A/N:

Hi everyone! So I've been meaning to write a little sequel/conclusion to this story for a while, and I wanted to do it around now when it's the best season for this movie ^_^ So I've been writing this for the past month and I decided to post it today (November 1st) since the story actually takes place on a November 1st. I hope you all enjoy it very much, and thank you all so much for reading! And I hope you all had Happy Halloweens!

Dearest Friends

Finale:

The Pumpkin King and Queen


'This is Halloween, This is Halloween…'

Though as of yesterday Halloween was behind them for another year, Sally couldn't help humming the tune of the familiar holiday anthem to herself right now as she stitched a seam while standing behind the counter in her little tailor shop. The song sort of captured the rhythm of the town, after all, and brought everyone together in a way that had always made Sally happy. And it was also a nice reminder of spending her first Halloween yesterday not hiding behind gravestones and outrunning the Doctor but right beside her dearest friend—Jack Skellington. The man of her nightmares. And a truly passionate master of fright and demon of light, especially on Halloween.

Sally giggled as she moved on to another seam, recalling how lovely celebrating the holiday together had been, how wonderful it was to have so many friends now to share the holidays with (and so many holidays to share with her friends), and how often she found herself smiling at the thought of this new life she had: a seamstress in love who had some place and someone all her own to come home to each night. What more could she possibly desire?

Well, Jack's presence right now would have been nice.

Sally glanced up at the clock on her wall just as it chimed noon. "Good. He should be here any minute. Lunch together is his favorite time of our day." She giggled to herself as she finished the final seam of her latest job and turned to place the garment on a shelf behind her counter.

Just then the little strip of jingle bells over her front door rang out.

"Hello," came a familiar, playful voice, "pardon me, is the mistress of the shop in?"

Sally's eyes and smile brightened. She turned…and sure enough there was Jack standing in her doorway with that lovely skeletal grin of his and a little glint in his dark eye sockets. Sally noticed that he was wearing a suit she had freshly pressed for him as well as one of his more elegant bowties…and his arms were behind his back, holding something that hung low behind him.

"This is she." Sally moved closer to the counter with a playful smile. "How can I help you, Mr. Pumpkin King? Do you need something sewn, altered, stitched…?"

Jack's smile warmed as he came closer. "Actually, I was just hoping for a companion for lunch. Could you accompany me and regale me with the charming conversation of a splendid seamstress?"

Sally giggled as she strolled out from behind the counter in her long, Autumn-tone patchwork dress. "If that's all you need, then I'm very happy to oblige. But…" she approached, her eyes hazing a little, "…are you sure you don't also need just a little bit of sewing done? Even some new buttons on your shirt? If you'd remove it for me, I'm sure I could make some good recommendations…." She gently touched the button at the collar of his shirt.

The Pumpkin King blanched, and suddenly his suave act was broken in favor of his natural shyness with her. "Sally…" He glanced away with a smile. "Very funny."

She giggled; her voice softened. "It's sweet how you're so shy again now that Halloween's over. Does this mean that when Christmas comes, maybe you'll be very passionate again too?"

Jack grinned. "When Christmas comes, you and I will celebrate the holiday here in town and then go off to spend a whole week at a lovely cottage just outside of Christmas Town—that is, if you want to. Snow angels, hot chocolate, snowmen, gingerbread…. I finished making the plans with Santa this morning. I hope you'll consider it an early Christmas gift."

"Really, Jack?" Sally beamed. "Are you sure we won't be too much trouble visiting just after their holiday?"

"Don't worry, Santa said we'd be more than welcome," Jack assured. "And Mrs. Claus says Christmas Town is beautiful that time of year with the hustle and bustle calming down…everyone full of happiness and peace and love." His eye sockets twinkled.

Sally's eyes twinkled as well. "It sounds wonderful, Jack. I can't wait." Then she moved a little closer, hands clasped together, and wobbled on her legs as she tried to crane her head around his shoulder. "Now…are you going to tell me what's behind your back, or are you going to keep it a secret for the whole afternoon?"

