Disclaimer: I do not own Harvest Moon or anything associated with it.
Author's Note: I know that flower themes for Cam are ridiculously overrated, but I can't help it in this case hahaha. I'm gonna be clichéd and do flower everything! A lot of people have wanted me to write a Cam/Lillian story and I have an insane amount of free time at college because my classes are spread far apart throughout Tuesday and Thursday, so I thought I could use that time to pen said story (using the fiction writing skills I'm picking up for the fiction writing class I have in an hour!). Confession: Admiration was supposed to be a Cam/Lil story. It turned into Ash/Lil when I grew to love him. This time will not be like that haha! I've completely rehauled this story from my initial drafts too, so if I've mentioned this to you know it's a bit different now. :P I'm excited to write a full-fledged story for this pairing (considering Cam was my husband in-game) and I hope everyone else is psyched to read it. Thanks for checking out this story, enjoy! (:
Daffodils are synonymous for spring and new beginnings. There is a belief that he who spots the first daffodil of the spring will have a lucky year.
When Laney was younger, her favorite game was one you could play only with Cam – one that soon Ash and Georgia and even the adults were constantly clamoring to participate in. She called it "Who am I?" though Ash said that was a stupid name, and do you even get the entire point of the game? Cam, who was a year older than all of his friends, and when he first moved to Bluebell vastly more mature then them, would have pointed out that there was absolutely no point other than to calm Laney's constant chatter. The premise of the game was that Cam would study each of his friends and tell them which flower they were most like in general or that day or if they did this or if they were their complete opposite.
But nobody ever bothered to tell Cam which flower he was like. "I don't know enough about flowers," Ash would say in his most apologetic voice. "So can you tell me what flower I'm being like right now, then?"
Now that Cam was nineteen years old and his closest friends official adults, Who am I was no longer a fun game to play. It was something they laughed about and rolled their eyes when they thought about. Unbeknownst to them, Cam continued to play the game – and his answers were still constantly changing. Every day he saw new facets of the people he had grown up around as they strived for adulthood. Ash, for example, was often better suited as a larkspur; they were well known to symbolize an open heart and a fun-loving person. Cam was trapped, however, in that the larkspur was poison, and his best friend was usually not poison – except for when he pretended he didn't notice Georgia's feelings for him, when he instead continued his silent reverie and hoped that the feelings would fade away. Laney was like a hibiscus; delicate, beautiful, albeit rather dull. Like when she did the same thing every day he returned to Howard's shop, and it wasn't so bad to know she was there waiting for him, but it was a little bad to know exactly how she'd look at him and what she'd say and when she would open up the fridge and pull out her latest sweet and do you want some? I have leftovers from what I gave to Georgia and Ash. Georgia was a gladioulus – striking and strong, but hopelessly infatuated and prone to giving allergic reactions and occasional poisonings in interactions with them, the same as Georgia's blunt words and upfront feelings, which were dangerous if handled for too long.
Cam thought he had everything perfectly planned out. As a florist, he could easily decipher the character of anyone who attempted to speak to him by comparing them to a flower and moving from there. With his typical lack of prowess when it came to conversational skills and his curt words that made it sound like he was finished talking before he begun, throwing in an anchor to hold onto carried him through the drifting waves of people who wanted to converse. But when he met Lillian and found no flower came to mind to describe her, he was lost.
Lillian was everything at once. She was beautiful in a backwards way – clothes that were a little too big in some places and a little too tight in others but well-made and suited to her eyes, eyes that were a strange violet shade but suggested depth that you wouldn't grasp from her voice, her voice that rose too high when she laughed and fell too low when she was upset, and copper hair that covered her face until she blew it away and smiled at you, with a smile that brought together everything incorrect and righted it, and somehow she was gorgeous. Laney had been Bluebell's beauty for years, and Lillian looked absolutely nothing like her. Whereas Laney was polished and modest, Lillian was raggedy and an appearance that should have come across as unassertive was worn with farm work and suggested a deeper person than the girl that struggled to appear as vapid as possible. So why was she even prettier than Laney to him? Cam couldn't wrap his mind about what was an act and what was real, and was she really as ditzy as she acted yet able to rattle off the names of the herbs around her without hesitation?
When they met it was next to the river, right after you left Bluebell territory and far away from the enemy Konohana, where culture thrived along with Bluebell hate. She was crouched down, staring intently into the waters where a fish was surging back and forth before her. Initially Cam thought she was attempting to catch the fish bare-handed and stopped himself right at the entrance, worried he would take another step and throw off her concentration along with sending the fish skidding to a safe haven beneath a fallen tree that had become part of the river throughout the years. He waited five minutes for her to sweep her hand into the water and seize the fish, but that time never came. She continued to stare into the water until she was doing more than staring – she was crying, and the drops that struck the water sent the fish into hiding. Was this the girl Ash said never stopped laughing? Well, she was as pretty as Ash said she was, though Cam was growing close enough to see the random scars written across her skin and the way her hair parted to show a patch of her forehead and the nails that were cut too short.
