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Baking Lessons by Embellished
Baking Lessons by Embellished
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J. K. Rowling, except for the molasses cookie recipe, which I have modified from one attributed to Kathie Janger that appears in Cookies!, Marian Levine, ed., The American Cooking Guild, Collector's Series, Volume 26, 1989.

A/N: This was written for Sarea Okelani's D/G Feast Contest. It contains a recipe for molasses cookies at the end.


**************


Baking Lessons


Draco Malfoy was having a bad day.

He had overindulged a bit the night before and had planned on a lie-in. Nevertheless, he was rudely awakened at what surely must have been the crack of dawn. Crabbe, in his haste to get to the washroom for the fifth time, stumbled and landed on Draco before sliding to the floor and passing out again. Draco tried to get back to sleep, but his pounding head and the fur growing on his tongue managed to keep him awake. So he did something he could not remember ever doing on a Sunday--he went to breakfast.

Draco sat groggily alone at the Slytherin table and watched in disbelief as the Hufflepuffs chatted cheerily, as if it were noon and not some godforsaken hour of the morning. Once he had managed to choke down some toast and a banana, he made his way back to the dungeons, where he found an owl waiting for him. Just what he needed--more demands from his father. He knew what the letter would say even before he opened it. "You will be joining the Dark Lord soon. Make me proud. And send money--it isn't easy being an escaped convict, you know." No surprises, but it did nothing to help his mood. And it added to his tasks for the day--he had to think up some new reason why he couldn't possibly manage to send any money at the moment, and craft an appropriately noncommittal reply.

Since it was bloody early, Draco had the common room all to himself, which gave him a perfect opportunity to practice the Spinning Charm without the risk of distractions. Unfortunately, in his still slightly befuddled state, he had more trouble than usual. The first six tries had no effect whatsoever on the candlestick he was attempting to charm. On the seventh try, he must have yelled "Precessio!" too loudly, because instead of the candlestick doing cartwheels around the room, he was. Worse, he had lost his wand on the first turn around the room, so he couldn't perform the countercurse.

It was just Draco's luck that Pansy Parkinson entered the common room first. Amid much simpering about how he should take better care of himself, she did at least remove the charm. Of course, she then decided that she had earned the right to attach herself to him for the foreseeable future, and Draco was forced to endure her fawning and inane prattle all afternoon. Pansy generally gave him a headache even when he was in a good mood, so his headache just got bigger and bigger, and all he could think about was that he really should have been working on the Transfiguration essay that was due the next day.

Draco finally escaped from Pansy's clutches when it was time for Quidditch practice. He was looking forward to flying--the exhilaration of it almost always made him feel better. This time, however, Montague berated Draco on his past performances against Gryffindor in order to "motivate" him for their upcoming match. He released the Snitch and told Draco not to land until he caught it. This was not an unusual tactic on Montague's part, and usually Draco had caught it at least twice by the end of practice. But it had become clear to Draco that this was not in any way going to be a usual day, so he was hardly surprised when the rest of the team left the pitch and he was still searching.

Two hours later, Draco was nearly at the end of his rope. He had only spotted the damn thing twice and it had quickly disappeared each time. He was ready to give up when the Snitch appeared not ten yards below him. He dove. Luckily, he caught it. Less luckily, he twisted his ankle in a rough landing, and had to limp his way up to the castle.

Draco made his way to the Great Hall only to find it completely empty. In keeping with the rest of the day, he had missed dinner. And he was starving. There was nothing else to do but head to the kitchens.


***


Ginny Weasley, on the other hand, was quite enjoying her day. After a good soak in the Prefects' bath and a quiet evening with a romance novel, she had woken much more well-rested than usual. Although she had been swamped with work in her O.W.L. year, she had managed to race through her assignments that day. She found the ingredients for the Draught of Peace in the first book she consulted in the library. She managed to transfigure her quill into a sugar quill (a practical spell if she ever saw one) on her second try. And over lunch, Neville happily told her everything she needed to know for her essay on the Venomous Tentacula. She ended up with most of the afternoon free, and as it was likely one of the last warm days of the fall, she spent it by the lake. After several lazy hours, and a particularly lovely sunset, she started back towards the castle.

On the way, she noticed a lone flyer on the Quidditch pitch and stopped to admire a particularly elegant dive. She knew that the only student who could fly with that much finesse was Draco Malfoy (Harry was a better Seeker, but he didn't have style). She could have watched him fly until he quit, but noise from her stomach reminded her that she was late for dinner.

After dinner, Ginny lingered in the Great Hall, chatting with some of the other fifth year Gryffindors. She kept eyeing the doors, trying to spot a certain Slytherin Seeker. She had found herself doing this more and more recently, much to her chagrin. After all, she would never have a chance with him. He hardly ever noticed her existence (despite that Bat-Bogey Hex last year), and when he did, it was only to insult her. But she still had trouble keeping her eyes off him. Of course, she would never think of telling her friends the real reason she wanted to stay. As far as they were concerned, Ginny just wanted to make sure the house-elves had some time to begin washing up before she invaded their kitchens to bake a birthday cake for Colin Creevey.