Jack's smile grew as he finally presented the concealed item: a picnic basket. "I thought we could have a nice private picnic lunch today—and maybe a longer one than usual? I'd like to spend some time together."

Sally blushed a little, her smile growing. "But we already spent almost all of last night together, my Pumpkin King—talking and laughing and dancing and singing…and cuddling and kissing." She blushed purple.

"I know." Jack blanched. "But today is different. I have something on my mind. It's important—something special."

"Is it something for next Halloween?" Sally raised an eyebrow then reached into a pocket of her dress and removed a small crystal ball (she always kept one with her now, just like her needles and thread). "Do you want me to predict how it'll work out?" She giggled.

Jack's smile warmed. "Thank you, but there's no need—I have a very good feeling it'll work out, darling. Your intuition is starting to rub off on me." He winked.

Sally smiled more as she placed the ball back into her dress. "All right then, mysterious Jack. We'll go for a picnic, and you can tell me all about your big secret. But I have to be back before two—the Mayor and the witches are coming to pick up and order some things. And you know the trick-or-treaters usually like to stop by around then each day."

"Yes, I do." Jack's smile picked up on one side. "They only bother people they really like, you know."

Sally shrugged with a smile. "I think they mostly like that I really do give them treats to prevent tricks: today I've got double chocolate frog's breath cookies all baked for them. But yes, I think they do like me. And they like you too—you're one of their favorite people to talk about, after all. And I'm sure they'll have a lot to say about the very scary Halloween you put together this year: this one really was our most frightful one yet." Indeed, with Jack's passion for the holiday returned (and with a crowd of on-looking holiday leaders to impress…not to mention some Valentine children) Jack had gone all out on the celebration yesterday. Even the trick-or-treaters had been spooked!

Jack chuckled, his head held high. "Yes, well…I'm just happy to be a good spooky role model for them." He moved closer and put an arm around her. His voice lowered. "And relating to them is excellent practice for those frightful little children we decided to have one of these days, don't you think?" He leaned in to give her cheek and neck little kisses.

Sally sighed. "I…yes." Her blush darkened. "Dearest Jack…not now…someone could walk into the shop…" She giggled.

With a low chuckle Jack finally pulled back, though he still held her. "Very well, splendid Sally. We can continue tonight…or even during lunch. I thought a picnic out on Spiral Hill might be nice." He twirled a few strands of her yarn hair around his fingers.

Sally raised an eyebrow. "Spiral Hill? We never go there for lunch. You really are in a romantic mood today, aren't you?"

A shy smile came to Jack's bony lips, and there was a light behind the darkness of his eye sockets. "You have no idea…." His smile became normal again. "Now then, are you going to come along, or do I have to carry you through town along with the picnic basket?"

"Jack…" Sally laughed and pulled back to straighten her dress. "I think I'll walk for now. Maybe when it's dark out or we're alone you can carry me." She rocked on her heels shyly.

"I'll be happy to oblige, my love." He opened the shop door and bowed low, gesturing toward the street with an arm. "Now then, shall we, my most ravishing and delightful dolly?"

Sally smiled more and raised an eyebrow as she came forward. "You really are in a strange mood today, Jack Skellington—even your clothes are different. Why did you put on one of your best suits?" She walked past him, glancing at him over her shoulder. "Is there a special occasion I should know about? You're not planning another holiday heist, are you?"

Jack straightened up and chuckled as he followed after her. "Why ever steal another holiday when everything I want is already in my own? I'm just feeling especially splendid today, Sally. And who knows, maybe soon you will too…" He closed the shop door behind them.

The sounds of Jack and Sally laughing and chatting together could be heard through the door until their voices faded away as they departed.


Around two o'clock in the afternoon, the bell over the door to Sally's shop rang as the Mayor waddled inside, his happy face showing. "Hello? Sally? I'm here to order that new spider tie that doesn't bite me. Wonderful suggestion of yours, by the way. Oh!"

