Emmett shouldn’t be surprised by Elle anymore. He had been studying with her for only two weeks, and she blew him away more times than he could count. Granted, he knew that she couldn’t have gotten into Harvard just on her charms, but he hadn’t realized just how dedicated she was to becoming more “serious”, as she put it. This time, though, it wasn’t her brilliant ideas or work ethic that had him amazed—it was her peacefully sleeping, sitting up on her bed.
Late night study sessions had not yet become a routine for them, but between all of their classes, it was what worked the best as far as scheduling went. Emmett would usually come to Elle’s dorm, sitting in a pink armchair while Elle sat at her desk or, to his annoyance, lounged on her bed. He was a firm believer in the power of a good workplace. A bed was a quick trip to bad posture or falling asleep. Tonight, he was right. As Elle dozed in the corner, surrounded by her books and laptop, Emmett couldn’t help but smile. How she was able to sleep with so much redbull in her, he didn’t know. He should wake her up—the legal jargon wouldn’t learn itself—but the clock read just past 12am. He of all people knew the importance of sleep. Mostly from being deprived of it, but letting Elle sleep for a few minutes wouldn’t hurt. If it meant that he got to see the cute way she was curled up or her peaceful face while she snoozed, well, no one would be the wiser.
“In Archer v. Warner…” As Callahan droned on, the class was filled with the sounds of typing, Elle’s included. After three months of law school, she could type her notes with her eyes closed. Thinking about it, closing her eyes didn’t sound like the worst idea. She knew the stereotype that law students were always tired, but she never really understood it until she started studying with Emmett. The redbull-coffee concoction she had taken at his recommendation had started to wear off by the late afternoon, leaving her even more exhausted from the almost all-nighter they had pulled. Sure, she got an hour of sleep, but she still counted it as an all-nighter, and her body did too. God, what was Callahan saying now? Elle really was considering closing her eyes now. She was an auditory learner anyways, so it’s not like she really needed to see anything now. She made up her mind: she was going to close her eyes, just for a moment, and absolutely not fall asleep.
Emmett had fallen into his usual routine of grading papers, letting Callahan’s voice and the sounds of the students typing fade into the background as he looked over the free responses from the last quiz. The results were as expected, with the usual students doing well with a few outliers here and there. Emmett upheld himself as an impartial grader, but that didn’t stop his heart from skipping a beat when he graded Elle’s response. When he calculated her grade of 92, he had to keep a smile from appearing on his face. He looked up at Elle, sitting in the front row (as she had been doing since she had really started studying), his eyes beaming with pride, and Elle… was asleep. Emmett honestly didn’t know how. His caffeine concoction usually kept him up for what felt like days, but it apparently had a lesser effect on Elle. She had picked the worst class to fall asleep in too. Callahan was notorious for embarrassing anyone he noticed dozing off, even if they tried to blame it on just “resting their eyes for a moment”. Still, Emmett couldn’t help the look of fondness that came to his face. In the dull walls of the Harvard classroom, Elle stood out like the sun.
Elle was slouched in her chair, with her face propped up on her hand. Emmett knew she was beautiful, of course. She was from Beverley Hills, and had the looks to compare. He tried to refrain from noticing them. He had seen so many people at Harvard write her off for how she looked, and he refused to become one of them. Still, it was hard to ignore her when she looked so peaceful. He doubt her sleeping could be called angelic—she was always at weird angles, and even now, Emmett knew that she would probably have a sore neck if she stayed how she was for too long. Emmett still thought Elle sleeping was one of the cutest things. For the sake of his friend, though, he decided to do something. He stood up, making his way to the door, when he “accidentally” knocked over a heavy tome on family law sitting on the edge of his desk. The book hit the floor, jolting everyone in the room, including Elle. He grabbed the book off the floor and gave a quick apology before catching Elle’s eye. His plan had worked, and he gave her a knowing smile before continuing out of the room.
