Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

The Cabbage Capers – Grin and Bare It

Gareth buried his face against his mum's neck. He was tired and ready for bed. All of these strangers in his house didn't make him feel any better either, even if Mummy was dressed like a princess in a shiny deep blue dress and sparkly jewelry around her neck. He just wanted everyone to go away so he could get in his warm bed and go to sleep.

It'd been a very busy past couple weeks leading up to Christmas. He and Liam hosted a party (with a smidgen of help from their mummy) on the Sunday afternoon prior, collecting toys for less fortunate children. Then they spent the actual day with all of his cousins enjoying their new toys and the sweet treats the aunts had created. Boxing Day was spent receiving family friends and his Da's employees. That required him to have to wear dress robes and be on his best behavior. He didn't think his mum realized just how very difficult it was to be good all day. And now, a New Year's party for one of Da's super-important-you-must-be-on-your-absolute-best- behavior-young-man work guests.

He gave his Da a goodnight snuggle and kiss and waved to the prettily dressed people gathered in the drawing room when Mummy announced that it was time he and Liam should be in bed. He watched from the safety of his mother's arms as his brother made his case for being allowed to stay up to see in the New Year to their father.

His mum tried putting him down once they’d reached the back staircase. "Baby, don't you want to walk up the steps yourself?" she asked sweetly.

"No," he said, tightening his arms around her neck. "Sleepy."

"All right, baby. Liam, come along." They trudged upstairs with Costa making sure Liam didn't go astray.

"I don't see why I can't stay up," his brother complained bitterly once they reached the landing. "I was having fun!"

"And now it's past time for little boys to go to bed," she stated firmly.

"I'm not a little boy!"

"You're my little boy."


"It's true. You're little, you're a boy and you're mine, therefore you're my little boy," Mum said with a mischievous grin.

"I still don't see why I can't stay up," Liam said, trying to redirect the conversation in his favor.

"Liam, I said no and I mean it," Mum said sternly.

"But I was allowed to stay up Christmas!"

"That was family and this is for some of your Da's most important business clients. And good little boys who want to live to see the next day of their lives do as they are told."

After his brother threw himself in the overstuffed chair in the corner by fireplace to pout, Gareth raised his head to give his mum a peck on the cheek. "I'll be your good little boy, Mummy."

She hugged him tight before saying, "Oh, pumpkin, you're my good baby boy."

"I'll be your baby forever," he said, nodding.

"Of course you will." She punctuated each word with a kiss. A loud grumble came from the other side of the room.

Gareth gave his brother a cheeky grin from over their mum's shoulder.

"All right, into bed with you," she said as she carefully pried his arms from around her neck. "You're going to stay in here with Liam tonight."

"Mum!" Liam cried, clearly aggrieved at having to share his bed.

Gareth just nodded, eyes drooping as she quickly dressed him in his favorite pyjamas – the flannel trousers with little frogs all over them and a white t-shirt after checking to make sure he didn't need a fresh nappy. The arrangement was agreeable to him. He actually liked sleeping with his brother or his parents. There were no monsters under the bed to worry about (they were afraid of Da), he was always very warm and comfy (Mum was the best cuddler ever), and he just loved his big brother so much that he wanted to spend every bit of time he possibly could with Liam.

"He'll go right to sleep if you leave him alone. Read some of your books or color. Just be quiet please," Mum instructed.

"But, Mum-"

"No buts, William Malfoy or it's lights out for you, too!"

Mummy tucked him into bed with a whispered "I love you" and a soft kiss pressed to his forehead. Gareth's eyes drifted closed before she moved away from the bed. He turned over, hugging Seymour tight as an exhausted sleep claimed him.

The room was still brightly lit when a loud noise startled him out of sleep. Liam was coloring by the fireplace and Mummy was nowhere in sight. Costa was curled up in the corner fast asleep. He could hear the faint strains of music and voices drifting up from the festivities below. The small Quidditch themed Christmas tree was still twinkling in the corner. Hecate raised her head to regard him curiously before curling up into a tight ball again on the foot of the bed.

"Li Li?" he called out.

"Go back to sleep," his older brother commanded.


"She's downstairs at Da's party, 'member?"

Gareth slipped out of bed to see what his brother was in the process of doing. "Can I color?"

"No, you're supposed to be asleep."
"Up now."
"I'm not getting into trouble for you. Now go back to bed, will you?"

He shook his head. "No, I wanna color!"

Liam stood after making sure that Gustav was safely out of reach. "No! Now go back to bed," he said harshly, shoving Gareth back toward the rumbled bed.