The Mayor paused; rather than Sally behind the counter, he saw the Witches and Undersea Gal standing in front of the counter.

"She's not here." Zeldabourne pouted.

"But Sally told us to pick up our new winter hats at two," Helgamine chimed in, scratching her head. "And the shop door wasn't locked, and the lights were on."

"Yes." Undersea Gal nodded. "And Sally's always open in the afternoons if we want some fortunetelling: I wanted to make sure the lake will freeze over this winter in time for the town to go ice skating during Christmas." She scratched her head. "It's very odd that Sally wouldn't lock up if she went out."

"Do you think something happened to her?" Zeldabourne frowned.

"I saw her and Jack walking through town earlier heading to lunch," Helgamine added. "What if he walked her back here but she got food poisoning—and not the good kind? Maybe he had to rush and take her to the Doctor and Jewel? Jewel's been running that little medical clinic of hers, after all…"

"Oh no, poor Sally!" Zeldabourne spun in a circle and fell to the floor.

"Or maybe something happened to the Doctor or Jewel, and Sally had to rush out to see to them!" Undersea Gal bit her lip.

The witches gasped.

Faced with the three distraught ladies, the Mayor's frowning face of course came to the forefront. He held up his arms as he approached them. "Now, now, ladies, please. I'm sure everything's all right. Jack certainly would have sent Zero to alert me if anything was wrong. I'm sure they just decided to take a long lunch or maybe Jack had some Halloween ideas and was in a rush to get Sally home so she could help him with them. Please don't worry, I'm sure it's nothing—just…"

Suddenly, the Mayor went quiet, and they all turned their heads to the door behind the counter; they'd just heard a small 'bump' sound from the back.

Undersea Gal raised an eyebrow and whispered. "Rats?"

Zeldabourne shook head and whispered as well. "Nope—rats squeak. Bats?"

Helgamine shook her head, whispering as well. "Not at this time of day." She scowled and took off her hat to put the point to her ear to hear better. "But maybe it's three trick-or-treaters who are known to break into shops from time to time…"

Suddenly the jingle bells strip over the shop door sounded as the door flew open.

The trick-or-treaters tumbled inside after clearly having been eavesdropping at the door.

"Hey, whatever it is you're talking about with Sally, we didn't do it," Lock announced with his pitchfork held high as he stood up.

"Yeah, we were off doing something else we shouldn't," Barrel added as he licked his lollipop and stood as well.

"We're here for treats…or else you can expect tricks!" Shock scowled at the group before them as she stood up and adjusted her witch's hat. "As long as Sally keeps giving us sweets, why would we do anything to her or her shop?" She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the adults. "And if she really is gone, you'd better figure out where she is and get her back soon. Or else."

"Yeah!" Lock and Barrel said together, crossing their arms over their chests.

Helgamine returned her hat to her head, and the witches and Undersea Gal looked at the (clearly, in this one case, innocent) trick-or-treaters with wide eyes and then looked to the Mayor.

Still with his sad face, the Mayor looked to them all and whispered. "Oogie Boogie…?" The gorge had been filled in months ago of course, and there hadn't been any signs of Oogie's return. And Jack had even erected a headstone for him in the graveyard: a noble gesture. Yet still, whenever something a little to too creepy happened in Halloween town (and especially when the cause couldn't be determined) people still whispered in curiosity that perhaps it was Oogie Boogie….

Another small sound—the creak of a floorboard—came from the back of the shop.

Looks of concern came to the three ladies. The three trick-or-treaters just sighed and rolled their eyes.

Shock came forward and gave the Mayor a push. "Hey," she whispered up to him, "you're our fearless leader when Jack's not around. Go check what's back there! I want whatever's going on here over and done with so I can get my treats."

The Mayor almost tumbled forward but regained his balance and nodded. "All right, all right…" He sighed and then raised his voice as he stepped closer to the counter and called out toward the door to the back of the shop. "Erm…hello? Is somebody…Oh!"

