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Ghostober 2021 Collection

Chapter Text

It was 9 o’clock on a Saturday as Mike collapsed onto the sofa, his laptop on the table next to him. Alison was busy having a shower upstairs, leaving him alone in the main living room. Mostly. Mike didn’t know if any of the Ghosts were present in the room with him. After all, the potion and the pentagram didn’t work after all of the effort Mike put into making them. Guess he wasn’t cut out to seeing ghosts after all.

Now, what did Mike want to do whilst he was waiting for Alison? He could… access his Steam account and play something, or watch YouTube videos. Maybe even look and see if anyone had wanted to book an event at Button House. 

Click. Click. 

 Mike sat up startled, looking around to see the source of the clicking sound, before he looked at his laptop. Strange… he didn’t remember opening up Microsoft Word… or typing the letters he… oh, it was Julian typing, wasn’t it? He was the one who could touch things. Mike watched as his spectral housemate continued to type, until the message was complete: hey mike. whatcha doing. 

“I dunno. Sitting here, I guess.” Mike said quietly in response, before he said with a smile, “You know… I’ve actually never had a conversation with any of you before. Guess that’s why I wanted to see you all.” Mike then fell quiet, as he listened to Julian type, until he got a response.

you don’t want to see lady b. she is irritating at times. Mike had to stifle a laugh, before he continued, “Yeah, from what Ally’s told me, she can be…. A handful at times. Still, life at Button House wouldn’t be the same without her. Or unlife? Afterlife?” 

More typing. yeah. you’re right about that. Mike chuckled a little, excited that he was having his first conversation with a ghost, even if it was the ghost of a corrupt politician who died in a sex scandal. Eventually, he quietly asked, “So, what’s it like? You know, being a ghost and all?” 

Silence. A few moments passed. Mike watched as Julian began typing out random letters before deleting them. Mike was worried that he’d overstepped a boundary, and was about to change the subject when Julian finally wrote out a response. can be fun. lonely though. you get used to it after a while. 

Mike stared at the laptop, thinking about what his dad had told him over Christmas. He said quietly, “Must be hard to not have the ability to leave the house or see other people.” Julian typed out a response to Mike’s statement quickly, was harder before you came here. 

Mike didn’t know what to say in response. Saying something like ‘I’m sorry to hear that’ or ‘That sucks’ wasn’t enough to undo… 27 years of being stuck in the same place, unable to do anything except haunt these grounds as the world moved on without you. Mike couldn’t even imagine what it would be like. At least Alison would be able to see him if, you know, he died. Except, eventually Alison would die as well. Eventually Mike said quietly, “You know, I think I understand why you did the thing you did with my line manager.” 

you do. Julian typed in response. Mike muttered, “Yeah. Must get boring living in his house and seeing the same things everyday, so being able to affect even the smallest thing in the world is entertaining, innit?” 

More silence. More attempts to type out a response, before Mike was left with just a blank word document. Mike added, “Plus, in hindsight, Anal review was funny.” Julian typed out another response after that. told you. 

Mike snorted at Julian’s response, “Yeah, and you got me promoted and helped me with the promo video so… you ain’t as bad as you were when we first moved here.”
Julian typed out another response now i wish the other ghosts could come around and see your perspective :p 

It was at this point that the door opened, and Alison walked into the room and gently kissed Mike on the forehead. She turned around and then said, “I trust that you’ve been behaving Julian?” 

“Oh yeah!” Mike said enthusiastically, surprising Alison, “I actually had a conversation with Julian over Microsoft Word.” Alison looked at Mike, and then at presumably where Julian was standing with a sceptical look on her face. Mike added, “We were actually getting along.” 

“I’m glad to hear that.” Alison replied warmly, “Now, do you want to do anything, or do you want to continue chatting?” 

“I want to continue chatting, if that’s ok with you Julian?” Mike replied. Presumably, Julian agreed as well as Alison continued, “Ok, I’ll leave you both. Kitty wants to watch High School Musical with me.” 

“Ok, have fun!” Mike said, before Alison walked out of the room. Once she’d gone, Mike said, “So, what do you want to talk about?” A few seconds passed, before Julian typed out so, what’s your thoughts about footie eh. Mike groaned, knowing precious little about football, before he continued chatting with Julian.

Chapter Text

“So, Humphrey?” Humphrey looked around as he heard the familiar voice of Thomas coming from behind him. He would have turned around to look at the poet except …well…. He couldn’t. He was stuck facing the window as Thomas continued quietly, “What exactly happened? You know, with the Bone Plot?” 

“Well…” Humphrey began eventually, remembering that Thomas wasn’t there when he has told the story the first time, before he started explaining the events leading to his death. Mostly. He didn’t tell Thomas that he decapitated himself. Unlike the others though, Thomas sat there, listening to Humphrey’s story with rapt attention. When he’d finished, he looked at Thomas, who seemed to be on the verge of tears. “Well, that was the gist of it anyways.” 

“That… that is beautiful.” Thomas said softly, holding Humphrey’s head to eye level, “You gave up your life just so that she could have the life she always wanted to live. Imagine being in love with someone so much that…” 

“It wasn’t love.” Humphrey interrupted, sounding sad, “Sophie and I… barely tolerated each other at the best of times, but we were just trying to make the best out of a situation neither of us wanted.” It was unusual for Thomas to be so quiet. He seemed deep in contemplation, mulling over Humphrey’s words. Eventually, Humphrey asked, “You alright, Thomas?” 

“If it was not love, then why would you cast aside your own reputation for her?” Thomas asked quietly, seemingly puzzled by Humphrey’s words and actions. Humphrey looked at the windowsill, thinking about how to answer that question. 

“I guess… it was our families who arranged our marriage, and I had the duty to make her feel some semblance of happiness even if… I was not getting what I wanted.” Humphrey finally responded, “After all, it wasn’t her fault that she was stuck here.” 

“Isn’t that what love is though?” Thomas asked quietly, “The idea of wanting someone to be happy so much that you would willingly go to the ends of the Earth in order to grant them their own desires?” 

Humphrey shook his head, or attempted to. It was hard when a dead poet was holding your head aloft in the air, “Neither of us were romantically attracted to each other, and Sophie didn’t sacrifice anything to make me happy. In the end, I… I will never know what she thought about me.” 

“What did you think about her?” Thomas inquired. Humphrey sighed, memories of what life was like when he was alive began flooding his mind. The figments of him and Sophie he had in those memories…. It was like watching a play, and those memories were putting on a show that was his life before his inevitable end. 

“I just wish we could have been friends.” Humphrey admitted, “That we could have just had evenings where we could just talk, take part in shared hobbies as if we were equals. In the end, the pair of us were just lonely fools who lived in the same house.” 

“…Philia then.” Thomas muttered. 

“I’m sorry, can you repeat what you just said?” Humphrey asked. 

“Philia.” Thomas repeated, looking at Humphrey with wide eyed curiosity, “The Greeks always talked about various forms of love. Eros, Agape… Philia. I never really understood it myself, because I was so obsessed with romantic love that it is what I thought love was. However, isn’t the fondness that you hold for your family, or friendship itself, another way of understanding love?” 

“I guess…?” Humphrey said hesitatingly, but Thomas didn’t seem to hear his response, instead rambling about types of love and poetry. The poet quickly stood up and began to walk out of the room, carrying Humphrey’s head with him. Humphrey asked, “Hey! Where are you taking me? Not to play more football I hope!” 

“I wish to write about Philia, and explore the concept of it, and you are the perfect subject to write a poem about.” Thomas said dramatically, “I would love to hear more about your feelings when the guards finally cornered you in these fair halls. Did they ask you…?” 

“Well…erm… I never saw the guards.” Humphrey said sheepishly, “I accidentally decapitated myself before…” 

Thomas stopped in the middle of the hallway, looking visibly deflated. He said, after a few seconds of awkward silence, “Oh.” 

“Oh, indeed.” Humphrey replied dryly. Thomas and Humphrey fell silent for a few more seconds, before Humphrey continued, “So… er… do you actually want to…?” 

“Nah.” Thomas replied. 

“Can you at least reunite me with my body? Hey Thomas? Thomas!?” Humphrey shouted, as Thomas dropped him onto the floor and walked off to goodness knows where, leaving Humphrey behind. Well…. He was going to be stuck here for a while, wasn’t he?

Chapter Text

Kitty could only see an endless corridor in front of her, with a small speck of light glowing at the other end. She could also hear the faint sound of people dancing and making merry and she was desperately curious to see what was going on. 

She took a tentative small step forward, looking at the painting of her and Eleanor on the wall. They both looked so young and oh so very happy. They had been having fun in the garden, Kitty covered in mud whilst Eleanor looked as pristine as she always did. Kitty smiled, remembering that day fondly. Eleanor had been playing hide and seek, and Kitty had spent the whole day hiding in the garden because she had been so good at hiding. 

Or had she not been found because… nobody wanted to find her? 

”Dearest sister, you must come and have a look at this!” Kitty heard her beloved sister’s voice from the other end of the corridor. Kitty looked away from the portrait and began running in the direction of Eleanor’s voice.

She didn’t pay attention to the rest of the paintings, which was just as well, as they showed Eleanor taking great delight in Kitty’s suffering over the years. Various Christmases, and Birthdays, and other holidays where Kitty had ended up being the butt of Eleanor’s jokes without being aware of it. Kitty was more concerned with seeing what had excited Eleanor so much. 

Eventually though, Kitty reached the other end of the corridor and ended up in a large ornate ballroom. Hundreds of people were dancing with each other, or talking, or having some of the food and drink that had been provided. So this was where the sound was coming from!  Kitty could see Eleanor near the entrance, wearing a dazzling gold dress and a beautiful porcelain mask. Kitty looked at her happily, and said, “A ball? Oh how wonderful!” 

”Indeed, my dearest sister!” Eleanor smiled, handing Kitty another porcelain mask, “I got you a mask as well!” Kitty looked at the mask for a moment. It was well made yes, but it made Kitty look… childish? Undesirable? But it was such a thoughtful gift from her sister… Kitty decided to put it on. 

”Oh look! We are like two peas in a pod!” Kitty said happily. 

”…We are, yes.” Did Eleanor seem unhappy about that remark? Kitty didn’t have the time to work that out, before Eleanor grabbed her hand and led her into the crowd of partygoers in order to mingle with them. Who knows, maybe they would find a pair of eligible bachelors. 

However, as the evening drew on it seemed that Kitty wasn’t making a good first impression, as more and more of the partygoers turned against her. They were laughing, calling her names, treating her as if she were a child. Kitty did not understand what she had done to cause all of this. She looked at Eleanor with tears in her eyes. Eleanor was popular. She would know how to impress everyone. Kitty asked her quietly, “Why don’t the other party guests seem to like me?” 

Because you’re a burden, of course.” 

Kitty woke up in a cold sweat. What was that? 

She stared vacantly into the distance, trying to work out what that dream was all about. After all, didn’t Alison say that dreams often revealed things that the dreamer was trying to repress, like Julian’s guilt over not being there for his family. What was this nightmare trying to reveal to her? 

The revelation hit her like a bullet. Eleanor… hadn’t been the perfect sister Kitty thought she had been. There was the night of the ball she mentioned to Alison, but at the time she thought that had been a one off. It hadn’t.  There were so many more memories of Eleanor she had when her sister had been simply awful. 

Is that why the other ghosts had never wanted to talk about Eleanor with her? Because they had seen the truth all along, and didn’t want Kitty to see it for some reason? Kitty didn’t know how to feel about that, especially when it felt that everything she thought she knew was unravelling before her eyes. 

Kitty had never felt so much fear before. If she didn’t know her sister at all, then… did Kitty really know anyone else at all? Who else was acting nice to her when they were actually scheming behind her back? 

Swallowing back her fear, Kitty lay back down in her bed, closing her eyes and wishing that she could go back to sleep. However, sleep eluded her as she started having more nightmares about the people loved turning against her.

Chapter Text

Alison slowly began washing up after a long day’s work. They finally had the builders around to start the process of carrying out the extensive renovations that needed to be done to the Gatehouse before it could be turned into a guest house. Meanwhile, she also had to provide the ghosts their daily entertainment lest they try and meddle in the builders’ business. 

She was lucky she still had the money to afford the gatehouse. She hadn’t fallen for “Lucy’s” scam. The ghosts had uncovered the truth, and managed to warn her before she had handed over her savings to someone who would waltz out of their live and quickly as she entered. Who knows what Alison and Mike would have done if they had actually fallen for the scam? 

