*A wild update appears* and it appeared before Sherlock season 3, shocker.
I read my previous chapters, I was sappy -_- and I genuinely have no idea where some of the stuff came from. Maybe I'm just a meaner person now… oh dear. I did a rough sketch with pencil and watercolour of Haruhi's dress! I just need to find where I left it… I hope everyone enjoys the chapter. The next one and the ending have been planned and are under construction now :)
After the evening's festivities came to a close and the last guests were sent off with customary host smiles Haruhi sighed and slipped her shoes off, placing them neatly by the staircase to take upstairs later.
'I hate heels,' she stated out loud, staring pointedly at the twins who she knew had probably picked them on purpose as some cruel joke, they gave her their most innocent expression and settled themselves into one of the plush sofas of the living room. Haruhi pouted and rubbed her cheeks that were throbbing from holding a smile in place; she sighed once more and dropped onto the sofa opposite the twins.
'Tonight was fun; don't you think Haru-chan?' Huni's usual perky personality continued to be fuelled by cake and sugary confections, even at this late hour he was carry a plate piled with leftovers from the platters available during the party.
Haruhi nodded. 'I did enjoy myself,' she admitted.
'Your dancing skills still have room for improvement,' Kyouya commented dryly, sitting by Haruhi. He moved a chess piece idly between his fingers. Haruhi frowned sulkily at him, embarrassed by the number of times she had stepped on peoples feet or almost slipped over. She knew he was teasing her.
'I've always played the male role in dancing partners before,' she tried to defend herself and kicked him lightly in the leg for his teasing.
'If we're honest, you were never particularly brilliant at that either,' Kaoru said, a smile playing on his lips.
'Whose side are you on?' Haruhi complained with a fake glare and everyone laughed. She noticed Hikaru's was a bit forced but at least he was trying.
'What should we do now?' Tamaki asked, draped across an armchair near the log fire, he slipped his tie off and hung it over the back of the chair.
'I'm not tired yet,' Huni agreed.
'Hm,' Mori got up and opened a large wooden cabinet that concealed a large television and Nintendo Wii as well as a large selection of DVDs. That caused a lot of excitement with the twins and Tamaki as they quickly decided to play a game then they were fighting over the controller as the Wii Sports disc loaded. Haruhi rolled her eyes as they battled like toddlers and took three more controllers from a drawer in the cabinet. She then used a swift and stern look to make the idiot trio settle down.
'Right, what does everyone want to play?'
They ended up trying everything, taking turns with the controllers. Huni beat up his friends virtually with boxing, giggling every time his opponents fell over. The twins turned out to make a formidable team when it came to baseball and Mori annihilated everyone in silence and apparent emotionlessness in bowling - though he did smile faintly when Haruhi and Huni high-fived him for his triumph.
They ended with a singles tournament in tennis, the twins lost quickly as they made no real attempt and instead flailed the controller around and hoped to hit the ball. Huni dropped out willingly as his sugar rush came to an end and his eyelids began to drop, he chose instead to snuggle on a sofa with Usa-chan as a pillow and he watched the 'tournament'. Mori lost to Tamaki (most likely on purpose so he could keep his cousin company.)
Kyouya inevitably destroyed Tamaki without mercy so the final match was Kyouya against Haruhi, Kyouya gave her a smile that said I look forward to winning, hope you don't mind losing.
Haruhi smiled back. 'I will crush you,' she said simply. Kyouya laughed quietly and served the imaginary ball. The others sitting behind them shuddered as they felt the serious competitiveness between the two.
The game went on longer that the others had, with both competitors relatively even throughout the match. By the time it was drawing to a close Huni was fast asleep and Mori was dozing, Hikaru and Kaoru were watching half-heartedly while playing a multiplayer Nintendo DS game. Tamaki was snoring ungracefully in the largest armchair in the room. Finally though, Haruhi cheering and laughed in triumph, she pokes Kyouya playfully in the ribs and tried not to laugh again as he struggled to keep a grumpy pout off of his face.
'Bet a commoner's never beaten an Otori before,' Haruhi teased and this time Kyouya did scowl.
'No one beats me. And I'd definitely win at a real game of tennis,' he retorted. Haruhi rolled her eyes and smiled in return, she wondered if all Otoris were such sore losers.
'I'm sure you would, I've never been any good at tennis,'
'I could teach you someday, we have tennis courts in the gardens of the Otori main residence. I'm sure I could improve your tennis as I have your skiing,' the words slipped from his lips with the same cool grace they always did, any signs of his dislike of defeat had been quickly controlled and his face was calm and unreadable, even with the contacts he was wearing for the night preventing his glasses from shielding his eyes. However, Haruhi understood the magnitude of the offer, especially after his unease earlier at the party. He was willing and apparently unafraid to bring her to his family home, regardless of what his family members may think. She slipped her hand into his.
