Author's Note: Happy Christmas, Moonlit! I'll admit that the plot is a little aimless, but it was a lot of fun to write this. I hope it puts a smile on your face at least!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or its characters. I also do not own the song All I Want for Christmas is You which was written and performed by Mariah Carey.
For the first time since she moved to Forget-Me-Not Valley, Muffy woke up to snow on the ground. She had grown used to the cold, dead winters and brown Christmases. To see the valley covered in glistening white was refreshing to say the least. Then she realized she didn't have any real winter clothes.
"I knew I should've gotten that red coat," Muffy huffed," but then I wouldn't have gotten that cute swimsuit. Why are all the clothes I want out when I don't need them?"
"Muffy, what'd I tell you about talking to yourself?"
The blonde jumped almost a mile in the air. Her hand flew to her chest, and then she laughed with relief. "Oh, you be quiet, Griffin," she teased. "I heard you singing to yourself last night, so you have no room to talk."
"All right, you win," Griffin agreed. "Just get yourself dressed and come downstairs. We're going to be busy today."
"Don't I know it?" Muffy sighed. "Kind of sad how folks here don't have a lot of family... I'll be down in just a minute!"
Of course she didn't exactly have any family herself. She'd let home a long time ago, and she hadn't even sent a card since then. She didn't even know where to send one anymore.
Muffy didn't have time to worry about it, though. She had to get ready for the Christmas rush, and Griffin wasn't going to wait on her forever. She had a job to do, and holiday or not, she was going to do it right.
She quickly unrolled her curlers and left a fine mist of hairspray wafting through the air. Her bathrobe fell limp on the bed and she yanked an emerald dress out of her closet. She squeezed into it and deftly zipped up the back without a single catch on her curls. Then she did a spin before slipping into her favorite black pumps.
"Sometime today would be nice, Muffy!"
"Let me put on my face first!" the blonde called back. Her eyelash curler was already in her hand. "I don't want to scare the boys away, you know!"
Foundation, powder, blush, and lipstick went flying in a blur of soft cream and fiery red. A quick wisp of the mascara brush and two strokes of eyeliner later, and Muffy was down the stairs. She swung open the door and glided into the bar
"Twenty-one minutes and thirty-eight seconds," Griffin said. "That might just be a new record for you."
"I told you it doesn't take me that long for me to get ready," Muffy insisted. "Once a girl gets her routine down, it's easy. Of course, it doesn't hurt to take a bath and paint your nails the night before."
She flashed her nails with a smile.
Griffin glanced at them out of the corner of his eye. "Is that a new nail polish?" he asked. "It's been a while since you had red nails."
"I knew you'd notice," she giggled. "We've been living together too long, Griffin." That might have been what she said, but cheerful lilt to her voice assured him that wasn't how she really felt. Then she read the bell over the door ring, and her smile grew even wider. "Merry Christmas!"
A shock of red hair poked through the door, followed by an entire woman. She was decked out in black slacks, which was unusually enough, and then Muffy saw the oversized Christmas sweater. It was also black, thankfully with very little red, but the pattern stitched in white was almost impossible to decipher. There appeared to be a herd of moose stampeding out from under arms. The rest was a mix of argyle and striped patterns.
"Shut up, I know it's bad." The woman sounded more reserved to her fate than bitter. "Tim and Ruby got it for me," she explained. "I told them not to get me anything, but they did anyway."
"Uh, well." Muffy tried not to giggle, but it was hard when she saw the look on the other woman's face. "It's the thought that counts, right? Besides, you don't look that bad, Nami."
"Whatever. Just get me a Devil's Advocate."
"Coming right up," Griffin agreed. "Oh, and Nami, first drinks are on us tonight."
Their first customer had just sat down when the door flew open again, this time with nearly the whole town behind it.
It was impossible to greet them all as they came in, but Muffy still tried even while taking orders. The twins came in with a box of sparklers, and Cody had brought the aluminum tree. Gustafa had walked in with ornaments hanging from the brim of his enormous hat and his guitar draped with tinsel. Even Dr. Hardy had made the trip to the valley to celebrate.
