A/N: This is my Secret Santa Gift for AsianFlipGurl. I do hope the pairing you requested isn't too OOC here, and I DO HOPE this isn't to mushy. I asked ideas frommy friend and I just piled them up in short notice so there. Oh well, just enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do wish I get to own Harvest Moon. But sadly, I don't.

Winter Promises

In my experience, winter has been claimed as the worst season of all. Since it includes a variety of possible natural calamities such as snowstorms and hurricanes, many people seem to dislike the season of snow. But I, for one, love it.

Tiny, shiny crystals slowly drop to the ground with bits of sleet that are falling from the sky. Different forms and patterns are illustrated on each small crystal that was made out of ice. Like people, every snowflake had its own pattern which made it unique, which made it different from all the rest.

And like snowflakes, people tend to break when they don't know which is the proper place they should fall on.

It was just the sixth day of winter, yet Mineral Town was blanketed entirely by pure white snow. The trees had frost on its branches and leaves, while the road glittered in the sunlight. Every now and then, gusts of wind will come by and bring more snow to our little town but the villagers don't seem to mind. My little library was still in its usual state. Calm. Peaceful. Serene. That is, until an unusual visitor decided to suddenly stop by.

"Hey there, Mary." A deep voice erupted in the premises of my Library and I soon find myself face-to-face with the tanned boy who had a sad grin plastered on his face. Finishing the last chapter of my novel, I gestured for him to come in and have a seat.

"H-hello, K-Kai." My voice croaked. It seems I'm still surprised of Kai's presence in the winter where he could be in the summer regions he wishes. "What brings you here? I thought you were going to stay in a different village."

"I broke up with Popuri." It was a statement. Direct and simple.

But I knew it was hard for him. I can still sense the anxiety and unsure tone in his voice. I'm sure that whatever reason it was that made them separate, he thought it out straightly with his roommates. Underneath that heavy armor of enthusiasm and joy, there you can find a hurt and heart-broken boy.

He wasn't showing any tears but the look on his face showed agony indeed.

I adjusted my glasses and sat beside him. "Would you like some tea while we talk about it?" I asked.

He looked up. His brown eyes filled with concern and…doubt? "Thanks, Mary. I'm sure you don't mind a little company, do you?"

"I don't mind really." And I stepped out for a moment to prepare the tea.

-0-

At exactly eleven forty-seven in the morning, I was able to finish preparing some herbal tea and a few sandwiches for Kai and me. I was quite surprised to see him still sitting on the chair, pondering over to what happened. I couldn't help but notice that he still wore that little seashell necklace I made with him when we were young. Funny, I can still remember the time when I had that small crush on him before.

"Mary, do I have anything on my face?" He said, bewildered somehow.

"No, no. Nothing's on your face. I was just thinking about something…about before." I sat down and handed him his cup. "I really hope you don't mind me asking about you predicament. The burden on your shoulders seems to weigh you down so heavily. I…um…" I took in a steady breath. "Just let the words flow."

He was suddenly caught of guard, surprised maybe. He then took a shaky breath and waited a few more moments of silence before he was finally composed. And ready to share the burden.

"I don't really know, Mary. I just thought that if I surprised her by coming in winter, maybe the things we had fought about will somehow patch up." His voice was calm but the pain was still prominent. "When I came by the dock, I'd thought no one will be waiting for me. But I was wrong."

He looked to me with pleading eyes. "I don't what happened next. It was all a blur; I couldn't make it out clearly. All I could make was that I came up to Popuri and yelled at her. The next things that happened, I have seemed to forget about so suddenly."

"Why did you yell at her?" I asked suddenly. "Um, sorry. Please continue."

"I yelled because I saw her with…Jack. And they were kissing passionately on the beach as if no one was watching them. I did have my suspicions at first when I visited Mineral Town a few seasons back, but they were often wrong. I didn't feel anger nor rage when I saw them, though. I completely understood what it was all about. So after calling it quits with her, I didn't exactly know where to go. I couldn't go to the Inn and have a straight-on conversation with Gray and Cliff. I couldn't roam around town because people will know immediately what's up."

He breathed a sigh. "So I thought I'd go down here and have some peace and quiet."

A few more minutes of sipping tea and comfortable silence passed between us. The news was quite hard to bear, considering the fact that I didn't expect my best friend, Popuri namely, to even do that to Kai. He was staring at me, waiting for a reply.

"I'm not really good when it comes to giving advice but I'm sure that it will be better if you talk it out with Popuri again and ask her all about her relationship with Jack. I'm sure it will be better when you try to clear things first with her." I said, unsure of what to say next. "You can visit me anytime, though. The Library is always here if you need any moments of silence for you to read."

"Read. I'm not really the type. How about you and I just go around and hangout tomorrow?" He gave a playful grin. "I'm sure that no one will mind if you close the Library for just one day."

"Not until to you finish up with Popuri and a book." The traveler stood there in horror as he eyed the book I held on my arms: Romeo and Juliet

"That is torture. Look at the size on that thing, Mary!" He pointed at the book I was holding in my arms. "It will take me seasons, no months, to even understand all those stuff. Besides, I know the story anyway."

