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Strings of Fate

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2004

This is the first year that they all go trick-or-treating together.

7-year-old Percy is a bundle of energy, delighted by his Aquaman costume, while 7-year-old Annabeth, dressed as Hermione (her favourite character from a book series that none of the others have read because they’re younger and not as smart as she is) thinks that he looks and acts like an idiot (or a Seaweed Brain, as she puts it).

6-year-old Piper grumbles about the princess costume her mother has forced her to wear, but feels a lot better when Jason, also 6, and dressed as a knight, gives her his dagger so she can be a warrior princess.

6-year-old Leo struggles to walk in his robot costume, made by his mother, but absolutely refuses when Sally, Esperanza and Emily suggest that he might be more comfortable if he takes it off.

Frank, already big for a 6-year-old, looks absolutely adorable in his teddy bear costume, a sentiment that 3-year-old Hazel, the baby of the group, seems to agree with, as the little girl in the 1930s dress refuses to let go of him.

The three mothers exchange significant looks and wonder whether the children’s adorable behaviour might signify something.

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2005

They’re a little older this year, so it’s agreed that they can stay out trick-or-treating after dark for the first time. (But only for a little while.)

This year, Percy is Aqauman again, which Annabeth (as Athena- she has recently discovered a love for all things Ancient Greece) insists is ridiculous, because a major part of Halloween tradition is that one dresses up as something different every year. He splashes her with water, and she glares so hard at him that he goes and hides behind his mother, even though he’s a big boy now.

Piper’s mother has managed to force her into a princess costume again, but this time, she was prepared, and had not only obtained her own sword and trusty steed, but had hidden scissors and cut her long hair into some sort of messy, choppy hairstyle that is certainly not princess- like. Jason, who is Superman (doubtlessly due to Percy’s influence), tells her she looks pretty because he’s been told that’s the right thing to say to girls (and she is pretty), and she gives him a hug.

Leo has decided to go as a robot again, but this time, a far more streamlined one. He’s convinced his mother that by sewing felt onto fairly tight clothes, he can be a convincing robot while being able to walk properly. (And he’s right, and Esperanza is so proud.)

Frank is a panda, because he’s decided to embrace his cultural heritage, while little Hazel is Mary Poppins (whom she loves because she gets to ride a pretty horse). Hazel is a little scared about going trick-or-treating after dark, so Emily suggests to Frank that he hold Hazel’s hand because he’s a big boy, and he blushes bright red but does it anyway, and Hazel gives him some of her candy for protecting her from scary things.

The three mothers are pretty sure that the children’s adorable behaviour really does signify something.

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2006

It’s the first year that they all go to school together, because little Hazel is finally old enough, and as a result, they’re closer friends than ever, despite being in different grades.

Percy is Aquaman yet again, which causes Annabeth, as Susan B. Anthony, to declare that she gives up on Seaweed Brain and his seaweed brain. This makes Percy a little sad for the whole evening, because Wise Girl ignores him the whole time. (Or at least pretends to; the three mothers catch her stealing glances at him all the time when he’s not looking.)

Piper’s mother has given up on the whole princess thing, and left Piper to choose her own costume. As a result, she has feathers in her hair and is wearing a shirt belonging to her dad as a dress and can’t really explain what she actually is. Leo, a mechanic, thinks that she looks silly and can’t stop laughing, so she pokes him really hard, but Jason (King Arthur) thinks that she looks pretty and tells her so and she boldly kisses him on the cheek.

Hazel is Emily Elizabeth and has somehow managed to convince Frank to be her Clifford. As Emily tells the other mothers, it wasn’t difficult- all she had to do was ask him.

The three mothers are pretty sure that the kids are at least going to date when they’re older.

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2007

This year, the kids all get together and beg to start their trick-or-treating after dark, instead of before sunset, because they’re all big now as even little Hazel is in the first grade. Despite Annabeth’s rather well-made powerpoint presentation, Piper’s charm, Leo’s insistence that he’s invented a gadget to keep them all safe, Percy’s pouting, and Frank and Hazel’s adorableness, as well as Jason’s expert organization of the whole thing, they don’t get their way.

