a/n: Debts is going to be a series of KyouHaru oneshots, done by request on LJ (the KyouHaru community! Spread the luv! 3). I'm definitely going to do the first ten, but may do even more than that. I'm sorry if these turn out a bit sloppy – I've been pressed on time lately.
chapter one request: AU, possibly samurai
Not samurai-era, but still kind of traditional Japanese. I'm sorry that there's a distinct lack of research and historical detail. I warn you in advance, although I tried.
Enjoy? Review. : )
She worried every day.
His mind was sharp, oh, she would give that to her demon-of-a… she wasn't really comfortable with saying it, even now. It had been arranged, and she had been thoroughly opposed to the whole idea of an arranged marriage, protesting that it was archaic and unnecessary, but now, only now that he was gone, did she realize that her consent may have come from somewhere other than her brain alone.
She should be proud, she supposed. She supposed that she should wish on him a heroic death. But she was selfish, or maybe just sensible, and she wanted him to come back alive.
The first thing she noticed was that he wore spectacles.
How very Western, she thought, with a kind of fascinated interest. The first spark that he may actually prove to her liking.
She bowed, she seated herself at the table in a way that was polite but not as respectful as her father, sitting next to her, would have liked.
He and his father sat on the other side of the table.
The matchmaker, with her puckered, red lips, looked back and forth and suddenly, her mouth broke into a smile.
"I think it will be good," she said aloud.
The boy caught her eye and looked bored. Well, too bad. She was just as bored as he. She thought, idly, that her nose itched. Should she scratch it? Would he find it offensive?
Eh, who cared? She scratched it, albeit daintily.
She noticed his father give her a look.
It had been an advantageous match, no doubt. She was a girl from a small-town family, with a widower father who worked a simple job. Her mother had come from a line of moderate prestige, but had shamed her family by marrying low. Perhaps her mother's actions were the reasons that Haruhi held (relatively) so little regard for her society's ideals.
He was heir to a line indirectly linked to the Emperor's own, a few places away but related to a Duke. On his own merit, he was not the typical son of nobility. He was a third son, and to be as successful as he was, he had to be cagey, just like his father. He had wisely invested in a company clever enough to mimic Western practices and yet pass them off as traditional, Japanese, and brilliant.
He was sharp, her demon-of-a-husband. She had no doubts that he would come back home safely, and yet she worried every day.
"He had better not leave me a widow," she told her father, who was too old to join the draft.
"I'm sure he's using his brains to figure out everything he can about the West, don't worry. He'll come back and make you an even richer wife." Her father stifled a smile. "A young man as talented as Kyouya-sama won't die… but are you afraid that he'll find another girl while he's there?"
For some reason, the thought hadn't even crossed her mind. And it fails to nag at her even today.
She had always wondered why he had sought her, of all girls. She was sometimes called kawaii; she was not considered a bijin. She was not exceptionally pretty – not the kind of storybook pretty that brought princes in flocks to seek her courtship. Not the kind of pretty that made boys so rich and eligible work so hard to take her back to their big, rich family homes.
That wasn't what she wanted, anyway. What she wanted was an education – a classical education, one of philosophy and history and linguistics. One of astronomy, and mathematics. She was thirsty for knowledge, and her father's trickling income couldn't satisfy that thirst.
Of course, she had gone to grade school, and her father, on behalf of her well-educated mother, had even paid for some secondary schooling. But Haruhi wanted more, more.
'More' was difficult for a woman to attain. Her father bought her lessons, but she'd proved hopeless at every femine art he'd tossed at her. Tea? No. Instruments? They were foreign objects, no better than a blunt knife, in Haruhi's hands. Singing?
Don't even go there.
Eventually he had despaired of ever having her 'educated', and had given up. She was content enough to take care of her father and the house (cooking and cleaning, though not formal, were her only skills).
Then, her father had come home (suspiciously) excited one night. He revealed, giddily, that she had been offered a place in the Ohtori household. A wife of a third son, but an Ohtori none the less.
"Why?" she asked Ohtori Kyouya.
He glanced at her out of the corners of his lenses.
"Your family was somewhat noble, on your mother's side. I'm only a third son. My father thought that the match would be advantageous, and a way to repay your great-grandfather for a life favor granted to mine."
