Disclaimer: Hey! Arnold? Mine? Yeah, in another life, maybe. I present my much anticipated and greatly delayed birthday present to myself. At least I made it for Halloween, right? Enjoy my darlings.

HA

~O~

You Are Affectionately Invited

To Attend This Year's

- All Hallows Eve Ball -

Nightfall At The Manor

Dress As Expected

~O~

The small kitchen in the apartment was full of excited chatter as the group of friends lounged about, waiting for their bossy blonde to hurry up. The small iPod speaker dock rested passively on the counter, angrily blaring the next song on the creator's Halloween Playlist – something by cKy that had a catchy beat and easy to sing-a-long with lyrics. Bottles and containers of makeup surrounded the sink and littered every open surface, while brushes and sponges cluttered hands, pockets, and hair-ties.

And Helga stood in the middle of it all, creating and painting and transforming her good friends from the miscreant youth that they were know as, into flesh-eating, city-desecrating, inarticulate zombies.

Her current victim was none other than her boyfriend, his hands twitching perceptively as she coated his face in Elmer's glue. Budget cuts this year had forced them to choose between creating high end zombies in Kauai, or creating b-grade zombies in Hillwood. They, of course, choice friends over quality, and so Helga Geraldine Pataki had once again been reduced to throwing together undead mischief makers like they were high schoolers. As it stands, she was working as fast as she could with her trusty Elmer's at her side, but the whines and groans were driving her nuts.

"Would you guys shut it already? Criminy, Arnoldo here is the last one, and then we can set you loose on the poor City. Just have patience for cryin out loud."

The glue had dried, and she smiled to herself at the thought of him having trouble speaking as she ran a fresh coat of white face paint over the hardened substance. Doing her best to give him an even layer, she let her mind wander back to the costume hanging in Lauren's closet – it had to be Lauren's closet because it was Lauren and Jude's apartment that they had taken over. Most of the gang wasting time in the kitchen had no idea that she wouldn't be joining them on this Midnight Raid, a thought that made her disappointed, but she was looking forward to the party tonight. And she was most certainly looking forward to dressing up.

Her decorating fingers became slower, more melancholy as her mind danced around those thoughts. Secretly, she had always wanted the chance to don elegant dresses, to glamorize her otherwise Plain Jane features. To go to the ballet or the opera or the theatre, see the shows and go to a swank and fancy restaurant afterwards, to show off or be shown off. There was a burning hope deep within her heart that Arnold would be the one to take her out, to see the shows and wear her proudly on his arm.

But he hadn't, not yet anyway; and the burning hope in her was slowly dying down from full flames to a pulsing ember. It was much easier to pull on a pair of jeans and a casual t-shirt over curve-enhancing dresses and skirts any day. And she could do that on her own, whether surrounded by people she knew or not.

She simply didn't have this kind of courage.

And so her thoughts roamed over the dress, secret and safe in the back of her friend's closet. The pair had hidden it behind the blowup doll while the others were out getting Walking Man Pizza and China Gorge Chinese – they had never been able to agree on anything, much less food – and she had let her fingers brush the fabric quickly before removing it from the light of the room. Yet even as it was away from sight, it was certainly still present in her mind.

Beneath her capable hands, Arnold fidgeted. With a shake of her head, Helga smiled, painting in the final bloody and gaping wound on her lover's cheek. He did his best to smile at her, with his tight glue covered skin and fear of ruining her rushed yet masterful work – something she appreciated to a point.

"So, who's going to do you Helga?" he asked, pointedly ignoring the coughs of you and Ar-Nuld that erupted from behind his chair. She smirked while blowing gently on his face in order to help him dry faster. Her crisp, minty spearmint breath washed over him, and he wanted to kiss her, to taste the flavor of the gum she had tucked away by her back molars.

"Actually, Football Head, I won't be going with you guys tonight."

There were obvious groans of disappointment, but none of it matched the crestfallen look in his eyes.

"Why not Helga?"

She sighed, decisively collecting her soiled brushes and moving towards the sink in order to wash them out. She had only managed to set them on an empty pizza box before a hand clasped her shoulder, spinning her in order to show the undead eyes of a lover. Admittedly it was hard to say no to him when he flashed those hypnotizing green orbs her way – a fact he had learned and come to play on more than one occasion. But Helga Pataki would not be beaten tonight; she hadn't seen this particular group of people in nearly five months, and this party was long overdue for her.

Boyfriend be damned.

