Chapter One: Persuasive Action
“I don’t know what to do about your sister, Sandra. She’s driving me up the wall. It’s not even October and she’s prattling on about how, for months now, she and her friends are going as Harry Potter characters for Halloween and how she must have official this and licensed that. You weren’t ever this much trouble.”
“Yes, well,” Sandra laughed thoughtfully, “you probably would have spanked me.”
“And just what are you two laughing about?” Leah asked, eyeing both her mother and sister suspiciously.
“Sandra and I were just observing how I appear to have gone soft in my old age,” Mrs. Brown said.
“Well, since you’ve gone all soft, I’ve printed out a list of all the things for my costume. Amazingly, I was able to find one website that has everything I need.”
“And did you happen to print out money with which to pay for everything you need?” Why can’t you just borrow some of your sister’s stuff from last year?"
“I’ve only just remembered I left a book I was reading in mid-sentence. I hope you won’t think me rude if I skip out on your discussion,” Sandra said, heading nonchalantly upstairs to her room.
“Mother,” Leah sighed in exasperation, “Sandra went as Padma Patil last year, who is in Ravenclaw House. I am going as Hermione Granger, who is in Gryffindor.”
“Yes, and your sister helped pay for her own costume last year with her earnings from babysitting.”
"So…I think you need to rethink your persuasion tactics. For now, I’m finished discussing it. It’s not even October yet.
Leah let out another sigh of frustration and trudged up the stairs towards her bedroom. Reaching the top step, she noticed Sandra’s door slightly ajar and decided to go and vent her annoyance to her.
“No luck?” Sandra guessed from the look on Leah’s face.
“No,” Leah muttered dejectedly.
“You probably just need to try a different angle.”
Leah groaned. “You sound just like Mom,” she said bitterly. “She told me to rethink my persuasion tactics.”
“But she didn’t say she wouldn’t help you get your costume, Leah. She’s just asking you to be more reasonable about it.”
Leah looked jealously around her sister’s room at all the Harry Potter memorabilia her sister had collected over the years, mostly with her money from babysitting. Babysitting wasn’t an option for Leah. By the time she was old enough, those few children who still needed a sitter already had a long-standing relationship with one. She was only fourteen, so she could barely get her working papers, and no company really wanted to hire a fourteen year old who could only work so many hours a week while school was in session, and only slightly more when it wasn’t. She wanted to be just like her sister, but she felt that all this stuff represented an insurmountable wall between them, even though they were equally big Harry Potter fanatics.
“What are you going to dress as this year?” Leah asked her sister, wanting a break from her present train of thought.
Sandra bit her lip. “Oh I haven’t given it much thought,” she said distractedly. “I figure I’ve got a few weeks to come up with something.”
“Well, good luck with that.” Leah said, turning to head to her room.
“Leah?” Sandra said suddenly.
“If you would like to borrow any of my stuff, you’re more than welcome to, you know.”
“Thanks, Sandra,” Leah smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Leah did not mention the subject of her Halloween costume for the rest of the day. She took her sister’s advice and rethought her approach. Meanwhile, Mrs. Vroman also devised a strategy to be fair to Leah while teaching her responsibility at the same time. When October the first finally rolled around, she knew precisely how to help Leah achieve her goals.
“Mom, can we talk?” Leah asked after dinner that evening.
“Of course we can, Leah. I presume this is about your Halloween costume?”
“Um…yeah,” Leah blushed.
“Well, I can’t say I haven’t been expecting this. You always were very persistent.”
“Well, I’ve thought and thought about it but I can’t find a way to come up with the money. There aren’t any kids that need babysitting around the neighborhood anymore like when Sandra was my age. And I’m too young to get a part-time job at most places, I asked around.”
“That was very mature of you, Leah.”
“Thanks, but it doesn’t solve how I’m going to come up with the money,” Leah sighed.
“Well, I never said you’d have to pay for all of your costume, Leah. But the last time we spoke on it you sounded like you were handing me a shopping list and I looked at it, Leah. If you want all of this licensed stuff it could cost around seventy-five dollars with shipping. I think that’s a little much for me to spend on a Halloween costume for one of my daughters because I would want to feel I’m treating both you and your sister fairly. I don’t have one hundred and fifty bucks to lay out on Halloween costumes, even if you are a fanatic about Harry Potter and it won’t be the only time you wear it.”
“So how am I supposed to come up with the money, then?”
“Well, I’ve devised a list of things that need to get done around the house, some of which I just don’t have time to do. Next to each of the items is a price that I’m willing to pay you to do them. The larger, one-time chores have higher values because they’re more involved and they only need to be done once. Because you can do some of the smaller ones multiple times, such as taking out the garbage, they’re worth less for each individual time you do them. Here is the list I’ve drawn up.”
