(1937-10-17) Can't Keep A Good Man Down
Details for Can't Keep A Good Man Down
Summary: Magnus summons Frank to Watershed to reinforce his Imperius Curse and issue new orders. This turns out to be an astoundingly difficult task.
Date: October 17, 1937
Location: Watershed
Related: A Change Of Plans

(OOC Note: All luck-spending messages and rolls are being left intact so the reader can fully appreciate the awesome absurdity of this scene.)

Watershed London

It is a fall night. The weather is cool and overcast.

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 evening, a couple of hours past sundown; overhead, the sky is dark, and no stars show through the thick cover of clouds. The translator will be ushered inside with the same indifferent professionalism that he was on the previous night, and the ambassador is at the door once again, since all of the household help has departed; tonight he's still in his pinstriped Muggle business suit, though. A cigar is clamped haphazardly between his teeth, and he inhales slowly upon seeing the other wizard, then expels a breath of thick white smoke with a lopsided grin. "Come in, Mr. Weasley. How did things go at the Community Hall?" He's watching the fellow closely - the translator appeared to be displaying a bit /too/ much awareness yesterday for his comfort.

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Good Success.
<FS3> Frank rolls Awareness -1: Great Success.

At first glance, Frank is much as he was the day before: he arrives promptly and is ushered in with every sign of obedience. Magnus is smiled at, in a reserved sort of way, as Frank politely removes his hat. "Good evening, sir. They went well. It only took a few hours to remove everything." Obedient, hard-working, hazy-headed: just as it should be. Only… perhaps not QUITE. The faint glazing of his expression is… there, but less so. His muddy eyes look a bit more alert. And of course there's the obvious and immediate recognition he's being watched - and this time, the sliiiightest hint of a pause, the tiniest deepening of the lines near his eyes, before the inevitable,"Is everything all right?"

"Perfect - and you suffered no interruptions, I assume?" Magnus closes the door behind Frank. As he did the night before, he motions towards the seating area; tonight there's no alcohol set out - only a tea set, with a steaming ivory pot, two glasses, and containers of cream and sugar. The diplomat examines his erstwhile 'ally', but doesn't detect anything wrong with the man - his pale eyes flick over to one of the couches, and he paces over to it so that he can take his seat. "Everything is fine, Mr. Weasley." He pours out a cup of tea for each of them and takes a sip of his without adding anything.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Frank=Deception -2 Vs Magnus=Awareness
< Frank: Good Success Magnus: Success
< Net Result: Frank wins - Marginal Victory

Frank follows Magnus to the seating area like a duckling behind its mama, hat in hand and expression… strained, for a second. Just for a second. The furrowing is quite gone by the time the translator comes back into view, folding down neatly into his seat. (The hat gets set by his feet, rather than left on his lap. Being kicked would probably only improve its appearance.) "No interruptions," he says, calmly. For a second his eyes flick down at the teacups, and the crow's feet deepen. When he looks up, his face is placid, expectant, minionly.

Magnus nods, and once he's seated himself, reaches into the pocket of his slacks and removes a wand - not /his/ wand, yet, it doesn't quite feel like it - though it seems to function just as well as the old, faithful tool he'd been given during his first year at Hogwarts. "Very good. See this, Mr. Weasley? A new purchase. My old wand was, unfortunately, mistreated… but I've been thinking that I need a good, challenging spell to test this one out. Don't you think?" The ambassador smiles thinly, his pale eyes settling on Frank's, and raises his wand to point squarely at the other wizard's chest. "Imperio."

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

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Frank=Deception -1 Vs Magnus=Awareness
< Frank: Success Magnus: Good Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Solid Victory

Maybe it's the position of the stars. Maybe it's the practice the core of Frank's mind - the part that has been aware this whole time - has been getting this past week. Maybe it's just Magnus using a fresh wand. No matter what it is, here is the indisputable truth: that spell right there? That didn't take. Last time, Frank's resistance was a thing of milliseconds; this time, he resists far longer, the seconds drawing out, broad brow a mass of furrows and hand all white knuckles on the couch arm. All at once his expression goes slack, his hand goes still, just as it would if the spell worked. But his eyes are undeniably… alert.

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Good Success.

Magnus tenses as he casts the spell, looking down at his new wand just briefly in a way that's almost suspicious. That suspicion is confirmed when he peers back up at the translator, and his pale grey eyes narrow when he sees clear signs of a struggle against the power of the curse. No, this time, it seems, things didn't go as smoothly… the ambassador scowls, and stretches his arm out further. There's no choice, really, but to go on by reinforcing the previous casting. Even a single instance of casting a spell as powerful as the Imperius Curse has its cost, however - especially when the original attempt failed - and this time the wizard looks a bit shaky. "Blast it all, Weasley. IMPERIO!"

Magnus spends 1 luck points on Subduing a certain rebellious translator!.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om Vs Frank=Mind
< Magnus: Success Frank: Good Success
< Net Result: Frank wins - Marginal Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Frank=Reaction Vs Magnus=Reaction
< Frank: Failure Magnus: Failure
< Net Result: Both Fail.