Everyone in Gryffindor knew that Ginny was one of the best bakers around--she had learned from her mother, after all. She would bake for birthdays, most holidays, and whenever she was in the mood. Some of her classmates had even been known to provoke her notorious Weasley temper, hoping that she would eventually head to the kitchens to calm down. Ginny's molasses cookies were particularly coveted, but it was rare for her to make those. She was careful of her figure (considering how plump her mother had become from eating her own baking) and for some reason she could never resist the molasses cookies. Though this was not at issue tonight--she was planning to bake Colin's favorite, a rich chocolate cake.

As usual, when Ginny entered the kitchens, she was almost knocked over by a swarm of excitedly chattering house-elves. She had been coming here to bake since her second year and the elves saw her as a kindred spirit. Bippy, who always helped her when she baked, soon shooed the others away and cleared some workspace for Ginny to use ("You move over, Foozy. Miss Wheezy bake now!"). Ginny was concentrating on stirring the batter when she heard a drawling voice much too low to be a house-elf.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Ginny looked up into the smirking face of Draco Malfoy.


***


Draco had been to the kitchens a few times before and had been overwhelmed by the attention the elves lavished on him. So he was somewhat surprised when he stepped into the kitchens this time--none of the elves seemed to notice he was there. If he hadn't been so annoyed at being ignored, he would have thought the scene fascinating: a hundred elves, utterly entranced, watching something out of his line of sight. Draco edged further into the room to see what had captured their attention. His breath caught.

There was someone there, a student, cooking something. And it wasn't just any student. It was Ginny Weasley, her flaming hair escaping from her ponytail, her cheeks flushed from the heat of the kitchens, her brow furrowed in concentration as she stirred something in a bowl in front of her. Draco almost froze like one of the house-elves, gaping with open jaw at this surprisingly pretty girl. Pretty... how could he think of a Weasley as pretty? What was he thinking? Weasleys were for taunting, not for ogling.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here? A Weasley in the kitchen. Did your mother never tell you that we have house-elves at Hogwarts to do the cooking? Or are you so poor that they make you help in the kitchens to pay your tuition?"

Ginny looked at Draco with unreadable eyes. "Oh, hello, Malfoy."

This was the last thing Draco expected. Any of her brothers would have turned red in the face and tried to attack him. Ginny just went back to her stirring.

"What are you doing?" he asked, trying to provoke something.

"Baking a cake."

"Why?"

"Because tomorrow is my friend's birthday; this is my gift to him."

Draco was confused. "But wouldn't the house-elves bake a birthday cake if you asked? And can't you just buy a gift? Oh, I forgot. You probably can't afford it."

"Yes, the elves would probably bake a cake for me if I asked them to, but I enjoy it. And I probably would bake the cake anyway, even if I could afford to buy a gift."

"That makes no sense. Your friend would want a real gift, not some stupid cake."

"A cake is a real gift. A true gift, because I made it myself. Something I buy wouldn't mean as much."

"Something you buy would mean much more. It would mean you could buy it."

"Some things can't be bought. You would do well to learn that, Malfoy." Ginny punctuated this comment by dipping her finger in the batter and sucking the chocolate sensuously from it. Smiling at him, she turned away, and poured the batter into a waiting pan.

Draco stood for a minute, stunned at the sight of a Weasley remaining calm in the face of his taunting. He turned and left the kitchens before she could confuse him any more.

He was already back in his dormitory when he realized that he had forgotten to get anything to eat when he was in the kitchens.


***


Ginny looked up into Draco Malfoy's stormy grey eyes. His hair, usually impeccable, was falling into his face, and it was disturbingly attractive. She took a deep breath and made a conscious effort to put aside that thought. She would need all of her concentration to play this one right. She needed to do the unexpected if she hoped to capture his interest--she would be as impassive as she could. And it did seem to be working. He kept on insulting her, but she refused to take the bait--she just smiled and turned away. How could that fail? Had a Weasley ever smiled at a Malfoy? Had a girl ever turned her back on him?

When she turned back around, Ginny was delighted to see that Malfoy had left, speechless, and without his dinner.


***


That night, Draco dreamed of Ginny Weasley jumping out of a cake.

At breakfast the next day, he couldn't help watching her from across the Great Hall. He was so distracted that he ruined a potion for the first time ever, causing Professor Snape to glare at him as if he was Longbottom. He couldn't go on this way. He had to get her out of his mind. So he threw himself into his work, and (much to Montague's delight) Quidditch. He sat facing away from the Gryffindor table, so he wouldn't be tempted to look at her during meals. He even stole some Dreamless Sleep Potion from the infirmary to avoid any more of those dreams. And he was almost successful of ridding himself of thoughts of that redhead. Almost.