Taking the list from her mother, Leah perused the list of chores and dollar amounts. In addition to taking out garbage, there was vacuuming, washing dishes, mopping the kitchen and bathroom floors, cleaning toilets, dusting, setting the dinner table, cleaning up from the dinner table, and various other household chores.
“Okay,” Leah said, feeling confident that she could help pay for her costume.
“I’m asking you to pay for half of your costume, Leah. I think that’s more than fair. I’ll offer the same deal to your sister, but if she can keep her costume under about thirty-seven dollars, then I will just cover it. Does that sound fair to you?”
“Yes. Thanks, Mom.”
“You’re welcome, dear.”
Chapter Two – Pretense
Where before Leah would spend her days after school hanging out with friends or surfing the Web, now she performed every chore she could get her hands on. The days crawled by, but she paid nearly no notice, focusing all her extra attention on meeting the goal of doing enough chores to pay for half of her costume.
Mrs. Vroman was very pleased with the change it had brought about in Leah. In many ways she was equally disappointed that Leah did not have the babysitting opportunities that Sandra had when she was Leah’s age. They had taught Sandra a great deal of responsibility, something she dearly hoped Leah would learn.
At the end of Leah’s first week of ferocious chore-doing, Mrs. Vroman decided to order her costume for her, just so that she wouldn’t miss her opportunity. The last thing she wanted was for Leah to work hard to earn her costume and then find out everyone else wanted to go as Hermione that year and placed their items earlier.
And so, on the evening of the first Sunday of October, Mrs. Vroman was sitting at the computer in her bedroom adding all the things on Leah’s list to her shopping basket, from wizard robes, to Hermione’s wand, to a pointed black witch’s hat. She had just clicked “submit order” when she realized she hadn’t spoken to Sandra yet about the arrangement. Closing out of her browser once she got her order confirmation, Mrs. Vroman walked downstairs and knocked on Sandra’s bedroom door.
“Sandy?” she called.
“Yes, Mom?” came Sandra’s reply.
“Can I come in for a minute?”
The door opened and Sandra let her mother pass into her room. Mrs. Vroman sat down on the chair next to Sandra’s bed.
“What can I do for you?” Sandra asked, slightly surprised at her mother’s sudden desire for a mother-daughter chat.
“Well,” Mrs. Vroman began, “I just ordered the stuff for your sister’s costume. I made a deal with her to pay for half of what she wanted and, as you’ve probably noticed, she’s running rampant around the house doing chores to earn the money for the other half.”
Sandra laughed, “Yeah, I’ve never seen her this into doing chores before.”
“I want to be fair to you and so I’ll offer you the same kind of deal. I’ll pay up to thirty-five dollars towards your costume if you’d like, and then if there’s anything else you need you can just pick it up on your own. Have you thought about what you want to go as this year?”
“Er, no, not really,” Sandra said nonchalantly, “nothing too elaborate I don’t think.”
“Okay well you just let me know, only you might want to decide soon. Halloween is only a few weeks away.”
“Right. Thanks, Mom.”
“You’re welcome, sweetheart.”
It wasn’t that Sandra didn’t know what she wanted to go as for Halloween; it was that she didn’t know how to break the news to her mother. That’s the magic of Halloween. It’s the one night a year that everyone is allowed to dress up as something they’re not. That was the crux of the matter. Sandra wanted to dress as something she was, and while she need not confess the whole truth to her mother to get her costume of choice, it would take a lot of courage for Sandra to speak her heart’s desire and make it look nonchalant.
All of the effort Sandra concentrated over the next two weeks towards convincing herself to tell her mother what she wanted caused the leaves to begin to turn.
“So, any ideas on your Halloween costume, sis? You’re running out of time.” Leah asked as she spooned some scrambled eggs onto her plate before stabbing at the bacon and passing the orange juice to her mother.
Sandra took a deep breath. “I might as well get this over with,” she thought. “Yeah, I was thinking I’d just be a baby this year,” she replied conversationally, “nothing too intricate.” The minute she finished speaking she shoved a forkful of eggs and bacon into her mouth, praying she wouldn’t be asked to elaborate for fear she might choke.
“Oh, how cute,” said Mrs. Vroman, smiling. “Have you decided what you’ll wear?”
“Well, I was thinking a cute pink top, for starters,” Sandra said after swallowing.
“And you’ll need a pacifier and a bottle. Oh and diapers of course;” Leah interjected, suddenly excited.
