(1937-08-23) Fuel for Friendship
Details for Fuel for Friendship
Summary: Camilla and Jo visit the Leaky Cauldron for dinner, and come across Hephaesta stealing booze…for science!
Date: August 23, 1937
Location: Leaky Cauldron
Related: None

Leaky Cauldron

This cramped, angular room is the taproom of the Leaky Cauldron. A long bar runs along one side of the room, plain wooden stools set out before it. Smoke from pipes and candles fills the air. The patrons of this curious little bar, many of them elderly, sit hunched over their mugs at the tables. Waitresses bustle back and forth bearing trays of food and mugs of ale. Many of the people seem strangely out of place, dressed in cloaks and floppy hats, it almost seems as if you've stumbled into another century. Notably absent is any modern muggle devices or electric lighting, or any sign of electricity at all. Still, the occasional muggle does find their way in here, usually declaring it to be 'quaint' and 'atmospheric'.

While Jo comes to London by Floo on a regular basis after chores are done, to visit friends, today she's come with Camilla. As they step out of the fireplace she's saying, as if continuing a conversation from before they left, "I think he almost said 'muggle' once, and he starts school the same day as me, so I think he might be a wizard, but I'm not sure. And he's got two dads, which is weird enough to be magic, too. So gonna keep looking to try to find out."

Hephaesta sits at a side table, eyeing the crowd. For the most part, the young, teenaged girl seems to be occupying herself with a book, which doesn't explain the wooden box full of metal doodads and whatsits on the table beside her. She's been here long enough that most people aren't paying her any mind. So when a customer leaves, she can furtively make her way over to tankards left behind before the barmaid picks them up, and deposit the remaining contents into a jar under her cloak.

Camilla laughs softly and finds herself rather motherly preening at Jo to get the soot out of her hair, a rukous sneeze comes from Camilla's hip where she has one of her usual many leather satchel. A little badger nose followed by the face pokes out from under the flap and gives a littler squeaky sneeze again as the little badger, Helga rubs at her nose with her little clawed paws. "You'll find Josie, that wizards have a different way of seeing the world than muggles do, we don't have the same hang-ups about a lot of things Muggles do. Did you know that the Wizard's had the first woman Minister for Magic…its like Prime Minister for Muggles…back in 1754? Our current Minister is a woman as well. I doubt you'll ever see a Muggle Woman Prime Minister for decades to come." She waves with a smile to the wench on duty as she moves to take a seat at a vacant table. "Then you have me… my parents both wizards don't see things in skin color. My mother, Scottish, my father African, to Wizard's that doesn't mean anything. But to the people, the particular Muggles that killed them, it meant everything. The only real thing wizards can hold important is blood purity. I think — or hope that someday very soon we won't even have that 'issue' to be an issue. I'm sure he was born in the 'normal' way, just like you and I were, even with magic you can't have a baby without a womb involved. Though one of them might have been a Transfiguration master." With a laugh she reaches over to tickle at Jo's sides.

Jo's eyes widen at Camilla's explanation of magical society, especially the part about the first woman minister. "Wow." She laughs though as she's tickled, and says, "Yeah, I figured there's probably a mom somewhere, as gone for him as my dad is to me." She glances over curiously as she spots the metal parts on the table with Hephaesta, but she doesn't ask about them, not immediately anyway.

Hephaesta scurries back to her table, having collected another sample of…yuck. Setting the jar down, she gets to work unpacking the box, assembling the pieces of metal together. Getting that prickly feeling one sometimes gets when being looked at, she glances up nervously, only to find young Jo's eyes on her. Her lips curl into a smile, though her hands busily continue fiddling.

Camilla rather suddenly (when Jo brings up her absentee father) makes to tend to Helga who sneezes and reminds Cami that the mascot still has a bit of Floo ash in her nose! The vet lifts the creature up out of the satchel and holds it like a little baby over her chest and talks to the badger in little grumbles and chittering sounds. The badger seems soothed, but then her head starts to twitch and with big round brown eyes looking at Hephaesta's table she lets out another sudden sneeze that leaves a bit of Floo Ash laced badger boggies dribbling down the outside of the jar of ick. "Goodness! Bless you Helga. You really got a nose full this time didn't you, I'm sorry."

When the older girl looks up, Jo says, "Hello. What are you doing?" She's distracted quickly by the sneezing badger, though, looking up to it and she can't help but giggle a bit.

Hephaesta lets out a little squeak when badger bogeys hit her jar. She frantically snatches up a napkin and wipes the jar clean, quickly sealing the lid. Cradling the jar protectively, she lifts her eyes to meet Jo's. "I'm…testing," she explains cautiously. "That dog almost ruined it." She eyeballs the badger warily.

