Authoress here.

I wrote this one shot after I received a challenge from InuKuramaRMine. Thank you very much for the challenge! It was fun to research and to write. Hope I live up to your request!

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Ouran Host Club plotline as I was two days ago (I went to a video-hosting site and Wikipedia and quickly educated myself) here is a brief outline.

Ouran High is the richest school in Japan, playing host to the sons and daughters of the wealthiest people in the country. The school also plays host to the Host club- a group of six attractive male students who spend their time charming and entertaining the school's girls for profit. Haruhi Fujioka, a poorer student attending Ouran High on a special scholarship, accidentally wanders into the Host Club's headquarters. All six members take her for a male because of her somewhat androgynous appearance. Through a series of events, Haruhi becomes a member of the Host Club, her true identify hidden from all but the other Host Club members. Haruhi becomes fast friends with the other members of the Host Club; Tamaki Suoh, Kyouya Ootori, twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni "Hunny" Haninozuka, and Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka.

Naturally, I don't own Ouran Host Club. Wouldn't that just make me quite rich and able to pay for college?

Forgive me if I make any mistakes concerning the Host Club plotline. I have seen maybe five episodes, none of them in order, and the most recent one being only episode sixteen. Most of what I know came from a Wikipedia entry.

This is set about six years after the anime. Haruhi graduated from Ouran High two years ago…

Across The Gentle Line

Haruhi Fujioka had never been the type to panic. In almost every situation, she was calm, level-headed, collected, and cool. She was a quick-thinker, and smart. She had graduated top of her class, even amid some of the country's most rich and affluent teenagers.

So, Haruhi reasoned, this should not be this hard.

The young women held a hanger in each hand with two different dresses on them. She stood in front of her mirror, and held each dress to her slender figure in turn. First the modest, no-frills, blue knee-length. And then, the spicy black number that brushed dangerously to mid-thigh. Then the blue. And then the black.

"Aiya-ah!" Haruhi scowled at her reflection, which didn't hesitate to scowl back. Coming dangerously close to throwing down both dresses and jumping on them, Haruhi instead laid the two choices down carefully on her bed and tramped out of the room, heading for her kitchen.

Normally, Haruhi would have opted for strict black slacks and a modest dress-shirt, in plain, nondescript prints. But she didn't 'normally' have a private dinner with Japan's Most Eligible Bachelor every night.

Two years out of the pricy and flamboyant school Ouran High, Haruhi thought herself very accomplished. Almost the same day she got her diploma, Haruhi had a full scholarship to a reputable law school, a paying internship, and a modest apartment close to the firm where she studied. However, that seemed like nothing in comparison to Tamaki Suoh's vast accomplishments.

As a student a year older than Haruhi, he had graduated three years prior, and had wasted no time in making a name for himself. Instead of perusing higher education, Tamaki's father gave him a smaller company to spread his wings with. Within the year, the relatively small chain of hotels grew to cover the entire country. And with the passing of a second year, Tamaki's hotel chain had grown to cover Europe and parts of China as well. The Host Club president had retained his unpretentious charm after graduation, and had showed the world what a natural business-man he truly was.

Of course, the other Host Club members had accounted for themselves nicely, all becoming as rich in their own rights as they had been under the influence of their parents. Unfortunately, that also meant that the friends hardly ever had time to get together and catch up.

So Haruhi had come up with a plan that was looking less bright with each passing second. She had invited all six of them over for a dinner party at her new apartment to celebrate their accomplishments. Five of the "répondez s'il vous plaits" Haruhi had received were full of honest regret that the sender could not attend, due to pressing previous engagements. One of them had been an enthusiastic 'yes.'

Tamaki Suoh.

And thus, the problem of what dress to wear was indeed a pressing conundrum indeed.

Haruhi looked over the array of pots simmering on her oven-top, almost a little regretful that nothing needed attending to for at least another half-hour. Cooking was always by-the-book, always certain knowledge; a simple thing of beauty that would have been a welcome distraction from the gnawing fact that she was having Tamaki over alone. Leaving her kitchen with an even deeper scowl than before, Haruhi stomped into the dining room.

