Watching my owl gradually disappear into the smoggy city of London, I pondered how I managed to get roped into babysitting my godson on my only day off. Listening to the London midday traffic mixed in with my favourite nature programme coming from the living room, I knocked back the lukewarm coffee that was in my hand. The taste hitting the back of my throat was dreadful, but I hoped that the caffeine would give me the energy that I needed to look after an energetic four year old child.
Hearing voices coming from the other room that definitely did not belong to my nature programme, I made my way into the living room.
"Hey Ted, Vic.” I said, pushing the door of my kitchen open to see my three relatives standing there.
“Uncle Jamie,” squealed Reuben running towards me. Crouching down to his level I looked at the cute four year old with golden blonde hair, sparkling ocean blue eyes and absolutely adorable smile.
“How’s it going Rube?” I asked ruffling his hair which was slowly changing to a deep red colour. It will always amaze me how both him and Teddy can do that. “You remembered that red is my favourite colour.” I winked at him, while Rueben nodded proudly.
Standing back up to my full height my gaze fell upon Rueben’s parents. And I have to say that there is no polite way of saying this but they looked like shit! They both had large bags under their tired looking eyes; Teddy obviously hadn’t shaved in a few days and his hair that was usually a vibrant colour now looked a very dull dark brown. Vic also looked different, her crystal blue eyes that where usually filled with so much passion now seemed vacant, her whole expression seemed like she was about to cry. Even their clothes looked lifeless.
They both looked completely exhausted.
“So how are you Vic? Not long left now, you must be getting excited?” I spoke to them pretending not to notice how terrible they looked. Teddy began shaking his head at me, eyes wide as if to say ‘don’t even go there’, while Vic wrapped her arms protectively around her stomach. Opening her mouth to say something a loud popping sound interrupted her.
“Hey people what’s up? You said you needed me,” said Fred who had just apparated into my flat.
“I have been trying to get through to you all morning, where have you been? I was wondering if you could help look after Rueben?” asked Teddy running his hand tiredly through his dark hair and looking at Rueben whose face was currently pressed against my television screen.
“What do I have mug written across my forehead?” said Fred pointing to his head.
“No more like cheap babysitter.” I laughed, grateful that he managed to get rid of some of the tension within the atmosphere. “Come on everyone now knows that you’re the go to man for babysitting ever since Roxie said how good you were.”
“Please let’s not talk about my sister,” said Fred holding up his hand to stop me from carrying on. “I still don’t know which is one is worse. The fact that I now officially know that she has had sex or the fact that she called my niece Cinnamon,” he said shaking his head.
“Uncle Freddy,” said Rueben who had finally removed his face from the television screen to notice Fred’s presence.
“What’s up big man?” said Fred walking over to my godson and high fiving him. Rueben looked at Fred and then scrunched up his face, slowly making his hair and complexion change, mimicking Fred’s features.
“I must say,” said Fred proudly. “This kid sure gets more and more good looking every day. Just you wait; you will be fighting the girls off”.
“Urgh girls,” said Reuben sticking out his tongue, “Gross.”
“Give it a few years,” said Fred placing a hand on the top of his head and ruffling his hair.
"Well, it looks like you two have everything under control,” said Teddy, walking over to his son who was slowly beginning to change back. “You be good for your Uncle’s now ok? No messing around.”
“Yes daddy,” said Reuben in a monotone voice, hugging his mother and father.
“And you two no swearing,” said Vic pointing at Fred and I.
“Yes Vic,” we both said, answering in the same monotone voice.
“We will be back in a few hours, see you guys later.”
“Bye,” Reuben waved at his parents as they both flooed out of my apartment.
“So how do you fancy going to the park later?” I asked my godson.
Rueben nodded happily and then turned his attention back to my television, “Uncle Jamie what’s that?” he asked, pointing to the television set, his facial features covered with fascination.
“It’s called a television, it’s something that we watch for entertainment,” I explained as the jungle’s biggest cats flitted across the screen.
Rueben’s blue eyes looked at me all confused, “A tele-, a tele- wishon.”
“Ok don’t hurt yourself,” I chuckled, kneeling down to his level.
“How did the animals get inside it?” he asked, moving back over to screen and pressing his face so hard against it that I could see that his nose was completely flattened.
How on earth do you explain to a four year old about Muggle technology?
“Why on earth are you watching the nature channel anyway? Only old men watch that programme and you’re not that old yet,” Fred called over his shoulder as he entered my kitchen.
Tap, tap, tap.
“Hello!” Rueben shouted into the television screen. “Are you ok in there?”
The tiger that was currently on the screen roared back at Reuben. Noticing that the box would hopefully keep him entertained for a while, I went into my kitchen to make sure that Fred did not eat all of my food, assured that if Rueben needed us, Fred and I were just in the next room.
