Disclaimer: For the first and final time in this story, whatever is recognizable from the Harvest Moon or The Scarlet Letter universe does not belong to me. They are owned by Natsume and Nathaniel Hawthorne respectively and all affiliates associated with. Again, I only claim the idea for combining these two and putting them on Fanfiction for bored/procrastinating people to enjoy. Nothing is mine.
This is rated T for mild language (no f-bombs or major cuss outs, just a few curse words for emphasis; pinky promise!), suggestive content (come on, she's pregnant for crying out loud—), and for some graphic content (death, pain, and suffering do this to people; no blood fests though).
As a side note on this disclaimer, I would like to point out that I shall never give up. If this story goes to hell, I don't care – it's going to be finished. Like all my stories, I solemnly swear (that I am up to no good) to complete it. I trust that gives you some hope because it just makes my stomach churn. xD
Author's Note: Alright! With that out of the way, are you excited? No, really – ARE YOU EXCITED?
It's time to feel the pain because mystery and tragedy are a couple of my favorite genres. =3 I hope I can get this across well. Honestly, I used to hate The Scarlet Letter, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. The love! The tragedy! The stupidity! Moving on.
If you just closed your eyes and clicked on a random link (a dangerous thing I do not condone) and you did not read the short summary, this is a story about Angela on Castanet in the Animal Parade universe. Basically, all the rivals are married and all the bells have been rung and the island should be happy and jolly and melting rainbows and candies from the heavens. But instead, Angela winds up pregnant and everyone on the island/peninsula/thing knows that one of the married bachelors must be the father. And he's not talking. Much like what happens in The Scarlet Letter.
Before I ruin something, here's a quick prologue to get us started. Hope it sounds familiar (if you've read Hawthorne that is). Mind, I am going to make some major changes to The Scarlet Letter story. Namely, in this very prologue. Fair warning! If you know the story already, don't be fooled! Almost nothing is the same in the beginning (in reference to Dimmsdale). Can you solve the mystery?
The Church Door
The sun shone brilliantly in the placid blue sky over Celesta Church. The cherry blossom tree near the church door was in full bloom, indicating a pleasant spring and the summer to soon come. As the cock crow signaled sunrise, a broad bustle of villagers began to gather. It's not every day a trial is held.
Of course, Castanet is too sleepy a place for crime. As the citizens of Harmonica Town reminisced, no one could actually recall an event that sparked public interest in the negative such as this one had. Had there ever even been a crime to commit on Castanet? What could anyone want? It was a mystery to the people, but it was also a secret pleasure. There was finally a spark to ignite their serene everyday lives. Something new. Something scandalous. Something to talk about, in short. Soft, excited whispers could be heard every now and again amidst the general rabble.
"A real court case!"
"I wonder what happened?"
No one actually knew what this was all about. Being a small town, word spread like wildfire that a hearing would be held at the church – the only court the mayor could come up with at a moment's notice. Reverend Perry would oversee the proceedings and act as Lord Chancellor over the defendant with the Mayor Hamilton. By his side, his son Gill would record the events and aid in a split decision if necessary. Between the three, they would come up with a suitable punishment for the offender.
None of this could be pertained to the absolute truth. It was all guess – hit and miss, if you will. Assumptions could be made based on truths however. 'I saw Perry and Hamilton walking into the church together,' can easily be translated into: 'I heard that Perry and Hamilton would decide the prisoner's fate in the church.' Just the fact that there was a prisoner roused enough interest to make the whole peninsula anxious, the hairs standing on end and the breath bated.
The only definitive statement anyone could make about the problem was who the girl involved was. Miss Angela.
Of course, she wasn't really a prisoner, per say. She was certainly the offender in any case, but she was not being detained. This was her home and she would not leave. Angela was quite complacent really and cooperative. She was very quiet though.
The old and the young crowded the church doors, nonchalantly glancing through windows and leaning against the walls, hoping to hear a low hum from within. Everyone had a theory and everyone knew they were right on the matter. It was only a matter of time before it was revealed that Angela stole something/sold something illegally/abused her animals.
Just as the crowd started to fidget with impatience, the great doors were opened. Everyone peered anxiously inside.
