Baking Trouble

It was stupid really. Just a slight slip of the tongue. She started it anyway. Saying that men can't cook. Does she think we're stupid?

And her mother was saying how usually it was the women who had to teach the men eventually. Please. I learnt to cook all on my own. As if my aunt would show me. But that didn't stop her from expecting meals from me.

I can still see their smirks, which is part of the reason why I am not stuck waist-deep, literally, in trouble.

Let me explain.

You see, I'm visiting my best friend, Ron Weasley, with my other best friend, Hermione Granger for the holidays. In my opinion there is no better family then the Weasley's.

Part of this magical family was little Ginny Weasley, only girl born to the Weasley family for centuries. She used to have a major crush on me, but it went away.

This is where Karma decides it would be fine to play around with my mind. While she is off, skipping happily because she is no longer sitting there, wistfully thinking about the two of us getting together, I am now the one that accidentally stuck my elbow in the butter dish the other day when she sat down.

Cruel, I tell you. Completely cruel.

It took me awhile to realise what was wrong with me. Why I seemed to make a fool of myself when she was around, why I seemed to blush so much more easily when she talked to me, why everyone kept sending my amused glances… It helped that I had Hermione to gently guide me to the truth.

I had a crush on her.

That's right. I, Harry James Potter, supposed saviour of the wizarding world, the guy that practically ignored Ginny in all those years she had a crush on me, ignoring the blatantly obvious hints, had a crush on her.

So, when she dared me, I couldn't resist rising to the challenge, just like she knew I would.

She knows me too damn well.

It all started at dinner just last night. We were happily sitting there, eating our way through Mrs Weasley's fabulous cooking, chatting animatedly. I was making a large show, not that I realised it until Ron pointed it out, of avoiding Ginny, and all but she seemed to notice.

So, really, it was just my luck that I happened to be sitting directly across from her.

I was talking to Ron and the twins about Quidditch and Hermione, Ginny and Mrs Weasley were holding an entirely too animated conversation about recipes. Girls, honestly.

Soon everyone was listening to the happy conversation, and grudgingly I had to as well since Ron was not focused on our talk anymore. Mrs Weasley was now relaying her experiences in the kitchen, which brought many laughs.

"Oh, but I will never forget the first time Arthur stepped into the kitchen," Mrs Weasley said, smiling fondly at her husband, who beamed back.

"I was hopeless," Mr Weasley informed us.

"Bit of an understatement dear," Mrs Weasley said with a laugh. I couldn't remember when I had seen her so happy and carefree. "You put on that silly blue apron, entered the kitchen and within two minutes you were back, asking how to crack an egg!"

Everyone laughed.

"It took months to teach him," Mrs Weasley continued. "Just the same as it has done with every couple I knew. The women always have to end up teaching the men how to cook, because they usually don't know the first thing to do."

That irked me a bit. I knew how to cook, and quite well thank you very much! But I didn't say anything, my enthusiasm to be part of the talk diminishing.

"They're hopeless alright," said Ginny, rolling her eyes, and Hermione, beside her, laughed. "I don't know one boy that knows how to cook. And the few that do are way older then me and their girlfriends taught them! I actually started to teach Michael, but he was such a hopeless case I was forced to give up."

"Where did you have cooking lessons?" asked Ron, frowning.

"We'd sneak out and go down to the kitchens," said Ginny sheepishly. "But the point I am trying to make is men can't cook."

"Says who?" I challenged, and the laughter died down so everyone could see the determination in my eyes.

"Personal experience," said Ginny promptly. "Unless you know of someone who can cook…"

"I do," I said. "Me. I've known how to cook since I was old enough to reach the bench top standing on a stool."

"Bet your aunt taught you," Ginny said carelessly.

I felt myself flush in anger and Ginny's eyes widened, realising what she had just said.

"Oh yeah, my aunt taught me," I said bitterly, my eyes never leaving hers. "Taught me where all the utensils were anyway. I had to learn myself."

