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Chapter 3

Remus left the bathroom door open. If Sirius was going to pull down a supporting wall or get his hair caught in the drill mechanism, he wanted to be able to reach the scene as quickly as possible.

He swirled the bath water with one hand, the soup-soaked Harry under his other arm while he listened for potential DIY disasters. All seemed well, but at one point he distinctly heard a loud stream of expletives.

'Uncle Sirius,' called Remus in a singsong voice. 'I don't think we want Harry learning any new words just now...'

Sirius responded loudly, with exaggerated calmness. 'Oh dear! Oops a daisy! Silly Uncle Sirius just screwed a bracket to the wrong side of the shelf.'

Remus chuckled and poured a generous measure of Matey bubbles into the bath. He patiently divested the squirming Harry of his dirty clothes, and lifted him into the frothing water. He had used the novelty bath plug with a floating rubber whale attached to the chain. Harry immediately discovered that when squeezed, it squeaked and squirted water. This was enough to amuse him while Remus set about washing the soup out of his hair.

Shortly they heard a loud crunch.

'OOOOOUCH!' bellowed Sirius.

Remus paused in the middle of giving Harry a shampoo Mohawk.

Harry shot him a worried look. 'Oops,' he said solemnly.


Some time later, Harry was scrubbed clean and glowing pinkly. His damp hair had been combed to within an inch of its life. He was now dressed in a clean pair of khaki shorts and a Dangermouse T-shirt, and was still a bit drowsy after his mid-day nap. He hung on to Remus' neck to be carried downstairs.

The living room looked as if someone had emptied the contents of a vacuum cleaner bag onto the carpet and then blown it around a bit with a hairdryer.

Brick dust, plaster dust and several unidentified varieties of dust formed a thin layer over the furniture. Wood shavings littered the carpet, making Remus feel as if he had just walked into a giant rabbit hutch.

A solitary shelf hung vertically from a single screw in the wall. Sirius was standing on a chair, using a short stub of chewed pencil to draw a horizontal line on the wall. At least, Remus hoped it was horizontal. The fact that Sirius was using a spirit level was an encouraging sign - but it was no guarantee.

Harry gazed around at the devastation in dismay. Then he struggled out of Remus' arms and toddled into the kitchen. He returned a moment later with his new toy broom, and held it out to Remus.

'Brush,' he said helpfully.

Remus smiled at him. 'I don't think Uncle Sirius has finished making a mess yet, Harry. Why don't we go outside and let him get on with it, hmm?'

Harry looked doubtful, but visibly brightened at the word 'outside'.

He was a very outdoorsy little boy, especially when he had just had a bath. Just like his Uncle Padfoot, he couldn't bear to remain clean for too long and felt the need to rid himself of the smell of shampoo and baby powder by having a good roll around on the grass.

Unfortunately this was not to be.

Once outside, Remus strapped him firmly into his swing, despite his struggles. He dangled there sullenly and began to whine.

'Down! Want get down!'

Remus counted slowly to five, under his breath. Just as he finished, the swing began to move gently. The counting, together with Harry's weight in the seat, activated a minor charm. Sirius had once sneakily cast it on the swing when Remus wasn't looking.

Remus kept meaning to deactivate the charm. It would do Harry's magic-free upbringing no good to have a swing that swung by itself. However, for the time being it was just too handy to do without. As soon as it kicked in, Harry stopped squirming. Before long he was giggling and gleefully making 'Wheeee!' noises.

Remus left him to it and set about mowing the grass. This was a task he hated more than anything on Earth; no other aspect of home-maintenance was quite as soul-destroying as the act of trimming two inches from the stems of grass while fully aware that within a week they would have all grown back again. Probably with a few dandelions thrown in just to spite him.

He longed for an anti-growth potion. He wished with all his heart that Sirius had charmed the lawnmower to steer itself while he'd been in the mood for sneaky spells. But in the end, all he could do was trundle back and forth trailing orange cable behind him, while Harry sang a garbled song about a horsey.

Eventually he reached the awkward corner between two flowerbeds and jiggled the mower over it half-heartedly, decapitating a few marigolds in the process. Then he emptied the results of his labour into the compost bin with a sigh of relief, silently blessing the day he bought a mower with a built-in grass box.

Harry was getting bored. He was wriggling again, trying to extract himself from the swing.

'Stuck...' he said, when Remus appeared after returning the mower to the shed.

'I know you're stuck. I stuck you there,' replied Remus, but he undid Harry's harness and hoisted him out of the swing with a chuckle. 'Well, that's all my work done for the day. I think we should see if Uncle Sirius has finished his. Then we can go shopping.