The Maxims of the Rich
Ten lessons and rules one should know about Ouran Academy...
A/N: I really don't have time for this, but it helps ease college app. stress when it becomes overwhelming. This is a big project (well, for me).
All characters © Hatori Bisco
Lesson # 1: Never read from a book you find on the floor.
Two weeks earlier, in the Fujioka Household…
A particularly foul word escaped Fujioka Ranka's lips as he hopped on one foot, massaging his smarting toe. He growled at whatever obstruction had caused him to stub it, looking down to see what had inflicted such pain on his poor toe.
It was a black book, on the floor outside of Haruhi's room. Ranka picked it up gingerly, noting that there was no inscription on the front or back of it. He surmised it was probably one of Haruhi's schoolbooks that she had dropped by mistake on her way to school.
Ranka frowned and opened the book, curious to see which subject it was about. The page he had flipped to displayed a faded illustration of a clock, but Ranka could not read the text: it was written in some foreign script. One word was written on the inside cover: Nekozawa. It didn't look like a schoolbook.
After mumbling a few of the book's words aloud, Ranka dismissed the book and casually tossed it aside. Haruhi had never mentioned any foreign language classes besides French, so this had probably fallen into her bookbag by mistake. Oh well.
One week earlier, Ouran Academy
Under normal circumstances Fujioka Haruhi would never find herself pushing open the thick leaded door to the Black Magic Club, but today, these were no normal circumstances.
As soon as her eyes adjusted to the dimness, she was greeted by the sight of a few daunting individuals clad in ink-black cloaks. They were seated at a round tea-table and wore identical vapid expressions of gloom.
"Can we help you, freshman Fujioka Haruhi?" a sophomore who looked akin to the bride of Frankenstein asked her flatly.
"Um, I was hoping to talk to Nekozawa-senpai," Haruhi said, a bit uncomfortably. The girl sipped from her teacup delicately before answering.
"Master, you have a visitor," she said without turning as her eyes, heavy with black mascara, closed.
"Who is it?" the voice from behind the tapestry came out in barely more than a whisper. Haruhi resisted the urge to roll her eyes.
"Someone from the Host Club."
Immediately Umehito Nekozawa brushed aside the velvet veil, regarding the intruder with irises that were a pale blue.
"Come to join the Black Magic Club at last, Fujioka-san?" he muttered eagerly. "If you do, you can get a discount on this Berezenef plushie."
"No, I did not come for that, Nekozawa-senpai," Haruhi answered bluntly as, with hurt eyes, the club leader tucked away his doll. "I was actually hoping you could help me with something serious; I didn't know who else to ask…" Umehito raised an eyebrow under his hood.
"Something is very wrong with the Host Club," Haruhi confessed. "I seem to be the only one who notices that anything is amiss."
The putative Black Magic president cocked his head. "What does this have to do with me, Fujioka-san?" he asked in his raspy voice.
"Well," Haruhi began, looking a bit itchy, "I'm starting to believe that what's happening is not normal. You know…supernatural." At the s-word Umehito looked up.
"Just what's going on?"
The female host sighed. "I feel crazy enough without explaining it, so can I just show you, Nekozawa-senpai?" He nodded, and Haruhi started towards the door after motioning for him to follow.
"So, what is wrong here?" Nekozawa asked her, squinting against the brightly-lit atmosphere of the third music room. "I see nothing out of place."
"No, you wouldn't at a first glance," Haruhi replied. The Host Club appeared to be completely normal, following their quotidian routine of charming the female population and enjoying themselves. They had greeted Haruhi and Umehito upon their entrance, but had returned to their club activities.
Haruhi rolled up the sleeve of her male Ouran uniform, revealing a cheap-but-sturdy-looking watch fastened around her wrist. "Nekozawa-senpai, you are about to witness it, so watch closely," she said.
He turned to her, coal-colored mantle swishing. "What is it?" he asked.
"See that Chinese lacquer vase over there?" she inquired, pointing. Umehito nodded.
"In approximately one minute Kaoru is going to bump into it and shatter it."
Nekozawa was silent for a moment, looking at the freshman with a combination of confusion and anticipation. That minute seemed to arrive hours later.
"Cue the crash," Haruhi said in a bored tone.
"Are you okay? No, you cut yourself! Haven't I told you to look where you're going? If I lost you, I don't know what I'd do…"
"Oh, and one of their designators is going to faint from how beautiful the twincest is," Haruhi added as a casual afterthought.