Percy is Aquaman, because he always is. Annabeth is an Amazon, and she declares that while Seaweed Brain’s continual dressing up as Aquaman defies Halloween convention; it is more than acceptable because it challenges the existing norms and thus establishes a new convention. No-one is quite sure how much of that Percy actually understands, but he grins like a maniac for the entire evening anyway.

Piper has managed to obtain some traditional Cherokee clothing, which Jason (a pilot) thinks is really awesome and makes her look really, really pretty. But this year he doesn’t tell her because it feels kind of awkward, and Piper looks kind of sad when they drop her off at her house.

Leo has started noticing girls (which is already starting to give Esperanza a headache), so he’s wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses because somehow he’s managed to pick up that girls like bad boys.

Hazel is Dorothy, and it’s probably becoming some sort of tradition, because Frank is her Toto. This year, Emily says, she didn’t even have to ask. When she mentioned that she was going to be Dorothy, Frank automatically said he was going to be her Toto, before getting very flustered and mumbling that he didn’t have to be if she didn’t want him to be.

The three mothers have now realized it’s just a matter of time.

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2008

This year, they still don’t get to go trick-or-treating entirely after dark, because Hazel is still too young. (She offers to go with some kids from her grade so they can go after dark, but the others can’t even comprehend the idea of ditching her because she’s their friend and one of them.)

Percy is Aquaman, of course, but this year, he’s a very sad Aquaman. Annabeth has declared that trick-or-treating is for children, so since she isn’t a child anymore, she’s not going. But they all stop outside her house, and he goes and knocks on the door and pouts and begs and pleads and eventually Annabeth puts on the dress pants and blouse that she recently demanded her parents buy her and says that she’s an architect for Halloween. Percy cheers up noticeably.

Piper is a gypsy fortune teller this year, while Jason is a noble soldier from some unspecified time in the past. They both pick up on their resemblance to two characters from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which makes Jason a little uncomfortable and Piper really happy.

Leo is a mad scientist, and he spends half the time staring at (generally older) girls. Sally and Emily spend a lot of time comforting poor Esperanza.

Hazel has become really obsessed with horses, so she’s a horse-rider and Frank is her horse. He actually carries her around on his back for a little while, and Hazel has never looked happier. She declares that he’s her bestest best friend and Frank is red from more than the exhaustion.

The three mothers wonder who’s going to be hosting the prom photos.

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2009

This year, the kids go trick-or-treating entirely after dark for the first time.

Percy is Aquaman, as usual, while Annabeth is a historically accurate Roman Patrician woman. The first thing that Percy says when he sees her is that she’s even prettier than usual, which results in a general awkwardness between the two for the entire trip. (Sally shakes her head affectionately, and Emily and Esperanza exchange significant looks.)

Jason is Robin Hood, and Piper is Maid Marian (which she decided on being as soon as she found out what Jason was going as). Piper’s crush is obvious, and Jason shows all the discomfort typical of boys his age.

Leo has built himself a Transformer costume, which everyone admits is really, really cool, but it doesn’t help his attempts to pick up older girls because he’s eleven. (Esperanza thinks she might die from the embarrassment.)

Hazel is a vet this year, and Frank is a dog with a broken front leg, to match the cast he has on his left arm. (Frank is rather clumsy.) She spends the whole evening fussing over him, which means Frank is pretty much permanently pink the whole time. (The mothers are sure that it’s not just for the sake of being in character.)

The three mothers have decided that it’s no longer worth speculating on the inevitable.

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2010

This year, they are actually allowed to go trick-or-treating on their own, without their mothers, provided that they start before sunset and promise to keep an eye out for each other and look after Hazel. (Frank seems to take that particularly seriously.)

Percy is Aquaman, while Annabeth is Minerva, which she insists is a completely different goddess from Athena. This doesn’t stop Percy from teasing Wise Girl about dressing up as the same thing twice, which leads to the two of them bickering the whole time.

Jason is Fred from Scooby Doo on a dare from Leo, so Piper is obviously Daphne. She insists that they walk together and do everything together because it’s in-character, and while her rather obsessive crush makes him uncomfortable, he goes along with it because she’s still one of his best friends.

