Tiana batted Lottie over the head with her spoon for once again drifting off to stare at the people passing by outside. The Mardi Gras parade was days away yet but her papa had told her about the great war they fought far away and how sometimes you had to celebrate a little harder, a little longer, to make up for the bad things in the world. Still, Lottie was the one who wanted to know how to make a quiche for her daddy's birthday, and she should be paying attention.
“Remember what I told you?” Tiana readjusted her chef's hat, as it kept sliding over her eyes. Lottie's perfect pink apron was a little too long yet and dragged on the floor, tripping her up whenever she got overly excited.
Lottie grinned at her, resting her chin on her clasped hands. “The most important ingredient,” she recited, “is love.” Giggling, Lottie jumped up and twirled around. “Love! Oh, love. One day I will be in love and you will be a famous chef and then we will be so happy.”
Tiana grinned and tried to chase away the wistful thought that always came when Lottie spoke of her dreams. They were so different sometimes, and not just because Lottie's daddy had a lot of money and they lived in a house as big as a castle. Only... sometimes Tiana envied those bright, impossible dreams that always seemed to come true against all odds. Lottie was living in a fairy tale world and yet she was never disappointed, never truly unhappy. It was that strength in her that called to Tiana and let them remain friends despite the things that divided them.
“Of course, you still have to get everything sort of right, but you can fiddle with the pro... with the proportions a bit.” Lottie mouthed proportions at her with a quizzical smile. “Add a little more paprika, a pinch of salt. Pepper is never wrong. Some cheese in the egg mix is good for a deeper flavor.” She recited these things from memory, the way her papa had taught her.
Lottie splayed her arms dramatically. She was very good at that. “I shall never remember all this.”
“That is why I had mama write it down for you.” The cook at the mansion knew of Lottie's plan and had agreed to surrender the kitchen to them on the big day, but stay to supervise. He could read the list and help Lottie when she inevitably got distracted. Lottie had a good heart, the loyalty of a favored dog. Unfortunately she also had that kind of attention span.
“You are the best,” Lottie said, suddenly serious. “You know that, right?” She twisted her fingers in her apron nervously and didn't meet Tiana's eyes. “You are my best friend in the whole world. When Timmy or his friends say mean things about you, I punch them in the face.”
Tiana knew, distantly, that she led a somewhat sheltered life. It wasn't exactly easy, but it was never impossible. Not many girls like her were friends with girls like Lottie. Mostly, she thought they were both blessed. It was, however, a revelation that Lottie knew it, too. Lottie of the magical dreams and fairy tales.
Dropping the spoon on the flour-covered table, Tiana launched herself at her friend. She hugged her tight and almost sneezed from the pepper in Lottie's hair. “You're my best friend, too.”
After a moment, Lottie extricated herself and cocked her head. “Do you smell something burning?”
And then it was pandemonium in the kitchen, all maudlin thought forgotten. They did save the quiche though.