Still, there were days where Alison felt… empty. It was like there was a big gaping void where family should have been and she was angry that “Lucy” had tried to abuse Alison’s desire to have a family for her own selfish needs. Yes, she still has Mike, and his family, and the ghosts, but… 

She did not have any blood family to call her own. 

“Ah, Alison.” She looked up and weakly smiled as Fanny walked into the room. Fanny was about to speak when she noticed the tears in Alison’s eyes. She asked quietly, “Are you alright?” 

“Eh, not really.” Alison admitted, after a few seconds of silence, “I was just thinking about Lucy again.” 

“Pay no mind to that charlatan.” Fanny said sincerely, “She can no longer interfere in your life or attempt to steal your money.” 

“I know…” Alison sighed, placing a newly washed up plate on the draining board, “It feels like her presence is still here though. Like a ghost whose attempted crime is still haunting my…” Alison paused, as she realised that she could have chosen her wording better, “No offence, Fanny.” 

“None taken.” Fanny replied, with a small smile. The two of the, fell into an easy silence as Alison continued to do the washing up. Eventually, Alison finished up the last of the plates and emptied the sink of soapy water. It was as she was going to dry her hands when Fanny said quietly, “Your husband’s right. Button House really is a family home.” 

“Thank you.” Alison said quietly, “I…” 

“And I am not saying that because this was my home, once upon a time.” Fanny interrupted wistfully, “You and Michael have done an excellent job making this a place a home for all of us. The dinner we had with you was a fine example of that. We all were a *family* when we dined that night.” 

Alison felt a warm sensation running throughout her body, as she said quietly, “Thank you, Fanny. But… I thought you’d think family had to be related my blood?” 

“I used to, but times have changed.” Fanny admitted, “I often remember something Robin told me once. Family doesn’t have to be related by blood. He’s right. Don’t tell the other ghosts, but I have come to see that rag tag group as family. You and Michael as well. Maybe I was harsh on you when you first inherited the house… but you have both grown to become exemplary people.” 

Alison was speechless for a few moments, the emptiness she felt earlier was washed away, replaced with feelings of warmth. “You’re our family too, Fanny, and I think the others might think that deep down, even if…” 

“I know.” Fanny nodded, “Plus… blood family isn’t as always as cracked up as some people claim. You know about what Thomas’s cousin did and what Kitty’s sister was like. And well… look at Julian…” Alison chuckled lightly at the remark, before Fanny continued, “Now… I was wondering if you would like to watch some Father Brown with me. I really need to watch the next episode.” 

Alison smiled, and said warmly, “Yeah. I’d like that.”, before the two of them walked out of the kitchen and to the TV room. After all, Alison really wanted to see what was so special about the next murder mystery show that Fanny had gotten herself addicted to.

Chapter Text

“And so she rides out to the suns
The little people’s battles wons
The doors to her worlds was open nows
She could return to her homes
If that is what her heart desires..”

“… What is this affront to poetry?” Thomas interrupted, sounding disgusted by what he’d heard. Pat had, possibly foolishly, decided that Button House really needed a poetry club. Most of the ghosts had wisely decided to avoid the club for various reasons, mainly because they knew that Thomas would have ridiculously high standards when it came to poetry. In the end, only Mary, Pat and Thomas had decided to attend. 

“Be nice Thomas!” Pat snapped at the Regency poet, “Mary was just telling us about the legendary loose woman who slew the Woodworm men! It was a rather epic poem, if I do say so myself.” Mary looked flattered, almost bashful, surprised that someone enjoyed her first attempt at poetry. 

“Nonsense!” Thomas said dramatically, waving his arms around as if that would somehow prove his point (it didn’t.), “Your adherence to grammar is not very good and you are not sticking to a standard rhythm and rhyming structure.” 

“Oh yeses?” Mary said, “At leasts noones dying of boredoms when they listens to your poems.” Thomas looked almost affronted by that. He quickly stood up and walked towards the performing stage. Mary then rolled her eyes and waited to hear Thomas’ attempt at poetry. 

“I call this latest composition Spring.” Thomas said, pausing for emphasis, before he began his recital.

“Dawn breaks. Outside, a small flower grows
The gentle sound of birdsong ushers in the new day.
Spring is in the air, and with that
New life is surely on its way.
As the sun rises, the world awakes
Its people wishing to seize fresh opportunities
To love, to develop, to create
And to provide for their communities.”

Mary listened to Thomas ramble on about spring with decreasing interest. Thomas talked a lot about emotions and feeling and capturing it in verse, but it seemed that he overstated his feelings and tried to make them more dramatic than they needed to be. She paused for a moment, thinking about what spring meant to her, before she interrupted Thomas’ poem.

“Springs was when we baked breads,
Our family gots the dough, kneededs it
Then we all shared in what we cookeds.
Springs was full of laughter, of joy
Of May days and holidays
And new loves blossomed in the flower fields.”

Pat listened as the poem continued, with both Thomas and Mary continuing to offer their own thoughts about spring, weaving their verses together to create something more than the sum of its parts. Maybe this poem wasn’t the best poem that had been written, and maybe it didn’t stick to the rules of poetry Thomas prattled on about. But that didn’t matter, did it? 

What mattered was that Thomas and Mary, who didn’t always necessarily see eye to eye, were actually collaborating together on a poem, and sharing their own experiences about what Spring meant to them. He was actually proud of them. It was at this point that he looked up at the clock and gasped. He was almost late for the football match! He quickly looked at Mary and Thomas and said, “Guys, I think we’ve overrun on poetry club! Guys!”

“The lazy days gazing at the clouds above
Wondering what life would bring.”
“The peoples wants a better chances
To live their best lives.”

“Guys?” Pat repeated, but the two of them were engrossed in their poetry recital. He shrugged, before he walked out of the room to find Alison and ask her to turn on the television. Neither of them noticed that he had left, as they were to engrossed in their poetry battle to care.

Chapter Text

The Captain rarely looked at Mike’s ghost board in the Kitchen. He’d been a ghost long enough to know what the rest of the ghosts looked like, so he didn’t need their pictures for reference. 

However, there were times when he was in the Kitchen when he was drawn to look at the board. Mainly at night, when he was alone doing patrols. He didn’t want the others to see him drop the Captain persona he wore like a uniform, to see him being so vulnerable

It was always the same picture he’d look at. He was astonished when Alison managed to locate a photograph of his unit, back when they were all going through officer’s training. He did not think that any of his possessions had been left in Button House before he’d died, so his next of kin had to have forgotten all about it. That, or Alison had spent hours looking for that picture. 

He would be impressed if this picture didn’t make him so melancholic. 

It was said that a picture was worth a thousand words. That was true. Words couldn’t convey gentle looks, or the way a fellow officer would smile softly at him when no one was looking, or even the way that a person’s eyes sparkled as easily as a photograph could. 

But a photograph was just a snapshot. It only captured a moment in that person’s life and couldn’t convey what the person was like. Their hopes, their dreams, their little personality quirks that made them them. He looked at the photograph of himself again. He looked serious, intelligent, dedicated to the military. That was true. He was all of those things at the time. 

The problem was that it didn’t capture everything about him, nor the growth he had experienced in the last 70 years. He was less… rigid, less obsessed with rules. He would take part in group activities, he had fun more often, he cared deeply about everyone in this house. He was much freer than he had been when he was alive, he felt more comfortable in his own skin. 

He was happy

The Captain continued to think about his personal growth. His insistence that he would be called ‘the Captain’ when he first died was born out of his insecurities, his own desire to create structure and rules and his sense of patriotism. And for a long time he was content to be nothing more than ‘the Captain’. To be a nameless soldier until he shuffled off this ghostly coil and moved onto whatever came next. 

But was he ‘the Captain’ anymore? 

‘The Captain’ wouldn’t have taken part in Humphrey’s Mr Cheese conversation, nor would he have willingly accepted the teamwork badge from Pat. ‘The Captain’ wouldn’t have known how to comfort Kitty. 

Yes, he was terrified at first that his identity was moving away from being ‘the Captain’. He fought the change, he resisted it with every fibre of his being. However, he eventually realised that he was fine with how he was growing as a person. 

“I’m…” The Captain said quietly, before muttering his own name for the first time in decades. It did not roll of the tongue easily, it sounded strange, almost unnatural, to hear his own name after decades of avoiding it. Undeterred, he repeated it again. And again. Each time, it felt more natural to be known as himself. 

He… still didn’t feel ready to share his name to the group. But he would be. He knew that the other ghosts cared about him as well and would be willing to listen to him when he was willing to share. He would have to ask Alison if she could run another therapy session again. When he was ready, of course. 

The Captain smiled at the photograph of the person he was, before he turned around and made his way out of the Kitchen. He would finish his evening rounds, and then he would head off to bed. 

Chapter Text

When Robin was younger…. A lot younger, he didn’t understand why people felt the need to keep secrets. When he was in his tribe, it was dangerous keeping secrets, especially if it involved mammoths or bears. Not telling tribe where bears were could lead to bear tearing off your face. That happened once. Never happened again after that. As a result, not a lot of Robin’s personal life was a secret, much to the shock of other ghosts. 

But, as the centuries flew by, Robin learnt that secrets had multiple uses. Secrets could be used to protect someone’s feelings. When Robin watched Kitty grow up, he knew that her sister was an absolute cow. She deceived, she lied and cared little for her younger sister. Yet Kitty did not realise this, and she had laughed when Robin had told her. Thought Robin was joking. 

He was not joking. 

The other ghosts wished to protect Kitty, shelter her from the dark truths that her past hid. Robin didn’t at first, but as he got to know her he decided that he did not want to see her cry. So he kept the secret, even when Alison tried to prod into Kitty’s past so she could see that for herself. Robin just wanted to keep the secret to protect that smile. 

Secrets could also be used to protect someone if they felt that the world was against them. Robin knew that the Captain liked men. There were multiple terms used nowadays to describe the Captain’s feelings towards the same gender, but whatever label he used didn’t matter. What mattered was that love between people of the same gender was kept hidden behind closed doors, where lovers spoke in hushed voices and shared gazes. Robin did not understand why they had to keep their love secret or why people had to shame them for it. Love is love and a world that denied that was a cruel one. 

Robin got why the Captain was so scared, but he was safe now. He could be himself without fear. When ready of course. Robin was not going to force secret out of the Captain until he was ready to share. 

Those secrets Robin got. He understood that it was important to protect yourself and other people. Other secrets though were less understandable. Francis’ betrayal was such as well kept secret not even Thomas knew until all of the pieces had been assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. His cousin was a vile man, only wanting money for himself. Selfish. Francis’ secret did little to help his tribe develop. But then Francis cared little about family. 

And then there were the secrets these ‘Gov-ment’ things kept. These ‘state’ secrets Julian kept talking about. Robin did not understand poli-tics. Did that mean ‘Gov-ment’ was made up of many tiny bugs? 

Whatever. These secrets did little to help people and caused harm. Robin did not like them. Especially because they would be gone in a century, so the gain they did get would be fleeting. 

It was at this point that Robin watched the front door open, and Mike walked into the entrance hall, holding flowers and carrying a bottle. Robin looked at the bottle closely, and saw that it said ‘Cham-pain’. Mike quickly looked at the room and said, “I don’t know if any of you are in the room, but please don’t tell Ali about the flowers and the Champagne. I want this to be a surprise for her.” 

Robin smiled. It was no secret that Mike loved Alison. They make good pair. She was out today, sorting out something. Robin hadn’t been paying attention  at the time, more focused on playing chess with Julian. Whatever it was, must be important as otherwise Mike would not be bringing home gifts.  

“Can keep secret.” Robin said quietly. Mike couldn’t hear him of course, but Robin would still keep the secret. This was one of the good ones after all.

Chapter Text

“I’m happy that Alison has let us do this again.” Pat said happily, relaxing into the small camping chair that Alison had left out for them in the woods. Ever since the night Alison and Mike had gone camping in the Button House grounds, Pat had asked her eagerly if he could go camping again. Eventually, after several weeks of pestering, Alison had relented in the end and bought Pat a tent. Pat was overjoyed. 

Yes, it was still Button House. It was still the same grounds that Pat had known for the last 30 odd years. But it was different, and yet familiar at the same time. 

“Yes. Same here.” The Captain replied, miming drinking a mug of hot chocolate out of an imaginary mug, “It is nice to have a break from the rabble from time to time. I cannot remember the last time I got to just sit back and enjoy listening to silence.” 

