Thank you, Miss Sophie Potter for suggesting this fic...and for providing me with another distraction from my homework. :)
It was a warm, sunny day in June. Birds called to each other, the cheerful notes sounding throughout the courtyard. It seemed the flowers had never bloomed so bright, and Bellatrix Lestrange couldn't recall ever seeing a sky so blue, the clouds so puffy and white.
Inside Malfoy Manor, however, the mood was different. Lucius was in Azkaban, but that was due partly to his own stupidity and partly to Fudge showing up at exactly the wrong moment. Besides, the Dark Lord had talked about breaking him and the others out before too long, so Lucius would be fine as long as he didn't think too many happy thoughts. Happy thoughts were like cookies to dementors, Bellatrix had discovered during her stay, and if she had learned anything as a small child, it was to never share your cookies.
Draco stalked into the parlor and sank into an armchair. Bellatrix looked up from her book and saw him glaring at the floor, arms crossed over his chest. She sighed.
"What is it now, Draco?"
She looked at the clock, then at her nephew's rumpled pajamas. "It's almost one. You're just now getting up?"
He shrugged. "It's summer. I can get up whenever I want to."
She raised an eyebrow at his tone. "Servants of the Dark Lord get up bright and early."
He shifted his gaze from the floor to her eyes, and she wondered why there wasn't a smoldering hole in the carpet. "Well, this one feels like he just got trampled by last year's Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, so I'd say the least his caring aunt could do is not nag him about getting up a little late."
Her hand flew to her mouth. "Draco! What a thing to say! Dolores Umbridge is a wonderful woman!"
"Doesn't make her any less fat," he muttered, then stood before she could respond. "I'm getting some breakfast." He stormed off to the kitchen moments before Narcissa entered the parlor. Her hair was touseled and she still wore her dark silk nightgown. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and Bellatrix wasn't sure if it was tears or a hangover. Probably both.
"Cissy? You too?"
Narcissa yawned and rubbed her eyes. "We're not out of tea, are we?"
"We have a little left, but it's not the kind you like."
Narcissa swore under her breath, then shuffled to the kitchen. Bellatrix watched her go, frowning deeply. Lucius in Azkaban was terrible--and more than enough reason for depression--but Draco had taken the Mark. That should've cheered them both up a bit, but now Draco slept well into the afternoon and Narcissa stayed up late with the latest romance novel and a bottle of firewhisky. She hadn't seen Cissy this depressed since the end of the First War.
She looked up just in time to see Draco and Narcissa shuffling past the parlor door. Narcissa had her hands wrapped around a cup of tea, clutching it like a lifeline, and Draco was munching morosely on a piece of leftover ham. At the sight of them, Bellatrix stood and slammed her book shut, drawing an anguished cry from her sister.
"Bella! What was that for? What did I ever do to you?"
"Acting like you're surrounded by dementors, that's what you did. Honestly, Cissy, we've spent more money this month on firewhisky than we have on food!"
"We have not," she said firmly.
Draco took another bite of ham. "And it's not like we don't have money to spare. Firewhisky's important."
He snorted. "Underage, schmunderage. Mum said I could try it." He muttered something too low for her to hear, then took an enormous bite of ham to avoid having to repeat it. Bellatrix sighed.
"You two need cheering up. What would help?"
Draco looked at the floor and Narcissa looked at her tea. Bellatrix pursed her lips.
"Fine, then. If you won't tell me what'll help, then I'll figure it out on my own."
They shrugged and walked away. Bellatrix watched, a plan forming in her mind.
She stood in the kitchen ten minutes later, an array of ingredients spread out on the counter in front of her. She hadn't cooked since she was fifteen, and she hadn't made cookies since she was ten. Cissy had helped her, but it still hadn't been all that hard. Bellatrix was sure she'd remember it once she got going.
She opened the recipe book and traced her finger down the list of ingredients. Flour, sugar, baking soda...everything she needed was on the counter. Measuring cups and spoons sat near the bowls, and she had her wand handy. After scanning the directions, she dipped the measuring cup in the flour and emptied it into the bowl, then waved her wand over the other utensils. Sugar, vanilla and eggs went into one bowl; flour, baking soda and salt went into another. A wooden spoon stirred the wet ingredients and Bellatrix stirred the dry. Flour sifted out of the bowl and onto the counter, but that was okay. She would clean it up later. She poured the two bowls together, spilling sugar onto the counter, then stirred.
Something was wrong. The mixture was supposed to turn into dough, but it looked more like sand mixed with too little water. Bellatrix checked the ingredients again. Flour, check. Eggs, check. Sugar, check. Butter....
