The Sugar Quill
Author: Corgi (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Great Pumpkin Caper  Chapter: Default
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The Great Pumpkin Caper

The Great Pumpkin Caper

by Corgi


Disclaimer: All characters and places in this story belong to J.K. Rowling, and her legal designates (or would that be delegates?); I merely borrow them for the love of it all, and anticipate no profit other than 'warm fuzzies', if that.

Written for the Sugar Quill Halloween 2002 Challenge.


'Psssst.  PSSSST.  Oi, Wormtail!  See anything?'   Sirius hissed at the shorter boy standing as lookout as he and James struggled with their 'borrowed' giant-sized wheelbarrow across the hidden furrows of Hagrid's vegetable garden.

'Nothing moving!' Peter whispered loudly over his shoulder, flapping one hand at the black-haired teenager; then he turned back to lean around the corner of the stone-walled hut, peering intently at the school's looming structure.

Last week, the Headmaster had announced a carved-pumpkin contest with which to celebrate Halloween.  The Gryffindor sixth-years, in response, had decided to approach the problem in their -- meaning Sirius's -- usual over-the-top fashion.

'Tell me again, Padfoot -- why aren't we just levitating the pumpkin into the Great Hall?' James panted, heaving the sturdy wooden wheelbarrow over one particularly deep rut.

'Because it's too likely a spell might be detected, my dear Prongs,' and Sirius sniggered breathlessly at their tired, old, in-joke pun.

James merely rolled his eyes in response -- not that his best friend could see, in the combination of starlight and sliver of moonlight.  The only reason the four Marauders decided they could pull this off was because Remus would feel well enough to come along.  In fact, Remus had been delegated Official Pumpkin Designer after Sirius's enthusiastic, but tactless, suggestion of a snarling wolf-face.

Young Mr Lupin had become quite mysterious about his carving concepts, and shook his head vigourously whenever his mates asked, causing his shaggy brown hair to stand on end.  Remus also got to pick out the pumpkin itself, and had made several stealthy scouting missions to the garden during the day while Hagrid was elsewhere.

Now he stood possessively by a splendid overgrown specimen of gourd, nearly as tall as Peter.  The stem had been neatly severed, and Remus had rocked it loose from its secure rest.  The three boys made short work of carefully rolling the pumpkin into the wheelbarrow onto the cushioning blankets Remus prudently insisted they bring along.  One hissed warning from Peter caused them all to drop to the ground, after hastily throwing James's ever-useful Invisibility Cloak over their spoils -- but it was a false alarm.   Sirius and James wrestled the now heavily-laden 'barrow back out of the patch and toward the front door of the castle.  Remus, with his better night-vision, followed close behind them and scuffed wheel ruts out of the soft garden earth with his feet and a hastily-obtained hoe.

The trickiest part of moving the pumpkin came when the reached the entrance itself.  Balancing their load for the trip up the front stairs proved to be entirely harrowing; and once inside, there was the danger of being spotted by the dreadful poltergeist, Peeves.   They wrestled their entry into the prime place before the teachers' table by moving a few of the more normal-sized pumpkins over to one side or the other.  Peter nudged the other pedestals into order while James and Sirius got rid of the transportation, then followed them with a cleaning broom to clear off the wheel marks and random dirt.  Remus stood before the pumpkin, frowning artistically.

'Well?' Sirius asked impatiently on returning.  Remus hadn't made one mark in the pumpkin yet.

'"Never rush an artist,"' Remus snapped back.  Sirius looked taken aback for all of a second, then grinned back at his friend.  Remus merely raised an aristocratic eyebrow, and raised his wand loftily.

'So much for no magic, Mr Logistics Wizard,' James grumbled at Sirius.   Black shrugged.  He wasn't in charge of design, after all.

'Watch and learn, gentlemen - and Sirius.  Creative applications of magic.  Peter, got your broom ready?' Pettigrew held up the broom from the cleaning closet, a confused look on his face.  Remus raised his wand higher, and pronounced, 'Waddiwasi!'

The four lads were suddenly pelted with wet pumpkin seeds, as Remus's spell sent them flying like elf-shot out of the pumpkin and all over the hall.   Sirius's indignant shout was quickly quelled by James clipping him on the side of the head; and he, Sirius, and Peter scrambled to get the seeds cleaned up.  Their indignation at the spatter calmed when they saw Remus's intent.  He neatly sliced off the lid, and the four of them messily scooped out the insides (bucket-brigade pumpkin-guts removal into the fire -- and Floo'd to the Slytherin common room).  Once the gourd was cleaned out, Remus placed their magical cool fire inside for illumination.   He then had his brethren start poking sugar quills into the small seed-holes all over the back and sides of the pumpkin while he worked on the face.

An hour-and-a-half of intensive cutting, and finally Remus announced, 'It's done, I think.'  He stepped back, the others joining him.   Staring back at them right before Professor Dumbledore's seat, the pumpkin shrieked in silent horror -- open mouth with an accent of a tongue; wide, round eyes, translucent slices part-way through the rind to highlight illusionary cheekbones and nose -- and the sugar-quill-hair sticking straight up all over the head.  The red-gold flame flickering inside made the pumpkin look like its gaze darted all over the room, seeking the source of its terror.

Remus got back-pats all around for his splendid work.  After one final scouring of the Hall, the four boys headed back up to Gryffindor Tower for a scant bit of sleep before breakfast -- or before they were dragged out of bed to answer for their work.

They'd all settled in their beds and quenched the candles; Remus's voice floated through the darkness, 'Mischief managed, and well done at that.'

*

The announcement of the winner of the pumpkin carving contest would be announced at breakfast in the Great Hall, so the winning pumpkin could be elevated to the place of honour directly on the teachers' table all day and during the Halloween Feast.  The Gryffindor boys basked in the surprised buzz their pumpkin caused -- being so large, the students couldn't miss seeing it as they entered the Hall.  The other three boys kept blank faces, but Sirius grinned, confident of victory, as Dumbledore started his morning announcements.

'As you know, the teachers, excluding myself, formed the judging committee for the pumpkin carving contest.  We had a last-minute entry, rather a surprise; and after consulting among each other, and identifying the owner of the giant pumpkin...'  The Marauders stirred uneasily in their seats, exchanging startled glances.  Nobody had spoken to any one of the four of them this morning, either about the pumpkin itself, or the mess they'd made of Slytherin's fireplace.  '...the judges decided to allow the entry.   And in fact, the winner,' he said, pointing at the Marauder's mammoth creation, 'for the best Halloween pumpkin, is Rubeus Hagrid!'

The Marauders, each and every one of them, now closely resembled what used to be their pumpkin -- flushed and horrified.  And for once, Sirius had been rendered speechless.


After the Feast: a Drabble Epilogue

(written for the Werewolf Registry Halloween 2002 Drabble Challenge)

Remus crept into the Great Hall late Halloween night, to look sadly upon the mammoth pumpkin he had spent so much creative energy on, but have Hagrid be given credit for it.  A flicker in the corner of his eye froze him as he spotted Miss Lucy, Filch's nasty black cat -- and spy.  If she saw him... but no.  She hissed, and ran out as if for her life.  Remus jumped as he turned back to his creation -- and found the Grey Lady.  She looked at the pumpkin, back at Remus; smiled, and made a little half-bow before fading away.

//
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