Chapter 15 : The Apothecary
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Andromeda entered Ted’s shop without her customary disdainful expression. Her features seemed unsure how to arrange themselves. Ted, who was nailing some shelves into place after levitating them up against the wall, stopped his work and glanced up her.
“You’re early,” he said curiously. “They aren’t back yet.”
Andromeda’s mouth twitched. Without saying a word, she crossed the room and returned Great Expectations to the books shelf. When she did not accuse Ted of forcing her to endure the torture of reading muggle filth, Ted smirked.
“You loved it that much?” he asked in bemusement.
Andromeda seriously considered lying to Ted. It wasn’t a particularly difficult thing for her to do, she was a Slytherin after all, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. The truth was that she had been completely engrossed by the book and had not read a single thing from the wizarding world to compare to it.
“It was... satisfactory, I suppose,” she managed.
Ted shrugged. Andromeda expected some gloating but all Ted did was continue to work with infuriating smirk on his face. She would have preferred a little gloating to that smirk. She sat down gracefully on the old couch, carefully making sure that she did not to sink into it, crossed her arms and stared determinedly out the window.
“Did you want to borrow another one?” asked Ted innocently.
Andromeda’s composure slipped and she slumped backwards into the cushions.
“No!” she snapped, struggling to sit upright again.
“Are you sure?” asked Ted, unable to keep the smugness out of his voice. “I mean... you enjoyed it this one so much...”
He was better at gloating than Andromeda gave him credit for apparently. Andromeda tried to keep her dignity and forced herself not to take his bait again.
“No, thank you,” she said stiffly.
Ted chuckled and returned to fixing his shelves. Andromeda winced at the loud noise his hammer was making.
“Why are you doing that?” she asked. “You can use your wand, can’t you?”
“Where’s the fun in that?” scoffed Ted. “Magic’s useful and all but if you use it all the time you’ll just get bored.”
Andromeda didn’t have an answer for that. She had to admit, despite his insistence on using primitive muggle methods to fix everything, he had done a very good job. He had turned the unstable shack into something that that people would actually want to walk into. She got to her feet and examined some of the shelves Ted had already built with a strange expression on her face.
“Have you decided what you are going to do with this place?” asked Andromeda suddenly.
Ted was caught off guard by the polite question. Andromeda rarely, if ever, asked them.
“Erm... don’t know yet,” he mumbled. “Something useful, I guess.”
Andromeda raised her eyebrows. Slytherins rarely did anything without any idea of how they were going to profit.
“Any ideas?” she asked dryly.
Ted frowned thoughtfully.
“I could sell sporting goods...or food... that’s always a good one... muggle memorabilia perhaps?”
Andromeda let out a derisive laugh and Ted crossed his arms indignantly.
“How exactly does that constitute as useful?” she asked, mocking him with every syllable.
“Yeah well... what’s your fantastic idea, Princess?” he demanded.
Andromeda hesitated for a moment. It looked like she was debating with herself.
“An apothecary,” she said finally.
Ted stared at Andromeda in surprise. He didn’t think that she had an actual idea for him. Andromeda usually mocked him without suggestions for improvement. Andromeda took his silence as an invitation to continue.
“This is the perfect place for one,” she said confidently.
Ted had never been fond of Potions. He had been better at the subject than Frank (it was difficult not to be) but it had never really interested him. Andromeda on the other hand was showing an emotion other than apathy or disdain for the first time in Ted’s memory.
“Go on then,” he said, completely and utterly bemused by her behaviour.
Andromeda tried to hide the excitement from her voice but whenever she discussed Potions she couldn’t help it. Bellatrix’s passion was duelling. Andromeda was a Potions Master. She had never had anyone to talk to about it except Professor Slughorn (who she personally found annoying and presumptuous) and Severus Snape. Although he was quite gifted, Snape was almost five years her junior and there were still gaps in his knowledge.
