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.
Percival half expected to wake up and find that he was alone in the house, the boy and the bowtruckle having run away during the night. He wouldn't have been angry if that had been what happened – he had even set the wardings up so that if the two of them wanted to leave, they could – they wouldn't be able to take his things with them, but they could go.
It turned out that he didn't need to be so worried. He woke in the morning to the smell of food cooking, and made his way downstairs to see the young man standing beside the stove, preparing breakfast by hand. Percival frowned a little at the fact the man wasn't using a wand – he had clearly got a talent for magic, judging both by the creature he had with him and what little he had said the previous night.
"Newt?" he asked softly as he made his way into the kitchen. "Are you making breakfast?"
Newt turned to face him. It was clear that a night in a comfortable bed had done him good – he was looking much cleaner than he had the previous night, and while he was still skittish, he almost met Percival's eyes.
"I thought you might be hungry."
"A little..." Percival agreed.
"Sorry. It's... it's your food," Newt stuttered, and Percival nodded again.
"I assumed that, based on the fact that you are in my kitchen and had no food the previous night."
Newt had a sweet smile when he was relaxed. Percival realised at that moment that he would do anything to keep Newt smiling that way.
"I cleaned up the kitchen earlier. I can do more, I know we didn't agree last night what you needed, but thank you-" Newt spoke quickly, then jumped at a noise against the window.
Percival saw an owl tapping at the glass with its beak, and walked over to open it, seeing a letter addressed to him and written in Seraphina's hand. Newt was watching the owl carefully before he reached out, his hand visibly trembling. The owl hooted softly and moved closer to him. Newt rewarded the creature by stroking its feathers, murmuring gentle praise. After a couple of minutes he looked up at Percival, seeming to finally notice the world around him.
"Is that... anything important?" he asked softly, and again Percival thought of what had been said the previous night. Newt was frightened of MACUSA, so he could hardly own up to being the President's best friend.
"Not important," he said as he opened the letter, skimming through it. Seraphina had highlighted a couple of cases he could help with, but nothing that meant he had to return to work immediately. A few days ago he would have jumped at the chance to be back in the office if not in the field, but with Newt here he found himself suddenly grateful for the opportunity to take it easy for a couple more days.
"Can we talk about last night?" he asked Newt. Newt tensed for a moment and then nodded sharply.
"Of course. I'm sorry I broke in."
"Why did you break in?"
"I was hungry," Newt said after a moment as he plated up the food, as though that were the most obvious thing in the world.
"You said you could tell I was magic?"
"Then why not target a house of No-Majs? They can't defend themselves."
"Because it wouldn't be right," the boy muttered towards Percival's shoulder. "I wasn't aiming to hurt or frighten anyone. I just wanted a meal. I was going to take it and put a note with an apology on it on the table, and then leave."
"You've done that before?" Percival asked, feeling fairly certain of the answer.
"Dozens of times," Newt agreed. "It doesn't always work. I get caught, or the wards start to wrap around me. But mostly... mostly it works. And if it doesn't, I can normally get around it."
Newt nodded but didn't volunteer any more information. Instead, he looked up at Percival almost reluctantly. Percival tried to get any more from him.
"So what house are you from? I know most thieves are Slytherins. Or maybe you're a Gryffindor, breaking into a stranger's house like that."
"I was a Hufflepuff," Newt said softly as he carried two full plates of food over to the table.
Percival nodded, still bothered by Newt choosing to cook by hand. He pushed it aside for now, and for a few moments the two of them ate in companionable silence, Newt half-bent over his own meal in order to protect it.
"Where's your wand?" Percival asked when both had eaten, sending the plates to the sink with a flick of his wrist.
"My original wand was... confiscated," Newt said after a few moments' thought, his gaze directed downwards as though he was ashamed. "The one I use is one that I was given..." he paused, then shook his head.
"Was it MACUSA that confiscated your wand?"
"The Ministry." Newt shrugged, and Percival tried to work out how to push for more information without overwhelming him.
After a few moments he spoke, his voice soft.
"You're a long way from home, aren't you?"
"I like creatures," Newt answered, gesturing up towards Pickett. "I travel the globe finding out about creatures that most people have never heard of, that most people wouldn't care for if they did know about them. There are... there are so many animals out there, all unique, and so many of them linked to magic, and most people never... never even give it a moment's thought."
Newt seemed to come alive as he spoke about creatures, and Percival wished he had something he could offer. He paused, thinking through the creatures that MACUSA were looking after. Certainly nothing at the moment that would be suitable, but there was a chance that that would change soon enough.
"Like Pickett here?" Newt nodded and Percival continued, emboldened. "Where did you get him?"
"I was given him by my brother," Newt murmured, and closed his eyes, his hands twitching slightly. Percival let him take a few breaths, not wanting to put more pressure on him.
"You have a brother?"
"I do. A mother, a father, and a brother," Newt seemed to hold his tongue after that, not volunteering any more information. Percival wondered if part of the boy's reluctance could have been his old auror persona seeping through, demanding answers which Newt simply wasn't willing to give.
"So you must miss England?"
"I like travel. And I can't go home," Newt said the words matter-of-factly. "I just... I travel, I keep moving. It's harder to hit a moving target, and all that..."
"You travel America?"
"The world." Newt shrugged. "I mean..." he paused, and closed his eyes. "I don't really get to do much studying, but if I'm in a region with creatures I do try and see them. Mostly I just work on avoiding detection, and practicing magic..." he sounded ashamed by what he was saying, his gaze down once more, and Percival wanted to ask what he meant. Newt seemed to realise that, glancing up and then down again.
"I got into trouble with the Ministry. Nothing more than a misunderstanding really, but if they find out where I am, they have some rather terrible things planned for me..." he swallowed and closed his eyes. Percival reached out to give his shoulder a reassuring squeeze in an attempt to help him calm down. It seemed to be working, if the soft smile that rested on his lips for a moment was anything to go by.
After a moment, Newt shrugged.
"I keep moving. It works out. And when it doesn't, I escape eventually…" He swallowed, rubbing his hands together, and Percival could see a number of scars on the visible skin.
"Do you need to escape now?" Percival asked, giving him a chance to get away. Newt hesitated, and then shook his head.
"I don't think so. I just need to avoid… trouble."
"Can you tell me what happened?" Percival asked, as gently as possible. Newt shrugged.
"An old… an old teacher got me into trouble."
"Can you give me a name?"
Newt shook his head, and glanced down.
"If we went to the authorities, they could help-"
Newt looked up, eyes shining in terror.
"No," he snapped, shaking a little. "No. They can't. Please."
Thank you for the amazing response so far!
Percival flinched at the sheer fright in the boy's eyes, raising his hands in an attempt to soothe him.
"Okay," he said softly. "No authorities. I told you I wouldn't hand you over to the aurors and I meant it."
There was uncertainty shining in Newt's eyes, but after a couple of moments he nodded, the movement small and hesitant. Percival sighed softly, wanting to ask for more information but not knowing where to begin.
"So... it's what, you and your pet bowtruckle against the world?"
"Pickett isn't a pet," Newt answered, sounding genuinely offended by the suggestion. "Pickett is a friend. He looks after me."
Percival didn't make a comment about that, not wanting to criticise the boy when it was clear that the bowtruckle was all he had. Upon hearing his name the bowtruckle again stuck its head out of Newt's pocket, and Newt lifted him out, letting him rest on his shoulder.
"They pick locks, right?"
"They are able to, but it's not comfortable for them," Newt answered carefully. "Their fingers are used to pry into cracks in the wood and scrape out woodlice. They won't encounter a lock in the wild. Pickett here likes attempting that occasionally, and is very talented."
The bowtruckle seemed to bask in Newt's words, shifting a little from side to side as though the praise were sunlight.
Percival nodded, listening to the boy. It was amazing how he came to life when he was asked about creatures. Newt looked up after a moment.
"Do you live alone?" he asked. "I didn't sense anyone else here..."
"I do," Percival answered, mind full of images of Newt on his knees the previous night, promising to do anything if the aurors were kept out of the picture. "I have a girlfriend though." That at least might keep him from assuming that Percival would want that kind of payment for his assistance. His own preferences didn't matter, not when the focus was keeping the boy calm and discovering why he was on the run. He thought through his options. There were a number of female aurors he could trust to help him with Newt, but only one whose sister was a skilled legilimens. "Her name is Tina. She and her sister are going to join me for dinner tonight."
Newt's face flickered with a number of emotions, fear chief among them. He glanced towards the door.
"You want me to leave?"
"Actually..." Percival hesitated. "You're a talented cook, if this breakfast is anything to go by. Would you be willing to prepare a meal for us? They aren't staying over, so you can stay in the guest bedroom and I'm sure she'd love to meet you."
"They aren't... they don't work for MACUSA?" Newt asked, uncertainty written across his face. Percival felt guilty for lying, but knew that telling the truth would only frighten the boy.
"Queenie is a teagirl in the office. Tina works at the Blind Pig, one of the bars, as security."
Newt nodded, seeming to relax a little at that.
"Disabled due to injury, and wealthy enough that I don't need to work," Percival answered calmly. "Lost my leg in a duel..."
"Oh." Newt paused. "I never did understand the point of all that pureblood..." He swallowed and blushed. "I'm sorry, sir."
"It's alright," Percival answered after a moment. "I completely agree. I was young and stupid, and I made a mistake. It's alright now really. I've learned to live with it."
Newt nodded, chewing on his lip a little. Percival waited patiently for him to find the strength to ask whatever it was that was bothering him. After a few moments he was rewarded by Newt licking his lips and then speaking, voice little more than a whisper.
"What should I call you, sir?"
"My name is Percival-" Percival answered, managing to cut himself off before he revealed his surname. "That would be fine."
"Thank you, sir. Percival," Newt answered after a moment, a faint blush across his face. Percival fought down his realisation that the boy was attractive. Newt had already been hurt enough. Anyway, as far as Percival was aware, the Ministry of Magic were not in the habit of hunting people down unless they had done something in order to deserve it.
