Thanks a lot to my beta-readers, Duchess_Of_Arcadia and Pookah, for correcting my mistakes.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I’m not a native speaker of English!
Chapter 8 – The Bath
“Minerva, would you please fill the tub with warm water. Only pure water, no additives,” Poppy said while lifting Severus onto the closed toilet seat. She removed Severus’ house shoes and pulled his shirt and undershirt over his head.
Severus let Poppy undress him and looked at Minerva, who turned the faucets on. The tub slowly filled with water. It was a little awkward to let Poppy undress him because he didn’t want to let go of Stork. But Poppy was very skilled and managed to get Severus half naked even with his plush animal still in his hand.
Poppy lifted him from the toilet and opened it.
Severus backed away immediately, but Poppy stopped him by placing her left arm around his back. With her right hand she pulled her wand and produced a Patronus with it.
Severus was amazed when he saw the silver otter dance around him.
“That’s Naggy, Severus,” Poppy explained. “He will check the toilet for any monsters for you.” With that, she let the Patronus disappear in the toilet.
All his fear was gone at once, and Severus leaned over the toilet to see where Naggy had gone. When Naggy broke through the water surface, he jerked back in surprise. When he realized that it just was Naggy, who again danced around him now, he started to giggle. The silver creature made funny sounds as if he was talking to Poppy.
“He said that there wasn’t any monster in the toilet, and that you don’t have to be scared,” Poppy explained to Severus while she vanished her Patronus.
Naggy was deep down there and the monster couldn’t hide. So there really is no monster. Here it is so much nicer than at home, Severus thought relieved and smiled at Poppy. “Naggy nice.”
“Yes, he is, and now you can use the toilet without fearing a monster, right?” Poppy said while lowering Severus pantss and briefs. Quickly she lifted him onto the toilet again and removed his pants and underwear completely.
Severus smiled at Minerva. “No monster, Min…wa.”
“Yes, Sev, I know,” she said and smiled back. She had sat down on the edge of the tub and felt the water to check the temperature.
Poppy tried to get the attention of the distracted child by placing her hands on Severus’ legs. “Don’t forget to pee, Severus.”
Severus concentrated on the requested task and was successful after a few seconds.
“Done?” Poppy asked when Severus smiled proudly at her.
Severus nodded and held his arms out for Poppy to lift him off the toilet.
Now, Severus stood with his back to the bathtub, Stork still hugged to his chest.
“What toys do you want to take with you in the bathtub, Severus?” Minerva asked while pulling a box with some toys near him.
“Stork needs a bath, too,” Severus said and pushed the plush animal almost in Poppy’s face.
“No, Severus. Stork can’t come with you in the tub, but he will sit here on the toilet and watch you,” Poppy said and took Stork out of his hand.
Severus looked longingly at the animal, but was distracted by Minerva, who now was pushing the toy box in front of his feet. “Look, Severus, this is an animal almost like Naggy, and he would love to go swim with you. His name is Beaver. And here is a ship. Do you want these two to bathe with you?”
“Yes,” Severus answered, overwhelmed by the number of toys in the small box. He was glad that Minerva had chosen two because he couldn’t have decided.
Minerva threw the two toys in the tub, and the beaver immediately became animated. He paddled through the water and dove. Occasionally he splashed water with his flat tail. The ship meanwhile was sailing through the water and tooted from time to time.
“You can play with them soon, Severus, but first I have to check something,” Poppy said while turning the child to face her. She stroked her fingertips over his face and examined the skin behind Severus’ ears and on his neck. His shoulder-length, black hair wasn’t as greasy as it was while he had been an adult.
“Arms up, Severus!” she commanded, and Severus obeyed while trying to look over his shoulder at beaver. Poppy smiled at his behaviour. She closely examined his front and under his arms. “Okay Severus, now you can join beaver in the tub.” She lifted Severus over the tub, but when she wanted to lower him into the water, he curled up and pulled his feet to his chest.
Old memories kicked in; he wasn’t so sure about having fun with Beaver any longer. He was sure she would throw him into the water, and he tried to avoid it as long as possible. Therefore he curled up and closed his eyes. He was surprised when he felt her lifting him away from the bath tub again. Soon he was standing on his feet in front of the tub.
“Severus, I thought you wanted to play with Beaver?” Poppy asked him. She didn’t wait for an answer; she just leaned over the edge of the tub and splashed the water a little with her hand. The beaver immediately swam over to her hand, climbed on it and jumped back into the water.