Leo is Iceman from X-Men because he’s heard that the older girl he fancies, Khione, likes cool guys. (Everyone is pretty sure he’s taking it far too literally.)
Hazel is a witch, and Frank is her familiar, a grey cat. They spend the whole evening walking side-by-side, because Frank takes their duty to look after Hazel very, very seriously.

The three mothers piece together what happened from their children and spend far too long discussing it on the phone.

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2011

This year, they’ve finally all read the Harry Potter books, so they decide to go with a group theme for the first time ever: Hogwarts students.

Percy mopes for a little bit over not getting to be Aquaman, but since Annabeth (who adores Harry Potter) asks him nicely, he decides he’s happy to be a Gryffindor. (Annabeth says that despite his loyalty, he’s far too lazy to be a Hufflepuff.) Annabeth, of course, is a Ravenclaw.

Jason is a Gryffindor, while Piper is a Slytherin, and while that might have made her sad last year, she’s matured a fair bit. (There’s something romantic about inter-house relationships anyway.)

Leo’s a Ravenclaw because he’s a crazy genius (or so he insists), despite Piper’s insistence that he should be Seamus Finnegan because they obviously share pyromaniac tendencies. (Annabeth contradicts her, saying only movie-verse Seamus is a pyromaniac, and they’re strictly book-verse.)

Frank and Hazel are Hufflepuffs, because everyone agrees that they’re too sweet and loyal to be anything else. (Even if they’ve all realized lately that they’re both stronger and braver than they thought.)

Their mothers take a massive group photo, and may or may not have done some strategic posing of the kids.

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2012

This year, Piper, Jason, Leo, Frank and Hazel all wonder whether Percy and Annabeth would go trick-or-treating with them, because they’re in high school now. They shouldn’t have doubted their friends, because they do. (It’s tradition, and they’re all still best friends anyway.)

Percy is Aquaman, because missing one year was more than enough for him. Annabeth is Hillary Clinton, which has got to be the oddest Halloween costume ever, but she wears it proudly and Percy finds that very attractive.

Jason is a football player (he’s really keen on playing for Olympia High next year, even if he’s only going to be a freshman), and Piper is a cheerleader, and the tables are kind of turned, because this year, it’s Jason who’s doing more of the staring.

Leo is himself, because apparently, he’s Hot Stuff and a Super-Hot McShizzle, and there’s no point improving on perfection, and everyone just groans.

Frank and Hazel are Ralph and Vanellope from Wreck-it-Ralph, because even though the movie’s not out yet, everyone insists that it really, really suits them.
Everyone, Annabeth included, thinks they look adorable.

Their mothers are starting to get a little impatient.

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2013

This year, they’ve got some new friends who go trick-or-treating with them. Nico, Hazel’s newfound half-brother (who keeps staring at Percy and Annabeth with pain in his eyes), has been dragged along by his sister, while Reyna, a new friend of Jason’s from high school, tags along too. (Piper isn’t exactly delighted by the prospect, because she knows that Reyna likes Jason, who is her boyfriend-yes, they finally got together-but she has come to respect the girl because she never shows it and doesn’t try to come between them.)

Percy is Aquaman and Annabeth must be feeling indulgent of her boyfriend (they finally, finally got together too, which elicited an about time from pretty much everyone), because she’s Wonder Woman.

Jason is John Smith and Piper is Pocahontas because of course they’re going to do a couple’s costume. They are together after all.

Leo is the Human Torch because he apparently wants to be literal Hot Stuff as well as figurative Hot Stuff. He spends half the time flirting with Amazon Queen Reyna, who actually manages to maintain an impassive and only slightly irritated expression throughout.

Hazel is an angel on the suggestion of her brother Nico (who is Hades) because she saved him and she is so, so good. Frank, who is Houyi, an archer from an Ancient Chinese legend, agrees wholeheartedly with that sentiment. He also thinks that Hazel looks really, really beautiful (not that she isn’t normally)- the white dress makes her skin look like cocoa.

Their mothers are exchanging high-fives because they totally called it first.

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2014

This year, it’s the Seven (apparently that’s what people call them) and Nico and Reyna (who have become really close friends somehow) who all go trick-or-treating together.