“What are you so excited about?” Mrs. Vroman asked.
“It’s adorable! I’ll go as Hermione and Sandra can go as Hermione’s younger sister. She was supposed to have one, you know. But somehow she just never got written in.”
“Right, well, Sandra, here’s $35 if you want to go and pick up whatever you think you need.”
“Okay, thanks, Mom. Would it be all right if I took the car now and went to the store?” Sandy asked, desperate to find an exit.
“Can I come, too?” Leah piped up suddenly.
“What’s gotten into you?” Sandra asked.
“Nothing, I’m just excited about Halloween, that’s all.”
"I’m just going to pick this stuff up and come home. If you really want to come, be my guest.
“Let me just put some shoes on!” Leah ran to her room and was back in a flash.
“Have fun, you too,” Mrs. Vroman called from the kitchen as Leah practically ran out the door to the car.
“Thanks, Mom,” Sandra called back.
“So where’re we going?” Leah asked as she buckled her seatbelt.
“I thought we’d just go up to the Wal-Mart on Main Street. They ought to have everything there.”
Entering the store, Leah ran up to the first cart she saw and took it.
“Really, Leah. I’ve never seen you this excited when shopping for someone else,” Sandra observed as she scanned the circular for coupons, not that she expected to walk out of the store with thirty-five dollars worth of diapers.
“Yeah but it means that Halloween is just around the corner!”
“And how far along are you towards paying for your costume?”
“Most of the way there. I think I’ve got between five and ten dollars left to earn.”
“Better get a move on; Halloween’s less than two weeks away.”
“Yeah, well, at least I’m not the one who waited until the last minute!”
Bedecked for the upcoming holiday, there were displays with candy all over the place and black and orange streamers. Pictures of Jack-o-lanterns and witches and ghosts hung all over as Sandra and Leah made their way towards the baby aisle. Sandra purposefully and casually hung back and scanned the adult incontinence products portion of the aisle while Leah attacked the baby diapers like they contained golden tickets. She had just picked up a package of Depends fitted briefs and began to read the back of the package when Leah thrust a pink and white package into her hands, forcing her to drop the Depends.
“I was looking at those!” Sandra said sternly, bending down to pick up the package she’d dropped.
“Sandra, those are granny diapers. You can’t wear those. If you’re going to be a baby, you need to wear something more like these.”
“And just what are these?” Sandra asked, eyeing her sister curiously.
“They’re the brand new Pampers Princess diapers for teens.”
“Pampers Princess,” Leah sighed. “If you’d spend less time reading books and more time watching television I’m sure you’d know about them. Anyway, it says here they’re made just like Pampers for babies only they’ve got a much greater capacity.”
Sandra put the Depends back on the shelf and scanned the back of the Princess package.
“Wait! Even better, Sandy! These are what you need,” Leah said.
“Those are Princesses. What’s the difference between those and the ones I’m holding?”
“Extra-Thick,” Leah said smiling.
Just then a store employee named Lisa walked up to the two girls. “Can I help you find anything, ladies?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Sandra before Leah could start in, “I’m going to be a baby for Halloween and am looking for some diapers.” She couldn’t believe how easy this really was now that she had a pretense.
“Oh, you’ll definitely want the Pampers Extra Thick. I went to a costume party last week as a baby and I wore these,” Lisa said, taking the package from Leah and showing Sandra. “They’re so bulky I really looked like a toddler trying to walk in them; they’re also super-absorbent, so you don’t have to worry about leaks.”
“Right,” said Sandra, trying not to think about wetting her diaper to the point of leaking, even on Halloween, at least not in front of her sister, or the fact that she was getting diaper advice from a perky but otherwise complete stranger. “How do I find my size? I didn’t see a size chart on here.”
“Oh, the sizes correspond to panty sizes to make it easy,” Lisa said as Leah disappeared down the aisle.
“Oh okay; and do you have them in trial packs?” Sandra said, trying to sound cool.
“No, right now they’re only available in the fifteen-pack.”
“Oh. All right then. Thanks so much for your help.”
Sandra put the package she had been holding back on the shelf and grabbed one in her size and threw them in the cart. Just then, Leah came back with her arms full of items.
“What have you got there?” Sandra asked nervously.
“Well, I picked you up some baby wipes and powder. I doubt you want diaper rash as a souvenir of Halloween. I also have a Gerber baby bottle with Tweety on it and a package of pacifiers with the largest nipple I could find.”
“Okay. Throw them in the cart and we can pay and get out of here,” Sandra said, her heart beginning to pound.
