Author's Notes: I love peanuts. Err…no…wait…I mean…I love Peanuts. Yes. Charlie Brown and the gang have long been one of my favorite childhood indulgences that has survived well into my adulthood. Whether it's Lucy snatching that football away from an unsuspecting Charlie Brown as he goes tumbling arse-over-teacups once again, Snoopy dressed as the World War I flying ace getting shot down atop his doghouse/Sopwith Camel, or Linus with his security blanket firmly in hand waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise up out of the pumpkin patch and shower him with presents for his sincerity. Halloween, for me, will always go hand-in-hand with "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" (just as "A Charlie Brown Christmas" will be eternally an integral part of that seminal holiday). I won't even make excuses for the fact that a DVD boxed set of Charlie Brown specials sits proudly alongside "Jaws", "Ghostbusters", "Die Hard", "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", and other such "guy flicks" in my own personal DVD collection.
That being said, when it came time for me to write a story for Halloween, I just had to work the Great Pumpkin in there somehow. It was just a matter of how I could make it work. Obviously, re-writing the holiday special and merely re-casting the principal characters, swapping out the Peanuts gang and replacing them with Hogwarts regulars, would have surely been possible (Ron as Charlie Brown, Ginny as Sally, Hermione as Lucy, Harry as Linus, and possibly Crookshanks or maybe Dobby as Snoopy), but I really thought that would be cheating. I've read some fics where shows or movies or whatever were done that way (a fic that re-cast some "Friends" episodes comes to mind), and while it's funny to see the Hogwarts gang in that kind of light, I was left with an empty feeling afterwards, since the plot really had nothing to do with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their relationships and their troubles. I didn't want that; I wanted an enjoyable story, sure, but I also wanted something that felt like it took place in the Harry Potter universe, instead of an unusually large apartment somewhere in Greenwich Village.
The Great Pumpkin idea hit me Saturday (October 25), shortly after I posted Chapter 36 of my ongoing "Aftermath" story; as it was well after 4:00 in the morning, I decided to sleep on it, and see if that germ of an idea might develop into a full-fledged virus after a few hours of sack-time. When I awoke later that day, I had something in mind, but my new problem was "when" to place it. Third Year seemed to be the best year in which to set the story, since every other year at Hogwarts seemed pre-occupied with other events taking place in the greater Harry Potter universe. With a framework on which to build my story now firmly in my grasp, I went to work, and after two days of writing, this is what I came up with. The title is really a misnomer since, as you'll see once you read it, Harry Potter isn't actually IN this story. It's a Ron Weasley/Hermione Granger story…and, yes, I'm sure you're all just SHOCKED that I would write a R/Hr story (please note the sarcasm).
Now, with all of that out of the way, we can get on with the story! Enjoy!! And, please, feel free to review it once you're done…if you so choose. In any event, though, have a Happy Halloween!!
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and all the related characters and such. Charles M. Schultz (or, rather, his estate) owns Charlie Brown and all things related to him (including the Great Pumpkin).
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Harry Potter!"
Third Year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would mean many firsts for the Golden Trio: Divination and Care of Magical Creatures classes, Hagrid as a teacher, firsthand experience with werewolves, boggarts, Dementors, hippogriffs, Azkaban escapees, and Animagi, time-travel, a school-wide campout in the Great Hall, and many, many more. And on the day of October 31…Halloween…it also meant the very first visit for Third Year students to the village of Hogsmeade.
Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he made his way to his Third Year at Hogwarts without the parental consent form, which was to be signed by his guardians, the despicable Dursleys. This, of course, meant that, while most of the students were free to visit the only completely wizarding village in all of Britain on designated weekends, the Boy-Who-Lived would be stuck back at Hogwarts along with the First and Second Years.