Percy is Aquaman and Annabeth a sailor so that they’re both kind of nautical/sea themed. (Piper privately thinks that it’s also so that Annabeth has an excuse to wear blue, because that’s Percy’s favourite colour, but of course the blond will never admit it.)

Jason and Piper are Romeo and Juliet because it’s her mother’s favourite love story, and for some reason, Jason is a little terrified of her mother, who is a ridiculous romantic, and a little obsessed with being sufficiently romantic for Piper. (Piper thinks it’s really cute, so she goes along with it.)

Leo is Gimli and Frank is Legolas because they managed to sort of bully/goad each other into it a few months back when they were competing over Hazel, just after Frank and Hazel started going out. (They’re good now, since Leo’s nowhere near cruel enough to actually come between two of his friends. It’s not as if he ever stood a chance anyway- even when Hazel was three she only had eyes for Frank. Anyway, Leo’s not infatuated with her anymore; not since he met that really hot but really infuriating girl, Calypso, who won’t take any of his shit. They’d be together by now if not for her stupidly over-protective parents who barely let her out of their yard and certainly won’t let her date. Still, she’d kissed him anyway, before they’d chased him off. He’s going to get her and rescue her from them. He swears.)

Hazel is an Elf to match Frank, and she can’t stop laughing because her boyfriend looks ridiculous in a long blond wig, and he’s got the completely wrong body shape to be Legolas, but she kisses him on the cheek in apology.

Reyna, as a far less sexualised Xena the Warrior Princess, keeps shooting Nico concerned looks. The boy dressed as the Grim Reaper (he has a weird thing with death) keeps glancing at Percy and Annabeth with immense pain in his eyes. Everyone thinks that’s because he has a crush on Annabeth. Only Jason and Reyna know the truth. (He can’t bring himself to tell Hazel just yet.)

The mothers are delighted, because three out of three!

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2015

This is going to be the last year that they all go trick-or-treating together, because next year, Percy and Annabeth are off to college and they won’t be home for Halloween, so they’re all determined to make the most of it. This year, they’re joined by Will Solace, a ‘friend’ of Nico’s (though everyone’s pretty sure he’s something more since Nico came out to them a few months back), and Calpyso, Leo’s girlfriend.

Percy, of course, is Aquaman, while Annabeth (after much pleading from Percy) is Mera.

Jason and Piper are actually Phoebus and Esmeralda this time, which has resulted in a lot of reminiscing about the last time they were sort-of the couple.

Hazel is a princess, while Frank is a frog. Leo teases him continuously about being whipped, but as he’s actually washed, combed and styled his hair neatly because Calypso asked, the Chinese-Canadian has a perfect comeback.

Calypso and Leo are an Ancient Greek couple because Calypso, like Annabeth, has a bit of a thing for Ancient Greece. This is her first Halloween, which Leo thinks is simply unacceptable (she’s missed out on so much because of her ridiculous parents) and he’s doing everything he can to make up for lost time for her.

Reyna is an FBI Agent, while Nico is a zombie and his ‘friend’ Will is a doctor. (They insist that their costumes all fit a theme, but everyone’s just confused as to how.)

The mothers are so, so happy, because it seems like everything’s worked out for their kids.

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Beyond 2015

Their Halloween tradition still continues, though, despite the fact that they’re soon flung all over the USA attending different colleges.

They don’t usually manage to get together, not the whole gang at least, but every year, they all make a point to dress up for Halloween and send around the pictures.

They make a point to stay in touch and stay best friends, or, as they think of it, family.

But somehow (maybe it’s fate), they eventually all end up living close enough to one another that they can get together for Halloween.

They’re all there to watch Leo propose to Calypso.

They’re all there (well, except for Hazel, who is 8 months pregnant and Frank who refuses to leave her side because of said pregnancy) to watch Percy and Annabeth and Jason and Piper’s three-year-olds go trick-or-treating for the very first time.

They’re all there to see Nico and Will get married. (Halloween is an odd day to get married, but they were never really conventional to begin with.)

They’re all there to try and set up Reyna with a different guy every single year, despite the fact that she’s perfectly happy single. (She’s not lonely, not when she has such great friends.)

They’re all together.

(And not just for Halloween.)