A.N.: Where I have read to in the manga, being unable to read raw scanlations and relying on the Viz translation, I as of yet have seen none of the Black Magic Club. Since this story focuses around Nekozawa, some scenes will take place at his club; therefore, I will have to invent a lot. As new knowledge comes to me of the club's members and activities I will make appropriate changes to the story. But until I have more evidence I will at least try not to write them too much. After all, this is a story about Nekozawa; not his club.
Umehito Nekozawa was completely at a loss. He just couldn't seem to function properly. His grades, his mood, even his club activities were all suffering. He made less frequent appearances at other people's clubs, trying to coax them into joining his own, and in fact often didn't even come to class.
He was searching for Bereznoff.
This happened from time to time. He knew he was a social outcast, not that it bothered him, but because of it he was subject to childish teasing and pranks. Often, his tormentors would choose to steal and hide his treasured cat puppet. They always thought they were so damned funny. It was a particularly bad problem in his first year of middle school- when everyone was required to take P.E.
No matter how rich you are, there's no escaping a mandatory gym class.
This time, the Theater Club (who were in the same hallway as the Black Magic Club) had asked to borrow some props for one of their productions. While Nekozawa was slightly offended that they would call his articles of power and ancient religious antiques "props", he helped them out nonetheless, because the Theater Club offended him in no way, and anyhow he would get his club advertised in the production's program.
But somewhere along the way, in the moving of objects from one room to another, Bereznoff had gotten lost, and for the life of him Nekozawa couldn't remember where. He'd searched the entire Theater as well as his own club room to no avail. He even managed to get both clubs to aid his search one evening (much to their chagrin), but nothing came up.
It had now been nearly a week.
Bereznoff had always turned up before. He would be lost for a day, maybe. But he would always find his way back to his master. But for some reason, this time, the poor spirit could not find his way back home. It was a very trying experience for Nekozawa and for everyone who knew him, because anyone who had thought they'd seen Nekozawa at his most frightening had not seen him in a bad mood. His attitude with people was short, and his patience was thin. And when he cursed at you, somehow it was much easier to believe you may actually have been cursed.
The reason for all this spite wasn't even because Bereznoff was lost- it was because he was stolen. Nekozawa knew that someone had Bereznoff and was intentionally keeping it from him. He saw it all in a tarot layout- all, but who had actually done it. Tarot cards are not quite that specific.
Some people thought it was better off this way. He was seen less frequently, and perhaps if Bereznoff were lost forever, Nekozawa would outgrow his childish need for it. But for the rare few people that actually knew him, all were pained to see him in that state, miserable and irritated, haunting the halls of Ouran like a ghost.
Meanwhile, poor Bereznoff was suffering his own form of torture. For indeed, Nekozawa's prediction had been right; the small cat was being held captive- the new temporary plaything of the Hitachiin twins.
"How about the flagpole?" Kaoru suggested, pulling on Bereznoff's ear, "Maybe we could tie it to the top."
"That's too high, no one would ever see it," Hikaru replied, waving the idea off. "Besides, how would we get it up there? We need someplace where someone would eventually find it."
"Maybe a basketball hoop, then. He'd have to actually make a basket to get it down!"
"What are you two doing?" Haruhi inquired, taking a seat beside Kaoru. The two boys grinned mischievously at her.
"Hello, Haruhi!" they greeted in unison. The girl's eyes widened in surprise as Bereznoff waved at her from Kaoru's hand. "Where did you get that!?" she asked.
"We found it," Hikaru explained, "It's not like we stole it."
"The Theater Club has the same costume designer as the Host Club," Kaoru continued. "We went down there to get our next box of costumes, and it was just sitting on top of the box."
"Finders keepers!" the two of them laughed. Haruhi rolled her eyes.
"Not that it's any business of mine, but doesn't it occur to you he's probably going crazy looking for it?" she asked, but they seemed unaffected.
"We'll give it back," they defended, as Kaoru turned it over and peered inside, as if trying to decide what to fill the puppet with.
"We're just thinking of creative ways to surprise Nekozawa with it!" Hikaru laughed. "Like if he found it in the aquarium in the first library."
