Disclaimer: I don't own this series nor am I making a profit from this story.

Under The Cherry Trees

By Lady Arianrhod

Above everything else, Haruhi enjoyed a quiet atmosphere.

So is it really any surprise that she preferred Mori's company to anyone else's in the Host Club? Kyouya was quiet as well but it was a calculating kind of quiet where the person would stay in the shadows and manipulate others for his own purpose. Mori's brand of quietness was much different than that.

Mori's silence was that of a soldier. In order to hear danger coming and be able to meet it heads on with a minimum amount of forewarning. But in him, Haruhi saw the chivalrous knights of old. Protecting the young, the helpless, the downtrodden. In Mori the spirit of a guardian was awake and looking out for his precious person, Hunny, with an incredible amount of loyalty.

Haruhi saw all of this and respected Mori for it. Loyalty was bred right into the blood and bone of the Morinozuka family, and Mori was a shining example of it. Loyalty was not the only bond that held Mori and Hunny together. Friendship was another. There was no one closer than the two and one simply did not see Hunny without Mori or vice versa. There was respect on both sides since each cousin valued the other's different talents. Loyalty, respect, friendship and family were the bonds that held the two together. Four elements of a bond that could not be broken.

Sometimes Haruhi would seek the two out for a quiet moment of peace when the other club members became too annoying. Hunny could be loud, childish and demanding but he also knew when she needed to be cheered up or when to leave her alone. And Haruhi was extremely grateful for those times. And Mori, well, she had always been comfortable around him since they had first met.

Haruhi knew that Mori wasn't like Tamaki. Tamaki could be rather strange at times and he always acted even more strangely around her. She didn't know what worried her out more about him, the way he acted like he was her father or the perverted blush on his face when he was entertaining fantasies about her.

Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachin were both possessive and protective of her. Sometimes they protected her from Tamaki's strange actions, especially when he became too out of control but they also used her to provoke a response from the 'King' when they were bored. They also kept away any males they felt were getting too close to Haruhi.

Which is why Haruhi sometimes wonders how she fell in love at all with the twins and Tamaki fighting over her. Haruhi supposes it was because Mori was already part of the whole before she came along and joined the Club. The silent warrior façade was hard to read to everyone but Hunny who had known him since they were toddlers. Kaoru, Hikaru and Tamaki were so busy looking at suspicious people trying to woo her from the outside that they did not see that their biggest threat was from the inside.

It was during Hunny's three day banishment from sweets that Haruhi became aware of a different sort of emotion towards Mori. Haruhi noticed it when she saw Mori cornered by the shy girl offering him her chocolates. Her chest felt tighter and her stomach started to roll a little like the day before you get really sick from the flu. A precursor of the sickness to come.

But then Hunny's cavity was filled and Mori returned to his normal self. All side issues were resolved and the shy girl went away unhappy but understanding why Mori couldn't feel the same. And the tightness went away with her disappearance but at Mori's small smile, a warmth bloomed in her chest that she had never felt before.

After that it was small things that made warmth grow inside of her. Mori drinking the rest of a soda she couldn't finish, letting her borrow a book he had just finished about the American Civil War, keeping the twins away from her for an hour so she could finish a presentation for Math class. Just ordinary things friends would do for each other, often for no reason at all.

Sometimes she would just watch Hunny and Mori interact to analyze their relationship. To get a better idea of how they fit together so well with so few verbal communications. And she discovered they were so attuned with each other's actions that they reacted on an instinctual level towards each other. It was amazing to watch them. No one could be as close to each other with the exception of Hikaru and Kaoru.

Perhaps it was because of her newest sport, Hunny/Mori Watching, but she noticed Hunny's subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) attempts at throwing them together to make them better friends. The reason eluded her then, but eventually Hunny would confess to wanting Mori to be less dependant on himself and find someone else worth living for.

She asked herself why her immediate response wasn't to nip Hunny's plans in the bud. Instead Haruhi was happy Hunny was pushing them together. And that response made the ever-logical Haruhi question herself. She had never made a decision before that wasn't based in part on practicality or on logic. And what Haruhi felt when she thought of Mori wasn't practical, logical or even sensible.

His hand on her shoulder made her smile, the way she only smiled when she was really happy. Her heart felt so light that it could fly away when he gave her his rare small smile. And when he lifted her over puddles, annoying Club members or broken glass (solid, grounded, practical) Haruhi blushed a little. Something she had never done for any of the male persuasion before. This was how Haruhi knew it was love.