And now he darted aside (as did everyone else) as Jack and Sally suddenly burst out of the back through the door, laughing and blushing as Sally darted after Jack past the counter and finally wrapped her arms around him. He wrapped his arms around her in return and dipped her back as they fell into a deep kiss. They separated after a moment, looking into each other's eyes with beaming smiles and shallow breaths. Sally giggled and Jack chuckled as they gazed at each other here in this quiet moment…

…that happened to be full of about half a dozen people they knew.

As one of Jack's best friends, the Mayor felt it was his responsibility to let them know about their audience before anything further happened (not only did they still seem oblivious to the crowd, but one of Sally's hands was playing with Jack's bowtie now and one of Jack's bony hands had just drifted low on her hip).

"Er…" He waddled a little closer and cleared his throat. "Pardon me, Jack, Sally… it's already late in the afternoon and the door wasn't locked, so we thought the shop was open and came inside. But should we…come back later?"

The Witches and Undersea Gal, meanwhile, finally couldn't help some light giggling and cooing at the romantic sight of their king and his lady.

And now of course the trick-or-treaters added their comments.

"Wow…" Barrel scratched his head, "I'm not sure if I just lost a lot of respect for Jack or gained a lot of respect for Jack."

"You guys do know there are children present, right?" Lock couldn't help himself.

"Well, at least he finally gave her a real kiss in front of everybody." Shock grinned.

Normally, when caught in an intimate moment, Jack and Sally froze up, went wide-eyed, and quickly pulled part.

This time, however, their eyes widened only slightly but then warm smiles grew even more on their faces. The looked at each other for another moment, nodded as though communicating something, and then gently separated though they remained holding hands.

Jack looked to the crowd. "My apologies, Mayor, everyone—I'm afraid I knew Sally needed to be ready for all of you by now, but I still insisted on distracting her in the back all this time. I hope you'll forgive me." He looked to Sally and bowed low, raising her arm. "Can you forgive me as well, darling?" He kissed the back of her hand.

A blushing Sally nodded. "Of course, dearest Jack." As Jack straightened up, she looked to everyone. "And I'm sorry for keeping all of you waiting." She squeezed his hand then let it go and walked gracefully behind the counter, arms behind her back. "Now then, how can I help you?" she asked with a faint blush and a sweet smile as she turned to everyone.

The ladies and the Mayor just looked on with wide eyes while the trick-or-treaters burst into laughter.

Finally Zeldabourne blinked a few times and gave Helgamine a nudge forward.

"Oh, er…" Helgamine cleared her throat. "Yes, well, Zeldabourne and I just needed to, uh…pick up our new winter hats."

"Yeah." Zeldabourne nodded. "Are they ready, Sally? We can come back later if you want."

Sally smiled more as reached under the counter and produced two stunning witches hats. "Don't worry, they're ready. And I'm sorry again for keeping you waiting." She held out a hat to each of them. "I hope you like how spooky you'll look in these."

"Ooo…"

"Wow…"

The hats were made of thick, warm black silk and cotton with exquisite details stitched on them in green and silver thread, the points looked extra sharp, and there was even black lace trim around the edges.

The witches admired the beautiful hats as they took them.

"Thank you, Sally," they said together.

A soft giggle escaped Sally. "You're welcome. Now, who's next?"

Undersea Gal raised a hand. "Er…I wanted to get a reading on the weather—can you tell me if the lake will freeze over this year in time for ice skating at Christmas?"

Sally nodded. "Of course." She took out her little crystal ball and gazed deeply into it—soon it glowed (with a pale purple light to everyone else, but with distinct colors and shapes to Sally). She smiled and looked to Undersea Gal as the ball's slight faded. "We should have a cold front come just before Thanksgiving—the lake will be frozen over in plenty of time for ice skating during Christmas."

Undersea Gal nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Sally." She stepped to the side.

Sally's gaze went forward. "And Mayor, I'm guessing you're here to order your new spider tie? One that won't bite like we talked about last week when we were Halloween planning?"