Muffy bustled around the bar, smiling and laughing as her heels clicked on the wood floor. She was all but humming while she worked. It wasn't long before the boys started urging her and Griffin to join them, however, and then the liquor started flowing even faster. It was just the kind of party she'd hoped it be.
One thing still bothered her, though.
At first, she didn't notice it. It was a low murmur in the back of her mind, but as the night started to wear on, the thought got louder and louder. Then, as she was downing her third Polar Bear, she realized what it was.
Muffy pushed her way towards the back of the bar in a corner where Nami and Cody had tucked themselves in for the night. Neither one was saying much to the other, but that wasn't unusual. The fact that they were smiling at all was a genuine sign that they were having a good time.
"Somethin' the matter, Muffy?" Nami's blue eyes were less sharp than usual. They didn't appear to see the other woman at all. "You don't look like you're havin' fun. Not as much as the rest of us anyway."
"You had Christmas at Tim and Ruby's, right?" the blonde asked. "Didn't Rock want to come here with you?"
"Rock?" Nami hummed in thought and leaned back on her stool. "I don't know," she said. "He left with me, but I don't remember if he said he was going anywhere. Maybe he was going up the hill?"
"Was he going to the mansion?" Mufy pressed. "I thought Lumina was dating Jack now. "
It was no secret that the farmer had his eye on the young girl. He'd waited a long time to get the chance to ask her, but it was never a question of whether or not they'd get together. It was more a question of when.
Maybe Rock didn't get the message, though. It wouldn't really have surprised anyone in the valley if he hadn't.
Although Muffy couldn't quite explain it, the next thing she knew, she was pulling on her baby-blue shrug and heading out the door. She'd almost forgotten about the snow on the ground until she heard the distinct crunch. She quickly ducked back inside and grabbed Griffin's aviator jacket instead.
The valley was remarkably quiet that night. If it wasn't for the lights in all the windows and the laughter still echoing behind her, Muffy would've thought she was the only one awake in the sleepy, little village. She wasn't complaining, however. It did feel nice to get away from the happy chaos of the bar.
Her breath curled in the air in front of her as if trying to find a way back in. She shivered, buried her face in the sheering collar of Griffin's coat, and wrung her hands together. She hoped that Rock wasn't down by the beach. If he was, there was no way she would go looking for him.
When Muffy finally found him, though, Rock was standing by the entrance to the courtyard. He was wearing a white down coat with its collar flipped up around his bright red ears, and his hands were stuffed deep into his pockets. About the only thing that was familiar about him was his loose, blond hair.
"There you are, Rock!"
The young man's body stiffened as he turned sharply on his heel. Then his shoulders relaxed and he pulled down his collar to reveal a smile. His eyes appeared to light up right in front of her own. "Hey, Muffy, what're you doing way out here?"
"I could ask you the same thing!" She was almost breathless when she said it, but it was just because she was trying not to look surprised. For some reason, she was relieved to see him there. "Why aren't you at the bar?"
"Oh, that." Rock sighed and looked back at the manor. Even in the snow, its yellow brick walls were warm and welcoming, and the candles lit in every window made it look even more like a greeting card. "Lumina told me I could come up here if I wanted, but ah… I don't know. It just feels weird with Jack there."
He didn't sound bitter when he said the other man's name. Maybe he'd figured things out sooner than she thought.
"You didn't have to come all the way out here looking for me, though," he teased with a grin. "Unless you were worried about me, that is."
"Of course I was worried," Muffy huffed. She was starting to feel silly for going out to look for him. "It's not like you to miss out on a party, Rock."
"That's so right, babe!" He didn't even ask her before meeting her halfway and linking her arm with his. He gave her hand a pat, and then they were walking back down the hill. "I bet Nami's slammed. Did you see that sweater my mom gave her? Man, that thing is ugly."
"It's the thought that counts," the woman reminded him. "But yeah, she's definitely feeling better now. I think another couple of shots are all it's going to take for all of them to be feeling good, really." Muffy figured she must've had too much herself to have gone out into the snow looking for a missing bar fly. "Rock, can I ask you something?"
"Sure thing, babe."
"What are you going to do when Lumina does marry Jack?" Muffy started walking a little closer to the young man. She could feel the hem of her dress brushing against his leg, and her face was getting warm. "You're not going to just keep thinking about her, are you?"
