Title: The Alchemical Gourmet Author: twiddlekinks Rating: PG for now... might eventually be R or NC-17 for some nice PWP/Smut Recipe: Holiday Wassail Summary: A red-headed caroler chances upon a gourmet chef. Involves cookery. Includes wassail – the Holiday drink, the good cheer, and the inspiration.
"Here we come a-wassailing Among the leaves so green Here we come a-wand'ring So fair to be seen..."
The faint purity of the Christmas carolers drifted through the cracked window. The occupant cocked his head, then stirred the contents of his pleasant pot. He couldn't resist glancing out, noting irritably that there was a red-headed gaggle chanting next door. With a "Hmmph" and a "Bah, Humbug!" he returned his attentions to the stove.
A strong, yet unassuming knock sounded at his door. After checking his concoction, he wiped his hands on a green dishtowel and stalked to the door. "Yes?"
There stood a lovely woman. She had a lovely green cap and a lovely yellow scarf that accentuated her lovely red-gold hair and lovely rosy cheeks. "Merry Christmas!" She was presenting him with a tiny bundle. She looked a tad familiar.
"Er... what is this?" Caught unawares, he had no choice but to reply like an ignorant goon. Mentally smacking himself, he said, "That is, I enjoy presents as much as the next wizard, but even I freely admit that it's slightly odd for a stranger to come waltzing through the doorway."
But now she was looking at him with a thoughtful expression on her face. "Malfoy?"
Being famous and rich and having your picture plastered all over Witch Weekly often made people think that they knew the aforementioned famous and rich persona. But if the audience in question was a lovely witch, the recognition bit might be quite all right. "None other," he replied gallantly. "Though... I seem to be at a disadvantage at the moment."
She laughed. "Oh goodness. You really don’t recognize me?" She pointed to her red hair. "You used to rag on me about this mop all the time."
"Well..." he drawled. "Then you must be a Weasley."
She grinned. "None other." She stuck out her hand. "Ginny, in fact. Nice to see you again, Malfoy."
A hundred retorts sifted through his somewhat addled skull, remnants of insult days gone by. The Weaselette? Here? Disguised as a beautiful specimen of the feminine species? Ah, well. A Malfoy never offended a lovely woman. He finally settled on the neutral, "What are you doing here, Weasley?" Then, because he was a rich and famous Malfoy, he took her proffered hand and kissed it.
She blushed, then smiled again. She had a beautiful smile, really. "It's a family tradition, actually. Each year, we pick a street in London, go caroling, and bake cookies for the residents along this street. What are you up to these days?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Experimenting with gourmet, actually."
She raised an eyebrow, as well. "Ah, really?" She sniffed. "That explains the tingly aroma, then." She smiled. "It smells like Christmas here." A gust of wind suddenly whipped by, and she shivered.
"Would you like to come in?" Against his better judgment, the words just popped out. But it was too late to reel them back in. She had already nodded her head, and he had already moved aside. Those dratted manners.
She paused inside, looking around. He knew that she was gazing at the contemporary furniture, predominantly green, with a few sprigs of holly adorning comfortable armchairs. "Yes?" he growled.
She looked at him. "It’s what I’d always hoped you’d find, really," she remarked. "Something fashionable as only you can be, but with a bit of comfy-ness."
He stared at her, and chose to ignore the comment. "What’s in this package, anyway?"
"Sugar cookies. If I'd known you were here, I might've tried for something a bit more esoteric, but hopefully your cooking will make up for the lack of originality." She sniffed again. "Does your place always smell like this, or are you cooking something now?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm cooking wassail." He tossed her a smirk. "Trust a Weasley to not know what wassail is."
She looked a tad miffed, and then her face cleared. Really, too-good-natured of a girl for his tastes. His tastes? Why was he even considering it, and where had that come from? Ah, but she was speaking: "We do, actually, but I would’ve considered a common holiday punch to be beneath the dignity of a Malfoy to cook."
"Ah, but this is an excellent recipe."
"Really? May I ask what's in this particular wassail?
As almost a reflex from cooking school, he beckoned her over to the kitchen. "I start with apricots," he explained. "Then pineapple juice, cloves, cinnamon, apple cider, and orange juice. It all comes together quite swimmingly." She grinned. He groaned inwardly. Diction, Draco, diction.
He tasted a bit. "It's done. Would you like to try some?"
She looked amazed. He could almost hear her thinking "Is it poisoned? Why would a Malfoy be so nice to a Weasley?" "No" to the first question. As to the second, he really didn’t know the answer. Perhaps because it was Christmas. "Sure," she replied.
He ladled a portion of his wassail into a dark green mug. After a casual sip, she exclaimed, "Goodness!"
He looked at her, again irritated. "What?"
"This is the best wassail I've ever had, Malfoy." She looked at him wonderingly. "And I’ve had quite a few mugs in my time. How did you do it?"
"A bit of this, a bit of that. You know."
She shook her head. "I really don't know, actually. Ever since I nearly burned the Burrow down in third year, my mum won't let me near the pots and pans." She looked wistful. "I've always wanted to learn how to cook." Then her eyes cleared. "So... where’d you learn this recipe, Malfoy?"
