Tamaki has always told himself that he would never make the same mistakes as his father. He would never allow himself to be forced into a marriage with someone he didn't love. He would never leave the woman he promised to love and cherish for the rest of his life. And, most importantly, he would never have a child out of wedlock.
But looking down at Haruhi, who is curled into his side and crying her eyes out because for once in her life she has no idea what to do, he can only pray that his decisions don't turn out as badly as his father's.
They lay in bed together, quietly celebrating their first anniversary, when Haruhi says, "Tamaki, what are you going to do about your fiancée?"
He kisses the back of her hand and replies, "She wants a long engagement anyway, so we'll just put off the wedding for as long as possible."
"But your grandmother is dying," Haruhi bluntly points out, knowing exactly what he was thinking, "and I doubt she'll accept going to meet her maker without seeing you married to the woman she handpicked for you."
Tamaki nods and distracts Haruhi by kissing her again. He has no intention of letting his grandmother ruin one of the most precious days of his life.
The first time Haruhi meets his fiancée at the party Hikaru and Kaoru held to honor her acceptance into law school. "I'm so glad you could make it," Haruhi says, running over to Tamaki and hugging him tightly. She doesn't notice the girl standing behind him until his arms are already wrapped low on her waist, and when he pulls away, his hands linger in places that make her flush lightly.
"Haruhi, this is Takahashi Fumiko," Tamaki says.
Fumiko looks her up and down, realizes she is a commoner, and ignores her for the rest of the evening.
Tamaki's face lights up when he sees their baby for the first time on the ultrasound screen. They are at one of the Ootori clinics, and Kyouya watches her examination, swearing her physician to complete secrecy on pain of a ruined medical career.
"Haruhi," Tamaki says excitedly, touching the image on the screen with his fingertips, "this is our baby. He's really in there."
And Haruhi doesn't have the heart to remind him that the doctor's already said that the baby is a girl, so she just holds his hand and tells him to stop yelling instead.
"Tamaki, you can't do that!" Haruhi yells. They are arguing because Tamaki wants to tell his grandmother about the baby.
"Haruhi, I have to," he says. "I love you, and I want us to be happy together—without my grandmother's interference."
"Tamaki," she whispers, but she just leans into him, letting him hold her as their world falls apart.
"This is absolutely unacceptable," his grandmother says, looking fierce and stern.
"I know, Grandmother, and I'm very sorry for disappointing you," Tamaki replies, bowing his head to her slightly.
"Get out of my sight," she snaps, flinging her hand towards the door.
Tamaki gets on his knees in front of her, bowing like he knows he should, and says, "I would like to renounce my position as the Suou family heir, Grandmother."
He can feel her eyes on the back of his neck as he gets up and walks out the door, and it's all he can do to hold back his tears until he leaves the mansion.
He asks Fumiko to meet him in the park that evening. She comes, dressed in designer jeans and a cashmere sweater even though it's summertime, and finds him sitting on the swings. "What is it?" she asks when she sees the frown on his face.
He takes a deep breath, steeling himself, and begins, "I want to break off our engagement."
"Oh, good," she replies casually, running her fingers through her cropped hair. "I never liked you much anyway."
"No buts, Haruhi!" Ranka protests. The two of them are trying to convince Haruhi's father to let Tamaki stay with them until he can find a place of his own, but so far the only thing that has been accomplished is yelling.
Tamaki moves closer to him, and quietly begs, "Please, sir!"
Ranka looks over at Haruhi, who adds her silent entreaty to Tamaki's verbal one, and after a moment, he sighs and says, "He is absolutely not sleeping in your bed with you, Haruhi."
Haruhi and Tamaki exchanges glances, and neither one of them knows whether or not they should tell Ranka that she's already pregnant.
Tamaki takes with him everything his grandmother would let him take when he leaves the Suou main estate. When Haruhi looks askance at him, he explains, "I'm going to sell everything except the bare necessities so I can have some money until I can find a job."
"Tamaki," she protests, "you don't have to do that."
"I don't want to be a burden," he says. He doesn't want to tell her that he's scared because he's never been anything other than filthy rich, and for all that he used to obsess over so-called 'commoner life', he doesn't really know what to do now that he is one too.
He isn't even allowed in the hospital during the weeks before his Grandmother passes on, and when it happens very late in the night, his father doesn't call him. He only finds out that she is gone when Ranka reads about it in the newspaper. The article talks about all of her accomplishments and all the good things she did for Japan through her company, and goes on to say that her son Yuzuru will be taking her place with a heavy heart. The writer even mentioned that the new President was hoping to convince his (secret) French wife to come back to live with him in Japan.
The article does not mention Tamaki.
Tamaki had always imagined that his wedding would be a giant, overly extravagant affair—there would be thousands of guests there, a miniature zoo, the best musicians money could buy, and his bride would be dressed in the finest wedding ensemble made of only the best materials. This is not how it happens. He wears a cheap, rented tuxedo, and Haruhi wears her mother's wedding dress, which barely slides over the baby bump that has finally started to show. The only guests are Ranka and the other members of the Host Club, and the ceremony takes place in a run-down church that makes him a little nauseous. But as happy as he is to marry her, he cries after Haruhi falls asleep that night, wishing there was some way that he could go back in time and re-make all of his decisions, because Haruhi deserves so much more than he could ever possibly give her now.
His father visits them in the hospital the night the baby is born. He wears a sad expression on his face when they take him to see Machiko.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't be here while Haruhi was in labor," his father says. "I was planning on keeping you company, but I had something urgent that came up at the last minute."
"It's okay," Tamaki replies, feeling a little disappointed, but inside he thinks that he shouldn't expect much from his father from now on—he had a feeling his grandmother had left a clause in her will that forbid contact between them or something like that.
