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A long, dark, sleepy night drifted slowly by as the students of Hogwarts slept dreamily, excited by the Start-of-Term Feast and anxious to start the new year. The first rays of golden sunlight eventually broke the long darkness, and the students stirred. Soon the whole castle was flooded with light, and the morning hustle and bustle began as birds began to chirp brightly, yards away in the Forbidden Forest, the usual haven for all things dark and mysterious.

But this particular morning, the whole world was bright and cheerful. All darkness was stamped out by the exuberant rays of light that bounced their way into every dark crevice and cranny. Even Snape's dungeons-where he sat in his office, impatiently awaiting the start of a new year when he could mentally torture a new set of students-were filled with light this joyful morning.

Off in an opposite end of the castle, a green-eyed boy with dark hair that stuck up in all directions abruptly waked a young, redheaded boy. The dark-haired boy whispered softly to the sleeping one.

"Ron, it's time to wake up! We have to go to breakfast!" The redheaded boy mumbled a response, then rolled over, pulled the thick, scarlet covers over his violent red hair, and immediately began to snore. The dark-haired boy began to shake the redheaded one determinedly. He continued to do so for approximately five minutes, until a short, squat boy with a round face and dumb expression caught his attention.

"Harry, we're going to be late; hurry up!"

"Alright, Neville, you go on down. I'll get Ron up and meet you down there." As Neville reluctantly left the room, Harry stood up, exited the room, walked down the hallway to the lavatory with a cup in hand, and returned a few minutes later with the cup filled to the brim. He walked briskly across the bedroom, and solemnly dumped the water over Ron's angry red locks. Ron immediately sat bolt upright.

The red-haired boy kicked the covers back, turned so that his feet hung off the side of the tall four-poster bed, and slid slowly to his feet. As soon as he stood, however, the boy slumped to the floor. His throbbed, and he barely heard as Harry questioned him: "Ron, are you alright?"

Ron turned his head to squint in the direction of the voice, since the room was spinning and his head throbbed mercilessly. His eyes focused first on a red, lightning bolt scar that was covered by unruly black bangs.

"Oh, hi…Harry. Yeah, I think I'm *hiccup* alright…I think." A confused look crossed his face, and Harry tried unsuccessfully to squelch a chuckle as it shot straight out of his mouth. Ron glared at the handsome, scar-faced boy as he desperately searched the aquarium, which stood in the opposite corner of the room, for his school clothes. He was soon covered in water, and Harry, laughing, steered him in the direction of his trunk.

"Thanks Harry," Ron said brightly, and then vomited into his school things. Harry raised his eyebrows and then hurried to help his friend stand. The red-haired boy slumped on Harry's shoulders, and Harry struggled to support the lanky boy's weight. In this difficult manner, Harry guided-or, rather, carried-Ron to the bathroom down the hall, where he led Ron into one of the bathroom stalls. He positioned the boy in front of one of the fancy porcelain toilets.

Ron started to open his mouth to mutter an apology, but his stomach heaved and he slouched over the toilet as his guts heaved into the porcelain basin. Harry blanched and went to wash his face and hands. Breakfast was almost over, and his stomach protested angrily that it didn't have any food.

"Hey, Ron!" Harry called to the Boy-With-The-Hangover.

"Yeah?" came the despondent answer.

"I think my stomach wants to try out for the position of Gryffindor team mascot!" Ron laughed in the telltale drunk way, a bit too loudly and a bit too enthusiastically. His laugh gurgled in his throat as he was interrupted by another dry stomach heave.

Listening to the sounds of a sick sixteen-year-old experiencing his first hangover, Harry sighed. He should've known that this would happen. He shouldn't've skipped the Start-of-Term Feast. He was beginning to regret convincing Ron to sneak away to Hogsmeade while Hermione and the other Hogwarts students celebrated the new year. Once again, the scar-faced boy sighed, and turned to help Ron wipe his face and stand up as the sounds of a heaving stomach stopped.

Down in the Great Hall, Albus Dumbledore gazed despairingly at the empty spaces next to Hermione, who was also looking worriedly at the empty spaces. As Hermione whispered to Neville, Dumbledore gestured to the person at his right hand. Minerva McGonagall, who knew exactly what he was thinking, rushed off to check on the two missing boys in Gryffindor Tower. Dumbledore sighed, rubbed his old, weary eyes, and stood up to call an end to the breakfast feast.