Another woman might have shrilled a scream of anguish, or hit him, or started crying, or walked away. But Haruhi was practical, and much as she hated to admit she was worried, she had to admit that this was necessary.
She wasn't appreciating his mind games, though.
"I'm not asking why you married me, although thank you for finally answering that ques–"
"You were different."
The crickets chirped a little in the cool night air. A breeze swept across their skin, across her bare feet and across the porch, and the wind chime gave a faint jingle. Their tea had long gone cold.
"So that's the reason?"
"I was different."
"How would you know?"
"You were strong enough to hold yourself and your widower father together, even while you both were grieving over your mothers' death. I know that even now you are. I know that you wanted an education." He picked up his cup, made a deep inhale of the cold tea, and for a moment she thinks he'll drink, but he continues. "I wasn't enthusiastic about the marriage at first, but when I actually met you, I knew it would prove more… profitable than I'd originally imagined."
She blinked. She stared down at her tiny bare feet.
She was far from offended. More like a little caught-off-guard, pleasantly so.
"To answer your question: I have to."
She supposed she knew that. She supposed she'd just wanted to hear that it wasn't solely to leave her.
He put his arms around her. Even though it wasn't cold, she found she had goose bumps.
And so life went on without him.
Life went on, week by week, and two weeks after his departure she found out.
This was the point at which she worried. She worried for her husband, in a way that was more consuming and draining than worrying for one's friend or brother or even her own father (thank the gods that both of them hadn't had to go. Thank the gods neither of them were dead. Yet.).
She continued with her studies, and she learned and she found that even though it had been years, she could still remember he kanji and her mind was still sharp and quick.
A month later, she was throwing up every morning.
She continued to visit her father, and she continued to do her daily chores. She continued to chat with the other women in the town. People were dying, and all Haruhi could hope was, I hope it's not Kyouya.
Three and a half months later, it began to show. Just a little. It wouldn't be much if it weren't for the fact that she was so small, so thin.
She continued to be herself. She was practical. She didn't want anyone to worry about her. There was so much to worry about already, bigger, more important things. The war. She was slightly annoyed, already, by her father's wariness.
Because hewould be sure to notice.
And three and a half months and two days later, he did.
"You're pregnant," he said, and his eyes went huge and a smile spread across his face like honey.
"Yes," she replied testily.
Not testy with the fact that she was pregnant (she was already attached to her… to their baby). Just with her father and his meddling, although she supposed it had done her good before.
The day approached and, as trying as the whole ordeal was, she was very pleased when she actually held her baby.
Hee was just a baby, but he had very dark hair.
And that day, while Haruhi smiled and held her newborn, other women's sons died.
Kyouya returned to her two years later. Alive.
She had just walked out the door, for her now-daily visit to her father. Hiroto's tiny, tiny pale hand held hers.
Suddenly, Hiroto jerked his hand from Haruhi's and ran ahead to the gate. This surprised her at first, because he was not an active, bouncy child. He was quiet, still; sharp for his age in a way that Haruhi never was.
Haruhi looked up and found her husband standing at the gate.
She smiled. "You're home."
He snorted. "Thank the gods."
She walked to him, could hear Hiroto's who is this man? faintly in the background, the sound dimmed by her own breathing.
"Your father," she explained.
"Otou-sama," Hiroto repeated pleasantly. He gave Kyouya another look, and a rare, timid smile.
"You had a child," he noted. Our child.
"I would have told you, but you left no way to contact you."
He sniffed in distaste. "They didn't treat me with very much respect."
"Rich bastard," she said, softly as though maybe if it was soft Hiroto wouldn't hear. "You couldn't expect to be treated like a prince on the warfront." She was still smiling.
He smirked despite himself, but she noticed with a tinge of fear (just a tinge) that there was something dark in his eyes. "Tragedy is heading our way," he told her.
"More than all the husbands already dead?"
"Bigger, I think."
"And how would you know?"
"I feel it." He paused. "The end is coming."
"What should we do?" And her practical voice was back, her big brown eyes calmly meeting his.
He kissed her forehead, the second time he had shown her an unusual display of affection.
"We'll weather it. Things are changing."
"Things will never change," she said. She knew things would change. She was just being sentimental.
But it helped to steady her, and so did Kyouya's presence.
They would make it through.