"I will need to go out later," Percival informed Newt. "Will you be alright on your own?"
Newt nodded, but a look of fear crossed his face once more. Percival wondered if Newt suspected that he was going to MACUSA – actually, he was, but not in the way Newt thought. Newt was not a common name, even among wizards. It might be enough for him to find some clue as to the boy's identity, when he wouldn't bring forth the information himself.
"I just need to ensure everything is in place for tonight, and to visit a few friends. I won't be out for more than an hour or two. If you could take that time to clean the bathroom, that would be of great help. And see if we have to buy anything extra for dinner tonight," Percival suggested. The boy seemed to calm a little when given a direct order. "If you want, you can put up your own wards while I'm gone, or we can put them up together to ensure that no one other than me can come back." Percival smiled as he said it, wanting to keep him calm but knowing that he would be more than capable of dismantling anything the younger man raised, even if his aurors wouldn’t have arrived in a minute if they were called.
"No," Newt said after a moment. "It's your house, and your lady is coming later. I can't stop her from being able to visit. It wouldn't be right."
"As you wish," Percival answered with a nod. He hoped this would at least alleviate the boy's fear a little.
Newt got to his feet, clearing the table in silence. Percival watched him for a minute before standing and glancing towards the door.
"Will you still be here when I get back?" he asked. Newt nodded, and Percival walked away, replacing the wards from the previous night. Newt wouldn't be able to access the bedroom or take anything of Percival's from the house, but if he decided he had to leave, then he would be able to.
He made his way along the street, his leg aching slightly despite the cushioning charm applied to the top of his prosthetic. It was a challenge, learning to walk like this, and not one he had planned on taking. The past few months he had focused on recovery, dreaming of getting back to work as he walked around the house or stumbled a few blocks. Now, his mind was on Newt, on what had happened to him and who he was, and for the first time since the injury he was thinking about something else. This wasn't just filling in some paperwork for MACUSA, or advising on a case, or training a junior auror. This was a man coming to him for help and leaving him with more questions than answers.
Walking into the Woolworth building, he could feel the eyes of MACUSA on him. After his injury, Seraphina had ordered him to take some time to recover, and he had been forced to hand over his role to Auror Fontaine – his leg worked well enough for most days, but he would struggle to keep up in the heat of a raid. There had been rumours that he would never return. And now he was striding down the corridors as though he had never left. He made his way to an elevator, and nodded to the goblin bell boy.
"Major investigations, sir?"
"Please," Percival answered, as the elevator lifted into the air. It wasn't long before the doors parted and he walked out into an office filled with aurors. They clapped and cheered to see him, as though he was a hero merely for getting up there. Several of them stepped forwards to shake his hand and ask how he was, and then Fontaine walked over, a bright smile on his suntanned face.
"You're the Director now," Percival reminded softly. "How have you been in my absence? I see that the building hasn't fallen down at least."
"We've missed you," Fontaine said calmly. "We were a little concerned that you weren't planning on coming back and were going to leave us to our own devices."
"I know what chaos you all get up to when left alone." Percival smirked. "I wouldn't dare."
"Is there any particular reason you are here today?" Fontaine asked, and Percival thought of the letter he had received that morning.
"I need to meet with the President. Goldstein?"
Tina pushed her way through the crowd, her head down. She looked a little unsure as always, but Percival thought she seemed a fraction braver than the last time he had seen her.
He gestured her to follow him away from the main group, talking to her in a whisper.
"I want you to research everything you can about a British wizard by the name of Newt. He is a Hufflepuff aged somewhere between eighteen and twenty five. Be discreet about it. I'll be back to discuss it with you once I have seen Madame President."
She scurried away to the archives, as Percival walked along to the President's office. He had walked this way hundreds of times before, but his steps sounded different now, and that thought made his insides twist in on themselves. He knocked on the door, and pushed it open at Seraphina's voice.
She smiled when she saw him, gesturing for him to sit down. He pulled the chair out with a wave of his hand, and sat down opposite her.
"You made it in then? How's the leg?"
"It's getting there," Percival answered. "How has it been here?"
"It's a lot calmer without you around, for a start," she teased. "But you're here. Does this mean you've decided to consult?"
Percival paused. He'd been asking to be allowed back into the field, and then back into MACUSA, ever since his accident occurred. But now, he was suddenly reluctant. He hesitated and then shook his head.
"I want to consult, but I need to deal with a personal matter first. It shouldn't take more than a few days, and then I'll be back to full ability."
"No one expects you to be okay immediately, Percival," Seraphina said.
"I'm not the first Graves injured in the line of duty," Percival argued, thinking of ancestors dead in service. "And I won't be the last."
"I don't care about the other members of your family," Seraphina pointed out bluntly, the same passion on her face that she had shown when they had met at school, and he had been explaining about the pressure of the family name. "I care about my best friend – my best friend who nearly died twice as an aftereffect of trying to save everyone else, and I'm not losing him now. Not if I can help it."
He reached out and squeezed her hand, stunned by her show of emotion. So often during the course of their work they faced each other professionally, it was almost a shock to see Seraphina as herself, the same passionate young woman he had befriended in Ilvermorny.
"I don't want to lose you."
"You won't. I just need some time so that I can work this out, and then I'll be back doing what I can. Just trust me for a little while, okay?"
"What's going on, Percival?" Seraphina asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I don't know yet," Percival answered honestly. "But I am certain that I can work it out. Just... no auror visits to my house for the next few days, and only communicate via unmarked owl."
"Alright," Seraphina answered. "I don’t suppose you’re going to let me know what’s going on are you?” At Percival’s headshake she sighed, and rolled her eyes. “Please do try not to do anything too illegal. I hope you know what you're doing. "
Percival flashed her the brightest smile he could.
"So do I." With that he got up and left the room.
He found Goldstein crouched over a dozen different files, several of them bearing the seal of the Ministry.
"I need to ask a favour of you."
Tina looked up. "Yes, sir?"
"Can I ask you and your sister to join me for dinner tonight? I need to get your sister's opinion on someone, and I have told them that you are my girlfriend."
Tina blushed slightly, then swallowed.
“You've told that to Newt Scamander, sir?"
"I don't know his last name," Percival answered, but glanced down to see a photograph. The boy in the image was eleven, just starting at Hogwarts, but the curly hair and inability to meet another's eyes were recognisable even at that age. "That's him though."
"Oh." She frowned. "I've found a few reports from the Ministry, sir. He was expelled from Hogwarts for endangering another student's life. Since then he has been being hunted by the Ministry."
"For what he did at school?" Percival asked, trying to square her words with the frightened young man that he had left at home that morning.
"No, sir. For being an associate of Gellert Grindelwald."
(Newt in this fic is slightly younger than in canon because I didn’t want him actively participating in WWI)
Grindelwald was a name that Percival had heard before, but he couldn't square the shy awkward boy who he had found in his house with the fanatics who believed that all No-Majs were little more than animals. It was a ridiculous idea. The boy had chosen to risk robbing a wizard rather than frighten a No-Maj. That wasn't the action of a Grindelwald supporter. It wasn't the action of a sane man either, but for now the main concern was whether or not the boy was working for Grindelwald.
"Thank you for your help, Goldstein," Percival praised her, keeping his concerns to himself for now. "Can you and your sister can come to my place at six this evening? Do make sure your ID badge isn't visible, I've told my guest that you are security at the Blind Pig and for now he believes it."
He waited until she had nodded her agreement before turning his attention to the man who was standing at a nearby desk, helping one of the junior aurors with a report. "Fontaine?"
Auror – no, Director Fontaine, he corrected himself after a moment – was at his side instantly, frowning a little as he looked at him.
"You're the director now," he reminded, fondness in his voice. He paused for a moment before he continued, choosing his words carefully. "I require your assistance with a private matter. I need to read some files in an office where I will not be disturbed, and I would like to arrange for a couple of aurors to be outside my house this evening."
"Of course," Fontaine agreed without hesitation. "May I know what we are worrying about? You are welcome to use my office."
"Could we?" Percival glanced to the office, and then picked up the files, slowly walking across to the room that had once been his. It was hard to hold the papers and maintain his balance, but he was far too proud to ask for any help. Fontaine opened the door for him, and gestured towards the director's chair. Percival sat down and spread the files out on the desk in front of him.
"Which aurors do you need?"
"Any that we can trust to keep things between us," Percival answered, starting to scan through the files. "Someone that the Ministry believes to be working for Grindelwald is within my house, but he has shown no sign of threat towards me. I want to investigate, but I also want to know that backup will be there if he decides to attack."
Fontaine nodded, looking at Percival. They had known each other for a long time, and Percival presumed that was the only reason that Fontaine was handling this request so well.
"And you are investigating?"
"Goldstein will be inside the house, meaning that I will not be the only auror there. In addition, Miss Goldstein will be in attendance – I believe her gifts may be able to offer a precious insight into the situation I find myself in."
Fontaine considered for a moment.
"I presume you want this kept quiet?" he asked. Percival nodded, and he smiled. "Consider it done. There's nothing you need to worry about. I will be one of those standing guard, and so will Gulliver. I hope that will suffice?"
"I think so," Percival agreed. Gulliver was one of the best duellists they had, and Fontaine was a master of protective and healing charms. The two of them together would be enough to help with any issues that could arise. "Just do me a favour, and make sure this is kept under wraps."
"If anyone asks I will inform them that you are carrying out a private investigation for Madame President," Fontaine said with a smile. They both knew that would be enough to persuade the other aurors to keep their distance – they might have been the finest witches and wizards America had to offer, but none of them were brave enough to risk Seraphina's wrath.
"At what time?"
"The sisters will be arriving at six. If you can be in place before then?"
Fontaine nodded, pulling a tie pin from his drawer and handing it over. Percival slipped it on, watching as Fontaine placed the matching cufflinks into his suit.