'Thanks, I'd like that,' his grip tightened almost undiscernibly as Haruhi cast a glance behind them, she looked back and pressed a finger to her lips, everyone else had fallen asleep during their competition. 'We made them wait so long the least we could do is make them more comfortable,' she spoke as softly as she could and led them out of the room in search of spare blankets and pillows.
'I'll get a camera too; photos of this would sell brilliantly,'
Tamaki heard Haruhi laugh quietly in response. He slowly opened his eyes and sighed. He felt jealous, guilty and jealous. He knew why he was jealous and he felt guilty because he felt such an ugly emotion towards two of the people he cared about most.
As he thought about it, he realised that Kyouya must have understood Tamaki's feelings before Tamaki had himself. It made him feel even guiltier that he had been so unobservant to not notice Kyouya's feelings, some best friend he was.
'Baka,' Tamaki's eyes flew open, Kyouya held out a blanket to him. His best friend's eyebrows rose, disappearing behind uncharacteristically messy hair. 'What are you trying to achieve pretending to be asleep? Go to bed before you get sick as well.'
'How did you…'
'You moved and I know when you're asleep, you sleep like the dead. Nothing could move you,' he pushed the blanket into Tamaki's hands. 'Now excuse me - Huni-senpai seems to have mistaken Haruhi for his stuffed rabbit.'
Indeed. Huni had Haruhi in a vice like grip, a serene smile on his face and his strong arms tightened their hold. Haruhi was torn between being slowly choked to death or suffering the chance of death from waking the childish man. She sent Kyouya pleading eyes, if someone could just remove Usa-chan from under the sleeping boy's head she could replace herself with the toy, she was starting to miss oxygen. Also, Huni was starting to chew on her ear.
Tamaki watched how easily the two of them interacted; it was rare for him to see Kyouya so relaxed. He got up and moved quickly to his bedroom so he'd stop feeling so jealous of the both of them - jealous of Kyouya because he had Haruhi, and jealous of Haruhi because she could make Kyouya so happy so easily. He smiled despite that as he closed his bedroom door, Haruhi was what Kyouya needed. She did not care, nor fully understand the world that Kyouya lived in. The fact that he was the third son or that he looked more like his mother than an Otori meant nothing. Kyouya was also what Haruhi needed, Tamaki knew Kyouya would stop at nothing to protect the people he cared about and Haruhi was so strong minded and stubborn she didn't see the vulnerable side of herself that needed protecting until it was too late.
'Oh well,' Tamaki whispered to himself as he settled down for the night. Perhaps there were other brown-eyed, beautiful, caring girls out there for him. Perhaps.
Meanwhile, Kyouya had freed Haruhi from Huni's death grip. 'Thanks, took you time didn't you,' Haruhi grumbled and wiped her soggy ear gingerly with her sleeve. Kyouya shrugged, a bemused smile was on his face. 'It's moments like this that make me think you enjoy my suffering,'
'The expression on your face is always so endearing, it's hard to bring myself to remove it,' his sudden aloof tone made it hard for her to tell if he was teasing her or not so she simply smiled and tried to stop her ears burning from irrational embarrassment, she concentrated on placing her feet one after the other on the stairs.
'Admittedly your embarrassed face is just as charming,' that earned him a thump on the arm from Haruhi's shoulder.
Changing the topic from her too-easy-to-read face she asked about the plans for the next day, or seeing as she was sure it was past midnight they would be the plans for later that day. She smiled happily with the news that they would be skiing the next day. 'I'm glad we had a day's rest though, my muscles were aching like crazy this morning.'
'You could always use the hot spring around the back of the chalet,'
'There's a hot spring? Why did nobody say sooner?' Haruhi's eyes widened. Kyouya shrugged, a hot spring was no big deal to any of them, especially when his family owned the vast majority of the hot springs in and around Tokyo.
'Never crossed my mind,'
Haruhi wasn't paying attention anymore though, she hadn't been to a hot spring since her middle school trip and she could almost feel her muscles relaxing already. Kyouya watched her, amused by the little things that seemed to make Haruhi content and he noted her barely contained love for hot springs – it may be useful in the future.
