(1937-09-10) A Fine Meal
Details for A Fine Meal
Summary: After a brief run-in with Jack and Elijah, Josefa invites Gideon in for dinner.
Date: September 10, 1937
Location: Hoxton Apartments, London
Related: Welcome to the Neighbourhood

Hoxton Apartments, London

If it weren't for a few windows knocked out and broken the main areas of this slum apartment building, all would suffocate with the stale stifling stench of poverty. Newspapers that are as old as the building are used to stuff holes in the floor and in the walls. Some are pasted with who knows what on the walls like they were wall paper. Every board in the stairs squeak and groan like that step might be the stair climber's last. The banister if it's there at all is a shaky treachery. Some doorways don't even have doors as some were busted by Bobby raids or in a domestic dispute. All in all living out on the actual street might be more accommodating and 'homey' than this housing project.

Josefa did not have a nice walk home from work today. Somebody flooded the toilets in the public bathroom, and rather than wait for it to be fixed, the young witch decided to just slog through the several inches of water. Now it's come upon dinner time and not only is the hem of Josefa's skirt wet but the bag of groceries in her arms is starting to rip dangerously in one corner while she struggles to get into her mail box and see if anyone has found her new address left. Things are about to go wrong in 3..2…

One.. and Jack's got a little something in his hand, and he's tossing it into the air and catching it, his attention flickering from the 'ball' to that which goes on around him. The item looks like a snitch, but it's not 'active'.. at least not in his hands, it's not. And, it looks like an 'old style' one, with some writing upon it. Whistling a tune, it is about dinner time, and the first order of business is to put his newly acquired bit of memorabilia into his flat before he considers which almost-gone-bad meal in his ice-box he's going to have. So. Not. A. Gentleman.

Gideon appears not long after Josefa, in a remarkable coincidence that doesn't at all suggest that he followed her to see her safely home. As he approaches the postbox, Josefa gets a little tip of his hat, "Miss Loucks." He stands back, patiently awaiting the chance to check his own mail. Jack gets a nod as well, and he tries not to glare too suspiciously at him.

Elijah pops up behind Gideon and says, "Hey…guess what, Adamantus. I'm going to help write a book!" The cheerful inspector slides his hands into his pockets and preens happily, rocking back and forth on his feet, "I can see it now, 'Inspector Elijah Lovegood; best-selling author'."

Well, it's not as if Josefa was expecting Jack to rescue her. Not that she's a damsel, after all, incapable of rescuing herself. She gets her mail out and stuffs it into the top of the bag, reshuffling it to support the ripping part and says breathless, but still with a smile, "Hello, Inspector Gideon." His friend gets a nod of her head and a smile, too, because she's friendly like that. Except to Jack, who doesn't rescue damsels.

Aww, is that disappointment that gleams in those dark eyes? Could be, but disappointed in what? She didn't call Jack by name to say 'hallo'? Or perhaps because everything didn't come crashing down like he expected? He tugs at his 'forelock' to greet Josefa, and again, with a soft 'Spectah' grinned. He turns his attention around to the newly arrived Elijah, and palms his snitch into a jacket pocket to keep it 'safe'. He murmurs, "Congrats.. mean you're 'anging up the wand and leaving the 'Spector all by 'is lonesome?"

Gideon's eyes widen, and the hair stands up on the back of his neck. He whirls to see Elijah standing there, and something dark and terrible is given life in his eyes. "Lovegood?!" One can almost see the flames shooting from his nostrils. "What in Hades are you doing here? Did you follow me?" He points an accusing finger at his partner.

Elijah bats Gideon's hand away and raises an eyebrow to him, "As if I would need to. I've known where you lived since Ogden told me about you. What? You don't know where I live?" He looks as if he's about to tell him where when he spots Jack tucking something into his pocket, "What's that you've got there, boyo?" He peers at the man, scanning every detail about him with his dark, darting eyes.

Josefa is a civil girl, so she nods her head. "Hello, Jack." Seeing her neighbor's reaction to her partner gives her cause to tilt her head, eyebrows raising in silent surprise. Well that's not very friendly! Curiously she looks over at Jack once more when Elijah's attention shifts so abruptly, her head cocking in the other direction now.

Jack's brows rise at the question as the crazy wizard turns his attention to him. "Nuffin'?" He pauses, then, "Ain't nuffin'." He makes the grand attempt to stare down the up and coming author, and considers, if only briefly, to see if he can't send the man on another tangent, but who the hell knows where that'd lead? Worth a try. He lifts his hands from his pockets, and takes a couple of steps towards Elijah, that smile dropping a little. "What'll be your first book, 'Spector?"

