Tamaki and Haruhi take a trip to Meoto Iwa, and Tamaki seems to have romantic ulterior motives. Obvious TamaHaru.
"Slow down, Tamaki," his energy level was ridiculous for this early in the morning. The summer morning air was refreshing, but she was still tired despite this. As typical of a seaside resort, there was quite a lot to pass the time in Futami-ga-Ura (and then plenty of things to do with Tamaki afterward), and getting to sleep early was no easy feat. As a result, she was running on only a few short hours of sleep, and could not nearly match the excitement he showed. "It's too early to move this fast!"
"It's never too early!" the blonde declared. His fingers tightened around hers as they raced down a dune, sand flying and the salty breeze tossing their hair. As they passed over the dune, the sight of the two large rocks joined by a thick rope came into view. Haruhi was shocked that at this prime tourist destination, there didn't seem to be anyone else here; especially odd since Tamaki told her the day before that early morning was the best time to visit. She couldn't help thinking that maybe he had something to do with the location's deserted status.
"Tamaki, did you--" she began, but her companion was staring raptly at the water, and she found herself compelled to stop. They were not moving anymore, simply standing still at the crest of the dune. The morning breeze was fiercer than she would have anticipated, whipping at the lavender summer dress she wore, tossing it around her knees. She was grateful for the sweater she wore over it, and reached down to close a few more of the buttons. When she looked back up, she found Tamaki staring at her, and stared back determinedly. Tamaki was a recent high school graduate, but no matter how much he grew up, those indigo eyes and the open, honest way he stared at her with that sense of undisguised adoration would never change. It pained her for a moment to think that she would not get many more moments like this with him after the spring break, when she returned for her final year of high school and he moved on to France to find his mother and pursue his dreams. After these two short weeks, their relationship would consist of letters and phone calls, and not feeling his overwhelming presence was something that would take a lot of getting used to. Unconsciously, she tightened her fingers around his.
"Are you alright, Haruhi?" he asked her softly, and she became conscious of her transparent expression and quickly looked away. "Is something wrong?"
"No," hoping she sounded convincing, Haruhi fiddled with the buttons on her white sweater. "Nothing is wrong." The sunrise was starting in with full force, gold starting at the horizon and morphing with pink. It looked spectacular seen through the gap between the "married" rocks, the shimenawa framing it above and the low sea framing it below. It was a breathtaking sight, and Haruhi knew now exactly why Tamaki wanted to take her to see Meoto Iwa. It was like standing on the edge of something too impossibly significant to grasp, and for once even she allowed herself to give over to the sentimentality of it all. Glad Tamaki let the subject of what was wrong drop for the moment, she focused on the beauty of the scene before them and on the warm security of being able to hold his hand and have him near.
"It's beautiful," Tamaki murmured. Haruhi nodded in agreement, and felt him turn his head to look at her. "You're beautiful too, Haruhi." it was so like him to say something so kind and corny at this moment, and she leaned against him, leaning into his embrace and smiling at the fact that this was just so purely Tamaki, and she wouldn't want it any other way. He nuzzled against her happily and planted several kisses on her hair. Quickly, the sunrise escalated, flashing bright oranges and pinks, boasting with its ability to render them speechless. As they basked in its glow, suddenly Tamaki let go of her and leaned down, rolling up his pants to his knees.
"What are you doing?" Haruhi asked as she watched him kick off his shoes, tossing up a bit of sand.
"Come with me," he told her with that impossibly gentle smile of his, and she really had no choice but to abandon her shoes in the sand and take the hand he held out to her. They walked slowly this time, down the dune, past the Okitama shrine, into the wetter sand near the water, and finally into the sea itself. The water was cold, and Haruhi shivered slightly as Tamaki held her by the hand and led her farther out, toward the towering rocks that stood so still and silent, bound together by that rope in their ancient matrimony. The water around them was low, and as Tamaki led her between them, it lapped gently at their ankles.
"Are you sure we're supposed to be in here, Tamaki?" Haruhi asked warily. "This place is a historical landmark and--"
Tamaki placed a finger gently against her lips to stop her. "It'll be fine. Don't worry about it," he said with a confident smile, confirming her suspicions that he somehow paid for all this solitude. She resisted that old impulse to mutter 'rich bastards'. "Do you know the story behind these rocks?"
