Sure, I doubt they'd be too difficult; the staff want the students in their dorms to sleep and stuff, they aren't cruel. But still, knowledge? Come on!
I sneak into the common room and up the stairs, keeping my footsteps as silent as I can. No one can know I'm here, not at this time of the day. People, like Louis sometimes, are up by this time for many reasons - Louis runs, Kyle plays his guitar - but going into other Houses, or, even worse, getting caught leaving, can lead to all sorts of rumors. People talk, teachers take action. Nasty business.
So, don't get caught.
When I get to the door, I pause, my hand out and hovering just over the handle. I can't wake the others. Holding my breath, I grab hold and push down on the handle slowly, opening the door as quietly as when I walked. The door creaks; I don't open it any further, instead I squeeze through the gap and into the seventh year boy's dorm.
It's not hard to find where Louis sleeps; while the layout is a little different - Ravenclaw Tower is round, while Hufflepuff is more square - the placement of the beds isn't much different. Louis' is in a similar place to mine; the first one by the door, in front.
I move across the room, stopping in front of his bed, and crouch down.
"Louis," I whisper, shaking him. He groans and moves as though to face me, but he doesn't wake. I shake him harder and call his name a little louder.
His eyes flutter and slowly open fully. "CJ?"
I nod. "Get up."
Louis turns his head away from me, then back to me. He's frowning. "It's dark outside," he murmurs simply, like that's a reason why he can't get up. I point out that he gets up when it's dark all the time to go for his morning runs. "Why are you up when it's still dark?"
"I need you to come with me," I say instead.
"What time is it?" Louis asks, starting to sit up.
And he falls right back down. His slightly blurred figure is already hidden by the dark, but I can tell he's frowning again. He mutters about it being too early and I have to remind him once more that he's been up this early numerous times before. If he can get up to run, he can bloody well get up for me. I shake him again.
"Please go back to bed."
"I need you to get up, Louis." There must have been something about my tone, maybe it's the sincerity or maybe it's because he's curious about why I want this, but Louis sits up again. He's too slow for my liking, but at least he's moving. "Come with me. I went to the kitchens first; I have breakfast," I add and his resolve crumbles.
Louis pushes back the covers and I move back and stand as soon as I notice he's going to swing his legs forward. "You went to get breakfast first?"
"Yep. It's in a basket downstairs," I reply.
I start to tell him to get ready, that we have to go, but the look on his face stops me. Even in the dark and blurred through the illusion, it's not hard to tell that he's trying to understand something that's clearly bothering him, trying to connect whatever dots have formed in his head. He doesn't seem confused, not that I can say for sure, I don't really know what confused looks like, but it looks more like disbelief. That's what my gut tells me it is.
Whatever he's thinking, he can't bring himself to believe it.
"How long have you been up for?"
"Since three am," I answer, finally getting it. Of course he's not going to believe I'd be up so early; I hate it. I've never done this before. "I had to take a really long, hot shower to wake myself up. Then I got dressed really quick and left for the kitchen before I had the chance to crawl back into bed and decide that this was all a load of crap and not worth it. It took a lot of self-restraint, so don't waste it and get dressed please."
"Can I at least take a shower?" Louis asks, standing up as the shock starts to leave his face.
"It's Sunday, take one later," I tell him.
"But you got one!"
I shush him, hearing his dorm mates' move around. "Well, I was up on time. Get dressed!"
I move to leave the room before he can say anything else to me. When he tries to call me back, sounding angry for some unknown reason, I run.
Okay, so maybe the reason is not exactly unknown.
Louis doesn't drag out getting ready or act petty and go so far as to go back to bed, like I might. He's downstairs in minutes, not looking very happy, but still here. Maybe some part of him understands that I must be serious about this, maybe he's just too curious. It's probably a bit of both. But I don't care about why he's here, just that he is here. Because he can be a better person than I am.
Not that I'll tell him that.
"This had better be good," he mutters, walking right out of the common room and leaving me alone.
Well, I said better person, not perfect.
I have to jog to catch up to him, my hand wrapped tightly over the handles of the breakfast basket, and when I get to him, I lead the way. Louis follows me down stairs and along corridors until we're out of the school and walking across the grounds. We stop at the tree by the lake and Louis just stares when I sit down. I smile pleasantly and watch him, opening the basket.