Elijah was born to sniff out a liar from a mile away. Sometimes quite literally. He takes a few steps forward and returns Jack's stare, "I asked you a question." His head tilts to the side and crosses his arms, waiting for an explanation.

Gideon sighs, taking a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Lovegood, let it go." He turns to face the rising confrontation between his partner and his information. "This one isn't our concern." He casts an apologetic grimace to Josefa, never having intended to bring work home with him…or be followed by it.

Jack stops in his steps forward, and looking to Gideon, he inclines his head, the smile brightening once again. "Nuf-fin'." Not the best of liars, certainly, but there's a new-felt support behind him. He raises a hand, and makes a *tchk* sound as his hand swivels forward before he turns about to head upstairs to his flat. "I'll be seein' you lot, I'm sure.." Beat. "Mum.." After all, Josefa is still here!

Elijah turns and shoots a look at Gideon. Apparently he doesn't like being interrupted while he's working. Which is always. He simply slides his hands into his pockets and watches as Jack walks off, a bit of a scowl on his lips. Elijah places his hat on his head and turns around, disappearing down the stairs.

Josefa just stands there with her lips slightly agape while all of this goes down. "Well," she says finally, perking up a bit as the two antagonists go their seperate ways. "I was just about to attempt some dinner. Care to join me, Inspector? I can't promise it will be edible, but I owe you for the coffee."

Gideon's normally heavy, scowled brow lifts curiously. A meal? With another person? What a novel concept. That brow furrows again in thought, and then he nods. "Aye…yes. Thank you." It's an awkward acceptance, but acceptance nonetheless.

Josefa beams at Gideon. "Brilliant! Well, ah…" She looks around and grins. "Come along then!" Balancing the bag she heads down the hallway towards her apartment door. Awkwardly but discretely she pulls out her wand to unlock her door and then pushes the door open with her shoulder. "Pay no mind to the mess," she adds, because there are boxes everywhere.

Gideon naturally reaches for her grocery bags, not about to let her be so burdened, especially after an invitation to dinner. "Please, let me." Once inside the apartment, he gives a momentary lift of his brow at the sheer volume of her possessions. But it's hardly a fair assessment, given that his basis for comparison is his own spartan flat, containing only the most basic necessities.

"Mind, it's ripping," she tells him, though doesn't protest the lightening of her burden. Seeing him looking around at all of her things, Josefa blushes. "Ah, my parents may have gone a little overboard. They got the whole neighborhood to pitch in on things I'd need for my first place. It was really very sweet of everyone."

Her first place? Suddenly Gideon realizes that he doesn't know how old this young lady is, and here he is, pushing fourty and sharing dinner in her apartment. "It's nice when the community pitches in like that." He sets the groceries sound, mindful of the ripping, and instinctively starts unpacking the bag. He isn't one to wait around while others work.

Josefa is nearly half his age! Wait til he finds out she was born the same year he graduated Hogwarts. That'll really make him feel old and creepy. She pulls the refrigerator open and sticks her head in. She sighs disappointedly, jabs her wand against the unit, and charms it colder. "It doesn't work," she tells Gideon with a little grimace.

Gideon sighs, shaking his head. "Muggle gadgetry. You're probably better off using magic anyhow." He starts handing her items that need to be kept cold. "So…your first place?" Here it comes. "You lived with your parents before this, then?"

Josefa starts placing things in the door and on the shelves. "Yes, my first. As I was saying," the day they met. "It was just a bit of a commute to get into London. Mum and Dad live in Ireland, and I was Flooing from a friend's house to work and that was hardly practical. My father, well bless his heart but he's only a Muggle. He doesn't think it's proper for an unmarried woman to live on her own. It took some convincing."

Gideon nods gravely. "Mmhm…and how long have you been with the Ministry?" Like a good Inspector, he's narrowing down the questioning, winding his way toward his desired answer, hopefully without being too obvious.

"Oh, well…" Josefa has to think about it and do the math. "I took a job with them right after I graduated from Hogwarts, so I suppose it's been a little over two years now."