Sandra drew a deep breath as she stood in line waiting to check out, desperately trying to calm her nerves. She had done it, she told herself. She had managed to hoodwink her mother and sister into letting her buy diapers for herself. And so far, they noticed nothing. Leah even helped!. Here she was, about to pay for her “costume,” and she didn’t even need to fear awkward stares or questions from the cashier. It was all under the pretense of Halloween.
“Sandy,” Leah began tentatively after buckling her seatbelt while Sandra put her diapers and things in the back seat.
“Yes, Leah?” she replied.
“I was kind of, um…wondering if it would be all right if, since you’re going as a baby and all, I mean, if I um…”
“Come on, Leah, spit it out!” Sandra teased.
“Can I go as your big sister?”
“Is that why you’ve been so excited since I said I was going as a baby?”
“Um…yeah, kinda. It’s just…I’ve never had a little sister, obviously. And I thought it could be fun to see what it’s like for a day, even if you’re not really a baby.”
“We’ll see. Why don’t you concentrate on getting your Hermione costume paid for first? You’ve been putting so much work into it I’d hate to see you lose out on the bargain with Mom just because you want to be my big sister for a day.”
“Okay. Yeah. You’re right.” Leah smiled.
hapter 3 - The Big Day
Over the next week and a half, Leah deployed the Special Forces unit on household chores so that it sparkled when she arrived home from school on Halloween afternoon. Much to her delight, everything on her list was laid out on her bed for her. On top of her authentic wizard robes lay a note:
"Hope your Halloween is everything you’ve hoped it would be. Thank you so much for all your help around the house these past few weeks. I’ll be home around six-thirty and I’ll start dinner and save it for when you get home. Be safe, and don’t stay out too late, even though it’s a Friday night.
P.S. Take care of your sister, and be sure to take extra diapers, powder and wipes just in case!"
“Now, there’s a phrase I’ve never seen before, and will probably never see again,” she thought as she began to get all of her stuff together and get dressed.
Sandra found a similar note lying on top of her package of Pampers:
"I hope you have fun tonight. I’ll be home around six-thirty and I’ll start dinner for when you and your sister get home. I was also thinking it might be fun for you and good for Leah if perhaps you really played the part tonight and let Leah be the big sister. I was cleaning in the garage the other day and I found the stroller from when Leah was younger. I think you might still fit into it…if you’re interested. It’s right inside the front door to the garage.
“Well? What do you think?” came Leah’s excited voice from the threshold to Sandra’s room as Sandra folded the letter and placed it next to the package of diapers.
“Wow, Leah. Looking good!” Sandra said, admiring Leah’s costume.
“But you’re not dressed yet! Come on, Sandy!!! We’ve gotta get a move on! What are you waiting for???”
“I was waiting for my big sister to help me get my diaper on and help me with my hair,” Sandra said affectionately, trying desperately not to betray her true feelings. She was just doing what her mother suggested; sort of, anyway.
“Awwwww,” Leah melted on the spot. Her maternal instincts switched on like a lightbulb. “Why don’t you lay down on your bed and I’ll get you all squared away.”
Sandra lay down on her bed hardly daring to believe what she was sensing. Leah unbuttoned Sandra’s pants and helped slide them off. Once her panties were lying folded on a chair, Leah tore open the package of Pampers Princess and the scent of a baby’s nursery pervaded the room. Sandra closed her eyes as they rolled back into her head.
“I need you to lift up for your big sister, Sandy.”
“Yes, Le-Le,” Sandy cooed.
“Awwwww….you called me Le-Le,” Leah fussed as she slid the unfolded diaper underneath Sandy’s behind and pushed her down on top of it, " Now be an angel and grab onto your feet and rock backwards so I can powder you."
Sandy was in Heaven as she grabbed onto her toes and rocked backward. Leah sprinkled baby powder all over her and rubbed it in gently.
“Okay, sweetie, now put your feet together. I’m going to let your legs down slowly and then I want you to bend your knees for me so we can get you taped up snug.”
Leah brought the front of the diaper up between Sandra’s bent knees and taped it into place. She patted Sandra on her bottom of and a cloud of baby powder effused from her diaper.
“Now, stand up, baby girl. See how it feels.”
Sandra sat up and then got to her feet. The minute she was standing she realized the truth of the saleswoman’s words. She couldn’t get her feet closer than six inches apart.
“You are just the cutest thing!” Leah cried. “Let’s get your top on and do your hair so we can get some pictures!”
"Remembering her mother’s suggestion, Sandra just played along. Leah dressed her in a pink baby doll that came just above her belly button and brushed her hair into two pigtails. Then she was made to pose for a dozen or so photographs. Finally, she was ready to go trick or treating.
