Chapter 1 : Taking the cheesy way out
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“You’ve been out of school for a year now,” Andromeda Tonks said gently. “When are you going to work out what you want to do?”
Teddy looked up at her, trying to hide his annoyance. “When I find some inspiration,” he said.
“What about Auror? Your mother was a very good one,” Andromeda pressed.
Teddy shook his head. “Three more years training? I don’t think so, Grandma. Besides, I’d be working for Harry, and that’d just be weird.” He paused. “I wish you had more stories about my dad. I feel like I’m missing out.”
His grandmother nodded. “I can understand that,” she admitted. “But I really didn’t know him very well, as you know. And everyone who did, died in the war.” She sighed. “Aside from that, though, I do want you to get yourself sorted, Teddy. I hate to see all that potential wasted.”
Teddy concentrated hard on making his nose not change shape. It often resembled that of a pig when he was frustrated and he didn’t want Andromeda knowing that he too was irritated at his lack of career direction. “I know,” he said finally. “Look, I’ll find something, okay? I just need to decide what.”
“That’s fine, Teddy. I’ll leave you to it for now.”
He looked up gratefully. “Thanks, Grandma.”
He looked at the ad in the Daily Prophet. Seeking apprentice, it read. Must have OWLs in Charms, Transfiguration and Potions. Apply Monday at 196 Diagon Alley.
He smiled. He had those OWLs, yes, and even NEWTs in those subjects. And he was intrigued by the advertisement, because it didn’t state what the occupation actually was. Some people would have been put off by that fact, but Teddy liked it. After all, what was life without a little risk?
On the day he duly showed up in his best job-hunting robes and knocked on the door. No one else appeared to be around, so he figured that he had a good chance of getting the job. Whatever it was.
A short, plump, blonde woman opened the door and looked up at him. “Hello,” she said. “You’re here about the apprenticeship?”
Teddy nodded. “Teddy Lupin,” he said, offering his hand.
She took it. “Greta Catchlove. Though my professional name is Gerta Curd, so maybe you should call me that.” She turned to go back inside the shop and indicated for him to follow her.
“Professional name?” Teddy couldn’t hide his confusion.
“I’m an author,” she explained over her shoulder. She was very short, he realised, the top of her head reaching only half way up his chest, and he wondered if his height would be a detriment to whatever the job was. “Or, well, something of the sort. I write cookery books.”
They had reached a large room full of production equipment, and she turned to face him. “You have no idea what we do here, do you?” she asked, a smile creeping across her face.
Teddy decided honesty was the best policy in this situation. “Nope.”
“We make cheese,” she explained. “I’m a cheesemaker. And I write books about how to do it.”
“Right.” Teddy looked around with new interest. Cheesemaker wasn’t really what he had in mind for when he’d finished school, but now he thought about it, he couldn’t work out why that might be the case. It was a perfectly reputable occupation and Greta, or Gerta, seemed quite nice.
The only question was whether he’d be able to support himself on the gold it brought in. Yes, he had an inheritance from his parents, but he liked the idea of looking after himself without help from others, and the odd jobs he’d been doing since leaving school didn’t provide for much. It was an independent streak that Andromeda said was inherited from his mother, and he was rather proud of it.
“In here,” Greta/Gerta said briskly, making her way to a door he hadn’t previously seen. “I’ll give you the grilling.” She grinned at him. “Grilling? Cheese? Get it?”
Teddy groaned, though that was more because his prospective boss seemed to expect it than anything else. “Yes,” he said, wondering if bad puns were par for the course here.
“You’ll fit in just fine,” she said, still smiling. “Right. In we go.”
He followed her through the door, expecting to see an office or something similar. Instead it was another large room, this one filled with book covers and what looked like designs for cheese. Teddy wasn’t sure if he was impressed or a little bothered that there were designer cheeses. Wasn’t it just something you ate?
“Teddy Lupin, you said?” she asked, sitting down at what looked like an easel with some notes on it.