“So come on dude spill who was the girl that you were with last night?” I asked Fred, whose head was currently located in my fridge.
“What makes you think that I didn’t have a nice evening alone last night?” Fred smirked, taking out a few slices of cheese to go with the bread that he already had in his hand. I raised my eyebrows at him as if to say who are you trying to kid.
“Ok, you remember Tiffany Bridges from school.”
“The gorgeous queen of sex appeal, who had that gifted rack?” I asked getting a glass of water to rid myself of the terrible coffee taste that I still had in my mouth.
“Yeah, not her.”
I rolled my eyes at my cousin.
“I didn’t know she had a sister?” I said quite surprised.
“Well she was in Hufflepuff,” said Fred taking a bite of his sandwich and heading back to the living room.
“Well that explains it then.”
“Umm, but don’t underestimate them,” He said leaning on the kitchen door, pushing it open. “She was just as filthy as her-”
“Yes?” I called from the kitchen.
“Why the fuck is there a tiger in your living room?”
A tiger? What the fuck was this bloke on about? This must be some kind of joke. Placing my glass in the kitchen sink, I pushed open the kitchen door, “What are you -.”
Shit! Fred wasn’t lying. There in the middle of my living room, which all of a sudden looked awfully small, was a very, very large tiger.
Standing there dumbstruck, I took in the tiger that was facing the television and leisurely swinging its tail.
The tiger's roar literally made us both jump out our skin. Getting out of our trance, we both pegged it back into my kitchen and closed the door forcefully behind us.
Now you tell me what the fuck are you supposed to do when there is a considerably large tiger just chilling in your living room?
“What is that tiger doing here?” Fred panted, clutching his chest.
“I don’t know!” I cried running my hand roughly through my hair. Where did this bloody tiger come from?
“Did you order it?”
“Yeah like I would order a tiger and then just forget about it,” I said giving Fred a look that said ‘you have got to be kidding’.
Pacing the kitchen like a mad man, I wondered what on earth a tiger was doing in my living room. And then it hit me. “Fuck, Rueben!”
Fred stared at me horrified, “You don’t.......... you don’t think the tiger ate him do you?” I sure hope it didn’t because I wouldn’t like to explain that to both Teddy and Vic.
“No, I think the tiger is Rueben.” Well that was the only explanation that I could think of. I mean how else would a tiger get here? I knew that Metamorphmagus could change into types of animals, I mean heck I have seen Teddy do it on a number of occasions but I thought that they could only do stuff like that when they were older.
“Well this just goes to show you that no good comes from watching the nature channel!” shouted Fred.
"Sssh will you let me think. Let me think!”
Continuing to pace my kitchen, I thought of how Ted and Vic were going to kill me as I gave them their son back as a tiger. “Right Fred I think you’re going to have to go out there and tell Rueben to change back.”
“Me? And how the hell am I supposed to do that, he hasn’t got an on and off switch and why do I have to do it? Why don’t you do it?” Fred complained.
I could hear items crashing in the next room, there was no way in hell that I was going out there!
“You’re seriously not scared of a four year old are you?” I smirked, hoping that my bluff was working.
“A four year old no, but I don’t know what’s wrong with you that you’re not scared of five hundred pound tiger.” said Fred pointing at me. “You go.”
I tried my bluff again, “He is not going to eat you.”
“Well I guess I don’t want to take that chance.” said Fred edging further and further away from the kitchen door.
“Ok fine, we will go out together ok? Come on, we will see if we can try and get him to change back.”
“And how are you going to do that? You got a Metamorphmagus guide in here?”
“No, but I am sure that we can talk to him and- what are you doing with that?” I asked Fred who was currently reaching for a frying pan.
"What? I need to be prepared; I left my wand in there with the tiger.”
Grabbing the frying pan out of Fred’s hand, I placed it back onto the table, “You cannot attack Reuben.”
“It’s for self-defence,” Fred shrugged at me.
Moving Fred away from the culinary that he could try to use as a potential weapons, I moved us both forward towards the kitchen door. “On the count of three. You ready?”
“Ok, one……. Two……… Three!” Pushing the door open wide, we ran forward into my living room.
Looking around the room I saw broken items everywhere. Pictures were now lying in pieces on the floor, my couch was ripped so much that a bit off the stuffing was coming out and my television. Well my television was now lying on the floor broken with most of the wires coming out and there sitting in the middle of all that mess was my little four year old godson.
“I didn’t do it!” cried the four year old, looking at Fred and I and then the mess that he had created around him.
“Thank goodness,” sighed Fred.
Releasing my breath that I did not even know I was holding, I sat down beside Reuben. “Are you ok bud?” I asked just grateful that he was no longer a five hundred pound beast.