There was silence as everyone glanced between me and Ginny, who looked thoughtful. Then a wicked gleam made its way into her eyes. Subconsciously, I'm sure, all the Weasley backed slightly away from her.

"Alright, I have a proposition for you," she said. "You can cook tomorrow's dinner, just as fancy or fancier then this, during the day, like mum usually does. Any ingredients you'll need are in the store cupboard. If you can do it, I will back down and admit that men can cook. If you can't you will back down and admit that men can't cook."

"Sounds more like a dare," I said, my eyes narrowing.

"That's because it is," said Ginny, grinning wickedly.

I felt determination sweep through me. She would eat her words by tomorrow night.

"Deal," I said with a nod.

"Deal," repeated Ginny.

We shook hands on it, and as we did Ron groaned and let his head fall to the table with a thunk.

"We're doomed," he sighed.

I hadn't realised what he had meant, and I was too filled with determination to ask. I had naively thought that Mrs Weasley's kitchen would be the same as Aunt Petunia's. I certainly had no trouble finding utensils.

I quickly learnt never to underestimate that kitchen of a witch.

The supply cupboard did not recognise me, for starters, and throwing all sorts of things out at me; flour, sugar, eggs, milk, icing sugar… it was ten minutes before I could actually get in there to see if I could get the basic ingredients.

The recipe books threw a fit when I tried to open it, flapping and trying fit me over the head until I got it properly settled in a book rack, which took me twenty minutes. Half-an-hour gone. Good thing I decided to get an early start at nine o'clock.

It is now eleven o'clock and I am standing waist-deep in flour, which covered me and every other thing in the kitchen. Ron and Hermione were standing in the door, very amused.

The flour bag had decided it didn't want to be opened my me and when I caught it and tried to force it open, it literally exploded in my hands, proving that it held more flour in it's contents then I had thought.

"Having fun Harry?" asked Ron innocently.

I threw him a sour glare.

"Shut it," I snapped, and my two best friends walked away, only more amused by my bad humour.

The flour was so packed that I could stand on it… when I finally got out that is. It was like snow, and I dreaded Mrs Weasley opening the closed door and finding her kitchen in such a state.

The recipe book was now behaving, as was the store cupboard. I looked at the recipe was attempting, which I really needed flour for, and sighed. Only one thing for it.

I had to get another bag and ask it politely for flour.

I gave a scowl that would have made Snape proud, glad that nobody was going to see this.

I stalked over to the cupboard, carefully opened the door and took another bag of flour. It didn't try and wriggle out of me grasp this time, as though sensing what I wanted. I sighed again.

"Can I have some flour?" I asked, balancing precariously on top of the flour.

The bag stayed still.

"Please?" I asked.

The bag opened and went over to the bowl. Before my astonished eyes it dumped exactly the amount of flour I needed in the bowl, and not a skerrick more.

"Wow, should have asked before," I said, then turned to the bag. "Thank you."

The bag remained still.

"Okay, next on the list… three eggs," I murmured and went to the cupboard again.

There were none in there. It would have been just my luck if the cupboard had used them all up throwing them at me.

"Um… could I have some eggs please?" I asked cautiously.

Splat! An egg was thrown out of the cupboard and hit me on the side of the head. Two more followed it, one in my face and the other on my apron.

Spluttering incoherently I wipe the goo away from my eyes.

"Thank you," I called sarcastically. "But it would be so nice if they weren't thrown at me!"

Three more eggs floated slowly out of the cupboard and cracked themselves open, putting the contents in the bowl. I gaped.

"This is the last time I ever step foot in a magical kitchen!" I yelled the moment I got my voice back, to the amusement of those in the living room.

I stalked through the flour, my feet sinking slightly with every step I made, which only fuelled my mood. It was the summer holidays. No need for snow yet.

Especially snow that needed to be cleaned up.

I decided to put on some potatoes next. I could do that easy enough and my other recipe (at this thought I threw a dirty look at the spoon stirring my bowl) seemed to be taking care of itself. Not that much else needs to be done with it anyway.

"Where are the potatoes?" I wondered aloud.

