CHAPTER 34 - Grateful

Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon.

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It was early morning, and the happy humming of a certain farmer echoed through the house. Jill quietly appreciated the feeling of cold water running down her hands as she washed the small pile of dishes in her sink. The sound of a running shower came faint from the suite, but she barely noticed once it was turned off by its occupant, because she was so easily entertained by the task at hand. It was getting warmer and warmer as summer approached, and knowing she'd be spending most of her day working under the sun, Jill wanted to cherish this one refreshing moment.

"Mmm.", came a content murmur from behind her and Jill yelped in surprise, feeling a face pressing against the crook of her neck. She was suddenly spinned around, her amethyst eyes shooting up to meet deep blue ones, as her mouth was claimed by a pair of gentle, yet dominant lips. She felt herself melt against that presence.

"Breakfast will be ready soon.", she giggled but Marlin's half naked frame pressing itself against her instantly shut her up. She looked down at the towel wrapped around her boyfriend's waist, then lifted her eyes up slowly past his toned upper body. Jill peered up and couldn't help but blush. Marlin had the most mischievous smirk plastered upon that handsome face. In fact, he looked like he was going to devour her.

"I'd rather have you for breakfast instead.", the words rolled off in that thick accent of his and he expertly lifted her up by the waist, forcing Jill to sit on the edge of the kitchen counter. He buried his face against her collarbone and his hands flew straight to the base of her breasts, and the young man nearly purred at the feel of the satin fabric of her short robe.

Jill couldn't help but smile as his stubble rubbed against her skin. She liked when he didn't bother shaving so often. Marlin mumbled something against her cleavage then looked up with a grin, his rough hands sliding the robe off her shoulders softly. He blinked when he felt her hands stopping him.

"Marlin, we just did it twenty minutes ago.", she said with a smirk to match his own. She ran a hand softly through his dark curls, knowing well how he liked that.

"So?", he chuckled, his eyes daring.

Jill almost felt all resolve leave her when his hands traveled south, diving underneath the hem of her robe and resting on her inner thighs, dangerously close to a certain sweet spot. Once more, she placed her hands atop his. "Give it a break, will ya? I love you and all, but I'm exhausted. And it's Monday!"

Marlin pouted, an expression she didn't often see him make. He then seemed to think it over and smiled softly, stepping away so she had room to recompose herself. "Sorry. Still getting used to all this… energy."

The brunette grinned and retied her robe, proceeding to hop off the counter. She smacked him in the bum as she strolled past him, a confident look upon her features. "We have a lifetime ahead of us for that. Now let's get some work done."

Marlin stood in the kitchen, rubbing his bottom with an expression of mock indignation. He felt his lips curl up in a small smile at her words, even though she probably didn't mean much by them. A lifetime of being this close to eachother didn't sound bad. Not bad at all…

Later that day, Jill got a call from Marlin, who sounded kind of upset. He explained he'd be crashing at his sister's place that night, since she wouldn't stop complaining about how he never seemed to be around nowadays, except for working hours at the farm. She giggled and told him it was alright, and he should be spending some time with his family, especially after that big scare when he fell ill.

Noticing her afternoon plans were now vacant, she decided to pay her best friend a visit. The Blue Bar wasn't open yet but they gladly let her in, and she helped the couple tidy the place up before opening hours. Griffin kindly said he'd keep an eye on their daughter and Muffy rewarded him with a peck on the lips before leading her visitor through the door that lead to their actual home. She made some tea and sat across the table, facing Jill.

"You look tired. Everything alright?", the blonde asked with a hint of concern in her voice. Jill smiled and nodded, sipping quietly on her tea cup.

"I've been busy, that's all.", she answered with a dreamy look upon her face.

Muffy blinked and her eyes narrowed at a small, dark spot on Jill's neck, very close to her ear. She smirked against the porcelain. "If you're going to let your boyfriend give you lovebites, at least wear your hair down."

"What!", Jill exclaimed, instantly placing her palm against the sensitive patch in her skin. She felt her face heat up and her cheeks go red. "God damn it, Marlin! I swear, I'll kick his ass next time I see that man!"

