AN: As usual, I don't and never will own any of this fun stuff except for the storyline here. OOC and a bit AU, obviously! Enjoy and review, please! (unbetaed: forgive and point out any typos pretty please)


In the hours that the cooking school students spent poring over the amazing cook book collection of Chef Richard, each chose a simple recipe. Chef, meanwhile, answered their various questions – like how does one control the heat of a wood burning oven? (It only takes simple charm– note here 23 flicks and swishes and a page long incantation in archaic latin- to control an oven fire and read its temperature.) Or, what is iceberg lettuce? (No, it is not a vegetable grown atop an iceberg. NO, do not use cabbage as a substitute.) Or if one doesn't have a frying pan, is it alright to use a baking pan on the stove? (Only if you want to set fire to your home. Buy a damn frying pan.) And other such questions.

Each student dutifully transcribed their recipes onto their parchment to take home and prepare within the week.

By the time they packed away their toques and jackets and had a last exploration of their new classroom, it was past 4:00 and Peter, Hercules, and Blaise were rushing off to try to catch a pick up game of quidditch that was rumored to be played between the Department of Magcial Law Enforcement trainees and some of the younger members of the International Office of Magical Law. Kerrigan was fretting frightfully over whether or not she had chosen a good recipe, putting on her coat and purse only to remove them again when she thought she may have seen a simpler recipe in another book, and Mrs. Lefevre was patiently talking her down like a nervous horse while Chef went to check on Riche's dinner prep.

Hermione and Severus were hanging up their puffy white hats and coats together, each awkwardly avoiding eye contact lest they should have to speak to each other. Hermione murmured her goodbyes to the panicking Kerrigan and increasingly mollifying Mrs. Lefevre as she draped her robes over her arms and stepped into the afternoon sunlight and the busy hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley.

Just behind her Severus Snape followed toward the apparition points near the Leaky Cauldron. His eyes were free now to view her figure and he was struck anew at how very appealing, and for that very reason – how very disturbing, the girl's appearance was to him. When he'd entered the little school earlier in the morning he had been full of venom and vitriol ready to be aimed at her.

She had surprised him just the day before when she'd plopped down next to him at the bar in the Three Broomsticks. She hadn't even noticed him, but, sweet Merlin, he had noticed her. When on earth had the bushy haired know-it-all transfigured into a woman? She had moaned when she drank from her butterbeer and the sound must have scrambled his wits because he had had an almost civil conversation with the Granger girl, even going so far as to give her permission to call him Severus.

They had eaten their meals separately and in silence, but he was hyper aware of the woman beside him the entire time. When Rosmerta served Hermione the chocolate cauldron cake, the girl had nudged the plate over so that it was directly between his and her seat and then silently offered him the second fork that Rosmerta, the not-so-closet matchmaker, had left for him.

Snape honestly couldn't say whether or not he would have taken the extra fork, but just the fact that his immediate instinct wasn't to decline, unsettled him mightily. Then, Zacharias Smith, once a pustule of boy, now a raging wart as a man, sidled up to the other side of Granger and uttered a truly offensive pick up line. Snape had rolled his eyes in disgust and took that moment to pay his bill intending to disappear. Granger, smart girl that she was, declined Smith's offer, and just as Snape had turned to leave he spied Smith's arms encircling her small waist and heard the wart essentially telling her that she was dressed like a tart and her words meant nothing. Unfortunately for Smith, something Snape could never abide, even as a Deatheater, was any man forcing his attentions upon an unwilling woman.

Before he knew what he was doing, the ex-potions master had… escorted Smith out the front door and had the man tripping over his own shoes when he pushed him away from the pub. "I recall that you had a penchant for inattention in my classes, Mr. Smith," he intoned smoothly. "Perhaps you need another lesson on listening when a woman says no?"

Zacharias Smith obviously hadn't known who had forced him out of the building until he managed to turn around, the ugly sneer on his face melting into pale terror at the sight of his former professor. "N-No sir. No lesson needed."

"Be along now, Mr. Smith." Snape had watched the man cradle his arm as he apparated away.

Snape then went to his own dismal home cursing inwardly for even getting involved, regretting not leaving as soon as she had sat down. His his unsettling pleasure at being her reluctant dinner companion had raised a series of emotions he though he'd had under control: self-loathing, repugnance, shame, and, worst of all, a delicate filament of hope. This was the bushy haired, buck toothed, know-it-all, ultimate-bringer-of-migraines, Granger! He felt irrational rage with regard to Hermione Granger for causing any reaction at all.