Pat chuckled at the Captain’s remark. Yes, the other ghosts could be a bit of a handful at times, couldn’t they. They’re family though, Pat couldn’t deny that. He said softly, “Yeah, but Button House wouldn’t be the same without them.” 

“Indeed.” The Captain nodded, a wistful look on his face, “I have not done something like this in a while.” 

“Me neither mate.” Pat replied, fiddling with his glasses, “So…. If you could go camping anywhere in the world, where would you go?” 

“We are dead, Patrick. We cannot simply…” the Captain began. 

“Just humour me for a sec, mate.” Pat interrupted. The Captain fell silent for a few minutes, deep in thought. Pat watched him closely, wondering what his friend was going to say.
“I think I would like to go to Europe.” The Captain replied quietly, “I spent a large part of my life preparing for, and fighting, a war against Europe. I want to see what Europe would be like in times of peace.” 

“Good answer mate, but I thought…” Pat said, sounding astonished at the Captain’s answer. 

It was the Captain’s turn to interrupt. “That everything was about war with me, yes?” Pat nodded. The Captain continued, “Maybe it was once upon a time, but times change. The war is over, as you rightfully told me. And what’s the point of that war if I do not wish to see what peace came of it?” 

Pat smiled, before the two of them fell into an easy silence. Pat looked up, and marvelled at how beautiful the stars were tonight, before the Captain’s voice brought him back down to Earth. “You never answered your question Pat.” 

“Hmmm…?” Pat hummed in response. 

“If you could go camping anywhere in the world, where would you go?” The Captain said quietly. It was Pat’s turn to fall silent, mulling over his answer. Normally, he would know what his answer would be. It would be somewhere in the UK. He hadn’t seen every single beautiful place this country had to offer. But the more he thought about it, the more he didn’t like his answer. His lack of spontaneity and unwillingness to compromise had ruined his relationship with Carol and… there were a part of him that wanted to be adventurous.

Just this once. 

“Anywhere really.” Pat replied, “Maybe go on a backpacking holiday across the world. I want to see so many new places. See new sounds. Taste new foods. Just… it would be nice to see what’s outside of the UK.” 

The Captain nodded, smiling at Pat’s answer, “That sounds admirable.” 

Pat smiled back, and said quietly, “Thanks.” The two of them fell silent. Unlike the last time they had gone camping, Alison had not lit a fire so it was harder to see the Captain this time. However, from what Pat could tell he seemed content at this present moment. Pat liked that. The Captain seemed more relaxed nowadays then he was when Pat had first met him. He had made so much progress in such a short period of time. Pat was proud of him.
“I think it is getting rather late, wouldn’t you say?” The Captain said quietly.

“Yeah, you’re right.” Pat mumbled, standing up. The Captain followed suit, and the two of them entered the tent that Alison had prepared for them. They then lay down on the cold hard ground, before starting to slowly drift off to sleep. 

“Night Cap.”

“Goodnight Patrick.”

Chapter Text

Alison put down the phone, and cheered loudly to herself. They had it! They finally got the planning permission needed to do up the gate house! She was so relieved, because the builders would be starting the building work in a fortnight and it would have been awkward if they didn’t have planning permission.

Alison walked through the house, ignoring her ghostly neighbours getting up to their usual antics, before she found Mike in their bedroom. Surprisingly, Julian wasn’t there with him. Ever since that first conversation they had, the pair of them had been chatting a lot using Mike’s laptop as a medium. She was happy that her husband was finally bonding with the ghosts properly.

After all, he has been desperate to see them.

“Hey Ali.” Mike said warmly, “You see, happy. Any news?”

“Wegotpermissiontorenovatethegatehouse.” Alison said, excited to share the good news with her husband. Mike looked at her quizzically, trying to work out what Alison had said, before he burst into an equally huge grin. Alison continued, “I know. I’m so excited! Especially because…”

“We’re one step closer to achieving our dream.” Mike said, and Alison could hear the awe in his voice as he enveloped her in a huge hug. She couldn’t believe it. They were one step closer to renovating Button House completely. It would soon be open to guests, and events and film crews and all sorts.

It was incredible when she thought about it. When she’d first inherited the house all of this seemed impossible. Button House was more run down than the pictures suggested and a large chunk of the ghosts were desperate to drive both her and Mike out of the house screaming.

They nearly had done. Almost sold the house to that snooty hotel lady and moved to a soulless little box, both figuratively and literally. Thank gods the ghosts had stopped them from going ahead with the sale. She couldn’t imagine her future without them. She said quietly, “I’m… I’m just so happy that we’re getting there.”

“We are.” Mike said, “And it’s because of you. You’ve been utterly amazing. You’ve organised everything that has gone on in this house and kept the ghosts entertained long enough to sort everything out.”

Alison smiled fondly at Mike, with tears in her eyes, “Don’t think I’d have been anywhere near as calm as I have been if it weren’t for you though.”

“Yeah, I can see why.” Mike trailed off, trying to imagine what it would have been like if he was going through what Alison was going through, before he asked “So, Lady Cooper. How do you wish to celebrate today’s development?”

“I just want a glass of wine, and then just sit and watch telly with you and the ghosts.” Alison said quietly, “Maybe go out for dinner tomorrow.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Mike smiled at Alison, before they walked around the house and told each of the ghosts the good news. All of them were excited for both Alison and Mike, and they all joined in the celebrations.

Several hours past, and a slightly tipsy Alison and Mike were in bed together. Alison said quietly, “Can you imagine what our life would have been like had we…”

“I don’t want to. Life’s pretty great as it is.” Mike shook his head with a smile. Alison murmured a sleepy sounding ‘it is’ before snuggling up to Mike. He said quietly, “Do you want me to turn off the light?”

“Hmmm… yeah.” Alison replied quietly. Mike nodded, leaning over to his bed side table and flicking off the light switch. Alison then mumbled, “Night Mike.”

“Night Alison.” Mike replied softly, kissing Alison on the forehead, before he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Julian knew that he was good at reading people. He had to be. After all, he was a ‘respectable’ politician, or as respectable a politician as he could be. He dealt with unsavoury individuals and struck multiple trade deals. He needed to know when someone was going to keep their word or when someone was going to stab him in the proverbial back. Which is why he noticed something off with one of his fellow ghosts.

Kitty on the surface seemed exactly the same as she normally was. Still sweet. Still innocent. Still so very naive. However, her smiles didn’t last as long as they normally did and there was a melancholic look on her face when she thought no one was looking. She seemed sad for some reason. However, Julian didn’t know why and he did actually worry about her well-being, even if it didn’t seem like it.

Which is why, one day after food club, Julian waited until it was just him and Kitty in the room, before he said quietly, “Hey, Kitty. Wait.”

Kitty turned around at the sound of Julian’s voice, before she replied with a smile, “What is it Julian?” Julian paused for a split second, wondering if it was a good idea to prod into Kitty’s personal life. However, he never listened to good ideas and he liked prodding into people’s personal lives, so he was going to ask.

“Yeah, was just wondering if you were alright.” Julian said casually, “You sound under the weather, and I just wanted to check up on you.”

“…I understand why you didn’t want to talk to me about my sister.” Kitty mumbled, “She hated me, didn’t she?”

“Yeah, the other ghosts mentioned that to me.” Julian admitted, feeling unusually guilty, “Awful woman. Don’t get why she…” Julian didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence, as Kitty collapsed onto the sofa, almost on the verge of tears. Julian added, “Hey, hey, I was going to say…”

“If I couldn’t trust my sister when I was alive, then who can I trust?” Kitty said weakly, “And how do I know who to trust?”

“Well, uhhh…” Julian began, sounding unsure of himself, “Yes, there are a lot of untrustworthy people in the world, but there are a lot of good ones too. Take Alison, for example. She called you the sister she never had and she’s done a lot for us. You’ve just got to learn from the bad and accept the good.”

Kitty almost seemed convinced by Julian’s generic attempt at an answer. She asked quietly, “Did you ever trust anyone, Julian?”

“Psssh, yes.” Julian replied, “I trust you lot.”

“But did you ever trust anyone when you were alive?” Kitty asked again. Julian fell silent.

Well there was that one MP…except that Julian knew that he would willingly throw anyone under the bus for money, he’d done it with that Berkshire MP back in ‘88. What about any of the women he’d had an affair with? No. He had to bribe them to keep it all on the down low, unless they went to the press. Then there was his family who were, you know, kind of awful. He could have trusted Margot… or his daughter, but he hadn’t cared enough to try.

It was only when he died that he found people he had liked enough to trust. What did that say about him then? That he’d spent too long looking for the worst in people that he could no longer see the good in people? That all the relationships he had in life were shallow, almost fake? Julian slumped down onto the sofa next to Kitty, before muttering, “Not really.”

Kitty was quiet for a few more moments, before she replied, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Me too.” Julian said, looking down at the ground, the guilt he was feeling earlier growing stronger, “I still meant what I said. Sometimes…. Well, you trust the wrong person and they hurt you. Happens to everyone. Point is, that shouldn’t be the reason you never trust anyone again. I should have known that. In the end though… there’s no easy way to know who to trust. You just have to guess and hope that you’ve put the trust in the right person.”

Kitty nodded, “Thank you Julian. I really appreciate your advice.” And she hugged him. He protested at first, but after everything that just happened he supposed he could allow Kitty to find comfort however she wanted to. Plus… it felt nice to be hugged for once. She continued, “I do have to go though. Alison wanted to watch Grease with me.”

“Oh, have fun watching your…” Julian began, before he was interrupted again.

“And, by the way, I trust you Julian.” Kitty said warmly, before she walked off, leaving Julian alone in the living room. She was making a mistake really. Julian knew that, unlike the rest of the ghosts, he was a shitty person. She shouldn’t trust him. 

Chapter Text

“Urgh, I don’t get why she’s crying.” Fanny said, tutting in disappointment. She was watching some vulgar reality programme with Thomas and a woman called Bethany was crying because another competitor has said something vile about her. Thomas seemed to be enjoying it, but Fanny was less impressed. If only she had Julian’s power, she would turn the television off instantly.

“Is it not healthy though to express one’s emotions?” Thomas said quietly.

“Not for something as inane as this though.” Fanny countered. Thomas turned and looked at Fanny quizzically. She added, “Especially in front of strangers. It is…”

“I think that being told that your mother is a disgraceful harlot is something that you should be allowed to be upset about.” Thomas replied back, “For one…”

“She should be bottling up those emotions and not reveal how painful those remarks are to her.” Fanny said quietly, “After all, a true lady would…”

Thomas slowly raised a hand and shushed Fanny, before adding, “Imagine, if you would that you fell out of a tree and broke your leg.” Fanny nodded at Thomas, slightly scandalised by his use of the word leg but also curious as to where he was going with this analogy. He continued, “Ignoring the pain does not allow the injury to heal. Addressing it does. I think it works with emotions as well.”

“Are you saying that it is, in fact, perfectly alright to cry?” Fanny asked, thinking about it some more. She had always been told that it was never alright to cry or show any form of weakness, but if it was perfectly alright then…. What other emotions would she be allowed be allowed to express. Joy? Rage? 

“Indeed.” Thomas smiled, “There are multiple healthily ways to express how you feel. I tend to express mine through poetry, but you can also sing, or dance or talk. Alison ran that group therapy session for Kitty, and that helped as well. Why, you could even show joy in the same way that you did after you had that tryst with Humphrey’s body.” Fanny groaned, looking at Thomas with disapproval.

“We are not discussing that ever again.” Fanny said firmly.

“Oh, I agree with you there. The…” Thomas was silenced by Fanny’s withering gaze, before he (sensibly) decided to change the subject, “If you ever need to discuss your thoughts and feelings with us, any of us will be happy to listen. We may all not necessarily get along, but… we all agreed that we were family, did we not?”

Fanny nodded, “We did. I promise that I will try, but it will… take me a while for me to feel comfortable with that.”

Take your time.” Thomas said, “I do not want you to discuss your feelings when you are not ready to discuss them with yourself.” Fanny looked at Thomas and nodded again, before their attention turned back towards that reality show. Bethany had calmed down considerably by now, and was currently taking part in some sort of contest to win an advantage for her team.

Fanny wasn’t really focused on the programme, instead mulling over how different her life would have been if she had been allowed to express her feelings. If she could have discussed her hopes and dreams with her own mother, or if she had been allowed to talk about her unhappy marriage with George.

Or if George had been allowed to talk about his own unhappiness, his own fears and his own desires.

She didn’t know for certain. Couldn’t know, because of how everything had turned out. Still, it was too late to turn the clock back now. All she could do was to move on with the times and allow herself to grow.