"Is that true? What happened to Romeo and Juliet in the end?" I asked after adjusting my glasses. I guess I should take in mother's advice to wear contacts instead of these old glasses.

"They fell in love and had their happily ever after, of course." He said confidently, rather boastfully as well. It's too bad you only knew half of the story.

"True. They did fall in love when they first met but they never achieved their happily ever after." I corrected him and softly shoved the book in his arms. "Finish the book and we'll hang out anytime you like. But right now, I have a novel to finish." I sat back down on my desk and continued jotting down the next things that will happen to the damsel-in-distress and the evil witch's quarrel.

Meanwhile, Kai was left shocked, confused, and yet determined to finish Shakespeare's tragic love story.

I didn't think that he was serious though. It seemed that he was the type that only skimmed pages and looked for pictures in a book. But making an exception for this one though. He even looked stoic and serious about it all: the way his eyebrows furrow when he seems to decipher archaic words from modern ones, the way his expression changes from sad to happy to surprised, and the way his eyes dart around the pages of the book…

Stop it, Mary! You're looking at him again. Stop! STOPPP! Look at the time if you must already!

"Oh my! It's closing time, Kai." I quickly glanced to my watch to see that it was true. I turned to have one more last check of the collections of paperback, hard bounds and sets of classics, references and fictional books.

"Hey, Mary." He grabbed my shoulder and gave me a warm, tight embrace. He smelled of the beach, the salty sea, the warm sand, the flowery and fresh scents of summer, all wrapped up inside of him. His skin was warm around my waist and his neck smelled of pineapple cologne.

I was turning into a shade of scarlet when he let go of me. He chuckled softly then said, "You look so cute when you're like that." He ruffled my hair making some strands of my braided hair come loose but I don't mind. "I'll return this as soon as possible."

Before, I'll burst into a fit of giggles when I picture that moment. Now, I learned never to make bets with Kai. He somehow manages to always get his way. Always.

-0-

Winter 8th. Hang out Day.

That is according to Kai.

I haven't expected from Kai to finish William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet within a span of a day. Staying-in and sleeping really late helps a lot, he says. From the look of his tired eyes, I'll have a hard time believing it as a lie. With no other option, I dutifully locked the Library and posted a sign on the door for anyone who wishes to enter the Library but can't.

"Mares, I think it's better if you, uh, change up for a bit." Kai said, filling his voice with as much enthusiasm as much as he can. I wonder to why he said that. Doesn't he like my dress? I guess not.

It took me at least an hour to finish myself up. Mother was so optimistic of the idea and excited of the prospect of me and Kai going out together so she prepped me up until I didn't look like me anymore. "He'll be so surprised by how you look, dear." I was scared to look in the mirror just yet, but I'm happy that I can still wear my glasses.

Once I took a step outside of our lovely abode, I saw a very shocked and astounded purple banadana-ed boy standing a few steps from our doorway. He, too, fixed himself for the occasion wearing a classic summer-like outfit for winter. Purple sweater topped with a lavender vest while his midnight black denim jeans matched well with his…purple sneakers. Summer in winter look.

"Is there something wrong on my face?" I asked him teasingly, but he just smiled back in return and took my hand as well.

"Nothing's wrong, Mares. You don't mind me calling you Mares, right?" I was about to reply when he suddenly kissed the top of my hand. I'm happy a few of my bangs was actually covering a portion of my face to hide the blush forming.

He grabbed my arm and we slowly walked to the Inn.

The Inn was silent when we entered. Only Ann and Harris were there. We quickly took a seat and filled in our orders and…talked. A whole lot if you ask me.

"You look great, Mares." He said it with sincerity and his smile was genuine.

"You look great as well." I complimented back, adjusting myself to the chair.

"Writers are evil people, Mary. Don't join to the dark side." Kai said with a sheepish tone. He seemed awfully upset about it. Didn't he like the book?

"I thought you liked the book, Kai."

"That's the problem. I LIKED IT." He exasperatedly sighed, hopeless he looked.

"What's the problem in having a preference for a book?"

"The writer makes you fall in love with the characters, even the villains, thrill you with the plots, leaves you agape at what he writes then writes a dissatisfying ending. How can people do such a thing?"

"That's a writer's job. You have to get used to it, Kai."

"Really? That's…harsh."

"You know what harsh is? Dragging a writer to hang out with a tanned boy rather than to make her sit down and write her precious novel."

"Live life, Mary. LIVE life. Don't just write it all down."

"Then who will be able to record all the events that are happening in this quaint town then?"

"Uhh…" Kai wasn't able to make a quick retort back at me. It was great timing for him that Ann suddenly came back with all our food.

"Enjoy your meal." Ann chirped before resuming her work cleaning the other tables.

And we did. We talked and talked and talked about everything that we can think of. I shared things of poetry, stories and classics while he shared his experiences around the world, the new people he meets and all different things he discovered. We didn't mind that we sat there for hours; we didn't mind that we kept on laughing nonstop throughout the whole day while the villagers kept looking at us.