Things would work out for Harry, eventually, thanks to the Weasley Twins, Fred and George, and a little known magical "artifact" from Hogwarts' past, known affectionately as the Marauders' Map. And even though he took to sneaking in and out of the castle like a duck takes to water, even Harry would eventually get himself a duly signed permission form, care of his long lost godfather, one Sirius Black.
But that's getting ahead of the story; this particular bit of fiction is concerned with that first Hogsmeade weekend, when Harry was stuck avoiding the annoying adulation of Colin Creevy and was forced to have to tea with Professor Lupin from TEABAGS! (How plebeian!) Poor Harry was stuck at Hogwarts while his two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, enjoyed the wonders of Hogsmeade together.
Although often at each other's throats, Ron and Hermione had spent the day quite companionably, despite the recent contention between the two of them due to Hermione's new pet cat, Crookshanks' near-constant harrying of Ron's longtime pet rat Scabbers. In fact, they had quite a good time together and enjoyed each other's company so much that those who didn't know the pair might mistake them for a young couple. But, despite the furtive stolen glances they would make at each other, there was no romance budding between these two teens in the foreseeable future.
After a long day in the brisk fall air, enjoying all that Hogsmeade had to offer (and bringing some of it back for their poor, unfortunate friend Harry, still stuck in the castle), the duo made their way back towards Hogwarts, faces rosy from the cold Scottish wind. As they had for most of the day, the two friends chatted amiably on their walk back.
"Explain to me, again, how Muggles celebrate Halloween," Ron Weasley, youngest male scion of Arthur and Molly Weasley and best friend of the Boy-Who-Lived, cast a sidelong glance at the pink-faced, bushy-haired girl walking next to him.
"We went over this last year, Ronald," Hermione Granger, brightest witch of her age and other best friend of Harry Potter, rolled her eyes at the redheaded boy keeping pace beside her, "Muggle children dress up in costumes – like ghosts, goblins, witches – and then go from door-to-door getting candy and other treats."
Ron gave a hearty chuckle and smiled broadly, "So, Muggle kids dress up like they're from our world and go begging their neighbors for candy; that's just barmy, that is!"
"They don't beg, Ron," she sighed, correcting him, "It's called 'trick-or-treating'. You go up to a house, in costume, say 'Trick-or-Treat', and they're supposed to give you a treat…and if they don't, you're supposed to play a trick on them."
"What sort of trick?" he asked, his blue eyes shining with the prospect of potential mischief. Hermione hadn't covered this part of a Muggle Halloween celebration when she told him about it last year. This added a whole new wrinkle to what had seemed a mad Muggle tradition to him. Maybe even the twins might be interested in tricky treats.
Hermione wasn't sure if she should delve further into details on the "tricks" portion of trick-or-treating; Ron seemed much too interested in this subject now. It was entirely possible he might do something that would get him in trouble…and even though they fought at times, and he was something of an infuriating prat, she hated to see him get in trouble; especially if it meant losing House points for Gryffindor.
"Err…well…you see," Hermione stammered, hesitating, "I never took part in any tricks, myself…"
"Of course not," Ron said smiling and rolling his eyes teasingly. Hermione was too much of a goody-goody to take part in playing tricks on people; of course, he'd never say that to her face…unless they were in the middle of a row at the time and he spoke without thinking. He did that a lot; Hermione just made him so riled up when they argued that he couldn't help it. But Ron didn't want to think about that right now; they were having too nice a time to dwell on their past (and future) disagreements. "Even though you never played any tricks, you must know what sort of tricks Muggles play on each other for Halloween…"
"Well…" she cast a look at him, still debating on whether or not this was the proper sort of discussion to be having with someone who was already a repeat-offense rule-breaker, "You understand that some of the tricks that get played are really more vandalism than practical jokes."
"Now you've got to tell me!" he laughed, looking even more intrigued with this knew bit of information, "I'm starting to understand my dad's obsession with Muggles!"
Hermione shot him a stern look and would have put her hands on her hips had her hands not been full with the shopping bags she brought back from Hogsmeade, "Ron! Vandalism isn't funny!"