"Are you alright?" he asked her. Cam's typical mantra was that staying out of other people's business was his utmost priority, but he couldn't help but inquire on the well-being of a girl who should have been the life of the town according to his friends but instead shed tears when it was only her first week away from home.
Lillian was clearly startled at the realization that she had an audience, but managed to thrust one hand into the river's depths and sturdy herself before she slid from the rock that upheld her. She didn't look at him for a moment, but her free hand was busying itself around her face and Cam knew she was probably trying to hide any evidence of tears. When she looked up, her face was perfectly clear – she wore no make-up, so black stains did not cover her face like Jessica's after watching a drama. "I'm good," she replied. "Are you Cam?"
"Uh, yeah. How did you…?"
"Ash told me a lot about you. You're a year older than him, Laney and Georgia; you always wear a cap with a houndstooth pattern and a tie that's never on exactly right; you don't talk very much either, apparently. He said you're his best friend."
"Is my tie really…?"
"I can fix it for you."
Cam watched her, stunned, as her fingers pulled each side of the tie, tightening and loosening and straightening until he felt uncomfortable enough to suggest his tie was no longer left astray, but fitted right like a groom's. "Thanks."
"No problem. It's my specialty."
"That was a joke."
"Well, I'd better head back home." Lillian gathered her skirt and rose it enough to reveal feet with toenails painted a pastel shade of pink. Bare feet coated with a layer of grass and dirt. She tugged back on her yellow socks and then slid them into her boots. Cam waited to see if she was going to change her mind, suggest that they stopped and chatted for a moment – didn't Ash say that she asked if he wanted to take a walk and that was how he knew her so well? But when she had finished lacing up her boots, she didn't turn and invite him to take a stroll; instead she headed straight for the entrance that would lead back to Bluebell, back to her farm, away from him.
"Wait," Cam interrupted, turning to her with a puzzled frown. "Your name is Lillian, right? You're the new farmer…right?"
"How did you know?" she asked, her eyes wide with suspicion. As Cam began to stumble over his answer she laughed, waving her hands before her in a harried gesture for him to give up his attempts of explanation. "I'm just kidding! You've lived here for a while, so of course if you know there's a new resident here named Lillian and then see a new person you'd come to the right conclusion. It's nice to meet you, Cam."
"It's nice to meet you too," he replied stiffly. Cam would like to say that in a better time he would have turned the conversation to what he had just seen, but that would be a lie. He was done – the conversation was over. He had exchanged the proper pleasantries, he had already called her back to wait once, and so he let her return to Bluebell with one tear still clinging to her cheek that she had missed in her sweep.
Who is she? He wondered. Who was she really? Obviously she was Lillian, the new farmer, she had chosen Bluebell for some reason, she had violet eyes and chestnut hair, but did she also cry when she was alone and hide her misery from others? The melancholy expression she had turned to him with her last parting wave hung in his face, and he wondered if that was the same look she gave Ash when she walked away – but it couldn't have been, because Ash said she was the happiest girl he had ever met.
Maybe an anemone, a purple color the shade of her eyes? Anemones could mean anticipation of something good to come, but they were more widely known for representing fading hope and a feeling of having been forsaken or forgotten or left behind. But how could she be left behind, if she had chosen to come to Bluebell?
"Did you meet her yet? Lillian, I mean."
"What did you think of her?"
Ash frowned, rolling his eyes. "What is that supposed to mean? If she heard you say that, she'd probably take it as an insult, you know. You're probably hurting her feelings."
"Well, I'll be sure not to say it to her face, then."
This made Ash laugh, though it was clearly a reluctant one. "That's harsh, Cam," he replied. "Even for you. What did she do that was so weird? When I talked to her, she seemed perfectly normal. Sweet, funny, and she told a lot of interesting stories about her family back in the city. She seems really grateful to be here."
"I don't know…she was just…off. I felt like the way she was acting around you according to how you described it was…just an act. She seemed sort of down when I talked to her."
Cam was tying together a bouquet of spring flowers for Georgia, who liked to change the flowers in her house out for fresh blooms every three days. He chose a green ribbon, which she had once likened to the color of Ash's eyes. Right now it seemed Ash would probably be stopped in his tracks if Cam asked what color Georgia's eyes were, but would probably be able to easily answer in regards to Lillian's. He picked up a violet ribbon, examining it. Not right, he thought. Her eyes were lighter than that. Or maybe they were only lighter because they were still shining with tears when he met her? Whatever it was, he didn't linger on it. The ribbon wasn't right, and he didn't even want to look at it anymore.
Ash was sitting on top of the stand, crushing the stem of a pink rose. He didn't seem to notice, and Cam didn't particularly mind, so he went right on destroying the fragile bloom. His eyes were doubtful, but because he was Cam's best friend he was obligated to listen to every single one of his complaints to carefully calculate the proper response. Of course that would be much easier if Cam was a man of many words, but Ash took what he had and used it to the best of his ability.