She figured she should be grateful that her new apartment was larger than the one she had shared with her father. The dining room was the proper size to entertain a party of seven or even more, and her traditional, low-slung dining table was made from beautiful polished oak. It was a room that she would be proud to have any wealthy guest view.

However, the oaken table seemed to be set too intimately for a dinner for two. Three candlesticks adorned a lace-woven table runner, and at the base of each candlestick was a small festoon of flowers and fern-leaves, a decoration Haruhi had splurged a little on before she had known how many guests were to be in attendance. It would only be wasteful not to use them, and so they had stayed. Also, so had the fine china borrowed from her father, set down at one end of the table, across from one another to allow easy, close conversation. Haruhi had deliberated about putting the place-setting opposite one another at the ends of the table and finally had decided against it, fearing it to be too formal.

Tamaki-sempai is a friend. A close friend I haven't seen in a little over a year! Haruhi resolutely reminded herself. It would be rude and wasteful to make this meeting awkward with my over-analyzing.

Haruhi surveyed the table, and then retraced her steps back through the kitchen and to her bedroom Everything else was ready; it was time to make herself presentable.

And no more stalling, Haruhi firmly told herself. You need to wear something other than these sweatpants.

The two dresses seemed to mock her as she slid the door shut behind her unconsciously. Her scowl deepened even more, and she sat down next to them on the bed.

She had originally planned on the black one, because in the midst of six wealthy, well-appareled friends, being a little dressier would have only been acceptable. When she found out she was only dining with Tamaki, she had dug the blue one out as a safe-guard.

During their time together at high school, Haruhi had always thought that Tamaki had a small affection for her, and then she hadn't minded. In her deepest heart-of-hearts, she had had crushes on all six of the Host Club members. This she had justified with the quite truthful opinion that most every female within the walls of Ouran High had a crush on the handsome six, and that in spending all her time around them she was bound to develop some feelings for them. However, Tamaki always seemed to hover over the gentle line separating innocent crush and serious affection, and she remembered his graduation quite vividly. His family had thrown him a lavish graduation party, and just before Haruhi had gone home, Tamaki had taken her off to the side. The smoldering look in his beautiful blue eyes had no trace of his usual bumbling grandeur. He had knelt, taken her hand, and brushed his lips to her hand. Haruhi still shivered a little thinking about it.

Overall, Haruhi was not worried about how Tamaki would act. She knew he'd be a perfect gentleman; his charm, honest interest in her life, his extensive hosting skills, and his genuine friendly personality would make the evening truly enjoyable. They would spend the night talking, reminiscing, and laughing. Tamaki would delight in the home-made cooking, she would compliment his business-skills, and he would blush modestly and quickly change topics. Then, he would try to pay for the meal, she would refuse, he would thank her heartily for the hospitality and then leave. He would give her nothing to be nervous about. Actually, he probably wouldn't even fathom that he could make me nervous, Haruhi thought wryly. He never was too quick on the uptake.

In fact, Haruhi was more nervous about what she may do or say under the influence of candlelight and red wine, not how Tamaki would behave.

"Enough of that!" Haruhi said aloud, embarrassed at the avenue her thoughts had taken. "Just for that, I'm wearing the black!"

Might as well, as long as I shaved past my knees. Haruhi smiled ruefully, stepping out of her sweatpants and comfortable tee shirt. Carefully, as not to wrinkle the fabric, she stepped into the small dress and surveyed herself in the mirror. Not bad.

Haruhi had never lost her boyish figure, which had been a mixed blessing in high school. The rest of the student body remained ignorant to her true gender, allowing her to stay in the Host Club. On the other hand, Haruhi had started to tire of being so boyish all the time. The dress was a result from that frustration; Kaoru and Hikaru, whose parents, who owned a large fashion-clothing company, had taken her shopping for her feminine side and had persuaded her to allow them to select the dress for her. She had never really worn it because it certainly let the world know she was a woman.

Now the only problem that remained was her hair. It was still short, styled very similarly to the haircut she wore in high school. Doing something creative with it was out of the question; no, something a little more feminine would be nice. Simple, but feminine.

