A/N: Hello readers, and welcome to Butterfly's second story on Fanfiction! I apologize to you for the rather vague summary and short intro but I'm oober excited about this fic so I hope you stick around long enough to give it a chance! Please don't let the Romeo and Juliet references scare you away, I promise no one is going to die! Well... okay, so I can't make that promise, but I do promise that you won't finish this story bawling your eyes out (unless you're just an extremely sensitive person like me.) So without further ado, I now present to you Defying the Stars. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon nor any of the characters and places presented in this chapter.

For some people in Mineral Town, church is an intimidating structure; the location of the dreaded weekly confessions and a painful reminder of the secret sins tucked in their coat pockets.

To others, church is a sacred emblem; one of peace and security and the knowledge that perhaps there is more to life beyond their earthly troubles.

Still others see church as an appropriate place for prayer and other religious affairs; nothing more than a stuffy empty shell full of stuffy empty people.

In the words of Duke, church is just the "big building on the corner where you try to stay awake for two hours while a guy with questionable sanity shouts about hell."

But for me, church isn't a place of fear or guilt or condemnation. You see, I grew up in the church. And I don't just mean that metaphorically. Almost every waking day of my childhood was spent exploring the wonders of its secret chambers and discovering new hiding spots in its vast upstairs. There's not a nook or cranny in that entire building that I have not been acquainted with, and the number of memories I have hidden away in its dark and dusty hallways is endless. Church isn't just a refuge for my soul, it's home to my heart.

At the Inn where I stay now, I'm known among my roommates as the "preacher's girl." Saturday nights are like Christmas Eve for me. I set my alarm clock to go off at four, which Doug finds endearing if not a little strange since he doesn't get up until five. When I have trouble sleeping from sheer excitement, which happens quite often, I get up even earlier. Once in a while I'll try to convince Ann to come with me to see the sunrise on Mother's Hill, but she says it's ungoddessly to wake up at four o' clock in the morning no matter what day of the week it is, so I usually end up making the trip alone. On my way there I stop by the Goddess Pond to deliver flowers to the Goddess from Ellen or simply to bask in its quiet beauty. Occasionally I'll run into Doctor Trent collecting herbs while I'm there, and we'll share a brief awkward smile before parting ways.

At six o' clock I return to the Inn to set about the grueling task of waking up Ann. When I finally manage to drag her out of bed I set about picking out an outfit for her that doesn't involve plaid or denim while she gobbles up my leftover pancakes. If she's in a good mood she'll let my brush and braid her fiery red hair. Ann has the most gorgeous natural curls I've ever seen in my life, but I gave up long ago on trying to convince her to leave them down for the rest of the villagers to admire.

By now my face is washed, my hair French braided, my teeth brushed, and, in the words of Doug, I'm practically "glowing with eagerness." It's a good twenty minute walk to the church from the Inn, so Cliff and I usually leave around seven in order to ensure our seat in the pew closest to the front doesn't get taken. Usually Ann stays behind with her father and shows up at the normal time like everyone else, but every once in a while she'll tag along with us and find something useful to do while we wait for the service to begin, like dust the pews or shine the candlesticks. Between you and me, I think her random acts of kindness have more to do with the fact that Cliff is there than genuine concern for the cleanliness of the sanctuary.

By the time seven forty-five rolls around the rest of the villagers have begun to arrive. Instead of greeting them, I prefer to sit with my hands folded in my lap and twiddling my thumbs while I listen to my friends talk about the recent happenings in their lives. I've found that this is the best way to be in the know without having to deal with the guilt of participating in gossip.

At eight o' clock all small talk stops and the service officially begins. But while everyone around me mumbles through the doxology with sleepy eyes and suppressed yawns, I'm squirming with anticipation for the sermon. It comes right after Mary plays the organ, and it's my favorite part of the entire service.

For you see, the thing I love most about church is not a what, but a who.

A who that delivers the sermon.

A who that calls the church his home.

A who that I call Daddy.

A who to whom I owe my entire life.

Pastor Carter.