A/N: Written in response to the H/G Ficafest Challenge on LiveJournal: 'Harry teaches Ginny to cook.' This fic is a continuation of Lot In Life, but it's not necessary to read that one to understand this. It just adds a bit of backstory for Molly and Ginny,
Boundless thanks to my beta readers, Stephanie (a non-H/Ger – will convert her yet), BeccaFran (puller of strings and master wordsmith), and Fran (for much needed emergency Britpicking!).-----
Ginny Weasley, youngest of seven children and only girl, was frustrated. This was very clearly evident in the set of her chin and hips as she glared balefully at the teakettle. It was steadfastly refusing to boil water, and she was coming very close to hexing it in a fit of pique.
Ginny was not a morning person, as any of her brothers could attest. It was quite unusual for her to be up so very early on a Saturday morning, and odder still for her to be standing in the kitchen of the Burrow, hands on her hips, as she valiantly tried to make herself a simple breakfast. The mere sight of her in one of her mother's floral aprons was likely to send the other members of the Weasley family scurrying for shelter.
If it hadn't been for Harry's birthday party the night before, Ginny would still be in bed. Her parents seemed to consider Harry's nineteenth birthday as somewhat of a milestone – for whatever reason – and had staged an elaborate picnic party for him, with all of the Weasleys showing up for the weekend. Bill and Charlie had cleaned up afterward, but their mother had been exhausted, and Ginny really didn't want to wake her up just for a plate of eggs and a few sausages. Molly Weasley deserved a bit of a lie-in sometimes, too, especially after what she'd organized for Harry.
Unfortunately, that left Ginny alone and unsupervised in the kitchen. Out of long habit, she ran through all the proper fire-extinguishing charms in her head – just in case. There was, after all, a reason Ginny didn't cook.
The teakettle chose that moment to boil, and the piercing whistle jerked Ginny out of her reverie. She jumped forward, snatching the kettle off the stove with a mitted hand, and managed to knock over her mother's favorite china butter dish in the process. It fell to the floor with a resounding clatter, and Ginny scrunched her eyes closed. Between the teakettle and the breaking china, she was bound to have woken someone up…
There was a chuckle from the doorway to the kitchen, and Ginny reluctantly pried one eyelid open to view the damage. The butter dish lay in halves at her feet, and Harry Potter leaned against the doorjamb, watching her with amusement.
"Bugger," Ginny said calmly, setting the kettle back down.
Harry grinned. "All right, Gin?" he asked, still trying to stifle laughter.
"Oh, just smashing – literally and figuratively," Ginny replied sarcastically. She bent to retrieve the pieces of the dish, and cast a hasty Reparo charm to seal the halves back together. Hopefully, her mother would never notice.
Ginny glanced over her shoulder at Harry, and arched an eyebrow at him. "Well? Are you just going to stand there laughing at me, or did you want something for breakfast?"
"Oh, I'm not laughing at you, Gin – I'm laughing with you," Harry informed her, entering the kitchen with a positively impish smile.
Ginny glared at him. "This is me not laughing, Potter."
Harry shook his head and seated himself at the kitchen table. "What are you doing, anyway?" he asked curiously.
"Er – cooking," Ginny said, flushing. "Sort of."
"What do you mean, 'sort of'?"
Ginny looked mournfully at the mess on the stove. She had been attempting scrambled eggs before she put the teakettle on to boil. Cracking eggs had never been her strong suit; it looked like a half-dozen eggs had simply exploded in their carton – and all over the counter. Harry followed her gaze, and began to laugh even harder.
"That's enough of that, you," Ginny told him sternly, brandishing her wand. "I'll just have toast. I can manage toast." She deftly retrieved a loaf of bread, and held it up triumphantly. "How do you take your toast, Harry? Charred or lightly smouldering?"
"Please tell me you're joking," Harry said, still shaking his head.
Ginny made a face. "'Course I am. I can make lovely toast. Beautiful, golden-brown toast. It's about the only thing Mum ever managed to successfully beat into my undomesticated little brain." With a flourish, she pulled out two slices of bread and carefully inserted them into the ancient toaster her father had refurbished and charmed when she was a child. It was very difficult to mess up toast, after all.