“Le-Le,” Sandra cooed softly.
“Mommy says there’s a stroller in the garage I might fit into.”
“Well, just one second, pumpkin. Mommy also says I’m to take extra diapers with us just in case. And I think I’d like you to have a bottle before we go. Why don’t you come downstairs and I’ll fix you a bottle and then we can be off?”
Walking downstairs was a brand new experience for Sandra with the incredible bulk of her Extra-Thick diaper, but she wouldn’t have traded it for anything in all the world. She was about to be fed a bottle and be pushed in a stroller for the evening. It might even be worth a wet diaper.
Leah, meanwhile, headed into the kitchen, placing three diapers and a package of wipes on the kitchen counter and set about microwaving a bottle full of milk for her baby sister.
“I’m just going to find the stroller and put your diapers and wipes into it. I want you to sit on the couch like a good little girl until I get back, okay, pumpkin?”
“Yes, Le-Le,” Sandra grinned.
The stroller was right in the front of the garage, exactly as Mrs. Vroman’s note said it would be. Eyeing it, Leah guessed it might be a little bit snug, but that Sandra would probably fit into it. She wheeled it onto the lawn, put the diapers and wipes into the pouch on the back, and closed the garage door.
Back in the house, she found Sandra right where she left her on the couch.
“What a good girl you are!” Leah smiled. Sandra blushed a right crimson. “Let’s see if your bottle is ready and then we can be off finally!”
Leah went into the kitchen, took the bottle from the microwave and screwed on the top. Satisfied that it wasn’t too hot after testing it on her wrist, she grabbed her house keys, two cloth bags for candy, and her camera from the kitchen table, locked the back door and went to collect her little sister.
“Are you all set, little one?”
“What about my shoes?” Sandra asked.
“Aww, sweetie you won’t need them because you’re going to be in a stroller!”
“Ooooh, okay, Le-Le.”
Making sure she had all the parts of her own costume, Leah locked the front door, and ushered baby Sandy out and closed it behind her.
“Now, sweetie, it might be a little snug in your stroller, but I do think you’re going to fit. So come here and I’ll help you into it.”
Sandra stepped forward. At first glance one would not have thought she would fit, but the real difficult part was getting up high enough to get her legs easily through the holes. She’d easily fit into the high-chair that was kept in her basement not that long ago, so fitting wasn’t the problem. After two failed attempts, she finally managed, with Leah’s help, to get herself situated in the stroller. It was a good thing, however, that it would be a few hours before she would need to come out, and that she was wearing a very thick diaper.
“Mommy was wight,” Sandy cooed, figuring she had license to use baby talk without anyone suspecting anything. After all, she was wearing a diaper and sitting in a stroller.
“Yes, she was, little one,” said Leah, handing Sandy her bottle. “Hang on just one second, I just want to get one more picture because you are just too precious for words!”
Leah snapped a few pictures and then tossed the camera into the stroller’s pouch with Sandy’s diapers and started off down the street. At each and every house, people marveled at the pair of them. Sandy almost always got noticed first, but for once that didn’t bother Leah one bit. It was usual for people to ooh and ahh over babies. Once they finished admiring Sandy’s costume, they talked with her big sister about Hogwarts and her wizard robes and her giant crush on Ron Weasley. And she got to impress everyone telling them that Sandy was the little sister that Hermione was always supposed to have, but never ended up in the books. For the pair of them it was almost better than the candy.
Before long, Sandy finished her bottle. Instinctively, Leah exchanged the bottle for a pacifier and Sandy just went on sucking with a huge smile on her face as she and her sister traversed the neighborhood. Several hours, around seventy-five houses, two bags filled to the brim with candy, and one wet diaper later, Sandy’s stroller was pushed back up the walk in front of their house where the light in the kitchen could be seen from the bay window and the smell of roast beef wafted through the open windows.
“I’ll be right back, Sandy, and I’ll help you out of your stroller. I just want to put the candy and stuff inside.”
“Okay,” Sandra said.
“Well if it isn’t Hermione Granger. It’s a real pleasure to meet you. Both of my daughters are big fans you know,” Mrs. Vroman said, seeing Leah walk in loaded down with two bags of candy. “Did you bring your baby sister along? I’m just dying to meet her. And you’re just in time for dinner!”
Figuring it couldn’t hurt to play along, Leah smiled, “Yes, she’s just outside in her stroller.” It was still Halloween, afterall.
“Aww, how adorable. I’ll come out and say hi to her and help you get her inside.”
Mrs. Vroman followed Leah out the front door and stood awestruck at the sight of her eldest daughter in the stroller wearing a diaper and sucking on a pacifier.