Two years. Gideon may as well hang a sign from his neck reading: Dirty Old Man. But if there is one thing he is a master of, it's maintaining a stoic demeanor. "And you're enjoying your position, I gather, from what you've told me." He tries to keep the conversation going, now concentrating on trying to decipher her intentions. He isn't as skilled at reading people as his partner, Elijah, but he's been at the Hit Wizard game for many, many years, and has performed plenty of interrogations.

Josefa has intentions? News to her. She grins over her shoulder at him as she shuts the fridge door. "Okay, let's see… in one of these boxes… " She goes to the first one marked 'kitchen' and opens it up, "There should be…frying pans…" Theoretically. "Yes, I do like it. It's very rewarding. The pay could be better, but I'm sure given time…"

Gideon finishes putting away the groceries as Josefa searches for cooking implements. "With a gentle demeanor like yours, I'm sure you'll advance quickly in the Liaison Office." She's casual and relaxed…no sense of tension. Maybe this is just a neighbourly supper after all, which lets Gideon relax a little. Not that it will stop the likes of Jack Dodderidge from making comments. Adamantus can handle that, as long as the comments are directed toward himself, and not Josefa.

Josefa is fully capable of transfiguring Jack into a swine if he makes her angry. It's hard to do, but it can be done. "You think? I don't know. Sometimes it seems like the bolder workers get rewarded first. I'm not comfortable asking for things though." Finding that the box she's in is a bust, she moves it so she can get into the one below it.

Gideon shrugs, "Maybe. But the Liaison Office is full of bleeding hearts." He clenches his teeth, lifting a hand an immediately back-pedaling. "I did nae mean that like it sounded."

Josefa laughs and lifts a hand to dismiss his worry. "I've heard worse. Ah, the Hufflepuff jokes…" she shakes her head and then makes a triumphant sound as several pans are lifted from the box. "Fantastic."

Gideon gives a slight smile of relief at her thick skin. "What I meant is that your compassion will be appreciated in a place like that office. I'm accustomed to a much more…jaded work environment." He turns to her stove to get it prepared for whatever she has in mind, drawing his wand for a quick Incendio to light it up.

Josefa is kind and forgiving. Look at that. "I know what you meant," she reassures. "Let's see… where did you — Ah-hah!" she locates the little paper and string package from the butchers and unties the string with nimble fingers. "I hope you like sausage and potatoes."

Gideon grins, a genuine broad smile that is rarely seen on his lined face. "That sounds like a quality meal." Just like mum used to make. "Here, I'll get to peeling." He searches out the potatoes and a knife.

"Knives in that drawer, potatoes there," she points out each in turn. Josefa dumps the sausages in the pan and moves it onto the heat to fry. "My dad says it's not a meal if there's no potatoes," jokes the young Liaison.

Gideon chuckles, nodding. "Spoken like an Irishman. I cannae say I disapprove of his philosophy." Gideon has Meat-and-Potatoes-Man written all over him. Taking up the knife, he quickly strips the skins from the taters. He may not be much of a cook, but he's handy enough with a blade.

Josefa has the culinary skills of a modern day ramen maker, but she can probably manage to boil potatoes and fry some sausage without burning the place down. "Green to the bone," she agrees. "Or perhaps starchy, sometimes the two are the same."

"What does he do, your father?" Gideon has two potatoes peeled, and he holds one up. "And how do you want these? Chips? Mash?"

"However you like best. I haven't met a potato I didn't like," replies Josefa. "My father? He's a salesman. Travels around selling encyclopedias."

Gideon smirks, "Chips, then. Everything is better fried. Do you have oil?" He starts spelunking for another pan. "Encyclopedias? You must be a font of Muggle lore, then."

Josefa laughs and nods her agreement. "Frying does make everything better. There should be oil in the same place you got the potatoes." Her nose wrinkles after that. "I never said I opened any of them up. But yes, I suppose I know plenty about Muggle things."

Gideon is soon elbow-to-elbow with Josefa as he fires up the skillet to fry the potatoes. "I grew up among Muggles, myself. Though sometimes they still confound me, I admit."

"What's so confusing?" asks Josefa, not minding the shared space it would seem. The sausages are starting to sizzle and pop, filling the apartment with their heavy spiced scent.

"How they get by without magic, for one thing." Gideon shrugs. "They build incredible things…that break constantly." He nods toward her refrigerator. "And everything seems to take longer for them, yet most Muggles don't live near as long as wizards do. It just seems backwards."

Josefa is silent for a few moments and then she shrugs. "It's like… being born blind, or deaf. Sure, you don't have all the advantages of somebody with those abilities, but it doesn't mean you can't get by, or live well."