Fifteen minutes of struggling with mousse later, Haruhi almost declared defeat. The effect was just messy, and she wasn't sure if that were good or bad. In the end, she parted her hair down the side and left it in its slightly-wild state, silently swearing to never let anyone know how a hair-care product triumphed over the pre-law student.

Haruhi glanced at her alarm clock; it was almost time for Tamaki's arrival. She hurried to the kitchen to finish the meal.

At the musical tone of her doorbell, Haruhi hurried to the front entrance and pulled the door open. "Tamaki-sempai!"

"Haruhi-kun!" Tamaki Suoh bowed deeply before engulfing her small frame in a huge hug. "It's been far too long!"

"It has!" Haruhi's words were muffled by Tamaki's fierce hug. "You're looking well!"

Tamaki finally released her, and beamed down at her. "Likewise!" He was dressed in a suit that was obviously worth more than her entire apartment. It was cut stylishly, made in a fine dark fabric and adorned with gold-rimmed buttons. Respectfully, he took off his shoes and set them next to his briefcase before stepping onto the wooden flooring, and Haruhi could read the expensive, foreign brand-name on the bottom of the shoe. He had filled out a little since she had last seen him; his shoulders were broader and his face more mature.

"I apologize if this dinner inconvenienced you," Haruhi said, ushering him into the dining room. "None of the others were able to come."

"No, no, think nothing of it." Tamaki said graciously. "I just returned home from an extended business trip in France; I had scheduled myself some time off of work." He paused, face full of warmth. "You really do look well, Haruhi-kun. That dress is beautiful on you."

Haruhi grinned. "Kaoru-kun and Hikaru-kun picked it out for me our final year at Ouran."

Tamaki laughed. "They would have the expertise. You know they're running their family's business now, don't you?"

"That was the rumor I heard," Haruhi agreed. "They certainly had their mother's flair for dramatic design while we were in school."

This isn't bad at all. Haruhi thought as they continued to reminisce. It's like we never left school. She silently surveyed him while he chuckled over Mori's choice of being Hunny's personal assistant as a career. Except he's lost some of his foolishness.

"Well, how about we get dinner started?" Haruhi suggested. "When I found that the others weren't going to be able to attend, I altered my food selection a little. I think you'll like it."

As she brought out the first 'course,' Tamaki started to laugh. "Beef commoner's ramen! Oh, Haruhi-kun, you remembered!"

"How could I forget, Ousama?" Haruhi grinned, using his old 'King' nickname. "I've never seen anyone so enthusiastic about instant-ramen before I met you."

"Oh, Haruhi-kun, I've missed you." Tamaki said fondly.

Haruhi felt a smile coming to her face. "I've missed you as well."

"More than any of the others?" His eyes gleamed hopefully.

Never mind. He is still a fool.

"Still the same old Ousama." Haruhi sighed, and set down the large serving dish of ramen. She scooped some into his bowl, and then into hers. "Banzai!"

"Banzai!" Tamaki picked up his chopsticks, slightly awkward. "In France, they use forks, and I got used to it. Aha, there we go!"

Haruhi giggled at his enraptured expression as he tasted the ramen. "Do you like it?"

"Like it?" Tamaki declared blissfully, "This is divine! The finest chef in the entire world cannot boast of dishes more succulent than this!"

"And to think, only one-hundred thirteen yen for such a fine cuisine!" Haruhi joked. (1)

"Haruhi-kun, my apologies! I have been rude, and I forgot about my hostess gift. Excuse me." Tamaki stood and left the room, returning with a bottle of wine in his hands. "The finest France can offer; a Chateaux Margaux Bordeaux, said to be made from the most luscious white grapes in the world. I visited the Barsac vineyard while in France, and the smell in the air is the sweetest scent I have ever had the honor to enjoy."

Haruhi was personally glad that she had planned to bring out her now feeble wine selection with the second course. She accepted the bottle with thanks, and hurried to get wine glasses. Tamaki protested.

"Haruhi-kun, do not waste it on me!"

"Wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends." Haruhi said firmly. She poured them both out a measured amount and gently touched her glass to Tamaki's in a silent toast. Bringing the glass to her lips, she took a small sip. It was as good as Tamaki had said; the sweet, florid taste was perfectly balanced with the dry finish and the full-bodied flavor.

Tamaki watched her delighted expression. "Good, no?"

"It's wonderful!" Haruhi set down her glass. "This will go well with my next course."

"I'm flattered you made more than one course tonight, Haruhi-kun." Tamaki rose as she did. "May I help at all?"

"No. Sit." Haruhi made sure that he followed her orders before disappearing into the kitchen. Inwardly, she marveled at the change in Tamaki. When they were still in school, he was very confused by her 'common' ways and whenever he offered to help he usually only served to hinder. But more often than not, he would sit back and let others serve him, not even thinking that he was being rude. Most of the student population in Ouran High was the same way, all being used to being served hand and foot. Tonight, though, he had politely waited for an order, not jumping in to do what he thought would aid her. He's a fool, but a more modest and polite one than the Tamaki-sempai I knew.

The second course was a wholesome sukiyaki, a beef dish combined with vegetables and tofu that had been seasoned with soy sauce and sugar and after it had been heated, dipped in raw, beaten egg. It was a delicious meal that could be either affordable or expensive, and tonight Haruhi had splurged and bought delicacies to season the beef.

Their talk ranged from Haruhi's internship and law studies to Tamaki's latest business trip to Europe. Haruhi found Tamaki still possessed his florid speech, and his descriptions of castles and the scenic landscapes were detailed and vivid. He was still, unconsciously, a wonderful host. He didn't dwell on subjects that he thought would be boring to her (for which she was very grateful) and asked thoughtful questions that showed a deep interest for her answers. He was charming and entertaining, involved and full of wit.

For some reason, that bothered Haruhi a little bit. She knew his personality was never all that deep or multifaceted, but when he was still the princely host she never had minded. An act for the countless female customers was all fine and good; but an act for her? The thought was troubling.

She knew she was being silly, and that Tamaki's conversation skills were genuine. This was who he was, and the fact that he had used it to his advantage as a host and now a businessman didn't cheapen his person. Haruhi resolved to let the feeling go, but it still bothered her throughout the third course of sushi (Tamaki laughed again when he saw the ootori) and to the desert of strawberry daifuku. (2 and 3)

The candles were considerably lower as Haruhi cleared away the last of the dishes from the meal, leaving only the wine glasses and the half –finished bottle of Bordeaux.

"I must thank you, Haruhi-kun." Tamaki swirled his wine glass absently. "This has been one of the most pleasant evenings I have spent in a very long time."

"I knew you liked ramen, Tamaki-sempai, but really, is it that good?" Haruhi joked.

"I'm serious, Haruhi-kun. Even though the ramen was a treat," he smiled, "it has been awhile since I had such an unpretentious meal with a friend. It seems that every other dinner I am invited to turns into a ploy to get into my good favor."

"That must be very hard." Haruhi said softly.

Tamaki ran a hand through his hair. "Occupational hazard, I suppose. And," he smiled again, "they make me appreciate the far less ambition-driven invitations all the more."

"I am very glad you're enjoying yourself. Though, I feel bad that it wasn't a Host Club reunion as I promised on the invite."

"All the more reason to plan another get-together. We must do so as to secure your good name once again."

"My good name?" Haruhi was confused.

"Yes. You see, there is no reunion, so that makes you a liar."

Haruhi began to laugh. "Well, then, I suppose a rain check is necessary! Only this time, I've got to check to make sure Kyouya-sempai isn't in New York and the twins aren't in Germany and Hunny-sempai and Mori-sempai aren't in China and you're not in France somewhere, smelling the grapes again."

Tamaki put on a face of mock hurt. "Hey! I smelled those grapes just for you, you know!"

Haruhi raised her eyebrow. "Really. You were planning on getting me this very bottle of wine?"

"Of course." Tamaki's face and voice were suddenly very serious. "I know you're partial to sweets, and this is some of the sweetest wine in France."