When she walked in, looking quite fetching in her simple attire and altered hairstyle, the graceful line of her neck exposed, he felt a reluctant stir in his nether regions and he cursed his cock for its betrayal. Without thought, elegant, spiteful words and insults rushed to to the tip of his tongue, but were silenced quite suddenly by the horror on her face and the words that followed.

"I just saw Harry's naked bum!"

Merlin, if he hadn't been a spy for 20 some odd years he may have either fallen over laughing like Zabini or possibly vomited right then and there at the thought of Potter's pasty buttocks. Granger's day in class had spiraled downward from there and it got to the point where Madame Lefevre was insinuating that all Granger needed was a good orgasm, at which Snape's blasted cock had betrayed itself again, volunteering to help out with such a cause. When she snapped after the mob mentality of the class decided that she was pregnant and removed the warm, caffeinated beverage from her hands, Snape had been nearly ready to run from the room so he could simply laugh out loud. Oh, the look on her face was priceless!

For as much as her appearance may have transformed, Hermione Granger was still a fierce little lion cub and he was oddly grateful that her personality, at least, hadn't changed all that much. And when she turned on the spot to apparrate a few steps ahead of him, his eyes caught hers in a brief, indecipherable look.


After a horrible day, Hermione did indeed go home to wallow miserably under the covers in bed early on Sunday night, eating single-serving pre-frozen lasagna, half a bottle of red wine, and a pint of tiramisu flavored Haagen-Dazs, but not before sending a quick, polite owl to Harry and Gin saying that she'd be delighted to come over to cook a romantic meal for them the next evening and that they'd better not eat beforehand or disappear because she'd track them down, petrify them and cook their meals for the entire week.

Harry's reply went something like: "HG, This is for credit isn't it? Don't worry, we'll be here as your scared-shitless guinea pigs to support your cooking endeavors. Also, if you petrify a single hair on my wife's head or force me to eat an entire week of pre-culinary-school-Hermione-meals I may need to show you more than my arse in retaliation. I love you, but you know that I will absolutely stoop that low. All our love, Harry and Ginny"

Hermione shuddered and spent the night tossing and turning trying to get that terrible image out of her head, only succeeding in seeing laughing black eyes, and Snape in white and getting a total of 2 hours of sleep

The next morning was spent in her lab in London analyzing the latest round of test data for a charm/potion combination as a possible form of inoculation against dragonpox and also thoroughly researching vaporizing charms that might be used in creating a mist-like potion that could be inhaled much like the nasal flu-mist that muggles used for said vaccine. At lunch she ate a cookie and bought groceries for her chosen recipe at the nearest Tescoes. After lunch she found a cure for motionsickness and sent her notes to the Ministry for the Department of Potions and Charms Regulations' approval.

Having learned her lesson, Hermione apparated to the top step of No. 12 Grimmauld Place, arms full of groceries and a crinkled piece of well-read parchment, her transcribed recipe, and wand clutched in her hand. Not having hand or arm to knock, she kicked the door three times, nearly losing her balance. "Harry and Ginny Potter, I know you're in there!" she shouted. "You open this door right now or I'll he-"

She was cut off when the door swung open, revealing a barefoot Ginny in a jumper and skinny jeans, rolling her eyes. "Always threats with you, eh? Why didn't you just set the groceries down and open the door? You know the wards are set to let you in." Ginny grabbed a bulging grocery bag before it tumbled to the ground.

"Well I would have flooed into the kitchen, but we all know how dangerous that is, don't we?" she retorted acerbically. Ginny only laughed and Hermione huffed as she strode past her red headed friend and down the newly modernized hallway (with new light grey paint and white trim and bright, working sconces) and into the stairway leading to the basement kitchen, also recently remodeled. Really, the only thing recognizable in the kitchen was the trusty old stove and the old, long dining table. Hermione felt her stomach protest again remembering what she'd witnessed only the previous morning on that table. Placing the bags gently on the ground she flourished her wand, muttering a series of cleaning and sanitizing charms on the whole tabletop, earning another eye roll from Ginny.

"Harry!" Ginny's voice boomed toward the stairway as the girls began unpacking groceries. "Hermione's here! Get your lovable arse down here!" The red head grinned pointedly at Hermione.

