The Potion Diaries

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward Page B

Book: The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amy Alward
I mean, my dad trained as an alchemist but he rejects all the traditional ways in favour of the synths. He hates that we have to go out into the Wilds too. If he could stay in his office and pay someone to go, he would. He doesn’t trust me to go alone.’ A frown flickers on his face. ‘Plus, magic behaves differently out there.’
    I shiver, despite myself. ‘I guess when you’re so used to relying on magic, you forget basic survival stuff.’
    ‘Something like that.’ His attention turns to a piece of crumpled paper on the counter. I’m aware of how close he’s got since we started talking. I could reach out and touch the line of his strong jaw if I wanted to. Of course, I don’t, but I feel almost as awkward as when I met the Queen Mother. Even at school, Zain always seemed more intangible than the Royals. But he’s not as perfect as I once thought. His hands are rough, and one finger is blemished by a nasty-looking chemical burn.
    Witch hazel – to reduce scarring, blended with crushed anemone powder for skin reparation.
    ‘Wow, Wizard’s Beard? I didn’t think anyone stocked that any more.’
    I look up sharply from his hands and see he’s studying the inventory list I’d been making before the Wilde Hunt started. This time he is close enough for me to snatch it away. ‘We don’t have it either. I’m making a stocklist.’
    He’s barely listening to me though, because his eyes are cast upwards and a look of awe descends on his face. He’s taking in the shelves upon shelves of bottles, jars and ingredients that disappear up into the high ceiling. I turn around myself and look at it all, trying to imagine what it must be like to see it for the first time.
    ‘May I?’ he asks, gesturing to come around the back of the counter for a closer look.
    I actually nod, because seeing Zain in awe sends a surge of pride through me that I can’t ignore – and I want him to be up close to really understand it.
    ‘And none of this is categorised magically? Or digitally?’
    I shake my head. ‘No, it’s done by hand.’
    ‘Who maintains all this?’ he says, releasing a whistle of amazement.
    I shrug. ‘I do.’
    ‘Wait, seriously? I was joking! I thought it’d be impossible . . .’
    I smile. ‘I’ve got a lot of time on my hands.’
    ‘Clearly.’
    I shoot another glare his way, but my face relaxes when I see that he is smiling. ‘It is tough,’ I say reluctantly. ‘But I work in the store every weekend so my goal had been to go through the shelves and take a proper inventory of everything. Hence the paper.’
    ‘Well hey, you got as far as W. That’s not bad.’
    I shake my head. ‘No . . . M, actually. It was labelled as “Merlin’s Beard”.’
    ‘Oh, I see. I’ll help then. I’ll start up from Z and you can work your way down again.’
    He seems totally genuine in his offer, but I’m still suspicious. ‘Won’t your dad be wondering where you are? What with the Hunt and all . . .’
    ‘Yeah, but he knows how to get hold of me. And my dad thinks I’m visiting Evie.’
    It takes me a second, but the name clicks. ‘Wait, Evie as in Princess
Evelyn
?’ I can’t imagine being so close to a member of the Royal family that I could casually drop their nickname into conversation.
    He winces. ‘Yeah. I saw her first thing this morning but she doesn’t want to talk to me. At the moment she just sits there. Staring at herself. It’s so strange.’
    ‘I’m sorry. I know you guys were good friends. Were you there when she . . . ?’
    He nods.
    My curiosity burns bright but I don’t pester him any more. I sweep my hair up into a bun and secure it with the pen that’s in my hand. ‘Right, well, look at the labels, write down what’s there and if there’s nothing in the jar itself then put the ingredient on a separate list for the next Finding.’
    I search around the desk for another piece of paper for him to use, but he’s already started jotting things down on a fancy tablet that

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