There was a pause in the conversation as Haruhi contemplated the fact that Tamaki had been thinking about her, even when he was overseas and when they hadn't met face-to-face in over a year.

Tamaki set his wine glass down, his blue eyes taking on the same hard, smoldering look they had had when he kissed her hand at his graduation. "Haruhi-kun, I think of you a lot."

Haruhi swallowed, trying to think of something dismissive to say, anything to break the sudden tension.

"I know, this is sudden, unexpected, and probably unwelcome, but, Haruhi-kun…" His eyes looked slightly over-bright, as if tears were flooding their surface. "My thoughts of you are no longer those of a father or a friend, like when we were still at school. I-I miss you, Haruhi-kun, and I don't want to anymore."

Haruhi felt betrayed as a sudden thought occurred to her. Even though he had grown in manners and in physical form, he was still just the King of Hosts. She had watched him weave his spell over countless women in the same manner; tears unshed in his eyes, the earnest, gentlemanly tone of voice, the slight falter in his words that blended sweetly with his voice. He was trying to win her over, as he had won countless customers.

"Tamaki-sempai, I'm surprised at you."

"Haruhi-kun?" He was confused.

"How dare you come into my home, accept my hospitality, and all you wanted to do was be the host?"

"Haruhi-kun, that's not-"

Haruhi cut him off. "I am ashamed of you, Tamaki-sempai. I thought you knew that the Host Club was just a game, a rich, over-pampered fantasy that kept you amused. I thought that once you had graduated, you would learn there's a difference between the Host Club and the outside world. Damn you, I never thought you'd try that with me!"

"You think I'm just trying to get you weak in the knees, all for fun?-!" Tamaki cried. "Haruhi-kun, I-"

"I'm not one of your customers!" Haruhi half-shouted.

"You're right, you're not! And I'm not treating you like one! Haruhi, I'm in love with you and I've been in love with you for almost as long as I've known you!"

There was a silence. Tamaki was breathing a little heavily, but sat back, regaining control. He did not look as though he was embarrassed or regretful about what he had just confessed.

"I wasn't trying to make you fall for me like I would make a customer fall for me." Tamaki said quietly. "As long as I've known you, I've been trying to make you notice me, and when I came here tonight, I was determined to do so. You're right, I've been a host for so long, even after I graduated, and it's hard to tell the difference between the show and the real thing."

Haruhi stared at him, still unable to speak.

"I said that once, a long time ago. In our first year together, a younger boy wanted me to teach him to make girls happy."

Haruhi remembered the experience. It had turned out that the boy didn't want to make girls in general happy, but instead wanted to make one girl happy. After they had found that out, Tamaki had insisted that he and the boy have piano lessons together, because that girl loved the piano so much.

"When we learned it was a certain woman he wished to please, I told him that the tricks that work for all girls are not intense enough for the one woman you wish for truly. It is the same for me as it was for him. I come to you not wanting you to become one of the many who have adored me; I come to you wanting to be the only one for you to adore, as I have always adored you. And if my years of hosting have ruined my chance with you, then I curse every second I spent as one."

Haruhi stared straight into his intense blue eyes, seeing his burning honesty and fear inside of them. With his customers, Tamaki had always been confident; it was his doubt that made her finally believe him.

Haruhi always had been calm, level-headed, collected, and cool. She was a quick-thinker, and smart. She didn't need anyone to hold her hand, to tell her what to do. Because of this, Haruhi didn't wait for Tamaki to lean across the table and kiss her. Instead, she kissed him.

The End

Authoress here.

(1) 1 United States Dollar 114.666 Japan Yen
(2) Ootori is an expensive sushi dish that, in the anime, is a treat that Haruhi is very fond of but has little of because of the price.
(3) Strawberry daifuku is a rice cake filled with strawberry and anko (simmered sweet beans)

I am sorry if I deviated from either of their characters, but I haven't seen or read enough about Ouran Host Club to really grasp them well.

I had a blast writing this, and, I'd like to say if anyone else has a challenge for me, I would love to try it. Thank you, InuKuramaRMine for this challenge!

Please leave me your thoughts and feelings on this story. I appreciate it!