Disclaimer: Bisco Hatori owns Ouran and its characters, not me. I don't make any profit from writing this. Obviously.

So anyway, this is my first really heavy multi-chapter Ouran fic, so I'm a little nervous about it. It's inspired by a piece of fanart by x-Dovefire-x on deviantart, so be sure to check out her gallery. This is something I've been working on for a while and I'm just starting to get it all sorted out.

Also, I apologize if the first chapter is a little boring ^^;



In the smoky dusk air, Suoh Tamaki absentmindedly twirled a loose thread on his sweater around and around in his fingers. Éclair Tonnerre, silent and much less moody than he had anticipated, given the events of the previous day, stood beside him. She watched him with a vague interest as though he was a painting.

"You delayed your flight," he said softly, and Éclair's driver, who had been nodding off on the hard airport bench, snapped suddenly awake. "I didn't expect you to do that."

Éclair smiled faintly. "I had to come back. To say thank you for everything. For being so kind to me although I probably didn't deserve it. I tried to bribe you into marrying me with the one thing I was sure you wanted, and so your kindness was very surprising. Even now, you're being kind to me. You didn't have to see me off."

Tamaki smiled back. "I wanted to," he assured her as the woman at the booth beside the terminal announced that the plane was now beginning boarding. "I couldn't let a lady go to the airport unescorted."

"And that is why women will always love you," Éclair said with a small smile as she shouldered her bag rather elegantly and made her way toward her exit. "Goodbye, Tamaki Suoh."

"Goodbye, Lady Éclair," he waved, all traces of bitterness gone. As he watched her leave, his shoulders slumped with a sigh. The slim girl disappeared onto the plane, and with her disappeared his last chance at seeing his mother.

"I know I'm making the right choice," he reminded himself as he turned away and began walking briskly in the direction of the exit, where his own driver was waiting. "I have to be making the right choice. I'm needed here, after all."

Despite the certainty he felt at this statement, it was a heavy loneliness that bubbled up to follow him into his car and down the roads to the bright emptiness of his home.

XXX

Somewhere in the back of her mind, though Fujioka Haruhi was focused wholeheartedly on her classwork, she was dimly aware of a voice calling to her from what seemed to be a great distance.

"Fujioka-kun? Fujioka-kun!" all at once she was jarred from her concentration and jumped in surprise. With Hikaru and Kaoru snickering on either side of her, Haruhi raised her large chocolate eyes to the front of the classroom, where the teacher was staring at her with some slight amusement.

"What is it, Nakahara-sensei?" she asked the clean-cut man holding a slip of paper in one hand. Still a bit fuzzy to the outside world from the deep focus she had been investing in her textbook, she had to blink several times before everything stopped looking blurry around her.

"You have a slip from the office," he informed her, holding it out. For a moment, Haruhi wondered if it was a joke. "From Chairman Suoh. It requests that you come down to his office immediately. It's marked 'urgent'."

"Really? But I haven't broken any rules," she explained, trying not to feel chastised. "Are you sure there hasn't been some mistake?"

"Ooh, Haruhi's in trouble," Hikaru snickered from her right side. Nakaharu-sensei shot him a sharp look.

"No, I don't think it's a mistake. It requests that Fujioka Haruhi come to Chairman Suoh's office immediately, and I suggest you do just that."

"Okay," numbly, Haruhi climbed from her seat and walked to the front of the room. She took the paper from her teacher's outstretched hand and gathered her books, heading for the door. She could feel the eyes of her classmates on her. 'Take a picture, why don't you?' she thought grumpily as she trudged out the door and down the hallway, staring at the paper in her hand with a kind of abstract horror.

"What could I possibly have done wrong?" she asked aloud, moving past the enormous windows in the empty hallway. "It must be a mistake. I can't remember breaking any rules at all…"

Chairman Suoh's office was at the end of the central corridor, and it had a rather posh reception area (which Haruhi should have expected. This was Ouran Academy, after all) where the pretty, young secretary motioned toward the door with the Chairman's name on it. She entered rather nervously to find Yuzuru Suoh sitting at his desk, watching the door as though he expected her to enter right then.