Gideon nods in agreement. "Certainly. But there are other things. Such as…well, consider this. Muggles doubt easily. It takes a blatant breach of the Statute of Secrecy for them even entertain the idea that magic is real. But once they've seen it, they're equally stubborn about accepting the explanations the Excuse Committee comes up with. It's sad that we have to resort to modifying their memories."

Josefa flips the sausages to let them brown on the other side. "I don't think that's a Muggle thing. I think that's a human thing. If I told you there was a boggart in one of my drawers, would you believe me, with no proof?"

Gideon shrugs, "Why wouldn't I? I'd go have a look, and see if we couldn't get rid of it."

Josefa chuckles, "But you'd look. And if you opened the drawer and found Cornish pixies instead, you'd have three conclusions to draw — I had lied, I was crazy, or you're afraid of Cornish pixies. So I suppose Muggles figure you have either lied or are crazy."

Gideon arches an eyebrow at her. "I'm not sure that's the same thing. But you're the Muggle Liaison. So I'll bow to your wisdom." He shrugs, plating up the fried chips. "Ready, then?"

"It was probably a bad comparison, but it was all I could come up with." Josefa places the sausages on the plates beside the chips and gives him a pretty smile. "Ready."

Gideon pulls up some of the sturdier looking boxes to the rickety table, putting the plates down in front of the makeshift seats. "So how are you finding living in Hoxton?"

Josefa is good naturedly sarcastic when responding, "It's delightful. I especially enjoyed the couple in unit C last night banging on my wall for 20 minutes." She brings cutlery with her and sits down on one of the boxes, passing his to him.

Gideon stares disbelievingly at her, for a moment taking her seriously. Then he breaks down, chortling. "Ah…probably the Yorks. They're young," he offers in explanation, and quickly puts a bite in his mouth to avoid delving further into that topic.

Josefa is not MLE, but she is a people watcher. She waits for him to catch on to her sarcasm, a small polite smile on her face. When he laughs finally she snorts and picks up a chip. "For a moment there you had me worried."

Gideon smirks, "For a moment there you had me worried. But, seriously, you've nae had any trouble, have you? I dinnae want you to be shy about coming to me if anyone bothers you."

"Well, next I knew there'd be whispers behind my back that I was some sort of odd voyeur. The truth of being sleep deprived, of course, is much more boring." Josefa cuts her sausage into nibble-sized pieces, spearing one with her fork. She finishes chewing it before adding, "I haven't had trouble. Apparently I have another guardian angel. It would seem Wolfgang Montague took a shining to me at the opening of his club the other night. I got a ride home in a limo, even. It was quite thrilling."

Gideon drops his fork with a clatter onto the plate. His face is stone cold. "Montague." He takes several deep breaths, trying to keep his cool. "Miss Loucks…I cannae tell you how to live your life, but please trust me when I say that the Montagues are nae people that you want to be involved with."

Josefa lifts her eyes from her meal to look at him. "I'd gathered that," she tells him at length. "Anyone with enough pull to have the local gang running scared is probably into all sorts of cookie jars I don't have time for."

Gideon nods gravely, relieved that she understands the kind of person she was dealing with. "Wolfgang is small time compared to his father, but he's still plenty dangerous. Just be careful. Once these people think they have their hooks in you, they aren't prone to letting go. I would appreciate if you tell me if he ever contacts you again."

Josefa pauses with a chip raised towards her mouth and then stops, letting it dangle loosely in her fingertips. "I hardly see that it's your business if he does, Inspector. Or if any man chooses to call upon me, for that matter. If he were to do something illegal that I could prove, that would be another manner, but a ride home is hardly a crime. If I still wanted my father vetting every man to cross my path, I'd go back home."

Gideon's tone turns grim, his eyes drifting away, not looking directly at her. "You have no idea what these people are capable of. Please…I'm not demanding anything. I'm asking you to be careful…and to accept my help." There is something desperate underneath his words. "Please, dinnae let them in, or you'll never get them out again."

Josefa blows out a breath. "Of course, Inspector, of course." Appeasing, much easier than fighting. The young woman falls silent, awkwardly returning to her meal. It's not her fault, really, not knowing his past and what the Montague name means to him.

Gideon nods, gathering himself. "I'm sorry…I should go. It was a fine meal." He rises, giving her a polite nod, and wastes no time on his way out the door.

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