When the Day Met the Night
Haruhi removed her hat to let her hair fall and wipe the sweat off her forehead with her sleeve. She rested her head back on the building she sat against, trying to catch her breath. Her two, red-headed friends came skidding around the corner shortly after. They rested their hands on their knees to catch their breath.
"Did we lose them?" Hikaru gasped.
"Yeah," Kaoru replied equally winded, "I think so."
Haruhi lifted her head to speak to the two. "Did you get the apples?"
Both shook their heads. Hikaru said, "They probably saw us coming."
She nodded in agreement. "Probably," she panted. Haruhi leaned her head back against the wall again and groaned, "I wish my mom was here."
Kaoru straightened. "Come on; we know another place. The parade is starting so no one will notice us."
Hikaru offered his hand to Haruhi. "They have really good bread there," he said.
Her stomach growled at the mention of food and she took his hand. Hikaru pulled her to her feet and she began to dust herself off. She quickly twisted her hair upwards behind her head to place the hat over it, concealing its length. The twins quickly led her off into the crowds of people gathered for the royal parade. The people they silently passed by cast condescending glares that continued to dig into their backs as they walked. Haruhi stayed close to the two boys so as not to lose them.
"I don't even see why you guys are doing this: Why don't you worry about your own food?" she asked.
Hikaru replied, "For starters: it's fun."
Kaoru looked back to smile warmly, "And we promised your parents we'd take care of you."
Her gaze fell to the ground like a heavy weight had been dropped on it at the thought of her mother. The woman recently passed away due to infected injuries from a street brawl on her way to work. Needless to say it still burned fresh in her heart. She dimly wondered if her father had stealing in mind when he asked the twins to take care of her while he was working. She continued to follow silently behind the two until they reached a particularly thick crowd of people.
"Here it is," Hikaru announced, "Hurry, before the parade is over."
Haruhi strode up to the store owner, who stood at the doorway to watch the parade. She asked, "Excuse me, sir? Can you give me directions to the shoe tailor?"
As the man grouchily provided instructions, Hikaru and Kaoru crept inside to retrieve the goods. It didn't take long for them to sneak out again before walking up casually to Haruhi with a few loaves of bread.
"We found it, it's not far from that other place," Kaoru said smoothly.
Haruhi nodded, "Okay," before thanking the man and relieving Kaoru of one of his loaves.
They walked away calmly to not draw suspicion. Moments later, they heard the man realize the thievery furiously and began to hear the barking of dogs. Kaoru whirled around and gasped, "He got dogs?"
Hikaru grabbed his brother and instructed the two, "Run!"
Haruhi burst into a run, ducking through the crowd. She heard the dogs behind them and the twins break off in different directions to split up the pursuers. One of the two dogs continued to chase her through the crowd. The crowd grew so dense that she began to be shoved around, no longer moving on her own.
When she finally broke free of the crowd, the ferociously growling dog was at her heels. Attempting to run, Haruhi tripped and rolled out into the cleared street, knocking her hat off to reveal her long locks. She tucked into a ball in defense from the dog, unaware she was in the middle of the royal parade, in front of the king's horse that nearly trampled her. The king's guard held off the dog so it wouldn't upset the horses.
"You there!" a guard barked.
Her head snapped up, guarding her bread under her abdomen. Haruhi immediately saw the horse, grabbed the nearby hat, and backed up slowly. She stood slowly to not startle the horse and kept her gaze on the ground respectfully. She didn't know what to do. Should she apologize? Should she just move to the side?
Meanwhile, the parade's guest of honor watched intently from his horse. His horse walked close to that of his mother's and she noticed his interest. This was his first trip outside the castle and he hadn't seen children his own age for several years. Likewise this was the first time anyone outside the castle had seen the young prince, which was the parade's purpose.
He looked over at his mother hopefully. "May I?" he asked.
She nodded and the boy immediately dismounted the horse, passing the reigns to a nearby guard, and strode ahead of his father's horse. As he neared, his footsteps slowed for reasons unknown to him. His brilliantly-blue silk kimono rustled against his skin as a breeze whispered between them and the crowd was deathly silent. The prince stepped forward and observed the dust-covered girl in front of him.
"Hello," he greeted.
Haruhi continued to stare at the ground.
He lifted his hand to shake hers. "My name is Tamaki Suoh. What's your name?"
She lifted her gaze slowly, glancing around her to examine the situation. Deciding it was safe to respond, she looked up to his eyes and shook his hand. "I'm Haru--"
The twins darted out from the crowd and grabbed Haruhi. Both bowed respectfully, forcing her head down to do so as well, and Hikaru said, "Sorry, your majesties. Our friend is sick from the sun today. We'll take her home right away. She won't bother you again."
Tamaki and Haruhi's hands separated as the twins escorted Haruhi to the side and disappeared into the crowd. Haruhi attempted looking over her shoulder, but the bustle and distance obscured her vision. Tamaki watched her go and numbly retrieved the reigns of his horse from a waiting guard.
He climbed into the horse's saddle silently to ride on with the rest of the parade. Tamaki returned to his mother's side who smiled at him.
A bystander turned to his neighbor and asked, "You don't think the prince likes that girl, do you?"
The other scoffed. "Are you kidding? The prince is barely eleven years old!"