"Any trouble at all, activate it and we'll come running."
"I know," Percival reassured him. "And I feel safer knowing you are there."
With that, Fontaine left and he turned his attention to the papers that were spread out across the desk, starting to read it. The boy had been born in the summer of 1905, so he had been right about his age, which was of a little comfort at least. He had been expelled from Hogwarts in early 1920, when a creature he had been looking after had attacked another student. His wand had been snapped, the pieces kept by Hogwarts, and he had been sent away in disgrace. Percival turned the page, raising his eyebrows at what he saw.
A couple of weeks after his expulsion, Newt had been called back to Hogwarts by one of his teachers. There was little information on where he had been for the next year, but he resurfaced in the summer of 1921. By then, he was in Germany, staying with Grindelwald. Percival stared at the page. There was no denying the boy had been seen in Grindelwald's company several times over the next two years, before the British Ministry, lead by Theseus Scamander – and that was why Newt's name was familiar, Percival had met his older brother – had arrested him.
A month later Newt escaped the Ministry's custody, with Theseus Scamander badly injured in the pursuit of him. Since then, Newt had travelled across the world. The Ministry's records were fragmentary, but even they showed a large degree of movement. Newt had been running away.
Percival sighed, running his hand through his hair. He still felt that a lot of questions had gone unanswered, but he was aware that gazing at these scraps of paper would solve nothing. If he wanted his answers, he would have to ask Newt. With that in mind, he gathered up the papers and left the room, placing the files on Goldstein's desk.
"Get your sister to take a look. And tell her I appreciate her help."
"Yes, sir," Goldstein answered.
Percival made his way home, wondering whether Newt would even still be there. If the files were right, he was going to be walking back into a house where a Grindelwald supporter would have had an entire day to set up traps for his return. And yet, he didn't doubt for even a second that getting home would be as safe as it was any other day.
He pushed open the door, his hand on his wand, and heard noise from the kitchen. There was a clattering, and then Newt's fluffy hair stuck out from the doorway. He was blushing.
"Nearly finished with the food, sorry, door made me jump..."
"Let me see?" Percival called out, walking along and pushing past Newt, laughing at what he saw inside. Newt had clearly been cooking. There was food everywhere, and one of the saucepans of beans had fallen – that was the noise he had heard. Percival waved his wand, cleaning up the spilled food.
"Why didn't you use your wand?" Percival asked Newt, and Newt shrugged, pointing to where he'd left the wand on a counter.
Percival picked it up, examining it. The wood was light, with black swirls threaded through it. He went to wave it, and Newt shook his head, eyes wide. Percival placed the wand back down.
"Is this even your wand?"
"It is." Newt shrugged. "My older brother placed a tracking spell on it."
"Then why keep it?" Percival asked, watching Newt curiously. He wasn't sure he could understand, but the answer he got might reveal what he needed to know.
"Would you leave your wand behind?"
"If it was spying on me?" Percival considered. "I'd swap it for a better one."
"It's my wand," Newt said softly, and Pickett scurried down from his shoulder, reaching for the wand. Percival passed it over, and the bowtruckle carried it back. "Anyway, the spell is only activated if I use it."
With that, he tucked the wand back in his pocket. Percival nodded.
"Alright." He could follow the logic of what he had said at least.
"I've almost finished with preparing dinner," Newt told him, flicking shy glances up at his face to check he was giving the right information. "We could possibly do with some kind of central dish – beef, if that would be possible? Or fish? Whichever your lady likes. And..." He smiled. "The bathroom has been cleaned, so has the parlour..." He looked almost nervous.
"Do you want to go to the shops? I can give you the money?"
"I'd rather stay in here if I may," Newt answered, glancing towards the windows. The bowtruckle clambered into his hair, patting it fondly. Percival nodded, and left Newt as he went to buy the last ingredients. He finished the preparations as Newt fidgeted, straightening the place mats. He could not square the boy in his house with the one in the files, but it was Queenie who would be able to answer those questions with Newt giving little away.
It was a relief when the doorbell rang.
Newt dived back into the kitchen, and Percival raised a hand.
"Hey. Newt, please. I want you to meet Tina and Queenie."
Newt reluctantly stepped forwards, the bowtruckle in his hair doing what he could to look fierce. Percival would have laughed if that action wasn't matched by something close to terror in Newt's eyes. He relaxed a little as Percival opened the door, and the two Goldstein sisters were there.
"This is Tina," Graves began. "And this is Queenie."
"Hello, Ma'ams," Newt murmured, and Graves reached for the women's coats, pausing when he saw the expression on Queenie's face.
To say that Queenie looked horrified would be a massive understatement. Her eyes were wide, her gaze fixed towards Newt, and she blinked back tears before approaching.
"Hey there?" she said softly, and Percival frowned, concerned.
Newt glanced down at his feet, shuffling and squirming slightly.
"Are you his girl?"
"No, I'm Queenie, that's my sister Tina. Her and Percival are just the cutest little couple..."
Queenie seemed to be relaxed now, but Percival was fairly sure that it was an act being carried out for Newt's benefit, to stop him from worrying or thinking he had done something wrong.
"Dinner smells real good, don't it, Teenie?" Queenie asked, and Auror Goldstein nodded. Percival smiled.
"Newt made it. He's talented, did it without the use of a wand."
He hoped that comment could send Newt's thoughts flying in the right directions. Once they had headed off the right way, there was more chance that Queenie would be able to catch the information she wanted. Tina was standing a short distance back, an obvious expression of concern on her face. Before she could voice it Percival cleared his throat.
"It's lovely to see you both tonight, thank you. I know that it's hard to get nights off, darling," he praised Tina with a smile, as though it was the most natural thing in the world.
"Anything for you, honey bun," Tina replied, her face flushing a little as she stumbled through the words. Percival attempted to raise an eyebrow in disapproval, without worrying Newt who seemed to startle easily at the best of times.
"So how did you and Percival meet then, sweetie?" Queenie was leaning in to Newt, a soft smile on her face. Queenie was always good at playing a ditsy blond woman with no idea of reality, and today she was managing the role even better than she normally did. She giggled a little when Newt went a fascinating shade of red, his freckles disappearing underneath the intensity of his blush.
"He came and asked me for some assistance," Percival answered, stepping in to field the question before Newt could get too panicked about it. "I chose to help him, and it's been good so far. He's a decent man..."
He shrugged a little after a moment. Newt was more relaxed than before, although still slightly blushing. He nodded his wordless agreement to Percival's story.
"He's a good guy," Newt murmured. Logically, Percival understood that was being said because Newt wanted to support his cover story. But he hoped that Newt might actually believe his own words. That he saw in Percival someone willing to listen and understand.
He tried to distract himself, feeling Queenie shooting him a protective glance. The boy had suffered enough, he was in no state to be pursuing a relationship even if he had wanted one. Enough had happened that he could be fairly sure that Newt felt nothing towards him.
"Which house were you in, sweetie?" Queenie asked, her head tilted to one side. "I mean, from your voice you aren't from around here huh?"
"I grew up in England," Newt answered, his gaze directed to his plate. "I was a Hufflepuff."
"Did you have a nice time there?" Queenie asked. "I heard Hogwarts has all kinds of impractical rules. Is it true you have to wear robes all the time?"
"Not when we sleep," Newt mumbled, and Percival wondered if he had just witnessed Newt making a joke. "And I didn't get on so well. Most of the other kids could tell I was different, and they didn't like me."
"Oh honey, different how?" Queenie asked. She was leaning in, and the expression on her face looked genuinely concerned.
"I just... have different written through me like a stick of rock," Newt mumbled and shook his head. "It could have been worse. I got into some trouble and had to leave, but one of the teachers introduced me to a friend of his who was willing to teach me."
Queenie leaned in, her expression earnest, as though caught up in some office gossip.
"So thanks to him I finished my studies."
"What was he like?" Queenie probed, a frown passing across her face for a moment. He had clearly put blocks around this particular idea.
"He was strict. But he was a good teacher," Newt started, then shrugged. "We disagreed about a few things, but he kept me on. Said one day I'd realise he was right. Fool that I was, I thought one day he might listen to me." Newt was squirming now, and it was all Percival could do not to try and rescue him. Instead he leaned in to cuddle and kiss Tina on the cheek. She played her part excellently. and for a short while he stopped listening to the exchange of pleasantries.
"So why are you here? It's a long way from home Tina asked, leaning in, her eyes much more focused than those of her sister. She conducted herself as though this was an interrogation, and Percival tried to signal to her to tone it down a little before it backfired. Newt swallowed and looked away before answering.
"I decided this would be a good place. I like creatures. Used to look after some for my tutor, and I learned a lot about how to care for them. There are some remarkable creatures in America... One day, I want to visit the wilds of Arizona. I want to watch the thunderbirds spiral through the sky... That probably sounds silly, doesn't it?" he asked, all confidence seeming to disappear almost immediately.
"Not silly at all," Queenie answered. "I'm sure they're really pretty."
Newt's smile did seem more genuine, if still a little cautious. Percival smiled at him. He admired Queenie, and made a mental note to talk to her about the possibility of her working on the interrogation team. She flashed him a smile to let him know she had heard it, before turning her focus entirely back on Newt.
"Are thunderbirds your favourite creatures then?"
"I like all kinds of creatures," Newt said softly. "I used to look after a dragon, and a nundu... As a child I always adored nifflers. They seemed sweet, and there's so much in the world that isn't." He yelped and pulled Pickett from his pocket, the bowtruckle sticking its tiny tongue out at him. "I like most bowtruckles. However, some are quite infuriating."
Pickett responded by blowing a raspberry, and Queenie smiled.
"You like it here?"
"Mister Gr-Percival has been very kind to me," Newt answered. "Kinder than... kinder than I've known before, and I hope that I have been able to help at least a little after my intrusion."
