The Great Pumpkin Caper
The Great Pumpkin Caper
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
'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
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
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
'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
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.