"Hey! That's a good one!" Kaoru quickly jumped at the suggestion. "Can you imagine the look on his face?"
It was that moment that Haruhi chose to swipe the doll from Kaoru's uncaring grasp. "Hunny has a doll, too, and no one makes fun of him for it," she scolded, putting the doll in her bag.
Of course, Hunny has the body and spirit of an eight year old...
"Why are you defending Nekozawa?" The twins asked together.
"Who knows," she answered. "I'm giving this back to him."
"Aw, Haruhi, don't be mad!" they pleaded simultaneously, identical grins plastered across their faces.
As she didn't share any classes with him, the only place Haruhi knew for sure she could find Nekozawa was at his club. She only had a vague sort of idea where their club office was, but knew at least when they met. It was hard to forget the club that scrawled their own meeting time over the fliers for other clubs in black calligraphy ink.
One of the Black Magic Club's meeting days was shared with her own club, so that was out of the question, but the other wasn't. So after class that day, she made her way down to the art wing of the school. She'd heard that they met in one of the theater rehearsal rooms.... when the Theater Club didn't need it.
I guess they aren't a very popular club, that they only get space if no one needs it...
Finally finding the room she assumed to be the right one, she unhesitatingly knocked. After a long moment, the door cracked open with an eerie creaking noise, and a hooded figure peered out at her. Haruhi suppressed the urge to shiver uncomfortably.
Immediately Nekozawa recognized one of the members of the Host Club, and was filled with dread and anxiety. "Mister Fujioka," he began, not bothering to hide a frown. "How may I help you?"
"I think this is yours," Haruhi replied, and held Bereznoff up. With a sudden flash of movement the door swung open and Nekozawa snatched the doll from her, staring at it in disbelief, his eyes wide.
"Where did you find him?!" he asked excitedly. Under his cloak and wig, Haruhi could see an expression of sheer joy lighting Nekozawa's pale face. For some reason, her mind brought up a picture of the blond boy that hid beneath the cloak and shadows, for whom this expression seemed more appropriate. This was likely because the last time she had seen a similar expression on him was when he connected with his younger sister, Kirimi.
"Err... well..." She tried to come up with an explanation that wouldn't vilify Hikaru and Kaoru, even if they were the cause. "I found it in our most recent box of costumes..."
"Ah, so that's where he's been," he replied happily (to Haruhi's relief), "I did lose him in the Theater Club after all!"
He grinned at the cat puppet on his hand, his mood infinitely improved since he first opened the door. He was happy, and so, so was she. Her mission accomplished, she stepped back.
"Well, have a good day," Haruhi bowed politely and turned to leave.
"Fujioka, wait," Nekozawa called, and she stopped and turned towards him. His presence now was the same as it usually was; dark, shady, and sort of ridiculous. He beckoned towards her to come closer.
"You must let me reward you," he began eerily, a vicious smile on his lips, his eyes hidden under the dark strands of his wig. Haruhi's eyebrows rose in concern, but she smiled politely.
"No, that isn't necessary, really. Thank you anyhow." She began to back away, but to her surprise he grabbed her wrist and pulled her forward. Haruhi found herself staring from just inches away at Nekozawa's ominous grin, and Bereznoff's angry smile. It was very uncomfortable.
"I insist," he persisted. "You've done me a great service. Would you like use of an ancient relic of unfathomable power? Perhaps there's someone you would like cursed?"
"No, really-" She tried to pull away, but he still held her wrist.
"Maybe advice from your totem animal spirit? Or- I know! This one is a very popular choice. You would like your fortune told!"
"Really, I don't want anything," Haruhi insisted, becoming agitated. "I don't even believe in any of that stuff."
Nekozawa was undaunted. "No one does, at first, until they try it. Come! It won't take long!" And before she could protest again he had pulled her into the club room, shutting the door behind them.
As soon as they entered, he raised his arms triumphantly into the air, one hand still gripping Haruhi's wrist and the other sporting his recently reunited puppet. Several cloaked figures in the room burst into a round of applause. Haruhi's face fell in embarrassment.
"Everyone," Nekozawa began, addressing his club members, "Haruhi Fujioka has returned our wayward friend to us. As payment for services rendered, he has accepted a fortunetelling."