“You must be little Miss Granger!” Mrs. Vroman cooed. “It’s so great to have you for dinner. Let’s get you out of that stroller, shall we?”
With her mother’s and sister’s help, Sandy got out of the stroller. Her legs were slightly stiff from being confined to one position for so long.
“You’re soaked!” Leah said suddenly, taking note of the large yellow spot on the front of Sandy’s diaper. “Why didn’t you say anything!”
Sandra just shrugged and kept sucking on her pacifier. It became apparent, when her mother addressed her as “little Miss Granger,” that her masquerade was not yet over. Like her sister, she saw no reason to stop playing the part.
“Let’s get you both inside and we can get the little one into a fresh diaper.”
“That reminds me!” said Leah, as she took the extra diapers and wipes out of the stroller pouch, along with the bottle and her camera.
Once inside, Mrs.Vroman set the diapers and wipes on the living room coffee table before heading off to find a changing mat for the little one and some baby powder. She returned shortly and laid down the mat on the floor, setting the powder down next to it.
“If you wouldn’t mind, Hermione, I’d appreciate it if you could change your sister. I’ve got my hands full at the moment with getting dinner on the table.”
“Oh,” said Leah, taken slightly aback. She wasn’t expecting to have to change her sister’s wet diaper, “of course.”
“What’s the matter?” Sandra teased around her pacifier, “don’t they teach you a diaper-changing spell at Hogwarts?”
“No but I know a spanking spell you wouldn’t believe!” retorted Leah.
"You could try “Wingardium Diaperosa! Just remember, swish and flick!”
Swish and flick! A swat landed on Sandra’s diapered behind. She blushed furiously.
“Let’s just get this over, shall we?” Leah said.
“Fine by me.”
Leah untaped the soggy diaper and brought it out from under Sandra’s bottom. After a vigorous wiping and generous powdering, a fresh diaper was brought up between Sandy’s legs and taped snugly into place. Leah wrapped the wet diaper into itself and headed to the kitchen to throw it out. Much as she did enjoy playing the big sister, she didn’t want to have to change too many more of Sandy’s diapers.
“What’s the highchair doing here?” Leah asked, unable to ignore its presence.
“Oh, Hermione, I didn’t know how old your little sister was so I thought she might need it or want to use it.”
“Oh, yes, thank you. I’m sure she’ll be delighted,” Leah said, shrugging and deciding to enjoy Halloween while it lasted.
Sandra was ecstatic as she overheard the exchange in the kitchen, hoping the day would never end.
“Dinner’s ready by the way. Would you mind helping your sister into the highchair, Hermione?”
“Not at all,” said Leah, heading to collect Sandy.
Sandy fit much easier into the highchair than the stroller, mostly because there was only a leather strap to separate the legs rather than a plastic bar. The tray was locked into place.
“I’m afraid I don’t have any bibs. It’s a wonder I still have this highchair, actually. My youngest is fourteen, and so it’s been a while since I’ve had need for a highchair, although it is useful when relatives with small children come over, so we’ll just have to make due for now.”
Over the course of the meal, Leah was asked all about Hogwarts and what she was learning, her various adventures with the famous Harry Potter and her top-secret crush on Ron. Of course, Mrs. Vroman made sure to fuss all over “little Miss Granger” as well.
After dinner, Mrs. Vroman treated the girls to some of the leftover candy and Hermione got to feed her baby sister a bottle of milk as they watched Cinderella. Finally, after a diaper change, little Miss Granger was put to sleep in Sandra’s bed, sucking gently on her pacifier.
It being a Friday, Leah was allowed to stay up until midnight and watch television. At five minutes to twelve, she was in her room, transforming herself from Hermione Granger back into Leah Vroman. She took off her black pointed witch’s hat and hung her wizard robes in the closet, hoping she’d get a chance to wear them again before next Halloween. She was wearing her pajamas and all set to get into bed when there came a knock at the door. She opened the door and found her mother standing there, smiling.
“Hi. What can I do for you?” she asked.
“This is for you, Leah,” her mother said, handing her a twenty dollar bill.
“What for?” Leah looked puzzled.
“For babysitting, of course.”
“Oh!” she said at first. “OH!!!” Comprehension crawled slowly across her tired face.
“I’m really proud of how much responsibility you’ve taken on yourself, first with helping to pay for your costume and then with watching your sister.”
“Aww, thanks, Mom,” Leah said, hugging her mother.
“You’re welcome sweetie. Now get some sleep. You’ve had a long day.”
“Good night, Mom,” Leah said closing the door.