"Oh, come off it, Hermione," Ron groaned, "You can't be mad at me for something I didn't even do! It's Muggles who do that rubbish, not me!"
"But you seem to be taking such a keen interest in it, Ronald," she argued, the flush in her cheeks now coming more from her rancor being up, instead of the cold air, "How am I to know you don't plan on throwing eggs at people, or to spray shaving cream on someone's windows, or toilet paper their house…?"
Ron gave her a look as she raved at him; he was amused, bemused, and quite possibly even c-mused at her ranting, "Hermione…listen to yourself! Throwing eggs at some Slytherins might possibly be funny, but whose house and windows do you think I'm going to vandalize?"
Hermione took a deep, ragged breath, and forced herself to calm down. He was right of course; she was getting all up in arms and dictatorial over something that hadn't even occurred…castigating him for something he hadn't even done. Oh, how she hated when he was right.
"I'm…sorry, Ronald," she ruefully apologized. Then, as if a silver lining had appeared on the dark cloud of being forced to apologize to Ron Weasley, something he had said caught her attention, "But if I find out that you've been throwing eggs at Slytherins because of this, I'm going to tell Professor McGonagall!"
"You would, wouldn't you?!" he snapped, glaring at her, "You put the idea in my head, and then if I do it you're going to go running to McGonagall! Some friend you are!!"
"I am your friend, Ronald, which is why I would tell Professor McGonagall," Hermione yelled, hoping he'd understand her explanation, but knowing all the while that Ron Weasley was too thick-headed to comprehend, "If you didn't do foolish things like throw eggs at other students, you wouldn't get into trouble nearly as much as you do!"
"You're completely mad, do you know that?!" Ron growled, waving his arms in exasperation, the shopping bag he was carrying flinging about like a ship on a storm-tossed ocean, "You do realize I haven't done anything, yeah?!"
Her brown eyes full of fury, Hermione opened her mouth and had been about to unleash a scorching argument to Ron's statement, but as what he said actually made its way into her anger-fogged mind, realization dawned and the brightest witch of her age found herself blushing furiously with embarrassment.
She'd done it again. She'd started a fight with Ron for no good reason. Of course he hadn't done anything wrong; trick-or-treating was a Muggle tradition, and Ron Weasley had never thrown one egg, toilet papered one house, or soaped up one window, but she had jumped so easily and naturally into a position of antagonization against him without even realizing it. Hermione found herself in the unenviable position of needing to apologize to Ron…again. She hated doing that, and after having done so once within the last ten minutes, she didn't want to do so again.
"Of course you haven't done anything, Ronald," she said in a very haughty, superior-sounding voice, "And it would behoove you to keep it that way."
"Behoove me…?" he repeated, glaring at her.
"I know what it means!" Ron yelled, his face flush with anger. Hermione was so bloody infuriating sometimes. He really didn't understand why he was friends with her in the first place.
"Well, good," Hermione said, nodding her head tersely, "We lose enough House points each year without you doing something that's going to get you caught by Filch or Snape or even Professor McGonagall."
"I'm not the only one who gets points deducted!" he griped in protest, "You, yourself --…"
"This is not about me," she said, suddenly cutting him off as she turned to walk away from him, continuing her journey towards the castle, "And it's not my fault if Professor Snape is completely unfair and punishes me for knowing the right answer!"
"Well, maybe if you didn't force your answers on people…maybe if you waited for Snape to call on you…"
"Force my answers on people?!" Hermione screamed, whirling quickly on him, "Remember that the next time you need help with your homework! Maybe you can get someone else to force their answers on you!"
Before Ron could utter another word, Hermione stomped off, intent on putting as much distance as she could between herself and that insufferable redheaded prat she had for a friend. As was often the case, a row between herself and Ron had started off about something trivial and had escalated until one of them said something to hurt the other's feelings; this time those hurt feelings were hers.