"Can I ask you a question?" Kyouya says. He and Tamaki are out to dinner at the most high-end, expensive restaurant in town, and Tamaki finds it suspicious that Kyouya has offered to pay for everything. "Why did the baby take Haruhi's surname—and why didn't Haruhi take yours?"
"Haruhi wanted to keep her own name," he replies with a shrug and is surprised when Kyouya lets him leave it at that.
He can't bring himself to tell his best friend that he doesn't want Haruhi or Machiko to be cursed with the name 'Suou.'
"Papa!" Machiko shrieks, and it is the first word she has ever spoken. Tamaki's face lights up, as does Haruhi's, and they turn to face one another in excitement.
"Papa!" Machiko yells again, giggling happily and jumping up and down on his lap. He hugs her tightly, stroking her beautiful blonde hair, and tries to get to her to say 'Mama' too.
"Papa!" is, however, the only thing she's willing to say at the moment, and Tamaki is fairly certain that Haruhi doesn't mind.
They find an apartment sooner than they expected, and the three of them live quite happily on their own. Haruhi graduates and gets a wonderful job, just like he's always known she will, and he falls into work giving piano lessons. Machiko turns two years old, and receives more toys than they have room for from all of her honorary uncles. Hikaru and Kaoru slip them rubbers as a joke when the baby isn't around, just like they always have, and laugh like maniacs when the two of them roll their eyes.
But the truth is, they've already decided that they want to have another baby, so Tamaki discreetly drops the twins' gift in the garbage the minute they aren't looking.
"She should be up by now, shouldn't she?" Tamaki asks, because it feels like Machiko has been napping for much too long.
"She's just tired because she was up all night," Haruhi replies. "It'll be okay, Tamaki."
They go to check on her anyway, because Tamaki can't keep himself from worrying about his daughter. Machiko is in her bed, just as they left her, but now her lips are tinged with blue.
Tamaki and Haruhi rush their daughter to the hospital, where the doctors take her away into the intensive care unit. There are tubes coming in and out of her, and she is hooked up to an IV and several beeping machines.
The doctor comes into the room and says, "It's a good thing you found her when you did. She's going to be just fine."
And despite the doctor's reassurances and the nurses' training, Machiko does not make it through the night.
He calls his father's cell phone the next day and leaves a message telling him about Machiko's death. He calls the main estate as well, and Shima answers the phone.
"May I speak with Suou-sama please?" he asks, and he wonders if Shima will recognize his voice now that he's older and has been exiled for nearly four years. He knows that it will do no good to ask for 'Father' because even though his grandmother is dead, she still controls everything that happens in both mansions.
"I'm so sorry, Master Tamaki," she whispers, and the line goes dead.
When Tamaki comes home from work that evening, he is met with the sight of Ranka pulling a picture of Machiko out of his wallet and sliding it into the corner of the frame that held his wife's photo. Tamaki drops to his knees beside him.
"Thank you," he says, lighting some incense.
His father-in-law doesn't reply, only nods slightly and stares at the pictures.
When Haruhi comes home a little later, she too sits in front of the little shrine, and the three of them mourn the loss of the child together.
His father calls him one evening out of the blue while he is in the middle of eating dinner and says, in his most business-like tone, "Tamaki, I have a proposal for you. I am prepared to let you come back to the main estate and rename you the heir to the Suou company."
He looks up at Haruhi, who is too busy enjoying nabe to ask who's calling him, and asks, "And what do I have to do in return?"
He hears his father sigh heavily before he answers, "You cannot bring Haruhi or the baby with you."
Tamaki hangs up the phone without another word.
He doesn't tell Haruhi what his father wanted, doesn't even tell her that it was him who called. He thinks about his family—the Grantaines, the Suous, and the Fujiokas—and he gets an idea. He tries to dismiss it, because it is rather stupid, but he has always had some trouble doing letting go of his ideas, no matter what their level of lucidity. When his wife comes home that night, he rushes to her and asks, "How would you like to live in France, Haruhi?"
She blinks her beautiful honey eyes and asks, "What brought this on?"
Haruhi understands his reasons behind leaving Japan, but she seems uncertain about it. He thinks it's because she's never lived anywhere else, and so he tries to reassure her that France isn't really all that different than Japan, that no country is really all that different from any other country. One of her concerns is not knowing the language, and Tamaki reminds her that she took French (and English) at university, so she knows the basics well enough. Another of Haruhi's concerns is her father, whom she would never leave behind, and his only complaint is about leaving his job.
Tamaki laughs loudly, because of course Ranka doesn't care what the French think of transvestites or homosexual single fathers, as long as it wouldn't affect his ability to carry on like he always has, and so he tells him, "I'm sure you'll be able to persuade someone to give you a job, Otousan."
They have lived in France for two years when Tamaki says, "Haruhi, I want to change my name."
She doesn't say anything, only continues to flip through the book she hasn't been reading for the past twenty minutes. They are sitting on the couch after dinner, and she is leaning into him comfortably, enjoying his presence. He worries that maybe she hadn't heard him, and he doesn't really know if he has the courage to say it again. After a long time, he adds, "I want you to be a Grantaine, too, Haruhi."
It would be a lie to say that they lived happily ever after, Tamaki thinks to himself one day, because he has finally learned that life is never that neat. They have their fair share of tragedy and disappointments and rough patches, but they manage to get through them with the help of their friends and family. They're happier in France than they ever could have been in Japan. Although Japan is in his blood, France is in his soul and will always be his home.
He tells that to Haruhi one evening when they have a few minutes to themselves, and she just smiles at him and sighs, "I know, Tamaki."