Breakfast had come and gone, leaving the commune’s kitchen free for other things until the start of lunchtime cooking. It was a medium sized room, with two cast-iron cooking stoves back to back in the center. In the southeast corner a brick oven had been built into the walls, a small fire burning underneath. To the left and right of the stoves, were two large butcher’s blocks. Cabinets filled with spices and dry goods lined the walls while cheeses and smoked meats hung from the ceiling.

Thayrin had taken to baking here once a week, and today was no different. Well, save the little kitten girl that had started following him around constantly, glaring.

Before him on the chopping block, he had rolled out parchment paper and dusted it with a light amount of flour. To his right, a ball of dough rested in a medium sized bowl made of beaten sheet metal. On his left, a jar of red berry preserves, a single spoon balanced across its open top. A cutting knife lay next to the jar.

“Don’t you have anything else to do?” he asked as he rolled a ball of dough in between the palm of his hands.

Rylea stared at him from the other side of the block, her eyes, just barely peeking over the wooden counter-top.

“I’m bored,” she stated flatly.

“Can’t you be bored somewhere else?” Thayrin pressed the ball of dough flat against the parchment, then rolled it into a long, snakelike shaft.

“No,” Rylea replied. “Mommy says I should stay near you.”

Thayrin rolled his eyes. He picked up the knife and sliced thin wafers off the rolled dough, then placed each one on a flat baking sheet.

“What’cha making?” Rylea asked, her bright purple eyes watching his hands with intensity.

“Cookies,” he said as he pressed his thumb down on half of the dough wafers, creating an indent. “For mother.”

“Mommy doesn’t like cookies,” Rylea stated flatly. “She says they make her fat.”

Thayrin paused, one eyebrow raised and side-eying the Miqo’te kit. He sighed.

“Not for your mother, for mine.” With that he picked up the tray and carefully slid it into the brick oven.

“Oh,” she said, a twinge of disappointment in her voice. Her little black hands strummed along the edge of the wooden block.

Thayrin removed the parchment from the block then whiped it down.

“You know,” Rylea said after a while, “If your mommy doesn’t like the cookies, I could eat them for her, just like I do for my mommy.”

Thayrin let out a small chuckle under his breath.

“We’ll see,” he said.

An hour later, he finally pulled the cookie wafers from the oven and set them on the counter. Even as they cooled, he dolloped a spoonful of preserves on a flat one, then topped it with another that had an indent, filling the dip with even more of the red concoction. Once complete, he placed them on a checkered cloth and wrapped them up for carrying.

“Come on,” he said as he picked up the bundled cookies. “Let’s go tell mother about dad … and your mom.”