Fred knew he was in trouble. It was coming any minute. This was his least favorite part of the day. He tried to avoid it, but some things were inescapable.
Mum was shampooing his hair.
“Ow,” he said as she lathered him up. “Ow, ow, ow.”
Mum heaved a long-suffering sigh and said, “Don't be ridiculous, Freddie, it doesn't hurt.”
“Ow,” George said. He was sitting opposite Fred in the tub, his hair already lathered up and waiting for a rinse. Mum had put his hair into a big spike on the top of his head with the soap, just like he liked it.
“I'm not even touching you,” Mum said in annoyance as she turned Fred's hair into a mohawk with the soap, just like Fred liked it.
“You're hurting Freddie.”
“I'm not hurting Freddie, I'm washing the dirt out of his hair. If you two didn't roll in the mud every day, you might not need this much scrubbing.” She swished her hands in the water to rinse the suds off and picked up the large cup she always used to rinse the shampoo out of their hair. It had a happy, smiling dragon on it, but this did not fool Fred for a moment. The rinsing cup did not make Fred happy or smiling. The rinsing cup was bad.
“Don't get water on my face,” Fred said.
Mum rolled her eyes. “You'll live. Close your eyes so I can rinse you off.”
She poured a cup of water over his head while Fred scrunched his eyes shut. He screamed when the water ran down his face, and Mum let out another sigh. George put his hands over his eyes when she rinsed his hair, but he didn't scream. Mum let them both dry their faces with a washcloth, and then looked up at the sound of their dad's voice calling her.
“Molly! The baby's hungry!”
Mum looked down into the tub at Fred and George. They smiled at her and she muttered something under her breath that sounded like a Grown-Up Word. They loved learning new Grown-Up Words from Dad, who said not to repeat them but laughed when they did anyway.
“All right, stay here and play for five more minutes, I'm going to go feed the baby. I'll send your father up to watch you. Can you be good for five minutes?”
“Yes Mummy,” they chorused happily. It was much more fun to play in the tub without Mum watching them and reminding them every few minutes to keep the water in the tub.
“All right. Be good. Keep the water in the tub.” She left the room, leaving the door open. This meant she could hear them more easily, and they listened to the baby's cries abruptly stop, which meant Mum was now feeding their baby sister and would not bother them for at least ten minutes. Now if Dad would just forget to come up and watch them...
No such luck. Dad poked his head around the doorway and looked at them. “Are you being good, boys?”
“Yes Dad,” George said, pouring water over his toy boat with the rinsing cup.
“I'm going to find towels and pyjamas for you. Where does your Mum keep your pyjamas?” Dad never knew where things were. Sometimes he said Mum moved things around just to confuse him, but they had never seen her doing that. Maybe she did it at night when everyone was asleep.
“Dunno,” George said. “In our room.”
Dad sighed and disappeared. They could hear him going into their room and the drawers opening and closing. They both perked up then at the sound of their brother Charlie's voice. Charlie had gotten the new Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle comic and was showing it to Dad. This was great, as Dad would completely forget he was supposed to be watching them in the tub until he had finished looking at the comic.
Fred pushed his boat around for a while, making appropriate sound effects, until he heard their dad go downstairs. Their parents' voices floated up to them; Mum was almost done feeding the baby, and Dad had not been able to find the towels. Fred figured they had a few minutes alone before Mum would come back upstairs to get them out. Mum always knew where the towels were.
They played with the little boats for a while, and then George looked over at him and said, “This is boring.”
“Yeah,” Fred agreed. “The boat should sink. Maybe a monster could eat it.”
“A sea monster.” George stretched out in the tub and reached for the boat from underneath, making growling noises.
Fred pounced on his boat, sending a wave of water splashing over the edge of the tub.
They peered over the side at the puddle on the floor.
“Mum hates that,” Fred said.
George went back to growling at the boat. Fred looked at the water for a few more seconds, but he was distracted by his brother's monster noises and they started sloshing around in the tub, and soon they were both swishing back and forth, making sheets of water cascade over the side of the tub and onto the floor, both shrieking with laughter and occasionally spluttering on a mouthful of water. Fred could hardly even see for the soap bubbles and water, but he was having so much fun he didn't even notice the water on his face.
The door opened and Bill peeked his head in. “What are you doing?” he asked, looking at the water on the floor with a frown. “There's hardly even any water in there now.”
“It's down there,” Fred said, pointing at the floor next to the tub, which was now about two inches deep in soapy water.
“Mum's going to kill you,” Bill said, and closed the door.
Fred and George looked at each other, and went back to splashing and making waves unconcernedly. A few minutes later, footsteps sounded in the hall. Fred knew those footsteps. They were Mum's footsteps.
“Mum's coming back,” George whispered. They both ducked down behind the rim of the bathtub, so she wouldn't see them when she came in, peeking over the rim at the door.
Their mum bustled into the room, carrying two folded towels, and stopped short when she saw the water. She stared at the floor with her mouth open and eyes wide. Fred and George both clapped their hands over their ears. Mum always yelled when they got a lot of water on the floor.
“Oh my – how could you – you -” Mum sputtered for a moment and then yelled, “Arthur!”
Fred and George looked at each other for a moment. That was not what they'd been expecting. After a few moments they heard their father's footsteps approaching and he appeared in the doorway behind Mum, holding their baby sister, who was sleeping with her head on his shoulder.
Dad took one look at the bathroom and burst out laughing. Mum turned to punch him in the arm, and he ducked away from her, cradling the baby, but kept laughing.
“Arthur Weasley, it's not funny! I swear to you, if I have to clean up this bathroom one more time, I swear I'll – I'll –”
“All right, Molly, I'll take care of it.” Dad handed her the baby and then put an arm around her and guided her out of the bathroom, taking the towels from her. “You go have some tea and change the baby, don't worry about a thing.”
They could hear their mum huffing down the stairs, saying Grown-Up Words under her breath, until Dad closed the bathroom door and turned to them.
“How on earth did you manage this, boys?” he asked, grinning.
“We were being sea monsters,” Fred explained.
“I see.” Dad drew his wand and started siphoning the water off the floor. Fred and George leaned on the rim of the bathtub and watched until all the water was gone, and the floor was dry once more. Their dad sat down on the back of the toilet and held out a towel. Fred climbed out and put his arms up so his father could wrap the towel around him, and then George repeated the process.
They stood eagerly as their dad combed their hair, then he gave them a stern look.
“I'm sure that being sea monsters was quite fun, boys, but next time keep all the water inside the tub, do you understand?”
“Yes Daddy,” they chorused, but Fred didn't mean it, and he was sure his brother didn't either.
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