Hey, this little story just popped into my head today, because I was in a Halloweeny mood!! Also, there is a Halloween challenge over at Potions and Snitches, so I decided to write this.
Thanks to JK for the use of her characters and universe, and special thanks to my beta Obsidian Embrace, and of course to my good friend Kristeh for all her support and encouragement.
One more little note: The character of "Lesley" was inspired by WrappedinHarry's character "Bonnie" from her amazing story, "Finding Ginny", which can be found here on .
"Don't you think that you're rather old to be trick-or-treating," Severus said dryly, as he eyed his son's rather garish costume.
Harry grinned. Or rather, Severus assumed that it was a grin, as it was hidden behind mounds of thick make-up.
"Well maybe," said the fourteen-year-old, "but I've never been before."
Harry got a rather wistful look in his eyes, when he remembered all the times that Dudley would go out for Halloween, and he'd come back with bags of sweets, and taunt Harry by unwrapping the sweets, popping them in his mouth, one after another, without swallowing them, until his plump cheeks filled out like a chipmunk.
After Harry had started Hogwarts, and found out about James and Lily having been murdered by the evil Voldemort on Halloween, the holiday had been even more oppressive for Harry. He had never really entertained any ideas about celebrating Hogwarts until by a twist of fate, he'd discovered his real father, Snape, and the man had taken the time to explain to Harry that although...yes, Halloween was the anniversary of his mum and his adopted father's death, it was also a day of great joy, and a reason for celebration. After all...his mother had given the ultimate sacrifice for him...her life. Her unselfish love for her son had saved his life and vanquished the most evil wizard of all time.
His dad had made him understand that James and his mum would have wanted him to take advantage of their sacrifice and celebrate this wondrous day, not wallow in grief and self-pity. His other "dad" and his mum, had given him a second chance, Severus had patiently explained to his young son, that he should view it as another birthday; a day, to rejoice.
Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, and his dad had taken him and his best friends Hermione and Ron, to his little cottage encrusted in a Muggle village, in the North of England. Ever since Harry had discovered his relationship with Snape, at the end of the year, after the heartbreak of having to let Sirius go, after coming so close to finally having a real home with his godfather, he and Snape had retreated to this quiet little cottage for the summer, weekends and holidays.
Harry loved this house; it was after all, the first real home that he'd ever had, and he'd even made friends with some Muggle children in the area. He'd gotten the idea to go out trick-or-treating when his neighbour, James (ironically enough) had excitedly asked Harry if he was going out for Halloween this year. Harry had looked at him wide-eyed. Halloween? He'd never been out for Halloween, but having seen the neighbourhood houses decorated with images of witches, jack-o-lanterns and ghosts and young children chattering excitedly about what they were wearing for Halloween when they'd gone into town for supplies a few weeks ago, Harry had gotten quite excited about the idea.
Yeah, maybe he was a little old for Halloween, but he was still very small for his age, and Harry figured that he could get away with it. Ron, on the other hand, was a little older than Harry, and on the cusp of adolescence. His tall, gangly teenage form, came barreling down the stairs, almost tripping over his Mummy costume, that was made of rolls of Muggle toilet paper, that had begun to unravel.
"Are you sure about this Harry?" Ron asked in a strangled voice. "I mean...Muggles really go door-to-door, and beg for sweets?" he asked sceptically.
"Honestly Ron," Hermione interjected haughtily. "It's not begging. It's called trick-or-treating, and it's a very old Muggle custom, that Muggle children have been doing for many years."
Ron grinned, as he stumbled down the last couple of steps. "Well, if it means getting free sweets, then I'm all for it," he said happily.
"You would," Hermione huffed, as she adjusted the fake wart, on her long plastic nose, and adjusted her tall, black witch's hat over her bushy, spray-dyed, midnight black hair.
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Here," he said, handing a large pillow-case to each of his two friends, and grabbing one for himself.
"Just a minute young man," a stern voice stopped him in his tracks.
Harry's hand froze in mid-air, just as he was about to grab the door-handle.
He turned his head around.
"Do you remember the rules?" Severus asked, folding his arms against his chest, and piercing Harry with his dark eyes.
Harry scowled. "I'm not a baby you know," he huffed.
Severus' black eyes glinted dangerously. "I would watch that tone young man, or your friends will be trick-or-treating without you, and you'll be spending the rest of the evening in your room."
Harry could feel his face heat up, under his Frankenstein makeup.
He hung his head. "I'm sorry dad."
Severus nodded. "Very well then. Repeat the rules back to me."
