Well I didn't get a Halloween story out last year, and decided that I should this time round. It's nothing amazing, but I suppose it's a nice enough moment, right?
The Halloween Promise
"But Hermione..." Ron Weasley, though now into his thirties (or, in his own words, his Very Late Twenties) extended his wife's name the way a whining child would.
"But Hermione -"
"You promised the kids." Hermione stopped shifting sweets from their plastic wrapping into a glass bowl, and turned to face him. "We don't break promises, remember?"
"Yes, I know, but I promised before Harry got sick. Me and him were supposed to take the kids out together. So, really, since he can't make it, it's not like I'm breaking the promise -"
"It's exactly like you breaking the promise. I don't care how sick Harry is. You promised the kids they'd go trick-or-treating tonight, and they are. Now quit bugging me and go help Hugo with his costume."
Muttering under his breath, Ron left the kitchen.
"Dad you promised." James Potter, at ten years old, had perfected his glare. And his father was, rather uncomfortably, on the receiving end of it at the moment.
"I know, son. But I'm really, really not well."
"Yeah, so you said. But it's my birthday. You said that if I didn't have a party, we'd go trick-or-treating. Just me and Al and Lily and Rose and Hugo and Uncle Ron. You promised. And you're never supposed to break a promise."
Harry sighed. "I always said being born on Halloween meant you were a monster."
"I know. It's cool." A grin split James's face before his could stop himself.
"You'll be OK with Uncle Ron. And I'll take you next year. I promise."
"Ha, like that's a guarantee. I want a party next year. I'll be eleven. A proper wizard...ah, in training. So I need a party. Mum said so."
"Next year we'll do both. But this year, I'm staying right here in bed." Harry said. "I'm sorry, James. Really. I was looking forward to it too. I'm just as disappointed as you. Go on, go get your costume on."
James sighed a left the room, muttering.
Ginny, from the doorway, studied her husband. "So, you're disappointed that you don't have to walk around in the cold with hyper five kids, then?"
"Of course. Very disappointed. Absolutely..."
Ron loved his children. Both of them. More than life itself. He loved his nephews and his nieces almost as much. And, though he'd never admit it, even to himself, James, Albus and Lily were his special favourites.
But the prospect of walking around in the cold with the five of them, for a whole hour, scared him a little.
"Aren't you dressing up, Ron?" Ginny asked him brightly, causing him to offer her a scowl, before turning back to Rose.
"Dad, why's Rose dressing up as a witch if she really is one?" Hugo asked. His skeleton costume glowed appropriately in the darkened room.
"Because the muggles don't know she really is one." Ron answered absently. "Do you want to put the light back on for me, mate? Just so I can fix your sister's hat, here."
"James ripped it." Rose wailed.
"It was an accident." James put in quickly. "I fell out of the fire and -"
"I know, it's OK." Ron said quickly, then tapped Rose's hat with his wand. The furry blue lining meshed back onto the black rim as though it had never torn off. "All better."
"Let me get one quick photo." Hermione said, waving the camera at them.
"Me too – group together -" Ginny added, pulling her own camera from her pocket. Obediently, the kids shifted into a group. James, dressed as a vampire, stood with Rose and Al, who was dressed as a ghost, on either side of him. Hugo and Lily stood in front of them.
It was a pose they were well used to, no matter what they were wearing.
As soon as the pictures had been taken, they disbanded. And the bickering started again.
"How come Lily's an elf?" Albus asked. "Elves are boys, aren't they? Shouldn't Lily be a fairy?"
"I don't wanna be a fairy!" Lily cried. "Mummy, tell him girls can be elves too!"
"Girls can be elves too." Ginny repeated patiently. "And Lily makes a very nice one. Sure you can handle them?" She asked her brother, who nodded doubtfully.
"Uh, I guess we should go..." Ron said uncertainly, and winced when the five kids ran towards the front door. He kissed his wife, said goodbye to his sister, and hurried after the children.
"Remember, you come back before the hour's up and you're not getting in the house!"
The muggles were nice enough, Ron supposed. He couldn't imagine wizards celebrating a holiday they hardly understood by giving free sweets to children. And a lot of the muggles even smiled as they did it.
Of course, there were those who ignored their doorbells, those who claimed to be out of sweets – at, as Ron had exclaimed incredulously, quarter to six – and those who gave out apples, much to the children's disgust.
But mostly, things were going good.
As they started back, all except Lily ran a little way ahead of him. Lily, however, stayed holding his hand. They walked in silence, listening to James trying to scared the others, for a few minutes, before Lily spoke.
"Uncle Ron? What's Halloween for?"
"What's it for? Do you mean, why do people celebrate it?"
"Um, well...You'd be best off asking Auntie Hermione, really. But I think – it's something to do with believing ghosts being able to come back to earth on this day. Just this day, because, um, a barrier – I mean, the barrier – is weaker. Or something."
"Does that mean ghosts are out here now?" Lily asked, her voice full of wonder.
"Uh...maybe. Lily...you know all about ghosts, don't you? I thought Teddy told you all about the ones at Hogwarts?"
"Yeah, but they're there all the time. If ghosts can come back just this day, without having to stay forever, then they can go back to wherever they're supposed to be, tomorrow, can't they?"
"I guess." Ron replied, and they lapsed back into silence.
"Uncle Ron? If they can come back for just this day...does that mean Teddy's parents and Daddy's parents and Uncle Fred are going to visit us?" Lily asked quietly.
He felt the pain. After all these years, it was a quick, dull, cold stab to the heart. He still missed him.
"I...No, sweetie. No, I don't think they will."
"Oh. Why? Everyone would be really happy to see them..."
"I know. I know..." He paused, and lifted Lily up into his arms. "And I'm sure they'd love to come see us, too. But I don't think they can."
"Not even on Halloween?"
"No. Not even on Halloween."
Lily lowered her eyes. "But they could tell everyone they're OK, and no one would be sad anymore."
Ron forced a smile, because she looked so upset. "We'd all still be a little sad, because they wouldn't be able to stay with us, would they? And...and I guess we already know they're OK."
"Then how come everyone gets sad? Aren't Uncle Fred and Daddy's parents and Teddy's parents happy?"
"I'm sure they are, Lily." Ron said quietly. "I'm sure they're very safe and happy. We get sad because we miss them, that's all."
"I wish they could come to see us. I'd like to meet them." Lily told him.
"I know. I'd like them to meet you, too. And Rose and Hugo, and your brothers. And all your cousins. But you know, even if you can't see them, and they can't talk to you, they'll always be with you."
"They're a part of you. And I'm pretty sure that your dad's parents, and your Uncle Fred, and maybe even Teddy's parents, are somewhere looking out for you, and making sure you're OK."
"Absolutely." Ron nodded, enjoying the bright smile on her face. "I promise."