled again, though it looked a lot more forced that it had a moment ago. Bitterness and hurt hid behind that toothy grin and scrunched-up eyes. "It's okay," she said thickly. "I already knew, but... I just wanted to let you know how I felt before it was too late. It's my own fault, really. Don't look so upset!"
She leaned forward and pulled the librarian into a hug. Mary froze, then inwardly scolded herself. It was just a hug. Claire's... preferences should have nothing to do with how it felt. Slowly, she raised her arms to hug her back. Despite her bouncy cheerfulness, Claire wasn't a good person to hug. She was too sharp and hard with muscle thanks to her constant farm work, and her hair and clothes smelled very distinctly of farm animals.
"Hey, don't get me wrong," Claire piped up suddenly, pulling away. "I'm not giving up on you yet. Until you have a ring on your finger, I'm going to do everything I can to... what do you call it... woo you!"
Mary felt her face turn pink. How many people used the word 'woo' nowadays? It sounded like a line from an old Shakespearian play.
"Gray's hot stuff, so I'm going to have my work cut out for me!" The old, impish Claire was back. Mary would have sighed with relief, had it not been for the fact that she had practically set herself up as the biggest case of gossip Mineral Town had ever seen.
"I have to get back to work now; I'll see you later," Claire said, heading for the door. "Oh, by the way, what's your favourite flower?"
"Um, pink carnations, but-"
"Great! Bye, Mary!"
And just like that she was gone. She had been in the library for no more than five minutes, and in that time had succeeded in turning Mary's sensible world completely upside-down.
Well, that was just typical.
I started this oneshot months ago, and could not for the life of me think of a way to end it. I'm glad I finally got it finished, despite it's shortness. I left it open-ended for your benefit as well as my own. Did Mary stay with Gray, or did she end up with Claire? Well, that's completely up to you!