"Haruhi-chan!" the elegant man exclaimed as she closed the door behind her. "I've been expecting you. Please, have a seat." he motioned toward the claw-footed chair that matched the elegance of the office and Haruhi sat, folding and refolding the slip of paper in her hands.

"With all due respect, Chairman," Haruhi began with a deep breath. "I don't think I've done anything wrong. I'm not really sure why I'm here."

Yuzuru laughed. It was a deep, warm sound that reminded her of his son. "It's nothing like that, Haruhi-chan. I've only called you down to discuss a problem with your credits!"

"Then… why did you mark 'urgent' on the slip and write that I needed to come down immediately?" Haruhi asked, holding up the paper as a visual aid. Yuzuru laughed again.

"I always do that! That way, students don't spend a lot of time messing around in the halls before they come to see me because they're worried they did something terribly wrong," he explained, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the desk and his lips against his hands.

"That seems a little shrewd," Haruhi said and then clammed up quickly when she remembered who she was talking to.

"Does it?" Yuzuru seemed amused. "I like to think of it as incentive! Now, about your credits. It's been brought to my attention that you aren't taking any classes that give a performing arts credit."

"Oh, no," Haruhi said a bit sheepishly, relieved that she didn't seem to be in trouble. She felt a bit more at ease now and she was able to relax a bit and take in her surroundings. The office was sumptuously decorated, and Haruhi had to wonder if he had chosen the décor himself and managed a wry smile. Like father, like son, she thought. Yuzuru looked quite more like his son than she had realized before, too. "It's not really my thing."

"I don't know if they neglected to mention this during your orientation, but in order to graduate from Ouran Academy, all students must have a minimum of two semesters of performing arts. It's part of the curriculum. Generally if first year students opt not to take performing arts classes we don't think much of it, because it can be a lot to juggle with your other requirements as a first year and performing arts credits from middle school can sometimes be carried over if necessary. But since you didn't attend middle school at Ouran, that's impossible."

"Oh…" Haruhi said rather numbly, wondering where this was going.

"And I understand you're taking a class on the study of law as an elective for the next two years, right?"

"Uh… right. Well, actually just second term next year and then both terms my third year."

"Well, that simply doesn't leave any room for your performing arts credits. So here's what we need to do; we need to drop your study hall after this term and get you into a class that offers a performing arts credit for next term and the first term next year. I would suggest one of the various drama clubs, or the music club. Many of the clubs at Ouran are funded by the administration and therefore provide credits."

"But I can't act," Haruhi said helplessly, cringing at the memory of her acting debut in Lobelia Academy's play. "And I don't play any instruments."

"You might as well try one then, right? I'd suggest piano; it's the least stressful for a novice."

"Do they teach you how to play in the music club?" Haruhi asked hopefully, and Yuzuru looked tragic.

"Alas, you'll have to find an outside tutor for that. I think the remainder of this term should be enough time to learn the basics."

"I can't afford that," Haruhi's prospects were beginning to look extremely bleak, and she wondered how this was all going to pan out.

"Then you can always ask one of the students here. My son is a very accomplished pianist," Yuzuru said this with a certain amount of undisguised pride. "And since you two are close, I'm sure he wouldn't mind teaching you."

For a moment, Haruhi's head swirled, and then everything clicked. "Oh, Tamaki-senpai? You think he would?" she asked, and Yuzuru nodded. "Okay… then I guess I'll ask him."

"Splendid!" Yuzuru declared, nodding. "You go ahead and start learning piano and I'll get you set up with the music club for next semester." he opened the folder on the desk before him, and with a pen he started making a series of check marks that Haruhi didn't bother to wonder about.

"Okay," she said, standing and heading for the door. "Thanks for helping me clear everything up."

"It was no trouble," Yuzuru called in a singsong voice as she exited the room, closing the door behind her. Relieved that the whole situation was over, she headed back for her classroom, walking slowly as she mulled everything over in her head. Now all that was left was to ask Tamaki for help. She sighed slightly as she shuffled along.

Something inside her told her she had good reason not to be looking forward to it.