"Mum's devastated, you know," Ginny continued. "Her only daughter, and years of cooking lessons, and I can't manage to boil water without some sort of catastrophe." She directed another dirty look at the teakettle sitting innocently out of reach.
Harry hid a grin. "Shameful. You should have grown up with the Dursleys. They had me cooking breakfast for them at the age of eight."
Ginny stuck her tongue out at him. "Sure, rub it in, Potter."
Harry laughed. "What were you trying to make, anyway?"
"Scrambled eggs. Mum swears they're very easy, but you have to crack the eggs first, and I can't seem to get the hang of it. I thought about making some sausages, too, and maybe a batch of pancakes, but I decided to set more realistic goals for myself and not set Mum's kitchen on fire."
Harry didn't laugh this time, but instead fixed her with a thoughtful look. There was a slightly devious expression in his green eyes, as well, which made Ginny a bit wary.
"Feel like shocking your mother speechless?"
Ginny raised an eyebrow at him. "What did you have in mind?"
"Hey – hands off, no tasting 'til it's done!" Harry shook a mixing spoon threateningly at Ginny, who was trying her very best to sneak a taste of the batter he was concocting. She doubled over with laughter as she ducked out of reach of Harry and his spoon.
It was quite comical, to say the least, to see Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived-to-Defeat-Voldemort, wearing one of her mother's flowered aprons and bustling around the kitchen as if he'd been there all his life. Ginny, of course, wasn't making things easy for him.
"How am I supposed to learn anything if you won't let me taste?" she asked petulantly, peering over his shoulder at the sausages he was frying.
"You're not," Harry told her solemnly. "You're supposed to just stand there and let me do this."
Ginny stamped her foot. "That wasn't part of the deal, Harry. I want to help. I promise not to mix up the flour and powdered sugar, just let me help. Please?"
Harry laughed, and handed her the bowl of batter. "Here, then – mix this together, that's easy. But no tasting, it's got raw eggs in it. You'll get sick." He fixed her with a steely glare, then turned back to his eggs and sausages, hiding a smile.
Ginny stirred the mixture in silence for a moment, half of her attention on Harry at the stove. He was quite good at this, she realized, watching him deftly manage both pans on the stove at the same time. She had stared at him in shock the first time he cracked an egg – with one hand – and then immediately started pulling spices out of her mother's cupboard.
She cast another furtive look at his back, and dipped a finger surreptitiously into the batter she was stirring.
"Ginevra Weasley, you stop that," Harry warned her, not even turning around.
Ginny's finger was halfway to her mouth, and she shot him a disbelieving look. "You sound like Mum," she said irritably.
He glanced over his shoulder at her with a knowing grin. "Well, now I know why your cooking lessons were utter failures. You get distracted far too easily."
Ginny sighed, and glanced down at her finger guiltily. "But… it's got chocolate chips in it," she said plaintively.
"Yes, and raw eggs – those are American style pancakes, Gin. It's not cooked yet, you'll get food poisoning."
"Oh, a little taste won't hurt me. You said so yourself, when we started. See, I was paying attention." Ginny smirked at him.
Harry grinned slightly. "No, a little probably won't hurt you. Just don't go eating all the batter before we make the pancakes."
Ginny popped her finger into her mouth instantly, and closed her eyes. "Whomever decided it was a good idea to put chocolate chips in here was a ruddy genius," she announced, licking batter carefully off her finger.
Harry was silent, and Ginny glanced back up to find him watching her with a very odd, strained expression on his face. She arched an eyebrow, and self-consciously licked her lips to make sure she didn't have batter on her face.
"What?" she asked nervously.
"N-nothing," Harry said, his voice unusually hoarse. He turned his back on her again, focusing entirely too much attention on his eggs. "Just – just make sure that's mixed up well, okay?"
Ginny stood on her toes, trying to reach the plates on a too-high shelf. She muttered darkly under her breath as she managed to hook a finger on one.
Harry's hand was suddenly at her waist, pushing her slightly to one side as he reached over her to pull down the plates. Startled, Ginny shivered and took them from him with a murmured, "Thanks."
"What time is your Mum up, usually?" Harry asked. He still seemed to be avoiding looking directly at her, for some reason.
Ginny glanced at the clock. "Seven, at the latest. I'm hoping she's slept in, but we can't count on it – she'll be down any minute."