Harry gritted his teeth. He really hated it when his father treated him like a little kid—especially in front of his friends, but he knew better than to complain. Severus Snape, the bat of the Dungeons was still alive and well in his father; even if he was dressed in Muggle trousers and shirt, he was still every bit the stern Professor. Of course, the man had attempted to dampen his explosive temper, and although he could still be a git at times, he refrained from being insulting or demeaning. Harry knew that his father was just being protective over him, but since he was still getting used to the idea of having a parent take care of him, and he had the tendency to rebel when Snape was too restrictive. They both had come a long way in their relationship, but they still had some obstacles to overcome.
"Stay in lighted areas. Don't go off on my own. Don't eat any sweets until I come back home so that you can check to make sure that no one poisoned them, or put a needle in them," Harry said sarcastically.
Snape raised an eyebrow.
"Sorry," Harry said quickly. "I promise, I'll stay with Ron, Hermione and James, and I won't go off on my own. I promise that I'll be very careful."
Severus studied his son's face quietly for a moment. "Very well. Be off with you then. And be home for-"
"-ten," Harry said quickly, grabbing the handle of the door. "Yes, I know. See you later dad," and rushed his friends out the door hurriedly, before his over-protective father could think of another reason to delay them.
Harry felt his stomach swirl in excitement, as he closed the door behind him.
Hordes of children, dressed in an array of costumes, from clowns, fairy princesses, ghosts, goblins, witches, batman, superman, Ninja Turtles and vampires, with fake blood dripping down their teeth, flanked by anxious parents, riddled the sidewalks. Harry had to admit; there were some costumes that gave him the shivers, as they looked a little too much like the Dementors, that had almost taken his godfather away from him, and always made him hear his mum's screams when Voldemort had murdered her and James. Harry shuddered.
No, that was over now, and he had his father now. He smiled; his father who swore that he would always protect and take care of him. His father, who made a promise to him that he would make up for his horrible treatment for the past three years, no matter how long it took.
It was a relatively warm October evening, and a bright full-moon illuminated the streets in an eerie glow. Jack-o-lanterns perched on every door step and sounds of excited children filled the air.
"Oi Harry," came a muffled voice under a zombie mask behind him, making the hairs on his arms rise.
"James! I love your costume," Harry exclaimed.
"And who's this little dewdrop fairy," Harry asked in a soft voice, leaning down on one knee.
"It's me...Lesley," giggled the little girl, dressed in pink gauzy material, and shimmering wings fluttering up and down in the soft breeze, and clutched in her hand was a sparkling wand with a glittering star on the end; feathery wisps of sparkling pink ribbons attached to the fake-diamond encrusted handle. Her golden tresses were hanging in ringlets and adorned with little pink roses.
"Oh my goodness...she's adorable," squealed Hermione.
Lesley's little china-blue eyes widened in fright, as she looked up at the ugly witch, with the large wart on her green-tinged nose.
"Are you a real witch?" she squeaked in a frightened voice, and clutched onto James' arm, so tightly, that it made his arm tingle with pins and needles.
"Uh..." Hermione looked at Harry helplessly.
Harry looked at the little girl, with a gentle smile. "Lesley, this is just a costume. There are no such things as real witches. They're just pretend," he said softly.
"What are you talking about? Of course there are -" Ron began indignantly.
"Ow!" Ron squealed in pain, as a Hermione stomped on his foot.
"No. There. Are. Not. Ron," she said, sneering, and baring her long, pointy teeth; the top one blackened to look as though it was rotten. She wagged a long pointed finger at him. The black nail polish adorning her long fake nails, glowed in the dark.
Ron was not very quick on the uptake normally, but when he realised his faux-pas, he coughed and said, "Oh right...uh—Lesley, is it? Witches are just pretend. They're not real. Wizards neither. And magic...well, you'd have to be positively barmey to think that that's real, and-"
Harry glared at his friend. "Okay Ron. I think that she gets the picture."
Hermione bent down, and the little girl retreated further into James' embrace.
"Lesley," she asked the little girl gently, "would you like to feel my nose?"
Lesley's eyes widened, but she reached out with a tiny hand and let out a relieved little sigh, when her fingers clasped onto the rubber nose.
"See--there is nothing to be afraid of," Hermione said softly.
Lesley nodded, sticking her little chin out bravely. "I'm not 'fraid," she said indignantly.
"No, of course not. You're a brave little girl," Hermione said gently. "Would you like to hold my hand?"
Lesley smiled shyly, and slipped her tiny little hand into Hermione's larger wrinkled one.
Harry motioned to his friends. "So James... these are my best friends, Hermione and Ron."
"Hi," James said, smiling. "And this is my little sister Lesley."
