Percival Graves was woken to the wards on his house letting him know that someone was inside. He stretched, enjoying the most exciting thing that had happened since he had quit his job within MACUSA, scarred by the duel which had took his leg and nearly his life. For the past few months he had been recuperating, waiting to start consulting with his old team, and wishing that something interesting would happen. It turned out that his wishes had finally been answered.
He frowned, sitting up and reaching for his leg which he had left beside the bed, and slotting it into place, allowing his magic to run through it. Once it was in place, he made his way down the stairs. The wards that had sounded had only warned him that there was someone there, not that they posed a threat, and he had enough experience with casting them to know he could rely on their accuracy. Someone was in his house, but they meant him no harm. He had his wand drawn as he walked down the steps, his steps echoing strangely in the silence before he muffled them with a wordless wave of his wand. He could hear something in his kitchen.
He approached in silence, ready to fight if need be. He wasn't going to be defenceless again.
"No," he heard a sharp voice whisper, the accent foreign. "Come back here, no, you can't-" He tensed. The wards had been sure that only one person was here. One harmless individual. If there were two, that changed things. He continued, a little more tense than before, only to freeze in the doorway at the sight before him.
His kitchen was fairly dark, but the blind was up and it allowed the faint glow of the moon to illuminate the room. There was a single figure sitting on the kitchen floor, hands on their hips. The figure looked small, slender, although the voice was male. Opposite the man, and copying his gestures, what looked like a very animated stick was gesticulating. The stick bounced from foot to foot, darting away from the man's grasp. The man sighed, and moved to cross his arms.
"No, Pickett," he said firmly. "You can't... you can't just break into things. I don't care. If the cupboard is locked, it's for a reason. We're just borrowing some food, that's all. Now come back here and let me finish this note, you little troublemaker-" the man reprimanded this 'Pickett', which continued to hop from foot to foot. Then the stick froze, and Percival saw the moonlight glint off two dark beady eyes.
Information hit him in a rush. The stick was a bowtruckle. They were mostly harmless, but if they felt threatened they could try and gouge out your eyes. He raised his arms as the creature leapt towards him, the man on the floor turning towards him and screaming out in horror, scrambling to his feet and trying to catch the bowtruckle.
Percival was nearly knocked off his mismatched feet as the man managed to grab the bowtruckle, pulling it away as it scrabbled at Percival's arm. Percival rested against the wall for a moment, panting, and then turned to the man who was standing before him.
"Do you think that you could possibly tell me what's going on?"
The man before him turned an interesting shade of pink, his skin almost glowing with embarrassment at being caught. Percival watched as he stubbornly attempted to shove the bowtruckle into his pocket. The creature quite clearly did not want to be shoved, and Percival had to smother a chuckle as it popped its head back out.
"Pickett, please..." the man hissed, and the bowtruckle disappeared from view.
"Lumos," Percival spoke with a flick of his wand. He was more than capable of wandless magic, but he didn't want the other man to know that. It was better he was underestimated, viewed as an injured man alone rather than a capable auror. He had learned that the hard way.
He glanced over the man before him. He was skinny, his clothes slightly too large – either they were secondhand, or he had lost weight recently. His hair was an unruly mop of red curls, and his eyes were brilliant blue. His face was dotted with freckles.
The man scurried back at the sudden light, trembling visibly.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry, I wasn't going to hurt you, I swear-" as he spoke a little more, Percival was able to place his accent as English.
"No. According to what I just heard, you were going to borrow my food. And how exactly would that work?"
The man turned if anything even more red, the tips of his ears coloring with shame.
"I was just going to take enough for a meal. Nothing... nothing valuable. I wasn't going to go through any cupboards, I swear, and.. I'm sorry, I was just so... so hungry, and I could tell this was a magical house, and please... Please, just... I'm sorry..."
The boy was terrified, that much was clear.
Percival had no issue with frightening criminals, had made a career out of it for more years than he cared to remember. But he couldn't quite bring himself to want to frighten this boy. He took a step towards him, planning to offer him some food. He was wealthy enough that he had a little more than he needed, and a bowl of hot soup and some bread would hardly be an issue for him but might help the boy back from the brink of starvation.
The boy cowered back, as though expecting to be struck. That wasn't a surprise, not if he had made a habit of stealing food. Still, it worried Percival. There was something about this situation that screamed not right, for all that New York was filled with the poor and hungry.
"You got a name, kid?" he asked, and the young man turned towards him, a pained expression passing over his face. He was clearly internally debating something, and the next thing that Percival knew he was crawling towards him on his hands and knees. He stopped in front of Percival, looking up with wide eyes.
"Please... please, don't tell MACUSA we are here-" he begged.
Percival tensed at the thought that there was someone else, before remembering the bowtruckle. He had clearly paused for too long, because the young man's eyes filled with tears, and he was visibly shaking.
"Please... just don't... don't get the aurors involved, don't... don't tell them I'm here, please, I'll do anything... anything you want-"
He stepped back as the man's hands reached for his belt, the utter terror and misery on his face sickening.
His earlier entertainment faded into slowly dawning horror, and he saw the young man cringe at his rejection.
"If... if you don't want that, you can hurt me..." he whispered, gaze down now. "You... can kick, or... or your belt, or wand, or..."
"Quiet," Percival snapped, and the boy whimpered but obeyed, his shoulders shaking in silent terror. Percival approached, crouching down a little so he could look into the boy's eyes. "Hey. I'm not about to hurt you. And I won't get anyone else involved. But you're in my house, in the middle of the night. And I'm asking you, can you tell me your name?"
There was a pause, before he whispered his answer.
"How old are you, Newt?"
"Twenty… Twenty one, I think."
"Okay," Percival said after a moment. "My name is Percival. Now, you said you were hungry? There's food in my cupboard. I'm sure we can come to some arrangement."
"Anything," Newt whispered, and Percival felt bile twist in his chest. The boy was undeniably pretty, and it sickened him to think of what could have happened to Newt if he had been someone else, of what might have happened to Newt before.
He summoned a bowl of soup and buttered bread, heating the soup with a wave of his wand and setting both on the table.
"You can eat," he said, and saw the boy licking his lips, gaze directed at the food in front of him. Newt fell on the food, his body curled around it in an attempt to prevent the meal being taken away.
Once he had wiped the bowl clean, first with bread and then chasing the last few drops with his fingers, Percival cleared his throat. Newt stared up at him.
"You can stay here for tonight. I won't get the aurors involved or tell MACUSA. I've got a spare room."
"But-" Newt opened his mouth to protest, but Percival cut him off with a raised hand.
"We can talk in the morning about what happens next. You'll feel better with some sleep. You can do some cleaning for me, pay me back for the food, how does that sound?"
The relief that passed across Newt's face at having a named price was obvious.
Percival showed him to one of the spare rooms, and left him to settle in. He returned to the bedroom and ensured the door was locked, unopenable to anyone except himself. Having removed his prosthetic, he settled back down into bed and tried to stop the worries that were circling around his head from becoming overwhelming. What he had told Newt was true. They would both feel better having got some sleep.