Sure enough, a "Saki! Get a hold of yourself!" could be heard a second later as the other two girls began to fan their semi-conscious classmate.
Umehito turned slowly towards Haruhi, feeling every tendon in his neck creaking. His mouth seemed too dry and his pulse throbbed blindingly behind his eyelids.
"How is this possible?" he whispered. "No, I won't believe it just yet."
Haruhi's shoulders jostled up and down in a shrug. "I thought you were the president of the Magic Club. Surely you must believe in the supernatural. If not, then just watch.
"Now Kyouya-senpai will add another 5,326 yen to my debt for not stopping them," she concluded.
"Oh, Haruhi, that's another 5,326 yen on your debt."
Nekozawa felt his eyes grow wider with every passing moment.
"In five minutes Honey will accidentally get cream on his stuffed rabbit, attracting more moe fans."
"Mitsukuni, let me clean that for you."
"Now Tamaki-senpai is going to trip on that banana peel that Renge just dropped."
He couldn't take it anymore. Umehito grabbed Haruhi's arm and dragged her back into the dank comfort of his own club room.
"How did you know all of those things, Fujioka-san?" he whispered fiercely. "Are you a child of divination?"
Haruhi shook him off. "No, senpai. I've just witnessed this day about seven times already. I've already seen everything that's going on."
"So," Umehito mused with the Berezenef puppet on his hand (when did that get there?), "you mean to say that this day has been repeating itself over and over again? Is that correct?"
"Well, not 'this day,' if you want to be exact. Just the time between 3pm to 5pm, the club hours. They don't seem to realize that they are doing the same thing every afternoon since last week," Haruhi responded.
Nekozawa stroked his chin with the puppet as his light eyes became cloudy and nebulous. As a master of the occult, he was perfectly able to accept that what was going on was the work of the spectral. It had just been a shock, witnessing it firsthand.
Digging through his mental library, he found only two possibilities that could be contributing to this phenomenon. "I'll let you hear my theories on the matter, Fujioka-san," he began after a moment.
"My first theory is that one of your classmates is secretly using a time-machine to relive the same afternoon over and over," the president stated darkly.
Haruhi wrinkled her nose and gave her head a shake. "No, I find that hard to believe, senpai."
"The second option," Umehito continued, "is that a curse has been placed on someone or something in the room to rewind their actions in a perpetual continuum of time." His voice trailed off into an ominous, if a touch melodramatic whisper.
"I'm willing to acknowledge that something supernatural is going on, but curses?" Haruhi poked her head through the door into the music room, where the club was. None of them seemed cursed or of ill-nature to her.
Umehito nodded. "I have read of such things before," he stated. "Fujioka-san, is there a clock in the third music room?"
And that was a week ago. Haruhi strolled through the brightly-lit club room with a satisfied expression one afternoon. She felt enormous relief at seeing new things occur among the hosts. With a knock, she entered the dim Black Magic room once more.
"Master," the members chorused upon seeing who it was. Nekozawa floated in a moment later.
"Ah, Fujioka-san," he rasped. "How are things in your club now?"
Haruhi gave a warm smile. "Everything is back to normal, senpai. I just wanted to thank you again for lifting that curse." A line appeared in between her eyes. "Though it beats me as to who would want to bewitch a clock anyway…"
"It doesn't really matter," Umehito replied. "But I must say—"he grinned—"that was a lot of fun, performing that reversal incantation!" The female host deadpanned. Nekozawa-senpai will always be Nekozawa-senpai, after all.
"But what I still find curious," he continued, "is why you were not affected by the spell, Fujioka-san."
A shrug jostled Haruhi's small shoulders. "All of the other hosts were, and our designators were only affected when the hosts spoke to them," she recalled.
The corners of Umehito's lips twitched. "With curses like those, I have read that they usually affect the men, and the men spread the curse's effects to the women. If this was indeed a curse of that caliber, I wonder why you were not impacted, Fujioka?"
Haruhi shifted awkwardly. "Who knows?" she asked with a tremulous chuckle. "Maybe I wasn't in the room at the time…"
"And another thing," Umehito added, holding up a finger, much like a detective in the midst of an inspiring idea. "I also find it odd that whoever implemented this curse knew of it, and how to do it correctly." He fell silent for a moment.
"Well it's over, and I guess we'll never know," Haruhi commented tentatively with another laugh. She exited the club room and returned to her own, where six hosts waited with welcoming smiles.
End. Stay tuned for the next chapter!