Reuben nodded sadly, showing me his hand which was cut. “Sorry Uncle Jamie.”
I embraced my godson in a hug, “Come here. Now listen you mustn’t do that again ok? No more changing into animals while we are babysitting you alright?” I felt Reuben nod, as his head pressed into my chest. “Come on, let’s get you tidied up.”
Taking Reuben’s hand I performed charms onto his wound, hoping that it was good enough for it to heal before his parents came back. “Fred, make yourself useful and tidy up for me will you.”
Fred looked around, as if not knowing where to start and then began fixing my apartment as best as he could, “Do you think that I could use him to scare people in the Hog's Head?” he enquired looking at Reuben inquisitively. “There is this man in there that owes me some money.”
“I don’t think that his parents would appreciate that.”
“Well thank goodness he turned into a tiger is all I can say, can you imagine if he turned into something else, like an owl he could have flown out of the window,” said Fred, still performing incantations on my flat. “It’s a good job too that you weren’t watching like a insect programme, can you imagine if he turned into a bug or something we could have stepped on him.”
“Fred!” I cried “Stop giving the poor kid ideas.”
“Just remind me never to take this kid to the zoo,” Fred chuckled..” By the way your television is well and truly broken.”
“No shit Sherlock!” I said staring at my television that was lying in pieces on the floor. Not even magic would be able to fix that.
“Aww, Uncle Jamie you said a bad word,” giggled Reuben, his sadness now a thing of the past.
"Shit!” I smacked my hand to my forehead while Reuben giggled again, finding my swearing well and truly hilarious.
“You are such a bad influence,” claimed Fred shaking his head at me. “What are we going to do with you now eh?” said Fred tickling Reuben, who laughed even louder.
That was a good point? I didn’t have any child things that he could play with here and I kind of didn’t want any more of my stuff broken or a beast roaming round my apartment.
“Uncle Jamie can we go to the park now?” asked Reuben sweetly.
Fred and I looked at each other; there was no chance that we were letting this kid go outside.
I shook my head at Rueben, “I don’t think that’s such a good idea, we can have just as much fun inside.”
“Please Uncle Jamie,” said Rueben, sticking out his bottom lip, giving me the puppy dog face.
“Hey, I invented that look, so don’t even try.” My godson’s ocean blue eyes grew bigger and I could slowly see the tears begin to fill his eyes to the brim. Getting lost in the sadness in his eyes, I felt like I was the meanest human being on the planet. Boy this kid was good.
“I guess we could take him to the park?” said Fred looking at me.
“Yay, let’s go to the park!” shrieked Reuben, happy that he had got his own way.
“There is a Muggle park down the road,” I remembered, “But do you really think that it's a good idea?” I said looking at the cute little boy who only just a few moments ago was a five hundred pound tiger.
“Let’s go to the park!”
“I kind of think that it is our only choice, if we go where we would usually take him you will most likely be swarmed by photographers and you know how iffy Vic gets with them taking Rueben’s photo. Also not being funny but after that near heart attack I just had I don’t think I am looking that photogenic,” laughed Fred, placing his wand back into his pocket.
“Ok, I guess we could go, but you are not allowed to change into any more animals ok? And you must stay in human form,” I said looking at Reuben. He nodded but I doubt he was listening to anything that I was saying. “We are going to have to keep a serious eye on him,” I said to Fred, watching as Reuben’s hair now turned into a vibrant blue. “And maybe make him wear a hat.”
An hour and a half later after making sure that Reuben fully understood the ground rules before we left my house, we made our way to the Muggle park.
“I can see the park, I can see it!” shrieked Rueben as he tugged on my arm.
Amidst the greys and blacks of London, the colours from the children’s park stood out from a mile away. With loads of reds, greens and yellows which formed various climbing frames, slides and monkey bars, and the screams from the children who were thoroughly enjoying themselves, Reuben could barely contain his excitement.
And he wasn’t the only one. Whoa! Check out the hotties!
Looking passing women up and down, I wondered why I never thought to come here before. Hey, don’t you judge me, I am only human.
Noticing a very attractive woman heading in our direction I put on my best Potter smile that no woman could resist.
“Hi there, excuse me, but do you have the time?” asked this pretty brunette.
“I sure do love,” I said winking at the woman, who let out a girlish laugh.
Fred rolled his eyes at me and took hold of Reuben’s hand, “Come on little man, let’s go play while your uncle over there gets shot down. Race you to the swings.”
Shot down! As if!
Working my charm on the woman who said her name was Bridgette, I successfully managed to score myself her number. I believe that you should always try to delve into the un-known and Muggle women were definitely the un-known.
Heading over to Fred I could see him pulling a large group of kids out of the way.
"Move out of the way kids big man coming through,” called Fred, stepping up onto the steps for the slide, that he could just about get his big feet onto.
