(1937-10-15) A Change of Plans
Details for A Change of Plans
Summary: Magnus calls Frank to Watershed to give him a new set of orders.
Date: October 15, 1937
Location: Watershed
Related: It Looks Like Rain, among others.

Watershed London

It is a fall evening. The weather is warm and stormy.

Designed by famed architect Edwin Lutyens, this home is a newer addition to the Mayfair neighborhood. The estate is surrounded by a tall, circular iron-wrought fence. The arched gate bears an embossed title: 'WATERSHED'. Just inside the gate, past a scant few feet of grassy lawn, is a huge circular pool that takes up almost the entirety of the property. The pool is quite deep, and its rocky bottom can only be seen because of soft lights under the surface of the water. Lily-pads float here and there, flowering in the warmer months. Rising out of the center of the body of water is a stone tower, its color a pale grey that is almost (but not quite) white. It looms three stories above the surface of the pool. At its top is a glass dome with a small spire pointing accusingly up at the sky. A raised walkway connects the tower to the gate and allows entry to the structure through a set of heavy brass doors.
Inside, the decor is modern and the atmosphere surprisingly airy for a stone building. The bottom story contains a dining room, kitchen, and sitting area (as well as a small smoking parlor); the second a library with bookcases lining the circular walls; the third a bedroom and study with an open view of the sky, thanks to the glass dome. While the downstairs areas have been arranged for the entertainment of guests, the upper floors are normally kept locked, and those with any magical prowess will likely notice that the place is buzzing with security charms.

It's been several days since that fateful meeting at the Community Hall; Magnus has shown up twice to supervise the other man's nightly runic expeditions, though both times he's left much earlier than he did during the initial visit. Tonight, however, seems to be different - the ambassador has summoned Frank to his estate, Watershed, via owl. The note attached declares that this is ostensibly a visit for 'sharing research'. There are two thuggish-looking guards posted outside of the iron gates at the property; when the translator arrives, they'll confirm his name and send him over the walkway. Inside, Magnus is currently waiting in the seating area with a bottle of cognac and a half-empty glass of the same in one hand. A black and silver robe hangs from his gaunt frame - no ridiculous Muggle suits for him, whenever he's able to switch into more proper Wizarding attire.

Though Magnus's extremely generous cheque has long since been cashed, if one was hoping to see Frank in renewed splendor… one would be mistaken. The translator is wearing a different cheap suit than he was the last time they met, but it's still cheap, and he's still a thin and threadworn man past his youth. Less harried than he used to be, though. There's something serenely fuzzy in his muddy eyes, as Frank is ushered into the room, a "You asked for me, sir?" prompt on his tongue. Magnus knows why.

"Mr. Weasley." Magnus stands in the doorframe with a warm smile for the other man - the servants have all left, at this hour, so the ambassador himself is on door duty. Once the shorter man is inside he swings the heavy door shut once again, waiting until all of the clicking sounds indicate that the thing is completely locked up before turning and motioning towards one of the couches. "Have a seat. Do you like cognac, Frank?" There's a second glass already set out on the table.

"Yes," Frank replies, promptly, a faint smile on his face. Such expensive tastes he's acquired, for someone who lives in a tenement slum. "It's been months since I last had any." The nearest couch will do just fine, and he takes his seat, posture upright and proper, hands loosely steepled on his lap.

Magnus smiles again and pours a tall glass of the dark liquid for the unfortunate fellow, then sits down across from him. "Excellent. Have as much as you'd like." After leaning back, folding his legs, and sloshing his own cognac around contemplatively for several seconds, Magnus looks up and frowns. "There's been a change of plans, Mr. Weasley. For now, you'll cease your work at the Community Hall. Instead, I'd like you to inscribe some runes for me here, at my estate."

An advantage to being Unforgivably Cursed: there's no show of reluctance or pride this time, as there was the last time a meeting with Magnus led to expensive food and drink. Frank takes the glass with perfect ease, sipping appreciatively while Magnus speaks. "Yes, sir." Hey, change of plans, whatevehs. A small pause, and Frank adds, the furrow on his brow deepening a millimeter. "How long is 'for now'? Some of them will need to be removed, if they won't be used within a certain space of time… they'd become obvious to anyone looking for them."