"Seriously?" he groans. "You dragged me out here at four am just to sit in the cold?"
He's exaggerating; I didn't drag him, just woke him and told him what to do, and it's not all that cold. It's windy, sure, but actually not that bad for early morning. I tell him so; he rolls his eyes. Then Louis finally sits down, right in front of me, so his head is on my chest.
"Pillows don't talk," Louis answers back.
I decide to ignore that, knowing he'll probably forgive me in a couple of hours anyway, and eat the breakfast the house elf made me - bacon and sausage on toasted sandwiches, scrambled egg on toast for Louis. I hope I got the heating charm on the basket right, so Louis' doesn't go cold, and I wait.
It's silent except for Louis's light snoring until I see the first signs of light. I shake Louis awake again.
"Nothing's happening," he says, only half awake like before.
"Watch," I reply, shaking my head. I don't care that he can't see me.
"All I see is the sun - oh." I clap my hands; he's finally got it. "You woke me up to watch the sun rise."
"I wanted you to share the moment with me," I tell him. Then add, "Because I'm never bloody doing this again. It's way too early."
"Yes, it is," Louis says with a small laugh. "But I forgive you."
"I knew you would."
I move the basket closer to Louis and he thanks me as he takes out his breakfast. We talk about random things while the sun comes up and I can't help but smile when I think about how I'm making such a big deal about something so small and normal.
But at least when I say that I doubt I'll see something like this again, I know it'll probably be because I just can't be assed.
I give Louis a quick kiss and push him in the direction of the Great Hall on my way to the kitchens. After the sun came up, we ended up walking around the grounds. Louis started to joke about me joining him for a jog when we walked along his 'route', but I quickly stopped that when I punched him in the arm.
I open the portrait into the kitchen, drop the basket on the floor, thank the house elf who helped me again and leave. I can't be gone more than ten minutes, including walking to the kitchen and the Great Hall, so I'm a little confused as to how Louis could have disappeared in that time.
I scan the hall twice, slowly to make sure I miss nothing, but I can't find him anywhere. So, I go to the Gryfindor table, where we sit when we're with Kyle, and ask.
"Hey, have you seen Louis?"
The older looking boy looks up and smiles. "Hey, CJ. The glasses really work, I take it?"
It takes me a moment to recognize the kid's voice. Well, I say kid; he's only in the year below. "James Potter." He nods, amused. "Yes, they work. My question?"
"He was here for, like, a minute," the other boy, who I now realize is Albus Potter, answers me. "I gave him his mail and he just took off."
Albus nods. "He got a bunch of letters this morning. All I saw, though, was the note on the top that said 'good luck and you're welcome'. Dom signed it."
"Did Louis say anything about where he was going?" I ask, frowning. What the hell has Dom been planning now?
James shrugs. "He just said that he had to go."
"He's in the RoR." I jump when Luka's voice comes up from behind me, then what he said sinks in and I run in the other direction. "You're welcome!" he calls out to me.
I just wave a hand in thanks, not even looking back.
My body is not equipped to run up seven flights of normal stairs, let alone moving stairs. I stop and start walking - quickly, I like to think - halfway up and I'm still out of breath by the time I get to the top. I get to the wall where I was shown the door and curse; crap, I have absolutely no clue what he thought of to get in. I know it won't be the room we were in that night, even though he obviously wants to be alone; that room is romantic, not for whatever mood he's now in. I rack my brain for anything it could be, until I remember what he said to me once, about the room he uses for his paintings. He uses it to think, too, he said. He also told me how he gets in.
I need a place to work. I think it over and over until the wall moves and the door appears. I open it.
The room looks bare; it would. He said he was packing his things ready for Graduation. There are boxes piled up in one corner; his work, I guess. Smaller boxes are placed on top; that would be his paints and his brushes and his pencils. Right?
And there in front, sitting in a lone chair, is Louis. He's holding something in his hand, I see it's paper when I move closer, and there's more on the floor by his side.
