Sophie had been angry with her husband Howl—the Wizard Howl—Howell Jenkins—Pendragon—whatever he was calling himself these days because quite frankly she couldn't care less—for 3 weeks.

The fact that he had been gone every single day of those three weeks did not help matters. As obnoxious as he was when he was around, at least then he could avoid changing diapers by citing minor catastrophes around the castle he needed to sort out right away.

In fact, if she didn't strongly suspect he had stayed away three weeks when he had said three days just to get away from the baby, she might actually have been inclined to forgive him for all those excuses, because Sophie was at the end of her rope and every clunk! and boom! and urgle! had her worried that the castle was going to collapse around her at any minute out of a sheer sense of rebellion.

What was worse was that in three weeks she couldn't come up with anything to properly punish him. She'd thought about ripping out the seams in one of his favorite shirts and stitching them back together while muttering nasty things about Howl to them. But that might actually hurt him and she didn't want him laid up in bed where he'd only behave like another toddler for her to take care of instead of dealing with his blasted castle.

She thought about leaving all the soiled diapers that it would have been his turn to change somewhere for him to find them, but knowing Howl, she'd still be the one cleaning them up, so that was no good.

In the end, however, he looked so bedraggled when he finally did come home that she actually believed his wild tale of mortal peril, so she didn't feel quite right about holding a grudge. Especially if she believed the part about how half of what he'd gone through was to protect her and the baby, which she was having a little bit of trouble swallowing with the rest, but she had to give him the benefit of the doubt once in a while, didn't she?

So Sophie remained an absolute saint and was no more sarcastic than usual when Howl was sitting on the grass reading while she was hanging out the laundry to dry—most of it his—and keeping an eye on Morgan at the same time.

She was only really sorry that she hadn't seen it happen, just heard the splat! and the subsequent yelp from the grown man she sometimes couldn't believe she slept with—of course on those occasions she would always remember how good he was in bed and that would be the end of that for a while.

She turned first to Morgan, who was looking pleased with herself, and only then did she turn her attention to the source of the anguished yelp.

Sophie promptly burst out laughing. Morgan had thrown a ball of mud directly at her father, and with aim that a mother could be proud of.

The target of the hit-and-toddle looked absolutely disgusted with the whole situation, as though he couldn't decide whether he was more angry with his shirt for being dirty or his hair for having taken a hit, or even with himself for sitting where he was. Thankfully it didn't occur to him that Morgan might be to blame. No, Howl looked as though all he wanted at that moment was a good clean bath, but he didn't want to touch himself long enough to take his clothes off. Sophie howled with laughter.

"That's a good look for you," she said between bouts of mirth. The look on his face just got funnier and funnier the longer it was frozen there.

She made a mental note about experimenting with her power of suggestion on their one-year-old in the future when she was angry with her no-good-dirty-rotten-quite-dirty-actually-at-the-moment wizard husband.