It had been a mistake, Haruhi thought as she wrapped herself up in today's costume. It had definitely been a mistake to work on her history homework within sight of the ever-excitable Tamaki Suoh. Not because she disliked the theme really, and the costume she had been given to wear was relatively tame compared to other themes in the past. The tabi were soft on her feet, and the zori were easy to walk in. The fundoshi, hadajuban and nagajuban were all fairly comfortable, as was the kimono she was wearing over them. Her hakama were not so full as to make walking awkward, and were a pleasant, earthy green/brown colour. The matching haori she wore was mercifully undecorated. Her obi was black, and there was a plain sword in a wooden sheath struck through it. The twins had pulled her hair up into a topknot. Just a modest samurai, likely a wanderer as anything else. Kyouya was dressed much the same as she was, though in muted greys and blues.
At least she wasn't done up like Tamaki was. When he had come at her declaring that she could be the refined geisha, she had refused. Flatly. When Tamaki had cried about not having any geisha among the samurai, she had suggested that he could be the geisha, an idea the twins had practically pounced upon. All three of them were wearing the many layers of silk and face paint and practising their fan work by the time Kyouya let in the first customer. It had raised a few questions from the girls of course, but Haruhi gently explained how understanding the guys had been when she had said she was sick of being the only one dressed up as a girl, and didn't they look wonderful?
The girls had, of course, all squealed in delight at the idea, they had that tendency, and Kyouya had smirked at Haruhi's quick explanation, calculating the profit that came from all this cross dressing.
She'd really come out of this one quite well, and the clothing was some of the most tolerable she had been given to wear for a Host Club theme, ever. The problem was that Takashi and Mitsukuni both looked very handsome in their hitatare with their family emblems on the back. Well, Mitsukuni looked cute in his hitatare, like a child trying to be grown up. Haruhi swallowed a strange lump in her throat every time she glimpsed Takashi out of the corner of her eyes though.
Haruhi wisely kept all of her own little ... fetishes to herself, but every time she looked at Mori she inched just a little closer to giving herself away.
It had happened before, this approximate theme, and it wasn't good for her mental health. She had to go over her shopping list five times because the girls were more interested in just watching them than talking to them the first time, when they'd had the cherry blossom viewing. The second time had been annoyingly interrupted by first Tamaki's stupidity and then mercifully by the appearance of Renge.
The real trouble this time was that before it had been the same costumes for all of them, or very nearly. This time, Haruhi could see that her sempai was wearing something that was his, something that he possibly wore on other occasions. Worse, it was something that Haruhi knew a warrior could loosen the top half of, leaving them half-nude, so that they could engage in certain types of combat more easily. Haruhi bit her cheek every time she heard one of the customers make the same observation and ask if Mori-sempai would pretty please loosen the top half and show them how he knocked an arrow. It was a small mercy that there were no arrows for him to knock, nor any bow for him to pull back the string of. Takashi was bearing a katana, a quite large and heavy looking one as far as Haruhi could tell. Probably quite an old and valuable one as well.
She bit the inside of her cheek again and brought herself back to her table as new girls sat down to share tea with her. It would not do to be inattentive towards her customers, even if she had cleared her debt a few months ago.
If she did a very good job, Kyouya would give her a share of the earnings, or let her keep the costume if she wanted. She really wanted to keep this outfit, just for her own little pleasures. Customers now, fantasies later, and above all, do not let the rest of the host club know that the sight of Takashi in traditional, formal robes made her hot.
When the Host Club closed its doors, Haruhi breathed a surreptitious sigh of relief. She had made it through, no slip ups, though she had needed to deal with a few rather persistent geisha occasionally, which her customers seemed to quite enjoy. Something about the pure-hearted and true wanderer, searching for his kidnapped love, or something. It varied.
"Haru-chan?" inquired Mitsukuni, blinking his large honey-coloured eyes up at her. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, Hani-sempai. I'm just a little bit drained. The geisha were determined I should allow them to pour my tea for me," she answered with a gentle smile.
"I thought that was something they were supposed to do," the senior said.
"It is something that geisha have done, but I suspect that Tamaki-sempai and the Twins would have all gotten their sleeves in the tea, spilled everywhere, and ruined the taste. Not to mention they would have knocked the cakes onto the floor because they don't know how to deal with such sleeves properly. Or provocatively," Haruhi explained with a smile to her second favourite Host Club member.
"And you do, Haruhi?" Kyouya demanded softly. If she did know, and she had not performed, then he wanted answered.
"When I was little, before my grandmother died, I would watch her perform for the family. I haven't ever done it myself, but I know what it should look like, and that," here she indicated the loud twins as they tormented the just as loud blonde, "is not it."
Kyouya nodded his understanding. They were amusing, but miles from correct. Haruhi would have been as correct as she could have been, but that would not have entertained the girls so much, because she would have been trying too hard to get something right that she could only remember having seen years ago.
"Haru-chan, will you show me what you remember from your grandmother?" Hani asked, tugging on her sleeve gently.
"I will have to get changed. I can't perform properly if I look like a man, and preparations for geisha take a while," Haruhi pointed out, raising an eyebrow in scepticism at Hani's ability to wait for things.
"We will wait," rumbled the voice of Takashi from where he had been sitting, cross legged, on a cushion, with his sword across his knees.
Haruhi crumbled, and went to withdraw Kaoru from the fight with Tamaki so that he could help her dress, fix her make up, and do her hair. It took five minutes to remove her previous costume, twenty minutes to put on the new one, five minutes to get the make up perfect to Haruhi's satisfaction – because as good as Kaoru was, he didn't know what she was supposed to look like – and another ten to get the hair (and extensions) correctly arranged and pinned up, before finally applying the makeup to her neck, grabbing the dancing fans, and stepping out in her new geta.
Mitsukuni had found a shamisen and was sitting beside a low stage that had been set up for her in the time it was taking for her to get ready.
Haruhi took a deep breath and tried to remember what she could of her grandmothe's last performance. Every movement had a purpose, she knew that, from the tiny steps to the slow and careful arm movements. She wasn't about to try singing, she knew she had no talent for it, but there was no reason Haruhi couldn't recreate the dance her grandmother had done. Haruhi closed her eyes as she stepped up onto the stage, and focused on the movements of the dance.
When the final note was plucked, Haruhi bowed deeply before stepping down from the stage and moving to make the tea, pouring carefully for Kyouya and Mitsukuni, patiently and with deliberate instruction to Tamaki and the twins, and last she poured for Mori. She poured Takashi's tea last because she could always remember her grandmother pouring her grandfather his tea last, and she would linger there, pulling her sleeve up just that bit higher for him, surreptitiously kneeling a little bit closer to him, smiling coyly for him and raising her fan to her face to hide a blush when her grandfather looked up at her from the tea. All these things, Haruhi did for Takashi, subtly indicating that she liked him best of all the men she had served tea to.
As she did it, she hoped that when she got home, her father would be working. She was really going to need some private time, probably for an hour or three, after this day and so much Takashi in his hitatare, as opposed to the regular amounts of Takashi that Haruhi usually got to enjoy.
"My thanks," Takashi said, looking her intently in the eyes before leaning in a bit closer and whispering "Haruhi-koi."
Haruhi swallowed and waved the fan that hid her painted face, and her blush that was burning through it, hoping to cool herself down in some small part. He just called her beloved.
Perhaps it hadn't been a mistake letting Tamaki chose this theme after all...