"You have helped a lot," Percival said after a moment. "I've enjoyed the company. It gets lonely when Teenie is working, and it's not as easy to get around as I like. If you want, you can stay for a while, help around the house and things. I'd pay you of course."
Newt looked uncertain, but Queenie leaned in, whispering to him barely audibly.
"Percival is good at wards, I can't think of any place safer to be than here."
That seemed to persuade him, and he looked at Percival.
"Thank you. You've already been a huge assistance."
"I'm glad," he answered with a smart nod. Newt was more confident now.
Percival looked up at the noise of something banging against the window, twisting his head to see an owl there, its white feathers ruffled by the wind and its beak knocking rhythmically on the glass.
"Tina?" he asked and she opened the window with a wave of her wand.
The large owl flew in the window, performing two laps of the room before it settled before him and dropped a letter from its beak. The letter wasn't stamped with the MACUSA logo, but Percival would have recognised Seraphina's handwriting anywhere.
"Anything important?" Tina asked. Percival turned the envelope over before opening it, seeing that she had used a personal seal. Inside he found a few neat lines written by his friend. Dear Percival, hope that you are continuing with your planned return. The British have had us draw up an extradition treatise for Newt Scamander. Although they don't currently know his location, they suspect he might be in America. S.P.
Percival bit down the curse that threatened to escape him.
"Nothing important. Just an offer of work," he answered the unasked question posed by the others in the room, penning a quick response. Thank you for the heads up. I'll know more by the evening.
The conversation carried on, but it seemed stilted, stressful. Percival was relieved when Newt's awkward avoiding of topics gave way to yawning.
"Go to bed, Newt," he demanded. As soon as Newt was outside, he turned his attention to Queenie and waited for her assessment on who and what Newt was.
Queenie settled back in her chair, looking at Percival.
"He's frightened," she said softly. "He's been running for so long he doesn't even know what it means to be safe any more. He wants to trust you, but he finds it hard."
"Thank you," Percival nodded. "Is he a danger?"
"To himself perhaps," Queenie said after a moment. "Certainly not to anyone else. He means no harm to any of us."
"He kept looking at me, a little worried-"
"He wasn't buying your act," Queenie said. "Thought that the Director might have been taking advantage of you. That's why. He's hiding, but he still cares... I've read a lot of people's minds. Not many out there care as much as he does."
"He's being hunted by the Ministry," Percival reminded her, as gently as he could.
"He is," Queenie agreed. "But that's not because he's a threat. I don't think. He's hurting, doesn't even feel he deserves to be a Hufflepuff any more. His whole life, people have been looking down on him, and he's scared. He does love the creatures he's talked about. He wants to help them, to see them, but he understands he had to leave." She paused. "He was blocking me there a little. But I think he was honest. He didn't believe what Grindelwald told him. But he liked the creatures... and he really is grateful to you. I don't think he's going to hurt you, or pose any threat – he trusts you. He doesn't want you to be hurt. But he is very afraid."
"I see." Percival frowned. "You think I can count on him?"
"I think you can," Queenie said firmly. "He's a caring person, and you can trust him." She paused. "Maybe not for himself. But he certainly wouldn't hurt you. Or his bowtruckle."
Tina listened and nodded.
"He didn't seem like a threat."
"He isn't. He's afraid of Grindelwald, for all that he worked for him. But he's more frightened of the aurors, and of the Ministry."
"Did you work out why?" Percival pressed. He had to know so that he knew what to do – he was risking losing an alliance with the Ministry if they knew what he was hiding.
Queenie opened her mouth to answer, then closed it and shook her head. There was a knock on the door, and Newt opened it. His face was pale with fear, his eyes wide and unfocused.
"You read my mind," he whispered, backing away from Percival, gazing up at Queenie in terror. He was shaking, and Percival needed to help. He reached out towards him.
Newt ducked away, glancing at the door. Percival closed it with a flick of his fingers, before Newt could escape, and Newt instead dived under the table. Tina surged forwards, but Queenie grabbed her arm.
"Teenie, we should go wait in the hall." She pulled her sister from the room.
Percival watched the sisters go, telling himself that they wouldn't leave if he was in any risk. He carefully removed his prosthetic leg, and crouched down with his hand resting on the table so that he could be at Newt's level.
"Hey?" he asked softly. "Can I come in?"
There was a slight pause, and Newt nodded. He was clearly barely staving off a panic attack, rocking slightly where he sat.
"You read my mind."
"Queenie did," Percival agreed. "It's natural to her. And I'm worried about you. There's a lot you aren't telling me."
"I don't want to get sent back to the Ministry," Newt whispered, his eyes failing to meet Percival's gaze.
"I'm sorry," Percival said gently. "You aren't going to be." He flinched slightly, crouching to sit down on the floor. "Could you come forwards?"
There was a hesitation, and then Newt made a few careful moves forwards. He was shivering. He closed his eyes, and then stopped, a foot or two from Percival.
"Please. Tell me the truth."
"The truth is that you are safe," Percival said softly. "I'm not going to hurt you. I said you could stay here. You still can. I just need to know what has happened, and you aren't telling me."
"Who are you? You're with MACUSA? Did they... that owl, was that..." He shrugged and his gaze fell to the floor. "You're an auror, aren't you?"
"I'm a friend," Percival answered. "I used to work for MACUSA. But no longer. I don't work for them anymore, I'm my own person. I'm not going to hand you over. But I need you to be honest with me."
Newt crawled forwards a little further, leaning in to rest his head on Percival's chest, seeking some kind of comfort. Percival gently rubbed his hand over Newt's back. He was still trembling.
"The aurors... my brother... my brother tried to save me," he whispered. "I was... wanted, by the Ministry, for the work I did with Grindelwald. I was mostly... I just... I just helped with creatures for him. I didn't listen to what he wanted, didn't agree, but I went because I wanted to learn..." He nuzzled closer against Percival. "He wasn't too bad. Not compared to school. He let me take care of the creatures, told me I could do that for as long as I wanted, but I wasn't interested in the world he wanted to build. So I didn't listen. The Ministry didn't see it that way. The Ministry saw me as a collaborator. My brother... he's an auror."
Percival held him gently, feeling him shudder. Newt needed to talk, and he didn't want to stop him while he was managing to say what he needed to.
"He found out what was going on with me, but he was also... he was seen as a threat to them. He wanted to make sure no corruption happens in the Ministry. He was investigating some of his coworkers when they brought me in to the Ministry cells. They... they hurt me. To get him to drop his investigation..." Newt looked up, his eyes wide and afraid, eyelashes damp with tears. "He dropped it. He got me out, got hurt badly doing it. He told me to run, and I have. I have to protect him by not getting caught. I don't want anyone to use me to hurt him."
"I believe you," Percival whispered, and that was enough to cause the tears to overflow, to run down Newt's face as he was overwhelmed by his emotions. "You're safe now. You're here with me, and no one is going to take you away."
Newt hesitated, but then nodded, leaning up to brush his lips against Percival's. Percival moved away and shook his head.
"You don't need to do that, Newt."
Newt nodded and cuddled up again.
"I believe you too," he whispered. "Thank you for keeping me safe."
Percival gently guided Newt out from beneath the table.
"We need to see what we can do. If the aurors are trying to control your brother like that... it's a problem."
Newt leaned against him and held his hand.
Finding out the truth from Newt was in many ways the easy bit. Now, he knew what had happened, but that left Percival with no idea of how to actually solve the problem.
He believed what Newt had told him, but he wasn't an auror any more. He no longer officially had the support of MACUSA. They would help him if he asked, but he didn't want to put any of his friends in danger.
Newt headed to his own bed that night. Percival floated in a glass of water, and Newt had smiled at him a little shyly, Pickett waving from the top of the bedpost.
"Can you tell me any more about the British aurors?" Percival asked softly, watching Newt's response. If Newt refused, he would try and work around it.
Newt was silent for a few moments, then nodded, snatching the cup provided for him from the air.
"What do you know about the British wizarding community?" Newt began.
"Lots of focus on blood status," Percival answered quickly. "Family is seen as important, but it's been longer since the witch hunts for the Ministry. You never had a Salem the way we did. You are more tolerant of No-Majs. And you share the view of empire of the No-Majs that you live among."
Newt hesitated, then nodded. "We are more integrated, we do better with Muggles as you say, we allow intermarriage..." He sighed. "But yes, blood status matters a lot. And certain wizards and witches think that it makes them more special..." He shook his head. "One of the few things Grindelwald and I agreed on was... that magic is magic." Newt shrugged a little. "Who your parents are shouldn't matter."
"What were you telling me about the British aurors?" Percival prompted gently.
"Most of them buy into the blood status stuff," Newt explained. "They're willing to allow those from the Sacred Twenty Eight – the purest of the purebloods, get away with literal murder. And my brother doesn't agree. He says the law's the law."
Newt looked down for a minute and shook his head.
"He's quick enough to forget that rule when it's me that's involved, mind you." He shuffled over on the bed, making space for Percival. "You can sit down if you'd like."
"Thank you," Percival whispered, sitting down beside him, his prosthetic leg stuck straight out ahead of him.
"So what do we do now?" he asked Newt. "Now that we know each other's stories."
"You'll let me stay?" Newt asked softly. "Given that I have been working with a Dark wizard?"
"You have nowhere else to go," Percival said softly. "If the Ministry is hunting you, then I can promise you that there is nowhere you are safer than here. But I will need to confirm your story."
"Didn't your mindreader already do that?"
"I was thinking of someone a little more reliable," Percival answered. "Someone who knows you."
"Are you thinking of..." He paused and shook his head. "Are you thinking of someone from the Ministry?" Fear passed across Newt's face.
"In a way," Percival answered, keeping his voice gentle to keep Newt calm. "I have an old friend from the war. I would like to see what his view is on this is."
"Who?" Newt asked.
"Theseus Scamander," Percival had been unsure how Newt would react, but he smiled as though he was being offered a great treasure.