The next morning Haruhi was the first to wake, not used to the sound of maids and chefs voices echoing in the corridors. She padded downstairs barefoot, still in her pyjamas to check on the people who had fallen asleep on the sofas. Huni had thrown his blanket off during the night and was instead wedged between two sofa cushions while Mori – who had ended up on the floor - seemed to have acquired the discarded blanket that was now covering his face and the other blanket was wrapped around him so he looked like a mummy. The twins on the other sofa were curled against each other. Haruhi noted that they looked deceivingly innocent when asleep.
Some of the hosts were beginning to stir so Haruhi decided to bring in coffee and breakfast, she was sure they would be achy and groggy from their awkward sleeping positions. Before she left she removed the choking hazard from Mori's face, placing the offending blanket back over Huni.
By the time she had returned Mori was sitting up. Well, sort of - His head was flat on the table.
He turned at the sound of her entering and smiled, 'Good morning Haruhi, the weather is lovely today isn't it? Would you like some help with that tray?'
'Uhhh, no thanks Mori-senpai, I think after you've had some tea you should go upstairs and have a nap,'
'Ah, yes, probably,' he accepted a cup of green tea and smiled at her cheerfully in thanks. The sudden increase in speech and emotion was creeping her out a little. The twins both groans and rolled off the sofa they had been sleeping on, dragging themselves towards the scent of coffee.
'Morning Hikaru, Kaoru,' they looked up at her sleepily and grunted, each cramming a pastry into their mouths. 'I'm going to wake up Kyouya, I'll leave the task of waking Huni-senpai to you two.' She left before they could object, smiling to herself as she nursed a warm cup of coffee in her hands.
She slipped silently into Kyouya's room, not bothering to knock as she knew he wouldn't be awake. As she thought, he was fast asleep, wrapped in a cocoon that covered everything up to his forehead. He stirred as she placed the cup of coffee on his bedside table.
'You stayed up to sort out that company problem didn't you,' it was a statement more than a question.
'Hn,' and hand appeared out of the cocoon and reached out for the cup, Haruhi grabbed it before Kyouya burnt his hand in the coffee.
Haruhi rolled her eyes, at least he had remembered to take his glasses off. 'Go back to sleep, Mori-senpai's gone to bed too. We'll come back and pick you up for lunch.'
'Hn,' the hand dropped onto the pillow and Kyouya didn't move again. Haruhi turned and closed the curtains to stop the sunlight from waking up. She realised that from the height of the Sun in the sky it was close the lunchtime already. She sighed quietly to herself; she doubted anyone would be perky enough to consider skiing anytime soon.
As she left Kyouya's room she pondered on how she would spend her day. Her bout of illness had given her enough time to finish her school assignments and Kyouya was dead to the world at least until evening. Normally in the situation she would do chores or cook but the maids seemed to take offense whenever she tried to do more than make her bed. She sat of the sofa opposite the twins who were staring into the depths of their coffees with identical blank faces, they glanced up acknowledge her presence and in their usual way they gravitated towards her to form a Haruhi sandwich.
'I assume the two of you are too tired for skiing,'
The twins grunted in response and snuggled into her warmth. 'Maybe later.'
Haruhi pouted, though she was sure the twins couldn't see it. She wondered if she could go out by herself and get some extra practice in, she felt restless just sitting around the chalet and was surprised that she missed the chaos that the hosts usually caused. If she was only out for a few hours it was likely nobody would even notice she was gone. She wriggled from between the twins and they leant on each other, curling up into almost feline positions on the sofa. After a brief pause to cover the sleepy brothers with a blanket, Haruhi left in search of her skiing gear.
Haruhi didn't know how long she had been meandering down ski slopes at her own, comfortable pace as it was easy to lose track of time in the never-ending white of the snowy mountain. She could tell it had been a good while as she could see her shadow getting longer before her, and the shadow of the mountain sneaking up on her as the Sun crept lower in the sky.
She was rudely interrupted from the repetitive motion of turning and the concentration that went into it by her name being hollered from a short distance behind her, she recognised the voices just as two earmuff-clad redheads passed on either side of her. She stopped beside them by the bar nestled at the side of the piste.
'You two seem livelier,'
'Nothing a few double espressos can't fix,' Kaoru said hurriedly. 'But that's not important, what's more important is what are you doing out here by yourself?'
Haruhi shrugged. 'I told Hana where I was going, and I have my phone so I could have just called if anything happened.'
'I'm not even going to bother asking who Hana is-,'
'She's the maid who-,'
'I don't care. We didn't know where you were and you weren't answering your phone so what point is there in having it? What if something happened and you hit your head again and couldn't use your phone?' Hikaru glared at her angrily. Haruhi remained silent, there was no point explaining her phone was switched off to conserve battery. She could tell Hikaru was furious and in no mood to debate but she couldn't stop the look of frustration that was on her face. She thought she had tried to be sensible looking after her phone and telling someone where she had gone, how was it her fault they didn't take the time to know the staff that cared for them?