"I haven't accepted anything!" But her protest went unheard as a murmur of excitement rang through the club. She sighed heavily. It was beginning to occur to her that maybe this wasn't payment for anything, that Nekozawa just really wanted his club to participate in a fortunetelling, and she'd just happened to be there.
"What do you think?" Nekozawa released Haruhi's wrist and grinned at her, the candles that dimly lit the room casting dark, flickering shadows across his pale face. "Palm reading? Mahjong tiles? Tea leaves?"
"W-well... I guess I can't really get out of this..." A palm reading didn't sound like it required any tools so maybe it was quickest. "I'll try the palm reading..."
She was quickly pulled over to a small, round table with two chairs facing each other, and he gestured for her to take a seat, which she did.
Looking now around the room she noted about five members besides the club's president. Three were males, two were females, and all were dressed in black. "So what do you do here, anyhow?" Haruhi asked innocently, her curiosity towards the activities of this club finally compelling her. As long as she was here, it wouldn't hurt to be polite and conversive. "Learn how to do love spells and fortunetelling?"
"Oh, no," Nekozawa shook his head, smiling under his hood, seeming to take pleasure in her interest in his club. "It's much more than all that. We learn how to conjure and control true magic. But not love magic. Shinobu, tell him why we don't do love magic."
He turned his attention towards a small figure who yelped and began to fidget nervously. He wasn't smiling now, and Haruhi guessed that this was a part of some lesson the girl was being taught in some private matter. It was possible, Haruhi thought, that the idea of love spells were what brought the young girl to this club.
"U-um...." the girl stammered, hiding her face with her hood, "B-because love is, um... good and light... and um.... casting a spell on them isn't really love... its control... and that's, um... bad..." She seemed to lose it a little at the end, her voice becoming smaller as her embarrassment grew. Haruhi stared at the nervous girl, who was blushing heavily and avoiding her gaze. Her hair was dark brown, her features mousey and shy. Suddenly a light bulb went off in Haruhi's head.
"Shinobu Kokoro!" She announced, and the girl flinched, lifting her head to gasp at Haruhi in humiliated horror. That action confirmed Haruhi's suspicion. Shinobu was one of Tamaki's regulars at the Host Club. Was it possible she joined the Black magic Club to learn how to use a love spell on Tamaki?
"I thought I recognized you," Haruhi continued, unaware of the girl's desire to remain anonymous. "I didn't know you were a member of this club."
"I... well, I..." she stammered under the pressure, as everyone's attention came to her. "I just joined recently... P-please don't tell Tamaki, Haruhi! I don't think he cares for this club.... he might... lose respect for me..."
She seemed to be shaking now. Was she really so dependent on what other people thought of her?
"Why would he lose respect for you?" Haruhi asked, tilting her head curiously. "What you like is what you like. It's yours and no one else's. This is your hobby. And anyone who looks down on you for it, you don't really need in your life. Right?"
She smiled at the girl, who looked back with an expression of understanding. Finally, Shinobu weakly smiled back in return.
"Fujioka is right," said one boy Haruhi didn't recognize. "You're having fun and to Hell with the rest of them."
"My grandma says to Hell with me if I keep this up," another boy added, and the rest of the club laughed. Haruhi could see their faces now. She didn't recognize any of them, but there wasn't anything creepy or weird about them. Haruhi laughed too, and found that she felt more relaxed after that. She was able to understand that under all the veils of mystery the club members hid behind, they were just students like her, bound together by this common interest. It was really no different from any other club. She turned towards Nekozawa, then, to discover that he was looking at her. He seemed curiously amused, and contemplative.
"Haruhi," he began, his voice startling her slightly, "Give me your hand."
Haruhi complied, holding her hand out wide. Brushing back his hood so it fell over his shoulders, he set Bereznoff aside and lightly took her hand in his own, tracing his fingertips gently across the lines worn into her palm. She suppressed a light shiver at the strange sensation.
"You have very feminine hands, Mister Fujioka," he commented, glancing up at her with a smirk. Haruhi scowled, blushing slightly, making him snicker at her reaction. He went back to contemplating her hand, focusing on it with great intensity. His club members surrounded him, their hoods also drawn back, entranced.
