Making sure the girls were sound asleep, Rowan slipped off to the bathroom and teleported away. Warily glancing around, Rowan shivers as she pulls her bed-robe tighter as she found herself in the hallway at the bottom of the grand staircase. The passageway is a broad stone corridor, brightly lit with torches, and decorated with cheerful paintings that were mainly of food.
Rather early on, Rowan had recalled how to get to the kitchens but had postponed until she felt the time was right. Well, she was desperate, and that time was now! And as if in emphasis, her stomach growled in hunger.
Hurrying down the hallway, Rowan stops at a painting of a gigantic silver fruit bowl. She gently stretched out her forefinger and tickled the huge green pear in the painting. It began to squirm, chuckling, and suddenly turned into a large green door handle. She sized the handle and pulled the door open, before hurrying inside.
There was an enormous, high-ceiling room as large as the Great Hall above it, with mounds of glittering brass pots and pans heaped around the stone walls, and a great brick fireplace at the other end. There four empty tables positioned exactly beneath the four House tables above in the Great Hall. At the moment, they were clear of food, but the tables were joint connected as the dishes were sent up through the ceiling to their counterparts above.
Moisture appears in Rowan's eyes at the sight of the beautiful kitchen until she realizes that there are hundreds of little elves staring, beaming, bowing and curtsying. "I'd forgotten all about them," Rowan idly thought to herself.
The Hogwarts house-elves wear tea towels stamped with the Hogwarts crest tied around them like togas. Some wear shorts or skirts others have on mismatching socks, small hats, an assortment of items to make themselves their strange little suits. Seeing them bowing, Rowan says, "Er, would I be able to borrow some food ingredients and the kitchen?"
"Certainly, we are at your service," piped a blue, watery-eyed female elf.
"Thank thee kindly, my dear," Rowan said as she rolled up her sleeves. "But may I know your name, I hate calling people, you all the time."
The watery-eyed female elf with large bat-like ears bows with her long thin nose almost touching the floor. Her hair is neatly pulled back with a bow as the female elf says, "Toppy, Miss."
"Excellent," Rowan said, before giving the order of items needed. As usual, rather thrilled to serve the house-elves hurry off to fulfill the request as Rowan grabs a nearby chopping board and knife. To the absolutely horrified house-elves eyes, Rowan not only manually chops the vegetables but does it herself.
"Wait, we can do that!" A house-elf shrieked.
Rowan paused at noticing at the horrified and rather distressed expressions on the house-elves faces. Sighing she reluctantly agrees, "Fine, but if you aren't able to complete my instructions, I will have to show you. I can't accept a subpar result."
The house-elves happily nod their heads as Rowan begins to give the house-elves instructions on how to prepare and cook the food. Although by the end of it all, Rowan was forced to fry the food in the pan as the elves were not able to properly toss and swish the food in the round deep pan.
The house-elves watch with rapt anew as Rowan manually and rather expertly fries the food. An absolutely wonderful scent begins to appear as the meat glistens and the vegetable glitter. A mouth-watering scent even causes the elves to swallow their droll as Rowan carefully sets the pan onto the counter. The house-elves flinch as they watch Rowan serves herself a plate.
Having heaped a good amount of food onto her plate, Rowan says, "Please have a taste and let me know, what you think?"
The house-elves all glance at each other in surprise and shock at the unusual request. After a while, the elves are unable to help themselves as they watch Rowan m.o.a.n in pleasure at the taste of the vegetables, beef, and Chinese spices. Slowly eating, she misses the look of astonishment on the elves faces as they carefully each try a spoonful of food.
A male elf with rather pointed ears excitedly says, "This is most excellent! May we use this recipe, Miss?"
"Actually, I was wondering if we could make a deal," Rowan rather muffled asked, before swallowing. "By the way what is your name?"
"Habbey, Miss," the male house-elf joyful said as his wing-like ears flapped eagerly.
Ignoring the fact that his ears reminded her of Dumbo, Rowan replies, "I'll come down here on some nights to teach all of you some recipes, but in exchange, I can come down here anytime to eat anything I want?"
The house-elves unanimously nod their heads as Habbey elegantly said, "We only live to serve, Miss," as the other house-elves squeaked in agreement.
"Excellent, then I shall write a couple of recipes down that don't require my being here," Rowan said. "Now if someone would just jot them down while I eat that would be great."
A few house elves rush off and soon between mouthfuls, Rowan has described how to make a tres leches cake, risotto, pizza with a soft, thick crust, vegetable curry, and spaghetti with rich sauce and meatballs. The house-elves are in awe as Rowan kindly suggested, "All of you really should go and ask Headmaster Dumbledore for one day a month off and a galleon per week."
The house-elves instantly take a step back and eye Rowan warily as if in embarrassment. "Please don't misinterpret my words," Rowan hastily said. "It is to help you to better your art of service. The money is to be used to purchase ingredients or spices that may not be readily available including a suggested list of cookbooks to better thy knowledge. And as for the day off, well, how can you compare your level of service without tasting the works of other competitors! I don't offer freedom, but the prospect of how to better thy service skills!"
The house-elves seem shocked as if the idea had never occurred to them as the idea was simply mind-blowing to them. Had they really been left behind and were no longer able to properly service their masters? The very thought caused their bodies to shake as maybe for the first time in their lives curiosity and interest was born to better improve their art of service.
"I mean, that's what the muggle butlers do," Rowan persuasively said. "Not only are they dressed impeccably, but they train for years in every art to master the art of perfect service. Surely, you aren't any less capable, are you?"
"But we only live to serve!" Protested Toppy in indignation.
"Exactly, it is a modern age after all and you cannot remain as in the past," Rowan argued. "To better serve as house elves, you must all up your art of service so to speak."
The house-elves whisper in undertones until they finally come to a conclusion. They all push Habbey forward as he straightened up and says, "We have considered thy argument and after some resistance on our part, we finally concluded that we can only ask for two silvers per month."
Shuddering Habbey distastefully and rather quickly adds, "And shall request one day off per month to be taken in shifts for the kitchens cannot remain empty."
"Excellent," Rowan said out loud as she darkly thought. "That ought to stump, old Dumbledore."
With a happy sigh, Rowan licks her lips clean and pats her satisfied belly. "Well, I best be going," Rowan said as a crowd of elves suddenly appear with cream cakes and pies.
"Goodness, no, I just ate," Rowan protested. "But I look forward to coming back to see the results."
"We shan't fail to serve!" The house-elves said in unison. Waving goodbye, Rowan exits the kitchen into the brightly lit hallway. The moment she is out, Rowan teleports back to the girl's bathroom. With a happy sigh and happy stomach, she ignores the cold and happily climbs back to bed. Because sometimes, the best kind of food is a late-night snack.