The Only Constant is Change

It's Haruhi, Kaoru, and Hikaru's final year at Ouran. Dynamics are changing and evolving... What will happen to the Host Club Members?

Author's Note: This story takes place about 8 months after the events in A Faire Shot at Mythology. It can be read as a stand alone, but it references events and items from that piece as well. If you are reading my work for the 1st time, I would humbly suggest reading my other stories The Game and A Faire Shot at Mythology before reading this to completely understand some of the relationship dynamics that I use. I promise that if you like this style of writing you will like those too. =)


44. Mastery

Haruhi stood on a raised mat in the center of the Arena with three other students. Thousands of fans packed the arena and the paparazzi were going crazy. This crowd is something else. On the floor below her, Takashi, Hani, and Sakura stood with huge grins on their faces. Sakura surreptitiously gave her a discreet thumbs-up. In the first row of seats directly behind them, Kaoru, Renge, and Tamaki were cheering so loudly she wouldn’t be surprised if their voices were hoarse by the end of the day. Hikaru and Kyouya were holding hands and their smiles were almost as large as her Senseis’. She could see the love and pride shining out of their eyes… out of all of her friends’ eyes, really. I am so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

To her left, Kaziki Blake careful to minimize the moment of his lips, muttered to her, “That’s one hell of a cheering section, Fujioka.”

“I know,” Haruhi murmured just as carefully back. “I have awesome friends... I hope to count you as one of them, some day.”

“I already am.” Kaziki let a small smile creep up the side of his mouth. “Between my Masters and yours and now our new ranks, we are going to shake up the world. Personally, I can’t wait!”

“Shush!” one of the other students hissed.

Mildly chagrined, they both turned back to the judges who were filing back to their podium. As they took their seats, the one on the end spoke. “We offer our congratulations to the four students who have achieved their first level Mastery today – Niito Okawa, Eiji Maita, Kaziki Blake and Haruhi Fujioka.” If the last name was said with a bit of a bite, Haruhi was determined to ignore it. “You have demonstrated your skill and ability to this Council and now must choose to accept the responsibility of it. Your new rank comes with the privilege of being a voting member of your House and the option to continue on your Mastery path. To achieve your second level Mastery, in addition to what you have learned so far, you must demonstrate your proficiency in the history of your House and honor it according to the traditions it was founded on. To achieve your third level Mastery, you must demonstrate your proficiency in three weapons chosen by the Head of your House. To achieve your fourth level Mastery, you must demonstrate that you have passed on what you have learned – for knowledge is the greatest gift. If you achieve your fourth level Mastery, you will be a full voting member of the Council not just of the House you belong. To achieve your fifth level Mastery, you will be given a test by the Elder Council that will challenge all of the facets of your training. This test is unique to each individual, no two tests will ever be the same, and they must be undertaken alone and without guidance from your House. Many highly skilled Masters have failed at or chosen not to undertake the final test of Mastery. This brings no shame on them or their house. For those that do achieve the final Mastery, they become a member of the Elder Council and Keeper of the Ways. They can choose to remain in their House or a start a new one.” He paused to take a breath, before speaking directly to each of the students. “Do you accept this responsibility?”

“YES MASTER!” all four said in unison.

“The current heads of your House will now present you with your Master sash. Wear it proudly in the name and honor of your House.” The Council member motioned to the man by the gong and the tone echoed through the Arena.

One by one the Heads of the Houses of Okawa, Maita, and Fujimia approached their students and went through the formal vow to each of the houses. The general pledge to each house as made by the candidate was broadcast to the arena, but the moments immediately after were silenced from the speakers as each House Elder imparted words meant for the ears of the candidate alone. As they finished, the next House stepped up.

Haruhi watched out of the corner of her eye as Master Zhi presented his House sash to Kaziki and then leaned into whisper some words that had the young Brit on the verge of laughter. Finally, he stepped behind Kaziki, signaling the end. He gave Haruhi a wink as he passed her.

At long last, Akira Morinozouka and Yorihisa Haninozouka started to walk forward, a solemn expression on their faces but a twinkle in their eyes. Coming to a stop before Haruhi, she bowed low before them and they returned it with a tandem nod of their heads. Echoing through the arena speakers, in a way that bespoke much practice they said together, “We welcome you Haruhi Zouka Fujioka to the Zouka House. We give you our name, our protection, and our honor. We expect the same in return as well as your loyalty to our House and the two families that make it – Haninozouka and Morinozouka. Do you accept our welcome?”

