Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters and terms are the exclusive property of J.K. Rowling. This work of related fiction is solely for amusement purposes. It is not associated with Ms. Rowling, Scholastic, or Bloomsbury publishers.
A/N: This fic owes its existence to my amazing beta, Anaria Nothren. It began as a one-shot, posted over at FAP, and she encouraged me to turn it into a chapter length. So I did. This is my first attempt at a chapter-length story, and reviews are appreciated.
Please be aware that this story contains SLASH.
Harry Potter was absolutely exhausted. His day had started with his having been woken up early by a nightmare as well as his having been unable to get back to sleep. It had continued with Snape's DADA class, where Snape had seemed determined to prove that Harry's "Outstanding" OWL was entirely due to his name and reputation, whilst Harry had been just as determined to prove Snape wrong. Then, he had gone on to Charms class, where Hermione had accidentally conjured a bird with a bad temper. The bird would not stop pecking at him, and she had refused to Vanish it until Professor Flitwick had seen her work. Said professor had been busy cleaning up after one of Neville's all-too-frequent disasters, so the bird was able to continue its vendetta for a good half hour. Lunch had been fine, except that he hadn't really been able to eat much because of the girls who kept harassing him about who he was going to Hogsmeade with that weekend. One of the boldest had given him a pack of Chocolate Cauldrons, and tried to insist that he eat one immediately. He hadn't needed Hermione's hissed warning not to eat them, and had fled from the Great Hall to avoid any further trouble. When he had got to his dormitory, he had realized he still had the Chocolate Cauldrons. He then shrugged and tossed them into his trunk. In the afternoon he'd had Herbology class, in which he had spent two hours wrestling with a Snargaluff tree, and he had plenty of bruises and scrapes to show for it. Then there was a three hour Quidditch practice, the third hour of which had been in the midst of a downpour of cold September rain. When that was over, Harry just didn't feel up to facing the girls he knew would be after him at dinner. So instead he had sneaked up to the prefect's bathroom and took a nice long bath. Dinner was over by the time he had finished, but the bath had made Harry feel so much better that he decided he hadn't minded all that much. Now, at the end of the day, Harry was just starting to relax when he remembered the monstrous essay Professor McGonagall had assigned, on animating objects. It was due tomorrow, and Harry hadn't even begun writing it.
With a sigh, Harry got out his books, quill, and some parchment and sat down to work.
Just as he was settled and about to write his first sentence, Ron and Hermione stepped in through the portrait hole.
"Harry! There you are!" said Hermione. "We were waiting for you in the Great Hall, but you never came down for dinner."
"Sorry," Harry replied. "I just didn't feel up to dealing with everyone down there."
Hermione gave him a sympathetic look. Then she noticed the parchment stretched out in front of him. "Homework?" she asked.
"Erm—yeah, that essay for McGonagall."
"Professor McGonagall," Hermione corrected automatically. "And Harry, she assigned that essay three weeks ago! I can't believe you've only just started."
"I know, Hermione, I know. I've just been so busy that I completely forgot about it."
"Well, then, we'll let you get on with it," Hermione said, and then started walking back towards the portrait hole. "I'm going to the library."
Ron looked torn for a moment, glancing back and forth between Harry and Hermione. Then he finally said "I guess you don't want me to bother you, right Harry--you being busy with that essay and all? I think I'll go…um…to the library with Hermione."
Hermione rolled her eyes, and the two went back out the portrait hole.
When they returned two hours later, Harry was still working. Ron smiled, waved, and shouted "Still working on that essay, mate?" Harry nodded, a pain-filled grimace on his face. Ron gave him a sympathetic smile and said "Hope you finish soon. Goodnight." Then he went up the stairs to the boy's dormitory. Hermione came over to Harry's side and looked over his shoulder at the half completed essay.
"Did you mention the law of animate reactions?" she asked.
"Yeah, in the fourth paragraph," Harry answered.
"And the difference between Charming an object to move and Transfiguring it to be animate?"
