(1940-05-21) All You Get Is Dirty
Details for All You Get Is Dirty
Summary: Beckett use a False Memory Charm to restore memories to Gwen's mother that are, Gwen insists, true.
Date: May 21, 1940
Location: The Giles Residence, London

Mr. Nott-

It has come to my attention that you possess certain capabilities that I would enjoy the use of. Bring your wand to the enclosed address. I value my privacy, and so the less said about this affair, the better. There is a certain sum of Galleons which I shall not disclose now involved in performing this voluntary and strictly legal service for me.

Sincerely, an Admirer

P.S.- This note will unTransfigure itself shortly. Keeping relevant details out of writing would be for the best.

The house is exceptionally gray. Once a pillar of modernity and decorum, it's fallen into disrepair, the kind of problems easily fixed by a Mending Charm accumulating to preposterous levels. A window has fallen in and is replaced with nails and particle board. Only a handful of newspapers yellowing on the front stoop give any indication that the house has been lived in at all. Against this backdrop of decay- somewhat adjacent to the yellowing newspapers, in fact- Gwen stands, betraying no sign of agitation but clearly looking for somebody. She smiles, a bit too wide, as she scans the street for unusual pedestrians.

It may be for the best that Beckett is wearing his normal wizard's robes. They stick out less, especially when he has his black cloak wrapped closely about him against the chill - and, perhaps, against identification, though he is not so obvious as to keep his face well back in the hood. There is no reason for him not to be here, after all. He sees Gwen waiting expectantly, but maintains his steady gait, eyes looking about in multiple directions. "Miss Giles," he says quietly, when he is closer. A glance at the broken-down house, then he looks back at her. "Waiting for someone? You've chosen an interesting place for it."

Gwen looks at him pointedly. "I was. Now I'm not."

Gwen gestures behind herself. "This," she says, "is my mother's house. Tell me, what do you know about my mother already? I do grow weary of repeating the same explanation."

Gwen looks around briefly. "And next time you're going to a clandestine meeting in the middle of Muggle London, wearing a dark cloak with robes is a good way to get yourself marked as suspicious."

"It's less eye-catching than my alternatives," Beckett says, his lips quirking into a not-quite-smile. "Something about her having memories having been erased. I never pried too closely." He raises an eyebrow. "Does she live here still?" His expression finds the place wanting.

"If you can call it living," Gwen says, rolling her eyes. "She's been less than functional since… since my dad died, a while back. The problem I'm having is tangentially related to this, actually.

"My mother… was someone, before she had her memory destroyed and stumbled into the Muggle world. Someone important- someone powerful. I found a notebook she kept from before- it's obviously her handwriting, or close enough to it now that she doesn't use quills, but she refuses to accept that she wrote it," Gwen explains, pulling out a small, weathered, leather-bound notebook. "It's not much, mostly tactics, spells I've heard of but never learned to cast, the occasional mention of someone out to get her, and it's only from a few days. But if she could…

"If she could remember all this, she'd maybe be something of her former self. She based her whole life around my dad, and when he died that was that. But the woman in this notebook… she's nothing like that at all. She's tough, and smart, and powerful, and she'd never let some man become her sun and her moon."

Gwen looks at Beckett, her eyes performing a very good approximation of seeming like she was trying not to seem desperate and failing. "And, given the nature of your work, I'm sure you could… arrange for that, couldn't you?"

Beckett frowns at the notebook Gwen pulls out, a surrogate for the entire situation. He listens, eyes drifting back up to Gwen's face. He chews on the inside of his left cheek as the story continues. "Uncovering true memories that lie beneath the surface - not even an expert Legilimens could be certain of success, and I am not one." To be explicit, he says, "I cannot decipher thoughts and memories. I can erase or change certain time periods or particular subjects - but it is more and more chancy, the more important the memory is to the person holding it."

He crosses his arms, bringing his sleeves together where his hands can meet within them. "To restore erased memories _to the subject_ is something I have never tried." Beckett studies Gwen's features for a reaction as he asks, "Would erasing her memories of your father be a step in the right direction?"

"No," Gwen said, her face a mask of iron. "For starters, it would make the question of from where I come a mite difficult. For another… I have cause to suspect that she was the same person before she ever met him, so, no. I understand your limitations. Or, rather, you could have been an expert Legilimens, but I had no particular reason to suspect that you were beyond the fact that you're an Obliviator. And yet, I think I can think of a way."

