|Scene Title||Awkwardness Squared|
|Synopsis||Madeline stops at Sechnall's shop to pick up some potion ingredients.|
|Date||September 11, 1994|
|Watch For||More social incompetence than you can poke a stick at.|
The inside of this shop - The Chaser, as the large wooden sign outside declares it - is kept snug and warm by the huge fireplace at the back end of the display room. The interior is quite neat and clean, with shelves full of ingredients from ceiling to floor covering most of the walls. Large racks of vials containing all manner of liquids, solids, powders and other oddities take up most of the center of the room, but there's enough space between them to navigate easily. All in all the decor is pleasant but unexciting, mostly consisting of earthy greens and browns.
Two doors in the back of the shop are kept locked at all times - one leading to the owner's personal living quarters upstairs, and the other to a small laboratory area where potion-brewing and alchemical processes are carried out. During open hours there is always a clerk posted behind the register. Occasional glimpses might also be caught of the resident house elf, Mixie, going about her duties.
It's a pleasant enough day outdoors, but Sechnall is not one of the people who's enjoying it. The hired clerk has been dismissed for the evening, and the alchemist is performing the dual duties of keeping a watch over the shop itself and working on a complex-looking potion. Several tall, intimidating contraptions have been set up on the far side of the counter, mostly consisting of various beakers and vials held over flames. Boiling and bubbling liquids whose colors range most of the spectrum are being… veritably ignored. Apparently there's not much to be done in the brewing process at the moment, because he's quietly seated off to one side reading a dusty old book.
Madeline steps into the well-organized shop, the open door letting the sound of a busy Diagon Alley spill into the room before she shuts it behind her again. She doesn't seem entirely certain of herself, the rather mousy young woman lingering at the doorway for a moment before she ventures a little further inside. Her hair falls to curtain off the sides of her face, and despite good posture otherwise, there's a slight hunching, like she's trying to make herself more diminutive. Wide blue eyes sweep the shelves with a fair amount of interest though.
The sound of the door opening causes Sechnall to look up with a start, his calm brown eyes widening a bit with surprise as he observes Madeline's entry. The book is quickly closed and set down on the counter, and he stands up with a genial (if nervous) smile. "Oh! G-good evening, Miss. Can I help you find anything?" He takes a few steps in her direction, navigating through the complicated assortment of shelves with practiced experience, although he maintains a polite distance from her, his gloved hands folding behind his back as he goes. "Anything in particular you're looking for?"
"Oh. Um. Yes, thank you," Madeline replies, looking over with a demure smile and ducking her head slightly in greeting. She lifts it again after a moment to take another quick glance around. "I … thought perhaps I would, ah, stock up on some … aconite and - and perhaps some belladonna, while I'm here." Her gaze returns to him, having made its survey of the shelves nearby, though she hasn't immediately spotted what she needs from this vantage point. "This is … quite the well-organized place," she commends in a quiet way.
"Ah! Well, you're in luck. We just got a shipment of belladonna in this morning, and the wolfsbane is quite, er, freshly-pressed," Sechnall replies, moving over in the direction of one of the shelves to point out one of the ingredients. After setting the large container (labeled 'Aconite') to one side, he looks up at the woman, his gaze settling on those wide blue eyes with unhidden (or perhaps poorly-hidden) curiousity. After a few seconds his pale skin reddens just a tinge and he clears his throat, looking around and at the little shop and chuckling. "Well, thank you. It's nothing very impressive, but a potion-brewer has to be somewhat.. methodical, to be successful."
Madeline gives a rather awkward smile at this bit of luck, trailing after him towards the indicated shelf. His rather plain curiosity catches her a bit by surprise, eyes widening a little further before she rather abruptly looks away. Oh hey, there's another shelf over here, how about that. "Of course. It's a … very precise art. And you've a lot to keep track of here, clearly." She brings her gaze back to him - or rather to the container he's set aside. "Ah, perhaps I ought to pick up a bezoar while I'm here, should you have any. I'm … a bit rusty, and I wouldn't want to … go too far wrong." She gives a wan smile at that, looking perhaps a little sheepish.
"Indeed it is. Oh.. I've certainly got some bezoars in, yes. They're quite handy. I'll have to get the belladonna from the back for you, I don't think it's been unpacked yet." Sechnall seems to be half-thinking aloud, and he moves to another shelf to pick out a flask containing a few of the goat-created stones. His attention, however, is soon back on Madeline, and he blinks slightly at the mention of her being rusty. "Is that so? Well, if you happen to need any assistance, I'm certain I could give you a lesson or two. There's so much work to be done around here the staff can't keep up, and you'd be helping out, really.." He smiles somewhat timidly and picks up the flask, then walks a few paces back toward the counter to set it down. "Unless you're too busy or would rather not, of course, in which case I'd completely understand. I'm sure you have better things to be doing." Babble, much?