The Mayor blinked then nodded. "Oh, er…yes…" As he waddled up to the counter, his smiling face came forward. He couldn't help looking from a beaming Sally to a beaming Jack and back to Sally again. "My, Sally, I've never seen you and Jack in such a happy mood. Is it a special day? An anniversary of some kind? Or are you still just excited from Halloween last night?"

Sally giggled. "All three in a way." The Mayor tilted his head, but Sally just produced a tape measure from her dress as well as a notepad and took a few quick measurements around his collar and of his current tie. "Let's see…there we go, that's all I'll need." She jotted down the measurements and slipped the pad under the counter and the tape measure back into her dress. "I'll have your tie for you next week."

"Perfect." The Mayor nodded. "You really are a brilliant seamstress, Sally."

Sally smiled more. "Thank you, Mayor."

"Hey, don't forget us!" Shock announced, quickly moving forward.

"Yeah!" Barrel added, following right behind her. "Halloween's Finest Trick-or-treaters!"

"You said so yourself once, Jack!" Lock reminded the Pumpkin King.

Jack chuckled and nodded. "So I did. And I think Sally has something special for you."

Sally nodded, reached through the door into the back, and quickly produced a tray of fresh chocolate frog's breath cookies. "Just because Halloween's 364 days away doesn't mean there still isn't plenty of time for treats." She presented the cookies to the kids.

The kids grabbed the tray and began to eat with gusto.

"Thanks, Sally!" Lock hooked three cookies with his pitchfork.

"These are great!" Barrel even set aside his lollipop as he kept stuffing his face.

"Eh…even I have to admit they're not bad!" Shock actually gave a small smile as she took another cookie to munch on. "And even Halloween was pretty good this year too—thanks for finally fixing mopey Jack!"

"Mmm hmm!" Lock and Barrel nodded with big smiles, their mouths full of cookies.

Jack moved forward and leaned on the counter toward Sally, his eye sockets hazed. "Such a busy, capable, brilliant lady. How in the world do you find time for all of this and me as well?"

Sally's eyes hazed as she leaned closer too. "A Halloween town citizen should always find time for her king."

Jack blanched as Sally blushed and held back a giggle.

And then the Mayor decided (especially as he watched the witches and Undersea Gal looking on with curious expressions and near swoons while the trick-or-treaters started making kissy faces in the background) that Jack and Sally really were in the middle of something and needed to be left alone again now (and really, he couldn't have been more satisfied with the effects of Jack and Sally's new private relationship—The Pumpkin King was at his most passionate and happy these days, Sally had a knack for spreading calm and happiness even in the midst of the frenzy that was Halloween planning, and the entire town just seemed happier, the Mayor himself included). He waddled in front of everyone and started gently nudging them toward the door. "Er, everyone, I think it's time we all went on our way for the afternoon. Jack and Sally are very busy people, after all."

Collective groans came from everyone.

"Oh all right…" huffed Helgamine.

"Aw, gee, really?" pouted Zeldabourne.

"But it was just getting good…" Undersea Gal lamented.

"Eh, I'm fine with leaving as long as I've got cookies." Lock grinned as he munched another one.

"Yeah, me too!" Barrel let out a belch.

"We can always see them embarrass themselves later." Shock smirked and glanced over her shoulder. "Bye, you two—try not to decide to turn this place into mushy-gushy Valentine Town or anything while we're gone."

The trick-or-treaters cackled as the Mayor finally got everyone through the door. Then he glanced over his shoulder and waved. "Bye, Jack, bye Sally—enjoy your afternoon."

Jack waved. "Thank you, Mayor…really." He gave him a meaningful nod.

Blushing, Sally gave the Mayor a small wave too. "Yes, thank you." She raised her voice. "And goodbye to all of you too!"

The Mayor nodded in return and finally got out into the street with everyone else. The door closed behind them, and the jingle bells sounded one more time.

