Chapter 79 - Daily Bread

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∞ 79 ∞


Oddly enough, Lucius who rarely opened up to anyone, even on relatively trivial things, had opened up far more to Valentina than she had with him on things of an embarrassing nature. He had told her about his ongoing affair with a married woman, which he was terribly ashamed of and even about the Death Eaters. (Well, in a way he had told her, sort of, in not so many words... Well alright, he planned to tell her properly at any rate, at some point in the future... possibly.) Conversely, Valentina who was normally an open book about almost everything –even to relative strangers– had kept it from Lucius that she was working as a cleaner. She was too ashamed she was doing it and (although he would have to be very, very out of touch not to realise she was struggling) she didn't want him to see quite what a desperate situation she had fallen into and was still in.

The staircase was still proving itself to be a difficult job and when it was time for a break, they were both more than happy to stop for a long lunch. Valentina decided to make pasta with cheese from her goats and nutmeg. She mentioned that she had seen a whole cluster of delicious looking mushrooms that had recently come up behind the long barn and would have liked to add some to the pasta but didn't dare take them for fear they were poisonous – although they did seem totally fine... Even though she used to collect them with the nuns when she was small, she had never been very good at remembering the differences between edible and poisonous species on her own, so she was just a little uncertain. She thought she might look them up in a book she had on wild things (if she could find the book in all those boxes) since it was a shame to let what was most likely some very tasty, fresh mushrooms go to waste. (Really they seemed fine. It was actually that she felt extra cautious because she was feeding Lucian and probably would have had them if he weren't there.)

In his effort to make chit chat –which he considered he was becoming quite good at– Lucius recommended that Valentina ought to try ordering some mushrooms from a certain epicurean store in Angers that his cook ordered many delicacies from.

"Their white truffles are divine and their cheese selection is phenomenal. Even better, when you consider it is not Paris." (Better still when one considered it was a Muggle shop, he thought to himself.) "We had a whole sparassis mushroom last week. You should have seen it. Enooormous! Sinfully delicious! I should have brought you a piece. You should visit the place the next time you are in town. They will bring in whatever you ask them for – really, very agreeable owner."

He went on to talk about Fortnum's tea selection (unfortunately the tea selection at the epicurean shop in Angers was "severely lacking") and said that if Valentina wished, she could place her order with Fortnum's when the cook placed theirs and he could bring it over when it arrived from London. He noted that she looked like she would be out of tea soon and that the watery, flavourless varieties that they generally had in France was naturally no match for what was available in England.

After lunch, neither seemed to want to return to the tiresome job of the stairs and Valentina didn't have to make much effort to convince Lucius that he ought to let her make some buttery crepes with wild blackberry jam and the delicious vegan wildflower 'honey' she had given him to try on their first meeting. Valentina put some music on, on her laptop and as his contribution Lucius went to collect some mushrooms for the following day's lunch.

Because even basic potion making relied so heavily on plant based components, all Magical people started their study of plants and fungi from childhood. With a long line of Isholmborg potion makers and being a biologist himself, Lucius needed to have a refined sense of resources in the natural world, so he had extensive knowledge of mushrooms which featured in many powerful potions (in addition to the fact that he liked to eat them very much)... Lucius returned several minutes later with the empty box Valentina had sent him off with, looking uneasy. In amongst the perfect cluster of healthy, white field mushrooms was another mushroom; closely similar looking to an untrained eye, it was the deadly poisonous Amanita virosa! He showed her the distinguishing features of the deadly mushroom in comparison to the ordinary field mushroom, impressing upon her how highly toxic the deadly look-alike mushroom was and said that he would destroy all of them.

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