When Newt Scamander was 25 years old he learned what cruelty could do to a good man, but he also learned how much patience and dedication could help someone who was being haunted by a horrible experience.
His first visit to New York not only gave him the opportunity to return Frank to his natural habitat, but to meet Tina, Queenie and Jacob. For the first time in so many years Newt had... friends, real ones.
He also met Percival Graves. After the city was almost destroyed and Grindelwald stopped momentarily (he managed to escape by killing the two aurors that were keeping an eye on him), Tina asked him to help her find her boss -the real one-.
They found Graves in a basement; he looked terrible and although it didn't surprise Newt it still hurt his heart to see someone Tina used to speak so highly of like that. In his dark eyes there was only rage, fear and loneliness; it reminded Newt of the creatures he had found during his travels around the world, the ones that had been tortured and starved.
Newt observed carefully as two of the aurors tried -and failed- to approach Mr. Graves. He shook his head; they were doing everything wrong, from the threatening way they moved to the tension of their shoulders and how they held their wands. Graves stood -which surprised him because he was so weak Newt thought he wouldn't be able to move- and tried to attack them.
That's when Newt decided to step in -despite Tina's protests- he walked slowly and knelt down close to Graves while staring at him in the eye, he also showed him both of his hands, to prove him he didn't have his wand.
"I'm not gonna hurt you," he promised in a whisper. "I just want to help you."
Newt offered his hand and heard as everyone else in the room held their breath waiting for Graves to do something.
The dark look traveled from his feet to the fingers that tried to reach him and finally up to Newt's face.
"I like your eyes," Graves commented in a rough voice. Then he sighed as he just made up his mind and took that freckled hand in his.
Newt stayed in New York two months more than he had planned to; the first one he spent every morning on a chair next to Graves' hospital bed and reading the books he had about Thunderbirds to complete his research. The other wizard didn't talk much and when he had to reply to Newt's questions he used one-syllable words or growls, Newt actually giggled every time he did that because he reminded him of a very grumpy wampus.
Still, it was more than anyone had managed to get from him. In fact, most of the time Graves refused to see anyone who wasn't Newt, so the magizoologist became the messenger between him and the rest of MACUSA.
Some part of him understood why Mr. Graves didn't want them close, the bitterness about them not noticing the Director they had for months was not the real one must've felt devastating and lonely. So Newt allowed him to be distant, to try and do the things necessary for him to heal mentally, but after the fourth time Tina returned with a sad face from the hospital, Newt decided it was time to talk to Percival Graves.
"You were the only one who noticed and you didn't even know me then," he said once Newt tried to make him think about forgiveness. "They're trained aurors, they had known me for years when Grindelwald showed up wearing my face and they didn't notice. They didn't care."
His voice was dark, almost as if wasn't Mr. Graves who was talking; his words felt heavy, bitter and full of a barely suppressed rage. A shiver passed through Newt's body, but he ignored the sensation and scolded himself for being afraid; that was Mr. Graves not Grindelwald.
"Everybody makes mistakes," Newt said, a nervous smile quirking the corners of his lips up, but not entirely. "They made one, but they're sorry. Just... please don't be so hard on them."
For a moment, Newt worried Graves would refuse, because of the frown that appeared on his face, but then he laughed; a genuinely sound that warmed Newt's heart because that was the time he heard it.
"You're something else, Newt."
The magizoologist chuckled. "I hope that's a compliment."
"It is. It definitely is."
Once Graves recovered completely, at least physically, Newt invited him to live for a while inside his case.
He was eager to help Newt with the creatures and luckily they all seemed to adjust to his presence rather quickly. He spoke more often and spent time with Tina and Queenie (because Newt insisted).
Picquery offered him his job back, but the auror refused to accept it; maybe he didn't feel quite ready to go back or it was just because the President's offer felt a little forced, like the guilt was making her act like that.
And although Newt understood Graves' motivation, he also thought he was capable of handling the job if he decided to take it back.
Newt didn't remember when they started being just Percival and Newt to each other, but somehow it felt like a natural progression of their relationship. One night, while taking care of the Nundu they both began to talk about themselves; Percival was really curious about Newt's past.
He talked him about Hogwarts, about how he discovered he wanted to be a magizoologist and those mornings with his family. He told him about Theseus too, the only family he had left.
"He killed them. All of them," Percival confessed in a weak whisper. "My family."
"I'm sorry," Newt said and he didn't need Queenie's ability to know who he was talking about.
"I have no one." Newt was sure that wasn't for him to hear but Percival's soft and hurt voice reached his ears and he couldn't just pretend he didn't listen.
He thought about reminding him of his aurors, of Picquery, but he knew Percival was still hurt because what happened with Grindelwald so he just took his hand instead.
"Well... You have me," he offered, shyly. "And my creatures."
Percival didn't say anything, he only stared at Newt enough to make him feel flustered and wonder if he had made a mistake, but the auror smiled and intertwined their fingers together.