"St - stop." Frank's got the trick of it, now, and this time he makes no attempt to pretend it succeeded. But if a failed Unforgivable is hell on the caster, it's not exactly roses for the recipient, either - especially twice so close in succession! Acting on animal instinct the translator is stumbling off the couch, white as a sheet and shuddering, with beads of sweat standing out on his forehead. "You'll drive us both mad, stop, I'll cooperate, s- stop -" A hand sweeps out towards the teapot, perhaps in hopes of seizing a makeshift weapon - but while Magnus probably isn't exactly well positioned to be dodging, he's not going to have to, because Frank's reeling mind has him moving slow as molasses.

The ambassador slowly pulls himself to his feet, his pale eyes flashing with indignance. What is this ridiculous show of resistance, anyway!? He was almost /certain/ that Basssington was nearly a Squib - in fact, he'd heard rumors that the man was only /barely/ accepted to Hogwarts. Although Magnus has aged relatively well, the lines in his face are starting to show far more clearly with the stress of the situation, and his breathing has grown more fitful. "Mr. Weasley! You do /NOT/ decide when this stops!" The man whips his wand around in a wide, powerful arc, then centers it directly on the translator, his fingers twitching. In retrospect, perhaps he should have Obliviated the man earlier. His word comes out in a harsh rasp. "Imperio!"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om-2 Vs Frank=Mind-1
< Magnus: Success Frank: Failure
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

Reaching for his wand is never Frank's first instinct: after all, the man can't even cast Lumos reliably. But after his shaking hand knocks the teapot off the table - it lands with a resounding shatter, its contents quickly oozing free - it's towards the inside of his jacket that he starts to reach. But not fast enough, alas, and the distraction of trying to defend himself in a more assertive fashion is too much. Finally, finally, his face goes blank, dreamy. His hand drops.

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Success.

When the translator finally shows signs of growing slack under the power of the curse, Magnus seats himself again, practically collapsing into place. The toll of casting the curse is showing, no doubt - and he has a sneaking suspicion that the spell won't last for long, even though it's finally broken through. "Impressive… Mr. Weasley," he half-breathes, his lips curling into a sardonic smile. The wand is still leveled at Frank's chest. "You have an extremely formidable force of will. You have my sincerest compliments." The ambassador leans down, panting, in an attempt to regain his composure. It's almost a minute before he finally sits up straighter and inhales sharply. "I think you've given me enough of a struggle today, don't you, Frank? /Imperio/!"

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om-1 Vs Frank=Mind-2
< Magnus: Success Frank: Failure
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

Somewhere, deep, deep inside Frank's brain, the translator has quite a few cutting responses in mind: the hatred bubbling up is a life preserver in a foggy sea. But that part of the ol' cerebellum isn't quite hooked up, at the moment, and that boiling rage will remain subdued, suppressed. Frank takes the compliments with a mild, "Thank you, sir," gazing straight ahead with a calm, obedient expression on his pale and furrowed face.

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness-1: Success.

"Yes, good," Magnus breathes. The effort of casting all of these curses is starting to drain him past the point of return - he'll probably only have one or two more attempts in him before he's finished. He sits up, steadying himself, and takes a few moments to simply breathe and allow his senses to recover. The ambassador's arm is shaking violently this time when he aims his wand at the other wizard, though he steadies it with some effort. In truth, he's never heard of anyone having to cast the spell so many times - he can only assume that Frank has an extremely powerful reserve of willpower. He waits until the last moment, keeping his gaze pinned on the other man - he wants to retain as much strength as he can for this last attempt. This is starting to get very old (and not to mention tiresome). After this, he'll have to get really desperate… "Imperio."

Magnus spends 1 luck points on BAD TRANSLATOR. BAD..

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om-1 Vs Frank=Mind-1
< Magnus: Good Success Frank: Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

The glaze ain't going anywhere: Frank doesn't even flinch this time. On the other hand, there is this: while Frank is undeniably Imperius'd, he still has enough independent will, somewhere deep down in there, to wiggle his fingers without prompting. Just a tiny bit. But, still. Uh, oh.

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Great Success.

/Another/ spell, and perhaps this time… has it finally taken hold? The ambassador remains seated, arm outstretched, his breath hitching as he watches for any signs of opposal. At least he's getting a moment or two between each casting to recover. The wand finally starts to lower to his side when he sees that marginal twitch of the fingers. His pale eyes widen, something dangerous flashing in their depths, and he springs to his feet in spite of how much the effort of the last several moments has weakened him. He can respect fierceness and fortitude, certainly - can appreciate more than the average man, no doubt - but he's just passed the point where respect matters. Now, he's simply… furious. "MR. WEASLEY, THAT IS ENOUGH. CRUCIO!"

