You frowned at the recipe that Mrs Longbottom had given to you. None of it seemed to make sense. Standing in the Longbottom kitchen wasn’t exactly how you’d planned to spend your morning, but as you couldn’t sleep and you’d wanted to do something nice for Neville’s birthday as he’d let you stay with him while your parents were visiting family in Australia. But, never in your life had you had to deal with a recipe book – especially a wizarding one – on your own before. His grandmother had found it lost between the books on the shelf in the living room the night before, muttering darkly about her brother having left it there again. You’d asked her if you could borrow it, and her reply was simply, ‘Borrow it, burn it, all the same to me, dear,’ before she bustled off into the garden. ‘Stir three times clockwise as you add the eggs?’ you mumbled, running a flour covered hand across the page. Something about the whole book struck you as horribly potion like, and the little moving diagrams on the pages seemed to be more condescending than helpful to you. ‘What’re you doing?’ Neville asked, making you jump slightly. You turned around quickly. Neville was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, tying his dressing gown up as he surveyed the room. He stifled a slight yawn, rubbing his eyes absently. ‘I… I um,’ you stuttered, wondering if you could pass it off as something else. You heaved a sigh though. The truth was best. ‘I was trying to make you a cake.’ A wide smile slipped quickly onto his face, and he advanced into the kitchen. ‘You know,’ he said, nodding towards the mixer that you’d found at the back of the cupboard, ‘my uncle tried to enchant that once to stop when the stuff was ready.’ An amused glint shone behind his eyes as he paused for a moment. ‘Yeah, let’s just say there’s a reason it was hidden. Here, this one’s better.’ He moved towards a heavy looking cupboard that you’d been afraid was off limits, and pulled out a slightly newer looking mixer. ‘You bake?’ you asked, raising an eyebrow at him. You thought you’d learnt about all of his hobbies a while ago. He shrugged slightly. ‘Gran’s brother liked baking for family occasions, and he normally stayed here. So yeah, I picked up a thing or two from him. Here,’ he explained, poking the picture of the bickering witches in the book so that they separated so as to sort out their own separate bowls of mixture – not without the slight glare over the shoulder at one another though – ‘that might help too.’ ‘Thank you, Neville,’ you said, hugging him quickly. ‘But surely you should be relaxing and letting me do this?’ A slight smirk slipped quickly onto his face, and he patted your back lightly with one hand as he picked up the scales with the other. ‘No offence, (Y/n), but I think it might be for the best if I help this time.’ You sighed slightly, wiping the back of your hand across your forehead. You couldn’t deny he had a point – not that you wanted to admit it though, you’d wanted the cake to be part of the surprise. ‘I guess so,’ you said, just as he pointed towards the flour. ‘Come on, I’ll show you how to understand these books.’ ‘Thank you,’ you said in a small voice, moving towards the book which Neville was leaning on the wall so you could both see it as you started to bake.
‘Hey? Hey, (Y/n)?’ you heard a voice ask, making you jump slightly. You glanced around the kitchen, wondering who had spoken. You reached over to turn the radio down though, knowing that it wasn’t helping you hear if someone was sneaking around. And then your eyes glanced across the fireplace, and you saw who had spoken. Your best friend Draco Malfoy’s face was peering out through green flames, his brow furrowed in concern as he tried his best to see into the room. You shook your head slightly, wiping your flour covered hands down the apron you’d found in the back of your wardrobe. ‘Just baking,’ you said simply as you moved towards the fire. Draco surveyed you for a moment as you knelt down, his mouth pulled into a tight frown. ‘Why?’ he asked, a note of suspicion rang through his voice. ‘Oh, um, no reason,’ you spluttered, now looking anywhere but at him. Baking was something that you often did when you were stressed. And currently, stressed was somewhat of an understatement for how you felt. It was the Easter holidays and you were at home, but that wasn’t enough to settle the exam worry that more often than not had become a familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach. It also didn’t help that this year’s Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was terrible – you barely suppressed a slight shiver at the mere thought of Dolores Umbridge’s lessons. ‘(Y/n)?’ Draco asked, pulling your attention back towards him. You sighed, leaning back on your heels as you looked at him. ‘Just stressed is all,’ you said, trying to sound offhand about it. ‘Right, one second,’ Draco said, before disappearing from view. You sighed, shrugged, and then stood up to go back to baking the brownies. After a few minutes, however – you’d just managed to get the first batch of brownies into the oven and were flicking through the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean recipe that your brother had wanted to try – the sound of shoes clicking against the cold kitchen tiles made you jump. ‘Draco!’ you said, shocked as he slowly began to saunter towards you. ‘What’re you doing?’ ‘Walking,’ he said simply, a smirk pulling at the corners of his mouth. He shrugged though, noticing the unimpressed look on your face as you jutted your hip out slightly and rested a hand on it. ‘OK, so I’m here to help bake.’ You raised a sceptical eyebrow at him as he grabbed an apron from the hanger behind the kitchen door. ‘What, I can’t let you have all the fun.’ ‘Baking’s fun for you?’ He chuckled slightly as he lent over the recipe. ‘No, but helping you is,’ he said, raising his eyes towards you slightly. ‘And anyway, I’m sure they taste better when I’ve helped bake them.’ His eyes were glinting with an arrogance that you’d often seen at school, and you lightly hit him on the arm. ‘OK then, oh wonderful Slytherin,’ you said, mock bowing at him, ‘where’d we start?’ You could already feel the stresses which had been almost suffocating you ebbing away slightly, not only because of Draco wearing a pink frilly apron and still trying to act as though he owned the place. ‘Well, it says here,’ he said, pointing lazily at the recipe, ‘that I let you do all the hard stuff; I get the job of placing them neatly on a plate.’ You chuckled, rolling your eyes slightly. ‘Oh, of course it does,’ you said, moving to start measuring out the caster sugar, grinning at him though.
It was a hot summer’s day and much to your annoyance you’d been left in your grandmother’s house while she was helping out at the local school. You had all of the windows open, the front door was slightly ajar, and you even had a few of the fans that she’d had left in the loft on in the kitchen in an attempt to cool yourself down because of the pressing heat. Much to your amazement, however, someone knocked on the door. You jumped slightly, turning quickly with your wand held tightly behind your back – despite not yet being able to do magic outside of school. But, you gave a weak sigh of relief as your eyes full upon Harry, and you placed your wand lightly on the work surface. ‘Harry,’ you breathed, moving to hug him quickly, ‘are you all right?’ There was an irritated glint behind his eyes that you’d never really seen before – even when he had to deal with Malfoy. ‘Yeah,’ he said, but even then you could tell that his heart wasn’t really in the response, ‘I was just bored. I was wondering–’ you noticed that his attention was suddenly completely occupied by his feet, which he was shifting nervously ‘–cou-could you teach me how to bake?’ A small smile slipped easily onto your face as he finally raised his eyes towards you. ‘Of course I can,’ you said moving to push your hair off your face. ‘Thank you,’ he breathed through a sigh of relief, and moved further into the kitchen. ‘Here,’ you said, handing him an apron which had been slung over the back of one of the chairs. Your Nan had aprons everywhere in the house – you were certain there was one hanging up on the back of the toilet door! He caught it and quickly put it on as you tied up your hair. ‘What d’you wanna bake?’ you asked, looking over at Harry as you began to sort out the basic ingredients for a lot of recipes. He merely shrugged though. ‘Not a clue.’ You frowned slightly, putting the scales beside a bowl as you allowed the many recipes you knew to circle around your mind. ‘How about,’ you said slowly, furrowing your brow slightly, ‘cupcakes?’ He beamed, nodding vigorously. ‘I like the sound of that.’ ‘OK, but we need to remember the baking powder,’ you said, chuckling lightly as you began to get out the other ingredients. ‘OK,’ he said slowly, moving to stand beside you, ‘how come?’ You smirked at him. ‘Because otherwise you get flat cakes and that’s just boring.’ And with that you began to help him through making the things, making sure that he was measuring ingredients out right – double checking a few things with the array of books that your nan had littering the back wall. You also made sure that he added everything – as he almost forgot to add the caster sugar – before checking the time when he put them in the oven. ‘Well,’ Harry said, wiping his hand across his forehead as he slid his back down against the cupboard doors, ‘how long now?’ You chuckled slightly. ‘A fair while,’ you said, turning to look at him, ‘wanna tell me what’s really wrong?’ Harry heaved a large sigh before finally opening up to you about how bad his summer had been thus far. And, when he eventually finished, he looked at you with a sad smile on his face. ‘So yeah,’ he concluded, his voice sounding wholly disheartened, ‘it’s not been the summer I’d expected, even with the Dursleys.’