"Thank you," Newt whispered.
"I can't take you with me," Percival said firmly. "I'll need you to stay here, in this house where I know you are safe, while I go to England. I can't promise you'll be safe in the Ministry."
"Alright," Newt said softly. "Just... tell him that I miss him."
"I won't be going until the morning," Percival told him. "We can eat breakfast together if you would like."
"I would like that," Newt answered, his voice soft. His hand squeezed Percival's for a moment, and then Percival climbed to his feet, walking back to his own room.
He slept that night in his own bed, and in the morning he woke up to the scent of food cooking. The two of them ate side by side.
"I should be back by tonight," Percival told him. "Look after Pickett."
Newt stood in the doorway, smiling a little as Percival apparated into MACUSA.
Walking to Seraphina's office seemed easier now. After his injuries, he had been unsure if he still had a place in MACUSA, but Newt had given him the purpose that he needed.
The President didn't seem surprised to see him. She smiled up at him.
"How is your problem going?"
"I need to travel to England," Percival answered. "Because my problem needs someone from there."
She sighed and shook her head.
"You're really quite fond of this problem, aren't you?"
"Perhaps," Percival admitted. Seraphina wasn't a Legilimens, but sometimes she acted like she was one. "But I can handle it."
"That's what you said before your duel," Seraphina reminded him.
"And I came back alive."
"Take a Portkey. Try not to cause an international incident. And be careful," she instructed, writing out a note for him to take with him. He nodded up at her, and headed to the Portkey Office.
Despite many years of close collaboration with the British, Percival had rarely visited the Ministry of Magic. He recognized a number of the aurors that bustled through the halls, but he didn't know many names. He headed up to the Auror Office, and smiled.
"Is Theseus Scamander here?"
One of the nearer aurors looked up at him.
"Who is asking?"
"Percival Graves. I consult for MACUSA on the Grindelwald case, and I hear that he's the expert. MACUSA has a note-" he held out the piece of paper. The auror stared at it for a few seconds, and then nodded.
"He's in the office." He pointed along the hallway.
Percival headed there, unsure of what he would see. He had heard that Theseus was wounded. He pushed open the door, and found his old friend slumped at his chair, his head down dejectedly.
"Hello, Captain Scamander, I haven't seen you for a long time”
Theseus lifted his head and smiled.
"Percival!" He held out his hand, looking confident. "It's been too long."
Percival shook Theseus's hand, seeing the thin lines of curse-scars that crossed his friend's arm and face.
"You look like shit."
"Says the man who lost a leg," Theseus answered. "I've been fighting for a long time. It catches up with you eventually, both of us know that."
"We do," Percival agreed. "I've been listening to the chatter about this Grindelwald case. MACUSA can't send any of their full-time aurors to investigate, but a cripple like me, well, that one they can spare."
"And you heard about my connection to it?"
"I heard you are the Ministry's expert. And I would like it if you can come with me for a little while."
"Not sure they can spare me," Theseus answered.
Percival arched an eyebrow. "MACUSA needs you more than the Ministry does, for now at least. Perhaps we can get an American auror to take your place. Americans make the better aurors, we both know that."
Theseus laughed a little at that.
"Not what I remember from the war."
"You were drunk for most of the war," Percival answered. "Take a Portkey with me. I can have you back by nightfall." He gazed into Theseus's eyes, and after a moment Theseus nodded.
"I'll come with you," he agreed, and Percival walked with him to the Portkey Office. The two of them held onto the key, and they arrived in the MACUSA office.
"Now, are you planning to tell me what this is really about?"
"Your brother," Percival answered.
"Newt?" Theseus came to life in a moment. "Is he okay? Please tell me he isn't in MACUSA's cells... don't send him back."
"He's safe," Percival answered. "Do you want to talk about what happened?"
"Not much to tell," Theseus murmured.
"I hear he was working for Gellert Grindelwald."
"As a stablehand, really. Nothing more," Theseus said quickly.
"Then why is the Ministry hunting him?"
Theseus looked up into his eyes and muttered a single word.
"Come with me to my place. We might as well get you comfortable before we start to discuss the mission."
Theseus nodded, and they walked home together, talking about the war and other old things, memories shared and cases worked.
Percival pushed the front door open, and he could smell cooking.
Theseus walked in beside him, and Percival closed the door, then cleared his throat.
"Yes?" Newt called from the kitchen.
"We've got enough food to stretch for three?"
"I think so. Is Miss Tina coming tonight?" Newt asked, walking to the doorway and then freezing. He and Theseus stood staring at each other for a few moments, before Newt ran forwards and wrapped his arms around Theseus. Percival looked away, knowing that this was a personal moment that he had no right to impose upon.
Theseus held him tightly, pressing a soft kiss to Newt's forehead.
"I wasn't sure you were still... How did you find Percival?"
"Luck," Newt answered with a gentle smile. "I'm a lucky man, always have been..."
Theseus kept his arms around Newt for a few more moments, pressing gentle kisses to his forehead before he released him.
"He's with me." Newt shivered. "Didn't think you'd still be... didn't think you'd still want me after all the trouble I got you into."
"You're my baby brother, Newt." Theseus shrugged. "You always will be. Even when you're an idiot." He sighed. "You've got a wand?"
"Only the tracked one." Newt answered with a shrug. “It’s emergencies only you said.”
"We'll find another one for you," Theseus said firmly. Percival nodded.
"I know I need to keep moving," Newt said softly, dishing up the plates of food.
"We can't hide from the Ministry forever." Theseus sighed. "I hated losing you for so long. I'd missed you. It was... our parents are worried sick about you. They think you've died, or worse..."
"I still can't go home. Not while the aurors are there. Not if they'll use me against Theseus."
"Then we tell people what they've done." Percival frowned. "You're an auror."
"It's a lot of them against one of me," Theseus explained, a frown lingering on his face.
Percival considered his options, but it was Newt who spoke.
"Then we will prove it."
"They're smart, Newt," Theseus said after a moment. "How do you want us to prove it?"
"I think we should give them what they want," Newt explained, glancing down for a moment before looking back up at both of them. "Right now, the main thing they want is to capture me."
"No," Theseus and Percival spoke in almost exact synchronicity, aiming identical glares at Newt.
Newt seemed unphased by their anger, flashing a bright smile at them.
"What do you suggest then?"
"Anything other than handing you over to people who want you dead," Theseus snapped.
Newt swallowed, letting Pickett walk along the length of his arm.
"But they don't want me dead. If I die, they lose any power they might otherwise have held over you. They don't like me very much. But they want me to live."
Percival frowned, a dozen arguments against Newt's plan occurring in his mind. Theseus looked almost incandescent with rage. But Newt seemed calm.
"We all know they need me to be alive if they want any say over my brother. If we want to find out what they're doing, I need to go among them. We could... I don't know. Some kind of recording spell on a handkerchief. That would mean we could record the evidence we need to expose them to the world."
"And if they decide they want to torture you, Newt?" Theseus asked, and as he spoke he ran his fingers absently across the curse scars which lined his arms.
"I've been tortured before," Newt said very calmly. "By Grindelwald mostly, but by a few others as well. I know it isn't exactly enjoyable. But given the potential dangers to anyone else, and the importance of the case, I'm willing to risk it."
Theseus stared at him, his mouth open slightly in horror. Percival shook his head.
"This is... this is too much. I am not handing you over to be defenceless."
There was silence for a few moments, each of them lost in their own argument.
"What about Miss Tina?" Newt swallowed. "I mean, you said she's a bouncer, but I think... I mean, she seems like an auror. I promise I'd take good care of your girlfriend-"
Theseus laughed out loud, making Newt pause and turn towards him.
"Perce, tell me you don't have a girlfriend. You have never been interested in girls. Didn't seem to know what to do with them during the war."
"I didn't need the reminder of that instruction manual," Percival muttered, before turning his attention towards Newt. "Tina is an auror. But she isn't my girlfriend. I just wanted someone to help, and hoped to put you at your ease after... after that first conversation. I would be willing for her to spend some time on a mission with you, but we would need to check it with Fontaine and Picquery. If they approve, and only then, we can use you as bait."
Newt seemed to recognise that was the best he could hope to get, and nodded his acceptance. Percival said nothing more of the matter, and Theseus regaled them all with tales from the aurors' office. It was only when Newt began to yawn that Percival realised it had drifted past midnight.
"Newt, you should rest. I'll sort out a bed for your brother, and in the morning we'll take our case in to MACUSA."
Newt walked away, leaving Theseus and Percival facing each other.
"What did you mean about when you met?" Theseus's voice sounded dangerous. It was little more than a whisper, but there was still a threat there.
"He broke in because he knew this house was magic. And he offered himself to me to keep quiet and not tell MACUSA that he was here."
Theseus repeated the phrase 'offered himself' under his breath, as though he couldn't quite understand what it was that he had been hearing. After a few moments he seemed to realise, and looked up at Percival.
"You're telling me he's a whore?"
"I'm telling you that he was frightened and willing to do whatever it took to keep out of trouble," Percival said, trying to defend Newt. He knew Newt didn't really need to be defended, but it felt like the right thing to do.
"And did you?"
"Theseus, I thought you knew me better than that."
"I thought I knew the Ministry better," Theseus spat. "I know they hated me, but I never thought they'd stoop so low."
"I don't even know if it was them," Percival explained. "He said he wanted to pay. It might have been after his escape or..." Percival took a deep breath, steeling himself for his next few words. "It may have been from before the Ministry got him. I mean, there are rumours about Grindelwald's... predilections."
Theseus arched an eyebrow.
"If you think my brother got buggered by a Dark wizard, you can just come out and say it."
"I think it's a possibility," Percival said, only to see Theseus's expression go through a rather remarkable cascade of emotions. Primary among them were anger and concern, but they were followed by shock, upset, and then something close to fear. He glanced over his shoulder to find Newt standing there in the pyjamas he had borrowed, holding a glass.