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

There have been stronger Cruciatus curses cast. And Frank - thrice Imperio'd Frank - still possesses enough intact self-preservation instinct to try to dodge, so the hit is more glancing than direct. But it's still enough. With an echoing, bloodcurdling scream that descends into gasping, choked whimpers, the unfortunate Mr. Weasleycollapses. Twitch. Twitchtwitch.

Luckily enough for Magnus, there's one extremely convenient fact about the Cruciatus Curse - that is, it will be maintained for as long as the caster continues to concentrate on it. The man sits slowly, raising his free hand to wipe sweat away from his brow, and reaches down for his cup of tea. "There is a certain point at which I simply can't abide further insurrection, Mr. Weasley." The cup is raised to his lips, and he takes a long, leisurely sip. True, the spell might not have been particularly powerful… thankfully, he can make it last as long as he likes without straining himself. "You have /long/ since passed that point."

Whimper. Frank is certainly in no position to hold up his end of the conversation, writhing in pain on the floor. Too Imperio-fogged to try and find some means of resistance, all he can do is thrash and gasp, legs tucking up in an instinctive (and useless) fetal position.

For his part, Magnus seems to have no qualms about letting the translator writhe around on the floor for a while. He keeps his pale eyes locked on the other man, as well as the point of his new wand, but is otherwise occupied with slowly drinking his tea. He goes through two cups before he finally sets the porcelain container down and sighs. When he speaks, his voice is resigned but also somewhat… satisfied. "I think we can try this one more time, Mr. Weasley." The wand swoops around through another one of the slow, powerful arcs from earlier. This time the diplomat takes his time, as he did the first time… though now, it's against a physically as well as mentally helpless opponent. "Imperio."

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om Vs Frank=Mind-3
< Magnus: Good Success Frank: Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Frank=Deception-2 Vs Magnus=Awareness-1
< Frank: Good Success Magnus: Good Success
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Marginal Victory

Twitch. Even as the Cruciatus lifts, Frank is too exhausted to stop his body's twitches - and certainly too exhausted to do anything about the Imperius heading his way save throw up a few weakened mental defenses through his pain- and Dark Magic-fogged mind. And pray. Undoubtably, the curse sets in. (Again - he must be going for a record here.) But even as tired and pained as he is, Frank still manages a partial defense: it's there, but it's very, very weak. As before, his fingers twitch, however hard he tries to still them. Resistance, against all odds? Or just the lingering effects of agonizing pain?

(Who are we kidding, it's totally resistance. Frank's Hufflepuff Badger soul is evidently of the honey variant.)

<FS3> Magnus rolls Awareness: Great Success.

Magnus wavers in place. This has turned into such an unimaginable ordeal that he's not even mentally sure how to proceed. His immediate reaction is to walk into the kitchen, grab a bottle of vodka, and walk back out; the ambassador yanks the top off, tosses it aside, and takes a long, lingering sip of the clear liquid. Just after that he coughs and is forced to set the container down on the table. The pupils of his eyes have widened to the point that they make him look completely crazed. "Let's give this one final try, Mr. Weasley. One last try." He takes a few staggering steps towards the other wizard, sits on the coffee table, and places a heel firmly on Frank's chest, then presses down /hard/. The wand is shoved unceremoniously into his throat, and Magnus's lips split into a wide, hostile smile. "Here it comes, Frank…"

Magnus spends 2 luck points on Okay, that's it. YOUR BRAIN IS MINE..

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Magnus=Om Vs Frank=Mind-3
< Magnus: Good Success Frank: Embarassing Failure
< Net Result: Magnus wins - Crushing Victory

Frank can only whimper helplessly as the heel hits a chest still sore from screaming. Though the most recent Imperius has largely worn off by the time Magnus returns from the ktichen, finally the unfortunate translator has had enough. Even his unexpectedly indomitable willpower… can only take him so far, after all. The man's glazed eyes close, expression slack and fatalistically accepting. When the Imperius hits (he's becoming intimately familiar with the sensation, now), his eyes reopen. They are glazed, dreamlike, helplessly obedient. No twitches, this time: he lies still, expectant.

Slump. That's what Magnus does - he slumps right into the couch opposite Frank, his expression going slack, body limp. He doesn't even pay attention to whether the other wizard is actually under his control this time; he's completely spent, and feels as if his own will might break completely if he even moves. After several minutes he groans and forces himself to sit up, vaguely aware that nothing has happened to him yet… which is a good sign, at least. He heaves himself to his feet and walks over to the prone body of the translator, staring down at him with an unreadable expression. At least once, his foot twitches as if in longing to snap back and kick the man… but he refrains. "Get out, Weasley. GET OUT. Tomorrow, I'll have a proper use for you." He points to the thick door leading outside and snarls. "OUT!"

"Yes. Yes sir." Frank's own exhaustion is writ plain upon his ordinary face: he half looks like the zombie he mentally is. His trembling limbs nevertheless cooperate in picking him off the floor. With no hesitation, the man is up and out the door. His hat is left behind, abandoned on the floor: the shattered teapot lies besides it.

And thus the timer starts ticking. The translator's will has finally been subdued - for a few months.

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