"Up now!" he insisted, pushing back. He wanted to do whatever his brother was doing. If Liam was coloring, then by golly he wanted to color too. "I wanna color!"

"Oh alright, here is a coloring book and some crayons. Now be quiet!"

Gareth carefully examined the coloring book his brother gave him from the bottom of the heap stuffed in a basket by his bookshelves. Most of the magical reptiles had already been colored, leaving him with little to choose from. He finally decided upon a two headed toad that had been abandoned with only one head colored in.

"Can I have a dragon?" he asked, eyeing the thick new Dragons Through History coloring book his brother had acquired on their most recent trip to Diagon Alley. Gareth was starting to regret the purchase of a story book instead of a new coloring book. Liam could be quite stingy when it came to doling out pictures from his stash of books.

"No! It's mine. Now hush up and color what I gave you!"

He sighed and began picking through the bucket of nubs and broken crayons, looking for just the right color for his toad. A metallic dark green crayon lying on the carpet caught his attention. That would be the perfect color for his toad.

"What do you think you're doing?" Liam asked, snatching the crayon away from him before he could reach it. "That's mine! And this one too! And that one!" His brother started gathering up all the pretty metallic crayons and putting them in the tin he reserved for his most prized possessions.
"Please," Gareth said sweetly as he squatted down next to his big brother to admire his handiwork. "I'll be really careful, I promise."

Liam gave him a dubious look. "You'll wear it down unevenly or worse, break it in half."
"I don't do that!" Gareth squeaked.

"Yes," his brother said, shaking a box of nubs, crumbles and broken crayons at him, "you do. You press too hard."

"I don't mean too," he said softly, taking the box.

"It's cos you're a baby."

"I'm not a baby."

"Yes, you are."

"Can I have a dragon? Peas?"


"Can I hold Gustav?"


"Just for a second?"


"Can I help you color?"

"No, you color outside of the lines." Liam regarded him with one eyebrow raised. Gareth thought he looked an awful lot like their Da when he did that.

"I'll be careful, promise."

"No. Go back to bed."



"Why not?"

"Because you're a baby."

"I'm a big boy!" Gareth said proudly. And he was a big boy. Mummy and Da said so. He slept in a big boy bed in his own room now. He wore big boy pyjamas like his brother. And he was working slowly towards being able to do without a nightlight.

"You're a baby," Liam insisted.

"Nuh uh!" he countered.

"Uh huh!"

"Nuh uh!"

“You’ll be a baby as long as you wear a nappy,” Liam said accusingly, poking at his padded hip.
Gareth’s eyes grew wide. Nappy wearing was a very touchy subject for him; one of the few things from babyhood that he still voraciously clung to. It wasn’t like he really needed to wear one because he’d been using the loo on his own for a while now, but he liked the comfort of knowing that if he had an accident, he wouldn’t fall victim to the ridicule of his older cousins. He’d seen it happen and the end results weren’t pretty and the last thing he wanted was to be labeled a cry-baby. Besides, Mummy didn’t seem all that concerned about it.

“So,” he countered.

“Only babies wear nappies,” Liam said with a smirk.

He thought of the drawer full of baby boxers that his Mummy had helped him pick out – blue and green stripes, red check, green plaid, solid colors in cottons and flannels – he had plenty to choose from when the mood struck him. His brother wore boxers at all times because their Da wore them and he too would wear them when the time was right.

“I don’t hafta wear it,” Gareth snapped.

His brother snorted. “Did you know that your winkie will fall if you keep wearing nappies?”
“Nuh uh,” he replied half heartedly. He wasn’t sure if he should believe Liam or not. Surely his brother wouldn’t lie to him, but then again he really couldn’t take that chance.

“Uh huh, nappies don’t let it get any air. It shrivels up and falls off.”

Gareth wasn’t quite certain what the word shrivel meant, but whatever it was, it didn’t sound like it was all that good. Surely he would have heard of this before now. “Nuh uh!”

Liam gave him a smug look. “Da said so.”

He gasped in horror. That most definitely confirmed it. Da knew everything and if he said this was true... Gareth stared at his older brother in disbelief. For all he knew his winkie was about to fall off at any moment, never mind the fact that it seemed alright when he put on his pyjamas earlier.

“I’d get out of that nappy, if I were you,” his brother suggested casually before turning his attention back to his coloring book.

Gareth needed no further prompting, tugging desperately at his pyjamas trousers and falling on his bum when his feet got tangled up in them. He wiggled out of the nappy, kicking the offending undergarment as far away from him as he could manage. It landed () by the toy chest across the room. He frantically pulled his t-shirt over his head just incase his skin couldn’t breathe either.