Camilla was unaware that the snot flew until the accusation is level. With an eyebrow over one eye arching up she slowly turns about to face the tinkering girl. "She is a Badger, not a dog, and if she almost ruined your jar of…what ever that might be. We are very sorry. Helga just gets the sneezes sometimes when she goes through the Floo with me." She looks down at the badger with her fuzzy chin now resting on her caretaker's shoulder, "Apologize to the young lady Helga." The woman makes a few grumbling noises and Helga covers her nose with one paw, bowing her head in shame while the other paw extends out towards Hephaesta as if offering to shake in truce.

Jo smiles as she watches the badger 'apologize', looking still somewhat amazed by the animal's intelligence it seems. "Brilliant." She looks back to Hephaesta then though and asks, curious, "What are you testing?"

Hephaesta blinks at the little creature, a bit uncertain. But the adult seems to want it to happen, so she cautiously reaches a finger up to "shake" the badger's paw. The thing is cute, and manages to elicit a little smile from the girl before she returns to her project. To Jo, she replies, "A new fuel source for my relubricator. It turns out that that owl droppings just gum up the works, and it doesn't make a lot of sense for a relubricator to need extra lubrication."

Camilla stares at her polar opposite in child form that is Phae, but still the woman that doesn't do well around machines can at least understand the logic in that a lubricating devise in need of extra lubrication is silly. "Yes, hmm, I would recommend troll snot, if you were truly looking for something slick that doesn't break down unless you use one of the more potent cleaning stringent on the market. There is still a spot in this one cell that people slip on in the department because an ornery troll with a cold was put there to sleep it off over night."

Once her paw is shook Helga crawls down and noses her satchel and once the flap is up she crawls inside and curls up, feeling much better. That bit of snot that Phae now has was exactly what she needed to get out to stop the sneezing. So she's rather cozy now.

Jo, on the other hand, looks totally lost. "Lubri-what?" She looks up to Camilla then and wrinkles her nose at the description, "Ew." Though, she's giggling a bit as she says it. Then, though, she connects the dots, and looks back to Hephaesta, and asks, "So it's got something to do with making stuff slippery?"

Hephaesta wrinkles her nose at the mention of troll bogeys. Nevermind that she has a jar full of strangers' backwash. "It's not lubricant I need. It's fuel. I don't think troll phlegm burns well." Hephaesta's hazel-green eyes light up at Jo's curiosity, her smile widening. "Sort of. That's what lubricant is for. But after a while, it isn't so slippery anymore. So it might need re-slippering. That's why I'm making a relubricator. So you don't have to get new lubricant, or clean out the old stuff."

Camilla hmmms and ohs softly and is trying not to look at Phae like she's strange, particularly after the talk she's just had with Jo…but even for Wizards what she's seen of Phae she's even eccentric for wizards. "I'm Camilla Grey by the way, this is my ward, Josie Davies. You are?" Is asked warmly and then the wench is approaching, "Oh Josie, what did you want? I'll have the mushroom stew please with a banger on the side. Please. And a…. Pumpkin Juice to drink. Thank you."

Jo nods a little to the explanation, and then asks, "Why don't you just use gas? It fuels cars, should fuel that too, shouldn't it?" Then she looks up to Camilla and back to Hephaesta and adds, "Most people call me Jo." She then answers Camilla's question, "Shepherd's pie please, and… milk I guess?"

Hephaesta seems to have finally completed the assembly of the odd device. It has a handle on one side, several hoses on the other, and a series of tubes in the center. Opening a stopper in the top of the relubricator, she fits a small funnel into the hole, and pours a few ounces of the horrid blend of alchoholic beverages and saliva in. "Pleased to meet you both," she says distractedly. "I'm Hephaesta Mulciber." She plugs up the tank with the stopper again, explaining, "Gasoline burns too quickly. Besides…where am I supposed to get it? I had enough trouble with-…" Her eyes dart up to Camilla briefly, then back to her machine. "Time to test. Gizmo, come on out now." A clicking, whirring sound is heard from the wooden box, and the head of an owl appears over the lip. Rather, it is a collection of gears, cogs, and other metal bits that resembles the face of an owl. The little mechanical creature crawls up onto the edge of the box, clutching the wood with its steel talons.

Camilla is at this point letting the girls talk, when Jo brings up what most people call her she whispers, "Yes, people who think you were a boy, who like to wave guns at children and use them for ill gotten gains." She finally explains out loud why she's started to refer to Jo as Josie. Ever since the Shore Gang came after them after a lovely trip to the movies and some ice cream. But she doesn't want to have a conversation about that incident. So she just reaches over to sweep her fingers through Jo's hair to get it tucked behind an ear. Making the long boys cut look more feminine. The whirling the mechanical owl is making does catch her interest and she once more peeks over her shoulder to stare at the one owl in all the world she couldn't communicate with like she can other actually organic creatures.