Something changed the day Newt decided to remind Percival that he was going to go at the end of the month. He nodded, but became more quiet withing the passing days; his eyes started to fill with a dark, fierce determination that one day startled Newt because the look seemed to be directed at him, but it was just a second and Merlin knew he was really tired that night so it probably was just his own imagination playing tricks on him.
"Are you busy?" Queenie walked inside the case with a couple of sandwiches, Newt didn't know he was hungry until he saw them. He took one and was about to call Percival -who was probably feeding the mooncalves- to come, but his friend stopped him by taking his hand. "Wait. I need to talk to you first."
Newt nodded, a little confused. She took a deep breath.
"I think it's for the best... It's not that I don't want you here, you know how much I like you, sweetie, but I think to put some distance between you and Mr. Graves is the right choice."
"What do you mean?" But as soon as he finished the question he understood. "Oh, I get it. Yes, it'll make Percival good not to have me around, he needs to get back in the world to heal completely."
Queenie shook her head.
"No, I meant... Listen, Mr. Graves knows occlumency, so he usually blocks me, but sometimes I can catch glimpses of what he's thinking and there's always something about you. Your name in his head is-"
"He spends most of his time with me, of course he thinks about me," Newt smiled. "Besides, I'm helping him so it's perfe-"
"No, Newt. I think... What he feels about you is... intense. I mean, perhaps it's just... I mean you two are friends and maybe he's expecting something else." Newt stared at her, worried. He hadn't seen Queenie so nervous before. "Maybe I'm just... overreacting, I mean, there are just glimpses... I could be wrong."
Queenie didn't look like she wanted to add anything else, so Newt didn't press and focused on what he was doing before she arrived. Then turned back to his friend.
"Have you seen my photo of... Leta?" He asked, his cheeks turning red. "I lost it days ago and I wasn't being able to find it yet."
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that too. I think-"
"Newt, I think Dougal's not feeling well," Percival took his arm, startling him. He wondered how long was the auror in there.
"Sorry, Queenie, I have to go."
"No problem, honey," it came from her lips, yet the frown on her forehead didn't disappear.
The day he had to go arrived; after saying his goodbyes to everyone else, Percival approached him with an intensity that surprised Newt, especially when he felt a hand on the back of his neck.
"You really meant it, right?" The auror asked, bringing their foreheads together.
Newt was overwhelmed by his proximity and the way his dark eyes were glued to his face, like he wanted to memorize every feature.
"You said that I could have you," Percival explained, looking at Newt's confused expression.
"Well... of course, Percival. You'll always have me."
What a weird way to put it, but Newt didn't spend much time thinking about the meaning behind it, he had no time left.
"Yes. We're friends after all."
"For now," those words came so soft and quiet that days after his departure Newt convinced himself he had imagined them.
"I'll turn New York into the safest city for you and your creatures, Newt," Percival's goodbye came in the form of a promise.
"That's the spirit," Newt giggled. "Does that mean you'll accept the job back?"
A pause. Then the same dark look filled with that determination.
"Yes, I think that's a great idea." he said and only then, almost reluctantly, let Newt go.
Six years later
It wasn't that Theseus Scamander didn't care about what happened in America, but he had enough on his plate already with the rumors of Grindelwald being spotted in England again to focus on the other dark lord that had taken over New York.
It was a serious problem though. The entire city had been taken by a wizard no one new the name of; New York was the only place free of Grindelwald's followers, they had been haunted and killed so fiercely the ones left had no other option but to run.
It worried Theseus of course and it made him grateful to think Newt had been so busy to return to that place. Still, he couldn't concentrate on that while having the Grindelwald's problem in England.
So he ignored it, until news about it arrived in the form of a scared, very wounded wizard. He was on his office, with Harris, one of Theseus' aurors behind him. It was late and he walked in the Ministry by his own; on his knees, he confessed to be one of Grindelwald's followers.
He shivered, spitting blood on the floor and staring up to Theseus with something akin to panic.
"I've come from New York," he whispered. "I'm going to die, I saw his face. He will hunt me down I-"
"What do you mean you saw Grindelwald's face?" Theseus asked, not knowing what to make of the whole thing.
"No, no. I meant the other... The one that rules New York, the American."
Theseus left his desk and walked towards the wizard, his eyes never leaving his face.
"You know his identity? You have to tell us."
"I'm going to die," he sobbed and Theseus felt pity for a moment.
"He can't reach you here, you'll be safe."
The man shook his head and licked his lips while looking down to the ground.
"Percival Graves. He's the dark lord."
Harris gasped and Theseus wanted to do the same; he didn't move, his face neutral. Of course he didn't believe him; he knew Percival Graves, he had met him during the war, his brother had saved him, he was the most respected auror in America. His experience with Grindelwald only made him more popular; he was a survivor that took back his position as Director of Magical Security and was now one of the most powerful wizards. They liked him; there was the rumor that everyone wanted him to take Picquery's place but he had refused, but everyone knew the others listened to him now more than they did Picquery; he didn't have the official position but had as much influence as the current president.