Chapter Text

Pat Butcher hadn’t been dead for very long, and he was struggling. It didn’t feel real that he was dead. He was still aware of the world moving around him, he could still see and hear and interact with his fellow ghosts and yet…

He’d seen his body. He couldn’t interact with the rest of the world. He couldn’t leave Button House. The rest of his existence would be spent looking at the same four walls and watching time inevitably move on without him until he eventually got ‘sucked off’ as Mary put it.

“What is it!?” Pat snapped. Most of the ghosts had left him alone at this point as Pat was furious about it all. He could no longer deny what had happened and there was no one to bargain with so all Pat could really do was to rage about the unfairness of it all. 

“Just want to see if you ok.” Pat could hear Robin grunting behind him. Pat turned around and glared at the caveman, fighting back tears.

“Well, Robin, I am not ok.” Pat yelled, “I just fucking died, I am stuck here as a ghost and I can never see me loved ones again. Why the hell did you think I would be ok?” 

Robin looked at Pat sympathetically, sitting down on the nearest chair. Pat felt awkward standing up, so he sat down next to Robin, wondering what the caveman was going to say. Robin said calmly, “Dying hard.”

“I know that!” Robin replied loudly, “Been there, done that, got the commemorative arrow to prove it.” He gently tapped the arrow in his neck to prove a point.

“Ok to be angry. But no can be angry forever.” Robin continued, tapping Pat gently on the shoulder, “Ev…Even…tu…ally you run out of anger. Then you cry.”

“Then what!? What am I meant to do next?” Pat asked. He could feel tears slowly begin to fall down his cheeks as he swallowed. He couldn’t even imagine a ‘next’ after all of this. How could he, when he was dead?

“Up to you.” Robin replied, “I would smile though. Better to try and find happ…eee….ness in this. Smile. Laugh. Get to know others. When ready.” With that, Robin stood up and walked through the nearest wall, leaving Pat alone to deal with his own emotions.

Pat couldn’t understand how he would even find happiness at first. He could no longer see he wife and son. He no longer had the scouts, or his mates, or go back to work at the bank. He had lost everything in such a short space of time. How long would it be before he forgot the sound of Carol’s voice, or what Fish and Chips tasted like? 

Robin was right though. In the end, the rage he’d felt fizzled out, replaced with a feeling of emptiness. He lost track of how long he’d cries before he stumbled back into the living room where most of the ghosts were sitting awkwardly. Were they waiting for him? Pat didn’t know and didn’t care at this point.

“Sorry… for losing my temper at you lot earlier.” Pat began, sounding slightly sheepish, “All of this was a lot to take in. Feeling better now though. My name’s Pat. Pat Butcher. Short for Patrick. Nice to meet you all.”

Pat was briefly overwhelmed by the various introductions, until he saw Robin in the corner. Robin looked at him, and smiled. Granted, he looked a little intimidating, but Pat couldn’t help but smile back, before throwing himself back into the introductions. Pat decided that he was going to take it one step at a time, but eventually he’d find a way to be happy after all of this.

Chapter Text

“Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!” The ghosts and Alison began to sing in unison, “Happy Birthday dear Mary! Happy Birthday to you!” Mary jumped a little, not expecting the sudden noise, before she burst into a smile.

“Ahhh, thank yous.” She said bashfully, feeling self conscious, “Yous did not needs to celebrates though.” Mary was quickly rebuked as the other ghosts pulled her into a massive hug, telling her how she was part of the family or that they wanted her to feel loved and happy. It was nice, Mary had to admit. It was nice to feel wanted.

“Oh! I heard that on your Birthday you get to make a wish!” Kitty said enthusiastically.

“Yeah, that’s a thing.” Julian said, with a wink, “I always wished for a little rumpy bumby, if you know what I mean. That, or some booze or even a little…”

“Julian!” Alison interrupted, looking at the politician with an aghast look on her face. The rest of the ghosts began squabbling at this point, whilst Mary started thinking about what Kitty had just said. A wish? On your Birthday? She wanted to make a wish, but she had no idea what to wish for.

After all, it was hard to wish for something when you were dead. A new set of clothes? Can’t change what you’re wearing. Want to travel the world? Can’t leave the house. Want to be alive? Tough. You’re a ghost now and your body has become nothing more than food for the insects. 

And she had everything that she wanted here. She had the garden Alison and Mike prepared for her last year. Button House was home and the other ghosts and Alison were family to her. But could she wish for more of the same? She could, but would that be seen as boring?

She didn’t really care. Why should she wish for something extravagant when she had a home and a family here that she wouldn’t trade for anything? She was simply content with her afterlife.

“I wishes that our happiness continues.” Mary said loudly. Everyone turned around and looked at Mary with a look of confusion on their faces. “Kitty said that I coulds makes a wish on my Birthday.”

“…Yes, Mary, but you’re not meant to say your wish out loud.” Pat said patiently, looking at her with a fond smile on his face, “But we will all make sure that you wish comes true.”

“Indeed.” The Captain added. Mary smiled warmly as the other ghosts and Alison looked at her with smiles on their faces, before the Captain continued, “Right, Alison. What are the plans for the rest of today?”

“Well…” Alison explained, “I have the balloons coming in a bit, but then I was going to put on Bake Off for Mary.”

“Oh, that sounds excellent.” Mary said enthusiastically, “After Bingates, I needs to sees how the series ends.”

“Oh Bingate was an actual travesty.” Fanny said disapprovingly, but by that point Mary and everyone else were in full party swing. The rest of the day flew past quickly, but Mary felt all of it feeling loved. Her wish had indeed come true.

Chapter Text

Mike and Alison sat down on the sofa, tired after a long day of work. Mike quietly drunk a glass of beer, before placing his feet up on the coffee table. Gogglebox was on. That show was good. He needed to watch something lighthearted after the chaotic and stressful day he had.

It was hard to balance working from home and the much needed building work that needed to be done as soon as possible but they were managing, and now they could just sit back and relax. However, unbeknownst to Mike, the ghosts were in the room with them. And Alison…. Wasn’t getting a chance to relax due to their antics.

“What on Earth, Alison!” Fanny shrieked, glaring at Mike with a murderous look on her eyes, “Tell Michael to get his feet off the coffee table, or else…!”

“Or else what? You’re just going to…. Shriek at them?” Julian said casually, “Face it love. Manners have changed. And they’re in their own home. Just…”

“That is still a nice table, and it would be a shame if the table was ruined because of this.” Fanny shouted back. It was at this point that Mary piped up and said, “Can yous keeps it down? I am trying to watch the shows.”

“Alison!” The Captain yelled, striding confidently into the room, “My programme about Super-weapons was meant to have started 5 minutes ago, and yet…”

“Well, Fanny, I’m sorry that you didn’t have much fun in your life, but…”

“I was in the middle of watching Hairspray!” Kitty said, sounding upset, “I was near the end when the Captain walked in and…”

“You are a wretched man, Julian! You know nothing about class!”

“Please can someone rewinds the televisions? I misses what they were sayings.”

“I asked Kitty nicely if she would let me watch what I want to watch…”

“And how were you going to switch the channel, Captain?”

“Alison, are you alright?” Mike asked quietly. Alison looked at Mike and mouthed the word ‘no’ as subtly as she could. Mike looked at Alison sympathetically, “Are the ghosts in the room right now?”

“….Yeah.” Alison replied.

“Alison, what are they sayings about the Queen?” 

“How dare you Fanny! I am a respectable Politician. I know how to conduct myself in proper society!”

“Says the man who decided to have a tryst with an employee at his own political fundraising event!”

“Well, I would like to watch my programme as well! You have been watching Hairspray on the laptop…”

Well, you can watch your programme afterwards. It is…”

“Alison!” Thomas burst into the room with a huge smile on his face, “I finished my latest poem and I wanted to ask if you wanted to listen to it?”

“Right, listen up!” Alison finally snapped at the ghosts, “Captain, please can you let Kitty finish watching Hairspray, and then I’ll put your super weapons programme on for you. Thomas, I will listen to your poem, but I want to have some alone time with Mike. Mike, please can you rewind the programme for Mary? Whilst you are at it, please can you take your feet off the table? And Fanny and Julian, please can you just…stop?”

The various ghosts grumbled or tried to protest, but a glare from Alison was enough to quieten them down. Most of them left the room, apart from Mary who was watching the programme peacefully.

“Better?” Mike asked quietly a few moments later.

“Yeah.” Alison said, sighing in relief. Mike snuggled up to Alison as the two of them watched Gogglebox in silence, unwinding after a long and stressful day. It was nice to not have to deal with the chaos the ghosts brought with them sometimes.

It was at this point that the lights flickered.

“Robin!”

Chapter Text

History is nothing more than an anthology;
Its eras the poems, its events the verses
that play out in similar ways
and yet they have their differences.
It is, however, hard to deny
that the events of history echo through time
With…

“Are you reciting poetry again, Thomas?” Thomas looked up, as the Captain marched into the room, before stopping and looking at the poet inquisitively, “Of course, I mean…”

“Yes, though… I was also thinking.” Thomas replied honestly. The Captain looked at him with a look of surprise. Thomas rolled his eyes, and continued, “Yes, I do think sometimes.”

“What about?” The Captain replied sceptically.

“We always think of how much times have changed since we were alive.” Thomas said quietly, “Yet, the people still face similar struggles. We all experience loss, betrayal, love, joy. We all have dreams for the future and things that we’d rather forget. So, when you take apart our lives and remove our differences it’s hard to see how we are not the same.”

“We are not the same, Thorne. I am a high ranking officer…” The Captain began, before Thomas gently placed a finger on his lips.

“How many have sat upon this window seat, and stared at the setting sun? How many people who have walked these halls had their own hopes and dreams, some achieved, some so cruelly dashed?” Thomas began rambling, dramatically waving his arms around, “How many stories of love and heartbreak have played out in this house?”

The Captain joined Thomas and sat down on the window seat, and stared at the Button House grounds. He could imagine what it was like when he was stationed here, he could see his men carrying out vital wartime work as if it were yesterday. What did Thomas see when he looked out at the gardens? Did he see lazy summer days spent with Isabelle, back when he was trying to court her? Or did he just see the place where he died?

He thought about Thomas had said further. It was ludicrous to think that there had been any heartbreak when he was… unless… he had loved Havers, had he not? When he smiled, or when they accidentally touched hands for the briefest of moments, the Captain had felt feelings that for a long time he couldn’t explain and for an even longer time he was scared of ever showing.

The Captain held the photograph that he had of Havers in his pocket and looked at Thomas once more. He was right. All of the ghosts were the same in a way. They were all hapless fools whose lives were cut unnaturally short, and could do nothing except mull over the what could have beens.

It was hard to imagine it, but it was possible that there were other people, other ghosts who were thinking about the very same thing at this very moment.

“What brought all of this on?” The Captain asked quietly.

“I… was thinking about Lucy.” Thomas said quietly, “I know Pat told me once that talking wouldn’t magically make the pain go away, but talking has helped. It’s just… her scheme to hurt Alison reminded me a little of what Francis did and…”

“Are you thinking about what could have been if Francis had been caught in the same way Lucy was?” The Captain finished softly. Thomas nodded, starting out beyond the grounds and into the middle distance. The Captain said, “Alas, no can do I’m afraid. However, because we learnt from the past we were able to avoid that becoming her future.”

“Indeed.” Thomas said, a ghost of a smile lightening up his dour expression. He continued, “I say, Captain. I asked Alison if she could put on the Mikado later. Would you like to watch it as well?”

“I would very much like to indeed.” The Captain smiled, before the two of the, got up from the window seat and made their way towards the living room, where they were sure Alison would be.

Chapter Text

Humphrey was dozing on the windowsill when he heard the sound of someone knocking on the front door. He slowly woke up and tried to work out who the heck would be knocking on the door at this time of night. Was it burglars? Intruders? Whatever it was…. They couldn’t be good. He shouted, “Thieves! Intruders!”

“I’ll get that!” Humphrey head Mike yell out, as he walked down the stairs and towards the front door. Humphrey called out, trying to get Alison, or one of the other ghosts’, attention to try and stop Mike before he got hurt.

“Trick or Treat!” Humphrey heard an unfamiliar voice call out. Humphrey looked outside and saw a group of individuals standing outside. They were dressed up in Halloween costumes holding pumpkin shaped buckets. Trick or Treat? That term sounded familiar, but he couldn’t work out why.

