Chapter One
As the final preparations of the Monday afternoon were made for the following morning, there was a brief moment when Ootori Kyouya scrutinized Haruhi over the rims of his glasses, and she felt his eyes on her as surely as one would feel the sensation of water rushing past their ankles.


    "What is it, Kyouya-senpai?" the brunette asked him slowly, setting down the tea set she was arranging on one of the tables for the following morning. There was already a sense of controlled chaos about music room three this afternoon with the club president having bolted on preparations and headed home immediately after the bell rang, and Haruhi did not particularly want to know what the dark haired boy had in store for her now as he fixed her with that appraising stare. His eyes were a shade gentler than normal when he spoke, however, and it was slightly reassuring.

    "I need you to run an errand for me," the vice president informed her. "And don't give me anything about not being the Host Club's dog anymore."

    Haruhi promptly closed her mouth at the second statement. "Alright, then," she agreed more than a little reluctantly. "What kind of errand is this? What do you want me to do?"

    Kyouya handed her a colored bundle and turned his eyes back to the papers that were spread out across the table in front of him. "Tamaki rushed off after classes without bothering to try on his cosplay for Club activities tomorrow. He's been putting off the fitting all week, and if there need to be any adjustments made, they're going to need to be made tonight. I need you to take the costume over to his house and make sure he tries it on."

    "Fine," Haruhi sighed lightly and tucked the folded cloth into her bag with her books. "I'll take it over on my way to run errands."

    "Thank you," cool as a cucumber, Kyouya was busily scratching away at something in a ledger and didn't even look up as Haruhi moved to leave the music room. He held out a small slip of paper with an address written on it, and she took it and memorized it before slipping it into the pocket of her blazer for safekeeping.

    "I'd be careful if I were you," Hikaru told Haruhi, sliding up in front of her as she reached for the door handle.

    "Yeah, tono's been acting weird lately," Kaoru continued.

    "Why should I be careful?" Haruhi asked, moving to get past the twins who blocked her path. "It's not like he's going to hurt me."

    Hikaru rolled his eyes. "That's not what we're worried about."

    "Stop it, you two," Haruhi scolded. "I need to get this done so I can get some grocery shopping done afterward. I'm going to go now... maybe you should at least <i>try</i> helping Mori-senpai set up for tomorrow?"

    "No can do, Haruhi!" the Hitachiins told her together as she managed to pull open one of the pink double doors and slip out through the opening. As she left the music room behind, she breathed a sight of relief and hurried down the hallway, slinging her bag over her shoulder. She muttered quick greetings to those who acknowledged her in the halls and when she finally made it up the long drive and out through the school gates, she set herself into a comfortably hurried pace. The sun was bright and warm; it was a perfect early spring day, and everything looked a little brighter than normal set with the optimistic glow of it all. Haruhi could not resist humming under her breath. The second Suoh mansion was a little out of her way, which meant it would take her roughly fifteen extra minutes to go in the appropriate direction and get to the grocery store when she was finished. She sighed a little grudgingly as she walked on, enjoying the bright sunshine on her cheeks.

    "Why couldn't he have just tried his costume on before he left today?" she mused aloud, causing a little boy chasing his ball down the sidewalk to give her a strange look. "It would have made a lot more sense than making someone come out of their way... oh well. I guess that's just Tamaki-senpai." she did her best to ignore her secret pleasure at getting an opportunity to see what Tamaki was like when he was not around his customers or the other boys. It was harder and harder to deny her rather embarrassing crush on him as time went on, particularly since the festival, that day they had nearly lost him forever. In a way, that day had changed everything, though for better or for worse she was not entirely sure.

    As the houses around her began to get larger and the neighborhoods began to get more and more manicured, Haruhi knew she was nearing her destination. She pulled out the paper Kyouya had given her just to be sure when she reached the street mentioned on it and walked up to the specified house number's enormous iron gate. There was no doubt she was in the right place; the gate was emblazoned with a large letter S. The house itself was even more impressive, standing at the end of a long drive and seeming to glow in the sunlight like Tamaki himself.

