Disclaimer: The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to the talented J.K. Rowling, who has also been kind enough to let legions of fan fiction writers play in her sandbox. I am not, and never will be, making any money from this story, so please do not sue me. I do promise to put the toys away when I'm finished playing, however—and as I'm in the military, I do know how to clean up after myself.
Author's Note: This story is an AU (Alternate Universe). More specifically, it is based in the Unbroken Universe, a large project centered around Promises Unbroken and Promises Remembered. While Unbroken Eve will make sense if read without any familiarity with the Unbroken Universe, it is a part of a coherent whole rather than a stand-alone story. If you are interested in the rest of the Unbroken Universe, please check out my profile, or the Yahoo!Group dedicated to the UU.
"I miss trick-or-treaters sometimes," Lily said pensively, bouncing Harry off her hip as the little boy giggled.
"Tricker-whaters?" James replied around a mouthful of Peppermint Toads, and Lily snickered.
"Well, you've got the appropriate idea, at any rate, even if you are a wizard," she grinned.
"Whatever are you talking about?"
Lily tossed Harry upwards before replying, listening to her son squeal in delight. When she was younger, she would not have dreamed of doing such a dangerous thing, but being a witch had its advantages. "Muggle children go from house to house trick-or-treating on Halloween," she explained. "They wear costumes and collect candy from their neighbors."
"What kind of costumes?" James asked curiously.
"Oh, like witches, wizards, ghosts, vampires and the like." She giggled. "You know. Things that don't exist."
James howled with laughter. "So, in other words, they pretend to be us for a day?" Lily nodded. "I could like this tradition!"
"I bet you could. You'd think dressing up as a Muggle construction worker great fun."
"Never mind." She rose, smiling as her husband shrugged and attempted to stuff five still jumping Chocolate Frogs into his mouth. "While you get fat, I believe it's time to put this munchkin to bed."
"Hey! I'm not fat!"
Lily arched an eyebrow at him as Harry giggled louder. He was such a happy child…except when his accidents found ways to ruin her best robes, like they had just a few days before they went into hiding. "Not yet you aren't. Keep eating like that and you will be."
"I resent that remark," her husband replied, drawing himself up proudly. "I'll have you know that Aurors don't get fat."
Up the stairs she traveled, holding a giggling and gurgling Harry in her arms. He'd take some time to fall asleep, of course—he was much like his father in that regard, especially when he got excited—but Lily did not mind. She hadn't ever expected motherhood to be like this, but then again, who ever knew what to expect out of life? All she knew was that she was lucky—she had a family and a home, and she was safe. Safe. In the world they lived in, safety was almost impossible to come by, and Lily wasn't blind to its price.
Opening the door to Harry's room, she thought briefly of Sirius. Throughout her first six years at Hogwarts, Lily had despised both James Potter and Sirius Black, though she'd rather hated Sirius more. Why was hard to define—he hadn't been the one pestering her with love notes, corny poems, and professions of his undying devotion (not to mention bi-weekly invitations for just one chance)—but his arrogance had bothered her. Of course, Sirius hadn't been like the Slytherins whom he was so closely related to, looking down at her simply because she was Muggleborn. He'd just been arrogant. He'd been a handsome, talented, and carefree example of pureblooded wizardry, and the bastard hadn't even had to study for his top marks.
Maybe that had been the reason. Or, maybe, just maybe, she really hadn't known him at all.
Sirius jumped, leaping for his wand and sending his mug of Abbot Ale flying across the living room. It promptly bounced off the couch and crashed into the far wall, where it shattered and splattered all over the already-stained plaster. He swore, tripped on the rug's upturned corner, and finally managed to grab his wand off of the end table.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
He swore again, and dodged a half-empty box that he had yet to unpack. Death Eaters didn't knock, did they?
Through the thin and worn door, he could hear voices, but the builders had been far too cheap to put a peephole in. There was no way of knowing who was on the other side unless he opened the damn thing, and he didn't have to be near any of his friends to hear what Remus would say. As usual, the more sensible Marauder would ask Sirius why in the world he always had to go looking for trouble.
Because I like it, that's why. And being a hidden Secret Keeper is boring.
