A/N: This story was inspired by Sleepless Knights by Childish_Fairy on HPFF, thanks to her. Also, thanks to Jessica for betaing this. And at last, JKR for writing HP, meaning I don't own this.
Rolling to my other side, I sighed loudly. I couldn't sleep. It might have been the five pieces of cake, loaded with sugar, I had eaten just hours before. Or the fact that I had spent my free periods fast asleep in this very bed. Point was, I couldn't sleep.
I had gone extreme lengths in attempt to fall asleep, and each thing got more and more ridiculous. I had already counted two hundred hippogriffs (after having counted three hundred sheep), then I had chosen what exactly to wear New Year's Eve (which was still two weeks away), found a New Year resolution (eat less cake), decided what to name my children if I got triplets (Cindy, Mindy, and Lindy, assuming they'd all be girls of course), found another New Year resolution (paint my room blue when I got home) and I had now moved on to biting the inside of my cheek, while counting the boards in the ceiling (only made it halfway before I forgot which board I was to count next). Then I started over.
After having lost track of boards for the fifth time, I sighed out loud. I sat up, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. Slowly I got up, eyes on the beds around the dorm. Every single one of the girls was fast asleep. From the bed closest to the door, a soft snore was even heard once in a while. Strangely, that hadn't bothered me. From the bed next to mine, a pair of feet even hung over one side. I resisted the temptation to ruin Mary's sleep, just to not be the only one in the whole castle awake.
Moving across the cold floor, I walked to the window. In the faint moonlight from the outside I studied my nails. With my right middle finger nail I removed a dark lump of dirt from under my left forefinger nail. I sighed, and studied my nails a few seconds. I turned halfway, once again looking at the sleeping persons around the dorm.
Then I moved to my drawer and found some clean underwear and a t-shirt for sleeping. I wondered for a second if I should take the risk of using the Prefect's bathroom, but figured that would be like playing with fire. I'd rather take the chance with the bathroom in the dorm. Clenching the clothes close to my chest I slowly exited the dorm and found the door into the girls' bathroom instead. My eyes travelled between the showers and single bathtub, before I moved to the shower farthest away from the door. I threw my clothes on the bench and then turned on the water.
I waited a few seconds till the water had turned hot before I entered. It took me another few seconds before I truly relaxed. And like that I stood for only Merlin knows how long.
When my fingers had turned into raisins I turned off the steaming water and slowly stepped out, fastening a towel around me. I stepped in front of the mirror and looked at myself. Under the mane of wet red hair, my eyes looked tired and worn. But I was neither of the two. I was vivid and not the least tired. I walked back to the dorm and threw my dirty clothes aside. I looked around at the four sleeping girls before I turned around, moving back into the small corridor. I stood for a second, thinking. Then I slowly started walking towards the common room.
The fire had almost died out, but was still spreading a warm, though faint, glow. Some forgotten homework lay on the table in front of the fireplace, and next to a lonely armchair a pair of shoes even lay forgotten. I moved to the chair closest to the fireplace and slumped down, my legs dangling over one of the armrests. I sighed and leaned my head to the side, supporting it on the backrest. In the faint glow from the fireplace, I studied my knees, counting a few freckles on them. Who had freckles on their knees really?
"Isn't it a little past your bedtime?"
The voice came out of nowhere, surprising me, making me jump a few centimetres. I turned my head to the couch from which the person had spoken. I wondered for a second why I hadn't seen him before. With his hands behind his head, and feet thrown casually over each other, James Potter lay in the couch, studying me through his glasses.
I looked away, into the fire again. "Couldn't sleep," I muttered.
"You could write my essay then," he said.
I cast a sidelong glance at him, but he was looking into the ceiling. "Is that what you were doing since you're still here?"
"Yup," he said. "But then I fell asleep. And then you awoke me with your loud breathing." He smiled, as if thinking of some private joke.
"I'm sorry I awoke you," I said. "Should I leave so you could get back to your essay?"
He looked at me. "I'd rather you stayed. It's better company."
I smiled. Slowly I curled my legs and folded my arms around them. "Which essay is it? I might be of some help?"
He slowly turned so he was facing me completely, supporting his upper body on his elbow. "Muggle Studies. You might be of help, yes." He grabbed his paper and scanned it quickly. "What do you think is the most similar characteristic between muggles and wizards? Substantiate and explain."
