Prompter: Anonymous Two
Beta(s): xxdustnight88 and twztdwildcat
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: When Pumpkins Fly: Severus and Hermione compete against one another during Hogsmeade's annual vegetable competition (SS/HG).
Note: Many thanks go to our wonderful mod for running this wonderful fest. Thank you to my betas for their help and to the prompter for the fun prompt. I hope this lives up to your expectations.
Summary: Ever since he joined the teaching staff at Hogwarts, Severus has won the annual Hogsmeade Vegetable Competition. There's a new teacher in town, and she's not about to let him win so easily this year.
"She knows she doesn't stand a chance, doesn't she?"
The question may have been said in a whisper, but Hermione overheard them nonetheless. She grinned. Headmaster Snape may have won every year for the past twenty-nine years, but she was here to put a stop to his winning streak.
She turned and looked at the lady who had just spoken. "There's always a first time for everything."
The elderly witch's eyes widened, but she said nothing in response as her mouth formed into a stern frown.
A smooth, deep voice caught the attention of the three witches. "I have been participating in this competition longer than you've been alive, Miss Granger. What makes you believe that you'll be able to beat me?"
"Oh, Headmaster, while I am flattered by the idea that you think I'm younger than I actually am, I have been alive longer than you've been participating. As for beating you this year, you've just never had a worthy opponent."
"You really believe you will beat Severus, my dear?"
Hermione turned to her former head of house. She grinned. "Of course I do. I do not use magic on my neeps except to light them. As for my trebuchet? It too is designed and built by Muggle means so as to have a more accurate toss that will allow my pumpkin to carry further."
"And the pumpkin roll?"
Hermione glanced at the older witch from the town for a moment before she turned her gaze back to the headmaster. "I'm not revealing my secrets for that one, especially with my competition standing next to me."
"You're confident that you'll beat me in your first year?"
"Competitors!" The mayor of Hogsmeade announced, his wand pointed at his throat to amplify his voice. "To your tables for the carving contest!"
"Good luck to both of you," Minerva said as Hermione and Severus turned and made their way to their tables for the first contest of the day.
"May the best wizard win," Severus said as he stopped at his table.
Hermione brushed her hand down his arm as she passed him. "In your dreams, Severus."
Moments after Hermione stepped up to her table, the last contestant hurried to their own and the mayor pointed his wand to his throat again. "Welcome, wizards and witches, to Hogsmeade's 35th Annual Vegetable Competition! It looks like all of our contestants are ready. So without further ado, let the carving contest begin!"
He pulled his wand from his throat and shot a trio of blue sparks into the air.
Wands were pulled out as contestants quickly got to work carving into the thick-skinned root vegetable. Hermione quietly pulled out a small paring knife and made sure her wand properly tucked up her sleeve before she started to work.
Murmurs rippled through the crowd as they watched her. She ignored the voices as she continued to peel and carve away bits and pieces of her neep. Each contestant had ten minutes to create their masterpiece and she knew that she needed every second to be able to beat Severus.
A few minutes later, a trio of red sparks were shot from the tip of the mayor's wand signalling the end of the first contest.
"Contestants, please place your carving instruments down and step away from your table. The judges will walk around and review all the entries. Once they are done, we will move on to the next event, so contestants for the throwing contest please make sure you're ready to go soon," the mayor explained. He gestured to a small group of people to move among the tables.
After the judges passed their tables, Severus stepped closer to Hermione. "Miss Granger, there is no way you were able to carve that in ten minutes and not use magic."
She turned to him and raised an eyebrow. "Are you questioning my integrity, sir?"
"Merely stating a point."
Hermione chuckled. "It's called practice. You know how—" She leant closer and lowered her voice. "—thorough I am."
One side of his lips twitched. On anyone else it would have been just that, a twitch, but Hermione knew him well enough to know that if they had been alone, he would have given her that smile—the one reserved solely for her.
"Thorough indeed," Severus mused.
Hermione opened her mouth to respond, the amplified voice of the mayor cut her off before she could say anything. "As the judges finish with the scores for the carving contest if we could have the pumpkin toss contestants move to your trebuchets, please. Thank you."
Once everyone was in position on the edge of the field, the rules were explained to those assembled.
"We will have each contestant go one at a time so each trebuchet is set up in the same spot for equal opportunity and to reduce any issues that might arise. Once your name has been called, please step forward. You will have two minutes to conjure your trebuchet, load your pumpkin, and toss it. The pumpkin that goes the farthest most accurately will be the winner."
As contestants were called up, Hermione started to make her way over to Severus since they had become separated by the crowd, but she was stopped by an elderly wizard that wanted to thank her for her role in the war. She smiled politely as he continued to talk.