"Maybe you just caught her at an off moment," he suggested. "She moved far away from home. She's probably just a little homesick, right? Just get to know her more and you'll see. She's a lot of fun to be around."
"Have you talked to Georgia today?" Cam asked.
Ash's face lit up with frustration. "Yes, I did. I stopped and helped her with mucking out the stables on my way here. Why?"
"Did you wash your hands afterwards?"
"Can you just get to your point?"
"Isn't she a little upset lately?"
Ash looked away from his friend, staring off in the distance. Maybe he was looking at Georgia's stables and imagining Georgia inside, leaning against the wall unaware of Ash's new affections and thinking about how sweet he was in stopping to help her. Or maybe he was looking farther out, towards Lillian's farm, where she might be crying about her home or maybe laughing at a letter from her friend or maybe just sitting there, watching television and wondering where she was going with her new Bluebell life.
"I know, alright? It's not like I want to hurt Georgia's feelings. She's my best friend. All I want is for her to be happy. It's not my fault that she…I don't give her a reason to! I don't see why she…"
Ash continued to fumble over his words until Cam was pierced with fresh sympathy for his friend. It was easy to judge a person who inflicted the pain of unrequited love on another, but understanding the burden that they had to carry brought a new kind of judging – he looked at Georgia and wondered why she continued to cling to feelings that hurt her and Ash, and why didn't she realize that his heart had never stood with hers? Ash wiped a hand over his face – Cam hoped he really had washed them – and then sighed.
"I don't know what more I can do. I've tried to let her down, I've asked Laney to talk to her for me, I drop hints that I don't have feelings for her and I try to be the best friend I can be. But it's not what she wants. I feel bad, Cam. I do. I don't want to see her hurting. I don't want to be the one hurting her. I want her to be in a great relationship with a guy who loves her. But it's not that easy. I can't make myself love her, and she can't make herself not like me at the snap of a finger. It's just going to take more time."
"I understand," Cam replied, his voice solemn and remorseful. "I shouldn't have brought it up."
"Forget it. Water under the bridge."
They were silent for a moment afterwards, and Lillian's strange behavior was momentarily forgotten. For the moment Cam was just a boy who still couldn't use his words the way he wanted to, and had accidentally insulted his best friend in an attempt to get the heat from him.
"Hey! What's up?"
"I just wanted to ask you something, and since you're walking by…but are you on your way somewhere?"
"No, no, I was just going to check the requests board. It can wait. What's up?"
Ash took a deep breath, already feeling like the question he was about to ask was stupid. He found the suggestion that Lillian had been putting on an act around his disconcerting, and he wanted to do whatever it took to prove Cam wrong. He didn't want his feelings to end up wasted and useless like Georgia's. If Cam had caught a glimpse of the real her, and Ash had only seen a façade…
"Cam said you were acting a little different when he met you. He mentioned that you seemed a little sad. We agreed you were probably just homesick, so…I wanted to make sure everything was going okay."
It was too soon. Of course Lillian wouldn't give him a proper answer – they had barely met, what was she going to go? Was she going to bare her soul to him, I'm so glad you noticed, let me tell you about my hard knock life?
Lillian smiled at him. "Oh, I see. I thought Cam might think I was depressed because of how I was when he saw me. I was exhausted – I had a really tough start of farming, and so I was relaxing by the water. I probably looked a little weird, and definitely out of it. It's nothing to worry about. I'm not depressed or anything like that, Ash. Thanks for asking, though."
Her voice was teasing towards the end, but genuine and sweet. Ash smiled back at her and nodded, satisfied with that answer. Of course she was tired. That made perfect sense. After all, she had only begun her job as a farmer! It was a lot of work for someone, especially for a girl who had moved from the city to a tiny rural village where she was expected to take on the role of a serious farmer. She wasn't putting on an act. Cam was just seeing her at a weakened state. This was the real Lillian.
"I found out what was up with Lillian when you saw her the other day," Ash announced. "She said that she was worried you would think something was off, because she was completely exhausted when you saw her. So no worries, she's not depressed or anything."
Cam stared at his friend for several moments, and Ash stared back at him as though he was daring him to say that he was wrong. Tired. That made sense. It would make sense if Lillian hadn't been barefoot in the river staring at a fish and crying. Cam wasn't sure what the city habits were, but when he was tired he went to sleep or rested on the couch. He didn't creep down to the river and sob.
"Oh, okay. That's good."
"Well, I'll see you later then. I'm going to go help Georgia out a bit more. She said that the stalls still need some more mucking. I just wanted to let you know."
"Thanks for telling me."
"No problem. Later!"
Cam watched him leave and then brushed his fingertips against the drawer where the violet ribbon, a little off, was waiting. What was Lillian, a little off, doing at the moment? His poor anemone. But no, that wasn't right. He needed a better flower.
So he needed to get to know her better. That could be done. If Ash could do it, so could he.