"No, babe, I've already got my mind on someone else," Rock assured her. "I just went up there because she asked me to. We're still friends, and Jack's a cool enough guy. I don't want them thinking I'm taking it too hard or whatever."
Muffy didn't say anything at first. She was too busy trying to mull over what he'd said in her mind. On the one hand, it made a lot of sense, but on the other, she wasn't sure if she would feel the same. Oh, she'd get over it eventually. It wouldn't be on the most special night of the year, though.
"Can I ask who that someone else is?"
"You can, but I won't tell." Rock had that look in his eye, the one that said he was up to no good. A look that he had a lot. "What's got you so worked up, babe? You never ask this many questions."
"I was just curious," she huffed. "It's not like you to keep secrets, either." Why was she getting so frustrated? Sure, Muffy was a barmaid, but that didn't mean she was a nosy gossip. Usually people just told her whatever was on their mind whether she asked or not. She was always careful to keep whatever secrets they had. "Can't I at least guess?"
"Okay, but you only get three guesses," Rock told her, "and you have to figure it out before we get to the bar."
Well, Muffy had a pretty good chance of figuring it out. There weren't exactly a lot of eligible women left in the valley, and with Lumina all but married off, her choices were even fewer. Unless Rock had a girl out of town, but he very rarely put any effort making the trip to Mineral Town or Flower Bud.
"Is it Nami?"
It would make some kind of crazy sense. After all, the two did live under the same roof, and the blonde woman often saw them together even outside the inn. People also said that opposites attracted.
"Yeah right." Rock rolled his eyes. "That'd be like dating a rock."
"Then is it Celia?"
Maybe he was after a different kind of quiet girl. Celia might not have been much of a lone wolf, but she didn't really get away from the farm very often. Muffy had chatted with her every year at the Harvest Fesitval, but even then, it was nothing but small talk. The girl was happy enough, though.
"Come on, babe, you can do better than that. Everybody knows she's Marlin's girl/" Rock was grinning ear to ear as he led Muffy up to the front of the Blue Bar. Then he stopped and leaned against the door. "One last chance," he warned. "Just think about it a little."
Muffy frowned. The only other single woman she could think of was Vesta. Although she was… nice, she definitely wasn't the kind of woman for Rock. Did that mean he had something for a married woman? Maybe it wasn't a woman at all.
"You have no idea, do you babe?"
Before she could admit defeat, Muffy felt Rock's lips against her own. Her whole face felt like it was on fire when he kissed her, and her mind went blank for about a half a second. Then all she could think of how stupid she was and how he'd gotten the best of her.
"You're such a tease, Rock!" she finally blurt out. Her smile was so wide it was hurting her cheeks, but she didn't care. She would rather blame it on the cold than being embarrassed. She was a grown woman. "You could've just said something earlier!"
"Like that would be any fun," he replied. "I know I'm not a romantic, babe, but I still know how to make a girl happy. As long as you think I'm a good enough kisser, that's all that matters."
Muffy playfully shoved him with her shoulder. Her heel gave out after he pushed back, but just when she was about to fall, she ran into Rock instead. The two hit the door hard, but he caught her all the same. The bar behind them went silent, and she could hear them asking what happened. She tried to pull away, not wanting to make a big scene, but he held her close to his side. The door opened.
She was convinced that there would be some knowing look or snide remark when they walked in together, but no one even seemed to notice. The twins were too busy arguing while Nami and Cody continued their conversation. Griffin and Gustafa were busying themselves with tuning their guitars, and Galen had shown up to keep Dr. Hardy company.
No sooner had they walked in and hung up their coats, and the two musicians strung up a Christmas tune. Muffy squealed with surprised delight as Rock spun her around to the acoustic melody of All I Want for Christmas. Then she saw Patrick grab a hold of Nami's arm and drag her onto the 'dance floor,' and Muffy started laughing all over again.
It didn't matter that her hair was becoming a mess or that her lipstick was smudged. She didn't even care when her shoes started to pinch. She just wanted to dance the night away.
More than anything, though, Muffy just wished she could do this Christmas all over again.