Tamaki discovers that though he could not return to his mother in France, he has everything he needs right where he is. Tamaki x Haruhi.
"Hunny-sempai, I'm starting to feel sick!" Haruhi warns him, and the tiny blonde slows down a bit, still laughing happily with her hands clasped in his, his pink rabbit tucked into the front of his elegant suit jacket.
"She's trying to watch the fireworks, Hunny-sempai," Kaoru reminds him, but he is smiling and it is obvious that despite all the stress he and his brother went through earlier in the day that now he is content. Hikaru stands beside him like some kind of grizzly war veteran with his arm in its sling, and he too looks amused by the spectacle before them. Behind them, Mori stands like a large, protective shadow with a slight smile playing across his features at his smaller cousin's antics.
"Mitsukuni, Haruhi probably would like to stand and watch the fireworks display," he says, but not unkindly, and immediately Hunny nods in agreement and drops the brunette's hands, his earnest brown eyes blinking up at her for a moment. Kyouya, who stands a little off to the side, smiles and shakes his head at the spectacle.
"Sorry, Haru-chan," he tells her with a large smile. "Now you can watch the fireworks with everybody."
"Thanks, Hunny-sempai," the girl tells him, and moves back toward the place she was standing when the display started; beside Tamaki. Though they stopped dancing several minutes ago, Tamaki is still grateful for her close presence, and the fact that she wants to stand beside him anyway. He nearly bursts with the joy it as her skirt brushes him while she comes up beside him.
Amid the bustle of the crowd, things are far more hectic than usual, but Tamaki laughs happily anyway, his eyes glittering as he clasps his hand around that of the girl in question. The loud blasts of fireworks high above echo through the air, and he can feel them reverberate through his body, filling him with a sense of empowerment, an energy that leaves his cheeks burning with exhilaration.
"What is it?" Haruhi asks, and Tamaki is surprised to find her smiling at him, her face in varying bright hues of pink and green from the constantly changing fireworks overhead. Her fingers are warm clasped between his, and slowly he squeezes them and smiles back at her. In this moment there is a kind of deep contentment that he feels spread over him like the warmth of a parent's embrace.
"I wanted to say thank you," his voice is still soft despite the loud crashes of fireworks, and he smiles wider at her, resisting the impulse to pull her close. She has done so much for him today, more than she will ever know, and he wants to make this evening special. He knows it is foolish and sentimental to allow himself to feel as though they are the only two people in the world, but he doesn't care. It is clear to him now that he is free to be himself with all his quirks, and his friends--no, his /family/-- will accept him just as he is. This includes Haruhi.
"What are you thanking me for, sempai?" she asks, as straightforward as ever. It takes all of his willpower to keep himself from throwing his arms around her and snuggling her until they both burst. Tamaki does not enjoy holding back, but he supposes he owes her at least this. With a slight smile he squeezes her hand again, and is reassured when she returns the gesture.
"Haruhi..." it is with a kind of shyness that he averts his eyes from hers as he speaks. "I was hoping I could talk to you about it and everything else... in private?"
If she thinks something is up, she does not show it. Instead, she shrugs slightly and nods resolutely. "Okay. Should we go to the music room?" he is grateful that she seems to be up for the idea and that she has even suggested a place that will most likely be private at this time of night.
"Good idea," Tamaki replies, slowly dragging his eyes away from the fireworks and guiding her away from the crowd and back toward the school. As they depart, Kyouya flashes him a look that says quite plainly /'What are you doing?'/. Tamaki honestly isn't sure exactly what it is that he is doing, but he gives Kyouya a reassuring smile that he has given him on countless occasions before and continues to lead Haruhi with him, dodging the disapproving look he receives from Hikaru. It fills him with a flash of guilt to steal Haruhi's company away from the others, particularly Hikaru, but he cannot deny himself a private moment with her to share his gratitude. That is all it is, he tries to convince himself, though his heart pounds as they enter the school and her fingers shift against his.
