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Vinegar of Roses

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Cross Sections of History". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Remus Lupin meets a young Beth Maclay while working at one of his oddest jobs: historical reenactment in Colonial Williamsburg.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Other BtVS/AtS CharactersindigoFR711,3130260029 Jun 1029 Jun 10Yes
Disclaimer: I do not own either Remus or the Buffy characters.

"Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination." ~ William Shakespeare

"50th—Be not hasty to believe Reports to the Disparagement of any." ~110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, transcribed by George Washington

"Lupin's a wonderful teacher and a very nice man, but he has a failing and his failing is that he does like to be liked and that's where he slips up…" ~JK Rowling

***

June 1990

On the corner of Duke of Gloucester street in Williamsburg, VA, there stands a two-story Georgian-style building with a drab exterior. Hanging directly over the front door, a large green sign with a red circle in the center, depicting a yellow mortar and pestle with blue trim, reads: The Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop.

Inside, on this particular day, a tired looking man was sitting on a wooden stool next to the counter, cutting and rolling cotton bandages. To any of the patrons who entered the shop, the man made it a habit to introduce himself as Dr. Galt, the town apothecary—though the man himself, along with all the other employees in the town, knew him to in fact be a Mr. Remus J. Lupin.

As the town apothecary, his 'duties' were as follows: provide medical treatment, train apprentices, prescribe medicine, perform surgery, and serve as a man-midwife…but in truth, all he really did was talk to tourists and reorganize the cupboards.

He glanced around at 'his' certificates—which were on display around the room—in the subjects of medical theory, midwifery, and surgery—from Saint Thomas's Hospital in London. When he was far enough in character, Remus actually took a bit of pride in them, which he never failed to feel silly about afterward.

This was certainly not what he imaged doing with his life when McGonagall asked him what his dream career was in fifth year…but then again, who, at the age of thirty, ended up doing what they imaged when they were fifteen? Never mind that due to his dark creature status and lack of an official muggle record, his job opportunities were severely limited both in the magical and muggle worlds.

Still, as it was, this was certainly better than his last job, which he endeavored at all times not to recall. In fact, Remus found he rather enjoyed working here; the job was, peripherally, related to teaching and healing—two fields that he had considered while in school (being surrounded by his optimistic, supportive, and naive friends)—and there was plenty of mischief to be had, pretending to a trumped up potions master from the 18th century to a bunch of American muggles…

He groaned to himself. Oh, who am I kidding? If James and Peter could see him now, he imagined they would have a chuckle at his expense: Moony, those stockings are fantastic…and a wig…never thought you would need one of those…

That was the problem with all your friends dying at tragically young ages: they remained teenagers in your head forever. Just as his thoughts began to take a more unpleasant turn, the door opened, interrupting his memories and admitting a little girl with ginger hair.

"Good morning, Miss," he delivered his standard greeting, blithely. "How may I assist you this fine summer's day?"

The girl, who was looking around the shop with wide blue eyes, did not respond immediately. Remus looked around with her, trying to imagine what she was seeing as she visually absorbed the green-blue drawers labeled with Latin plant names, the part of an antler lying on the table in front him next to the mortal and pestle, the various antique instruments for compounding and dispensing drugs around the room, and the lovely set of blue and white British delft jars lining the wall behind him (Remus was quite fond of those, himself).

"What sort of shop is this? What are all these things for?" she asked him, at length.

"Well," Remus began his explanation.

"This is an apothecary—similar to what you would call a pharmacy, or drug store. We dispense: chalk for heartburn; calamine for skin irritations; cinchona bark for fevers (and malaria and heart trouble, as well); for headaches, there's vinegar of roses, but most colonists make that—and other remedies with common ingredients—in their own homes. We also sell cooking spices, candles, salad oil, anchovies, tobacco, and toothbrushes," he finished, waving a bundle of twigs with a grin.

"Oh," the girl responded, simply. "Well, I don't need any of that."

"You are fortunate not to, Miss..."

"I'm Beth. Bethany Maclay."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Maclay. My name is Dr. Galt. Might I inquire as to where your parents are?"

"In jail," she answered, with the frankness typical of children her age. "Well, daddy's in jail; my mom died having me. Uncle Nathan says it was a blessing disguised as a tragedy, since she was nineteen and all. I live with him and my Aunt Deirdre. They're still at the tavern where we ate lunch."

"Well," Remus offered, thinking she might like something a little more normal after her meal from the 1700s. "We have a dish of complimentary chocolate mints, if you would like some."

"No, thank you. I'm allergic."

Beth was looking around again. “This looks a lot like the room where Aunt Deirdre keeps her mumbo jumbo junk,” she murmured, with a hint of—if Remus interpreted her tone correctly—suspicion.

"Her mumbo jumbo junk?" he asked nevertheless, somewhat bemused.

"Rocks and candles and plants with weird names which smell funny—like this stuff. Sometimes she mixes it together and…"

"Oh, no," Beth gasped suddenly, backing a few steps away with a stricken expression and pointing at him accusingly. "You're a demon!"

For one horrifying moment, Remus worried that she knew, and dread flashed across his face. But then he realized that was ridiculous—it was the new moon.

He resembled an uninfected human more closely now than he ever did, and that was pretty darn close, so there was no way she could be referring to his lycanthropy…which left the question of what she could be referring to…

"I beg your pardon?" He inquired, wanting clarification, but trying not to upset her further.

"All this time, you've been talking to me, pretending to be a gentleman…!"

Oh, no. This is getting out of hand fast.

"Shh. Calm down. There's been a misunderstand—"

"DEMON—a demon! Donny! DONNY! UNCLE NATHAN!"

Merlin. Why do these things always happen to me? It’s like I’m a walking prejudice magnet.

A middle-aged, up-tight looking man of medium build, rushed in, looking askance at Beth. He was quickly followed by a young teenage boy, a blonde girl around the age of ten, and the wigmaker and the silversmith who both worked across the street.

"He's a demon!" Beth continued to screech. "I can't believe I didn't see it right away—he even tried to give me candy!"

"A pedophile," the uptight-looking man, who Remus assumed was 'Uncle Nathan', spat. "I ought to press charges!"

"I—wha—now wait just a minute!" This situation was definitely out of hand now.

"Mr. Lupin, is this true?" No, no, no. That was his boss’s voice! I liked this job. I did.

"Lupin!?! He told me his name was Galt! And that he was a Dr.!"

Remus would have rolled his eyes at that if he had not been in such a state of panic. At least he knew he could not get in trouble for telling a lie that was in his job description…It was ludicrous! But as he observed the scene going on around him, helpless to stop it from escalating, he realized that was not the case...

Needless to say, Remus did not remain employed at that establishment for much longer.

The End

You have reached the end of "Vinegar of Roses". This story is complete.

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