"Oh, ha ha, you cow," Hermione deadpanned, though there was no resentment or heat behind it.

"Whatever!" Ginny replied brightly. "By the way, what are we eati- Oh! Harry, there you are. Would you be a dear and set the table on the other end?"

"Hi, Hermione. Sure, love." Harry kissed both girls on the cheek and set off to follow his wife's request happily.

"When I'm done helping unpack, I'll get you a drink. Would you like a bottle, Hermione?"

"Butterbeer?

"No- muggle beer. What did we have left, Harry?"

"Hm. Some pale ale and Guinness, I think."

"Ooh! Guinness for me, Gin."

"Sure, Herm- Um, Hermione? What in the name of Merlin's pants are you cooking for us?"

The ingredients spread out on the table did look rather formidable. Hermione had added little extras to the cart that might make the cottage pie she wanted to make a bit more tasty than the original recipe. As much as she wanted to make her friends pay for her earlier trauma, Hermione would rather succeed at cooking something good and delicious.

She hummed as she began sorting through the ingredients, began, with a little help from her wand, to measure, peel, chop, boil, melt, preheat, mash, grind, brown, season, stir, sprinkle, and bake, intermittently responding to some funny anecdote from Harry and sipping her Guinness.

About 1 hour later, Hermione pulled out the very pretty looking cottage pie from Harry and Ginny's oven and her confidence soared. It looked just like the picture in the recipe book! It even smelled good!

When it was cool enough, a smiling Hermione served up plates to her friends and one for herself, but sat, watching Harry and Ginny's hopeful looks.


"… The greatest among my many mistakes in this misadventure in cooking was burning the onion, carrot, and garlic, using vegetable stock instead of beef stock, purchasing chop streak instead of ground beef, pepper jack instead of cheddar, accidentally using too much salt and pepper, not heating the old oven properly, and not cooking the potatoes long enough before mashing. At least, that is what my victims discerned after they had managed to spit out their first bites and dissected their slices of my very first cottage pie I should also, perhaps, have not tried to improvise. The paprika seemed like a good idea at the time.

Harry says he will continue to support my cooking experiments, but will no longer be able to be guinea pig after retching for nearly an hour. Ginny, whose stomach is made of harder stuff, says that she'll help me shop for ingredients next time since I obviously only vaguely looked at at some of the labels.

I know I did badly. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown when we had to throw the pretty pie away. It was like a death in the family. I want so badly to learn this skill, but am afraid to fail. It helps that I am not the only student in this endeavor. I hope that I am only able to keep with them."


AN: Damn. I lost the link to where I found all these fun recipes, but I managed to copy and paste a select few for upcoming chapters. If you make the recipe, let me know how it came out for you! ^_^

~lovelielove

Cottage Pie is one the quickest and easiest supper dishes with this easy Cottage Pie recipe. Traditionally a Cottage Pie is made with ground beef, and if using ground lamb would be called a Shepherd's Pie but the recipe is the same for both.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 lb / 900g peeled potatoes, quartered

6 tbsp milk

1 stick/ 110g butter, cubed + 1 tbsp for the sauce

Salt and ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp lard or dripping

1 cup/ 115g chopped onion

1 cup / 115g chopped carrot

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups / 450g ground/ minced beef

1 pint / 600 ml beef stock

1 cup / 115g chopped white mushrooms

2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup/ 115g grated Cheddar Cheese

Preparation:

Serves 6

Heat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas 5

Boil the potatoes until soft, drain. Place the milk and butter in the pan used to boil the potatoes, return to the heat and warm gently until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes and mash. Season to taste and keep to one side.

Melt the lard or dripping in a large deep pan. Add the onion and carrot and fry for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the ground beef and one-third of the beef stock to the onion and carrot mixture and cook, stirring constantly until all the meat is browned. Add the remaining stock, parsley and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

Mash the flour into the remaining 1 tbsp butter then add in small pieces to the ground meat sauce, stirring until all the flour has dissolved and the sauce has thickened slightly, approx 5 mins.

Place the meat sauce into an 8"/ 20cm by 3"/7cm deep ceramic of glass ovenproof dish and cover with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the grated cheese potato on top and bake in the heated oven for 30 - 35 mins until the surface is crisp and browned. Serve immediately