Left alone again finally, Jack let out a sigh and blanched with a sheepish smile as he turned to Sally again. "I can't believe we didn't hear them when we were back there."

"We were very distracted." Sally replied softly, blushing completely. "It's understandable."

There was a small sofa on one side of Sally's shop for customers to sit on while they waited.

Jack walked over and sat down on one end; he patted the free cushion.

Sally came out from behind the counter and sat beside him.

"Did you put it in your pocket?" Smiling, Jack raised an eyebrow. "You were very quick—even I didn't see when you did it. And it was very clever of you to hide it by having us hold hands at first."

"Thank you, Jack." Sally nodded. "Yes, I slipped it in my pocket when I walked around to the back of the counter. Here, I'll…"

"No…" Jack reached out as her hand emerged from her pocket grasping something small. Her wrapped his bony fingers gently around her little fist. "Here, let me…"

Her fingers slowly uncurled to reveal something tiny and bright—a little silver band with crystal leaves around it and diamond at the center, bright and round as a full moon.

A ring.

Jack took the ring and carefully slid the band over Sally finger again. "Sally: soon to be my Queen, now and forever." Then he raised her hand and kissed it. "Thank you for saying yes and making me the happiest man dead."

"My King…I can't believe I didn't have a feeling you were going to do this." She laughed, and a couple of tears fell from her eyes that she wiped away, "How long were you planning this? The hill and the picnic and…"

"I've been picturing it for a while. And I wanted to ask at least before the holidays were over this year." Jack's smile grew. "But last night—last night I realized…I'd never been happier on a Halloween until I finally spent one with you. I never want to spend another one without you. And then I just knew it was the right time, Sally; I couldn't wait. You know me—spontaneous to a fault." He chuckled.

She chuckled too. "You were spontaneous to perfection this time, Jack. Proposing was a wonderful surprise." She came forward and hugged him then let out a happy sigh. "My dearest Jack…"

Jack hugged her in return. "My splendid Sally…" He laughed. "And then you pounced me to the ground for hugs and kisses on our hill after you said yes. If we hadn't been worried about somebody seeing us out there in broad daylight, we could have just spent the afternoon out there 'celebrating'."

Sally pulled back with a big smile. "But coming back here was fun too…even if we did forget to lock the door behind us and got caught." She giggled. "Oh Jack, Halloween might have passed, but you still have so much of its passion in you. It really is no wonder we didn't hear them all come in." She blushed a faint purple.

"Yes…" Jack blanched a little again. "We really get so lost in each other sometimes when we're close." He looked down still with a dreamy smile.

Sally observed him. "Jack…" her voice lowered and she swallowed, "we're...engaged now." Her blush darkened.

Jack nodded. The sight of her blush made him blanch. "I know." He swallowed. "And, um…that's another reason I knew I was ready to ask you—and to hope that you were ready to say yes." He shifted closer and took her hand in his again. "Because I think I'm ready for other things too now…like planning how to share the rule of Halloween Town together…and talking more about having a child…or five…" he smiled a little more as he lowered his voice, "…and trying to express our love in all the ways it can be expressed…Sally." His bony fingertips delicately traced the seams of her arm. "As long as you want to too…"

Sally's leaves practically trembled; she smiled a little more too. "You did mention a lovely cabin we'd be sharing together just after Christmas; a warm place in the dark and the snow…. We talked once about how nice a place like that would be for two people in love. And as long as we're going, we could take some time first to get more comfortable with each other." She raised his other hand and kissed his fingertips, her voice softer. "I'm ready too, Jack. To plan more about ruling, about children…about making love…"

Jack leaned in and suddenly kissed her deeply. Sally gasped through her nose until her eyes fluttered closed and she finally returned the sudden gesture.

Eventually he pulled back, breathing lightly as he looked into her eyes, his eye sockets uncertain but full of curious passion. "I don't even know where to start."

She smiled, breathing lightly as well. "Jack, it's just like kissing, remember? There's no right or wrong way, just…whatever works for us." She cupped the side of his skull in her hand. "We'll work it out together even if it takes a whole night…or many nights…" She blushed with a shy grin.