“With much gladness and honor, I vow to honor, protect, and respect the traditions of House Zouka and its members to my final breath.” Haruhi responded formally.

“We accept your vow.” Together they held out the sash. “You are now part of House Zouka. Wear your sash proudly and honor the House in all you do.”

Haruhi reached out a shaking hand and took the sash as she heard the microphone click off. Her fingers trembled as she tied it around her waist, the significance of the vows and ceremony finally hitting her. Once she was done, she bowed again.

Together they both bowed back, and then with a grin they both pulled her into a hug. “Welcome to family Haruhi,” Akira said and kissed her on the cheek.

“We are counting on you to keep our sons in line,” Yorihisa said with the same bright grin that graced the face of his son. “Know that we know of the relationship between our sons and embrace it even though it must remain confined to our House at the moment.”

“Know that we also know of the relationship you are currently in with young Kyouya Ootori and young Hikaru Hitachiin, as well as the unique partnership you have with my son. We are a House built on the teachings of love in its many forms. You will find no judgment here and we will support you against those who will seek to condemn you.” Akira finished.

“Thank you.” Tears glistened in her eyes as she happily returned the hug both gave.

“Now, I think our sons are chomping at the bit to get to you,” Yorihisa laughed. “Just the final dismissal and you are free to go home and relax. I would also suggest using some of the special salve made by the Zouka healers; you ARE going to be sore later once the adrenaline fades. This was the first time in decades that a Masters candidate has been required to go through such a rigorous testing process.” Anger tinged his tone.

“Peace Yorihisa,” Akira said, “Our sons knew there would be resistance when they made their choice. They chose perfectly. They took the difficult path and succeeded beyond all expectations. Their next Mastery is assured where it was not before… and they are the generation that will be the catalyst for future change. Houses will be allied, stagnation will be eliminated, and the wind of Change will breathe new life. It is a good day.”

“Yes it is.” Together they moved to stand behind Haruhi, one hand on each of her shoulders. Together they nodded to the judging council.

“This Mastery Testing Session is over. Journey in Peace and Enlightenment.” A final bell echoed through the Arena.

The tone of the bell had barely faded before Haruhi was swarmed by Hani and Takashi who pulled her into a hug before placing chaste kisses on her cheek. “More later…” Hani whispered in her ear which caused her to turn a faint pink.

“You did it love,” Kyouya said from behind her.

Startled Haruhi turned around to see Kyouya and Hikaru standing there with open arms, as she launched herself into them she could see the rest of the gang getting escorted onto the central area by members of the Morinozouka and Haninozouka families. Soon she was surrounded in a group hug with all of her friends. This is right where I want to be. I CAN change the world with them beside me.

“Ahem,” a laughter filled voice said. “Can we offer our congratulations to the newest member of house Zouka?”

The group peeled apart and Haruhi peered out to see Master Zhi, Sakura and Kaziki standing there. With a smile, she stepped forward and gave each a hug. Kaziki picked her up and twirled her around which caused Kyouya and Takashi to growl while Hikaru and Tamaki glared and everyone else giggled.

“Cousin, you might want to put her down or you will be inviting the wrath of House Zouka towards House Fujimia…” Sakura said with a smirk.

Looking up, Kaziki blanched as he saw the varied expressions. Immediately he stepped back. “So sorry, mates. I’m a hugger (blame it on Sakura’s side of the family) and I am absolutely thrilled that with Haruhi being granted mastery that Saki and my sister Katie will now be able to test too. I couldn’t help myself. I promise I did not mean any disrespect.”

Hani stepped forward and smiled, “Apology accepted Kaziki-chan. It is a good day for everyone and we do not blame you for getting carried away.” He glanced over at the paparazzi that were starting to push through the barriers and head toward the center mats. “Now, may I suggest a quick retreat? We are about to be ambushed.”

“This way,” Sakura said laughing and rushed them out a side door that lead back into the locker area.



