Chapter 1 : A Recipe for Disaster
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Author’s Note: This story was started for my good friend Alopex’s “Boys in the Kitchen” challenge, but being the slow author that I am, I didn’t finish it in time. I still wanted to complete the story, however, so here it finally is.
“Mistress McGonagall! Mistress McGonagall!”
Minerva’s eyes snapped open at the cries and she glanced at the alarm clock before turning her attention to the panicked house-elves wringing their little hands beside her bed.
Three AM, she grumbled silently, already sitting up and pulling on her dressing gown. Just once she would like to get a complete night of uninterrupted sleep. And the students wondered why she was always stern and cross…
“Oh, Mistress McGonagall, please be hurrying!” squeaked one of the elves.
“They is destroying our kitchens!” cried the second. “We is trying to be patient but we can’t stand it anymore!”
“Please be stopping them!”
Anger shot through Minerva as she shoved her previously warm feet into her cold slippers and stood up. She tied her dressing gown rather savagely and grabbed her wand.
Those two! She put up with a lot because beneath all the rebellion and trouble-making she saw so much potential, but this was just too much! She marched down the dark, silent halls of Hogwarts behind the scampering elves, growing more cross with each step and planning out the lecture of a lifetime that she was going to lay into those twins with. Molly would be sending her owls asking for tips when she was done with them this time.
By the time the little party arrived in the basement corridor where the painting that guarded the kitchens hung, she was leading the way, the two elves practically running just to keep up. She reached up and tickled the pear, then grabbed the handle that appeared and stomped into the kitchens.
“I swear on Merlin’s clogged arteries that this time you two are only a hair’s breadth away from expuls—”
She stopped abruptly as her brain finally registered what her eyes were telling her. Standing before her, decked out in matching aprons, were – not Fred and George Weasley – but Dobby the house-elf and none other than Professor Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry himself.
“—ion…” she trialed off, mouth hanging open in an extremely undignified manner.
“Minerva!” cried Albus in a delighted voice as he turned with a dripping spoon from the large cauldron he’d been stirring, his glasses slightly fogged. His periwinkle nightshirt was rolled up at the sleeves and both his long, silver beard and hair were pulled back with what looked suspiciously like teddy bear hairclips and tucked down inside his apron. Mounds and mounds of dripping, steaming, oozing pans, pots, and dishes littered the kitchen while around the edges the house-elves hovered, wringing their hands or moaning quietly.
“How nice of you to join us!” the headmaster added, smiling brightly.
“We is making taffy!” exclaimed Dobby with great excitement.
“What?” Minerva asked stupidly. She found that between the earliness of the hour and the insanity of the scene, her wits seemed to have completely fled.
“While I was in London yesterday I stopped off at the Muggle library,” continued Albus, turning back to his pot and stirring with almost boyish glee. “Fascinating place! The topics those Muggles think off to write books on! I wandered into the cooking section and they had this most enticing book on sweets! All made without magic. Incredible!”
“The book says we must be washing sugar from the sides of the pot now, Headmaster!” cried Dobby, literally bouncing up and down on the stool he used to reach the cauldron.
“Oh, yes indeed you are quite correct, Master Dobby!”
During this entire exchange, Minerva stood frozen in the doorway, mouth quite literally hanging open, but she suddenly snapped it shut, a visual declaration of her last nerve snapping as well. It was bad enough that she had an entire school full of juvenile delinquents to manage, but this was really too much. It was times like these that made her wonder if she was the only adult at this entire blasted, magical school. Something needed to be said. It was three in the blessed morning! As much as she admired and respected Albus, she was justified!
“Albus, really! I—”
Her tirade was abruptly cut short as the cauldron Dobby and Albus were stirring happily gave a little warning wobble and then exploded in a rain of pewter chunks and red syrup.
Very rarely in her life had Minerva McGonagall ever been rendered speechless, but as she stood there rooted to the floor, covered from head to toe in a thick, sticky, sugary goop, she found her mouth gapping open again with absolutely no words to fill it with this time.
Across the room, oblivious to the destruction around him, Albus reached up and plucked a bit of half-congealed taffy from his hair, tasting it carefully.
“Ummm, strawberry. My favorite. Want a taste, Minerva?” he offered, holding out a bit to her, his eyes twinkling merrily.
Minerva closed her eyes, counting backwards slowly from ten in Latin, and then turned stiffly and marched from the room without another word, mind made up.
Tomorrow, for the first time in forty-two years - tomorrow she was owling in sick.
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