Chapter Four: The Cinderella Effect
As the November sun burst brilliantly through the blinds in Leah’s bedroom, she clung desperately onto her dreams. A pastiche of images from the night before, her best Halloween ever, flickered on the insides of her eyelids. Slower and slower, the slideshow came to a stop, leaving nothing but memories as she wiped the sleep from her eyes. In one amazing day, she got to play the role of Hermione Granger and get her first babysitting job, and be a big sister. Plus her mom paid her twenty bucks!
Not wanting to lose the sensation right away, she threw a bathrobe on and crept silently and stealthily down the hall into her sister’s room, slipping through the ajar door, praying the floorboards would play the part of co-conspirators and not betray her presence.
Once inside, she beheld once more the sight of her sleeping sister, curled up into the fetal position, sucking gently on her pacifier, still wearing her pink top and a dry, extra-thick diaper. For a fleeting moment, Leah’s heart surged with all of the emotion and excitement of the previous evening. “At least it hasn’t yet ended for Sandra,” she thought enviously. Doubtless, before long Sandra would awake and resume her role as the older sibling. Savoring a last glimpse of her baby sister, Leah sighed and headed downstairs to get a start on breakfast.
“Good morning, Leah,” Mrs. Vroman said cheerfully as Leah grabbed the box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix from the pantry and set it on the kitchen counter as she went together the ingredients and a mixing bowl.
“Mom,” she began suddenly, “can you teach me how to make coffee?”
“Going to start drinking coffee are we now?” Mrs. Vroman asked curiously.
“Well…I just thought…” Leah’s voice trailed off as she poured batter onto the steaming frying pan.
“Sure, sweetheart,” Mrs. Vroman laughed brightly, “I’ll teach you how to make coffee. It’s really simple. You just take a filter and put it in the basket like so,” she demonstrated. “Then you put enough grinds into the filter for the number of cups you want to make. Then you take the carafe and fill it with water up to the line representing the number of cups. I recommend water from the Brita pitcher. Fresh water always makes the best coffee. Then you pour the water into the back of the coffee maker, replace the carafe onto the warmer and flip the switch! Voila!”
“Oh! Thank’s Mom.”
“When did you start drinking coffee?” Mrs. Vroman asked curiously.
“Oh I think I had it at Grandma’s one time. I didn’t like it at first. I still have to add milk and a some sugar, though,” she said airily as she flipped the pancakes.
“I see. So, does this mean you’ll be making the morning coffee on weekends from now on?”
“Maybe. We’ll see.”
“So how was your night last night?”
“Oh my God! It was incredible,” Leah began, as if she’d been waiting to explode with all of the details from when Sandra first said she wanted her big sister to help her with her diaper, to when she helped her get into the stroller, to how everyone fussed over Sandra but that it was okay because she was a baby for the day, and that she also got plenty of compliments on her costume.
“Although I must admit I was a little grossed out at first when you asked me to change Sandy’s wet diaper, but I later realized that it was the first time I’d ever taken care of a baby, even though Sandy’s not really a baby. And I mean I learned to change diapers in home economics, but it was totally different with Sandy. And she was just adorable! She played the part so well…I just loved feeding her a bottle last night while we watched Cinderella.”
Out of breath, she sighed deeply.
“Are you okay, Leah?” Mrs. Vroman asked, sensing a sudden change in her daughter’s mood.
“Yeah,” Leah sighed. “It’s just…I’ve always wanted to be a big sister to someone, and I’ve never even been able to baby-sit for anyone. All of our relatives live far away and none of the families in the neighborhood need babysitters…”
“You shouldn’t give up hope just like that, Leah. You never know what’s around the corner. A house could go up for sale. A new family could move in. You’re only fourteen. You may not have the chance to be a big sister, but you might be a babysitter yet.”
Just then, a subtle plastic crinkle made its way down the stairs. Upon its reaching the kitchen, Leah’s heart secretly leapt as she exchanged a lightning quick glance with her mother.
“Well good morning, Pumpkin,” she said pleasantly.
“Good Morning,” Sandra yawned groggily, her hair in shambles and her eyes only half open. "I wasn’t going to crawl out of bed this early but I smelled food and coffee.
“Yes, your sister made pancakes. They’re fresh. I’ll set a plate for you. There’s also fresh coffee if you want it. I just finished teaching Leah how to make it not too long ago.”
“That sounds great,” Sandra said as she stumbled over to a chair by the kitchen table as her mother poured her a cup of coffee. She heaped a few pancakes onto her plate and spread butter over them. Dousing them in syrup, she dug hungrily in.
“How did you sleep?”