"Thank you," Madeline replies quietly to his words, whether he's thinking aloud or intending them for her. It's effort he'd be going to on her behalf, so it seems prudent to thank him for it, either which way. As he fetches the bezoar, she goes back to looking about, and if her gaze lingers perhaps a moment or two longer on the more poisonous or potent ingredients, well, who's to blame her. As he finishes with that, her attention likewise returns to him, and she actually seems a bit surprised by the offer. "Really? That's … very gracious of you, Mr., ah…" And this is where she realizes she doesn't know his name, and so just trails off. "I wouldn't want to … impose, however." Still, she certainly seems intrigued by the offer.
The alchemist shakes his head. "No need to thank me, I needed to bring it up anyhow. And, oh, I nearly forgot.." He paces over toward the gathering of equipment on the counter and, withdrawing his wand, taps the bottom-most vial. It instantly stops bubbling, and the rest of the containers that seem to be straining and mixing other solutions together do the same. Finished with that, Sechnall turns back to the woman and, after a brief moment of hesitation, moves forward and extends a hand to her. "My apologies.. Sechnall Swancoate. And you wouldn't be imposing in the least." For just a half a second there's a curious look in his eye, as if he's.. appraising her. But it passes in a flash.
"Still I … appreciate you going to the effort on my behalf," Madeline replies with some quiet insistence, another awkward smile offered to the man. She turns to watch him take care of the current potion, light gaze just passively watching him go through the motions with a bit of interest. "It's a, ah, pleasure to meet you, Mr. Swancoate," she offers politely, though turning rather more awkward as he seems to be sizing her up. But as it passes so quickly, she figures she must have merely been imagining things, and covers with another wan smile. "Madaline Sagace. And if you're … quite certain I wouldn't be imposing, perhaps I might - I might take you up on that offer." While her words usually coming slowly as if she's searching for the right ones, that last bit comes out in a rush, spoken before she can change her mind or lose her nerve.
Not knowing exactly how to respond, Sechnall merely nods in return, then glances sidelong at the wooden door in the back of the shop. "Pleased to meet you, Miss Sagace. Oh, I'll be right back, if you'll wait here just one moment.." Looking at her for a second or two as if she might randomly decide to disappear, he smiles nervously again and makes his way to the laboratory entrance. He unlocks it and enters, returning quickly with an armful of containers. Most of them are deposited on one of the shelves to be sorted later; the one remaining is brought up to the front and placed along with the other ingredients. "Sorry about the wait, very sorry.. would you really?" He seems slightly astounded by her acceptance. "Well, hm.. if you'd like to stop by anytime this week, the shop is open through most of the day."
Madeline gives a nod, smiling awkwardly yet some more as the pleasantries go on. "Of course," she assures him, and she does wait right there, again taking the chance to have a bit of a look around, even if it isn't the most exciting sort of shop for window-shopping. Still, it's enough to hold her interest while he's off fetching supplies, and she hasn't disappeared by the time he returns. She, in turn, is a little surprised both by the apology and by his own surprise. "No, please … don't apologize." Because it makes her go even more awkward and less sure how to proceed. "I - Well, yes. I would really. It … would be appreciated." She gives another nod and manages a more sincere smile. "I'll be sure to return soon then," she promises.
"Well, let's see, then.." Suddenly remembering the fact that he is indeed a shopkeeper, Sechnall walks behind the counter, gathers up the ingredients that have been left there in a bag, and punches a few buttons on the ancient mechanical register. "It comes to.. three galleons, four sickles, and twelve knuts." He glances back at her and returns her smile, perhaps a little more bravely this time, and nods. At least it's helpful that she seems to be as awkward as he in social situations. "I'd like that very much," He replies. And then immediately flushes slightly again. "Er, to have the opportunity to help someone out. There's not enough interest in the art these days.."
Madeline moves in closer to the counter, waiting to see what price she'll pay for this. There's no hesitation before she pulls out her moneybag, fetching out three galleons and five sickles to cover the cost. The change is offered over as she returns the smile with a sincere but still awkward one of her own, glancing down at her new acquisitions on the counter. "It's … a shame. I always enjoyed it. But there's … not much call for it in my line these days. I just thought … perhaps it was time." She doesn't specify exactly what it was time for - time to get the rust off, perhaps. "I should be getting back now, but I will - I'll see you soon." That colloquial comes off a little more roughly than the more practised pleasantries, but it gets another small smile.
The money is quickly transferred into the register once she hands it to Sechnall, and he closes the drawer, a bell on the inside giving a single enthusiastic ding. The alchemist looks slightly curious at the woman's cryptic statement and nods vaguely. "Ah, of course, I shouldn't be holding you up any longer." He walks out from behind the counter and over to the door, opening it for her and managing another smile. "Good evening, then, Miss Sagace.. v-very nice to meet you."
Madeline returns her moneybag to her robes, tucking it safely away inside and taking up her purchases so she can follow him to the door. "It was … a pleasure meeting you as well, Mr. Swancoate," she replies with a polite nod of her head. "Have a good evening." With that, she steps out into the Alley, glancing both directions before she sets off in one of them.