Chapter 4- Pumpkins AN: Please read and review, thanks!
As students entered the Great Hall they filed over to the tables in the middle of the room. Lining the room were individual stations set up for someone to carve a pumpkin, and at the front, where the teachers usually sat, were the pumpkins. Directly down the center of the room was the buffet table that held snacks and drinks. Soon the room was filled with students and Hermione and Draco made their way to the front of the room to address the crowd.
“Hello everyone. Can I have your attention please?” Everyone quieted down and turned to look at Hermione where she stood next to Draco, trying to be heard. “I need to get an accurate count of how many people plan to actually compete in the competition. If you plan to carve a pumpkin please send a magical paper airplane up here, try not to hit anyone. If you are just here to eat food and watch, or to judge, that it fine, just don’t sent an airplane.” They did as they were told and Draco tallied up the planes, some of which were not so successful in their flights, as they came nowhere near Draco, flying all over the place. Draco ended up just “accio”ing the planes, not wanting to go around picking them up. Luckily they had enough pumpkins and enough individual pumpkins. Draco turned to the crowd.
“To be fair, we will come around and those of you competing will put a slip of paper with your name on it in this bag. We will then randomly draw names and in that order you will choose your pumpkins. You will not be judged because the pumpkin itself, so don’t be discouraged if you are last to pick your pumpkin. The rest of you can sit back and enjoy the competition.” Hermione then went around one half of the room while Draco went around the second half. They came together in the middle and combined their bags into one. Hermione drew the first name.
“Seamus Finnegan, please go up to pick your pumpkin, then take a seat at one of the carrels around the room, but do not begin to work just yet.” Seamus did as he was told. Draco drew the next name. He frowned.
“Weasley, go pick a pumpkin and sit down.” Hermione gave him a disapproving look at his tone. Clearly there were multiple Weasley’s, but everyone knew from his tone that he meant Ron.
“Blaise Zabini, you may go up.”
“Terry Boot, you can go up.”
“Ginny Weasley, you may go up.”
“Justin Finch-Fletchley, go ahead.”
“Gregory Goyle, go ahead.”
It went on for a while, mostly guys, but a few girls did decide to participate, for the most part they didn’t want to deal with the mess and getting it under their finger nails.
Once they had gone through all the names they announced the judges. Hermione faced the crowd.
“To ensure that this competition is as fair as possible, we decided to have four judges, one from each house, and we will all try to agree on the winners. For Hufflepuff house we have Hannah Abbot,” the Hufflepuff’s cheered loudly. “For Ravenclaw we have Cho Chang.” The Ravenclaws cheered too. “For Slytherin we have Draco Malfoy.” Slytherin’s cheered louder than the other two houses had, Draco smirked. “And I will be judging for Gryffindor house.” The Gryffindors were louder than all the others, because, naturally they had to best Slytherin at everything. Draco spoke up.
“Now, on the count of three you can start carving. We put a spell on the room, no magic can be used, you will be carving it by hand, to test your skill, rather than just your imagination. One…” Everyone around the room grabbed whatever tool they planned to use first, getting ready. “Two…” They leaned toward their pumpkins eagerly. “Three.” There was a frenzy as everyone started working.
Hermione started a stop watch, saying, “now, you will have two hours to complete your pumpkin, so that should be plenty of time. Have fun!”
Half way through Hermione wandered around the room, looking at what people were doing with their pumpkins. She saw what looked like it might turn out to be a wolf, howling at the moon. Someone was clearly carving Voldemort, which she found a bit insensitive. Someone else seemed to be carving the muggle idea of a witch. Harry was doing a quidditch scene, typical. She looked at the last carrel before she reached the front, she stopped in shock.
She knew who she would be voting for, assuming no one surprised her after what she had just seen. Sitting in the front-most carrel was Blaise Zabini. He was so focused, Hermione didn’t think he even noticed her standing there, staring at him. He was bent over his pumpkin as he delicately continued to carve, using a variety of tools to make textures, and cuts of various sizes. The detail was impeccable. Blaise Zabini was carving Hogwarts. It was beautiful. Hermione had to tear her eyes away from it and move on. When she reached the front again she approached Draco.
“Malfoy,” She spoke a bit quietly, not that the room wasn’t loud, because it was, but she didn’t want to talk too loudly, for fear of disturbing the contestants. Draco turned to look at her, expectant. “I had no idea that Zabini was so talented, did you? He is quite the artist.” Draco blinked at her, obviously not expecting her to willingly compliment one of his friends.
“He’s always been really into art, so yeah, I guess I knew, why, what’s he doing?” Hermione smiled, remembering how beautiful it was, even in its unfinished form.
“He is carving Hogwarts, it is amazing! It is, by far, the most beautiful pumpkin carving I have ever seen! If things go the way they seem, I would not be able to justify wanting anyone else to win, even if he is a Slytherin.” Draco smiled.