“This is the perfect temperature for storing potions ingredients,” she said brightly, “and there isn’t any light shining on those shelves so if you keep herbs there they will last.”
Ted watched her in mild astonishment as she strode across the room and opened the back door. There was a wide strip of land between this shop and the Leaky Cauldron. It was strewn with rubbish but the sun was shining strongly on the patch.
“And look...”said Andromeda quietly. “You could keep a garden here.”
Ted looked around the shop, imagining bottles of liquids and herbs covering the shelves and a cauldron it the smoky fireplace. It wasn’t a bad idea at all...even if Andromeda had come up with it.
“I think you’re onto something, Princess,” said Ted finally, “but I didn’t do NEWTs Potions. I need to hire someone who did.”
“I’ve done NEWT level Potions,” said Andromeda before she could stop herself.
Ted raised his eyebrows. Andromeda was deliberately avoiding his gaze and, by the looks of it, was very much regretting opening her mouth. Although the notion of running this place appealed to her, working for a mudblood was stooping too low.
“I can’t hire you, can I?” asked Ted dryly.
“Certainly not,” she replied sharply.
Ted grimaced and returned to his shelves. Andromeda had a strange feeling that, despite her usual attitude towards him, he had expected a different answer.
Andromeda bit her lip. Surely she wouldn’t be disgracing the family if she was merely offering suggestions? After all, Bellatrix was sneaking out with a blood traitor every fortnight. Her offence was hardly unforgivable in comparison.
Andromeda struggled with herself and finally managed to speak after a few moments.
“But I suppose I could... help a little...” she mumbled, “…until you found someone who could run this place... if you wanted.”
Ted stared at her in surprise. Andromeda tried not to look too embarrassed but she could still feel her cheeks reddening.
“Sure, why not?” said Ted finally.
Andromeda could think of several very good reasons ‘why not’ and she was fairly certain that Ted could too. She was all but engaged to one of the most powerful men in Britain. Rodolphus would be more than angry if he found out she was helping a mudblood.
But that wasn’t going to stop her. Andromeda wasn’t going to waste her last few months of relative freedom doing nothing with herself. Perhaps she did have a little of Bellatrix’s reckless streak in her after all...
Ted, apparently bored of watching her stare into space and picture Rodolphus’ furious expression, interrupted her thoughts.
“What now, Princess?” he asked impatiently.
Andromeda, by some miracle, managed not to scowl again.
“The first thing you need is a supplier,” she said. “You don’t know any Herbologists, do you?”
“Sure… you know Alice Prewett?”
Andromeda’s mouth twitched. A Prewett... of course.
“I thought she worked with Frank in the Auror’s Office,” said Andromeda, hiding her disdain with difficulty.
“Her old man is a Herbologist,” explained Ted. “Cheerful, straight forward sort of bloke… a bit like Alice actually.”
Andromeda noted the glowing praise of Alice Prewett but said nothing about it. She had no intention of hearing an account of Ted’s love life. She also noted that the rumors about the Prewetts getting their fortune in trade were apparently true.
“What are his prices like?” asked Andromeda stiffly.
“Egbert’s a Hufflepuff, Princess… You won’t get a fairer price.”
Andromeda had to agree with him there. The Hufflepuffs she knew off seemed to be completely ignorant of term profit.
“Very well... Talk to thisEgbert Prewett... and see what he can get you,” she said. “Start with basic ingredients and buy dittany and knotgrass in bulk.”
Ted pulled a muggle pen out of his pocket and scribbled Andromeda’s instructions on the back of his hand.
“Dittany... knotgrass... got it,” he muttered.
Andromeda shook her head at him, trying and failing to hide a smirk.
“Once we order the Dragon parts you can start advertising in the Prophet,” said Andromeda. “You might be as successful as Mulpepper’s... if you don’t blotch this up.”
Ted, far from being offended, smirked back at her.
“With you around all the time?” he said with a laugh. “I’ll probably go bankrupt.”
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