Tensing for action, Sirius opened the door a crack, careful not to remove the chain he'd had installed upon arrival just seven days before. There was little conceivable way that a group of Death Eaters (or any wizard for that matter) could have made it so close without tripping all of his wards, but stranger things had happened. Then again, it could just be one of his Muggle neighbors, like the poor woman who'd wanted to use his oven the day before. Sirius hadn't bothered explaining that he didn't know how to use an oven. He'd just gotten out of the way and watched with interest. Had he been less romantically attached, he might have asked her on a date, but that didn't exactly go well with keeping a low profile.
Neither did opening the door, of course, but he'd already done that.
"Trick or Treat!"
He almost swore again, but bit his tongue just in time. Six Muggle children looked back at him with big and hopeful eyes—though he had a hard time distinguishing their eyes through the mess of masks and face paint. Sirius thought he counted two witches, a vampire, a very strange looking clown, and two children who were draped in white sheets for some reason or another, but it was hard to tell. If those two girls were supposed to be witches, why were their faces green?
"Trick or treat?" one of the sheet-covered boys ventured again, and Sirius blinked.
"Trick or what?" he asked, confused.
One of the girls (the clown) stamped her foot in exasperation. "Don't you have any candy, Mister?"
"Sara!" her mother hissed from the background, flushing bright red in embarrassment. Only then did Sirius notice the buckets that the children held—Are those supposed to look like pumpkins? he wondered. Belatedly, he realized that each child had already assembled an impressive stash of sweets.
"Oh! Candy. Right," Sirius said quickly. Thinking fast, he pointed his wand at the bowl of sweets he'd been enjoying. "Accio Candy!"
The bright blue bowl landed easily in his right hand, though juggling it and his wand together was no easy feat. The children were staring at him strangely.
"Sorry," Sirius apologized lamely. "I was expecting someone else."
Keeping his wand hidden, he extended the bowl to the now-smiling children. This must be some strange Muggle tradition, he thought to himself, and then had to wonder why wizards didn't have a similar one. Any chance to get free candy was a good one, after all—
"What's this?" one of the other girls asked, holding up a Chocolate Frog card he'd carelessly left in the bowl.
"Ahh—sorry. Must've dropped that in there by accident." Aware that the two mothers was watching him strangely, Sirius snatched the card out of the vampire-girl's hand. "Have a nice evening."
"Happy Halloween!" the children chorused.
Sirius watched them go, feeling strange. "Happy Halloween."
As nine o'clock approached, a set of arms wrapped themselves around her from behind. Lily leaned back and smiled.
"Finally asleep?" James whispered in her ear.
"Yes, and don't you dare wake him up," she hissed. It had taken the better part of an hour to put Harry to bed. She'd tried rocking him, singing to him (which she was, admittedly, not very good at), and telling him stories, but Harry simply hadn't wanted to sleep until he'd abruptly nodded off right in the middle of her rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk..
"Me?" he protested innocently. "I'd never do such a thing!"
"Sure you wouldn't. Troublemaker."
James snickered, then kissed her ear. "Troublemaker though I may be, I am a smart troublemaker," he whispered. "And there's no way this side of Godric Gryffindor returning to life that I'm going to wake him up when I can have you to myself instead."
Despite herself, Lily smiled. The prankster side of her husband was something that everyone saw, but the deeper side of James Potter was one that very few ever even realized existed.
"You know," she said quietly, "I often think about how lucky I am."
"Hmm?" He stopped kissing her neck to ask, "Why's that?"
"I've got you. And Harry." A familiar, almost whispered, fear rose within her, but Lily pushed it aside. "And we're safe."
"Safe." She felt him nod. "Thanks to Sirius."
Lily half-turned in his arms, moving to rest her head on James' shoulder and hugging him tightly. There were some times when she just needed to be held, needed to hide from the world. "I don't know how we're ever going to thank him."
"We aren't." Lily's head snapped up in surprise and she glared at her husband, but James just smiled lopsidedly. "He won't let us, you know."
"We can try."
"Of course we can," he agreed easily. "And I'll think up something appropriately nasty to do to him."
"Hey, I'm a Marauder, remember?" he smiled and kissed her lightly. "A natural-born prankster. Just like little Harry will grow up to be."
"Oh, will he?" she challenged, reminding herself at the last moment to keep her voice down.
"With me as a Dad and Sirius as his Godfather?" James snickered. "There's no chance of him being anything else. But you can have the girls."
"Oh, thanks." She rolled her eyes, then peered up at him curiously. "What girls?"
"Why, the ones we'll have later, of course."
"Oh?" Lily replied. "And when will this 'later' be?"