"You know, you don't have to hold my hand, Tamaki-sempai," Haruhi tells him as they head down the empty corridors toward the third music room. "I'm perfectly capable of--"
"I want to," he interrupts with a smile, stroking her fingers with his thumb to prove his point. Haruhi doesn't protest further after his explanation, and he can't help wondering if maybe she doesn't mind. They wander down the dark, moonlit corridors silently, Tamaki's heart pounding inexplicably in his chest like some sort of undersized drum. Haruhi does not seem to be affected by the situation at all, walking alongside him quietly without a trace of his jitters. He can feel her pulse through her fingers, and it is slow and steady, so unlike his own. Unsure why he is so stressed by the situation, Tamaki laughs at himself internally.
'It's not as though anything is going to happen between you two,' his mind reminds him. 'Haruhi is not the type of girl to get caught up in romance...'
The double doors are before them before Tamaki knows it, and he opens them slowly. "Should I bother with the lights?"
Haruhi sucks in a slow breath. "We probably won't be long, right? It takes a while for the overhead lights to come on all the way, anyway. There's really not a point," she wanders forward into the dim room. It strikes Tamaki how different the room looks at night, hit with a whole different glow, something mysterious. Moonlight and clock tower light. As the doors shut behind them, Tamaki suddenly feels like they are closed off in their own little world. It always feels like this to him when the two of them are together, and though he knows he should not read so much into things like this, he can't help it.
After a short silence, Haruhi moves over to the window and stands with her arms crossed, staring out over the grounds. From behind, her silhouette looks tense, and he is aware that she is rubbing at her arms with a kind of awkwardness he is not used to seeing in her. The piano still sits near the window from when he played it the day before, and he takes a seat at the bench, resting his fingers over the keys and beginning to play, hoping to ease the tension he can feel beginning to settle into the air.
Watching Haruhi's back, he can see her beginning to relax almost immediately. Tamaki smiles and throws himself into the piece he is playing. It is a relaxing piece he likes to use for breaking the ice, the same one he played for Eclair the day before. Haruhi slowly drops her arms, and he can almost feel her breathing slowly, as though the two of them are intertwined through the music. Haruhi turns around and watches his fingers on the keys with a kind of abstract interest, and he watches her in turn.
Tamaki can't help but realize now, in this almost intimate moment of him playing the music and letting it flow through her, that playing for her is infinitely better than playing for Eclair. Eclair sat and watched him as though she was judging, looking through to all his insecurities. Playing for Haruhi is completely different. It feels natural, him playing and her watching but not watching, as though she is an extension of the music he is playing. Playing for Haruhi is different than playing for anyone else. There is still a sense that he is playing for his own enjoyment, and she is merely enjoying it because he loves doing it so much. It makes him smile and he closes his eyes, giving himself over completely to the music, completing the illusion that they are connected by it.
As the piece draws to a close, Tamaki opens his eyes to find Haruhi standing beside him, watching him both peacefully and intently. For a moment there is silence, and he wonders if she has drawn as much simple pleasure from the song as he has. "That was... pretty," Haruhi tells him. She sounds sincere, and he beams. "What song was that?"
Tamaki pauses. "It's called Nocturne pour Tamaki," he tells her slowly. "My mother wrote it for me when I was a baby. It's the first thing I ever learned to play. I play it to calm myself down, I suppose. When I can hear that song, it feels like she's here with me somehow. I suppose it sounds silly, doesn't it?"
Haruhi shakes her head, taking a seat on the piano bench beside him. As her warm arm brushes against his, a rush of comfort fills him. "When I was little, my mother used to always bring cherry blossoms in and put them in a vase in the kitchen. I guess I feel the same way when I see the trees blooming in the spring; like she's still here. So no, I don't think it's silly," there is an air of complete sincerity about her as she speaks, and she locks their eyes with a kind of ferocity he doesn't expect before she drops her gaze to the piano keys and speaks with a kind intensity to her soft words. "I don't think it's silly at all."
"Haruhi..." he has rarely, if ever seen this softer, more sentimental side to her before, and it makes him feel impossibly tender toward her. It makes him feel slightly dizzy, and being this close to her is not helping. "I had no idea. I really am... sorry about your mother..." for a moment, he turns his head and manages to catch her eye. He can sense something volatile behind her large brown eyes that he does not think it wise to readily dismiss as nothing.
