When they finally emerged from the shop, Sirius was carrying the paddling pool, Harry was wearing a cowboy
hat and clutching a fluffy toy lion, and Remus carried a plastic tractor and a child-sized cricket bat. He brandished the
latter at Sirius.
'The first time a window gets broken, I will insert this--'
'Oh, leave it out,' interrupted Sirius. 'He's not going to get to play Quidditch until he's eleven. We have
to teach him some kind of sport. James would have wanted...' he paused.
There was a melancholy break in the conversation.
'Yeah, he would,' added Remus with a sigh. Then he smiled and added, 'I suppose you know how to play cricket?'
'No. But we'll learn together. Right, Harry?'
Harry smiled up at him with his smudged tiger face.
Remus unpacked the paddling pool and assembled it in the garden. Sirius had returned to the scene of devastation
in the living room, and the sounds of drilling and hammering had resumed with renewed vigour.
Harry sat on the grass, filling the trailer of his new tractor with small stones. Then he pushed the tractor
across the lawn and emptied the stones into a flowerpot. He repeated this exercise patiently while Remus used the hosepipe
to fill the paddling pool.
It was a slow process.
By the time the water was deep enough for splashing in, the sounds of Sirius' labour had ceased. Harry had
tired of driving pebbles across the lawn and was now leaning over the side of the pool, swirling his hands in the cool water.
Remus turned off the water and tidied away the hose.
'Come on, then. Let's go in and get you into your swimming trunks,' he said.
Harry didn't want to go inside. He wanted to fill his tractor's trailer with water and transport it to the
'We can bring your boat outside...' bribed Remus.
Harry gave the matter a moment's thought. Then he picked up the tractor and toddled into the house.
Sirius had not only finished putting the shelves up, but he had tidied away his tools and cleaned up the
mess. He stood and admired his own handiwork, one foot resting on his toolbox in a pose reminiscent of a hunter who has brought
down a rhinoceros with a single shot.
Remus thought it could have been a lot worse. Admittedly, there were only three shelves as opposed to the
agreed four. And they weren't evenly spaced...but that wouldn't matter. They could accommodate different-sized books, which
was a good thing.
At least there were no visible holes in the wall. He was thankful for small mercies.
'So. What do you think, Harry?' asked Sirius.
Harry climbed onto a chair and placed his tractor on the bottom shelf. They all watched as it slowly trundled
to the other end and rolled off into a waste-paper basket.
Harry giggled and clapped.
'Don't. Say. Anything,' he muttered slowly.
'I wasn't going to,' replied Remus.
'Yes you were.'
'Alright, I was. What happened to the spirit level?'
Sirius muttered in response.
'I broke it,' repeated Sirius. He picked up the level from where he had hidden it behind the sofa. It was
now bent into a boomerang shape, and the glass bulb in the centre was smashed. 'Trod on it when I got down from the chair.'
Remus tried unsuccessfully to suppress a smile.
Sirius tried to scowl at him. 'It's not funny,' he scolded, but even as he spoke his voice quavered.
A snort escaped Remus, and soon the house rang with peals of helpless laughter.
Remus made his way downstairs, laden with towels, waterproof sun cream and Harry's swimming trunks. He arrived
in the living room to find a Dangermouse T-shirt on the floor. In the kitchen he found a pair of shorts and a sock.
The back doorstep yielded a pair of Batman underpants and the other sock.
Harry was in the paddling pool. So was Sirius, in canine form. Remus rolled his eyes skywards and flopped
into a garden chair. He watched as Harry filled his plastic beach bucket with water and poured it over Padfoot's head. Then
he laughed as Padfoot shook himself vigorously, and sprayed water all over the place. Harry squealed with delight and tried
to do the same.
Remus sank back and smiled at the cloudless sky.
'I think we're doing alright, Prongs,' he murmured.
Then he stood up, stripped down to his shorts and took a running jump into the water, accompanied by approving
shrieks of laughter and a joyful bark.