"I just needed some water," Newt mumbled. "Sorry to disturb you. And about the buggery..." He shrugged a little.
Theseus looked at his brother rather cynically.
"You can't just say that."
"It wasn't like that," Newt said softly. "You don't need to worry about me being some screaming victim. I knew he was using me, but I was using him to help the creatures, and it was hardly the first time. Or the last." He shrugged. "It was just a transaction."
"Newt," Theseus stared at him in shock. "You... it shouldn't be like that."
"Maybe not," Newt answered. "But compared to everything else... it doesn't bother me."
Theseus looked like he was seriously contemplating exploding in anger, so Percival stepped forwards.
"I'm sorry that happened to you, Newt," he said gently. "You deserved better. But I'm glad you're alright now. You are safe and I will protect you."
"Thank you," Newt murmured, glancing up at both of them and then smiling sadly. "But I don't think that's enough to help. If we need to deal with the Ministry, I need to let them capture me."
"With Tina Goldstein as your backup," Percival agreed.
"Theece..." Newt reached out, to rest his hand on his brother's arm. "I am... I am so grateful for everything that you have done for me. But I am willing to do this for you. Let me help."
Theseus looked for a moment like he was about to refuse, before he nodded, his eyes closing for a moment.
"What can we do?" He embraced Newt, and Percival sighed.
"For now, get some sleep. In the morning I will call Miss Goldstein." He ushered both of the brothers to their bed, before apparating across to Seraphina's office.
She looked up from her desk, her eyes sparkling.
"I had been wondering when you were going to explain what it is that you have been doing." She crossed her arms. "I hear that you kidnapped a British auror." For a moment her expression was serious, before she flashed a smile at him.
"I had a home invasion," Percival began, and Seraphina waved over two glasses, which filled with scotch at a touch of her wand. He took the proffered glass. "By a young man and his bowtruckle. He was trying to steal food. And asked me not to get MACUSA involved. I had Queenie check him out, and she thinks that he's rather harmless, although he previously worked with Grindelwald."
"And you kidnapped the auror?" she prompted.
"It is his older brother. My friend. He has been attempting to clean up the Ministry, and the Ministry retaliated by targeting his brother."
"What do you recommend?"
"We want proof his brother is being targeted. As they already have an extradition claim out on him, I would like someone to go with him. Ideally Auror Goldstein."
"And once the Ministry has him?"
"We get the evidence we need and get him out."
"You do realise that if this backfires, it could provoke a war?" Seraphina asked, looking at him intensely. "I don't want to lose the relationship with Britain because of you having a crush."
"I am doing what is right," Percival said firmly. "You've been telling me I need to find a purpose after everything that has happened. And this is it. I want to help him. I want this fixed."
"I can authorise auror Goldstein and a Portkey," she said after a minute. "But also speak to Fontaine. And whilst the Brit is over here, I want him overseeing our auror department – if that's the excuse you used for bringing him, it better happen."
"Thank you." Percival reached out, shaking her hand.
"It's good to have you back."
Percival was sick with worry at the thought of sending Goldstein and Newt to Britain, into the clutches of the aurors that despised Theseus and would happily blackmail him. He couldn't stop it though. Newt was right – this was the only course of action available to them, and if they got it right it would mean Theseus had the evidence he needed. He couldn't stop it.
The extradition treaty stood – and that meant that the Ministry would expect MACUSA to hand over the younger Scamander if they got the chance. If he hadn't met Newt, if he had still been head auror, he probably would have done it without a second thought. He couldn't let himself dwell on what mistakes he might have made in the past, whether there were innocent men he had handed over to Britain without a backwards glance. Theseus was a British auror – there were some at least in their ranks that he could trust, and he couldn't let himself think too much.
Fontaine easily agreed, and what was left for him was to brief Goldstein as Fontaine readied a surveillance spell for a handkerchief that Newt could keep in his pocket. Theseus was pacing around the aurors' office, clearly impatient and nervous - he reminded Percival of some kind of wild beast, or the hippogriffs which he had always spoken about with such fondness.
Tina Goldstein hurried into what had once been his office a few minutes later. Percival was standing against the wall, using its support to lessen the weight on his ruined leg.
"Hello, Tina." He smiled at her fondly. "Good day?"
"Better now I hear I've got something interesting to do. Assuming you're not expecting me to pass as your girl again – I don't think I can make a very convincing job of it."
"I agree. Newt thought I was forcing you..." Percival shook his head to chase away that train of thought. "No, not that. I've told him you work for MACUSA."
"How did he-"
"He took it better than could be expected," Percival answered. "He's worried, but he trusted you. Actually, he suggested you for someone who could support him." A frown flickered across his face and he glanced down at his artificial leg. "I can't go with you. I'd only slow you down if you need to get out of somewhere quickly, and I don't want him to suffer because of me."
Tina hesitated and nodded, clearly unsure if she should argue or agree with what he was saying.
"Do try and make sure he isn't tortured," Percival pleaded. "He seemed so calm... said it had happened before, and that he'd rather avoid it... I know Theseus. Theseus has always been an idiot. He'd plunge himself head first into danger if it would protect even a stranger, and I think his brother feels the same. The thought of that level of self-sacrifice being a family trait... it's a wonder any of them have lived long enough to reproduce."
Tina coughed in an attempt to hide a smile.
"I'll take care of him, sir. As best as I can."
"You'll have a dual-use Portkey, one chance to get him in and one to get him out. He'll let you know when he has the evidence."
"And how do I explain staying in America?"
"Make up a relative to visit? Say you wanted progress, or that you-" Percival considered. "Say that you've been asked by MACUSA to observe what has been happening in the Ministry, and report back on their handling of the Grindelwald case."
She nodded, and once the Portkey was secured Percival led her back to his home.
The two brothers were sitting facing each other at the kitchen table, pieces of paper spread out before them. They were leaning in, talking animatedly in lowered voices – Percival was hit by the sudden sensation that he had stumbled upon a council of war. He paused in the doorway, not wanting to disturb them. Theseus sat up, coughing to clear his throat.
"Sorry," he murmured. "We were just... discussing our options. I wanted to ensure he was briefed about all of the aurors. There are certain ones that I'd rather he remain close to if possible – Bulstrode's a decent enough woman, but Abbot's been gunning for me for years."
"You're sure about this, Newt?"
"I don't want to spend the rest of my life running. That means I need to turn and face whatever it is that they're going to throw at me, and anyway there's no point in worrying. Worrying only means you suffer twice." Those words were accompanied by such a brilliant smile that for a moment Percival found himself believing him.
Theseus stood up and walked around the table, embracing his brother for a moment and then stepping away and looking towards Tina.
"You take good care of him, you hear me?"
"I'll do what I can," she reassured him, meeting his eyes. "I know how I'd feel if it was my little sister risking her life."
"Your little sister is nearly taller than I am, able to read minds, and has most of MACUSA wrapped around her little finger," Percival pointed out.
Tina didn't even try and hide her smirk, merely nodded. "None of that stops me worrying about her. It's what older siblings do. And Mister Scamander?"
"Look after Mister Graves while I'm gone. MACUSA needs him."
Theseus nodded, reaching out to shake her hand.
The tension in the room lessened a little. Percival watched as Newt prepared a small bag of things, and then tried to hand his bowtruckle to his brother.
This didn't immediately work, the bowtruckle clinging to Newt's hand and whimpering pathetically. Newt tried to shake it away, with little success.
"Pickett..." Newt pleaded. "I don't know if it'll be safe. I can't have you getting hurt."
Theseus gripped Pickett's body, wrapping his fingers around the bowtruckle, then screaming and letting go.
Percival glanced over to see a spot of blood on Theseus's finger.
"The little bastard bit me."
Newt sighed, letting Pickett scurry back onto his hand.
"This is why people say I spoil you." He stared at the bowtruckle and shook his head. "Miss Tina?"
"Just Tina, Newt."
"Tina, could you look after Pickett?"
She nodded, and Pickett clambered up onto her shoulder. He stuck his tongue out at Theseus and blew a little raspberry. Percival had to hide a smile at that.
"He'll look after me," Newt reassured Theseus. "And if I get locked up, he's the best at getting me out of it."
"Still no need for teeth," Theseus grumbled as the bowtruckle sat on Tina's shoulder, looking surprisingly smug for a small green stick.
Percival looked between the two of them.
"Goldstein, I expect regular updates. Newt, try and not get killed."
Newt nodded, embracing his brother tightly and then hugging Percival.
"I'll miss you," Newt whispered, before rushing back to Goldstein and holding his hands behind his back. "If I'm playing a hostage, I'd best be cuffed."
Goldstein bound his hands behind his back, and Percival tried to ignore how worried he was about what was happening.
Newt mattered to him. The thought of Newt not coming back frightened him.
"Wait!" he called out, walking over to Newt and taking his own watch off, placing it on Newt's wrist. "If you tap the glass five times quickly, it will send an alert. I'll get the other side of it from Picquery. Then if you need help, we'll know. Your brother and I will come and find you."
Newt nodded, but the smile he gave back now was a little more fragile.
Ex-Director Graves took a step backwards, and Tina wrapped her hand around Newt's arm. She gripped the Portkey, and the two of them were pulled away from America, across the Atlantic.
It took a moment for her to recognise the building they were in – but it was the Ministry. With a flick of her wrist, she pulled out her wand and pressed it into the back of Newt's neck, marching him down the corridor towards what she remembered as the Auror Office.
A large female auror waddled up to her with a smile, nodding at the two of them.
"Hello. I'm from MACUSA, we believe you were looking for this particular..." She shrugged, and Newt cringed slightly, trying to shrink from her arms.
"Do you want me to take him?" the auror asked.
"I promised that I'd see him to the Minister myself," Tina tried to explain.
"I can do it," the auror answered, then frowned a little. "You can come with me if you want." There was a sympathetic look in her eyes as she spoke, but she took control of Newt, marching him along the corridor, prodding her wand into him. "What are you doing back here, Scamander?"
