~Carving Pumpkins in A World Full of Ghosts~

~An HG*SS story by RedValkyrie~


The air was more than chilled; it was bitter, already full of icy malice in the lateness of October. The crueler season of winter would bite with sharpest teeth this year. The sky overhead was a rough blanket of grey that offered no warmth, and the leafless trees stretched their gnarled, knotted branches skywards like the arthritic hands of the aged. The lake too had already begun to ice, and thin sheets of slush had gathered at the banks. It had yet to snow, but the lush green carpet of summer grass had given way to the dry-bone beige of autumn that crunched underfoot like brittle nettles. The austere nature of the season was settling in way. It didn't try the senses like the ragweed of spring or the oppressive heat of July, and without the blizzards of January, one could almost think it pleasant, but only almost.

The festivities of Halloween would bewitch the castle tonight, interrupting that only almost pleasant atmosphere that pervaded the grounds. The twittering of children bustling with the excitement of feasts and floating candles, balls and real life magic had already pricked the stillness of this quiet hour.

It was a resigned sigh that escaped his lips, stinging with the chap of windburn. He looked to the sky, watching that unbroken sheet of cloud as it slowly shifted, but never ceased. It was his favorite season, this time of the in between when the harshness of summer had passed and winter, while felt on the wind had not yet descended in earnest. He wished to stay for a few moments longer in this world that lacked the sound and fury of exploding cauldrons, addled children, and showy displays of baser magics, floating pumpkins and swirling colonies of bats, indeed.

He was thankful Hagrid had taken leave early in the day to procure some odd supply for his horde of creatures. Without the half-giant's blustering, there was a delightful solitude to be found in the patch of pumpkins behind his small hut. Even Fang didn't make himself a nuisance, curtailing his usual barking frenzy in favor of nap at the hearth of his master's fireplace.

Taking these last few stolen moments of freedom, Snape settled himself on one of the larger pumpkins, and watched the wind as it wove through the pines of the Forbidden Forest. That brushing rustle was like a balm to his soul. He loved the natural world and all its play of light and shadow, sound and silence. He closed his eyes and let the wind buffet against him, swirl his hair and cloak as he sat there. He ginned at the feeling, and almost allowed himself a chuckle to think of the confusion his students' faces would display to see their terrible professor sitting cross-legged on a pumpkin with his eyes shut and grinning like a fool. All too soon though, the pressing knowledge that time and duty show no favoritism towards personal pleasures weighed itself too heavily to let him continue his solitary revelry. Groaning as his slipped himself from off his perch, he stretched his back and turned back towards the great towers of stone so long called home. However, he paused, and taking his wand, summoned one of the smaller pumpkins from the patch. Shrinking it and dropping it into the pocket of his coat, he made his way from the quiet fields of Hagrid's domain to the well-worn flagstones of Hogwarts.

AN: I will hopefully finish this by Halloween. Look for multiple installments on that day. I haven't been around much in the last few months. For all the wonderful reviews I've received on previous works, I'm deeply grateful, and sorry I haven't been one to respond. To the authors who have continued to write such wonderful stories, Hannah-1888, coffeeonthepatio, Cathedral Carver, and others whom I have failed to review, your work still inspires me and I read every chapter. There have been some big changes for me that have kept me away from FF, but more on that later… please enjoy and please review. Thank you!