***


When Draco left the kitchens on Sunday night, Ginny was sure she had made an impression. However, over the next several days, he once again seemed oblivious to her existence. He always had his head buried in a book, or was discussing something intensely with his Quidditch teammates. She passed him in the corridor between classes one day, and he didn't even see her go by. She needed something else to get his attention. Something that noone could resist, not even Draco Malfoy. She needed to make her molasses cookies.


***


On Friday night, Draco was on his Prefect rounds, searching the castle for rule-breakers, or at least non-Slytherin rule-breakers. He had done reasonably well at keeping his mind off of the Weasley chit so far that week, but there was not much to distract him as he wandered through the corridors. He couldn't stop thinking about how she had looked stirring that bowl, how she had taken his taunts so calmly, how she had turned away from him. No girl had ever done that before, and he found it quite intrig... er, irritating. He would have to teach her a lesson. Nobody treats a Malfoy like that and gets away with it. Nobody. He would just have to find her and... and... He was distracted from these thoughts by a smell of something sweet and spicy.

He entered the kitchens, expecting to find the house-elves testing a new recipe, but instead he found them once again entranced. Sure enough, there was Ginny Weasley. She was bent over, putting something into the oven, giving him a good view of her very nice-looking bum. When she stood up, he noticed a smudge of flour across her nose that made him want to... No, he couldn't be thinking along those lines, no, not at all. He struggled to recover his composure.

"Back again, Weasley?" His tone was a little less condescending than he was aiming for, but it would have to do.

"Back again, yourself, Malfoy?" She sounded amused. He needed to change that.

"Whose birthday is it this time? Or are you planning to hold a bake sale to raise funds for you family?"

"Aren't you sick of insulting my family yet? And, for your information, I am baking because it is relaxing, and you are making it much less so. So please get whatever you came for, and leave me alone."

He started to move closer to her, hoping to break through her indifference. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was aching to reach out and brush the flour off of her nose. No, nothing at all. "Are you sure you want me to do that, Weasley?"

"Well, considering that you are in my way and a batch of cookies will be ready to come out shortly... yes, I am sure," she retorted, looking defiant but not particularly perturbed. They stared at each other for a moment.

A buzzer rang and Draco jumped. Ginny giggled as she pulled a tray from the oven. The spicy sweet smell intensified. Ginny deftly transferred the cookies to a rack on the work surface. Draco reached for a cookie, and was surprised when she swatted his hand away. "Oh no you don't! Those are not for you!"

"What? Who are they for? You mean you won't even let me have one?" He put on a pouty look that had never failed to convince a girl (or his mother) to give him whatever he wanted.

"No! I only bake for people I like! I told you there are some things that can't be bought. Go find someone else to bake cookies for you." Ginny grinned slyly then, and added, "Maybe Pansy Parkinson will. She seems to like you well enough. Though I'm not sure I would trust her cooking!"

Draco surprised himself by laughing. There really was no way he would ever eat anything Pansy prepared. He wondered how Ginny knew that Pansy liked him. But he was distracted by the smell of the cookies, and the way that Ginny's face lit up when she smiled. He wanted to find a way to steal a cookie or two, and he was startled to realize that he wanted to make her smile again as well. How frightening. She was a Weasley and he was a Malfoy; that alone was reason enough for them never to smile at each other. But here they were. They were almost flirting. He had to get away.

"Don't stay out after curfew, Weasley. I'd hate to have to take points from Gryffindor," he said with a trace of a smile.

"Oh, yes, I'm sure that would be a tragedy for you," she responded with a roll of her eyes and a bit of a grin, as she turned away to retrieve another batch of the cookies. He left the kitchens trying desperately, and not entirely successfully, to suppress a silly grin.


***


Ginny had planned to bake her irresistible molasses cookies, then send some to Draco in the morning. He would taste them and, of course, he'd want more. He would have to seek her out and then.... Well, she wouldn't even let herself think about what she hoped would happen "and then." So when Draco came into the kitchens while Ginny was baking, she was secretly delighted. She wouldn't even need to put a note with the cookies when she mailed them. Oh, he'd know who had baked them.

Ginny tried to keep her responses calm and slightly detached, in spite of her racing heart. When he moved close to her, it took all of her willpower not to throw herself at him. And when he reached for a cookie, she almost wanted to feed him one herself. But that simply wouldn't do. She couldn't, wouldn't, look desperate. So she steeled herself. This would work. She knew it. When Draco left the kitchens, she burst into song, much to poor Bippy's confusion.