“Alison, do we have any sweets?” Mike asked, shouting up the stairs. Alison shouted back, saying that there was a bucket of sweets in the kitchen cupboards. Mike looked at the group,  before he said quickly, “Wait a second.” and turned around to walk into the Kitchen.

Humphrey almost started worrying about the fact that Mike had left the front door open, which meant that the individuals could easily walk in and steal valuable items from the house, before he finally remembered what Trick or Treating was. Pat and Julian had mentioned that they used to dress up and take their children out around their neighbourhoods and get sweets from their neighbours.

Or, in Julian’s case, take part in some very Halloween appropriate affairs.

Humphrey would have enjoyed taking part in this custom if he were alive. Maybe if he could he would dress up as a headless man, except he would be wearing a giant costume of a man without a head, holding a prop head in his hands. Maybe he should give that prop head a nice beard… just so that it looked like his own head.

It was at this point that Mike returned to the front door, holding a large bucket that was also shaped like a Pumpkin. The children present got excited, and eagerly took handfuls of sweets before saying happily, “Thank you Mister!”

“You’re welcome!” Mike said warmly in response, “Happy Halloween!”

“Happy Halloween!” The people outside replied happily, as they walked away from the house. Mike closed the front door behind them and went back upstairs. Humphrey smiled. That was actually a nice surprise. Nice to get random visitors out here who weren’t planning a robbery once in a while.

“Humphrey.” Robin asked, as he walked into the living room, “Heard you say intruder.”

“Oh, it was just a bunch of trick or treaters looking for sweets.” Humphrey said with a smile. Robin looked at Humphrey with a visible look of confusion on his face. Humphrey asked, “Are you alright, Robin?”

“What trick or treaters?”

“Well, Robin. Trick or Treating is…”

Chapter Text

“Trick or Treat!” Kitty said cheerfully, as she walked around Button House, looking for the other residents. Earlier that evening, Humphrey had mentioned an exciting tradition called ‘Trick or Treating’ which involved walking around where you lived dressed in a fancy costumes looking for sweets.

That must be the treat. Kitty loved the sound of it. But then, what was the trick? Would she have to play a prank on someone? Oh no, she hoped no one would say ‘trick’ because otherwise she would have to prank them, making them upset. Like…

“Treat!” The Captain said quickly as he spotted Kitty, before handing Kitty an imaginary bar of chocolate, before adding, “Can I also come trick or treating with you? This tradition reminds me a lot of Guising. I used to…”

“Guising?” Kitty asked quietly. She had heard of that tradition when she was younger, but she was never allowed outside of the house at Halloween. Eleanor always told her that there were monsters that roamed the countryside that night and they would snatch up wicked little girls and eat them. Like Kitty. Meanwhile, good little girls like Eleanor were allowed outside, to have fun…

Had she lied about this as well?

“Oh yes. Guising.” The Captain smiled, reminiscing about his childhood, “I used to perform various Gilbert and Sullivan’s songs at each of the houses I went to, dressed up as a sailor. All of my neighbours used to say that I gave them the most marvellous performances.” The Captain almost looked proud of himself when he revealed that fact.

“That sounds wonderful!” Kitty said with a warm smile, “We don’t have any costumes though.”

“Yes, that is a problem…” The Captain trailed off, mulling it over for a second, before he raised his swagger stick, a massive smile on his face, “We could improvise, and pretend that we are wearing costumes. You are… The Queen of Hearts, from Alice in Wonderland!”

“Oh and you are… a…. An undead general!” Kitty exclaimed, excited to be included by the Captain. He smiled, straightening his tie, before the two of the, continued making their way through the house.

“Wait, we cannot eat sweets either…” Kitty realised.

“Again, we can improvise.” The Captain replied, “Plus, I think Alison and Michael would be more than happy to eat any leftover sweets.” Kitty nodded, and said quietly, “That sounds like a plan.”, as they bumped into Julian. Once they saw him, the two of them exclaimed cheerfully, “Trick or Treat!”

Chapter Text

“I do not understand why people watch films to scare themselves.” Fanny said, sounding sceptical. Pat and Julian had decided to put on a horror movie after dinner I’m order to prepare themselves for Halloween, which Alison had agreed to. Most of the ghosts hadn’t been interested, Fanny included. Well, until she saw that the lead actor was quite attractive.

“Well… I enjoy watching well made horror films as they have really good plots and it’s fun to be jump scared once in a while…” Pat began explaining, before he noticed that Fanny seemed confused, “A jump scare is a thing used to scare audiences by flashing a visual image accompanied by a scary sound, such as saying Boo!”

“I’m just here for the actresses honestly.” Julian added, shrugging as he crossed his legs. Fanny looked at him with disgust, before the three of them stopped talking. After all, they were engrossed by the film.

Currently the main character, Eddie, was hiding in the basement with his sister, Maggie. They were waiting for ‘The Mirthless One’ to leave. The music was quiet at the moment, allowing the sound of the Mirthless One’s footsteps to be heard clearly.

“Right, when I say go, run up the stairs.” Eddie whispered, “I’ll distract the bastard.”

“Language!” Fanny exclaimed, before Pat and Julian shushed her. At this point Maggie replied, “Ok!” The music started to pick up in intensity as the sound of the Mirthless One’s footsteps grew louder, and louder, and louder.

“Go!” Eddie exclaimed, as he slammed the locker door open. Meanwhile, the lights in the room that the three ghosts were in began to flicker. The three ghosts jumped, startled. 

“Robin, is that you affecting the lights?” Fanny asked, sounding disappointed. There was no response. The lights continued to flicker. Fanny asked again, “Robin?”

It was at this point that the floorboards creaked above them. Julian started breathing heavily, his eyes darting around the place to see if he could see anything, or anyone suspicious. He said quietly, “Hello? Anyone there?”

“It’s just us three in here guys.” Pat said reassuringly, and he was about to say something else when the room was suddenly plunged into darkness. Pat suddenly felt someone sitting on his lap. He shouted, “Oi! Please…”

“It’s the Mirthless One, isn’t it?” Julian said, sounding afraid, “Oh shit he’s haunting us, I don’t want to die…!”

“We are ghosts, Julian.” Fanny said, in a matter of fact tone, “We are the ones who are meant to be doing the haunting.”

“You…failed…your loved…ones.” A deep, rasping voice echoed through the room. If any of the ghosts had been thinking, they would have realised that it was coming from the TV. However, none of them were.

“I’m so sorry!” Julian pleaded, “If only I could redo my life over, I swear that I would…!”

“I’d be a much better husband to Carol, I would.” Pat added, hugging Julian. The music grew louder, and more intense as the chase scene continued, but by this point only Fanny was watching the film as the other two ghosts were practically hiding behind the sofa.

Boo!

None of the ghosts knew who shouted that phrase, as a skeletal force peered at them from the TV screen. Julian and Pat screamed, running out of the room in a blind panic. Fanny followed behind the pair of them, using the fact that she was telling off as being loud as a cover to hide the fact that she was also scared by what she had experienced. None of them finished watching the film.

In the room next door, Robin heard the sound of screaming and footsteps. Robin, however, didn’t care. He turned over and fell back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Summer quickly gave way to Autumn. Mary sat peacefully in the garden, admiring how beautiful Button House was at this time of year. She loved how the leaves turned various shades of orange and brown and she adored the glorious sunsets that made the sky seem like a painting.

“It’s incredible to think that we have witnessed so many Autumns in Button House and yet… we can still find beauty in it.” Humphrey said, a contented sigh escaping his lips. He had no idea where his body had wandered off to, but he wasn’t that bothered. Instead, he was more interested in watching a large leaf blowing off the nearest tree and floating slowly to the ground.

“Yes. Autumns be goods.” Mary replied, “It was always my favourites time of years when I was alives.”

“Same here.” Humphrey said softly, “When I was alive I remember Sophie and I used to walk through the gardens. It was one of the few times that we actually spent time together.” Mary looked at Humphrey sympathetically.

“Funny how things works.” Mary muttered, “None of us imagines beings a ghost and yets…”

“Yeah.” Humphrey sighed, “Time is a funny thing. It doesn’t exist physically in the world and yet we can observe it’s effects all around us. Like the passing of the seasons, or witnessing someone growing old. It is beautiful, and yet sad in a way…”

Mary looked at Humphrey, slightly confused by the flowery language he was using, before she said quietly, “Hards to realises how quickly things can passes you by until it’s gone.”

“That was the hardest thing I struggled with when I first became a ghost.” Humphrey admitted, “Time felt so slow, and yet I could blink and several months would pass.” Another leaf fell of the tree, falling to the ground and joining the pile of leaves that had formed over the past week. Humphrey continued, “It’s like when someone changes and grows as a person until they look back on who they were. I don’t think I was as calm a person as I was when I first died.”

“And I wasn’t as trustings.” Mary agreed, “I wonders what Alison and Mike thinks about all of this.”

“I honestly do not know.” Humphrey said quietly, “Perhaps they are aware of their own transience because of us. Perhaps not. Who knows. It is hard to tell unless we ask them.”

“What be transience?” Mary asked, confused by Humphrey’s choice of words.

“Transience is the idea that people, things, feelings are… fleeting in the grand scheme of things. Like the leaves on a tree. In spring, the tree blooms and the leaves grow and then when autumn comes the leaves die and the trees are barren once again. And yes, people can try and extend something that it’s transient beyond its natural lifespan but… there is a time for all things, and the end of a thing is better than it’s beginning.” Humphrey explained.

“Are yous sayings that we can’t appreciates Autumn if we tries and preserves Spring?” Mary asked quietly.

“That’s one way of looking at it.” Humphrey said with a smile, “Or you could say that how can you appreciate Spring’s beauty of that it is all you’ve ever known? It’s the same with life. Yes death… tends to be final and it’s tragic but without death you cannot appreciate life.”

Mary paused, mulling over Humphrey’s words. He was right in a sense. Becoming a ghost had been hard, and the extended afterlife she had been given was as dull as dirt most of the time. But if she hadn’t been sucked off when she had died, then there was so much she wouldn’t have experienced. She wouldn’t have met the other ghosts, or experienced the modern world that Alison and Mike were showing them. 

Yes, it was fleeting. Some of the other ghosts had been sucked off, and eventually Alison and Mike would be to. But… Mary was glad that she was here to experience it. She said quietly, “Life’s what you makes of it and what you does with it I suppose.”

“It is, yes.” Humphrey replied, before continuing, “Pat is running food club in a bit. I don’t suppose you could take me there?”

“Of courses, Humphrey. Mary said with a smile. She picked him up and took him back into Button House for the next lot of activities.

Chapter Text

“Excuse me, are you lost?” Jemima asked quietly. Julian looked up at the small girl and shuddered. Even though she was a sweet kid really, her appearance still unsettled him. He… had no idea why he was in the pantry, or even how he got there, but he didn’t want to leave.

Today had started off like any other day, until Pat held an impromptu talk about family and who they missed from back when they were alive and Julian just started *spiralling*. Before he knew it he was… here. He said quietly, “I suppose I am, yeah.”

“Oh, are you playing hide and seek?” Jemima asked innocently, “Are you waiting for one of the others to find you?” Julian shook his head, and Jemima tilted her head to look at him with a confused expression on her face. Fuck, he’d have to explain his problems to a child.

“Heh, you don’t realise just how much you took life for granted until it’s gone.” Julian said, a sad sounding chuckle escaping his lips, “In a sense, I had it all. A family that tolerated and even cared for me. Money, power and everything that entails. Was smart, was funny, was charismatic. I could have done something good with that. Could have donated to charities, or doted on my wife and child or held my Government to account. I didn’t. And then I died.”

The two of them fell silent. Julian absentmindedly played with the doorstop, making a satisfying boing noise as he did so. Jemima giggled at the sound. Julian looked at her, and fiddled with it again. Another boing. Another giggle escaped her lips. Julian asked with a smirk, “You find that funny, eh?”. Jemima nodded, and Julian did it again.

Jemima burst out laughing.

He looked at her again, and suddenly he could see Rachel in the young girl. Is that what he could have had, if he’d actually been there for her? They could have had lazy Sundays together, playing mindless games such as this. He could have taught her chess, he could have read her bedtimes stories and tucked her into bed when she went to sleep.

He paused, thinking about his own little girl more. He didn’t remember, didn’t know, what her voice sounded like. He hadn’t seen her walk, or smile, or hear her say “Daddy!” All this time, he thought that the most valuable thing he’d lost was his wealth and his status. Turns out he’d lost something far more valuable without him knowing.

