Author's note: Thanks to all of you who read and reviewed since it made writing this worthwhile. I wasn't so sure about posting the epilogue though since it's written in two different styles Oh well..
DISCLAIMER: Ouran High School is the property of Bisco Hatori
The Travelers and the Peasant Girl
Long, long ago in a land where happy endings were still possible, a prince, a sorcerer, a pair of tricksters and two warriors decided to travel together. They were rich, handsome and had plenty of time on their hands. They whiled away their days making noble women fall in love with them and going off on adventures.
And if there were times when they found all the sighing and squealing a bit much, they would wander through distant lands searching for enchanted swords, cats that talk and other elusive items.
On a quest to find a blue rose, the travelers wandered into a village famous for its roses and spent the night at an inn. But a foolish peasant left the stable door open and thieves stole the travelers' horses. The peasant's daughter told the travelers her family could not replace the animals. So to pay the debt, she became their apprentice and coffeemaker. She left the village and accompanied them on their adventures.
Because she was a truthful person, she told them their looks and riches did not impress her. Yet she grew to like them because they were good and kind men. She was unlike any woman the travelers had ever met and it wasn't long before they fell in love with her. They wanted her to stay with them always.
Still the girl left after she worked off what her father owed. As a parting gift, the sorcerer gave her a woolen cloak. He cast a spell on the cloak that would reunite them again if she so wished. But he kept that a secret.
The girl returned to her quiet life in the village. She would smile when she thought of the travelers and their adventures. The years passed and she began to miss them and their life on the road. But she wished for nothing more than enough food on the table, a roof over her head and the good health of her father.
Then one day as the villagers celebrated a good harvest, bandits attacked the village. They stole what they could, burned the houses and killed many including her father. Wrapped in her cloak, the girl fled into the forest where she hid for days. Tired, hungry and alone, she huddled under a tree and wished her former companions were with her.
They appeared in a puff of smoke and asked her to join them again.
"We'll be together forever!" they cried.
"But there is no such thing as forever," she said. "There is only today and tomorrow."
"Then we'll be with you today and for many tomorrows."
And the girl smiled once more.
Haruhi Fujioka. 36. Successful lawyer, mother of one and legal wife to none, looked with disinterest at the platter of ootoro held in front of her.
"I don't think I want any," she said.
The six men and one boy seated at the dinner table gawked at her in surprise.
Haruhi sipped a glass of water and ignored the seafood and meat dishes on the table. However, she polished off two slices of chocolate cake. She then excused herself and spent the rest of the evening in her room.
The next morning, Haruhi ate only a piece of unbuttered toast and drank tea. She said anything else made her nauseous. Mori looked at Hunny who happily dug into his pancakes and asked the others what color they should paint the walls of the new baby's room.
Yuji tugged on Haruhi's sleeve and asked if he was going to get a brother or a sister. Hikaru and Kaoru whipped out sketchpads and started planning what the new nursery would look like. Kyoya called his assistant and ordered that an appointment be made this week with the country's best obstetrician. Tamaki grabbed Haruhi and started dancing around the room until she ruined his new suit with the remains of last night's cake and today's toast.
As Mori pried Haruhi away from Tamaki and carried her to a bathroom, Hunny called the law firm to say his wife was too sick to come in to work today. No one corrected him because Monday was his day.
Haruhi could hear their excited chatter as she cleaned herself up. She insisted on going to work but Mori shook his head and blocked her way by standing in front of the door. He only moved when she sighed and agreed to stay home.
He carried her to her room where she changed into a pair of pajamas. Haruhi sat on the bed and rubbed her legs. She felt tired and showed it. The consequences of adding another child to their unusual family was also not lost on her.
"How can we put another child through what Yuji already faces?' she asked the tall stoic man.
Hunny bounded into the room and took in the scene in one glance. Mori walked over to his cousin and they exchanged a look. The smaller man sat next to Haruhi on the bed.
"What's worrying you, Haru-chan?"
"Do you think it's fair to subject another child to all this?"
Hunny laughed and hugged her.
"Haru-chan, you had a cross-dressing father, went through high school pretending to be a boy and was the only poor student in Ouran where family name and wealth were important. Did you care what people thought?"
But what people did to her son mattered a lot to her. So much so, that she left the men who loved her. None of them wanted a repeat of that. Hunny promised himself he would never let anyone drive his Haru-chan away ever again.
He reminded her that Yuji was the most popular boy at school and a favorite of the girls. She rolled her eyes, remembering the day she caught her son picking all the roses in the garden. Yuji admitted they were for his princesses at school. Papa told him girls love roses although Daddy Kyoya suggested he sell the flowers to the girls instead.
Hunny hurriedly pointed out that Yuji never gave much thought to what gossipmongers said about him. The boy was impervious to insults about his pedigree. She admitted Hunny had a point.
"Yuji doesn't seem to mind what people say. But I think that is more Tamaki's influence than mine. Plus you two made sure he could knock people around if he needed to," she added.
"Hmm," was Mori's reply.
Hunny put his hand on her still flat stomach. When he spoke, it was in the solemn tone he seldom used.
"Takashi and I will teach the children everything we know about martial arts. There are hateful people in this world and sometimes, you can't ignore them."
The others fortunately chose that moment to enter her room. Kyoya told Haruhi she had an appointment with the obstetrician in two days. Tamaki carried a bowl of soup and somehow dodged the twins' attempts to trip him.
"Haruhi! Have a sip of this chicken soup. Cook said it will make you feel better," Tamaki cheerfully said. He'd changed into a polo shirt and tan pants.
She did not feel like having soup and told him so. But she finished half the bowl when Tamaki's lower lip quivered and his sad puppy eyes looked at her. She soon regretted her decision and fled to the bathroom.
As she crawled back into bed, she told them she wasn't hungry but her growling stomach contradicted her.
"You need to eat something. It's not good for the baby," Kaoru said. "Is there something you want to eat? We can get it for you."
"Anything you want. We can borrow our family's plane if we need to," Hikaru added.
She sighed at their wasteful behavior. However, she thought about their offer for several minutes then seemed to come to a decision.
"For some reason I want something sweet," Haruhi said. "I have this urge to eat strawberry cake with lots of strawberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream."
Hunny grinned impishly at his startled friends. He wondered if the baby would have his blonde hair or Haruhi's eyes. He was going to enjoy the next eight months.