Percival stared down at the pile of paperwork that had accumulated on his desk with barely concealed disgust. He got up earlier than the rest of his department, and worked until later, and yet every day it seemed he finished with more to do than when he began. He sighed, and rubbed his forehead, glancing over a few of the newest files.
A mysterious explosion in a deserted warehouse - the No Maj authorities were blaming it on a gas leak. For all Percival knew, it might actually have been a gas leak. Regardless, no one had been hurt, and no one had seen anything, which put that at the bottom of the pile. A gang of wizards down by the docks had been linked to the illegal importing of animal parts. He read on for a little while. The Anubis Gang had been operating across America under the noses of the authorities, trading in dangerous parts of creatures. More worryingly, they had been linked to several seizures of living creatures.
Percival was only too aware of the chaos that a magical creature on the loose could inflict on the city. He penned a few quick notes, setting Fontaine and Garner to investigate further, then continued leafing through the pile.
Percival knew that he was lucky to have this. If someone had told him when he was in his second year of Ilvermorny that he would grow up to be the Director of Magical Security he would have laughed in their face and questioned their sanity. Now, no one would have doubted that he earned the role. He worked hard, and he had managed to massively improve the department's results.
His gaze was drawn by a note still in an envelope, headed by a very familiar hand. Theseus Scamander. He opened it curiously.
I do hope that this finds you well. Been rather busy at the moment with that charismatic bastard Grindelwald, he has the most dreadful habit of turning our own aurors against us. The Imperio curse helps of course. Percival smiled a little, able to almost hear his friend's sarcastic voice dripping through the words. Worried for dear Newt, you know what a trouble magnet he is. He's going off and travelling the world in the hope of finding new creatures and the like. He's been given a vast quantity of money by some alpha editor who thought that they were wooing a cute wide eyed omega, and who was too embarrassed to ask for the money back when they realised their mistake. You know how it is.
Percival frowned at the paper, hoping that Theseus wasn't biting off more than he could manage with the Grindelwald situation. Theseus was one of Percival's two true friends, and therefore one of the only two people in the world who knew Percival's secret. Unlike Picquery, Percival had chosen to tell Theseus when he found out that they would be sharing a room in the field. He'd held up his bottle of tablets, gazed into Theseus's eyes, and told him that if he so much as touched the bottle Percival would murder him.
Percival had been braced for anger, for laughter, for cruelty. What he wasn't expecting was for Theseus to nod his acceptance and not mention it any more until Graves was badly injured. He'd been lying in a hospital wing, hoping he could escape before the suppressing residue in his blood faded, when Theseus dropped by. He had smirked and held out the bottle.
"I touched it. Don't kill me?"
"I won’t kill you." He'd agreed. When he was better, they didn't speak of it, until one day when Theseus walked over and sat with him. Percival had instantly been on the alert in case he was attacked. Instead, Theseus smiled at him a little.
"Must be pretty lonely, getting stuck with the wrong body." Theseus had muttered.
"I cope." Percival answered, and the matter had been settled.
Percival rubbed his eyes and tried to focus on the paperwork. The reply to Theseus's letter could wait. For now he had work to do, and even if it was inconvenient he was very aware of how lucky he was to get the chance to do it. An omega heading any department, let alone the aurors, was unheard of. Everyone knew that aurors were tough, macho, violent - everything omegas were not. Percival knew that working as an auror wasn't a job omegas were suited for.
But Percival was an alpha, and the job suited him just fine. The messed up body he had been saddled with didn't change what he was and what he could do, and the pills stopped his body from doing anything additional that it shouldn't do. He trained physically so he would have the muscle mass that came naturally to alphas, and he was skilled with combat spells. He rubbed a calloused hand across his face and turned his attention back to the pile of reports. He paused, noticing Goldstein's handwriting on one page. Another report on the Second Salemers, setting out why MACUSA needed to take an interest. Goldstein was softhearted and would make a fine auror one day. Not yet though. He sighed, and looked up as a knock sounded on his door.
"Come in?" He called out, and it was pushed open to reveal the only other person working this late. Seraphina Picquery. Momentarily freed from the expectation of her role, she looked exhausted. She walked to his desk, leaning against it, and he called a chair over for her to collapse into with a wave of his hand, before pulling out a bottle of firewhiskey and pouring two glasses. He handed it over, and gazed into her eyes.
"You look like shit."
She smiled slightly at that.
"I am still your boss." She muttered, taking her glass and clinking it against his own. He knew how hard it was for her to spend her days surrounded by sycophantic yes men. The least he could do was tell her the truth.
"You are my boss. And you look like shit."
"Tina's still staying with her sister. She's not answering any of my firecalls, won't even meet with me." Seraphina explained.
"No wonder you look shit." Percival said, half teasing and half sympathetic. For Seraphina, being an alpha woman of mixed race had been hard, but falling for another female alpha had sent shock waves through the magical world. Just as the rumours about them had calmed down, the Second Salem incident had occurred, and the rumours had started up again. He glanced down at the report, frowning when he saw it was dated the third of September. Tina had written the report yesterday, and even though she wasn't an auror anymore had given it to him. He had to admire her bravery at least.