Shopping with Elle was, to put it frank, entirely lovely. The excitement on her face made the entire trip worth it for Emmett. He didn’t understand why anyone would make jokes about the hardships of shopping with their girlfriend when it was this nice—minus the girlfriend part, of course. That was just a generalization that absolutely did not apply to this situation because Elle was not his girlfriend. Not that he wouldn’t want her to be or anything, but it was just a fact. Elle wasn’t his girlfriend, and if that caused his heart to hurt a little, then so be it. Elle had driven them to the mall, so Emmett offered to drive back. It usually took more arguing to convince Elle to let him drive. She knew that they both hated it, but after a day of working and an afternoon of shopping, she didn’t put up too much of a fight. Emmett was glad. After Elle had bought him that suit, he knew that he would be trying to make it up to her for a while.
As usual, Boston traffic was murder. The ride home (to Elle’s dorm, more specifically… Emmett considered it as much of a home as his own apartment at this point) took a half hour longer than it should’ve. Elle had spent the beginning of the ride happily chatting about all the latest styles and the less in season fashions—“Seriously Emmett, that dress must have been sitting there for years! I’m surprised it didn’t turn into a dust cloud the moment I touched it”. Still, law students will do as law students are prone to do. It didn’t take long for the noise of traffic and the pop song on the radio to be accompanied by Elle’s light snoring. Honestly, Emmett wasn’t sure how half of Harvard wasn’t already in love with her. He knew he already was.
Hitting red light after red light did have one advantage. It gave Emmett time to glance over at Elle. He had seen her asleep before; hell, they even had fallen asleep together many a times (well, not together together, but in the same room during a late night study session). Still, every time he saw her dozing off, it made his heart swell. He loved the fact that she trusted him enough to be this vulnerable around him. A honk interrupted his thoughts and Elle’s nap. Emmett turned as Elle looked around, painfully aware of his neck heating up as he drove through the now green light. He met her eyes, and she smiled. Emmett was struck with the thought that a heart attack in his 20s would be illogical, but god if Elle didn’t make him feel like he was having one. He gave her a soft smile in return, desperately hoping his fondness wasn’t too transparent. Seemingly satisfied, Elle closed her eyes once again, and Emmett continued trying to weave his way through traffic. He could probably make it back home before his heart palpitations caused an accident. Probably.
While his back hated the pink futon in Elle’s room, Emmett did not. Elle tried her best to make it more comfortable, but it just meant that Emmett had to fight for space with all of the pillows piled on top. Still, he was more than willing to make the physical sacrifice if it meant spending more time with her. However, it was not the back pain or her alarm that woke him up. It was short, uneven gasps. Anxiety kicked in, and he bolted up, trying to make out Elle in the darkness of the room.
“Elle?”, he whispered out into the night. He heard her muffled sob, and that was all he needed to move off of the futon and onto her bed. “Hey, hey, Elle, what’s wrong?”, he asked as he sat perched on the edge of the mattress. The room was dim, but he could make out her tear-filled eyes and shaking shoulders. Elle gave him a smile he could tell was forced.
“Oh, nothing, Emmett. Just a nightmare. I’m sorry to have woken you up. I know you need sleep more than I do.”
“Elle, I’d happily give up sleep for you.” It took a minute for Emmett to realize what he just said. It wasn’t a confession, per se, but it kind of felt like one. So, in his sleep-addled state, he quickly added on, “I—I mean, it’s not like I’m not losing sleep all the time. Better spent with you than staring at the ceiling, you know,” he breathed a laugh before his concern crept back in. “But, seriously, Elle, you can talk to me. Unless you don’t want to, of course, but—” Emmett was cut off by Elle pulling him into a hug. He felt her head tuck into the crook of his neck and her arms latch onto him. It took a moment, but he moved to wrap his arms around her.
“God, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. It’s just, do you ever wake up from a dream just feeling wrong? And then you stop crying and you can’t stop, and even though you know it’s a nightmare, everything feels the same? And I know I won’t fail, and I know that people aren’t dead. I know it’s my mind just making things up, but it all just sits there!” Elle choked out before the tears started falling again. Emmett just held her. He started rubbing soothing circles on her back as her sobs started to quiet.
“Yeah, Elle, that happens to me too.”