"I actually have a party I'm going to." Even as the groans erupted all around them, Arnold ignored it all in favor of watching her eyes. Her own icicle blue eyes flashed with a dark desire he had seen many times before, and felt something akin to jealousy grip fiercely at his stomach. She was leaving her own family of zombies in favor of that group of hyper-sexed partiers?

"What about us Helga?" Stinky asked, the gray pallor of his new skin reflecting the lights of the ceiling and casting odd shadows below his eyes. To a face like that, Helga had a hard time saying no. Praise be given to the deity of the week that she had years of practice.

"Sorry Stretch, but you're on your own. Now I want you guys to go out there and have fun scaring them senseless. Maybe stop by Green's Meats and cause a scene." A few of them laughed as Helga grew a self-gratified smirk as she shooed them out the door, playfully kissing Arnold's head of yellow hair before shutting the door in his face.

Startled as she was by the sudden sounds of Ace of Base cutting off the Halloween medley and slithering through the halls of the apartment, Helga turned and was pleasantly surprised to find Lauren standing in the kitchen. Her arms crossed, foot tapping and body swaying to the sounds they grew up on but lost, her blue-haired friend smirked almost fiendishly as she held out her hands.

"Come my darling, let us dress for the ball!"

Laughing, Helga took her hand and the pair spun themselves elegantly into the main bedroom in a waltz.

~O~

The wind was chilly, not uncommon for the time of year, and certainly expected with the time of night. A shiver ran down the spines of the good-sized group heaving their way up the steep incline of the drive – forced from the coolness of the evening air. The boys who made up the cluster walked quietly, save for the breath which strained from their mouths in pants of wispy white fog.

"Hey fellers, I got a question." Stinky suddenly voiced, stepping off onto the shoulder as another set of headlights made to pass them. It was a Rolls Royce, 1930s.

"What's that?" Was Arnold's response, and though no one stopped walking, they did turn to acknowledge their friend.

"If Helga told us to be flesh-eating monsters from beyond the grave, why are we hikin' up to that there mansion? It sure does look like they're havin' a party, and I don' think we're invited."

Everyone stopped as another car passed. Duisenberg, 1933. All eyes turned to Arnold, the one who had suggested that rather than attacking the places they had every year since the tradition started, they should make an appearance at the Mansion. None had been there, and so had readily agreed that it was a good idea. But that was before they began the trek up the incline, in the chill, and the dark, and what felt like ten pounds of glue, paint, makeup and aesthetics weighing them down. Now they were just annoyed and desiring some of Helga's special Wassail Cider.

Seeing the look of apprehension on his friend's rotten face, Sid offered to answer for their elected leader.

"Oh come on guys, I'll bet that it's a rich man's Halloween party up there. Can't you just see the looks on their faces when we zombies gatecrash?" his outburst was enough to inspire new enthusiasm within, and the boys moved faster up the side of the road in silence.

No one seems to question when Arnold walked right up to the door and nodded to the footman, careful not to disturb the thin line of salt spread across the threshold. In fact, it wasn't until they had stepped through the entrance hall and along the corridors that anyone said anything.

"Hey fellers."

It was Stinky's voice as another set of doormen ushered them through a set of large, commanding doors and into a glorious masquerade.

"Where's Curly?"

That was a good question. Curly had never missed a Zombie mob, not after he finally succeeded in freeing all the animals from the zoo.

~O~

The room was a whirl of color, elegance and grace. Long dresses and skirts ruffled with each turn, an accompaniment to the band that played pieces such as the Largos and Sonatas. Iggy, Lucy, Torvald and Phoebe sat in period clothes and uniformity on a stage, one leg extended and one bent beneath the chair. The girls played their violins, while the gentlemen played a lute and older guitar respectively. Behind them were Robert and Dwayne at the piano and the drums.

The guests spun in a synchronized waltz about the floor, and the zombies at the door stood mesmerized. Suddenly the band stopped, and as one all the dancers paused in order face a grand staircase. Descending it were two figures, one in a dress of deep purple, the other a hypnotizing olive green. For once, the features on the face of the sarcastic blonde melted into honest shock as her blue eyes landed on the pack of flesh eaters at the door.

At her hesitation, her companion in purple stopped as well, and Arnold immediately recognized her as Madam Red even though her signature bright red hair was hidden beneath a wig of white. Orbs finding them at her door, her scarlet lips spread into a smile as she invited the group in with a wave of her hand before beckoning Helga to continue.