Jack nodded, blanching completely now with a little grin of his own. "That sounds splendid, Sally."

They just savored being close for a moment, touching each other, both feeling together how much good was in their future.

Finally Sally came forward and nuzzled his skull. "Let's take the afternoon off. And maybe we can go by the manor and ask Jewel and the Doctor if we can come over for dinner tonight? I want to tell them first about us before we tell the rest of the town."

"Yes, of course." Jack nodded, giving her a little nuzzle in return.

Sally giggled. "And between telling them and dinner, maybe you and I can go home and…continue what we were doing in the back and see where it goes…just to start."

A low chuckle left Jack. "I'd like that. Kissing and cuddling are very nice…and lead to very nice things." He stood up. "Come on, then…" And before she could say anything else he had her scooped up in his arms. "Let's go."

Sally laughed as she put her arms around his neck. "Jack! We can't actually walk through town like this."

Jack chuckled. "Just over the shop threshold…and then later maybe up the stairs to our house. Please? I want to practice for after the wedding."

Sally giggled nodded. "Deal." She cuddled against his chest and let out a peaceful sigh. "I wanted to be together with you like this ever since I met you, Jack, practically ever since I was made. And…sometimes I had a feeling it would happen…but I was so scared it wouldn't that I never let myself accept the premonition. But now it's all come true. I'm so happy to be with you, Jack."

Jack gazed down at her as he carried her to the door. "I never thought someone like you would come into my life—I didn't even have a hint. But here you are, somehow, someway. And I'm happy to be with you too, Sally."

He pushed open the door with his hip.

"Together…now and forever…" murmured Sally.

Jack's voice lowered an octave. "For it is plain as anyone can see…"

They sang lightly together. "We're simply meant to be."

As the shop door closed behind them, Jack and Sally went off together against the setting sun (and yes, eventually, Jack remembered to put Sally down, though not before quite a bit of the town had gotten the chance to smile at the sight of them and wonder why Jack and Sally were so especially happy together right now). The happy couple prepared to experience the rest of their wonderful day—and the rest of their wonderful lives—together.

They stood on the edge of a beautiful time.


Ten years later…

All of the holidays had taken to visiting each other over the years. And Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day had an especially special relationship…which explained why on this winter's day, December 26th, near the ten year anniversary of Jack's fateful holiday flight, the Skellington home was being visited by both Santa Claus and Queen Flora (while Mrs. Claus and Magistrate Marigold looked after their respective holiday worlds—letting holiday assistants and partners have a chance to fully run things, and with all due praise, was another new innovation ever since the holidays had all come to know each other's names). The Heart Queen and Father Christmas were there to catch up with Jack and with Sally…and with the five special little creations the Pumpkin King and Queen had collaborated on over the past decade.

The children were lovely—little ragdollish and skelletonish creatures, both spooky and sweet. They sang and played xylophones and sat on Santa's lap and took chocolates happily from Flora while Sally served tea and Jack made sure their chaos was contained. Everyone smiled and laughed together as the evening wore on, even as the hour grew late and Sally started to prepare the smallest ones for bed while Flora entertained the older ones with the story of Jack's first visit to Valentine town.

Santa and Jack, meanwhile, sat on the sofa together smiling as they finished gathering the children's toys and instruments now that playtime was almost over.

"Jack…" Santa smiled as he observed the happy scene in the room, his voice quiet.

"Yes?" Jack glanced to his friend.

Santa sighed, a special twinkle in his eyes. "All those years ago, what you did with Christmas…even though it caused trouble…somehow it was the right thing to do. I don't think I ever told you that. And I just wanted to make sure I finally did." He looked to the Pumpkin King. "You're a good man, Jack Skellington. I'm proud to be your friend.

Jack's bony grin grew to its fullest extent. "Thank you, Santa. And yes, it…it was a good thing, wasn't it?" He looked to Sally and Flora and the children, and the twinkle of a tear came to his eye socket as he glanced back to Santa. "And I'm proud to be your friend too."