"You have a strong family connection," he began, brushing his finger along the side of her hand above her thumb. "Perhaps caused by a great personal tragedy that occurred right here, at the beginning of your life." Nekozawa gestured towards something on Haruhi's hand. She didn't know what she was supposed to be looking for, but the other students seemed to take great interest in it. Haruhi began to feel uncomfortable in how eerily accurate this was already turning out to be; but then, her mother's death was no secret. He could just be applying what he already knows about her to some things that could be easily deduced.
"You're life will have its rough points," he continued, "but it evens out as you find a comfortable place. You are also very intelligent. Aside of course from the common knowledge that you got into this school via a scholarship, you also have a fine tuned wisdom. An old soul. Others will often come to you for advice, which you often will give. Though, at the cost of many migraines," He indicated something else on her hand, and the others laughed. Again, this could easily be anyone's life. He was being sort of nonspecific so far. Although she was often sought after for advice. Still, that could be applying what he already knows about her again.
Nekozawa continued. "Your line of fate is solid and straight, suggesting that you've always known what you're going to do with your life, and that is exactly what you do with no deviation. As for your line of love..."
Everyone glanced at Haruhi briefly, before staring at her hand again with intent curiosity. Haruhi was a little bothered suddenly by how nosy everyone was turning out to be in her personal matters. Nekozawa glanced up at her then too, catching her eye. He smiled wryly before looking back down. There was a moment of silence as he traced the line. The air seemed to be sucked out of the room as he studied it. Everyone seemed so interested that Haruhi couldn't help but to stare at her own hand as well, as if hoping to see what they saw.
Then, slowly, Nekozawa's dark laughter filled the room, his face split in an unsettling grin. He closed her hand and drew away from her.
"Your life is about to change, Mister Fujioka," he stated darkly, and left it on that mysterious note. There was a moment of silence as everyone waited for someone to say something, until finally she realized he was done. Haruhi stood up.
"Well," she began, "That was very... informative." Except that last part. "Thank you for sharing your talent with me. I'm afraid I must be going now."
"You're welcome back anytime," He smiled eerily. "Our club is always accepting new members."
"Thank you for the invitation. I'll consider it." With a courteous nod towards Shinobu, Haruhi started towards the door.
"Uh! Um! H-Haruhi, wait!" She heard Shinobu call after her, and stopped. Painfully, she turned around. Was there nothing that would make this trip end? The other girl was fussing nervously with the edge of her skirt, avoiding Haruhi's eyes.
"Uh... well... You see... I... I'm not very good at palm readings..... but... I'm kinda good.... at tarot....." Her voice trailed off as she nervously glanced up at Haruhi, then away again. She cleared her throat. "S-so I thought... sometime you could let me practice... erm, with you.... But its okay if you don't want to. You can say no!" she added quickly at the end.
She was shaking, and seemed to be on the verge of a panic attack. The other members shot Haruhi a threatening look that seemed to read if you say the wrong thing, she WILL faint. Haruhi sighed.
"Don't you practice with your friends?" she asked. Shinobu shook her head. "I don't want them to know I can do it until I'm really good at it. Then I'll surprise them. You see?" She looked up hopefully. Haruhi glanced towards Nekozawa, and noticed that he was pretending not to be paying attention at all, engrossing himself in lighting some taper candles. Obviously, he was listening.
"Well, I guess I can see the logic in that..." Haruhi started slowly. Shinobu's face lit up.
"So you will? Will you come by next week?"
Everyone was staring at her now. She tried to think of a way out of it, but without breaking Shinobu's innocent heart, nothing came to mind.
"...Well.... I guess if it's just one time..." Haruhi finally conceded with a defeated shrug. Shinobu squealed happily, her hands clasped together joyfully. "Thank you so much, Haruhi! It means the world to me!"
From across the room, Umehito Nekozawa grinned viciously at her, the light of the candle he was holding reflecting a clever glint in his eye.
"Welcome to the Black Magic Club, Haruhi Fujioka."
How do I always get tricked into these clubs? She thought with a resigned sigh.