A slight scowl crosses Magnus's otherwise serene features when he gets this little peace of news - well, serene except for a bit of a paranoid glare in the grey eyes, and some very faint bruising on his face. "Is that so? You'll need to remove those immediately, then - make that your priority, Mr. Weasley. We can handle the estate later." He sips idly on his drink, then straightens up and unfolds his legs. "Out of curiousity, what kind of work is the Ministry having you do?"

<FS3> Frank rolls Awareness -1: Success.

"Is something wrong?" Frank inquires, noticing the signs of misfortune even through the haze in his head. He sounds genuinely concerned - friendly, even, in a sort of subdued, not-putting-myself-forward sort of way. "And very well, sir. I'll do so tonight, it won't take very long." Another few sips are taken as he puts together a reply. "Mostly simple translation of documents and broadcasts, sir." A sort of musty irritation lurks in this. "Primarily of Muggle communication… I'm the only Bulgarian translator they have, so I see a few more interesting things when they're in that tongue, but otherwise I'm an unproven resource and get the dull jobs."

Magnus stares at the other man, obviously somewhat startled. "No - nothing of real import, Mr. Weasley. I merely need to push back my plans until a more opportune moment arises." His eyes remain slightly narrowed during the other man's recitation of his work duties, as if he's still wondering exactly /how/ observant the translator is in spite of the curse - but eventually he mentally shrugs such thoughts off. "When you say 'communication', do you mean simple entertainment broadcasts? Or are you talking about diplomatic and military cables?"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Deception Vs Frank=Awareness
< Magnus: Failure Frank: Success
< Net Result: Frank wins - Marginal Victory

An interesting quirk to this unnatural dynamic: while Frank has retained enough awareness to remain able to notice deceptions - even deceptions he's not meant to be noticing - he has no ability to deceive himself. And so, without thought of tact or subtlety, the translator is prompt in saying: "Are you sure, sir? You look as though you've been put through the wringer." Another sip. "Low level diplomatic cables, entertainment cables, news cables. If I prove myself, I'll be promoted soon enough."

The ambassador's expression goes from suspicious to baleful when he's questioned again. "You will cease with these inquiries immediately, Mr. Weasley. I'm quite well and have nothing to worry about." After an impressively huge gulp of cognac, he grabs the bottle and pours himself another drink, then considers the new information. "I see. I want you to begin altering the diplomatic cables to reflect a greater degree of hostility between the Muggle nations involved than they actually do. Nothing overt that couldn't be blamed on a mistake or lingual ambiguity, nothing that would endanger your profession - not yet. Report back to me on your progress, and alert me immediately if you're promoted to handling messages of greater delicacy."

"Yes, sir." Prompt, obedient, unquestioning. Well, possibly questioning - but nowhere in the parts of Frank's brain that have control, right now. (And in the little bit of his brain alert to what's happened to him, concern for Magnus's well-being is not… exactly… paramount.) He listens to his instructions with every sign of serene acceptance. "Yes, sir. Are there particular nations you would like me to focus on?" However much he might like it, Cognac isn't easily gulped. With his newest sip, he's managed a fourth of the glass.

"Focus on any nation which could present a threat to Britain. It's far less important to overstate the hostilities between countries on the continent, even if that might be closer to the truth…" It's true, cognac is definitely /not/ intended for gulping. Magnus has gone back to sipping now, and his face looks slightly paler for the effort of a moment before. "I believe we're about done here, Mr. Weasley. You have enough time left tonight to begin removing the runes from the hall, so begin that immediately. Report back to me here tomorrow at the same time to let me know how your progress is going." The tall man stands up and paces into the kitchen, then returns with a coarse cloth bag; he slips the bottle of cognac into this and holds it out. "Take the bottle home. I've had enough cognac for a while."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." The cognac is accepted with ease: this minion schtick has its benefits! Instructions filed away to be acted upon promptly and precisely, the unlucky Mr. Weasley stands to take his leave. "I'll be here tomorrow."

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