“Hey Mr I was first,” cried this little girl, tapping Fred on the back of his legs as he climbed up to get on the slide.
“Not any more you aren’t.”
“I am going to go get my Mummy,” she said storming off to find her parent.
“If she is ugly don’t bother,” replied Fred sitting at the top and then gliding down the slide. “Aww man, you have got to go on that thing. It is awesome!”
“Dude seriously, how old are you?” I laughed. “Where’s Reuben?”
Fred's smile dropped from his face, “He was here just a second ago,” he said looking around for the small child. “Reuben. Reuben! Where are you?”
Shit, shit shit!
“Fred, you don’t think that he would have changed into an animal again do you?” I asked worriedly.
Why did we decide to take him the park?
Note: when kids give you the puppy dog look remember to look away.
The fact that the kid turned into a tiger should have put us off from the start. “Right I will look over here and you can look over there,” I pointed to Fred.
Scouring the park for animals, Fred and I began searching high and low for our missing child.
“Step away from that ladybird little man,” said Fred, stopping a little ginger haired boy that was about to crush a ladybird with his foot. The child stopped what he was doing and began to run away.
Fred crouched down to the ladybird, “Reuben, is that you?”
As you can see we are not taking any chances.
Checking my watch, I saw that a good twenty minutes had passed from the time that we had started looking. Ok James, calm down, you will find him.
Feeling a tug on the corner of my shirt, I closed my eyes in rejoice as I saw my godson standing beside me. “Uncle Jamie?”
Ok this kid is seriously going to make me die from a heart failure.
“Fred. FRED! I found him,” I shouted to my cousin, who seemed to be conversing with a local pigeon.
“Uncle Jamie, that man wouldn’t let me have any ice cream,” Reuben mumbled, holding up his hand, showing me his two galleons and a sickle and pointing to the ice cream van that was right in front of me. I was so concerned that he had changed back into an animal or worse an insect that I didn’t even look right in front of me.
Knowing that I would live to see another day, relief swept through my heart. Scooping up Reuben into my arms, he wrapped his arms around my neck and yawned loudly.
“I think that is about time we head home,” I said to Fred.
Making it back to my London flat, I flopped down onto my couch and placed a sleeping Reuben beside me.
“Man I am definitely not as young as I used to be, I am beat. I may head home if that’s alright. You going to be ok or you going to need back up?” asked Fred looking at a dozing Reuben.
“No I should be fine; his mum and dad should be here in a bit anyway. Thanks for coming round dude.”
“No problem,” said Fred and with a ‘pop’ he was gone.
Jerking awake a while later with my living room slightly darker then I left it, I felt someone push my arm gently.
“Busy day?” asked Teddy, as the shadow of his face loomed over me.
Stretching out lazily, I looked at his son who was still fast asleep on my couch. “I don’t know how you do it Ted.”
Teddy picked up his son gently and held him in his arms. “Thanks for looking after him,” he whispered. “Judging from your face I could tell that you may have had a tough day,” he chuckled softly.
“I didn’t know that Metamorphmagus could take so many forms, you can literally change into anything.” I said still amazed at how much Reuben can do at age four.
“Well we cannot change into anything, but we can change a lot.” Brushing blonde hair off Rueben’s face, Teddy looked lovingly at his sleeping son. “Changing forms is easy, it’s managing to control it which is the hard part and which comes with age. I am just happy that he has got me here to help guide him with his ability, and why I am so thankful to your parents for helping to look after me when I was little, I know it mustn’t have been easy for them.”
As Teddy paused I thought how hard it must be for him and Vic to deal with a Metamorphmagus child.
“Being so young, Reuben cannot help himself but to change when he feels like it, he doesn’t understand that not everyone else is like him and how unsafe it could possibly be. And with another potential Metamorphmagus along the way it’s just stressing Vic out as obviously she is new to this whole situation. We both love our son so much and wouldn’t change him for the world. We do not want to hinder his growth or for him to shy away from the gift that he has been given. But sometimes it is so hard, I just-…... sometimes I feel that I am doing a lousy job.”
Seeing the man that was like a brother to me, crumble in front of my eyes, I walked over to him and embraced him in a hug.
“You and Vic are doing a fantastic job. Reuben is a great child, plus remember if you need any assistance you have got about fifty family members ready to help, just don’t be afraid to ask for it.”
Teddy chuckled softly and nodded, adjusting his son who was still dead to the world in his arms. “Thanks again James, I owe you one.”
Lying in bed later that evening, I could still see Teddy’s tired face running through my mind. I think I will definitely try and help them out more.
But first things first. I need to set about writing that instruction guide.
Now where’s that paper and pen?
Hi there thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my one-shot that I have written. I would love to know what you think, good or bad:-)