***


Thoughts of Ginny... with flour smudged on her nose... feeding him one of those wonderful-smelling cookies... kept Draco awake most of the night. So he was grumpy and groggy at breakfast Saturday morning. Because of this, he didn't notice the delivery owl until Goyle elbowed him in the ribs. He was confused by the small parcel. His weekly package from his mother always arrived on Monday, and he hadn't ordered anything recently, so he opened the package with great curiosity. There was no note, just four brown cookies.

For a moment, his sleep-deprived brain was unable to comprehend it. Then he caught their scent and he knew. His head jerked up and he saw her directly across from him at the Gryffindor table, smirking at him. He raised an eyebrow. Without his eyes leaving hers, he took a bite out of the cookie.

Draco was blown away. The cookie was delicious--sweet, but with enough spice to keep it interesting. Forgetting Ginny for the moment, he devoured the rest of the cookies. He looked up again, but she had disappeared.

He stood up quickly, and managed to brush off Crabbe and Goyle, who were staring at him with as much confusion as he felt. After all, he was about to chase after a Gryffindor Weasley. And a Malfoy never chases after anyone.

Draco left the hall, wondering where she could have gone. He saw the front doors slightly ajar. Sure enough, when he walked out onto the castle steps, he saw her strolling slowly toward the lake.

"Ginny!" he called out, and was rewarded when she turned around. As he caught up to her, he noticed her eyes alight with mischief. Not for nothing was she the sister of the worst pranksters to plague Hogwarts in generations. She must have put something in the cookies to make him follow her. That's why he was reacting so irrationally. "What did you put in them?"

"In the cookies? Well... flour, sugar, butter, molasses...."

"No! I mean what did you put in them that made me follow you out here?"

She smiled brightly, and he knew that she knew what he had been thinking. "Nothing. I just gave you a taste of something you already wanted. You followed me all on your own, Draco Malfoy. So, did you like them?"

Draco was at a loss for words. He didn't know whether to believe her, but the challenge in her eyes was unmistakable. What could he say? It would be obvious that he was lying if he said no, but to say yes would let her know that she had managed to get to him.

"What, can't you bring yourself to admit you might like something a Weasley made?" she asked, smirking at him. "Or did you just not get enough to make an informed decision?"

"Yes! That's it!" He couldn't believe the out she had given him. "If I were to make a proper assessment, I would need to try more cookies." He tried very hard to sound authoritative.

"Well then," she said, pulling a cookie out of a pocket and taking a bite, "you're going to have to convince me to give you some more, aren't you?" Then she took off at a run, heading for the lake.

Without thinking of the consequences, or whether a Malfoy would ever do such a thing, Draco ran after her. His longer legs allowed him to catch her just as she reached the shore. He grabbed her around the waist and they both tumbled to the ground. He stared at her as they both caught their breath.

"Will you please let me try another cookie, Ginny?" he asked with as much dignity as he could muster.

"Well, Draco," she said as she popped what was left of the cookie into her mouth, "unfortunately, I just ate the last one."

If he had stopped to think, he would have realized that what he was doing was crazy. She was a Weasley, and had probably put something in the cookies, and he never did anything just for food. But she was soft and inviting, and her flame-red hair spilled around her, and she had something he wanted, though he wasn't sure anymore if it was just the bit of cookie she was holding hostage. And he didn't stop to think. Instead, he kissed her. It was a demanding kiss at first, as he forced her mouth open, searching for the piece of cookie. But soon he was distracted by the fact that Ginny was kissing him back, and that she tasted like the cookie. Sweet and spicy. And he couldn't get enough.

All too soon, she pulled away. Breathlessly, she asked, "So, Draco, what would you do for more?"

"Anything." He hadn't thought before answering and now he knew he'd regret it.

"Anything?" she asked sweetly.

Draco wondered what he had gotten himself into. By this time, he was sure she had planned the whole encounter.

"Even..." she continued. Draco felt the tension mounting as she paused. What was she going to do to him? He knew that he would do whatever she asked. He hated himself for it, but he couldn't resist. "Even baking lessons?"

"What?!" That was not what he had expected.

"Baking lessons. You, me, the kitchens, lots of sugary things. This way you won't have to depend on me to get your molasses cookie fix." She looked up at him with such false innocence that he burst into laughter.

"So tell me, Ginny," he asked with a grin, "will the lessons include snogging the teacher?"

"Well, I hardly think you need lessons in that," she said, as she reached up to kiss him again.

Draco melted into her embrace, ignoring the consequences. He was lost in the sweetness of the moment.


***************


Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
4 Tablespoons molasses, preferably dark
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
extra sugar for coating the cookies

In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar. Add egg and blend. Add molasses, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well. Add the flour and baking soda a little at at time and blend. Chill the dough 30 minutes or overnight, covered tightly (the dough should be firm).

Preheat the oven to 325. In your hands, roll small quantities of the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.


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