Teddy nodded. “Yes, ma’am,” he confirmed, finding a chair nearby and perching on it, trying not to look too comfortable. It was a job interview, after all.
She looked critically at him. “Any relation to Remus Lupin?”
He nodded again. “He was my father,” he said, wondering what the connection between his dad and this woman was. “Did you know him?”
Greta/Gerta nodded. “We were at school together,” she said, and made a note on her easel. “Right. Teddy, have you brought your school results with you?” He handed them over and she looked quickly at them and gave them back. “NEWTS in the subjects we require, I see. Haven’t you thought you might be a little overqualified for this?”
Teddy shrugged. “I liked the mystery of your ad,” he admitted. “And it’s not a bad occupation. Why shouldn’t I try it?”
She smiled again. “Good answer. In case you were wondering, we do use both Charms and Transfiguration here on a daily basis. We ask for Potions because, although we don’t make them using ingredients you’re familiar with, we do use the same processes and procedures and familiarity with them is essential. Potions is in fact where most of our applicants fall over, it seems to be one of Hogwarts’ more difficult subjects at the moment.”
Teddy thought back just over twelve months to his schooling, and nodded. “The professor isn’t strict, not like some past ones have been – or so I’ve heard,” he explained, “but she does put a lot of pressure on us to get things right. Maybe that’s the issue.”
Greta/Gerta nodded. “Could be,” she agreed. “Can’t say I know many of the staff at Hogwarts any more. They’re all so young!”
Teddy didn’t think any of the staff were particularly young, but compared to this woman perhaps they were. In any case, he just nodded again. It seemed best to agree with her.
“Anyway,” she continued, “you seem to be our only applicant and you’ve got the qualifications. Job’s yours if you want it. Eight-thirty till five, Monday to Friday, unless we have a really big order come in, and we’ll pay you a hundred and fifty Galleons a week for the first year, two hundred for the second. What do you say?”
Victoire was certainly surprised, but tried to hide it. “Cheesemaker?” she asked. “Really?”
Teddy grinned. “Why not?” he challenged, giving her a quick kiss on the nose. “Mum was an Auror, Dad was an academic ... I would have thought that cheesemaker was a natural progression.”
Victoire laughed. “Well, when you put it like that,” she said, a smile creeping across her face. He relaxed – while he’d been sure she would support his decision, he still liked to see it confirmed.
“And,” he went on, “when you come back for Christmas, I’ll have some samples for you. Made with my own hands.” He liked the idea of that – making something with his hands that he could show others. Most of the people he knew had desk jobs and, while they undoubtedly achieved things, there wasn’t much they could really show for it, aside from the arrests Harry and Ron made. Showing up at Christmas time with his own handiwork was definitely an appealing part of the new job.
Victoire grinned. “Is that a threat or a promise?”
“Whichever one you want it to be,” he told her, pulling her close so he could give her a goodbye kiss. They wouldn’t be seeing each other till the Christmas holidays, as Victoire was about to start her last year at Hogwarts. They’d only been together a few weeks and he knew he would miss her terribly. At least he now had a job to keep him occupied.
As Victoire eventually gathered her things together to get onto the train, she turned to him one last time. “Before I go, Teddy, tell me one thing. Why did you really take that job?”
Teddy grinned. “Aside from the fact that it looked like fun?”
Victoire nodded, her face grave. “I’m serious, Ted.”
“So am I,” he admitted. “Well, aside from anything else, Vic ... Greta, my new boss who I told you about?”
Victoire stiffened a little. “What about her? I thought she was old and short.”
“She is,” Teddy confirmed. “But she’s someone I want to talk to some more. See, the thing is ... she knew my dad.”
Victoire’s face softened and she came back to wrap her arms around him. “Okay,” she said quietly. “Now I understand.”
Author's note: Credit must go to Alopex for the idea of making Teddy Lupin an apprentice cheesemaker. I only hope that I've done her idea justice. Thanks for reading!