A cupboard door banged open, the flour shfting aside so that it could do so, and potatoes shot at me like bullets, hitting my over the head and on my upper body.

At my yell of surprise and somewhat anger the kitchen door opened slightly. A gasp stopped me from beating off the potatoes. Ginny was standing in the doorway, shaking with surpressed laughter.

I scowled heavily at her and, at that precise moment a potato decided to hit me in the side of the head, leaving Ginny in fits of laughter as she closed the door again.

"Alright," I said, standing up straight and glaring at the potato missiles. "Could you all please get into that pan over there?"

They all obeyed, and I sighed and put some water in it before putting it over the stove, asking it to light up for me.

A vicious flame roared upwards, nearly touching the ceiling and singeing my nose. Then it died down and I noticed that the potatoes were now perfectly cooked.

It was then I realised that I had forgotten to take the skin off.

"You all wouldn't mind jumping out of your jackets would you?" I sighed, thinking I was being ridiculous for even asking.

Contrary to my belief the potatoes jumped gracefully out of their jackets, did a small flip in mid-air and dropped back into the pan, the discarded jackets floating gently to the bin.

"Show-offs," I muttered, quite forgetting that I was talking to potatoes.

From then until late mid-afternoon the dinner went quite smoothly. Everything was fine… until I got to dessert.

I had three bowls going and was humming to myself slightly as I worked, forgetting mostly about the earlier mishaps. I couldn't forget the flour, how could I when it was still packed tightly underneath me and I had to sit on my knees so as not to tower over the counter?

The normal ingredients were behaving nicely; the flour, eggs, sugar, etc. I'd already come to an understanding with them. I was not a burglar and there was no need for ingredients to be thrown at me every time I went to the cupboard.

Vanilla Essence, I read off the recipe. And Mixed Herbs. I can do that.

I went to the cupboard and asked for the two ingredients. They came floating out, docile as a pair of kittens.

But the moment I tried to take them out of the air they decided they obviously didn't like me.

The cap on the vanilla shot off like a rocket, barely missing my ear, and it began spinning widely around out of my reach, making drops of liquid spread everywhere like brown rain. The herbs started slowing swinging backwards in the middle of the room upside down, falling as if it were snow.

A fierce wind chose that moment to blow through the kitchen window, blowing 'snow' everywhere.

Why go outside? I thought sourly. I have my own temperamental weather patterns right here!

"Alright, hang on," I said wearly. "Can you just put what I need you to in the bowls, then you can go back to recreating weather…"

The did just that, and I quickly found myself stirring desserts in brown, slushy flour and 'rain' and 'snow'. I groaned at the thought. This was going to take forever to clean up. Whoever said everything was made easier with magic anyway?

A sharp knock on the door sounded and I looked at the clock to see that while I was lost in thought the time and fled by, leaving me an hour to dinner.

"I hope you're nearly ready Harry," came the self-satisfied tone of Ginny Weasley.

She doesn't think I've done it, I thought with a smirk.

"Alright," I called back indifferently. "Tell everyone to keep away from the tables outside."

"Okay," sang Ginny, skipping away.

I set the desserts to cooking, or freezing, or refrigerating. The one being cooked was easy and I let it stay warm in the over, and the others would be fine staying where they were until dinner.

Now, about this mess…

An hour later I brought all the dishes out one by one and set them carefully along the outside tables and set the appropriate places. I sighed in relief, knowing that now I just had to get the others to make sure that my cooking wasn't poisonous.

I winced at the thought and sincerely hoped that I wasn't about to poison someone.

I entered the house again to find everyone sitting in the living room. Everyone looked up as I came in and immediately burst into laughter.

I grinned myself, knowing that I must look quite a sight, covered from head to foot in cooking ingredients.

"What happened Harry?" asked Ron.

"The kitchen threw a fit when I tried to use it," I said with a scowl. "But never mind. Dinner's ready."

"You go get cleaned up Harry," said Mrs Weasley kindly. "We'll wait for you outside."