They started talking, about dreams and school and everything else Emmett could think of to distract Elle. The minutes stretched on into the night, until the sun was peaking through the curtains and Elle was stifling a yawn. She had laid down, while Emmett shifted to sit criss-cross on the bed with his back against the wall.
“Hm?”, he murmured sleepily.
“Thanks. For staying up with me and stuff.”
“Anytime.” Forever, his mind added on. He didn’t say that part.
“I think I’m going to go back to sleep now. Or, at least fit in a bit of a nap before we have class in”, Elle looked at her alarm clock and sighed. “4 hours. You should probably do the same.” Emmett moved to get off the bed and back on the futon before he felt Elle’s hand on his arm. “You can stay, if you want. I know the futon’s best quality is its color, and there’s room.” She smiled at him, and, god, Emmett wanted to. So he did. He stretched out to reach the futon, grabbing a blanket. He laid down opposite to Elle, head-to-toe, because although he might be tired out of his mind, he didn’t want to impose.
“Thanks,” he murmured, before letting sleep overtake him. But not before he heard Elle’s muffled response:
Emmett could not think of a day that was ever better than the one he just had. Elle was nearly regal in her graduation gowns, and he was so excited for her to finally get the degree that she had worked tirelessly hard for for the past three years. He hoped she appreciated his tie. Her speech had been perfect, and while Emmett was not expecting to be proposed to today, he was definitely not complaining. He knew that Elle was a whip in court, but he wasn’t expecting her to beat him to proposing. Still, they had the rest of their lives to spend together. He could wait to give Elle her ring for a few more days. The two fiances spent their night celebrating, and Emmett was having a great time. How could he not, when he had so much to be happy for with so many people to be happy with.
He felt the buzz of alcohol through his system as he chatted with some of Elle’s classmates and his former students. He knew he was a lightweight; Elle had made fun of him for it numerous times. Still, he had a decent amount to drink, and Elle had even more. He watched Elle weave through the crowd as he talked to Vivian about all of the law firm offers that Elle had gotten. Drunk Emmett was a brag-about-his-girlfr—Fiance! Drunk Emmett was a brag-about-his-fiance Emmett. He lit up just thinking about it, taking a look at the ring he hadn’t quite gotten used to wearing. It was nice and simple, and he honestly didn’t think he could have picked out one better. It was perfect, just like Elle. He took another sip of his cocktail before turning back to Vivian, only to see her turn around and walk into the crowd. She returned a minute later with Elle in tow.
“Elle, I say this from a place of love for both you and Emmett. Please go home. He’s has gotten so drunk,” she paused as she plucked his half-full glass from his hand, “that he’s been talking about you for the past half hour and has been sending heart eyes your direction for much, much longer. If he has any more to drink, I think he’ll try to make a speech or something.” Emmett was too busy staring at Elle to really notice what Vivian was saying. Holy shit, he was going to marry this woman! And he had the ring to prove it! God, he wish he had brought her ring with him. Sober Emmett would murder him for proposing in a bar, not when he had spent months planning out the perfect proposal, but damn if it didn’t sound like a good idea now. Before he could figure out where he could find a ring, he was thrown out of his thoughts by Elle giggling.
“Aw, but he’d give a really cute speech, I’m sure.”
“Just get the two of you home. I know you’re good drunk, but call me if you need anything. Congrats again.”
“Thanks, Vivian.” Elle turned, grabbing Emmett’s hand. She pulled him towards the door, throwing out their goodbyes to the remaining crowd before being thrown into the cool air of the night. Emmett had found his solution.
“Elle Woods,” he slurred while fumbling with his hands. Emmett tugged the ring off his finger and tried to get on one knee, although he ended up crouched on the sidewalk. “Marry me?”
“Oh, Emmett. Of course I’ll marry you. I already asked, remember? Also, babe, that’s your ring, you can keep it,” Elle said, holding in a laugh at her inebriated fiance. Emmett tried to stand back up, stumbling into the wall next to him before standing getting back on his feet.