‘Anything I can help with?’ came Fred’s voice from the doorway, making you turn towards him with a slight frown. You’d been in the Weasleys’ kitchen baking all day, trying to prepare some coolies for Bill and Fleur’s wedding. You’d practically taken over the kitchen, kicking almost everyone out – even Charlie, who had always gotten along well with you, practically fled from the room when you yelled ‘I’m baking!’ at him. ‘Unless you know how to multiply cookies without any work,’ you barely muttered, wiping the back of your hand across your forehead. You could feel the trail of flour it left. Fred chuckled slightly before giving your shoulder a light squeeze. ‘You know I can’t do that,’ he said in a calming voice, causing you to look at him. The tiredness of the past few days was slowly beginning to creep up on you. Your back ached slightly. Your arms felt as though they were about to fall off where you’d had to stir things. And your eyes were slightly strained where you’d been looking constantly at the recipes. ‘But I can help, if you’d like.’ You gave a slight sigh of relief, patting his hand slightly just as the egg timer went off to tell you that the latest batch of chocolate chip cookies were ready. ‘That’d be brilliant,’ you said, moving quickly to get them. And with that you started running through the recipes with Fred, making sure that you were both making a different batch in an attempt to make it all run a little quicker. It was getting late when you accidentally put the egg shells in the mixture rather than the yolk – which you separated out into the sink – causing Fred to chuckle slightly. ‘I think that should be it for today,’ he said sympathetically. You shook your head, though you couldn’t supress a yawn. Your cheeks began to glow. ‘This batch,’ you said, and Fred, though he rolled his eyes, nodded. But it turned out that he hadn’t really meant it. You were halfway through measuring out the caster sugar when you felt something hit the back of your neck. The little bits falling down your shirt tickled your back. ‘Fred Weasley!’ you said, turning to face him quickly. There was a wide smirk on his face and he still had a fistful of flour in one hand, his other holding the flour packet at the bottom. ‘What?’ he asked innocently, trying to make his eyes as wide as he could. A small smirk tugged at the corner of your mouth as you moved your hand behind you so as to grab some sugar. ‘Nothing,’ you said simply, shrugging slightly. You began to turn back around, but quickly threw the sugar at him. It hit him on the cheek and tumbled down onto his shoulder like terrible dandruff. The fight went on for a while, but when Molly eventually stepped into the house her eyes narrowed dangerously. ‘What happened here?’ she asked, her voice low. Her hands were resting firmly on her hips, her eyes moving very quickly between you and Fred. You began to chew your lip lightly, worry welling in the pit of your stomach. ‘The mixer,’ said Fred quickly, pointing accusingly at the thing which was spluttering slightly, ‘it went crazy.’ Molly raised a sceptical eyebrow, but seemed to shrug the thing off. ‘Maybe I should bake more often,’ said Fred, waving his wand to tidy up. ‘If it involves this much mess.’ You couldn’t help but chuckle.
A mumbled curse from the kitchen pulled you from your daydreams with a start. You were sitting in the small kitchenette of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. It had been a few months since the Battle of Hogwarts – getting on for a year – and Lee had finally managed to persuade George that getting back to the shop was what Fred would have wanted. Lee was currently asleep on the worn out sofa (‘It’s so much more comfortable than any of those stinking new ones,’ had been his excuse when he brought the thing in with the help of three young giants). You glanced round, only to see George flitting about near the oven. Your brow furrowed slightly as you slipped off the barstool and stepped up beside George. He gave a start. His was face contorted in irritation but he quickly relaxed into a more relieved demeanour, still sorting things out. There was an array of equipment scattered on the work surfaces, which were covered in a thin layer of flour. Eggs were jumping in the box as if they’d been infused with pixies, and there was a set of weighing scales that looked a good ten years older than yourself sitting near the back, the two sides folded as if it were crossing its arms. ‘Um,’ you asked tentatively, ‘whatcha doing, Georgie?’ He grunted slightly, waved his wand at the scales which quickly jumped forward so he could measure out butter, before he finally spoke in a hoarse voice. ‘I wanted to bake a cake for Mum. You know, I heard some little kid talking in the shop the other day. They were so excited that their dad was letting them help him bake the cake for their mum’s birthday that I thought I could try the same.’ He scowled over at the eggs though, which appeared to still quickly. ‘The issue is,’ he said, running a hand through his hair so that it was streaked with white, ‘I dunno much about baking. None of the tools seem to want to do what their meant to, and I’m pretty sure I picked up the dancing eggs – you know, the ones which are like little Dungbombs? – instead of real ones.’ Realisation dawned on you as you glanced worriedly at the eggs. ‘Yeah,’ you said slowly, before looking back to George. ‘Anyway, I can help,’ you said, shrugging nonchalantly. ‘You can?’ asked George, just as Lee gave a grunt and you heard him roll over in his sleep. ‘Of course,’ you said simply, holding out a hand for the scales, which seemed much more certain around you than George. ‘Though, think you can find the real eggs first? It’s all well and good you trying to do this, but somehow I don’t think she’d thank you if the cake exploded in a puff of green smell when someone cut into it.’ George chuckled slightly, nodding as he moved to get the things. And, with that, you helped him with the baking. You made sure that the utensils were real rather than products and you made sure that he’d added everything with the magical tick list that was going on in the book whenever he mumbled what he was measuring. When it was finally finished, the two of you dipping your fingers into the mixing bowl to try the stuff as the cake baked, you grinned at him from across the table. ‘Not bad. I reckon we might make a baker out of you yet, Weasley.’ He smirked, wiping his finger around the edge of the bowl.
