And I'm back! School had completely taken over my life for a while, so, here I am several months later, back to writing. Writing minimally, yes, but it still counts as writing. Er, right? So, I shall cease my rambling for now.

Eternal gratefulness to reviewers, if I didn't have any, I doubt there'd be any motivation for the stories to continue.

Disclaimer: See Chapter 1.

Chapter 5: Hagrid and the Pumpkin

It was a month after the balloon incident, and I still felt rotten. Fred and George simply laughed it off when I tried talking to them. It was clear that they didn't mind taking the blame for me. In fact, they even seemed to enjoy it in some strange way! But a week's detention? I shuddered at the mere thought of it.

But I couldn't let them take all the blame. I came out with the truth to Timothy. Bad idea, it seemed. He'd simply glared at me again, and hadn't spoken more than a few, cold words to me since. It was considerably more awkward, considering the fact that we shared a dormitory, and he wouldn't speak to either of the twins either. Poor Trey was caught in the middle. He wasn't very good friends with any of us, though he was nice enough, I supposed. Occasionally he (along with Katie, who was also rather a bad student) went to Timothy for help, and occasionally he dropped into the Quidditch conversation held with Oliver, the twins, and the girls.

We'd finally gotten past the first few weeks of lessons, where all the teachers did was drone over and over the basics and talk about what we'd eventually do in class. Professor Flitwick had let us try basic color manipulation charms at last, and McGonagall let us start transfiguring larger objects into small ones, which was considerably more difficult than the matches we'd been working on for a while.

Potions, however, if possible, got worse. Snape was giving us increasingly more difficult potions by the day at an alarming rate. We also discovered (through much trial and error) that he seemed to sniff out pranks with that big nose of his. The twins and I had each already procures at least half a dozen detentions from him, and the rest of Gryffindor, not just Timothy, was beginning to groan about all the house points we were losing. Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Ravenclaw simply ignored us. And being ignored didn't really seem like part of Fred's plans.

It was a cold Friday afternoon in October, and Fred and I were sitting glumly in the common room, watching the rain splash on the window. George had left it open, saying he liked the smell of rain. Doubtless he liked seeing us get wet, too. He was off in the corner playing checkers with Alicia, while the two of us were left in front of the window.

Finally, Fred spoke up. "Why are we sitting here?"

"I dunno. Why?" I responded rather heartlessly.

"I dunno either. That's why I asked you, smart one!" Fred said, getting up. "Come on, let's go. It's almost Halloween. There's bound to be something we can do around here while those lovebirds stare at those pieces."

"Yeah," I said, warming to the idea. The three of us had been far too subdued over October. Subdued was not what I'd imagined my stay at Hogwarts to be like. So, while George was engrossed in the checkerboard, Fred and I snuck along the walls and out of the common room.

Pretty soon, we were running down the long seventh floor hallway, laughing like maniacs. "Where the devil are we going?" I yelled at Fred.

"No clue!" he yelled back, pushing his way through a crowd of Hufflepuff fifth-years. Shaking my head, hunched over with laughter at the sheer randomness of this chase around castle, I plowed through the Hufflepuffs as well, watching Fred trip over his robes. Skidding to a halt, I stood over him as we both caught our breath.

"So," I panted.

"So," Fred said, grinning from ear to ear. "Halloween, you know. Lots do to during Halloween. Oliver says there will be quite a few decorations up."

I stared at him. "Bloody hell. You're a genius."

Fred nodded, then stood up. "Quite obvious, actually," he replied, and bowed. "George will be mad."

"Yep," I said happily, and on we continued with our mad quest to sabotage Halloween decorations.

I looked at my watch. 4:32. "Fred, haven't we been wandering around for quite enough time by now? We started at one!"

Fred shook his head. "I'm not giving up, Lee. Well, at least not until dinnertime. But that's not for another hour or so, so come on, slowpoke!" Scowling, I stuck out my tongue at him, but he had turned around already.

After another half an hour of pointless plodding, I said, exasperated. "Where are we?" We'd somehow managed to wander through a courtyard, over a bridge over a strange indoor stream, and outside. When Fred didn't answer, I kicked a pebble in his direction and looked up. There was a very long silence. Finally, I voiced an almost inaudible, "Whoa."

Fred turned to look at me, and raised his eyebrows. "Told ya," he said simply, and quickly ducked behind a tree. Starting to chuckle, I followed him into the shadows.

For several long seconds, we simply stared at the sight before us. It was a pumpkin. Surrounded by several other pumpkins. But not just any pumpkin. A big one. A very big one.

"So," Fred finally said in a hushed voice. "What do we do now that we've found something?" I didn't reply. I was too busy looking at the pumpkin, and thinking. Either that pumpkin would be used as a decoration (and make numerous pumpkin pies), or I was a candy cane.

"Well, here's what I think," I whispered. After much shaking of heads and a quick whispered argument, Fred and I reached a decision for a decent plan. Not as good as my original idea, I thought a bit grumpily, but decent, all the same.

Giving our surrounding area shifty glances, we drew out our wands and got to work.

About an hour later, we beheld our masterpiece. It did not take very long at all for me to be overcome with a violent case of the giggles. Fred look at me, amused, looked back at what we had done to the pumpkin, and pulled a face. That only sent me further into hysterics. Which sent Fred into hysterics. And on and on and on and on.

When we heard heavy thumping footsteps coming up to us, we were still rolling around on the ground, getting leaves all over our robes and in our hair. I had managed to call down somewhat, but Fred was still howling.

"What're ye two doin' here?" A voice growled from above us. The little voice inside my head chimed, uh-oh. In front of me was a pair of exceedingly large black boots. I blinked. Fred had finally stopped laughing, and an ominous sort of silence filled the air. My eyes slowly followed the boots up, and saw a giant. His face was half-hidden behind a tangled beard, but I recognized him as the one who'd led us to the castle on the boats. He hadn't seemed quite so large then, when I was surrounded by all the other first-years. But now, alone, outside, lying on the ground with only Fred for company, and a discriminating pumpkin behind us, the man seemed almost… threatening. I heard Fred give an audible gulp.

"I said, what're ye two doing here?" he repeated.

"Well, we were just, we, uh," I sat up and managed to say before faltering.

Fred sat up, too. "We though we'd save you the trouble of carving the pumpkin," he said in a falsely cheery voice.

The giant looked at us for a very long while. Then his eyes shifted to the pumpkin. "Weasley," he said to Fred. "None o' yer brothers ever give me trouble. 'Course, Charlie's always taggin' along behind me te show him some beast or other. Very thoughtful an' all of ye to carve the pumpkin and save me all the trouble of doin' it meself, but didn't Molly ever teach yer how to do it properly?" Then he turned to me. "An' you. I dunno who you are. But you could use a little lesson in pumpkin carvin', too."

When neither of made a move, he hauled us up by our arms. "Come on, come on. This way, when Filch comes lookin' fer the culprit on Halloween night, ye can say that ye already served detention with me."

And so, over the next two hours, we took the insides out of the pumpkin and fixed our carving. By the end of our little session, my arms were aching, because Hagrid, as we found out his name was, forbid us from using our wands and handed us two large knifes instead. Well, I suppose it wasn't entirely Hagrid's fault as Fred and I had been a bit, er, elaborate.

Finally, he let us go and Fred and I made the trek back up to Gryffindor Tower, groaning about our arms.

And when we finally got up there I realized the we had missed dinner and my stomach was getting mad at me.