"It's fine. So, what did you want to talk to me about, sempai?" Haruhi changes the subject deftly, but Tamaki can sense the pain that she keeps so well hidden slowly welling up to the surface. With a sad smile, he humors her anyway. For the moment, he can let the subject drop.
"I wanted... to thank you for bringing me back, Haruhi. If you hadn't come after me, I would have gone away to France and probably never have seen any of you again. I really, really want to see Mother again, but leaving all of you behind for my own selfish reasons was not the right way to go about it. I felt like I was bothering all of you, but when I saw you in that carriage running after me... coming to save me... I knew I must have been wrong. You made me realize I really was needed."
"To be perfectly honest, sempai... my reasons for coming after you were a lot more selfish than that," Haruhi confesses, and Tamaki allows a small smile to creep across his lips, hidden from her by the relative darkness of the room. This new development intrigues him.
"Well... I honestly couldn't stand to lose you, Tamaki-sempai... I didn't want to think of what it would be like not getting to see you every day. It was something I really didn't want," she is speaking with far more candor than Tamaki himself could imagine using in the same situation, and for a moment it stuns him, makes him feel like he is speaking to an entirely different person. "I guess that kind of 'needing' you is purely selfish."
"Haruhi..." he is completely at a loss for words, and he turns on the bench to face her and give her his full attention. With his cheeks burning heavily, he searches her eyes with his and finds them watching him expectantly. "What do you mean by that, exactly?" it has been a long time since he was aware of his heart pounding his heavily, as though he has just finished an impossibly long race. Somehow, it feels like his heart is more in his throat than his chest.
"Not wanting to share you with Eclair..." she takes in a huge breath and lets it go slowly, as he has seen her do before taking an exam in the past. "...was the selfish part."
Tamaki forgets to breathe for a moment, and when he does, it comes out shallow. He has become so accustomed to flirting and pleasing women that he has taken no time to prepare himself or learn how to behave when faced with a woman who actually makes his heart flip upside down. "Share me?" he asks softly.
"Will you play something else, sempai?" Haruhi asks him, circumventing his fractured question and once again nearly succeeds in changing the subject, but Tamaki catches her this time.
"You know, Haruhi, you can't get out of everything by changing the subject," he says, giving her a rather penetrating look and watching her mentally squirm. Haruhi sighs helplessly, and Tamaki allows the subject to drop along with his fingers to the ivories. Slowly, he begins to play a familiar tune, a soothing concerto by Bach that worms its way into his consciousness. "Do you want me to teach you, Haruhi?"
"Teach me what?" with the music behind it, her voice sounds far more lyrical than usual.
"To play. Here--" Tamaki pauses in the music and reaches for her hands, placing them gently on the keys and curling his own fingers over them. It strikes him just how perfectly his hands fit over hers, and for a moment he does nothing, just sits with her hands under his and focuses on breathing slowly. She doesn't seems to mind nearly as much as he expected, allowing him this brief moment before he sucks in air and gets to work. He guides her hands gently toward the center of the piano. "Now, this key is a D. Press it and then the black one next to it--that's D major-- and then skip one over and play this key--that's an F-- and then come back to the D. Can you do that?"
Haruhi's fingers are unsure on the keys, but she does as he instructed, and the beginning of the piece comes shyly from the piano. "I don't think I'm cut out for this, Tamaki-sempai," she confesses, laughing slightly. It makes him smile that she appears to be enjoying herself with him. It is rare to see her so very relaxed, and he can't help wondering if maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with being so close to him. "That sounded horrible."
"A musician is her own worst critic," he tells her with a smile, and she shakes her head.
"But I'm definately not a musician. I guess I'm just not that 'creative' of a person. Left-brained, right?" she asks, and Tamaki giggles.
"You really believe that kind of thing?" he asks her teasingly with a slight wink. "It's so... superstitious."
"Says the man who refuses to wear red on a Thursday?" she counters, and Tamaki laughs. It is rare to see her teasing him, and he enjoys it. "Tamaki-sempai... you really must take after your mother. Even with me as a student, you seem to be a good piano teacher."
