Disclaimer: I don't own Ouran. Bisco Hatori does 8D
Happy Holidays, everyone!
In Haruhi Fujioka's apartment, Christmas was not exactly a conventional event. It wasn't a "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" kind of place. It was a "study hard and get everything done before exams" kind of place. So it was no surprise that on Christmas eve, the evening found Haruhi not decking the halls, but working steadily on a rather large essay question at the end of her homework for the evening. As soon as the short holiday break was over, exams would begin full force, and she had to get the material finished if she was ever to pass them. So it was with a heavy heart that she jerked herself away from her studies at the sound of her doorbell ringing.
Haruhi dragged herself over to the door rather reluctantly and turned the lock. Her father was working until the following morning, so it couldn't be him coming home. The only other explanation was company, which she had wholeheartedly not expected. Kyouya Ootori came into the apartment along with a gust of cold air, and Haruhi watched him blow on his expensive leather gloved hands in what was an uncharacteristically inelegant gesture for a moment before she broke the silence.
"Kyouya-senpai," she muttered. "What exactly are you doing here?"
"How rude," the brunette said, shooting her a look. "I come all the way over to see you and you greet me like some unwanted pest."
"I'm sorry," Haruhi said quickly, shutting the door behind him. "I wasn't really thinking. I'm just surprised. What I meant was… is there a reason you came?"
"Yes, there is," Kyouya told her. "Two of them, actually. The first was to give you your present, and the second is to offer you a fair warning."
"Thank you," Haruhi said, a little surprised as she took the small package he held out to her. It wasn't really like Kyouya to come all the way to her house to give her a present, and she was touched by this uncharacteristic show of goodwill. She made it a point to store it away in her mind to remember next time he acted like a heartless tax collector. Apparently even people like Kyouya were capable of extending a little Christmas spirit. "You really didn't have to get me anything, you know."
"I'm well aware of that," Kyouya assured her. "But it Iis/I customary to give one's friends gifts, isn't it?"
"You're right," Haruhi agreed, putting the package under one arm and moving into the living room. She grabbed the package from the pile in the corner that had Kyouya's name on its tag and took it over to him, where he took it elegantly and tucked it into the shoulder bag he carried. Haruhi herself set the present Kyouya had given her down on the end table beside the door (since he didn't seem too keen on opening them now) and rubbed a hand awkwardly against the back of her neck. "Do you want some coffee?"
"No thank you," Kyouya replied in a businesslike manner. "I really have to be going. But I do need to warn you that Tamaki is on his way here. He has a rather unconventional surprise for you, so I would be on your guard if I were you."
"Um… thanks…" Haruhi said, a little jolted, as Kyouya opened the door. The cold air came in and Haruhi shivered in her light sweater.
"Don't mention it," Kyouya said coolly as he stepped out into the swirling snow. "Have a pleasant evening. Merry Christmas, Haruhi."
"Merry Christmas," Haruhi waved to him and shut the door behind him, glancing around the apartment and wondering what in the world Kyouya had meant by an 'unconventional' surprise. Tamaki himself was rather unconventional, and so when something was unconventional for him, it certainly had to be odd. She stood fretting for a few moments before the sound of distant bells caught her attention.
"What the…" she wondered aloud, moving over to the window. She rubbed a clear place on the frosty pane, and her eyes widened at the sight of what looked like a sleigh coming into view. "That can't be…"
But it was. Haruhi watched in absolute dismay as a shiny red sleigh, driven by four actual reindeer, rushed into the parking lot of her apartment building. There was a driver up on the front of the sleigh and in the back, someone with blonde hair peeking out from under their hat was perched on the bench. Haruhi sighed, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands. Maybe, just maybe, if she was quiet and pretended not to be home, he would just go away.
"Haruhi!" Tamaki shouted, and she was sure the neighbors would wonder about all the noise. "Haruhi, come outside!"
Haruhi shrank back a bit and leaned against the wall, not entirely sure what to think. This was over-the-top, even for Tamaki. If there was ever a time she had questioned his sanity, it was now. This had to be the most insane stunt he had ever pulled, and she really didn't want to be part of it. She was starting to think maybe he would just leave when he shouted again.
"Oh good, I see you at the window! I was worried you wouldn't be home! Grab your coat and come outside, Haruhi! Come on!"
Haruhi groaned. There was no escaping it now. Before she even had time to think of an excuse, he was knocking on the door to the tune of 'jingle bells' and she walked over and yanked the door open before he shouted anything else.
"Senpai, what in the world is going on?" she asked, and he grinned at her.
"I got you a Christmas sleigh, like in all the songs!" he said happily. "And I came to take you on a sleigh ride!"