He looked at Ron and Hermione. "Are these your friends from that boarding school you told me about Harry?" he asked curiously.
Harry fidgeted uncomfortably. "Uh...yeah, these are they. I mean...they are them, I mean...yeah, these are my friends," he stammered.
James didn't seem to realise Harry's distress. He looked at Ron and Hermione, with wide eyes. "Harry tells me that you all go to this...what did he call it," he put his finger to his temple, "Hogwarts...something."
Hermione gasped and Ron looked at Harry questioningly.
"Oh, yeah," James continued on, oblivious to the stress that he was causing Hermione. "Hogwarts Academy. And oh...Harry's father is a chemistry teacher there---right Harry?"
Ron snorted, and Hermione glared at him.
Harry coughed. "Yeah, my dad teaches there."
"What's he like Harry? As a teacher...I mean?"
"He's a right old..."
"Ouch!" Ron screeched and rubbed his arm, where Hermione had whacked him.
James looked oddly at the two. He bit his bottom lip. He was trying to figure out if the two of them actually liked each other, as this "Hermione" girl, was always giving Ron hell.
"He's just really, uh..." Hermione twisted the fingers of her free hand nervously in the fabric of her robes, "uh...a little strict that's all."
Harry's lips quirked when he saw James nod vigorously. The boy had never quite gotten comfortable with his father. He always turned red in the face and stammered whenever his dad looked at him or asked him a question. It seemed as though the man didn't lose any of his ability to terrify children, even when dressed in Muggle attire.
"Let's stop here," James suggested, as they came upon a house with a friendly old lady on the doorstep handing out candy to a large group of children.
Their neighbour Mrs. Wiggly was a kindly old lady, with snow-white hair and a dozen cats. She reminded Harry of Mrs. Figg. She smiled at them, as they mumbled "Trick or treat," or rather, everyone except Ron said "Trick or treat." Ron couldn't seem to remember the words, and simply moved his bag forward, as the kindly old lady scooped up a large handful of gum drops, lollies, chocolate drops and other mouth-watering sweets from her seemingly bottomless plastic pumpkin-shaped bucket.
Harry went to pop a candy into his mouth, when he remembered his dad's words of caution. Ah dang...the man's paranoia had thoroughly infiltrated his thought processes. They had only been father and son for a few short months now, but already he was starting to think like the man. He grudgingly popped the candy back into the bucket and sighed.
"Listen," James stopped and whispered to Hermione, Ron and Harry, "We'll finish up this street, and then bring my little sister back home. Afterwards..." he drew them closer, "I heard that there's this house on the next street over, that has this amazing haunted house," he said with eyes as wide as saucers.
Ron looked horrified.
"He doesn't mean a real haunted house Ron," Hermione said primly.
James chuckled. "Yeah, of course not Ron. There's no such thing as ghosts."
Ron and Harry exchanged looks.
"No, of course not James," Hermione said, glaring at Ron warningly.
"So, how's my little fairy princess?" James' mom asked, looking at her sleepy little girl fondly. Hermione had resorted to carrying her after they had visited every house for the last three blocks; filling their bags to the top with sweets.
Hermione handed the tiny girl to her mother, and rubbed her sore arm. Lesley may only be three years old, but between lugging the heavy bag of sweets with one arm, and clasping on to the dead-weight of a sleepy child, in the other, Hermione thought that her arms would fall off.
"Night Hermie," Lesley mumbled as her mother carried her off to the other room, to put her daughter to bed.
"Night sweetie," Hermione said fondly.
Harry felt the hairs prickle on the back of his neck.
When James said that the haunted house was startlingly realistic, he wasn't kidding, Harry thought acerbically.
The house was sitting on top of a hill, and Harry had to blink because it appeared as though it was raining only over the house. The house was tall; at least three stories tall, with the shutters swinging, as the suddenly brisk wind walloped it back and forth. There was not a light that could be seen through the pitch-black windows. Harry felt his mouth go dry.
Harry looked up at the clear sky that was speckled with stars, and gulped as he noticed how, as they climbed further up the hill, towards the house, that crackles of lightning, lit up the sky over the house, illuminating its pointed roof, in an eerie glow.
A roll of thunder made them all jump.
High-pitched blood-curdling screams, wrenched through the night air, and Hermione's fingers grasped onto his arm, making him wince, as her long fingernails splinched his skin. She lost her grip on her bag; littering the ground with the sweets that popped out of the over-filled sack.
"Ouch! Hermione," Ron screeched, as Hermione grabbed his arm too.
"Relax Hermione, there's nothing to be afraid of," James said soothingly.