“Oh, don’t worry, I have your ring! I have one for you, just not on me. You know, I have it all planned out, but I saw you tonight and I couldn’t not propose! And I didn’t have any other ring to use! But I can give you your ring when we get home. You’ll love it, it’s—” Elle stopped him right there, kissing him before he could tell her anymore. She would love to know his plans, but she knew that if Emmett had been planning something, he wouldn’t want it all revealed because of too many cocktails.
“How about you show me tomorrow morning? After we have all this alcohol out of your system.”
“Whatever you want, Elle.” He let her put the ring back on his finger before he took her hand and they made their way to Emmett’s apartment. It took twice as long as usual, on account of Emmett half stumbling, half being carried by Elle. Still, they made it home in one piece, warmed by their love and the alcohol. Emmett just wanted to go to bed, and he started walking in the direction of their bedroom before Elle tugged him back to the kitchen. He looked at her confused, and she just laughed.
“Water. And toast, if you can manage.” He grumbled back in response, but he followed her to the kitchen, chugging the water bottle that she handed him.
“Now can we go to bed?” he whined.
“Yeah, come on.” He let Elle lead him to their bedroom before he threw himself onto the bed. He let himself lay there, sprawled on top of the covers, before he rolled over to his side and stared up at Elle. God, she was beautiful. He knew where her ring was, hidden in the back corner of his closet, but it would be there in the morning. Elle would be too. He stuck his hand out to Elle, waiting for her to take it before pulling her onto the bed. He kissed her before laying back and promptly falling asleep.
“Emmett!” Elle shouted into their apartment. She had stopped by the store on her way home from interviewing with yet another law firm. After graduating from Harvard, she had gotten countless requests for these meetings, with everyone wanting a chance at the illustrious Ms. Woods, soon to be Woods-Forest. At 8:30, the rooms were dim. She placed her groceries down on the counter before going to find her fiance. She didn’t have to look very hard; Emmett was a room over, head laid on his desk. Elle stopped for a moment, before tiptoeing further into their shared office.
What greeted her was, in her opinion, the pinnacle of adorableness. Emmett’s desk was piled high with law books, a few of which were currently being used as pillows. Aspen, their cat, was laid in his lap, purring softly. Elle listened to his soft snores for a few moments. Emmett always made fun of her for being able to fall asleep anywhere, and here he was, the hypocrite. Her hypocrite. She smiled fondly at the scene of domestic bliss. Then she realized the awkward position Emmett had gotten himself into. His neck was at an odd angle that could not have been comfortable, and as peaceful as he looked in the moment, Elle knew that his back would be screaming bloody murder tomorrow.
She plugged in his laptop and stacked a mountain of books before deciding on how to move him. Emmett was the one accustomed to picking her up in the hugs she loved so much, but Elle knew she could lift him if need be. Judging by his stiff neck, this was a need be situation. She gently pulled on Emmett’s shoulders, dragging him up into a sitting position. Elle held her breath. Emmett’s eyes stayed shut. She transported Oscar to his cat bed, before returning to the office. She loved living with Emmett for a number of reasons, but not having to tackle any stairs when carrying him was a plus. Elle scooped Emmett up into her arms, carrying him bridal style to their bedroom. As she lifted him, his eyes fluttered open.
“Hey,” Emmett mumbled sleepily.
“Hey yourself, honey,” she responded as she shifted him to what she hoped was a more comfortable position as she walked to the bedroom.
“Did I fall asleep?” The look on his face told Elle he already knew the answer.
“Yep. And you’ll fall back asleep too, once I get you to bed.” She loved Emmett, but his sleep schedule was still a mess. He had improved from his law student days, but Elle knew that sleep was a valuable commodity that he got too little of too often. She knocked the ajar door open with her hip before heading inside the room with Emmett. She laid him onto the bed, before sitting down next to him.
“Hey Elle,” Emmett sighed as he moved to sit up. Elle pushed him back down onto the bed before he could get any further.
“Emmett, go back to bed.”
“I love you.” He sat up again, giving her a quick kiss before she could object.
“I love you too, doofus. Now get some sleep.” Emmett happily complied.