Author's Note: {AU} one-shot written for ultimatebethylficlist 'Bethyl Holidays Fest: Halloween' 2019 Tumblr challenge.

Prompt: 'Trick or Treat'.

Heart, Fear Nothing

for, heart, thou shalt find her

Beth looped her pen around the page, the movement swift and sure, before finishing off with a flourish. She leaned back in her seat, surveying her creation with a critical eye. Chewing on the tip of her pen, she then sat forwards again, shoulders bent as she hunched over her desk, pen flying across the paper.


Beth glanced up, startled, only to see Daryl leaning against the doorframe. "Hey," she said, putting her pen down, "what's up?"

"What are you drawin' now?" Daryl asked, craning his neck, not answering her question. "Thought you were done with designin' shit."

"You moseyed past my cell just to see what I'm sketchin'?" Beth pretended to pout. "And there's me thinkin' it was me you were comin' to see."

Daryl rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Greene," he growled, stalking into her cell, "lemme see what you've done."

"Back off, Dixon," Beth snapped, slamming her diary shut, "if you know what's good for you."

"If I'm gonna be dressed up like a prat, I wanna know what it is."

"You agreed to this," Beth reminded him, getting to her feet, forcing Daryl to fall back, "nobody twisted your arm."

"Not much," Daryl scoffed, "between you and Carol, I didn't have a chance."

"We all have jobs to do," Beth said, folding her arms across her chest, "and yours is to be suitably attired for the occasion."

"I was meant to be a chaperone," Daryl said acerbically, "not your damn doll to dress up."

"It's Halloween, Daryl."

"Everyday is goddamn Halloween around here."

"But not in here," Beth said firmly, "now get."

"Oh, wow," Beth exclaimed at the sight of all the bags and boxes heaped high in the middle of the library floor, "this is amazin'. Where did you get all this gear?" she said, turning to Maggie with shining eyes.

"Sasha remembered this small fancy dress for hire place she and the team had passed ages ago when they were mappin' out routes for runs," Maggie said, taking a seat, "so me and Glenn decided to hit it up. Place was virtually untouched and a dream to get in and out of to boot."

"I bet Rick was grumblin' over the gas," Beth guessed, opening one of the bags, revealing swathes of spangled lace and blue velvet.

"Majority rules," Maggie said, shrugging her shoulders. "He's not the leader anymore, so what the Council says, goes."

Beth leant back on her haunches, face thoughtful at the surprising success of her scheme. As ever, she had been keeping count of the days, September bleeding into October, resulting in Halloween looming on the horizon. She'd mentioned it in passing to Carol, both of them wondering if they should do something special to mark the occasion, and it had snowballed from there, adults and children alike from both cell blocks eager to get involved, their enthusiasm spurring Beth to actually do something about it.

"Y'know, Glenn saw somethin' that he thought would suit you right down to the ground," Maggie said suddenly, startling her, "hang on a minute."

"I was designin' costumes," Beth sighed as Maggie started rooting through the boxes, "but with all this stuff now, I don't see the point."

"Don't complain," Maggie admonished, "plus don't count your chickens before they're hatched. Me and Glenn still have to sort out decorations and the candy."

"Let me come with you, then" –

-"No way, Jose," Maggie said, pulling out a bundle of purple and gold fabric. "Daddy would have my guts for garters if I took you out there."

Beth's jaw tightened, but she held her tongue, having heard this a hundred times before. "Well, don't do anythin' dangerous, then," she warned, "not for this anyways."

"I know, I know," Maggie said impatiently, getting to her feet, clutching the purple and gold bundle to her chest, "stop bein' such a worryboots."

"For chrissake, Daryl," Carol complained, crossing her arms, "get your ass out here."

"No way, man!"

"Nobody's going to laugh at you," Carol said, raising her eyes to the ceiling, "I swear."

"Yeah, right."

"Hey, who am I to judge?" Carol said, smoothing down her pink tutu. "I'm mutton dressed as lamb."