Mayor Hamilton was the first to step out into the light. The three had come to a unanimous decision: everyone ought to know what was going on. Perhaps one of them could shed some light on the situation.
Ridiculous! Who knew more about the circumstances than those within the church? Even so, everyone bristled at the opportunity to testify to something – anything – that would give them a part in this play.
It was a surprise to all of them when Perry came quickly behind Hamilton with a frantic look about his face. "Please! We don't have to make this any worse—"
Poor Perry. It was impossible to know how silent an entire town could become when they were interested. This sentence was quickly exploited and an uproar ensued.
"We've a right to know!"
"What's the trouble, mayor?"
"This isn't too serious, is it?"
"Bring her out! Have her tell us herself!"
Now without a choice, all Perry and Hamilton could do was to try and settle the crowd as people shouted and complained and demanded answers.
Even more of a surprise, the next to come out was not Gill as expected but Irene, the old woman who worked at the clinic. A botanist of sorts, Irene was skilled with the mortar and pestle, but she was considered the town doctor in the time of her grandson Jin's absence. The good doctor was away on business, learning the most modern practices of medicine and had not been present in town for nearly eight years. Little did they know he had arrived home and was one of the many bystanders waiting to hear what the trouble with Miss Angela was, skirting the edges of the crowd and remaining unnoticed for the present time.
The reverend and the mayor no longer needed to have to hush the people. Irene whispered something in Hamilton's ear that was loud enough for the nearby Perry to hear. Both wore surprised looks. Perry's lips mouthed: "Is she sure?" to which Irene solemnly nodded.
So be it. The trial would be held on the steps of the church then.
The villagers picked up steam and began talking loudly to each other again. Theorizing and arguing and making stupid assumptions. Following the lines on the ground, no one was to pass into the inner circle or crowd any of the stairs. Give us some room, give us some room! A spot was cleared before the steps of the church. All was quiet one final time as those left in the church stepped out into the sunshine.
Gill led Angela out by the arm. She shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand as she looked towards the sky, blissfully ignoring the group in the plaza. She took a deep breath as one would when they wake up in the morning and prepare for the day; or in her case, an onslaught. Gill seemed quite unsure how to treat the girl, but everyone could tell he was nervous around her; like she was a mournfully ticking bomb.
Walking down the stairs slowly, and caring for her like a fragile glass delivery, he led Angela to the center of the plaza. "Please stand here, Miss Angela."
"Thank you, Gill." She smiled pleasantly enough. Gill hurried back up the steps and stood next to his father with a pad of paper and pencil to carry out his secretarial duties, looking quite un-Gill-like by showing signs of unease and even timidity. Who wouldn't be though?
Perry looked sideways at Hamilton and then at Irene. Both shrugged to him, not sure where to start or if it was very smart of Angela to do this. She had insisted though: 'If they so desire to know the truth, I'd rather they hear it straight from the source.' And they were going to fulfill her simple request. It would be easier for them at any rate, rather than trying to explain the situation themselves.
The Reverend Perry cleared his throat. "Er—Miss Angela? You understand the circumstances which have led you before us?"
"And do you take responsibility for said circumstances?"
"…Do you know what you have done wrong?"
"Well…" Perry paused, not quite sure where he was going with this. This town had never seen a criminal before. And how often do busy courts meet such compliant wrong-doers? Not often. And it ironically wasn't making this any simpler for the amateurs at law.
Hamilton picked it up from his flustered friend. "Miss Angela, we charge you with the case of adultery; do you deny this?"
Gasps from the crowd. Certainly not what they expected. From Miss Angela? Of all the people! Quiet, charming Miss Angela. The rancher who lived by herself since her husband Jin left for a better education. That Angela? Could it really be?
"Silence, please!" Hamilton held up his hands authoritatively. The villagers had to admit; for such a silly, rambunctious little man, he was doing a good job of acting as a serious mayor for once. Perhaps they should humor him and listen to what he says.
"Would you please state who your co-conspirator is, Miss Angela?" Perry quickly asked.