“Well, I’m glad to see your prejudices will not be getting in the way of this competition. I’m also glad that Blaise has decided to be ambitious, he doesn’t always show his creative and artistic side, it’s hardly very Slytherin of him.” Hermione laughed a bit uncomfortably, she felt like Malfoy was telling her personal details about Zabini, like she shouldn’t know that. She shrugged it off and went to see her friends.
“Hey Luna!” Luna turned to Hermione, smiling. “Are you enjoying yourself?” Luna nodded emphatically.
“I am very much enjoying myself. This is a lovely event you have planned. The carvings look very promising. Additionally, you have selected a wonderful array of snacks, the desserts are great.” Hermione grinned; Luna had a terrible sweet tooth.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that you approve. I should wander around, but I hope you stick around for the announcement of the winner, I think it will come as quite a shock.” She smirked as she walked off.
Eventually the time was up.
“Would everyone please return to their seats. Contestants, please sign your pumpkins and leave them where they are, we will move them to the front as necessary.” As everyone hurried to do as Hermione had asked them, Hermione moved to the front to meet up with Draco, Hannah, and Cho. “The other three judges and I will now examine all the pumpkins and take notes, we will then talk amongst ourselves to decide a winner. After we are done looking at each pumpkin it will be moved up to the front of the room where you may see it more closely if you wish. Feel free to continue to eat and drink while we do this.” She, Cho, Hannah, and Draco then began to walk around the room.
By far, Zabini out shone all the others. Hermione also found that Ginny’s was really good. She had done a carving of a hippogriff, flying over a lake; it was very serene. Neville had done the candy-trolley; it was pretty good. Finally, Michael Corner had done a carving of a spider web with a fly caught in it and a spider about to eat it; it was traditional, but pretty good.
When they were done going around to see the pumpkins, the judges went into a corner, conjured a table and chairs, and caste a muffliato charm around them.
“So, first we will decide who gets first, since that is easiest to decide.” Hermione began, Draco looked smug. “Hannah, which pumpkin did you believe was the best?” Hannah bit her lip, eyes unsure.
“I couldn’t read the signature, so hopefully someone else knows who the pumpkin belonged to, but I thought the one of Hogwarts was by far the best one I saw.” Draco smirked.
“Cho,” Hermione continued, ignoring Draco. “Which did you like the most?”
“I agree with Hannah, the one of Hogwarts showed the most skill and the best eye for detail, it was beautiful.” Hermione nodded at her and turned to Draco.
“Malfoy, I assume that you agree with these two?” Draco just nodded. Hermione smiled, much to Draco’s surprise. “Well, that was easy. We all agree that Blaise Zabini’s pumpkin carving of Hogwarts was the best, so he gets first place. Who do we think should get second?” Hannah and Cho looked at Hermione with wide eyes.
“Blaise Zabini did that pumpkin? Are you sure?” Cho was the one to ask, looking at Hermione inquisitively. Hermione nodded.
“I’m sure, I saw him carving it. Now, who did you like second most?”
It turned out it was pretty easy. Everyone agreed on who the best four were, it was just a matter of who got third and who got fourth. In the end they managed to agree and they removed the muffliato charm and vanished the table and chairs. Hermione thanked Hannah and Cho and asked them to please take a seat with the other students.
“We will now announce the winners of the pumpkin carving contest. If you are one of the winners, please remain after everyone else leaves so that you can get your prize. We will only be announcing first, second, third, and fourth place, we did not rank the entries beyond that point, so please do not ask what place you got if you don’t win.” Everyone resumed their seats as Hermione spoke. One of the younger Slytherin boys shouted out.
“And how much bias did you put into your winners? You have three judges from houses that hate Slytherins and only one boy. Who wants to bet that Granger favors her friends?” The Slytherins all sniggered, except Draco. Hermione was frowning and her face was hot with anger. But Draco beat her to it.
“As much as I love my own house, for once, you are wrong. The judging was very much unbiased, by all parties, and I must say, I believe it took a turn in our favor, so kindly shut up.” Hermione gave him a confused half smile, thanking him for standing up for her in a way. “Now, we will start with fourth place.” Draco turned to Hermione expectantly, and so did everyone else.
“In fourth place we have Neville Longbottom with his portrayal of the sweets trolley from the train.” Gryffindors clapped the loudest, but Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs clapped too. Hermione turned towards Draco, everyone fell silent again and looked at Draco.
“In third place we have Michael Corner, with his carving of a spider web, complete with a spider about to eat a fly.” Again, everyone except for the Slytherins cheered. When silence resumed Hermione spoke up.
“In second place we have Ginny Weasley, with her beautiful carving of a hippogriff flying over a lake.” Gryffindors cheered loudly again, along with the other two participatory houses. Soon the whole room was jittery, wanting to hear who won. Slytherins were looking a bit pissed, not winning anything. Draco spoke up.