    "Um... good afternoon. I have something for Suoh Tamaki," she said by way of announcing herself into the small speaker mounted on an ivy covered pillar beside the gate.

    "Your name, please?" asked a very official sounding man's voice.

    "Fujioka. Fujioka Haruhi," she replied. There was only a brief pause before the gates swung inward to give her entrance. "Thanks," she remembered to say before entering the gate.

    Since her first day at Ouran Academy, Haruhi had grown increasingly used to going up long paths and driveways to get to buildings, but Tamaki's home was set further back on the grounds than any she had seen to date. It was a slightly breathless Haruhi who reached the front doors after walking more quickly than normal up the perfectly paved walkway that she guessed would normally be used for guests to drive up to the door in limousines. The front doors were enormous, and they opened before Haruhi's clenched fist even came into contact with the wood.

    "Good afternoon, Fujioka-chan!" gushed the frilly-clothed maid who had opened the door. "You said you had something for Tamaki-sama?" she smiled brightly at Haruhi, who felt a bit overwhelmed.

    "Yeah, I do. I brought his costume for the Host Club tomorrow. Kyouya-senpai wanted me to make sure he tried it on so the adjustments could be made before tomorrow. Do you want to give it to him? Should I?" feeling slightly silly, Haruhi drew the bundle of cloth from her school bag. She had never actually seen Tamaki's home before, and even the entrance hall with its double red-draped staircases wa s more than twice the size of her own apartment. It was more than she could do not to be impressed.

    "I think Tamaki-sama would really like it if you gave it to him," the maid told Haruhi, motioning for her to follow her up one of the staircases. "He's been very lonely lately."

    "Lonely?" Haruhi was slightly taken aback. It took a moment to really register as she followed the cheerful servant down large, high ceilinged corridors and past large and impressive ivory doors. It had not occurred to her that Tamaki, who was constantly surrounded by people that adored him at school, even had the <i>capacity</i> to be lonely.

    "Yes," the maid replied. "He misses his mother very much, especially recently. Sometimes he's almost inconsolable." suddenly the young woman clapped her hands over her mouth, still walking. From somewhere in the building, Haruhi could hear faint music playing, and she strained her ears. "Oh dear... I don't know if Tamaki-sama would have wanted me to tell you all that."

    "It's okay... Tamaki-senpai is one of my best friends. I guess things like that are good to know. And... I won't tell him you told me."

    "Thank you, Fujioka-chan! You're just as kind as Tamaki-sama said you were!" the maid exclaimed, and Haruhi raised an eyebrow. "He talks about you very often," the maid explained, and Haruhi felt her cheeks heat up, though she did her best to hide it. "He makes you sound wonderful. Oh, here we are! Tamaki-sama is playing the piano, so he's in his music room. You can go right in!"

    "Did anyone warn him I was coming?" Haruhi asked, at which the maid sweatdropped slightly.

    "I... forgot about that," she confessed, rubbing the back of her head awkwardly. "But I'm sure he won't mind you dropping in." 

    "Okay..." Haruhi nodded and placed a hand on the doorknob. "Thanks for bringing me to him."

    "It's no problem..." the maid slid back around the corner, and Haruhi shifted the bundle of cloth in her arms and turned the door handle.

    As the door opened beneath her hand, the music grew louder and she stepped into the room amid the swirling sound of the clear notes. The room was large and furnished with several armchairs and a sofa, and a fireplace completed the comfortable effect with the soft piano music weaving through the air. The melody was soothing, and she stood silently for a moment until she caught sight of Tamaki at the bench of the piano that stood near the windows. Cautiously, she moved farther into the room. Tamaki played the quick, melancholy piece with a kind of intense focus, and it looked to Haruhi as though he was in a different world, the person behind those turbulent eyes completely removed from the ordinary universe.

    "Tamaki-senpai?" she asked finally, breaking the spell, and the blonde on the piano bench jumped visibly. Slowly, he lifted his hands from the keys and turned his torso slightly to face her.

    "Haruhi!" as his eyes fell on her, the emptiness in his expression faded immediately and left a glittering smile in its place. Almost instantaneously he was up from the piano bench and striding across the room to her. “You came to see me!”