Gwen brandishes the journal with a smile. "You see, I have no reason to suspect that you aren't /very/ capable of casting the False Memory Charm- but as far as I understand, there's no particular reason the memories in question actually have to be outright lies. If you could simply… take the contents of the journal, and place the memory of her writing it at some point in the past- overwrite one of her more trivial memories, if you must, for I don't care- then that should serve the same effect, shouldn't it? Even if it doesn't jog her memory, she'll still have that memory. And I think that's quite a good start, isn't it?"

Beckett nods. "It would be more involved than usual, but I believe it could be done. If she starts to look for clues in the notebook and they correspond to suppressed memories - it might do nothing at all," he admits. "It could be a start. It will be easier if you can render her unconscious first." He smiles. "It sounds like a good challenge."

"Fantastic," Gwen says, smiling. "If she's not sleeping off the booze, though, I'd rather you be the one to do it. I understandably have some reservations with Stunning my own mother, as… helpful, as it may be."

Gwen inserts a small key roughly into the knob, kicking the sticking door unstuck and opening the way into a dank, musty room that was very much the architectural equivalent. "She's just up the stairs, Mister Nott," Gwen says, gesturing inside. She tosses the journal gently to her associate. "You might need this."

Beckett catches the journal, but shakes his head once. "No. I am afraid it must be you. What you are asking me to do," he says quietly, "-unquestionably violates the law. If this is to happen, you must incriminate yourself just as much. That's how it's done. In for a knut, in for a galleon, Miss Giles." He gestures up the stairs. "After you."

"…Huh. I suppose the law cares a great deal more about the well-being of Muggles than it lets on. It's not /unethical/, though, so," Gwen says with a shrug. "That said, I obviously have certain measures in place to ensure that that doesn't happen."

Gwen walks on tiptoes up the stairs. She rounds the corner into a room. There's a strangled yell, a shouted spell, a flash of red light, and a dull thud. "Right, that's that, then, Mister Nott. Do the honors, if you would?"

Beckett is skimming the notebook, not looking up when he hears the thud.

Beckett ensures the front door is closed securely before making his own way up the stairs, drawing his wand from his sleeve as each deliberate footfall brings him closer. He flips through the notebook one final time, then sets it aside on a table, raises his wand, and points for a few moments before saying in a voice that is not a shout but still projects, "NEE-mohs!" There is a small flash, and he nods. He takes a deep breath before raising the wand again, concentrating, and after several sounds calling out "Obliviate!" Another small flash. He reclaims the notebook, and extends his head to peek around the corner. If Gwen is not aiming her wand at him, he proceeds down the stairs, offering it to her. "She should remember leaving the notebook on the bottom book shelf, on the right. And she won't remember why she fell over." He smiles with evident satisfaction. "If the new memories aren't firm, I will pay another visit. Finding the notebook should help make her certain what memories are true."

Gwen exhales sharply, a broad smile covering her face. "Thank you, Mister Nott. I considered sending an owl with your payment, but, no, you'd appreciate it upfront," she says, gently lobbing him a heavy bag of gold. Heavy as far as lobbed objects go, not necessarily heavy as far as bags of gold coins received as payment for illegal services performed go. "That's about as much as I can afford to give you, but if you ever have need of my assistance, you have it. I'm skilled in Arithmancy, Transfiguration, and finding clever ways to kill people with first-year Charms. Not that I'm offering my skills as an assassin, of course, but I have knowledge I may render you to do with as you wish.

"You know, I had thought I might request that you Obliviate yourself, or compel both of us to take an Unbreakable Vow to never speak of the events that have taken place here, or any myriad other ways to ensure that this little… peccadillo… remains unspoken of. Instead, Mister Nott, I've decided to trust you not to inconvenience either of us with unpleasant legal attention. Please ensure that my trust is well-placed," Gwen concludes, gesturing lightly towards the door.

"Of course," Beckett says, tucking the bag beneath his cloak - and, in fact, beneath his robes. He makes his way to the door, sliding his wand back into his sleeve. He opens the door a crack before asking, "One last thing. What was your mother's maiden name?" His eyes are steady on Gwen's.

Gwen quickly breaks eye contact. "Real or imagined?" she asks. "Real, I haven't the foggiest, probably something foreign. Imagined- Pollard, I think. I don't exactly have the closest relationship with my mother and spent most of my childhood living in a castle she's never even seen.

"Why do you ask?"

"Curiosity," comes the smooth answer: "My father is a genealogist." Beckett smiles, then glances around again. "If you decide to put the place back together, I am sure I can provide a suitable cover. Good evening, Miss Giles." He steps out the door, pulling it shut behind him."

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