“Best night’s sleep I can remember in the longest time. I just kind of passed out,” Sandra said, taking a sip of coffee to wash down some pancake."
All of a sudden, Sandra’s fork dropped right from her hand and her face turned fire engine red.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“I never changed out of my costume from last night! I’m still wearing a diaper!” she exclaimed, mortified. She stood up and made to run for her bedroom to change.
“Sandra, honey, sit down,” Mrs. Vroman said soothingly, placing her hand on Sandra’s shoulder. “You’re already a quarter of the way through your breakfast. Finish eating. Then you can take the diaper off before showering. Actually, that reminds me. I never got a picture of the two of you from last night!”
“I took plenty of pictures of Sandy, Mom.”
“But I want a picture of the two of you. I’m sure you’d both like to remember the wonderful time you had last night. Leah, you particularly seemed to have the time of your life. Why don’t you go and change back into your costume, since you’re finished eating. That’ll give Sandy the chance to finish eating. Oh and, if you would, bring down a pacifier for Sandy.”
“Sure thing Mom,” Leah said, bolting upstairs.
Fifteen minutes later, Hermione Granger graced the Vroman household for the second time, carrying a pacifier along with two hair ties and a hairbrush.
“Come sit here on the couch with me, Sandy. I want to put your hair into pigtails like yesterday.”
“I really don’t think that’s necessary,” Sandra said, still slightly embarrassed that she’d made an appearance in a diaper that wasn’t on Halloween.
“Of course it’s necessary,” Leah said and dragged Sandy over to the couch and began waging war on the knots in Sandy’s hair.
“It’s a shame you seem to have pulled these hair ties out in your sleep, Sandy, or I wouldn’t have to do this.”
“Funny, the only thing I seem to have done in my sleep is run a marathon. My legs were killing me this morning from being cramped in that stroller!”
What should have been maybe a five minute picture taking turned into a gala event. Leah fiercely combated Sandra’s hair, putting it back into two pretty pigtails. Then she insisted on taking a wet paper towel to her sister’s face, wiping off some syrup, all the while trying to make Sandra look like she hadn’t just awoken from the dead. An eternity later, Leah was not yet done fussing. Sandra, however, sensed the need to pee.
“Can you hurry up? I really need to pee!”
“Go right ahead, Sandy,” Leah said, attacking the last of the stray curls.
Sandy started to stand up but there came a swift swat on her behind. “You’re not going anywhere until I get this hair perfect. You’re wearing a diaper, feel free to use it.”
“But…” Sandra began to protest.
“Then you’ll have all the more reason to change out of it…You’re going to shower anyway! Besides…”
"Are you two ready yet? Mrs. Vroman called from her bedroom where she was loading her camera with new batteries.
“Now, little Miss Granger,” she said playfully, walking into the living room, “I want you to sit on your big sister’s lap for me.”
Hoping to get this over with quickly so she could use the bathroom, she situated herself on Leah’s lap, feeling slightly embarrassed as Leah popped a pacifier into her mouth.
“Now, Hermione. I want you to put your arms around your sister.”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Vroman,” Leah grinned fiendishly. She wrapped her arms around Sandra’s stomach and gave the slightest little tug around her bladder.
“Now, smile you two!”
Hermione had worked a little nonverbal spell in that moment. Her slight tug on her sister’s bladder, combined with her sister trying to keep a straight face and smile for her mother’s camera caused her to lose control. Her bladder emptied into her very thick diaper, a yellow wet spot spread along the front that would be just visible in the picture.
“I can’t believe you did that!” Sandra spit the pacifier across the room the minute she no longer had to hold her pose.
“Well, sis, you were complaining that you had to pee. I just helped it along a little. It’s not as if you’re not going to take that diaper off right now and shower anyway. So, you used it. What’s the big deal?”
The big deal was that Sandra was humiliated and enthralled at the same time by the idea of a picture of her in her ‘Halloween costume,’ with a wet diaper, sitting on her ‘big sister’s’ lap. The big deal was that she loved every minute of it and it felt so wrong and yet so right. The big deal was that she wanted so badly to be truly mad at Leah for what she’d just done, but there was no way she possibly could. The big deal was that she’d just gotten to dress up for the ball once more, but there was no glass slipper in sight. She knew there was no answer she could possibly give without risking giving herself away. She stormed up the stairs in a faux tiff towards the sanctuary of a nice hot shower. Well, she tried to storm. One furious step was all she managed. Confronted with the bulk of her wet, extra-thick diaper, she resigned herself to toddle the rest of the way up the stairs. There were tears in her eyes, but she was quietly laughing.