Little does he know, Harry thought acerbically. In our world, this could all be real, and not just some trick of the eye.
Before they had a chance to walk up the walk, the front door swung open, and two terrified children, flew past them, almost knocking them down in their haste.
"Are you sure about this James?" Harry asked sceptically. "I mean, this is all just for show, right. How did you find out about this anyway?"
"Well, this house has been here for years, but recently someone moved in there, and I overheard him tell some kids the other day at Burkes, where my mum and I went to buy my costume, that they should come by his house, because he was going to have this amazing haunted house, and he was giving out loads of sweets, and if they were brave enough that they should come here on Halloween."
Well, if that wasn't a challenge, Harry thought, what was? He gathered up his Gryffindor courage, and he could see that Hermione and Ron were doing the same, as Hermione bent down and picked up her bag; she gathered what sweets she could see in the dark, from the cold grass, and they all bravely walked up the walkway. Harry grabbed the rusted door handle, took a deep breath and stepped inside.
Harry bit his lip, as howls and screams greeted them when he stepped over the threshold. The only light was the moonlight that filtered in through the dirty windows, and Harry could see the cobwebs hanging from the walls, and ceilings. As Harry opened the door, he disturbed a cobweb, making a very large spider that could have been one of Aragog's relatives, fall from the ceiling and land in front of a very terrified Ron.
Ron screamed, and would have turned and run out the door, but Hermione and Harry both grasped him by the arms.
"Calm down Ron. Remember...it's not real," Hermione said in a voice that sounded as though she was trying to convince herself.
Harry really hoped that they would be getting their candy soon, and get the hell out of here, because as they opened cupboard doors, and climbed the rickety stairs up the pitch-black stairwell, howls of what sounded suspiciously like those of a werewolf, made Harry break out in a cold sweat.
Finally, Harry had had enough. He wasn't what you would call easily scared; not bloody likely after what he'd been through, Harry thought caustically, but this place was giving him the creeps.
Finally, a very loud shrill scream cut through the air, and Harry took one look at his friends, and announced, "I'm outta here."
"I'm with you mate," Ron's shaky voice came from behind him.
Harry's stomach clenched though, when he grasped the door handle, but the door stubbornly refused to open. He almost whipped out his wand and yelled Alohomora, when suddenly they were assaulted with bright lights. He squinted his eyes.
"Leaving so soon?" came a very familiar voice behind him.
"Sirius?" Harry asked incredulously.
"What are you doing here?" he asked as he stared disbelievingly at his godfather.
Harry wanted to pinch himself. He couldn't believe that his godfather, that he hadn't seen since he'd flown off on Buckbeak's back a few months ago, was standing here; here hidden away in a Muggle neighbourhood, just a street over from where he and Snape lived.
"Is that all you can say? You're not going to give your godfather a hug?"
Harry almost knocked down Sirius, as he ran towards the gaunt man and wrapped his arms around him.
Harry stared up into Sirius' warm blue eyes, and grinned. "I can't believe you're here. I was so worried about you."
Harry's stomach twisted with anxiety. He pulled back slightly from Sirius' warm embrace.
"How did you know I was here? I've got some things to tell you," Harry said anxiously, picking at the fluff on his costume.
"Wait," James exclaimed. "You know him? How?"
Sirius' chest rumbled with laughter. "I'll answer all your questions later Harry. In private," he emphasized, nodding towards James.
"Oh yeah, right," Harry said awkwardly.
"Yeah, I guess we'd better go, before my father has a fit-" Harry began, stopping suddenly, looking uncertainly at Sirius to gauge his reaction.
"It's alright Harry. I already know about Snape. I saw it all in the Pro-uh...I mean, I heard all about it from an old friend."
"And you're okay with this," Harry asked uncertainly, nibbling on his bottom lip.
"You're my godson kiddo. Nothing's going to change that. We'll talk soon, okay. I've gotta go. I hear Remus calling me," he grinned.
Harry's face lit up in a big grin, making him look very strange with his Frankenstein makeup.
"Remus is here too?"
"Uh, yeah, but he's a little indisposed right now," Sirius said pointing out the window.
Sudden understanding dawned on Harry. "Oh right."
"Well, we've gotta go now," Harry said sadly. He really didn't want to leave his godfather.
Sirius squeezed his arm. "I'll be in touch."
Harry nodded, but felt a sliver of worry. What would his father say about this? He couldn't really tell his father that Sirius and Remus were living two doors down from them, could he? After all, his father had already been furious with him for having allowed Sirius to escape, and wasn't entirely convinced of Sirius' innocence.
"Hi dad," Harry greeted his father, who had his arms crossed and a glare on his harsh features.
