Disclaimer: Not mine, no characters belong to me.

A Different Kind of Insomnia

In his Sixth year, Harry Potter took to not sleeping.

It wasn't very hard, just a matter of not closing his eyes for longer than a blink. He didn't have to fight the pull of sleep, for he and it had and agreement. He didn't have to argue with anyone about the healthiness of it because his dormmates took no notice, and no one else ever had a chance to know since he never ventured far from his own bed, let alone out into the castle.

In the half hour between 4:30 and 5:00, a small ghost appeared on the window ledge. He wore pyjamas and his hair was tousled. He looked very young.

"I was Slytherin. Am. Was." The boy couldn't decide on words to say at times. He wavered on the edge of believing his own death and not. "They took me here. They killed me here."

"Who?" Harry asked the first night he noticed the ghost-child. But the ghost-child shut his eyes and shook his head slowly as moving under water. Harry knew the feel of wanting no questions. He didn't ask again.

The absence of sleep took away the ideas of 'late' and 'early', took away the contrasts between the two. As the passage of hours progressed, their relativity to the day itself held little meaning. Harry thought about this sometimes, but not often.

In the library, there were three books on Sleep Potions, five on Sleep charms, eight books which held references to sleep in Transfigurations and one entitled 'The History of Sleep'. Harry read them all cover to cover, but it was the last he came back to.

He spent a lot of time in the library. Nowhere felt more welcoming; his classmates were all being berks at the moment, ignoring him because of a Quidditch match he'd blown a while back. Harry couldn't understand their juvenility, but also couldn't muster up the anger to rage at them all for it. He didn't have much of the frustration he'd had from last year, not since Sirius died.

The last person who'd talked to him was Loony Luna Lovegood. Harry had been sitting by the lake, looking into the water, when suddenly he felt her presence beside him. It was a cool day, but the sun was warm and shining. Luna reached a hand out to him, and let it hover a centimeter or two from his cheek. Harry felt strange, but she didn't try to touch him.

From a far off distance, Harry thought he could hear the rustling of a veil, tattered and ancient.

The little Slytherin ghost-child appeared on time on his window ledge. He spoke as much to himself as to Harry. He said: "A long time ago, Gryffindors were the bad ones. I read it in the history now that Slytherins are evil. And before it was the Slytherins, after the Gryffindors, it was Ravenclaws everyone hated." He sighed as deep a sigh as a ghost could. "We should all have been Hufflepuff."

Harry doesn't see Ron or Hermione very much. They're very busy. He sometimes asks them to talk, to hang out like old times. Their gazes slide off him.

In 'The History of Sleep', Harry was warned that no sleep did strange things to a wizard. He would get wound up, nervous, and tired. Spontaneous magic would burst from him. He would get paranoid and delusional, feel sick and have fainting spells.

Harry doesn't. He thinks he doesn't. Though, sometimes, he hears voices. He hears his Mom, his Dad, Sirius. And the whisper of cloth against cloth.

The last living, * possible * person to say anything to him had been Loony Luna on that golden afternoon with a wind moving through him and her gaze sad and steady and sane, and she'd said -

The little Slytherin ghost-child huddles on his ledge, hugs his knees to his body. It's that magical half hour, 4:30 to 5:00, the time between early and late, and Harry can hear impossible voices calling.

The ghost-child weeps into the ghost-flesh of his legs. "I'm dead," he wails softly, shatteringly. "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead."

"I know," Harry replies. He stands at the ghost-child's side and puts his hand on a thin, solid shoulder. Harry takes a deep breath, as deep a breath as he can take. "So am I."

Luna Lovegood's hand hovering before him that afternoon, her bug eyes filled with what weren't tears, but close enough, she said, "I've always seen what no one else will."