"You're a vision," Rick corrected her, straightening his blonde wig, only for Judith to knock it askew again, "I'm the mutton." He glanced down deprecatingly at his outfit which consisted of a pink crop top and denim mini-skirt, revealing an alarming amount of hairy leg. "But you have Carl to thank for the horrendous sight before you," he said with a rueful glance at his son, who just smiled innocently back at him.

Maggie smirked, amused at seeing Rick finally succumbing to the Halloween spirit. "Kudos to you, kid," she said to Carl, "gettin' your dad to dress up as Britney Spears."

Carl shrugged, feigning modesty. "I called first dibs on bein' a cowboy," he said, tipping his hat, "so he had to come up with somethin' else."

"Which I failed at abysmally," Rick said, exhaling sharply. "Not with Hershel baggin' the only pirate costume."

"You have to think outside the box," Hershel said, tapping his brow with his fake hook, "or get your son to do it in this case."

Maggie shook her head fondly, before glancing around for Beth, who was surprisingly nowhere to be seen. "Where is Beth?" she muttered to Glenn, who had predictably come dressed as a pizza delivery boy, which had just involved him pulling on a skip hat and pronouncing himself ready to rock.

"It's Dixon you should be worrying about," Glenn said, openly admiring Maggie in her Cleopatra ensemble, the white gown revealing an alarming expanse of tanned midriff, not that he was complaining. "I don't think he's ever going to leave that cell."

"Maybe you should go and tell Michonne to start the games," Maggie said worriedly. Everyone else was dressed and assembled in the decorated cafeteria, the tables and chairs pushed back, all waiting for the festivities to commence."But y'know, Beth should be there to do the honours – everybody must be chompin' at the bit to get started"-

-"Don't laugh, guys," Beth said from behind them all, her voice shaking slightly despite her best efforts, "but I understand if you do."

Everyone immediately turned around, only to do a mass double-take, making Beth shrink into herself.

"Wow," Carol said softly, raising her eyebrows as everyone else's jaws dropped open. "That is a costume and a half."

"Go on, give us a spin," Carl grinned, flicking the brim of his cowboy hat back.

Beth laughed nervously before doing a tentative twirl, her long blonde hair fanning out behind her, her satin skirts swirling around her ankles. Maggie had made over the dress, fussing and flapping over the fabric, taking up the hem and altering the bodice until it clung to Beth's lean curves to the point she couldn't breathe. Beth had tried to suspend judgement until the last fitting, but her doubts hadn't been assuaged, Beth believing her costume was too over the top.

"Rapunzel, right?" Rick guessed, balancing Judith higher on his hip.

"The hair kind of gives it away, huh?" Beth said with another nervous laugh, the way everyone was gawping at her making her want to run and hide. Okay, the costume was a world away from her usual ripped jeans and cowboy boots ensemble that everyone was used to seeing her in, but in her eyes it still couldn't justify the way they were all looking at her.

Hershel gazed at Beth, almost tearing up. "If only your mother could see you," he said quietly, a shadow falling across his face. "She would have loved it."

"Yeah, she would be cryin'," Maggie said pithily, remembering Annette's over the top displays of emotion.

"With laughter," Beth said, rolling her eyes.

"Don't be ridiculous," Hershel admonished, "she would have been so proud of you both."

"What, proud of Maggie flashin' everythin' but the kitchen sink?" Beth said, earning a glare from her older sister.

"Guys, guys, we're supposed to be having fun," Glenn hastily interjected, seeing Maggie was about to throw down, "so let's get this party started, yeah?"

"We're still waitin' on Daryl," Rick reminded him. "If he ever decides to emerge, that is."

"Want me to go and talk to him?" Carl offered.

"No, I'll go," Carol said, exhaling sharply, "he's my Pookie after all."

"Pookie's right here," Daryl said, stalking out of his cell, "lookin' like a total prat."