It was with her invitation that the rest of the guests suddenly took notice of the undead, and they found themselves swarmed by colorful people in colorful masks. Women dressed as men, men dressed as women, and the occasion attendant dressed as their actual sex approached. Soon they were all separated – though they didn't bother to realize it. There was no threat here, especially not after Arnold and Gerald stumbled upon Curly.

He waltz past them in a suit of stylish blue, spinning a lovely raven-haired beauty in a gown so red and satin it was naughty. He would kiss her hand every once and a while, but it was when he murmured a smooth "Cara mia" against the skin of her neck, and she responded with a breathy "Mon sauvage" that the pair realized that it was Rhonda Wellington Lloyd he danced with. Curly spun her again and she laughed before the couple was gone from sight in a flurry of fabric.

"Arnold, Gerald, what in the world are you boys doing here?"

Helga had finally made it to them through the sea of well-wishers, and Arnold was able to take in the full sight of her. Why didn't she wear gowns and dresses more often? The black bodice that squeezed her torso and pushed up her breasts was embroidered with gold thread, but it was the olive-green fabric which made up the skirt that had her looking absolutely magnificent. The wig on her head was a brighter blonde than her natural hair, but it brought out her icy orbs all the more as she spun her ivory face mask by its stem between her fingers.

Everything else faded away but him, her, and the music that flowed around them.

"Dance with me?" he asked with a bow, and she smiled genuinely with a nod. Arnold took her free hand in his, and his other went around her waist as she placed her masked hand on his shoulder. They spun much like they had that day the year before, in the barn with the old dancers. But this was different. It was new. It was sensual and magical and brought an altogether delicious feeling within him. He liked it.

"Tell me what you feel?" she whispered serenely. A laugh filled him as they spun again, separating from their friends who were otherwise engaged in activities similar to their own.

"My frozen pulse quickens." His own whisper was heated, and she laughed far louder than she would have liked. No one around them seemed to notice.

"And my black plot thickens."

Unexpectedly she spun out of his arms, and in that same moment all the dancers disengaged from their partners and twirled about in a mad storm of fabric and laughter as each sought out a new cohort. The musicians played wild half cords that sounded melancholy and magical. In the chaos that followed, Arnold lost Helga; he just stood there in the middle of the dance floor as bodies spun around him. Madam Red returned to the stairs to address her guests, and even through the distance Arnold could see her face flush with excitement.

"Now my darlings, the witching hour is upon us! Guard your souls, this is the time wickedness reigns!"

It was then that Arnold found Helga. She, too, had returned to the stairs, but in that short amount of time she had lost the wig. Her own natural short blonde hair was a wild as the wickedness Madam Red spoke of, and though she still wore the bodice her skirt was gone. Her magnificent vagina was covered, but Arnold could trace the lovely lines of her bare legs from her uncovered feet clear up to what was one f his favorite pieces of her anatomy. She cackled maniacally, arms spread out wide before her as if she were encompassing the whole world.

"Now the hungry lion roars, and the wolf behowls the moon; whilst the heavy plowman snores – all with weary tasks fordone. Now the wasted brands do glow while the screech owl screeching loud puts the wretch that lies in woe in remembrance of a shroud. Now it is the time of night that the graves all gaping wide, everyone lets forth his sprite in the church-way paths to glide. And we faeries that do run by the triple Hecate's team, from the presence of the sun following darkness, like a dream, now are frolic. Not a mouse shall disturb this hallowed house: I am sent with broom before to sweep the dust behind the door. Cold-hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colors from our sight. Red is grey and yellow white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion!" she shouted bravely, her tone commanding.

With her orders given, all the doors leading further into the mansion burst open and a flood of Goblins, Sprites, Faeries, Hobgoblins, and the like burst forth. They laughed like any natural and wicked agent of Helga would – a sinful cackle masking a mischievous agenda. The instruments moved quickly, riling up the other guests into a frenzy of laughter and chaos as everyone in the ballroom moved as one force towards the doors leading out into the gardens.

Helga ran with them, and so Arnold followed, through the mob and into the wild. She watched him, tempting him, leading him with an air that was decidedly special to All Hallows Eve. He didn't know where his fellow zombies were. He didn't care. The only thing he could think of was Helga, and catching her. What he would do after that, he wasn't certain of yet.

Though it was most likely be in the same vein of what was happening all around him.