I uttered a short laugh. "Really?"
He nodded. "Yup."
"Hmm..." I scratched my cheek. "I'd say you could use youth as your fundamental work. The way we act, both among each other and when being alone. We're all the same, magic or no magic. Controlled by hormones and the need to be accepted, but still be the person we want to be. We're a complex lot."
He nodded approving. "That's clever."
"Mind if I use that?"
"Not the slightest."
He grinned. Rubbing his eyes shortly as he sat up. He found a blank piece of parchment and wrote a headline. He slowly ran his hand through his hair and dipped the quill once more. He frowned for a very short second before starting to write. I stretched my neck to see what he wrote, but it was impossible in the lowering darkness.
"Can you even see what you're writing?" I asked.
He shrugged. "You could always throw some wood on the fire, couldn't you?"
I studied his face closely to see if he was trying to be smart, or simply suggested me to do so. After having found nothing, I got up and put a small log on the fire. Instead of going back to my own chair, I slowly walked to the couch and sat down at the other end opposite him. He looked at me shortly, but continued writing. I looked at the paper; he'd already written about seven lines. With a sigh he ended the first part. He removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes shortly and then looked at me.
"So why aren't you sleeping?"
I shrugged. "Can't."
"Why is that?"
I shrugged again. "Don't know. Too much sugar in my system is my theory so far."
He grinned. "Banana and chocolate cake?"
"Precisely," I said with a nod.
"Yeah, me too." He leaned back on the couch, placing both of his arms along the backrest. "But not enough to make me sleepless. In fact I'm very tired." He leaned his head back too.
"When's the essay due?"
"Thursday." He closed his eyes.
"Then finish it tomorrow," I said easily. "One of us should sleep at least."
"Can't. Got detentions, no free periods and... well, tomorrow night I've got other plans."
I rolled my eyes. "A guys' night again?"
"Yup," he said with a yawn.
"Drop it then. James, if you're biting off more than you can chew, you end up ruining yourself and your grades."
"I can chew it," he said and opened his eyes again. With a shift movement he leaned forward and grabbed his quill again. "Don't worry, Lils." He put his glasses back on.
"We can move your detention," I told him.
"No. I earned it, I'll serve it. Don't worry about me." He wrote a few words.
I sighed deeply and slowly leaned sideways against the backrest. "James, if it's too much, you just have to ask..."
He smiled. "Really. I'm fine. Don't worry. Please," he added, looking at me shortly.
I studied him as he looked something up in his book and then wrote a few lines. Slowly a line appeared between his eyebrows at the same time he bit his lower lip.
"How do you spell consequence?" he asked slowly.
My eyes shot wide open. "What?"
"Consequence. How do you spell it?" He looked at me.
A smile formed my lips. I moved a bit closer, looking at the paper. "C-O-N-S-E-Q-U-E-N-C-E." He wrote as I spelled. "And depression is with two 'S's. Seriously, James, where did you learn to spell?"
"I didn't go to school when I was little unlike you," he said. "I was taught at home."
"Yeah, but 'depression'?"
"We can't all be perfect," he said smartly, looking at me quickly. "You just happen to be closer than I."
I felt my neck heating up. "Sorry," I muttered.
"You're forgiven," he said easily, starting to write again.
I smiled faintly and leaned back in the couch, lying down. I placed my head on the armrest, looking at him. He had that concentrated expression I only saw him wear very seldom. It didn't suit him the way his smile did, but it had some charm too. When didn't he? I admitted grudgingly.
He looked at me, as if having heard my thoughts. He smiled, though not that happy smile, more the 'well-this-is-boring-and-you-think-so-too-but-I'm-trying-to-lighten-the-mood-with-a-smile-and-risen-eyebrows'- smile. I nearly snorted. I should find another name for that smile. Or rather, face, because the 'smile' wasn't in his lips entirely. As probably seen in the name, his smile didn't look like a smile. It was more of a pull upwards with the corners of the mouth. I decided to call the smile a 'corner-pull'-smile. It was shorter.
I slowly put my hands behind my neck, turning my gaze towards the ceiling.
"How's it coming along?" I asked.
"Fine," he said. "I guess it's got something to do with the company."