"Daryl," Carol said in mock disbelief, "you brushed your hair."

Glowering, Daryl just stood there, shaggy hair hanging neatly over his eyes. He was wearing boots, breeches and a loose cambric shirt that he'd characteristically cut the sleeves off, revealing his muscular arms to almost devastating effect, or so it seemed to Beth, who just stood there, gaping stupidly at him.

"And you cleaned your face," Maggie chimed in, giving Beth a funny look, making her sister snap out of it. "Who's all grown up, now, huh?"

"Ickle Dixon," Glenn grinned. "Who'd have thought it?"

"Shurrup," Daryl growled.

"C'mon," Rick said impatiently, going over to the doorway of their cellblock,"time's a-tickin'. Michonne and the others must be wonderin' what the hell's going' on." Shaking his head, he left, Judith wailing in protest, Carl hastily following, Hershel limping after them, Maggie hesitating before taking Glenn by the hand and leaving as well.

Carol glanced between Daryl and Beth, her face creasing up in merriment. "I just realised," she said, gesturing between them, "you two match." Beth flushed hotly, Daryl doing the same, the sight only amusing Carol even further. With one last smile, she too left, leaving Beth and Daryl alone together, an awkward silence filling the air.

"Um, nice dress," Daryl then said, clearing his throat, "it's… yeah, it's… nice."

"No, it's not," Beth snapped, startling him, "it's dumb. It's a dumb dress and it was an even more dumb idea to do this." She waved her arms wildly, Daryl deducing she meant the whole Halloween she-bang. "I've just made a fool out of myself, "she said, impatiently pushing the hair out of her face, "how can we celebrate Halloween when we can't even leave the bloody buildin' to go trick-or-treatin'? Heck, I couldn't even scare up a single apple to dook!"

"Whoa, girl," Daryl said, grabbing her by the arm, "where the hell is this all comin' from?"

"Oh, don't pretend you didn't think it was dumb too!"

"Yeah, I did," Daryl said, letting go of her, Beth bizarrely wishing he hadn't, "until I seen how happy it was makin' people."

Beth turned away from him, chin trembling.

"You're good at that, y'know," Daryl said awkwardly, making Beth glance over her shoulder at him, "makin' people happy, I mean."

Beth exhaled sharply. "It's… it's not what I planned," she said, turning around as she spoke, face flushing again, "it's become somethin' else altogether."

"Yeah, cos you brought people together," Daryl pointed out. "So what you didn't get to make some stupid costume you designed? It's not the end of the world."

"It is, actually."

"Y'know what I mean."

Beth bit her lip. "I just feel so stupid," she said against her will, "in this dress. It's… it's not me."

"You think this is me?" Daryl said, gesturing to himself.

Beth smiled, amused despite herself. "No," she said, pointing to his ripped sleeves, "but you made it you."

"Well, I gotta let my guns breathe," Daryl said, pretending to kiss his biceps.

Beth laughed, her face brightening. "Seriously, Daryl," she said, holding her skirts aloft, "this costume isn't cuttin' it. Everyone was lookin' at me like I had two heads."

They was lookin' at you because you're beautiful, Daryl thought darkly, letting his gaze linger too long on her face, dwelling on her delicate features. "Hang on a second," he said suddenly, startling her. As he took off, Beth watched him go, frowning at seeing him dive into her cell. A few moments later, he emerged, brandishing her cowboy boots. "Put these on," he said, stalking over to her, "instead of them stupid slippers there."

"Yes, sir," Beth said sarcastically, slipping her slippers off, "right away, sir."

Daryl rolled his eyes as she took the cowboy boots off him. "Hurry up," he said impatiently as she pulled them on, "I don't wanna miss that piñata."

Beth let her skirts drop. "C'mon, then," she said, elbowing him in the side, "I've got a tower to escape from."

"Don't need my help for that," Daryl said, his hand somehow finding hers, "you got out of there all on your own."