Harry grinned. "Should I hide? She's supposed to think you did all this, after all."
With a chuckle, Ginny gave him a pointed look. "Oh, no you don't – I think Mum will get a kick out of seeing you in her apron."
She yelped and jumped away as he pinched her in the side. In mock fury, Ginny rounded on him, swatting at him with her mixing spoon. Before she could hit him with it, however, she spotted a mass of tousled red hair over his shoulder.
Molly Weasley's eyes widened to the size of saucers as she took in the sight of a full breakfast waiting for her on the table. Ginny whipped the mixing spoon behind her back, hiding the weapon, and Harry turned, flushing.
"What on earth…?"
Harry squirmed. "Umm… surprise?"
Molly turned disbelieving eyes on the young man. "Harry, dear, you didn't have to do all this."
Harry glanced at Ginny, and gave her mother a lopsided smile. "I didn't, not really. Ginny did."
Molly raised an eyebrow and shot a look at her youngest child. Ginny grinned innocently, but shook her head once, very slightly. Molly huffed, and rounded on Harry once more. "Don't you lie to me, Harry Potter. I know better."
Harry laughed. "Well – I helped, a little. As thanks for the birthday party yesterday."
Molly's mouth twitched slightly as she entered the room completely, surveying the table. "Scrambled eggs, sausage and toast—" She sniffed the air experimentally, and her eyebrows shot up. "And not even a hint of smoke. I'm very impressed. Oh – and that's a lovely apron, Harry dear, it goes with your eyes."
Harry flushed, and hastily pulled the apron off over his head. As he turned to hang it up, Molly caught her daughter's eye and arched one eyebrow delicately. Ginny felt her ears heat, and she ducked her head as her mother crossed the room to give her a hug.
"Good girl, the apron's a lovely touch," Molly whispered to Ginny, her tone conspiratorial.
Ginny opened her mouth to protest. Her mother had long maintained that it was a witch's job to cook and clean until she could train a man to do it for her. Nevermind that Ginny hadn't 'trained' Harry to do anything…
Before she could say anything, however, Molly was gone, yelling up the stairs for all the boys to come down for breakfast. Ginny flinched – the house was full, with Harry's birthday, and all of her brothers in one place was a daunting idea, not to mention Hermione sharing her room. The twins came barreling down the stairs first, and everyone else started trickling down to the kitchen a few minutes later.
It was a good thing she and Harry had made so much food.
Post-breakfast reactions had ranged from Fred and George's fake sobs that their sister had anything to do with the food, to Ron's steadfast refusal to believe it. Ginny just smiled and shooed them out of the kitchen, off to play Quidditch or wreak havoc with the gnomes. Before too long, she and Harry were left alone in the kitchen with a huge, Weasley-sized mess to clean up.
With a sigh, Ginny started gathering plates and carrying them to the sink. Washing up was something she could do, after all.
"See, that wasn't so bad," Harry spoke up, joining her at the sink.
"Speak for yourself," Ginny laughed. "They all know perfectly well you did most of the work. My reputation for horrible cooking is legendary around here."
"You just get distracted," Harry reminded her. "I could teach you, if you like."
Ginny looked up at him in surprise. "What? But – Mum already tried that. It was a disaster."
"That's because you probably both had nice little mother-daughter chats during your lessons," Harry told her matter-of-factly. "She cared more about spending time with you than actually teaching you anything."
Ginny chewed on her lower lip. "I suppose. But what makes you think you can do any better?"
Harry grinned. "I'm a slave driver. And I'll smack you with a spoon if you keep tasting the batter." He sobered quickly, and became very interested in the pan he was scrubbing. "We could start next weekend, if you like. Maybe Saturday night, for dinner?"
A slight thrill ran through Ginny, and she gave him a very serious look. "I don't know Harry. I'm really hopeless at this. It might take several lessons."
Harry finally met her eyes with a broad smile. "Boy-Who-Lived, and all that. I can handle a good challenge."
"You're on, Potter," Ginny laughed, poking him in the stomach. "Although you may be saddling yourself with years of fruitless cooking lessons."
"Excellent," Harry said, reaching around her for another pan. He glanced down at her and smiled. "I can't wait."