He smiled slowly. "Would you like to start now?"
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
The pounding was much more incessant than usual, and Sirius paused to glare at the door before he rose out of his armchair, grabbing the bowl of candy as he went. This time, he managed to miss tripping over the hole in the carpet—I really ought to fix that—but that didn't keep him from grumbling. It wasn't that Sirius didn't like children, or that he hadn't found this strange Muggle tradition fun, but after the hundred and second group of "trick-or-treaters" he was getting a bit sick of it.
Besides, they interrupted the hilarious movie he'd been watching on the television Lily had made him buy. Muggle notions of vampires were simply…off. There just wasn't another way to describe them, and no one could have packed that many misconceptions into one package without meaning to—another bloodcurdling scream came out of the television set.
"Oops." Absentmindedly, he aimed his wand over his shoulder and zapped the television with a well placed silencing charm.
Just as he reached the door, it occurred to Sirius that he could have used the television's "remote control." He really did know how to work the odd contraption, though he rarely remembered to do so. After all, after he'd mastered channel changing with his wand, what use was the remote? What I shouldn't have done, Sirius thought with a laugh, was let the salesman talk me into buying his "top of the line" model. What do I need a remote for when I've got a wand?
Still smiling, he opened the door, extending the candy bowl as he did so and being careful to keep his wand hidden behind the door.
"Trick or Treat, Dumbass."
Alastor Moody's wand was pointed right at his forehead, and the one-eyed Auror was leering. It actually took Sirius a long moment to realize that this wasn't another costumed Muggle child—but any child who left his or her house looking like that would be bound to give their friends nightmares for life. Moody started to laugh. "Well aren't you a—"
Sirius threw the bowl of candy right in his face. He hadn't been able to think of anything else to say, and the distraction worked. An individually packaged lemon drop made its way right into Moody's mouth, and bought Sirius the time to bring his wand around the door.
For a few seconds, the two Aurors simply stared at one another, wands held so close that they were almost poking up the opposite's nose. Then Moody grinned again.
"Well, I suppose you aren't as stupid as I was about to call you," he admitted gruffly.
Sirius grinned. "Nice to know you finally understand what I've been telling you for years."
"Not so fast, boy. I did think I taught you better than to open the door without finding out who was on the other side, first."
"It's Halloween, Alastor. I've been handing out sweets all night."
"So?" his former Mentor demanded. "Never—"
"Let my guard down, I know," Sirius replied, chuckling. "Would you like to come in?"
"That is why I'm here," the other replied pointedly.
Sirius snorted and stepped aside. "Do join me, then."
As Moody came through the door, his eyes flickering warily around the trashy flat, Sirius waved his wand, sending the candy back into the bowl and the bowl back to the table it had started out on. Then he closed and locked the door, running a quick check over all his wards and finding them intact—just in time.
"What would you have done if I was a Death Eater?" his teacher demanded.
"Shoved the candy down your throat."
"I'm being serious," Moody growled.
Sirius grinned. "So'm I."
"Like hell you are. Arrogant little pup."
"Actually, they wouldn't have gotten through my wards, so I don't have much to worry about," he replied with a shrug.
"I got through them, didn't I?" the older Auror shot back.
"Of course you did. The wards are set to admit you, grouch."
Moody rolled his dark eyes, but didn't bother arguing. He was, after all, the only one who knew where Sirius was hiding—even James and Lily did not. Sirius had been inclined not to tell anyone at all, but Dumbledore's wisdom had prevailed, as usual. The old man had insisted that someone know where Sirius was in case the worst happened, and he'd also insisted that individual not be amongst Sirius' best friends. After another week or so, Sirius planned on showing both Peter and Remus, but for now he'd humor the headmaster. It wasn't like he didn't have time to burn.
"So, why are you here, anyway, Alastor?" Sirius asked after a moment. He could see the other man's eyes wandering around, and really didn't need to hear Moody tell him that his flat was a mess—he'd been in Alastor's flat many times, and it was nothing short of a disaster area. It always amazed Sirius how such a meticulous and organized Auror could be such a slob at home, but Alastor certainly was. Compared to his Mentor's home, Sirius' looked positively spotless.
"I figured you might need some company," Alastor replied. "I didn't reckon on you being visited by dozens of Muggle kiddies dressed in costumes."
Sirius chuckled. "You've experienced Muggle 'trick-or-treating', I take it?"