I nodded and ran upstairs to Ron's bedroom. I quickly got out another pair of clothes and went to the bathroom. When I had shoved my apron and clothes out of the way had a very brief shower, got dressed, and went downstairs, feeling better then I had done all day.

This was probably mainly due to the fact that I didn't have flour in my ear anymore though…

Outside everyone was standing near the tables silently, presumably waiting for me. I sighed and went outside.

And then I learnt it is never safe to presume anything.

They were not standing there, waiting for me. They were standing there, gaping at the meal laid before them.

"Is it okay?" I asked apprehensively, wondering if I had done something wrong.

Ginny turned amazed eyes to me.

"I didn't think you could do it!" she said, astounded. "No one did!"

"Thank you for the vote of confidence," I muttered.

Ginny ignored me.

"Well…" she paused and grimaced. "I suppose I have to say that men can cook after all Harry."

I grinned at her and she made a face at me.

"You should have had a bit more faith," I said, laughing. "Then maybe you wouldn't have all been so shocked!"

Laughing and talking we sat down to dinner.

Everything went smoothly and when I got out the desserts everyone stared again and laughed.

"You pulled all the stops on this one, didn't you Harry?" said Hermione, shaking her head with a smile.

"Yeah," I said with a grin, letting everyone serve themselves.

"I can just hear what people would say if anyone ever heard of this," said Ron with a laugh. "Harry Potter, boy-who-lived, wizarding world's saviour, bane of You-Know-Who's life, Defene student extraordinaire… and master chef!"

"That would be good," I said as they all laughed. "Then if I ever came against Vol… er, You-Know-Who again he can take one look at me and fall laughing."

They laughed harder, glad that I could joke about this issue.

"Oh, Harry?" said Ginny innocently and, not liking the tone, I glanced sharply at her. "What are you going to do with the kitchen?"

"Um…" I shifted uncomfortable.

Mrs Weasley's eyes widened and she shot to her feet.

"What about the kitchen?" she demanded.

"Well…" I began.

She didn't give me a chance to explain but strode over to the house, throwing the door open and striding into the house. She threw open the doors…

…She gasped, as did everyone else.

"I was about to tell you," I said, amused.

The kitchen was spotless.

"Impressive," said Ginny, amused. "You can cook and clean."

I felt slightly nettled by this. And the same time I didn't recognise the tone she was using. But I did notice her wink at her mother, who smiled back happily.

"Follow me Harry," the youngest Weasley said abruptly and walked outside.

"Better go mate," laughed Ron when I stood looking after her with a confused expression on my face.

Not comprehending I shrugged and followed her. She was standing behind a large tree and as I approached I noticed that she suddenly looked more nervous then she had done previously.

"Are you okay Ginny?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said with a small smile. "It's just… I promise myself something yesterday… whatever the outcome, because I've noticed something going on and I decided if you weren't going to act I would…"

"Exactly what are you talking about?" I asked, confused.

She sighed.

"Okay, I'll put it in simple language for you," Ginny said. "First of all, remember when I had a crush on you?"

I felt the blood rush to my face. Oh no, anything but this!

"Yes," I managed to get out, noticing that Ginny was blushing just as fiercely as I was, probably from the mere memory.

"And, you realise that I told you I was over it?" she asked.

I nodded dumbly, knowing what was coming. She was going to say that she had noticed my crush and gently tell me that she was over that stage of her life…

"I'm not."

I blinked and stared.

"What?" I asked blankly.

"I said; I'm not," she said, avoiding my eyes.

My blush deepened and I fidgeted. Of all the things I had suspected, of all the scenarios… it was not this.

"And… well…" Ginny looked up and stared into my eyes, suddenly more confident. "Now that you know."

She leaned up and gently put her lips on mine.

All thought escaped my mind and I felt, horrifyingly, myself blush further as warmth swept through me. We parted and looked away from each other again, both fidgeting.

Finally I leaned down hesitantly and returned the favour.

When we parted again we smiled at each other. I felt like I was soaring on the clouds.

I'd won the dare… but suddenly I had the feeling the reward surpassed all expectations.