Haruhi breathed a sigh of relief as they entered the relative calm of the prep area. She could see that sigh echoed on both Kyouya and interestingly on Kaoru’s faces. That’s right; he has his date with Renge this afternoon. I wonder if he is going to tell her about his budding relationship with Tamaki…

“If you want to change Haru-chan, we can head back to the Guest House and get away from the prying eyes of the media,” Hani said.

“We are going to have to do something about them soon, aren’t we?” Haruhi said with another sigh. “They aren’t letting up and it’s only going to get worse until we do.”

“We were actually talking about that before your testing began,” Hikaru said and placed a kiss on her temple. “It might be smart to grant an exclusive interview to one reporter. That way we can control the time, place, and pace of the questions.”

“I agree… but who?”

“If you trust me, I have an idea,” Tamaki said. “An old friend of the Suoh family is a reporter for one of the national French TV networks. She is just starting out and eager to make a name for herself, but she is also in a poly relationship that she has to keep quiet or it would kill any chance for her career. She will be able to ask the right questions and she won’t judge you the way others would.”

“I think that sounds like an excellent idea Tamaki,” Kyouya responded. “When do you suggest?”

“I can send her a message any time. I know she will make the time for this. I went to school with her before transferring to Ouran. She was one of the few I trusted and who didn’t flip out or treat me differently when I became my grandmother’s heir.”

“Why don’t we schedule it for tomorrow afternoon or early evening,” Hikaru replied. “We have mom’s photo shoot in the morning for the Maison de Roses website and we will be spending a good portion of the day doing administrative work to get everything set for Saturday night.”

“Sounds good to me,” Haruhi replied. “It’s kind of funny, I have been so focused on this testing that I almost forgot that we still have a HUGE ball planned at the end of the week.”

“A little taste of Mastery and she forgets all about us brother,” Kaoru said forlornly as he winked at Haruhi to let her know he wasn’t serious.

“We shall have to remind her that Fashion is just as important as Aikido.” Hikaru answered with put upon sigh.

“It’s a good thing I brought this then…” Kaoru reached behind him and pulled out a form fitting silver dress made out of fine wool.

“And these…” Hikaru held up a pair of black suede calf boots that instantly caused drool to form in the corners of the mouths of Sakura and Renge.

“Where the hell did they pull those from??” Sakura asked flabbergasted. “And how do I get a pair of those boots. They are practically sex given form…”

“I have stopped trying to figure that out,” Haruhi grinned then laughed as she heard Zhi mutter “what is it with women and SHOES!!!”

“My dear Master Zhi,” Hikaru turned and replied, “A sexy pair of shoes is the foundation for a woman’s sense of the divine. They mirror the beauty, grace, and sex appeal of the woman wearing them.” He turned to Sakura and said with a grin, “I’ll make sure that we have a pair sent over to you. They are going to hit the runway on Thursday.”

“Oh wow… I couldn’t…” Sakura blinked rapidly as it hit her that she was actually talking to Fashion’s elite up and coming duo.

“Yes you can,” Kaoru laughed. “And there she goes… Haute Couture claims another victim.”

The group giggled as Sakura turned pink.

“Seriously, though, go ahead and change love,” Hikaru said turning back to Haruhi. “You look tired. Go back to the house and relax before going out tonight.”

“I think I will do that,” Haruhi started to undo her new sash.

“Keep that sash handy, I made it so the dress will go with it,” Kaoru said. “I want you to show off your new status, not hide it.”

“Wow… I don’t know what to say,” Haruhi kissed Kaoru on the cheek. “Thank you, my friend.”

“You’re welcome,” Kaoru grinned. “Now go change so we can see how it looks!”

Haruhi entered the women’s restroom with Renge and Sakura hot on her heels. So she wasn’t surprised when they accosted her as soon as they were out of sight of the others.

“Dear gods… I had no idea how attractive the Hitachiin twins really were… And Kyouya Ootori too. Mercy mercy me!” Sakura fanned herself.

“Kaoru is just a friend and I think he has his eye on someone,” she glanced significantly over at Renge who took her turn to blush. “But I admit that I am seriously lucky with Kyouya and Hikaru. They understand me... and they are so incredibly sexy.” She slipped out of the loose pants and jacket of the gi. An involuntary whimper left her lips.

Renge whistled as she got a good look at Haruhi’s body. There were several angry red welts and the deep purple of bruises was starting to appear on her ribcage. “My gods girl… You are going to be HURTING later. Are you going to be ok for the shoot tomorrow?”