"I've been undercover on Halloween before, yes," was the grunted reply. Then Moody smiled, a rarity for him. "Scared the wits out of me the first time one came knocking. I hit her mother with a knee-reversing heck—"
"Oh, I did." Alastor shook his head, chuckling. "I had to Obliviate a whole group of them, and then had to explain myself to Arabella, who was masquerading as my wife—and oh, did she yell at me. For hours, it felt like, until one of the neighbors called the Muggle Police, and then we had to Obliviate them."
Sirius laughed. "When was this?"
"Oh, ten, fifteen years ago. You probably weren't even born yet."
"I am older than twelve, Alastor."
"Could have fooled me, boy."
And life throughout the Wizarding world went on. Families stayed together, celebrating in quiet ways—the famous Halloween Galas of the Fourteen Families were absent this year, because even they were feeling the strain caused by years of war. What had once been a day of festivity and fun was now a very private matter, a day to cling to those you cared for in case you never got the chance to do so again. Of course, almost every night was like that for those whom the Dark Lord hunted, but Halloween seemed special, somehow. It was almost as if something was waiting to happen, but never did. So life went on.
Arthur and Molly Weasley also watched a sleeping child, though theirs was younger still. Ginevra Molly Weasley was all of three months and twenty days old, and her older brothers were still learning that she wasn't a toy to be played with. But by ten o'clock, all the boys were asleep, which left the two "new" parents to gaze down on their little girl and smile.
No words had to be said. After so many years, they did not need them—Arthur and Molly only hoped that there would be many more.
"Mum?" a quite voice floated in from the half-open door, making both parents turn.
"What is it dear?" Molly asked.
"George wet the bed again," the five-year-old Percy informed her solemly. "Fred is crying."
Molly sighed. "We'll be right there."
The perfect moment was ruined, but life went on.
Unlike so many others, Lachlan and Liz Pritchard had ventured out that evening, walking down a street in Glasgow hand in hand. They shared a quiet dinner together, and then had joined some old friends of Lachlan's for a Muggle Halloween party, which Liz had found especially enlightening—and extraordinarily fun. The child of a witch and a Squib, Liz had never been to a Muggle costume party, but she had enjoyed herself all the same. Now, they blended in with the partygoers as they poured out into the street, still wearing their "witch and wizard" costumes that Lachlan had so enjoyed making. The green paint made Liz's face itch, but it was worth the fun.
And just for once, it was nice to forget that they'd go back to work tomorrow, burying themselves in the mystery and darkness of the Unspeakables. But not tonight. For a few more hours, they were just husband and wife. The real world did not matter.
"We shouldn't be doing this, Charlie!" Lindsay Hopper whispered urgently as they crept across the grounds.
"Where's your sense of adventure?"
"I must have left it back in Gryffindor Tower, where we're all supposed to be!" she retorted.
"Oh, give it up, Lindsay," Jason Montague, the only seventh year in their group, chuckled. "It's not like Professor McGonagall didn't give us permission to practice tonight."
"Yes, before the feast," Lindsay retorted. "Not four hours later!"
"Ah, if Halloween isn't for being out late, what day is?" David Davidson replied with a grin.
"You're crazy," Lindsay rolled her eyes, but fell silent as the Gryffindor Quidditch team trudged on through the darkness.
"Not really," Jason replied with a grin. "I just want a good alibi when Filch asks how those exploding pumpkins got in his office."
"You didn't!" David turned to stare.
"Oh, yes we did," the team's captain replied with a grin. "I told you we would, didn't I?"
"Besides, it's not like you argued," Charlie pointed out. "You just said you and Lindsay had to study. The rest of us went and…delivered the pumpkins."
"Rotting pumpkins," Jason snickered as they stepped onto the pitch.
"I wish we could see the look on his face," Bess Flatts said wistfully, then shrugged. "But it's better to be free of suspicion than to see the results," the sensible sixth-year keeper concluded.
"Definitely," Jason agreed. "Now, if we're going to beat Slytherin next Saturday, we'd best get to work."
And life went on. As October 31st turned to November 1st, the Wizarding world continued in the same pattern, the same war. People found peace where they could, and fought for it when they could not. Some hid from the terrors that they could not begin to understand, while others sought to corner them, to chase them down and force them to comply. Yet the world continued to turn, because Halloween of 1981 was just like the Halloween of every previous year, and would be no different than those to come. In the end, it was just another day.