"Excuse me, sir," Hermione murmured as she stepped away and made her way over to where the mayor and judges were waiting.
"You have two minutes, Miss Granger."
"Thank you, Mr Mayor," she replied as she reached into her beaded bag and pulled out a miniature trebuchet. As she set the small wooden structure on the ground, she pulled out her wand and whispered, "Finite Incantatem."
As the spell wore away, Hermione's trebuchet expanded to its normal size and one of the other contestants yelled, "Wait a minute! That's illegal!"
One of the judges stepped forward and raised their wand, saying a series of revealing charms. They shook their head. "No, it's not. Miss Granger's trebuchet is completely Muggle and has no spells on it now that she's removed the shrinking spell."
"Your time has reset, Miss Granger. Please continue."
Hermione turned to the mayor and dipped her head. "Thank you." She then turned around and got to work cranking back her trebuchet. Once it was in place she loaded up the pumpkin she was provided and pulled the lever.
Everyone watched as her pumpkin flew through the air, landing a good thirty yards ahead of the contestants that had gone before her.
She quietly shrank her trebuchet, returning it to her beaded handbag, and made her way over to where the finished contestants were standing. As they waited for the last of the contestants to go, there was a small moment of panic when the pumpkin Severus lobbed landed only a few yards short of her own smashed gourd.
"Well," the mayor chuckled, his wand pointed at his throat. "It looks pretty clear to me who the winner is for this round, but we will wait for the official results. For now, let's move on to the final contest for the day. The pumpkin roll!" He gestured with his free arm. "Contestants, please make your way to the top of the hill. If everyone else could please line up on either side of the main street, then we will start in a few moments."
Ten minutes later, after everyone was in position, the mayor raised his wand and same as before the carving contest, a trio of blue sparks shot from his wand. It was mass chaos as pumpkins were sent down the street.
Hermione stood watching her fellow contestants, Severus included, as they urged their pumpkins to go the farthest. She still had her own pumpkin in her hands and was slowly moving it back and forth. The brunette witch tilted her head to the side, studying the street, before moving two places to her left. Hermione placed her pumpkin on the ground and gave it a gentle push. She let gravity do the rest.
"How did you do that?" Severus demanded as he watched in frustration as her pumpkin wobbled right past his and the rest of the competition.
She turned to face him, a smirk twisting the corners of her lips. "Physics."
"What kind of magic is that?" One of the other contestants questioned.
Severus' nose twitched. "It's not magic. It is a type of Muggle science involving the movement of objects."
The judge from earlier explained, "Same as with the other two contests, Miss Granger's methods, while not what we're used to seeing, are not illegal."
"Well, they should be," another contestant complained.
A couple others voiced their agreement.
One of the other judges spoke up. "Why? With the exception of lighting her neep and shrinking and unshrinking her trebuchet, she has not used any magic. Everything she has done today has been above board." He looked at the other judges for a moment before turning back to address those around them. "And everything she has done today has been in a manner that is primitive compared to everyone else using their wands. Her methods just happen to be more effective than using a wand."
"Let us all make our way down to the bottom of the hill and we will announce the winners," the mayor suggested.
"Why? We know she's won."
"What makes this year any different than the last twenty-nine when Severus won?" Minerva looked around at those assembled. "Is it because he's a wizard and she's a witch? No, that's not it. Oh, I know what it is, it's because she's a Muggleborn and was able to best wizards and witches with her Muggle ideas. Well, I hate to tell you all, but if it wasn't Hermione, then someone else would come along sooner or later and use similar methods. Now, everyone needs to make their way down to the bottom of the hill."
Not wanting to argue with the Deputy Headmistress, the crowd dispersed and moved down the hill.
Hermione listened as the mayor thanked everyone for participating and attending. She tuned him out after a few moments. Hermione knew she had won, but she couldn't care less about the accolades. She achieved what she had set out to do when she signed up to participate this year.
"And in first place in all three contests, and overall winner of course, Miss Hermione Granger."
The crowd applauded and she stepped forward to accept her prize winnings. Hermione stopped next to Severus. She glanced at the headmaster's face. To those that did not know him, they would see a severe frown, but she saw the slight curve of his lips and the crinkle at the corner of his eyes. He would never say anything in front of others, but she knew he was pleased with her.
As she turned to face the crowd, Severus leaned over and whispered in her ear, "When we return to the castle, you will be punished for your—cheek today."
"Yes, Headmaster," Hermione murmured as she bowed her head to hide the smirk that spread across lips at her lover's promise.
Author's Note: Yes, I know there is a lot more involved when it comes to physics, but for this fic, only a very small portion of the subject is necessary. Also, in many parts of the world, including Northern England and Scotland, rutabagas are also known as "turnips" or "neeps." They are larger than turnips, so better for carving.