He gave himself a cursory inspection, but having not paid that much attention to that particular part of his anatomy, at least what it looked like anyway, he wasn’t exactly sure what to look for. “Li Li?” he asked shakily, afraid of what the verdict might be.

Liam glanced up at him, making a grimaced face. “Oh, that doesn’t look good at all.”
“What?” Full panic was starting to seize Gareth. The last thing he wanted was for his winkie to fall off.

“I think it’s too late.”

“Too late?”

Liam nodded gravely. “Yep, too late. You’re gonna be a girl now and have to wear dresses and ribbons in your hair!”

“No!” Gareth cried tearfully.

“And you’ll have to get a new girly name…”

“Mummy,” he howled like a wounded animal.

“And wear pink.”

He ran to the door, struggling with the knob in his haste until the door finally opened just enough to allow him to slip out into the long upper hallway of the family quarters. He made a beeline towards the music and voices wafting up from the party still in full swing in the atrium below.
“Mummy,” he screeched at the top of his lungs as he stumbled down the steps, “Mummy!”
The band stopped abruptly. Gareth halted at the foot of the steps to stare wide eyed at the all the guests who’d turned to see what all the noise was that was coming from the darkened portion of the manor house.

“Gareth Malfoy,” his father said sternly as he emerged from the sea of colorfully dressed witches and wizards, “where are your clothes, young man?”

He was gone like a shot when his father tried to snatch him up. “Mummy,” he screamed, weaving his way between party-goers in a desperate search for his mother. Da was no longer trustworthy. “Mummy! My winkie’s gonna fall off!”

“Gareth?” his mother called out, concern clearly laced in her voice. The loud tinkling of breaking glass filled the air as his father lost his balance and stumbled into a waiter as he gave chance through the crowd.

Gareth could hear her, but he was having trouble locating her in his panic - all of the colorful robes were becoming blurry through a haze of tears. He ran desperately through the throng in search of her, sobbing the whole while that he didn’t wanted to be a girl when his winkie fell off.
A very tall wizard lifted him off the ground as he ran through a crowd, holding him out and facing away from his body and carried him through the crowd to his parents. “I believe this young man belongs to you, Malfoy,” he said in a deep voice with a funny accent.

His mother immediately gathered him in her arms, whispering soothing words to him as she tried to kiss his tears away. “Pumpkin, where are your clothes? You’re freezing.”

“Upstairs,” Gareth whispered, suddenly embarrassed at his state of undress.

“Thank you, Carraway,” his father said, tightly. “I don’t know what has gotten into my children tonight. They don’t normally act this way.”

“It’s quite alright. Children will be children.”

Gareth hazarded a closer inspection of his savior. It was the American wizard his father had introduced him to earlier in the evening. Mum had stressed that he was very important to Da’s work and he and Liam had gotten a lengthy lecture about being on their best behavior while he was at the manor. Something about Da trying to convince him to invest in an overseas venture. He really didn’t understand it all, but he’d do his very best to make it happen if that was what Da wanted.

“Why are your pyjamas upstairs and you’re downstairs, baby?” his mother gently prodded.

“I don’t want my winkie to fall off,” he responded quickly.

“Why on earth would you think that?”

“Cos I still wear a nappy.”


“It’ll shrivel up and fall off and then I’ll be a girl!” Gareth cried, distraught.

“Oh, baby,” she said with a giggle, “who told you that?”

“Li Li!”

“He did, did he? Well, Li Li was mistaken, because it isn’t true.” She nuzzled his soft red curls.

“Uh huh! He said Da said so!”

“Da is clearly mistaken,” she said soothingly, all the while looking at his father, “and Mummy will take care of him later, so don’t you worry your pretty little head about it anymore. Your winkie isn’t going to fall off, I promise. Now let’s go see about finding your pyjamas and seeing what your brother has to say about all of this.”

“Mummy, am I a big boy?” Gareth asked when his mother carried him upstairs. He just wanted to be clear on the facts. He’d been given so much misinformation already this evening.
“Of course you are.”

“Li Li says I’m not cos I still wear nappies.”

“Li Li doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

“I don’t wanna be a girl.”

“You’re not going to turn into a girl.”

Mummy took him to his room, helping him pick out a new set of flannel pyjamas and supporting his decision to opt for a pair of blue and white striped baby boxers. She put a pair of socks on his feet and helped him put his froggie slippers on before they headed to his brother’s room with him perched on her hip.

“Liam,” she said firmly as they entered, “I suggest you put your things away right now.”

He put his crayon down, glaring at Gareth. “What’d I do?”

