Ron hadn't slept in three days and Harry had not slept in three days. The two of them looked rather dead; their skin was paler and they both had bags under their eyes. The amount of sugar and caffeine they ingested to stay awake caused them to become twitching masses that looked ready to pass out despite the energy running through their veins. Ron even got a few energy drinks from Fred and George, though they too were no help. The energy drinks only helped to make their writing a bit more illegible with the twitching they promoted.
The reason for such madness—a feat that Hermione was previously losing her mind over with lecture after lecture about maturity but had given up on—was that Ron was afraid of the hat curse. Pansy had said that the effects didn't kick in until after a night of rest and if that was the case (which it proved to be, as he hadn't had any bad luck yet) then Ron simply didn't want to sleep. However, Minerva McGonagall was forced to inform the boys that if they did not sleep that night, they'd be sent to the hospital wing and drugged to sleep as a desperate measure.
So it was Ron's last day of freedom—when he woke up the following morning, the curse would be in place and his life would basically be over. It was a bleak last day indeed.
Harry took a nap on the breakfast table. He'd shown up in his pyjamas (which he didn't remember putting on) and the moment he was seated his head had flopped down and his arms cradled around it for a good sleep. Ron's vision was not quite right by that time so he went on talking to Harry despite the fact that the boy was sleeping. Ron was too focused on his food to notice that Harry was not answering him.
Draco and Blaise were at their table, watching Ron put syrup over his napkin and start trying to cut what he thought was a pancake.
"You picked a bright one, I'll give you that," Draco said sarcastically.
"Shut up," Blaise snapped.
Pansy and Hermione were in the library during breakfast that day, getting on their homework bright and early. The real fact was that neither of them had any homework to do anymore, they were just hanging out to be with each other. Still, if asked, they would have said they were working on their project.
Luckily, no one asked.
"So what's up with Ron and Harry lately?" Pansy asked. She had noticed they were looking rather dreadful recently but hadn't inquired on it earlier because it hadn't mattered much to her. However, Blaise and Draco had been acting all tense too, and she assumed that something had gone down between the four boys. She figured that Hermione would have the scoop for her.
"Ron is afraid to sleep because Blaise put that hat on him, and Harry stays up with him out of not being able to say no to a friend in need." She rolled her eyes. "That's boys for you though." She'd given up on trying to talk sense into them.
"Blaise put the hat on Ron?" Pansy asked. She was interested as she sat up. No one had told her that point. She'd make sure that the whole school found out the moment she left the library...
"Yup, a few days ago," Hermione explained, "I haven't really talked to them much—they don't make sense anymore—but as far as I know Ron is paranoid in the extreme and Harry is looking for an excuse to sleep when Ron isn't around."
"Weird. Theodore has been acting weird, and so has Blaise and Draco. Blaise especially. He's freaking out, whereas Draco just rants about how retarded Potter is. It really bothers him that Harry isn't sleeping. Blaise is worried too, and I guess I know why now. Doesn't explain Draco though—why would he care?"
"Probably some rivalry thing," Hermione stated, "It's no fun beating Harry if he's hardly awake. We even have a Quidditch game coming up! I hope they're done their theatrics by then or we'll have to do something."
"Well yeah, they're our friends. Our friends, our responsibility."
"...I suppose..." Pansy did not suppose though; she wasn't planning on doing a thing about any of it, except maybe distracting Draco in a fun way so that he'd think about her rather than Harry...
Hermione saw that Pansy didn't agree with her, and therefore switched the subject. "Something was wrong with Knott too, you said?" she asked.
Pansy nodded. "He's been giving me nasty looks. Shoved me in the hallway once too. He's got issues and I'm tired of them... I'll probably be forced to do something soon if it all keeps up."
"What is he upset about?" Hermione asked.
Pansy knew what the guy was upset about—he didn't like that Pansy was spending so much time around Hermione. Still, he needn't show it so blatantly; he was a Slytherin after all!
"Not sure," Pansy lied, "But if I find out, I'll let you know."
"Okay." Their conversation went on from there in more boring directions.
"So what's all this about, anyway?" Blaise asked in class that day. They were in DADA, sitting beside each other again. Much better than sitting with Crabbe or Goyle, Draco had decided. Even if Blaise talked too much about Ron. "I mean, why do you care about Poor Potter?"
"I don't care." Draco defended. "The fact is that Potter is a chicken and can't handle a bit of bad publicity. He's too used to being tossed up on a throne and worshipped. I can't help but need to rub that in."
"Right... still, he ditched out on your little deal, you know. It's been days."
"No thanks to you by the way....besides, it's a minor detail. I'll rope him back in. He's a Gryffindor--they never completely duck out of anything." He was confident about that much. He hadn't lost his chance for a bit more fame yet.
"Well I'm sorry about what happened with the sleep draught, I thought it would work. However, in return I'll help you with researching dream stuff. What have you found so far?"
"We have to make a weird machine," Draco stated. "It's small and relatively easy, but I don't know where to find the parts."
"Room of Requirement," Blaise stated with a nod.
Draco nodded too, then asked offhandedly, "Why did you put the hat on Ron?" He knew his friend was dying for a chance to talk about the redhead again so Draco gave him his release.
"You know, I've been asking myself that same question, and I truly have no idea. It's not even that I really like him at all; I don't even know the kid. He's not from a wealthy family nor does he have much influence in society. The surname 'Weasley' doesn't exactly spark fear or admiration in the hearts of the wizarding common folk, and I clearly can't get ahead by being with the dude."
"What are you saying then?"
"I'm saying that I didn't mean to put the hat on him, I never even planned on it. I was as shocked as he was--the second I realized my mistake I ditched as fast as I could."
"You forgot that your hat was a little matchmaker and that the person you put it on would be stuck with you forever?"
"It's not forever," Blaise interjected, "It's only for like... ten years, tops. Plus if the two get married, then the effects stop."
"Then marry the Weasel and divorce him, pay some people off to keep their mouths shut, and go on like usual. That's the way I'd deal with it."
"Not that easy. I can't divorce or the effects will start up again, and the ten years start over."
"And you didn't think to burn the hat in case something like this happened?" Draco asked as if his friend was stupid. In Draco's mind, he kind of was.
"Destroying cursed objects isn't as easy as you make it sound. I'd have to perform all sorts of rituals, and even then the thing probably wouldn't burn. My family makes sure that the clothing article is used," Blaise explained.
"What for? They've probably all used one of the articles themselves. They'd know how awful it was. Why would they wish that on their children?"
"The Zabinis love revenge, Draco. Your family probably does too. The fact of the matter is that BECAUSE they've used it, they want other people to go through what they did. Only the oldest know how to place the curse, and once the article is given to the inheritor, it must be with him at all times."
"And if it's not?"
"Then the inheritor has horrible luck. It's the same as when the hat is given away, only the affected person switches, and the hat is hardly needed because the real curse is put in place."
"So just wear a hat for the rest of your life, it's not that bad. You didn't have to give it away."
"Like I really want to wear a black top hat for the rest of my life! It's not that fashionable, even if I could pull it off for a few days. Besides, the longer you keep the article, the uglier it becomes. The article tries to make you get rid of it."
"What did your sister's look like?"
"Atrocious. She had a scarf, and her scarf ended up being polka-dotted and striped. She pulled it off of herself and threw it out of aggravation while she was in the forest one time. It landed on a Thestral, and that was that."
"Wow, that's unfortunate."
"Yup. I didn't want to end up married to a Thestral. I prefer humans."
"And males, that look like weasels, especially."