For a moment, Tamaki is breathless, and he can feel his eyes becoming undeniably moist. "Haruhi that's... saying I take after my mother... that's the kindest thing you possibly could have said. I... thank you. I know, I know, I'm getting ridiculously sentimental but--"
"I understand, sempai," suddenly Haruhi's hands are no longer underneath his. One of them has found its way to his hair, and she pats him in an affectionate, almost motherly way. These three words bring him far more comfort than he could ever have imagined, and his self-control crumbles, coming out in a rush of words.
"Oh, Haruhi I... thank you. I've always felt that there was a kind of kinship between us. I know we're very different, but you are the only one who understands. I was a foreigner and didn't really fit in at first, so I was the odd one out here and I've always felt a little insecure about it. And then you come to Ouran, a scholarship student... and I'm sure you felt exactly the same way. And you... miss your mother and aspire to be like her as an adult to keep her close to you and... all of the things that I keep hidden from everyone else... they're the same things as you. Deep down beneath it all, as long as I have you, Haruhi, I could never feel alone." he smiles at the girl who sits before him on the piano bench, looking rather stunned by this sudden declaration. "You really do understand me. In a way, I suppose you could say that you're all I really need."
As soon as the words leave his mouth, he is unsure how exactly he meant them and how she will take them, but there is no taking them back now. Haruhi does not speak for a moment. The hand that she was using to pat his hair has frozen. In fact, it feels as though everything has frozen but the fireworks outside the window, continuing on despite everything and coloring Haruhi's face and hair in a million rainbow shades but none quite as lovely as their original colors.
"Sempai..." this is the only word she speaks, and immediately she closes her mouth and seems resolute to say nothing else. This situation is impossibly delicate and Tamaki does not want to fracture it. The feeling in the air is impossibly romantic, and Tamaki finds it odd that he is managing to have a perfect old movie moment with Haruhi and she is not making any dry comments to disperse the mood. She is simply staring at him as though she has finally run out of things to say for every situation, as though this moment is something she can't brush off as she has so many other things.
"Haruhi..." it feels so good to simply fill the silence with her name. He knows that Haruhi is the kind of girl who will never be charmed or swayed by money or clothes or ornate, flowery descriptions of imaginary fairy-tale feelings. What she does respect, however, is honesty, and Tamaki will be damned if he does not at least try to give her that. He will always give a lady what she desires, after all. But he can't help but think that this is something he desires as well after so many months skirting around the issue. Slowly, he brings his arms up around her and pulls her across the bench to him, closer than he would have dared in the past. She comes without resistance, which surprises him. The last time the two were this close, the outfits that they still wear now were drenched in river water, and Tamaki did not even notice at the time, so caught up in the feeling of her closeness. This is not something that he can allow to escape.
Against his chest, Haruhi seems more than a bit overwhelmed. "Sempai, what are you--"
"I'm going to tell you the whole truth now, and as uncomfortable as you might find it, I need you to listen," he breathes deeply for a moment and forces himself to go on. "Haruhi, I didn't change my mind about France because I realized you all needed me and that I wasn't a burden after all. It was because... when I saw you in danger, it almost made my heart collapse. Being far away from you, not being able to protect you... not being able to hold you like this. Those are the things that kept me from going. Nothing else. I only stayed because of you. I want to be with you all the time, and I mean all the time. I want to hold you and talk to you and have times like this when we can just sit together and enjoy each other's company. But I want... more than what just friends have."
"It's... good to be honest about what you want," Haruhi says, but her usual control and calm is gone. She is staring at him with a mixture of confusion and surprise, and her eyes as good as scream 'Do something! I don't know what to do and it scares me!'
Heart hammering impossibly loud in his chest, Tamaki takes the initiative. He tightens his arms around her and takes several breaths before he leans forward. Their noses brush, and he feels as though an electric charge has gone through him. For a moment, they hang in the balance between what has been and what can be, and Tamaki trembles slightly, though he smiles enchantingly and brushes her hair back. "I suppose what I'm saying is that... you don't have to share me."