"We learned about them in history class last semester," Haruhi remembered aloud. "Shinto priests held a marriage ceremony for them over a thousand years ago," she blushed inexplicably as she spoke the next part, realizing its significance. "They're supposed to symbolize the bond between a man and a woman."
Tamaki smiled fondly at her. "That's right," he said, rather proudly, and Haruhi wondered if he ever still thought of that old charade of being her "father".
"It's... interesting," Haruhi said, fighting the sudden, strange attack of awkwardness that sabotaged her. There was a rather heavy feeling in the air not caused by the droplets of seawater, and she was glad she wasn't prone to fainting.
"That old story is the reason I brought you here, to be honest," Tamaki sounded slightly apprehensive as he spoke, but he was smiling as he drew something out of his pocket. It glinted in his hand, and something unexplainable flashed through Haruhi's heart as she realized that it was a ring. It was a simple gold band and it flashed in the rising sun.
"Tamaki, I..." Haruhi finally found her voice. "I don't know. I mean... I'm not even out of high school yet and you're going away to France and... I really don't think that I'm ready to get married right now."
Tamaki laughed softly, shaking his head. "It's not a proposal, Haruhi. It's a promise," pausing for a moment, Tamaki gave her a soft, loving smile. "When high tide comes, the rocks are separated by water, but the shimenawa keeps them bound together. It represents a bond that distance can't break. So... I want to make a promise to you that even though I'm going away for a while, we'll be the same way. The promise is that no matter how far apart we are or how long we go without seeing each other, I'll wait for you, and I will always love you."
"..." for a moment, Haruhi had no idea what to say. Tamaki held the ring up so she could see the engraving on the inside. "/Je promets/," she read aloud.
"It means 'I promise'," Tamaki told her with a smile. Delicately, he took her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger. "It's so you'll always remember the promise I made to you today. I'll always come back for you."
"Tamaki..." everything about the gesture was so stunningly romantic that it managed to take her breath away like nothing he had done before had. Suddenly, the prospect of him going away to France was nowhere near as terrifying with this promise hovering between them. "Are you sure about this?"
"Positive," Tamaki leaned forward to pull her against him, as close and warm as when he had made love to her the night before. "I know to the others this probably just seems like a silly high school romance that we're going to grow out of, but... it's so much more than that. I love you, Haruhi, and I can't imagine ever not loving you. It seems crazy to me now that there was ever a time that I didn't. Even though I'll be in France for the next year or so, I'm not ready to give this up. So, if it's okay with you, Haruhi, I'd like to stay together no matter what," he took her hands in his, and he seemed to be begging already, though he had not yet started. "Will you wait for me, Haruhi? Do you still want to be my lover, even though I'm leaving you behind?"
For a moment, Haruhi could do nothing but stare at him. It was all so corny and romantic and so very like him, and it made her smile. "I think my answer would have to be yes, Tamaki," she told him with a smile, shaking her head at the nervousness that had settled over him as he spoke. "I promise I'll wait for you. I know it seems silly, but until a minute ago, I was honestly afraid we were going to end up... breaking up."
Tamaki looked absolutely horrified, and for a moment Haruhi was reminded of the far more childish boy he had been when they had met. Two years really was a long time in this regard. "Haruhi, could you truly imagine us ever breaking up? I don't think I'm quite ready to propose or anything yet, but I know already that you're the one I want to spend my life with!"
"Tamaki..." Haruhi stared openly at him for a moment. There was a dim need to tell him that she she felt the same way, but one look at his face told her he already knew. "I was so afraid of the thought of you leaving, to be honest. I'm not really used to needing anyone this much, and you going away was an awful thing to think about for me. But then you made that promise..." this time, it was Tamaki's turn to be speechless. Slowly, she rested her cheek against his chest, embracing him. "Thank you."
Quickly, Tamaki threw his arms around her in turn, burying his face in her hair. With the ring on her finger and, for the moment, the man she loved in her arms, Haruhi had to take a moment to realize how lucky she was. Slowly, she glanced up around them at the joined rocks. She could not help smiling, because although she knew it was foolishly sentimental, one thing was clear to her; the bond between she and Tamaki was stronger than any rope could possibly hope to be.