The two leaders shared a special smile and shook hands.

"Jack…!" Sally called out across the room as she came down the stairs leading to the tower just as Flora led the oldest child up for bed. "I'm afraid they want a bedtime story from the Pumpkin King—and they'd like it to have songs too, of course."

Jack stood up with a big smile and straightened his tie. "Well, who am I to deny my favorite audience."

"Oh, Jack, could I join you?" Santa rocked forward to stand up. "It's after Christmas; I won't get another audience of children for months."

"Of course, Santa." Jack nodded. "I'm sure they'd love to have you."

Santa waddled forward, and Jack chuckled to himself before following after him.

Meanwhile, a laughing Flora returned down the stairs too. She addressed Sally with a bright smile, her eyes full of light and her cheeks pink as roses. "Oh, I love to see the children, Sally—thank you for having us! You and Jack have brought more love to this world than I ever could have." She laughed.

"Thank you, Flora." Sally blushed purple with a big smile as she looked to her friend. "And we love having you visit—we want the children to know about all the holidays right from the start. They love the stories and the songs and seeing so many new people."

As Santa approached the ladies now to reach the stairs to the tower, Sally suddenly leaned down and hugged him. "And thank you for coming too, Santa. And for the presents each year for the children. They love them so much."

"Ho, ho, ho," Santa chuckled as Sally released him, "for such charming little holiday citizens, presents are my pleasure to give." He tipped his hat and then touched the side of his nose with his finger, winked, and suddenly zipped right up the stairs to the nursery courtesy of a little Christmas magic. "Hello, children!" His cheerful voice could be heard from below. "Guess what—Santa is going to help your Daddy tell you a story!"

He was met with cheers and squeals of delight of course.

Flora beamed. "Oh, maybe I'll help too! Or at least watch—I love a good story! Come on, Pumpkin Queen!" She dashed back up the stairs, pulling a laughing Sally along.

As Flora raced into the tower (expanded now, as the nursery, and full of five little beds each housing a different Skellington child), Sally paused in the doorway for a moment, just smiling at the night.

She smiled even more as a step creaked and now Jack came to stand beside her. He took her hand.

The Pumpkin King and Queen stood side by side in the doorway looking on with warm gazes.

"It's our anniversary next week," Jack whispered softly to Sally. "Shall we let the children have a few days visiting 'Pop Pop Finkelstein' and 'Auntie Jewel' while we take some time to celebrate?"

Sally smiled more and nodded. "Jewel already can't wait to have them. And I can't wait for us to have some time together."

"Where shall we go, my love?" Jack grinned. "Another holiday? The human world? Off into the Hinterlands? The world is ours…"

"Actually…" Sally blushed faintly and rocked on her heels, "I'd just like to stay here. We could have the house to ourselves and remember what it was like after that first Christmas when we came to live together and fell in love and started building our life—all of the memories…."

Jack moved closer and squeezed her hand. "I think I'd like that too, Sally."

They looked to each other and shared a kiss.

Squeals and giggles from the children eventually made the Pumpkin King and Queen pull apart with blushes and smiles.

And suddenly they had to duck down as Zero darted past them to fly into the room. He barked, flying in circles while the children laughed and squealed more. Finally Zero paused in the air and barked to Jack and Sally to join them.

"All right, all right, we're coming." Jack smiled.

"Yes," Sally nodded. "You're right—kissing time is later, story time is now."

They laughed as they entered the room to join in the fun, full of friends and family and love.

Happy Halloween and Merry Christmas (and Happy Valentine's Day) to all, and to all a good, spooky, lovely night.


A/N:

Thank you all so much for reading this story! And I hope the ending was sweet but not cheesy—I've been worrying about that as I was writing, and I did my best to strike a good balance ^^ Please review if you can! And even though I probably won't add to this particular story anymore, there'll still be more TNBC stories from me in the future!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

~Azure129