“…Your hair is funny.” Jemima said with a pout, prodding Julian’s hair. Julian chuckled, as the young girl continue fiddling with his hair. He let her, glad that she found his silly hair funny.

“Yeah, my hair is a little weird.” Julian laughed, “Was a nightmare to maintain in the mornings.” 

“What do you mean by that, Mister?” Jemima asked quietly. Julian decided to act how how a usual day trying to tame his hair looked like, compete with facial expressions and unusual grunting sounds to an increasingly amused Jemima. It didn’t make anything magically better, but it helped a little.

He’d made many terrible mistakes and he’d lost a lot of things that he wouldn’t be able to get back, and the guilt he felt would last him the rest of his afterlife. But he had a second chance to do something right.

And if that was entertaining Jemima and making her feel more comfortable with not just him, but the other ghosts and Alison too, then that’s what he was going to try and do.  

Chapter Text

“I was wondering…” Alison said quietly one day, looking at Kitty, “Mary mentioned that there were other ghosts who lived in the house. Would you be able to tell me about them?” Kitty looked at Alison with a smile, though Alison could tell that she was upset. She asked quietly, “You don’t want to talk about it?”

“Oh, they were friends, once upon a time.” Kitty said, bouncing on the balls of her feet a little, “We just don’t like talking about the ones who passed on before us. It’s…” She trailed off, looking out of the window wistfully. Alison nodded, deciding to respect Kitty’s wishes. She stood up, and turned a page in Kitty’s book for her, before she walked around the house. She needed to see if the other ghosts needed her after all.

She found Mary in the Kitchen, sitting by the freshly baked bread Mike had made earlier. Alison knew that the ghosts could smell food and that Mary enjoyed the smell of freshly baked goods. She stood in the doorway a bit, before she asked quietly, “Hey, Mary. Can you tell me what Annie was like?”

“…Why does yous wants to knows?” Mary asked suspiciously.

“I just want to know who else haunted Button House before I inherited it.” Alison replied honestly, “You said that Annie was a good friend of yours and…”

“She was.” Mary said, looking at the table with a distant look in her eyes, “I misses her, you knows. She was funnys, and smarts and she cared about all of us. House isn’t the sames without her.” Alison fell silent, waiting to see if Mary would talk about Annie further. Mary could see Alison looking at her expectantly, before she said weakly, “Cans you leaves me bes?” Alison nodded, before she walked out of the kitchen.

“Ah, Alison!” You seem troubled.” Thomas said, looking concerned as Alison walked into the library, “Is there anything that I can do to alleviate your troubled mind?”

“I asked Mary and Kitty about the ghosts who used to haunt Button House, but they refused to discuss it further. I was hoping that you might know something about them. I know Annie was there when….”

Thomas sighed, sitting down in his usual sighing spot, before he said bluntly, “Of course we do not talk about those who came before us. It is sometimes hard to think fondly of former friends who have gone through the veil, leaving us alone to deal with the envy and loneliness our existences entail.” 

Alison was about to ask further questions, before Thomas started waxing poetry. Every time she tried to interrupt, Thomas began talking over over, until all she could do was just apologise and leave him be.

Alison stood in the hallway, thinking about their reactions to her question. The more she thought about it, the more confused she was. Why didn’t the three of them want Alison to talk? Yes, Alison knew that the other ghosts didn’t want to dwell on the past, but there was something else. They had another reason to avoid wanting to discuss the ghosts that came before them. Perhaps… Humphrey might be more willing to talk to her.

“Humphrey, at last!” Alison said eagerly. It had taken a while, but she eventually found him inside the toilet of all places. She said quietly, “I have a question for you.”

“Oh, what is it?” Humphrey asked, trying to look up at Alison.

“So, I asked a couple of the other ghosts about the ghosts that moved on before I came here, but everyone I asked seemed angry when I wanted to discuss it. Initially, I thought it was because they didn’t want to dwell on…”

“We’re all protecting Robin.” Humphrey said solemnly.

“…What do you mean?” Alison said slowly, after a few seconds of silence.

“He finds it hard when one of us moves on and we rarely bring them up in case he’s listening in.” Humphrey said quietly, “Unless it’s relevant of course. Even then… we just acknowledge them and change the topic. It’s hard dealing with our own potential eternities without the constant reminder that… the lucky ones are now at rest.”

Alison looked at Humphrey guiltily, imagining Robin just watching people be born, die, become ghosts for millennia only for everyone he cared about leaving him in the end. Was he afraid that they would all move on without him eventually as well? She sighed, before muttering, “I… am so sorry for prodding. I…”

“Don’t be.” Humphrey said quietly, “I can tell you about the ones I remember, if you’d like. I’d like to keep their memories alive a little while longer.”

“I would like that.” Alison replied, before Humphrey began to talk about the ghosts of Button House.

Chapter Text

“So, you’re saying that you can play as anyone in this Dungeons and Dragons game?” The Captain asked quietly, watching as several of Alison and Michael’s friends set up for tonight’s session of Dungeons and Dragons, or DND as they were calling it. From what he gathered, they normally played at Max’s house but, due to a recent flood, they had to move their weekly session to here whilst Max’s house went through some much needed repairs.

“Oooooh, I’d like to play a bard.” Julian winked, looking at one of the player’s sheets, “High Charisma and the ability to seduce people? Tick. V. G.” Alison looked at Julian and tutted.

“It’s not all about seducing people, Julian.” She whispered, trying to not make her friends aware that she was talking to the ghosts, “You form a party of adventurers, go on quests and fight terrifying monsters.”

“What are the rules for the game?” The Captain asked quietly.

“You… start off by choosing a race, class and background and then assign stats based on what kind of character you are looking to play…” Alison trailed off, sounding uncertain, “Then… you have different abilities to used based on your choices. There are also different dice that you use based on what you are going to do…”

Fascinating.” The Captain muttered, before he watched everyone continued to set up. Max at this point had set up their map for the battle encounter ahead, which the Captain was studying intently. He continued, “Perhaps the party should try and flank…”

“Oh, can we play sometime?” Kitty asked enthusiastically, “I really want to play a wizard! Then I would be able to cast spells, and roleplay and…”

“Maybe.” Alison said, “I don’t know. I don’t know enough about DND to run a game. But if everyone wants me to run a game, then…” Alison didn’t get to finish her sentence, as Kitty ran out of the room, presumably to try and recruit more of the ghosts into playing DND. Alison decided that she was going to watch today’s session closely in order to learn the rules in case she had to DM.

Meanwhile, the Captain was in his element. The rules were fascinating and easy to pick up. He wasn’t sure if he would be good at the role playing, but he already had several ideas for characters that he would like to play. Perhaps a fighter… or even a Paladin. He didn’t know for certain yet. He would need to learn the rules further.

“I would like to be a bard.” Thomas sighed, “A Fallen Aasimar Bard, who is struggling with his fallen nature as he tries to bring joy into the world and find love. His..” The Captain wasn’t sure how Thomas got here, but he snapped at the poet, asking him to keep quiet as he watched the game unfold.

They were fighting a dragon, except their tactics at first were awful. They didn’t spread out, which meant that they all got caught in the dragon’s breath attack multiple times. The Warlock almost died, until the Cleric rescued him. And goodness knows what the bard was up to, except they weren’t doing much. Thank goodness for the Barbarian though. She was smart, and tough, and practically almost took out the dragon single handedly.

All in all, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

“I think it would be fun if we had a DND campaign.” Pat said cheerfully, “Kitty suggested that it would be an excellent idea for a club.”

“I agrees.” Mary said, “Woulds be fun to tries.” 

“Same here.” The Captain said happily, as more and more of the ghosts started agreeing that they should all play DND. Even Fanny, remarkably, seemed interested in trying to learn how the game worked.

“…. Fine.” Alison sighed, “I’ll buy a couple of the rule books and brush up on the rules a bit. Then, I’ll help you all create a character, alright?”

“Marvellous.” The Captain smiled, as he started thinking more about his own character. His name would be… Darius. No. William Dudley. He would be a… human Paladin with strong arms and an even stronger sense of Justice. 

Chapter Text

Fanny Button rarely walked around Button House late at night. She didn’t really normally. The Captain did a good job of patrolling the house at night and she trusted his sound judgement. Still, sometimes there were nights where she couldn’t sleep, and she found that a walk through the grounds helped to clear her mind.

“I know death unfair.” Fanny paused, as she heard the sound of Robin’s voice coming from the pantry. She took a step closer to the pantry door, before she pressed her ear against the door. Yes, she knew that she shouldn’t listen to a private conversation like this, but… she had to know who Robin was talking to. Robin continued, “If it were fair…”

“Everyone else here got to live fuller lives before they died.” Jemima muttered, “Yet, I’ll never…”

Fanny’s heart broke in two as she heard the sound of Jemima crying. If only she could burst into the room and console her! But… doing so would reveal that she had been listening to their conversation and she’d been seen as rude. Robin said quietly, “There. Cry. Feel better after good cry.”

The young girl cried for a few minutes, before she eventually asked, “Why are we ghosts? Why can’t we move on?”

“No idea.” Robin admitted, “Wish knew. Been here too long.”

“You must have seen other ghosts pass on… how did they…?” Jemima asked again.

“No idea.” Robin repeated, “Never worked out. Maybe never move on.”

The pair of them fell silent for a few moments. Fanny couldn’t help but think about the unfairness of it all. Yes, she was also a ghost and she knew that her existence was unfair. But Robin had spent countless lifetimes haunting these lands and she couldn’t even fathom what his eternity felt like. And poor Jemima… she liked the small girl, and she did occasionally tell her bedroom stories. Yet, it wasn’t enough to undo the years of loneliness she had experienced.

Jemima said quietly, “You’re not as scary as I thought you were.”

“Ha ha, everyone say that after while.” Robin chuckled, “Me soft as… teddy bear!”

“Can I hug you?” Jemima asked quietly. Robin must have said yes, or nodded, as Jemima said “Thank you.”

“Your welcome. What happen to you awful.” Robin said, with a hint of anger in his voice, “No idea which god did this, but would fight them for you. They suck.”

“I know.” Jemima muttered. Fanny at this point chose to leave the two of them be, as she continued her walk through the house. It was bitterly unfair, wasn’t it? What happened to all of them. Countless others had died here and yet… they got to move on. And yet… they couldn’t. And none of them knew why.

It wasn’t fair that she had to relieve her death every night. It wasn’t fair that they were all destined to just… linger in the place where they had died. None of this was fair.

She eventually made it back to her bedroom, and lay back in bed. She tried to fall asleep. However, that walk hadn’t helped clear her thoughts, and she tossed and turned in bed, angry about the fact that they had been barred from the afterlife.

Chapter Text

“Oh, what film should I ask Alison to let me watch today?” Kitty asked quietly, looking at a selection of films Alison had set out for her. She’d seen Grease… and Hairspray… and You’ve Got Mail. She’d seen every single film and she didn’t feel like rewatching any of them. But she still wanted to watch something…

“Hey, Kitty. You alright?” Pat said casually, as he walked into the TV room.

“I want to watch a film, but I’ve already seen all of these films that Alison suggested.” Kitty said, before she looked at Pat with a smile on her face, “Do you have a favourite film, or something that you’d recommend that I should watch?”

Pat fell quiet for a second, trying to decide if there was a movie he’d like that Kitty would also like. She liked love stories… but she also liked musicals? Should he recommend the Blues Brothers? It was a good movie, and the music was fantastic, but there were sections that were violent and Kitty might not appreciate that. There was another film from when he was alive that she might like…

“Have you ever seen Star Wars Kitty?” Pat asked quietly.

“I haven’t. What’s it about?” Kitty said.

Pat was in his element, as he discussed the plot of Star Wars, whilst avoiding giving away spoilers, “There’s a young man called Luke Skywalker who is recruited by a Jedi called Obi-Wan Kenobi as his student. Luke is strong in the Force, you see…” Kitty listened to Pat’s explanation of the plot with rapt attention, thought she seemed lost at some points. Eventually, Pat finished and he waited eagerly to what Kitty had to say.

“That sounds wonderful!” Kitty said cheerfully, “I’ll have to ask Alison if she has a copy of the films.”

“She should do, all three films are classics.” Pat said with a smile, “And I’d like to watch them with you if you’d let me.”

“I’d very much like that.” Kitty replied. The two of them quickly found Alison, and both of them said, “Can we watch the Star Wars trilogy later?” Alison nodded, rummaging through her DVD collection and pulled out all of her Star Wars movies.