When he kisses her, it is both awkward and messy. Their noses bump painfully, and then their foreheads. Tamaki is more than a bit embarrassed by having such an uncomfortable first kiss, but he supposes that realistically that this is the way first kisses are supposed to be. Haruhi helps maneuver them into a more comfortable angle, and it is then that the awkwardness melts away and the magic begins. This warm, soft, chaste kiss is what Tamaki is sure is the beginning of something. He is not entirely sure what, but at the moment it doesn't matter. All that matters is how warm Haruhi's lips are and the fact that she is actually kissing him back. She seems bit uncomfortable and a little unsure, but she is kissing him, and it's enough to make him pull her into his lap and hold her impossibly close. It is rare that there is this perfect of a moment where their two crazy lives collide this way, and Tamaki is determined to make the most of it. Slowly, her small fist curls around the front of his jacket and he smiles against her lips and rocks her slightly, tender and perfect and hopeful.
The creak of the double doors opening is the thing that finally shatters the moment, and even as five chattering hosts pour into the room, Tamaki cannot bring himself to stop kissing her. It is only Hikaru's voice that makes him realize that the moment truly has come to an end.
"What's the hell's going on?" he asks, and slowly, Tamaki and Haruhi peel apart and become two separate entities again. Haruhi seems more than a bit uncomfortable now, though to her credit she is not blushing nearly as much as Tamaki is. He is sure that it is obvious to Hikaru exactly what is going on. It is going to take time for his friendship with the older twin to mend itself, but it is impossible for him to feel unhappy tonight.
"We were just..." for the second time in the evening, Haruhi is at a loss for words, and Tamaki finds it both very endearing and very peculiar.
"We came to get you so you wouldn't miss the finale of the fireworks," Kaoru says, rolling his eyes slightly. "It was the old war vet's idea," he gestures fondly toward his brother, who is staring daggers into Tamaki's soul.
"Hikaru..." Tamaki begins slowly, taking several deep breaths. He does not want to say what he is about it say, but it has to be done eventually, and now seems like an appropriate time. "I have... feelings for Haruhi. I know you do too, but I'm tired of hiding mine, and I'm not going to back down. I'm going... to continue acting on my feelings. I know it's going to hurt you, and I'm sorry, but I won't stop." he pauses to glance at Haruhi, who is looking at anything and everything but Hikaru and looking uncomfortable. "And if it's alright with her... I won't share her."
Hikaru stands his ground, though he looks more than a bit wounded and angrier than Tamaki has ever seen him. Haruhi, on the other hand, looks pensive and stares down the piano keys. Hikaru is watching her, obviously waiting for her to speak in turn, and it is with a sigh that she finally looks up at him.
"I'm sorry about this, Hikaru," awkwardly, she runs her fingers across the piano keys, looking as though she wishes she were anywhere else in the world right now. The redhead stares at her for a moment, and then the realization that she is rejecting him sets in. Without a word, he slowly turns and heads for the door, and Kaoru sighs and heads after him, going to pick up the pieces and make his brother smile. Tamaki watches them go with more than a bit of guilt. Though he could resent Hikaru for ruining the moment right now, he can't. This evening is too wonderful and too full of surprises, and so he simply smiles slightly and shakes his head.
"Let's go, let's go!" Hunny shouts, heading for the door, blissfully changing the subject. "We're going to miss the finale, Tama-chan!" and as he, Mori, and Haruhi run after the tiny blonde (with Kyouya following placidly behind), Tamaki laughs happily. It is exhilarating to run, but just as she reaches the door, Haruhi stops in front of him an turns for a moment, smiling at him in an almost normal way, as though she can forget the awkwardness of the situation with Hikaru.
"My answer is yes, sempai," she tells him simply. Tamaki barely has time to grasp what she means before she smiles and laces her fingers through his, looking far more confident than he does. Together they chase after the others. Tamaki knows that no matter what happens in the future, life will, to some extent, consist of the seven of them chasing memories and moments with each other, and it is more than he ever could have hoped for. Eventually, Hikaru will forgive him, things will progress with Haruhi, and the endless cycle of this chase will continue. There is a dim sadness in his chest at the fact that he will not, at least for now, go to France. But at this moment as he runs down the darkened hallways of Japan's most prestigious school with the girl who makes his head swim holding hand, he smiles. He runs with wild abandon with the people who accept him despite all else, and he can look to the sky and laugh happily. Because although France is his birthplace and where his mother is located, he knows that here with the others, he has something even better.
He has home.