"You are half an hour late," Snape admonished him.
"I'm sorry. We got a little carried away," he said sheepishly
Severus lifted an eyebrow. "I see. Well," He motioned towards the three of them, "put your bags on the coffee table, and I'll check to see that they are safe to eat," he said whipping his wand out of his trousers' pocket.
Harry, Ron and Hermione obeyed and plunked down on the couch. They all put their feet up on the coffee table and watched through bleary eyes as Snape waved his wand over the bags, speaking under his breath, in what sounded like Latin to Harry.
"I believe that the candy is safe to eat...but," he put up a long potion-stained finger, as the three of them lurched forward to grab their bags. "I do believe that it is not necessary to eat it all this evening."
Harry sighed. "How much can we eat then?"
He held up one finger. "Just a moment," he said, moving towards the kitchen.
"Here," Snape said, handing the three children a large plastic bowl each. "You may eat what is in this bowl this evening, and you may have the same each day until the candy is finished."
As it was a large bowl, and Harry was almost too exhausted to eat anyway, he didn't complain at the stricture.
Harry felt wiped. This had been an emotionally exhausting day. Harry looked up, and saw his father studying him intently. Harry squirmed. The man had always been able to almost read minds.
"Why don't the three of you go get washed up and get ready for bed," he said, as he watched the three children, struggle to keep their eyes open.
"Yeah," they agreed sleepily.
"Oh, and Harry-"
Harry turned around; his hand on the banister of the staircase, and his foot sitting on the first step.
"I'd like to speak with you, when you are finished washing up."
Harry's stomach clenched. "Oh...about what?" he asked uneasily.
"When you're finished," Severus repeated. Why did he get the feeling that his son was hiding something? Harry had a bad habit of lying, and Severus was attempting to rid him of it. He knew that most often the lying was a throwback from his days with his horrible relatives; Harry had had to keep secrets to survive.
Harry nodded, and raced up the stairs to prepare for bed.
"What do you suppose Snape wants to talk to you about?" Ron asked uncertainly. "You don't think that he suspects, do you?"
"I don't know," Harry said nervously, raking his fingers through his damp hair.
A knock on the door made them both jump.
"Come in," Harry said nervously.
Severus looked suspiciously at the two boys, sitting on the edge of the beds; hands clasped nervously.
"Mr. Weasley, would you be so good as to allow me a few moments with my son please."
Ron nodded. "Yes sir," Ron agreed, jumping up quickly.
He gave Harry a sympathetic look, before closing the door and made his way down to the kitchen to get himself a bedtime snack. Surprisingly enough, Snape had told Harry's friends that they were welcome to help themselves, providing they cleaned up after themselves.
Severus seated himself across from Harry, on Ron's bed, and looked at Harry.
"There is something I have to tell you Harry, and this isn't easy for me," Severus began in a gruff voice.
Harry's eyes widened in surprise. It was rare for his father to seem so unsure of himself, and he almost looked nervous. But no...Severus Snape was never nervous. It was almost as if the man were pulling his teeth, to get the words out.
"Earlier this evening, I received a visit from the Headmaster, bearing some...well, I suppose—good news for you," he sneered.
Harry crinkled his eyes in confusion. "What kind of news?" His heart skipped a beat.
"Peter Pettigrew attempted to kidnap two people he thought were Muggles this evening; much to his surprise, they weren't," Severus said dryly. "They were actually two Aurors on another undercover expedition, and you can imagine their surprise, when a man who was supposedly dead, was in fact... very much alive; missing the third finger on his left hand."
Harry's jaw dropped.
Severus' face contorted in fury. "He admitted, while under the influence of Veritaserum, to be responsible for your mother and James' deaths," he said, clenching his fists.
Harry didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"Does that mean? What does that mean?" Harry asked hopefully.
"It means that your...godfather," he spat, "has been vindicated, and is no longer a fugitive."
A smile lit up Harry's face.
"However..." Severus began, piercing Harry with his obsidian eyes, "Since no one knows of Black's whereabouts, we cannot impart the good news to him."
Harry flushed, and lowered his head.
"Uh," Harry squirmed. "I might...uh, sort of know where he is."
Severus' eyes narrowed. "Oh really?"
Harry grinned at his father sheepishly. "Well, you know how you said that instead of dreading Halloween, and viewing it as a day of mourning, that I should embrace the holiday, and consider it a day of miracles and love?"
Severus rolled his eyes. Trust Harry to throw every ridiculous statement that ever came out of his mouth back into his face.
"Yes," Severus said wryly.
"Well, this has turned out to be the best Halloween, I've ever had..."