A/N: This is an AU of the anime where Haruhi never encountered the Host Club and therefore never broke the vase, never joined the Host Club, and never befriended any of them.

It's a little bit quieter at Ouran after the School Festival, and for the life of her she can't figure out why. She doesn't understand why the hallway lights are a little bit dimmer. She can't comprehend why the painted pink walls look a little bit darker. She finds it odd that her school mates look a little bit sad every time the four o clock bell rings.

Lately, she hears solemn female classmates whispering about a student whose name she knows only vaguely, and whom from their expressions is someone they all care for very much. She is aware of the Principal's son of course, if only by name and not by face. She knows he was a student here at one point, and that now he is gone. Back to his home country, the girls all say, back to be married to a rich socialite. She hears these stories, but thinks nothing of them, as they do not relate to her. She'd had nothing to do with that boy, his name holds no meaning to her, and so she quickly loses interest.

She sees the red headed twins sitting way in the back. Somehow, she never learned their names. She notices they are a little bit more reserved all of a sudden. She used to see them converse regularly with their peers, mostly the females. Now they sit alone and keep quiet, and when the bell rings they are gone before everyone else. Sometimes she can't help but wonder where they're going.

One day, when the library isn't too full and she's sitting at an empty table buried in science homework, she sees a black haired young man in glasses; his nose deep in a large tome of a book. Something about him catches her attention, but she doesn't know what it is. He gives off an air of superiority, like he is someone you must respect and admire. And when he suddenly seems to sense her eyes on him and jerks his head up to gaze back at her, she feels a cool chill go down her spine. She gives a squeak at the sight of his intense gray eyes as her own brown ones quickly drop, and she refuses to look up again until she's sure he is gone. It's only after he's long since left that she realizes that for all his posture and intimidation, in the moment when their eyes met, he looked just as lost as those twins in her class.

When she's walking home from school at the end of each day, she sometimes walks passed a rather odd pair of students. Both male, one practically twice her size, the other short enough to pass for a grade schooler. They brush by without a word, and silently head towards their destination. She only hears their voices once, and they are hushed and abrupt and she can't even be sure it's really them speaking and not just her imagination.

"It's lonely around here without him."


As the voices fade and the two disappear around the corner, she suddenly feels as though she should stop and run after them. Instead she picks up the pace, rolling her eyes at the ridiculous thought. She doesn't even know those boys. Even so, she can't help but wonder who they were talking about.

On days when the libraries are too crowded and noisy, she searches for other quiet places to study. One day, she happens upon an unused music room. She opens one of the double doors to a cold darkness, and is struck by the sense of how wrong that is. She turns on the lights, and is a little bit surprised to see the fancy tables and couches littered around the spacious ballroom. As she approaches a table by the window, she sees a thin layer of dust caking the tabletop. She brushes it away with her hand and sets her books down. The silence is deafening, and no matter how hard she tries, she can't shake the feeling that this is just wrong.

Unable to focus, her eyes stray to the window, and she sees a group of five boys sitting together in the courtyard. She knows their faces immediately: the red headed twins, the cold eyed dark haired boy, the tall one and his much smaller companion. Even from so far up she can see them laughing together, their faces bright and exuberant. This surprises her. After only ever seeing them look sad, it's almost strange to see them happy. It's as if they've found solace from the endless melancholy in each other.

As she watches, her heart clenches more and more, and she can't understand why she feels as if she should be down there with them or why a little voice in her head tells her there's this great opportunity she's missed. In the distance, she could swear she hears the soft, sad sounds of a piano being played by someone who is an expert in their craft. The imaginary sounds almost bring a tear to her eye.

But that's all they are, she realizes, imaginary, and she quickly comes out of her stupor and returns to her work. As she focuses her thoughts on algebraic equations and formulas, the ghostly music her mind creates fades away into nothing.

And it's just a little too quiet.