She slapped her forehead, slinging a lump of flour and eggs across the kitchen and out the door. She'd forgotten the butter, but that was easily remedied. Cissy had told her once that cookies were forgiving, so Bellatrix dropped two sticks of butter into the bowl and stirred again. But something still wasn't right. The mixture didn't look like she remembered. It should be sticky and smooth, not lumpy. Bellatrix looked at the instructions again, and another unappetizing lump flew across the kitchen and smacked against the wall. The butter should've gone in with the eggs and sugars, then been mixed until it was nice and fluffy.
Bellatrix grabbed the bowl and went to the garbage can, intending to dump the entire mess and start over, but then she stopped. Draco and Cissy needed these cookies. They wouldn't care if they weren't perfect. She set the bowl on the counter, waved her wand and set the wooden spoon to stirring it faster than she ever could. It moved faster and faster, turning into a blur. The bowl shook on the counter. Bellatrix backed away, eyes wide, and pointed her wand at the bowl.
The bowl stopped spinning, and she ventured closer. The mixture looked better now. It wasn't quite so lumpy as before, and it actually looked appetizing. Bellatrix smiled and poured the bag of chocolate chips into the bowl. It was hard to mix them in, but she didn't think much of it. They were chocolate chip cookies, after all. A demented house-elf could make them, and Bellatrix Lestrange was not a house-elf. She spooned the dough onto two baking sheets and slid them into the oven, then turned around. Draco and Narcissa stood in the doorway, still wearing their pajamas, eyes wide, mouths agape.
Narcissa gaped. "The kitchen...it looks like....like..."
Bellatrix surveyed the kitchen. Flour and sugar covered the counter and floor and stuck to her bare feet. Draco held a lump of dough in his hand, and another lump stuck to the wall.
"Don't worry, Cissy; I'll clean it up later."
Draco blinked. "What've you been doing in here?"
Bellatrix grinned. "It's a surprise. Go get dressed, and I'll call you when it's ready."
They didn't move. "What's that noise?"
"That...that popping noise."
"It's nothing. Just the cookies baking."
Narcissa still looked suspicious. "Cookies aren't supposed to go pop. And aren't they supposed to smell different?"
"Yeah, like...you know....good?"
Bellatrix's eyes narrowed. "You'd think two severely depressed people who are getting free cookies would be a little more appreciative."
"I might be more appreciative if you hadn't destroyed my kitchen!"
"Oh, please! You're never in it!"
"I'm in it now, and it's destroyed!"
"Uh....Mum? Aunt Bella?"
Both women turned angrily to face him. "What?"
He pointed to the oven door, which was rattling against the oven. "Are cookies supposed to do that?"
Narcissa looked at her sister. "Bella, what all went into those cookies?"
"Just what the recipe called for--flour, sugar, vanilla--"
Draco faced her too. "What kind of vanilla?" The oven door was rattling faster now.
"The kind in the cupboard!"
"That wasn't vanilla! That was my summer Potions project!"
"Yeah! Extra credit for a baking ingredient that you can make explode--" He ran through the kitchen, threw open the back door, and bolted into the courtyard. "DUCK AND COVER!"
Narcissa and Bellatrix ran after him, making it through the door just as a massive explosion blew the back door off its hinges and flung it into the courtyard. A billowing cloud of smoke engulfed them, and when it cleared they were all on the ground, coughing. Narcissa wiped soot from her eyelids and opened them.
"BELLATRIX ANDREA LESTRANGE! Look what you did to my house!"
Bellatrix stood, still coughing. "I did this? It was your idiot son's Potions project that did it!"
Draco looked up. "Me? I told you it was a project!"
"After you put it in the cupboard!"
"No, I put a big note on the back--it said 'Don't use this. It'll explode'!"
"That would have been nice to know before I--"
"Before you what? Decided to tear my kitchen apart and blow it up for good measure? Before you decided to ruin an already terrible day?"
"You're the one who drank all the firewhisky! You're the one who decided she couldn't live without her precious husband ordering her every--"
Narcissa brought her fist up and around, colliding with her sister's jaw and cutting off her next insult. "Don't you ever talk about my husband that way or so help me I'll....I'll...."
Bellatrix regained her balance and glared, holding her jaw. A drop of blood dribbled from the corner of her mouth and down her chin. "You'll what, Cissy? Punch me again?"
Narcissa answered with another uppercut, then a fist to her stomach. Bellatrix dodged a few, but the punches came in an endless flurry, knocking her to the ground. "Stop it, stop it! I'm sorry!"
Draco watched from a short distance away, smiling slightly. He felt better already.