I couldn't help smiling. Even though we'd long decided to try and stay friends when we were Head Boy and Girl, James hadn't quite learned to turn the compliments down. But he somehow managed to pull them off more smoothly than he'd done ever before in the past. I decided to let it pass as nothing.
"How far are you?"
He scanned the paper. "Just about halfway. Barely, I think. It's not supposed to be long though."
"Goo-o-o-ood." I yawned.
"Getting tired now?" he asked, sending me a smirk. "Now we've just begun having fun."
I stretched slightly, arching my back a bit. "No, it just suddenly came to me. I doubt very much I can sleep."
"Here." He moved a bit back and then took a soft hold of both of my bare ankles and slowly moved my legs from bent together between us, to over his lap, so I could stretch in full length. "Better?"
I would have pulled them back, as I found it a bit inappropriate, but instead I simply nodded mutely. He smiled at me before writing again, somehow managing to not even touch my legs as he bent forward. I closed my eyes a few seconds. When I opened them again, he was looking straight at me.
"What?" I asked after a few seconds of silence.
"Nothing," he mumbled. "You just..." He shook his head. "Nothing."
"Okay," I said, confused.
After looking at each other a few seconds again, I closed my eyes right in time to see him turn his attention back to his essay. I yawned again. I was starting to get tired, but not in the right way. I could just feel my energy leave me, but I wasn't tired enough to sleep just yet. I just wanted to relax, which I did already.
My mind started wandering. First to the person beside me; why he hadn't finished the essay a bit sooner when he knew he would be busy. Then the annoying fact that it was over three in the morning, and I still couldn't sleep. Then to Cindy, Mindy, and Lindy and a smile formed at my lips and I nearly laughed; as if that was ever going to happen. Then home; my parents and Tunia's wedding which would be held in the middle of April. Then to the five feet of snow outside, and how I wished for the summer to come as quick as possible. I thought about the war, how it was slowly affecting everything around; people dying and students being taken out of school. It was all so pointless. It gave no meaning what so ever.
"James?" I didn't know why I asked. I knew he was right beside me.
"Yeah?" he asked back.
"Have you found the meaning of life yet?"
He looked at me the same second I opened my eyes. He frowned at me. "No."
"Me neither." I looked into the ceiling.
"But I promise if I do, you'll be the first to know, Lils."
I looked at him again. "Promise?"
He nodded. "Yeah, I do."
I smiled faintly and turned my head, so I could just see the soft flames from the fireplace.
"You tell me if you find the meaning first, right?" he asked.
"I will," I said.
I could hear that he started writing again. I slowly closed my eyes and sighed deeply. I moved a bit down so my head lay better on the armrest. At the same time I could feel James lean back. I opened my eyes, looking at him. He rubbed his eyes, ran both of his hands through his hair rubbing it, making it look very shaggy and like hair which had never seen a comb, (which I had actually found out he used, though with little success). He cracked his neck once and started writing again. I studied him a few more seconds before closing my eyes again.
Like this we sat for a long time, James writing, me just doing nothing, but once in a while stealing a glance at him. A quarter of an hour might have passed when I slowly turned to my side and putting my hands under my head instead. James looked at me shortly, but said nothing.
If I craned my neck a bit, I could just see the fireplace, in which soft flames had come to life. It was still dark though, and I wondered once again if James had some abnormal eyes which could see better in darkness. If it had been me, I wouldn't have been able to see a thing.
Slowly I rolled onto my back again and sat up, looking at what he'd written so far. He only looked at me halfway, as if just wanting to see if I left or what, and then turned his attention back to the parchment.
I narrowed my eyes slightly, scanning the parchment. I blinked, wondering why it didn't give him a headache, working in this light. I confronted him with my thoughts.
He chuckled. "You get used to it."
"You usually work on your essays this late?" I asked.
"Yeah, that too," he said with a grin.
I rolled my eyes.
"But besides wandering the corridors at night, Sirius and I usually write our essays this late. I think with time your eyes just adjust to work in this light every other night."
I smiled slightly. "You guys really should learn how to prioritize."
"Naah, what's the fun about that?" he sent me a short smirk, before returning to his work.
I looked at the essay again as he wrote.