“Make-up covers amazing things,” Haruhi replied. “Though Yorihisa was right. Now that the adrenaline is starting to fade, I am starting to hurt.”

“Here, let me help you make it back to your house.” Sakura reached into her locker and pulled out a familiar looking jar.

“Oh bless you…” Haruhi said gratefully, recognizing it instantly as the same salve Hani had used on Kaoru. Sakura scooped out a spoonful and started to spread it on Haruhi’s ribs, abdomen, and thighs, while Haruhi sighed in bliss.

“What is that?” Renge asked curiously.

“House Zouka has legendary healers in its ranks,” Sakura replied. “They make this salve from a secret blend. It is unparalleled at easing muscle and tissue damage.”

“But I thought you were part of House Fujimia,” Renge responded.

“I am. House Fujimia and House Zouka are close allies. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that before I started studying with my husband’s House, I studied with Takashi’s older brother before his tragic accident. Hani and Takashi are like the younger brothers I never had.”

“Why did you change Houses?”

Still working the salve into Haruhi, Sakura answered Renge’s questions. “Simple. I fell in love. Pretty much the first time that I met Zhi… I just knew.”

“Aw,” Renge said with a sincere smile. “Wasn’t Zouka House upset?”

“I can guess the answer this one, now that I understand a bit more,” Haruhi said, while Sakura nodded at her to continue. “House Zouka is founded on the idea that Love brings enlightenment. Love has many forms and the path through Love that each must walk will be different. I have a feeling that when she told Akira that she was in love with Zhi, he petitioned to have her become a student.”

“That’s pretty much it, exactly,” Sakura said with a grin. “This is also why you will never have any issues with House Zouka condemning your relationship with Kyouya, Hikaru, or Takashi…” She looked slyly at Haruhi as she said the last name.

Haruhi turned to look at her sharply while Renge muttered, “I KNEW IT!”

“I’m not-“

“Haruhi, yes you are… It’s obvious in the way he looks at you and the way you interact. When the two of you are doing yoga, the connection is awe-inspiring. You can’t achieve that without a deep bond. Yes, he is in love with Mitskune, but he loves you as well… and I am pretty sure that you love him too. You would be a fool if you didn’t. It may be different from what you have with Kyouya or Hikaru but it is just as real.” Sakura said with an apologetic tone. “There is a reason Hani invited both Zhi and I in to see your warm-up. I promise you that neither I nor Zhi will ever say anything. But I wanted to let you know you have support of BOTH House Zouka and House Fujimia.”

“It’s more complicated than that, Sakura,” Haruhi replied, “but I thank you for your words of support. We have to keep it a secret for now, just like Hani and Takashi’s relationship must be kept a secret. It’s going to be hard enough going public with two boyfriends; we will be ostracized if it was known there are more.”

“I understand. Probably more than you know.” Sakura took a deep breath and said, “In the interest of honesty, I should let you know… I am happily married to Zhi but we are also in a triad with Takashi’s cousin Kusanagi. No one except Akira and Yorihisa knows.” She straightened the fabric of the grey wool over Haruhi’s hips and helped her step into the boots. Another involuntary sigh escaped as she caressed the butter soft leather.

“There is just something about Hikaru’s boots…” Renge said with a grin catching the wishful sigh. “They can make a girl cream from twenty paces.”

The off-color remark startled both Sakura and Haruhi into laughter.

“There is… Please tell me that Hikaru was serious about sending me a pair. I will pay for them, I promise!” Sakura cast one more wistful look at the boots.

“He will and they will be a gift.” Haruhi said with a smile. “If there is one thing I have learned about the Hitachiin twins… they will do anything for those they consider a friend. Right Renge?”

Renge nodded vigorously.

“I’m a friend?”

Haruhi linked her arms with the other two women. “Absolutely. Now let’s get out of here… I’m starving!”

“When aren’t you?” Renge mock sighed. “How do you manage to keep your figure?”

“Martial Arts, Yoga, and sex,” Haruhi answered with a twinkle, startling Renge with her blunt response. “You’d be surprised how many calories each burns.”

“Hmmm…. I may have to try that.”

Renge, Haruhi, and Sakura walked out of the dressing room laughing.

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