"Is everything okay, Louis?" He doesn't look up or answer, he doesn't even move except to nod. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," he says softly. Then he glares, first at the floor and then at me. But he's not actually glaring at me, just in general. He's not happy about something. "I am going to kill my brother. It's going to be slow and painful and he's going to wish he stayed out of my business. Yeah," he says with a nod. "I'll make him pay. You can help; you make people pay all the time."
"When they deserve it," I point out.
"He deserves it."
"And it doesn't end in death," I finish.
"We'll make an exception."
"What did he do?" I demand to know, soft yet stern. Or Louis just won't talk.
He hands me the piece of paper in his hand, saying no more. I take it hesitantly and look over it, but I've never seen the picture at the top to make out what it is and I have no idea what it says. "I didn't learn to read, remember? I can't read this."
"It's an acceptance letter to L'école de Geroux pour L'art," he mutters in a perfect French accent.
I don't need a translation, nor do I need an explanation about it, and he doesn't give me either. My eyes widen to the point of pain and my mouth practically hangs open. "The Geroux School for Art," I whisper in awe.
The school is the best in Paris; it was built by an amazing wizard artist named Adrien Geroux, who started out by doing portraits in the streets of Paris for both wizards and Muggles when he was a our age in the seventeen hundreds. He became known in the city and his fame only grew. People came to talk to him about art and when he had enough money, he rented a place and started teaching. Soon after he died, the school was built and was open for people of both worlds. Still is. Louis told me most of the story, mainly about Adrien Geroux himself, but I already knew enough about the school to know you have to be amazingly talented to get in. Hundreds apply every year, barely any get in. And Louis is one of them.
So, why is he sad?
"Isn't this a good thing?" I ask, holding up the letter.
The look on Louis' face makes it clear I've said the wrong thing. He only stands up to take the letter back. Staring at it, but not really looking, I think, he talks to me. "Dom had no right to send this out, he knew I hadn't decided what I wanted to do after Hogwarts. He sent out a few, I got accepted to them as well," he nudges the pile with his foot, " but this school? I have dreamed of going to this school."
"Then it is a good thing."
"What about us, though?" he asks, his eyes serious and his voice still sad. "It's in Paris, Ciaran. A whole other country to where you'd be. If I went to Geroux, to Paris, who knows when I'd see you. What if -?" Louis doesn't finish that thought. He shakes his head. "I'm not even sure I want to go."
"Yes, you do. And if you think you can base your future on a relationship, you're an idiot."
I don't try to be nice about it and I gladly watch him flinch. Maybe it'll knock some sense into his screwed up head. But it's all the anger I have for him; he's still learning to feel okay about being in love again, or for real this time, and to not run away like he sometimes still wants to. His screwed up head is telling him we'll fail if he leaves. If I want to get through to him, I have to be calm and considerate and supportive and all that crap Lucy says I lack. Slowly, I walk in front of him and sit down on the floor. Getting the hint, he joins me, so we're sat cross-legged in front of each other.
"It's okay to go to Paris, Louis." I pause in case he tries to fight me in that, but he says nothing, looking at me expectantly and I think that maybe he's decided to humor me and let me talk before fighting me. My argument needs to be convincing now. "Do you know how easy it is to get to and from Paris for us? I can go to my grandparents and suffer someone apparating me there, because I will never pass that damn test, you can floo from school to the house. We'd have weekends and holidays."
"We won't be able to see each other as much and you know it," Louis points out quietly. "Things will be different.'
"Of course it will. We were never going to do the same thing and be in the same classes forever; it's university, Louis. We won't be in school anymore. And even if you stayed, Kyle is trying to get me into that music school with him, so we'd still pretty much only have weekends."
"But we'd be in the same country. Even if you were busy and we couldn't see each other much during the week, we could still see each other at other times for definite. Things can change too easily when you leave."
"I'm not going to cheat, if that's what you're worried about." It's Louis' turn to widen his eyes; he wasn't worried about that. He is now. "Sorry."
Louis shakes his head twice, quickly, and when he stops, his worry about that seems to have disappeared. He knows it's crazy to even think about. Then he takes my hands in his and just holds them, his eyes never leaving me. He's no longer fighting, he's listening to me. "I'm just not ready to loose you."
"Believe me, I'm not going anywhere. You put a lot of work into getting me, I respect that."
"Thank you?" Louis says, so unsure it sounds more like a question.