He looked up at me as I started speaking. I had the sentence ready in my mind, but as our eyes met it was suddenly forgotten. I just stared at him. And he stared back. Time seemed to slow down as we just looked at each other, though I could hear my heart pounding loud and clear in my chest, sending a tremble through my whole body. I suddenly wasn't tired anymore.
A loud bang was heard from the fireplace, and as if having had electricity sent through our bodies, we were shocked out of it. I looked into the fire, and James turned his gaze to the parchment.
"Erm, you were saying?" he asked slowly.
"The last word," I said, without moving. "You need an extra 'S'."
"Oh." He scrawled it down. "I just can't get them right," he joked.
Slowly I pulled my legs away from his, curling them in front of my chest. He looked at me, but I avoided his gaze, turning my attention to my hands. He started writing again.
As my heart was slowing down again, I glanced at him quickly. I wasn't fond of admitting it, but I was almost positive that James and I had just had a moment. I bit my lower lip. Of course, I could just be imagining things.
"Can I ask you a question?" I suddenly asked.
"Sure," he muttered.
"When you were... an idiot to say in lack of better words. When you were constantly... irritating. Didn't it ever annoy you, the way I was being towards you?"
He looked up at me shortly, the end of the quill tracing his lower lip. "In a way, yes, but not as you're thinking. It didn't hurt me or make me sad. But at times it annoyed me that you were so bloody stubborn about it." He smiled.
I did too. "Do you miss it?"
He snorted. "What? The hitting or the yelling?"
I shook my head. "No, the connection. The whole James Potter – Lily Evans thing. The one thing that bound us together. Now we're just housemates, not stalker and victim. I'm just assuming..." I shrugged.
He smiled. "In a way, maybe, but I think we have something much better now." He looked at me. "Friendship."
"Oh." My lips kept the form of a silent 'O'.
"Close your mouth, Lils," he said with a smile.
I did. "Write your essay, James," I imitated him, smiling.
He grinned and turned. "I'm almost done in fact. Just a few more lines..."
Slowly I leaned back in the couch, head on the armrest again. Studying him closely, I moved my legs back in place, crossing his. His eyes flashed down a second, but were back at his essay the next second again. I closed my eyes.
After a few more minutes the scribbling stopped. I opened my eyes just to see him put down his quill. He yawned and stretched. Then he rubbed his eyes shortly and leaned back in the couch.
"Finished?" I asked.
He nodded. "Yeah."
"That was actually pretty fast."
"I can't spell, but I surely can write fast." He closed his eyes. "Merlin, I'm tired."
I sat up slowly, watching him closely.
"Do you ever quit?" I asked suddenly.
He glanced at me quickly. "What?"
"Quit," I repeated. "You know, give up."
He shrugged. "Dunno. Can't remember a thing I've quit on yet."
"Really?" I asked.
I studied him as he closed his eyes again, sighing. Softly I bit the inside of my lower lip. I shifted a bit on the couch, straightening up in the same movement. I listened a second to the soft sounds of burning wood from the fireplace, mixed with James' slow breathing, and mine, which was going a little faster. My own heart was pounding in my chest too. I swallowed.
"James?" I asked in a voice close to a whispered.
"Mhm," he mumbled.
"Mind if I try something?"
He opened his eyes. "Like what?"
"Just sit still," I whispered. "I just want to try something."
I pulled my legs back, but in the same movement moved a bit closer to him. He looked at me, studied me closely, totally relaxed and looking a lot calmer than I felt. He sat perfectly still.
Slowly I raised my one hand and placed it on his cheek as I softly let my lips touch his. He responded to the short kiss, and simply studied me as I slowly leaned a tiny bit back. I waited half a second before moving forwards again, giving him a slightly longer kiss. His lips matched mine perfectly, moving just as one could have wished.
First when I felt his hand on my neck I pulled myself enough together to break away from him. We looked at each other a few seconds. I tried reading him, but found nothing. It was as if he wasn't the least bit surprised by me, but understood completely. As if he had been expecting it yet hadn't. Understanding, of some sort.
"Thank you," I said then.
He said nothing, but just studied me closely. Softly I took hold of his hand, and moved it away from my neck I placed his hand on his knee. Then I slowly slid my legs off of the couch and looking at him a last time, I got up.
"You're going to bed?" he asked.
I nodded. "Yeah. I think I can sleep now."