Seraphina drained her glass and held it out for a refill which he quickly provided.
"Thanks." She muttered, gulping down the liquid. "I don't... know what to say. I stand by what I did. She nearly exposed all of us. I can't be seen as going lightly on her just because... because I love her..." Seraphina muttered. "You're lucky you're single."
Percival arched an eyebrow, but didn't argue with her. He just kept the drink topped up.
"She'll calm down. She's a hothead, but she's got a good heart. She loves you too much to hate you."
"She's just... she wants us to help those No Maj kids and we can't..." Seraphina murmured. This wasn't the first time they'd had the conversation over the past week or two, but he couldn't blame her. It was hitting her hard.
"Rappaport's law keeps us safe. If we start interfering with the No Maj groups, we’ll get found out." He agreed, sighing. "She'll calm down. Just give her some time." He smiled at her and pointed at the paperwork.
"I think it's breeding."
She laughed a little, and nodded.
"Sorry, you were trying to work and I just wander in-"
"You are always welcome here 'Phina." Percival reassured her. "Just maybe get someone researching whether or not the paper has started to reproduce."
She nodded, staring at her glass. He was quiet, seeing how she had grown - remembering the young girl he had met as he arrived at Ilvermorny. She had been confident, even when the other children called her names. All four houses had wanted her, and Percival had known then that she was the kind of person he needed to stay close to. They'd been close friends since that first day.
Even at school, he'd managed to convince everyone that he was an alpha. The school's healer had provided him with his first suppressants with a sympathetic smile, and aside from the packet delivered every month nothing changed. He was an alpha. Seraphina had found out about his biology during a potions class. They were in the alpha class, focused on potions for combat and work while the omegas learned potions to heal.
Professor Infico was an alpha of the worst sort. He knew what he was doing, was skilled at potions, but he was also convinced that alphas were superior in every way. Therefore, while he taught the alpha students, he refused to work with the omegas. But he was the most knowledgeable teacher. It had been towards the end of term in their fifth year when he brought out a glowing blue potion.
"This is the Aestus potion. Now, I know a lot of you are going to go on to be aurors, who can tell me what this does?"
Percival had known. Percival's heart had started to race as he stared at that small blue potion which had the potential to ruin him. It was Grimsditch who answered in a bored drawl.
"Puts omegas into heat. And makes them immune to suppressants."
The bottle had been passed around as Infico rambled on about the production and the effects, about how heats impacted omegas, about why it would be something aurors might need to recognise. As the vial reached him, Percival's hands shook, and Seraphina reached over to take it from him, shooting him a concerned look.
"Sir, I feel sick. Can Graves take me to the medical wing?"
With permission granted, Seraphina had got him out of sight of the others before he had started to panic, his heart racing. She squeezed his hand, looked into his eyes and nodded.
"You're still my best friend."
He'd been worried things would be different afterwards. They weren't. They didn’t talk about it. Seraphina had never treated him any differently, and they would flirt with other omegas. It had been a couple of weeks later that she had taken him aside to admit her own secret - that she liked alphas as well as omegas. Each knowing the other's secret, life went on.
His parents were disgusted by him - they would have been pleased with an alpha son, and would have tolerated an omega, but what he was infuriated them. The only kindness they gave to him was that they backed up his story that they had thrown him out after he had taken an omega they disapproved of, and left him in the will. He had slept on Seraphina's couch through his auror training, and then one day he'd been able to get his own place. A few years later he’d inherited Graves manor, but had chosen instead to live in the city, near his work. He'd done well.
There was a small part of him that was relieved when he heard the school's healer had died. He had been kind, had never made a comment. But with his death, the people who knew Percival's secret were down to two, and neither of them would tell. He could pursue promotions without worrying about being found out. He shook his head, focusing.
"Any interesting cases?"
"Nothing spectacular. Sounds like Europe is having a few issues with dark wizards."
"And the Salemites?"
"They know more than they should, but enough of their information is false that we don't need to fear them." Percival answered. "I'm keeping an eye. Goldstein is still trying to investigate, I'll get Abernathy to have a word with her."
Seraphina nodded, and jumped as the clock started to chime out eleven o'clock.
"I... should go home. I've got a meeting with the Ghost in the morning."
"Goodnight 'Phina. I'll see you in the morning."
"Goodnight." She apparated away.
Percival stared at the desk for a few moments, aware that he’d had more to drink than he should. Rather than risking drunken apparating - something he avoided since the war when he had managed to leave a chunk of hair behind - he walked across town to his house. The wards were up, and he parted them easily before repairing them. He made his way up to his bed, changing his clothes with a wave of his hands, and collapsed down into bed. His mind was racing with thoughts about cases, regretting the loss of Goldstein from his team.
He was just drifting off to sleep when he heard the door unlock.