But it's a present he's after, after all. And it comes to him after a night of not-really-sleep in his bed and visions of an angry Fuyumi dancing in his head.

The present.

Haruhi's present.

He actually feels good enough the next day that he helps Fuyumi not to burn her cookies. After all, with a plan (or in this case a recipe), everything comes out much more smoothly.

Smooth, Kyouya, a sarcastic voice in his head tells him.

"Fuyumi wants to see me about Arata-kun, Kyouya-senp…er…?"

She blinks.

She looks so innocent, but the fact that he caught her two inches from Tamaki, and blushing fiercely, and under mistletoe, would suggest otherwi-…

Well, a kiss would still be innocent.

Now he's just embarrassed.

Why did he have to butt in? This isn't his business. Well, in a way it might be, but if they want each other it doesn't concern him.

"Yes. Please pardon my intrusion…"

He trails off and her blush trails down her neck. If she's flushed, then Tamaki is twenty times as red.

He nods in the direction out of the room.

Haruhi follows, and shuts the door.

They pause, stand there; she knows that Fuyumi isn't the one who wants to speak with her.

"You know, there's nothing going on between us." And she's blushing madly again, in that way of Haruhi's that's more humorous and cute than femininely coy.

Kyouya quirks an eyebrow. "It's not my business if there is. Right?"

"Well, no, it's not. But why did you interrupt when - at that exact moment?"

He stares at her.

She stares back, accepting his challenge.

"Does Fuyumi really want to see me?"


And he walks away.


He turns around.

"If you're wondering, it's just – just from high school. I still really… but it doesn't matter now. It's over. It's done."

He stares some more, and hopes she can't hear how badly his heart is pounding.

"It's memories. He's Tamaki, he'll always be Tamaki to me. But it's different now."

She waits for a response.

Finally, one comes.

"I see."

And he walks away, for good this time, feelings more-than-a-little dizzy.

He isn't sure how to take the news.

He doesn't talk to her, and only minimally to Fuyumi, Tamaki and Arata, in the next day.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.

Today is the day.

Arata has finally grown bored of the claymation flims, and whenever Tamaki pulls them enthusiastically out Arata gives him a dry look that could even give Kyouya qualms.

He must've inherited it from Fuyumi.

Now, Kyouya observes him sitting in front of the tree. The night has almost completely taken over the sky. The tree that Fuyumi insisted on decorating herself is twinkling in all its overdone, multi-colored glory.

"Waiting for Santa?" he asks in as kid-friendly a tone as he can gag out.

Arata looks over at him, eyes unusually blank. And yet hopeful.

"You told me there wasn't any Santa, Uncle Kyouya."

Kyouya can't argue with that.

"You're still waiting, aren't you?"

Arata doesn't answer directly. "It could've at least snowed," he mumbles, glaring out the window.

He asked Santa for a white Christmas, Kyouya guesses.

"The lights look really nice."

Kyouya starts, but not enough for her to see.

"They do, don't they?"

"My mother always decorated a tree like this. It was smaller, of course. Those are some of my only – some of my favorite – memories of her."

He looks at her, bathed in the color of lights. There's something special about this moment, about her like this. It's something calm, beautiful and reverent.

"You say you never believed in Santa Claus. But Christmas still seems to be a time that's magical to you. Why is that?"

She laughs a little, a little awkwardly.

"My father was bad with lying to me, even when it came to thinks like Santa. He couldn't even hide the presents properly. He and my mother and I would still watch those movies, though, and make hot chocolate, and decorate the tree. I guess I believed in Santa once, but it blurred with a time that I didn't. But mostly it didn't matter…"

"I believed in Santa until I was seven," he admits. He realizes something: he'd clung to fiction all these years because he'd had no other sort of Christmas.

The lights glimmer and the mood grows peacefully solemn.

"Even to that last Christmas, when Mom was really sick. She was admitted into the hospital a couple of months later, but… "

There is another quiet, until she speaks:

"Fuyumi-san may have gone a bit overboard, but they look… happy."

She smiles, and Kyouya realizes with a bigger start – a jolt – that she looks different, so different, than she did in high school. She's wearing clothes that are casual, adult, and semi-fashionable, thanks to her personal outfitters. Her hair has grown out just a little, and her figure has filled out, just a little.

But her hair is still short, her figure still boyish, and the smile still Haruhi's.

He's never stopped loving her.

Fuyumi has been looking at him expectantly, as she's been for the past hour. Arata's head is in her lap, his small hand in her soft one, his eyes half-closed.

Tamaki is a marvelous storyteller. He's managed to keep the child spellbound, but it should be no surprise. He'd managed to weave a spell over seven students for years.

Kyouya wonders at times why this fool is his best friend, but now is not one of those times.

Haruhi's eyes are going glassy staring at the tree, and he wonders if she's thinking of her mother again.

It's time.

He checks his watch. The big hand is on the twelve, the little hand on the nine.

Yes, it's time.

Tamaki opens another book, that goony, dream-like smile on his face.

"'Twas the night before Christmas," he reads, "and all through the house…"

It comes in like a jingling.

Like the bells outside stores or on trees or in clothes.

It comes in like a jingling.

And it raises and becomes a wave of sound, of bells and bells, and the light clop of nimble hooves.

Arata's eyes open wider, and he sits straight up.

"Reindeer," he breathes, almost not daring to believe.

Haruhi, sitting on the couch beside him, straightens and stares out the window. Her eyes go wide and for a moment she's like a child, and not a law student.

Tamaki begins gasping and looking out the window, wondering what is there.

Fuyumi, who knew all along, is smiling.

And suddenly, they rush past the great wall-high windows of the first-floor living room, past the tree, and for a moment their bells shine in the light and they look noble and not like some deer with antlers, like they could really be the things of fantasy and dreams. And a man clad in red is toted in the sled after them, as they gallop across the lawn and into the darkness.

At once, Arata's face is pressed into the glass. "Uncle Kyouya was wrong," he says, awed both at Santa's appearance and Kyouya's wrongness. "It's… it was Santa!"

Fuyumi hurries over and takes him. "He passed by our house because you're not in bed yet! You need to sleep so he can leave your presents!" She mouths a 'thank you!' to Kyouya, but the sappy, sentimental smile on her lips says that already.

"Oh, Tamaki-kun, would you like to take him up with me and help us finish the story?" (Her ploy is all to obvious, considering that Haruhi, the technically-nanny, should be doing this.)

Tamaki looks over to the couch. Kyouya is sipping a cup of tea rather causually, and Haruhi is still staring out the window like she can see traces of something valuable there.

He understands, because he's really not that much an idiot. And he smiles, because he's Tamaki. And his eyes are sad, because he realizes he's just lost something even though he never really thought about having, anyway.

"Of course. Fuyumi-san. Arata-kun, let us continue our story!"

There are times when Kyouya wonders that fool is his friend, but now is definitely not one of them.

They leave, the grand wooden door shuts, and even from outside the room and up the stairs Arata's voice can still be heard. He oohs and ahhs and raves about Santa Claus.

The quiet takes over again and it's just the two of them, again, in the glowing light of the tree.

Finally, slowly, Haruhi turns from the window back to Kyouya.

"This is silly, but you had me believing. Just for a second."

In the dim light, she sees him smile.

"A second was all you needed."

For a second, it seems like he's going to kiss her.

Instead, he takes her hand and intertwines it with his.

By Christmas morning the next year, they are engaged.