"Bloody Hell…" Ron groaned in aggravation, running his free hand through his hair. He hadn't meant to hurt Hermione's feelings, but even a thick-headed git like he was could see that that is exactly what he did. He knew he had to apologize…even if he didn't want to.
Hurrying off after Hermione, Ron's lanky frame and longer legs paid off, and he managed to close the distance between himself and Hermione in a relatively short period of time. He reached her just as she was nearing Hagrid's hut.
"Hermione…hold on!" he called, as he fell into step beside her, "I didn't mean it!"
"Of course you meant it, Ronald Weasley," she said coldly, refusing to even so much as glance in his direction, "Otherwise you wouldn't have said it."
"Oh, come on," he prodded, speeding up so that he could step in front of her and keep her from fleeing him, bringing them both to a complete halt, "Like you've never said something you didn't mean when we get into a row?"
"This isn't about --…"
"I know, this isn't about you," Ron repeated her earlier statement, rolling his eyes, "Fine. It's about me. So, let me just --…"
"'Ello, Ron! 'Ermione!"
Ron was cut off mid-apology…much to his own delight (oh how he hated apologizing to her)…by the booming voice of Hagrid moving about his pumpkin patch with his huge, cowardly boarhound, Fang, at his side.
"Hello, Hagrid," Hermione said, ignoring Ron and walking over to greet the huge Care of Magical Creatures instructor.
"Hi, Hagrid," Ron followed suit, although he rolled his eyes at the way Hermione was acting.
"Enjoy your first Hogsmeade visit, didja?" Hagrid asked as he eyed their shopping bags full of treats from down in the village.
"It was brilliant!" Ron gushed, forgetting about the argument with Hermione…or, at least, trying to, "Honeydukes has just about every kind of sweet you could ever dream of!"
"It was quite nice," Hermione replied to the large man's question, "Except for the company."
Ron and Hagrid both looked a bit stunned by Hermione's statement. Ron's mouth gaped open-and-closed for several moments, and a hurt look crossed his face only to be replaced quickly by one of anger. Hagrid's beetle-black eyes cast nervously back-and-forth between the two teenagers, as if trying to understand what was going on between the two of them. Their arguments were even becoming legendary amongst the Hogwarts staff, and it was obvious to Hagrid that they'd had another fight.
"Err…where's Harry?" Hagrid asked, uncomfortably trying to change the subject to something that wouldn't add to the tension between the two "friends", "It'll be dark soon, and you lot know he's not to be wandering outside the castle after dark!"
"He wasn't able to come to Hogsmeade, Hagrid," Hermione said, her voice remorseful for her friend's exclusion from the wonderful time had in the little village below the school, "He didn't get his permission slip signed."
"Ah, well, I'm sure it's all for the best," Hagrid said, trying to be as diplomatic as he knew how, "There's always next year."
Having pulled himself out of the conversation in order to avoid Hermione, Ron had taken to looking about the pumpkin patch. It was mostly bare, this time of year, with the majority of the pumpkins having been turned into jack-o-lanterns that would be floating above the Great Hall during the Halloween feast, however, a few giant pumpkins and several moderately-sized ones still dotted the landscape. It was behind one of these humongous pumpkins that Ron spotted a Hagrid-sized, beaten-up old whicker basket and moth-eaten blanket sitting inconspicuously on the ground.
"Hagrid," Ron began, looking back over his shoulder at the gentle mountain-of-a-man, "Are you having a picnic?"
"Oh…err…that," Hagrid seemed a bit embarrassed as he looked over at the young redhead. He began rubbing the back of his neck as he cast about for the best explanation, "It's a bit of a Halloween tradition, you see."
"What? Picnicking at night?" Ron asked, still looking confused. Hermione rolled her eyes and snorted derisively; she was torn between her desire to pretend Ron didn't exist and wanting to castigate him for being so nosy.