“Wait…The Phantom Menace isn’t the first Star Wars movie?” Pat asked, looking at Alison, and then at Kitty, and then at Alison again.

“Oh yeah, that’s the prequel trilogy.” Alison said casually. Pat stared at Alison as if she’d grown a second head. She then continued, “There’s also a sequel trilogy, but…”

“We have to watch all of them!” Kitty said, sounding excited by the prospect, “I’d love to learn how Luke’s story develops.”

“I’m so happy that they made more Star Wars films. The original lot were excellent!” Pat said in agreement, “Can we watch all of them?”

“Not all at once, but yes.” Alison replied, “I’ll put the original trilogy on for you tonight. Then perhaps the prequel trilogy next week?”

“I’d be happy with that!” Kitty smiled.

“Me too!” Pat added. Kitty was happy that her film plans were sorted for tonight and she was so looking forward to watching a series of films Pat clearly loved. And, if she liked it as well, then perhaps she should get more film suggestions from the Scoutmaster in the future.

Chapter Text

“How do you do it?” Julian asked quietly to no one in particular, “Ya know, talk about your feelings without being… I dunno. Afraid? Self Conscious? After all, you’re constantly being judged by others and… I dunno… it’s daunting…”

“I think everyone is scared of that.” Julian jumped, looking around trying to work out who was in the room with him. No one was meant to be in the room with him when he said that, so who… he suddenly heard the voice call out, “I’m down here, you know!” Oh. It was Humphrey.

Julian sighed, slumping down onto his bed. At this moment, he didn’t even care about how Humphrey got there, just that he was there. He said, “I don’t think Kitty is. She talks about her feelings all of the time. Or Thomas. He talks about his feelings in god awful poetry! And yet…when I try and talk… I just clam up. It’s embarrassing…” 

From out of the corner of his eye, Julian could see that Fanny and the Captain were peering into the room, curious about what Julian was saying. Great. Now half the bloody house were going to witness his tremendous cock up. Heh. Cock up. Would be funny if…

“The truth is, well, everyone is scared of their emotions at some point, even if they don’t show them freely.” The Captain said quietly, looking at Julian sincerely. Humphrey added, “Yeah, you can’t exactly see what’s going on in people’s noggins. If any of us could… well I don’t think I’d be a severed head.”

The four of of them chuckled at what Humphrey said, before Fanny looked at Julian gently and asked, “Is there something you wanted to talk about Julian?” Julian burst out laughing, trying to pretend that he was fine when he wasn’t fine. Fanny continued, “Are you sure?”

“Me?” Nah.” Julian said dramatically, “I’m right as rain, me.”

“Normally, I would agree, but you have been awfully distant these past few days and well… we are worried for you.” The Captain stated. Shit. He’d been obvious. The Captain said, noticing Julian’s distress, “Despite all of our bickering, we are all a team. A family. It makes sense that we all worry and care about each other.”

“If you want to talk about it, we’ll listen.” Fanny quietly added, “If not, that’s fine. If you change your mind, just find us. I’d say our doors are open, but… well… we cannot exactly open or close doors, can we?” 

Julian swallowed, feeling knots in his stomach. It was like that time he was giving his first speech. He’d been terrified, and yet once he’d swallowed back his fear, he was just fine. He delivered the speech. And the next time, he was less nervous. Is this how they all did it? They’d had so much experience of talking openly about how they felt that they were less nervous about being open?

“I guess… I think a lot about the absolute pig’s ear out of my life.” Julian admitted, “And well, I can do nothing now but regret all of my choices.”

“We all have our regrets.” Humphrey said calmly, “I regret I couldn’t make Sophie happy in the end. Most people just die with them, with no chance to set things right. You have that chance. You can…”

“I know that, and I’m trying to be better.” Julian replied, “I just don’t know where to start, or even if I can…”

“…No can do, I’m afraid.” The Captain said quietly, “All of our answers for how to be a better person can drastically differ from each other’s. What is important is that, if you want our answers, we can provide them. Ultimately though, who you want to be is up to you.”

“I also heard that you entertained Jemima when she was feeling lonely, so you’re already making progress.” Humphrey said. The others turned and looked at him. Humphrey continued, “What? I was left in the pantry last week. Jemima and I walked, and she mentioned you.” Julian smiled, remembering how happy the little plague girl had been because of him.

“She’s a good kid, that one.” Julian said quietly.

“Indeed.” Fanny replied, with a warm smile, “Though we are getting a tad distracted. If you find talking hard, there are other ways of expressing oneself. Music…poetry…art…”

“Interpretative dance?” Julian joked. Immediately, the Captain blushed and said sheepishly, “Yes…well…if you want to.” Fanny and Humphrey were less embarrassed. Julian added, “I’m not planning to. But thank you. For caring I mean.”

“You’re welcome.” Humphrey said, “I’m always here to listen. Quite literally in fact.” The four of them chuckled again, and Julian felt the knots in his stomach tug a little less. He was still nervous, yes. But… he’d opened up a little. Yes, not as much as he’d like, but it was a start. One day, he might be able to tell the full story.

Chapter Text

Thomas wasn’t one who normally sat in silence and just admired the world around him. He was a man of words that sprung out of his mind and onto the page, describing what he saw vividly. He was used to expressing his every thought through poetry that sometimes it was hard to just sit quietly and just be.

It was raining. The sound of the rain was soothing, the constant tap tap sounds calming down Thomas further as he relaxed. It would be horrible to be outside at this present moment, but he wasn’t. He was dry, he was warm and he was comfortable.

Still, despite the silence, Thomas’ mind was anything but. Ideas were racing through his mind faster than he could tether them. Random flashes of inspiration, lines of poetry would pop into his head, only to vanish as quickly as they came. Oh, if only had a quill, or a pen to jot his ideas down! Then he would be able to explore these ideas further on down the line.

He felt himself being distracted as he heard the sound of footsteps, and when he looked up he saw Mary looking at him, with a furrowed brow and a puzzled expression upon her face. She looked like she was about to speak, but Thomas placed a finger on his lips and gently shushed her. After all, it was rare that any room in Button House was this quiet, and he wanted to preserve this moment for just a little while longer.

Mary nodded, still confused, and sat down. She then stared out of the window and started listening to the rain.

What was Mary thinking about at this present moment, he wondered, as he watched her. She was an unusual soul, who often held the strangest beliefs. Her attempt at poetry during poetry club was a testament to that. He asked, his voice barely a whisper, “What are you thinking about?”

“My husbands. He loveds the rains.” Mary replied honestly, just as quietly as Thomas’s own question. “What are yous thinkings about?”

“A little bit of everything, I suppose.” Thomas replied honestly, before the two of them fell silent once more, allowing the quiet atmosphere to envelop them like a blanket. Isabelle, too, loved the rain. She always found soothing to listen to, and the melodies she’d heard had given her multiple ideas for her own compositions. He still remembered those melodies to this day. After all, if he’d forgotten them, he would have forgotten her brilliance.

Perhaps… he could ask Alison to write them down? Preserve them, so that Isabelle’s music could live on long after he was gone? She’d like that, and he would as well. For now, he just wanted to sit back and enjoy the sound of rainfall, and maybe compose some melodies of his own.

“Oh, what are you two doing?” Kitty burst into the room, shattering the silence that Mary had cultivated with him. Thomas said quietly, “We’re listening to the rain. Would you like to join us?”

“I would, yes.” Kitty replied, and for the rest of the afternoon the three of them enjoyed being in each other’s company as the rain continued to fall. 

Chapter Text

“Ah, are those your fellow soldiers?” Fanny asked quietly, looking at Mike’s ghost board with the Captain one evening. The Captain hummed in response, a small smile on his face. She said in response, “They all look like good people.”

“They were, yes.” The Captain said fondly, “They were loyal, willing to fight for a good cause. We were a team and their assistance helped greatly with the war effort.”

“Can you tell me what they were like as people?” Fanny asked quietly.

“Oh yes!” The Captain said eagerly, “This here was Private Higgins. He loved the music of Glenn Miller and he had dreams of being an Architect when the War was over... I died before I got the chance to see if he achieved that dream. Next to him is Private Smith. He had a wife, a childhood sweetheart, and a daughter. He was also one of our best Batsmen until he joined the RAF. He was shot down and died in ‘43. And that is Lieutenant Havers… He was an excellent Cover drive and one of the best men I ever knew. I loved him, you know, back when…” 

The Captain trailed off, looking at Fanny with a look of shock in his eyes. Fanny assumed that he hadn’t meant to say that part out loud. The Captain fell quiet for a few seconds, before he said confidently, “Yes, I am Homosexual. Or Gay. I know that in the past that you have felt… some unpleasant views about same-sex couples, but…”

“I was wrong to hold them.” Fanny admitted, looking at the Captain with an apologetic expression on her face, “I struggled with the idea that George never did, never could, love me in the same way that I loved him. It shouldn’t have used that as an excuse to hold such bigoted views. You are a good man, Captain, and I’m sorry if my past attitudes hurt you.”

“Thank you.” The Captain said quietly, taking a deep breath to steady himself, “Your support means a lot.” The two of them fell quiet, looking at the picture of Havers. Fanny could see why the Captain liked him. He seemed nice, and rather handsome with a hint of intelligence in his eyes. If Havers had felt the same way, then there was a chance… The Captain continued, “Honestly, that is one thing that Alison’s generation has done right. It is a lot easier being open with not just other people, but yourself, nowadays then it was when I was alive.”

“I would have to agree with you there.” Fanny said, “Yes, I know that sometimes they cry over the smallest things, but at least they try and deal with their issues, rather than pretending that everything was fine.” The Captain nodded, looking at Fanny once more.

“It was a Bally shame that our generation did not figure that out when we were alive.” The Captain replied, fiddling with his tie, “Growing up, there were times I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, like I had to be a certain person in order to be accepted. So finally figuring that out now…. I feel like I can be myself, without the fear of judgement. And that’s the best feeling in the world.”

“I’m so happy for you.” Fanny said fondly.

“Same here.” The Captain said quietly. He dabbed the corner of his eye with his sleeve. Fanny watched him for a few moments, waiting to see if he was going to say anything else. He seemed at peace, as of talking had lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.

“Can you tell me more about him?” Fanny asked quietly. The Captain smiled fondly, before replying, “Of course.” Before he started sharing more stories about his life during the war and about Havers.

Chapter Text

“Right, I will take the lead and go in first.” William Dudley, the Human Paladin, said calmly, as he walked into the dungeon, brandishing a torch. He rested his other hand against his sword, in case he needed to fight off any threats that might harm his companions.

“Oh, let me cast Dancing Lights!” The Halfling Wizard Sunshine said cheerfully, as a series of bird shaped lights flew out of her hand and fluttered around William’s face, “There! That should light up the way for you!”

“… Thank you, K…Sunshine.” William said, sounding grateful as he extinguished his torch, “I would like to check for traps, if that is possible, Alison?”

“Roll… an investigation check.” Alison said, sounding unsure. Mike nodded, picking up a d20 and rolling it for the Captain. The Captain said, “That is a 17, plus the 2 I have to investigation so… 19.”

William Dudley spotted a small trip wire in the left most corridor, and said quietly, “Be careful, there are traps ahead.”

“Yes, I am aware of the trap, as Alison told us about them.” Theodore, the Fallen Aasimar Bard, snapped at William, “We…”

“Out of game, yes. However, in game…” William countered.

“Guys, s'il vous plaît!” Harry, the Half Elf Ranger stood between Theodore and William. “How we gained that information isn’t important. What is important is that we now know about the traps, so…”

“I thinks we’res meants to stays in character.” Silence, the Human Rogue, said in disapproval, “I would likes to disables the traps.” Mary was then asked to make a roll with her thieves’ tools to see how well she did. Mike rolled a 16 on her behalf, and with Silence’s plus 4 dexterity and proficiency in Thieves’ tools, it was more than enough to dismantle the traps.

However Ug, the Bugbear Druid, had already charged ahead, and straight into another trap. Robin then had to make a Dexterity check to see if he could avoid the trap. The answer was a no, as Mike rolled a 7. A series of small arrows arrows pierced Ug’s side, dealing 2 points of piercing damage.

“Hey, hey. Wait up Ug. Let me heal you.” Chastity the Tiefling Bard said, with a worried tone in his voice as he cast a 1st level Healing Word. “There, you get 7 HP back.”

“… You waste spell slot, J… Chas-titty.” Ug said disapprovingly, “Me can wild shape into bear!”