"Your brother's in America. You chose a bad time to get caught. I'll let him know you're here." The British auror kept her voice low, but Newt nodded quickly.
"Thank you." Genuine relief sparkled across Newt's face, just for a moment.
The Minister looked up.
"Bulstrode. Who is this?"
"I thought you'd know Scamander after the chase he's led us through," the British auror snapped.
"Not him. The girl."
"Auror Goldstein," Tina introduced herself quickly. "I brought him in. And I was asked by Auror Fontaine to check on your progress in the Grindelwald case."
"That has nothing to do with me. Bulstrode, take Scamander to the cells and then I want you to show Goldstein the progress. Let Abbot know that his pet project is back."
Tina could see the terror on Newt's face, but there was nothing that she could say. Bulstrode led Newt down to the cells, Tina following in their wake. Tina watched as Newt was shown into the cell. Bulstrode was gentle enough with her actions, but left the restraints on his wrists.
"That should stop any escape attempts.” She said to Tina, then leaned in towards Newt. “I'll let you know what your brother says," she murmured, and then stepped away, locking the cell door. "This way, auror Goldstein. I will show you what progress we've made. I think it'll get easier now that we have Scamander here."
"He and Grindelwald were lovers. He'll come looking for him."
Newt closed his eyes, leaning back against the wall of the cell. His brother being informed would have been a comfort, if Theseus didn't already know where he was. Now it was nothing. He just had to wait, and remind himself that this was all part of the plan. This was the plan. He was exactly where he was meant to be at this moment in time.
He heard footsteps approaching the cell, and wondered which of his tormentors he was about to face. For a moment, he expected to find himself faced with mismatched eyes, or a smiling girl whose photograph was one of the few things he had taken from Hogwarts when he left, but it was Abbot who opened the door, his brown hair in waves to his shoulders, face softer than most aurors. It was the smirk on his lips that made Newt cringe.
"So, you came home. You miss me that much?"
(sorry for the delayed update here - with RedFurryDemon's help I've edited the entire story so far, and the delay has been me rewriting, editing and making sure I'm happy with it. I hope that you enjoy the update - and the next one will be soon!)
Newt had a lot of practice at withstanding pain. That was probably something that should have worried him, but as it was, he was just grateful. It meant that whatever happened next would be manageable. Whatever happened afterwards would be manageable as well – at moments like this, he just needed to get through each second at a time, let whatever would happen happen and trust that everything would work out. He wasn't alone. Theseus had warned him not to mention the pureblood investigations to Abbott, so that was exactly what Newt was planning to start with. The faster Abbot got riled up, the faster he would give away whatever it was he was keeping secret, and the faster Newt could get the evidence he would need. Theseus wouldn't have agreed – but Theseus liked to pretend that his brother was worth much more than Newt actually was.
That was preparation at least. He stayed still, focusing on his breathing. It would help him to last without embarrassing himself. There’d been previous torture sessions between them where he had ended up begging helplessly, willing to admit to anything to make the hurt stop. But he was here deliberately this time. This was his choice.
Abbot stepped forwards, flicking his wand out to aim it at Newt.
Newt couldn't help flinching back – both from his name and from the wand that was aimed at him so callously. Abbot smirked at that. Newt tried to concentrate; it was different now, he was in control. He was going to help his brother. Abbot had hated him since Hogwarts, had been the inventor of many of his nicknames and instigator of many of the small tortures which flickered around the halls of the building that was meant to be his refuge. Since then they had both grown, and Abbot had discovered new ways to hurt.
"Abbot," he murmured, glancing away and flinching as Abbot gripped his chin, forced him to look up at him.
"Stupid Scamander. Always hiding. Always flinching. I don't know why your brother puts up with it."
"I don't either," Newt agreed, plastering a fairly cheerful smile on his face. "Family, right... you know, I'm the exception to all the stuff he says about purebloods."
"That's because your brother is the worst hypocrite of all of us." Abbot smirked, and Newt nodded.
"He's always been protective of me," Newt said softly.
"I remember," Abbot answered, and snorted. "We aren't here to talk about auror Scamander. We're here to talk about Grindelwald, about the man you chose to take on as a lover."
"It wasn't..." Newt started to explain, before flinching as a cutting curse was sent towards him, slicing at his arm. Abbot was good at his aim. If he wanted to cause damage, he would, but for now he just wanted to see Newt frightened and in pain. Newt knew how this would go. Dozens of cuts, none deep enough to cause passing out, but flickering over the edges of his nerves. He was brought back to the present by another slice, this one across his cheek. He tried to count. Eventually Abbot would heal them before he started again. Knowing how many cuts he was on would help him see how long it would be before that momentary respite. Another slice, this one on the bottom of his foot, and another on his knee, the blood soaking through his intact clothing.
"What are his plans? We know he's been trying to persuade people that wizards are superior. We know he persuaded you."
Newt opened his mouth to argue, and another slicing spell hit him across the chest, followed by one crossing the length of his spine. He whimpered softly, rocking from side to side where he was sitting. It was a bad plan to panic. It wouldn't get him the information he needed. He had to get the conversation back to purebloods. He’d come here with a purpose. If he didn’t get the information he needed, all of this would be worthless. Another cut brushed across his ribs, and he felt a cry escape him.
An idea hit him and he smiled nervously, unsure if he was going to have the strength to pull this off.
"He just thinks that all wizards are equal," Newt mumbled, gazing down at the floor. "He doesn't believe in pureblood superiority... He just thinks that talent is what matters. Only wizardkind and Muggles. A talented Muggle-born has more place in his dream world than someone like me. He wants talent, not birth."
"That just proves how wrong he is," Abbot snarled. "Things are the way they are for a reason." With a wave of his hand he cleaned away the cuts, Newt’s skin knitting back together flawlessly. Newt took a deep breath and made himself continue.
"That why you've let Malfoy get away with what he's done. Lestrange too. And Goyle. All you care about are names," Newt spat.
The pain hit like fire, and Newt knew better than to attempt to hold in the screams. He tried not to faint, but the edges of his vision went black. Theseus would come. Theseus was always going to be there for him, he’d promised that. Percival had said there was a way out but he couldn’t remember how to make it stop. It needed to stop, he was aware of how loud he was screaming but all he could see was Abbot smirking down at him. Abbot’s lips were moving but he couldn’t hear what was being said.
As the spell was cancelled Newt tried to let himself forget where he was. It was better just to try and float away. He thought of happy events. Of days in the sun with Theseus on the hippogriff farm when they were only children. Of finding Pickett as a seedling and caring for him through his illnesses, seeing him flourish. He thought of Percival, of kindness offered without any question of repayment. Eventually the darkness faded and he was aware of the room around him.
Abbot stared down at him.
"You'd better start cooperating. Your brother can't save you now." Those words were accompanied by the sensation of flames licking beneath Newt’s feet, and the reason he was here began to vanish from his mind as he focused on his survival.
"I'm guessing you want to know what it is that Scamander did to get extradited here?" Bulstrode asked as she walked along the corridor beside Tina.
"You said he was Grindelwald's lover?"
"He was. He's not... harmful really. An odd one." She sighed. "He's got mixed up in things so far out of his league that he's nearly drowning in it."
"You said you'd send word to his brother?" Tina prompted, curious to work out what game the woman was playing.
"I will. Abbot always got violent towards Scamander. You're an auror. You know that sometimes we have to be heavy handed, but Abbot pushes way past what is reasonable, when he's with Scamander."
"He hates his brother. Because auror Scamander wants complete equality before the law regardless of blood status, and a lot of the rest of us don't agree."
"That includes you?" Tina asked, glancing up at her.
"I'm proud of being a pureblood," Bulstrode informed her. "I can look through my family tree and see dozens of successful wizards and witches. But I don't think it all comes down to that. I wouldn't want to be treated differently because of what I am."
Bulstrode hesitated and glanced over towards her.
"I don't mean to be rude. But in America – there aren't many purebloods, are there?"
"Half," she explained. "No-Maj mother, magical father. They loved me and my sister more than anything, until Dragon Pox took them away." She shook her head. "They both took care of us."
Bulstrode nodded, reaching out to rest a hand on Tina's arm.
"I'm sorry," Bulstrode murmured.
"I've got an older brother," Bulstrode murmured. "He's in the army. Parents always preferred him because he was a boy, but..." She shook her head. "Family is family, I understand that. That's all Abbot's plan. If Scamander wants to make an exemption for Newt, it will prove he's wrong, that he believes in blood status like the rest of us. He's always helped his brother. And we are investigating Grindelwald, which Newt hasn't been cooperating with-" She rubbed a meaty hand across her forehead. "Theseus chose a terrible time to go across the pond."
"Can you show me what you've got on the Grindelwald case?" Tina asked. "I can contact Theseus."
"Here." Bulstrode handed over the information. Tina quickly started make the notes she needed, trying to ensure she looked busy. Bulstrode wandered away to fetch each of them a cup of tea, returning after a few minutes.
"Thanks," Tina mumbled.
Percival stared at the watch around his wrist. It was the one normally worn by Seraphina, a fragile and sparkling thing. But it was linked to the one on Newt's wrist. He watched, waiting for Newt to tap on it at any moment. If that happened, he would be ready to give support in a few moments. He would be there to help. It was the waiting that was hard.
Theseus was walking across the floor, pacing up and down. Percival glanced at the man's feet to check that he hadn't actually worn a hole in the carpet, glad that his own mismatched legs stopped him from doing any such show of anxiety. Theseus was muttering.
"This is just so like Newt, he's always been drawn to trouble – it isn't his fault, it's just who he is, but it's so frustrating I can't even begin to put it into words."
Percival fought down on the instinct to point out the irony in that statement.
"He rushes headfirst into problems without a thought for himself," Theseus continued, and Percival lost the battle.
"He takes after you."