She looked at him. "Are you serious?" she asked.
"Of course!" Tamaki seemed ridiculously pleased with himself. "Do you like it?"
"Well…" faced with that hopeful look and those shining eyes that wanted more than anything to hear her approval, all she could do was sigh. "Sure, but don't you think this is a little much?" she had gotten him a scarf, and he had brought her a flock of reindeer. The whole thing was almost too ridiculous to believe.
"Nothing is too much when it comes to my precious little angel!" Tamaki declared. "Now quickly, get your coat! We must make haste!"
"Stop talking like a duke," Haruhi muttered, and Tamaki gave her pleading eyes. Finally, she sighed. "Fine. I'll get my coat."
"Thank you!" Tamaki squealed, and Haruhi moved to get her coat and Tamaki's wrapped present from the pile. As she pulled the coat over her shoulders, Tamaki was variably bouncing up and down with excitement, and Haruhi had the feeling that this was going to be a long night. "Are you ready to go?"
"Sure," Haruhi replied, shrugging. She handed him the wrapped lump in her hands to assure she wouldn't forget and leave it behind. "Here's your present. You can open it."
Tamaki's eyes widened and sparkled a bit and he smiled at her. Carefully, he pulled back the festive paper to reveal the blue striped scarf underneath, and his smile widened. "Thank you, Haruhi. It's beautiful."
"You're welcome. I'm glad you like it. I sort of made it myself," suddenly Haruhi was embarrassed, and the way Tamaki was smiling at her made her even more so.
"I love it, Haruhi. I really do!" Tamaki grinned as he looped it around his neck. "Thank you so much!" somehow, the frenzied attitude he had displayed moments ago seemed to be gone, and was replaced by a calmer, more genteel manner. It was as though Haruhi giving him a gift reminded him to be civilized. Haruhi watched him suspiciously as she pulled on her coat. He was beaming at her.
"You're welcome," she replied finally, giving him a slight smile. "I'm glad you like it."
"Shall we go, my princess?" Tamaki asked, extending a hand. Haruhi rolled her eyes just a bit at him talking to her like one of the customers, but it was rather hard to mind when he was smiling at her this way. Cautiously she put her hand in his and almost immediately he was pulling her, out the door and into the snow. "Come on, Haruhi!"
The sleigh was waiting near the front steps, and Haruhi was instantly a little overwhelmed by it. With no measure of grace she managed to get herself into it (refusing help from Tamaki, much to his dismay), and when she did Tamaki turned to her, fidgeting with excitement.
"You really didn't have to do this, you know," Haruhi reminded him, and he laughed a bit, lighthearted with his nose red from the cold.
"I know, Haruhi," he assured her. "But what kind of person would I be if I didn't?"
"A normal one?" Haruhi asked, and Tamaki laughed happily. The falling flakes flurried around his face, sparkling almost as much as his eyes. He gave her a warm, bright smile as the sleigh began to move, the wind starting to rush through their hair.
"Isn't this fun?" Tamaki asked her excitedly. Haruhi glanced at the passing world; the thickly blanketed trees and cars, the glitter of it all, the smoke rising from chimneys. It was beautiful, and seen from this angle, this cozy and ridiculously picturesque scenario, it was even more so. There was something wildly exhilarating about it all, and Haruhi felt like a child listening to the bright tinkling of the bells on the reindeer and the sides of the sleigh. It was like something out of a bizarre fairy tale.
"It is," she admitted, and Tamaki's smile widened at that.
"I'm so glad you like it," he said, sounding almost shy for a moment. "It took quite a lot of planning to get it ready. I overheard you saying that your father would be busy, and I didn't want you to spend Christmas eve alone, so I thought maybe a sleigh ride would be a nice way to spend it together."
"That's… really nice of you," Haruhi told him, actually quite moved by his words. "I didn't expect anything like this."
"That's what makes it fun, isn't it?" Tamaki asked her with a wink. He seemed extremely pleased with himself, but Haruhi supposed he had a good reason in this case. His plans were coming together quite nicely, that much she could see clearly. Forcing herself to forget the homework that still sat half-finished on her kitchen table, Haruhi allowed herself to get lost in the moment, in the rapidly darkening world that was rushing by. The moon rose full and white, and it gave everything a magical glow to it, making the snow glitter more peacefully then it had in the sun. Haruhi found that despite everything, she was genuinely enjoying herself. She and Tamaki talked warmly of this and that, and the world flew by quickly outside of their own little world.