‘We don’t have brownies,’ you heard Ron complain as he flopped onto the sofa in the hotel room. Ron and his family were in Egypt visiting Charlie, and you just so happened to be staying in the same hotel as him. As such the two of you had been playing a lot of Wizards Chess when not out exploring with your families, or else simply talking about all the cool things that you’d learnt. Today, however, your parents had taken his out for fancy dinner as a celebration for the end of a wonderful holiday, and given you kids free reign of the room. ‘You mean, we don’t,’ you corrected him, arching an eyebrow – he’d been raiding your cupboards again. ‘Yeah, you don’t,’ he said, smirking over at you. ‘How come?’ ‘Because Dad said eating food made here was all part of the experience,’ you explained with a sigh. There was a glint behind Ron’s eyes that you’d never seen before though. Your stomach dropped slightly. You had a bad feeling about this. ‘What?’ you asked cautiously. ‘Well,’ he said, standing up again and moving towards the kitchen, you followed, close on his heels, ‘if it has to have been made here, why don’t we make brownies?’ A wide smile slipped quickly onto your face. ‘That sounds like a plan,’ you said. Brownies, it turns out, were quite simple to make when you had empty packets of English ones dotted around the place. You gathered up the ingredients list, figured out an estimation of what you might need and tried to add it all together. It was a lot of fun, having small arguments with Ron about what was added when (‘I’ve seen my nan do it before,’ he said, elbowing you out of the way so as to add flour. ‘Yes,’ you said, frowning slightly as he just tipped the thing over the bowl, ‘but shouldn’t we sieve it?’). And there was also the fact that the other Weasley children were flitting in and out of the kitchen, the twins nicking the odd square of chocolate that you and Ron had somehow managed to leave in the rush to sort everything out. Eventually, when Percy finally pulled the things out of the oven (‘Honestly, we know one of you would only burn yourselves,’ he’d said pompously, causing Bill to hold the back of Ron’s jacket to stop him lunging at Percy, and Ginny to pat you comfortingly on the arm) all of you were crowded in the kitchen. ‘Smells OK,’ said Ron, leaning close to the things. ‘Wanna try?’ He pulled off a small part, dropping it onto the counter because of how hot it was, and motioned for you to eat it. You rolled your eyes, took it carefully before blowing it to try and stop it from burning you. Then, after a moment, you popped it into your mouth and chewed. But, rather than it being the sweetness heaven that you’d anticipated, there was something terribly wrong with it. You quickly turned to the bin and spat it out, glancing at Ron. ‘Where’s the sugar bag?’ you asked, but you could already feel the blush rising on your cheeks as the other Weasleys began to chuckle slightly. Ron’s ears went slightly red as he pointed a shaking hand towards the container he’d used for sugar. Your heart sunk, but you couldn’t help but laugh along too. You’d put salt in the things! ‘Better luck next time,’ you said, smirking as you dumped the first batch in the bin, and started getting more stuff ready.
Nothing like free business cards from Vista Print to advertise your business. Need jugglers from the New York area? Well, there’s their Twitter handle and e-mail address. I blurred out their names and phone numbers.