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Special Providence

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Janet almost missed Halloween that year. She would have - holed up grading awful freshman essays and cursing her father to the ends of the earth - except that at 5 pm on October 31st the babysitter went home and Victoria came running into her office screaming about how everybody in her class had a costume and she wanted to be a fairy and MOM!

"What?" Janet said absently, capping her pen before Victoria could start drawing flowers on her arm again.

"It's Halloween!"

"It's - " Oh, shit. "I forgot."

"I know!" Victoria wailed.

Janet stacked the papers carefully, and stood up. "Vicky, where's your father?"

Victoria shrugged. "Yard."

"Right," said Janet, and picked up the phone.

Robin answered on the twelfth ring, right before Janet started biting her fingernails. Too early to tell, he said, but he was sticking with Molly for once and Molly had timed her pregnancy appropriately because she wasn't stupid, was she?

Thomas came back into the house at 5:45. She was cutting up fabric and tulle to make Victoria a costume that would infuriate all the right people.

"It's Halloween," she said. He sat down on the couch, hard.

"Victoria wants to be a fairy." Thomas stared, and shook, and then burst out laughing. She tried glaring, but all things considered the only reasonable recourse was to join him.

"You should call Kit and Johnny," she said, when they'd finally stopped rolling around on the living room floor. "And then, I think, we should take the kid trick-or-treating at Blackstock."

Thomas arched an eyebrow at her. She smiled, just a little feral. "We can stay over with my parents if you don't want to drive back."

"That's assuming we'll be driving back at all," but he was smiling too, the maniacal cut with confidence.

"Call it research," said Janet, thinking of the half-finished dissertation in the top drawer of her desk.

Thomas got up, but stopped in the doorway to the study. "Had I but had the wit yestreen/That I hae coft the day?"

Janet nodded.

It was foolhardy, and morbid, and not a little dangerous, but Janet wanted to be there tonight, wanted to see what they had wrought, wanted to know. Medeous was ancient and irrevocable, but they'd stood against her once. And this, they knew how to do.