'What if Kyouya knew you were out here all alone?' Kaoru reasoned in place of his brother. 'You know he wouldn't approve. We're not trying to baby you Haruhi, but it's easy to get hurt or lost out here - especially for an inexperienced skier.'
Regardless of the frustration she felt at not being allowed to do things on her own, Haruhi knew they had a point.
'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset anybody,' she said honestly. 'I did try to be careful.'
Both twins grinned and patted her head. 'We know.'
'Besides, how can we stay mad at a face like that?'
'Now that we're here we're going to make the most of it. Senpai has been monopolising far too much of our precious toy's time. It's our turn.'
'If you behave we might not even tell senpai that you were out all alone,' Kaoru teased.
'That is, if he doesn't know already,' the two boys grinned and hooked their arms with Haruhi's and led her away towards a site that had been labelled as a 'fun park'. Haruhi could only hope that the park's definition of fun was not the same as her definition for torture.
For the next hour and a half the twins entertained Haruhi with their usual enthusiasm. They showed of their snowboarding skills with a series of jumps until that ended with a dramatic fall and an inevitable 'brotherly love' scene. Hikaru even tried to encourage Haruhi to snowboard, her feet were firmly planted between his on his snowboard and he held her in place with a strong grip. Haruhi was convinced Kaoru was laughing at her expression of absolute terror, oblivious to the blush that was spreading across Hikaru's face at their close proximity that was the source of Kaoru's amusement.
That adventure also ended with a spectacular wipe out. Haruhi was unconvinced by Hikaru's taster session. She decided to stick to skis.
After their final fall was terminated in a snow drift, the twins achieved their goal at making Haruhi join in on a snowball fight. Through their charm and 'brotherly love' moments they also seemed to succeed in making half of the girls in the resort join in as well. Haruhi was glad that with the chaos none of the girls seemed to notice her connection to the twins otherwise she was sure a few more-ice-than-snowballs would have come her way out of jealousy.
By the time interest in the game had dwindled, Haruhi and the twins were all thoroughly soaked and aching from their day. Haruhi in particular was starting to feel the after-effects of her morning skiing solo as she limped towards the car the twins had called to pick them up.
'Are you feeling alright, Haruhi?' Kaoru asked out of concern.
'We didn't mean for you to get so cold again,' Hikaru added as he felt her shiver in the seat next to him.
'I'm fine,' Haruhi reassured. 'My limbs feel like they've aged 60 years but I don't feel unwell. Kyouya mentioned there is a hot spring at the chalet, now I have a good excuse to use it.'
'I'd forgotten about that hot spring,' Hikaru mused.
'I definitely feel like using it this evening,' Kaoru stretched and loosened the boots on his feet and then relaxed back into the leather seat sleepily, unfortunately his rest didn't last for long as they pulled up outside of the chalet only moments later. The three friends peeled themselves from the comfortable seats and ploughed through the snow to the front door. It was opened swiftly by a member of staff whom Haruhi thanked with a sleepy smile and trudged into the hallway, trying her best to leave as much snow as possible outside instead of littering the hallway with it. The twins didn't seem to care; their tiredness was temporarily forgotten as they called out a loud greeting to everyone in the building and shook their heads like dogs.
Haruhi flinched away from the flecks of snow, ice and cold water that was flying through the air and made her way upstairs towards her room.
On her way she poked her head into Kyouya's room, knocking on the door lightly before she entered. She wasn't surprised to see Kyouya back on his laptop. He glanced up as she entered. His hair was damp and mussed from a recent shower and his glasses sat on the table beside him so she could see his eyes take in her appearance, his eyebrow raise in a silent question.
'Hikaru tried to teach me to snowboard. Then the twins somehow managed to get half of the resort to join in with a snowball fight,' Haruhi deposited her soaking jacket by the door and wandered over to sit on the chair next to Kyouya, she leant her head in her hand.
'It was fun, but I think I'll stick to skiing with you,' she smiled, Kyouya seemed satisfied with that and closed his laptop.
'Also, Hikaru's mood seems to have improved, I don't think he'll cause us anymore trouble,' she poked Kyouya lightly in the chest. 'I think he's a little scared of you.'
'He better be,' Kyouya growled and kissed Haruhi gently on the lips. 'You're cold. Would you like to sample the hot spring?'
'I was planning on it, I'll go get ready,' Haruhi smiled once more.