Author's Notes: Yeah … I'm weird. Happy Halloween y'all, especially to my sister, for whom this is a birthday present!
The house was, as usual, in chaos, kids running everywhere, half-dressed, hungry, with splotches of paint, makeup and unidentifiable potions all over them.
And, as usual, Ginny was right in the thick of it, smiling indulgently.
Shaking his head, Harry sidestepped one particularly determined Potter child and touched his wife gently on the hip. "What this time?"
"Halloween costumes, silly." Ginny replied. "They all want to be different things this year."
The pair of them sighed, remembering how easy it had been with only Teddy to dress in ridiculous outfits. Now that they had three of their own, and babysat Teddy, Victoire, Rose and Hugo, it was a bit more difficult.
"I wanna be a knight!" four-year-old Albus demanded, tugging on Harry's trousers.
"Captain AMERICA!!!" two-year-old Hugo yodelled, toddling about with his underpants on the outside of his clothes. He'd pinned a piece of paper with a big S to his chest and had obviously stolen one of Victoire's red shirts, by the way she was glaring at him.
Sniffing, the girl in question tossed golden hair. "You're Superman, stupide," she taunted, hands on her hips. "Auntie Ginny, I want to be a Fairy Princess. Can I wear a tiara?"
"Ma-ma!" Lily wailed, screwing her face up, tears leaking from her green eyes, "James stole my pony!" She was only three, and very possessive of 'Pwongs', a stuffed pony bigger than her.
"Give back Lily's horse, James," Ginny said sternly, finally managing to get a word in edgewise.
Five-year-old James pouted. "I'm a cowboy," he said resentfully. "I need a horse."
"I'm going to be a Beater," Teddy said, a rather mischievous smile on his face, hair flashing from green to yellow. "And I'll enchant my bat, and —"
"Magic is forbidden in this house unless there's proper cause." Harry reminded, frowning at the twelve-year-old. "And wear something else. Something bright." Under his breath, he added, "So we can keep a bloody eye on you."
Ginny's low chuckle told him she'd heard, and he felt a surge of love for her at that random moment of understanding. He didn't have a chance to say or do anything, though, because the wonderful mother of his children had already knelt down to little Rose, who had her nose stuck in a book.
"What do you want to be, sweetie?" she asked the four-year-old girl.
"I think I'll be a witch," Rose said.
"A witch?" Victoire said scornfully. "That's not exciting at all. We are witches."
"Yes, but I want to wear robes and a pointy hat and carry a broomstick." Rose's brown eyes were full of shy delight.
"How lucky we are that one of them is happy just to be themselves." Ginny murmured in Harry's ear as she kissed his cheek.
"Yes, we are."
"Auntie Ginny, I've decided to be a gunslinger," Teddy announced.
"You're gonna be my enemy?" James asked. "Oh wow! Just like in that movie? The one with the car? Right? Right?"
"Ok, right, sounds good," Harry said quickly. "I'm going to make some treats for the kids who come here tonight. I'll leave you to deal with this, Gin."
The dirty look his wife shot him was enough to tell him it'd take a lot of chocolate to apologise for leaving her alone with the terrors they'd spawned.
"Twick or Tweat!"
"Oh, aren't you adorable," the woman who answered the door said, beaming at the young trick-or-treaters.
Lily smiled charmingly from her position on Harry's shoulders, her sticky hands firmly stuck in his hair. She was dressed as a butterfly, bright green wings attached to her shoulders, antennae in her curly red hair.
"Are they all yours?" The woman asked next, dropping sweets into the seven children's bags, the flirty smirk on her face not going unnoticed.
"I adopted some of them for the night," Harry replied, unable to mask the contentment in his voice. He'd always wanted a family that he could love, that loved him. Now he had one.
"Where's their mummy?"
"She's at home, handing out treats to all the other kids," Teddy piped up, the innocence in his voice putting Harry on guard. Especially since the boy had not had black hair five minutes ago. What was he up to?! "You should see her costume," he said gleefully, "— I think she's planning on some quality time when we get home."
Harry blushed like a beetroot. "Teddy!"
"Oh my," the plump witch stuttered. "Um, have a good night." She slammed the door shut.
One by one, the children began to giggle, then to laugh.
"Magnifique, Teddy, tres magnifique," Victoire said, blue eyes twinkling.
"I'm tired," James announced then, his mouth opening wide in a yawn.
"Right, home time." Harry handed Lily to Teddy before hoisting Sir Albus and the Wicked Witch Rose onto either hip, since Rose looked ready to fall asleep leaning on her broom, and Albus was drooping inside his armour. Victoire picked up Hugo, grabbing Teddy's free hand, and James skipped alongside them happily.
As he herded his unruly offspring before him, Harry mentally counted them off in his mind. First, James Arthur, flame-haired and dark-eyed, blessed with boundless energy and a voracious appetite, so like his Uncle Ron.
Then Albus Severus, raven-haired and green-eyed, who had moments of startling quietness when he seemed to fade away to another world. At age four he was already a dreamer who loved to hear stories of kings and queens, lords and ladies, and the knights of medieval times. And, finally, Lily Anne, the youngest of his brood. Sweet, kind, easily hurt Lily, who, aside from her possessive streak, was the brightest, bubbliest little girl Harry had ever met. Blessed with Ginny's eyes and hair, she managed to find joy in everything, even watching plants grow.
It was amazing, they were all so beautiful, and he was so proud of them. Despite all the chances he'd had to muck it up, with Vernon Dursley his only role-model for what a father should be like, Ginny's guiding hand had helped him along his way, and all four of them (he always counted Teddy as one of his own) had turned into fine, intelligent, caring individuals. Albeit, individuals with wicked tempers and a penchant for pranks.
"Uncle Harry, c'mon!" Teddy called, turning back to pout at him. The look was so like Tonks that for a moment Harry realised his godson was all grown up. It made his chest hurt in ways he didn't care to think about, so he quickened his pace, only slowing when he reached number thirty-one, Hogsmeade Way, and saw the silhouette of his wife standing in the open doorway, children spilling onto the lawn, already shouting joyfully about the mounds of sweets they'd managed to get.
Ginny's cheerful laughter reached out to envelope him in its welcoming warmth as she ran out into the front garden, still as slender and light-footed as she'd been the day they met. She examined each child's treasures in turn, paying as much attention to one as she did to the next, before sternly telling them all they were to put the sack on the kitchen table and get ready for bed, and not to sneak even a piece or she'd know.
"I see they had a good time," she said softly when Harry came up to her, easily taking the drowsy Albus. Teddy had already headed inside with Lily, and would help the toddler get ready for bed before following Ginny's orders himself. He and Victoire would have to be up very early tomorrow morning to be back at Hogwarts in time for their lessons; this visit was a privilege they didn't want to lose.
"We all did. Except some witch decided to flirt with me, even though the sheer number of children. I was dragging around should have put her off," Harry teased, slipping his now-free arm around her waist.
"I hope you gave her what for," Ginny replied lightly, but the underlying ice in her tone told him she was jealous.
"I didn't have time. Teddy did it for me." Sneaking a glance at the taut line of Ginny's pale throat, he added, "It's a real pity, too, because I had this whole spiel about star-crossed lovers all worked out in my head."
A giggle escaped the redhead, and she laid her cheek against his. "I love you, Harry," she said softly, looking down at the now-sleeping Albus with a tender smile.
Harry let go of her waist, gently pulling her chin up so he could look into her eyes. He placed a loving kiss on her brow. "I love you too, Gin. Happy Halloween."