"It's getting late, isn't it?" she asked finally, aware that the sun had set fully and that the temperature was dropping rapidly. Pulling her coat a bit closer around herself, she shivered as discreetly as possible. She was cold, but she didn't want Tamaki making a fuss over her as he was so inclined to do. However, she was not as discreet as she liked to believe, and Tamaki gave her a fond little smile as he leaned over and pulled a blanket from under the seat.
"It is," he agreed. "We'll be going back soon, honest. But there's something I want to show you first." with infinite gentleness he tucked the blanket around her and pulled her a bit closer. "Then I'll take you home."
"Okay," Haruhi agreed blankly, flushing inexplicably in such close proximity to him. A familiar jolt on her heart made her feel like she was snapping awake, and she grumbled to herself because she knew all too well what was causing it. His power over her emotions was both irritating and comforting. The heavy warmth of his arm around her made her drowsy, and she was nodding off when the sleigh jerked to a stop.
"We're here," Tamaki announced grandly, hopping from the sleigh like a gymnast. Haruhi followed him clumsily into the cold and glittering snow. They were outside Ouran Academy, and Haruhi stumbled a bit as he led her around the side of the building. Haruhi's eyes widened at the sight that met them. On the wall of the enormous building, spelled out in glowing red Christmas lights, were the words IMerry Christmas, Haruhi!/I
Overwhelmed, Haruhi had to take a step back. Tamaki was grinning expectantly at her. "What do you think?" he asked.
"I think… I… I think it's a little much," Haruhi said truthfully. "But it's nice. It was a very nice gesture, senpai."
"I have a present for you, too," Tamaki told her, jolting her away from the sight of the lights, and Haruhi raised an eyebrow at him.
"Tamaki-senpai, you went to way too much trouble for me. It's nice of you, but really, it's not necessary."
"I know that," Tamaki gushed. "But I had to get you something. Haruhi, I don't know if you know this, but you're very precious to me. I wanted to make a special effort for you so you would know, and I thought that Christmas would be the perfect time."
For just a moment, Haruhi was rendered speechless. As Tamaki rummaged through his pocket and drew out a small wrapped package, she found herself staring at him, feeling like she had never really seen him before. Even in all his childishness, Tamaki was still the warmest, kindest, most sincere person Haruhi had ever met. It was clear to her in that moment that she was lucky to know him, lucky to have someone like him who could draw her out of her own small world and into his, which was infinite and always expanding.
"Merry Christmas," Tamaki said with a smile as he handed her the package. With reverence Haruhi took it and tore the paper gently away. Inside the box it revealed, she found a small locket on a tiny, fine chain. Tamaki was watching her expectantly. "Open it," he whispered.
Haruhi did, sliding her fingernail into the space between the two locket halves and prying it open. She was not entirely sure what she expected to see, but it certainly wasn't what she saw, which was a tiny picture of her mother, trimmed perfectly to fit in the space inside the locket. Holding it gently in her mitten-clad hands she looked up at Tamaki, not entirely certain what to say.
"It's so when you wear it, she'll always be close to your heart," he explained softly. Haruhi didn't need to hear any more, and in an uncharacteristic moment of unrestrained emotion she launched herself into his arms. Tamaki laughed a bit and caught her, cradling her against his chest and lifting her up off the ground. It was a warm moment full of joy, and Haruhi could not tell him how touched she was, how kind and perfect and entirely Tamaki the gesture had been. She settled instead for hugging him tight, burying her face in his coat and simply leaving it there. For a moment all the world fell away, and there was nothing but the two of them enclosed in their own little world.
"Thank you," Haruhi said softly, as though speaking loudly would crush the perfection of the moment.
Tamaki smiled down at her, his breath like smoke in the cold air, and in a flash of boldness he leaned down and pecked her lips. Haruhi touched where he had kissed, surprised, and blinked at him.
"There's mistletoe on the tree branch above us," Tamaki explained, blushing heavily. Haruhi nodded mutely, watching as he leaned down a bit again and moved to kiss her again. This time, though her brain argued that it was by no means sane, Haruhi met him halfway. Kissing her senpai was strange, but it was certainly an experience. The flutters of butterflies in her stomach reminded her just how complicated her feelings for him were, but at the moment it didn't matter.
It was true that Haruhi Fujioka was not by any means a festive person. But after a night of sleigh riding and jingle belling, it was not so odd for her to feel a bit of holiday cheer resonating in her chest. However, she had the inkling that it had less to do with the events of the night and more to do with the boy who was currently kissing her gently, his lips trembling against hers.
Sometime during the course of their kiss, Haruhi happened to glance upward. The tree branches overhead were completely devoid of mistletoe. Smiling a bit to herself, she supposed she could let Tamaki get away with his white lie…
Just this once.