Love was illogical. Love didn't make sense and didn't follow a pattern that its bearer could distinguish. It made fools of the wise and made complete idiots out of fools. And sometimes, just sometimes, made wise people out of ordinary ones. Love turned your life upside down and made you walk on the ceiling and crash down to the floor. Even brave people trembled when Love knocked on your door. Love just was.

Haruhi had always known her own worth but was uncertain as she walked over to Mori one afternoon after her earth rocking realization. She asked if they could talk privately after Host Club was over for the afternoon. He looked over at Hunny who was playing with Bun-Bun nearby.

"Mitsukuni?" His deep voice rumbled.

Hunny looked up. He flashed a smile. "Sure, Takashi. I'll be fine after we get to my limo."

Haruhi was relieved and said a quick goodbye. If she had looked back she would have seen Mori glancing at her with yearning in his eyes. And beyond him, Hunny watched them both with a happy, hopeful smile while Bun-Bun lay temporarily forgotten a few inches away.

After Mori and Haruhi settled Hunny in his limo and it had driven the bunny loving senior away to his mansion, the two ended up under one of the grove of cherry trees on the campus. Haruhi fidgeted a little before following Mori's example and settling down under one of the trees.

"I'm sorry if I've been acting a little strangely today." Haruhi said with a small smile. "Nerves, you know."

Mori nodded. Reassured, Haruhi went on. "I've enjoyed being a part of the Host Club. It's been a good lesson to me on human behavior when boredom sets in. But I have to thank you, you've been very kind to me and helping me out of rather embarrassing situations with Tamaki and the twins."

Haruhi broke off, then plowed on again with determination. "I've come to think of you differently than the others, Mori-sempai. I like to think we're friends, at least. But I would like more from you, if you'd permit. I'd like to go out on a date with you."

Haruhi looked up at the end of her monlogue. Mori's face twitched and struggled for another expression. Suddenly he cracked a large smile, one the girl had never seen before.

He reached out his hand and took hers. "Yes." He said simply to her request.

Haruhi's face lit up like a sunset as Mori watched. She squeezed his hand and couldn't speak for a moment. But then it passed and she smiled in a way he hadn't seen before. A secret smile given from a woman to a man since the dawn of time and Mori responded with his own smile.

Soft and tender, he thought, a lover's smile.

But… "Mitsukuni." Mori spoke.

Haruhi nodded. "I understand Hunny-sempai comes first. You can't commit fully to a girl because he takes priority because he's family. I'm alright with that."

Looking at her, Mori realized she did understand and was swept away by the notion. No female except his mother had ever uttered those words and truly understood. Except Haruhi. And, he thought wryly, he ought to be used to Haruhi triumphing over the impossible by now. Didn't she do that every day she spent at Ouran and the Host Club?

"Come with me." Mori decided and got up. He held out his hand for Haruhi and she took it after a second's hesitation.

Three days after Haruhi's confession under the cherry tress, the two kissed in the third music room to everyone else's shock. Haruhi learned Hunny's reason for matchmaking and the true depths of feeling between the two. But commitment was the issue, not love. There was plenty of love between them to solve that problem.

Seeing the commitment Mori and Hunny had towards each other awed her once again. Mori couldn't commit himself totally to her because of the older claim on his heart. But Haruhi knew and felt the same. Not all of her was committed to him because she couldn't bear losing another person like she lost her mother.

But in time and with Mori's help, she felt that she could commit herself totally to him. The same way she hoped that he could commit to her in time. But until then, she could be patient.

The two made it out of the Host Club unscathed. They took a rest under a canopy cherry blossoms. The same grove they had visited days before. Mori lay with his head in Haruhi's lap and both watched the wind making the flowers dance and sway.

Suddenly, Haruhi's upside down face blocked out the peaceful sight for Mori. "What do we do now, Mori-kun?"

"Takashi." He corrected.

She blushed a little. "Takashi-kun…"

"Now." Mori handed her a cherry blossom. "We live happily ever after."

The two laughed and then Haruhi shyly kissed him. Then a gust of wind blew the cherry blossoms over and around the couple lost in a romantic moment. And the two with the addition of Hunny, did manage to live happily every after.