“And last but certainly not least. I am very proud to announce that the first place winner of the pumpkin carving contest is my best mate Blaise Zabini for his detailed carving of Hogwarts castle.” The Slytherins cheered like they had won the house cup, though the other houses joined in politely. Blaise was blushing, his face as red as a tomato. Hermione interrupted the cheering.
“Congrats to everyone who participated. Unfortunately it is time for all of us to go to bed. I ask that the four students that won please remain behind to claim your prizes. As for the rest of you,” she gave them a stern look, “please go straight to bed, no dilly dallying, I wouldn’t want the professors to get mad and not let us run any more events like this, I thought it was fun, didn’t you?” Everyone cheered, the Slytherins just barely clapping. “Well, then we wouldn’t want to lose that privilege now would we?” She smiled as the students began to file out, Blaise, Ginny, Neville and Michael staying behind. Draco approached Blaise, clapping him on the back.
“Well done mate, didn’t know you had it in you to finally let all your talent out.” They grinned at each other.
“Well,” Blaise said, “I guess the war changed us all.” They both nodded, solemn for a second, before grinning again. Hermione turned to Ginny, giving her a hug.
“Congrats, I was so glad when everyone said they liked your second best! Yours was so good.” Ginny smiled at her.
“Thanks, I’m glad you thought so, though I was surprised to hear that I lost to Zabini, a bit of a shock there. Did Malfoy have something to do with that?” Blaise and Draco seemed to have heard and Blaise was red again while Draco was about to yell at Ginny, but Hermione didn’t even notice any of that as she shook her head.
“No. I actually knew he was going to win before we even did our walk around. I had seen his while it was only half way finished and it was already exquisite, so I just knew. I don’t know why he’s been hiding his talent, but no one can just wake up one day and carve like that, it was unbelievable. If you haven’t already you really need to take a closer look at it, I’m stunned. Hannah and Cho voted for it without even knowing who carved it, there was no doubt in our minds.” Ginny nodded, understanding. Hermione turned to the group.
“Well, let’s get this over with so we can all get to bed. We have small prizes for you all. Malfoy?” Hermione turned to him and he rummaged around in a bag he had in his hand.
“For fourth place, we have a five galleon gift certificate for The Three Broomsticks.” He handed that to Neville, who looked pleased.
“For third place,” Hermione continued, “we have a seven galleon gift certificate for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.” Hermione handed that to Michael, noting the mischievous look in his eyes.
“For second place,” Draco said, “we have a ten galleon gift certificate to Madame Malkin’s.” Ginny grinned as Draco gave it to her, Madame Malkin’s sold more than just robes, she sold all kinds of clothing, just what Ginny wanted.
“And for first place,” Hermione took the last prize from Draco, “we have one twenty galleon gift certificate redeemable at any and all Hogsmede locations.” She passed that over to Blaise with a smile, who seemed surprised by her kindness. “Congrats to you all, I am so proud and pleased with the wonderful pumpkin designs you all created.” She then shooed them all to their dormitories as she and Draco went to clean up the Great Hall quickly before heading off to bed.
“So, you really weren’t mad that Blaise won and not one of your group, like Potter or Weasel?” Hermione sighed.
“I know this may be hard for you to comprehend Malfoy, but I am not a bad person. My personal feelings about a person are never fixed, they are flexible and they change all the time. Zabini isn’t a bad guy. He didn’t really fight on Voldemort’s side, which earns him bonus points. He may not have always been the nicest guy to me, but part of that was that he was just a kid, growing up, puberty and all that. Besides, I fully believe in second chances. And I don’t have to like him to admit that he is wildly talented artistically.” Draco just stared at her for a bit, surprised at the level of fairness she was willing to extend to someone like Blaise Zabini. Then he smirked.
“Does that mean that you think the same about me? That it was just growing up and that I’m not that bad of a guy?” Hermione frowned.
“I guess, I mean, you were on the wrong side, but you did switch to the good side in the end. You haven’t really been your same bullying self since. I mean, you say the same things, but we both know when and why that happens, so I guess my opinion of you could change, if it hasn’t already.”
Draco was shocked at her honest answer, he had honestly expected her to say that he could never change and she would hate him forever, or something like that. But this was Hermione Granger, honest and fair Gryffindor, not afraid to be truthful. Draco just shook his head and focused on cleaning up the Great Hall.
They worked silently for about half an hour, even with magic. It wasn’t an awkward silence, rather a silence when they had nothing to say to one another, so they didn’t. Once they were finished they walked out of the hall together. They continued on their rounds, making sure everyone actually went to bed, before going their separate ways and heading to their dormitories. They didn’t say goodnight or anything friendly, but before they split paths they did look at one another, looking into the other person’s eyes, and then nodded their heads before going on their ways to their separate dorms.
AN: I hope you enjoyed this chapter, it just came, I’m glad I got another chapter out before NaNoWriMo! I would really appreciate a review. I didn’t include any letters in this chapter, so I’m hoping this gives you guys time to make suggestions for the next ones. I really do use the questions you guys suggest, they are great. Let me know, please review! :D You guys are the best!