After we paid the bill, he walked me through the forest and led me to the Goddess's spring. He held my hand as we walked and something in his presence always made me so secure, so safe. I leaned my head on his shoulder while he shared more of his experiences outside town.

Once we reached the small pond, Kai revealed a small blanket and he laid it out for both of us to sit on. It was sunset. I can the hues and tones of orange, pink and red painted across the sky in a marvelous wave that sends you awestruck. A few stars have begun to light up the sky with their twinkling glory and the night's breeze is coming by.

All the while, I haven't seen Kai staring into me.

"Kai? What's the matter?" I asked with concerned eyes. His gaze on me had been broken by my words which caught him off-guard. Again.

"Nothing. I'm just happy and contented. You gave me the best hang-out day ever."

He then kissed me on the cheek which made my heart spiral up and down like crazy. He should really stop doing that all the time.

We stayed for a few more minutes staring at the sky while Kai rested his head on my lap while gazing at the stars. The constellations I once knew were still there, and the moon seemed to be smiling at us with its glowing radiance.

"Mary, can I go over to your place on the Starry Night Festival?" The question caught me off-guard. And my glasses almost slipped away from my face. Almost.

"I-I-I understand-d. M-Mother will love to have you there on the festival. You're a cook like mom, and you're a traveler like Dad. So maybe things will run smoothly with them. I think." I nervously rambled.

"Can I stay over on Christmas Eve as well?"

"S-sure." Then we both stood up and folded the blanket to its original form. After a few more seconds glancing back at the stars, Kai walked me back home. We walked in awkward silence, both thinking on what will happen in a few days. It's been so long that Kai has even talked to me since we were kids.

"Here we are, then." Kai said, turning to face me.

"Thank you for this wonderful day." I whispered.

"No, thank YOU, Mary." He smiled his wonderful smile and then I leaned forward to meet his lips. It was his turn to show a bright red tone to his face.

"Goodnight."

"Hey Mares." He caught the door with his foot and grabbed my arm.

"Yes, Kai?"

"Promise me, one thing."

"What is it then?"

"Don't wear your glasses on New Year's Eve, will you?"

I had a hard time breathing at first. A few minutes more then I was able to choke an answer.

"Sure. I promise, I will."

-0-

Winter 30th. New Year's Eve.

I can hardly believe that time has been traveling quite quickly ever since I began spending a most of it with Kai. But looking over the past events that happened just a few days ago, it makes me want to turn back time and do it all over again.

My birthday celebration was the same as usual. My mother cooks dinner and father brings home some new rare species of flowers to study. The new thing that happened was when Kai surprised me with a beautiful chocolate cake covered in letters made from icing. The rest of that day was Kai getting to know more of my parents. I'm just happy he was holding and squeezing my hand every time mother asks us if we will be going to tie the knot soon.

Starry Night was a wreck. When he asked me out after giving him chocolates, you'd think THAT time was embarrassing in front of my parents. But that night when he actually kissed me right in front of everyone at the Inn under the mistletoe, I'd thought I'll faint. But Kai, being Kai, caught me in time to hear more of the holiday cheer.

The rest of Winter, we played and goofed around and wasted all the time we have with snowballs, snowmen, Romeo and Juliet and lots of hot chocolate.

And here I am, standing beside Kai on Mother's Hill waiting for the new sunset, waiting for him to leave.

It's one of those moments where you know that person will be leaving but it doesn't hit you until departure day arrives. It didn't hit me at first that he was a traveler once more, but when I saw him packing his things, it hit me hard and it was painful.

Now, I'm holding his hand, kissing him softly while the other people go around their business preparing for the wake of dawn.

"Mares. You look even more beautiful without your glasses. Your eyes sparkle more than what the stars can do." He looked at me in the eye and I know that our time was coming up.

"Kai. I-I-I…" But one look in his eyes told me that he already knows.

"I love you, too." He replied. He took my hand and placed something on top of it. I was surprised to see that it was like the charm I gave him, only it was of a different color. It was the color of the ocean.

"Wear it everyday like I do." He showed the charm I gave him years before, worn out and broken in some parts, but it's still there.

"Oh, and wear the contacts more often." The single statement earned me another minute of turning red. He has really got to stop doing that.

"I know that you can't stay here in Mineral Town forever. But there's one thing I can tell you." I calmly whispered.

"What is it, Mares?" He looked at me with concerned eyes and for a moment I almost wanted to cry. But I held my stand.

"I love you." And surprisingly, he took my hand and placed a ring on my finger. He smiled at me and I hugged him once more.

"Mary, I love you too. You've become a part of me so close that nobody hasn't even reached that level, not even traveling the world. I only ask for you is one favor."

"And what could that be?"

"Write about us. Write everything about to what happened to us. Everything you've seen, you've experienced. Everything."

I was left shocked. What he's asking from me is like writing our own autobiography. But it seemed…romantic.

"I promise."

I looked to my left to see the sun rising above the clouds. Its rays showering us with warmth and hope for the upcoming year. New people to meet, new things to try, and new places to explore will be coming.

The ring in my finger glowed under the fiery light.