That made Theseus stop. He turned towards Percival, frowning a little.
"You like him, don't you?"
Percival hesitated – his first instinct was to say no, but Theseus was his friend. He didn't want to lie to him. Eyes wide, he nodded a little. Theseus reached out, pressing a hand to Percival's shoulder.
"My brother is an idiot. He's obsessed with creatures and he didn't pass school. So if that's really what you want, then lets just hope that witch of yours is as good as you think." Theseus was smiling, and Percival smiled back.
Newt curled up in the back of his cell, shaking a little. His body ached from the curses inflicted upon him, but he had to hope that he had got the information he needed. There had been points in the interrogation where he had lost his focus, and he wasn’t sure what had happened, but he had to hope there was enough there for him to leave. He could prove that Abbot hated Muggle-borns, thought them little more than Muggles, thought them worthless. It proved the man was a bastard, but not that he was a danger. Until he got the evidence he needed, there was no way he was leaving.
Tina would be coming soon. He promised himself that, and as the door to his cell opened, he felt himself smiling a little. It was going to be alright. At least, he thought that until he looked into the doorway, and saw a familiar figure standing there. Grindelwald inclined his head slightly, a nod.
"Grindelwald," Newt replied, feeling his heart starting to race. He didn't fear the man in front of him, but this had not been a part of the plan. Grindelwald walked forwards, oblivious to his fear. He waved his hands, and the bindings around Newt's wrists fell away.
"You didn't think I'd leave you to them, did you?"
Sorry about the delay here - Real life ate me and my beta!
For a few moments Newt stayed still, staring up at the man who had just arrived. There was no way he could ignore his presence – Grindelwald was here. But he couldn't understand why the man would risk coming to a place full of people who were actively hunting him down.
"What's happening?" Newt whispered as Grindelwald strode over, crouching down beside him and freeing him from his restraints, the bindings falling away as though made of water. "Why are you here?"
"Thought you might have appreciated the cavalry turning up," Grindelwald answered, his words accompanied by a chuckle. "Your brother is leading the anti-me task force, so I have to admit my motives aren't entirely benevolent, but the main point is that you deserve better than you're going to get here."
Newt swallowed thickly, closing his eyes for a moment as he tried to block out the world and consider his options – he could say no, refuse Grindelwald and try to bring the aurors here. It would lead to further pain at Abbot's hands, and probably achieve little - Grindelwald had made his way in here, so one could only assume he would be able to make his way out as well. Or he could go with him, abandoning poor Tina who would have to tell Theseus that Newt had been kidnapped. He swallowed cautiously, trying to plan a solution that would avoid anyone getting hurt. There was no easy answer to this, no way that everyone got a result they were happy with.
"Do I even have a choice?" he asked quietly, his voice miserable. Grindelwald smirked and brushed his fingers over Newt's hair.
"You always have a choice, Newton. I only ever want what's best for you, I thought you understood that."
Newt nodded, thinking of the creatures he had rescued with Grindelwald's assistance. How Grindelwald had asked for payment – but it was payment he had always been willing to give. But he thought of his brother. If he left with the Dark wizard, his brother would suffer. In the eyes of the Ministry it would confirm that Newt was a traitor, and perhaps even persuade them that his brother was one, too. He sighed softly, trying to make a plan of action in a situation where there was no obvious solution. His body ached, and Grindelwald's presence was almost a reassurance. He leaned into the touch to his hair.
"I don't have all day, Newton," Grindelwald warned, his voice firm. Newt nodded quickly – he didn't want to cause a fight at the Ministry. Even if some of them were bastards, they didn't deserve the destruction Grindelwald would cause. He paused and then shook his head, hoping he could dismiss Grindelwald.
"I've got it under control."
"Newton, if I learned anything from working with you, it's that when you think things are under control, they are at their most chaotic," Grindelwald answered calmly, a faint smile on his lips. "You and your brother are both drawn to chaos, but unlike you, he is able to handle it. I really do feel that it would be for the best that you come with me. I found a demiguise the other day, I've had to keep him in a cage-"
"I'll come," Newt answered, even as he suspected that Grindelwald had caught the demiguise solely in order to trap Newt. Newt almost felt flattered at the fact that his old mentor would have gone to such effort to persuade Newt to go with him without protest. He held his hands out towards Grindelwald, so that he could take him from the cell and from the reminders of pain. Abbot would return soon; if he and Grindelwald faced each other, someone would surely die. Grindelwald had managed to make his way into the utmost heart of the Ministry. There was something about that which caught in Newt's mind, seemed unnatural, but he didn't know enough about it to get into deep analysis of what was happening. The priority was to get Grindelwald away before anyone else got hurt.
Strong hands gripped his own, and the world whirled around him.
Tina found that she actually quite liked working with Bulstrode. While the woman could be a little blunt, she was fun to talk to. There weren't many female aurors, and Tina was happy to meet another one. Once this was all over, MACUSA and the Ministry would need to work together, and knowing people among the Ministry ranks would make things simpler.
Bulstrode was talking about the time she had broken up a Love Potion ring when Abbot walked in, his blonde hair swept back neatly. Bulstrode sat up a little straighter in her chair.
"What is it, Abbot?" she asked. "I thought you were busy with the prisoner."
"Oh, he was resisting. I've had to step it up a little, but I'm sure he'll give us what we need soon enough. What have you ladies been doing?"
"Talking," Bulstrode answered. "It doesn't matter."
"Need to fill in some paperwork for the use of a Crucio," he explained, walking to a cabinet and pulling out a form.
"He didn't need one of those," Bulstrode argued. "He's weak, the threat alone should do it."
"He was resisting," Abbot insisted, sitting down at a desk.
Tina frowned at the casual way Abbot spoke. MACUSA had its own forms for the use of Unforgivables, but they weren't an everyday thing.
"You subjected him to a Crucio and then left him?" she asked, feeling a little sick.
"Not for long," Abbot answered, pointing at the form. "Had to do this."
"I want to see him," Tina murmured. She knew Newt. He'd volunteered for this, but if it had got too much, she had to be the one to bring him home.
"Leave him to stew for a little."
"When Abbot's done the form, we can all check on him," Bulstrode suggested, trying to calm Tina down. "Goldstein's not used to how we do things here."
"Alright," Abbot conceded. "After this form, you know what the Minister's like when we get behind."
Bulstrode laughed a little, and continued with her story. Tina tried to focus, but she was relieved when Abbot finally stood up and sent the paperwork to the correct floor with a wave of his wand.
She was first to the door, only to realise she wasn't entirely certain of the route. Bulstrode quickly showed her the way through the labyrinthine corridors to the cells.
The cell Newt had been left in was locked from the outside. Abbot unlocked it quickly, pushing open the door.
Tina leaned to look in, gasping when she saw the cell was empty.
"What did you do with him?" she spat.
Abbot looked in, frowning.
"He's got out. We need to find him before he causes any more chaos."
Tina nodded quickly. She might not like it, but while the priority of both of them was to get Newt back, they were definitely on the same team.
Grindelwald always had a taste for the spectacular. His rooms were filled with treasures gathered from a dozen different countries, magical artefacts, and fine fabrics draped across the surfaces – in many ways his house was the opposite of that of Percival Graves who seemed almost austere at first glance, but later revealed itself to be full of a warmth which was absent here.
Newt walked past the artefacts. Obscure Dark magic had never held any particular interest for him, for all that it captivated his brother. His fascination had always been in the creatures, and his eyes were drawn to a cage that rested on the far wall. From inside a pair of burning blue eyes stared up at him.
"Every time I get near it, it vanishes, and it's bitten me. I'd have passed it on, but I thought you might want to meet it," Grindelwald explained.
Newt nodded, approaching with his hands held up.
"Hello, little one," he greeted softly. It crept forwards, eyes fading to a deep rich amber that shone with understanding. "You're safe now... where did you find him?"
"Some Muggle-lovers had caught it. I got rid of them. You're right that creatures need protecting from the likes of them."
Newt cringed, but unfastened the cage. Immediately the demiguise scampered up into his embrace. He wrapped his arms around it to soothe the frightened beast, and it nuzzled against his throat.
"He doesn't seem to be injured, just frightened," Newt reassured, petting the beast's soft fur. As he spoke, the creature turned invisible, and he sensed paws pressing into the carpet behind him. He released the demiguise and it scurried back to its cage as a weight launched itself onto Newt's shoulders. Newt yelped a little, stumbling forwards and spinning to come face to face with a full-size female Nundu. She licked his face, and he wrapped his arms around her, stroking her throat, still scarred from the torture that had been inflicted on her as a kitten.
"Hello, Shadow..." He paused. "She still jumps?"
"Only at you." Grindelwald whistled and the nundu made her way to his side, settling down there.
"Why am I here? Really?" Newt asked as he resumed trying to tempt the demiguise back out from the cage.
"Because your brother will look for you," Grindelwald explained. "He will look, and you are his weak point. I have nothing against you, Newton. I'll treat you well. I always have. But you are your brother's weak point, and I can't ignore that."
Newt nodded, pulling the demiguise into his arms, and stroking behind his ears.
"You're a sweet little thing," he said to the creature, trying to ignore the guilt that fluttered through him at Grindelwald's words. He'd already caused enough trouble for Theseus.
"You like the demiguise?" Grindelwald asked, leaning in to claim Newt's lips. Newt returned the kiss, wishing he might have had the chance to kiss Percival.
Percival was trying to read as Theseus continued his pacing. Theseus was worried that he hadn't heard from Newt, even though it was too soon for progress. He was walking around Percival's office, and Percival was considering casting a body-bind to make him stop.
A patronus scurried into the room, an otter.
"Scamander. Your brother appears to have left, and we have reason to believe he has gone to Grindelwald," it said in Abbot's voice. "If this is the case, when we retrieve him, it will be for his own execution." With that, it disappeared.
Theseus paled and looked up at Percival.
"Newt's in real trouble."