“It needs more sugar.”
“No, Master Richard, it does not,” Alfred said, taking the measuring cup from the boy and setting it to the side. He picked up the storage container and replaced the lid before setting it inside the cupboard again. He thought perhaps he should have considered the implications of showing the boy where all the ingredients were, but he had found there was no better way to instruct a child in how to follow a recipe than to introduce them to the world of baking first. Cookies and other treats were the best way to entice a child into wanting to spend time in the kitchen. Young Master Bruce had enjoyed it when it was his turn, and aside from Master Richard's insistence on adding more than the recipe called for, Alfred thought the boy was taking to the idea of cooking very well.
“But Alfie,” Richard protested. “It's not sweet enough yet. Mom always made them sweeter than this. She would put more than one cup of sugar in to all her cookies.”
Alfred looked down at the boy, not missing the tone that had entered into the words despite their enthusiasm or the sheer in the child's eyes. He lifted Richard onto the counter, a thing he'd sworn he would never do, and met his eyes. “Not everything can be as it was, but I do hope that you will be willing to try other ways. You may find you like my way of making cookies just as much as you like living here with Master Bruce and myself. Change isn't all bad.”
“I know,” Richard agreed quietly. He bit his lip and his eyes seemed to get bigger. “Can I please put in more sugar? Just this once?”
Alfred almost said no, but that look was impossible to ignore. He was not heartless, even if sometimes he had to be stern. “Just this once.”
Richard wrapped his arms around him in a hug. “Thank you, Alfred. You're the best. I love cooking with you.”
That, Alfred supposed, was worth the unpleasantness of additional sugar.