"So you relinquish all blame, taking responsibility unto yourself?" Hamilton asked, eyebrows raised almost sardonically, warning her what she was about to accept. It was the same look a scolding parent might give a child trying again to reach the cookie jar. That 'are you sure you want to do that?' look.
He was obviously hinting to expose the man and people in the crowd were already looking at each other. It was now that Jin was discovered by a slightly perturbed Candace. He did not acknowledge her and she wasn't about to draw attention to the fact. Would only make things stickier in her wise eyes.
"Yes." Angela answered clearly and professionally once more.
"Miss Angela, please reconsider." Hamilton repeated. "We only ask for a name so the both of you may be punished justly. The name…?"
"I cannot give it." Angela stated. "I refuse."
"You what?" Gill asked, speaking up for the first time in awhile. In all cases, he at least sounded a bit more like himself.
"Miss Angela, please—" Hamilton was interrupted by Angela herself.
The slight woman shook her head firmly. "I refuse. I shall not give his name."
"Then might he speak up?" Hamilton looked up for a moment before giving up. "He is obviously not able to do so himself. Would you speak for him?"
"You cannot expect to blame yourself for this and go through all alone." He reiterated, shocked at her insistence.
"I take the blame."
"But Miss Angela – the child!" Perry wailed, held back slightly by the mayor.
Absolute chaos erupted. If this wasn't a scandal enough – Perry had unleashed the Pandora's box. People suddenly realized why Irene was present. Confirmation? Why Gill was so nervous around her. Pregnant? A mother? Could it be? No! Never! Not in little Harmonica Town! Who could be the father? Only now did everyone begin to realize with a creeping dread that those of Angela's age, those most likely to be the father, were all respectably married – most with children. Or rather, respectable it once was.
No one could move, but oh, they could talk. Shocked to the core, people shouted the first things that came to mind. With unfortunate consequences, Angela was the butt of these remarks.
"Who is it?"
"Speak his name!"
Hamilton, Perry, and now Gill were professionally weaving their way through the people, putting them back in line. Irene dabbed at the tears in her eyes, so saddened by what had become of her granddaughter. Why would she do such a thing? The question was on everyone's mind, only it had taken a backseat to other more vulgar, vindictive questions and statements like those previously mentioned.
Perry made his way to Angela, already berating her. "Why would you want to do this? See what's happened? We could've kept this secret!"
Even through the noise, Angela was quiet. She was just loud enough for Perry to be able to read her lips and catch her voice over the shouts. "Secrets? In this town?"
It would not be silent again as desired, but it was finally quiet enough for Hamilton to continue the proceeding. "Miss Angela, the consequences of your actions offer us no other decision but to label you as an adulteress. Now; I implore you one last time to speak the name of the man. He is as much to blame as you. Remember that."
"Miss Angela, please." Perry nodded, still standing next to her.
"He's too coward! Say it for him!" A voice in the crowd shouted. It may be argued it begged.
"I will not!" Angela insisted, raising her own voice at his point. "Do with me what you will; I am not afraid!"
Perry, thoroughly fed up with his closest friend, threw a distressed hand through his hair. Turning to her, he could see the clear fire present in her chocolate eyes. The brunette held her ground. She was willing to go to great lengths to keep this to herself. Why protect the scoundrel? Say it wasn't love; it would be so like Angela to do this over love. Please let it not be love… But really, what else could it be?
"Very well…" Hamilton decided. "Angela, I have to sentence you to house arrest—"
"Make her wear the 'A'!"
"Symbol of her shame!"
"—and to wear the letter 'A', public symbol of your adultery. You may not leave town until his name is given. I'm… sorry." The mayor finished lamely, wearing a tired and sorrowful expression as he dismissed her.
Angela stared bravely for a moment at the Mayor Hamilton and nodded, accepting her fate. She turned on her heel in a graceful swoop, touching her abdomen for a moment with the tips of her fingers. Perry reached for her, but she gave his shoulder a pat and stepped around him. She did not see her husband watching her from the spectators with a pained, yet curious stare.
The villagers needed not move aside; a path was clear for her. Everyone watched in a mixture of hatred, shock, pity, and intrigue as Angela descended the staircase of the Celesta Church Plaza to go home.