"Err…well…y'see…" Hagrid moved over to the gigantic pumpkin behind which his "picnicking" supplies were station, "Every year…on Halloween night…I sit out here in the pumpkin patch and…well…wait…for the Great Pumpkin."
"The what?!" Ron and Hermione asked in perfect synchrony, despite themselves.
"Don't tell me you lot never heard o' the Great Pumpkin!" Hagrid groaned, surprised at their ignorance of something so vital to the tradition of Halloween…at least in his esteem. Ron and Hermione could only shake their heads in answer, causing Hagrid to roll his eyes in frustration.
"Alright, well, listen up," Hagrid began, leaning up against the monster pumpkin behind him, "Each year, on Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises from the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere, then he flies through the air and brings presents to all the world's children."
"So, then, he's some sort of pumpkin-headed Father Christmas?" Ron scoffed, laughing at the ridiculousness of Hagrid's story. This earned a look of disdain from Hermione.
"I never said he has a pumpkin for a head," Hagrid said, glaring at Ron and causing the young redhead to quail slightly, the look of humor disappearing from his freckled face. "Truth is I don't know what he looks like. I've never actually seen him."
"Hagrid," the bushy-haired girl began in a soft, slightly condescending tone of voice, as if speaking to a small child, "Aren't you a bit old to believe in something so far-fetched and…childish? Honestly, a gift-giving pumpkin?"
"It's not about the presents," Hagrid countered, a bit defensively, "It's about tradition. Me Dad and I used to sit outside every Halloween and wait for the Great Pumpkin to come…'til he died, of course. Now, it's just…something I do…to be close to his memory, you see."
"That's sweet, Hagrid," Hermione said, smiling up at the big man, and placing a comforting hand on his arm. She didn't see the way Ron scowled at her when she did this…which, all things considered, was probably for the best.
"Err…right," Hagrid said, looking more than a bit uncomfortable, "Well…it's going to be dark soon, and you two had better get back to the castle. I'm sure Harry's waiting on you to return."
The reminder of their best friend, all alone in the castle, spurred the two teenagers on and they bid a quick goodbye to their over-large friend and began hurrying up the hill towards the looming structure of Hogwarts castle. Several minutes of silence passed between them, and as they neared the large front doors of the castle, Ron finally spoke.
"I'm sorry, Hermione," he said, casting a sidelong glance at her. This stunned Hermione a bit, as Ron was seldom in the practice of apologizing to her. Her stupefaction was short-lived, however, as Ron quickly smiled and qualified his statement, "I never should have said that Muggle Halloweens were barmy; Tricky Treats sounds positively normal compared to Hagrid and his flying pumpkin thing!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. He was such a git. But a piece of her couldn't help but smile. "It's called Trick-or-Treats, Ron," she said in mock exasperation.
They exchanged a look and a smile and continued on into the castle. Their earlier fight had been forgotten, and the prospect of sharing their Hogsmeade goodies with their best friend, Harry, and the Halloween feast to follow later that night filled the two of them with a sense of warmth and camaraderie. After all, Halloween at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was one of the best times ever…as long as no one did something stupid, like letting a troll into the castle.
As they entered the castle and the large doors closed behind them, neither one of Harry Potter's famed sidekicks saw the scraggly form of a large black dog moving about the base of the Whomping Willow, far across the school's expansive grounds. Its dark piercing eyes were drawn to the intimidating structure of the thousand-year-old citadel on the hill and the unsuspecting students within. A mad smile seemed to cross the dog's face…were dogs able to smile…and it seemed to be biding its time, watching and waiting.
No, there was nothing quite like Halloween at Hogwarts.
Author's End Notes: And there you have it...another attempt at a drabble (and still, NO ONE has managed to explain to me what a DRABBLE is), and my first go at a Halloween story. Let me know what you think, and once again...have a Happy Halloween!!!