Theseus shook his head, Percival Graves wasn't a dark lord. He couldn't be because if he was it meant the whole MACUSA was corrupted.
But the wizard must've seen the doubt on his face because he offered to take veritaserum and when he did, he said exactly the same.
That Percival Graves was the other dark lord.
Theseus paled and sank into his own chair after Harris left his office with the wizard. He asked her to take him to one of the cells; in the morning he was going to make the wizard talk in front of the Minister.
Only that didn't happen because the man was found dead the next day and with him Theseus chance for someone to actually listen because there was no way anyone would believe him now.
He asked Harris to keep the information to herself while he thought of a way to prove Percival Graves was a dark lord.
Newt was glad he returned to England the day he did; it was clear his brother needed him, there were shadows under his eyes and he looked a little pale, also the hug he gave Newt was a bit too tight and he always did that when something was worrying him.
"What is it?" He asked, but Theseus only shook his head and kissed his forehead.
"Nothing. I'm fine."
He was lying, of course he was, but Newt didn't press because he had to go back to the Ministry. He could talk to his brother later.
Hours passed, Newt had enough time to change clothes and feed his creatures before deciding to cook something for dinner.
He was finishing when he heard the knock on the door.
"'Seus, I'm glad you're ba-" Newt realized that wasn't his brother as soon as he opened the door. "Percival?"
The auror didn't respond, he closed the distance between them and took Newt in his arms with such an intensity it surprised the magizoologist. "Newt."
He blushed when his eyes met those dark ones and found so much adoration Newt felt his throat dry, his breath caught.
"I've missed you," Percival started to trace his face with the tip of his fingers, stopping on every single one of his freckles.
"I-I missed you too," he mumbled and tried to take a step back, but Percival was stronger. The wizard buried his face in the curve of Newt's neck and he was sure his blush had spread way down his towards his chest. "Uhh... Percival."
"Just a minute," he pleaded and pulled him even closer. "It's been years since I saw you. You never came back."
"I was planning to," Newt assured, his hand caressing Percival's hair, he was fascinated looking at the silver hairs that had grown on the sides. "You didn't write."
"I wanted to have everything ready for you first. It took longer than expected," he said, looking up.
"Everything ready? What do you mean?"
Newt was curious, but decided not to press the other wizard. He invited him to sit and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. Percival caressed the back of his hand when Newt gave him the cup.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, trying not to be distracted by that simple gesture.
"I came to... have a few words with your brother," he said.
"About work, I guess," Newt hold the cup of tea he had made for himself and took a sip.
"I hope he tells you what's going on because something's worrying him, I know, even if he says he's okay."
Percival frowned for a second before grinning back at Newt.
"I'm sure he'll be fine."
But Theseus wasn't; Newt was sure he was about to get sick, judging by how pale he got when he walked in his own house. He saw something behind Newt's back that made his eyes lose all his life in seconds, he was petrified.
"What is it, 'Seus?" Newt touched his forehead, but he didn't have fever. He turned but saw nothing behind him, it was just Percival. "Come, you need to sit."
Newt took his brother by the hand and guided him to his own couch.
Theseus looked from him to Percival and smiled at Newt. "I'm fine. I just feel a little dizzy that's all."
"Do you want something to eat?"
"No... not yet. Maybe a tea, please."
Newt didn't waste anymore time, he returned quickly to his brother's side. Only when he assured he was completely fine and the colour returned to his face, Newt felt comfortable enough to leave him with Percival.
"I'll go check on my creatures," he excused himself. "I'm sure you two have so much to talk about."
"Indeed," Percival smirked.
It was a nightmare. Theseus want it to be a nightmare. Sadly, he was very much aware he wasn't dreaming.
But perhaps Percival Graves visit was a coincidence, because he had been careful, there was no way he could-
"I know," the words sank Theseus further into the chair. He choked. Instinctively, he looked back at the stairs; his brother was probably inside his case by then.
"How? There's no way. The only one who knows is Har-" he bit his own lip, he couldn't put someone else at risk.
"You mean Amelia Harris?" Percival grinned, amused. "I like her. She's very loyal."
Theseus' vision was turning black; he shook his head and composed himself, he had to be strong for Newt.
"Please leave my brother out of this," he begged. "He doesn't know, I swear."
Percival laughed, but the sound was humorless, empty. It sent chills down Theseus' spine.
"I would never hurt Newt," he said then and looked almost offended at the mere thought. "In fact, he's the only reason you're still breathing."
"What do you want?"
"I want Newt, of course," he said. "But I guess you're talking about right now... I just want you to get out of my way. Because if you don't, if you tell Newt anything about this, I'll kill you. Are we clear?"
"Crystal," he nodded, feeling sick.
"Much better. You'll be a great brother-in-law."
No, he will never let Newt in Percival Graves' hands, he just needed time to think how to get them both out of that problem.