"You're stuck with me, Louis," I promise him. "We'll talk all the time and we'll see each other when we can and I'll be here when you get back. I love you."
I say it so normally and so naturally that at first I'm not even sure I actually said it. But Louis' stunned look has me going over everything I said in my head and I seem to go numb for a second. Then I snap out of it just as Louis starts to smile, which is rather fast, and I find it hard to believe it took me so long to say it in the first place. We already knew it to be true; I still don't understand my hesitation.
"Finally," Louis says.
At first I think he means me actually saying the words and I frown, thinking about how he said he'd wait to hear it, but it's more than that. If my glasses were off, I think my gut would still tell me that he means something else. I'm going on his voice, not his look. "What do you mean?"
"Lucy told me the reason you don't drink much is because last time you did, before you met me, you told her things you'd never say sober; that you didn't think any guy could see past your blindness - although you didn't use those words." I mutter about her tattling. "In her defence, she was also drunk. This was after you fell asleep, but before my big idea. Anyway, I figured you wouldn't tell me you loved me until you were really sure, deep down, that I meant it about loving you. As you are," Louis adds softly. "I was willing to wait for that; I have a lot of patience around you."
"Likewise," I mutter, trying to take in forgiving Lucy for telling him that story, saying I love you and accepting Louis' reason for why I'm so late in doing so all at the same time.
My head hurts.
Louis messes with the frame of my glasses, tapping the end so that the front comes up a little, and I lift up my hands as though to fix them. Except I don't. I take them off. It's barely been a week since I got them, but I've worn them the whole time and I take a few seconds to get used to everything being dark. And it does only takes a few seconds. It's been dark for me for almost fifteen years, I know the dark. I accept the dark. A little. Enough to believe Louis when he tells me he loves me. That's all I need to repeat the words.
"I love you."
"I love you, too," Louis replies, leaning over to kiss me.
"Go to Geroux, Louis," I say when he moves back. "You love that school. Why are you so against it anyway? You had to have known I'd tell you to go."
Louis is hesitant again. "I did. It's where I met Ellis; I was... admiring the building, wishing I could go someday, and he was laughing at me. He showed me his pictures. He's always drawing places; he was drawing the school."
I put my glasses back on as fast I as I can to see Louis' reaction when I voice a sudden, horrible thought. "He doesn't go there, does he?"
Louis laughs and it's happy and genuine. "No. He goes to a different school, studying architecture. The school is just a small memory of when I liked him. But it's not enough to really hate the thought of going, as he doesn't go there."
I let out a relieved breath. "Good. Then you should accept, go to Geroux."
Louis takes a minute to go through the letter and make a decision, Except I know he's already decided. He decided when he was a kid. "I'm going to Geroux," he says with an assuring nod. Then he says it again with my excitement. "I can't believe I'm going to Geroux."
"You're going to be amazing. And now that your future is sorted, you can help me with mine."
That makes Louis pause. "You don't want to go to school with Kyle?"
I shrug, feeling awkward and unsure. "What would I do there? Kyle is the singer."
"You'll write your music, your songs. You're an amazing songwriter, CJ, and it's a great school. It has to be; Kyle applied. He'll only have the best, remember," Louis reminds me. I nod. "This is your thing and you love it. So, I'll go to art school of you'll go to music school."
"Don't try and bribe me; I already said yes to applying. Besides, bribery and blackmail are my things."
"Yes, they are," Louis agrees. "Along with making people pay. Which we're still doing. He deserves it for going beind my back."
I don't have the strength to disagree with Louis when he's this stubborn, or the ability to get a word in to say that without Dom, he wouldn't even be going, so I nod and play along and make sure that none of the plans end badly.
I will not be responsible if Dom mysteriously disappears.
A/N: Forgive my French if it's not completely right; I studied German and Spanish.
Also, fun fact: having a full backstory about Adrien Geroux makes me really want to write that story.
Finally, my new sig on the forums is a coming soon promotional type for Enchanted's sequel, Don't Let Me Go, which will continue Louis and Ciaran's story. If you haven't seen the sig or aren't on the forums, you now know that more is coming. :D
I hope you enjoued this chapter and you have a merry Christmas or a happy holiday if you don't celebrate it. :)