"It's my own, actually."
"Really?" She looked even more impressed. "And how do you figure out the ingredients?"
"There's a bit of alchemistry that goes into everything I cook, of course. Left over from Hogwarts and Snape, I suppose."
"Really? Like what?"
He gave a short nod. "Cloves... They were once 'the tongues of birds' in Chinese, and the 'grains of paradise' in Europe. Altogether nice in promoting the illusion of happiness. The apples promote spiritual energy, which is quite important with all of this good cheer floating around. Cinnamon and oranges increase spiritual and physical energy. Best to keep up one's strength, really. Pineapple is a chastity-promoting sort of fruit. Fortunately, that is countered by the apricots, which, besides bestowing feminine spiritual energy, boost the immune system and instill charm or romance into one's life." He grinned. "Other than all that mumbo-jumbo, it tastes good."
She was now openly staring at him in amazement.
"Yes?" He remarked, again suddenly irritable. Was he evolving into a boring person?
A slow grin diffused across her perky features. "I never would have pictured you as a gourmet chef, Malfoy."
He smirked. "Why not? I was excellent at Potions."
She grinned. "Well... yes. But I always thought that was because Snape had an enormous crush on you."
"Ah." He looked a tad startled. Then he shook his head. And smirked. "Well... That's too bad. I do hate the thought of missed opportunities..."
She looked at him curiously. "Are you, then?"
"Am I what?"
She looked quite serious. "Are you gay, Malfoy?"
He sputtered. "What?? Weasley, just because I've got great hair, a keen fashion sense, and a dreamy confidence around the kitchen does NOT imply homosexuality. I'm quite a lover of women!" He grinned, almost lazily. "And I've got many sources who can prove it." He smirked again.
Ginny scoffed. "Uh huh. No self-respecting straight guy would categorize being a 'good cook' as having 'a dreamy confidence around the kitchen.'"
"Um..." She had a point. "Perhaps I was just reading your mind?" He sounded quite hopeful.
She smiled. "It's okay, Malfoy." She winked. "I'll keep your secret."
"My... secret?? Insolent woman." He swooped down on her. "At this rate, you'll have rumors spreading throughout the wizarding world. It would eventually reach Azkaban. I don't think my father, or Snape, for that matter, could take it." He shook his head. "Actually, Snape might take it much too well. No, no, no. That won't do at all. I'll just have to prove it to you."
More than slightly surprised at the armful of Malfoy, she gave him a startled look. "Prove what to me?"
"Why, my rampant heterosexuality, of course. Like so." And he bent his head and kissed her.
Mmm… It was quite delicious. She tasted of cinnamon and sparkle, an altogether scintillating mix. Somewhere, Draco's mind thought that if he could brew the exact taste of Ginny Weasley's mouth, he could bottle and sell it for millions. It had a hint of mischief, a blend of spices, and an afterthought of holiday spirit.
What was he doing? Saucy bints just turned him on, he supposed. But then again, he hadn't felt this way in a while. He hadn't kissed a girl in a while, either. After he had chased away Pansy Parkinson, none of the other Slytherin gals had come near him. She had been saucy, too, he recalled. But she hadn't been... happy. That was it. Ginny Weasley was happy, and he definitely needed that, especially this Holiday season. But could he deal with kissing her, just to make himself feel better?
He broke the kiss off, aware of how her fingertips immediately touched her swollen lips. "Mmm..." she said. Then she grinned. "Perhaps you’re not gay, after all, Malfoy."
That was it? No harsh demands of explanation, no pressuring him to go further? But a juvenile impulse arose in his heart and he couldn't shake it off. "I told you so."
She laughed and shrugged. "Yes, indeed. But you never know, really..." She glanced at a watch. "I'm afraid I've got to meet my brothers, Malfoy. We've got to deliver more cookies and carols." Then her smile faded a little. "Good-bye, Malfoy. Happy Christmas." She was at the door now. Draco suddenly felt an immense and ominous premonition: If he let this girl go now, he would never see her again. And the thought strangely pained him.
She stopped and turned. Her eyes held an unfathomable expression. "Yes?"
"Drop by some time again. I'm roasting a goose tomorrow. Do you really want to learn how to cook?"
She beamed. Like a light in the darkening doorway. "Malfoy, I can't believe you just offered to help me learn my way around the kitchen." He couldn't either, to be honest. But she was nodding, and wrapping her arms around him. "Thanks."
It was a hug. The girl was hugging him. He awkwardly hugged back. Good kisser, yes. Good hugger? Never had practice, really. But he sort of put his arms around her also, and squeezed. "Er... you're welcome?"
She laughed again. She had a nice laugh. "My family would have a total fit if I came home all of a sudden with a collection of cooking skills. I'll definitely be by tomorrow." She paused. "If you really meant your offer, that is."
He looked at her. "A Malfoy never offers something that he doesn’t mean to give."