Severus started to giggle again and tried to reach for the water. But he was too short and couldn’t reach the water surface.
Minerva carefully lifted Severus over the water surface, so that he could splash his hand in the water.
Severus was a little scared when Minerva held him over the water, but when he realized that she was just letting him hover over the surface, he tried to touch the water. It was warm and the little beaver was coming over to his hand. Severus pulled his hand away when the beaver tried to climb on it. The beaver fell back into the water, shook himself and swam on his back while looking curiously at Severus.
“He just wants to play, Sev,” Minerva said while slowly lowering Severus into the water.
It’s warm and the beaver is funny, Severus thought happily.
The beaver dove, came up directly in front of Severus and spat a water fountain out of his little muzzle. That made Severus giggle and splash water at the little creature. The ship floated near the beaver and tooted. Severus was happy. A bath here is really fun, he thought, thrilled.
“Try this one here,” Poppy ordered Minerva, handing her a bottle of liquid soap. Then she rummaged again in the blue suitcase. “It’s without perfume and other additives. He has very sensitive and dry skin. You will need to moisturise him after a bath. I will leave you special shampoo, soap and moisturiser for him.”
Minerva started to wash Severus with the soap and a sponge that looked like a duck. The child hardly realized what she did because he was engrossed in his play with the beaver and the ship.
“Stork, look that’s Beef…wa.” Severus lifted the little beaver out of the water to show him to his new friend. Suddenly the beaver went rigid and didn’t move. Severus was shocked and held the beaver close in front of his face. “No, Beef…wa. No dead, please.”
Before the little tyke could start crying, Minerva said calmingly, “It isn’t dead, Severus. It’s just a toy. You need to put him in the water, and he will swim again. He only moves when he is in the water or a few inches above it.” She gently pushed Severus’ arm down, so that the beaver was in contact with the water again.
Severus relaxed when he saw the beaver swim again. He had feared that he was responsible for the death of the little animal.
“Severus, we have to wash your hair now,” Minerva said while already stroking his hair back.
“No burning?” Severus asked, scared.
“Severus, look, you just have to press this cloth over your eyes. It is waterproof and won’t let any water through it. When you press it tight to your face, nothing will run into your eyes and make them burn,” Poppy explained while offering him the cloth.
Severus looked uncertainly at the cloth, but then decided to give it a try. “’Kay.”
“So, just press it onto your face and lean backwards a bit,” Minerva ordered.
It worked. His eyes didn’t burn while Minerva washed his hair and rinsed it clean.
“So, one last round with the ship, then you can come out before your skin starts to wrinkle. Stork is already waiting for you,” Minerva said and arranged the liquid soap bottle and the shampoo on a small shelf over the tub.
Severus looked over to his friend and pushed the ship so that it floated for another round in the water. The beaver swam happily around the ship and dove under it from time to time.
Minutes later, Severus was covered in a warm towel by Poppy. “You must be careful when you rub him dry, Minerva. It’s better if you just pat him dry,” Poppy explained while showing Minerva how to do it. “Okay? You can take over,” she said when Minerva came near them after emptying the tub.
Severus was happy that Poppy and Minerva didn’t rub him like Minerva had done in the afternoon. On his hands it wasn’t that bad, but on his body it would feel worse.
“Now moisturise him very carefully. Only the body, for the face I have another cream for him,” Poppy instructed and handed Minerva the cream.
First Severus didn’t like the cream. It felt sticky on his skin, but soon the cream was sinking into his skin, and it only felt very soft. It also felt very good to have Minerva dry him and moisturise him. She is a very nice woman. “Stork also cream?” he asked.
“No, Stork doesn’t need cream. He doesn’t have sensitive skin,” Poppy said to Severus while handing Minerva another tin of cream. “This is for his face.”
When Minerva rubbed the cream into his face, Severus tried to pull his head back. It didn’t feel good to have it on his face.
“Severus, we know that you don’t like the cream on your face, but it has to be applied. Your skin is very dry and you don’t want it to start burning again, do you?”
Severus shook his head and held still so that Minerva could rub cream on the rest of his face.
“Look, it’s almost completely sunken in,” Minerva said and kissed his forehead.
Minutes later Severus was wearing his pajamas and was being carried into his bedroom.