Muffy laughed at the awkwardness of the moment. "I take it he's been keeping you busy since he got better?"

"You have no idea.", Jill sighed, feeling a little silly. Most women wouldn't complain about having a sexy man wanting you 24/7, but this newfound desire of his was making her both physically and mentally exhausted. The hot weather wasn't helping either. "I guess he's just adjusting to being healthy or whatever."

"I don't think that's it. Well, not entirely.", Muffy thought out loud, catching the brunette's full attention. She explained her theory. "I don't know. When I see you guys together… the way he looks at you…", she tried to place the thoughts together, scratching her chin absent mindedly. "It's like he adores you. Worships you."

Jill quirked a brow up at her friend's choice of words. "Uh, well… I get it that he loves me, but aren't you exaggerating a little?"

Muffy shook her head and gave a happy, lazy sigh. She rested her chin atop her hands. "You saved him. You give his life purpose. It makes sense."

"When you put it like that…", Jill nodded, not knowing what to do with this kind of information. "I've never been loved like that before."

Muffy reached for her best friend's hand across the table and held it securely, a reassuring smile growing upon her pretty features. She knew exactly what Jill was going through, because Griffin also started looking at her like that after she gave birth to their daughter. He acted like she created the most amazing thing on earth, and was so thankful for it. "Be grateful for him, too."

Jill's eyes locked with hers and they shared a nice moment. After a while, there was an odd sound coming from underneath the table, and the brunette patted her belly. "Guess I must be hungry."

"Oh, there's apple pie in the fridge! I'll serve you a slice.", Muffy said as she quickly got up and walked into the kitchen. Soon she was back with a plate and placed the slice in front of her guest.

For a moment, Jill felt glad because she knew Muffy was absolutely amazing at baking those pies, but when the sweet smell hit her nostrils she felt her stomach twist and she automatically put her hand in front of her mouth. Her eyes went wide and she rushed past the blonde, who just stood there, confused. Muffy ran to the restroom door and knocked, but the only reply she got was the sound of the farmer spilling her guts into the toilet. "That doesn't sound good."

"I'm –uh- alright.", Jill said awkwardly after a while. Muffy heard the running water sounds of the sink being turned on, and assumed her friend was trying to put herself together again. Shortly after the door was opened and Jill cast her a shy, apologetic grin. "Sorry."

"Don't be.", Muffy chuckled as they walked back inside the livingroom. She hurriedly removed the plate from the table and returned to check if everything was alright. "That was odd. You looked fine just a moment ago."

"Yeah. No idea where that came from." Jill mumbled while rubbing her temples. "Maybe I got the flu or something. If that's the case, I should go. Don't wanna risk passing it on to your baby."

Muffy didn't say anything, she just stood in a corner, watching silently as Jill picked her things up and got ready to head back home. She thought about things, memories from the days before she found out she would become a mother. She hooked a strand of blonde hair between her fingers and twisted, barely aware her best friend was now waving in front of her.

"I'm heading home.", Jill said and turned around, but was kept in place by Muffy's grip on her arm. They exchanged glances.

"Do you think… maybe…", Muffy began, but she couldn't keep going. Her eyes drifted down to Jill's covered abdomen, and the farmer finally took the hint. She gently shook off her hand.

"What? No. No!", Jill laughed, although she seemed rather uncomfortable. "Don't be ridiculous. It can't be." She searched her memories for reassurance, but they betrayed her. In the frenzy of Marlin's newfound good health, perhaps they could have been careless a time or two? Oh Gods, no. She didn't want to think about it. "I should really go. Let's talk later, okay? Bye bye."

Muffy felt Jill's hand brush her shoulder and she caught the hint of nervousness in her voice, but all she could do was let her go. Jill had been through enough that year and deserved some peace and quiet. Still, Muffy couldn't help but worry, pictures of Jill holding a dark haired, bright eyed child forming themselves in her mind. Could she handle it?

"Of course.", Muffy laughed at herself. She knew, Jill could do anything. She was really amazing. "Marlin becoming a parent, now THAT would be something amusing to watch."

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A/N: New chapter out! Kinda sudden, I know. Just felt like updating this story. I really want to finish it.