A thoughtful expression flitted across her face. He was liking these expressive mental bits; quite different from the icy facades of his ex-home. She remarked, "I don't know about all Malfoys. But I'll take your word for it in this case." She grinned again. "If only because I’m so desperate to learn how to cook." She wrinkled her nose. "But I can hear my brothers calling. See you tomorrow, Malfoy."
With a whirl, she was out the door and laughing with more red-heads underneath the street-lamped sidewalk. He looked out of his window after her. He could have sworn that she looked back at his flat and gave a little wave. He immediately dropped the curtains. It was time to make more wassail.
"Love and joy come to you And to your wassail, too And God bless you and send you a happy new year And God send you a happy new year."
[End Fic (for now)]
...This will probably lead to a longer fic – hehe The Cooking Lessons Series. For now, it’s for the D/G Ficmas Contest. Thanks for the inspiration! Here's the recipe, and more depth for the alchemical background:
• 1 can (16 ounces) apricot halves, undrained Apricots have been grown on the mountainous slopes of China for over 5,000 years, though the fruit is much more difficult to grow in temperate regions. Apricots carry feminine spiritual energy and are used to sweeten someone’s disposition or instill romance and passion in a relationship. Extremely rich in vitamins and minerals, apricots strengthen the immune system and have more of the antioxidant carotene than any other fruit. [Air ++]
• 4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice Pineapple was brought from the New World to Europe in the sixteenth century and was thought to resemble an oversize pinecone, hence the name. Pineapple juice is drunk to ensure chastity; eating the fruit brings luck and prosperity. For those reasons, pineapples are traditionally used in spells for the protection of a person’s possessions, including one’s spouse and children. Pineapples are known to contain a very powerful digestive enzyme and are part of many popular weight-loss diets. [Fire ++]
• 2 cups apple cider Apple, known as the Fruit of the Gods, is a very powerful source of spiritual energy that encourages balance and harmony. The Wiccan Feast of Apples is celebrated on Samhain (Halloween), and in ancient Greece and Rome, apples were eaten at Diana’s Festival (August 13). If cut horizontally, the apple reveals the pentagram pattern, which is considered the gateway to occult powers as well as symbol of the quintessence. The Egyptians offered apples to their highest and most powerful priests, whom they considered guardians of hidden knowledge. In the Middle Ages, sliced apples were used to foretell the future and eating them regularly was said to enable a person to live over 200 years. Modern clinical studies have proved that eating apples reduces cancer risk. [Air +++]
• 1 cup orange juice Oranges are derived from a mystical fruit called the citron. It was known to the ancient Chinese and in Sumeria became sacred to Enlil, the god over earth and air. Citrons were used in ancient religious ceremonies for their invigorating fragrance, and they are still grown for perfume oil in Corsica. Oranges reached China about 2200 BC but were so rare they were given mostly as tributes to emperors. The Chinese eventually bred their own variety, the mandarin, but oranges were not introduced into the West until Rome started importing them from Palestine around the year 100. In Europe, oranges became known as the Love Fruit because they were thought to encourage love, health, and happiness. In nineteenth-century England, giving oranges as gifts was considered a very generous and thoughtful act. During the California Gold Rush, a miraculous sweet orange without seeds that became known as the navel orange was imported from Brazil and became controversial because of philosophical questions about how it reproduced. The loose-skinned tangerine variety was developed in Tangiers, Morocco, and also proved popular in the United States. All varieties of oranges provide purifying energy for both body and mind. In some Wiccan rituals, orange juice is drunk instead of wine, and orange peel tea is said to keep one from getting drunk or muddleheaded. Marmalade jam has the same effect. The vitamin C in citrus fruits raises the brain’s level of norepinephrine, which increases energy while reducing irritability. [Fire ++]
• 18 whole cloves Cloves are the dried flower buds of a coastal tree. They are used to attract love and money and for psychic protection. The Chinese called them "birds’ tongues," and Europeans referred to them as the "grains of paradise." Cloves are said to help one penetrate illusion, and the Romans burned them as incense to keep others from making up lies or gossiping about them. Cloves were used in the Middle Ages to fight the plague and cure impotence, and today herbalists prescribe them as a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent. [Fire +++]
• 6 cinnamon sticks (3-1/2 inches), broken Cinnamon comes from the fragrant bark of an evergreen tree of the laurel family and is thought to increase spirituality and psychic insight by stimulating the Crown Chakra. The tree must grow for eight years before its thick bark is mature enough to be harvested. Cinnamon oil was used in the mummification process by the Egyptians and was applied as a holy anointing oil in ancient Hebrew rituals. Cinnamon was also sacred to the Greek god of ecstasy, Dionysus. When it is burned as incense or added to foods, cinnamon raises spiritual energy to a higher level. The spice is recognized for its healing properties and is used as an antiseptic and painkiller. It is also known to stop diarrhea, lower blood pressure, and increase insulin production. [Fire +++]
• Additional cinnamon sticks, optional
In a blender or food processor, blend apricots and liquid until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan. Add pineapple juice, cider and orange juice.
Place the cloves and cinnamon sticks in a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Add to saucepan. (Or place loose spices in saucepan and strain before serving.)
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. Serve hot in mugs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.
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