“I think you are well aware of what you’ve done. Put your things away now, please.”

Liam grudgingly put his crayons way, taking his sweet time sorting them into the correct boxes. He made a show of slamming shut his book before standing up. “I thought I could stay up if I was good!”

She snorted. “And you haven’t been good, so in bed you go.”

“But I’m not sleepy,” he protested. “I wanted to go back to the party! Da said I could after Gareth was asleep!”

“Da says a lot of things he has no business saying,” she stated, carefully balancing Gareth as she turned down the bed for his brother. “In you go.”

His brother glared at him as he flung himself onto his high four poster bed. He looked like he was ready to mount another protest.

Mum cut him off before he could even get started, pulling up the covers and tucking them firmly around him. “I don’t want to hear any cheek from you, young man, or you’ll be finding out what my wand feels like on your little bum. You don’t want that,do you?”

“No, ma’am,” he groused, kicking at the bed clothes.

“Now what do you say to your brother for scaring him half to death?” she prodded.

Liam mumbled something under his breath and tossed a stuffed frog from his bed. “Sorry.”

“Does that make things better, pumpkin?” Mum cooed to him, giving him a quick squeeze after picking up his beloved frog.

Gareth nodded, smiling happily and hugging Seymour close to his chest. This evening turned out way better than he’d imagined it would since he woke up out of a dead sleep and found his brother coloring: Liam was now in deep trouble; Mummy snuggling him; and getting to go back to the fancy party now that he was no longer tired and cranky.

They sought Da out immediately upon returning downstairs. He was still conversing with the tall wizard with the funny accent who’d put an end to his little exhibition.

“I trust things are going better for you now that you have some clothes on, Gareth?” the wizard asked.

“Uh huh,” Gareth said, suddenly bashful, burying his face in his mum’s neck.

“Everything okay, Gin?” his father asked, lightly rubbing Gareth’s back.

“Perfect,” she responded curtly.

He wasn’t sure, but he thought his father looked like he might get sick. “Liam-” Da started.

“Liam is in bed for the rest of the evening,” she said, cutting him off.

“I told him-”

“I’m well aware of what you told him, and he will not be rejoining us after his little stunt.”

“Ginny,” his father cajoled, “boys will be boys.”

“How well I know.” She shifted Gareth to her other hip away from his father’s out stretched hands. “I won’t let you corrupt him like you did Liam.”

“Monster,” Da addressed him, reaching for him again, “come to Da, baby.” Gareth regarded his father warily for a moment from the safety of his mum’s arms before finally giving in. “You can help me talk Mr. Carraway here into investing in Da’s business.”

He brightened immediately. He loved nothing better than going to work with Da and helping him out at the office. He had his own desk and everything in a corner by the windows of the huge suite that was the center of D & G International Holdings Company. He got to go to meetings and file reports with Calla, his father’s long time assistant. The best part of the day was business lunches in Diagon Alley and afternoon naps under Da’s desk.

“Yaya,” he exclaimed. “I love to go to work with Da!”

His mum sighed as she handed him over. “You’re going to damage him for life, yet. Telling a baby his bits will fall off.” The last sentence was muttered bitterly.

“I haven’t damaged you, have I, Gareth?” Da asked with a smile, bouncing him a bit on his hip.

He giggled and shook his head. “Nope!”

“Give me a kiss!”

Gareth did as he was told and gave his father a big, sloppy smooch.

“See, no damage,” Da said with a smirk.

His mum rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “I will never understand little boys, never!”

“All right, son, let’s get to work.” Da patted his bum. “Uh, Gin, is this a nappy-less bum I feel here?”

“Yes,” she said tightly, “he insisted on the boxers when I was getting him dressed.”

“Ah, so it did work then.”

“I suppose.”

“That’s two for two if my arithmetic is correct.”

“Once. It worked once. Liam actually told him, not you,” Mum said with a smirk of her own.
Da kissed the top of Gareth’s head. “That may be true, but he was using my words of wisdom and now his brother isn’t wearing nappies any more.”

“You just think you’re so brilliant, don’t you?”

“I don’t have to think it, baby, because I know it!”

“You are impossible,” she said disgustedly. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go see to our guests. Mr. Carraway.” She nodded.

Gareth watched as his mum disappeared into a sea of people before turning his attention back to his father and Mr. Carraway. He was ready to get down to business. It made him feel important and needed.

“I think we can do business after all, Malfoy,” the older wizard drawled. “And now tell me about advice? My son is having trouble getting my grandson to give up his diapers
The End.
Rainpuddle is the author of 23 other stories.
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