As the guests were caught by the Goblins, they were quickly seduced and loved on the lawn, their movements illuminated by the moonlight. No one noticed the chill on the wind, nor the clouds moving in to swallow the moon – consumed as they were by the primal pleasure coursing through the air. Arnold had only a brief moment of moon lit clarity in which he could see Helga, standing still and waiting for him, before the rain fell in heavy drops, washing away the makeup and costuming on the bodies below.

There were no longer wicked agents of the Other World and the finely dressed party goers. The rain had begun to wash them all clean, until they were only man, woman, human. But the magic still flowed, even stronger now that it had a pure slate; moving like a current around and through the creatures in the gardens.

He struck like a rattler snake, aiming for her waist and tackling her to the ground. Had she had breath, Helga would have laughed at the absolute absurdity of it all; of him, of her, of the fantasies they indulged every time they attended Madam Red's parties. But as it was, Arnold was busy placing hot, demanding lips along her neck, then her arms, then her legs, then everywhere else as he ripped her costume off – she had no breath left.

He nearly growled as she did her best to unbutton his jeans as he tore his shirt over his head, forgetting about the running makeup that would without a doubt ruin the fabric. Her hands were slick with rain water and she couldn't get a good grip on the metal buttons. Arnold settled for doing his best to shimmy them down his hips before growling again and flipping her –viciously and violently – onto her hands and knees.

He forced his way in harshly, invading her body with a delicious sort of pain that had her throwing her head back in pleasure as her fingers gripped at the wet grass. One hand he used to pull her hips back onto his throbbing erection, the other grabbed at her hair, jerking her head back so he could kiss and bite along the column of her neck. In this way he was truly like a zombie, feasting on her flesh with an insatiable hunger with either no notice or complete disregard of their surroundings. Helga decided, as her lover and dominator pounded harder and faster into her submissive body, that she was enjoy every second of this side she rarely got to see.

Arnold, meanwhile, had no idea how he came to rutting the woman beneath him so violently, let alone why. One second he was marveling at her beauty as the danced, then next the only thing he could he could think was the sound of her screaming in complete obedience. He had never seen her, even during intimacy, give up complete control. He suddenly wanted to see that more than anything, wanted to be the one controlling her for once. Which was why he found himself chasing after this spirit, this changeling, this Helga that teased and tormented him with no mercy. Why he was so relieved when he caught her that all he could do was force her into the ultimate position of surrender, and fuck her. Truly, deeply, like no one ever had or ever will again, for as long as she lives.

Fuck. Her.

With no warning the creature below him threw her head back as far as it could possibly go and howled to the moon hidden behind the clouds. The rain fell harder still as she collapsed onto her elbows as he plunged into her harder than he ever had, pumping until his own orgasm shot through him like electricity. He fell on top of her, taking her hand softly as she rhythmically clenched and released the wet earth underneath them – the same rhythm he had taken with her body.

He was about to apologize when he heard her laugh. Then she turned to face him, and smiled. In that one smile he felt ten, twenty, one hundred, one thousand, a million, infinitely more powerful than he had when in complete control. And love. He felt more love than he could even understand.

And as they lay in the rain in the gardens, they could feel the magic of All Hallows Eve spreading around them like a fog, happiness seeping into their bones, to their very souls.

"If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding but a dream . . ."

~O~

The following Monday found Arnold and Helga packing up the last of their belongings in Jude and Lauren's apartment. No one spoke of what happened that Saturday night, except for the ever effervescent Curly, Lauren and Jude whose time was similar to the pair of blondes. Gerald would say nothing for Phoebe's sake, and Phoebe would say nothing save for to Lauren and Helga. Rhonda -brash as she is - her pride would never allow her to speak the things out loud. Sid, Stinky, Harold, Park, Lorenzo, and Eugene wouldn't say anything for fear that the spell of the night bewitched them into fucking something other than female.

But they did all make a pact to meet up again next Halloween.

This time they would be invited.

Helga smothered another snort as she let the thought of Arnold being controlling wash over her. It was erotic, arousing some of the strongest sexual desire she ever felt. But it was also special, something she only wanted everyone once and a while – like dark chocolate.

"Helga." Turning from their suitcase, Helga looked at Arnold, the smirk on his lips, and then to the paper he held out for her to see. Her own smirk said it all.

~O~

Your Are Affectionately Invited

To Attend This Year's

- Welcoming Of The New Year -

Nightfall At The Manor

Dress As Expected

~O~