Albus was a good brother; her favourite, if Lily was honest. He didn't tease mercilessly like their older brother James, or tell her to go play dollies when she wanted to toss a Quaffle with the boys. On rainy weekend afternoons, when her parents took their naps and James lounged on the sofa listening to Quidditch on the Wireless, Albus let Lily hang out in his room. He even read his current adventure book aloud so she could enjoy it too. She'd cried when he'd gone to Hogwarts. The letters he sent home eased the ache of missing him, but they dredged up a worse emotion.
Lily was horridly jealous that Albus got to make new friends, cast spells, and take flying classes while she was stuck at home with only Kreacher to understand how awful being a little sister truly was. In mid-October, after her mum read the latest letter from Albus, Lily decided it was unfair for Albus and James to have all the fun. She said, "I want to carve a giant pumpkin too."
Her dad smiled across the kitchen table. "You'll get your chance next year."
Lily jabbed her fork into the mashed potato layer of her fish pie. "If they have it next year."
Her mum sighed. "Hagrid's pumpkins were only used for decorations when we were at Hogwarts. I'm a bit jealous too."
"Then why don't we have our own contest?" Dad said. "Halloween at the Burrow. Families compete instead of Houses."
"Brilliant idea, darling," Mum said. "I'll send owls to let everyone know they have a fortnight to practice." She winked at Lily. "Tomorrow, when Granny and Granddad visit, you can draw designs and give Team Potter a head start on the competition."
It wasn't the same, but Lily said, "All right." She picked bits of grated celery out of the pie and pushed them to the side.
A tart appeared on her plate: dainty and golden.
Next to Lily, Kreacher held out a sauce boat. "Toffee sauce?"
Her favourite. She felt a little cheerier. "Yes, please."
The next morning, Lily did maths while her mum got ready for her meeting with the sports editor at the Prophet. Lily raced out of the first-floor study when the doorbell chimed. Granny Weasley swept her into a cinnamon-scented hug. "Hello, dear. How are you? Lonely, I expect, with Albus at school."
Was that supposed to make her feel better? Lily wriggled out of Granny's arms to hug Granddad Weasley.
Granny called out, "Ginny, didn't you say your meeting was at ten o'clock?"
Lily's mum walked into the entrance hall, portfolio briefcase in hand. "It's only nine-thirty." She kissed Granny's cheek. "But thanks for reminding me. Hearing you yell about the time makes me feel like a kid again."
Granddad chuckled. "Our children and grandchildren keep us young."
"I thought we gave you grey hairs." Lily's mum hugged Granddad and kissed Lily's brow. "I should be home around noon. Try not to have too much fun without me."
"We make no promises," Granddad said. "Do we, Lily love?"
She giggled and shook her head.
After her mum left, Lily followed her granddad up the stairs. "Is that a Muggle newspaper you're holding?"
"What big eyes you have."
"Now, Arthur, don't be showing the child photographs that don't move," Granny said. "They're too spooky. She'll have nightmares." In the drawing room, Granny settled into a cosy chair by the fireplace and opened a Witch Weekly magazine.
Lily sat on the sofa next to Granddad. "I won't have nightmares."
He gave her a section of newspaper. "You're a born Gryffindor."
She happily flipped through the pages until a photo of a carved pumpkin caught her eye. "Look. This store is having a children's competition on October twenty-eighth. D'you think I could enter?"
"You'll have to ask your parents."
Lily frowned. By the time her mum got home, all the entrant spots would be taken. She just knew it. She went to the kitchen to show Kreacher the article.
His wispy eyebrows rose to hide in the wrinkles on his forehead. "Miss Lily is wanting Kreacher to use a Muggle device and talk to Muggles?"
"They put winning pumpkins in their big windows for everyone to see."
She bit her lip. "The grand prize is a crate of Splendid Sweets."
He looked at her for a long while, glanced at the article, and finally said, "Kreacher is preferring to secure Miss Lily's place by . . . other means . . . if Miss Lily is agreeable."
She grinned so widely her cheeks ached. "Yes, please."
On the afternoon of the contest, Lily waited until her mum was busy writing an article to poke her head into the study. "May I go shopping with Kreacher?"
Lily carefully shut the door.
Her grandfather for the day stood at the bottom of the stairs. She said, "You can't wear a tea towel!"
He scowled and Disapparated.
A few minutes later, they left the house.
"Kreacher should not use magic to look human. Kreacher does not like heavy coats and boots."
He looked like the oldest, grumpiest grandfather in the wizarding world. Lily reached out to take his hand. "You're perfect."
They Apparated to the Piccadilly store and joined the long queue forming outside the demonstration kitchen. Lily's silvery dress robes and matching witch's hat seemed plain compared to some of the Muggle costumes, but she didn't care about the fancy dress prize. She wanted the Splendid Sweets. She signed in as Lily Luna and marched to the table with her assigned pumpkin and took out her keyhole saw.
"Disqualified!" one of the mothers shrieked. "Only safety tools are allowed!" She waved an orange plastic knife in Kreacher's face. "You should be ashamed."
He cringed as if expecting her to strike him. Humans had before. "Leave him alone!" Lily clenched her fists.
The woman cried, "Something stung me!"
People were staring. If someone recognised Lily, she'd be in trouble. "Let's go, Granddad." Outside the store, she said, "I hexed that lady didn't I?" She lifted her chin. "I'm glad. I don't need those stupid sweets anyway."
"Then Kreacher shall send the crate back."
"What? No!" She looked at his coat pocket. "Where is it?"
Kreacher smiled. "Would Miss Lily like to go home and see?"
She put her hand in his. "Yes, please."
A/N: Happy Halloween! I've been writing about Lily Luna recently, so that, the Mugglenet audiofictions Halloween drabble contest, and reading about the Fortnum & Mason pumpkin carving competition inspired this fic. I had to edit down to fewer than 700 words to qualify to be read by the MerMuggles, but I'm glad to be able to post it in its entirety, which I hope readers will consider a treat. :)