“Quiet everyone!” William said quietly, “We need to be careful. The Cult of Beg-Chetwynde are in this cave. We have no idea how strong they are. They could…”

“Oh, come on!” Theodore said, “We’ve already fought some of Barclay’s lot back in Buttontown. They fell as easily as a straw house in the wind.”

“He’s right, you know.” Margaret, the High Elf Barbarian said calmly, “We are a powerful group of adventurers. We can take them on.”

“I hope we can get them to surrender though.” Sunshine said, sounding upset, “I don’t want to kill anyone else.”

“I think the cult of Beg-Shitweight isn’t going to come quietly.” Chastity said scathingly. He was right. The cult of Beg-Chetwynde weren’t happy that the Button House gang had walked in on their plots again. They attacked the Button House gang again. The Button House gang killed them again.

“Oh, that was such a good game of Dungeons and Dragons, Alison!” Kitty said cheerfully, “I am looking forward to the next session!”

“Sames here.” Mary agreed, as Pat said, “Same time next week?

“Yeah.” Alison said casually, “I’ll need some time to prep though.”

“That is fine. Take the time you need to prepare.” Fanny said quietly, as the second session of their DND campaign drew to a close.

Chapter Text

“10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year!” Alison, Mike and all of the ghosts said in unison as the clock finally struck midnight, and another year finally began. Mike said cheerfully, toasting his glass of champagne, “Another year, another year of success for Button House!”

“Is that what you’re wishing for, Mike?” Alison said teasingly. Mike smiled, kissing the tip of Alison’s nose gently, and said quietly, “Yeah, that’s what my wish for this year is.”

Whilst the living couple talked about their plans for the year ahead, the other ghosts watched on sadly. Kitty said quietly, “I hate New Year’s Day. The more of them we celebrate, the closer we come to no longer having them here.”

“Yeah…” Pat said quietly, fiddling with his glasses as he looked at the pair wistfully, “It’ll be weird to not have either of them here. It feels like yesterday that…”

“Now, now. Kitty, Pat.” The Captain said calmly, “It won’t be for sometime yet. We still have time with them.”

“However, we do not have long with Alison and Mike.” Thomas said sadly, “Compared to 200 years, a few decades will pass in the blink of an eye. And then what? We will lose not only them, but our connection to the living world once more.”

“Who knows? Maybe we’ll get sucked off before that happens.” Julian shrugged.

“But then we’ll leave Alison behind!” Kitty said quietly, on the blink of tears. The group fell silent, feeling guilty that if they moved on, they would leave two members of their family behind. Eventually, Robin said, “We could wait.”

“What do you mean by that, Robin?” Fanny asked, looking at Robin sceptically, “Can we force ourselves to not move on?”

“No idea. Can try.” Robin admitted, “Never know if don’t try.”

“I’lls be up for thats.” Mary agreed, a small smile on her face.

“Some of us have been here for centuries. What is but a few more decades?” Humphrey added, “And if there’s any lot I would want to move on with, it’s you all.” The other ghosts looked at each other fondly, all of them slowly coming to the conclusion that yes, they would want to move on together.

“Are we making a promise then?” Thomas asked quietly, “That if we get given the opportunity to move on, then we will refuse and wait until we can move on together?”

“I would very much like that, yes.” The Captain said, at the same time Kitty said, “Yes please! That sounds wonderful.” However, before most of the ghosts could state their thoughts, Alison walked up to them with a concerned look on her face. 

“You’re not taking part in the festivities.” Alison said, the worry evident in her voice.

“We are fines.” Mary said, trying to not reveal what they had been discussing to Alison, “We just feels sad when New Year’s happens.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to imagine that time is still moving on without us.” Pat said quietly. Alison looked at the ghosts apologetically, before saying quietly, “I’m so sorry to hear that. Would you like to watch a film with us, or…?”

“Yes please!” Kitty said cheerfully, at the same time Robin shouted, “Yeah!”

Alison smiled, before beckoning the ghosts towards the sofa, putting on the first movie she could find. All of them watched the film happily, just happy to be in each other’s presence. However, one by one each of them fell asleep, until they were all having an impromptu sleepover in the TV room. In that moment, all worries about the future were gone. They had each other, and that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

Mike ran though Button House, excited for tonight. They’d finally done it! Button House had finally been restored to its former beauty and it was ready to entertain guests, which meant that the pair of them had to host a party to celebrate.

He couldn’t see the ghosts watching him as he ran through the itinerary for tonight, making sure everything was ready before the majority of the guests arrived. He could imagine that they would be excited not just for him and Alison, but for the party as well. That, or Fanny would be telling him off for running down the corridors. Again.

“Hey, Mike.” Mike looked up and saw Alison looking at him fondly, “The Party’s not for a few hours yet. We can afford to take it easy.”

“But…!” Mike began.

“Plus, Barclay’s just shown up and trust me, I need to do some of the perpetration work for tonight. He’s been trying to tell me about the history of the house and…” Alison interrupted quietly, looking at Mike with a desperate look on her face.

“…If Barclay asks, we need…balloons set up!” Mike said cheerfully. Alison smiled gratefully in response. As Alison was about to leave, Mike said, “Any ghosts in the room right now?”

“Pat’s here.” Alison said warmly, “He says hi.”

“Hey Pat!” Mike said cheerfully, “I hope that you’re looking forward to the party.”

Alison quickly listened to Pat saying something, before she replied, “They all are. They’re happy for both of us.” Mike smiled, and said thank you to Pat, before Alison left the room. It was weird to imagine that, seven years ago, they had inherited the house and the ghosts that lived inside. At first, it was tough to deal with trying to do the maintenance work and looking after the ghosts hassling his wife on a daily basis.

Now… he couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Yes, it was a little chaotic. Yes, it was an expensive one. However, life was incredible here and he was glad that the pair of them chose to stick it out.

“Ah! There you are Michael!” Mike looked up, as he saw Barclay walk into the room, “Have you seen Annabelle? I wanted to tell her more about the Regency Poet who was shot here a while back… I wonder…”

“I think that Alison mentioned something about Balloons?” Mike said, sounding a little uncertain in an attempt to hide the fact that Alison was trying to avoid Barclay like the plague.

“That is a shame, I thought she would be interested in learning more about the history of the house and the people who died here.” Barclay said with a sigh, “I could tell you everything I know, if you’d like…” Mike tuned our Barclay’s rambling as he continued running through the house, making sure everything was in place tonight. They had cutlery, they had music. The food was ready and the table had been set. With every check he did, Mike felt more confident that tonight’s party would go off without a hitch.

“Ah… Annabelle! There you are! I hadn’t finished telling you about Thomas Thorne yet!” Barclay said cheerfully, as Alison finally returned with the balloons.

Well…Almost without a hitch.

Chapter Text

It was a quiet day in May, and all of the ghosts had been dreading this day for a long time. They were quietly gathered around a small bed in Button House, watching on powerlessly as Alison was slowly dying.

She’d requested to die at home in the end. She didn’t want to die in some overcrowded hospital surrounded by ghosts she barely knew. She wanted to die in the presence of family. And that included her ghosts. 

“It won’t be long now.” The Captain said quietly. Except he was no longer called the Captain. He finally found the strength to discard his title and be more comfortable being himself. Alison was so very proud of him and was happy that he had finally gotten there.

“What’s it like… you know, dying?” Alison said quietly, sounding nervous as everything suddenly felt real. She’d lived with the ghosts for decades, she’d been aware of her own mortality. Yet, as she was finally at the end of her life, she was keenly aware of how little time she had left and she still had so many things to do. Had she provided for her family well enough in her will? What would happen to Button House? And what about the ghosts? Would they be alright with her?

“Don’t worry, my love. It’s just as easy as falling asleep.” Mike said calmly, lying down next to his wife in bed. He’d passed away a couple of years prior, but remained as a ghost, determined to wait until Alison had also died before moving on with her. He’d used those years to finally get to know the ghosts, much to his delight. Alison was upset that he’d chose to stay at first, but now… she was glad that he was here in the end.

“I know, it’s just… I still worry about…” Alison began, before the ghosts began interrupting her.

“You’ve raised your family well.” Fanny began, “They will manage after you are gone.” Alison was grateful for Fanny sometimes. Yes, she’d been judgemental at first but as time passed the two of them got along really well. She was the one Alison turned to when she’d first discovered that she was having a child, and Fanny had helped her through the whole process of raising her. All of the ghosts had.

“And you still look as radiant as the day you first moved to Button House.” Thomas said fondly, causing Mike to grumble, “Hey, that’s my wife you’re talking about.” However, underneath Mike’s grumbling tone, Alison could hear the playfulness and the gentleness that had made her fall in love with him when they first met all those years ago. 

Especially because Thomas wasn’t really flirting with her. Not anymore. He’d grown out of that a while back, and had become one of Alison’s dearest friends. He had found love with the rest of his family, and therefore was no longer chasing the idea of romantic love in order to feel loved. 

“You’ve had a tremendous innings, old girl.” The Captain continued, “Now, you can be at ease.”

“I know right? 99… so close to a hundred.” Alison joked, before she looked at each of the ghosts in turn, feeling tears welling up in the corners of her eyes, “I…I’m just worried that… none of my kids can see you and I just… don’t want to you leave you on your own.” All of the ghosts shared a look that Alison didn’t understand.

“…Shoulds we tells Alison abouts the promises?” Mary said quietly. She was still a unique soul, but she’d grown so much over the last few years. She had finally been able to share her trauma with the rest of them, and was now content with her afterlife. Alison hoped that she would be able to continue that journey after she was gone.

“…What promise?” Alison asked quietly, looking at the group with a curious look on her face. The ghosts looked at each other with impartial looks on their faces. Alison sat in silence for a few moments, before repeating again, “…What promise?”

“Well…” Pat said awkwardly, “A while back, we all made a promise that, we were going to wait for everyone to be ready before we moved on.” Alison smiled at that. Pat was one of the rocks of Button House, ever dependable. His optimism, his willingness to organise activities for the others and the loved he’d held for all of them was something that helped things to run smoothly in Button House. He’s grown too, become more spontaneous and more willing to share his own opinions, and that fresh perspective had helped Alison many times in the past.

“That’s lovely, but I don’t see why any of that is relevant.” Alison looked at Pat, with a quizzical look on her face, when Robin shouted, “We wait for you.” In that moment time seemed to freeze, as she looked at each of the ghosts in shock.

“You… you didn’t have to wait for me.” Alison said quietly.

“You’re the best sister I’ve ever had!” Kitty said loudly, “I couldn’t even move on even if I wanted to because sisters aren’t meant to leave each other alone.” Alison felt like she was on the verge of tears as Kitty tried to envelop Alison in an enormous hug. Kitty was the best sister she could have ever asked for, and Alison was so happy that she’d met her. She was one of the ghosts that Alison had been most worried about, but knowing now that Kitty was worried for her was… well… 

“And what’s a couple of decades waiting compared to the centuries we’ve been here?” Humphrey added, his placed on the bedside. Alison was happy that he felt more included by the group. He’d helped the other ghosts a lot, helped her a lot and she was glad that the ghosts were treating him a lot better than they did when she’d first inherited the house.

“Yeah. Been here long time. Glad get to move on with you.” Robin said quietly. Alison was glad that he was finally able to move on. He had been her longer than she could fathom and she was scared that he would never be about and eventually all of them would be nothing more than a vague memory. She was glad that he was at peace.

“The point is…” Fanny began, “You are family too, Alison. And family always have to stick together.”

“Thank you.” Alison said sincerely, “You all being here is making me feel more… ok about dying?”

“Yeah, well… it’s hard dying, isn’t it?” Julian said, with a shrug, though Alison could see that he was crying, “Just want to make things easier for you.” Alison smiled. She remembered how selfish Julian had been when they’d first moved here and over the years he’d just… mellowed out and was now one of the more thoughtful ghosts. It had taken a while, and a lot of encouragement, but he’d gotten there in the end. 

Jemima ran over to the bed and wordlessly joined Kitty and Mike in the group hug. Alison smiled fondly. She’d been scared of Jemima at first, but as she felt more comfortable around them Alison could see that she was only a child and she had done her best to help the poor girl feel loved. In return, she’d discovered that Jemima was wise beyond her years and loved hugging people. 

Alison felt her body relax, and her eyelids slowly begin to close, as her breathing became more and more shallow. This was it. These were her last moments, her last breaths, and she was surrounded by family. She vaguely heard one of the ghosts say, “It’s happening!” as her eyelids finally closed. Alison mumbled, “Together?”

“Together.” Everyone else said in unison, as Alison saw a burst of warm light. She moved towards it.