Jo looks up to Camilla and frowns a little at her whispered words. She looks down at her hands a moment as she thinks that over, "Never thought of it like that." Then, though, she looks back to Hephaesta to see who she's talking to, and her eyes widen as she sees the mechanical owl. She's grinning immediately, "Wow…"

Gizmo, the clockwork owl, goes from rather worrisome chirps and whirs, to a series of happy clicks at Jo's attention. The mechanical creature seems positively lifelike in the way it reacts to her. With Gizmo distracted, Hephaesta seizes the opportunity to pull on a bronze plate on the owl's front, opening it up to reveal many of its inner workings. She attaches several of the relubricator's hoses to Gizmo's insides, provoking a chitter of protest. "Hush, Giz. You'll never fly again if you don't get new lubricant in your motivators. It's this, or I have to take you apart."

Camilla oddly feels a sudden sense of commradery with the girl she found so strange a moment before. She ducks her head down to watch the inside of the Owl. She gives a rather sympathetic wince to Gizmo. The worst part is Cami wants to coo and comfort the owl, but there's no Dr. Doolittling this owl look alike. But she does offer, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Jo watches the owl in awe, leaning forward a little to try to get a peek at the workings as well. "That's so amazing! They teach how to make machine animals at Hogwarts?"

Hephaesta shakes her head. "A lot of this is Muggle stuff. Plus a lot I learned from my father. We Mulcibers are artificers." She grins proudly, and pulls the trigger on the relubricator, and there is a loud POP, followed by a grinding sound. The device springs to life for a brief moment, shaking violently in Hephaesta's hand…then sputters out with a whimper and a puff of smoke. Phae frowns, then looks up to Camilla cautiously. "Well…yes. There is something you could do. But…I don't know if you'll want to do it." Already, she is detaching hoses, and pouring the "fuel" back into the jar of horrific fluid from whence it came.

Camilla narrows her eyes at Phae, not unpleasantly, just with that look of scrutiny an adult gives a child when they sense a request they should probably say no to is coming up. "Firewhiskey, isn't it?" She sighs deeply. "So long as you let me pour it in so you're not doing the handling of it." Firewhiskey is the one 'spirit' that's known for it's close to fuel properties and it's ability to keep burning even after being drunk some. Even it it wasn't firewhiskey the girl is after, she stands and moves to help the young inventor however she can, responsibly. She's quite sure the Mulciber's have all manner of machine that will torture her long and painfully if she causes anything poor to happen to Hephaesta and lately she's taken to tending to other people's children much more seriously.

Jo frowns again when the machine doesn't work as intended. "Is it going to be alright?" She looks up to Camilla and smiles again as the woman agrees, if reluctantly, to help.

Hephaesta gives Camilla that terribly innocent smile that only a child that is up to no good can manage. "It would make an excellent fuel, and it would mean Gizmo could fly again without taking him apart." Already, she is cleaning out the fuel tank while Camilla fetches the firewhiskey. She gives Jo a reassuring smile. "I think so. There was just too much spit in the fuel I'd collected. It wouldn't burn." When Camilla returns, Phae is more than happy to allow her to pour the liquid into the funnel. That doesn't require any real technical expertise, after all. Plugging the tank with the stopper once more, she reattaches the hoses to Gizmo, and tries again. This time, the relubricator hums to life without all of the shaking and jarring. One can vaguely making out fluids being pumped out of Gizmo through the hoses, which are separated and recombined in the relubricator via a series of tubes and refinement charms, then pumped back into the clockwork owl. All the while, Hephaesta grins gleefully. Even Gizmo clicks in approval.

With the procedure a success, and Gizmo flapping his wings experimentally, Hephaesta turns to the other two, fumbling for words. "I…this was…perfect. Thank you. I…you can call me 'Phae,' if you like. My…um…my friends call me that."

Camilla claps rather like she was Jo and Phae's age. Gleeful when Gizmo seems to be feeling much better. In her excitement the older woman bends over to give Phae a hug, "That was brilliant!" She does have that sort of beaming, I helped do that grin on her face. But then dinner has arrived and the other adults in the room are eyeing her for the immature display of glee and she clears her throat and settles back down. "Dinner time, if you would excuse us Phae."

Jo, too, lets out a cheer as the machine works, though with her it's far more natural given her age. She grins up to Camilla and then back to Phae, and says, "Thanks, Phae. That *was* brilliant. Glad it worked." As Camilla leads her off to eat, she gives the other girl a wave.

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