"I'm just getting to that part now. But I'm not sure I really understand it. Do you think you could explain it to me?"
Hermione sighed. "One of these days, Harry, you'll have to learn to do your homework on your own. Mostly, though, it's just that a Charm will cause the object to move precisely how the caster directs it to, and the object will only be able to react to specific instructions. But an Animated object acts on its own, within a certain set of rules set down by the caster."
"Like those chessmen protecting the Philosopher's Stone?"
"Exactly. Mention that in your essay, I think she'll be flattered that you remembered and gratified that you made the connection."
"Thanks a million, Hermione. I think I might actually be able to finish this essay sometime tonight, now that you've helped."
"Well next time, ask me for help a week before it's due, not one night," Hermione said, but she was smiling at him. "I'm going to go up to bed now. Try not to stay up too late, you already look exhausted."
"I'll go to bed as soon as I'm done with this essay, I promise."
"Good night Harry."
"Good night Hermione."
Harry sighed, wishing that he could just go to bed. But Transfiguration was his first class in the morning, so he was absolutely out of time. At least Hermione had helped. With her advice, it should only take him another two or three hours to finish, and he could be in bed no later than two o'clock. Harry groaned at the thought. "Great," he thought. "I'll be in bed in time to get a whole four hours of sleep! Unless I'm woken up by another nightmare, in which case I'll get a whole two or three hours of sleep." But stropping about it was only delaying the progress of the essay, and therefore the time that Harry could finally get to sleep. Harry went back to the essay with renewed vigour, determined to finish as quickly as possible without writing total crap. He took Hermione up on her suggestion of mentioning the enchanted chessmen, and that brought his essay to three and a half feet of parchment, the minimum requirement for the length of the paper. "Finally!" he thought, as he yawned. He was, by now, utterly exhausted.
As Harry was putting away his school supplies and preparing to go up to bed, he realized that he had yet another problem. He hadn't been able to eat much at lunch, and he hadn't eaten anything for dinner. After a long and tiring day, Harry realized that he was absolutely famished. And he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep easily if he didn't get something to eat.
He considered making an illicit trip to the kitchens, but decided that detention was the last thing he needed in his already hectic schedule. The risk of being caught was too high, especially because he couldn't be certain the house elves wouldn't report him to Professor Dumbledore or Professor McGonagall. He thought about calling Dobby, but quickly realized the elf was most likely asleep, as it was two o'clock in the morning. Luckily, Harry's time with the Dursleys had taught him to be prepared for shortages of food. He always kept a supply of snacks that wouldn't go bad in his trunk. It wasn't the healthiest of food, and it wouldn't really fill him up, but it would be enough to soothe his hunger pangs so that he could get to sleep.
Harry put the completed essay and everything else he would need the next day for class into his school bag. Then he opened his trunk. The trunk was quite a mess inside, with clothes both dirty and clean crumpled up and tangled together, bits of old parchment, broken quills, and other random things scattered throughout. Harry dug around for awhile, the digging made more difficult by the need to keep quiet so as to avoid waking up his roommates. Finally he found a pack of Chocolate Cauldrons. Not his favourite snack, but they would have to do. Harry opened them. He paused for a moment. He thought he remembered there being something wrong with them. He checked the expiration date. They were still fresh. He gave a cautionary sniff, just to be sure. They didn't smell off at all. In fact, they smelled absolutely wonderful. Actually, Harry was pretty sure it was the best thing he had ever smelled. He wondered about that for a moment, but then decided it must be because of his hunger. He shrugged, and bit into the first Cauldron. If he'd thought the smell was wonderful, the taste was even better. He devoured all of the snack cakes, and licked his fingers to make sure he'd gotten every last bit. Hunger assuaged, at least for now, he climbed into his four poster bed and fell into a sound sleep.
Little did he know that his sleep would soon undergo a very rude disruption…a disruption that would affect not only his sleep, but also the fate of the entire world.